Yes. Yes, I have.
This is Quote Central, baby......
( Orchestral music plays )
Dispatcher: Brown and Walker, bring the train out from 1 6 track.
(Music) lf you're feeling all right, and you think you're on (Music)
(Music) Somebody let me know (Music)
(Music) Everybody in the place put a whistle in your face (Music)
(Music) Scream it out and say, yo! Hit it! (Music)
(Music) You don't stop the rocking rhythm that makes your fingers pop (Music)
(Music) l said hip-hop, now, thanks a lot (Music)
(Music) Come on, everybody, give me what you got (Music)
(Music) I'm going to tell you a little story about the Sugar Hill Gang (Music)
(Music) With the pow-pow boogie, the big bang-bang. (Music)
Narrator: They call themselves ''writers'' because that's what they do.
They write their names, among other things, everywhere--
names they've been given or have chosen for themselves.
Most of all, they write in and on subway trains
which carry their names from one end of the city to the other.
It's called, "bombing,"
and it has equally assertive counterparts
in rap music and break dancing.
(Music) Scream it out and say, "I am!" (Music)
(Music) I am! (Music)
- (Music) Somebody! (Music) - (Music) Somebody! (Music)
Graffiti writing in New York is a vocation.
It's traditions are handed down
from one youthful generation to the next.
To some, it's art. To most people, however,
it is a plague that never ends,
a symbol that we've lost control.
I'm Detective Bernie Jacobs.
I, in conjunction with my partner
Detective Jim McHugh, are the crime prevention coordinators
for the New York City Transit Police Department.
Graffiti, as the name itself,
is not an art.
Graffiti is the application
of a medium to a surface.
I will show you graffiti,
such as the letters on the end
of that car directly in back of me.
Is that an art form? I don't know.
I'm not an art critic-- critic,
but I can sure as hell tell you that that's a crime.
At the Grand Concourse 1 49th Street station in the Bronx,
graffiti writers gather
at what they call, ''The Writers' Bench. ''
SE3: They're saying that the kids run the subways,
that the system is out of control,
that 1 5- or 1 6-year-old kids are running the system
and that graffiti is the symbol of that.
No, I ain't running the system, I'm bombing the system.
They're trying to make it look like graffiti writers break windows and everything.
- It ain't like that. - You know who be doin' that?
Niggers who be high when they come from school are the ones.
And it's in the graffiti artists' favour
to be as cool, calm and collected
about putting his art on the train as he can.
You know, he wants to get in
and get out without even being noticed,
except for the work that's going to come out to the public,
you know, that Monday.
CES: Yeah, we gotta start to rock some straight letters.
- This one came out all right. - Yeah, that's the first.
That's about the third "Skeme" piece I did this year.
And that's the Tick-Tack I did in Gun Hill.
What did you do last night, man?
We did two whole cars. It was me, Dez and Mean 3.
And in the first car, in small letters, it said,
"All you see is"
and then big block silver letters, it said,
- ''Crime in the city, '' right? - It took up the whole car?
Yeah, it was a whole car, and it was a scroll-like,
you know, one of them scrolls?
In the next car it was a Skeme that had a cop character.
You know, a police nigger
with a stick, you know, and a badge--
Barbara Andadcio: Society should go down in the subway and lock them up,
because they don't have any business down there.
It is dangerous down there.
People that work down there 25 and 30 years...
But his contention is that he's immortal, I guess,
Like most 17 year olds are immortal, right?
It's a matter of getting a tag on each line and each division.
You know, it's called, going all-city.
People see your tags in Queens, Uptown, Downtown-- all over.
( laughing )
Really, I can only laugh to keep from crying,
because what happens is that he really--
I don't really think he knows how silly that sounds.
He's going all-city. I mean, to what end?
And when I ask him, he says to me,
"Well, just so people see it and they know who I am.''
Nobody knows who he is and so they see it--
No, it's not a matter of, ''So they know who I am.''
So they see it. And after they see it, so what?
It's a matter of bombing, knowing that I can do it.
Every time I get into a train, almost every day I see my name.
I say, ''Yeah, you know it. I was there, I bombed it.''
It's for me. It's not for nobody else to see.
l don't care-- l don't care about nobody else seeing it,
or the fact if they can read it or not.
It's for me and other graffiti writers, that we can read it.
These other people who don't write, they're excluded.
l don't care about them, you know?
They don't matter to me. It's for us.
Iz the Wiz: ''CC'' starboard bowl
Quik: Slow it down. Slow it down.
Min: What is it? You tell me.
- Nice and slow. - Iz: This is it!
This is it!
This is it!
( yelling )
Here we go! Here we go!
This is it! This is it!
Give me that towel! Give me that towel!
That ''Cathy'' came out nice. That y wasn't wack.
( Quik applauds )
( starts and stops music )
rapping and breaking became the prime expressions
of a new young people's subculture called ''hip-hop. ''
Graffiti is the written word.
There is the spoken word of rap music...
( rap music playing )
and then there's the acrobatic body language of dances like ''breaking. ''
Frosty Freeze: It started in the Bronx and part of Harlem.
It started in Freeze's house.
His mom used to break.
Don't be talking about my mother, now.
Just don't talk about my mother.
Boy, you're acting stupid now.
Breaking is when you don't have nothing to do,
everybody just standing around and getting high.
You make up your own freezes.
You got names for them.
- Like what? - Like the baby.
That's the baby.
A dead freeze, like this.
Crazy Legs: That's one of them old, ancient--
That ain't one of the old, 'cause l was the first one to do it.
How ancient can you get?
- The one when you go like this? - It's called the hump.
- The headache. - No, that's the headache.
And the other one is the hump.
When you got a headache, you go like that, you know?
When you hump, you go like that.
Yo, man, this place is bombed.
Iz: This is the transit system.
They don't like it to be defaced.
They will, at times, try and...
go to the extreme in trying to apprehend you.
The subway system is a very old one
and I've personally explored some tunnels
and I've found rooms with maps that were so old,
might have been like the first train line that New York City had.
Call it what you want,
it's just a lot of rock, a lot of steel,;
it's a tomb, a dungeon, under the city.
