Tag Archives: tagging and graffiti artists in the US

Graffiti Nation – Part 2/2

When it comes to combating tagging and graffiti, Michael Howard is an individual who had an idea to counter the blight with art. He said, “I figured if you address the root cause — that kids need to be creative, have their self-esteem nurtured and a safe place to express themselves and channel their energies into something positive that benefits the community — then you could reduce graffiti.”

At the time Howard had this idea, he was a teacher at the Juvenile Hall school in Orange County. While there, he launched Operation Clean Slate (OCS).

I may have read of this before but was reminded of OCS in the April 2011, Costco Connection.

The inspiration for creating Operation Clean Slate came to Howard while driving to Los Angeles. He’d seen graffiti many times, but this time he saw a way to deal with it.

I salute Howard for his dedication and effort. However, I disagree with the often misused term of self-esteem.  The self-esteem movement, which started in the US in the 1960s was misguided from the start.  Children do not need help nurturing a false sense of self-esteem.

Youth need positive choices to help guide them in other directions and this is what Howard offered. I doubt if he reached many gang bangers (children and teens that belong to gangs) that spend their nights marking territory with gang signs, but I’m sure he did appeal to the creative energy of taggers.

Street gangs are primitive and often dangerous tribes that exist in the barrios and ghettos of America. Most of these street gangs deal in drugs and violence.  Some have been known to initiate young recruits by having them shoot and possibly kill someone (often strangers to the gang bangers) during a drive by.

Most youth that join gangs have no choice due to the pressure in the barrio or ghetto. Only determined loving parents involved in a child’s life stand a chance to keep their children out of these gangs.

I taught in a gang-infested area of La Puente and West Covina from most of 1975 to 2005.

Parents that live in the barrios and ghettos where these street gangs exist may consider contacting individuals such as Howard to see if he can help keep their children off the streets and away from gangs.  Positive activities such as Operation Clean Slate are one way to do this—not wasting time building a false sense of self-esteem in a child that often leads to narcissism as an adult.

Return to Graffiti Nation – Part 1 or learn of Presidents Bush and Obama’s
Ignorant Gaff


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine
& Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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Graffiti Nation – Part 1/2

Graffiti is a blight on America and may be found in Europe and other nations too. Driving down urban freeways and highways in the US, drivers often see graffiti on billboards and freeway signs.

The cost to paint out graffiti at the high school where I taught until 2005 was about $10,000 a year. I often arrived soon after the gates were unlocked about 6:00 AM.  My first class was usually 8:00.

The national cost is much higher than that ten grand one school district spent to keep one of its campuses graffiti free.

As one example demonstrates, the city of Los Angeles spent $3.7 million dollars to paint over, “Just one of the MTA’s tags — its initials painted 57 feet high and a quarter-mile-long on the Los Angeles River concrete embankment.… The maneuver underscores authorities’ exasperation with a subculture that prizes prolific defacement of public property, including buses, street signs and freeway overpasses, and costs taxpayers millions to remove.” Source:

At Nogales High School in La Puente, California where I taught for sixteen of the thirty years I was a public school teacher in the US, after the daytime-custodians arrived to set up the campus before students arrived (putting out trash cans and inspecting the buildings for damage), one custodian climbed into an electric-powered flat-bed cart and spent an hour or so driving along the covered walkways around campus with paint the color of the school sitting on the flat bed ready for use.  Every morning, he would discover gang signs and graffiti on the lockers, doors and walls and cover them with fresh paint.

Metro Tagger Assassins (MTA)

After our daughter started high school, we joined her each morning on the one-mile walk to school and part of the walk was behind a super market, which was often covered with tagging.

Tagging is different from gang signs. Tagging is the signature of a graffiti artist or a crew of taggers attempting to become immortal and/or infamous by marking up as many buildings and walls as possible.

Some of this tagging is creative and artistic in nature but most is an eyesore.

A few of these misguided youths have fallen from freeway overpasses where they cling to chain link fences like cockroaches climbing a wall.  These urban cockroaches hang above the traffic spraying their unique tag and some fall to be hit by traffic sometimes killing drivers and passengers in cars and trucks.

Continued on April 12, 2011 in Graffiti Nation – Part 2 or discover A Ten Year Old Named Oscar


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


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