MOOSE 106 INTERVIEW
©2005 @149st Do not republish without permission.
Where and what year did you start writing? What year did you start writing on trains?
I started writing on the streets, of the upper West Side and parts of Harlem in 1970. First just hitting, (tagging) walls, handball courts, school yards, buildings, park benches, phone booths, mail boxes, street lamp polls, subway station entrance ways and exits. Then I started hitting trucks, vans and buses, the M 7s, M 11s, M 20s, M 101s, and M 104s. Then in 1971 I started hitting the trains and trains station platforms with my boys and First two writing partners SEGGI -1- 719 aka SWEET SOULFUL SEGGI and JOHNNY 719 may he rest in peace
What borough are you originally from?
I am original from the borough of Manhattan, the upper West Side, and southwest Harlem area.
What inspired you to become involved in writing? Did you have a mentor and who influenced your style?
I am not sure, I guess it was a few things, that inspired me. When I was a kid, I liked to write on everything, like most kids did, but I never grow out of it. Then when I was in the sixth grade, I started to notice the graffiti on the walls. Gang names, political shit, local writers from around my way, that I looked up to. Guys like RAMY 105, PICO 105, SAINT 107. He made it into Faith of Graffiti with a tag, SAILOR 109 and others. Then there was COOL CLIFF 120, CLANCY 120 and TREE 127, I would see them up on the busses and I just thought it was cool, so I started doing it to. Then one night I couldn't sleep and I was looking out my window and there was this guy, tagging his name on the wall, across the street from my building. I couldn't see his face, I didn't know if he was one of the guys from the block, or if he was Black, White or Latino and I couldn't make out what he wrote. The next day I went to check it out and it said DINO NOD Ex Vandals! After that I really got into it.
As far as a mentor; I had a few, besides the writers I already mentioned, There were writers like TAKI 183, STITCH 1 may he rest in peace, he was one cool brother. SNAKE 1,STATIC 1, JOE 136, JUNIOR 161, SODA 1 another cool brother, ACE 137, TUROK 161, BONANZA, RICAN 619, LA-ZAR, FRANK 207, COCO 144, SANTANA 204, CRAZY CROSS 136, SUPER STRUT TASS, PAPO 184, LEE 163rd, SUPER KOOL 223, YANKEE 135, PHASE 2, JECD STAR 1, IRON MIKE 170, CC 10, RAY- B 954, ACID 1, COLA 188, SJK 171, POT 136, El MARKO 174, STAY HIGH 149, COKE 1, Mr. TIBBS, LEE 2 (the late Freddy Prince, star of Chico and the man), may he rest in peace. And there were others. When I started, my writing style was influenced by no one. I tag my name with old stick letters, like we did in grammar school, like most of the old-timers, did back then. But around late '71 early '72 The Bronx and Brooklyn writers, were starting to get a little fancy, with their tagging styles. So I followed suit and changed my tagging style. I guess by then I was influenced by STAY HIGH 149, LA-ZAR, PHASE, SEGGI and others. I changed my writing style, about four or five times over the years.
How did you get your name and number? List all the other names under which you have painted?
I got my name from a nickname my godmother gave me. It was in French and my family couldn't say it right. So they called me Moosey and I didn't like it, so I dropped the y and added the 106, that's the street I grow up on. I also put up M-106, ZAR 1 MGA, CC The original Z-A-R since '73, and CHULO. I also put up DEATH - 1- 108 for a little while on a few 1s and Bs in '71, but I didn't like it much. It sounded a little creepy so I dropped it almost as soon as I started writing it. I didn't get it up very much.
What lines have you hit and where were your favorite layups or yards to paint?
I hit a few lines, some a lot more then others and some hardly enough to even be notice on. I hit the 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, As, Bs, Cs and Ds I also hit a few but not very many 7s, Time sq. shuttles, Es, Fs, G's, Ns, Ls, and Rs in the early '70s. . My favorite yards tunnels and lay ups were the 1 tunnel on 145th Street and Broadway, the Ghost Yard on 207th Street, the 1 Lay-up that ran from 103rd Street to 116th Street on Broadway, the A and B tunnel on 175th Street in Washington Heights. This is where I met FDT 56 and TIKE 1, with my boy JOHNNY 719, in '71 or '72. We bombed some insides together that day. There were a few others spots I also liked to go to in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
You had an unusual career. You wrote very early on when people were mainly doing tags and just starting to do pieces. Then you came back in the 1980s when graffiti was going full blast. Tell us about your experiences in the early 70s and the writers of that time and how it was different early on.
