inside machine shop

Whether I admit it or not I am inextricably linked in many ways to RUDOLPH GIULIANI. This would be king used the images of my collective to patch together his collage of a grim visage that NYC had been handed over to the ‘other’. The city’s streets were no longer safe for traditional minded Americans. Some pretty brutal headline grabbing events like the Central Park jogger incident, the Utah tourist subway stabbing and the Crown Heights uprising were enough to transmit fear throughout the nation.

How was I to know that we were being used for a political agenda? What 16year old can comprehend that the journey continues past their 17th birthday? What teenager can think of anything other than the moment?!? So that is how I came to be part of this youth collective. My mind was trapped inside the moment and the moment was in Brooklyn 1986. The new year had begun without too much fuss at Brooklyn Technical High School. The kids from Marcy Houses and Sarah J. Hale H.S. were still torturous to all the Asian kids that might have ridden the G train with their ‘walkmans’ exposed. Sarah J. Hale was considered a ‘600’ school at that time. The ‘600’ was Board of Education code for a school that housed only special education students. Some kids were developmentally challenged and all were emotionally challenged. There was an incident where some kids from Hale were on the G train with golf clubs. They pulled the emergency cord between the Bedford-Nostrand and Myrtle-Willoughby stations and then began to rob people on the subway and issue beat downs with the clubs. What I’d like to know is where the fuck does a kid from the Marcy projects get a 9 iron?!?

The kids at Tech had their issues too. Westinghouse H.S. had been Tech’s traditional academic rival in the years after WWII. As the sailors and army personnel moved from the Navy yard the demographics for these schools changed, but the rivalry never subsided. Tech still required students to pass an entrance examination that weighed heavily on math and english while Westinghouse became a poorly funded ‘zone’ high school. The infusion of African Americans into the Farragut, the Walt Whitman Houses and the other Fort Greene developments meant that Westinghouse was an overwhelmingly Black school. The lack of any substantative intra-mural programs at Westinghouse meant that they would have to rely on physical contact with Tech students for sport.

Between the Sarah J. Hale kids from Bed-Stuy and the Westinghouse kids from Fort Greene, Tech students were in between a rock and hard place, and things got no easier inside the school either. The Black kids that held court inside Tech’s massive walls were 5%’ers. This was the last generation of these dudes that were still holding onto the quasi-religious commandments. They all wore an almost-uniform that consisted of fuzzy Kangol driving caps, leather blazers, Cazal eyeframes, shiny Chams de Baron shirts, straight legged(tapered) jeans and Clark’s Wallabees. The leader of the 5%’er faction inside of Tech was a dude named MESSIAH. He had to be the leader because he wore a suede fedora. Imagine the Hollis crew circa 1984. His right hand man was a cat named DIVINE. They diddy-bopped through the hallways lockstep, and if you saw MESSIAH you had to believe that the shorter DIVINE was in his shadow.

I knew some 5%’ers from my neighborhood like BAR-KIM, BORN, KAY-VON and the EVERLASTING ZIG ZAG ZIG and all of these dudes sold drugs so I was never connected to all that 5% rhetoric about the Black man being GOD. I mean, would GOD want to sell drugs? That’s prA’Li why I had little regard for these dudes inside Tech. I thought that the purpose of religion was supposed to be a mechanism for connecting yourself to a higher power or a greater truth. There wasn’t any truth that I could find with these dudes and they were straight up haters.

ft. greene place

In my sophomore year I began to exit from my nerd shell inside Tech. I had spent the summer standing on a corner off Northern Boulevard watching all kinds of people give BAR-KIM their cash money. When I handled the plastic vials I earned even more money and who knows what my future would have been had I not been threatened off the block by RoboCop MIKE COMBS. Nevertheless, I came to school in September with a gang of gear and a mean grip in the stash back at the crib. I could afford to buy a hero sandwich at Rocky’s every day if I wanted. I was still part of the football team although I never suited up and when I did they rarely played me. I finished freshman year with three tackles and two were against my own teammates. Life at Tech was still good. That was until I attracted the attention of MESSIAH and DIVINE.

