Two Dance Moments
Warning: This post might be deemed scandalous, unedifying or otherwise tasteless to some readers. If you are looking for inspiration, or are under the impression that I sit around all day reading old manuscripts and listening to Lully, please don't read it. I hope to return to something more intellectually stimulating soon....
Berkeley goes through fads. That is something that goes without saying. When I first came to Berkeley in 1997 as a freshman fresh out of high school, there were hackey sacks, FUBU gear, and spaced out kids going to raves. Now, one of the more visible fads on campus are groups of dorky, middle-class Asian (and some white) kids doing hip-hop dancing in the open air. For those of you around in the early 1990's, think an all-Asian version of the Fly Girls from the show, In Living Color. The only problem is that there are some dorky, middle class Asian boys peppered in with the wannabe background dancers in hip hop videos. How gay!
Now, I have no problem with people doing activities like these. That's how social networking takes place. You can meet new friends, find professional opportunities, and acquire a special kind of belonging that our cold, technocratic society often deprives us of. So there are times I can almost envy our petit-bourgeois seekers of "street cred". That was until last Saturday, when the whole thing just crossed the line and became completely ridiculous.
Now, I am really trying to keep this blog PG-rated. But here I might cross the line a bit. For, when I was walking home from work, I noticed that the urban bard that our wannabe Fly Girls were dancing to was none other than the ghetto reincarntion of Ovid, Too $hort. For those of you who do not know of this earthy spinner of tales from East Oakland, your salvation is already assured. Those of us who have some familiarity with his work have much to worry about....
To cut to the chase, the song used was one of his more classic tracks from his album, Married to the Game, called Burn Rubber. Some of the more innocent lines from the song are the following:
You suckers disrespect the game
All these video hoes out there spittin your name
You love it when they make that, a#$ clap
But she don't give me no cash, I'll pass it back.
Now, okay, am I just being vulgar here? Am I just writing this so that all of you can be shocked and I can continue my rhetorical goal of scandalizing everyone I meet. Well, that's part of it. But more to the point, I find it very ironic, and almost disgusting, that these mostly privileged youth from the suburbs can entertain themselves publicly using songs that involve things they will never experience. I mean, have any of these eighteen year olds seen a real live pimp or crack whore? (Anonymous, a.k.a my older brother could write a book on the nocturnal habits of these special kind of service workers, as he lived in Oakland right in the middle of one of their busiest haunts.) Maybe that is Mr. $hort's intention; God knows people in the ghetto can't afford to buy his albums. But could they get away with blasting Too $hort's homage to pimping if the campus actually looked like East Oakland and the rest of California and not some freakish demographic blob where whites and Asians predominate? I don't think so.
I am not here to raise the Black/Chicano Studies red flag here, but it seems like cultural exploitation, even if it is mutual between the parties involved.
Later on that day, my homey Dr. Dre came through with a gang of Tanqueray....
No,not really. It's just that I have always wanted to write that out on this blog.
Rather, later on that day, I went to see the Trisha Brown Company perform at Zellerbach Hall. Now, I suppose I was in a much more "high-brow" atmosphere, but the quality of the experience was about the same. I am an open-minded person. I can accept pretty much anything as long as there is some attempt at beauty involved. But to have an evening of dance without a single note of music and all noise? I'm sorry, that just crossed the line. I mean, I'm paying for this. If you want to do this buffonery and let me watch it for free, please, be my guest. I can do my taxes while you all are dancing. The dancing itself was alright, until the end when one of the dancers began a foolish dialogue with some "robots" (motorized cars with large poles attached to them) that lasted a good fifteen minutes. Still, no music? I got gipped.
Seeing that I have a big masochistic streak, I stayed until the bitter end. I didn't feel like doing a "Le Sacre du Printemps" style riotous scene afterwards, since that has all been done before. They could at least have had some atonal crap to dance to like Boulez or Stockhausen.
Saturday was not a good day for art in Berkeley.