Somewhere in this town is a person who travels the same routes I travel. This person goes to the parks I frequent, takes the same shortcuts, and enjoys the same restaurants. Despite all that we have in common there is one small difference between us. Where I visit these locales and enjoy them without signifying my visits, this other person is compelled to write KUDZU on the surface of manhole covers, stop signs, buildings, and restaurant bathrooms. I understand that this person perceives herself to be an artist of some renown, or perhaps as a contributor of compelling commentary on the condition or ownership of parks, restaurant bathrooms, and stop signs. Perhaps I, in my dullard state, am failing to comprehend the important message that Kudzu imparts by writing KUDZU on everything.
I know that Kudzu is noble and self aware because Kudzu undoubtedly commutes by bicycle and the evolution from derivative cliche graffiti scribble to KUDZU in a more block letter fashion shows a stripping of pretense and a coalescing of purpose and identity.
If not for a likely difference in age and circumstance I might be riding with Kudzu and keeping the coast clear while another KUDZU is bestowed on Tallahassee in chalk or Sharpie marker. Time however, has placed us on opposite sides of the radical fence. It disappoints me, as I admire Kudzu. The tenacity and diligence to continue the practice into adulthood is exactly the attitude this country needs right now. The genius of choosing as a moniker a foreign and hostile plant that spreads unwelcome and unwanted, yet is heralded as a cultural icon impresses me. I wish I had thought of it first.
My problem with Kudzu and KUDZU is best explained by that most disgruntled adolescent of all, Holden Caufield.
“I was the only one left in the tomb then. It was sort of peaceful. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall. Another ‘Fuck you.’ It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones.
“That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write ‘Fuck you’ right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it’ll say ‘Holden Caulfield’ on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it’ll say ‘Fuck you.’ I’m positive, in fact.”