Nuovamente in viaggio attraverso la radici della cultura: parole precise e non banali quelle di Priz One, Vice Presidente dei famosi Spanish Five, uno che ama parlare senza mezzi termini ma in grado di dipingere fantastici affreschi di un’epoca entrata nella leggenda.
This interview has been possible thanx to La Ultima TSF: muy gracias.
Airone When and how did you start writing? How old are you today?
Priz I’m 41 years of age and a native “Madhattan” New Yorker. I presently write “PRIZ-ONE” STYLE-MONSTA, (TSF/TS5, THE SPANISH 5IVE – Vice Prez) and CACITY (COOL ARTISTIC CREATIVITY – Recruiter). I started as a novice to the graff game in the 70’s, I was “hitting up” various other signatures on walls and the 96th street park. The ones I do remember are RM/MR T.U.A (Trains Undergoing Attack crew) and T.L.D acronym for (Train Lodging Destruction) with my boy and first original partner Braulio aka Tony who wrote SAM BYB and was part of the “The Mosquitos.” He was a golden gloves boxer turned graffitist. I came up with tags by chance through names, nicknames and initials given to me by older peers. I adopted the name SWAN in 1979 after a character from the Walter Hill motion picture “THE WARRIORS”. I then added the roman numeral “one” after it and began tagging with a Magnum marker and shorty size model tester cans along and below Riverside park (freight tunnels aka “Freedom Tunnels”). I discovered the tags PRISMA/PRISM/PRIZM from a “letterset” lettering book a teacher gave me in the 7th grade and decided to shorten it to PRIS then PRIZ. I soon graduated to “motioning” on the interiors of numerous empty rear no.1 subway cars with a “juicy” pinned tip homemade Black Flow Master mop jammy and a Purple Marsh ink pilot, a mini wide and an extra backup can of 4 oz color Black in my school bag that I purchased at a frequent “writers spot” called “Bombay’s” stationary store on 100th street and Broadway.
Like so many neophytes at the time, I watched, emulated and was introduced to older more experienced stylish neighborhood writers like members of the BYB crew (Brandeis Yard Boys aka later as Bad Yard Boys). JEAN13, DEAN, CHINOMALO, BLAZE (Papo), BAD (Nelson), SAN2 (orig.) ROOK1 aka SEAN TCB (The City Burners) orig.
However, as a teenager, I became fascinated with the mystique of one’s tags/pieces while benching trains. I came into contact with blackbooks as well as older traditional writers who had already acquired veteran status as well as their frosty calmness under pressure only attributed to their cool style as being “the joint” but sometimes misread as being arrogant. I enjoyed the freedom of “getting up” on the subway and also freely expressing myself without any artistic boundaries. The skill and adrenaline rush of accomplishing this stylistic form of colorful dancing letters, designs and contours in a mist of multicolor vapors along the shiny length of rails below me. This was the only truly effective payoff and proper graffiti schooling that I acquired later on those Sundays and Monday mornings when those iron leviathans screeched into the station displaying all types of styles. I became very heavily influenced by the “death styles” of the MTA’s most wanted that rolled on the uptown/downtown No.1 local and then the express tracks of the IRT’s 2 and 3 “numba lines” TSF (The Spanish Five), TMT (The Magnificent Team), RTW (Rolling Thunda Writers), SA (Soul Artists), CYA (Crazy Young Artist), OTB (Out To Bomb), 3YB (3 Yard Boys) and SALSA crew.
Airone What’s the story behind the name of your crew, The Spanish 5?
Priz (First TSF/TS5 Generation-Mid 1970’s):
LEO (PREZ), RATE 125 (VICE) OSCAR AKA (DJ OC) who later retired from Graff and formed “The Fearless Four” rap group: TITO, PESO, and MIKE C. Rap- hits “Rockinit” and “Problems of the World Today.” FED 2, KELSON AKA TEEN 125, PAPO, STAR 3, MOSES AKA MATCH and CHINOMALO.
