LASK ONE INTERVIEW
What borough are you from?
Where and what year did you start writing?
I started on Staten Island in 1979.
What inspired you to become involved in writing?
The fame, the reaction you get when people find out that you're the person who's name they've seen everywhere. People treat you like a ghetto superstar.
Did you have a mentor?
I learned stuff from a lot of writers, but as far as mentors go yes I have two. PHASAR 1 and ROM. PHASAR 1 didn't get up much, but he ran down the basics to me. He taught me the importance of writing an original name. Writing over other writers is taboo, unless they go over you first. He showed me the best brands of paint to use like Sparvar, Krylon, Rusto and Red Devil paint. He also put me on to Pentel markers, the short round ones, homemade markers, supermarket pricing ink, and how to make ink with carbon paper and alcohol. ROM on the other hand, now he got up. He took me under the wing and showed me how to get up. He told me to use my wrist when I use spray paint to keep the ball inside from making too much noise. He gave me outlines and hand styles to practice from. Also I learned how and where to rack up--a true writers survival skill.
Who influenced your style?
Early on The Villers, ROM, CRAZY CASPER and DEAL NSA. Later it wasRIN, FLEX 3 TVS, DUSTER, DEZ, SKEME and TACK FBA.
How did you get your name LASK and was it the first name you wrote?
I got name LASK from Alaska minus the first and last As. It was original plus I liked the way the letters flowed it had balance. Before that for two years I tried many names like MAC 2, CONAN, TAR and SOSO, just to name a few.
List all the other names under which you have painted?
SOSO, NI 101/NASTY ISM, BEES, LK3 and WINE 149.
What was the writing scene like on Staten Island when you were starting?
The writing scene at the time 1979-81 was like New York in the 90's. We crushed everything but S.I.R. Trains the MTA buses were our trains. Graffiti was broken up into neighborhoods mostly on the North shore. During the mid-70's we had quite a few writers on the South shore but most quit by 1979. In 1980 a second wave of South shore writers emerged Jade, Keka and Mirage lead the pack. With the exception of Rin and The Vamp Squad overall writers they just stayed in their hook and kept it local. FMF (The Fabulous Mother Fuckers) we were the next crew to start moving around. First the best Stapleton and Park Hill writers linked up. Next we linked with West Brighton and Port Richmond best writers. Then we recruited a few writers from New Brighton, Mariners Harbor, South Beach, New Dorp and Great Kills. It was on after that first we started hitting up the bus routes as we walked to and from visiting each other's neighborhoods. Then we started hitting all the back streets and short cuts. Almost overnight people all over Staten Island started to take notice. At the time I was writing Conan FMF I didn't start writing Lask until two years later.
What made you want to go out to the city to hit trains?
When an older dude from my hood I that knew only as Rock told me if I wanted to be considered a real writer I had to hit trains. Funny thing is Rock from the hood was LIL ROCK 1 and 2.
How did you get started on the subway, what were your early experiences?
My early experiences were unsuccessful. I started out riding the trains and motion bombing. 1981 I got caught on the 6 Line and fined $200.00 because I was too young to scrub trains. In the summer of 1982 I linked up with Nasor/Nas TVS and EG-TD aka Monie BC they were friends with Ron-1 TVS who originally was from Staten Island. Back then there were no cell phones, and some people didn't have phones in their homes. So we went out to East New York Brooklyn and walked around looking for Ron or someone who could point us in his direction. After about 30 minutes we caught up with Ron-1 and his boy's Dist, Second and Vel at the park outside the New Lots yard. We went into yard but quickly left because it was flooded with work bums. A few months later, this kid George who lived in my aunts building keep telling me about the huge train yard next to the projects where his sisters moved to in Coney Island. So one Sunday We went out there and entered the yard thru an opening next to Dewey High School. No worker's this time, but I am not going to front we were scared, so we hit the outsides of a few cars with tags and left the yard. We also hit the station up with a few tags before the Manhattan bound train came on the way home.
What were your most active years on the subway?
My most active years were 1983 and '84. In '83 my focus was strictly tagging insides and outsides of the trains. 1984 I switched up and started piecing on the trains, during these years I got up a lot but never tried to king a line. All I wanted was Staten Islanders to recognize, so I hit every line that went or connected to South Ferry, Whitehall and Bowling Green Station.