A lot of trains, a lot of fun.
A lot of art. Art that's going to be
a part of New York City's history forever.
Sach: Oh, wow! Check it out, a whole car!
Check it out, man! Sach, quick.
Look at that!
A lot of writers have been down here. You can tell.
Graffiti all over the place.
Years ago, it was pretty much a secret.
It was secretly done. People wondered and wished they could do it.
Now, most people do it.
When all the toys are home sleeping...
cuddling to their pillows.
They usually have curfews. Come down...
in the wee hours of the night after the workers done their job,
the sweepers did the sweeping they had to do...
l just take my time and be creative.
Dondi: l think it's something you can never recapture again
once you experience it.
You have, like, live third rails,
and like, crazy cops who come and chase you out.
Even the smell you get when you first smell trains
in a yard, it's like...
it's a good smell to, like,
a dedicated graffiti writer, l guess.
When you're first against a train,
everything seems so big, like...
wow! It's like you're in a yard of metal giants.
l mean, everything is so hard,
and so steel, you're just there.
You're like a little dude in the midst of all this metal,
and like, you're here to produce something.
Well, you're here to try to produce something.
Well, I've seen comparable graffiti.
Not necessarily these particular ones.
Each of these costs us a million dollars, in a sense,
because others went out and tried to copy.
It isn't worth it.
Well, it is one of the quality-of-life offences.
And you can't just take one of those quality-of-life offences;
it's like three-card-monte
and pick pocketing and shoplifting
and graffiti defacing our public and private walls.
They're all in the same area of destroying our lifestyle
and making it difficult to enjoy life.
And l think it has to be responded to.
So I've told you the response that l think a repeater,
three-time repeater, should get would be five days in jail.
Now, obviously, a murderer,
if you believe in the death penalty as I do,
you want to have the option of executing a murderer.
You wouldn't do that to a graffiti writer.
Man: l saw you at work over here
and l just want to find out what you're filming.
Interviewer: We're making a film on subway graffiti in New York.
Why did you take this particular neighbourhood here?
Is there more graffiti here than other places?
l hope not.
We're here because one of the best
graffiti writers lives around here.
He writes ''Seen. ''
- What is it? - S-E-E-N.
( ''The Wanderer'' plays )
- That's his name? - Yes, that's what he writes.
- Or is it a nom de plume? - It is a nom de plume.
l see. You wouldn't tell me his real name?
- No. - Why not?
Would he get in trouble, or wouldn't he be glorified by it?
(Music) Oh, I'm the type of guy who'll never settle down (Music)
(Music) Where pretty girls are, well, you know that I'm around (Music)
(Music) l kiss 'em and l love 'em (Music)
(Music) 'Cause to me they're all the same (Music)
(Music) l hug 'em and l squeeze 'em (Music)
(Music) They don't even know my name (Music)
(Music) Yeah, I'm a wanderer (Music)
(Music) Yeah, I'm a wanderer (Music)
(Music) l roam around, around, around, around (Music)
- Yeah, go ahead and go -
( saxophone solo plays )
(Music) 'Cause I'm a wanderer (Music)
(Music) Yeah, I'm a wanderer (Music)
(Music) l roam around, around, around, around, around (Music)
(Music) 'Cause I'm a wanderer (Music)
(Music) Yeah, I'm a wanderer. (Music)
Seen: All right, there's about four numerous reasons why...
l ain't painting right now.
To make a long story short,
I'm on what they call a six-month probation.
l call it a six-month vacation, never mind probation.
Now they got a graffiti squad on this line,
which there really was never, really.
Since they come on this line, it's been harder to piece.
It ain't like the old days when the train pulled into the yard on a Friday night,
that train wouldn't pull out until Monday morning.
Now, when you go to piece a train,
you put an outline on the train and you can say goodbye,
the train pulls out 1 0 minutes later.
Or, if you're ready to put an outline,
you gotta chase the train down the track to put an outline on the piece.
It just ain't the same anymore. They don't know what they're doing no more.
Late, as usual.
But I'm here. l show up, though.
l show up. Let me see.
Well, why don't you do this one on that side of the wall?
- You know what I'm saying? - These two?
- No. This one-- - It's going to be crowded.
We're going to have plenty of room.
- The bottom of the piece? - The bottom of the piece, l say, about here.
''The United Artists'' will go a little bit below the top,
'cause you're going to have it on a wave. Big letters.
l want you to start from about here. Maybe even here.
Start it from here. Listen to me. From here.
You understand what I'm saying to you?
( paint spraying )
l still think it's too big.
Now, your first outline is needed, always needed.
This way you know what you're filling in.
No matter how good you are, you can't just go on in
and just start filling in-- in the air.
You've got to have your first outline.
Once your first outline is done, then your fill-in,
that takes away your first outline.
You don't need your first because now you got your fill-in.
From your fill-in, you put your colors and then your 3-D.
lf you want background, you put your cloud or whatever.
How's this, Nick? I'm throwing a few connections here.
I'm going to make it look like yours.
What do you think? I'll make a few bits.
All right. Huh?
Bits. Bits. l don't know. Little doodads here and there.
Yeah, now it's shaping up.
l have about a hundred outlines, but I've shaped it up.
Nicky, Nicky, come on!
You gonna save me room or what?
l didn't do that to yours. Get out of there! Go on!
Woman: He's making a mess in this house.
He cannot sit down without,
you know, doing graffiti on something.
- All right-- - He really can't.
When you're talking on the phone,
you don't doodle on the paper?
- l don't doodle. - Yes, you do.
- l do not doodle. - You do doodle on the paper.
l just write my name while I'm talking on the phone. What's that?
I'm just writing something.
You're telling me that you write your name while you're talking on the phone.
In the meantime, you have destroyed your room.
- You have destroyed your room. - Testing out my paints.
You have no respect for anything.
Don't tell me about testing out your paints.
Ain't we putting red, yellow, or red, orange and yellow here?
No, the brown's got to be brown.
l ain't putting no browns there. Ain't no way.
Red, orange and yellow. You want it to stand out.
The whole thing. Around the whole works-- red, orange, yellow.
