You’ve no doubt noticed his signature, the word “Moustache” written in curly cursive letters with a felt-tip marker on the upper lips of people in subway platform billboards, but it might be a while before Moustache Man, aka 26-year-old Patrick Waldo, draws his next ‘stache. The Daily News reports that Waldo was arrested a week ago in Midtown and admitted to having written one of his trademark tags on a billboard at the Third Avenue L train stop.
Waldo, who’s originally from Virginia, was arrested near his job at Gray Line tours after cops said they tracked him down “through his Internet bragging.” He’s been released without bail and is due to reappear in court on September 15 to face charges of felony mischief, misdemeanor criminal mischief, graffiti, and “possession of a graffiti instrument.” The NYPD said he caused over $1,500 in damage to New York Transit property in the sixteen months since he started writing his Moustache tags.
In a May interview Waldo told Subway Art Blog that the response from fellow commuters has been overwhelmingly positive: “On the platform and on the street people are pretty positive. Most laugh, some give suggestions.” He also explained how the tag, originally an easy visual pun, gained greater significance for him.
At it’s simplest level, it’s a quick joke meant to give commuters something to smile about while they’re waiting for the subway, coming off from a long day at work, or getting stabbed on the D train. And that’s certainly how it started. But for me it’s evolved into part of this broader movement of subverting advertisements. Especially in New York, where we’re bombarded with ads everywhere we go, it feels more and more like we’re part of a one-sided conversation. We’re getting these ridiculous images and dumb catchphrases shoved down our throats (“Good Afternoont!”), why shouldn’t we be able to talk back? So many ads are so laughably stupid that a cartoonish moustache just seems to fit. On another level, it’s a return to hand-written form in a technology driven age where we type so much that some of us have actually forgotten how to write cursive.
He concluded that interview by claiming he’d continue to write “Moustache” mustaches on subway billboards “for fucking ever,” but that unfortunately looks increasingly unlikely.