Monday, June 29, 2009

IZ the Wiz

(video and death notification via Gothamist)

New York City Subway graffiti artist Iz the Wiz died earlier this month. Born Michael Martin, Iz tagged every line more than any artist. He died at 49 June 17 in his brother's home in Florida as the result of a heart attack. Iz suffered severe kidney trouble, which is believed to be the result of inhaling toxic paint fumes and tunnel dust.

Iz is quoted by the Telegraph as referring to his norotoriety with some disdain: "I would trade it all back for perfect health." And though the grafiti and art world is at a loss for losing him, we've probably received a greater gift from his work than he ever realized. And I'm saying a lot, because Iz appeared in 1983's Style Wars and Wild Style, and videogame Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.

Iz's career in 1972 at the age of 14. He worked his way through each subway line, sometimes completing up to, or more than, 100 throw-ups a night. Iz sometimes worked alone, covering the full length of a train, covering the area from top to bottom (see above video), but he sometimes worked with other artists, covering the entire surface of a subway car. (You can read an interview detailing more here.) When MTA took a hard line in the 80s to these infractions, Iz took on freight trains and (presumably blank) wall space in Queens. The following decade Iz was "instrumental in the development of the Phun factory as a place where writers could paint legally, allowing many writers to emerge from retirement."


I can't endorse this activity—it is illegal, and for good reasons, plus bad grafitti brings down the value of the property people are riding, and degrades the image of transit—but I can certainly appreciate Iz's work, both as a amaetur artist myself, a serios transity rider, and hip hop culture enthusiast (is there a better way to say that and sound less pretentious?). I know my favorite stretches on the Light Rail were over and under bridges, when the sun shone brights, illuminating the city, and large stretches of brightly painted concrete.

Monday, June 22, 2009

NBC 4 is driving me crazy

There's been a horrific Red Line collision on DC's Metro (my coverage here and here). Naturally, everyone is covering it. This is the "deadliest" accident in Metro's history, with four fatalities and more than 100 riders injured. (There have been accidents in the past, this is just the "first of this magnitude.")

Unfortunately this means sticking two, mildly irritating news anchors, and hoping they behave with some shred of journalistic integrity.

Totally not happening.

First, Pat Collins is sent to the scene. If I'm in the news, for any reason, the last person I want reporting is Pat Collins. His slow annunciation forces a weird, sad, sensationalist presentation.

An anchor is harping that this crash will make traffic bad. Because that people will sit in traffic is SO MUCH WORSE than FOUR DEAD PEOPLE, which includes a TRAIN OPERATOR.

The same anchor is harping that the accident must be because there was track work, relying on Tweets as a source of information. People riding a train do not know the reason there is slow activity. This is rush hour, so delays would be natural.

She speculates and asks every person she can to confirm track work. Surely, this is track work!

But NBC 4 and riders are forgetting that Metro does its track work and maintenance on the weekend. That way riders will have less delays to deal with and no one will be late for work. Metro has said that while it may be possible, it is ridiculous to assume that track maintenance would be the cause of the accident. Metro says that a train was stopped, waiting to pass a platform, when the other train hit it from behind.

Pat Collins and the in-station anchors are using slang words as adjectives, including "slammed," (something you might slap on a desk) "plowed" (pedestrian at best) and "rammed." While they are probably accurate, it's speculative as no witnesses have been sourced or interviewed. This is a sensational report for NBC 4, not a fatal accident. Dicks.

Correction! At 7:46 p.m. Collins interviews someone who explains the sound of the noise. Still no eyewitness account, so my immature name-calling still stands.

Until we know from a reliable source what happened and have a more official account it would be best NOT to speculate.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dear Bike,

I can't wait to see you again. My new helmet finally arrived in the mail, and as soon as it's nice out during the daylight, we will meet again. Maybe we will meet tomorrow, weather provided, presuming physical therapy doesn't wear me out so much that I want to roll over and die.

We might not make it to the end of the street, but maybe we will. We might not make it all the way to our beloved cows, but maybe we will! If we do, we probably won't make it back, but we'll figure it out.

I miss you terribly. I'm also a little fat and a little lonely. But with you in my life again, I know we'll be okay.

All my love,

Monday, June 8, 2009

She was unbearable

Dear Kelly,

I knew I didn't like you before you boarded the Red Line train to Shady Grove at Union Station. Before we reached Judiciary Square, I learned what a rude young lady you are, only confirming my suscpicions. In short, you think you are better than your brunette companion because you go to "White, conservative AU," wanted to go to a private elementary school, but suffered through a public school before ending up a better high school, which with all its AP courses, "was on 20/20 like all the time, didn't you see it?"

You're also a better person because you wanted to "help" New Orleans (you didn't go), are "super" close with your parents, and love DC off-campus, even if it's dirty and full of minorities! And totally scary! Gosh, you are a trooper. I've maken a note and intend to nominate you for your willingness to ride the Metro, which must be super scary.

There's a lesson here, Kelly. If you weren't so LOUD I wouldn't know how mean and judgemental you are when forced to commute and intend conferences with your peers, or feel compelled to mock you by way of blog post, while sitting on the train.

Regrettably there is a second lesson. I know your name because you wildly flung your limbs with reckless abandon to the dismay of those around you. And all of your personal information was in your left hand. Gee, thanks! Now I know even more about someone I was trying to avoid.

Anyway, best of luck to you in this scary city, Kelly! Please be more mindful on your future off-campus excurions.



(also posted here)