Do As Janine Says, recommends guest blogger Janine Avril
Yesterday I took Alana, one of my recent high school graduates, up to college at the State University of New York at Albany. We live in New York City and her mother does not have a driver’s license, so I offered to rent a minivan to drive Alana, her mom and her best friend Gaby, also a former student of mine.
(Okay….so backtrack….about a year ago, Nicola and I took a road trip from New York City to Northampton Massachusetts, the gay capital of America, to attend our friends’ lesbian wedding. When we’d arrived at Enterprise Rental Car the morning of the road trip we were informed that we could not hook up our iPods in the car unless we bought an audio cable somewhere. I was totally miffed and ready for a fight. I insisted to Nicola that we drive five miles out of our way to the closest Radio Shack and wait until it opened later that morning to buy the cable since a three hour ride to Northampton without any access to our favorite music would have been too much of a cross to bear. Unlike some people who would have been pissed off at me for being high maintenance, Nicola was totally on my wavelength and happily agreed that Northampton was not even CONSIDERING seeing either of us in the light of day before we bought that audio cable. The trip after our Radio Shack pit stop was smooth sailing. We rocked Fifty Cent, Kanye West, Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna and a host of other rappers and incredible artists straight up to Northampton and when the wedding was over we were spotted at a nearby gas station with the windows pulled down, dresses and makeup still on, singing and dancing in our seats to Salt and Peppa’s “None of Your Business.” This is a totally priceless memory of childlike fun to me, so the wait for Radio Shack to open for the audio cable was totally worth the while.)
Yesterday morning I remembered to bring that cable with me to the rental car place, and I readily hooked it up as soon as the keys to the minivan were in my hand and the engine was revved. I drove to pick up the crew at Alana’s apartment in Brooklyn. When I was packing up the back of the van with Alana’s mother, Alana sat shot gun in the passenger seat, talking to Gaby in the back seat, waiting for us to head out of Brooklyn. It was a very classic example of the adult’s doing the hard work while the teens kicked backed and chilled out and used expressions in their dialogue such as “True that” and “Word to the Five.”
I noticed up on returning to the driver’s seat that Alana had plugged her own IPod into the cable and that mine was missing-no where in sight!
“Where is my IPod?” I asked her. She wouldn’t tell me until I threatened, jokingly of course, not to drive her to college. With a devilish smile on her face, she confessed it was hidden in the glove compartment, informing me that her iPod was remaining hooked to the cable and that she’d be running the music show in this minivan.
“You like Pink Floyd! ” she laughed. This reminded me of our generation gap because Floyd was the coolest thing around when I was a teenager. There was nothing more fun in the world than getting stoned and going to the Hayden Planetarium to watch the laser light show on a Friday night with my best friends. I also remember my own parents chiding me for my musical tastes, and I remember totally making fun of them for theirs, which is why I really had to give Alana some slack. I wasn’t going to argue that Alana couldn’t be D.J. If anything, I was happy about it because I was curious and interested to hear the music she liked. However, she hadn’t looked through my musical selection well enough to see that I actually was a fan of hip hop and that we shared at least some commonalities in our musical tastes
For the first two hours of the trip or so, I let Alana dj the ride, with selections from both her IPod and Gaby’s IPod, most of which I actually really liked. Top selections from Alana were from Kid Cudi and top selections from Gaby were from The Fray. Both were new to me since I’m very negligent about being up with the latest artists or bands. I don’t have MTV, hate paying for music, and really don’t want Lime wire to fuck up my computer. I think the last time I was really passionate about current music when I was Alana and Gaby’s age and used my weekly allowance to buy CD’S at Tower Records at the mall near my house. These were the old days…being a teen in the 1990’s….the days before music was primarily digital and purchased on the internet.
I finally asked Alana if we could hook in my IPod and rolling her eyes at me, she finally agreed. I managed to play some stuff that didn’t make her look totally miserable and in danger of jumping out of the minivan window. The CLASSIC part of the road trip for me was when I put on “Mama Said Knock You Out”, LL Cool J, and everyone in the car GOT DOWN!!! Alana’s mom was dancing in the backseat like nobody’s business, revealing a clear sense of natural rhythm of movement. Alana broke loose in the front seat, also revealing an ease of movement that I never knew she had since we’d never been in a context where I saw her dance. I was singing the lyrics that I knew, verbatim, in the front seat, dancing in my seat while trying to focus on not crashing the car altogether. (My major goal for the day was getting Alana to college alive and well and getting the rest of us back to New York City with no scars.) However, it was hard to contain myself and focus entirely on the road. I got particularly pumped at the same verse that I always get pumped at when LL Cool J rocks it:
“Shotgun blasts are heard
When I rip and kill, at WILL
The man of the hour, tower of power, I’ll devour
I’m gonna tie you up and let you understand
that I’m not your average man
when I got a jammy in my hand
Listen to the way I slaaaaay, your crew
Damage (UHH) damage (UHH) damage (UHH) damage
Destruction, terror, and mayhem
Pass me a sissy so suckas I’ll slay him
Farmers (What!!!) Farmers (What!!!)
I’m ready (we’re ready!!!)
I think I’m gonna bomb a town (get down!!)
Don’t u neva, eva, pull my lever
Cuz I explode
And my nine is easy to load
I gotta thank God
Cuz he gave me the strength to rock
HARD!! knock you out, mama said knock you out”
I’m not exactly sure how the above lyrics of despotic rage brought together a Dominican mom in her mid forties, a thirty four year old girl who grew up in an affluent suburb of New York City, and two eighteen year old girls who consider this kind of hip hop very old school stuff….Maybe the rage expressed in this song lives in the eighth layer of all our subconscious minds and hearing it is some sort of catharsis for us all. (I just saw the movie “Inception” when I was spending time with Nicola in North Carolina last week, so I have the unconscious on the brain and perhaps even the collective unconscious). Maybe the song’s appeal to the members of three different generations transcends a love for raging angry lyrics in a world where there’s a lot to be mad at, and the appeal lies more with the song’s incredible rhythm and beat. The answer to my own question is a mystery and I am open to feedback and a range of answers! When the song ended the first time, Alana’s mom requested an encore and we sang and danced and laughed again to this rocking LL Cool J Masterpiece. Good times. Word to the five. True that.
for more information on Janine, go to her awesome blog!!!
thanks for the love, J!!!!!!