[NetBehaviour] The Mark Of Borf

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Jul 18 01:26:56 CEST 2005

*The Mark Of Borf
With Graffitist's Arrest, Police Put a Name to the Familiar Face*

By Libby Copeland
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 14, 2005; Page C01

The mysterious, ubiquitous and eminently destructive graffiti artist 
known as Borf was arrested yesterday after waging a months-long campaign 
that may have been intended to enlighten Washington, but mostly just 
confused us.

The man primarily responsible for Borf is, it turns out, an 18-year-old 
art student from Great Falls named John Tsombikos, according to D.C. 
police inspector Diane Groomes. He was arrested along with two other 
young men in the wee hours of yesterday morning after officers received 
a tip that graffiti artists were spray-painting at Seventh and V streets NW.

Approached by a reporter at D.C. Superior Court yesterday, Tsombikos 
refused to comment. One of the other men arrested, Richard Lee, 18, 
said, "Borf is dead."

Well, yes and no. According to Tsombikos's mother, Kathleen Murphy of 
Great Falls, Borf was the nickname for a close friend of her son's who 
committed suicide about two years ago. The Borf face featured in his 
graffiti -- which many who've walked through Dupont Circle would 
recognize, and which looks somewhat like TV actor Jerry O'Connell -- 
belongs to that young man. Murphy suggests that for her son, the Borf 
face and moniker came to stand for all that he felt was wrong with the 

Many who saw Tsombikos's graffiti -- including a huge five-foot-high 
Borf face that appeared on a Roosevelt Bridge sign this spring, and a 
15-foot "BORF" above a Dupont Circle cafe -- might suggest that, far 
from making the world better, he cost the city of Washington a lot of money.

Dennis Butler of the D.C. Department of Public Works said the Borf tag 
prompted almost daily phone calls to the city call center. "He's just 
all over the inner city," Butler said.


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