Requiem for an Artist

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Funny how my heart has softened regarding the injury and subsequent death of Aaron Vigil.

When I first set out to blog about the severe electric shock he received while tagging a PNM substation, I was mad. Indignant. Felt the kid got what he deserved. Wondered how he could be so stupid.

But even as I typed, my thoughts softened. I wondered about this kid. Hoped he would recover and become something better, smarter.

Sadly that’s not to be. Young Aaron died Friday morning.

And still I’m left wondering.

Today’s ABQjournal article “Tagger Called Quiet, Artistic” tells us a bit more about this young man.

Contrary to the profile that I assumed must be the case, both mom and dad are in his life, still married, care a whole lot about their son, and are devastated at the loss.

His parents describe him as “artistic” and that artistry runs in the family. They describe him as saying “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” to hospital staff. They describe him as a wildly creative kid who would draw and paint and sketch.

By all accounts from this profile, he was a good kid.

So what leads a good kid to climb a fence to tag a power station thus ending a short life?

This story troubles me. I don’t know why, but I’ve taken it probably a little too much to heart.

I know a little about being tortured by my art. By being plagued by thoughts and ideas until I *had* to get them out on canvas, on watercolor paper, on film, or most often, in a fresh new Word document.

And I’ve done unconventional things in my art. Used unconventional media. I get that.

“Family members say they weren’t aware of Aaron’s tagging, which they prefer to call art.”

I can’t. I know that many taggers are amazing artists, but maybe it’s my too conservative upbringing. I can’t call vandalism art. Or maybe I can in some cases, but he climbed up there to write his nickname. A classic tagger gang-style thing to do. The article doesn’t mention any gang ties. Maybe he wasn’t affiliated. The article says he was with two other people who haven’t been identified and haven’t come forward. Maybe they pushed him into it?

I don’t know. I’m troubled. And saddened.

Somehow we let this kid down. I can’t chalk it up to “a dumb mistake”. I’ve made lots of dumb mistakes. There is more there, more to know.

If this kid had been given more room to channel his art, would that have changed things?

Somehow I doubt it. There is some piece of this story I’m missing. Some reason I may never know.

For now, I’m saddened for this child, saddened for the parents who lost their child, and hoping someday this makes sense.

And I need to go deep inside to better understand why this troubles me so……

In memoriam….

Poor Little Rich Kid….

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The Albuquerque Tribune today reporting on a story about the actor Freddie Prinze Jr. Seems this young man has a little *attitude* about his years growing up in Albuquerque.

Says he was scared. Says it was “the gang capital of the world”.

Hey, I’m not disagreeing. Albuquerque has a gang problem, no two ways about it. They have since *I* was in school back in the 80’s (Prinze granduated in 1994).

What torqued me enough to write this blog is that poor scared little Freddie…..went to La Cueva.

I have bad feelings about La Cueva. That school opened back when I was in high school. It opened waaaay up there on the east side where the rich people live. It opened to cater to the rich kids. It drew away most of the good teachers from my decidedly middle class school. It drew a lot of kids away too because parents scrambled to get their kids into the upper class school. And because schools draw their money from the tax base of the surrounding community, that school itself had money. More money than most of the rest of the high schools.

And to this day, that burns me a little.

I went to Del Norte. Back then it was middle class. Now I hear it’s descended into the madness of gangs as well.

I’m sure that Mr. Prinze felt some impact of the gang problem in Albuquerque, certainly. But I’m telling you, the bigger problem they have at La Cueva is all the rich kids have ready access to drugs. When I was in school drugs were a HUGE problem at La Cueva. Mine too, of course, but less so because we hardly had enough money for school let alone drugs.

Mr. Prinze might have tried Valley High. My best friend in high school went there for a while. The gang violence was so out of control there her folks had to move her to Del Norte out of fear for her safety. Mr. Prinze probably saw nothing like she saw at his rich white kid school.

The article says that Mr. Prinze’s bio lists that he also went to Eldorado and Sandia. Ok, before La Cueva, all the rich kids either went to Eldorado or Sandia.

So all this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, Mr. Prinze, Albuquerque has a gang problem that Mayor Marty likes to think he’s dealing with. The gang problem is difficult to address, and as I said a couple days back, as long as New Mexico is a prime channel for running drugs across the Mexican border, there will always be gangs.

But here’s the thing….I think celebrities have the obligation to try to occasionally use their celebrity for good.

Mr. Prinze could bring up the reasons he chose to leave our fair city, bring attention to problems, without trashing Albuquerque in the press.

I guess I know my city is flawed. And I guess I can call it a mess. But heaven help the outsider who calls my fine City a mess.

The article says, “The bio on his Web site talks of a ‘tumultuous’ childhood peopled with peers who ‘enjoyed bringing others down.'” Is that Albuquerque’s fault you ran with a bad crowd? Take some personal responsibility, young man. I know you had a troubled youth. Knowing your father committed suicide is tough for any kid, but doesn’t excuse bad behavior.

Meanwhile, Mayor Marty has invited him back to “visit”. Says it’s not the same place of his youth. No, it’s not. But unlike the Mayor, I invite Mr. Prinze to get bent.

To borrow heavily and paraphrase from a fave episode of “Sex and the City”…

No one talks sh*t about my town……

Hello? Yes…karma? Oh….

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….it’s for you….

The ABQjournal had a small story today about a young man, 18 actually, who suffered terrible burns over 60 to 80 percent of his body…from electrocution.

“Oh my gosh!” you might gasp at this news, “how terrible!”

Yes it is, it’s terrible. It’s a terrible accident to happen to such a young man.

How could this have happened?

Seems the young man hopped a 15-foot fence topped with concertina wire in northwest Santa Fe.

So that he could tag a PNM transformer.

You know? Electricity?

Took his metal can of spray paint up there.

“The jolt blew all the clothes off the young man” reports the article.

Thankfully the kid was airlifted to a hospital where it appears he’ll recover.

So? What is the cost of being hip? Of marking your territory? Or showing off for your friends?

Certainly not your own young life, right?

My thoughts go out to this kid. I hope as he lays there healing he has some time to think about things…about the trajectory of his life.

After something like this…you can go two ways….you learn from it, or you ignore it and keep doing whatcher doing. It’s all up to you………