My experiences in the early '70s... well I could probably write a small book, with all the stories I have from that area. I had some crazy experiences back then, some good some bad. We did some wild and crazy things back then. Besides writing and racking up paint, a lot of us would hitch and surf the sides, backs and tops of the trains. We would play chicken or daredevil.
We would ride the top of the trains, running and jumping from car to car, while the trains were in motion, on the elevated stations. We would jump down between cars, just before the train went back into the tunnel. We would hitch the sides of the trains by holding and standing on to the doors. We rode them to the end of the station and jump off just before the train went back in the tunnel. We also road the backs of the trains, It was crazy, stupid and dangerous. At any time one of us could be killed, or seriously injured and that's just what happened one-day.
We would make bets, on who could run and jump more cars, with out falling off, before the train went back in the tunnel. And who could hitch the sides, the longest before it got to the end of the station. We would bet for paint, markers, money, weed, beer, cigarettes etc. One day a bunch of us were surfing and jumping trains, from 116th Street to 137th Street in Broadway, going back and fourth. There was this guy I never meet before. I think he called his self Mase, Mace, Maze something like that. I can't remember exactly, It was so long ago. I didn't remember seeing him up at the time and I thought he was a toy, but a couple of the guys, said they Knew him and they seen his tag up. Anyway they told him he could hang out; we were now at 125th Street going into 137th Street. There were a bunch of us surfing and jumping cars, including him.
As we got closer to the tunnel, we started jumping down between the cars and all of a sudden. I hear a few guys yelling, hurry up get down, lay down, jump we're going into the tunnel, you're not going to make it! They were frantic and in a state of panic, yelling and screaming from the top of their lungs. Then there was a big loud thump, a bang, a smash, I knew instantly what had happened, the writers and the passengers were now running to the front of the train. Everyone was screaming and yelling in panic "Stop the train! Stop the train!" The people were going crazy. Some were saying "Someone fell or jumped off the train, or in between the cars!"
By the time they stopped the train, part of it was already in the station and part was in the tunnel and the doors opened up. I took off and got out of there before the cops came. As I got out of the station, I could see and hear the cops and emergency service vehicles coming. I walked from 137th Street to 106th Street. I went home and locked myself in my room and tried to sleep. But I was up all night. I remember felling guilty that I didn't stick around, to see if it was one of my home boys. I also prayed for whoever it might be and their family.
The next morning I got up and went to the kitchen, to get a bite to eat and my dad was there, reading the newspaper. My mom walked in and said to me "You see the newspaper, where that kid got himself killed, playing around on them damn trains. He got his head cut off. Keep messing around on them damn trains, you might be next.
I ran into a few of the fellas on the way to school, a few days later and they told me it was that guy Mase, Mace, Maze. I didn't go back writing for a while and I never surfed the tops of the trains again after that. That probably was one of my worst experiences as a writer, but there were a lot good ones too.
One day a bunch of writers were at 155th Street in 8th Avenue, including me. We just decided to bomb the whole station. A couple of guys put up some pieces, then out of know where this older white guy pops up. He had a few cameras. One in his hand and two strapped to his shoulders. He started taking pictures and wanted to talk and interview some of us. No one knew him and we didn't trust him, so we didn't speak to him. We thought he might be a undercover cop or a rat, snitch or maybe he was trying to set us up.
He said he was Norman Mailer and that he was a writer and a photographer and he and some friends, were writing a book on graffiti. We didn't believe him and his name meant nothing to us at the time, So we all broke out. Who would have known that, that day would become one of my best experiences as a writer. About one or two years later, after I stopped writing, in the early '70s this book came out about graffiti. It was called The Faith Graffiti and it was written by this guy Norman Mailer. It was the first book written about graffiti and there were a couple of tags of mine in the book.
