JOEY TPA INTERVIEW
© 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
What inspired you to become involved in writing?
You know, I told you I would tell you the straight sh*t, and here it is: back in 1972, as a lil' dude in elementary school, I saw a thing the girls used to do. Yeah, the girls...shut up. These little chicks were cool, man. They keep a secret journal that was shared and written in by all the females in the class. Their favorite groups, actors, actresses, magazines, the guys in class that they liked, the fashions, and all that stuff was in this thing called a SLAMBOOK. One day I stole a slam book to see what it was all about. I sat down with a bunch of guys and we saw that the first page was decorated nicely with all kinds of stickers, designs and glittery sh*t. On this page were the numbers 1 thru 40, and each girl that wrote an entry on the following questions pages, signed off with only her assigned number, not her given name. Next to the number on the first page, was their alias if they chose to have one. I figured out who was who, though, even with the aliases. Maybe I shoulda' been a DT...hehehehe. Anyhow, I was headed to the park one day and ran across these 3 gals, my classmates, and believe it or not, when we passed this freshly painted light pole, (everything was silver, black or green back then,) one of these littlegirls busted out a water-based marker! They all quickly tagged up their slam-book aliases! I was floored!!! My inspiration was born then and there, thanks to three little female classmates named HOCUS-POCUS, MAGIC, and ABRACADABRA. A week later, guess who appeared with a glass DRI-MARK...yours truly. I had a blue, a green, a black, a red, and a useless yellow. Imagine that me and a buncha' girls. Anyway, my first tag ever, was PRESTO (to stay in the groove with their magic scheme), and I threw a few of those up in later years on some trains but only a few. Its actually a great name and my original first.
I left the girls to their slam books and went on to bigger things. Inspiration was originally derived more in quantity for me than in beauty. This is why I was more of a throw up bomber versus a wild-styler; I wanted to shout out my indifference to authority like any kid, through mass coverage. Cartooning, though not my skill was always a fascination, especially political or editorial cartoons. I found them to be a sometimes snide, always sarcastic way to illustrate what the artist really intended without any repercussion of political chastisement. It was as if the artist were thumbing their nose at the establishment. It courageously said what was on people's minds, or whispered under one's breath. If that isn't inspiration, then what is? It was and is, an artist's freedom, right, and responsibility to voice the feelings of the people. It is an acceptable form of voicing discontent, rebellion, or opinion.
Did you have a mentor?
NO mentors. I wish I did. I may have been more than just a bomber...I may have gone on to something commercial, but that's another world, man. I'm happy and successful where I am now, thank goodness. Within art proper, I got some clues from The New York Students Art League, but then that isn't graffiti is it drawing a nude or painting a vase of some boring-ass flowers and fruits. Man, I was more interested in tagging my name....(laughing) and true graffiti artists were not lucky enough to go to an art school back then. It was a calling, more for recognition and not the art itself. I did however, become a mentor to a few guys...several in the TKC crew of the '80s, and EZO (artist), and FLAME (bomber). I mentored them in the ways of the bomb. Helped teach them the world of lay-ups, elevateds, yards, inventing Bustellos and paint, and the mole-people that lived deep within the subway system. Flame tripped on that one.
Who influenced your style?
My "style" as you put it, (grinning) was not anything notable. There are only a few Masters of Style, innovators if you will. People like PHASE 2, STAN 153, those are STYLISTS. I concocted my own pieces and really attribute any burner I ever painted to simple "styles of the times" Since the majority of my writing was bombing, I accepted and worked with the old "bubble-letter" techniques. As far as tagging, well, that was the main way to get up either insides and even outsides as I learned it, so the basic way to go was a style called Curlicue; guys like all the old pioneers I mentioned above were the originators of that, and a long skinny style which was known to insiders as "Broadway Style" (just ask the EX-VANDALS, or MOB) If I was so inclined, I would get together with a great burner and together we would plan a harmonious whole car with him giving me some guidance on "style". Maybe the following week, I would show him some secret lay-ups and we would drink beers in there for hours laughing and smoking. That was the symbiosis, man. I believe that nearly all forms of art, be it the written word, dance, painting, singing, etc. are a forms of plagiarism coupled with individual's ideas. That's what learning is, right? Eventually it becomes "original" so to speak. Look at KRASH. Here you have a contemporary dude that took LICHTENSTEIN and tailored it to make himself a fortune. Look at FAB 5 FREDDY. He Took WARHOL'S stuff, threw it on a train, and eventually went on to make a fortune. True originality is rare and often not really there. This is credited only to gifted Masters of whom only a few are born every century. So to answer to who influenced my style would be for me to give credit to everyone who was tagging hard at the time, namely the PIONEERS..(TREE 127, TAN 144, STAY HIGH 149, JESTER, FLICK, UNCLE JOHN 178, P-NUT 2, CLICK, STIM, IN, CLIFF, FLINT, TRACY 168, AMX 2, STITCH 1) Guys like that influenced each other, me, and everyone else to follow. These guys did not bite styles, they created and influenced them.
