Graffiti Summer is Commerce Gold
Many cities struggle to figure out who they are, what they stand for and create brand after brand to create a new identity to attract new business, travel and tourism. Modesto has a special history that is key to who we are, what we can be and is loaded with classic high-octane rock and roll excitement that will make our economy twist, shout and rock around the clock. We are not Modesto, California, we are Modesto USA!
Part of our history was featured in one of the Top 100 films of all time and is popular around the world. Another story is the dustbowl immigrant Maddox family living in Modesto creating the early notes of Rock and Roll with Rockabilly (Hillbilly Boogie) music in 1938. After World War II, fresh with new tires and gas, people started cruising in souped up cars created by Modestan Gene Winfield. In 1954, “Rock and Roll” appeared on AM radio and the “Cruising Generation” was born where they all shared the same soundtrack. In 1973, the legendary George Lucas film American Graffiti celebrated the Modesto Class of ’62 and the rest is history.
Modesto is a truly special place but there is so much more to do to turn our Graffiti History into Graffiti Gold. We wring our hands every time a new unflattering economic list comes out. We wouldn’t even be on these lists if the world knew about our history and our culture with tourists from around the world visiting Modesto to see who we really are.
Why is this so important? We are just emerging from very difficult economic times and bold action needs to be taken. We can’t just cut our budget to get strong. As a business, you don’t turn off your sign to save money, you get aggressive, you promote and you get smart. Modesto must increase our revenue from new untapped sources. Our American Graffiti history should be a giant neon sign on the freeway visible for 100 miles in each direction, urging people to stop and visit.
Revenue from visitors is the key. New visitors arrive and depart like the daily tide, leaving their dollars in our hotels, our restaurants and our local businesses, taking with them a new an positive impression of Modesto. All of you that entertain business clients know that people who visit, leave Modesto with a more positive impression than when they arrive. This is an urgent issue of civic pride and is a huge economic opportunity. Travel and tourism is a multi hundred million dollar industry making Modesto poised for Graffiti Gold.
Let’s review the basics
• Modesto USA has the unique position of being the origin of Modesto native George Lucas’ film American Graffiti.
• Modesto USA is the birthplace of Rock & Roll through our unique hillbilly / rockabilly music history with Fred Maddox slapping bass on KTRB in 1938.
• Our classic car culture is legendary with the innovations of Gene Winfield.
• Downtown Modesto USA is perfectly situated for economic rebirth, drawing both tourists and our own residents, generating jobs, revenue and civic pride.
• The #1 tourist request for information at the Modesto Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is “What American Graffiti places can I visit?”
Graffiti Gold is there, on a platter, waiting for us to take it and make it ours.
Modesto USA is where Graffiti Summer lives all year long.
People from all over the world come to Modesto to experience the place that was the inspiration for George Lucas’ milestone movie. The legendary North Modesto Kiwanis American Graffiti Car Show and the Cruise Parade will be Friday June 6 featuring the Grand Marshall, Bart Bartoni and the other Walk of Fame inductees. Big news this year is that the Cruise Parade will go to McHenry this year, bringing back many cruising memories. The American Graffiti Car show will take place all weekend at MJC West Campus. The Mistlin Gallery is featuring an American Graffiti art show and there are many more events and festivals during June. Yes, good times will be had by all. The show of classic chrome and cars will fill our streets and the sound of rock and roll rings all summer long.
The Historic Cruise Route
We need a showplace for our history. Where will the tourists go? What will they see? In 2011, the Modesto City Council designated 10th and 11th streets, from G to K, as the Modesto Historic Cruise Route. These are the actual streets where we “dragged 10th” and the stories of American Graffiti originated. These streets are the best to be our historic tourist zone. There are 25 Cruise Route markers along this route that tell the story behind the movie. These are our people, our places and it is not just our visitors that need to know our history, but our own residents as well. This is where civic pride comes from. We need to know how cool our city can be.
Walk of Fame
George Lucas wrote American Graffiti about his experiences during high school and created characters in the film based on people he knew. The new Walk of Fame on 10th St, will memorialize and tell the stories of those people. The Walk of Fame will be unveiled in 10th St Plaza on June 4 at 6:30 pm and will feature Candy Clark and Bo Hopkins, stars of American Graffiti as well as our local Legends of the Cruise including 2014 Cruise Parade Grand Marshall Bart Bartoni. Real people, real stories.
Classic Community Murals
We need to show our story where everyone can see it. ModestoView, Wells Fargo and the Peer Recovery Center have teamed up to bring our classic Graffiti history to life on the walls of Modesto. There are now 5 classic murals, painted by some our most talented artists, like Aaron Vickery and Tom Nye. These are huge murals and are already attracting visitors from around the world. Make sure you take a drive and check them out and show them to your family, friends and business associates. You can also see each mural at the below link.
10th and J – 57 Chevy – Modesto Chamber of Commerce
1700 McHenry – 57 Chevy Cruise – McHenry Village
13th and J – 32 Deuce Coups – Peer Recovery
305 Downey – 4 Panel Cruise Mural
Needham – Cruise Under the Arch – Neville Brothers
See all things Graffiti at www.graffitisummer.com. For events happening all over the greater Modesto area, check out
So Modesto, let’s get our Graffiti on! If you are a business, plan some great cruisin’ events and promotions. Have your employees dress retro and play the music from 1954 – 1964. It is so much more than just fun, it is great marketing, great branding and good for our community. This is our time, this is our story and this is who we are! ModestoUSA is the home of American Graffiti and we should be proud. Our history is shiny hot rods, carhops on roller skates, classic rock and roll. Modesto needs to be the best place to experience that American Graffiti feeling.
And now, we ask this simple and obvious question and call out for support: Graffiti Museum? Let’s do this thing. Chris Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org