My homage to Samo in Beat Street

Just a curious question that recently dawned on me after watching the Basquiat film. Seeing that you were the original writer of “Beat Street,” was the Ramo character a not-so-thinly veiled reference to Jean-Michel and his SAMO moniker? If so, what a prophetic ending! –James

Great question, James. I don’t know how I came up with the name Ramon, I knew I had to switch up all the names and was looking for something original that had style. In my original script, a central character catching on fire in a subway tunnel was named Ramon, and his tag was DJ Ramo. In dropping the “n,” I must have been thinking about Jean-Michel’s tag, Samo. So I guess it is sort of a nod in his direction. The climax in my script involved Ramon catching on fire in a subway tunnel. It was a depiction of what happened to Ali when he was painting one night with Futura 2000. A spark by a passing train set off a can of spray-paint whose nozzle was hissing. Ali was covered by flaming paint and barely survived. While in the hospital, he gave a famous interview to the New York Times about the dangers of graffiti writing. In embellishing his story, he claimed to have been abandoned by Futura while on flames. Futura actually put out the fire and took him to the emergency room. After the story was printed, however, no one would believe Futura’s version and he was forced to join the Navy to get a ticket out of town for a few years. My original script was called Looking for the Perfect Beat and was very, very different from what eventually came out. In fact, the main characters’ names was almost all that survived. Someday, maybe Looking for the Perfect Beat will actually get produced. I put the entire original script on Smashwords and Amazon for $2.99.

3 Replies to “My homage to Samo in Beat Street”

  1. You can read the full story of the origins of hip hop, including the Futura and Ali stories, in my book “Octopus Conspiracy” which sell it on Amazon for $15 and will personally autograph. The link to the Amazon page can be found on the right side of this page, just click and scroll down until you see my listing.

  2. hi Steve — wild! who knew? i thought “Beat Street” was kind of a sad attempt to capitalize on “Wild Style” — and to neuter the culture before it was out of the gate… ha ha ha! i dig how Brooklyn Museum denies that the billiion-dollar-a-year graffiti eradication industry had anything to do with cancelling the Street Art show from LA MOCA — re. your “Looking” script — if you still own it, it should not be hard to have it made… the best young actors would dig to be in it, and production costs now are pretty low… talk to Charlie about it — all the best from Madrid, Alan W. Moore

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