Commercially, I admired the Robert Crumb Comix and all other underground animations from the 60's; Fritz the Cat to the cleaned up Jessica Rabbit of the '80s, of course the mythical Kilroy, Charles M.Schultz of Peanuts fame, yes you had better believe it, Vallejo, and later Boris. Mags include heavy Metal and all Marvel Comics. And of course, later on, like most young stoners, I was seduced by Bode's work. I think his son has a site and studio now as well. but Vaughn was definitely the man with the plan.
How did you get your name?
My parents gave me my name, Joseph. Tags were made up or were given to you as an "inductee" into a clique. Back then you didn't have "gangs" like you do now. You had cliques. My very first tag was PRESTO circa 1972 on a lamp pole near my school. Later, the name "LIL' MOUSE" was given to me by some older cats who were already tagging for a year or two. (AMX, FLINT, MOSS 1, FILTER, those guys.) We took out names from what identified us to the group. More often than not, they were bestowed upon us. Your first handles were usually given to you by the original or standing members, or you created a derivation of something you were identified by. Back in the day, a lot of guys' first handle started with "Lil" since we were so young at the time of initiation. "LIL MOUSE" was the youngest, the skinniest, and the fastest obviously. (smiles) "Lil" this and "Lil" that...funny. A lot of cats also attached their street number to their nic. It was neighborhood man. It grew to the dropping of the number after your name, to the addition of an abbreviation for a clique. (BYB, NCB, TPA, etc)
List all the other names under which you have painted?
JOEY T.C.; ROCKET (RC), DISCO JOEY, SPORM, JOE 188, 100% JUICY; I loved my original PRESTO, but call me JOE now please, or JOSEPH. "JOEY" was a kid thumping his chest triumphantly, railing against the machine, but yet wishing his mother would call him home on Wednesday, Prince Spaghetti day. If I were going to write one more time, I have a few secret names I would love to use. They are great...*wink* We will see, huh?
What borough are you originally from?
Originally born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, but grew up in all the streets of New York from the tip of Battery Park to the graves in the North Bronx, from Staten Island's woods to the beaches and slabs at Far Rock. Through Canarsie, and down thru Williamsburg, to the Lower East Side, back up Broadway beyond the Cloisters and into the Hell's Gate. You name it baby, been there smokin' pot with KB on the bridges with bats flying around our heads, to eating stale Captain Crunch out of the box with IKE in a one bedroom the size of a closet somehwere near the beach, to chillin' at the Mudclub with PINK, and at The Devils Nest in the Bronx with Caroline from the Covergirls.
What lines have you hit?
Every single one. Didn't KING 'em all, nowhere close. but became ALL-CITY in the span of three years. Early on, I hit lines most guys don't even recall except for the PIONEERS, and some of the BOMBERS..... HH's, KKs, NNs, RRs, Ees, CCs, (all the double letters). Hell, If I were alive back in the days when there were elevated lines on 2nd, 6th, and 9th avenue, I would have hit those also....(laughs) I also hit thousands of city buses, Triboro Oranges, Greenline Greens, Steinway Reds, Varsity school bus Yellows, THOUSANDS! (shaking my head), I remember one of the greatest throw-up KINGs very first words to me after shaking my hand, "where the fu*k did you hit all those surface-deals man?" (buses) That was IKE, aka IZ THE WIZ. He was dying to get down on it with me, but that was one of the few things I kept a secret...I did however once take my partner M3 to the Triboro garages. I also took 3-MI,and needless to say, that was a mission! Man, we had some great times.
Who were your most successful partners?