There were a lot of great writers back in the days and there were some differences, but there were also some similarities. I think we had more respect for each other as writers, I also think we were more loyal to each other and our crews back then. Don't get me wrong we had our share of beefs back then, writers and crews crossing each other out or going over each other. We toyed and HOT 110ed each other. There were guys and crews ripping each other off for their paint, markers, money, etc. You had guys putting up crews that they were not really in. There were your beat downs, throw downs and small rumbles because of it, just like you had in the mid to late '70s and '80s, but I don't think it happened as often in the early days.
Most of the writers and crews NOT ALL seemed to be a little harder, tougher and less intimidated in the old days. I think we had to be. We had to deal, not only with the police and other crews but also with the street gangs. We didn't take no shit. Most of us were going to stand up for ourselves, with or without our crews be being there. We were going to take an ass whipping if we had to, we were not giving up our shit and going to let other writers and crews go over and cross out or HOT 110 and toy us, with out a fight. There was going to be some serious repercussion, if your crew found out you got jumped by a crew or had beef with another writer and you didn't deal with it, and stand up for yourself and protect yourself or fight back. You now had a problem with your crew and most likely you were going to be kicked out, after you got your ass kicked, because you didn't stand up for yourself. If you handled it and stood up for yourself, you better believe if you were down with a good crew, they would have your back. And there would be retaliation.
Don't get me wrong I mean no disrespect to the writers and crews of the mid to late '70s and '80s. There were some crews that were hard and tough and held their own and didn't mess with no one, unless they were messed with. They were loyal and respected themselves and others.
Back in the early days the lingo was a little different, tags were called hits, pieces were called masterpieces. We put up a big tag with a fat cap, put a outline around it, filled it in, put some stars and some poke a dots in it and maybe a cloud and that was a piece. A throw-up was called a fill-in; we just didn't put so many on one car. And we didn't have them floating on the top panels of the trains, like IN and the guys stated doing in the mid to late '70s and '80s. A top-to-bottom was a top-to-bottom. Bombing was when we put up a bunch of tags (hits) on or in one car, maybe 50 or a 100, it could be more or less, we also called wallpapering.
In the early days if two writers put up the same name and number and couldn't come to an agreement about who was using the name and number first, they would fight it out for the name and number. The one that lost would change his name, or just change his number, or sometimes they would come to an agreement without fighting, to team up and both use the same name and numbers 1 & 2. For instance here's a few samples, JAMES 1 & 2, WEB 1 & 2 or ZAR 1 & 2, MOOSE 1, MOOSE 106 etc.
When did you quit painting trains the first time?
I stopped writing the first time in '73. I stopped to get myself ready to go in the Marine Corps.
Tell us about your comeback in the 1980s with DEL and other writers. What made you come back ? Was the writting world very different from your time?
My comeback in 1980 with DELÉ well let me just tell you first, that I made a small comeback in late '76 to early '78 for a little over a year. Mostly doing motion tags on the insides of some 1s, As and Bs and a few stations. Then I met another old timer like myself named BLUE BEARD 183. In early '78 just before I stopped writing again and we teamed up on few occasions and hit the outsides of some Bs, Cs, Ds and 4s. We went into the yards, tunnels and lays-ups only two or three times and then I stopped again.
Like I said it was a small comeback and I probably didn't really get up that much. Then in early 1980 I just caught the fever again and started motion tagging, once again hitting the insides of the 1s, As, Bs, Cs, Ds and some 4s. I was also hitting a lot of stations. I really got into it again this time. I was like a big kid again and my shit was getting up! One night I was on the 1 train doing motion tags on the insides, the train was empty and I was bombing the hell out of it.
Then I ran into another old timer OZ 109 and he was with this new kid called REBO 1 and they were tagging up the train from the other end. We hung out for a while and put up some tags together.
Then one day I was hanging out on the bench at 149th Street and met my boy DEL, DEL WAZ HERE. We hit it off instantly and started hanging out and became a team, a good one at that. Me and DEL never had any problems as a writing team. We just seemed to always be on the same page. I took DEL to a lot of yards, tunnels and lay-ups he didn't know about. We both loved the Ghost Yard and did most of our best work there. We could hit INDs, IRTs and on occasion even BMTs came in the yard, me and DEL did a lot of good work together.
