Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Graffiti BS"

by Yossi Halpernin

"The G Train From Smith-9th Streets to Long Island City" as appeared in New York Times 1/10/08

The Smith-9th St. station is deserted at night the tracks clear of workers and the platform free of cops. This makes it a great place to go tagging. The trains come every twenty five minutes you time it right you got four minutes to find a spot twenty minutes to tag one to get away.

We are in the first four minutes looking for an empty space to tag. I don’t want to buff someone else’s tag so I find an empty space. I do an outline of my tag SCOPE and fill it in. I look at my friend David he’s almost done with his tag SPIKE.

“You're done Dom?”

“Almost Randy.”


“Hey you.”

I turn around and a man who looks like he’s homeless approaches us he then pulls out a badge.

“What were you doing on the tracks?”

Before I can say a word or even think of what to say David opens his mouth.

“We weren’t doing graffiti.”

“How do you know I’m stopping you for graffiti?”

“Are you psychic?”

“That’s why you are stopping us.”


“You don’t know that.”

“I stopped you because you were on the tracks. Why were you on the tracks?”

We are both speechless. Time seems to slow down and drift away.

“So you were doing graffiti.”

“No” we say.

“So why were you on the tracks?”

“We were crossing to get to the Manhattan side.”

“This is the Brooklyn side.”

“I mean Brooklyn side.”

“Brooklyn or Manhattan side.”



“If you were just crossing why were you walking on the tracks?”

“We needed to get to the front car.”

“Well this is actually the back.”


“Well we thought it was the Manhattan side and that would have (would of) made it the front.”

“I thought you wanted the Brooklyn side.”




“Brooklyn Manhattan uptown downtown front back you're confusing me.”

“What’s confusing?”

“You should know were you are going.”


“We needed to go further into Brooklyn and went to the Manhattan platform by mistake and we need to get the front car but accidentally went to the back car.”

“Ok. Just one thing. I saw you climb down onto the tracks and then twenty-four minutes later climb back out again before a train came. Are you telling me you weren’t doing graffiti?”

“We weren’t.”

“Then what were you doing?

“We were trying to get to the next station since we missed the train.”

“So why did you turn around and come back?”

“We realized that the station was too far and closed.”

“Closed or too far?”


“Too far.”


“Which one?”


“We reached the station and it was closed. So we turned around and came back.”

“Which station?”

“Not sure.”

“The one over there,” David says, pointing.

“Ok. I have news for you kids. Stations don’t close. They're open twenty-four seven.”

“Well it was empty so we assumed it was closed.”

“Actually we never made it to the station. Half way there we turned around and went back.”

“Because it was too far.”

“Too far? Or closed.”

“Too far.”

“Ya too far.”

“Ok let me see IDs.”

“For what officer?”

“We weren’t doing graffiti.”

“Sure you weren’t. Why were you on the tracks?”

“Because we didn’t want to break the law.”

“You didn’t want to break the law.”


“We went on the tracks to smoke.”

“Smoke what.”


“Because it’s illegal to smoke on the platform.”

“What brand?”


“Newport I mean Marlboro.”

“Marlboro or Newport.”


“I was thinking Marlboro but I said Newport.”

“You sure? Or were you smoking Newport and he was smoking Marlboro?”


“I had Newport he had Marlboro.”

“Ok. Let me get this straight. He was smoking Newport you were smoking Marlboro and when I asked you, you said Newport but meant Marlboro. And this whole time down there you were doing graffiti."


“I mean no.”

“You're confusing me. Let me see the packs.”

We look at each other and pretend to look through our pockets.

“Where are the cigarettes?”

“Oh we must have (must of) left them on the train tracks.”

“Better go get them.”

“No, you're not going any where. No more games. IDs both of you.”

“But why?”

“We weren’t doing graffiti.”

“Sure you weren’t. IDs.”

We both reach into our pockets and find our IDs and are about to hand them to the officer.

“Why are your hands like that?”


“Like what officer?”

I look at my hands then at Dom’s hands and realize that our hands are almost completely covered in paint. I guess we forgot to wipe the paint off.

“Show me your hands. What’s that on your hands?”

“Not sure.”

“Looks like paint.”

“How did it get there?”


“Finger painting.”

“Finger painting. Aren’t you boys a bit old for finger painting?”

“The teacher made us do it at school.”

“School. It’s Sunday.”

“You have school on Sunday.”


“Sunday school.”

“Really? So what did you paint?”

“Christmas trees.”

“It’s July.”


“You're painting Christmas trees in July.”


“And you.”

“Painting trees too.”



“So you were in Sunday school this morning painting black Christmas trees and blue Santas in the middle of July.”

“Can’t bullshit a bullshitter sir.”

“It’s from graffiti.”


“It’s from graffiti.”


“We were not doing graffiti.”


“We went to go look at graffiti.”

“You went to look at graffiti? Then how did it get on your hands?”

“We accidentally touched it and it happened to be wet.”

“Ya we touched it to have a better connection with it.”

“You know how tactile contact can connect a person to an object?”

“Ok so let me get this straight. First you told me that you were crossing the tracks to get to the Manhattan side then you change it to the Brooklyn side. Then you tell me you needed the front car then the back car. Then you tell me you need to get to the other station but the station was closed and then it was too far. Then you went on the tracks to smoke a cigarette but neither of you know what brand. Now you're telling me you went to look at graffiti and accidentally touched it and also touched it to feel a tactile connection to it."

“I think it’s obvious that we were doing graffiti.”

“I think that’s obvious too.”

“How old are you two?”



“Do your parents know you're out this late?”

“Well sort of.”

“He’s sleeping at my house and I’m sleeping at his house.”

“Yes or No?”



“I'm taking you in and having a long talk with your parents about graffiti and sneaking out.”

Yossi Halpernin can be reached at Xskateboy12X [at] aol [dot] com.

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