ALE fut un des pionniers du graffiti Américain, avec ses amis TAKI 183, PHASE2, COMET...
Interview de ALE ONE sur les pionniers du graff US : Phase2, Blade1...
When and where did you start writing? Can you tell us the first names you saw?
I started writing in the seventh grade, Bronx New York 1972.
The first names that I saw up were BRONX BUS WRITERS, MIKEL 182, T.T. SMOKIN 182, and IRON MIKE Mike 3.
What were the earliest writing groups that you were in?
The first writing group that I met was THE MOB! VAMM was a major writer in that group. In 1973, I met STAFF 161 at 149st Concourse by the writers bench, who was the president of THE EBONY DUKES. PHASE 2 gave me the thumbs up in 1974 to join the IND's. In 1975 or so, TRACY 168 asked me to join WILD STYLE.
Can you tell us about your first experience painting the trains? And, where that was?
My first train piece was in June 1972. I still have a picture of it somewhere in my photo albums.
I went to the Burke Avenue lay-up with M.S. 18 (ROACH 1). Not knowing what to do didn't stop me. All I knew was that it was time to paint a train. The uptown # 2 two trains were coming in to the station every few minutes, but I managed to paint a small window-down piece. It was quite an accomplishment for a 13 year old. Once I got home safely, I started to make plans for the next week.
Who would you say were your best writing partners?
That's a tough question to answer! Well, I did the most pieces with Doo-2. I have great memories of bombing Baychester lay-up & the Esplande tunnel with JOHN 150 and TAV-1. An honorable mention to ROACH 1 who got me started writing in the first place.
There is a famous photo of this car with an ALE piece on the side of it. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
This is probably my favorite story to tell. The story begins in the winter of 1973, when I met M.S.18 (who later changed his name to ROACH) at his house on Allerton Avenue. We went painting at 2:30 in the morning at Esplanade tunnel. M.S. 18 thought it was better to paint late at night and avoid all the writers that would be there early in the evening. And I thought who could raid us that late at night? We walked to Pelham Parkway station and the booths were closed. Back then you pay on the train after 11 pm . The inside of the station was deserted. There was no sound except the humming of the lay-up train motors. We walked through the lay-up tunnel, and even with the limited lighting, you can see a gallery of the best writers of the day. I walked past a fresh STAFF 161 piece with a checker board cloud. The STAFF piece looked incredible. The paint looked as if it was just painted. Three cars down I saw a PISTOL 1 piece. It has a 3-D design that blew me away. I stared at it for a while, until I realized that there was a nice clean spot next to it.
So, I knocked out a window-down ALE piece. It wasn't my best effort, but the rest is history! Many writers say PISTOL did not do the first 3-D piece. I can tell you that I watched many a train in the early 70's and PISTOL 's piece was the first 3'D that I saw. In any case , PISTOL's 3-D piece was unquestionably, one of the best pieces done in 1973. I met PISTOL at a gallery show in 1996 and he told me that piece was his last train piece! I had a few pieces of mine crossed out during my run. The more pieces you do the more likely somebody is going to get jealous!
In the 1970's, outlaw gangs where real big. Did you have any run-ins with any of them? Did they cause any problems for you, while you were getting up?
I grew up in Co-op City (Bronx N.Y.).
The two most known gangs around Co-op were the SAVAGE SKULLS and the VALLEY BOYS. THE SAVAGE SKULLS had many members who were writers. PROBE 2, was a SAVAGE SKULL member who did many pieces back in the day at the Baychester lay-up. I was friends with PROBE 2, so I had no problems with THE SAVAGE SKULLS. In 1975, I ran into some trouble with the VALLEY BOYS. One night some members spotted me and TAV-1 painting at the Baychester lay-up. From the streets they were yelling and cursing at us and causing a scene. They were going to blow my favorite painting spot, so I started throwing track rocks down at them. Yeah....... that flipped them out! Five or six of them tried to climb up to the lay-up, but they didn't know where the entrance hole was. We thought they had given up, but when TAV-1 and I left the lay-up, they chased us about ten blocks. I was wiped out from painting, but I was not about to get caught , so I pushed people out of the way until I found a building to hide in. That was a major escape from a really bad situation!
Could you tell us all the train lines you hit back in the 1970's?
My main train line was the number 5 line. I wrote on the 2 line quite a bit, as well.
I had a few pieces on the 6 line, but that was due to the 5 & 6 line trains switching with each other.
In 1974, I was visiting the 4 yard often and made lots of trips to the CC and D yard. A blast from the past hello to PNUT 2, BOT 707, R.I.P. SOLID 1 - my little buddy, PEL, KINDO, who I met all the time at the D yard.
What was your favorite spray paint of choice?
My favorite paint is Red Devil. My colors were orange, delta blue and the standard gloss black - Throw on a Jiff foam cap and you are good to go.
Would you have any racking stories you can tell us?
My favorite paint racking story happened in 1974. JOHN 150, BILLY 167 & I went to Great Eastern Department store in Yonkers. We were only going to rack up 15 cans and leave, but JOHN 150 convinced me to fill three store bags with 30 cans of paint ( and bring the bags to the front of the store). I left the bags by the register and JOHN 150 picked them up and proceeded to walk out the door. BILLY 167 and I were behind him laughing at this insane move. Nobody followed us out the door, and we realized that we got over, and headed for the bus stop. What a score! We spent that weekend banging out Top-to-Bottoms and whole cars.
What would you say was the best piece you ever did on the trains?
The "best car" that I ever did? Well, it would have to be my first whole car Top-to-Bottom in 1974. School bus yellow wide letters, federal safety red outline and a federal safety orange cloud. It took about 15 cans of Rustoleum paint to do. JOHN 150 and BILLY 167 were with me in the Esplande tunnel when I did it. When I came home that day ,I was covered in orange paint from head to toe. In 1974, whole cars done by one person ,were not that common. There was a great feeling of accomplishment when you finally did one.
Hickey and Ski were two very big Graffiti cops back in the day. Did you have any run ins with them?
Hickey and Ski were on the beat after I quit writing. I never met them.
What writer do you feel is truly over looked in the history of writing?
LSD 3 deserves a lot of credit for his style and color choice. He's one writer that, I wish I had done a piece with.
Would you have any chase stories for us?
I was chased and raided from yards and lay-ups many a time. I have never been caught or convicted of a graffiti offense. Some writers brag about their getaways, but I am thankful for every escape I had!
Would you have any stories about the writers bench in the 1970's?
I visited the bench many times during its popularity in the early 70's. I met FDT 56, BIC 149, A.J. 161, PHASE 2, and many 4 yard writers over there. I never stayed long at 149th street because the bench was raided often.
When did you quit writing? Why?
I quit painting trains in 1977. The writing scene was changing. The original master writers that I admired were quitting and the new generation writers were different. There were too many two letter throw-up pieces and the trains were filthy and dirty. The respect between writers was slowly fading. I saw many great pieces crossed out. I threw my last can of paint into the bushes at the Baychester lay-up in the summer of 1977. In 1987, I heard that the Transit Authority was planning to clean all subway cars. ROACH and I had decided to plan a night mission. I went to Baychester lay-up with him and we painted one piece each. It was sad to think it was my last train piece.
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