Posted on 8.25.06: “When I was living in my cockroach-infested, struggling-young-journalist Soho pad in the late ’70s, there were all those Jean Michel Basquiat SAMO graffiti pieces painted all over Soho and the Bowery. SAMO (i.e., ‘same old shit’) was Basquiat’s graffiti alter-ego, and I remember being a bit disappointed when I met Basquiat himself on a street corner (or was it inside a store?) in ’78 or ’79 and he told me it was pronounced ‘same-oh’. I had always preferred ‘SAM-oh.’
“Some of the slogans were ‘SAMO 4 The Sedate,’ ‘SAMO as a neo art form,’ ‘Do I Have To Spell It Out? SAMO,’ ‘SAMO as an end to to mindwash religion, nowhere politics and bogus philosophy’ and ‘SAMO as an escape clause.’
“Anyway, I’ve never forgotten a certain SAMO graffiti that said the poiltical power of McDonalds had become equal to that of the CIA or the Vatican. I saw it somewhere near Broadway and Prince. That was something like a Major Moment for me, burned into my brain. McDonald’s = pernicious, anti-human, scourge of cvilization.
“McDonalds is a bit on the wane these days. In this country, anyway. The fearsome corporate franchise beast of 2006 is Starbucks, of course. Which is why I paid attention a week or so ago to that story about actor Rupert Everett joining forces with his Bloomsbury district neighbors to try and prevent a Starbucks outlet from moving into the neighborhood.”
What, if anything, has changed in the last six years? What, if anything, would Basquiat be saying in a SAMO vein about whatever he would be sensing in a cultural-spiritual-political vein about mid-2012?