Uncapped: CAINE ONE Forever
Hey Boogie faithful! Guest writer, Freddy Alva, joins us again to go beneath the paint with us at Uncapped. The following is a stylized excerpt from the Queens Graffiti Legend’s Black Book containing interviews with LADY PINK, ROGER, Martha Cooper, FREEDOM, NOTCH 56, JIMMY 131, ZAR, PHANTOM and CAINE, childhood friend Eileen Galindo.
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CAINE ONE FOREVER
The life and death of Woodside writer Edward Growalski, more famously known as CAINE ONE, has captured the imagination of several generations of Graffiti writers, be it from Queens or parts afar. His untimely passing in 1982, right at the cusp of mainstream acclaim and entry into the legitimate art world, has always left a gaping hole of wonder about what could have been. I was too young to fully appreciate CAINE’s productions during their heyday but his legacy loomed large in the minds of writers that subsequently added to the canon of Graffiti in Queens and NYC at large. I wanted to honor his memory by talking to old friends from the neighborhood, writing partners and members of his old crew. From masterminding what is arguably the first whole train, both sides, production to his forays into canvases/lee jackets/pop art; are all a reflection of a talented and multifaceted individual that packed a lot of living within a brief span of time.
Thank you to LADY PINK, ROGER, Martha Cooper, FREEDOM, NOTCH 56, JIMMY 131, ZAR, PHANTOM and childhood friend Eileen Galindo for sharing their recollections.
When and how did you meet CAINE?
(LADY PINK) PC KID brought him to my house in 1981, they were commissioned to do a mural at Bryant High School, which was across the street from my mother’s house. They’d heard I was a good artist and wanted me to be involved; CAINE went ahead and did a Grim Reaper and I did a sexy girl. The principal called it inappropriate art, got real upset and called the cops on us, they came looking for me at my house. Later on when I got thrown out of Art & Design High School I was sent to my zone school, which was Bryant, you should’ve seen the look on the principal’s face!
(ROGER) I met CAINE at some point in ‘72/’73, he was living in Woodside and at that time we were doing a lot of street tagging. I went to 72nd street over here and there’s an underpass where he had put up a tag of mine; he did a ROGER, CAINE and TAGE tag, because they always ran together. I was like; ‘what the hell?’. They used to live on 61st street in Woodside and that’s how we started hanging out.
(NOTCH 56) I met Eddie through Angel Duster at 103rd St train station back in late ‘77 early ‘78 and we hit it off right from the start. I was from Corona and Caine was from Woodside. The first thing you noticed about Eddie was his calm demeanor, when most writers have an outgoing personality. We hung out a few times, did some local bombing and one day he asked me if I wanted to be down with him and I said hell yeah and that’s how I got down with Caine’s crew called “The Knight Hawks”.
(FREEDOM) I first met Caine in 1981 when he was painting the Solar Coaster wall with Pink in Queens. I was getting breakfast on the Upper West Side when Martha Cooper entered the restaurant and asked if I wanted to go with her, I was thrilled with the idea, and we drove out there.
(Martha) I’m not sure, maybe at GPI Gallery (Graffiti Productions). I did not know Caine well and I don’t have a good memory.
(JIMMY 131) TAGE, MAD 102 and some other guys had a fort built along the freight tracks by Roosevelt Ave near where US Skates once stood. They had tags on the wooden shack and Caine would sketch in black books, he would piece the alphabet letter by letter to perfect the letters, they were a few years older than me.
(ZAR) I met him in the summer of 1979 on Woodside Ave and 61st. I met him quite accidentally. I was thirteen and on Sundays my mom would send me ahead to church with thirty dollars for the collection box. I was suited up in my church clothes, ran downstairs to the corner towards St. Sebastian’s. I wanted to cop a quick tag on the mailbox right on the corner of 61st and Woodside Ave, as I was doing so I was approached from behind by a gang of older guys and I could tell that they weren’t from Woodside. One guy grabbed me from the front of my jacket, picked me up, and threw me on top of a car right behind me. The other guy put a switch blade to my neck while the first guy went through my pockets and found the cash in my socks. The guy with the blade lifted his blade up and all I remember was some other dude telling him not to cut me up like the last guy they robbed. He took two steps away from me and punched me in the face, then they all ran up Woodside Ave towards 67th Street, for some dumb reason I ran after them yelling and cursing! I couldn’t keep up so I just kept walking in the same direction. By the time I got to 66th St; I turned left downhill towards a group of guys who I had seen around before. I ran towards them to ask if they saw the dudes that robbed me. There were around 15 of them in old cars smoking weed, drinking beer and listening to classic rock, they asked me what happened and at that very moment I looked across the street and saw those guys walking down 67 street. I yelled; ‘There they are!!’ CAINE told his crew to go after them and told me to get in the car with him so I could identify them. What I saw from inside that car was CAINE’s boys running after them with bats, chains, and hammers. We went east towards the 70th St BQE (Bronx Queens Expressway) overpass. There was blood everywhere, all of them were laid out on the ground and banged up really bad, one guy got away. I got most of my mom’s money back. She grounded me for a week for showing up at the church like that, all dirty, broken shirt, jacket and swollen face. She eventually met him later on that year, thanked him and gave him a huge hug. Talk about a cool guy! Always looking out for his friends and neighbors.
