Cornbread and Me
Cornbread. Cool Earl. The two most prolific graffiti artists in Philly during the 70's. If you knew how to read back then, you knew those names, recognized their distinctive tags. Especially Cornbread's.
I'm conflicted about graffiti. Lots of real and pop psychologists explain it's a way for the disenfranchised to say, I EXIST, I'M HERE, I'M A PERSON TOO.
I don't like it but I get it. I'm lucky enough not to need such validation. I have family, friends, an education, a career, a stable home life, a home, period... all attesting to my worth as a human being.
Graffiti writers have few, if any, self-esteem safety nets. The crumbling buildings in their neighborhoods scream out poverty, hopelessness, despair.
So I also understand the urge to cover up--or brighten up--those painfully ugly walls.
Both arguments--or excuses, take your pick--lose credibility when graffiti writers spray filth, rage, hate on walls. Especially walls beyond their neighborhoods and into ours. Which is despicably hypocritical. But true.
However. Cool Earl and Cornbread were different. Their tags were unusual. Clever. Colorful. Still, I don't know if you'd call their work "art," as a recent book and documentary claim.
Last weekend somebody sprayed decidedly un-artistic graffiti all over our garage, which makes me mad as hell.
Of course the real reason might be that they didn't include my name.