Don't Call it Frisco in Brick Slayers Posted April 15, 2005 JELOE INTERVIEW A: what do you write? And where are you from? J: I write Jeloe and am from the San Francisco bay area. A: Crews? J: No crews for me. I’m not much of a crew guy. I never have been. I have a few crews I would say yes to but only because they were so influential while I was growing up. There are a few I would be into these days, but I don’t really care at this point. A: When did you start getting into graffiti and start writing? J: Well, I first started to notice graffiti when my dad would take me into San Fran when I was a little kid around 1983. I remember not having any idea what any of it meant but still feeling an attraction to the shapes and patterns that it made. I think that I only really noticed tags at first because they were obviously out of place in an otherwise clean and orderly environment. San Fran was crazy in the 80s from what I remember. I used to ride the busses now and again with my parents and remember those being so smashed. I have one memory of me when I was about 6 getting onto a muni bus and seeing this sea of ink and paint covering the entire interior of the bus. I asked my dad what it was and he answered, "oh that’s graffiti. It’s garbage. Don’t even pay attention to it." I asked him if it was ok to do and if not how did the people doing it get away with it? He said "no it is not ok to do and if anyone says anything while the people are doing it they will get punched by the person doing the graffiti, so they just don’t say anything out of fear." I remember thinking that was so cool and it only served to reinforce my interests in it. I think I started getting in to trying graffiti myself after getting into skateboarding at around 9 or 10 yrs old and reading Thrasher magazine. I started to try and copy the DogTown logo with the cross and banner on it. Little did I know at the time really I was copying a copy of old cholo graff. I used to raid my neighbors paint from their tool shed and paint on homemade ramps. Then when I was 12 I got a copy of Subway Art from a friend and I never looked back. A: Who was your inspiration back then? And now? J: I used to really be into this kid that wrote Cener from a little neighborhood crew called SRK. He was really fuckin good and I was really fuckin bad. He didn’t care that I sucked. He saw I had a desire to learn and so he taught me a lot. He later went to jail for something or another and I lost contact with him when I was about 17. I then started to take notice in what people in NY were doing like GHOST REAS SENTO NOAH etc. Later on, and on a more local level, I became really inspired by people like TWIST GREY AMAZE, which isn’t too hard to see when you look at the things I’m doing now. GREY also became a friend of mine and has taught me more than anyone else and has helped me really evolve my styles and perspectives about what graffiti is and how it should be done. A: Ever been caught? J: Yes. In fact I was just caught in Amsterdam a few weeks ago for doing a piece on the street at night. I hadn’t finished so it was hard to charge me with a name. I had to spend just a few nights in jail. The arresting officer forgot to read me my rights so when I answered all the questions in my interview they couldn’t use any of it against me. I ended up having to get a lawyer who informed me the police had charged me with the crime of the destruction of a building, the same given to a terrorist trying to blow a building up. The sentence, my lawyer said, was 12 yrs in prison and a 75,000-dollar fine. I about shit my pants. He told me if all I was really doing was graffiti I would be out in a few more days and that they were trying to scare me with that charge. It worked and the day I was released I went to a "coffee shop" and bought 5 grams of hash then boarded the next train out of there to Paris. There have been a few other times but that’s the most recent. Let’s hope it stops with that story. Something tells me it won’t. A: What’s the bad part? J: The new trend of people going over people for no reason other than to stir up beef. Its like the whole world has gone CAP just for the fuck of it. It’s not hard to see why. As the stakes rise in graffiti with charges of felonies, being considered a gang member and taking the harsher sentences associated with that, people going to prison for graffiti etc etc it just keeps weeding out the people who aren’t 100% dedicated to it. As the softer kids decide it’s too much, graffiti is left with more and more of a criminal element who tend not to give a fuck. They adopt a more of a bully attitude and want to show their dominance over others. It’s classic attention getting psychology in full effect on the streets. I can’t really get mad as, at its very foundation, graffiti is about the destruction of a perceived comfort and sense of security. It still makes me mad when there is no 'honor amongst thieves'. Whatever, I just have to suck it up and add it to the list of consequences. A: Where are you now? What’s