Friday, April 3, 2009

Second Annual Uptown Update Graffiti Challenge

It was one year ago today that we challenged our readers to make April anti-graffiti month. Lots of calls to Graffiti Blasters were made in April 2008, and lots of graffiti was removed from our community. Let's see if we can double that in 2009.

We're asking you to keep an eye out when you're walking the dog. When you go out to grab a cup o' joe and a newspaper. When you're running errands. We're asking you to bring your cell phone and call 311 to request Graffiti Blasters come out and erase each and every graffiti tag you see.

How much difference can we make, in just one month, in how Uptown looks? How many requests can we call in during April? How much can we accomplish, together, to free our neighborhood from the blight of graffiti?

UPDATE: Sad to say, the owners of the legendary Hotel Chelsea (now called Friendly Towers) at 920 W Wilson still haven't arranged to have their property cleared of the tagging, even after we challenged them to do it a year ago. It's hard to imagine why someone wouldn't request that graffiti scrawls be removed from their residence and vehicles, but it takes all kinds, we guess.


  1. Good luck with your unwinnable battle. Humans have been drawing on walls ever since they discovered pigment -- before the invention of the written language.

  2. Great. So the human race hasn't progressed one iota in the last 10,000 years or so?

    How many of those humans went around drawing on other peoples' walls?

    To liken gang tags with art is socially ignorant and demonstrates a true lack of community concern.

  3. For taking off spray paint and marker graffiti on many painted surfaces I have used a product named Goof Off, of course I refer to it as Gang Off. It works well with a little bit of the old elbow grease and only takes off a bit of the underlying paint. Gang Off obviously will not work on brickwork or other surfaces that need blasting, nor will it rid the area of bangers, it will however allow you to erase some graffiti in minutes.

  4. I always thought that an interesting tack would be to created billboards that mock the gangs who engage in tagging. A little public ridicule might do the trick.

    But until then, its graffiti blasters for me.

  5. Candice, I'm just wondering if anyone has ever painted or etched on an expensive item of yours?

  6. There's a wax like substance you can put on walls frequently tagged by "artists". Makes removing the "art" much easier.

    Sorry, I don't recall the name and I'm not at home to check the bottle I have..........of the wax........I do have a "bottle of beer" in front of me.

  7. if anyone knows of a good graffiti artist let me know. $$$

  8. And a bottle in front of me is better than a frontal labotomy. happy friday everyone.

  9. Mirielle, I'm wondering who in blazes on this blog would even admit to knowing a "good" graffiti artist.

  10. See, Candice, you just don't get it. If people want to act like 18-month-olds, we're not out to cure them. Apparently their parents didn't do a very good job of teaching them about not writing on walls when they were toddlers, and a blog isn't gonna change that.

    What we can do is encourage Uptowners to make calls and ensure that the property they own and pass by every day gets cleaned up.

    What we can do is to continue to go to court when these taggers are caught to to ensure they get fined, get community service, and get to make restitution.

    As far as fighting an "unwinnable" battle, you must think people should just roll over and play dead when confronted with the worst of the human condition. Not here, sweetie.

  11. There is a movie out there which gets into the subject of "Art vs. Graffiti" called "Bomb-it". It has a really looking through rose-colored glasses view of graffiti "art". The fact of the matter is that most of the graffiti out there is NOT ART, it is used by gangs to mark their turf. Maybe Candice turns a blind eye to all the drug deals going down during daylight hours in the middle of the street. Lets be real people, graffiti is a gang territory device, and we need to take back the streets as our own.

  12. Most of you are wrong. Gangs typically do not bother themselves with graffiti whatsoever; they sell drugs. "Marking turf" is simply a waste of their time, as is traveling to the suburbs to acquire the spray-paint to do so.

    Most residents new to uptown, cannot distinguish between graffiti done by gangs, and the "street art" attempts done by their own teenage children. As a former graffiti writer, born & raised in uptown, I've been running a street-art themed clothing brand since 2004 as a means to channel the creative talents/urges of my graffiti friends and I.

    An alternative to consistently spending tax dollars cleaning graffiti in Uptown, is to allow just one or two neighborhood walls to be legally painted (perhaps one erected near the Wilson skate park) That would make a tremendous difference in the amount of illegal graffiti in the area, by providing an outlet for those looking for a place to paint. Legal spaces for street art address the root of the problem more directly. Youth programs put together by Uptown organizations such as Alternatives and Kuumba Lynx have already made significant strides in the area.