Unfortunately some of it was never seen. Some of it never made it out of the yards or only ran for a very short time before it got buffed. We never took any pictures. I think we must have gotten together, when that so called big buff begin and starting to take off. I think maybe we were one of the first teams to see and feel the effects of it. I guess we were just unlucky that way, what you gonna do?
When me and DEL got together he wanted to put up my name first, when we were piecing together and piecing the same cars. He said that I was writing longer and was up more, so my name should be first. I said DEL, MOOSE sounded better then MOOSE, DEL and it made more sense alphabetically, to put his name first and that's how we came up with DEL, MOOSE. I might have been around longer and up more, but he was more talented and could piece better. I was the bomber he was the artist. DEL did most of our outlines, but not all them. I would help with the fill-ins, back drops, details and touch ups.
Me and DEL became more then just writing partners, we became the best of friends, were like brothers. DEL and I have kept in touch with each other over the years, after we stopped writing and he just moved down here to Florida, so we'll be getting together soon, to do some painting again.
You ask if the writing world was different from the early days, yes it was. I thought it was easier to write. There were less transit cops due to the city nearly going bankrupt, in the mid to late '70s and didn't really get back on its feet till maybe '83. The writers in the mid '70s to '80 were now spending hours, working on one car just taking their time. Back in the days, you wrote fast and hit as many cars as you could in few hours and got out of there. A lot of writers early on had long, big names; some used two or three names. Writers of the mid to late '70s and early '80s used shorter names. The writers of that area didn't have to deal with street gangs, as much as we did in the early days. Graffiti was now becoming an art form. Remember I started before they called it art. We were called vandals vandalizing the city, not artists.
The artist/writes were getting more talented and using new techniques. The quality and color selection of the paints were getting better by the '80s. Guys were now taking art classes and sketching out their work in sketchbooks, before they went to the yards to put it up. Some were using painters tape, masking tape and other tools to enhance the quality of the work. There was nothing wrong with that, the changes and advancements were and still are good for the art and I welcome it. In the early days when we started piecing we did all freestyle, spontaneously from scratch, what ever came to our minds at the train yard. We did it from the top of heads. We didn't prep ourselves ahead of time. We just went and did our thing. No sketch books no nothing just our paint. The writers of that era became more competitive.
When did you quit painting trains for the final time?
I quit writing for the final time in early 1982.
Who were the most popular writers of your era 1970s then 1980s?
The most popular writers of the early '70s, were some of the writers I mentioned earlier. A lot of them were still writing when, I was coming up, but there were many more. Writers like TC 126 (TOP CAT 126), T-REX 131 may he rest In peace, he was cool brother, PIPER 1, ROSS 1, STAN 153, AJ 161, STAFF 161, CLYDE, YAZ 56, HOY 56, MOUSEY 89, SPY-1-77, SMOKEY 1, TABU 1, HONDU 1, POLLO 136, BJ 61, KING RAT 1, NEHI 161, SPIC 54, SPAN 102, STAG 161,SNAKE 131, SPADE 131, MAD DOG 117, KELLY 62, COMET 1, ULTRA KOOL, KOOL KEVIN, LSD OM, SKY 3, BLADE 131, JACE 2, TRACY 168, JESTER, MIKE 207, BUG 170, HRJ, MICO, FLINTÉ, FLINT 707, P-NUT 2, KOOL KITO, AGEE 170, MOSES 147,SUPER SLICK 1, A - TRAIN, 7 up DA ORIGINAL, CORKY 170 , MALO 125, JAMES 125 , FRANKY 135 ,JAY 135 , FUTURA 2000, ALI may he rest in peace. EVIL EDDIE, SABU, ROME 150, FRESCO, RIFF 170, CLIFF 159 may he rest in peace. HULK 62, TURK, C.A.T. 87 and more. The must popular writers of the mid to late 70's and early '80s were LEE, SLAVE, DOC, BLADE 1, KEL, MITCH 77, PEACE 108, MED, REVOLT, ZEPHYR, DURO, DONDI may he rest in peace. SEEN, P JAY, BILLY 167, PRE - SWEET, BS 119, OPEL aka REE 2, TEEN, TEAM, RASTA, SIE, DEAN, SMILEY 149 may rest in peace he was one cool brother, OE 3, P 13, WASP 1, KROME100, KID 56, M 56, T- KID 170, SONIC 002, INK 76, CRASH, BILROCK, LAZAR, COSTOM, DEAL, MAX 183, CHAIN 3, FED 2, HURST, QUIK, EN 005, IZ THE WIZ, SACH, El 3, REBEL, REPEL, BAN 2, LADY PINK and many more.
