Who Is Alec Monopoly?

Odds are if you have been around Los Angeles, you've seen his work. Among the entertainment capital's omnipresent billboards and bus ads for the latest studio mush, little deposits of his artwork spring out of the urban marketplace like willful foliage to wink at you on your commute. Some call it vandalism, some are incapable of even seeing it, and some will pay hundreds for an original.

Digable Planets' emcee Butterfly once declared, "The city's a museum with its posters and graffiti." While the urban gallery of Los Angeles exhibits colorful murals and tagging scrawled in the city's margins, there is a subculture that lurks in the dead of night to adorn utility boxes, street signs, dumpsters, and unclaimed walls with paint, posters and paste, in the pursuit of what is simply known as "street art."

Less than a year ago, the recognizable Monopoly Man figure began appearing around town plastered against traffic light boxes, lampposts, and building tops. The tuxedoed icon would be recognizable with his pocket watch and top hat, but now he was spinning turntables, or needing health care. In an era of billion dollar bailouts for banks that already own the country and moguls decrying regulation as un-American, the re-contextualization of the childhood symbol of success and wealth almost needed no explanation.

Except, maybe an explanation for who the hell was putting all these imaginative renditions of the Monopoly Man all over LA, from the ocean to downtown, from West Hollywood to the canyons. And why.

After patience and persistence, the elusive Alec Monopoly granted me an interview. Because others might technically deem his artwork a destruction of property or some such notion, he asked that his likeliness be kept hidden, and that he would come to me. The interview we filmed is below, along with a slide show of some of Alec Monopoly pieces around Los Angeles.

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