Monday, March 10, 2014

That 40-Year Old Chick Unleashed The Dragon

A team of young gents decided to take on the costumes of super heroes for Hamline University’s International Dodgeball competition. They were down to two competitors in the 2nd round of their game versus the Rag Tags. I wouldn’t assume their team name was the Rag Tags, but due to the amount of tattoos, lean muscle, and gray hairs, they had the look of an aging gang from The Warriors.

I had the time, as I waited with my team to compete in the championship round. The Rag Tags were down to one player against the two costumed super heroes. A lone 40-something year-old woman with a dark shirt and yoga pants steadied herself on the short side of the court ready for the heroes to unleash, what they hoped would be, the final throws to out her from the game. When a team is down to one member, the rules state that the opposing team can cross the middle line to a red line that marks ¾ of the court. Least to say, the 40-something was in dire straits.

Her dexterity maneuvered her through the first onslaught of three dodge balls from the teen-boys. They were all high- the woman literally matrix’d back, leaning to her tailbone, bending both knees in an awkward position and then rolling over back to balance. The teen titans regathered slower than molasses. They reloaded for what felt like the length of a Will & Grace episode, and returned to the red line.

You see, the Rag Tags were up a round on the costume crusaders, so if this 40-something woman were to oust the young gents, she’d have won the game for her team of tattooed dodge ballers.

The teen-boys, lethargic in their pursuit, made a game-ending mistake. The kid dressed in superman tights, dawning superman underwear over them, took his sweet-ass time to wind up his throw. Just as he prepped back, he hesitated. Poor sucker, I couldn’t feel bad for him by the time he’d realized he’d been moving too slow for the game. She’d already unleashed a small ball high enough to dodge, but superboy was already caught in his own fear of missing. He’d dismissed the fact that she’d had a cannon on her, and as the small ball pegged him in the elbow, he stood there for a moment. It looked that his brain was lagging behind the actual real-time event.

Super-teen dropped his head, looked off to the upper-right, shamed himself with a small murmuring from his lips, the crowd cheered… and before we (the audience) even knew it, the woman had unloaded the final blow.

It’s important to take note, here, that these people didn’t just mosey into a dodgeball tournament on a Sunday in the middle of St. Paul for absolutely no reason. They’d entered with intent and the deliberate goal to end every other team against them. So, there would be no reason to throw a middle-aged woman to the wolves unless she was able to wipe the smirk off your presumptuous face with a foam ball across the jaw.
Wearing an X-Men t-shirt, super-boy’s compatriot was the last one standing on his team. His prep was even slower, he’d reacted so poorly that the woman had enough time to grab another ball, wind up and release. By the time he realized what the hell was going on… he was out. She struck him with the same blow that had taken out super-teen beforehand.

The crowd erupted in absolute hysteria.

I felt compelled to run out and do cartwheels until my arms gave out, grown men jumped up and down as if the Vikings had just surprisingly won the super bowl (or anything), the other festively dressed teams fist pumped and gathered round the woman. Her team began cheering a chant that seemed pre-scripted before the game. And as the super-teens pathetically lowered their heads in a state of disbelief, and other teams hoisted her into the air cheering her, you could think nothing outside of how much that could make someone’s month, let alone year. Any of us would be privileged to blast two super-hero dressed 19-year olds out of a dodgeball competition… at any point of our lives.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Missing Element To The Rhyme Scheme

Cast deep into the back of the Spyhouse on Hennepin Ave, across the street from Fifth Element, we sat at the room’s center table. His girlfriend checked in and out on her phone while he and I wrote the final 4-bar exchanges for a song. In what felt like two hours, but was only a half, we finished the final verse of our song.
Wrapping up, he asks “So… why are you letting me… even be on this?” This, meaning the mixtape.

It was an obvious question, and should have been a given before we sat down to go to work. I stand absolutely nothing to gain by letting some kid from the burbs feature on a project of mine. I could’ve easily reached out to collaborate with a more staple name and brand, but it might’ve gone redundant in the features already amassed on the past mixtapes.

What it comes down to is the kid's brimming with potential talent. and if I throw my name in the hat of assholes who have limited his opportunities, then I’m no better than the whitewashed hip-hop elitism coursing through Minneapolis already.

“Good question…” I watched my words carefully. This isn’t a question I wanted to answer, because I knew if asked, I’d be cornered into a brutally honest response which I wasn’t sure if he was ready to hear. “After I taught the workshop you participated in, you reached out to me to feature on your song. I turned it down. So, figured to put the offer out there to collaborate on this, because when I was in your position, I emailed, called and reached out to artists in town as well- to maybe open up for them at a show, feature on a track, or something, anything. I’d reach out to a lot of artists for help and support, when I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing… and hardly any of them ever got back to me. Begrudgingly, every single one of them that didn’t get back to me… I never forgot. This city is the exact opposite in regards to what I’ve experienced in other artist communities. In Brooklyn, we’d collaborate, exchange numbers, commiserate, give each other guidance. In Milwaukee, everyone is seemingly down to offer help, or willing to book you for something at the drop of a hat. But here…  it’s this.”

Detail wasn’t necessary at this point. We had an understanding of the “this”. I forwent the racial connotations, did delve into the politics, and left it at a point of “it’s up to you”.

Regardless of another community’s proactivity toward assisting artists, Minneapolis might damn near break your spirit to take another stage. 

If this kid has any sense he’ll either remain in town to make the scene a better place than it already is… or run. If he wasn’t white, I’d advise him to take up the latter.