ALE ONE INTERVIEW
©1999 @149st Do not republish without permission.
Where and when did you start (on trains)?
I painted my first subway train in the Bronx, summer of 1972.
Did you have a particular inspiration or mentor?
LIL GUY ONE showed me the ropes. We rode the trains during school and searched for stores to rack paint.
What lines have you hit?
I wrote on the Number 2,4,5,6,7, and D and CC lines.
What borough are you originally from?
What crews have you written for?
I joined The Ebony Dukes in 1973, the INDs in 1974 and was one of the early members to join Wild Style in 1975.
List all the other names under which you are known?
SPIRIT ONE, LAW, BARETTA as well as "ALAN WAS HERE".
Who were your best partners?
My best partners were DOO 2, JOHN 150 and TAV ONE
Who were your rivals?
I don't recall a specific rival, but there was always the occasional jealous toy. I had more run-ins in 1975 when I really started bombing the 5 line. But even then, most disputes were quick fist fights, nothing serious.
What was unique about the time when you were writing?
No doubt, it was the best time to be a writer. The early '70s! All the writers were competing for style, fame and space on the trains. Best of all, writers got a lot of respect!
What were your favorite lay-ups?
In order: 1. Baychester lay-up 2. Esplande Tunnel 3. 180th Steet lay-up, all in The Bronx.
Do you have any good raid stories?
I was painting in the 7 yard (Queens N.Y.) with PILOT ONE back in 1973. Pilot I brought me to the yard telling me that the police were too busy at the ball game next door (Shea Stadium) and the yard was an easy get over! Well I'm on my third piece when an undercover cop pulls a gun on me. He tells me to freeze or he'll shoot me! I watched as my friend PILOT ran for a twelve foot fence complete with barb wire. I was only 13 years old. I freaked out and climbed into the end of the subway car that I was piecing on. I kicked open the conductor's booth and hid there. All I could hear was the sound of footsteps on the gravel of the tracks. I heard another cop shouting for me to surrender. All afternoon, I listened as they searched the trains looking for me. I stayed in the conductor's booth until late in the evening. Finally I felt it was safe to leave. I crawled out of the subway car into the night looking for the closest fence. Once over the fence I ran for my life. I made it to the bus stop safely. Next morning at school I caught up with PILOT ONE. He also got away and proudly lifted up his shirt to show me rows of barb wire cuts across his chest. We talked a lot about giving up writing that day. Three days later I was back painting at Baychester layup!
Hickey and Ski were famous cops. Do you have any stories about them?
Hickey and Ski came after my era. Writers of the early '70s dealt with vigilante cops. Officer Schwartz and Rodriguez are two cops that I remember. Some cops concentrated on graffiti arrests to earn promotions.
Do you have any stories about the 149th Grand Concourse bench?
I visited the Bench at 149th Street several times in the early '70s. I can remember hordes of writers signing black books and scrutinizing each passing train. PHASE 2 was often there, giving style out to those in need. Often the most wanted writers would stop off at the bench, make plans for the night and jump on the next uptown train. They would not risk getting caught in a station raid, which happened a lot when too many writers were at the bench. As I sat at the bench, I would wait in anticipation for one of my pieces to roll in the station. When it did I would play it off like it was no big deal. (I learned this move from the older writers).
Which writers from your time period are underrepresented in today's era of broad documentation of subway art?
Personally some writers that deserve more light on their contribution to the movement are JIVE 3, LSD 3, FRESCO ONE, DOC COOL 1, DEVIL, IRON MIKE 3, MIKE 182, MOE TR, PRE-SWEET KINDO, HIPPIE 44, SKETO, PROF.2, NINE, MIKE 170 There just so many, someone's always going to be left out.
Your work was both artistic and abundant. What was your primary concern?
Thank You! At first I wanted to get my name out there. So after several hundred pieces, I started to get more elaborate. I concentrated on whole cars,top-to-bottoms and window down pieces with clouds and 3Ds. That was the mission. Other writers chose to do quick pieces and throw-ups. It was the right choice for me because the early writers chose to photograph only the outstanding pieces. I have collected many great photos of my artwork from fellow writers.
What do you think your greatest accomplishment as a writer is?
I painted the very first Mickey Mouse on a train in 1975.
Are you currently involved in writing or any other art form?
I am not actively writing at this time. I build models from time to time so I get to break out the spray paint.
At the time you were bombing did you ever expect that kids be bombing Europe twenty years later?
I wasn't aware of Europe when I was thirteen years old. In 1973 the world was not connected globally as it is now. These kids in Europe rock! They have the talent and hit the trains hard. If I was fourteen years old today I would book a flight overseas!
Any final Comments?
Many thanks to Eric @149St. for allowing me to reminisce about "The good old days". Peace, ALE ONE 9/99
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