Remember how l did the ''Mad Seen'' with the wall
and the color went all around the thing?
The ''Mad Seen,'' the one on the 5s?
With the walls all falling down. The one l did myself.
- No. - All right.
Let me explain.
Yellow, orange and a little bit of red--
yellow and orange around the whole thing and then,
we'll put browns and beiges in the 3-D. Believe me.
I'll show you. Not around the fade.
Fade into the yellow, but a trim over it--
a cheap trim. I'll show you after.
I'll show you after. All right?
I'll never steer you wrong, Nick.
Rustoleum, Krylon, Wet-look,
Epoxy, Red Devil...
When you hold a can of Rustoleum in your hand,
it's like holding three other shit brands in your hand.
It lasts, it covers,
and it's not aerosol like Krylon.
It just comes out in a mist. This comes out like paint.
Mayor Koch: The schools have courses in art.
How about the mothers and fathers of this city
saying to the kids, ''That's the wrong thing to do''?
You listen to them talk, they sound ridiculous.
He's king of the yakkety-yak yard.
Who died and left him king of any yard?
He owns nothing in the subway, you know?
( laughs )
l love robbing paint.
l know, you know, everybody knows how you rob it.
He gets me souped up and sometimes I'll go and get
15 cans at a time, you know.
Stuffing it in your coat, in your shirt,
down the back of your pants. It's mainly with the big coat
and like 15 cans,
you figure it out, it's like over $50.
You're going into stores--
we could go one day and get 100 cans at a time.
It's easy. For me, anyway.
It's harder on black kids
or Spanish kids, 'cause everybody thinks
a graffiti writer is black and Puerto Rican,
and that's, you know, it's wrong.
A lot of white people are writin'.
What you've got is a whole miserable subculture.
Zephyr: l was raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
l went to a sort of strict prep school in the Bronx, right?
Riverdale Country School.
In attending that school,
l had to walk past the 1 yard
on 242nd Street every day.
From where l stood, I'd watch the trains pull in and out.
l thought, ''How could a human being
have his name on every car?''
You know, that these guys
must either live in there, be allowed to live in there,
or just be...
allowed to go off like that, right?
They're trespassing it; they're beating the system;
they're getting their names up, right?
We've drenched the city with our names, right?
We're trying our damndest.
( lengthy instrumental intro )
(Music) Pump, pump, pump me up (Music)
(Music) Like the man with the super ''S'' on his cape (Music)
(Music) Jump through the pump and do great (Music)
(Music) I'm DJ Rockin' and l can pass the test (Music)
(Music) Get down rappers from east to west (Music)
(Music) This party, please, that party, please (Music)
(Music) I'll pump them with the greatest of ease (Music)
(Music) This is DJ Rockin' with the master beat (Music)
(Music) With the boogie and the sound that moves the feet (Music)
- - Somebody say-- - - Get up! Get up!
- - Somebody say-- - - Get up! Get up!
(Music) You party good you're going down (Music)
(Music) You compliment this funky sound (Music)
(Music) Pump-pump-pump-pump me up! (Music)
a freshly painted...
and we spent about three hours in it.
- That's impossible. - No, it's not.
We were tagging with the Units,
then the ''Minis,'' then the Marvies,
then the ''Pilots,'' then the Flo-pens
and we were doing clouds
around the tags and 3-Ds on the tags--
for the Double-Rs, to have a clean car back then,
it was... we just had an orgasm.
(Music) Pump-pump-pump me up! (Music)
Narrator: 1 97 0--
the idea of getting your name up,
not just in your neighbourhood, but everywhere,
was invented by a kid named Taki,
who lived on 1 83rd Street in Washington Heights.
Taki 1 83.
As soon as everybody understood that it was a name,
they realized that Taki was famous.
Wasp: Taki 1 83 was the first guy.
Even though they say Julio 204 started before him.
But he was the one who made it famous.
Then, after him, in them times, it was Papo 184.
Then came out Junior 1 61,
Cay 1 61, they were bombing, too.
Stitch came out around 1 97 1.
He was all-city, too.
Barbara, Eva 62, they were girls.
Everybody was writing.
That was what everybody was talking in them days.
- - Somebody say-- - - Get up! Get up!
- - Somebody say... - - Get up! Get up!
l got into graffiti, just like riding the trains, when l was younger.
You know, looking at the old writers' shit, you know?
A lot of new writers around,
you talk to them about a lot of old writers,
they don't know what you're talking about.
l started in 1973 or 197 4,
of initial bombing,
very important years of graffiti bombing.
lf it wasn't for those years,
l don't think we would get where we are today.
That was the life back then. That was happening.
Everybody was pioneering back then.
That's when all your developing happened-- your bubble letters,
all that kind of stuff. Your wild styles.
(Music) Pump-pump-pump-pump me up! (Music)
Crash: The wild styles.
Noc: You don't have to do straight letters to have style.
Anything that comes in your imagination
adds onto your own individual style.
Everybody's got their own arrow.
l like that, though.
Various arrow some guys have on-the-letter arrow--
that was like connection.
Some people had different arrows
just going right through their pieces.
- The funk is here so you can go groove -
- We want to make your body move -
(Music) Pump-pump-pump-pump me up! (Music)
Colors, designs, style, technical advanced...
- Get loose. - Get loose.
And when they see you got a vicious style,
they be wanting to get loose about it,
and that's what keep it going.
- That's what sparks graffiti. - Keep sparkin' it.
You know, l know a lot of good writers,
and all the writers that l knew,
they used to get up, so they used to tell me,
''Trap, why don't you get up?''
And l started getting up with them,
we started doing pieces.
Then l met Dez--
One day, l came to the Bench and l seen him sitting there,
looking at the pieces.
You could tell a writer, you know?
You go to the Bench and you see him
as the trains go by, he be going like this,
you know, he have ink stains on his clothes.
He gave me outlines and stuff to practice--
l can't let him go for at least five minutes,
or he'll destroy the piece.
You know? l turn around,
''Trap, what you doing? l want to do my own piece.''
l said, ''Yeah, but, you know, follow the outline.''
What's up, man?
