JACK 1 was a writer from Brooklyn. He started in 1972 and was active up until the mid 1970s. He mainly hit the RR line. He wrote with writers like LIMPIE, PACIE, EE 3, KE 3, BB 3. JACK also wrote under the alias SEE.
Essay by JACK 1 - September, 2000
1972 JACK 1- and LIMPIE
LIMPIE lived with his older brothers Roy and Birdman in their aunt's house on President Street in Brooklyn, New York. Birdman looked like CLIFF 159. LIMPIE Was into getting high on brandy, pot or tripping on tabs of acid. LIMPIE was into the gang seen, making gang color jackets and doing some graffiti. The gangs I remember back then were the Jolly Stompers, Seven Immortals, Spanish Kings, Tomahawks, the Brooklyn Czars, and Ex-Vandals (writers). LIMPIE made jackets for the Jolly Stompers. I meet LIMPIE for the first time while I was in Junior High School I.S. 88. He wore the famous Marshmallow shoes, polyester pants, full length leather coat, The Jewish black Stetson hat with the wide brim and everyone would fold it over to give it that Clint Eastwood look, polyester shirts and a cane. He always walked with a knife, a Pilot marker, and a couple of joints. In between periods he would tag the halls with his pilot and that's when I first became crazed with graffiti. I became his friend and it turns out that My brother Green Eyes knew LIMPIE through his gang connections. LIMPIE showed me how to do my first tag in 1972. He told me to write RICAN but I didnÕt like that name because I'm not 100% Puerto Rican, So I decided to write JACK, because I got the name from the guys always saying "I'll jack you up." when ever someone was getting ready to throw-down. I really liked the name when the movie Billy Jack came out.
We became good friends and people feared LIMPIE because of the gang connection and his brothers Birdman and especially his brother Roy. At the same Time my friends looked at me different because of my new friend and tagging partner. The style I used to write my name was the stick style that LIL KING and TASK used back then, with roman numerals and clouds around the tag. We started to rack up cans of Red Devil paint from hardware stores around the hood. One of us would distract the store owner while the other would rack up the paint. It was simple back then because only a handful of writers were around in Park Slope in the early '70s. LIMPIE first showed me how to tag on paper and then we did the real thing on factory walls, backs of school yards. LIMPIE was good in books and walls, but never did trains because his heart was into the gangs. I wanted to get my name around so I did sanitation trucks first. The trucks were white and no matter what color I used to tag JACK 1 on those white trucks, but I wasn't satisfied with sanitation trucks. I had to get on the trains like MICO. So I started to ride the trains looking for places to hit trains. I would ride the trains back and forth looking for easy yards and while I did that I tagged the train cars. I rode with my Pilot marker. I even went as far as tagging the trains while people rode them in the middle of rush-hour.
I found the perfect place on 4th Avenue And 45th Street where the Transit Authority had the 4th Avenue BMT line lay-up of the RR, N and B train lines. I realized that I didn't have to go to the Coney Island train yard to hit the trains. The Transit Authority had trains from 36th Street station through 59th Street station. While everyone was outside in the rain I was in the tunnels with dry cars to paint. The special caps that everyone talked about back then were from the Easy-Off oven cleaners and the cans of spray starch and I didn't like them because they would make your piece/throw-up look toyish, cheap. They did make your paint last longer, but who the hell had all night to paint trains when all you really wanted to do was to get in and out fast, especially out of Bayridge. In the early '70s, so I stuck to regular caps. In December 1972 LIMPIE and I pieced the back of Junior High School #51 on 5th Avenue and 5th Street. When the kids came to the school yard the next morning all they did was talk about LIMPIE and JACK 1. The night before when LIMPIE and I did the pieces I watched while LIMPIE pieced and while I Pieced LIMPIE drank blackberry brandy and smoked a Joint. The funny thing is that the main security guard at Junior High School 51 was LIMPIE's cousin and everyone knew him as One-Eye Willie and he knew LIMPIE's work and nothing was ever done to us. I invited LIMPIE to come with me to the lay-up. I found but he didn't want to, so I decided to go on my own. Two ways of getting your own keys to the subway train doors, one way is to stick up your nearest conductor, the other way was to visit your nearest hardware store that didn't know you from racking and buy yourself a closet door skeleton key and file it down with a triangle file. JACK-1- 1972 One December night I got enough nerve to throw-up the trains on 4th Avenue. I left the house about 7:00 PM. I carried three cans of paint in my waist and my Pilot marker in my pocket. I wore my black All Stars (Converse sneakers), black shirt and black leather jacket it was as if I were going to a funeral. I came into the 4th Avenue F train station took the RR train to the 45th Street station got off my heart throbbing from the rush. I walked from the front of the platform to the end of the platform. Everyone was walking out of the station and I was walking to the end of the platform. When I reached the end I turned and saw no one in the station except myself so I jumped the tracks. Once down in the tracks I walked into the darkness, the more I walked the more my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I moved over to the trains and I could finally see how big these things were. I pulled my cans out stood them on the entrance platform of the train doors and I started to paint. It wasn't Perfect nor was it pretty and my mistake was that I did only the corners and not between the doors under the windows, (that came later with experience). I chose the lay-ups and not the inviting yards because the one closest to me was the Coney Island Yard and the way I knew into it was through the hand ball courts at Dewey High School. You would have to get off at Bay 50th like if you were going to the high school and go to the back of the hand ball courts and slip through the chain link fence and pass the work trains first and then the real trains, but the Transit Authority started to put K-9s with their undercover cops in the yards and you were surely fuc*ed. I believe that some Brooklyn yards and lay-ups were beefed up while the ones in Manhattan and the Bronx were left to prey.
