So, I’m torn by how I feel writing this. Another conflict ego trip, probably the same trip that made me stumble into graffiti in the first place. I’ve decided to take you all on a walk back through my wavy journey to get here. I won’t go too deep and I won’t get too detailed, but I’ve been in and out and up and down as a writer for 28 years now. I’ll tell you a bit about what got me to start, and introduce a few of the people that shaped me.
Early years: I grew up in downtown NYC through the 80’s and 90’s, when you could buy breakfast for pocket change and drink 40’s in the shadow of the Trade Towers. Before time was money, all I did was go to school, steal comics and snacks, and skate… Brooklyn Banks, to Wall street, up the Hudson, Washington Square, Union Square, LES and repeat. And kids from the four corners of the 5 boroughs came down too. And that’s how I found graffiti. We skated and had tags, life was simple, full of scrapes, bumpy shins, and blackbooks.
I saw my first productions in SOHO parking lots, folks like Zephyr, Mode2, and Reas. Rollers from Cost and Revs, and handstyles from Twister. I wanted to do that, I don’t know why, most people don’t give a shit, some don’t even notice, but I just wanted to fucking do that. Graffiti was awesome to me.
My first partners in crime were Mize, YMe and Sace and on weekday nights we dodged trains in the freedom tunnels, climbed fences on the meatpacking el tracks (before it was the highline), and ran across bridges like stand-by-me on the LIRR. On weekends, with Smirk, we trekked on the freight lines that ran from Corona QNS to Sunset Park BK looking for dissed walls to paint. Sni1 brought me out to Brownsville where we’d paint open lot’s in broad daylight, once even a rooftop off the 3 line at midday. Deck WGF brought us to do stompers off the L line, in East New York, on the coldest damned day I can remember. 6am mid winter holy shit fuck I almost lost a finger that day. I was hooked!
I pushed my pieces further as our circle expanded now with Dmens, and Haspe, but when Chip7 from Jersey came through my world blew open. Jersey was different, though just as close to me as BK, but they had highways and box cars like I had never seen. And while I was painting pieces in the shadows, Jersey writers like Chip7, Kemos, Rime and Nace were doing full color productions in open view on the highway. I was lucky enough to know Chip who built the bridge between us, and brought us together as Mayhem crew, NY & NJ Voltron united. And with them is where I grew up.
Brief intermission: When Mayhem started I was one of the wide eyed kids eager to learn from the elders. Not just about graffiti, but about life too, and I was lucky enough to be in the presence of both graffiti excellence and human goodness. I never painted with Nace unfortunately, but I spent time talking with him on occasions and he imparted wisdom that stays with me, and I’ll share one anecdote to you all.
Rime threw a party that drew writers from the edges of the tri-state area. We packed the train coming from New York, Mayhem folk, KCW folk and much more. It was going to be a legendary night, but the most outstanding moments came in sequence, one was the wildest and the other was the quietest but most meaningful – Picture a dark skinned stripper surrounded by this turbulent sea of writers, now frothing at the mouth and wild eyed and beginning to hurl insults at her while she danced. I think Sace was the first one to run at her with a silver marker and tag her with that signature silver drip we all live for. This opened the floodgates, and the sea of writers ascended on her instantly drowning her in tags. she screamed, grabbed her clothes and stormed out followed by roaring laughter as the wave of writers pulled back. Nace, on the other hand, was straight-edge, vegan, and humble and stayed quietly sketching in the back. And because I admired both his skills and person, I stayed by his side while the tsunami raged before us. I remember this moment like a movie scene, where at the height of chaos he turned to me and said “the most important thing in a piece is the flow”. I’ve been finding my flow ever since.
I stopped painting a few months later. I skipped town and became a ghost, and for 5 years tried to ignore my impulse to paint. I ended up in Holyoke MA, and that temptation came back with a vengeance. Everything MAYHEM inspired in me came out in a flurry, I wanted to own every highway spot on rt 91, and I tried fucking hard to do it. But my style was old and my can control was rusty as hell. Spurred off from Haspe came my connection to Nashville with Zew and Smok 42. Now my writer connections were many states away, and I was painting the highways solo at first. The scene and styles in MA were new to me, brewed from a different pot than I was made in. My next evolution came when I met Burye who helped whip me into the shape of modern times. He didn’t know my history when we first painted, but after we finished that first day I asked him what he thought of my piece. He said, “it’s cool, kinda like NY, NJ circa ‘98” this was 2006 haha.. Fuck! It did too. But Burye stuck with me, and I improved and he connected me to the You Lose crew and I was once again surrounded by style innovators in their prime, and we made waves.
Last intermission: Abyss… If Abyss ever saw me sketching with a pencil he’d call me a bitch.. If he ever saw me bring a sketch to a wall he’d tell me to scrape the sand out of my panties and freestyle like a man. If I cut back on a line he’d call me a toy fag, so now I freestyle every piece and I try to never cut back ever. Lest ye get swallowed by the Abyss.
By my 30’s I thought I was done again, but the tides pull you back. Last time I visited Zew in Nashville I remember him talking about the moment, as an adult, that he realized he was a graffiti writer. Not just a thing he did, but a thing he “is” through and through. And I guess that’s when I recognized the same for me. I am a graffiti writer. Even when I drop it, throw it away and disconnect from it entirely it’s in my veins, blood half replaced by Rusto. I’m older now, and live halfway around the world. I’ve reconnected with old friends, to stay connected to dead friends, and I’m surrounded by new friends here. The GPS crew keeps me active in my old ass calmed down retired state. Sometimes months go by without touching paint, sometimes I paint daily, but graff stays with me lurking as my shadow self. Shout to MAYHEM, 42, YL’s, and GPS for staying brothers in my shadow family tree.
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