Ken Durant aka “slave,” an urban legend from New York City, did something today he hasn’t done in 31 years. He painted a wall at 5Pointz in Queens — as part of an annual gathering of graffiti artists and b-boy dancers.

From 1975-’79, Mr. Durant and his colleagues: “Peanut” and “Tracy,” painted subway trains. It was a time that New Yorkers called the “bad old days” — when crime was out of control and the City came close to bankruptcy. He said he liked the #2 and #5 trains.

“Slave” was probably an inspiration for Jean-Michel Basquiat, the neo-expressionist artist from New York who started as a graffiti artist and incorporated the word “slave” into some of his work in the 80’s.

Today, Mr. Durant said that people should respect graffiti art. He lamented the way people treat each other, and commented on the various ways that people can enslave themselves and others. “Slave” plans to get back into painting, but this time for gallery walls.

Photograph: Stephen Wise