You know it. Chillin', man!
Slick Rick! Slick Rick!
And the Acey Base!
For about two and a half years l was upstate
from like the beginning of 1 97 0 to '72.
What's up? Hey, what's up?
When l came home, l ain't know nothing about
no writing, no graffiti, 'cause l wasn't about it.
All right, you know it.
What's up, man?
So, when l got home, l seen writing on the train.
l said, ''What's this stuff here?
Those niggers doing their names big.''
Said, ''Let me do one at least.''
'Cause l was down with art already.
And l did me a piece for people in general
to get to know who l am.
l said, ''Oh, that looks all right.
I'ma go every Sunday now.''
Next thing l know, l started getting better and better.
And as l realized, l knew to get better, l said, ''Oh, man,
I'm going to bring out the computer rock.''
And then that's when l really got loose,
'cause then niggers was saying, ''Yo, who's that guy?''
Then one day, these news reporters people was on train station--
we was going by and we seen them.
We seen them filming our whole car.
We went up to them, and l remember, l said,
''Who you think probably done that right there?''
Just to be curious to see what they'd say.
And they say, ''l don't know, but whoever done it,
that's remarkable talent.
l ain't never seen nothing like this before. ''
l said, ''lf l told you l did it, would you believe me?''
He say, ''l don't know. l can't say,
but l believe so, 'cause you don't know
what you can believe these days.''
l said, ''l did.'' And then he said,
''l don't believe that. You only got one arm.''
l said, ''That don't mean nothing.
l do things that people don't realize l can do with this.
Being that I'm like this, you know?''
And then he said, ''l hear you there, sonny.''
And l say, ''l ain't no sonny.
l just was asking you a question, sir,
that's all l wanted to know, to see your feelings about it.''
( whistling )
- Do you want to dance? -
You getting some candy?
Ain't getting nothing?
Gimme some candy, man. Ain't got no candy?
Hey, Gigolo! Whatcha know?
Where that nigger at?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, l can dig it.
We goin' on the other side, right?
- What happpenin'? - The Beatmaster.
- Do you want to dance? -
- Are you willing to take a chance? -
- Look at that eye. - Word.
Look at that eagle. Word.
l said look at that eye.
You know where he got that from, right?
From Vaughn Bode and who? Frank Frazetta!
The Beat master.
The letters is breakin' out.
''The epic adventures of a new kind of hero.''
That's what we're going to be. The extraterrestrial brothers.
You know what I'm saying? Extra terrest!
Knowing we the best. Know what I'm sayin'?
( train whistle blowing )
- It's a Dezzy Dez and a Kasey Kase -
- And D-5, we're going to rock the place -
- And if you're based in the place -
- You will get disgraced, because we are the crew -
- That we got the place -
- Rock-sock-it, rock-it-in-a-pocket -
- A sock-sock-it, rock-it-in-a-pocket -
- l say, pushed that girl in front of the train -
- Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again -
- Stabbed that man right in his heart -
- Gave him a transplant for a brand new start -
- Can't cut through the park -
(Music) 'Cause it's crazy after dark (Music)
(Music) Keep my hand on my gun, they got me on the run (Music)
(Music) l feel like a outlaw broke my last glass jaw (Music)
(Music) Hear them say, ''You want some more?'' Living on a seesaw (Music)
(Music) Broken glass everywhere, people pissing on the stairs (Music)
(Music) You know, they just don't care, l can't take the smell (Music)
(Music) Can't take the noise, got no money to move out, l guess l got no choice (Music)
(Music) Rats in the front room, roaches in the back (Music)
(Music) Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat (Music)
(Music) l tried to get away but l couldn't get far (Music)
(Music) 'Cause a man with a tow-truck repossessed my car (Music)
(Music) Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge (Music)
(Music) I'm trying not to lose my head (Music)
- Ha-ha-ha! -
Kase: Well, l know one thing about graffiti, man.
Niggers say it played out, niggers say this, niggers say that.
But, it's going to keep going on.
'Cause l might be old and quit, but you coming up,
younger niggers is coming up, it's going to keep going and keep going, you know?
'Cause you going to be a king soon, too, you know?
Dez: He's like a son to me, in a way, you know.
l look out for him and he looks out for me.
l won't let nothing happen to him, you know?
He won't let nothing happen to me if he could help it.
l know for his age,
he's 1 4 now,
and I'm 16.
About the time he get my age,
he be one of the best people out.
lf he continues to go on in the years,
he can be another Picasso.
( laughs )
(Music) Get funky in the place (Music)
(Music) Get funky in the place (Music)
(Music) Life ain't no more a joke, it's a serious thing (Music)
(Music) When you're dealing with the answers that you can't explain (Music)
(Music) It's the funky beat and there's the funky beat (Music)
(Music) And there's the funk, the funk and the funky beat (Music)
(Music) E-yah (Music)
(Music) Like a little jelly bean I'm a sweet like a candy cane (Music)
(Music) l make you get down this is number one stain (Music)
(Music) On the train just groovin' like a seesaw (Music)
(Music) They're a-breakin' up, yeah, yeah... (Music)
Narrator: The idea of style and competing
for the best style is the key to all forms of rocking.
(Music) He can own the freak a-like a little deak-deak (Music)
(Music) You're rockin' on (Music)
With the rap M.C., it's rocking the mike...
for the B-boys, it's rocking your body in break dancing.
Or for writers, rocking the city with your name on a train.
(Music) Get funky in the place (Music)
(Music) Get funky in the place... (Music)
( boombox playing )
Lennie Len: Right now, he's doing the footwork
when original breaking came out.
There he's doing the baby and the turtle.
- The back bridge. - Yeah.
He did the head spin and then just went up.
l got a certain backspin that l made up.
Want me to show you it?
l started off doing like this...
and landing like that.
So, then, l just...
decided not to do the freeze and keep on spinning.
So it goes like this.
l put my arm right here and it's easy.
And l push my arm and swing my left leg--
my right leg-- both of 'em around.
Other crews, they're not as good as us,
'cause we have the breaking form.
- Crazy Legs: Original style. - Yeah, original style.