I might have skipped some non-descript 5%’er on the lunchline one day or maybe I bumped into him in the hallway, but whatever the reason, I drew the ire of these cats’ crew. The stares in the lunchroom became vocal insults which culminated into a shoulder bump scenario inside one of the main hallways. DIVINE tried to do a shoulder bump into my chest as I walked to class. I stopped in my tracks as did he. As I tensed up my face and clenched my fist I began to step towards DIVINE. He moved towards me along with MESSIAH and two or three other 5%’ers. Just as we were going to exchange punches a senior named JAY stepped in between us. JAY and I were cool since I was a freshmen and he had some dap with the 5%’ers, plus he prA’Li didn’t want to see me get lumped up in the hallway. With everyone gathered in the hallway anxious to see someone get jumped and have his azz handed to him, DIVINE yelled out that we’d see each other after school.

My head was racing now because I didn’t want to get pounded out in front of the entire world. Keep in your mind that I am 16 years old so for me the entire world would be any student that went to Brooklyn Tech High School. I could handle DIVINE for sure, but these dudes wouldn’t let me fight with him head up. As soon as my advantage was apparent they would jump on me and pummel me with blinside punches and kicks. I had seen many a kid catch a ‘bad one’ and I was not trying to be part of someone’s high school memories in that light. I did have a few friends in the school that I was close with so I went to petition them to stand behind me.

My best friend GREG was a junior, a year older than me. GREG lived in Laurelton, Queens which was the home of the Boom Bash Brothers. Boom Bash took over the remnants of the mega-drug trade from southeast Queens that PAPPY MASON and FAT CAT had put together. GREG told his buddies GEORGE, ALDEN, CHARLES and JOHN STONE. My homeroom homie TIMOTHY STONE was an unrequited math wizard and he happened to be JOHN’s younger brother. FRANK NITTY from the Bronx was like a boisterous hype man who kissed every pretty girl in Tech. KELVIN JONES a/k/a ‘POP’ a/k/a ‘BABY FACE FINSTER’ was a little dude, but you should never sleep on little dudes. Just ask FREAKY TAH. Outside of school I would hook up with DU and DU. They were both named DUANE. One was from Herkimer Street in Bed-Stuy, the other was from Jamaica Estates. We ended up calling DU from Jamaica POLOTRON because that is the only brand of clothing that he ever wore. POLO was tight with a Technite from Brownsville, who always kept his two brothers, STEVE and TRENT, close to him. The dude from Brownsville had his two best friends with him also. One of the friends was nicknamed V’ILL BLACK and he was the most darkskin brother that you could ever meet.

The stage was set now for my 3p.m. showdown with the 5%’ers. In retrospect how ridiculous was all of this posturing that we had done as teenagers? It was pretty insane and over dramatized by the fiction that we watched on television. When I left the school there was a crowd of 50 or more kids behind me with GREG and all the previously mentioned dudes sprinkled amongst them. I crossed over Fulton and Lafayette Streets to the front steps of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. There DIVINE and MESSIAH were waiting along with another 50 students. A bunch of them were 5%’ers but most were just the other Tech students who wanted to watch us fight. This was almost a surreal moment like from West Side Story or The Outsiders. I locked eyes with DIVINE and the din from all of these assembled kids disappeared. I yelled to him, “What nigga what?!?”. Nowadays I think the kids yell out, “What’s really ‘hood?!?” before they start fighting.

Just as we were approaching each other someone yelled to me which broke my concentration. MESSIAH was trying to attempt to punch me out from my blindside. I quickly wheeled to my right and punched him in his face. As I am now fighting with MESSIAH I am snuffed from behind by DIVINE. I turn to DIVINE and I hit him square in the mouth so hard he stumbles backwards. As I am about to jump on DIVINE and really start giving him the business end of my fists I am hit by a car in the street. One of DIVINE’s cousins drives his car into me from behind. I am thrown onto the cobblestone street. As I rolled on the ground the car drives on top of my leg pinning me down. MESSIAH comes from around the car’s backside and just as he is about to punch my lights out when TIM STONE snuffs him in the face.