(Second TSF/TS5Generation-Late 1970’s) “Broadway Kings” 1979-1985:
STAN 1 (PREZ), DE, DONE, CHAZ, MIST 2, FRESCA 5000, MANIA, CHU-ROCK, ADROCK 2, SWAN 1 AKA PRISMA/PRISM/PRIZM and PRIZ-ONE(VICE), SON 1, SEP, RAK 2 (Shy 147’s cousin RIP), MON 1, NATE 125, NEAL /LEAN, CHRIS 217.
The Spanish 5ive (TSF/TS5) crew was composed of several “Latin” brothers from uptown Harlem who became united with one common bond to “get up” dauntlessly and go “all city” on the MTA’s vast mass transit routes from Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn with Maximum exposure.
In our heyday, we never conceived abandoning the subway yards/lay-ups and it’s underground system to become push button (art gallery) pop artists like so many countless others did in the 1980’s. It’s no secret that TSF were transit “writers” and that’s what we did, “we” wrote our names “up” bigger, brighter and stronger wherever we got the chance. However, the irony to all of this was that some graffitist who made the transition from metal to canvas became acquainted to film, documentaries and art history books. These individuals soon became admired and proclaimed as the “original” masters, prolific style prophets of the subway graffiti subculture while some of the most influential practitioners along with their crews were overlooked and forgotten. Unfortunately, The Spanish 5ive were one of the many crews that fell into that category.
We didn’t desire to be adopted by art patrons nor did we want to go mainstream above ground to paint commissioned surfaces. In those days we lived for the thrill, integrity, hard won rites of a subway writer’s passage. This also included the pressure applied by TA’s Vandal Squad, racking, cross out warfare with rival crews, the buff and most importantly TSF’s existence and survival of what we colorfully created in the track lit mazes beneath New York. Our motto was “We Roc!” and we were proud of our outlaw status and dominance on Broadway, which we arrogantly displayed to the numerous New York straphangers in the mid to late 70’s and 80’s.
Airone What kind of Writing scene do you remember in NY before you started painting?
Priz Graffiti Writing was vibrant, Breakdancing was in it’s infancy, rapping was still underground, technique turntables and blockparties were the norm. Hip Hop was just a two word syllable that the “Sugar Hill Gang” used in “Rapper’s Delight.” All that changed in the 80’s. There would be heated debates in the school cafeteria over whose blackbook and style was “deather” while Slave’s “Struttin” blared from someone’s boombox radio at the adjacent table. These “battles” would occasionally be settled by your peers or between the two parties after school at 4:00 o’clock. The outcome would always lead to a hand shake, newly found friendships, mutual respect, partnerships and future graffiti joint ventures. While the competition and testosterone was at its peak, one of the fellas would always “rap” to a cute female. The girl would smile, roll her eyes, giggle, pop gum while occasionally staring at the cat’s marker ink stained denim jean jacket as he attempts impressing her with promises to paint her name on the outside of a subway car.
The fear and excitement along with the moment assisted us in the speed of executing a “colorful burner” under pressure within a certain time frame while still attempting to outdo one another and the existing competition. On a New York weekend, the buffed, rusted, subway cars and scribbled up handball courts were transformed into elaborate and versatile, colored productions with different varieties of elements as well as decorated letter designs but the yards/layups were the writers arenas to vigorously send our names throughout the 5 boroughs. This stimulated our competive nature along with the creativity which was also a “key” to the important factors, characteristic and quality of writing back then. Some writers did not acquire or could afford a degree or masters in art. The majority were uneducated, street hoods with hidden talents and an agenda for the ghetto letters of the already existing alphabet.
The feeling you got when you saw your name riding by on those old R12 and R17 ironhorses which were mystically alluring in size, smell, sound and presence was a colorful statement as well as advertising/representing yourself with style for the daily commuters and the public. Then there were the many hand styles and burners that were cryptic and wildly stylistic enigmas to the eye in appearance not just solely for the purpose of leaving one’s mark for the driven few. As a teen, I could feel the electricity in the air accompanying the humming of 600 volts from the third rail guard beneath my black puma suede sneakers. The mixture of spray paint/ink fumes, and the smell of the damp plastered, peeled, tunnel walls while creating a colorful window down panel piece within the confines of the 1 tunnel’s long row of iron pillars. This was intoxicating as well as hazardous to your health. I’d occasionally glance the length of track toward the station for cops, transit workers or rival crews.
