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News

Let Us Spray

All over the sprawling Salt Lake suburbs, the writing’s on the wall(s).

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Page 8 of 8

{::NOAD::}Across the Tracks
Kier’s small sedan bumps over the long metal tracks that cut through Salt Lake City. A slow train stacked with shipping containers rolls by—no graffiti here. On this early July afternoon, Kier’s eyes roam across the landscape like he is part sniper looking for good cover and part hobo looking for the least conspicuous way through town.

Passing along the north end of the yard, he looks across his dashboard at the laid-up trains and keeps moving. This yard is too hot, says Kier. No one paints here anymore. He crosses the tracks again, passes scrap yards and overgrown lots, then heads south. He is looking to see who had gotten up.

Finally, a long freight train covered in graf rolls north beneath the freeway. Kier looks on from his idling car. Almost every boxcar has throw-ups plastered like neon advertisements on their weathered sides. Bold letters and thick outlines make the names jump off the dirty freight cars. Kier points out the names of people he knows, where they live, their reputations—freight kings who own the train lines, writers like King 157 and Jase.

Kier looks out the window of his car at a scene he knows well. But it is something he now only appreciates voyeuristically. Kier doesn’t paint illegally anymore; he can’t run from the cops with his bum leg. While he’s still involved in the graffiti scene—painting and getting to know younger writers—he doesn’t bomb anymore. You can see he wants to as he looks longingly at passing trains—trains he will never paint again.

But he can be comforted by the fact that there is no shortage of kids to fill his shoes. If they stick around for long enough, they may be kings one day, too.