5 Nov 2015
I became fascinated with Perth graffiti in the early 90’s after seeing “PIST – GAS” tagged in the alleyway next to my house in Beechboro. I was 11. Writers usually operated within crews and from my observations “GAS” appeared to be the most prestigious one.
Me and my mates started our own shitty crews and tags trying to recreate that underground rebellious mystique ourselves.
I continued destroying endless stacks of paper practicing my tags accompanied by intermittent vandalisation from then on.
In 97 I left Lockridge High to work in Forest Chase News. Didn’t work out and I returned to a mature age school called Cyril Jackson. It seemed like people were only there for the social atmosphere including me who hung around on the oval doing dexies and smoking.
I noticed a guy I’d done swimming lessons with at those old Morley pools when we were young. He had a little brother too. I’d also seen him at Swan Recreation while playing Basketball. He came up. Way too confident and had graffiti on his Nike Air Force.
He came up at school one day and said I’d tagged on his piece at the bustop outside the BP in Swan View. He was submissive probably reasoning anyone willing to challenge his clout deserved caution. But I was just stupid. I didn’t even know there was a piece there, maybe just some kindergarten project.
We started hanging out at CJ. He was doing art and would show me his drawings. He was older and knew how to walk, people talked about him and everyone knew when he arrived. He wore jag jeans and Timberland shirts, listened to Wu Tang and Ultramagnetic MC’s. He showed me this tune on his walkman called the Poo Poo Wrecka.
After school one day at the train station he got out his marker and tagged a panel, he wrote TUMBLER – GAS followed by TWERP. He looked over at me and said “I bet you think your hardcore now coz I wrote you up.”
I soon realised that Tumbler was using Heroin. I could tell when he was on it because his face was pale and vacant, his eyes were red and his heart was generous. His gold rings would disappear some days and he would jovially anguish over injecting them into his arm. He’d winge about his pimples and ask me to help him get off drugs, get his life together and treat his girlfriend right. He’d say that he was pathetic for hanging around people much younger than him.
He stayed with me for a bit and drew TWERP in an amazing piece and told .me not to bite his style. I glued it to my file.
Through a new mysterious blue eyed friend and other people at school, my circle extended among other vandals, thieves and like minded youths. I got invited into JM by LASH even though my writing sucked.
Funnily enough besides crime, most of the writers were generous and morally upstanding among their friends, welcoming new people and sharing what ever they had, even tipping taxi drivers $50. That’s what it was all about, making friends and getting known.
I grew up excited by what I could get for free, smashing things and going where I wasn’t allowed so breaking the law was familiar but some of these guys had been in jail and had no fixed address. They were street; their acquisitions could be methodical which took my dishonesty to a new level.
One of the big news stations did a prime time report about Graffiti and interviewed Torcher, Virus and Brat while blurring their faces. “You see me on the news Twerp?” Said Torcher on the train one day. I had taped it.
One day in the Murray St Mall we were in a watch shop browsing innocently then the next thing they’ve vanished and the cabinet door is wide open.
We walked passed an older Aboriginal guy soon after who reprimanded VIRUS for bombing up Mirrabooka I believe. Virus started asking how so and so was but got shut down, “Don’t try make a conversation with me VIRUS just walk away.”
We went into Macdonalds across the road from Midland Gate Shopping centre. There was a glass donation box half full of money fastened to the counter and everyone was too scared to take it so I walked up and cut the wire with my snips and walked out the door. A customer said “that’s not yours,” and I laughed at him then disappeared over an adjacent fence.
We went straight to the bottle shop and I bought Strongbows for everyone. TWERP was officially a mad cunt.
My family went away for a weekend so I invited people round to get drunk. Early in the afternoon the phone rang and my mate Tom picked it up and started teasing the caller.
An hour later Tumbler stormed through my front door and went for Tom, “Was that you on the phone?” His fist cracked Tom’s mouth like a ball to mit.
I started screaming and telling him to get the fuck out, he grabbed me and forced me down the hallway in a bear hug. I was drunk and crying, summoning all my rage to break free as he overpowered me. He was crying too, “I love you man,” he said sedating me, “I respect you more than anyone, you stand up for yourself.” He was just too strong, he did weights and boxing and had too much influence over me, I gave up. I’d found my role model.