Are there any writers you feel made siginificant contributions to writing that have been over looked by history?
Yeah, me and DEL, just kidding. Yes there are plenty of writers that have been overlooked a lot of the old timers from '69 to '73 not mention the some of the old school and second and third generation writers. Writers like EDDIE 80, may he rest in peace, one good brother. LEAP 1, LIL MAN 1, SPANKY 132, KOOL BBREEZE and LIL KOOL BREEZE, G - MAN, CHRIS 217, PRIEST 167, WHIZ 3, COS 207, JAPAN 1, DISCO 3yb, CHASE 2 and more. Hey, if I forgot anyone I am sorry! Please forgive me and don't be mad at me.
What crews were you down with?
I ran solo for the most part. I got down with only a couple of crews and teamed up with only a few writers. There were a few crews that wanted me to get down with them, but I was not interested. In the early '70s I was down with MGA, Master Graffiti Artist, also known as Mad Graffiti Artists. Some writers also called us names like Mad or Mean Gangster Artist. I became the vice prez of the West Side division for a short time in '72. I also put up W.C. 188 and W.A.R. for a very short time, but I can't really say I was a member. The guys that put me down only had the authority to recruit or sponsor, not to put anybody down, but they led me to believe otherwise. When I found out it was really up to SNAKE 1, for WC and LA-ZAR for W.A.R., two guys who I never had the pleasure of meeting. I just stopped putting it up. I didn't want to be accused of putting up a crew I was not really down with. Back in the days that was not cool, you were asking for trouble. In the '80s I was down with CC, Columbus Crew, aka C. Crew, we were also known as The CC Boys. CC was a street crew I started up in the mid to late '70s that later also became a writing crew by 1980. I also put up OTB for a little while and ran into the same problem I did back in the early '70s with WC and War.
Do you have any good raid stories?
Yeah, one cold and rainy Saturday morning in October, maybe November in '72 or '73 a group of us meet up at 145th Street in Broadway to go bomb the 1s in the One Tunnel, everything seemed to check out and looked safe. So we started to go in. As we were going in you could smell the paint in the air. You could also hear the cans being shaken and rattling and hear writers whispering. I remember saying to the guys, "Damn! There must be over a hundred writers here today. Are we sure we want to go in? There's too many writers here, lets go some were else." But everybody wanted to stay.
We were all kind of excited, so we went in. We found a few clean cars right away, away from everyone. Some of the guys wanted to see who else was in the tunnel and bullshit with them, I was there to write/paint. Anyway, me my little brother, who wrote SPANKY 106 and RB 1 started painting. It didn't seem like we were there 20 minutes, and then all of a sudden we hear "Yo, the police, the pigs, the fuzz, 5- 0! Let's get out of here!" Guys were running, coming out of everywhere, tripping all over them selves. You could hear and see the cans and markers flying, dropping, falling and being thrown everywhere.
Then I started hearing dogs barking and what I thought were gun shots, but they were the light bulbs in the tunnel being busted out. You could hear the bulbs popping and see the sparks flashing, the train doors were slamming and windows being smash and busted out. The cops were saying "It's the transit police this is a raid, the place is surrounded, come out with your hands up!" I told my brother and RB not to panic and to follow me. We curled under the train to go to the other side. I stuck my head out from under the car to see if it was safe. I could see the cops with their dogs and flashlights coming from both ends, writers were still running around like crazy. They were trying to figure out what to do or which way to go, to get out the tunnel, with out being caught. I told my brother and RB let's start heading back the other way, to the uptown side exit, between the station that was closer to us. I stuck my head out once again to see if it was safe and this time it looked clear. So I told my brother and RB to hurry and run to the next train and get under it. We did that for a few more trains and were just yards from the exit. I pop my head out one more time, to check to see if the exit was clear. I saw two cops with a dog standing at the exit doorway. I told my brother and RB to go back before they see us. RB said " We can't, they're coming from that side, there's nowhere to go." They were coming from all ends. We could hear them in the train above us. So that wasn't an option and they were at the exit just yards from us.
