The Latin Kings Are Such a Letdown

Hello Latin Kings!

It’s me again, your friendly neighborhood resident. You may remember from my earlier letter, which I hope you had time to read between your probation hearings. The weather is finally warm again, and you and I both know what that means — you don’t have to wear a parka over your colors, and you don’t have to take off your gloves to do all of your pop-capping. Yes, it’s Gang Season in Chicago again, my favorite time of the year. There’s so many great rituals: your moms on TV crying about how you were a good boy, Mayor Rahm looking like a chump, invisible turf wars, and a bunch of fools with bad haircuts standing around on the street doing pale imitations of tough guys. We should make commemorative shirts or something.

20140427_144332[1]I hope you won’t mind my asking for a favor; something you can do for me in the next few months before you get shot or go to prison. No, I’m not suggesting marksmanship classes again, though I really think you should reconsider.  If not that, have you considered archery? Since your aim is for crap, at least you could do your murdering with style. Have you seen the Hunger Games? It’s kids killing kids, just like you do, but with the flair – the panache – of bows and arrows. Plus, you’re the Latin Kings. It suits you. Maybe you could hold a tournament or something, like in Robin Hood.

Ok, I can understand that you’re not keen on marksmanship or archery. So can I ask for something easy?  Could you stop with the tagging? Sometime soon, you’re going to be gone, and I’m going to have to look at all of your tags throughout my neighborhood. Some of my neighbors call it “graffiti,” but I’m not going to use a fancy Italian word to describe it. There are people in the world called “graffiti artists” who are actually involved in some sort of artistic expression – do you know Banksy? Your stuff is just vandalism. Look at the picture at left. What is that? A bunch of scribbles, what appears to be a crown, and…a sword? It also looks kind of like a ring pop. You’re not even trying! Where’s the colorful cartoon letters like in the opening of the Fresh Prince? I have an advanced degree, and I look on the walls you’ve tagged and I have no idea what the artist is trying to say. My five year old creates more evocative drawings. I find no sense of scale or balance, and it’s really not much to look at. Maybe you should practice at home on a pad before you go out next time.

graf2I know that spray paint is hard to get in the city these days, but do you have to work in black all the time? Sometimes I think the tags are just done with a big Sharpie. Why risk arrest and fines if you’re not going to make a serious effort at expressing yourself? Frankly, the stuff I’ve seen lately is super repetitive. Just crowns and stars, and what I guess could be charitably called stylized letters. Are the Latin Kings just frustrated calligraphers? It’s nothing to get violent about.  Sometimes, I think you worry that no one will know that the crowns mean Latin Kings, so you also put “LK” next to them. You may not be much of an artist, but at least have confidence in your work. You didn’t see Picasso write “this is a baboon” next to that statue in Daley Plaza, did you? Take the opportunity to say something about the Latin Kings – do something that shows some individualism. If you’ve got to write, why not come up with a slogan slogan or motto to go with the crown? How about “Life is Short. Make it Shorter” or “Speak Poorly and Carry a Dime Bag?” You can thank me later.

You know who was really good at writing on walls? The Egyptians. Have you been to the Valley of the Kings? It’s really incredible. You should go sometime when you have some money and get off parole. Oh. Never mind. Anyway, think about it:  the Egyptians didn’t have modern tools, much less Sharpies and spray paint and they made much better stuff than the Latin Kings have ever come up with. Also, they didn’t just stick to one medium. You guys seem relatively well organized, and there’s apparently thousands of you. Why don’t you build a pyramid or a sphinx or something? Do you think anyone is going to be studying your civilization in a couple of millennia? All those dead Latin King leaders, and not a single giant temple or golden sarcophagus. It’s kind of a pity. The Egyptians made carvings of Gods with the heads of dogs and birds, and you’ve got  a ‘95 Civic with mismatched body panels and an ill-fitting spoiler. Hardly the stuff of a good museum collection.

