SPADE 127 INTERVIEW Part 2
©1999, 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
Why do you think the 1 tunnel became so territorial and dangerous?
There was a lot of gang activities going on around that neighborhood, it was a real rough place back then. There was a gang there that ran that whole area; they were called The BALL BUSTERS. This atmosphere filtered down to the 1 Tunnel and was the cause of mad beef. These were the hey day of gangs in NYC, at least for our generation.
FBA had an association with the BALL BUSTERS, what was that about?
FBA's association with the BALL BUSTERS came out of territorial issues and concerns. They were the gang that was directly from the neighborhood that we grew up in; they were heads we had grown up with. We had no beef with them. In fact, they backed us up, and we looked out for them. We weren't BALL BUSTERS because they were from another block, 137th. st. but we were all from the same hood we hadda rep for each other. We were down with each other. That's the way it was, stand by you're people and they'll stand by you. NYC street realities. We had no beef with many writers, but due to the association with the BALL BUSTERS we had allot of beef.
Other crews were associated with different gangs back then too. It was just like that, this crew had back from this gang, that crew had back from the other gang, etc. The BALL BUSTERS would vic heads and we wouldn't even be there, or for that matter we wouldn't even be in the area at the time, and we would still get blamed for it. But we never cared, we did what we had to do and that was it, no regrets. Mad writers back in the days were all about that adversarial shit, mad heads used to get vicked citywide. We weren't with that, but heads labeled us that way anyway, we got a reputation as being violent. In reality we were only that way when we had no other choice. We were more into writing, not fighting. We only defended ourselves. Heads wanted to try us, to be able to say that they that they could, they thought they could get props by doing that. They wanted to be famous for that, trying to start beef with us, not for going out and earning theirs on the lines. Most writers got along with us, but overall it was adversarial on different levels. From competing with each other over quality and quantity, to the other extreme of just not liking some other writers and having beef. It wasn't all peace and love or some shit like that. That's just a fairy tale.
FBA was not a mainstream crew, some writers just didn't like us, and we didn't really give a fuck. We were the crew they loved to hate. Unlike other crews that thrived on trying to vic other writers and supposedly show how tough or real they were. We got our rep from taking care of business only when we had to, and we had the back to do it well. We never ran from a fight, we just tried not to start them. We didn't believe that robbing other heads was where it was at, or that starting beef was what it was all about. We thrived on all the adversity and pushed to do even better because of it. And to top it all off we used to rock incredibly hot cars. Our shit was on point. Heads sometimes couldn't deal with that. We on the other hand, if your shit was on point, we gave you props and respect. We weren't gonna go out like that and dis heads because they live some where else or are down with whoever. We judged other cats strictly by their work and their character, not by any affiliations. We had to do what we needed to, simply to survive and come out on top; after all, those were the main goals at the time.
Got any good raid stories from the one tunnel?
I remember one Sunday morning, we got up real early like 4 or 5 in the morning. (To be honest with you I don't think we even slept that night, we used to break night and go painting. If not we'd go to the tunnels or yards about 11 or 12 midnight and break night painting ). That morning we went into the tunnel and as part of the scoping out process we proceeded to go into all the train cars that were laid up to check em out make sure no one was hiding in them, (Vandal squad, as well as other writers used to hide in the train cars and try to run up on heads on the sneak tip). We had keys to open up all the cars. We even knew how to open up the train's side doors too. The same ones the passengers come out of. We pretty much had that tunnel on lockdown, simply because we were there so much and we knew it so well, after all we lived right upstairs. We came and went down there as we pleased. We even went down there at times just to hang out and check out the trains or to smoke a blunt and drink a few quarts.
That night as we went along inside the cars we went bombing the insides with flooded marker tags. We almost had done the whole tunnel bombing the insides and checking out the yard. When we had about half a train (5 cars at the time) to go. When we got into the last car we were so distracted and it was so dark down there that we didn't notice there were police in that car until we were practically in there right up on them. The first one in was ALIVE 5, everyone else was throwing up tags at this point. When he walked into the last car they immediately rushed him, that day it was me, TACK, AIRBORN, RAGE and ALIVE5. When ALIVE ran out of that car we all took off out of the train and tried to get out of there as fast as we could. I remember having to climb up on trains, scale between a train and the wall, run on top of tracks that weren't meant to be run on, crawl underneath trains to get out of there by getting to the 137th. St. train station and breaking out straight to the block. Luckily no one got nabbed that day.
