Alley Tags IX

Rain on Me (2021). Spray paint on board. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Rain on me, I can take it. Drop your barometric burden, your overindulgence, your tears over me. I will dance between the raindrops while I can, umbrella deflect if I must, and in the end, stand out in it, awashed, but unchanged, renewed but unrepentant. I cannot go where you want me to, unless you want me to go where I am going. I will continue on, rain or shine, and dance my way home.

Danny Grosso

Intention Rags, No. 3

Passion (2019). Leather paint on leather jacket. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

You are not doing it right if it does not hurt. One wonders if the Romans said that to each other as they prepared the crowns and taunted their prisoners with the horrors of non-lethal torture. The phrase carries two meanings. It is good counsel for a couple seeking financial advice on the amount of income they should stash away as savings. Yet, the same phrase is an ominous warning for those on the weak side of a power dynamic when their opposites are lacing up the jackboots.

Passion attracts and repels. Crowds that cannot look away are repulsed by what they see. The passionate are victims of their own zeal as impulse leads them into danger. Yet they cannot revert, they cannot abstain. For them, for many, passion is the essence of being alive – the stuff without which one can find no reason to stay among the broken, the hopeless. Passion, even The Passion of biblical lore, redeems.

She stretched her arms into her coat and moved into the sunlight. “I’ll walk a little faster today.” she thought. Soon enough, she began to run.

-Danny Grosso 

Intention Rags, No. 2

The What If’s (2019). Leather paint on leather jacket. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

He carried the realm of possibility with him, on his back, a once burdensome but now comfortable cargo that helped keep his feet on the ground. His youthful prospective was optimistic, but in time, optimism is tempered in the furnace that is a city in summer, and now the realm embraced a future full of good and bad events, and that was ok, that was life.

They called the tavern the What If, and when they played ball that first summer “The What If’s” was emblazoned on the their jersey fronts in electric blue. Lucky said he’d named the place perfectly, because prospecting was the only reason anybody ever went into a bar. He loved that the team had usurped the name; he thought so little their prospects that he surmised the only way to move was up. “The great ‘What If’s’…” Lucky would say in his neighborhood accent as they came into the door for their free round after a beating. “What if they ever amount to something someday! That’ll be somethin’!”

Danny Grosso

Intention Rags, No. 1

Chi-Dons (2019). Leather paint on leather jacket. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

The old neighborhood playgrounds were caged, though the fencing kept nobody out, or in. Similar chain-link barriers were everywhere, separating neighbors and keeping jumpers from bridges, but the high fenced, boxed-in asphalt courts really resonated with sportswriters looking for urban grit. They labeled the young basketballers playing within  “Cagers”.

He had spent most of his life leaning against the chain link waiting for his turn in pick-up games they played for money. Two or three guys were regulars on his team, the others they’d pick up on the court. There were always guys hanging around, even on the weekdays, when you’d think everyone was on a curb and gutter crew. Connections were made, and if it worked out, you might have a guy for a bag drop later, or even a short-center for your softball team, which was a big deal, since ten guys a side for slow pitch was not always an easy corral.

There were no nets on any of the hoops, the school or park property directors were wary of theft, and there were always some misdemeanors being committed during the games. But excepting the property directors, crime was not a concern. Offenses like gambling, and possession, and drinking, and dealing in the cages were not prosecuted, and there were few patrol cars in the neighborhood anyway. Everyone knew each other, or vouched for newcomers, and besides, the neighborhood policed itself, just as the hoopers called their own fouls during the games.

His softball team was called the Chi-Dons, a mash up of the city name and an Italianate, 50’s sounding motif he’d seen used by doo-wop groups. The name had stuck for a few years after prior monikers – Boozers, Beginners, and Dead Enders had lost favor. He had a green and gold jersey, with the team name screened on, wrapped around his neck as one game finished and he led his hoops team to the court to play the next. As he walked away, the impression of the chain-link marked his back – he’d been leaning shirtless against it for some time; it was what he did, what they all did, from the time they were kids.  He’d do the same thing tomorrow and next month and probably next year. You could tell the lot of them from a different crowd by the chain-link pattern marking their backs.

One wonders if the mark was permanent.

-Danny Grosso