Tim Farley isn't a professional artist, but considering he repaints the bathroom of the Palomino, 2491 S. Superior St., twice a week, he might want to put the skill on his resume.
The frequency -- and the quality -- of the graffiti at the Bay View tavern has become so bad that Farley, the bar's general manager, can barely keep up with the usually sloppy, frequently racist and always idiotic scribblings in the WC.
"I've got a paint brush and a gallon of paint, and I just paint over the graffiti," says Farley. "It's just part of the job; there's no way I can count how many coats of paint there are on these walls, but it's probably an inch thick."
Back in 2007, we profiled some of the more clever examples of bar bathroom graffiti, and Farley, like the employees we talked to for the original story, is far more forgiving of the vandalism that's funny, makes a political statement or is even legible.
It's the misspelled neo-Nazi slogans, the Satanist stuff or the random chicken scratchings that leave Farley, well, scratching his head.
"The frustrating part is that I remember graffiti being good. If something is artistic or well done, I'll leave it. But lately, it's been a long time I've seen anything good," says Farley.
Farley says he's really confused about who keeps defacing his bathroom.
"I've always had such a high respect for the type of clientele we have here. It saddens me that there's someone this untalented doing his. I'm past being mad; now it's just a disappointment."
Across town, the graffiti situation is no better at The Up and Under Pub, 1216 E. Brady St.
"We used to paint every six months but the more we painted the more they marked it up," says owner Tim Brody. "Now we do it every year and use a heavy duty paint that can be cleaned with industrial solvents like Goof Off."
That works pretty well, Brody says, and average examples of tagging will be wiped off within a few days. However, as bathroom graffiti devolves, Brody says he is forced to adapt, too.
"The color of our walls has gotten darker and I could give a crap if it looks professionally done," he says. "If they want to treat the bathrooms like prison bathrooms, I'm gonna give the bare-bones cheapest effort and look."
Farley and Brody agree that simple graffiti is just the tip of the iceberg, and inebriated patrons' thirst for destruction goes much further.
Says Brody, "People beat our bathrooms like a red-headed stepchild. I once put an air freshener 12 inches up on the wall, and someone jumped on the sink the very first day it was up and ripped it down, breaking the sink partially off the wall in the process."
"I fix the toilet more times than I can count," says Farley. "I buy the metal handles, and you really have to pull them to break them.
"Running bars prepared me really well for fatherhood. Whatever my kids can destroy, I've already seen in via drunks."
Brody says that he finds that men break more things, but "chicks are no picnic," and he estimates that they vandalize twice as much as guys.
"They are a lot more disgusting in a room where they think no guy will see what they're up to," says Brody.
"Trust me, we always do."
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.