Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wonder Which Alderman She Works For?

An astute reader alerted us to this "Chicagoist" poster who calls herself "This is Awkward" and says that she lives in Andersonville and works for "one of your local Aldermen/women."
Read her thoughts on graffiti below:

"This thread is obviously spinning on way too long, but I'd like to say something in defense, if I may. Its interesting that you, among other people assume that Artillery606 and the other graffiti defenders here are:

Not property owners
Young people
Do not have steady jobs
Do not have respect for the city/property/law

Just because someone doesn't fit into your narrow model of a citizen doesn't mean ANY of the above are true. For example, I can tell you that Artillery606 has a great and respectable job, is an old fart, and is not on part with rapists and other felony offenders.

Many graffiti artists have lucrative (read respectable) gallery careers among other things. They do way more art than you can imagine. Maybe they do stuff just as great as your precious Banksy you saw in your Urban Outfitters graf book. You're all so quick to assume a tag is just a scribble from a 14 year old lame brain.

People think that their "property rights" are so holy. Well for all of us who feel their neighborhoods, cities, blocks, universe has been taken over by 35 year old white property owners, some of us are trying to take it back.

So much of graffiti is about reclaiming space. Ever considered why some people REALLY might do it?"


  1. I bet Mary Ann Smith....right?

  2. Get a real job, your still a tagger , not an artist.

  3. Stealing, you know, is just about reclaiming stuff. Murder, just about reclaiming life.

    This person needs a beating. It'll be about reclaiming respect.

  4. Not so keen on this post, UU. What is the purpose? How in the world are we supposed to conjecture who this person is? What is more, why should we? Participating in virtual discussions has become an important form of self-expression nowadays as is exploring on-line identities. I am not interested in calling someone out on this aspect of their free speech. What matters to me is what office holders actually do policy-wise. We know there is enough to call people out on in that arena. Why extend the critique further?

    Although graffiti is a crime and I am against it, the person does offer a well-crafted statement of the reasons he or she is "pro" graffiti. (And for that reason alone, I rule out Helen Shiller herself as the author!) This person is clearly an artist (whether amateur or not) and seems to have a broad definition of "art" and seems to be a proponent of the political purposes to which art may be put. I am not defending their position, but I will defend their right to have it.

  5. People think that their "property rights" are so holy. Well for all of us who feel their neighborhoods, cities, blocks, universe has been taken over by 35 year old white property owners, some of us are trying to take it back.

    This person badly needs a history lesson. Historically, the government/ruler, or a very few wealthy elite, were the only ones legally able to own land. Individual property rights were one of the bases of our Constitution, as a way to ensure that the citizenry had a voice in their country and government.

    The Founders "believed that property was 'the guardian of every other right,' for without the right to own and use and enjoy one's property free from arbitrary governmental interference, there could be no liberty of any sort."

    So "Awkward's" claim that defacing others' property is a way to "take it back" assumes property is owned by the collective population, and the property owners are "bad" for taking it out of the collective ownership. Wonder where he or she got that misinformation?

    In actuality, the "holy" right to own property is a way to make sure that the right of ownership remains out of the reach of a government or despot.

    Good reading here on how property rights underlie many of the rights we take for granted, such as freedom of speech and right to privacy. "Awkward" may want to stop drinking the Koolaid and take notes.

    Individual Freedom and the Bill of Rights

  6. Ya' know as a white 37year old punker-condo owner who fucking pays property taxes that goes to the local schools for kids that are not mine & other local amenities- I'm tired of feeling like I'm the one to be blamed just for living here. I want to know how much money and her time she puts into her local communinty!
    I can't wait until she buys a place and has to pay property taxes and then finds out where her "hard earned" money is going to. Stupid Hipster.

  7. As 32 year old punker, condo owner w/ a 5 month old future punker I agree. The problem is that kids like don't really have anything to rebel against. They don't have any legitimate complaint as they are likely a product of a good home where mom and dad still pay for their rock and roll lifestyle. So they decide that "35 year old white property owners" are an easy target. I like graf art, but there is a difference between a gang tag and graf art. There are also buildings, and stores that might like a graf mural, hell they might even pay for it. But then that would make them part of the establishment. Can't win I guess.

  8. "they decide that "35 year old white property owners" are an easy target."

    Although Uptown has always been home to self-loathing middle class poseurs turned "radicals"...and it is now lead by an aging one...It seems to me that you can't really dismiss their actions as taking advantage of an "easy target." They mean this to be a very clear political statement and we should too. The author said that this is an attempt to "reclaim space" and I believe it is. Although I defended this person's rights to hold this belief individually, I think the important point is when you have an elected official who is protecting and privileging this particular form of political expression in some way. I don't know if there is any proof that Shiller keeps cops from catching taggers and illegal graffiti? That is really the root of the issue---this is political expression (and although it is an illegal form of political expression) is it being protected and thus privileged?

