I’m a bit late blogging this, but I think it’s still interesting.
“I waved to one of them I recognised – who then shouted out ‘It’s Mullaney!’. And the whole crowd mobbed me outside the front door of the Bulls Head.
“They all wanted to shake my hand and have their photos taken with me – these photos have now appeared on the net. Even one of the three guys arrested in December was shaking my hand. Beatlemania in Moseley, eh?”
Beatlemania? Well, not quite. The quotes above are from my local councillor, Martin Mullaney, on a local e-group recently. Over the last few months, Martin’s been attempting to “get down”, in a way that only a local councillor would, with local taggers and graffiti artists. He’s managed it by going online, onto MySpace, YouTube and all the other places where the yoof of today hang out. The funny thing is, they kids (or at least, one particular group of them) are responding.
At first Martin made a few comments on graffiti websites either run, or heavily populated, by known local taggers. The investigation work was already well underway, with people like Moseley’s Street Wardens Kim and Graham having spent nearly three years gathering evidence, but it was Martin’s dad-like warning in the taggers’ “private space” that got the kids nervously shuffling (if you can do that online). “Unless you and your friends want a criminal record,” he wrote on one website’s guestbook, “I suggest you stop tagging in this area immediately.”
But then came the YouTube video.
Uploaded at the beginning of January, it’s already received nearly 300 comments – a direct chat between taggers (sUm oF wHoM hAv ReLy iNtRezTiN RiTiN sTyLez 4 sUpPoSeD KiNg EdWaRdS pUpiLz) and Martin, which makes interesting reading.
It’s also been the lead item on Central News, which has no doubt delighted both the taggers and Martin himself, who’s known round these parts for his – how do I say this in a nice way? – attention seeking (sorry, MM).
The best news to come out of all of this is that it’s not all just talk; three of the taggers were arrested just before Christmas and more are bound to follow. I’m not a fan of tagging (decidedly unartistic if you ask me), so anything that gets rid of spray can scrawls – with or without turning a local Councillor into a local hero – gets my vote.
Now reverse graffiti, on the other hand …