I don't see much to celebrate in the legacy of Cool Disco Dan
Cool Disco Dan, Danny Hogg, was a graffiti tagger in DC, very active in the 1980s, and he recently died ("'A folk hero': D.C. street art legend Cool 'Disco' Dan dies at 47," Washington Post).
There is a documentary on him, which ran recently on one of the HDTV channels of ABC7 in Washington. In honor of his death, the Anacostia Community Museum is showing the documentary later today.
Friday 2pm- 4pmAs a person concerned with commercial district revitalization, I am torn about graffiti. Graffiti is seen as a detriment by many in terms of perceptions of community safety.
Joe Pattisal’s 2014 documentary film, The Legend of Cool “Disco” Dan, narrated by DC native, Henry Rollins and featuring testimonials from Marion Barry, Chuck Brown, DC Scorpio, Reverend Walter Fauntroy and other influential voices from the 1980s.
There is a difference between mere "tagging" and artistic expression/commentary/innovation. Graffiti tagging is different from murals and other similar kinds of public art, although I can let slide some graffiti, if put more on interstitial spaces, it is particularly creative or commentary.
If it isn't anything but a tag/name, how does it contribute to community, rather than an individualist expression that mars the built environment?
See this 2003 Post report, "2 Charged With Graffiti: Md. Men Spray-Painted in Much of D.C., Officials Say," on graffiti damage on H Street NE.
The same issue came up with "the work" of Borf, which was focused on tagging, not political expression, although there was one particular daring example of the tagging of a highway sign on Constitution Avenue ("The Mess That's Hard To Miss," 2007).
I dealt with a similar problem as a Main Street manager in Brookland in 2007, when multiple buildings were tagged similarly, including the former Newton Theater, now landmarked.
Banksy, now that's another story. cf. the documentary on the competition between "Banksy" and "Robbo," called Graffit Wars."
Banksy graffiti painted on the border wall demarcating the West Bank-Israel border.
In fact today there are new reports of Banksy painting again on this wall, showing President Trump's love of walls ("Trump graffiti on West Bank barrier mocks love of walls: Artwork resembles work of elusive artist Banksy; one image has US president wearing a skullcap, vowing to construct ‘a brother’ for the barrier," Times of Israel).
Or the "graffiti crews" that have migrated to large scale public art projects infused by graffiti, e.g., a neighborhood scale mural in Bogota, Colombia.
I don't see much value or anything heroic in the work of Cool Disco Dan from that perspective.
the narrative of "Chopper" in the A.D. 2000/Judge Dredd comic series from the early 1980s, of graffiti being a way to make a mark in an otherwise atomized society.