When I started graffiti I was very naive, remember in 86 on the train meeting another young writer who lived in Auburn when near Petersham. I met him a few times and we seemed to be getting along so I said lets do more graffiti together and hang out. I was a dork at the time and sometime later I was hanging with some dudes and a few other guys and was on Newtown station. Most of the bigger crews were on the station and then some guys from another crew rocked up and the guy I met was with them. He instantly recognised me and I went to say hello and he immediately took a hook to my head which I ducked and I was stunned. He immediately started pulling me toward the tracks toward an oncoming train. A more prolific writer stopped him and helped me up, he told me he would look out for me and said don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The whole time I was in shock, never before had I been attacked for no reason than being a bit of a dork which in the 80s was a considerable offence punishable by death. Even guys I hung with would punch me in the head if I was a little smart with them it really was that stupid. I met so many agro guys that would just bash anyone for no reason. Luckily I had a growth spurt and I started getting ok at graffiti ignoring the aggression. Most of the guys who were agro left the graffiti game for criminal activities and I was lucky to just keep in the right crowds. I learnt pretty quick who was a head case and some guys you could see the look in their eyes, they were cold and intimidating. In the late 80s I went tagging usually layups and the like and this other writer who could be agro but he never bothered me personally. I was always scared as he lay into someone on the train once again for no reason at all and it was so pointless. While I tagged the back car I would hear the muffled noises of a few punches. Obviously I stopped hanging out with him as I was too busy running around painting pieces and I felt sorry for the people he harassed.
In the last decade or so people talk of targeted attacks which were of course quite common but from what I experienced a lot of the violence was just there on the street and people would use any excuse to feel justified in bashing innocent people. I can only imagine that with the one punch crimes today how many go unreported like so much violence. The crimes of these people especially from the past has cast a dark shadow on a lot of graffiti from back in the day, the most violent got busted and did their time. Violence is unacceptable in my books and I stopped hanging in graffiti circles by 93 doing my own thing. What I remember is the fun times from the late 80s painting cartoon characters and the like in abandoned buildings. I think what saved me was compassion and my love of art. I always felt that things would improve even in stressful times and I never harassed young writers who were up and coming. If you think it is cool to be agro check your head because what survives is the positive.