I was actually more of a solo bomber to tell the truth. I had a great thrill doing it on my own for the sake of speed. I am not sure how you are measuring success. Money? Fame? Quantity? I wrote with a lot of guys, but the most successful hitters that I tagged with, to name a few had to be EX-1, CAINE 1, FDT 56, KC 3, IZ, K 56, and KB. But these were not partners for the most part, although I did pound several times with the 56 clan, and KRAZYBOY; we were friends. For instance, TRACY 168 and I hit once or twice after getting loaded at Fashion Moda. We roamed the streets and bombed walls one night. That's not a partnership or even a friendship, its a collaboration, dude. Guys like the 56 clan though, were my buddies and regular guys I hung with outside the world of bombing. The word "partners" though has a deeper meaning to me. (see next questions)
What crews have you written for?
Well it all started with "The Fat Boys" at Itchykoo Park. Funny thing was, that at least two out of the five or six of us were skinny. (Laughing) When things got more serious, I was put down in a few crews but only because I was bombing profusely and of course the crews wanted good, free, all-city coverage. Although I never had the pleasure of going on raids with JESTER, I probably put up T.C. the most. I was given the honor to my name in a friendly challenge by EX-1. Although I was a competitor on the INDs, I was hitting hard, and had the respect. I think T.C. needed recruits for one of the biggest assaults on the INDs in railroad history. DUKE 9 was getting tired of it, and EX-1, his protege', was hot. The fact is that back then, (you new writers or artists may not even be able to believe this), there was actually, nearly NO space on the trains to hit!!! Not much room at all, whatsoever! Not inside, not outside! One of the cardinal unwritten laws of graffitti was about to get trashed. That RULE was: a good writer NEVER went over anyone else's tags or pieces. It was about to really explode though, all the windows-down space was gone, guys had learned to rock by this time, with FLOATERS and REPEATS. It was a huge battle to be KING or just to get up at all.
This led to a titanic war with multiple crews involved. At the time, IZ, SACH, PEO, WEO and L7 (CAZ) (TMB boys) got into it with NCB boys like GEAR, DOC, SNAC and ROTO. Then the BAD YARD BOYS got involved with the likes of DEAN, DY 167, and EX-1. Of course, they had ties to The Crew, (DY 167) Seems to me that BYB and T.C. were albeit seperate and distinct, quite friendly and embraced comraderie through mutual membership. Things got all screwed up because a lot of guys had to choose allegiances since they were down with several crews. The original four or five cliques were being challenged by outsiders that were making a statement. These new crews coming around were tough. It became more of an advantage to a crew to have a heavy hitter on their side even if the guy never really hung out or grew up with the main membership of that crew. Cliques started teaming up now that they shared members.
So I had no real allegiance to any of them, and tried to avoid writing over anyone. I remember the first time I was gone over....I was pissed, and realized I finally had to start choosing sides. The four or five main Cliques were being challenged by people like NA, (NASTY NEAN), and some Brooklyn guys from some clique called The Union. TMB was autonomous. These dudes from THE UNION did what CAP did later on the IRTs in the 80's...just went over people for no apparent reason, and started a war. I guess it was fun and exciting for them, but it got nasty after awhile. You see, even though the allure of the new R-46's brought in BMT and some IRT guys like NCB, and TOP, this was not a WAR yet. It was called a RACE! (put that in your glosssary) The RACE turned to war when THE UNION went ape-sh*t over everyone....T.C., NCB, TPA, BYB, CITY, TOP. People with cross-memberships had to choose sides and it screwed up a lot of the flow. Even TMB got mixed up in something they shouldnt have been involved with. Logic would have it, that as a clique that shared the IND's with TPA, T.C. and BYB, that they (THE MASTER BLASTERS) would have sided with us. But no..it didn't work out that way. Sometimes logic doesn't work. I took sides with the originals in BYB and T.C., like JESTER and EX-1 since we were all in Queens, and proud of owning the INDs. IZ TMB, I believe, had problems because he was living in Queens, had ties to old crews,but in his heart he was down with TMB. Why, I don't know. Most of the invading new writers were Canarsie, BMT or lower Manhattan-based. Probably beacasue he shared the IND "A" lines with the lower manhattan boys in TMB. That "A" train was a weird one.....from Brooklyn, to Manhattan, to Far Rock. NO wonder IZ was such a freakazoid. LOL! The Manhattan guys had a right to the IND's, but the BMT guys were going for ALL-CITY status and besides, the INDs were where the first R-46 ding-dongs appeared, and everyone wanted to hit 'em.
