Monday, June 15, 2009

Roxy Graffiti

Walking on the newly landscaped High Line recently, I noticed a row of sheet-metal panels, all freshly painted gray. It seemed odd to me at the time. What I did not know was that the gray paint covered a large graffiti tag.

photo: Jason Andra

At the time of the graffiti's erasure, a reader sent photos to Towle Road and said, "I think what makes the High Line so special is its attempt to claim urban decay as a feature of beauty...not about painting over any former features of the city."

The tag, which read WERRROSLURRR, had topped The Roxy nightclub for years. In a warehouse dating to 1920, the famous Roxy opened as a roller rink in 1979 and closed as a gay dance club in 2007, after passing through the 1980s as a hip-hop and breakdancing mecca. The Bowery Boys have a full history here.

Did Werrroslurrr belong to any of those groups? A roller diva, a disco doll, a breakdancer, or a Chelsea boy? Maybe not. Maybe he or she was just a random tagger, aching to get that name up high on the High Line.

source: Towle Road

Today, the whole High Line has yet to be developed. Further uptown, there is still a wild meadow along the tracks, untouched, but slated for dismantling and reconstitution. There is also more graffiti, including a large mural by Cost and Revs.

The same Towle Road tipster also indicated to Gothamist that a fight to save graffiti along the High Line has gone on--and perhaps continues to go on--among and between Friends of the High Line and the mayor's office. (If anyone knows more about this fight, and how to get in it, let us know.)

Will all the graffiti be painted gray? If so, will the only visuals placed along the High Line be these massive billboards hawking luxury goods? The answer should be obvious--the Joneses are here and they have property values to protect.


Bowery Boogie said...

i get the feeling that there will be an even greater graffiti problem now that the park is open. by painting over this old-school tag, it just leaves a fresh canvas for someone else to paint.

Grand St. said...

The billboards will disappear as the 10th and 11th Ave. parking lots are sold off to developers.

Alex in NYC said...

Nice bit about the Roxy. When did it finally shut its doors? The last time I was actually in that space was to see Jonathan Fire*eater & Luscious Jackson. That would have been about late `96. There was an Anthrax reunion show there too some time after that, although I can't remember the date. Yes, I know -- quite a long way from rollerdisco.

The Graffiti Friend of EV Grieve said...

Thanks, Jeremiah, for calling attention to this. Like many, I believe that the graffiti along the High Line is something to preserve. I'm curious to see how the battle plays out. I have no doubt the city would like to buff the entire line.

The tags along the Roxy were by two writers - WERDS and SLUR.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Graffiti Friend, for the info about the taggers. if you have more info to share, please do. always interesting to know the sources and history of these things.

Phil said...

God, what a fucking shame... I just cant wrap my mind around this kind of destructive mentality... I hear they're only waiting on the temp to rise a bit before they buff the REVS COST mural on 23rd... The day that happens theres going to be some serious retaliatory graffiti in the city...