In the newspaper biz, you never really know for sure what articles are going to get letters, and what articles are not. We've run seemingly innocuous stories that struck a chord and flooded us with mail; we've run pretty edgy stuff that didn't bring in a single note.
Then there are the exceptions: Stuff you *KNOW* will bring in letters. And our cover story this week is one of those exceptions.
"Tagging Tales" was done by UA student Ashley Houk as a class assignment. She pitched it to us, and we liked the piece; after having her make a few tweaks, we ran with it. Here's why: It paints a fascinating picture of several folks in the "street art" community. Ashley and a colleague spent an evening with a couple of these graffiti artists; she went with them on a tagging trip, then interviewed them about why they do what they do.
I knew right away that because 1) we put this on the cover, and 2) because we even brought up the idea that some could consider graffiti "art," some people would have a cow. These cow-havers would claim we're glorifying evil cretin hoodlums.
Even though the piece also talks about the cost of graffiti to businesses and homes. And even though -- if you actually take the time to read the piece -- it sheds some startling light on how being a graffiti artist is not necessarily all that glorious.
Yeah, I knew we'd get letters. Here's the subject line from the first one we got:
Tagging??? What Next??? Drive-By's?? Home Invasions???
Um, OK. Graffiti's right up there with killing people???
In any case, I look forward to these letters. And I hope you find the story as interesting as I did.