Tuesday, February 13, 2007

MILLION DOLLAR VANDAL (Available end of Feb)

At a time when New York street bombing was at its zenith, the MTA crew started to make waves as one of the strongest groups out there. For one member however, being the Most Talked About wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. In the early ’90s, Desa started getting up…getting up a lot. Around this time, I watched a Video Graf with him painting clean trains. Shortly after I saw the video, I was waiting to catch a train to head into Manhattan, guess who had a run of throw-ups across that crisp silver surface? Go ahead, guess. Desa was catching the attention of New York City’s graffiti writers, but unfortunately there were others watching, waiting. In August of 1994, New Yorkers picked up their copy of the Daily News to see “MILLION DOLLAR VANDAL” splashed across the cover page. The bold statement crowned a photograph of Desa being held at the arm by a police officer, Desa’s face adorning a sly grimace. A graffiti writer as the cover story of the Daily News, a position normally held by celebrities, presidents and terrorists. It seemed the media was selling us a new threat, a greater problem than just spray paint on a wall and Desa was going to be the poster child. His prior problems with authorities weren’t going to help him either. Desa was going to prison.

Now, years later residing in his East New York, Brooklyn neighborhood, Desa awaits the release of a new 200-page book about him from the publisher Also Known As, titled Million Dollar Vandal that includes action photos and an in-depth biography. His attitude about the book is less than enthusiastic. Desa will say he no longer writes, yet new tags and throw-ups of his pop up here and there. At 31 years old, he seems uncaring about graffiti any further than the action itself. It’s just what he does, maybe out of compulsive necessity or maybe just for shits and giggles, either way he certainly doesn’t need the fame or the attention but he continues onward, in his own way and at his own pace.

Words: Host18 (www.massappealmag.com)
Photo: Million Dollar Vandal

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