What lines did you hit?
I hit the 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, AA, B, CC, D, E, F, J, M, N, RR and Franklin Avenue Shuttle in Brooklyn.
What lay-ups and yards did you prefer to hit?
These lay-ups were good to me The RR lay-ups at 53rd, and, The Bs at Fort Hamilton Avenue The Fs at Church Ave., The Franklin Avenue Shuttle which turned into Js, Ms, LLs and RRs and the 1 tunnel at 145th Street.
Did you ever have conflicts with other writers in the yards?
No, all my beef was on Staten Island.
Do you have any good raid stories?
Ok here's one. The year is 1987. We went up to Zerega lay-up. It was me, CRAD, INSANE, ACT 1 and BA ONE from STB. Those are the six train boys and were known for doing throw-ups. I don't remember who suggested it but this night we decided to do some cars. ACT 1 and his brother BA ONE were working on window down stretch blockbusters. To the left of them, INSANE and I was working on our own window down end-to-end car. Next to us CRAD was working on his panel piece. CRAD knocked his piece out quickly and was waiting on us. Suddenly CRAD walked up to us and said he saw someone peak out from between the cars. I blew it off like "CRAD your buggin' no one's up here."
Then he responded "LASK your bugging, if no one's up here then who's that?" We all looked in the direction he was pointing in. That's when someone stepped out from between the cars. I told everyone not to run that could be PJAY or LACE 357, so hold your ground. But, when the person from the shadows got closer we saw his badge that's when we were clear who it was, so we took off for the station. BA ONE was leading to pack and headed down the stairs with the rest of us right behind him. Suddenly a man jumped out and BA ONE ran right into the arms of a Vandal Squad cop. "Oh sh*t, go back up." I said hurry, hurry we ran back up the stairs to the platform and towards Westchester Square. At the end of the platform we jump back on the tracks running towards the next station.
Half way there I spot the cemetery and decide to get down and hide there. I start climbing off the tracks, the rest of them keep running. I'm hanging off the tracks I look around for cars. It's clear, I look down and I jump. Bam, I land on my feet damn the bottoms of my feet are stinging like a mother fuc*er, but I ignore the pain and dash for the cemetery. I find a place to hide right behind a huge tomb stone in the dark. I see a police wagon speeding towards Zerega station. I look up towards the elevated tracks and I see the Vandal Squad cop walking ACT 1 back to the Zerega station. Damn the brothers got caught, now I'm wondering if CRAD and INSANE got away. If so, where they go? I lay low for an hour then head home. I go back to the lay-up that afternoon and I see burgundy V's in a circle all over my shit. I'm so pissed at myself for leaving behind a scrap can that I didn't take a picture of the car. Eventually I did get a poor quality photo of the car from the street at Parkchester station. But if anyone who reads this interview has any shoots of that car or the others from that night please hook a brother up.
Who were your most successful partners?
I didn't have any successful painting partners. I teamed up with a few well-known writers but I wasn't into the partner thing. With partners you inherited their problems--guilty by association. That's another reason why I used to hit the lines to get away and clear my head from the Staten Island drama. Back then I stayed in beef. It was always something.
What crews were you down with?
Staten Island crews were BIA, FMF, CT, DOWN, VO5, DCK, KO, ONT, TSR, IOR and TD. Subway crews were 7DS, TNS, X-MEN, KAOS, CLK, TM7, TNR, TNC, VB, KTU, SOS, TMT, MOD and STB.
How where and when did the VO5 crew start?
SHUN the vice president of FMF called me one day and said " LASK I'm starting a new elite crew and I want you to be the vice president. At the time SHUN and I was getting tight, so I accepted the position. I started going to The West (Brighton) every day to hang with him and the original VO5. It was a family affair. FMF didn't have that vibe or energy, and to be honest at the time I needed that.
What year was it founded?
VO5 was founded in early 1983.
Who were the leaders and original members?
SION/ SHUN is the president and I'm the vice president of VO5. The original five are SHUN, LASK, SIET, SEAR and JEM.
Who were the subsequent members?
ROM, KROME, BURN 1, CHARM, ON 2, HUT, HI 5, KAVES, REVLON, SOKE, HECK and GANO to name a few.