I started In 1972 I was new, but never a toy. That term would get your ass kicked. Especially if the person calling you a toy never walked the lay-up tunnels. I didn't know of a whole lot of writers from Brooklyn, except for a few, like the ones from the other side of Prospect Park that like to hang in the Wetsons or Burger Master. One day while making colors for the Spanish Kings;one of those guys asked me to write Ex-Vandals with my throw-ups when they were going on a wild recruiting rampage. I heard that they were some gang being looked for by the Jolly Stompers. 1973 my 9th grade my art teacher found out that I was a writer, so he asked me to piece the back of the classroom #327 at William Alexander J.H.S. 51. Mr. Gutowski my art teacher gave me some voucher from the Board of Education. Went to the hardware store picked my cans, made a scaffold out of the desks taped the windows locked the Doors and started to paint. I was supposed to go to the High School of Art and Design, but I went to East New York Vocational Technical High School. 1974 I just started high school and I learned of the Grant Avenue lay-up from the guys that were slapping the hats off the conductors with their books and pulling the emergency brakes on the express A train. When I went to the Grant Avenue lay-up I took the A train heading towards Rockaway Beach. I would take the last car get off jump the tracks walk into the tunnel and find the stairs going straight to hell. I think that the trains were about three floors down underground. It was easy going in but different coming out. I believed in only taking the paint that you were going to use in that lay-up other wise you could run into trouble.
The worst lay-up I wrote at was the Bowery J and M lines in Manhattan. You would trip over bums sleeping everywhere and to top it off one of my white cans froze, and when I started my throw-up The tip of the can got stuck In the spray position, when I tried to pull the cap it broke off and there was white paint everywhere that was the only time the bums moved away, so I painted one of the tunnel walls white and I tagged my name in black. That night It was scary because the bums slept everywhere even inside the trains when I was tagging with my Pilot marker. The only easy place that I knew of to piece the F Train was a lay-up between 7th Avenue and Church Avenue Stations. This lay-up was a long mile walk and you could do top-to-bottoms because you had the platform to work off of. The entrance is at the corner Terrace Place and Prospect Avenue through the emergency entrance right on the corner in front of a house. This lay-up was an excellent place for doing floating top-to-bottoms. 1975 the Transit Authority got real generous by extending the 4th Avenue Lay up from Pacific Avenue (Atlantic Avenue for you IRT writers) through 59th st. and they were the two express tracks I guess trying To hide the trains from the Yard Boys, the 3, 6 or Bad, whatever yard boy you were. Summer 1975 the formation of NCB (No Comp Boys) by David and his brother Robert AKA ÒROTOÓ aka EL 5. I believe that they came up with NCB from the conductor of the N train when he would announce over the PA : this is the "N" Sea Beach line heading towards Coney Island. I had the honor of meeting "ROTO" and SNAK through BB-3 and his brother BA (RIP) at the back of Public School 321 on 7th Avenue and 1st Street. They lived somewhere around Degraw Street off of 3rd Avenue. Sunday mornings was my best time to go writing because everyone was coming back from partying the night before and the last thing on their minds was the trains. The police usually was in the middle of shift change and I was in the middle of my third car. I didn't like to waste a lot of time so I tried to go in and out as fast as I could without getting caught in the middle of a throw-up.game of tag. I remember one time I went out writing with a "pack of wolves" known as BA, EE3, BB3 and myself.
