Saturday, October 14, 2006


As a kid growing up in Manhattan, I wrote graffiti. As a smart kid growing up in Manhattan, I quit writing on walls, after being busted on the subway. However, there was one night I was tempted to rejoin the "graffiti" gang community.

I was at a local church hall, that was rented as a place for the kids from the "projects" to gather. I had a social life in my own neighborhood, but was at war with Starsky, my best freind, at the time. This place was full of older kids, and they were selling joints out front, and inside. I was way out of my element, but struggled to "look cool." My classmate who brought me there led me over to a chalkboard, where people were writing their graffiti tags. If they sucked, they got erased immediately. The best ones were still up, and updated by their authors as challengers came along.

My buddy gave me a piece of chalk, and said "tag on the board, Chris-to-fuh." I tagged my bang 137, with the new style I had picked up from one of the guys at summer camp, who hung out with the REBELS, a local G-gang. I've posted previously about them jumping me, and stealing my spray snow on Christmas eve, the year before. As I said, I had quit writing on walls, but I was quite as happy to tag on the chalkboard.

Well, my style was considered good with the crowd, I think. Before long, a kid came up to me, offering membership in TMB, one of the local Amsterdam G-gangs. I forget what the initials stood for, but the last word was "Boys." I remember this because after I declined to join their group, a kid from TMW came up, and asked me to join his gang. I said "aren't you with that other guy?" He said no, the "W" was for "writers," but the other two words were the same. Apparently, they had been one gang once, and had some differences that split them in two.

Again, I declined to join this gang. I saw both of their gang names attached to tens of different individuals' tags, but I had quit writing, and really wasn't interested. I think the first two letters stood for "The Mad..."

Finally, a third kid comes up, and says "I'm not from one of these 'toy' groups. I'm asking you to join the Masters Of Graffiti."

MOG. They were almost as big as the Rebels, maybe bigger in other areas, or more widespread. Plus, this being the '70's, MOG sounded SO cool to my ears. I saw it attached to some of the BEST graffiti of that day, and I am qualified to judge. I pictured myself writing bang137...MOG. Then I remembered the Rebels, and what jerks they were. These kids may not have been the same color, or from the same background, but they were still criminals first, artists second. I sensed the predatory instinct, and politely declined again.

I bragged about this to Starsky, after we made up, and started hanging together again. Every time we saw a tag with MOG attached to it, I said, "I turned those a$$#0/es down!" I only write graffiti on the PC these days, though my last "tag" on a public space was on my 30th birthday. That's another story, from a later chapter.

This was a Tale From The Vendome.