The other exits and stations were just too far to try to make a run for it. So I told my brother and RB to just stay under the train and lay flat and stay close to the wheels. Maybe they won't see or hear us, RB then reminded me it was still raining and raining hard. The rain was coming down through the subway street grates and the exit and running off the tunnel platform and onto the tracks. I told him and my brother to stay by the wheels and away from the third rail and don't let your body touch the metal and stay put and shut up, until things were all clear. We were wet, cold, scared and shitting bricks.
The cops and the dogs walked right by us several times. We could see them using their flashlights to look under the trains and we could hear the dogs sniffing and smelling. But they didn't pick up our scent and we were tucked under the wheels of the train real good that they didn't see us. We could hear them in the train above and heard them say a few times, hey we have a couple here there's one over there etc. It seemed like we were there forever. We even fell asleep waiting for things to cool down, then we heard a train start up and it woke us up. We thought it was the train we were under and my brother panicked and wanted to run from under it. I told him not to move and just and just lay flat and if the train started to move it would pass over us. But then RB said its the other train, the one next to us, its pulling out. We thought maybe there were pulling the trains out to scare out anyone still hiding in the tunnel. But after the train pulled out, there was nothing but silence. It was now quiet as hell. I told my brother and RB that I thought everything was cool and that I was going to check. So I first pop my head out and didn't see nothing. Then I quietly climbed up into the inside of the train and slowly walked toward the exit. I pop my head out of the window and everything looked clear, so I went back and got my brother and RB and got the hell out of there. When we came out of the exit, on the uptown side between 137th and 145th it was already nighttime. It was about 6:45 p.m. We had been in the tunnel since 10:30 that morning and didn't get home till 7:30, 8:00. Anyway we walked to 12th Street and snuck on the train and took it to 103rd Street and Broadway and walked home.
I just happened to have a new jacket on that day and was showing it off to everyone. Thinking I was cool and forgot to turn it inside out and I ruined the jacket and had to throw it out just before we got to the house. We tried sneaking in, but my mom heard us come in and started yelling at us, saying where the hell have you have guys been all day? I been looking all over for you. You guys been gone all day, I was starting to get worried and what the hell happened to you? You're filthy and soaking wet and where the hell is your damn coat. I told my mom we got into a fight and got jumped and they took my coat and she called me damn lair and I was full of it. Then she said not only are you dirty and greasy but you have paint all over you. She said you guys were writing on them damn trains again, what you do ruin the damn coat. Go take a shower and you're not going back out tonight and there will be no diner! Oh, your father is going to hear about this one. The next day my dad whipped our asses good. When I went back to school Monday my home boys told me none of our guys got busted and that a lot of the other writers did, but they didn't know who. I didn't go back to the 1 Tunnel for a while after that.
Are you currently involved in art in any capicity?
Yes I am. I was invited to a show in Orlando, Florida in February of 2005 and was asked to paint after a 24-year layoff; needless to say I didn't do so well. I put up two pieces that looked whacked. I was and still am really rusty, but I been practicing since then, on a couple of pieces of plywood I went out and bought. I am getting better. My skills are stating to come back. I've also been working on some canvases; mostly with markers, paint markers, and acrylics.
What are you up to these days?
Besides getting back into the art of graffiti, I am also employed as a heavy equipment operator and an assistant foreman for a major recycling plant here in Florida. I also own and operate a small club and mobile DJ service company here in east central Florida called MEGA SOUND PROUDUTIONS and I do a lot of fishing.
Do you have any closing words?
Yeah, I want to say thanks to At149st.com and to you SPAR. I wish you the best. The site is tight. I also want to give a big shout out to all the writers, old-timers, old school, new school, to all the generations of writers and those to come, let's keep the art of graffiti alive, world wide, forever. Later, peace! MOOSE 106.
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