Their attitude in THE UNION though, was just to go over other cats. I remember KB (KRAZYBOY) coming in and doing a short stint to back up the NCB clique. Pete was a king of his line in succession to the BYB and NCB BMT KINGS, DEAN and ROTO. He earned his props alright, but he was primarily a BMT hitter, specifically, the RR's and HH's and some GGs and NN's that he caught in the tubes linking Queensbridge and Manhattan. But when he went IND, he balked at the magnitude, man! Dropped a few dozen throwups for NCB and said, fu*k it, back to the BMTs. Makes me laugh...that KB was a rascal, and that's how intense it got down there...Sh*t was HOT! He then formed TSS like a lot of guys started forming cliques; to draw together strength since the original cliques were now getting diluted, and since no one knew who was down with what. The BAD YARD BOYS was close to the greatest clique in terms of membership, and probably the largest as well. That (their popularity), was their ultimate downfall. The free-for-all had to cease somehow. I remember IKE and I kind of just "pretending to war". All we really wanted to do was just get up. The era was changing, there were dozens more writers, and hundreds of toys trying to make a name for themselves by going over established bombers, guys that had long owned and kinged and re-kinged the lines. This was happening BMT IRT and IND-wide, all-city. This is what eventually brought me to TPA's origins.
How did you get down with TPA?
I didn't just get down with TPA, I helped form and mold TPA. TPA was my first real clique that I accepted after T.C. THE PUBLIC ANIMALS was a great clique of three root guys. I was the third inducted at its origins. We three alone with a little help from WISE 3 made it ALL-CITY...made it a clique guys wanted to get into. TPA was approached by newer cliques like TKC, TSS, TNA, TBS, CITY, and a few others to join arms. We took on only a few from TSS, and TKC. Initially we were all about making our own name with only three dudes. The true originators were VADE and MINI 3 alone. (M3 aka DEMO) I was next in line as a third president so to speak, but to me, it was about 3 members. We went balls out, all-city.
DEMO and I shared divisions. It was tricky because we were all from Queens, but we went ALL-CITY and had guys that wanted to run Brooklyn, the Bronx, etc. I took Brooklyn since my mother lived there. That is where I recruited OE 3 and P-13, and the guys from TKC, (which was a Queens-based crew originally). This was when their Brooklyn division was just starting with new-age writers like SIR, EKO, VEIN, RIP, and MACK. They were not near ALL-CITY status, but were good friends and generous TPA hitters.
By this time, (1979), the original BYB, T.C., TOP and NCB members and leaders were more on their own again, They were fading slowly, seeing that their torches were being passed. By now, The EX-VANDALS, THE MOB, and 3YB were nearly extinct. The glory days were over. Things were getting artsy, with guys like CIA (CRAZY INSIDE ARTISTS) and RTW (ROLLING THUNDER WRITERS) and UA (UNITED ARTISTS) coming to the front of the ranks. TPA was starting to hum, but the only personal note for me was, that though I was the #3 man, I was the one that had the most longevity, so I was already having thoughts of the end. I gave TPA about 2 - 3 years of my hard bombing, then retired. By the time I retired, VADE (ORBIT, PHEW) was already over it, and DEMO was all over the map. He was into a lot of other stuff, and it took away his time to bomb. TPA too, like all the rest, lived and then went dormant, being tagged up by members and associates we knew nothing about.
The primary principles of TPA were VADE R.I.P. (Rodney), DEMO (James), and yours truly, JOE 188 (Joey), WISE 3 R.I.P. (Reggie) was VADE's brother, so he was an automatic...(laughs) but not a prolific bomber. I am going to save a little space from your next question by digressing a little here in this one. We were like brothers; we did a lot together. We bombed of course, but we also went partying as a group, ate together, played ball together, racked together and probably spent more time with each other than anyone else during those few short years. We were truly a good group of guys that respected and loved one another. I really miss the two that passed away, and will forever remember the generosity offered to me by James and his family during those wild-hare days of mine. They cared for me and I will never forget. M3 was my partner in TPA and in adolescence.
Please name all TPA crew members
As I mentioned above, a lot of people wanted to simply "be down" with crews. I would've loved to have been down with the "EX-VANDALS" but was I truly an "EX-VANDAL"? No. I didn't smoke with them, ball with them or live with them. A lot of people got put down with TPA; I remember DEMO really doing most of that. VADE and I were against it. We wanted to keep it more "our thang". Sh*t, there were people putting TPA down that the three of us didn't even know. I never liked the dilution of any crew. It cracks me up though, when I see some 21 year old today that heard of all the old days, writers and cliques, and when they realize that I helped foster and create TPA, it blows their minds. Just like it blows mine when I hear this guy and that guy and their cousin are "members" of THE PUBLIC ANIMALS. I had to respect the fact that JESTER wanted to meet JOEY T.C. back in the mid 70's, I would also want to meet whomever was bombing my clique so heavily, and find out how, and why he got in.