You would occasionally hear a “pop” from the spray can top of a paper label Krylon and the consistent loud echoing SSSSSSSSSS sound coming from the racked “kitchen magic” tips while applying paint to the snoring trains surface. It all appeared to be a slowmotion dance from a distance, when viewing the “Broadway Boys” between the metal humming giants adding color and dancing verbs to the exterior mind dulling blandness of ghost images caused by the corrosive chemical cleaning agents.
And when going on weekend missions to “hit” all transit line divisions, we would venture out to the Ghost Yard where IRT, IND and BMT’s slept beside one another. I became very fond of the spacious interiors of the IND/BMT CC R-16 flats, which had interior slanted panels, and high ceilings with the squeaky mesh wired fans but I was an IRT numbas writer.
Airone Where and how was the first time Priz & Stan, met? What impressions did you get about one another?
Priz When I was a sophmore in highschool, I met a senior who wrote CHAZ. He introduced me to another TSF member called DE/DONE. In my opinion, CHAZ was a brass, bossy and obnoxious cat. His blackbook pieces needed improvement as well as his pieces on metal but the guy had heart, “ups” and good in a fight. My dry sarcasm, quick wit, comical demeanor and skills in outlines soon made us friends and partners. CHAZ soon introduced me to STAN who would occasionally come by my school to hang out or go on racking missions.
The impression I had of STAN then and today was that he was a “soft spoken,” approachable, likable, and conversive individual. I also remember he had a big afro and at times would occasionally comment to CHAZ about what his next idea would be for the next production in the 1 tunnels. I had seen him up already. One weekend, when I was uptown with a girlfriend, I had caught one of STAN’s and DONE’S window down whole cars parked on the winter middle track on 110th street. I’m sure he probably thought I was another “toy” hanger on but when he looked through my blackbook and saw the outlines I was giving CHAZ, he gave me a nod of approval and we started hanging out. He soon put me down with TSF and I put it up on my first window down at 145th layup.
Airone Where do you come from? How did your block look back in the days?
Priz I was originally from uptown 137th street and then my family moved downtown to 83rd street and West End Avenue along Riverside Park. Back then my block wasn’t yuppified till the late 80’s but the late 60’s, 70’s were a different period. Because of the proximity of the park and the late night desolation, there was muggings, bums, hippies, gang fights, prostitution and an occasionally shootings along the rows of Brownstones. However, it was a melting pot of Spanish, Jewish and Irish speaking senior citizens and the rent was cheap.
Airone Which place was your prefered meeting point with your friends?
Priz As a kid, I would hang out at Chock Full o’ Nuts on 86th Street and Broadway, the arcade on 42nd (Forty Deuce street), Riverside Park, Burger King on 84th Street, my old school P.S.9 playground, I.S. 44 and a small writer’s corner at the 96th Street underground station and then later “benched” at 125th Street elevated station with classmates and members of the CA (Crush Artists), Spanish 5, VSA (Vicious Subway Writers), TMT crew (The Maginficent Team), TC5 (The Cool Five) in the early 80’s.
Airone Which places were the coolest to bring out some nice girl?
Priz A Cuban/Chinese restaurant on 84th Street and Broadway that unfortuantely is no longer there and the “Freedom Tunnels” to makeout… LOL.
Airone What’s your family background?
Airone You have being talking about the difference of being “push button pop artists” and “transit writers”/”influential practitioners”. I believe that is true and that it’s a lot clearer, but that doesn’t mean that the people that stepped into the galleries were not cool stylers. Exhibiting in art galleries and living off that is a hard job and not everyone that have tried it have succeeded. Doing that is your own choice, and it’s not necessarily being a sell out; to me the problem is all about the transition of the culture: why do old-school writers have it so bad? For at least 10 years there have been only 2 books about Writing (Subway/Spray Can Art), and none of them have been written by a writer nor have the successful art gallery artist done anything.
Someone would think that, perhaps, old school writers have put too much attention on their “own image” with no care for the art form they’ve created: New Schoolers have done much better…?!?!?
