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HECTOR TOBAR

A former tagger searches for a new means of expression

Fenix gained street fame by tagging from Slauson Avenue to Sunset Boulevard. Now he attends community college and hopes to give his stories of L.A.'s streets a new life in print.

November 10, 2009|HECTOR TOBAR

After a while, he mentions other pursuits. Photography, screenwriting. He's been reading "The Hollywood Rules" to learn the way that industry works.

To be successful at anything, I say, you have to work hard.

Fenix says he's used to working hard. He was an industrious tagger. He would tag all the way from Slauson Avenue to Sunset Boulevard in a single day. That's how he got street famous.

Yeah, and he also infuriated a lot of people, I say. Finally, I ask him: What would you tell all those people whose property you tagged?

"I would want to apologize," he says.

Fenix was arrested as a juvenile and forced to work in clean-up brigades, but he erased only a fraction of what he was responsible for.

"I did a lot of damage. I feel bad for the little family-owned stores. They don't have as much money, so your tags stay longer."

One day, he hopes, when all of his tags are painted over and forgotten, he'll walk into his mother's living room with $10,000 and say: "Here, Mom. Ten stacks. I worked for it. My business is doing good."

That's the dream of the young man who once tagged as Fenix.

The life lessons he's learned so far have caused him and a lot of other people much grief -- and he's still got many more lessons ahead of him.

But L.A. has given him everything he needs to succeed, including a high school degree and a community-college bridge to his future.

Now it's all up to him.

If he takes the right path, you may know him one day by his real name.

--

hector.tobar@latimes.com

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