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Taking the Train: How Graffiti Art Became an Urban Crisis in New York City: How Graffiti Became an Urban Crisis in New York City (Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives) [Paperback]

Joe Austin

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Book Description

6 Feb 2002 Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives
In the 1960s and early 1970s, young people in New York City radically altered the tradition of writing their initials on neighborhood walls. Influenced by the widespread use of famous names on billboards, in neon, in magazines, newspapers, and typographies from advertising and comics, city youth created a new form of expression built around elaborately designed names and initials displayed on public walls, vehicles, and subways. Critics called it "graffiti," but to the practitioners it was "writing." Taking the Train traces the history of "writing" in New York City against the backdrop of the struggle that developed between the city and the writers. Austin tracks the ways in which "writing" -- a small, seemingly insignificant act of youthful rebellion -- assumed crisis-level importance inside the bureaucracy and the public relations of New York City mayoral administrations and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for almost two decades. Taking the Train reveals why a global city short on funds made "wiping out graffiti" an expensive priority while other needs went unfunded. Although the city eventually took back the trains, Austin eloquently shows how and why the culture of "writing" survived to become an international art movement and a vital part of hip-hop culture.

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Taking the Train: How Graffiti Art Became an Urban Crisis in New York City: How Graffiti Became an Urban Crisis in New York City (Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives) + Getting Up: Subway Graffiti in New York
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Review

Austin argues that the graffiti epidemic was really a smokescreen for poor civic management, and that graffiti itself was the inevitable result of a whole outpouring of structural social factors. New York Times Book Review Although solidly academic, this book is enlivened by its fascinating topic. Booklist A meticulous history. Booklist Austin's precise, witty, and genial style perfectly meshes with his rigorous research and analysis... This exemplary study makes important contributions to understanding contemporary art, urban sociology, and the culture wars. Publishers Weekly (starred review) Lets the graf writers talk back to the haters, while offering a nuanced reassessment of New York City's graffiti scene. Village Voice Austin does full justice simultaneously to New York as a symbolic, although never more than partially representable, city; to changes in the city's economy which create nationally unusual shifts in the relative distribution of wealth and in the ethnic make-up of poverty...ranges widely and with rich detail, yet always anchored in the central narrative focus. Urban Studies

About the Author

Joe Austin, assistant professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University, is coeditor of Generations of Youth: Youth and Youth Cultures in the 20th Century.

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First Sentence
At no time in the last century have resident New Yorkers or outside observers been unanimous in their opinion about the present state or the future of New York City. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important contribution 6 Oct 2002
By James Prigoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For anyone who is seriously interested in all aspects of the Graffiti Culture, Joe Austin pulls it all together in this scholarly, but easily readable, excellently researched new book.
The author has spent the necessary time to know many of the important writers, to review the major material written in the last thirty years and to organize it in a way that helps the reader develop a more comprehensive understanding of this unique art form. "Taking the Train" joins a very select list of books that make up the "Graffiti Book Hall of Fame"
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars scholarly graffiti 8 Oct 2007
By Scott Debb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This might be one of the only few written things out there trying to bring graffiti as a concept into the scholarly/ academic envrionment. I don't know that they proved anything, but it was a decent attempt. If you are looking for graff books with lots of color pictures, don't buy this book.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another book about the same graffiti writers as in every other book 7 Dec 2012
By WHIZ-3 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Here again is another book I found repetitive, using the same few graffiti artist.
Nothing new about this book either. Nice color photos, same O graffiti writers.
I found this book boring.
Nice cover, and color photos.
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