In February 2013, Kurt Vile commissioned Steve “ESPO” Powers to paint the giant mural at the Front and Master intersection in Fishtown for the release of his album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze. The piece lasted until this weekend, when a local man buffed a large portion of the mural, claiming it attracted illegal graffiti to the neighborhood.
Instagram user @dasheikee (artist Najeeb Sheikh) caught the vandal in the act Saturday morning, subsequently posting a couple of photos of the buffing. Fans of Vile and Powers alike were appalled, with most echoing the initial “ignorant piece of s—t” designation as per the initial Instagram posting’s comment.
Despite the strong reaction, the buffer remained anonymous up until former Philly.com employee and local reporter Leah Kauffman tracked him down this morning. As it turns out, the vandal in question is likely DJ Lee Mayjahs, who says he is the one who buffed the mural.
Kauffman posted a short Q&A with Mayjahs to her Facebook page today, wherein Mayjahs admits to buffing the Vile mural and cops to posting an anonymous comment on Phillymag saying that he’d pay ESPO to re-do his work.
As per the Phillymag comment from Mayjahs:
Hello everyone, I am the idiot in the picture. Let me start off by saying I Love Philadelphia, I love my neighborhood and I love Art. I am completely committed to supporting legal street art, publicly funded art and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. But what I did yesterday was the most stupid and selfish thing I have ever done. I think I literally had a mental breakdown and lost my mind there. Thank you to Dashiki for having the courage to step to me and try and talk some sense into me to get me to stop. I was so angry when he was talking to me that I didn’t listen to a word he said.
Kauffman’s interview fills in the gaps as to why Mayjahs had a change of heart:
Lee Mayjahs: I got home and started doing research on my computer. I can’t believe what I had done and I wrote a letter to Kurt Vile apologizing. And I wrote a letter to the artist Espo apologizing, telling them that I would pay Espo to come down and repaint it. I also wrote a letter to the mural arts apologizing. Apparently it wasn’t official. Even though it wasn’t official I’m sorry for everything I did. I would do whatever I could do to make it right. I really am sorry. I don’t know what I was doing. I literally lost my mind and took it out which was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.
Mayjahs told Kauffman he’d be seeking help for himself as this is “completely out of character” for the DJ. He says he has also sent apologies to both Vile and Powers.
Vile, for his part, posted a link on Facebook today to Metro’s account of the ordeal, adding that work has begun on having ESPO re-paint the mural:
Mayjahs has responded to Philly.com's request for comment with the following message:
Hi Nick, this whole thing has been very embarrassing and I just kind of lost my mind and freaked out and did something really stupid. I am not sure what more I can say. I have been talking to both Kurt Vile and ESPO and we are going to come to some type of solution. The bottom line is I am really sorry about all of this. Thank you for reaching out to me.