I feel bad for the Latin Kings. Gangs used to be romantic, like in West Side Story or even cool in a menacing kind of way, like in Colors. Now you guys are just boring and predictable. I mean, the weather gets warm, and you get all shooty. You hardly control the market in drugs and guns anymore. Crack is over, and pot will be legal everywhere pretty soon. Any Yosemite Sam can buy an AR-15 or put a Glock 9 under their shirt and walk into Starbucks legally. As near as I can tell, the Latin Kings business is turf wars and score settling. Where’s the upside on that? Worse, where’s the style?

.

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23 thoughts on “The Latin Kings Are Such a Letdown

  1. Susan Rossetti says:

    Ouch

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Anonymous says:

    this is true, but it rings in deaf ears. standing on the corner again.

  3. StankSinatra says:

    You are very white. And very… ugly. Why don’t you spend an hour, or day, or week in the situation these “grafitti” artists do. You fucking make me sick, you have no capability for even a modicum of perspective or vision of what anyone outside of your cushy seat goes through. Try empathy for 10 seconds, or move to fucking Seaside Florida.

    • StankSinatra says:

      Anyone who spray paints on a wall, I’m sorry if you don’t realize this, most likely does not have access to a computer, much less find themselves in an easily bloggable scenario. The WALL IS THEIR BLOG. I feel bad I have to explain this to you, but this post makes me feel icky and I feel like you might need to read this. Please take a night or two, sleep on it, and find something productive to write about.

      • Stank,

        Thanks for your comments, and for the laugh. I never thought of my blog as a threat, a form of intimidation, or vandalism but otherwise your comparison is spot on. I’ll follow your lead and do my best to be patronizing and paternalistic to the Kings next time I see them.

        Incidentally, that whistling sound you hear is the point sailing over your head.

      • Anonymous says:

        If “the wall is their blog” what the fuck is their problem that they write the same thing over and over again? Thats what my 2 year old does. Somehow I highly doubt they want any empathy over their situation. But you have a point that it would be nice if they moved to seaside fucking Florida. Pretty sure a one way grayhound ticket costs the same as what they spend on spray paint so they can afford it.

      • ChicagoDB says:

        Stank – “to spend an hour, or day, or week in the situation”… let me enlighten you to a conversation recently overheard from an African American female MOTHER (used lightly) regarding her son… She was complaining that her son talks like a white person and only dates white girls because he wants to “better himself.” She was ripping on him for wanting to do better in school and not be poor anymore. At one point the mother quoted her son saying “It’s not your fault if you’re born poor but its your fault if you die poor.” Her response to that quote was “I am more thug than that.” Now tell me, are you really going to waste your efforts sticking up for parents/kids who are not fortunate enough to have the insight that the son in my example has? Heavier interest placed on being “more thug” and maintaining ones gang territory is only worsened when someone like yourself has a blind bleeding heart and doesn’t seek any accountability and makes excuses in their place.

      • brian says:

        …it’s as if your heart is in the right place, while your brain is stuck in the stank(ha) underbelly of youthful ignorance. Your defense of gang tagging seems to regurgitate from a mouth as disconnected from reality as the words you’ve denounced in the (admittedly)seemingly privileged, arrogant and ineffectual author.

        I’m white, and my fellow whities consistently disappoint me. Some(many) times I want to kick them in their repugnant, self-loving faces. I understand your sentiments, and would normally agree… if however, your words were pointed in the right direction.

        Yes, it sure does seem like the author is expounding from the perspective of a well-to-do, segregated, disconnected, narcissistic white person. Some of that may even be true, I don’t really care. I only stumbled upon this page as I was researching the increasing visibility of gang tags on my street(montrose). The author’s post seems to simply be an expression of concern(slathered in vapid sarcasm). It’s a pointless posting, as many blog entries are… but that’s ok. I really don’t think you’ve stumbled upon the racist motivation behind this post you think you have.

