9.15.2009

But is it art?

 
Guerrilla art is the surreptitious, and often sudden, creation or installation of unauthorized public art, often with the purpose of making an overt political statement. It is also about reclaiming space, access and non-permanence. Graffiti, sticker art, wheat pasting, street installations, video projections or even guerrilla theater are all examples of guerrilla art. Heck, Lil’ J put on a guerrilla fashion show in season 2 of Gossip Girl.  Or how about just 2 names: Shepard Fairey and Barack Obama.

To quote Allan Schwartzman (Street Art, 1985), “Artists have challenged art by situating it in non-art contexts. ‘Street’ artists do not aspire to change the definition of an artwork, but rather to question the existing environment with its own language. They attempt to have their work communicate with everyday people about socially relevant themes in ways that are informed by esthetic values without being imprisoned by them.”
 
Well, food is art and these days food has joined the guerrilla cause. Here in LA we have a long-standing relationship with the taco trucks/stands and the hot dog carts. Food trucks, have been quite the daily dish of late – ever since LA County officials passed a law that makes it a misdemeanor to park a food truck in the same place for more than an hour. Violators face penalties of up to $1,000 in fines or six months in jail. 

In the spirit of art, resilience and, perhaps, resistance, people are finding new, innovative ways to keep their trucks serving food, and their customers are hungrier than ever for the goods. Thanks almost entirely to Twitter, blogging, and even Facebook, the Kogi Truck, Fishlips Sushi Truck, Marked 5, The Buttermilk Truck, The Gastro Bus and Green Truck on the Go, to name but a few, are smack in the middle of their 15 minutes. They have provided LA with a moving party of food. Although it’s exclusive as far as becoming informed, it couldn’t be a more welcoming and inclusive environment. It’s our newest sub-culture. Forget Thursday, food trucks are the new Friday.

I don’t go to bars all that often, except maybe a wine bar. But last weekend I met my friend Brandon on the East Side for a few cocktails at a couple of bars. We ended up out fairly late and upon stumbling walking out of the last spot - like a lush oasis in the middle of this asphalt jungle - was a bacon-wrapped hot dog cart.  The bacon-wrapped hot dog vendors are brilliant and truly on to something. They are elusive and exclusive. They are only out late at night to catch the horde of the inebriated and hungry, and they do not have a set location. All of this, much like the un-crackable nut, only adds to their allure for me. 


It’s simple. Wrap bacon around a hot dog and grill it. Put it in a bun and add grilled peppers and onions. Top with your choice of mayo, mustard, hot sauce and ketchup. Heaven. And all this for $3. 

Would it be as special if I could set out on a mission for one of these delicious dogs, at any time, and succeed? Maybe, but I think not. Because when you happen upon one of these carts, along with the smattering of other folks, when you're a little tipsy, late at night - you’re in a bubble. This moment, these people, this corner, and this hot dog will not happen again. Not like this. Like a snowflake, or the concept behind a Jackson Pollack painting or a graffiti piece that changes daily, with the weather and time, you can’t predict it and you can’t force it to happen again. Its ephemera and its prohibition are its beauty. It’s also incredibly tasty.



For a list of some great food trucks around town click here.




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