WRITING IS MY LIFE
Written by MIKE DREAM
Writing is my life. I am a graffiti* writer. Whatever people say about the terminology, I write. I've been writing since somewhere around '83. Phase II was an early influence, along with Dondi. New York writers, were also huge influences because they were the first brothas doing walls and trains. We also saw books and newsprint of the writing and the breaking, and we fed off of that.
After a few years of getting up, I eventually met Phase at a gathering of writers where he showed slides and we hung out, went to (DJ) Q-Bert's pad and then to (DJ) Apollo's along with Spie from the TDK Crew. Phase talked a lot about basketball and the history of East Coast writing, and he gave me a lot of respect for the writing we were doing here. My younger brother, John, who was into breaking at the time, attempted writing, and that pushed me to try a piece.
I was infatuated with the letters. I saw this book called "Hip-Hop", which was the original bible of graff writing, where we bit a lot of the style, but we eventually developed our own style. The softie letters, the throw-ups, arrows, connections, 3-D, some of the cartoon characters all came off the subway trains. But we began experimenting with unorthodox letters dealing with entire pieces on walls. And we did the Southern Pacific. We might not have had to deal with the "third rail" but we always had to worry about being rolled on.
A lot of the early eastside pieces were done on the 23rd Avenue train yards. It was the spot for the early writers like Apollinaire, who was one of the first illegal rebel artists to hit the Bay Area. He dropped a lot of the '85, the letters started appearing with early writers like the Bomb Squad crew with Phresh, Schmoe, Style, Quest, and then later, myself. I tried to incorporate my own imagination into a unique letter style. When I found myself in court for a vandalism charge under a different tag, I changed to "Dream", which I wrote on the court papers. It was the beginning of a life commitment, and i've been writing Dream ever since.
I went through a consciousness phase in the writing, realizing that 'art for art's sake' was weak and that there was power in the message. I began to understand the roots of my own culture. My Filipino heritage taught me about the struggles and sacrifices of my people for equality in this country, opening my eyes to the racism that surrounds our lives, and all of our brothers and sisters of color. My pieces started to have more content and substance, and each piece meant more than bombing (which is a fundamental part of this writing culture), but had more of a message. My writing has become a part of mental liberation, focusing on issues such as police brutality, national liberation, racism, and rebellion. But, ultimately it is the style of the letters, the words, that keep me writing, because to stay in the game, you need to stay on top of your style and ride that shit.