My daughter, now 14, recently has gotten interested in the “wild style” era of graffiti writing and I borrowed a copy of Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant’s groundbreaking Subway Art (1984) via an inter-library loan. My copy came from Cal State Humboldt and inside, as you’ll see, students over the years have marked up the interior cover pages. The earliest of these go back at least to 1996 and the most recent have been since 2016. I suspect many other library copies around the world have similar tags but this seems truly extraordinary regardless. Thought I’d scan these for you all to enjoy. Shout out to Martha, Henry and writers the world over.
Damage Noted (pdf)
I have leased a shop space in the historic stockyards district of Kansas City, Mo. since 1996. Out side my third floor window I am in full view of freight trains rumbling .by all day long. Buildings surrounding mine are large brick wharehouses over 100 years old. The freight cars and beautiful brick walls are plastered with a style of graffiti that hasnâ€™t changed since I first started observing it. Itâ€™s all wacky lettering that never changes. Basically it all sucks. Freight cars Iâ€™m ambivalent about. But a 100 plus year old beautiful red brick wall with some assholesâ€™ stupid dopey moniker crossed out by some other jack offs version of his own isnâ€™t something I can get behind. I know the arguments for why this appeals to some viewers but that beautiful old patina on those surfaces will never be the same. Itâ€™s just a major disrespect in so many ways. I was astonished recently when, while hiking nearby, I stumbled upon an ancient rusted train trestle without a mark on it. It will get besmirched soon enough but I experienced a moment like being in another time in another place. There was one graffiti I saw in all these years of observing the same old crap that actually spoke to me. It simply said â€œchores suckâ€. It was soon painted over with…. wacky lettering.