Going All City: Struggle and Survival in LA's Graffiti Subculture (Paperback)

Going All City: Struggle and Survival in LA's Graffiti Subculture Cover Image
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Description


We could have been called a lot of things: brazen vandals, scared kids, threats to social order, self-obsessed egomaniacs, marginalized youth, outsider artists, trend setters, and thrill seekers. But, to me, we were just regular kids growing up hard in America and making the city our own. Being ‘writers’ gave us something to live for and ‘going all city’ gave us something to strive for; and for some of my friends it was something to die for.”
 
In the age of commissioned wall murals and trendy street art, it’s easy to forget graffiti’s complicated and often violent past in the United States. Though graffiti has become one of the most influential art forms of the twenty-first century, cities across the United States waged a war against it from the late 1970s to the early 2000s, complete with brutal police task forces. Who were the vilified taggers they targeted? Teenagers, usually, from low-income neighborhoods with little to their names except a few spray cans and a desperate need to be seen—to mark their presence on city walls and buildings even as their cities turned a blind eye to them.
 
Going All City is the mesmerizing and painful story of these young graffiti writers, told by one of their own. Prolific LA writer Stefano Bloch came of age in the late 1990s amid constant violence, poverty, and vulnerability. He recounts vicious interactions with police; debating whether to take friends with gunshot wounds to the hospital; coping with his mother’s heroin addiction; instability and homelessness; and his dread that his stepfather would get out of jail and tip his unstable life into full-blown chaos. But he also recalls moments of peace and exhilaration: marking a fresh tag; the thrill of running with his crew at night; exploring the secret landscape of LA; the dream and success of going all city.
 
Bloch holds nothing back in this fierce, poignant memoir. Going All City is an unflinching portrait of a deeply maligned subculture and an unforgettable account of what writing on city walls means to the most vulnerable people living within them.

About the Author


Stefano Bloch is a cultural and urban geographer, ethnographer, and a semiretired graffiti writer from Los Angeles. He is assistant professor in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona. This is his first book.

Praise For…


“Intensely personal. . . . Bloch blends resonant memoir, academic scholarship, and streetwise storytelling in a truly unique urban study.”

— Booklist

"This tensely engaging memoir documents Bloch’s elaborate, daily remapping of streets, blocks and neighbourhoods along shifting coordinates of physical access, subcultural status, public visibility and the daily dangers offered up by street gangs and the police. . . . His was a street cartography of consequences." 

— Times Higher Education

"A brave portrait of a highly criticized subculture and a look inside the reality of growing up in low-income Los Angeles."

— LA Weekly

“This vivid autoethnography provides a shattering account of life in the LA ‘gang hoods’—and the warmth and companionship that somehow survive the horrors. A remarkable picture, presented with insight and sympathetic understanding.”

— Noam Chomsky

“Bloch unflinchingly peels back all the layers of artifice, hype, and sensationalism to reveal a stark portrait of struggling to survive and make meaning in a landscape of disorder and deprivation.”

— Alex S. Vitale, author of The End of Policing

Going All City is an amazing read that is impossible to put down. A cutting-edge geographical exploration of under-examined Los Angeles landscapes, this poignant, insightful book is unique within graffiti scholarship and expansive in our understanding of the city. Depicting the pain of a childhood spent in poverty, the ambiguity of race, and the subjective experience of policing and gangs, this is the remarkable story of just one of thousands of young people who have found power in the clandestine practice of graffiti.”

— Susan Phillips, author of The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti

“Bloch knows how dangerous art can be for aerosol warriors: their imaginations arrested and expressions pathologized. He also elucidates the undeniable brilliance exploding on walls, utility poles, and underpasses.”

— Luis J. Rodriguez, author and former LA Poet Laureate

“Tagging graffiti is a voyage of self discovery mixed with the danger of street gangs, police, and vandalism. Through his book, CISCO is still tagging his story and name on the walls inside your mind.”

— Chaz Bojórquez, artist and LA graffiti writer

"A brave portrait of a highly criticized subculture and a look inside the reality of growing up in low-income Los Angeles."

— LA Weekly


Product Details
ISBN: 9780226493589
ISBN-10: 022649358X
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: November 14th, 2019
Pages: 240