(Hate words? Go straight to the pics. Or read. As you wish.)
1. Stressed out from grading, paper proofing, writing and other responsibilities, I broke today down into many parts. Intense work. Followed by three hours of riding around, punching a hole in the ozone and taking pictures. Then, several more hours of paperwork. And, now, goofing around on this machine in the dead of night.
2. On the earlier drive, I hit some familiar haunts: East Saint’s downtown and side streets, South City alleyways, the usual. And I hit some familiar topics. Found a Rat Fag. Located a few arrows and red doors, artificial markers that I use to keep my eye focused. Somewhere along the way, I figured (again) that I probably take too many shots of the same stuff. “Misguided dedication,” I texted out, while perched on a dead-end road in East Saint, watching a traffic-jammed 55/70 slowly pass; there, I took a pic of three LD graf writings on the back of long-gone business. But in more time, I realized that these kinds of photo days are really enjoyable to me. They don’t have to pass anyone’s else’s fun test. In fact, dredging up shots of graf’s been a hobby for a bit now. And wasn’t that sky beautiful?
3. Re: graf, I’ve been asking, if not begging my media contacts for someone in town to let me do a long-form, or long-range bit of reporting on graf. I know some hobbyists, past and present. And people who’ve had their buildings touched-up. And civic types who hate it. And art gallery types who’ll incorporate the work into shows. To the credit of stlmag.com, I’ve been allowed to wet my beak on the topic via the Culture blog (nee Look/Listen). It appears that it’s a topic that draws some eyeballs, as pieces on the USS Inaugural and Rat Fag were among the top-five blog items on that site last year. Again, I’m appreciative of the smaller pieces, but I wanna take the big bite, y’know?
4. And here’s where I get confused by how to independently fund self-inspired journalism. Let’s say you’re an individual writer. You want to pursue a larger story, or thread of stories. You do the legwork, then get polite “no’s” from queries, or no responses, at all. What then? A few years back, I tried to raise money to literally live as a solo St. Louis journalist, just pre-Kickstarter/etc. Raised a few bucks that way, but I could never shake the feeling that I was out on the corner, with a tall tale about needing to get to Dellwood on the bus. But if nobody’s buying the pieces…?
5. Oh, so there’s a name going up on walls all over right now: 2buck Brrr (or so I’m reading it; my bad if it’s Brrr 2buck, or a variant that my eyes aren’t reading). I found four pieces yesterday, and assumedly part of an unfinished fifth. The last of the batch were found on the walls of Jeff Lockheed’s abode. Now, Jeff’s done more for public art in town than almost anyone; his reputation for building out the Venice Cafe as a piece of public art, for all to enjoy, is a given. For someone to tag his house? That’s like an altar boy whizzing on the front steps of the rectory. Damn. Brassy. Well, as you see, Jeff’s responded with his own messages, so he doesn’t need me to take up the cause.
6. This wasn’t a total surprise, though, as Jefferson’s been getting lit up lately, with abandoned buildings and rehabs, hydrants and power poles all getting touched of late, with a real emphasis of activity between Gravois and Arsenal. That’s the kind of thing I’d love to tackle, from a multi-faceted angle, talking to all the interested stakeholders; and, yeah, if it meant a midnight run, or two, with the perps, I ain’t scurred; actually, I’d look forward to the conversations. (Of course, now that this is floated out into the public space, I can see a young writer RFT ripping off a “STL’s Top 10 Douchiest Tags” photo spread in the next week. If that happens, oh my. Someone’s house is gonna tagged, alright.)
7. Lastly, things get weird. Before dropping by, yes, the Venice Cafe, I popped into the world-famous Shell station at Lemp and Arsenal, only there to buy a Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood and an Evening-Whirl. Glancing at the Whirl inside the Venice, I notice that on page 4A of this week’s issue, managing editor Brian Ireland’s got a piece called “City Hall’s Petticoat Junction Mentality: Needs More Graffiti…”, an op/ed that essentially argues that the town should be painted liberally. This is a POV that’ll surely get some $1.50 Whirl’s moving off the stands. And it might also be a sign that I should be pitching the Whirl on stories, like, tomorrow.
The Whirl’s a buck-fifty. Yesterday’s pictures are free.