I had made a vow to Milwaukee to return and give better than the last time.
At the bar, pulled up to a chair bred from the 70’s, grandmother approved wall paper, and an Old Style logo crowning the back shelf, the kid couldn’t stop talking about the show. He’s one of the 100 that attended the 1/3 filled Miramar Theatre that night and nabbed a mixtape off the merch table. They’re free, but better when someone actually takes it rather than me giving it to them. There’s motive, interest, pure curiosity to someone approaching the table and taking something from it… but it didn’t stop there for him.
“You. You’re doin’ what you love, what you’re passionate for. I fuckin’ hate my job. I don’t even know what my fuckin’ calling is man. Fuck it- wanna take a shot?” At that point, it’d be disrespectful and spit-in-the-face insulting to turn’em down. I take the shot, he continues, but a piece of me absolutely cringes and quivers at his quick disposal of a life calling. Kid’s got it somewhere in’em. Has to. There’s no way you showed up to this house party without a purpose. Maybe someone, or perhaps something told him different, blanked the idea of following his gut. He suggests another shot, I say I have to get going, he digs into his pocket. Christ, this is it, he’s gonna pull the knife that does me in. Fuck, I shouldn’t’ve turned down his proposal for a 2nd shot. Brandy is religion in this state, Toussaint. They’re God, Aaron Rodgers, is on a run and you’re turning down their offering to celebrate.
He pulls five dollars from his pocket, pushes the wad into my chest, “Here man, here, take this shit, dude”.
“I’m not gonna turn you down, but what’s this for?”, I ask.
“I’ve downloaded way too much of your shit to not be givin’ you something in return. I’m sorry, man”.
This is criminal. Not only does this guy think I’m cooler than I actually am, but he also thinks downloading our music off the net for free could somehow piss me off. Homie, the dough’s at the door, not in the disc. Selling music only profits when you’re pushin’ 10,000 units in a month or so. At that point, you’re making long doe… I still take his 5 bucks. That’s half a meal, a gallon and a half of gas, it’s something. Above all, that’s someone taking a genuine stake in your business. He didn’t need to give me anything, but he did. Perhaps out of guilt, but in the grand scheme: him and I have wound up at this old-time bar discussing underground hip-hop, business, and politics; exchanging an appreciation for each other’s time. We depart, I’ll see him at the after party at the Red Room. TJ says they serve 40’s… at the bar. I must attend just to see it.
Headed back to the green room, DJ Double Drop is cozied up to a gal. Model-build, blonde hair, one-piece skirt and tall boots, she’s visibly drunk. Everyone in the green room doles their attention to each intoxicated phrase she conjures. It’s entertaining- “Hey, I want that shirt”, she declares, leaning back eyeing me like a piece of meat (women can do it too, don't look surprised).
“Uh, sorry. I got it from New Orleans, it’s not for sale”, I grin back.
“I’ll give you my shirt, if you gimme yours”, she glamours.
“OOOOOOoooooooooooooohhhhhhhh”, the room erupts with a manly burst of vowels. I decline the offer. Not that I’m above it, it’s just that a few things are on my mind, and getting promiscuous in Wisconsin doesn’t entertain the shoes I’m trying to fill (key word: TRYING). F---n hell John- we got three days left in this state. I get lost now, we won’t make it to Oshkosh, the bread maker for this trip.
If I wasn’t moving to LA in several months, I’d move to Milwaukee. I love the town, musicians click for support, not out of competition. Radio stations are accessible, whereas 89.3 in Minneapolis is as elusive as street cred. Never had the knack for getting their attention, let alone Radio K’s. However, with Milwaukee, 88.9 and two other college radio stations got back to me in a jiff. Aside from all that, sitting back with old roomie Jon, soon-to-be doctor, TJ working the blue collar holler, and several other kids I keep frequent with, is a beautiful thing. Perhaps I like it because I’ve successfully tricked these people into thinking I’m cool… na, couldn’t be that, they would’ve caught on by now;)
Love the city, love my friends in the city…. perhaps a calling is as simple as that. Show posters, facebook events, cd’s go to the garbage, get lost in the shuffle, or decompose at some point. Bein’ able to show up to any city in the country and round up a crew and a conversation in a couple of days… I would like to think is my path. I’ve been down with these folks since we met on Mifflin St. back in ’04. I’m just happy to still be doing this… able to give them something in return for all the support and love… like any friendship.
We finish our 40’s at the bar (there I said it), and high tailed it back to Brady St. for pizza at Crisp. Like a traveling circus singing, yelling, laughing through the streets, we blended into the 3:30am traffic of pedestrians perfectly. Finally steered the turbulent voyage to nab the first couch at DJ Double Drop’s house. Slumber... for 3 hours. Wake up and do it all over again... in a different city.