So it all really became a game of how many guys you could get in to throw up your clique after their tag because it gave you fame. If I were to write TMB after my name, all THE MASTER BLASTER guys got instant recognition. VADE and I weren't interested in that, but maybe DEMO had a vision. That's probably how we became so well known. He put guys down like crazy, and got toys to tag up TPA just like that. I was more of the school where you had to go out and PROVE. Like throw down 500 motion tags, or 2-300 throw-ups. Then you could get in. TOYS, in my eyes weren't allowed.
I used to like to "trade" space. I would offer IZ THE WIZ 200 of my throw ups with TMB's inside of them for 200 IZ's with TPA's in them. (Laughing) I always like to deal when it came to that. The most loyal members of TPA were some guys from Greenpoint. The second TKC crew formed after GEAR and DEAN made BYB and NCB so strong. They mentored a cool guy named SMOKE (YE) and he created TKC with someone else. The younger Greenpoint chapter came around a few years later in the early '80s. We became friends, and are to this day, down with the original TPA through me. They were my recruits and always will be. Another all-city lunatic down with TPA was 3-MI. (rest in peace) I brought him into the game also, and man, can I tell you some raid stories about us. The other loyal and valued member of THE PUBLIC ANIMALS is EZO. A long-time friend, a brother really, who wanted to get down with it. He would have gotten into graffiti somehow, someway, I believe, but his fate was such that I brought him decisively into the world of REAL graffiti, HARD graffiti..showed him the LAY-UPS, the YARDS, the HIT and RUNS. not just black book drawings getting passed around Art and Design High school's cafeteria and hallways.
Any good raid stories?
Wow! Yeah, quite a few in fact. Remember, I used to bomb alone a lot, so most of them were one on one. There were the times when 6 CITY and TKC writers and I had a footrace with some cops over the roofs of trains while they were laid up underground; yes, running on the tops of the trains without getting your head knocked off on a crossbeam while UNDERGROUND is no joke! Freakin' treacherous! As you probably know, the NYC MTA system is a maze of tubes, sometimes 5-10 stories deep. Most writers never got below 2-3 layers. I made it my goal to go down deep to where the light never shines. I have seen offices with water coolers, phones and fluorescent lights functioning down there. I have witnessed and communicated with the underground society that exists way beyond where most writers have ever been. I used to know a guy that surfaced once a week for food. Man, he was white as a sheet...just like in that movie, The Omega Man. Used to see him hangin' out at the chess tables in Washington Square Park getting a little heat, then heading back underground.
I remember FORCE 5 nearly losing a finger as we vaulted the fences in the 7 yard with D-Ts hanging onto his leg. I instantly became a good friend to him after I ran back and pushed the cop off him right through the fence so he could get over. We made it out through the swamps behind the Taystee Bread factory. I recall the one-way in; one-way out raids at Halsted. Going hand to hand with The Man in the glow of incandescent bulbs lining the catwalks. Shimmying down wet poles in the rain, to the street 4 stories below.
One afternoon, my mind was blown wide open when I was banging out some end to end floaters at Sutphin Blvd, in a tunnel where you could stand on the roof of one train and paint floaters on the opposite-side train that was headed down the tube; you could do only one car that way, and one side. Anyhow, here I am painting these floaters, its nice and quiet, and all you could hear was the hiss of the cans and the drone of the trains electrical system. Annoying but you got used to it. I think it helped me go deaf though. All of a sudden, the lights flew on, and the doors sprang open! I stood there frozen as a uniformed popped his head out and looked left then right. He must have been taking a nap or just killing time in there, but he never saw me. I disappeared before he knew what was up, and was up on the platform by the time they realized all the mist were paint fumes. Uniforms didn't like giving chase into the tubes. It was easy but scary.