  9. Contact the city and property owner about creating a mural instead of wasting the time and money of the owner to remove it.

  10. Maybe the propery owner doesn't want a mural.

    Anon 11:24, all murals do is encourage this behavior.

    Our entire neighborhood would be a mural if this was the solution.

  11. Unbelievable. As someone who knew a lot of graffiti artists and the scene when I lived in another city, I can say that I've heard all this self-vindicating justifications before. And they are crap. It's the same type of junk you hear from many hackers about their pursuits. And, yes, I was close to that scene at one time as well. It's all self-justifying rationalizations and ideology. Most grow up at some point. Some don't.

    Graffiti art can be quite good stuff. Just do it on canvas or with permission of the property owner. This isn't that complicated. But the self-righteous crusaders like to believe it is. Freedom, to them, is a one way thing. Respect theirs. They don't have to respect yours. Absolute shame that such a person works for an alderman.

  12. Re: "Although Uptown has always been home to self-loathing middle class poseurs turned "radicals"...and it is now lead by an aging one...It seems to me that you can't really dismiss their actions as taking advantage of an "easy target.""

    Make that Ivy-League-educated millionares turned Uptown Radicals turned Preachers's taking advantage of easy targets.

    Lest we not forget Ms. Shiller's former and current mentor, the born-into-East-Coast-Wealth Harvard Graduate, posing-as-poor leader of her Heart of Uptown Coalition, now turned REVEREND WALTER E. COLEMAN.

    You might have heard of Slim Coleman. He's now on the West side posing as Hispanic and is the church leader who harbored and media exploited the Mexican immigrant Elvira Arellano. Hell, he even led protest marches around the White House for attention.

    He still plays the two-faced games he taught Helen Shiller with his former Uptowner wife, Emma Lozano. Copy, Paste and Read for yourself.

  13. Go to YouTube and look him up. There are a few videos there too.

    He adopted the name "Slim" to fit in with the white southern migrants who came to live in Uptown during the late 50s, 60s and 1970s. He has some connection to Texas (raised there, I don't remember) and he has a bit of an accent. Anyway, to people who weren't onto him he looked like an leader borne up out of a hardscrabble existence on Uptown's streets. However He, like many others, came here from the universities in order to challenge inequality, racism and political power which benefited the wealthy at the expense of the poor. It was "think globally, act locally"...create the revolution at the grassroots. However Heart of Uptown came in at the tail end of this overall trend and they preferred to pursue their goals with more aggressive tactics. Eventually their tactics and their style became the prevailing one in this area and the coalition between wealthy (but liberal) property owners eroded. For example, O.N.E used to include the block clubs as members. Uptown's divisions have a deep history. But one thing is for sure: Helen Shiller has been around long enough to have been a part of them. She could have been a force to bridge them.

  14. The gang tags left on the front Staples last week are a far cry from Banksy, Futura, and Shepherd Farey. There is world of difference between graffiti done to make a political or social point and a young punk defacing property cause he has nothing better to do. Although "This Is Awkward" may have a point in a "world wide" type view, I hardly find that any of what she said is the case in Uptown. In all honesty, I wouldn't mind it if there was some value. But a pitchfork just doesn't have the same ring to it as a man launching a bunch of flowers.

  15. Street art and graffiti are very different things...

  16. Although Uptown has always been home to self-loathing middle class poseurs turned "radicals"...and it is now lead by an aging one"

    Self-Loathing Middle Class Poseur Turned Radical....I want a t-shirt with that on it.

  17. Although Uptown has always been home to self-loathing middle class poseurs turned "radicals"...and it is now lead by an aging one"

    I'm tired of these people. They are so uncomfortable with themselves and riddled with guilt for not having to struggle through life that they walk around with self-righteous indignation attacking people they deam too bourgeous or below them intellectually. What a miserable way to go through life.

  18. Sorry, I tried to make that quote a bit more obvious. Those first sentences were not my words...

  19. You want to make 'art'? Go enroll yourself in one of the FINE art schools right here in Chicago, not to mention the other Chicago schools who have extensive art programs.

    You want to have people see your 'art? Go to a bar, a gallery, a boutique, a museum, a cultural organization and say "hey-invite your lists of supporters to come and see my sh*t". Trust me they will and there will probably be wine and cheese.

    You want to 'decorate' all the nice and harmless REAL art appreciating resident's private, or public, property? Go to the city and apply for a permit to do so. Chicago has some of the best outdoor art, and those artists didn't disrespect anyone by properly displaying it.

    Go print a book, go create a website, go start your own little blog. If you ever want anyone to care about your style of expression, do it the right way.

    I won't tag your car or cat so don't tag my home.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. she's actually a smart girl. i knew her a while back, but i haven't talked to her in a long time.