I contacted Zac to see if I could get to the bottom of things, but he refused an interview. “This conversation,” he responded, “is commerce.” He did, however, propose a bizarre, Splasherly meeting: If, he wrote, I’d like to come out one night and, in his words, try my hand at “devesting an image of some of its symbolic capital,” he’d be happy to videotape me in action, then answer any questions I had about how it felt for him to watch. This struck me as a strange little game of cat and mouse. I tried to guess at its purpose: Was it some kind of test I had to pass before he’d talk to me about splashing? Was it a ploy to allow him to discuss the art of vandalizing vandalism in purely hypothetical terms? Was he planning to post the video on YouTube and frame me as the Splasher? Unfortunately, I’ll never know. When I called him in the middle of the designated night, he told me he hadn’t slept in a day and a half, and that we’d have to reschedule. Despite several attempts to contact him, I never heard from him again.
The theory of Zac is still only a theory, of course. There’s no smoking gun, or dripping paint can. It’s impossible to say if this young radical is in fact the mastermind of the Splasher campaign or if he’s only a bit player, the victim of idle subcultural gossip. He’s consistently denied his involvement to people in the scene, and even Swoon says she’s not sure it’s him. But it would be a fitting ending to the story, one more layer of irony to slather on top of the pile: a Marxist street-art revolution that turns out to be a story of unrequited love, the most bourgeois and commodified narrative in the history of storytelling. Someday soon, you’ll watch the movie version on Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart, starring Natalie Portman as a famous street artist and Jake Gyllenhaal as the kooky young radical who loves her, and there’ll be long slow-motion tracking shots of the Candy Factory wall and stunning helicopter panoramas of Williamsburg and a soundtrack featuring all the hippest Brooklyn indie bands and a marketing campaign featuring your very own Super Soaker full of paint.