There were certain trains that were easier to hit too....slants, ridgies, flats, they were all laid out differently, inside and out. My favorite train to the eye though, were the old BLUEBIRDS from the 60's. I loved their lines. They were replaced by the REDBIRDS, which were re-habbed IRTS. The raids at places like The Burger King, Writers Corner, The Benches at 149th and Grande Concourse, at Continental Avenue, these were where we ran like chickens for some reason. The cops just wanted to bust us for possession. If you had nothing, they couldn't do squat, but we were young and guilt was there. There were also some cops that would set you up though, plant stuff on you. It was especially incriminating if you didn't wear gloves when hitting, and your nails and hands and glasses or hair always had paint in them. That was the dead giveaway that you were a writer. NYC was a jungle of color and scribble, and they wanted our asses bad!!!! This was after Mayor Fiarello LaGuardia, we're talkin' Mayors John Lindsey, Abe Beame, Ed Koch and David Dinkins. These guys had anti-graf squads after us for at least 8 of the 16 years in office.
I recall dodging Port Authority Cops seven stories below Times Square where I found some cars dating back to the pre-1920s man. I'm talkin' Hi- "V"'s and COMPOSITES. These are the trains only the oldest writers would know. The PRE-COAL-MINERS!!!! The "Coal-miners" were made in the 20's, but these babies I saw were from like 1914, 1915. Talk about a rush walking thru those things! They are laid up under the Waldorf=Astoria hotel on 50th street, all the way down to the Deuce. I was down there, I have walked 'em. dodging Metro North Commuters going 40mph around the curves in the darkness, going down endless flights of steps that are on an angle more akin to a ladder than actual steps, and within a tube only so wide that a large person would have to turn sideways if at all; where no one has EVER tagged, or been, except the guys that built them and serviced them, the fire department, and the work bums. I stood in this car that President Roosevelt used to to get to a private elevator seven stories under the hotel, to whisk him up to his suite over 30 stories up. I never tagged them. I just respected the aura, man. No need to tag there; you guys will never see 'em. Speaking of work bums......
I'm DYING here laughing remembering how SMOKE, FUZZ 1, 3-MI, JOEY TC., SPLITCITY, BAN 2, CEYCITY, and DEMO got the Martin's Paints totally wrecked somewhere in Corona during a rack. Cans were flying, being thrown, dropped on the way out, 2 guys got grabbed, FLAME and WISE 3, I think; one got away, one got popped. BAN 2 went AWOL, dropping cans all over the street...hilarious! Speaking of Corona...one afternoon FLAME 3 begged me for an hour to go to the yards with him in broad daylight during rush hour!! He showed me two sacks, (40 cans of RUSTO that he had invented for this trip.) How could I refuse? I must have been nuts, but I did it. We never got raided, but it was truly sick running around and hitting trains in broad daylight as they entered and exited the yard during rush hour. We were obviously in the small annexed yard, and I'm telling you, we were lucky not to get thrown in jail that day, no sh*t. I KNOW the motormen saw us, and we tried to play it off as best we could, as employees just crossing back and forth across the yards. Uh huh, with sacks of paint and sneakers and giant Lee bell-bottoms. Yeah right. All told, we killed off 15 cans quick, and stashed the other 25 in the swamp for a hit later that week.
3-MI and I had a history man..we were BOYS!...we used to spend all morning under the EL's in the Bronx, in the stores rackin', sippin' Coqie 900 and Old English in the sunlight out of a paper bag. Those days a quart of brew cost 50 cents man, that's it....50 cents. We would be smokin' on benches in the projects, handballin' the parks for change, and just tagging the streets on foot and on mo-ped. Man we had some hellacious chases! In the Bronx, you got chased with knives and guns...(Laughing now) We were hangin' outside in a park one Summer night with SPLITCITY when SPLIT starts climbing the front of a church like Spiderman on crack. 3-MI not to be outdone, tears off his clothes and runs around the circumference of the park naked as a jay. I'm sitting there recording this whole mess when we hear the sirens, and stumble off, SPLIT's hands bleeding, 3-MI's ass in the wind, and me with a huge piss stain in my Lee's from laughing so hard.