I guess the writers got the upper hand that time. We all had to bob and weave to get the fuck out. As I'm finally getting to the station a train darts right by and pulls into the station, I never saw it coming. A little closer and I may not have been here now to talk about it. It was a matter of just a foot or two. I got lucky that day. We walked up the stairs from the tunnel as the train took off out of the station. Looking like we had just gotten out the train, we were able to escape. There were a couple of 5-0 at the station for all we know they coulda been in on it. We were just glad we had gotten away. We weren't gonna stay there and find out what they were doing there. At the time this only made me hungrier to go out and wreck. Crazy way of thinking. That's what writers lives were all about, this and many other scenarios were a big part of "the scene". Hanging out at the different writers benches was another drama at times.
What is your fondest memory of the 149th Street writer's bench?
At 149th Street it was always about seeing mad new cars coming out, meeting other writers and just sharing ideas and vibeing. There was sometimes beef or whatever. But overall there was some incredible work going by all the time. That was the main focus. We would usually roll deep there since we were away from our hood. I remember one time this kid POD and his crew tried to fuck with AIRBORN and TACK. They were out there checking out trains when POD tried to roll on them. They didn't go out like suckers and got out of there ok. We had to go over there with our peeps and close that shit down until we ran into POD. We couldn't have that beef unresolved like that. We never saw that cat again though, I know he heard we were looking for him at the bench. We made sure we let everyone know we were there. He got the message. It was over without blowing up out of proportion, things happened that way some times, although not always. Sometimes shit blew up. The majority of the time we spent there was cool though, no problems. Between the bench and Henry's studio we met mad other writers.
We really didn't go to 149th Streeet as much as we went to 125th Street and Broadway on the 1 line. That was more our bench. A lot of writers used to go there too. We ran that bench; after all it was closer to home for us. We met mad writers there too. We painted on many different lines, but the majority of our work was on the 1s and 3s. Mostly the 1s though. This is where we caught a lot of our flicks, hung out checked out our work and the comp's work. We always had to see what was out there to plan for something even larger when we saw what the comp was doing. My best memory was back in about late 79, when I saw the first married couple whole car we did go by. That shit was incredible. All the hard work and sacrifice was paying off. Our shit was on point.
What do you think of writing today, European writers, freights and clean trains?
Writing looks like it'll be around for a while. It's spreading all over the world. I feel that. I'm glad that long after I'm gone, my name, and many other writers names might still be spoken. All our collective efforts having started a new culture based on it (writing or as it is now referred to by its media created name, GRAFFITI ) will be remembered always. Incredible! As for European Writers. I think they have excellent style and technique. There is a lot of great paint control coming out of Europe now. There are scenes going on in almost all the countries out there. England, France, Spain, Holland, Germany, Croatia, Poland, Switzerland, and so many other places I can't list them all. It's definitely a positive thing going on in all Europe specifically and all over the world in general. Freights are chill cause your shit can go coast to coast and you'll be "all country", maybe even all countries ( Canada, Mexico ) How bout that! Sadly, I haven't had the opportunity to wreck one yet. Clean Trains are all writers' dreams. Some writers reality also. As for me, I haven't had the pleasure yet. Who knows what the future may bring?
Any advice for the current generation.
Just to stay true to yourself. Don't hold back, or else you'll never realize your goals. Learn from those before you. Yes. But always add your own style to make it unique. Learn from the mistakes of those before you and those same mistakes of your own. Never, to repeat them again if possible. And above all do your best. Burn as many heads as you can!
Peace, and much Respect to all.
SPADE127 FBA FC TC5...
Shouts to: ALIVE 5, AIRBORN, TACK, KAZE, SERVE, PANIC, KACE, BANT ( R.I.P.), RASK ( R.I.P.), RIZE, DASH, SEAM, PETE ROCK, CHINO, BRYAN, SAMMY, JOSHUA, AWSOME PAUL, EDDIE ED, SPEEDY LEGS, TEAL AND ALL MY PEOPLES, MANY THANKS TO THE 149ST WRITERS BENCH CREW FOR THE LOOKOUT...
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