Priz In my opinion, “old school” writers haven’t always been victimized. Some have unintentionally made victims of themselves through lack of business knowledge and investment savvy. However, several others have benefited immensely from commerce, galleries, the pop culture world and the extensive one man European shows, as I’ve answered in several questions prior to this. One of the reasons lies in the public’s distorted art conception of graffiti and the individual writers market value and longevity in the art world they’ve embarked on while continuously attempting to remain true to their own unique lettering style, graphic groove or becoming established and in time converting their styles by adopting technique from art masters like Warhol, Pollack or Dahli. Hopefully, their works can survive a lengthily duration in the commercial art arena without the graffiti artist loosing their identity and pure subway form. As I reiterated before, several artists chose to pass on the “get paid gallery movement” as TSF (The Spanish 5ive) and others did. These numerous unmentioned, unrecognized individuals preferred the self taught acquired ghetto lust letter art form that has no boundaries, laws, text book train thesis or how to style schooling. However, when you start thinking about the Benjamin’s, your outlaw status as a writer and subway allegiance may be in question. The art movements acceptance of the writers into the new school of painting embraces the once scorned graffiti artists and the public’s anti graffiti sentiments and outcries now become transformed into the questionable “graffiti appreciation” for their work on canvas. Unfortunately, this is where your peers may interpret this as “selling out”.
Take into consideration that being accepted into a new genre by the art world’s so-called elite masters is a double edge sword. The transit writer’s track training was just more than repetitive racking and style paint parleys. Its requirements were as unequivocal as the completion of several college courses. I can’t blame the gallery graffitist who’s shunned the illegal metal giants to paint commercial cloth? Would you question rising dough if you knew nothing but peanuts? So in the wings stood, the shrewd money making Manhattan 80’s yuppie and their entrepreneur investors who profited from subway slicks now turned legit.
The sad truth is while they capitalized and bled the writers pale, the critics soon demoralized, categorized, labeled and shunned the writer and his/her graffiti art as another “one hit wonder movement.” After the writers served their purposes, they became exiled in the New York art world to then be embraced and revered in Europe.
The New blood of today has learned and benefited from what the writers before them did and the mistakes that befell them. However the new generation of graffiti artists have learned about graffiti in art class, books, videos and the past gurus of graphic Hip Hop fad. They are also better educated, financially well off and have acquired agents, lawyers and publishers.
As far as graffiti books are concerned, I’ve read quite a few written by and for writers. Several have distorted history and facts for their own personal gains and self promo. Some have also collaborated in joint ventures with graffiti groupies, financial backers and network novices who only know about the same artists featured in “Subway Art” and “Style Wars” while once again omitting factual time lines, crews and less mainstream writers.
Airone What’s your feeling about the many books and films that are being produced nowadays? Is there something still missing?
Priz Not mentioning a long list of books titles, several have become severely generic, fictional and filled with inaudible grammar, blurry pictures, and laced with Hip Hop heroes. The few I have enjoyed reading were informative, historically accurate and paid homage to the trailblazers, pioneers, true kings and legends.
However the past “graffiti” movies were campy, over the top representations. The dialogue, plot and characters suffered greatly as well as the writer’s image and his
stereotypical mumblings and speech impediments. Unfortunately Graffiti in the 80’s was also intertwined with “Hip-Hop” and the other four elements. This however portrayed the graffiti writers as the only element out of the four to be criminal minded. The few movies that were visually bearable and somewhat accurate featured train mock ups/scraps or live parked trains. My favorite 1980’s ABC made for television movie was “Dreams don’t die.” Although the plot and story line was less then desirable, the KING 65 whole cars painted in the M yard by DONDI (RIP) were worth watching.
As far as the movies today, they have a lot of unrealistic dialogue and new school rule references in regard to graffiti writing. The main movie characters portrayed along with their grandiose work of art is never actually featured on a train but on a wall. For today’s large movie budgets and advanced technology, did they ever consider building sets or photo shopping pieces on to trains to possibly give the story some substance, realism and graffiti origin?
Airone Is there any talented writer that you always felt he/she would have got more success from the “public”?
