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Invading a tradition

Discussion in 'Metal Heads' started by TrustEvil, Mar 20, 2002.

  1. TrustEvil

    TrustEvil Guest

    A friend and I were discussing this issue a while back and I have been thinking about it ever since....just wanted to throw it out there and see what others have to say.

    With the recent rise in popularity and the outright trendiness of fr8s these days, it seems as though a big portion of the freightheads out there have adopted an aspect of train culture that is not really within their domain. I'm talking about monikers. The reality is, 99% of fr8 writers are not war veterans, hobos, railworkers or even trainhoppers, all of whom are the staples of the moniker tradition. These types of individuals pionneered the hobo fr8 culture and brought their scribbles with them. The issue at hand is, should all these newjack graffiti writers be out there throwing down their fancy monikers when in fact, besides spending time in yards on the weekends, they have very little in common with the traditional hobo or freight hopper ? Should they be invading the culture of others just because they think its a necessary extention of their fr8 painting ? Seems a little pretentious to me. Granted, anyone who is out there can draw whatever they want on some steel, but does that still give them the right to jump on the bandwagon of someone else's tradition and consolidate it into theirs ? Monikers may be the ancestors of fr8 graffiti, but they are not the same thing...one belongs to the free souls and railworkers who spend their entire lives on the railroad earth, while the other is an outlet for suburban kids and city thugs who like to paint shit on things.

    Where do you stand ?
  2. fr8oholic

    fr8oholic Veteran Member

    Joined: Apr 23, 2000 Messages: 9,256 Likes Received: 2
    i definitely like to paint shit on things. if someone else wants to write shit on things, than they should go for theirs. i've got limited experience with well know streakers but from the very few i've met they seem to embrace the graffiti writers. that may or may not be the case with the majority of them but again i don't know.
  3. BIG T

    BIG T Member

    Joined: Sep 20, 2000 Messages: 976 Likes Received: 2
    <=====is a vet!!!! does that mean i get to do monikers and have a valid reason for doing so?????:cool:
  4. nocalfr8tr

    nocalfr8tr Member

    Joined: Nov 29, 2001 Messages: 371 Likes Received: 0
    are any of us really veterans?

    so, i can guarantee most of the train painters still rocking werent involved in the first graffiti movement to hit new york, so that makes us all new jack writers, right? well, in my opinion, fuck tradition and roots. i can't help the fact i was born to late for the subway scene and on the wrong coast at that. i've been bustin freights for quite a few years now and consider myself a rising star, not quite veteran, for those of you involved in the baseball world. i'm not saying trustevil is wrong to ask the question, its just a hard one to answer considering no of us are true veterans. any other thoughts?
  5. Cracked Ass

    Cracked Ass Veteran Member

    Joined: Oct 24, 2001 Messages: 7,898 Likes Received: 47
    I'm with nocal on this one.
    TrustEvil's original question is really just the "can you do graff if you're not hiphop" question in disguise. It's the same premise - if you weren't in it back in the day, and you did not get into it for the same reasons the pioneers did, do you have any business doing it? My answer is, why the fuck not?
    In another thread, Cheerleader tossed this same thing out on another level, basically clowning freight painters for trying to bring an "urban artform" out to the sticks. (See "who else doesn't like freights" in Third Rail for his exact words.)
    My take is this: it's all graffiti, and being late to the party does not IN ITSELF make you wack, toy or a biter. I'm not from New York, or even any large city, and graffiti never grabbed my attention before 1997. Do I have any business writing graffiti? Should I hang up my cans? I was "converted" honestly enough: I walked through a tunnel filled with burners and said "Holy shit, this is dope, I have to do this." I did it by myself for 2 years before meeting anyone else who wrote, or discovering the internet or mags. Is that "real" enough? Can I be down? (And if you couldn't guess, I'm going to keep writing regardless of how you answer.)
    So, back to the moniker issue: what's the difference between some kid seeing pieces and fillins in his neighborhood and saying "cool, I'm gonna write my name like that" and some freight head who sees monikers and says "cool, I'm gonna come up with a streak"? Graffiti has spread and evolved, from cave drawings to petroglyphs to Kilroy Was Here to Taki183 to Ban2 to Cope2 and beyond. It has exploded way beyond the initial hotspots of NYC and Philly and is now in Europe, Australia, Nepal, big cities, little towns, and rolling back and forth on freights. Where exactly is the graffiti "tradition"? What IS graffiti tradition, if not seeing other people write their name and deciding to join the fun?
    As for monikers somehow belonging exclusively to hobos, rail workers, and war veterans, I don't buy it. Only a small fraction of those people named write stuff on trains - and when they do, it makes them practitioners of graffiti. (For another thing, even some of the best-known "oldschool" monikers are done by people who don't fit your description.) There's been no "invasion" of anyone's culture. One type of graffiti writer saw and appreciated the work of another type of writer, and chose to incorporate it into their own stuff. It's just another phase of graffiti evolution. And like at any other time in that evolution, there are good practitioners and wack ones.
    If people are looking to vent some contempt on players in the freight scene, I'd leave alone the new moniker writers, and save it for the fuck-you bombers who paint over the old monikers with no understanding or appreciation.
  6. dukeofyork

    dukeofyork Senior Member

    Joined: Nov 9, 2000 Messages: 1,589 Likes Received: 1
    well said cracked...