We all got pissed and Tom forgave him, holding frozen peas to his pummeled mouth.
We had a bonfire out the back and some of my friends from Lockridge came round. Tumbler had picked up his mate CINSE from jail after being released that day. They were sitting by the fire and his mate was leaning right over to one side with eyes half closed, mumbling and shaking hands with newcomers like he was mentally impaired.
My mates from Lockridge came round and screwed their noses up at my choice of company; beer and fighting was alright with them, but not drugs.
I followed Tumbler into the bathroom.
“Have you used man?”
“No,” he said fixing his hair in the mirror with red eyes and spotty cheeks.
“I fucken haven’t,” He said pushing passed me with the tonal warning not to interfere.
Some uninvited dude bought police to my house so 2 of us smashed him while Tumbler disappeared with a girl.
Then I slept with Tom’s girlfriend.
As the sun rose over Swan View I sat on above the train tracks on the kerb with Tumbler comforting him as he cried about cheating on his girlfriend and being out of control. Something had happened to him growing up and he was angry about it.
After he had cracked Tom
I was spending a lot of time with blue eyes by now. She had been in my health class at school, sitting directly across the room with short bleached hair, striking eyes and vintage fur coats. I couldn’t stop looking at her and one day she caught me, I looked away immediately returning shortly later to a wonderful gleam of white teeth and direct eye contact. I thought she was from another planet.
She moved into a house on Bushby St in Midland with 2 friends Mel and Tom’s ex Kelly. I’d hang out with these 3 chicks and everyone was curious because blue eyes was popular and I had fast become her best friend.
The house started getting very busy with all sorts of people. One day I was giving someone a haircut out the back and a few of us jumped the fence. I noticed a high open bathroom window and seeing as none of them were game I seized the opportunity to get some publicity.
All I could find was a bottle of grog but they tore the place apart finding cheap jewelly in places I didn’t know were there. “She must be a hooker, said one and I went into the lounge and saw kids toys allover the floor.
One morning very early Tumbler came around with a pocket full of jewellery and 3 or 4 watches on his arm. “I just broke into 3 houses,” he chortled and continued his brash repertoire. He’d started ignoring me by now.
A few weeks later we were playing pool in Maylands and Tumbler showed up to sell us gear. He had gold rings allover his fingers and a roll of cash. I didn’t bother saying anything. I found it strange that they trusted him. I’d seen him cut dexies with glucodin and sell it as speed to a guy everyone knew who shot it up in the Midland train station toilets and said nothing. Another guy point blank told him he ripped him off but Tumbler mocked him saying “Thats because you fucking smoked it.” But money changed hands and we ended up back at Busby street and I shared a needle with Virus. I was not surprised when it did nothing but not another word was said because Tumbler was the supervisor. He was BAD, ABC, GAS! And if he liked you, it was like a drug.
He once told me that he used to look up to the bigger taggers until he met them and realised they were nothing and that he could push them around. Maybe that’s what he wanted from me, to stand up for myself and be someone he could look up to.
Kelly had moved in with Blue Eyes after falling out with her parents and she took a few of us to their house to get food. Noone was there so she broke in and seeing as she didn’t like them we figured it was kosher to rob the place while she was in the kitchen. One of them found a bit of cash and split it between us. It was about $400.
A few days later police were at my door and mum was asking the neighbours to baby sit the kids while she ducked into a paddy van with me.
I was the only one to get caught because she knew where I lived. The police did the old, “we promise not to charge you if you tell us who the others are,” so I did. I started getting phone calls from people saying they just got out of jail and were going to break into my house and mess up my family. So mum took everything she had out of the bank and bought me a ticket to live with my Grandad in Sydney.
I constantly listened to a hiphop tape tumbler made.
8 years later I was back in Perth and I saw him coming down the stairs from the Look Out in Scarborough. He was with two girls smirking and with that same self assurance called out TWERP! I ignored him.
Not that long ago I heard he was dead.
This was taken at the bus stop outside Stratton Shops after walking in the rain from West Swan Caravan Park where Blue Eyes was staying after being kicked out of home for getting her nipple pierced.