We don't want to delve into the semiotics of geek vs. nerd vs. dork, which has, of course, been endlessly discussed by geeks, nerds and dorks ad nauseum. But Philadelphia—home to Geekadelphia and Philly Nerd Nite—now has a Dork problem, and Roxborough is not amused. At a meeting of the Wissahickon Neighborhood Association, residents and law enforcement complained of a mystery graffiti artist who's tagging "Dork" on signs and buildings, particularly on Ridge Avenue. NBC 10 spoke with Carlino Flowers and Formals owner Stan Tropiano, whose store got tagged. "It’s sad that these kids today got nothing better to do," he said.
But there may be more to Dork than meets the eye. The medium has come to be respected by culture vultures and scholars alike. In fact, it's such a cliche, there are probably graffiti-art bar mitzvah themes.
Graffiti actually started in Philly in the 1960s with an artist named Daryl "Cornbread" McCray, who was the urban Banksy of his day, engaging in high-profile stunts like tagging the Jackson Five's plane when it landed here. When the press mistakenly reported he'd died, Cornbread spraypainted "Cornbread Lives" on both sides of an elephant at the Philadelphia Zoo.
A documentary, Cry of the City Part One: The Legend of Cornbread, was made about him. (After it gathered steam here, graffiti moved to New York, making it one of the only things that ever made the Philly-to-NY transition without embarrassing us. Kinda.)
Cornbread is now a fine, upstanding solid citizen who talks to teenagers about doing the right thing. He now sees graffiti as vandalism not art, and advises kids with talent to get paid for their graffiti rather than deface a building. Point being, Dork could end up like McCray: a mentor to kids, an advocate for the arts. Who knows? Maybe he's got potential? After all, Dork is a pretty unique name for a tagger.
At the very least, he could get more creative. Street artists in Philly deserve better representation. Here's a gallery but we're always looking for more. Send in your photos!
· Graffiti 'Dork' Plagues Roxborough [Roxborough-Manayunk Patch]