The email came in like many other emails do:
“Hi, my name is Cara Salvatore and I have a unique tour request for you.”
Sure sure Cara, there’s a reason we’re called The Levys’ Unique New York!
“I’m a 17 year-old about-to-graduate Senior from Archbishop Molloy High School in Jamaica, Queens…”
Okay, that’s a little interesting. Not many teenagers reach out to us to book tours, and NONE from working-class Southeastern Queens . . .
A VERY crafty installation of Steve Jobs by Scott Vandervoort on Bond st.
“My classmates and I are looking for a fun post-prom activity and I found your Graffiti and Street Art tour online, and I wondered if we could book you from one to four in the morning? We’ll have a partybus so we can get around the city. Please let me know.”
WHOAH! And this is how I found myself leading a street art tour for 30 of the sweetest, nicest, multi-culti teens, and explaining the difference between graffiti and street art, tags and murals, installations and wheat-pastes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, all between 1 and 4 in the morning.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Cara and I had a Skype video chat a week before the tour (mostly to assure her father, a no-nonsense old-school Italian that I was a professional and not offering any funny business with this after-hours graffiti tour) to figure out the route, itinerary and hop-offs. During our chat, I expressed some concerns that, as per post-prom protocol, some of her friends would use the opportunity to get wasted, she quelled my concerns, insisting that her friends were “some of the most interesting people” I would meet.
Talking about wheatpastes at 2am.
They were interesting, they were fun and funny, and, teens will be teens, between our various partybus street art stops, they danced to earsplitting electronic music on board the partybus. We made stops in NoHo, SoHo, the LES, Astoria (for the excellent Welling Court Mural,) Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.
“Because I choose to use my Infinite Potential” by Queen Andrea, Welling Court.
And at every stop they hopped out (in cute matching tshirts,) snapped a ton of pics, asked a bunch of smart questions (“Who’s job is it to clean up the buildings?” How does a street artist make money?”) and at no point did I ever feel like I was the chaperone. I was just a friend who knew a lot about street art, was tagging along after their prom, and happened to be twice their age.
Good times on the Partybus!! Note the plethora of Levys brochures!
Good work Archbishop Molloy High School, Class of 2013! Good luck at college! Keep thinking outside the box and you too, can Choose to Use Your Infinite Potential. And most of all, conGRADulations!!!
By Matt Levy