(Eileen Galindo) I knew Eddie aka CAINE 1 between 1974-1976. He used to hang out at the Flushing Flea Market with my mother and some of the other gay antique dealers who held court there. It was a crazy, exciting crowd, deals were always being made. There were always parties, none of which I was allowed to go to at the time. He wore either a black leather bomber or a Jean jacket, he was thin and really handsome. His hair was dark and straight and down to his shoulders. can’t remember if it was painted. He always had his paints with him and my mother asked him if he would do something special on my skates. He took them with him and painted them completely, when he presented them to me I was so excited. They drew a lot of attention when we went skating at Flushing Meadow Park. At that point he was painting the trains at night, we would ride them during the day and try to find his tag and guess which ones were his.
(PHANTOM aka CAINE 2)- I knew MAD 102, FLAME, TAGE and his younger brother who stayed with us. I always use to go to Eddies house on 61st. Many have asked how did Edward Glowaski was inspired to cast and name himself CAINE 1? Ed Glowaski was an obsessed film fan who loved the film Citizen Kane, was so inspired that he identified with Kane’s role adopting the nom de plume, however he simply changed the spelling of its name to CAINE from Kane in forever sourcing its visionary movie.
What were some of the earliest pieces you saw by him?
(FREEDOM) The first pieces I saw by Caine were the whole cars, I couldn’t say which ones came first, but the Alice Cooper car and the cartoon car ran forever. I was also watching ROGER and the Wanted crew.
(ROGER) The first one was an orange and black piece that had waves in it, that’s one of the first I saw on the train because CAINE didn’t do a lot of bombing, in the sense that he did a lot of throw-ups. I guess early on he realized that the way to get recognition is to do production pieces on a whole car scale and ultimately that’s what he became known for, like 20 whole car pieces that made him famous because no one was doing that at the time, especially by themselves. He wouldn’t do a CAINE whole car but instead a ‘Welcome To Hell’, “Spellbound’ or Dick Tracy piece, more elaborate productions. He did some tagging but as far as bombing piece wise, there wasn’t a hell of a lot in that end of it.
(Martha) I don’t remember seeing any photos of subway pieces. I watched him paint a wall with Lady Pink in a Queens schoolyard. I remember the portrait of Blondie because I have a photo of him with it.
(JIMMY 131) On 69th St and Roosevelt Ave, there was a catering hall called Queens Terrace. I remember a CAINE piece behind the place, it was Krylon gloss white with a green outline. Next to the piece, CAINE tagged two of his aliases ‘Blue Blazer & Sut 104’. His main partner, TAGE 1, also had a ‘TAGE The Rebels’ tag alongside CAINE’s hits.
(PHANTOM) I saw many of his first whole cars i.e. CAINE PLANE, SPELLBOUND, WELCOME TO HELL which also inspired the crew and writer LEE and his Fabulous 5. Rotun & Wasserman wanted him real bad.
(ZAR) Welcome To Hell, Debbie Harry canvas and hundreds of painted Lee jackets.
(NOTCH 56) We just finished having a meeting at Calvary cemetery and on the side was a factory, kind of a dead area, you know and CAINE took out a blue Krylon can and did a dragon outline right off the head. That was the first time I’ve seen him paint, he definitely was ahead of his time, the year being 1978.
What do you remember about the 1976 ten whole cars ‘Freedom Train’ production?
(ROGER) CAINE came up with the concept and being that we were basically running the #7 yard with me and the crew from Broadway park, that was made up of some of the boys from Jamaica like MOVE 1, SIN 158 as well as CHINO 174, DOC 1 and others. He called me up with the concept; ‘ We’re gonna do a whole train, both sides’. I said all right, cool and we got together, went over to this guy SPEEDY’s house, which was off Astoria Blvd in the 80’s, near 25th Avenue. At SPEEDY’s, CAINE had already painted a whole train on the bumper of his car with a depiction of what he wanted to do. I was like; ‘Oh shit, let’s go for it!’
(FREEDOM) I saw mostly buffed versions of the Freedom Train, and didn’t know its place in history until a few years later. The Freedom Train was the first whole train ever painted, from what I understand, the Wanted crew came close by painting 8 whole cars previously.