Other crews like ''Dynamic Rockers,''
- they bite, usually-- - Yeah, they bite!
Let me tell you about these people, Dynamic Rockers.
One-two-one. Party people in the place!
Rock Steady against Dynamic Rockers!
Rock on till the break of dawn!
Crazy Legs in the housel
Crazy Legs: This goes back...
when l used to go to the roller-skating rink,
United Skates of America in Queens, right?
l used to go over there to break against all of them and take them all out.
You know, burn 'em, make 'em look stupid.
And they had no kind of style at all.
They was beginners.
l been breaking way before them.
MC: (Music) A-rock-on the kid the Crazy Legs... (Music)
Frosty Freeze: We started doing better routines than they were.
They got to a point where they got mad at us
because we was taking them out with our moves.
Then, that started getting out of hand,
because they had the crowd and we didn't.
MC: Yo! Whoever ain't in Rock Steady or Dynamic,
get behind the barriers!
Yo! Both rockin' crews, can you please listen?
Nobody's listening to me.
We're not going to start until you move.
Rockers, get ready.
( music playing )
Frosty Freeze: Up-rock is just like humiliating.
Doing things in peoples' faces and all that.
And down-rocking, as you know,
is trying to see who can compete against whose moves on the floor.
MC rapping: (Music) l was lookin' out on the 33rd floor (Music)
(Music) All of the sudden, there was a knock on my door (Music)
(Music) It was ''Son of Sam'' with a .44 (Music)
(Music) He blew a hole straight through my door (Music)
(Music) So l went to the back to get the gun (Music)
(Music) l was out two bullets, had only one (Music)
(Music) l shoot the shit, l shot him in his eye (Music)
(Music) Never saw a white man jump so high. (Music)
MC: So who won the rocking contest?
( crowd chants ) Rock Steady! Rock Steady!
You all know who took them out right?
Put it this way, we're out of sight and they bite.
They bit my turtle into a hop--
Oh, man. l could've cried when l seen that.
You know, that faggot that was flying around there
with his funny legs and shit?
- He's in gymnastics. - So what? So what?
That's not even breaking. That's all fairy flying.
l call that fairy flying.
MC: Who goes for Rock Steady?
( crowd cheering )
The Dynamic Rockers?
( heightened cheering )
Hold it. Hold it down.
It was a tie. It was a tie.
(Music) Ahh...yes...well (Music)
(Music) Are we back for more? (Music)
(Music) They're here (Music)
- (Music) D-L-B (Music) - (Music) Ha-ha-ha-ha (Music)
- - Tito! - - (Music) Ha-ha-ha-ha (Music)
- (Music) Mike Cee (Music) - (Music) Hey girl! Hey girl! (Music)
- (Music) Peso! (Music) - (Music) D-L-Bl (Music)
(Music) Rockin' it, rockin' it yes, he is rockin' it (Music)
(Music) Tito is rockin' it yes, he is rockin' it (Music)
(Music) Mike Cee, yes, he is rockin' it (Music)
(Music) Peso, rockin' it yes, he is rockin' it (Music)
(Music) We're all rockin' it, you should be rockin' it (Music)
(Music) Rockin' it, rockin' it. (Music)
Woman: How do you fill up a train like that?
You can't do it overnight.
Do you wait for the same train
coming back into the same station?
No, you get the parked train, and you just---
- Oh, you mean you go to the subway yard. - Yeah.
Does your mother wonder why you come home with that all over your face?
No, she knows l write the graffiti.
l told her, l say I'm going up on the trains.
I'm gonna go write some graffiti.
- Does she worry you might get caught? - Yeah.
She says ''lf the cops call, don't come running to me.''
l never realized it meant so much to them.
l just thought they were writing...
just writing anything.
But l guess it has a deep meaning.
- Huh? - What kind of deep meaning?
Well, like he said...
he's writing his girlfriends' name.
He's Dust, whatever that means.
What is Dust supposed to mean?
It's just a name. It's a word, you know.
See, it's a game.
They give you a name, and they say,
''Here, take this name and do something with it.''
Like, he got the name Seen.
He can walk around, just say, ''My name is Seen,''
and say, ''Yeah, l seen that there. l seen it there.''
It's a name. It's just like...
I'll give you a name and you say,
''How big could you get this name up? How high?''
( train noise )
Trains are routinely washed,
but because of the graffiti problem,
we have to use a graffiti removal solution,
which, at best, is detrimental
to the physical make-up of the train itself.
This is what I'm assigned.
The car wash.
8:00 a.m., Jamaica Yard. Hold your nose.
Detective Jacobs: We spend a lot of money
replacing broken and damaged side windows.
We cannot use...
acrylic plastic windows in the train,
because the same graffiti removal solution
fogs the windows.
Richard Ravitch: The problem often is,
that often it doesn't produce a sparkling clean car,
but rather, a sort of vomitous color,
which some of the graffiti artists argue
is less attractive than what they consider to be their artwork.
So, it's altogether sort of an unsatisfactory result.
Motorman: Watch out. You might get wet now.
Watch your shoes.
It's not the best smelling stuff,
but so far, it hasn't hurt me.
You know, it hasn't bothered me.
Some fellows, it bothers.
( motorman coughs )
That's my money that's being diverted
from providing me with good,
safe, secure, rapid transit.
Look at this junk. Graffiti doesn't make your life better;
it just makes your neighbourhood look worse.
You know how l made something out of my life?
- By using my hands. - But only in the ring.
Don't use them to mess up the walls with graffiti.
I've practiced all my life to make moves like that.
And l worked every day to be a singer.
So, if you really want to make something out of your life,
- Use your head. - Or your voice.
But don't waste your time making a mess.
Harold Levine: Make your mark in society, not on society.
This happens to be a poster that is...
the first in a series.
It's going to be used in New York City's subways and buses,
where we've used Hector Camacho who's a boxer,
North American lightweight champ,
and Alex Ramos, boxer, leading middleweight contender.
''Take it from the champs,
graffiti is for chumps.
Make your mark in society, not on society.''
It's really very clever.
''Put your mark on society,
in doing something in society.''
I've screwed it up a little bit,
but, nevertheless, you got the message.
