VEN ONE INTERVIEW
© May 1998, 2003 @149st Do not republish without permission.
Where and when did you start (on trains)?
I started writing on trains in May of 1984. The first lay-up I went to was Ocean Parkway on a Sunday afternoon with a marker and two cans of paint.I bombed the insides. For the next year or so I hit the Sheepshead Bay and Franklin Avenue Shuttle layups a few times. Both layups were equal distance from home. In 1985 I started to venture out of my area to hit yards and layups such as the D yard in the Bronx and 175th in Washington Heights in Manhattan.
Did you have a particular inspiration or mentor?
I've had many inspirations and influences in my years of benching.I never had a mentor. My brother used to write and he was my first inspiration. I prefer not to mention his tag due to self incrimination. (Got to watch out for Vandal Squad on line) He was king of insides on the letterline flats, ridgies and bulldogs with partners NET and ANT in the years of 83-84. They destroyed layups all city including IRTs but the Coney Island Yard was there main home. Seeing his name up inspired me to write. The writer who influenced me most to do all types of bombing from piecing to, throwups to insides would definitely have to be MIN RTW. For the first two years of my graff career I benched lines all city for photos and it was MIN who I saw up all over doing everything from whole cars to insides with style on flats ridgies,ding dongs on IRTs INDs and BMTs. Many other writers were inspirational at the time but they had pieces running on one or two lines. Looking at graff through pictures back in the day and the few pieces I actually saw running I would also have to say the crispy precise letter flow of DONDI's style had been a big inspiration on the way I looked at piecing. To paint that crisp on a train always amazed me. May he Rest In Peace.
What lines have you hit?
I've hit 90 percent of all lines whether or not the trains were bombed or clean. I've hit almost every layup around the four boroughs at least once. Myself and the rest of the AOK/RIS posse had the BMTs and B slants kinged in the years of 86-89. I also pieced on IRTs a few times hitting the Harlem and Utica tunnels as well as a few Bronx elevated layups. I even had a piece on the Z train.
What borough are you originally from?
Born and bred in Brooklyn.
What crews have you written for?
I've been put down for many crews but RIS/AOK and my own crew AMW are the most important because these are the people i bombed with and who are my homeboys for life.
List all the other names under which you are known?
OHIO and AGONY. Only one piece was done under each name on a train. I was addicted to writing VEN.
You bombed trains during transit art's bleakest times. What motivated you ?
I kept it going through the roughest of time because someone had to be the martyr of this clean train thing. I love and loved graffiti on subways. There was no way I would let the MTA kill our culture completely. By 89 I really started to like the way my pieces were coming out. The progression of it made me have to do more and more. It also looked good on these fresh new steel canvases. The fact that no one was bombing kept the layups and yards nice and quiet for me and posse.No more hot layups. I could go to any yard and layup and not get raided by cops or toys.I kept a very random pattern at layups and yards around the city. The Vandal Squad could not keep up with me. One night myself, GHOST and ANT hit the 1 yard at 242st and then CC yard in Rockaway.That's about a 30 miles apart.Trying figuring out that pattern.The Vandal Squad never raided me instead they watched my house and tried to follow me when I went bombing. The fact of the matter was that I was watching them. I would slip out the back of my house into the backyards of my neighborhood to go bombing.While they were watching my crib I was bombing there trains.FUCKING IDIOTS!!!This was highly motivational.It became a cat and mouse game.It was real war not like the bombed train era.Now graff was a felony and you could get jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.You had to plan and attack with precise strategy.
You did burners on ridgies. At one point in the graffiti world that was almost unheard of. Why did you do it?
I never had a preference on what type of subway car I would piece on.I will paint on any MTA train so long as it has power supplied by a third rail. Some of my favorite layups to only parked ridgies. I would sacrifice the flats to paint in my favorite layups without question. Beside I think pieces look sharp on those shiny steel canvases. It's also more of bitch for the MTA to clean then flats. They stopped using the acid buff machines in 1986 because of the damage it did to the wiring of train cars. Now when they buff ridgies they have to scrub it off by hand with acidic chemicals and steel wool. It takes them as long to clean it as it did for me to paint it. At least I can get some enjoyment from making them work hard when they destroy my piece! With the flats its just a few rolls with a paint roller and your piece is gone.
Who were your best partners?.
REAS and GHOST. I usually painted with one or the other or occasionally both. We destroyed shit together and always had a tight game plan on what we were doing.I also liked painting with MAGOO 2. We did a few trains together and it always went smooth as butter. He was mad cool to paint with plus he has a bad ass style that cant be fucked with.
What do you think your greatest accomplishment as a writer is?
There are two.Being the last to destroy trains with pieces and throwups in the subway graff era and being the first to destroy the new trains with pieces and throwups in the clean train era.
Do you have any good raid stories?