I recall CITY members (CEY, TEBOP) with me in the snow...hiding behind houses and ewe bushes, freezing our asses off, shivering more from fright than the cold, as cops on foot flooded the snow with flashlights, and cherry-tops circled us only 10 feet away. We had blasted out of the sidewalk exits in the middle of Queens Boulevard at midnight, drunk, stumbling drunk, but with the sobering effects of adrenaline and 15 degree wind at our backs. One afternoon, poor MONTE (KC 3) got grabbed only 3 feet away from me in May's department store on Jamaica Avenue. He should've run down the stairs instead of up into the DT's hands. He was inventing some clothes, I was there for the paint. Back in the day when you could find it in a department store. Today in the City of Chicago for instance, you can't even buy spray paint in a Home Depot; you have to go to the burbs. There was the time when K 56 and I were below Tracy Towers in broad daylight. We dropped in on 3 end to end bed sheets and climbed out the same way after we were raided. He got up first, and I was right behind him. These were some of the most exciting aspects of writing; the thrill of the chase. I am one of the few that has never been nailed. Actually, I was...kind of...hehehehe...read on.. In 1974 I was tagging an inside. I didn't really know sh*t from shinola yet about keeping one eye open in the side of your head. A detec peering thru the glass in the next car saw me, ran inside through the doors, busted me across the cheek, head-locked me, cuffed me, and took me in to get booked. Christ, I had a brand new schoolbag and a tie on, and here I was thinking I was on the road to hard time......once again, I pee in my pants, only it's now, as I write this....poor kid! All I can remember thinking was, "Fu*k me if someone that knows me, sees this sh*t!" Anyway, his boss asked me, "Are you a toy?" My eyes looked upward, and I shrugged, asking, "What's a toy?" They (all the cops in the station) looked incredulously at the cop that arrested me as if to say, "what the fu*k are you bringing this kid in here for?" They gave me back my Bic pen for school, kept my Dri-Mark, tore up the report, all the while laughing, and threw me out the door. (Laughing) Never got caught after that, but went on to go ALL-CITY by 1978 and heard by word form the guys that did get caught, that I was indeed wanted. If they only knew that they had me...hehehehe, just four short years earlier..I was just a kid, wet behind the ears.
Who were the top cops of your era?
INDs: Curley and Ferrari, BMTs: Roterman and Wasserman, IRT's: Hickey and Ski. These guys were the team leaders. We had a thing going on, the writers and these guys. It was all part of "the game". Some of us even did pieces for them, either to taunt them or to make amends somehow. I heard under their breath that they liked it, but still wanted to nail TPA good. I do believe some of these guys appreciated the work, and especially the art, but they had a job to do. After all, it was considered vandalism. Who were the best writers of your era? I don't understand the question. Not sure what "best" means yet. But see above....
When did you quit painting trains?
The Winter of 1982. That was after I recruited TKC, EZO, and FLAME to bomb TPA not too long after I had decided that I had enough. VADE had quit, DEMO had kids....it was time.
Are you currently involved in art?
I have always loved art; all forms of it. I own it, participate in it, support it, and view it. Do I paint trains, buses and walls? Hey...we all need to grow up sometime don't we? Under the right conditions though, and maybe a bottle or two of something, I confess, I might be tempted to bomb for old times sake though....man...I must be crazy...guess you can't take it away huh..its in the blood. Crazy, just plain crazy. Maybe I'll tag that..."CRAZY JOE". (Laughs)
Any closing words?
Probably too many to write, but I'm sure that they all come out eventually, one way or another. One quick shout out to a good buddy I never mentioned here yet....MIDG (LIL' BANDIT), and ERNI who is doing so well for himself now, that our days of birthday parties on the lower East Side, and football games in Brooklyn are probably, but hopefully not, long forgotten. Thanks to ERIC/DEAL, TPA because it's important to write these things down. To recall them and preserve them for posterity. Its how the new generations learn. Its called history, man. This is how stories and tales are born then transformed into legend. The tales and escapades and FACTS! They can be lost forever if no one reveals them. They may also turn into fairy tales. For the record, I would appreciate the moment to say thanks to you for this interview, and that I think you have a great (I don't use the word "great" too often), site and venue here. Probably the best and most comprehensive to date yet. I'm gonna close by confessing something that has been a mystery to a few peeps over the years. I enjoyed keeping the secret, but I think the time is right to enjoy letting the cat out of the bag. I hope KEVIN 97 sees this one day, and of course CAINE 1 never will. Rest in Peace, Ed. Back in 1981 or '82, there suddenly appeared 400 to 500 EX-1 throw-ups. Soon after that, Eddie (CAINE 1) passed away, and there appeared two very simple