Kurt Vile, (left) called the defacing of his Fishtown mural "weird" and "sad." Credit: Kurt Vile.
Kurt Vile is bummed.
The Lansdowne-born singer/songwriter learned via text message Sunday morning, he told Metro Sunday night, that his prized Fishtown mural was defaced Saturday morning.
Vile's manager texted both him and the mural's painter, Steve Powers, with a photo of the white-washed artwork with the message, "RIP."
"We were both like, 'What the F___," Vile said. "By the end of it we were just like, 'That's ridiculous. We'll figure this out.'"
DJ Lee Mayjahs was caught white-handed painting over the Powers (aka ESPO) original, which was created in conjunction with Vile’s 2013 album “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze.” Mayjahs confessed through an assortment of online venues Sunday.
Mayjahs also posted the apology that he sent to Vile in the comments section of a story on Philadelphia Magazine’s website. In the message, Mayjahs said he was fed up with graffiti in the up-and-coming neighborhood and felt the mural attracted more street art. And that he just snapped on Saturday and painted over the mural without researching its cultural significance.
"I knew nothing about you, but today I went to your face book site and saw your profile page," Mayjahs wrote. "There was your image of your art. I realized that having that work painted was the culmination of a dream for you. And I just destroyed that dream, I am so sorry."
Vile said he read DJ Lee Majahs' confessions, and said "It's nice" that he's "super apologetic" and he "feels bad."
"I'm sure that I can give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he really does feel bad, because, how could he not, but he was also caught red handed," Vile said. "I guess his whole concept was just totally askew any way you slice it."
In his comments, Mayjahs also said he was a "graffiti writer" in the mid-80s.
"Eventually I was caught by the police and that put an end to my painting on other peoples property days," he wrote. He added that he "ran in the same circles" with Powers' about 20 years ago and has "maximum respect for his work." However, the crux of his argument was his inability to differentiate between a Powers mural and random street graffiti.
"He was caught red-handed. I'm sure he does feel bad and stupid but also part of it is you also feel bad because you did such a quick action and you didn't realize how popular Steve is," Vile said. "And then, what, make it so ugly? Those ugly blobs — that's going to stop graffiti? Give me a break. It's weird."
"I guess it's kind of heart-warming, too, just to have such a tight-wound community for people to be so enraged. It's nice to feel the love," he added, "but this is very, very strange, but at least he's 'sorry.' Wow."
Does he care to respond to Mayjahs comments?
"No, I don't," Vile said. "I wish I talked to my family more than I do now, you know?"
Vile said Powers will repaint it sometime in the future.
"It's a shame just to go and repaint something, really" he said. "But Steve's so cool so that's the good news."
Vile is aware that Mayjahs offered to pay for the repainting, but it's not a matter of money.
"Steve is a busy guy. He's in demand. What are you going to do — charge him triple because of all the work behind it? He already did this," Vile said. "And all of these other people knocking down his door. Jay Z knocking on his door. But Steve's an awesome guy so it will get done eventually."
"And the guy didn't even own the building so he has to deal with those people, too," Vile added.
It's a bummer, Vile said, because he just met the owners of the building last week and talked with them about plans to open a restaurant at that location. The owners cited the mural as a source of inspiration.
"It's like a piece of Philadelphia and then they're going to open this restaurant and that's the "Wakin' on Pretty Daze" artwork in the flesh in today's computer, disposable world with Photoshop or whatever the hell they use these days to do album covers." Vile said. "We just went for this real thing, organic style, so they were stoked to have that building with that on there, and then somebody covered it up."