Rage is Back: graffiti crews save NYC from its lurking demons


Adam Mansbach's Rage is Back is a sneaky hybrid of a novel, part nostalgic urban graffiti memoir, full of vintage hiphop references and lush, old school New York descriptions; part brooding supernatural thriller where shamanic ritual and ancient subterranean presences secretly shape the mundane world of crime, wealth, privilege and art.

Dondi Vance, Rage's narrator, is the son of the legendary Rage Vance, a graffiti writer who went underground when Dondi was just two years old. Dondi's grown up with his mother, another graffiti writer, though she went straight with a job at second-rate literary agency and did her best to bring Dondi up right. He's bright, the kind of kid who qualifies for a scholarship spot at a fancy uptown private school, where his good grades point to an Ivy League future -- until he gets caught selling weed to his classmates and gets both expelled and kicked out of home.

All Dondi's life, he's heard stories about his father, and his father's madness. On the night Dondi was born, Rage and his crew went out to bomb a subway train with huge murals celebrating the birth. They were caught by Officer Bracken, a notorious cop who hated them with an irrational, unstoppable fury -- a fury so fierce that he actually drew his gun on them as they ran off, and, ultimately, murdered one of the crew, a young man named Eclipse.

The death pushed Rage over the edge, turned him into a revenge-bent graffiti-writing machine who covered massive swaths of the five boroughs with BRACKEN KILLED ECLIPSE tags and murals. Bracken, meanwhile, climbed the police ranks, seemingly unstoppably, and got Rage indicted in absentia, which led to Rage leaving for Mexico, abandoning his wife and their two-year-old son Dondi.

Rage is back. He's come back from a long dreamtime wandering the Amazon, learning from shamans, learning to be a shaman. And he's got revelations for Dondi about the night of the birth and the murder -- revelations about the thing they found in the subway tunnel, the force they encountered, an ancient evil that found something it liked in Bracken, who is now poised to become mayor of New York City.

Dondi is a hip-hop Holden Caufield, alienated from his parents and his schoomates, surrounded by role models of dubious vintage and value, desperately wanting to belong, but not wanting to give up his individuality. He's got a bright, acerbic, cynical adolescent outlook that's a treat to read (though I suspect it'd be less fun to be around). The caper that fills the second half of the book is big, weird, brash, and riddled with history and supernatural juju, and his ride through it is vastly entertaining, right through to the last page. This is a tremendously fun novel, and an authentic exploration of an illegal subculture, with all the frustrations and glories that entails.

If Adam Mansbach's name rings a bell, it might be because of his number-one NYT bestselling, piracy-as-viral-promo book Go the Fuck to Sleep.

Rage is Back

Anti-capitalist London graffiti mysteriously removed, offered for sale in Miami for $500,000


During the Jubilee, someone -- probably Banksy -- posted a graffiti mural on the side of a Poundland discount shop depicting a child working in a sweatshop sewing bunting with the Union flag on it. The mural attracted great attention in Wood Green, the district of London where it appeared, and local councillors took steps to ensure that it was not removed or painted over by overzealous city workers.

Then, one day, it disappeared. And reappeared in the catalog of Fine Art Auctions in Miami, with an asking price of $500,000. The auction house (which hasn't returned any press calls on the work) claims that it got the Banksy (or "Banksy") from a collector who assured them that it had been acquired through legal means. The Poundland shop says it had nothing to do with flogging the piece, and no one can get the building's owner on the phone.

Meanwhile, a piece of freely given art that decries capitalism and exploitation has been removed from the neighbourhood that was so proud of it, and is up for sale for half a million dollars in America.

Poundland, the store from which the artwork was removed, has tweeted that it is “NOT responsible for either selling or removing the Banksy mural,” adding that it does not own the building in question and has been unable to contact the owner so far to find out more, while local politician Alan Strickland has already launched a campaign for the artwork to be returned.

Talking to reporters, Strickland explained that “Banksy gave this art for free to our community, so we’re all angry that it’s been removed and put on sale for $500,000 in the U.S. We’re trying to track down who is responsible. We’re not certain who removed it, but we’re absolutely certain we want it back!”

Irony is not dead.

