Recently he painted a picture of a Beaver on a wall in East New York, a Brooklyn neighborhood bordering Queens that is known for being dangerous. Art gawkers dutifully went there to view the piece, and local East New York residents promptly went about robbing these art tourists, blocking the view of the graffiti art meant to be public and charging people $20 to view it.
It’s to be expected that street criminals will look to make a quick buck off of less-than-streetwise tourists, what makes this latest hustle more bothersome is that it’s won approval from the very class of victims most likely to be taken by the scam. The Gothamist blog called the street thugs “savvy” and many commentators thought that since white people dared to go there to view some art, then they were serving some worthy cause to be ripped off by the locals. I disagree.
Robbery is robbery, and feeling you have a right to rip people off because they’re not from your neighborhood or they don’t look like you is no reason at all. What’s more reprehensible is the multitude of self-hating “enlightened” white people thinking this is a good thing or that local East New York residents have a right to a life of petty crime because of their race or their station in life.
Let the local residents capitalize on the Banksy art legitimately. Set up a food cart there or make picture postcards of the art. There are real ways to make money that don’t involve thuggery and intimidation.
And as for the sorry state of East New York, it wasn’t street artists from England or art enthusiasts from Manhattan who made East New York the way it is today. There are people there who can do better; let them. But treat street hustlers like the low vultures they are.
I sat in a room full of very well-behaved financial professionals and analysts wondering why no one was going insane. It was a day like any other and it was a financial conference in Manhattan didn’t suddenly give in to the orgiastic wills of the dozens of assembled people.
Most of us lose our minds at one point or another but almost always too slowly to register to the outside world. We let our own fears and disappointments torture and kill us, carving our minds and souls to shredded pulps.
Given the state of the world, I’m surprised more and more people aren’t dropping out of civilized society by going crazy. Many times I find myself in a situation where people’s acceptance of what’s given to them or the state of their surroundings is maddening and ought to result in a violent outburst of creative violence, but it never happens. And if it did, it would never be contained enough to be justified and righteous.
So even though I sympathize with crazy to the nth degree and feel the temptation to bring that measured and sane violence to our insane world, I can’t stand the people who force their insanity on the world around them.
The people who scream and rave in public, who throw themselves in front of trains or off of buildings, are childish egotists who think they are special enough to force others to notice them and rearrange their lives for them. You have every right to be crazy and are probably right to be insane, but force yourself on others and you’re not better than the rest of the cruel, cruel world, probably worse. That is one reason we have art, music and literature: it’s how we turn the pain of being alive into something worth living for.
You have to embrace your insane rage in the right way. The only worse than letting your insanity kill you is letting it make you an egocentric asshole first.