FDT 56 INTERVIEW
© 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
What borough are you from?
I'm originally from Brooklyn and when I first lived in Brooklyn I used to live in a place called the Van Dyke, the Van Dyke Projects in Brownsville, Then we moved to the Tompkins Projects in Bed Sty when they first opened, 200 Throop Avenue. Then from there in 1966 we moved to the Jackson Projects on 156th Street in the South Bronx, the Boogie Down Bronx!
Where and what year did you start on writing on streets and subways?
Now before this graffiti thing ever happened. Me, HOY, YAZ and TINE, we would find paint in the street. It's about 1968-'69. FDT 56 used to be just F.D.T., HOY used to be R.M., YAZ used to be R.G. and TINE used to be T.G. and that was in that era 1969, but when I was first really writing on trains that was 1971, 1972.
Was FDT 56 the first name you wrote?
The first name I wrote was FDT, but when I first wrote FDT, I wrote it without the numbers. That was with a paintbrush.
How did you get your name and number?
Well that is my initials as you know and I used to live on 156th Street in the Bronx. So I thought, Sh*t! I don't want anybody to know where I live, so I eliminated the 1.
List all the other names under which you have painted?
The first name I wrote was CHIP 56 and the second name I wrote was SAVE and the third one I wrote was RATED X I and II. That's when the Third Avenue EL used to be up.
What inspired you to become involved in writing?
One day I saw the trains and I saw some hits, so I said sh*t, I could do this too! That's how I did it. I just wrote. You gotta' remember I went to one of the greatest schools in the world- DeWitt Clinton. We had all the great writers! I'll tell you the names. FDT, HOY 56, PHASE 2, SWEET DUKE, TABU I, CLIFF 159, SOUL MAN 170, PUFF 167, CHI CHI 133, BUG 170, LEE 163rd, LIONEL 168, JOHNNY 800, HULK 62, HRJ 2, COOL CAGE 1, CUBE 170, GARY 336, SMOOTH 169, SOUL POWER 1 and a lot of others. Please forgive me if I for got any names.
Did you have a mentor?
Who influenced your style?
Well I could tell you that! The "FD" I got on my own, the "T" I got it from TONY and THOR 125. The "5" I got it from CLIFF 159 and the "6" I got from AJ 161 (ALL JIVE 161), STAFF 161's brother.
You were a very prolific bomber. Are there any lines you did not hit?
I hit everything. I went to every yard. The only yard I didn't go to was the Coney Island Yard. I went to almost every lay-up except some in Brooklyn, like on the B train. I could tell you a funny story. One day in Queens, in Kew Gardens, I was doing a piece in the tunnel with my other friends TINE and YAZ and we got chased and I didn't know that it led to the E Yard near the highway. We didn't know where we were. (Laughs) That was the funniest story! I remember that one. Let me tell you something else. I've been to the 4 Lay-up, but the scariest lay-up I've ever been to was the one in the Bowery!
You never liked the Bowery Lay-up?
Hell no! It was dark and old looking! I'll never forget the Bowery, 'cause me and CHI CHI 133 went to the Bowery.
What were your favorite lay-ups and yards?
The ones that was favorites was the 4 Yard, the A Yard at Euclid. I used to go there, 'cause my cousin used to live in the Pink Houses. That's why I was familiar with that. Also 4 Lay-up, Oh yeah! The 2 Yard-New Lots. That's where I first got caught. That was 1973. It was me, LSD 3 and TINE getting' chased by the cops! Son of B*tch, they're chasing us then TINE is climbing the fence with the barbed wire and I turned around and wondered why the cop is still chasing me and LSD 3 and they caught us and I wanted to know why they didn't take TINE. They said they didn't want to pull him off the fence. (Laughs) That hurt me. It was the first time I got busted.
Did you "motion tag" frequently?
On the trains when they were running? Yeah all the time! I learned to hang off the train, I was left handed, I'd hang, tag, then jump off. I used to do the old Third Avenue ELs. We used write between the cars when they used to run. I met quite a few old writers there.
Who were your most successful partners?
My partners; that's a long list, but first my real partner is HOY 56, then come YAZ 56, then comes TINE I. Then comes KID 56, my brother, then come MOUSEY. Now comes the WANTED boys, TRACY 168, CHI CHI 133, SONNY 107 who used to write MAN 2, KING 2, SHAFT 007, LIL FLAME, FUZZ, P-NUT 2 that's my man! I miss the little white guy! And of course CLYDE.
Tell us about the SALSA crew.
Now the SALSA boys, it was 1975 1976. We first came up with the name Salsa in my room at home, when I lived in the South Bronx. It was me SCHICK, KROME 100, GAME 5, PAX. Then the other boys came in OZ 109, WASP many guys I can't remember right now. Then came my boy EDDIE 80 and ROE they were from the Brooklyn side.
More Salsa boys I forgot to mention. BOC, AT aka SAVE THE WORKER. MITCH 77, LUIS 176, LEFTY, COCO 174, BIN aka ED 167, RISK I, HOY 56, MAX 1, BLUE BEARD 183, SHADOW 1.
I met FAME 1 before he was DEN, he introduced me to RISK 1 who had moved to 156th Street and Grand Concourse. He brought over KROME 100 and his brother GAME 5. that is how we all became good, and I mean good friends. Well Edwin (DEN) had moved to the Queensbridge projects, so KROME 100, RISK, PAX and I went down there to see him. We found out he was the DEN that was killing the RRs. DEN introduced us to PANCHO 76, and right there KROME told them he wanted them to join. They said yes and that is how they became Salsa members. They represented us well on the BMTs. For me that was the only time I met PANCHO and I didn't see DEN for another 15 years, he had took a sip of my beer in Central Park by the fountain. Damn, I miss those days!
