Dear Mr. VanArsdale:
Someone with whom I attended UCSB in the late 1970s recently
pointed me to
the Eat No Dynamite page on your Web site. Along with another student at
UCSB, I am the inventor of the word "endwahl."
My friend and I invented the word, I believe, in the spring
1977. We were intrigued by what would happen if we invented a term, floated
it, and watched to see what meaning the student body would assign to the
We were inspired to conduct our experiment after the example
This graffito appeared in Southern California in the mid to late 1960s. A
high school history teacher claimed that the word was invented at my high
school. To prove it, he showed me a page from the school's 1964 yearbook
with a photograph in which "Overby" was written on a blackboard in the
background. "Overby lives," "Overby was here," and other such graffiti had a
five-year lifespan in the 1960s in Southern California. This Web site
mentions the Overby graffito phenomenon:
My friend and I recruited about eight people for the experiment,
the experiment to them, and urged them to write "Endwahl" along with a
graphic image of their invention around the school. My image -- I got it
from a famous Paul Klee painting -- can be found on your Web site at
http://www.silcom.com/~barnowl/pageg.jpg. I recognize each image on that Web
page and know to whom each belonged.
"Endwahl" created a buzz at UCSB in the 1978-1979 school
environmental club, I remember, tried to recruit members by announcing in
the school newspaper (The Nexus) that it would reveal what "Endwahl" means
at its next meeting. The club, of course, failed to come through. A friend
and I snuck into the classroom where the meeting was to take place and wrote
"Endwahl: Beware of false prophets" on the blackboard.
Most people thought the term was an acronym for "Every
normal dude wants a
hot lay." In that respect, I think our experiment succeeded in capturing the
zeitgeist of UCSB in those years. I had never heard the "Eat No Dynamite.
Why? Acid Hurts Less" acronym until I saw it on your Web site.
"Endwahl" means "final election" in German. My friend
and I did not know
that when we invented the word, but perhaps our subconsciouses were at work.
In the 1970s, we were all under the gun with the Cold War still going on.
I saw "Endwahl" scrawled in two different night clubs
in Los Angeles. In
1979, I saw the word in a public bathroom in London! So the word traveled
beyond Santa Barbara.
What a pleasant surprise it was to find your Web site!
documenting the "Endwahl" graffito. You have my permission to use this
e-mail and the history I've given you on your Web site.
This email is linked to by:
Eat No Dynamite - a collection of college graffiti from UCSB and UCLA.