November 3, 2015
MDOCS, event, screening, film, Bill Daniel, Bozo Texino, graffiti, railway, trains
Who is Bozo Texino? chronicles the search for the source of a ubiquitous and mythic rail graffiti— a simple sketch of a character with an infinity-shaped hat and the scrawled moniker, “Bozo Texino”— a drawing seen on railcars for over 80 years. Daniel’s gritty black and white film uncovers a secret society and it’s underground universe of hobo and railworker graffiti, and includes interviews with legendary boxcar artists Colossus of Roads, Coaltrain, Herby, and The Rambler.
Shooting over a 16-year period, Daniel rode freights across the West carrying a Super-8 sound camera and a 16mm Bolex. During his quest he discovered the roots of a folkloric tradition that has gone mostly unnoticed for a century. Taking inspiration from Beat artists Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac, the film functions as both a sub-cultural documentary and a stylized fable on wanderlust and outsider identity. “I was drawn to the subject by the universal graffiti impulse and the classic, corny notion of freight train blues escape.” – BDWho is Bozo Texino? is a film on the 100-year-old tradition of hobo and railworker graffiti. The project is the result of a 20-year study of “monikers “ and is fabricated from hours of 16mm and super 8 film, most of it shot on freight trips across the western US. The film includes interviews with some of the railroad’s greatest graffiti legends: Colossus of Roads, The Rambler, Herby (RIP) and the granddaddy of them all, Bozo Texino. The film also catches some of the socioeconomic history of hobo subculture from its roots after the Civil War to the present day. Included are interviews with tramps that Daniel encountered in his travels. The range of the interviews, and the film’s style deal with both the clichés and the harsh realities of tramp life. In researching hobo culture Daniel found the written histories fraught with myth, and was initially frustrated by the apparent lack of verifiable truth to much of the lore.”
Zhou, Zhiyu (Michael) and Baraschi-Ehrlich, Sophia, "MDOCS Poster-2015-11-03, Bill Daniel: Who is Bozo Texino?" (2015). MDOCS Publications. 50.