whole car top to bottoms on his home line, the 7. They (the whole cars) never made it out of the yard. Listen: EX-1 lived right across the street from my high school, and met me on the Van Wyck platform one day and challenged me that if I could do 100 throw ups in a night, I could be down with THE CREW. It was a Queens thing, and he was recruiting. (for JESTER's clique) That week, I threw up about 700...right there on his home line. For putting me down in T.C., about a year after KEVIN legitimately quit, I threw up a few hundred EX's as a respectful thank you to KEVIN 97. TKC almost caught me one day. These guys followed me into a yard, and noticed the EX's were still wet. I told them we must have just missed KEVIN 97, since like me, he also liked to bomb alone. Not sure if they believed it or not, but I'm pretty sure of it. As for the CAINE 1 full-car T to Bs, I did them in his memory, since he lived only a mile away from me for twenty years. Back then, he and guys like MAD 102 and SPEEDY, CHINO 174, ROGER, SLY 108, and maybe it was DIME 139, I can't recall, did a monumental thing called THE FREEDOM TRAIN. They did this years before THE FABULOUS FIVE accomplished another beautiful "fait accompli", the CHRISTMAS TRAIN. Big, big props to them for that. But CAINE 1 was one of the first to ever do any full-car top to bottoms, long before DONDI, SEEN, or LEE, and he painted them with limited colors, and not with all the fancy sh*t today's artists had. Fat caps were rare. MAD 102 was there, he can tell you. Anyway, read on: In addition to taking part in creating the FREEDOM TRAIN, CAINE 1 painted a DICK TRACY car, he did the SPELLBOUND car, and he did one of the most famous works of all time, one that stands alone, the WELCOME TO HELL car. Well, it rode for fu*king years man, no one dared touch it. One day it finally got buffed when the MTA actually started the buff at all. Still, no one dared touch it, even after the first buff. Finally it got buffed again, and by now, it was just a shadow of it's former self. Still, no one touched it. I was in the yard the dark night I talked DEMO, my partner, into doing the unspeakable; paint on the already doubly-buffed WELCOME TO HELL car. It was like we were gonna burn for all time if we touched it...but we did. It read like this: DEMO TO JOEY, MINA and CHER, The Fantastic Four. Those were our girls. (004) Years later, I painted a simple 3-toned WELCOME TO HELL end-to-end windows-down car, and a fast, bubble letter top-to-bottom, end-to-end, full-car in memory of CAINE 1. Sadly, they never made it out of the yard. The buff was in full force. The era of the bomber had died and gone on to canvas and fancy art galleries where guys with great talent could finally get recognition from the establishment and not just from their peers on the street. Graffiti had migrated from 13 to 17 year old kids having fun, hitting trains to "get up" and be "KINGS", into 20 and 30 something's actually making good money with it in galleries from SOHO to Madison Avenue. Jesus! The whole Hip-hop thing that was springing up, coupled rap and MTV with it. Graffiti had not died as some said, it just morphed into what everything eventually morphs into....a monster with a green head........MONEY. It was time to quit. The heart was replaced by the dollar. The Clique president replaced by the gallery owner, the vice presidents by the agents. Graffiti, now losing it's heart and soul, had become a business. FINAL WORDS: It is said that it started in Philly, but NYC made it what it is. It's in Europe now, but NYC is where it lives. Graffiti is a NYC thing...it is what it is, it is what it was cuz, and it is what it will always be. Word. No one ever mentions the most prolific writer/scratcher of all time. On every pole in the MTA system, on every platform, on every plaza, on every red NYC firebox strapped to a wooden pole when they existed, on every telephone booth when there were booths, on countless layers of lead paint applied over and over, on every street in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, for over 30 years, w/o ever being identified, though many have myths have arisen; there was the one that inscribed meticulously, painstakingly, and tirelessly, the simple word PRAY. This individual was the most "UP" writer of all time, and will never, ever, ever be matched that way. We are talking over 1,000,000 inscriptions, all identical, a lifetime's industry. Had to be the work of a homeless probably, certainly not enough time humanly possible for anyone else otherwise. I wonder if anyone else ever "helped out"; I know I did, but only with maybe a hundred? On the way home at: 6 am from The Loft, Studio 54 or maybe the Garage, when the streets and platforms were dead, and the mind wandering. As a matter of respect and honor, even if I didn't believe in praying, I did believe however, that they were "KING". Imagine...if they were "QUEEN". All I know is this: That person, like us, and what I have taken the time to record for you right here, will never be buffed away as long as just one of us remembers. I know that he, or she, or they are dead now, and have been for over 15 years, because I finally saw it end. But I remember.
Back to TPA main page
| Home | Artists | Crews | History | Links | E mail |