The following was written a little over a year ago. It was meant to be published around the time the “Art in the Streets” show was up at MOCA in Los Angeles. It was to be published in an online arts journal, but for one reason or another they never ran it. Since then a lot has happened. The Occupy Movement became a force for social change. Shepard Fairey was somewhat involved, designing a poster for the movement, then being asked to change it. Another important event worth noting is that Fairey was attacked in Copenhagen and called “Obama Illuminati”. I absolutely do not condone or support violence or harassment in any form against people for their political or artistic positions. Still, it seems evident that since the success of his HOPE campaign, Fairey’s street cred has taken a severe hit. Fairey’s wallet, on the other hand, is surely a different story. At any rate, here is an articulation of all the reasons and ways I detest the work of Shepard Fairey. I have added a few sentences about Studio Number One becoming the primary designer for MOCA, and have done a little editing, but this is more or less the 2011 story in its full, rambling glory. -John P. Hogan
In 2010, after suffering two bankruptcies and years of battling Popeye’s and other advancing fried chicken chains, the Pioneer Take Out corporation finally closed the doors of its Echo Park location for good. For about a year, the building at the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard stood abandoned. In the interim, it served as a venue for the usual sights and activities of urban blight. Homeless men crashed out under its red awning, surreptitious drug deals went down in its parking lot, pigeons took over its roof, indeterminate industrial sludge leaked from its gutters and walls, and dozens of gang tags peppered the entire tableau. The building had a long skinny pole out front, on top of which perched a battered aluminum sign depicting a cartoon chef holding a plate of chicken, popping his barrel chest out of the front of a covered wagon. In its year of neglect, this sign seemed to take on a tragicomic resonance. Pioneer Take Out was a sinking ship, defiantly flying its wacky flag at full mast ‘til the bitter end.
Pioneer Take Out (or Pioneer Chicken as it was more commonly known) was located next to Walgreens (itself having taken over the space of the former, and unaffiliated, Pioneer Market). Walgreens was the nearest pharmacy to my apartment, and I would often find myself passing the bedraggled Pioneer Chicken while suffering from some degree of illness, injury or hangover.
One morning I was in just such a depleted state, headed to the pharmacy for a Pedialyte or Tylenol or something. I was feeling low about my own health, while the surrounding environment did little to lift my spirits. All around was the dysfunction of urban commercial space in Great Recession America: even cheesy fast food places that make terrible food became quaint and sad as they perished in the face of contemporary economic reality.
As I walked by the Pioneer Chicken, a poster pasted to the side of the building made me stop in my tracks. It was red, black and white, with a gigantic eye in the center, and it read “Never Trust Your Own Eyes.”
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