I lived within walking distance of my elementary school(shout out to J.Y. Joyner). My dad would give me a ride if it was raining heavily. During second grade, there was a particularly heavy rain morning. My dad tied plastic bags over my sneakers to keep them dry and drove me to school. When I got there I noticed it being awfully quiet...and deserted, outside and inside(had the zombie apocalypse started?). When I got to my room, it was empty except for my teacher. She told me school had been cancelled because of flooding roads. The school buses couldn't get to all the stops. The day had been turned into an optional teacher workday. Well, my dad had already left wouldn't be able to come back and pick me up. She was nice enough to let me stay. She brought me a morning snack from the cafeteria and explained to me what our class would have studied that day. I got a head start on what would be the next day's school work and completed some of it. I saw her light up a cigarette. She told me not to tell the class she smoked. Keeping me from being bored, she let me help her grade some papers and staple together handouts. Then she took me to the library. One of my classmates was there. She was the daughter of one the teachers. It was around lunch time that she decided to drive me home, but not before taking me to McDonald's for a Happy Meal. I never saw her in the same light after that day. She would be my favorite teacher until middle school. Thinking about her now, she was cute. She probably only had been teaching a few years(in her mid 20s). The next year while waiting in the lunch line with my third grade class, I saw her walking in with her second grade class. We waved and smiled at each other. She was quite pregnant.
When I told my parents what had happened at school, they were very surprised. School cancelled because of rain?! It was such a foreign concept to them. My teacher advised me to listen to the radio on mornings of bad weather for school delays and cancellations. Luck would have it, that winter, I got to experience my first snow day :)
What made me think of the story above was last night. The Foreign Exchange held a free private concert for about 30 of their fans. I'm calling it "Unplugged" show. The way you got to go was RSVPing to an email address and getting picked at random. I didn't get picked, so I jokingly bitched about it on Facebook and Twitter. Next thing I know, Phonte is messaging me. I worked out a deal with the woman of a thousand hustles, Aimee Flint. I could come to the show if I helped set up, greet the guests, and sale merch. So here I was, 24 years later, feeling like a kid on that rainy day again. I got see the men and women behind the artists, like I got to see the woman behind the teacher that day.
to be continued...
Monday, February 21, 2011
"Never meet your heroes. They will disappoint you."
"Be your fan's number 1 fan."
I stopped worshipping celebrities around the time of the OJ trial. That was also the same time I started hating the media...cable news in particular. Hmm, what a coincidence. Nowadays with social media, there's even more of a false sense of connection that fans have with their "heroes." Kids are spoiled these days. They can read Lady GaGa's twitter feed 24/7 and get images of her off the web instead of waiting for their latest issue of Teenbeat or Seventeen to arrive in the mail.
Sometimes though a real connection forms, and the social contract of fan/customer and merchant/entertainer changes ever slightly to acquaintance with mutual interests. And if you're really lucky, friendship/brotherhood or sisterhood. People like Questlove, Jon Favreau, Felicia Day, Kevin Smith, 9th Wonder, Phonte, who interact with their fans through forums, twitter, etc., build something real beyond the virtual and impersonal space of the www(Even if some celebrities fake it, they and their publicists have fooled me). I really appreciate and respect those that invest in their fans like that, because people's time and energy are important and to spend it talking with your fans goes a long way. Hopefully, the dividend is fans buying tickets and merchandise.
To disgress even further and cynically break it down for the streets, hos that come up to your car and ask, "are you looking for a good time baby," and strippers who just ask, "Do you want a dance," aren't gonna go as for as hos that give you that girlfriend experience or strippers that sit down and chat with you first. They're in the service industry, so customer service with a friendly smile is key. You catch more flies with honey as the saying goes.
Ok, enough rambling. My point is my "heroes" haven't disappointed me. One factor is that I can't really watch, read, or listen to something that someone has created without respecting them. I know you have seperate the art from the artist, but I can't do that all the time. A perfect example is Kid Rock. I bought Devil Without a Pause on a whim, months before it became popular and catapulted Kid into stardom. Then one night, I saw him on Jay Leno. He wasn't a guest(not famous enough yet) but was interviewed during a Jaywalking segment. Leno asked him some North American geography and American history questions, and he didn't know the answers to any of them. I stopped listening to Kid Rock after that. I don't have time to deal with fucking idiots.
On the other hand, I still listen to Kanye West even with all his flaws. My feelings on the Taylor Swift incident is analogous to those that support the troops and not the war. I obviously feel bad for young Ms. Swift, but I wasn't mad at Mr. West for running up on stage. Without contemplating too much about the situation, it was a funny award show moment.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Before I had access to cable, which would not be until 1987, I had very few opportunities to experience hip hop. After "Planet Rock" and Herbie Hancock's "Rock It," it would be about 2-3 years before I heard Run-D.M.C. Should I count The Fat Boys? I would fill that gap with radio, and the radio played a lot of synth.
The other music radio played was anything by Michael Jackson.
Michael would be the most entertaining human being to me for a few years(close to all of elementary school). Sure, I can get into his whole "Jacko" persona but I don't think I can write a better piece about MJ than Phonte of The Foreign Exchange: My Hero Ain’t Molest Them Bitch Ass Kids.
to be continued...