Pop Archaeology

Pop Archaeology

There was an unfamiliar odour when he entered his apartment that evening. But he swiftly put it out of his mind. Exhausted by a hard day's work, he slumped on his designer armchair which looked fantastic but was anything but comfortable. Despite having acknowledged this fact a hundred times, the thought continued to niggle - but each time he came to the conclusion that he liked it, despite everything. This bright red monster of a chair. He put his spectacles on the glass table next to the chair and rubbed his tired eyes. Contemplating the day, he'd had better, but worse ones, too.

Never mind. It was already Thursday, after all. When he heard a quiet rhythmic noise, he gathered the energy needed to investigate that strange smell. Sluggishly and slightly annoyed, he made his way through the apartment which was much too large for him. Following his instinct, he tried to find the source of these unfamiliar events. It lead him to his bathroom. Soon he identified the noise, increasing in volume, as dripping water. He raised his eyes to the ceiling. Huge damp areas had developed on the entire wall. Impassively, he realised that a water pipe must have burst in the apartment above. Crap. Whatever. He'd deal with it later. Again he rubbed his tired eyes.

He sat down at the edge of the bath and distractedly stared at the wall whilst taking in the shapes of the water spots. At the top of the wall, the wallpaper had begun to peel off. There was water on the floor. The smell of wallpaper paste filled his nostrils. Then he realised that the wallpaper was also coming off at the bottom of the wall. It had to have happened early in the morning, just as everyone had left for work. His upstairs neighbour had probably not even realised what was happening. Absent-mindedly, he started to scratch at the damp edges of the wallpaper, as one would with a wet bottle label, when something suddenly caught his attention: He spotted some blue spray-paint. Suddenly his lethargy left him and excitedly he followed the blue track by ripping the paper off the wall.

Some areas were still dry, so he grabbed a wet sponge and got to work. More colours appeared, revealing further fragments, letters and signs, symbols perhaps. He began to scrape at the wall furiously, as if to reveal the winning numbers on a lottery scratch ticket. Slowly, he managed to combine various fragments - just like a puzzle. There was an A and an N within a circle as well as the words "Freedom", "Power" and "Nobody" - clearly the language of anarchy! And then it slowly dawned on him: This would have been a squat, perhaps towards the end of the 1980s. Even though he had never been part of that scene, that particular activism, he was instantly reminded of his youth. Everything had been in flux then. A time of great change.

Suddenly, long-forgotten lyrics and melodies flashed up in his mind. The Sex Pistols, Einstürzende Neubauten, Joy Division, Blondie, The Smiths, Bowie - We can be Heroes, just for one day! Carefree days. Slowly covered, layer by layer, year for year. Something had gone missing and it was up to him to rediscover it. Time for a change of scenery!

Text: szim

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