My new column for ArtCat Zine is up so check it out. I review & talk to the controversial author of Vandal Squad, Joseph Rivera (pictured above).
A former member of New York’s anti-graffiti police team, Rivera has written a very intriguing book about the graffiti world through the eyes of a cop.
Here’s an excerpt from my interview:
HV: The graffiti community has really come down hard on your book and many people are refusing to buy it, did you expect that or did you think graffiti writers were ready to hear your side of the story? Has there been any reaction (for better or worse) from your fellow cops?
JR: Graffiti vandals are afraid to admit there are other stories to be told besides their war stories. I guess they feel they have to distance themselves from any law-enforcement figures. I assume they want to save face with their peers! I recently heard that a graffiti vandal was arrested for spray painting and what do you think was in his bag! Yes, a copy of Vandal Squad!
The individuals I use to work with actually have given nothing but positive feedback, they actually enjoyed the stories and it brought them back in time seeing the trains with so much damage. The whole experience has been nothing short of great!
Also of interest is an event on Thursday, March 19 (7–9pm) at the powerHouse Arena (37 Main Street, Brooklyn). powerHouse will host a first-ever conversation between former members of the Vandal Squad and graffiti writers.
Panelists include Vandal Squad author Joseph Rivera, former Commanding Officer Lieutenant Steven Mona, original Vandal Squad Lieutenant Ken Chiulli, graffiti legend COPE2, graffiti activist Ket, and street artist ELLIS G. The event will be moderated by cultural consigliere Sacha Jenkins SHR.