At that moment it was as if the entire assemblage exploded like a nuclear bomb. Everyone just began to fight. Shit was breaking wild. Everybody is getting it out now. The good thing for us was that you could tell who was who by the way we all dressed. You could tell who the 5%’ers were because of their style of dress. They had on their Kangols and pimp fedoras with leather jackets and Chams de Baron shirts. My brothers had a uniform as well. We were all colorful like a pack of LifeSavers wearing some Polo rugbys or Fila sweatsuits. Now shit had really become a scene from West Side story. A big ass battle royale in front of the steps to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In a wild scene like that you just have to hit somebody, hell anybody, because if you are just being a spectator, you might as well be a Now-n-Later. You will get punched out now, and hear everybody talk about it later.

ft. greene place

As the melee raged on all around us, GEORGE and GREG pulled me from under the front of the car and the Technite from Brownsville pulled the driver from out of the car and began to pound him out. When the driver fell to the ground we began to kick him and stomp him out. My foot crushed the Cazal frames on his face. That scene was symbolic for the day as well. It signaled that the fight was over and the 5%’ers had been beaten. After a short while the police came and this caused everyone to scatter in a hundred different directions.

This event was the moment when a loosely united group of specialized school students became galvanized. We all saw that we had a common problem and we all saw that as a group we could put in more work than most. We had backed these 5%’er dudes down and they were shook because we looked so deep and so serious. I am forever indebted to Tim Stone and the Technite from Brownsville for holding me down that day. As a matter of fact I am forever bonded to everyone that was with me that afternoon on the steps of B.A.M.

What that day also translated into was now there was an official shift of power inside the school. The 5%’ers had been the dominant crew inside the school, but they were insular. They could care less what happened outside of the school as long as it was none of their dudes that was getting it set on him. If the 5%’ers couldn’t stop Westinghouse kids or Sarah Jay Hale kids from coming up to Ft. Greene Place and wilding out, me and my brothers would! You couldn’t just come from Westinghouse or Hale and post up on the corner of Fulton Street and Fort Greene Place anymore. If you were going to be trying to hold it down at Rocky’s Hero Shop then you had better be affiliated with us.

This day didn’t end my brothers problems with the 5%’ers either. There would be several more dramatic incidents to follow up this one before that chapter in our story would finally be closed. But the rest of that is a story for another day…

One Hundred.

38 Responses to “The TRANSFORMATION”

  1. Rafi says:

    “that’s mad long; make it brief son, half short and twice strong”

    haha editorial criticism aside, that’s a dope story. the illest part is that you got hit by a car and it didn’t end the fight.

    i could relate to how westinghouse kids had to “rely on physical contact with Tech students for sport.” i was at hunter and we had our share of neighboring high schools that would visit our courtyard for practice.

  2. Knine says:

    I’m loving these stories…you killin em on the writing son , keep it up!! I dont care how long it is it never gets boring!!

  3. Chance Abrams says:

    Excellent post. When you write your book I’m buying ten copies.

  4. Nigeria says:

    I’ll properly only buy 1

  5. p-city says:

    My favorite part:

    My head was racing now because I didn’t want to get pounded out in front of the entire world. Keep in your mind that I am 16 years old so for me the entire world would be any student that went to Brooklyn Tech High School.

    All bullshittin’ aside. When are you going to publish?

  6. LM says:

    You gonna give me a free copy, right?

    No joke — you’ve achieved a rare permutation of quality, content and variety. It’s something to see on many levels.

    Ready with the next $21.