Priz Any IRT old school “come back train cat” from the late 60’s to the early 80’s that is still “on point” doing his own thing without bending to today’s “mainstream writer’s” new definition of writing standards and superficial props. The unmentioned “old school” writers “that got up good” on those Broadway silver bullets were FRESCA 500 TSF, AHNK (female writer), SANDOZ, CHRIS 217 AW, SAHARRA, REVON NTA, HYPER RTW, EN, ENTER, SHA-MAN, (TSF/TS5) The Spanish Five crew (First Generation), POOF, EXPO, MON VSA, KM LM, CONAN, DARKSTAR RTW.
Airone If “We Roc” was your motto, did you all have any recognizable style element for the whole crew?
Priz Some of the identified elements I recall were the Krylon paper label colors we commonly used like Aqua Turquoise, Jungle Green, Pasta Aqua, Avocado and Hot Pink. The experimental variations of wild designs and letter basics were recognizable and emulated from crews like TMT (The Magnificent Team) and FBA (Far Beyond Anyone) and TC5 (The Cool Five). As individuals we all had different bends, arrows and curves and hand styles. I enjoyed painting fluent smooth tops then hard rounded off bottoms and vice versa which was similar to “bubble” or “Broadway elegant” style.
Airone If you could go back, is there something that you would like to change?
Priz I would have liked to have done more color burners using the vast letters of the alphabet, taken more flicks and gotten more “ups” in the insides. If I was able to bring my present knowledge to the past, I would probably have been very “dangerous in style.”
Airone Did Writing “compromise” your life or, as T-Kid says, “Graffiti save my life”?
Priz Graffiti gave me drive, stealth, inititive, focus and therapy which were a place to retreat to when I needed an escape from my routine life. My past girlfriends always stated that Graff was the only vice that I truly had. “I would have to admit that graffiti didn’t save my life, it paved it.”
Airone What did you like the most back in the days? And what do you like the most now?
Priz Back in tha days. Creating a new form of letter writing, expanding on a style that you’ve used for decades, immortalizing who you are; you’re existence in the immense universe, many consider that an art. Unfortunately, today it’s a dying art. The laws of civilized man are blinded to this disappearing dynamic letter lingo, yet we still have a voice that though you may not hear, you can still see even for just an instance then it’s gone like a fast moving express train.
“The Spanish Five” were very innovative with what little tools we acquired. We were definitely without a doubt, more complex, and creative and better orchestrated. Many of us were subway protégés, apprentices and mentors. We also motivated, networked on the lines and influenced one another with new and different variations of decorated letters, limited colors and design concepts on those silver blue striped and white surfaced subway cars without the assistance of videos, games, magazines, documentaries or how to books.
Today it still doesn’t discourage me if the train I “got up on” is taken out of service to be scrubbed down. This is why I still document my work on film. When I choose, I can switch between “piecing” and “bombing” with controlled ease. Today, I prefer doing eye catching simple readable color burners or big, bold, black “juicy” train tags on the many available clean spots inside and out and the predetermined “get loose” productions on legit walls so the public and my peers know “I’m still standing” and “Where ya been?” Your own style should be the utmost importance. Once again, all of this is essential to actually having a written as well as a visual dialogue that becomes your own “modus operandi.”
First and foremost, the New York subway graffiti movement has been defunct since 1989.The challenges, victories, downfalls and creative accomplishments on or above those lengths of tracks is now part of the past. The few writers and old timers that are presently still “getting up” in the exteriors and interiors of the silver R46’s, R42’s sardine cans and the raccoons R142’s, R143’s (computerized, black front subway cars) do it for flicks, nostalgia and bragging rights while some continue to remind their peers “they exist”, remember me!” or just for the undying love of it.
We continue to remain active, inconspicuous and stealthy throughout New York’s brightly lit metal fields and transit divisions while “the vandal squad” countermeasure and set up ambushes to try to apprehend and incarcerate us as well as many others on their lengthily “hit list”. I’ve become, more fluid and controlled with my letter forms which have evolved as I become more technical.
Airone How many people from the past days do you still stay in touch with?
Priz Many cats from the past are no longer with us, some are incacerated, drug addicted and the rest are driving toward a one way crime dead end street. I don’t and can’t associate with either one of the four.