Reporter: Realistically, do you think it will work?
You say realistically, I'm hopeful that it will work.
Nobody thought that we would be as successful as we were
in the campaign against the drought and water conservation;
nevertheless, that worked.
I'm hopeful we will have equal success here.
Time will tell.
Mr. Mayor, are those posters graffiti-proof?
Time will tell.
( laughter )
What you doing, B? Fresh?
- It's fresh. - One of my little signature series.
Word. Lord, you getting fresh on a nigger, man.
That nigger's still got the touch, boy.
Butchy-butch, with the tiger stylez
l see you did the ''Kase'' with a ''C'' this time.
Yeah, he know who l am, though, anyway.
The king of what? The king of style.
Sure, l got styles already that's more complex
that nobody know about.
l mean, super-duty tough work.
See, this is just semi-like, what l would call it.
But, if l really get into it and start camouflaging it,
l don't think you even be able to read it.
- Don't go nowhere... -
Throw a little semi thing here.
It wasn't no severely bad accident,
just that l got burnt by wires, that's all.
A long time ago. Electrical wires.
And then they rushed me to the hospital
and they just had to amputate,
'cause my tissues and muscles was burnt bad.
And l was young, l was playing and l wasn't,
you know, too sure-- l knew what l was doing,
but l just didn't know should l grab the wire or not,
l don't know if l grabbed it or not,
but l know l just, you know, got hurt.
'Cause it had knocked me out, so l didn't remember.
But that don't mean nothing in general.
It's just, that was a bad thing to happen at the time.
But that's why people are amazed about me now,
'cause of going through that, and then dealing with what I'm dealing with,
even though it's common littery bull-crap in a way.
People look at a person, ''What, you write on trains?
Oh, you vandalism,'' and all that.
Yeah, l vandalism. All right.
But still, in general, l know what I'm doing.
l did something to make your eyes open up, right?
So why are you talking about it for?
( slow Latin funk music playing )
Cap: From here up...
nobody goes but me.
It's my lay-ups. Definitely.
'Cause this is a beautiful spot to do pieces on.
Ain't hardly no writers know about this place.
Niggers know. Believe it.
Niggers know. Heh-heh-heh.
Yo. Here. Take the cans.
l am not a graffiti artist.
I'm a graffiti bomber.
There's two styles of graffiti that are trying to,
you know, co-exist with each other.
But it ain't gonna work like that.
Blood wars, buddy. Blood wars.
Min: That's why graffiti's ruined.
That Cap ruined the 2s and 5s.
the 2s and 5s used to go to the 2 yard.
It would be a masterpiece art gallery of burners
from all these dudes from the Bronx and Brooklyn
with def wild styles.
Now you go to the 2 yard, it's all destroyed.
This guy named Cap with his Lucille Ball hairdo
is going over all your burners.
Hey, what's up, Shy?
I've seen your new pieces on the 2s and 5s.
They went over that.
- That Shy-Min. - Yeah, l know.
- Cap. - Cap.
l wouldn't have minded if he would've went over one of my old cars,
but that was fresh. It was a brand new burner.
It only ran for two days, you know?
He didn't give it a chance to run on the line.
Just like... pow!
They went over it, and now l feel...
that hurt me, you know?
and Seen was with him, and PJ,
and then l called Seen up and he denied it.
l can't afford to get involved.
There's a war going on, as you should know...
PJ and Cap--
He just crossed me out anyway.
l don't know why.
Brand new car, too, he wasted.
Let's say this, l stand behind them,
if they had a good cause for the situation.
as far as it is now...
they have no cause behind it.
They're just doing it for the hell of it...
which that ain't me, because l wouldn't want people to go over my pieces,
so l wouldn't go over them.
Shy: He's disrespecting the line,
which no other guy was doing that years ago.
All he does is silver throw-ups.
You got fresh colored pieces, full top-to-bottoms.
And he'll just laugh at you. ''It's just a throw-up.
I've got a million of 'em running.''
He's a jealous toy, that's all, 'cause he can't do a burner.
- He can't do shit. - He can't even do a straight letter.
- He went over this? - Yeah.
He did a Cap up over me and a MPC over this,
and wrote war next to Fat Albert.
You can't never make up for that.
That's never forgive action.
lf you're a toy, you gotta be stopped.
This guy's a toy and he's big
and he's still gotta be stopped.
Gotta break his arms.
But how come we waited all this long?
How come there's so many writers that he went over
and we're not in his neighbourhood with crews?
Because nobody wants to get united.
We gotta get together, bro'.
Everybody that says, ''We're gonna get down,'' right?
But nobody comes, man.
What we gotta do is meet everybody
on 1 49th Street at the Bench. At the Grand Concourse.
We should forget our bullshit worries that we got with each other,
unite and get this toy, 'cause he's dogging everybody...
( echoes ) ...everybody.
Cap, l don't know, some big white boy.
l don't know him, l don't want to know him.
Yeah, that's why he's doing.
He's trying to get attention and revenge,
'cause people go over his throw-ups. People who do burners--
you see a throw-up, you're going to go over it.
Who thinks Cap's throw-ups are worth being on a train?
( together ) Nobody!
- Pistol: What you write, bro'? - l write Mare, man.
Pistol: Mear, M-E-A-R?
- M-A-R-E, Mar? - Yeah.
Mar is M-A-R.
But no, seriously, you gotta kill them dudes for doing that.
Who's Cap? Cap is right here?
( together ) No!
Cap: People don't know what l look like until now.
Till they start going to the movies.
They're going to see my face. Big deal.
Anybody tries to screw around with me and my friends,
l go over everything they got forever.
Everybody, from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Everybody.
And that's the way it is.
Especially with me. The object is more.
Not the biggest and the beautifullest, but more.
It's like a little piece on every car...
is what counts.
Not one whole car on every
30 cars that goes by.
Once you start going over someone, you can't stop.
So, I'm gonna live.
Dust started pulling some shit with me.
I'm telling you,
he's lucky we didn't catch him by that wall.
lf we would've been there, even if you was shooting the movie,
it would've just been boom-boom-boom!