        You seem to know very little about graffiti, gang tagging, gang culture and the differences/similarities therein. Graffiti is an umbrella term, which can be applied to any form of wall writing. Graffiti is a subjective art. Personally, I love graffiti. I’d like to see it everywhere(i.e. Brazil), and on everything. I think, especially cities, could stand to be less standard, more colorful. I like graffiti in illegal spaces, commissioned graffiti and every legal teeter-totter in between. Yes, white sentiment(alderman pandering), white privilege, white money and white influence is why we see very little graffiti in our city. Ironically, people who’ve divided themselves from ever possibly understanding subcultures, graffiti, etc., are the exact same people who think gang tags and graffiti are synonymous, because they’re simply not influenced by anything but their own myopic realities.

        However.. what we’re seeing in our neighborhood is not graffiti as art. It’s a communicative and actionable threat to our safety. This is gang rep man, this is gang territory marking and rivalry by the Latin Kings. What reasoning are you standing on to defend this? Your soap box is crippled. These aren’t some poor kids without a computer, brashly connecting to a world that doesn’t see them. These are gangs. Whether or not these gangs actually do give back/protect their community(which actually is the case within factions of the Latin Kings, and otherwise violent gangs), is completely irrelevant. It’s still a threat to what has been a historically safe part of Chicago(while still being a relatively culturally diverse area, which is hard to find in this insane city). Sure, typically, gang representation through tagging is communication to other gangs. Their presence, however, brings property/personal crime from other gangs, drugs(heroin, crack), and violence.

        “Anyone who spray paints on a wall, I’m sorry if you don’t realize this, most likely does not have access to a computer, much less find themselves in an easily bloggable scenario.”

        The dumb runs deep. The irony, though, is that this is one of the most stereotypically white statements I’ve ever read. You’ve casually combined every person who graffitis in one conveniently backhanded flavor of word-vomit. Now I’ve not saying you’re white, but you certainly don’t make a good case for you not being a totally naive, out of touch and haughty hypocrite.

        Both you and the author are ridiculous. One, caustic and self-indulgent. The other, misdirected and narrow.

    • Brian Zeff says:

      I agree with @StankSinatra. Less because he called you “white” and “ugly” and more because his monicker is StankSinatra. I mean, c’mon! That’s good stuff.

  4. Jerm says:

    Give me a break @stanksinatra. Stop pulling the race card and appreciate the satire. Vandalism is vandalism. People work hard for their homes and want to create a safe environment for their family. Our homes are not meant for public blog sites and turf markings. Maybe we can leave pencils and paper on the corner? Sincerely, a non-white resident.

  5. jefe says:

    Even the Latin Kings can get a library card, and access computers at the Chicago Public Library, and set up a free blog, there are even free classes, all you need is interest and desire. Oh, and the ability to read and write.

  6. Anth says:

    @stank are you serious? The wall is their blog?? Most ridiculous thing I’ve read. It’s vandalism plain and simple. You must be related to or friends with some of these “bloggers”.

  7. Cecelia says:

    Loved this harsh piece of satire. Bitingly funny and unabashedly honest. Great read, thank you.

  8. Harry Haus says:

    Go back to the suburbs.

  9. Meh says:

    This whole post was kind of pointless. A bunch of snark and no takeaway. Poor satire in my opinion. I agree with the previous comments about the “whiteness” in the sense that the whole post reeks of privilege. Could have spent all that time saying something more meaningful (or at least more poignant).

    I’ll expect the author to tell me I’m stupid because I don’t understand followed by a bunch of patronizing “thank you’s” since that would be consistent with the tone of the post and these comments.

    P.S. I think gang graffiti is supposed to be ugly because it’s usually sprayed on a rival gangs turf. Just sayin.

    • amused says:

      @Meh: I’m not the author, and I don’t think your stupid. You’re just long-winded. You could have used half the space to make your point. Just sayin`.

    • You're Meh says:

      @Meh, I used to live in a LK neighborhood, I am not white, and definitely not what you will call privileged. I did not appreciate the millions of times that they would tag up the side of our house or our garage. Maybe you’d like to keep up with that maintenance, but I didn’t.

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