  7. Born7 Malik Allah says:

    The blackman is god,don’t believe that,know that. What you did wit that story was to classify the nation of gods and earth aka 5% as a gang. So you got into beef wit some dudes who were5% but its not a gang like that crip blood stuff. If you got into beef with some dudes who were christian or baptist would you label them that. So anybody who’s a 85% and don’t know who we are r left in the blind and go around thinkin were a gang. So if we come up in a future conversation then they can wrongly say oh I heard of them their a gang and then after years of hearing it becomes a truth to those that don’t know. The 10% want u 85% to think that so you won’t come find the truth of yourself. Who are the 10%?they are the bloodsuckers of the poor who teach the poor lies………………. . Not to say you did it purposely born universal truth(but) that what you did probaly by not knowing. B careful what u wisdom(speak) god. One word can change a nation. You also called us a religion. Like I said b4 god watch what u say. Never put widom b4 knowledge(21). Know somethin then speak upon. Don’t assume. Religion means a set of beliefs. Belief means you convinced somethins real but not sure. Look it up yourself. Gods and earths don’t deal wit beliefs like u 85%’s we only deal wit truth and actual facts if not then we don’t deal wit it . Yall thin god is a ghost or spirit on some ol blind faith shit. The when someone talks about us they always say negative. Some people don’t want u to know who we are letalone knowyourself god. You asked how they sellin drugs would god sell drugs. Now ask your self this would god put drugs on this planet,would god rape, would god kill innocent people? If the god you pray control everything why do thing like tha t happen. This lady ask me one day if you god make a ocean right here. I replied if your god exist ask him to do it right here . You guys keep lookin to the sky like fools while the ones that know the truth and hide the truth is laffin at u at the same time killin and also have us killin ourselves and don’t even know it. What u said about us is a really good way of helpin the problen and don’t even knowit. Black history and the first story I hear about us is negative. Allah was born on feb22 1928. Malcom died feb21. U put his picture up that peace but said nothin bout us. Ask yourself this . Why do they always talk about garvey,malcom,elijah,martin,jesse,harriet,sojurner,frederick douglas,huey etc etc but never talk about the father allah or the nation of gods and earth in history discusions. If so they do it negatively. Ask again. You ready 4 the answer. Its because he taught an we teach that THEBLACkMAN IS GOD

  8. Tony says:

    Yes, the Black man is God. The white man is the devil, but sadly that still leaves the Mexicans as the help.

    Damn if this story didn’t kick ass. A great indictment of the NY public school system at the very least and a reminder that there are actual kids involved in all the B.S. education talk that gets thrown around.

    No Child left behind my ass.

    This post demonstrates that there are few people looking out for the kids except the kids themselves.

    Amazing. Powerful. True.

  9. p-city says:

    I changed my mind about seeing you publish the book. How about a screenplay?

    I’m picturing Cuba Gooding Jr. as young Dallas. (C’mon, he needs the work.)

    Just kiddin’. Nah, seriously. Who do y’all picture playing the roles?

    I see Michael Jai White as RoboCop MIKE COMBS and Lil Wayne as DIVINE.

    Who else has ideas?

  10. Angel La. says:

    I can see that kid from “Finding Forrester” playing a young Dallas. Cuba’s face looks like my dogs ass. Don’t insult D like that. LMAO!!

    I’m happy that that ex-marine told your ass to get off the streets. Otherwise, we all would have never been able to experience your genius..

    This was a good read. The book would be a page turner, no-doubt.

  11. Nasty Nick says:

    dope! beatifully written.. word life

  12. true nimrod says:

    all ways know not to forget that the black man and woman is the parents of the earth with all the proof to back it. as far as your life stories with 5% nation, like the old saying many shell come but a few shell stay or chosen so please know that everyone aint in it for spirituel comfort, some for just to be down and that s what u came across, a thats in all people, so keep hope alive an stay strong pease.

  13. TRIFLEmc says:

    Wow, i grew up in Laurelton, like your boy Greg, and still live there. It was interesting to see that you know about Boom Bash. That’s a hood classic right there and yes, although it was considered the suburbs, Laurelton was a heavy cracktown in the 80’s, which has let it to be an equally heavy herb and cokaine town in the new millenium. These stories remind me of the unbelievable NYC days, when you loved being from Queens, even tho’ every other borough thought you grew up in “farm country boondox”, USA.

  14. Due718 says:

    Dallas, that was good and made me remember way back when……Clearly those were the times that now define us……I can’t even beleive you remember all this ….