the scene like there? J: I have been and will be traveling around Europe for quite some time. Right now I am again in Paris. The graffiti scene here is sort of in a remission as far as I can tell. I was told about how this city was completely smashed for many years up until about 2001-2. It was then that the police got wise about how the structure of graffiti operated within the subculture with crews and motivations for writers. After they had that they made lists of who was who and who was in what crews and unleashed a campaign to take them all out with a vengeance. They raided houses, set up traps in yards and tunnels and hit people off with enormous fines and some even with prison sentences. It was enough to slow the major writers down to a halt and it sent a message out to the would be newcomers; if you want to be a writer you are in for a hard road. I have been lucky enough to hook up with a few of the next generation of the writers taking the places of the older hardcore writers that have stopped. They have new ideas and new plans for getting the same old shit done. Trains, streets, roofs, trucks etc. With people like TRANE everywhere it is impossible to keep the younger kids from getting inspired and wanting to have a go at getting some of the fame. In all my years of doing graffiti I have never seen someone kill a city so thoroughly as he has. I’ve seen it close, but never as much. I swear this kid never sleeps! A: What magazines/websites/movies are you into or do you check out to keep up? J: As far as graff mags go, I like any mag that shows graffiti for what it is; DESTRUCTION. I like seeing dirty sloppy street graffiti, rooftops, rollers, freeways, subways/commuters, tags, trucks etc. I don’t like the new kinds of graff mags that seem to be way into this new breed of "writer" that uses stencils or wheat pastes some crap around a city that they made in their garage at home. I am certain that will offend some of you out there but it’s the truth. Graffiti isn’t about a clever recognizable icon, it’s about one name over and over and over again. Graffiti has an inherent boundary contained within 26 letters. Plain and simple. I can appreciate the new icon type stuff but it seems like now when a kid decides to write he automatically picks some lame icon to start with. It’s kind of like cheating in a sense. You bypass all the hard work of developing a good letterstyle and instead you photoshop/illustrator some catchy cartoonish character and stick it everywhere. It’s like taking the easy road similar to that of someone stealing gum and candy bars and saying they rack a lot. That’s just me. A: What do you have to say to writers that are just starting out, just coming up? What do you know that they don’t? J: Honestly I say don’t bother starting. Since I know that advice will fall on deaf ears I will say this. DONT START UNLESS YOURE WILLING TO GIVE YOUR ENTIRE SELF TO THIS AND MORE IMPORTNATLY BE WILLING TO ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES OF DOING SO. I have sacrificed so much for this. I can’t hold a job, haven’t had a girlfriend in 5 years, am broke as shit, think like a criminal 24 hours a day, am paranoid I will be going to jail and that people are following me or tapping my phone. There is a lot of adventure and fun to be had doing graffiti but if you are going to really be top notch there’s a price to pay. A: What is something/things you think most people may not know about you or realize? J: I like the color orange. I love life. I miss my friend Ethan who died recently. I don’t speak any other language than English. I suck at math. I am good at scamming shit. I still get scared when I shoplift. I am lonely at times. 5 is my favorite number. I feel free in life, like REALLY free. I am writing a book about this European trip. I am sitting next to a turtle right now swimming in the dirtiest tank ever. A: If you could have gills (like a fish) or change color like a lizard… which would you rather have? Why? J: I think I would prefer to change colors. Then I could go into girls locker rooms in high school undetected. Oh the possibilities. Could I make a video camera change colors too? I want to document those supple 16 yr old breasts. If there’s no picture it never happened! A: What about the people that don’t give you credit? J: Well I’ve realized that there’s a type of ranking in graffiti that everyone has to go through. At first you just suck, plain and simple. It is here that nobody pays attention at all because you are not even a worthy contender. Then you put some work in and you get a little better. Still nobody really pays attention but you’re showing improvement. Then, you start to get decent. It is here that people start trying to talk shit and take credit away from you. Then you get even better and you’re like one stop away from being the next kid who everyone talks about. It is here that you really get the most shit talked about you and when people want to reduce you down to shit. They say you are unoriginal, that your shit