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NOLA Rising vs. the Grey Gangsta

So as an addendum to my post below about NOLA Rising, it seems a battle between the street artists like Michael Dingler and Fred Radtke, aka the Grey Ghost (who we are now referring to as the Grey Gangsta, as he's clearly lost his mind post-K), has been brewing... and is exploding as I type.

To back up and explain for those who don't know, Fred Radtke has been a sort of one-man vigilante movement for years, long before Katrina. He's taken on as his personal mission in life to cover up with grey paint - big blotches of paint-rollered grey paint - any and all graffiti, tags, stencils and other street art, whether it be on public or private property, all around New Orleans. For years. Without anyone's permission or request. Somehow, though, he got the reputation as a do-gooder, and at some point, the city (as well as various neighborhood associations) even recognized him for this stupendous "civic duty" and gave him some funding to keep his crusade going.

He's long been the nemesis of the street artist, but now things seem to have really escalated and I think the post-Katrina funk that most in New Orleans suffer from has gotten the best of old Fred. He has now allegedly assaulted someone for merely trying to take a cell phone picture of one of his associates doing some grey paint rolling. A police report was filed, and the young man who was assaulted ended up having to get stitches in his skull. Meanwhile, Fred continues to roller over everything he deems offensive, including many of the beautiful street signs and markers that the NOLA Rising movement has spawned - none of which are offensive or defacing. Just to point out the level of his ridiculousness... the Grey Gangsta would rather roll over with grey paint a posterboard sign that is stapled or taped up to a poll, than tear it down, which by all rules of common sense, would be easier and a more complete "removal" of the so-called offending item. But no, he'd rather make his OWN mark with grey paint, which just goes to prove that this guy is more of an anarchistic, defacing nuisance than any street artist or tagger.

Sorry for the long rant, but people like Fred piss me off. Projects like NOLA Rising are only trying to spread a little love and joy via art to a depressed, beat-down population... and he ruins it and replaces it with more depression and drab. So I feel like it's MY civic duty to pass on info about the movement against him. Visit the new MySpace page for the Radtke Reaction, where already more than 100 New Orleans artists and supporters have signed on to voice their opposition to the Grey Gangsta. Be sure to look at the pics. And for a more militant response, there's also the Grey Ghost Busters, which appears to be a call to all taggers, graffiti artists, wheatpasters and stencillers to step up the battle against Fred. I'm all for doing whatever it takes to get crazy Fred off the streets of New Orleans, short of any kind of violence, of course. Doesn't he have anything better to do with his time? Like, say, helping the effort to rebuild his fucking city?

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