    Due from BKLYN (Hancock)

  15. Massive says:

    My Man you have taken it waaaaay baaaack you have a very vivid memory and colorful writing skill. Most NYC High School(ers) in the 80’s shared similair experiences. I got to rumage through my mom’s basement to find my Chams shirt and “British Walkers (shoes)”. On da real excellent story just glad that we and others were fortunate to make it through (also enjoyed) the 80’s in NYC and can look back now as adults…TILDEN H.S. Class of ’86

  16. GNU:007 says:

    WOW I have the same story. I am from Laurelton Queens. I got out of
    LA in 81. I need to ask my home boys from LA who the BOOM BASH cats
    were. BIG TIE?, CHARLIE BONE?, CRIME?. 5% cats jumped me near my school, and all of Laurelton came up to the school the next day to get some

  17. jayjay says:

    WOW!!! Dallas you took it back with this!.. People dont realize that this was the start of the REAL decepts! The Stone brothers? Nitty? George Pinnock? You taking me back SON!

  18. abstrizzle says:

    you’re a phenomenal storyteller.

  19. froma2z says:

    You have an incredible voice brother. I sincerely think you could be the author of a period piece documenting that era.

  20. TED says:

    this is the real shit, please don’t listen to rafi, i’ve been waiting for some more detailed coming up stories from you. we’re not all slack jawed a.d.d. blogies, a lot of us still like reading, just look at all the comments already.

  21. illill says:

    wonderful stories

  22. Mighty Spare Rib says:

    DP– this might not be the place for it (finish that book, my man) but the one thing I’m still unclear about is how the Decepts go from their founding in self-defense to … wilding out like they did? The myths and the realities are both very interesting… esp. when reviewing NYC newspapers from the mid-late ’80s and see how relatively little attention this all got. (It did get some but it seems neither journalists or 5-0 understand what was happening.)

  23. Msidious says:

    Crissssssssp Coca Cola

  24. these journeys… incredible.

  25. Aj says:

    Damn, your really document an untold social history of BK, youth etc. Keep it coming. peace

  26. Jarobi White says:

    Believe every word. I met up with Dallas at the old Queens Plaza stop. Dallas… I beg you. Do it chronologically. It’s fascinating. Having a man’s mind and just realizing what we went through. Just to go to school. Excellent piece bro!

  27. JaiSlayer says:

    This is an amazing story DP. Ain’t we all glad we survived the 80’s

  28. Oprime39 says:

    Dallas you’re the illest. Pounds of respect my brother.

  29. Dashaun From The Ville says:

    Great read brother DP. It’s a shame that many people had those kind of run ins with 5%ers. I’ve heard that Jam Master Jay hated 5%ers because of similar reasons. Something with Queens cats and those 5 guys I tell you.

  30. Fred G says:

    That story brought back a lot of memories Dallas. Feel like it was yesterday. I remember going home on the “GG” on Friday was always an issue. I remember the ‘hard” dude from Queens rode the “GG” and the “soft” kids walked down to Dekalb and caught the “D”. I remember a lot shit on on that ride but would trade the memories for anything.

  31. Fee Whop says:

    Decepts need to do a documentary!

  32. Excellent thoughts; excellent post. Being a lay leader, I ran into a related question the first time I officiated at a wedding. I don’t have clerical garb to wear (and, indeed, I won’t even someday when I am ordained, deus volent, because my tradition doesn’t use it) but I wanted to look appropriately clerical, especially because I thought there might be concern on the part of the assembled congregation about whether I was qualified to do what I was doing. I spent some hours at the nearest sizeable shopping mall with my best friend, hunting. In the end I settled on a smart black suit — long skirt, long jacket — with my prayer shawl over my shoulders. I’ve worn the suit now for other occasions, but I can’t help thinking of it as my “marrying clothes”! 🙂

  33. SEO Analiz says:

    Check back tomorrow; I will see if the book has arrived.

  34. its great as your other posts : D, thanks for putting up.

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