I brought with me my new 35MM camera to shot some pixs. We all went out to bomb that day, we were loaded. We had Uni's, Mini's everything we were to have a good time. But instead of bombing BA and EE started to get out of control playing some wild tag. I just finished a real nice piece and BB was on his second. I pull out my 35MM And started shooting pictures and all of a sudden BA and EE jump on me from atop the train and slam goes my camera onto the third rail. The film pops out and the lens breaks into many Pieces. I couldn't say anything because the dicks were high and it was as if I were baby sitting and they were in a playground.war. One time while doing some piecing I spotted one of my JACK 1 pieces with some sh*t scribbled over it. The name read SMOKE and it turned out to be some dick named SMOKE. This guy really thought he was hot sh*t because he had the balls to go over one of my pieces and he didn't even know who I was. To top it off this dick started to write JACK as well as, thinking he was King of the RR line. This guy went as far as threatening to kick my ass, but according to BB, SNAK and ROTO-1 this guy SMOKE was a real punk-ass. According to the sources This guy looked like a twig. The kind you see in those starving children commercials. This guy was going around trying to take credit for all my JACKs. That's When BB, SNAK and ROTO 1 told him he wasn't the real JACK and if he wanted to meet me to set a date to meet with the real JACK to discuss his false claims,but instead of ever meeting with me he decided to do like the punk-ass He is he started to even go over BB, SNAK, ROTO 1, EE, and BA. This guy wasnÕt going to be satisfied until someone kicked his ass. One day he just disappeared maybe into a puff of smoke. Just another war started by some punk-ass who couldn't finish it.
One time I went to the back of some elementary school in Queens just outside of a train yard to meet with JAP 1 and some of his friends. He asked me to bring my sh*t so we could go into the yard to do some throw ups and tag on the A Line and CC, but instead of writing these guys started to smoke hash, and sniff glue and afterwards started bugging smashing windows and lighting fires that's when I told JAP 1 that I was breaking out. You see I was never into breaking stuff all I wanted to do was write and it didn't matter if it was in a white neighborhood. Most of the lay-ups and yards were in certain neighborhoods and if you were the wrong color you could be looking to get seriously hurt. ThatÕs why I went to meet with JAP 1 so that I may write In the same yard as VINNY BILLY 167, IZ THE WIZ, and JAP 1. So instead of writing with JAP 1 at the Yard I went to the Grant Avenue lay-up. The way I went in was from the actual train station platform since I didnÕt know the area. You would have to go down these long fire escape type ladders to get to the trains and they were about three stories high above the trains. The thing I liked about this lay-up was the fact that the T.A. used this lay-up for some kind of repairs and there was so much lighting as if they were filming you writing. They even had things that you could use to step on and the trains were super clean. After I did this lay-up I could remember hanging in the hood the next day and spotting this clean train with my JACKs coming across Smith and 9th Street station. This station is so high that you could see your pieces from a good distance because this station is the highest elevated station in New York City. So instead of the trains running on the A or CC line they ended up running on the F Line in Brooklyn around the hood. Now not only were my pieces running underground in Brooklyn but above ground as well and I mean high above ground.
Back in the days everyone was wearing gang colors and they wore jackets with symbols and the name of the gang like the Spanish Kings and the Jolly Stompers even the some writers from Writers Corner at 188th Street wore colors. If you decided to wear colors back then you better have had back up or something, because most of the guys wearing colors received a lot of sh*t from everyone. In order to join a gang back then you had to pass some kind of initiation of some sort. A gang like the Spanish Kings or the Jolly Stopers you had better passed the initiation in order to become a member. The initiation usually consisted of walking through a line with members branding chains, belts, broom sticks or bats. The larger the gang the longer the initiation line and afterwards you swore to honor the gang more than your own family.
I have seen some of my work while watching Saturday Night Fever on video, all you have to do is put the film to the end when John Travolta is in the 53rd Street train station waiting for the RR to Astoria . As soon as the train pulls into the station put your VCR on slow motion and look at the tags inside the train, you will notice a few SEE and JACK tags as the train passes. Those are a few of my rare SEE tags that I did when I felt like tagging a different name to confuse others of who I tagged with. I didnÕt want anybody knowing I was by myself most of the time. This part of the video also shows the volume of work done on the 4th Avenue lay-ups during That period in time.
One Sunday morning I was in the middle of some throw-ups when all of a sudden something shiny caught my eye. I looked to my left and it turns out to be the badge of an undercover cop bouncing everywhere while he was running towards me, My first reaction was to start running to my right but when I looked there was another cop. I put my cans on the floor and start for the inside of the train, I pull the door open and let it slam shut, I climbed down onto the other side of the train. I stood on the running board leaned over to see if the tracks were clear because I heard a train coming, as soon as I stuck my head out I was almost beheaded as the train flew by. as soon as it passed I darted to the emergency exit, I reached the top and bashed the cross bar and opened the door. As I came out the light was blinding me as I looked down I saw the cop and he was shouting "Stop!" I then grabbed door and slammed it on him. I then zipped across 4th Avenue and up 50th Street and half way up the block I could see this out of shape white cop running after me. I dodged the traffic on 5th Avenue and once again I heard him yell "Stop!", but he was more out of breath and I continued making that bee-line to my aunt's house on 6th Avenue and 52nd Street. I ran inside the building and rang her bell, as she let me in, she asked what happened and I told her that I got into a fight with some guys from Sunset Park and needed to get cleaned up. I don't know if the cops smelled the fumes from a passing Train or some rat informed them of the lay-up but they had it staked out, I was glad I had family in the area.
