Steve Neavling falls for Metro Times’ April Fools’ prank

April 1, 2014

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It goes without saying that you should take anything you read on April Fools’ Day with a grain of salt. When we saw reports of a new Banksy painting springing up in Hamtramck on the Hamtramck Star today, we immediately recognized it as a joke, and decided to engage in a little April Fools’ prank of our own by reporting it.

The joke-about-a-joke was lost on the crusading reporter Steve Neavling at the Motor City Muckracker, who ran the headline “Metro Times falls for April Fools’ prank, reports graffiti artist Banksy returned to Detroit.” Neavling thought we got punked … looks like we punked Neavling!

Neavling seems to be able to spot a fake Banksy from a mile away, but he can’t seem to detect a fake news story — writing “what’s unclear is whether the Hamtramck Star wrote the piece as a joke.” To us, the Hamtramck Star piece was dripping with sarcasm:

We couldn’t believe it either, but when we heard from a friend of a friend that Banksy had again visited Detroit to make a statement about “commercialism, capitalism and the mechanics of the art market”, we sent a request to Pest Control, a service that issues certificates on behalf of the artist. Despite their promise of a “lengthy and challenging process”, they were quick to reply in this case.

“Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is – with council workers wanting to remove it and kids wanting to draw moustaches on it, before you add hedge-fund managers wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace.”

“For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody unless it was created for sale in the first place.”

UPDATE: Deadline Detroit enters the fray. Thanks for the web traffic, guys!

UPDATE 2: Michael Jackman and Hillary Cherry have the whole story right here, with pics.

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  • Carl B. Oxley III


  • DJ Meph

    This is so meta

  • javierjuanmanuel

    I would not comment on anything on april fools day till april second. That being said, that quote is not dripping with sarcasm at all.

    This is a nerd fight. This reminds me of a seth macfarlane quote about how nothing is nerdier then animators feuding (with south park writers and simpsons writers).

    I know this is your job, but this is nerdier. Local papers feuding over who believed what about what in a day where everything is fake.

    I comment on both your papers/sites, but on this i would side with steve, i see nothing to show you guys thought this was not banksy. The only thing that could possibly redeem you is it is april fools day, but that does not give a paper any leeway in my opinion if you did not generate the story.

    The herald is in the clear, you seem like you believe it when you report someone elses story.

    Soooorry. You should have come up with your own prank.

  • John T. Feret

    The joke is that the Metro Times has been a joke itself for quite some time now…

  • muckraker_steve

    Yea, right! You got pranked and now are pretending to be in the joke. It wouldn’t be an April Fool’s joke if you had to come out and say you knew it was a joke.

  • Bill

    So MT has multiple articles claiming they didn’t get pranked. Sounds like the overly-offensive, nervous chatter of someone who got pranked and can’t admit it.


    What would you expect from a rag that is best used for teenage antics, slack jawed commentary and hobo toilet paper?

  • Leyland ‘Lee’ DeVito
  • Tammy Barbour

    Give them a break. It’s not important who knew it was an April Fool’s prank, and who didn’t. Even if it wasn’t, saying it was a joke is a natural come back. I don’t mind. If Metro Times says they were in on the joke, they are doing more than reporting a story. They are also admitting to siding with the artist who made it against the private sale of the Banksey by 555.

    To me, it is relevant that papers are covering the story of the movement you started Carl. 555 is gaining notoriety, but ironically not for being artists.

    Banksey became famous by painting controversial and thought provoking statements about anti-commercialism in public places. Now he is commissioned to do work for international peace and other important causes. Being against the big corporations won him fame, and his prints are everywhere, which ironically now make him commercial. Some less successful artists decided to steal a piece of his graffiti, and put it up for sale to a private buyer to profit from his work. You resent 555 putting Banksey art on some rich guy’s wall to fund their finger paint projects. It’s not just that they took Banksey’s art down. Many in the community are okay with preserving a great piece positioned on a soon to be demolished wall. Your movement brought to everyone’s attention the question of 555 seeking a private buyer for a public work to profit just themselves. And there is the issue that Banksey himself is an artist for the public, not the private galleries of the wealthy. Some artists are calling 555′s action “anti-art”. So it’s fitting that the stencil compares 555 to the anti-Christ. This debate asks many questions about art, commercialism and the environment. So I hope you white guys do not get so lost in the “who was fooled” to see the victory for your own cause. And by the way, I like how you actually made your own art to raise money for the DIA. How do we know that 555 is wrong. It’s easy. The DIA is a bonafide non profit too. Let’s imagine for a moment, that they decided to take the piece from the Packard. Would it be imaginable that they would put it up for sale to a private buyer? Of course not. They would preserve it for all, or at most, give it to another museum. Conclusion: Be glad that the story was covered and because of that, more are becoming aware of the issues, and the art. Good job.

  • Tammy Barbour

    bah hum bug.

  • Tammy Barbour

    The whole debate is cute. I like it because 1) you are becoming a star and 2) we are discussing the preservation of public art, which is an issue. Especially considering Kevyn Orr looming over the scene with his axe.