    And Mirielle, I know several good graffiti artists, people with over 10 years experience, eager for an opportunity to make a living off their talent. Feel free to contact me for more info,

  13. *An alternative to consistently spending tax dollars cleaning graffiti in Uptown, is to allow just one or two neighborhood walls to be legally painted (perhaps one erected near the Wilson skate park)*

    Cool by me.

  14. So, how would you go about removing spray paint from fabric?

    JPUSA is volunteer run, so feel free to volunteer. You see us every day of the summer walking by with a group of suburban kids from around the world, what makes you think we would refuse a helping hand from our neighbors?

  15. Oh, Otto, you're so funny. Surely you've heard of fabric paint? If not, maybe, just maybe, some of the JPUSA artists who are always at work just across the street have? Maybe some of your many construction crew members might have a moment?

    Maybe you could suggest to your Boy Scout troop that they earn Eagle Scout points by painting over it? or maybe you could talk to the high school that's right next door, whose students are required to do community service projects?

    Barring ALL that, if you post here the name and phone number of the property manager for Friendly Towers, I'm sure a couple UU readers can drop on over with a ladder and some fabric paint and cover up that tag in about 20 minutes.

    Neighbors helping neighbors.

  16. Really, I thought you guys were talking about removing the paint, not painting over it.

    Seems like that would have been a lot less trouble than what you have made it seem by continuing to post about it on a public blog. If you have answers, why not be the solution? You just like being the squeaky wheel I guess.

    And so paint is the solution for the Latin Kings tag on the seniors bus as well?

  17. Deflect, deflect, deflect! Here we make an offer to help you out, come up with all sorts of suggestions about how you can make your building look better at absolutely no cost to your organization, and you get all defensive?

    We're tempted to pout.

    Now, the name and contact information for the manager of Friendly Towers? We just want to help.

    As far as removing the Latin Kings tag from the minivan, well, Otto, there's this thing we crazy condo-owning freaks -- and most other people -- have. It's called Pride of Ownership.

    If a violent drug-selling street gang puts their logo on our home or car, we have enough pride of place and respect for the neighborhood to remove it quickly.

    Sadly, the appearance of the building and van makes it look like Friendly Towers lacks that sense of pride and respect. If you have a stable of craftsmen affiliated with JPUSA, and enough money and/or talent to have the minibus stenciled with the Friendly Towers logo in the first place, surely someone there can put enough brain cells together to figure out how to remove it. (Hint: Google "Earl Scheib").

    But if you want your transportation to continue to advertise for the Latin Kings, well, there's really nothing we can do about that.

    One thing -- calling us names and trying to paint the neighbors as the bad guys doesn't take away from the fact that it's JPUSA's property that looks, at best, shabby and at worst, like it's affiliated with street gangs. It reflects poorly on you... not us.

    Here's the funny thing. We know folks in JPUSA. We love 'em to death. You're the sour apple in the barrel, buddy. I guess the role of passive/aggressive scolding pouty-face Christian curmudgeon was open after a certain someone moved south.

    Free labor is available for the awning. If you don't give us the opportunity to help, and you don't take care of it in-house, guess we'll have to keep dialing 311. Ball's in your court, dude.

  18. "An alternative to consistently spending tax dollars cleaning graffiti in Uptown, is to allow just one or two neighborhood walls to be legally painted (perhaps one erected near the Wilson skate park) That would make a tremendous difference in the amount of illegal graffiti in the area, by providing an outlet for those looking for a place to paint." Rafe

    Odd, but I was listening to NPR tonight and they mentioned that research has shown that graffiti is not reduced by providing legal areas to do graffiti. The reason they discovered is that many graffiti artists enjoy the thrill of doing something illegal.

    My own opinion from having taught school and also from working in a children's hospital is that we also need to respect what parents want when we encourage youth in their art projects. Most parents I've come across want their children to stay clear of any type of graffiti. I certainly believe art serves as a wonderful means for youth to express themselves, but with some guidance, that can happen without stifling any creativity.

    NPR also mentioned some good news about new technology that helps with the arrests of taggers. This new idea is being tried out in a town in California and it's been very successful with getting a large number of arrests. They didn't go into details because of the desire to not educate the graffiti tagger, but it has something to do with the use of technology to detect the smell of paint in areas that are prone to graffiti. Maybe the war on graffiti is winnable after all.

  19. Any auto supply store will have "rubbing compound".

    That should take the graffiti off the van. The longer you wait the more difficult it will be to remove the unwanted paint.

    I wonder how quickly JPUSA would remove the tag if it criticized JPUSA or Jesus himself. Let's say it was red colored satanist graffiti. My guess is the graffiti would disappear quickly.

    Leaving gang graffiti on a vehicle or wall is wrong. So be a good neighbor JPUSA and take care of it.