The Chronicles of Don One , Mafia , SSB
This article was posted by Daze 2 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, 16 hours, 7 minutes ago.
My introduction to the world of graff coincided with my discovery of the man known as Don one.
In 1976 I entered the high school of Art &Design in Manhattan. Though aware of the presence of Graffiti
before then prior to entering art & Design I had the same questions that all outside of the culture
have . I wondered who did it and where did it come from ? I asked myself what did it mean ? Where
were those amazing Technicolor masterpieces executed ? All that changed upon entering Art &Design .
That school was where I first came into contact with people who were actually writing on trains.
Everyday , lunch period after lunch period , writers would converge at tables in lunchroom to trade
stories of lay up raids and busts. writers would also spend this time signing black books and working
on outlines. I was one of those guys who spent multiple periods in the lunchroom cutting classes to work
on outlines . It was through this social arena of networking that I met a few of the older guys at
Art & Design . Chino Malo , already a Bronx legend in the graff game , was the guy responsible for
making me aware of the greatness of Don one. One day while hanging at one of the writers tables
Chino came in with a brand new piece in his blackbook by the legendary Don one. I’ll never forget
day as Chino explained in detail what set Don One apart from all the other writers at Art & Design.
In short I didn’t really need much of an explanation .
What set Don One apart from all the other guys
was painfully obvious : The guy had style . Lots of it. His handstyles in tagging were incredible.
and skills at lettering styles were amazing. What made him unique amongst his peers were several
very important components. One of the man things that was special about Don was his location.
The guy was from Astoria , Queens. To fully appreciate that you’d have to know at that time ,
The Bronx , and Manhattan were the main boroughs associated with style development . To have a
guy come out of Astoria , Queens with that much talent was unheard of. In many respects Don was a loner
as those at the top of their game often are. At Art & Design he associated with a chosen few . Chino Malo ,
and Inca were a couple of the guys that I knew had direct contact with Don . Inca was my boy and I knew
that he and Don had painted trains together. Outside of A&D I knew Dean BYB and I knew that he and Don
also knew each other. Outside of those guys though my contact with this mythic style master was limited to
what I saw in blackbooks, on the Trains themselves , and of course in photographs.
In 1976 Don was a photography major at A&D . This meant of course that he often worked with a 35 millimeter
camera at a time when most train photo’s were being shot with 110 camera’s. , the tool of choice for the
everyman. How I got to see some of his photographic work is a little unclear to me and unimportant. What is
important however is that I did see some of his photo’s. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement .
It was the first time I had ever seen full frontal documentation of graff on the trains. As a photography major
it was obvious that it was not only important to him to document the work but the photographs themselves also had to
stand on their on. The photo’s were clear ,concise , and shot from from a frontal point of view.The usual angle
shots of subway cars would not do. His photographs revealed the same level of perfection that his subway cars did.
For me it was truly inspiring to behold. Don’s photo’s raised the level of what quality train photo’s should aspire
In Art and Design Don may have been a mythic writer whose name was passed around lunchroom tables but outside
of that he enjoyed a healthy association with some of the top writers of his time . Some of the circles Don one
traveled in outside of A&D included such style masters as Chain 3, Noc 167. Butch2 ,and Kase 2 . He Also wrote
with legendary members of the soul stoned brothers , Cor2 ,Gear , and Dime 139 of course. This accounted for his knowledge of
style which traveled far beyond the confines of his neighborhood in Astoria . When you traveled within the style circles
of the aforementioned you had no choice but to keep your game up . Don held his own with the best and then some. His
incredible wild style pieces and amazing handstyles influenced generations of writers after whether they realize it or not.
The only downside to this story is that aside from a chosen few that either knew Don personally or knew of his work first
hand, his legacy seems to be temporarily forgotten . What we can be grateful for though is that his work was expertly
documented and is well preserved. Though temporarily forgotten ,his work and the incredible legacy he left behind scream for
rediscovery . I for one will never forget the incredible works I saw on the BMT’s by this all time RR king.
Special Thanks goes out To KR Newwave , TSS for hooking me up !
© Daze & 12ozProphet - Wednesday January 26, 2011