SNAKE of Brooklyn was from 38th Street and New Utrecht Avenue well that's where this crazy white boy always hanged. SNAKE's father worked with the Transit Authority and that's why SNAKE had all the keys to get in and out of the yards, emergency exits and wrenches to turn on the Trains. This boy was the wildest thing and was into the 9th Avenue Yard and lay-up. LIMPIE and EE had no problem passing as white in a white hood, but no dark skin Mother better ever try coming into the hood; especially when the hood belonged to the Brooklyn Czars. For some reason this kid was Into destroying sh*t even though he had unlimited access to trains. The shuttle was running from 9th Avenue to Ditmas Avenue, connecting the B and F Trains. SNAKE did do some art. EE 3 and LIMPIE managed to get some keys off this kid and that's why EE 3 would like to turn on the train and move while we did some pieces on them.
One time I was piecing in my usual 4th Avenue lay-up and EE 3 comes along to steal fire extinguishers.They started to put in the Trains. I'm painting when EE 3 jumps out saying "Cops! Cops!" At first I thought this guy just wants to see me run my ass off,but it turns out he was serious because he hauled ass and left my ass behind. What happened to EE 3 was that while he was inside the train collecting fire extinguishers he walked into a car that had a dark figure behind the motor mans cube. The figure turns out to be a cop with a flashlight. The cop was standing straight not moving with the flashlight in his left hand up like he was holding a dagger. EE 3 walks through the door with a fire extinguisher in his hand. The cop starts to say "Freeze!", but what comes out is free, because at that moment EE 3 shoots the cop with the fire extinguisher powder. All that came out of the cop afterwards is a lot of coughing from the powder he inhaled. ThatÕs when EE 3 comes out running saying "Cops! Cops!"! We both shout out the emergency exit head to 61st Street. We go into an ex-girl friend's apartment clean up and head home.
Now that I have grown older, I can see the time that Ispent underground writing on NYC subway trains was and will be a unique experience for me. Anyone who has never actually done any New York City subway graffiti will never understand what this craze is. If you ever actually done any New York City subway graffiti you know that once you start it is very difficult to stop. This phenomenon is so addictive you will go as far as leaving a girlfriend and forgetting your responsibilities in your life. You could care less if the police is staking out the lay-up. Every time you do a piece, throw up or tag you want it to be better Every time you do one and it has to be better than the other guy who is writing his name on the same line. The thrill of walking the tracks and climbing those steel monsters, the smell of trains in those New York City subway tunnels. When you stand on the running boards to reach a little higher, when you push the push bar and the light from outside hits your eyes as you come out from that subway tunnel. Nothing in the world can ever beat that feeling. The memory will live forever in my mind.
The name I used was JACK 1. The artists I personally knew were from Park Slope Brooklyn and their names were: LIL KING, LIMPIE, PACIE, BA, EE 3, KE 3, BB 3, SNAK, ROTO 1, IZZY. The works I remember seeing while I was active were: LIL KING, TASK, LIMPIE, MINGO, FINE, FLUID, BUCK, TEE, MITCH, TRACY168, OUCH, SAINT, FLINT, ALE 1, IZ the WIZ, IN, PJ, DY, PE, PILOT, BLADE, ROGER, MICO, BOMB, SNAKE 1, PACIE, PHASE 2, NOVA 1, CLIFF 159,STAYHIGH 149, JESTER, IOU ONE, DUST, ROTO-1, SNAK, EE 3, BA, BB 3, WICKED G, VINNY, BILLY 167, DICE.
I rode the AA train express or the CC train local to school . The radio station around was 107.5 WBLS, which played stuff like Jungle Boogie, Pusher Man, Super Fly, Shaft. The lay-ups I would hit were the Grant Avenue station - A and CC lines, Bowery St. Station - J and M Lines, 7th Avenue, Church Avenue stations - F and GG lines, Pacific Street, 59th Street station, RR, N and B Lines. The writer's corners I remember were De Kalb Avenue in Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan. The sneakers in style werethe Converse, Pro Keds, and then they changed to Pumas. The shoes were the Marshmallows and then Earth Shoes. The Marker of choice was the Pilot, Uni marker, Mini marker. The paint of choice was Red Devil and then Krylon. (Rustoleum in the Bronx) The ink was Flo-Master - plain or opaque. Skeleton keys were picked up at your neighborhood hardware and then filed down to open the train doors. An open wrench would open the emergency exits.I Personally wrote with LIMPIE, PACIE, EE 3, KE 3, BB 3 and BA. Most of my work was done on my own.
| Home | Artists | Crews | History | Links | E mail | Glossary |