Being a child of the 60’s, I was raised at the height of the Black Power movement. I may have been young, but I understood what Malcolm X said. I believed in Martin Luther King’s Dream. I even wore the Black Panther’s beret. Black pride and power were something new and it was the teens of the time that echoed it. James Brown said ‘say it loud’… and we did. Aretha Franklin sang ‘Young, gifted and Black’… and we were. But not all good was growing from this.
The 70’s also brought about the rebirth of the street gang. The dope pushers pushed into the schools and schoolyards, many having to quit when gangs took over their trade.But for a person like myself, who was just average in most sports except basketball, in my neighborhood everybody played good basketball so I was nothing special.There was one thing I did well all my life—that’s drawing. My love for art started with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. As a kid I would watch cartoons all day. Later my taste changed to comic books. Spiderman and Fantastic Four blew my mind. Then I discovered Playboy, and when I saw the art in there I knew what I wanted to do.
I place my first tag (Kay-Tel 169) on the wall nearest the stool I was hovering over. The 169 idea I took from Tree 127; his number was the street he lived on. My was the year of the hit:1969, droppig one ‘9. At this time I was still very much a “toy” using cheap markers and crayons, and the place where I worked was the hardest hit my my early ‘bombing.’The Kay-Tel 169, Kng Ding period lasted a few months. All around me graffiti grew—becoming something of a cult. My association with Supreme Speed 217 (Eddie) began. I changed my tag to “AMRL”, which was short for my last name Admiral, with every other letter removed. Another advantage was that AMRL was faster to write. Besides, it wasn’t 1969 anymore! It was 1970 and graffiti was taking off. 1971 rolled in with a blast of color. The Bway #1 trains got crazy with color.
Dri-Mark hits covered the insides of trains—every Riter respecting the other guy’s hits.