Airone How would you describe your way of styling’? What’s the most important thing when you draw a sketch, or when you judge someone’s sketch?
Priz My style is influenced by the music that grew out of the mid 60’s to late 70’s. There was a lot of good music that I was exposed to while growing up in those days. Before the four elements of Hip Hop fully came together. For me there was Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Sly and the Family Stone, Average White Band, Grand Funk Rail Road, Santana, WAR and Tito Puente. I didn’t discriminate against any one type of music or artist. Those songs moved me lyrically and instrumentally while creating in and out of the 1 tunnels.
Then later came Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five “The Message” Spoonin Gee, “King Tim 3” by Fatback. Then you had joints like “Super Disco Breaks vol. 1 and 2,” “Funky Drummer” by James Brown, “Super Sporm” by Captain Sky, “Catch a Groove” by Juice and who could forget “Apache and “Let’s Dance to the Drummer’s Beat.” This also included my TSF (First Generation) brothers PESO, OSCAR/ DJ OC ROC aka RATE 5, TITO and PAPO of “The Fearless Four” “Problems of the World Today and Rockin It.”
I don’t like judging others writer’s sketches and black books but you can always pinpoint a “death style” and a letter form that is inconceivable to the mind and out of the predictable norm. It specifically catches your eye and makes you admit “yo this cat can burn.”
Airone The main trait of your nature?
Priz Perceptive, Persistent and Driven.
Airone Which is the best quality in a man? In a women?
Priz Honesty, Loyalty, Love and Friendship.
Airone Your worst fault?
Priz Direct, Compulsive and Insistant.
Airone The meeting that changed your life?
Priz A meeting with mortality.
Airone The happiest/worst day in your life?
Priz A first kiss/A broken heart.
Airone A Natural gift that you would like to receive?
Airone The best gift you ever received?
Priz Love in all it’s original forms.
Airone What do you hate most?
Airone If you could change your job…?
Priz I would go back to college and attain a P.H.D in Relaxing.
Airone Most admired historical personality?
Priz General George S. Patton.
Airone Who’s your hero (if you have one…)?
Priz No one in particular. There aren’t any without substantual flaws.
Airone Preferred book?
Priz “Salem’s Lot.”
Airone Preferred film?
Priz “Things to Do in Denver when You’re Dead.”
Airone What would you do with several million dollars?
Priz Invest, donate then go into business for myself.
Airone Preferred singer/group/music?
Priz “Whatever can blow my hair back.”
Airone Preferred food and drink? Are you a good cook?
Priz Spanish food and Sweet red wine. Yes, I definitely know my may around a kitchen.
Airone Preferred city?
Priz New York.
Airone Preferred artist?
Airone Preferred colors?
Priz Paper label Krylon flavors: Aqua Turquiose, Teal Green, Jungle Green, Pastel Green,Hot Pink,Plum and Baby Blue.
Airone The very first “Writing thing” you remember?
Priz First interior mini wide “hits” in the 1 tunnels.
Airone The very first piece you saw and told yourself: “wow”!
Priz I have two favorites:
A 2MAD CYA window down panel piece on the 2 line with a character in place of the “A” and a Flare aka Jean13 piece with a goggle character inside the school gym of “Holy Name School.”
Airone The piece of yours that you’ve been really excited or proud of.
Priz For me it had to be my first panel piece with all it’s flaws. This put “piecing” into perspective as well as into motion years later.
Airone Which places would you like to visit?
Priz Cold snowy places in Europe with stone fireplaces.
Airone What’s your trick with girls?
Priz A good sense of humor.
Airone Do you believe in God?
Priz Yes, I’ve witnessed many positive and negative things to believe that there isn’t a master planner behind it all.
Airone Do you have any bad “cop stories” while writing?
Priz I remember one close encounter in 1978 before I got down with the Spanish 5ive. An adrenaline junkie friend of mine aka as a “Tom Sawyer” coaxed me to venture out with him to the “Ghost Yard” with four cans of Rustoleum and a chiseled tipped, Marsh ink filled Magnum. We rode the last car of the uptown Broadway no.1 to 207th street. When we arrived, we staked out the surroundings from behind the fence.The yard was quiet on that summer afternoon with the exception of the orchestra of humming train motors and the smell of garbage emitting from the sanitation truck depot across the street. We crouched over and then went through a gapping hole in the fence situated near a parked set of R-17 subway cars. We climbed between the cars up the front,then slid the door open and quietly walked through the interiors of the train looking for “clean spots” to hit with paint and ink.