And that's the way it would've went.
It's gonna get crossed off, l guarantee, by tomorrow,
once they find out it's here.
Help me with the 3-D, Nicky. Come on.
The piece has got a lot of colors to go in there yet.
But with the color, we could do that with no problem.
l could do it before it gets dark.
No problem. Colors, colors, colors!
Cap: That was a beautiful wall.
l really liked that.
People like that, they deserve getting
everything they got crossed out...
Man: For the past 20 years,
there really hasn't been anything hot.
There have been no movements since Pop Art.
Any retailer, and let's face it,
a gallery is indeed a retailer,
they're always looking for something hot that they can merchandise
and sell to the public.
It's almost as though
these pieces were peeled off the train and put onto canvas,
so you have the same energy, you have the same coloring,
you have the same intensity and the same big piece
that you would see on a train.
The real subway graffiti that's done on the trains
is slowly dying out, and this is taking its place.
The lifespan of an average piece today
only lasts a few months.
This is something that could last a lifetime.
Woman: ''Blondie'' seems to be an important figure within
the graffiti art style.
Cain has used her in a very photographic way.
Noc, shows her...
I'm a colorist myself. I'm an artist.
And it's exciting.
The color is exciting, the movement is exciting.
It combines all kinds of movement.
Man: We had ABC-TV.
We had CBS here tonight.
We're going to be on the news tonight at eleven.
National Public Radio.
Do it up, baby.
l love it.
I'm Ron Powers. I'm a reporter with the Associated Press.
- How long would it take you to do something like this? - On a train?
Depends on what your schedule is.
l can't let my mother know that I'm going to the trains,
so l have to be back early.
Woman: But l did meet a guy here
who's an art critic from the news,
and he says he gets so goddamn mad
every time he sees this,
that he walked up to one of the artist
at the show tonight and said,
''How would you feel if l took a can
and wrote on your graffiti?''
And the artist said to him, ''l kill you, man.''
As an investment,
l feel so strongly that
if you get in on the bottom of anything,
it's got to be a good investment.
This is definitely going someplace.
But l think that graffiti on the subway cars
were a symbol of New York
for foreign people,
especially French people.
And l think it's a little sad
if graffiti is going to be only
on canvas, and not anymore on trains.
Forget about the trains.
Who wants to be dirty and hot at the same time?
That's right. I'm into making money.
It feels good.
You go to school and the teacher says,
''It's not worth anything.
You don't make any money from graffiti.''
And you tell them, ''When was the last time
you made $2,000 in a month, huh?''
And you go, ''Okay, now you failed.''
All right, the thought has crossed my mind,
if something should happen, I'll go along with it,
but if it doesn't, it's no thing to me,
because that's not what I'm out here for.
I'm out here to bomb, period. That's what l started for.
l didn't start writing to go Paris.
l didn't start writing to do canvases.
l started writing to bomb. To destroy all lines.
- That's what I'm doing. - How long do you think you'll do it?
Till I'm finished.
Now that you've heard that, you understand what I'm saying to you
when l say l don't understand him.
He's out there to bomb, destroy all lines.
What have the lines ever done to him?
They made me pay 75c.
- When do you pay 75c? - Never but--
l don't even know what you're talking about.
( cheering, music playing )
We're on the Staten Island Ferry.
This is the New York Harbor.
This is to signify we're leaving New York
with this package of artists
to go out and play at places
where, individually, they never would play.
It will be in Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Madison,
Minneapolis, Iowa City, Detroit and Toronto.
Being professional, what does that mean?
Getting paid for what you do. Professional.
Frosty Freeze: Having your own style.
Skippy Dee: Doing your own moves.
Don't let nobody else bite your moves.
Doing it for a long time. Being the best.
- (Music) Special-K (Music) - (Music) Sunshine (Music)
(Music) Kool Mo-Dee (Music)
(Music) All time feel the heartbeat (Music)
(Music) Feel the heartbeat we're the treacherous three (Music)
(Music) We got a new heartbeat (Music)
(Music) Get loose, get loose Mo-Dee get loose (Music)
(Music) Just one heartbeat show 'em you got juice (Music)
- (Music) Have fun (Music) - (Music) Have fun (Music)
- (Music) Have fun (Music) - (Music) Ha-ha-have fun (Music)
(Music) Party people got a brand new treat (Music)
(Music) Off the well known tune we call heartbeat (Music)
(Music) But we jazzed it up and we broke it down (Music)
(Music) And came out with a brand new funky sound (Music)
(Music) Now, l came here to get this straight (Music)
(Music) Our heartbeat's not on a normal break (Music)
(Music) 'Cause when we get excited our adrenaline flows (Music)
(Music) And this is the way our heartbeat goes (Music)
(Music) A hop-skip-and-a-jump but l play no bump (Music)
(Music) Bump-bump-bump-bump bumpety-bump (Music)
(Music) It's a brand new treat and it sounds so sweet (Music)
(Music) The rapping, the music our new heartbeat (Music)
(Music) So feel the heartbeat, so feel the heartbeat (Music)
(Music) We're the treacherous three, we got a new heartbeat (Music)
(Music) Hah! (Music)
Consider us the professionals.
Woman: l think it's about time the politicians came down
and looked and saw what is on these trains.
It is just awful.
It shouldn't be that way.
It should be cleaned, and the ones that are caught,
they should clean it-- the ones they catch doing that.
What's the sense of paying 75c
when you have to ride graffiti trains, you know?
It gives a terrible impression of the city.
And if you think the outside is bad--
I've been riding them, like l say, for 40 years--
the inside is just unbelievable.
It's a violation of public property.
l think it's disgusting.
They should get somebody to clean up the place.
We move three and a half million people a day.
They have rights, too.
( train screeching to stop )
The people see the outside of the cars
when the trains are going-- pull into the station,
or when they're passing on the express track.
And then it's generally a blur.
But l don't think the public finds that nearly
as intrusive and ugly
as they do the inside graffiti.
- He hates the insides. - Yeah, he hates the insides.
He said if there's any possible way
of we giving him some kind
of suggestion of how to get rid of the inside,
he said there might be a chance of "negotiating"
with the outside.
