Graffiti art has muscled its way into the mainstream. If you doubt it, just take a gander at one of Jon Gosselin's designer-douche T-shirts, or check out the packaging of virtually any energy drink on the market.
That shizzle is ubiquitizzle, yo.
Still, graffiti art remains controversial, probably because it tends to materialize on homes, cars, fences, and other non-sanctioned canvases. Most visual arts don't do that.
Gammage Auditorium in Tempe
"Civil Disobedience Wu" is scheduled on Saturday, October 3.
If that's a problem for you, fear not — the powers that be are working hard to sap all the outlaw "fun" out of graffiti by making it the inspiration for a two-day university conference and discussion panel. "Civil Disobedience 2009," an exploration of all things hip-hop, runs Friday, October 2, and Saturday, October 3, at ASU's Katzin Auditorium.
As a reward for enduring six hours of learned yapping, Valley-ites can also attend a hip-hop gala concert featuring national talents GZA of Wu-Tang Clan and Phonte from Little Brother, as well as Arizona-based acts Cut Throat Logic and Grime, among others. The show kicks off Saturday night at Gammage Auditorium.
It amounts to a graffiti-art benefit concert. All in all, it's a fine way to extend legitimacy to any disputed or "outsider" medium. Here are a few others that could use the same treatment:
Competitive eating: ESPN has been covering the Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest for a few years now, but most people still don't consider competitive eating a legitimate sport. A landmark concert featuring plus-size recording stars like Aretha Franklin and Frank Black could change that. Suggested conference topic: "Reversing the Reversal: New Thoughts on Defeating the Gag Reflex."
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Fox News: Yes, millions tune in every day, but Rupert Murdoch's right-riding news division remains the ShamWow guy of mainstream journalism; preying on the old, infirm, impressionable, etc. We'd fill the bill with rock's limited roster of politically conservative musicians — including Bob Seger and Ted Nugent — and let Glenn Beck headline in the "comedy" tent.
Sudoku: Why expand your vocabulary and world knowledge with a crossword puzzle when you can spend an hour hashing out various permutations of the number 10? Not a question we can answer. But a benefit performance by Battles, The Edmund Fitzgerald, Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies and other math-rock notables would at least lend the much-disparaged mind-teaser some "cool" cred.
Truthers: How universally reviled are 9/11 conspiracy theorists? When it came out that President Obama's "green" czar, Van Jones, once signed a 911Truth.org petition, the prez fired his ass faster than Usain Bolt fleeing a pack of Dobermans. Finally, a bipartisan policy we can all get behind — just like we can get behind an awareness-raising concert featuring Amy Winehouse, Brian Wilson, Whitney Houston, and any number of not-quite-right-up-there superstars. Rosie O'Donnell can emcee.
Fantasy football: Yeah, it's sad, addictive, and masturbatory, but also so popular that DirecTV now offers something called the Red Zone Channel, a points-only highlight show that cuts out all the boring shit between the 20s. Football purists hate it, but will they still scoff after a show featuring Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams Jr., 50 Cent, and other pigskin-loving manly men? That's called moving the chains.