In those days the IRT division was infamous for the numerous saturation tags and minimal writing space. We pulled down advertisement posters in search of available spots. We hit ceilings, windows, doors, the motorman’s cabin and the circular air conditioner ceiling covers. Our tags were quick dripping scribbles and we had no available fat caps. The paint solvents and ink fumes made us so dizzy and nauseous that we were forced to slide a open a passenger window just to catch our breathes. I didn’t become aware of the two plainclothes TP (Transit Police Detectives aka 5-0’s) till I saw them stepping out from behind a transit work shed one set of trains over from us. They were two unshaven, longhaired middle-aged Caucasians wearing leather jackets, faded jeans and construction boots. They looked more like roadies from an Iron Maiden concert or whiteboy writers from riverdale then they did track workers (work bums) or MTA employees. They definitely stood out in this predominately Latin neighborhood. As I watched them from afar, one of them pulled out a rolled up newspaper from his back pants pocket and spoke into it, “Aw sh**t!” I became immediately convinced that they were undercover cops.
I now became very reluctant and then paranoid to leave the yard the same way we came in for fear that tower master had radioed in our position and the cops were laying in wait for us outside the fence. So we decided to put some distance between them and us in case this was their plan. We hopped down between the trains and quietly straddled between the set of parked trains in the direction of empty tracks that lead to a tunnel exiting the yard and hopefully to an emergency exit or a station. While Tom and I were climbing from one train and across to another, a half can of spray paint accidentally slid out of my jacket pocket and hit the side of the train with a loud “clunk” and then fell to the gravel beneath me with a heavy “crunch!” I heard the cops inaudible voices and quick footsteps moving in our direction.
I loosened my foothold from the train and dropped down to make a mad dash through the set of parked trains and over third rails in the direction of the open tracks with Tom in tow. I was concerned that we would be cut off before we reached the safety of the tunnel. At one point, I thought the transit cops had fired their revolvers at us repeatively because I heard several “pock” sounds above and over our heads. This caused me to really haul ass! We soon realized that the cops stopped giving chase when we reached the dark tunnel. The patting of our converse sneakers and heavy breathing echoed and multiplied off the dark crumbling plaster tunnel walls. I knew that there had to be an emergency escape hatch somewhere within the niches along the gleaming subway tracks. After must searching, we finally reached a faintly yellow painted doorway with the word EXIT above it as we heard a train rattle off in the distant. We climbed up the ladder towards the yellow metal grate and into the dark street above us. We quickly walked what seemed like twenty blocks till we reached a bus stop and waited in the shadows within the buildings doorway. Twenty minutes later, we boarded an arriving downtown bus home. Days later, I heard through the writers grapevine that the same train yard Tom and I had nearly been apprehended in had been consistantly ”hot” for several weeks. What had lead to all this was a physical altercation between a supervisor and a transit worker over a union dispute. The MTA officials soon contacted the Transit police to watch over the premises for fear that the disgruntled union members would retaliate by sabotaging MTA equipment. This however did continue throughout the 80’s Moronic Mayor Koch’s administration along with his laughable “white elephant subway car strategy.”
Airone Your next step in everydays’life and in your “art’s” life.
Priz Keep writing/piecing till I get tired or run out of paint and ink.
Airone Last words, if you would like to add something that you feel is missing…
Priz I would like to thank “Airone” from WildStylers and “LA ULTIMA” TSF for giving me the opportunity to express my opinions, thoughts and feelings as well as allowing me to reminisce about those weekend missions between the “brightly lit relay tracks”, “snowy morning meetups at the 125thstreet bench,” “gotta catch a flick Monday”, midnight blues, Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”, AC-DC’s “Back In Black” and the consistant drumming of those resting R12 silver Goliaths parked within a menagerie of long iron pillars at 145th street.