“Reach new heights of artistic expression with Tyrone Drone,” says the hype. “Dare to tag wherever you couldn’t — or wouldn’t — before. You might not crash the White House, but Tyrone is armed with a couple cans of spray paint and no conscience. Paint your neighborhood. Or destroy it with graffiti.”
“What are you doing?” I asked the teenage boy who was gleefully tagging a repainted space at Santiago Park in Santa Ana. Alarmed, he jumped down the small ledge to look up at the bridge where I was standing.
Others emerged from beneath the bridge to see where the stranger’s voice was coming from. There were probably five or ten of them altogether.
They looked so fresh-faced, ranging in age from perhaps 15 to the early 20s. A young adult with shoulder-length crimped hair appeared to be a leader. He wore a wide grin on his face.
A wave of sadness and great disappointment washed over me. These kids belonged in a boy band, or on a soccer team, or part of a visionary group that would put a person on Mars. Instead they were misusing their talents and potential to deface public property.
When you roll with the East Side Locos, you have to learn proper tagging technique…or else.