Friday, October 26, 2012

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program

Is there anything less interesting than catching a common cold? Well, I suppose yakking about it via social media....

Yeah, so I missed three solid days of writing, thanks to coughing, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, yadda yadda yadda. Thankfully, Dayquil, Niquil, OJ, leftover prescription strength cough medicine and sleep seem to have done the trick, and I'm back in business today.

I'm not writing about Groundswell or the D.O.T. though; rather I've shifted gears toward something else, and will return in a day or two. Because in addition to finishing this thesis, I'm also taking a class, New York Arts and Urban Expression. I don't have time here to explain exactly what that class is, but what's important is the final paper for the class is due on November 13. Yes, there are three more classes after that—don't ask....

Like most classes in the Urban Studies masters program, this one has a professor who's eager to help us complete our thesis, so I've taken this opportunity to add a chapter to mine that I thought I might have to leave out: The world famous Five Pointz, located all of 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan, in Long Island City. Here's a shot I got yesterday:

There's a shit ton of other pictures over at my Flickr set, including few pictures that aren't really focused on graffiti, per se. Like, for instance, this shot. That's because I'm going to focus a good deal on the relationship between this building's community, which will be scattered to the the four winds next fall when it's scheduled to be demolished, to the one affiliated with the Citigroup Building three blocks away. Basically, I have to somehow marry reporting and research on the "Institute of Higher Burnin'" as 5 Pointz known, to theory from the likes of Foucault, Derrida and Koolhaas.

From the latter, here's a quote from his tome, Delirious New York, which I highly recommend:

“Ferriss’ most important contribution to the theory of Manhattan is exactly the creation of an illuminated night inside a cosmic container, the murky Ferrissian Void: A pitch black architectural womb that gives birth to the consecutive stages of the Skyscraper in a sequence of sometimes over lapping pregnancies, and that promises ever new ones.” —P. 117

Should make for an interesting chapter.


P.S. I apologize for the blandness of the photos; I took them with my trashy little point-and-shoot instead of my SLR. Won't happen again!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bad v. Good

Just poking around the old hard drive, looking for a picture I'm sure I took of a mural that Groundswell did on the side of a jail in Boerum Hill, and I stumble across two images, circa August, 2011. When I take pictures that don't fit into any particular folder (say, Greenpoint, or Thanksgiving), I dump them into folders called "Everything Else." It's not perfect for locating things, but I do know in advance that when I look inside one, I'll find a smorgasbord.

Here are two images that were in this particular folder. Can you guess which one qualifies as "good" graffiti, and which one was obviously done by an amateur?

The first one is at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, and comes courtesy of How and Nosm of the Tats Cru, and rrobots. The latter? Can't remember where it was, though that's probably just as well, as I'm sure it's long since been buffed.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Philly Finito

Finished the Philadelphia chapter. Thanks to my rejiggered schedule, I'm only a day late, instead of eight days. Who says I'm not creative? Came together pretty well; ended it by citing some work from the good folks at Econsult Corporation, who gave a thumbs up to murals as a way to help jazz up commercial districts. The murals that the Philadelphia Mural Arts do are generally more traditional than what say, the TatsCru does in the South Bronx, but really, when you start trying to separate different styles of art into "good" and "bad," I feel like it's trying to pick your favorite blade of grass from the lawn—it's a pointless exercise.

Next up, I plan to highlight the work of the New York Department of Transportation's Urban Arts Program and Groundswell, whose work in New York is similar to the Philly Mural Arts. It's crazy, I can almost see the end in sight.

Oh, and just because Blogger tells you see these things in the admin panel, hello to whoever is reading this blog from Russia! Thanks for checking in!

Finally, remember Espo, the guy who did the Love Train in Philadelphia? You can also find his work in New York City, right in downtown Brooklyn.

Untitled Neat, right?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

On to the city of Brotherly Love

My chapter on Philadelphia was, according to the schedule I'd mapped out for myself at the beginning of the month, due yesterday. Just started writing it today. I'm not really worried about being a week behind though, because I originally scheduled time for putting together a bone fide web site to show off all the purdy pictures I done collected for this project. Let's just say that's going to be a 2013 project now.

The bulk of this chapter will deal with the work that the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program does, not because they put up graffiti murals per se, but because they're a terrific example of a city that wholeheartedly embraces public art as a way to just plain old make it a better place. It's also a piddly 90 miles away from NYC; thus it's not too hard to relate to if you live in these parts.

And finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't note that Cornbread, the accepted "godfather of graffiti" is from there. NYC might have had Taki 183 in July, 1971, but Cornbread beat him to the publicity punch four months earlier. Specifically, he was featured in the Philadelphia Tribune in March, 1971.

With that little tidbit in mind, here's a picture from one of our visits to Philly, taken while we were aboard the Mural Arts' Love Letter Train Tour, courtesy of Steve Powers, aka ESPO.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Call me....Patrick

I should have done this about two years ago. But here it its, the Better late than never graffiti project blog! Woo! Can you tell I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a title?

I put a no effort into the title, nor the URL, because my thinking behind this blog is such: While I spend an inordinate amount of time parsing the words and phrases of what will be my thesis about graffiti murals, and will be thrilled to share it when it is done at the end of the year (after two years!), I also need an outlet to just share things on a whim when the thesis is complete, and I'm still snapping pictures of random fire hydrants, stickers, shadows, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Thus, the title. The URL? That's just for this guy, who is the embodiment of what would happen if a live person actually encountered the Simpsons, which it should be noted is the best show EVER.
Frank Grimes, a/k/a "Grimey"
"Grimy" (Yes, I know it's a different spelling) is also a great catch-all for things I'm interested in, be they graffiti, urban spaces, architecture, crumbling infrastructure, and it was available. Remember the part about this being thrown together on the fly? Righto.

Anyway, here's where I'm at right now. I had ten chapters of my thesis done when I started this semester, and I had five more to go. This semester, I've already rewritten the first ten chapters, incorporating ideas from David Harvey's Rebel Cities (I'll get to that some time in the future) and just last night, I finished the case study for Trenton, only 10 days late. Woo!

With that time frame in mind, I'll leave you with an image from my visit there that may not make it into the final thesis, even though it really kicks ass. A big shout out to Leon "Rain" Rainbow of the S.A.G.E. Collective for showing me around that fair burg last year. This was on North Clinton Ave., about a block south of Olden Ave.
There's a lot more where this came from. Please do stop by again; I'll be sure to make it worth your time.