Alley Tags IV

Dapster (2020). Spray paint on wood. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Some kind of underground throwback – hoods dressing like ’30’s movie gangsters; taggers putting up bespoke swells in boss hats. The alleys seemed odd on those days, like movie sets that had sprung up out of nowhere and without notice. Maybe that was it, who knows. lots of things happened in the alleys back then, before the city cleaned the places out. Model shoots and music videos, impromptu parties, and sure, movies as well. They were keen to film those old time scenes while the old time buildings were still there, crumbling brick and missing mortar. The costumed feel was not an hallucination. Lots of actors and poseurs dressed up as if from another time, scattering about in the shadows, and memorialized on the alley walls.

-Danny Grosso

Neon Moon, No. 4

Neon Moon, No. 4 (2019). Acrylic on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

That hat, or the girl with that hat, is what one remembers. How she spun it around on her finger like a circus act, and your eye would follow its turning until it dissolved into the light show and the beat of the music and all this together was that good kind of dizzy.

Arms and legs and that hat – from a distance it all could look like one animal, pushing in a hundred different directions, but in rhythm. That boom boom boom that moved us all. The D.J. is king for a set or two, a few hours at least before the hats go back in the closet, the animal breaks off into separate lives, and daylight comes.

The break in the neon darkness saved many lives; still, all that everyone wanted was another night.

-Danny Grosso 

The Traveler, 1982-1991, Strip 4

The Traveler, 1982-1991, Strip 4. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

The Traveler first appeared in The Loyola Phoenix in 1982 under the title D.C.. Many of the original strips were damaged in the layout and printing process, so the author reworked them in 1990-91.


Danny Grosso

Another Political Bestiary, Ep. XXVI

The Post-Radical (2020). Acrylic on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Continuing the expeditions of Jeff MacNelly, James Kilpatrick, and Eugene McCarthy, with apologies.

The Post-Radical

This creature is not the amoebic, amorphous, lobbyist end-of-life stage of a Radical, but rather, a Radical that has metamorphosed, mid-life, into a viable, super-sentient  being. The heightened awareness of the Post-Radical stems from its prior experience- its years along the fringes gave it a perspective unattainable by swamp lifers. Seemingly all knowing, it attracts a coterie of hangers-on and acolytic would be biographers. Steeped in newfound stature and old war stories from the edge, the Post-Radical seems to live the best of lives. However, proceed with caution around this creature. Its prior motivations lie latent within, and inconvenient reversals may be unavoidable.


Danny Grosso 

Mud People, No. 15

Mud People, No. 15 (2019). House paint on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

He used to love this country, with its open spaces, and single family homes for anyone willing to do the rehab work. Everyone had a car and a 401k. He learned the language quickly, excepting a disregard for the th sound at the beginning of words, but saying “dis” instead of “this” just made him fit in better in Chicago. He used to love this county, especially the immigrants, the Italians and Chinese that owned the places where he ate, even the Mexicans he worked with on jobs, who brought homemade food to share with him at lunch. They all seemed to make him feel comfortable in a strange place, assimilating together in a colorful new home. Then came the flood of people from his own country, of a late generation, bringing with them the dread of that old stagnant land, seeping it into this once promising haven for aspiration. He didn’t worry anymore that the newcomers would sap his drive, for it was already gone, departed as soon as he saw his block filling up with newcomers speaking his native tongue who bought houses with no money down. They parked their leased Mercedes SUV’s in their driveways, and hung outlet store jewelry on their wives who dressed like harem girls. He once tried to help them ease into the grind here, or rather they sought him out – his eastern features calling out to them, convincing them to start conversations in the old language. He would answer in English at first, then not at all after they registered displeasure at his rejection of the native tongue. “This is America,” he would say, “you have to learn English.” Soon, he wasn’t invited anymore when the neighbors would welcome visitors from the old country. At the pool hall, the younger men from the block began to gather around and cheer on whomever he was playing at the table. They would steal the tip money he left on the bar, and use it to wager against him. Sometimes their wives would come in and look at him the way he used to look at the old monarchists in his hometown.

He used to love this country, and now that love has diminished.  He left the pool hall one Friday and drove all night and day, way out west, to the middle of nowhere, and felt a rush. It was that old feeling, same as when he first arrived here so many years ago. Maybe he would relocate within the great unpopulated expanse now, to get away…


-Danny Grosso


Neon Moon, No. 3

As a Gas (Neon Mood, No. 3) (2019). Acrylic on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Beautiful one, your sadness will not fade with distance, nor your burdens ease with age. The darkness that you grope in now defines you. You have attuned yourself to the lack of lightness, and of light, and neither sunlight nor limelight can change you now.

You may only see in neon.

Your tears have rut your beautiful face, distressed your leather, quickened your thirst. You come out in darkness, parched and hungry, yet seeking no one and no thing. You wish to turn no stone, meet no eye, live as a gas, drifting, untouching, unredeemed.

You may only be in neon.


-Danny Grosso 

Alley Tags III

Specs (2020). Spray paint on wood. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Jumpin’, just jumpin’, or maybe not just – and tapping, and sliding, and spinning, whatever the move, those shoes made it look Astaire clean. The specs, borrowed at first from the look of spats falling from Edwardian trouser legs, then from summer shoes after the Great War, were hand-painted at first, at least his were. Hard to find anything but brown clodhoppers in 1979. When he found his first real pair of spectators in a store it was a revelation. He wore them everywhere, even in the winter, when the salt and the wet ate away at the soles. Stuck cardboard in them until he could get to Frankie the shoemaker for a ten dollar sole job. He built entire wardrobes around his specs, found ways to wear them with summer whites, ordered a second pair for a backup as soon as he had the extra money. Around that time, in the alley under the El track, the shoe graffiti appeared. Everyone knew who did it.


-Danny Grosso

Another Political Bestiary, Ep. XXV

The Radical (2020). Acrylic on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Continuing the expeditions of Jeff MacNelly, James Kilpatrick, and Eugene McCarthy, with apologies.

The Radical

The fast moving Radical keeps to the perimeters of the bestiary, leaving a trail of newspaper clippings and insects blowing from its ratty mane. Radicals cling to one side of the edge, or the opposite other, depending on political affiliation, but never travel to the center of the bestiary, except in retirement from public life when they take positions with lobbying firms on K Street. Some time thereafter, in their dotage, Radicals pale and soften and recede into an amoebic final life stage that ends in an quiet evaporation and subsequent assimilation into the beltway atmosphere. During the prime of life, however, the Radical is anything but unnoticed, it is reddened and vituperative, flashy and course, a motorcycle in an echo chamber, constantly striving to amplify its resonance. Proceed with caution, but not fear, while interacting with this creature. Often the radical’s ideas are of interest, even if the creature itself is repulsive.

Danny Grosso