Banksy Work Cut Out of Wall, Offered at Auction for More Than $500K [Graeme McMillan/Wired]

(Image: Liveauctioneers.com)

Huge black cat graffiti

Cattttt Fantastic graffiti by 0331C, made in part using a fire extinguisher. (via @death_waltz_records)

Edgar Allan Poe as an astronaut


Courtesy of Zombie37 in the Boing Boing Flickr pool, a photo of a smashing pasteup of Edgar Allan Poe as an astronaut, by TOVEN at Station North in Baltimore.

Poe Astronaut on Howard St.

Anti-drone NYC street artist arrested


Essam Attia is NYC street artist who posted fake NYPD posters "reassuring" people about the ubiquitous surveillance of the department, especially via drones. The NYPD surveilled him, tracked him down and arrested him. Heck of a way to prove a point.

The NYDN reports that he's charged with "56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny possession of stolen property and weapons possession," the last (and possibly worst) charge coming because cops found an unloaded .22 pistol under his bed when they arrested him. On a practical level, Attia was not the most careful art criminal. He signed his work "ESSAM;" and he told Animal that he was a "a 29-year-old art-school grad from Maine, who served in Iraq as a 'geo-spatial analyst.'" It probably did not take an incredible amount of police work to narrow down the possibilities.

NYPD Proves Street Artist Right by Tracking Him Down and Arresting Him (via JWZ)

Amazing Mickey Mouse skull graffiti

IMG 5256

BB pal Greg Long spotted this magnificent graffiti near the GAMA-GO world headquarters in San Francisco's SOMA. If you know the artist, please help me credit him/her! Commenters say it's the work of Goser! Thanks!

Grime Writer: detergent-filled graffiti pen


Grime Writer is a detergent-filled graffiti marker that cleans away street-filth to leave your message behind. There's a good chance that the graffiti you create with these is no more legal than any other kind -- there've been successful prosecutions against companies in the UK that paid "street teams" to "reverse-graffiti" their messages by using detergent and stencils to selectively clean away grime from public walls, leaving behind commercial messages.

Grime Writer is a special chunky marker pen that can be filled with cleaning solution, and used to create art on a canvas of filth. Use it to tag your dirty vehicles & windows, or to transform dirt into artistic expression.

Much more socially acceptable than real graffiti and (more importantly) a lot less illegal - Grime Writer helps you leave your mark wherever you find muck. Use responsibly to help promote the phenomenon of negative graffiti, and brilliantly combine the crime of defacing a bridge with the community service time cleaning it up again afterwards, into one harmless, helpful, creative act.

Grime Writer : Cleans away grime to leave your message (via Super Punch)

Street murals made from sugar


Montreal artist Shelley Miller creates "sugar murals" -- elaborate icing-sugar illustrations on tile that grace the sides of buildings. These often resemble stained glass or painted tile murals. Here's a bit about Cargo, installed in Montreal at Duke St. at corner of William St. in 2009 and left to gently decay:

Cargo is a public billboard initiative with the Darling Foundry presented in the context of le Mois de la Photo à Montréal (The Month of Photo), a biennale of contemporary photography that occurs in Montreal every 2 years. This project involved 2-parts: The first component was the creation of a sugar mural, created in the guise of a traditional ceramic “azulejo”. The image depicted speaks of the history of sugar, linking the port of Montreal into the global network of sugars history and the slave trade that supported this industry. The image links source and destination for all of the “cargo” related to this history, both sugar barrels and human cargo that were carried across the oceans.

Shelley Miller (via Neatorama)

WARNING: STREET ART TOURS ARE ILLEGAL!


My neighbourhood in East London has a lot of very nice street art, and a fair number of hipster entrepreneurs who lead tourist parties on "Street Art Tours." Artist Dr D combined the Olympic police-state with the Street Art Tour phenomenon to make this great prank notice, which I snapped on the way to our weekly Sunday brunch.

The Daily Duff: *STREET ART TOURS- ILLEGAL!*

The graffiti of Pompeii

Pompeii is the city frozen in time. Which means that nobody ever came through and cleaned up all the (often incredibly dirty) ancient Roman graffiti (or added their own, more modern, stuff).

So, what you find is a really cool time capsule of the way random, average puellae et pueri talked, at least in certain situations. This is colloquial Latin, and that's not something we get many chances to see.

It's also hilarious. I've seen some of these examples of Pompeiian graffiti over the years, but, as far as I'm concerned, it never gets old. (Ba-DUM-ching!) Some good examples:

From the Bar/Brothel of Innulus and Papilio: "Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men’s behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!"