Who were the top writers of your era?
On Staten Island, Rinwon, Flex3, Basic5, Saint5, Beno (RIP), Nedic/Reddie Red TVS, Crazy Casper, Braze, Trik, Keka, Jade, Mirage BC, The Viller's, SIK (RIP), Pay5 FTW, RBM (Rubber Band Man), Fab3, Mr. Mint, Bex3 (RIP), Nasor/Nas, Monie/EG TFC, Rum WSA, Rom/Dabe, Tram, Cent5, Sine3 FMF, Mer/Sion/Shun VO5, Fee5/Krome KIL, Siet VO5/TNR, SG3/Mars TNI, Ceal/Cops/PS123, Tap, Rad3 and Kid MTB, Raon3, Revel FMF, Cam/Eros, Lawe NWA, Osmar, Sufer TSR, Risk VO5, TIN ONT, Heck, Soke, Weasel KO, Nike, Legal, Enuf, Shep, Lazee, Bet, Kleever, Krazee FSC, Def/Syre (RIP) RMT, Creo, On2 VO5, Gano, PK, Dest, Ket5 and Sae. I didn't mention Strider because he isn't from Staten Island people think he is but he's not. He's actually from the West side of Manhattan.
On the Subway lines ELKAY TLP, Dez TFA, Skeme TNT, Daze TDS, Min/NE, Boe/JL, Sago/SA, Rich2/RH, Haze/SE3, Revolt, Iz the Wiz, Sach, Quik RTWOW, Kel1st Roc, Duro CIA, Sain TOP, Dyno-Mite149, Pre-Sweet, Flasher TR Nation, Deal, Smiz NSA, SS, Chic, FS/Fantastic Saso, Ron1, Rist, Dist, Second TVS, ANT, Bones, Net STY, AC, Bete, RAC TBK, Ice LSD, Old English3, Phantom13 TMD, Cer, Sye, Kap TPA, Magoo2 TKP, Weber KAOS, Doc TC-5, Flite TDS, West FC, Poke IBM, Track2 TNR, Hash TNC, 2Nice TC, Strider BC, Ghost RIS, Seen UA, PJAY, Jam2, Brim, Mack, BG183, Nicer, Bio TAT, Shame125 TOA, T.Kid170, Cem2 TNB, Tack, Spade, Kaze FBA, Rac7, Jon156, Sak MBT, Rize TNB, Pove GU, Cope2 KD, Spin TFS, Delta2 KA, Sharp, Vulcan, BS119, G-Man PGA, Sade TCM, Sha-Man NTA, Trike GND, Ses DOG, Mr.R MOD, PG3, Peak VIC, Tatu, OB, See, Mad3, DJ NO, Tess X-Men, Erni and Size NWA all these writers stood out in my mind.
When did you stop painting subways?
The last time I painted a train was 1987 I did a LASK WON, INSANE STB end-to-end window-down car on the 6 line. We got raided by the Vandal Squad. They used a scrap can I dropped to put their logo--that V in a circle--on top of my shit. Again, if anyone has a picture of that car or any of my work, can you please hook a brother up?
Are you active in the graffiti scene today?
Yes, my partner ON 2 and I have The All City Black Book Show. The ACBBS is a gathering of artists, deejays, rappers and b-boys, in an environment that fosters and supports their creativity. This live event attracts the best of the best within the culture, and the day is filled with live music, b-boy battles, live painting and the exchange of powerful creative ideas.
Do you have any final words and shout outs?
Shout outs to the family at @149st .com Eric DEAL and SPAR. To my wife and children I Love You. To The VO5 Crew, Big ON 2, GANO GRILLS, SEAR VO5 (RIP), SYRE RMT (RIP), EACH (RIP), DENT ONT (RIP), OMEN 5 FMF (RIP) and SOLAR FMF (RIP), HECK ONT, TEER FMF, SAMP 3, KAVES and ADAM LOB, ROM, REDDIE RED, ROB-SKI, CENER, RIN WON TD, RASPER and The VILLERS, CRAZY CASPAR, BEAR/TAB109, DIRTY SLUG 335, DOC 109, SLAVE, TEAN and KADE TMT, HIT 2, AID 1, The Destroyers, Style Tops Best Crew.
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