Saturday, August 27, 2016

A year later

When I decided to turn Graffiti Murals into a book, part of the motivation was borne out of the fact that I'd never encountered a book like it while I researching for my masters' thesis, and when I looked at the chapters and images I'd collected, it sure as hell seemed like there was enough material to turn it into a book.

And then, voila! The first copy arrived at my door on June 25, and on August 28th, it hit the stands in a few stores, including the Barnes and Noble in Union Square, the Strand and the Museum of the City of York. And of course, the evil empire known as Amazon. Fun little thing about that: When you buy a copy that's discounted there, the royalty I get is a percentage of that discounted price, not the list price. So yeah, I did ok sales wise, but no, I won't be taking my wife out to dinner at Per Se with my first royalty check.
Got me a little book release party in October.

I've written already about some of the publicity I was able to get, and most recently, I got the book into the hands of the folks at Brooklyn Street Art. All in all, not too bad, given that the fall was a blur of sleepless nights tending to our newborn son, who arrived two weeks before the book, and the winter was, well, it's kind of hard to describe how bat-shit crazy things can get at a university during the spring semester.  Of course, you probably knew that, given that I went seven straight months without posting anything here. Erm, sorry about that. In my defense, I did start three other posts before getting distracted by life. Also, have you heard about this thing called Instagram? I've got a whopping 204 followers now. That's something, right?
Gowanus, how you call to me like a siren...

So what now? This is a head scratcher. No one is calling anymore to talk to me about the book, and to be perfectly honest, my desire to hit up random reporters and producers has waned a bit. The book was always a bit of long shot, as wonky as it is, so at this point, I'm kind of ok with occasionally pitching it to reporters when I see they've written about something similar, and otherwise moving forward with a new project, particularly since that newborn who was keeping us up all winter is now a wobbly, more or less walking one year-old, and lets us get seven hours of continuous sleep. Time to fire up the reporting juices again!
Welcome to the world kid. This is graffiti. Capish?

The problem is, I have no idea what that should be. For a short time, it looked as if a fella from the one of the city's government agencies was going to incorporate anecdotes in the book into a proposal to expand a pilot project that promotes murals as a deterrent to vandalism, but then he jumped ship for another department and left no forwarding information. And it's not as if there aren't plenty of new walls being snapped up every day by enterprising writers, either to make political statements, advertise their talents, make real estate developers look good, or, well, who the hell knows what the point of this was, but it's out there, without the help of anyone in official city circles.

One area where there is a concerted effort to support murals is the the amazing 100 gates project out of the Lower East Side BID, and one of the best things to come out of writing the book has been meeting Natalie Raben, who runs the gates project. If you haven't wandered down that way, you don't know what you're missing. In a way, the Gates project epitomizes the kind of collaboration I hoped to inspire. After all, well-executed illegal graffiti and street art can seize and transform a block like no other, but short of changing the laws and dismantling NYC's vandal squad, there's no obvious way to promote that, aside from sharing a picture of it on twitter or Instagram. 100 gates is the next best thing, and I really hope to see more projects like it.
And they dubbed him...Faust

I need new inspiration. I love to explore new spaces when I get the chance, such as a recent visit to Mount Eden in the Bronx, and revisit familiar hot spots like the Bushwick Collective and Welling Court too. But for all the amazing art that's there, it drives me on instagram.

I can haz old skool graf please? Much thnks

In retrospect, it might have been naive to think a second act would simply reveal itself in the course of the promotion of the book.

One line in the Brooklyn Street art review intrigued me, and makes me wonder if perhaps I should try to look at the art I seek out in a different light:

In the context of urban studies and planning, the creativity here is sort of reduced to pawndom, but as a social factor, he provides examination of the intersections of invested parties.

It's an interesting observation, that I reduced the creativity of the murals to "pawndom." It feels a little like a knock, because a pawn is, by its very nature, disposable, and that's definitely not how I feel about murals. But it could also be simply because I don't delve all that deeply into the nature of the art itself. In that regard, I plead guilty to being a a bit of a philistine—shit, I can't even decipher a lot of graffiti tags.

Part of the problem, I must confess, is that in the absence of a straight forward path towards another project, I've allowed myself to become consumed with news of the presidential election. I've wasted words upon words upon words (the best words!) on social media about the human garbage fire that is Donald Drumpf the same way a person on a leaky life raft in the ocean frantically bails out sea water as fast as they can, to no avail. And yet, the stakes are so high, I can't resist the temptation to read every analysis, breaking news or flabbergasted response to the ravings of a man who is mentally and morally hollow. Hell, I've even wasted time rethinking arguments I might have made with Trumpists, even though I know their default response will always be "Well, Hillary is worse because BENGHAZI!" Worst. Election. Ever...

On the plus side, I suppose it's nice to think we'll make history one way or another on November 8, by either electing a woman for the first time, or by electing a man with fewer qualifications than a bowl of expired potato salad. In which case, I'm sure the graffiti we see will be a LOT more political than it's ever been.

In the mean time, if you bought my book online from Barnes and Noble, and figured 'Well shit, I may as well also get me a copy of Becky's Beach Fun,' kudos for making my world a little more unpredictable in a good way.

Bywater, New Orleans