All posts by Don Stoaker

My Portfolio on Redbubble

I just created a portfolio and posted some shirts for sale over at Redbubble. Click on any of the images below or go here for more info and also to take a closer look. 😀

2 of my earliest influences – Also quite possibly the first photos I ever took

I dug up some throwback flicks the other day. 2 of my older cousins and myself break-dancing on cardboard in my basement. I’m gonna go ahead and credit these 2 guys for introducing me to hip hop. These were taken the night of my little sister’s christening, January 1984. Coincidentally enough, these photos also are probably the first I had ever taken myself. I guess we grabbed my mom’s or dad’s camera on our way downstairs to keep it funky.
Break-dancing on Cardboard in the Basement - 1984
Breakdancing on Cardboard in the Basement - 1984
Break-dancing on Cardboard in the Basement - 1984
Break-dancing on Cardboard in the Basement - 1984

The Sunset Kid in Infancy [o_o]

Mister Burnem
Mister Burnem

My mom’s older brother I guess thought it would be funny to take a picture of me fresh out of the hospital with his pack of Bambu rolling papers in my tiny hand. Myself, I did not see the pic for the first time until about 31 years after it was taken. I thought it was pretty cool and so I used it to make the cover art for my song, “Mister Burnem”, off my 2nd album, “How to be Hard”. 🙂

In memory of my good friend Musa (Basta).


Wussup with these flaking ass bozos on SoundCloud?

Fellow SoundCloud users, have you ever had some clown come along and start following your page, then un-follow, and start following again, back and forth repeatedly like they’re trying to get your attention or something? Then they quietly un-follow your page once again after you follow back? Just wondering what is the point of all that foolishness. It’s like they’re trying to grow a list of followers that they can point to and be like, “Aha! Look at all of these people following me, yet I do not follow them! This proves that I am GREAT!” That’s for the birds! 🙄 😆

One of the Craziest Stories I’ve Ever Heard

Marilyn Mackey · Shaw Mackey · 1972 · Lower East Side · East Village · New York City
Click to Enlarge

My godmother is the ex-girlfriend mentioned at the very end of the article in this newspaper clipping. When I was little I’d heard about this incident from my mom, but I was always kinda skeptical until I found this clipping at my aunt’s house shortly after my mom passed away.

At the time, my godmother shared an apartment in New York’s East Village with her boyfriend (the “karate expert” mentioned in the article, who I will refer to from here on as Karate Boy) and my mother and older sister. One night my godmother and Karate Boy were home alone and at some point dude spazzed out and tried to strangle my godmother. He must have made quite a ruckus because the lady who lived in the apartment next door, Marilyn Mackey, called the cops who showed up and arrested Karate Boy and I guess saved my godmother’s life.

When my mom got home the next day she saw that my godmother had bruises on her throat and around her neck. After getting the details, she fled the apartment with my sister and made my godmother leave, too. Karate Boy was released that same day or later in the evening. I guess he went home, found the place empty and spazzed even harder than he had the night before. He sneaked into the apartment next door (by way of the fire escape, I believe), where he killed Marilyn and her 9 year old son, Shaw.

The story doesn’t end there.  After the police caught up with Karate Boy for the murders and took him into custody, he supposedly utilized his karate expertise to put beats on at least several officers and then managed to escape!  Only thing I’m not sure about is if that happened on the street or at the precinct.  I’m guessing the police handled him with a little more caution after that because he made no more great escapes.

The details in the article pretty much jibe with everything my mom told me about the incident when I was younger, from the martial arts to the group, Exuma, which I literally only just now noticed is also mentioned in the article.  My mom seemed to think that Marilyn belonged to some sort of religious cult.  As I am looking into the group now, it looks like Exuma was the band/stage name for musician Macfarlane Gregory Anthony Mackey (the father of Shaw), and the lyrical content of his music focused heavily on Obeah, which Wikipedia describes as “a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from West African, and specifically Igbo origin“.  Wow!  And to think for all those years I thought moms was exaggerating! 😯

My mother also mentioned that earlier in the day before the murders, Karate Boy had heard chanting coming from next door, so he sneaked over on the fire escape and peeked in the window.  He came back and reported that he’d seen a bunch of people standing around in black robes with candles lit, and that they were apparently performing some kind of ritual. Over the years I’d also heard that Karate Boy was ultimately lobotomized. I can’t confirm that but this article over at Wired seems to indicate that lobotomies were performed legally in the States until the 1980s, so I guess it really could have happened.

As you may have guessed, my godmother is still traumatized by the entire incident.  She doesn’t like to talk about it but one thing I noted recently is that she refuses to watch plausible creeper horror / thriller flicks like The Strangers or Funny Games.

Here is a recent photo of 217 Avenue A (courtesy of Google Maps Street View):

217 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
217 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 (Courtesy of Google Street View – Click Here to Enlarge)

One of My First Attempts at Writing Graffiti

My First Graff
My First Graff

Those of you who know me know that I am a graff junkie. Although I did not start writing and paying attention to graffiti until 1991, I have an older cousin who used to write back in the mid 80s. He’d drag me and another one of my cousins along with him as he caught tags on streets and trains from Flatbush to Sunset Park to Bay Ridge to Canarsie.

I didn’t know much about graff back then. The trains were bombed but I couldn’t read any of it aside from straight letter pieces and such. One thing I did know, though, was that shoe polish was popular, and one thing we always seemed to have in our house was shoe polish. Anyhow, can you see the “H” on the wall in this pic (that’s my sister chilling in the basement of our house in Brooklyn, circa 1991; don’t mind her)? That was me practicing writing with shoe polish when I was like 7 or 8 (which would have been 1985/1986 ;)).

I didn’t care about catching tags or getting up back then but I guess I was curious about writing with shoe polish. 😀 I remember there were circular grooves in the plaster of the wall which made it hard to write, and that’s why I wrote a capital “H”, because it’s made up of 3 straight simple lines. The grooves in the wall made it hard to write anything with a curve (“O” or “C”) or diagonal lines (“X”). I guess I could have also gone with “T” or “E” but I didn’t and I don’t remember why. So that’s how that “H” ended up on that wall. It’s probably still there. 😀

My Pops – The #2 Reason Why I Never Got Involved in Drug Business

Visiting my Pops Upstate - 1993
Well, in early 1989 my pops ran into trouble with the law and was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison. He never really asked much of me, but the first time I ever went with my mom to visit him in jail, he told me, “Don’t ever do what I did.” It was the first time he’d ever spoken to me directly about what he did for a living, and although he didn’t come right out and say what it was, exactly, I knew what he meant and he knew that I knew.

The #1 reason why I never got involved in drug business, if you haven’t already guessed, is my mom. Before that fateful first visit I paid to my dad, she made me promise that I would not ever follow that same path. I was only eleven but I guess that even at that young age I was a man of my word.