Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 23, 2003

Making Their Mark

Signs of the times:Regarding David Holthouse's "Canned Heat," in the October 16 issue:

I'd like to thank David Holthouse for being a "willing accomplice" and sharing his findings about stencil graffiti with us. I've seen graffiti tagging throughout the Denver area and have actually tried to decipher meaning out of some of these scribbles and mumbo-jumbo; I just figured that most of it was gang lingo that didn't mean jack shit to me.

I appreciated the insight given about this stencil graffiti -- and especially appreciate the people coming up with fresh ideas for getting around the "corporate media." Keep the lines of communication open and unregulated! I'm so sick of corporations and their good ol' boy mentality. Beat the system!

Jennifer Stephenson
Denver

Post no bills:Ah, freedom of the press...to commission crimes and misdemeanors, to be sure, but what the hey. Now that I know the five W's behind political graffiti vandalism as aided and abetted by David Holthouse and Westword, I should thank you on behalf of an informed citizenry? Besides, what's the harm of a little damage and desecration of public and private property? Anything for a story, right, guys?

P.S.: I thought about billing Westword for the time and expense of removing this graffiti from my property, but maybe instead I'll commission someone to stencil you a message or two from time to time. Oh, my bad: That would be breaking the law, wouldn't it?

Dave Walstrom
Denver

Poster child:Nice stencil graffiti article by David Holthouse, but a few things to note:

1. There are more than just a few groups of artists. There are more people out there doing this than you think -- many with no group affiliation, or ones you don't know about.

2. Stencil graffiti groups/cliques/artists oftentimes use more than just paint. Posters and stickers play a large part, as well. Think wheat paste.

3. You took a picture of my friend's work, the greedy little AOL guy. Not that it matters; just letting you know.

Maybe I'll see Holthouse out some night.

Doff Bevy
Denver

On the frontlines:In "Canned Heat," David Holthouse's mention of not stenciling on storefronts as part of the anarchists' code of honor caught our attention. Mostly because the photo of the little AOL guy holding the dollar sign was a photo of our storefront. We only point this out because we get tagged on a daily basis and have to invest time and money cleaning it up. We can dig the message, but not cleaning up after it.

Stick it to The Man, not the independent businessman.

Wax Trax Records
Denver

Tag, he's it:I want to say that my disgust at the ignorance of David Holthouse's "Canned Heat" should in no way be interpreted as a slight to the rebellion of political stencil art. The stance Holthouse chose to take in separating political stencil (good) versus tagging (bad) was horribly ethnocentric and typical of the institutionalized classism and racism that is the true fabric of empirical societies. What it comes down to is that it's all art. Political art and art for arts' sake. All tagging is not gang-related, and all "indecipherable" monikers were not created for the eyes of a bigot -- thus the reason Holthouse and his ilk can't readily decipher that form of art.

I don't mean to be cynical, but just what kind of revolutionaries' code of honor consists of not hitting capitalist "storefronts, vehicles (SUVs) and other valuable private property"? Holthouse should come clean: He put that in his article so his subjects could show their parents that spending their twenties with the anarchists has been morally productive, securing their rights to that trust fund, of course. The article read as very staged. I think putting up stencil in affluent Capitol Hill locales is very pussy. Why not put it up by Park Hill recreation centers, where some of the disenfranchised youth (taggers) will see your work and be inspired into political thought? I guess that would be too revolutionary and might take time from hanging out at radical bookstores and coffeehouses.

Respect to all concerned citizens and all forms of solidarity with the overthrowing of this thief's administration. To all political art lovers and admirers of graf who want to witness real revolution, go down to Smith Road at Quebec and view pieces of artistic expression that cross the country by freight train, some never again to be seen by their artists.

Torrin N. Roberts
Denver

Violence tempered:Just a quick note regarding anarchism. Although many people who consider themselves anarchists fit into the classification described in "Canned Heat," it's worth noting that there are many forms of anarchist thought, practiced by a diverse range of people. Because of media and educational misconceptions and distortions, anarchism is often linked with violence. Non-violent anarchism (anarcho-pacifism) has a long and celebrated history of thinkers, activists and movements. Perhaps an article discussing the creative resistance of non-violent anarchists, or writers like Bookchin and Tolstoy, would help non-anarchists and violence-advocating anarchists see that violentsocial change, however grand, merely creates a new system based on authoritarian violence.

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