Did you ever race other writers?
Nah, it was just me. People would idolize me because of the things I did. I was here, I was there, you know what it was I carried a marker with me every where. If I stood and waited for a train I took a tag, I was a junkie man, a junkie till the day I got caught. Sometimes I still have the urge, but I don't do it any more. I'm getting' old.
You quit and came back many times. Tell us about that.
Yes I have! Well I had quit in 1975, I was in Jack Stewart's house, then I came back. Then 1977 was the real last time I quit on the outsides. It was me and WASP; we did a piece on the 4 line, then I stopped. Then we moved to Queens Village in Queens. I used to still tag, but I never hit the outside of a train again 'cause I lost the nerve, I was jittery, I was scared. So one day I saw a clean F train. It was clean and white, a ding-dong right, so I said sh*t! I'm gona' get it! So it's 3:00 in the morning and I went to Suphin Boulevard.
I was just doin' tags and son of a b*tch! This guy VINNY, he beat me to the punch! He did a big line and I wrote next to him. People thought we wrote together, me and VINNY. But when I really officially quit it was when I got caught in Central Park. That was in the papers. That's the one that really knocked me on my ass. They didn't sentence me to seven years like they said they did. But hey I was the king of the cleaners man! I've met so many writers cleaning up. I met MINGO; I met his brother GUMBE. Me and LSD 3 also cleaned one day.
Did you ever hang at any of the 149th Street writer's bench?
Of course man, please man! We were some of the first ones there! One time we met there and we went to rob some paint. I can still see all these writers, Brooklyn, Bronx and Broadway, Black and Puerto Rican. That was one of the best days. And do you know what was one of the good things about 149th Street Grand Concourse? It was near my house. I could get off there and go to 156th Street. I lived between three train stations, 149th Street Third Avenue, 149th Street Grand Concourse and 161st Yankee Stadium.
Do you have any good raid stories?
There was one time me and HOY was on the 4 Lay-up on 183rd Street and sure enough the cops was comin' with the flashlights. That was a time when you could climb down the poles of the EL, and it was great, but now they got those stupid woods and you can't climb down the poles. Now my greatest story that I got was when I was writing on the back of the 4 train and a cop came out of nowhere and got me. I'll never forget, these Puerto Rican guys came out and said "Hey what you doin'? What you doin'? You can't do nothin' to him!" They held this cop then he chased me to 161st Street. I got to Yankee Stadium where that gate is closed, I ran up to it and climbed down the pole and ran home. I got away from that cop! They were lookin' for me.
Who were the top cops of your era?
The only one I know was Officer Schwartz. He was always trying to get me, but he never caught me. When I met him I was shocked that he knew who I was. Me and Schwartz had a nice little convo', but when he talked to me he searched me. Back in those days I had a long leather coat and I would hide my marker here (Points to the inside of his upper arm.) and he didn't feel it when he searched me. But now when they search you they search you all over.
He had a bad reputation. For things like painting people he apprehended.
Schwartz? Never with me, I mean I don't know where that rumor came from! I don't know if he did. I mean he was a small little guy! He was skinny! Who could he hurt? He wasn't no big bruiser.
Your younger brother is also a famous writer. Did you get him started? Did you school him bring him to lay-ups and so on?
He used to study from me, but I never wanted to take him to the lay-up. But till this day he's still a little bit upset with me, I'm kidding around (laughs), because I would take MOUSEY 56 with me. You see he was my cousin, he would come from the Pink Houses (Brooklyn) to visit. My brother was so young, but he wanted to come, MOUSEY was young too, but he was a little older than KID, and would leave Ronnie (KID 56) behind, but KID showed me up as you could see. He did big pieces. He showed me up, but I was so proud of him too.
How many writers put up 56?
The 56 boys, it was FDT 56, HOY 56, YAZ 56, TINE I, PAL 56, JBJ 56, PAY 56 and DAVE 56. There was also HANG 56, he used to write FID 6. He used to write on the number 4, 5 and 7 lines.
Any closing words?
In the girls department KIVU, POONIE 1 and SUKI were a lot of fun to be with. You could really joke around with them. Miss you girls. LADY PINK -- for the two times I met her with my brother, that girl had a lot of class. Stay strong girl!
I would like to give a shout out to FAB 5 FREDDY -- On first night that Wild Style the movie came out, CLYDE and I were on the line to see it. While on line, I saw FREDDY standing over there in front of the ticket booth and I went there to introduce myself. When I said to him "Are you FAB 5 FREDDY?", he looked at me like who the hell is this guy. When I told him who I was he said "Sh*t, that's you?" So we did small talk and the next thing I know he asked if I would like to go the opening party at Danceateria. When I said yes he put me on a list. I go over there and there is this long line and sure enough I go to the door and I tell the guy up front that me and CLYDE and were invited, that FREDDY kept his word and we got in like royalty. It was mad packed and we got to see the Cold Crush Brothers with Caz. That was one night I will never forget! FAB 5 FREDDY, I just want to say thank you for being a man of your word.
I would like to thank HUGO MARTINEZ, CO-C0 144, MIC0 and PHASE 2, BAMA for their intellectual conversations when ever we had the chance to meet.
Just want to say I miss the Wanted group and the club house, TRACY 168, CHI-CHI 133, and KING 2 and the rest of the group know what I am talking about.
I miss those days when the 56 boys would hang out at LSD 3's house and get a little high and meet his friends from Brooklyn, like FLINT..., CHOPPER 13, DELTA 2000, MICO and SCOOTER.
And last, but not least I would like to thank ERIC/DEAL and his Web site @149st for bringing my name back to the 21st century, and for informing me of all our graffiti brothers who have pass away, that is what hurts me the most. May you all rest in peace!
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