Graffiti puzzle's 'broken man' speaks


Graffiti puzzle's 'broken man' speaks, but message still a mystery,
by Kirsty Needham - 8th February 2003
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)


An anti-war protester is chalking cryptic clues onto city footpaths and staging fake crime scenes to lead city workers - and police investigators - on a chase to solve an online puzzle.

By night, up to 100 chalked messages are appearing on footpaths from Chinatown to Oxford Street, asking: "Who is the brokenman.net?"

The internet address leads to a website that asks: "Can you picture ... A terrorist-free world? A drug-free environment? People valuing freedom of speech? Peace in a war-free earth?"

The site promises "something unbelievable" is "coming soon".

The puzzle, which involves fake crime scenes, has attracted police attention as the city remains on a terrorism alert.

Lucas Jackson, a young man in dark glasses who has adopted the name of Paul Newman's character in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, said yesterday that he was the broken man.

Mr Jackson said he was neither a religious zealot nor marketer, and that he was creating the graffiti alone.

Aged in his 20s and working in the city, Mr Jackson registered the website in December, and six weeks ago began a campaign "to promote a public message".

Dressed in a 1970s retro blue shirt and the sort of op-shop chic shoes favoured by art students, he outlined how it started with a fake crime scene in a city street.

Marked by black and yellow police tape imported from the United States, the "crime scene" contained the first clue to his message, but it puzzled local police who closed off the street.

As another 15 crime scenes appeared, police staked out the park where the website tipped the next clue would appear. Mr Jackson was questioned.

"When I started, the city was on red alert because of terrorism. So I made it clear to them the website is anti-terrorism and anti-drugs," he said.

Clifton Scarlett, supervising sergeant for City Central Police, confirmed that some officers had approached Mr Jackson.

"It started off with one or two fake crime scenes, but they are everywhere now," Sergeant Scarlett said.

Mr Jackson is now targeting his efforts on footpath graffiti containing "secret letters" which he said are directing hundreds of people to the website, and from there onto new clues on telephone answering machines and in street newspapers and parks.

The latest clue asks people to look for "lost" wallets at train stations. Mr Jackson says he has about 1000 of the cheap nylon wallets to distribute, each containing a secret message card.

Yesterday, the broken man would not reveal what the final message will be, but said it was a type of protest, and a response to crazy times. "We could be in a completely different world in three months, " he said.

Links:

The Sydney Morning Herald Online

Brokenman

Brokenman: Crime Postings

Balmain Internet Cafe

The Metro Theatre, Sydney, Australia

Waterfront Records - Brokenman

DVD Network

Media Man Australia: Entertainment


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