The Yard, My Playground

Digging through some old photos, I found this little sequence in a set. It’s the trainyard in West LA about 2 blocks from where I grew up. It’s still sort of there, but not, since trains no longer run on these tracks. It’s behind the corner of Pico and Sepulveda. This was a playground for me when I was in later elementary and junior high school. This photo says a lot. The tracks, the wall, and businesses of some sort on the other side. Sometimes, we’d (my friend Anthony Lupton – son of actor John Lupton) be there in the early morning. 7am! Riding our BMX bikes over the tracks and around the area, as if we were on patrol. It was our yard and was adjacent to a parking lot for the warehouse for huge store called Zody’s. The graf guys who came by, were mere welcomed visitors.

I saw gang members get arrested, a couple having sex in a car, a stray dog who had puppies, a dumpster which was always full of interesting treasure, and the rare homeless person who we’d befriend. I remember one asked if I was a pimp. I think I was 12 years old.

At some point, I don’t remember when it was, but all of a sudden colorful graffiti started to show up. I don’t think it was illegal, but I’m not sure who condoned it all. I remember when the walls were blank, but all of a sudden became a canvas. People would paint in the day and night.

I remember a few who’d come by. P-Jay, Brisk, Jay, and others. I forgot their monikers. I’m sure a lot were in it just for a minute. I’m embarrassed to continue to say more since it rhymes, but a lot “were in it to win it.”

I think I shot these photos for the heck of it. I might have been 1983, but I’m not sure. Maybe it was 84 or even 85 or 86? It’s a blur now. But I’m banking on it being in the mid 80s. Maybe one of the graf guys can tell me, they’re still around, and enshrined in some places as being legends of the game.

See the Vespa sign? They fixed Vespas up on the other side of the wall. We used to play there too. Riding our BMXs around and bothering the mechanics was part of the fun. I remember mods would show up on their Vespas with the tons of mirrors and of course we’d be weak 100 lbs punks saying stuff like “ANTI MOD” under our breaths. Punks didn’t like the mods back then, and vice versa. Only now can almost everyone who made it out of the 80s haze of figuring things out, be friends.

Miner was my favorite. I never met him, but when he’d paint, I’d always appreciate it. I’d show up in the morning and there it would be – a new Miner piece. Another awesome painter here was Risk. Another, named Wisk. I think Risk is quite a famous guy these days. It’s ironic that if you were a train conductor passing through, you’d see this graf on the walls and not on the trains. It wasn’t like that in LA yet.

If you put together all of the pieces, you actually get some type of assemblage of a wall sequence. Pieces are missing here and there. My best friend, Anthony from what I last heard became an addict and lived on the streets. The area now has more retail and the warehouse is an office building. These photos don’t show the surroundings too well and are void of the local characters and flavor, but I end up filling those in myself when I see these photos.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published