I rarely been raided by DTs and only physically saw them myself this one time. It's early winter '89 and winter layups are in. Myself and NIKE a writer from the B line in Brooklyn decide on hitting the Bridge layup. We enter the tunnel from the Manhattan Bridge. Walking the N line tracks toward Canal St we start to come upon sets of clean ridgies parked on the layup tracks. We scope the four sets out and we see a few sweepers in the front of the last set on the J line side. We decide to stash the paint under the train and wait for them to leave.We move a few tracks over and wait behind the wall. A few minutes go by and out of nowhere we here someone rummaging around in our bags of paint. I go to take a peek and suddenly a DT pulls a gun and shouts "Freeze or Ill shoot!!" We take off running faster then a plane. Not taking chances of getting grabbed on Canal St. station we run back into the layup. We jump up on the catwalk and run past two sets of trains leading us back into the N tunnel.
Now there is a disused tunnel that connects the N line to the D line by Grand St. We run into this tunnel a few yards but we see lights coming at us. It could be train lights or flashlights but were not taking the risk to find out. We turn around and run back out the way we came in which leads us onto the N line side of the Manhattan Bridge. We run over the bridge till we come across a catwalk underneath. We climb down the catwalk which leads us under the bridge.I knew about this catwalk from previous explorations. After breathing all this steel dust and being totally out of breath we decide to take a 30 minute break above the chilly East River. The cold winter never felt so good! After our break we decide to walk over the bridge into Brooklyn. Mission unaccomplished. A few days later I here a story on the news about a serial rapist on the loose posing as a transit worker.He was dragging women into the tunnels off the J line in lower Manhattan and raping them. I'm almost positive that they were trying to set him up and that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.That bastard caused me to loose 12-15 cans of paint (Rustos!!!)
You are counted among a small group of writers who has painted a whole10 car train.How did your whole train come about, why did you do it?
I don't actually remember what led us to do the whole train. Maybe it was the fact that probably every writer has a desire to be involved with such an event. GHOST and myself had a goal to do this and I don't think we were going to stop until we did. It took three attempts to successfully complete the whole train. The first attempt failed when work bums pulled the train out before anybody outlined their pieces. That time it was SENT, GHOST, TEKAY, WANE, SEAR, OMNI and myself. The second attempt (Christmas week of 1987) the same crew actually completed eight cars but everybody ran out of paint. It didn't matter anyway because the 357 Crew dissed almost all of it before it pulled out. A few months later we attempted it again on Easter Sunday '88 and we successfully pulled it off. This time there was a change in the artist roster. It was GHOST, WANE, LACE, KKONE and myself. My homeboys REMOTE and ANT came down.WANE and myself did top to bottoms for them. We came in the late morning and stayed till evening time. It was totally peaceful the whole time. I remember going home to dinner being in amazement to what we just did. It was one of the best moments of my graff career .
What line was it on and where was it done, What writers participated?
It was done in the 57th Street layup on a B slant ridgie. Probably the best layup for whole cars ever. The tunnels were on curve and it was easy to reach the bottom of the train as well as the top. The tunnels were brand new concrete and nicely lit. No trains would pass by so you didn't have to worry about being spotted. It was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. And we never got raided.
What crew or crews should get credit for the whole train?
RIS, AMW, COD, 357 (We squashed our differences)
How long did the 10 cars run together before the Transit Authority broke them up?
It lasted one trip on the B line from 57th st to Coney Island.We pulled about five emergency cords to get photos. This might of caused them to take it out of service. I was in amazement when the train pulled in at 7:30 Monday morning at Pacific Street. You could smell the powerful scent of Rusto as it pulled it in.
Describe a few of the cars.
All of the cars except for one were full color top to bottoms. GHOST did this car that had his name floating on a boat in the middle of the ocean. On the other side of the car was a character stranded on an island.It was definitely on some other level. GHOST also did the HOLY GHOST piece where he drew holes in each letter. This was an idea I had given him a while back and I was surprised that he did it. I did a huge VEN top to bottom that stretched across 75 feet. It was filled in with Rusto greens and yellows and backed with a plum cloud and thick black outline with solid 3D. WANE did a Colors top to bottom filled in yellows with a bright red outline.LACE did a huge block top to bottom in his signature style.
How do you feel about the fact that people mention The Freedom Train and The Fabulous Five whole trains and some times fail to mention your accomplishment?
It doesn't bother me at all. The Fab 5 and CAINE whole trains were mentioned in two of the most known graffiti books, Subway Art and Getting Up. LEE had a whole chapter in Getting Up on how the Fab 5 accomplished the mission. Both of the original whole trains were done in the Golden Era of graff on transit. Though I doubt many writers saw CAINE's train in real life or in photos. The fact of being mentioned in books that every graffiti writer has read leaves a lasting mark. Our whole train was done during the graff recession period. Most writers quit bombing transit by '88 leaving about a handful of serious writers still painting trains. It was among this group that our accomplishment was known.We deserve more recognition for our accomplishment but we did it for ourselves and that's what counts most. For the record I think it is safe to say we have the record for the longest painted whole train. The size of B slant car is 15 feet longer then an IRT car. Unless CAINE painted one of those eleven car 7 trains.I think we should go down in the history books for painting the largest mass of pieces on a set of NYC subway trains.
What do you think of the global expansion of graffiti?
Are you currently involved in writing or any other art form?
I prefer to keep a low profile to any involvement that I might have in the subject of writing.
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