Back in the Day
For A Scott and J Price
These were the late 80′s, early 90′s in New York City. It’s important to remember where you come from, even after many years and many miles pass between here and home. Honest in the middle of the night. Everything in perspective, sane at the edge of the insane, able to simply admit and accept everything between there and here.
This was a strange time. The city was changing. The country was changing. Everyone had been under Regan/Bush conservatism for over a decade and that had led us into a final trench of messy recessions and wars in the middle east and violent race riots in the US and cultural withdrawal and dangerous stereotyping and a general sentiment of rebellious malaise that was evident in the music and the fashion and commercialism and anti commercialism that was being produced then. Things felt very blah.
There was no great optimism for the future, no beat heroes on the horizon, no great inventions or adventures that inspired trust or faith or commitment. This was right before the Internet, right before the golden Clinton years, before the green movement and email.. Right before the cellular explosion. We were all standing around with beepers listening to De La Soul and watching Arsenio Hall and New Jack City and playing Sega Video games and getting high. Our parents had all divorced and no one knew where home really was or whom to really listen to or what to put any faith into or what to try and excell at. There was a grand spiritual vacuum and we slid along the rails creating our own reality daily. Superstars.
Music and fashion was everything. We prided ourselves on being real and core but we were so susceptible to the market place and the trends. The music, the jewelry, the baggy jeans, the hats, the vests, the walk.
“the baggy baggy jeans, the knotty knotty hairs.”
If it was in verse on an album or on Stretch Armstrong’s late night radio show then it was legitimate. MTV was battling for our hearts and souls, flippant between the big hair pop of Paula Abdul and the fanatical and frantic pursuits of Yo MTV Raps. BET and the two hours of Rap City everyday. We were so young and impressionable but not really trusting anything that came our way.
Sure we trusted Gangstar and the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy but these guys trusted no one so that left us one step away from cultural suicide as well. And this was New York City – not Los Angeles or Miami or Atlanta. NYC was cold and hard and had all the money and the beautiful women and the bonfire of the vanities and the artists and the Asian hookers and the radio stations and the fuck you skyscrapers and the indifferent cops and the boiling Harlem and Spike Lee and the losing Knickerbockers and the miserable football teams and the graffiti and the celebrities and The Post and all the real real heavy bullshit without the race riots. Before Gullianni and Osama and Obama and Monica and reality TV and token Billionaires – billionaires are like a dime a dozen now! No one really had any money except for maybe Donald Trump but that was all just bullshit so really no one had any real money except Suge Knight.
Art and sex and surfing are the only REAL things – everything else is bullshit….blah
“there is no real art, buy more tacos” the apostle Dane wrote on the back of his surfboard and now we penetrate the void with tacos. Monsters are real.
This is what you shall do
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
Insert transcendental energy here:
In the afternoon we had the Meadow and in the evenings we had Union Square and in the mornings we had school and cat walks and brain washing and Robert Zinn on a good day. We had white boy gangsters and young Black men in Polo shirts and unemployment and baseball hats. We had everything. Ice cream and skateboards. Nirvana stretched across the Manhattan Island. Some had Brooklyn but that was them and this was us and we were all the same but different. We had spray paint cans and thick markers and black composition books and nicknames and tags and there is nevery any difference.
There was the Kevin Staubb board with the meltling face – that came in green and blue. There was the Mark Gonzalez Psycho Stick but that only came in one color and the shapes were so super rad and progressive with a flat head and a steep tail that made ridding the Staub so weird and fun and we practiced all afternoon by the fire hydrant on 70th street, along the sidewalk and short ollies onto the pavement and we thought this is the greatest, it can get no better, we never grow up after this and we never did.
Thank God no one died.
The universe kept us all safe and fed and we walked everywhere in thick mobs that stretched across the whole sidewalk and we had a camera with us always and we were our own superstars, our own star fucking, and the city was one giant canvas fresh and clean and alive and we waded through it all smelling garbage and Chinese food and girls day and night. We had no idea of what happened tomorrow or next year or yesterday and had no desire for anything more then just that and we talked about music and all the rich white girls from Central Park and the twins and Riley and we all sighed at the mention of Riley because she was beautiful and rich and allusive and no one slept with her but Josh M but he was rich as well and played the guitar and had a dog and was quiet and sensitive so he got to sleep with Riley.
we dropped tabs of acid outside the local high school on Irving Place and tripped all through the night and sat on steps and aside blue mailboxes with no place to go and no planning and watched the trails from the tailights of taxicabs and lamposts and our hands blissful in the city night with no place to go and no girlfriends.
Thank God no one got pregnant.
Fred was crazy and talked to himself in the bathroom while staring at the mirror and running his fingers around his thick dreadlocks. we all listened from the bedroom quietly and tried not to laugh and when he came out of the bathroom and back to the bedroom someone bravely asked who you talking to Freddie? And he quickly replied no one bro, no one….why? Because i thought i heard you talking to someone. Nah bro, nah. And he smiled and laughed and sat down next to the television and licked his lips and played with his dreads and Freddy was so tall that his knees came way above this chest when he sat and he was definitely crazy but we all hung out anyway and watched videos.
And then it was all over.