As a pioneer of the emerging graffiti movement during the early seventies, Stay High 149 has left an indelible mark on New York City and graffiti culture. While his tags covered entire train cars in NYC, his work first reached a wide audience with the publication of Norman Mailer’s seminal book Faith of Graffiti in 1974.
An innovative writer, Stay High 149 was the first to adopt an icon rather than a typographic tag as a nom de guerre; his “Smoker” was a subversive spin-off of the logo developed for the 1960s classic spy thriller television show “The Saint.” His “Voice of the Ghetto” tag began as an anonymous declaration of existence on behalf the city’s dispossessed and downtrodden.
After a mysterious quarter century absence from the graffiti world during which he spiraled downward into drug addiction and dealing, Stay High 149 reentered the graffiti culture to find he had become an icon himself. Still an active writer in his 50s, Stay High 149 remains highly respected within the community for his early innovation and enduring presence on the streets. His story is a must-read for any graffiti history buff.