sucks or that you don’t do enough etc etc. I feel like I am here. I feel like I am on the verge of being a talked about writer on a global level for better or worse. This doesn’t mean I think I am the shit or that I think anyone else thinks I am. I simply think that I am getting noticed for the shit I have been consistently doing over the years. So really, I take the shit talking as a compliment. You know who I am and my name is on your mind. I did my job. A: The thing I’ve noticed about you over time is… you always give credit to people where it’s due without player hating. And there are a lot of haters. I think that’s cool I wish more people were like that honestly. So anyway, what’s your average day like now? J: Honestly it consists of this. Wake up at about 3:30pm and try to figure out where I am. I am usually hung over and have a lot of paint inside my nostrils from the night before. I am hungry and desperately need some water to rehydrate myself from the previous nights consumption of whatever. I try to figure out what to eat and where I am going to rack it from. Once that is done I edit the pics from the night before and send them off to friends online. Then I go out again to get more paint/beer/whiskey whatever to fuel the upcoming night. I realize I would rather spend the night with the girl I am staring at on the train but decide to not say shit. Then I check all of my internet shit. When I am done dorking it up online I take a shower and get ready to leave. If I am lucky I will make out with someone to fulfill that desire and then its time to paint. I get drunk, smoke some hash or take some pills if it’s around and set out to find things to paint. Trucks, roofs, trains, streets, whatever. This goes on until about 4:30-5am and then I catch the first train back to where ever it is I am staying for the night. Smoke some more hash to calm my nerves and then pass out until I wake up to start it all over again. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. It’s really taking a toll on me both mentally and physically. A: Should the unskilled average person take part in… the process? J: Not unless they are willing to accept the responsibilities of both perfecting the crime and accepting the punishment. A: What things do you want to do that you haven’t done yet? J: More subways. It’s the best feeling in the world to paint a subway. It’s one of the hardest things to do these days, especially after 9/11. Thanks Osama for fuckin’ that one up for us. I really want to travel more and paint more models of trains in more cities across the world. These things take money, something of which I have very little these days, but it’s the goal for now. A: well we can always dream that the economy will go to shit and they won’t be able to pay the police….. To watch out for vandals. Speaking of which, have you seen the NYPD vandal squad website? They have this last sentence on there about terrorists, like the usual Osama and friends plug to throw in there. It’s weird. J: I just looked at that website too. It gave me a good idea... I need to go steal some of that copper cable in the NYC subway so I can make some money! Fuck all this graffiti bullshit! Ripping out that copper cable is the real deal destruction, and it pays! A: What are your plans for the future? J: More traveling. I am the most happy when I am in transit to a new place. A: I’ve noticed that you are funnier now (or you're actually funny at all now) than you were three years ago. What changed? J: I think that I have started to care less about shit. Like, everyone says, "oh I don’t care what anyone thinks" and I never believed them. Well, maybe they knew something all along that I am just now discovering. I really don’t give a fuck. The more I see and do the less I care about the perception people have of me. I love being me. So the funny thing probably just happened once I stopped caring. I know you probably were fishing for something funny with that question. Sorry. Wanna do it? A: Not during an interview. But no, really, you’re funny... but it’s like a 1:30 ratio now instead of a 1:100. J: I have found you can’t go wrong with toilet humor. Make a shit joke and everyone laughs. I have learned to stick to the classics that are proven to get a laugh. I think that’s why everyone still laughs when someone else busts out a fart. It will never not be funny. Even when you’re like 90. A: So… anything else? J: I just want to thank everyone who has helped me out over the last 6 years since I decided to take graffiti seriously. Some people dismissed me and still do to this day. So to those of you who either helped me out by giving me a place to stay, a contact in a place I’ve never been, a good idea, some direction, some style, a piece of ass, some money or whatever else I say thank you. There are way too many of you to list. You know who you are. Oh, and to any of you cute girls with cool haircuts and a place to stay in a city I have never been, please get in touch with this website so I can come love you. Yes please.