    i didnt even want to paint the first few piecing spots that i was shown...i knew i wasnt good enough to hang with the heads in those spots. but i knew this was something i wanted to do...and id say ive probably been at it about the same amount of time as cracked. i first started trying in probably like 95 or 96....but man ill be the first to say that i suck at all this until next year. i learned a lot from some good writers in my area. they know who they are, and if asked ill be the first to give the credit where its due.
    im sure everyone that writes at all has someone that they knew that motivated them, that first got them into it. so why they hate on others is beyond me. i try to be as friendly as possible to everyone i meet....unless theyve been beefing with my friends for no reason, i try to stay cool.

    two hundredths of a dollars worth..
  7. nelACKson

    nelACKson Elite Member

    Joined: Mar 26, 2001 Messages: 3,821 Likes Received: 2
    thats a damn good question and once again, i think cracked ass said what i didnt even know i thought yet. anyhow, in the past year ive developed a great appreciation for streaks through time spent at yards due to my intrest in graf. its at the point now that i'll pass over pieces that dont appeal to me when getting flicks but i take a picture of every fucking streak i see, unless its someone liek the rambler who i already have plenty of pictures of. anyhow, i do understand the train of thought but i think a genuine intrest and respect is all thats necessary.

    there are plenty of wack writers in the inner cities and plenty of gifted ones out here in the stiks.

    one thing i am against is just streaking a graffiti handstyle. i guess mine is a little graf influenced but thats not all there is.
  8. TrustEvil

    TrustEvil Guest

    ...I think a few people got confused along the way. The conversation seemed to fall into the "new york/old school" bit and all this talk of who's a veteran and whatnot....my only mention of veterans was war veterans who started the moniker tradition...it had nothing to do with new jacks vs. veterans of graffiti and who is allowed to do what as far as that is concerned. The issue at hand is the fact that the monikering traditions of the classic hobo writer are being swallowed up by the kids with the cans. The truth is that the vast majority of us aren't living that life but so many think its cool to play the part. Everyone seems to be a train expert these days and somehow rocking monikers brings them that much closer to the status of one. Fr8oholic mentioned that many veteran monikermen actually like the aerosol graffiti on steel,which is true. There are many others on the other hand who do not look so favorably onto what many of us do. Can't please everyone of course, but they understand that the new kids don't have a fucking clue what its all about, they simply see something train related and decide to copy.
    Everyone must take influence somewhere, which is not the issue. The problem is most simply don't understand or care about the history and traditions behind the moniker. All that being said, I'm not really for or against the idea...I think its far too late to put a stop to it anyway. I would like to see people ease up on it though because we've managed to set ourselves up to ruin fr8 graffiti, I think it would be a shame to do the same to the traditional hobo moniker.
  9. BIG T

    BIG T Member

    Joined: Sep 20, 2000 Messages: 976 Likes Received: 2
    i konw what you ment trustevil... and i am telling you that i am by all practical terms a war veteran. no joke!!! i am a true guerilla killa!!:cool:
  10. wakassOATH

    wakassOATH Guest

    word, me too .. i was in nam

    ..no lie!
  11. sectorTVA

    sectorTVA Senior Member

    Joined: Jul 8, 2000 Messages: 1,272 Likes Received: 1
    i do monikers...i just like them.
  12. KaBar

    KaBar Senior Member

    Joined: Oct 9, 2001 Messages: 1,397 Likes Received: 28
    I'll go with Mr. Cracked on this one, but I hate to see genuine streaks get painted over. Bottom line is that people see something dope on a boxcar and think to themselves "Man! That is SO COOL. I want to do that too." The new kid may not have any idea what the traditions are, or that he ought not to paint over reporting marks or another writer's work. Everybody would like to be "famous," so the kid adopts "Chilly Willy 214" instead of "William Brown from L.A.", and ten years later, the new jacks are in awe of the Master L.A. Blaster, Chill Will, who rocks the West Coast from border to border.
    I'm always amused by old hobos like "Little Hobo" who started riding freights in the Great Depression as a 14-year-old, and is now in his late seventies. Or the "Sacramento Kid," who is a grown adult, and no longer a kid. Monikers are odd, sometimes they last longer than they should. I had an old Wobbly friend in Houston, who passed away, named "Blackie" Vaughn, who had hair as white as snow, but he had dark hair when he was kid.
    I guess the thing is the sheer number of new writers. As graff gets more and more popular, we can expect the authorities to try harder to stop it. A moniker might help avoid detection, but a well-known moniker might also put the dogs on your trail.
    I never used a moniker when I was riding full-time. I only adopted KaBar when I went on the net. I guess everybody needs a handle. Like C.B. radio, LOL.
  13. seeking

    seeking Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 25, 2000 Messages: 32,277 Likes Received: 235
    call me a dim wit, but are you saying that we shouldnt be doing 'monikers' proper, because we arent hobos, or we shouldnt be painting on trains at all, because we arent hobos?
  14. TrustEvil

    TrustEvil Guest

    i'm not saying what you can or cannot do....that's up to you. My point is I feel that us stupid graffiti writers are slowly invading a domain that was so much more interesting when we weren't involved in it.
  15. seeking

    seeking Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 25, 2000 Messages: 32,277 Likes Received: 235
    trains were more interesting when there were just small monikers, and no pieces?

    painting trains is not 'masquerading' as being a hobo, or being part of their world, its something all to itself. saying that we shouldnt paint on trains because we dont ride them, is like saying hobos shouldn't ride in automobiles, if they dont own one. of course 'we' should respect the fact that they came first, but respect means alot more than just not painting them. people painting graff arent making it any harder for hobos, than hobos fucking up their own scene is. any worker/bull/cop is going to know the difference between a writer and a hobo, and im sure would treat them accordingly. times are changing and things are getting harder for everyone, but the only people our actions really effect are our own.