2.04.2013

[Bookshelf] Golden Boy As Anthony Cool

Before The Faith of Graffiti, Getting Up, Subway Art and all the other more well-known tomes dedicated to the act of writing on public spaces, there was Golden Boy as Anthony Cool: A Photo Essay on Naming and Graffiti. Penned by Herbert Kohl and illustrated with black and white photographs by James Hinton, this thoughtful and comprehensive essay was published by Dial Press in 1972. It was a book that came into being on the very cusp of a still adolescent time in the 20th century when writing on walls (and trains) would hit an unparalleled growth spurt in New York City. Its maturation there into a formidable art form would forever change the way most of us looked at senseless vandalism.

But graffiti writing has never been only an east coast only affair, and where other publications have fallen short by looking at the tagging of New York as something almost independent of contemporary urban precedents, such as murals and gangland tagging, Kohl connects the clear, interconnected dots to show the indelible bonds that exist between the names of teens on walls in NYC, gang related turf markings on the walls of Chicago, the youthful messages of racial and social protest in Berkeley, and the obscene bathroom stall graffiti found everywhere. In addition, the author explores the significance of naming, both the legal names that are given to us at birth, and the nicknames or "street names" that we chose or have chosen for us by those to whom we are closest.

From Ninety-third Street & Columbus Avenue in Manhattan to a prehistoric cave wall in the Dordogne region of France, Kohl traces the lineage of graffiti to the very core of human identity, and underscores its place in many of our significant social, religious, political, and cultural movements. A highly recommended addition to the library of all students of graffiti writing.

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