Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Update: El Corrido de Boyle Heights - Sol's Rant

When I first saw this piece by my compadre Sedano, I made my one line comment and moved on but then this morning, I was walking to my bus stop on my way to work and saw a brand new wall covered in this grafitti shit. Goddamn it! To you taggers out there, if you want to make your mark on the world - get an education. Go to Europe and backpack through it. Go to art school. Write. Dream. Educate yourself for free at the library. Read La Bloga. Elevate yourselves damnit.

Tagging on a wall isn't going to make you cool. It's not going to get you the recognition you crave. Sure, your fellow disrespectful (and yes it's disrespectful to tag on private property. Didn't your parents raise you right? Mal educados.) tagging buddies and admirers will slap you on the back and say it's cool but those guys are probably going to be slapping your ass in prison if you keep this shit up. You're an artist, you say? Well then get some paper, cardboard, an old hood of an abandoned car, something that's yours to do your art on. Not a wall that doesn't belong to you - especialy not a wall that's beautiful, that has your history, your culture, your people's dreams and hopes and music on it. The artist you think you are would appreciate another's art and admire it - not vomit spray paint all over it.

You need to express yourself? Comment on La Bloga, tell me I'm full of it. Write a poem about why you feel compelled to write your name across the Corrido. Write a story. Tell me why it's important to you.

Fast forward 15 years and talk to your kids about tagging. Is your older self proud? Is it something you would tell your children. Hey mijo, you know that mural the beautiful one down on Soto that you can't see now because it's covered in grafitti? Well I started the destruction. I took a thing of beauty and soul and destroyed it because I was wanting to make my mark on the world. Is your child proud of you in that scenario?

There are places in L.A. where taggers can tag, where whole walls are given to you to express yourself. There's even a program where you can work on murals. There are some cool galleries in Highland Park like the Rock Rose, Avenue 50 where you can talk to other artists and see what they're doing, get inspired, learn. They'll welcome you, include you - fill that void in you that needs to create, recognize the artist in you. So stop that destruction and get educated. Make beauty not pain. Bring joy and not anger.

Am I lecturing? Damn right I am. I'm a mother of four kids who once caught her 9 year old boy tagging on a wall and dragged him home by the ear. That's nothing to what he got when we got home I'm talking about the five hour lecture on private property, his history and culture, how his ancestors were disappointed in him and how we have to uplift ourselves as a people. We have a responsibility to our raza. We are the only ones who can change the opinion of ourselves. You want people to stop thinking we're all a bunch of taggers, cholos, thieves, welfare bums, etc.? Well then, stop doing that kind of shit that gives hard working, honest people a bad name. You want to make a name for yourself? Then make one by stopping that graffitti shit and turning your life around. Turn your homies around too. Start a program for cleaning up the L.A. Murals. Restore them don't destroy them.

Count yourselves lucky you only got this short rant from Sol instead of the five hour lecture my boy got. I made him cry. He never did it again. He's grown to be a man I'm more than proud of. He served his country, is a good husband and father and he still remembers that night I dragged him home by the ear. Don't let me catch you tagging on the murals again.




msedano said...

Hey, almost a full month and only one small tag! Maybe gente are raising their kids right, at last.

XICANOguy82 said...

I think grafitti is art. Even murals themselves are grafitti...they are paint splattered on walls that only some people could understand...the difference is they have been accepted by people with money. While most tagging is just jibberish, I think in each tagger there is an artist, a rebel, some sort of revolutionary who is willing to take the risk of getting caught for putting up his placa, his name, his statement, his "fuck you" to the rest of the world. The tagger is merely reclaiming his turf; reclaiming space that is supposed to be "public." We could even look at the tagger as taking back his/her land from those conquerors who massacred the indigenous, stole their land, and used whatever left of the people to build the cities on which he/she defaces. Maybe, just maybe...we could learn from the tagger, we could learn to take risks. We could learn that we need to stand up for what we believe in, stand up for our community and where we're from and fight for what matters...for ourselves, for our neighborhoods, for our people. While we spend time thinking about why kids are spray painting on walls, we have to think about why they aren't in school? (Because their schools suck) Where are their parents? (Working 12-14 hour days) Where are the afterschool programs? (No funding) Where are the art programs? (No funding)

While sure there are walls for kids to tag on, they're definitely not in Boyle Heights, and most of the kids I know don't have the car to drive to those spots where they could do their thing legally. There's more at stake than simply the morality of taggers, we have to look at their economic and social situation that influence their decisions and then put it into a political context. I think grafitti needs to be legitimized. It is art too, but we have to build on that as a foundation and give the youth the resources to let them expand on their ideas and their creativity. When these kids learn to appreciate their own art, they'll learn how to appreciate the corrido as art. Much love and respect. Que viva la raza, always.

Gina MarySol Ruiz said...

Xicanoguy82 - you have some good points. I still think they need to keep it off the murals and respect other people's arte. I don't want it on my garden wall either.

Anonymous said...

XICANOguy82, altho I don't know that, as you say, "most tagging is just gibberish", I agree that deep in most taggers lies an artist-rebel.

When you say us non-taggers "could learn from the tagger" to "stand up for our community and where we're from and fight for what matters", I think you touched on the contradiction Sol and most of us can't reconcile. I think Sol is ""stand(ing) up for community and where we're from and fight(ing) for" Chicano art she thinks matters greatly. But in doing that, her anger is focused on the tagger, whom she may even know. Yes, there are societal reasons behind this, as you point out, but that doesn't mean we should tolerate anti-gente, anti-arte behavior.

As you say, "graffiti needs to be legitimized. It is art too, but we have to build on that as a foundation and give the youth the resources to let them expand on their ideas and their creativity." As you probably know, art like Boyle Heights was once considered graffiti, until the rest of the things you describe did happen. So now we have the 60s-70s art of the older generation of grafitti-taggers being sprayed over by a new generation. Thus, the contradiction.

We welcome your comments.

XICANOguy82 said...

I agree with all of you, but I guess I have to challenge myself to ask questions that delve deeper into one of the issues at hand...the miseducation of Chicanos today, and the environments that limit their potential to contribute positively to the community. Unfortunately, taggers won't respect art if they dont know what art is, and they certainly won't respect history, if they don't know how their lives and ancestry influence(d) that history. I guess its about empowerment and legimitimizing their ideas and their existence. As an educated Chicano I am so proud of who I am and my people in general. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think, "Damn, I'm so proud to be Chicano" hahaha. I wish taggers, gangsters, and even their parents had that same pride. The desecration of important cultural monuments is a testament to a system that aims to steal this pride and knowledge of self. As an amatuer grafitti artist (don't trip, I've only tagged on my school notes), I'm amazed about how good some of this grafitti is! I believe that our community holds the most intelligent and gifted minds...we just have to direct some to use them positively. Dope discussion everyone! Stay brown. ;)