(Martha) Only in photos. A woman showed up at GPI with a photo album with photos of that train. I have a picture of her with Caine but I didn’t get her name. That photo is in my book Hip Hop Files.
(ROGER) SPEEDY provided all the paint, they had 300-400 cans of red and blue paint, that was distributed for the concept CAINE wanted. My mother had a big old station wagon that we used and I fit CAINE, CHINO 174, SPEEDY and DOC 1 in it. We parked on the opposite side of Flushing Meadowlands, across from the LIRR tracks, took all the paint to the yard. Ultimately there must have been 30-40 people involved in the production, because 10 people weren’t going to paint the whole train. People say they paint a train with 3 people but that doesn’t happen, a whole train has a lot of surface area, it’s a lot of work doing both sides of it.
(LADY PINK) I was 12 years old in 1976 and living in Brooklyn at the time so access to the 7 line was really limited, never really saw his work until I moved to Queens later on. I’m sure the Fab Five were influenced by the Freedom Train since it was the first whole train production, someone like LEE would have heard about it but you have to ask him more about that, he can be hard to reach sometimes. The first time I introduced LEE to CAINE, they hit it off so well, that they sat all night talking about Graffiti and LEE went on to do a painting later on of that night. It was spray paint on metal canvas of a brunette and blonde dude talking as they overlooked the #7 train yard, some collector bought it. LEE always said it was a memorable night.
(PHANTOM)- Like ROGER said he was one of the first artist who understood production in creating whole cars like the Freedom train, which was contributed by a cast of characters while there was a concert at Shea stadium on the evening of the bicentennial July 3rd 1976.
(JIMMY 131) We cut school and me and a kid who wrote SX3000 benched at the Willets Point station to see the train pull out. By the time that we went, the train was broken up so we were only able to see individual cars.
(ROGER) As far as I know that was the first whole train painted wasn’t just one side but both sides, top to bottom, side to side. To my knowledge I had never see anything like that before, even ‘til this day.
Tell me about filming the production of the Freedom Train, the reaction and what became of the writers involved in painting it?
(ROGER) Everyone heard about it and knew what had happened, they didn’t even run the train, the next day they took it within the yard and split it up, right away started buffing it. Afterwards you saw the individual cars with was left of the pieces. SPEEDY was older than us, he was probably in his 30’s at the time. CAINE had worked something out with him and the morning after we did the train, they filmed it with a 35mm camera so the whole train is actually on film somewhere but it hasn’t been located. The last person that any knowledge to its whereabouts was PC KID; he located SPEEDY but the guy wanted like 5 grand for it, unfortunately PC KID passed away and where SPEEDY is now is anyone’s guess. DIME 139 was the only guy that had photos of the train. As far as what happened to the other writers, unfortunately I don’t keep in touch with them, when we did this we were just a bunch of kids but I do know TAGE, DIME 139. MAD 102, FLAME have passed away and obviously CAINE too. CHINO 174 is still around, he’s become a serious guy and doesn’t want to be involved with anything Graf-related. DOC 1 moved to North Carolina sometime after he stopped writing in the mid-70’s, I don’t know whatever became of SPIKE and SPEEDY.
Besides Caine, what are some of the earliest Woodside writers you remember seeing up
(ZAR) Mike79, Jimmy131, Son One, Pro One, Tage One, Conan, Flame, Web 007, Bust 007, Bionic 007, Ace 007, Ghost RIS, EA RIS and many more.
What do you remember about his Knight Hawks crew?
(NOTCH 56) One summer night we went to Astoria pool and started hanging out with some girls we met and having a good time when CAINE said; ‘Yo, let’s go to Flushing Meadow Park to see if I could steal a horse’. We all looked at each other and said fuck it, let’s go. On our way to the train station, Wane stole a van, now we got wheels to cruise around, when we get to Flushing Meadow Park there was so many cops, we were like wtf? so we turned around and started walking out the park. Boy did we looked suspect so the cops started following us, we make it to the van and to the red light when Wane said; ‘Yo we out of gas, so when the light turns green everybody get out and run’, so we did me, CAINE and Wane got away that night. I asked CAINE what the hell bro and he said he felt like riding a horse back to Woodside, like a god of knights, can you believe that shit?
(ZAR) I am one of the youngest members. There are too many to mention here but the best was protecting his mom’s bar on Roosevelt Ave near Junction Blvd, the gang fights were crazy!
(ROGER) We did not hang out too much in that sense, they were more of the Woodside crew, people that lived in the area, hung out and did crazy things.
(LADY PINK) When I met him in 1981 he was past the Knight Hawks and wanted to get away from the gang life in his old neighborhood. He was focused on getting artwork ready for gallery exhibitions as several people had expressed interest in showcasing his work in the US and Europe.