From the Bar of Prima: The story of Successus, Severus and Iris is played out on the walls of a bar: [Severus]: “Successus, a weaver, loves the innkeeper’s slave girl named Iris. She, however, does not love him. Still, he begs her to have pity on him. His rival wrote this. Goodbye.”. [Answer by Successus]: “Envious one, why do you get in the way. Submit to a handsomer man and one who is being treated very wrongly and good looking.” [Answer by Severus]: “I have spoken. I have written all there is to say. You love Iris, but she does not love you.”

From the House of Pascius Hermes; left of the door: "To the one defecating here. Beware of the curse. If you look down on this curse, may you have an angry Jupiter for an enemy."

From the basilica: "The man I am having dinner with is a barbarian."

Check out more of these at the Pompeiana website

For more about average Roman life, I really recommend Terry Jones' documentary "The Hidden History of Rome". You can watch it streaming on Netflix. It's a great overview of the little bits that we know about how non-elites lived thousands of years ago.

Via The Nation

Image: Pompeii, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from editor's photostream

Breaking Bad street art in Canada

Boing Boing reader Peter Schwagly sends in the photo of Breaking Bad street art above and below, and says,

I'm a super fan of Breaking Bad and Boingboing as well.... is there something to the shared alliteration? I thought you might like this stencil I found in Vancouver a few months ago. Someone did a whole series of Mr White. They were fantastic.

Read the rest

Ron English's Stickable Art Offenses: Wacky Packages meets AdBusters


Ron English's Stickable Art Offenses is an inspired collection of stickers from one of the world's most iconic sticker artists. Ron English designed the iconic Ronald McDonald parody for Super-Size Me, and has built his reputation on grotesque, trenchant, and funny graphic attacks on corporate logos and marketing.

The book opens with English's reminiscence of one of the many times he was arrested for stickering in New York City, then leaps into more than 40 pages' worth of die-cut, full-color vinyl stickers. English's stickers are a bit like a highly politicized Wacky Packages or Garbage Pail Kids for grownups, with a bit of Warholian whimsy thrown in, by way of AdBusters. The book ends with some lovely photos of English's work in the wild, from giant murals to billboard defacements to guerrilla re-branding in the grocery store cereal aisle.

Ron English is a great favorite around these parts, as this extensive collection of Ron English posts from our archives can attest. I can't wait to start decorating my environs with his work

Last Gasp, English's publisher, were kind enough to send us some hi-rez outtakes from the book for your pleasure. Visit the jump to see more.

Ron English's Stickable Art Offenses: A Sticker Book

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Chicago turned into giant Monopoly board by street artist(s)


Colossal has the story of a massive, awesome street-art installation in Chicago created by Bored, who turned the city into a huge, spread-out game of Monopoly, complete with enormous Chance cards containing marriage proposals and massive dice.

After a few desperate tweets and some emailing, I finally got in touch with the artist (or artists!) known as Bored. The person (or group) chooses to remain anonymous but expressed via email their dissatisfaction at the lack of quality street art around Chicago. Saying specifically that “the goal of this entire project has been to present something different than a stencil painted on the ground or a poster pasted to a wall. Something 3-dimensional that can be picked up, beaten down, kicked, yanked, grabbed, and broken. And if someone ever put forth the effort to remove it, like a weed it will always grow back. And if left alone it will evolve into something different.”

While there are a number of good street artists in Chicago, this is definitely a welcome change of pace. I’m really excited to see this project evolve and hope they have more ideas brewing.

New Street Artist ‘Bored’ Turns Chicago Sidewalks into an Alternative Monopoly Game

Recreating iconic Banksy images as photos


UK photographer Nick Stern's "You Are Not Banksy" series recreates many of Banksy's iconic, humorous graffiti images. I've always thought that Banksy recreations made excellent cosplay (as this old post showed), but they're great as photos, too:

The project sees Stern meticulously recreating a handful of Banksy’s masterpieces using real-life models and photographing their mimicking poses. The results are extraordinary. Stern himself is a fan of the elusive guerilla street artist: “I have always admired Banksy – I love his cheek and humour,” said the London-born photographer. “Much of art is a recreation or interpretation of real life, but this is the other way round – I wanted real life to recreate art. I hope he likes what I’ve done.”

You Are Not Banksy: Street Art Turns Real-Life (via Neatorama)

PENIS graffiti


WE ENCOURAGED PEOPLE TO LEARN TO PROGRAM AND JUST LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED (via JWZ)