- "Negogiading?" - Something like that.
l met with a group of them one day.
More out of intellectual curiosity
as to who they were and what made them tick.
l found them surprisingly articulate.
They expressed a strong sense
that if their outside paintings
were left untouched,
that the public would be impressed.
We came up to him with a proposal to paint
10 cars inside and out
and let it run in the major stations.
And let people vote on it, let's say a two-week period,
and after the two-week period,
they'll have the results in the paper,
and l think the MTA will be embarrassed.
l thought there was no basis whatsoever
in which it was proper
for anyone to touch our property
in an unauthorized fashion.
They got guys out there that are mugging people in the subways,
stabbing people, throwing people onto the tracks and all that,
and they're wasting their bullshit money trying to get us.
With all respect, l think you are close
to falling into the trap
of the 1960s culture,
which says this society has left
these kids with not enough to do.
lf the kids have energy and want to do something,
we'll give them all brooms,
we'll give them all sponges,
and they can do something that is publicly productive,
useful and that would earn for them the respect
and approbation of their fellow citizens.
It isn't the energy that is misplaced,
it's the value system that is misplaced.
( Wagnerian orchestral music plays )
l think it's great for the riding public
to be up on the station, one cold and dreary day
and see a nice white,
shiny car come pulling up to the station.
The public has knocked us for so long,
that we are doing nothing. It couldn't be done.
We proved that we done it.
We painted 409 cars in approximately eight weeks.
24 hours a day, seven days a week
and not one day did we miss that production schedule.
Our personal pride was hurt.
A lot of people been knocking the transit authority,
and we wanted to show them that we could do something.
lf the Japanese can do it, we can do it.
Man: The stuff is like razor blades--
about two inches long and there's one of these every two inches.
There's really not too much protective clothing
you can wear to prevent yourself from getting cut.
And once you do fall into it,
it's so structured that it collapses upon you
and the more you try to move, the worse off you become.
It's like in the movies, like in ''Apocalypse Now,''
they used it to protect their lines and their barricades.
They want to hold back the enemy from destroying our trains.
Mayor Koch: About three years ago,
l decided to suggest
to Dick Ravitch
that they put a dog
in the yard to keep
the graffiti vandals out.
The MTA rejected it
and they said,
no, that if you put a dog in the yard,
the dog would step on the third rail.
Now, l don't happen to think that dogs step on the third rail,
but l said in response to that,
''lf you think the dog will step on the third rail,
then build two fences and have the dog run between
the two fences and that will keep people out
and protect the dog from stepping on the third rail. ''
And the response was, ''Maybe somebody will climb
over the fence and the dog will bite them.''
l said, ''l thought that was what the dog was for.''
But if you're afraid of having the dog bite such a vandal,
and here l called upon my prodigious memory, l said,
''What you should do then, instead of using a dog,
is to use a wolf, and have a wolf
run between the two fences.
Because there is no recorded case in history
where a wolf has ever attacked
a human being unless the wolf were rabid-- mad.''
As a result of telling that story
l embarrassed the MTA into building the fence
around the first of 19 yards.
And it was so successful
they now claim it as their own idea
and they're building 18 more fences.
( Wagnerian orchestral music plays )
Iz: l think it's stupid.
The idea of having all this barbed wire
and fences and protection.
Trains are still going to get written on.
They invented the white elephant.
It's still got--
well, they weren't bombed,
but they had little mosquito bites. call it what you want.
They were still written on.
They're still not spotless, completely.
''Dump Koch.'' Well, there you go.
That is the highest praise imaginable because,
obviously, I'm getting to them.
There always will be graffiti. It's a part of New York.
It'll be there forever.
Someone will always want to jump down on the track,
or while the train's moving and just take out
a can of paint or a marker and put up their initial.
He still shows me all his things,
which l don't even want to see.
But we still talk.
He tells me just about everything that goes on.
Other than that, l wouldn't really be able to tell you so much.
And, sometimes-- knowing all this,
it just really only makes me that much more fearful for him.
l felt that l just had to let her know,
'cause sometimes when it's time to go bombing,
you got to go late-- in the middle of the night.
You've got to leave the house at 2:00
just to go bombing so you don't get caught.
You know, she got to know where I'm going,
can't just say I'm going to a party.
No party's going to start at 2:00.
Not every kid would tell his mother where he's going.
Yeah, well, I'd rather let my mother know what's going on,
you know, than keep her in the dark.
lf l get busted, cops call,
''Excuse me, we have your son for graffiti.''
And I'd rather let her know that l was doing it
so she's prepared to come and get me out.
But, I'm never getting busted,
so we don't have to worry about that.
Dondi: l mean, an adult,
l just couldn't see an adult ever
putting that much energy into something that
isn't going to pay, or is going to risk their life
or have the possibility of them getting arrested.
l see myself eventually growing out of graf
and getting married
and living the lifestyle, you know,
and making good money, like that.
And when life is at its best,
you don't really want to run around in the trains.
I'm sure I'll come back every now and then,
just to let people know I'm still around.
Oh, no. When l come back, l take over.
And that's it. After that.
- And after that-- - You want the prince of the 6s?
I'm king right here. I'm the prince of the 6s.
He's later. You know, he's one of the has-beens--
I'm what they call a has-been, and he's a wannabe.
- So they consider you a king? - Put it this way:
l am a king. l could say--
King of what?
l want to tell you, l am the king of bombing.
You got to be able to take over a line with insides,
take it over with throw-ups, top-to-bottoms,
you got to do everything.
lf you specialize in one thing,
you really can't call yourself an all-out king.
Who's king? You're looking at him, right here.
The original. Know what I'm saying?
Kingdom Islam; Nation god,
for I'm the one that rocks so far.
Always rocking the jazziest car, know what I'm saying?
The only and the original Magnetic King,
and that's the one that's still sitting here doing his thing.
You know it. We all alive.
This is the original old master killer
of the "Manila Thrilla," right here
that you're looking at. The original king and love to do his thing.
Don't shout, don't run, don't hide, don't sky.
This is me coming to you natural and live.
Ha, Ha! CB without the mike.