Easy Does It

I remember the first time I heard rap music, I mean really heard it. It must have been ‘88 or ‘89 and I was in a van on the way to way to the Davis Cup tennis tournament in San Diego. My tennis coach Hans, whom I idolized in a way that only a sweaty pre-pubescent girl with a tennis racquet and outsize dreams of Wimbeldon could, had organized a rouge trip of his favorite students to see the matches. By organized I mean rented a van and a room in a cheap motel. We were all privileged white kids, except Hans who was Jamaican and only talked to me about his real life at least seven years later when I was about to graduate from Beverly Hills High School and had been babysitting his son by an estranged baby mama for awhile. It was all very complicated.

In any case, the sheer madness of the venture (rented van, 6 kids in a roadside motel, one adult who never acted like an adult and no rules) was intoxicating. I was the youngest kid on the trip I think, in 6th or 7th grade. One of the high schoolers, a freshman named Rich — I can totally see him now — announced that there was only one thing we could listen to on this drive. He popped in his “Eazy-Duz-It” tape. It was a revelation, but an unholy one. I was just discovering liberalism and feminism and the plight of oppressed peoples. Eazy E was like a punch in the gut to all that. The brazen sexist lyrics, the violence, the ghetto oppression and the hypnotic beats. It was, like, way too much to process. I hated it immediately.

Eazy ERich and I argued for the first hour of the drive and proceeded to loathe one another intensely for the next three days, a nonstop battle including yelling, teenage taunts, slammed doors and a refusal of shared french fries that would test Hans’ patience and every other kids’ loyalty. Everyone took sides (mostly Rich’s). Of course, the only person I remember from that trip was Rich. And Eazy.

I’m thinking of all this now because my fiance is in the midst of a writing a book about The Last Album that Changed the World. If you haven’t guessed it yet, that album is Dr. Dre’s, The Chronic.

While I’m not actually writing the book, his constant talk, the documentaries endlessly playing on our TV, all those books strewn about the house and the CDs slipped into my car stereo has brought me back to those years, 1992 and before.

From the moment of the Davis Cup trip on, as I suspect it was for a lot of white kids coming of age in the time of gansta rap, internal cultural conflict was the name of the game. The best coolest music came from a place so close but so far away. Yet later, when I listened to Nuthin’ but a G Thang in my room, Dre spoke directly to me, no mistaking it. I wore out my copy of “Lethal Injection,” bitch named Amy not withstanding. And I couldn’t possibly love every track of “Regulate… G Funk Era” any more than I still do. Quite simply, it was an odd time to come of age. If you were between 12 and 25 in the early 1990s, there was just no hiding from race in America.

This weekend, I picked up Other People’s Property off our living room table. It’s one of those books living on the coffee table at the moment, so I started reading it. The book chronicles white America’s love of rap music through the personal lens of the author Jason Tanz. Donnell reviewed it for the SF Chronicle a couple years ago. The author is a white lover of hip hop music about my age, and though I’m only at chapter 2 right now, there’s a lot about all those conflicting feelings that I used to have. Conflicting feelings that in the end, I think have made me have a more honest and deep dialogue about race in America with my friends and with myself. Maybe some of that paved the way for an Obama presidency and more forward thinking about race in general in this country. It’s a long leap, but maybe not. A lot has been said about the lyrics of those early songs back in the day (see the PMRC, Bill Clinton and Sistah Souljah). But a lot about what the current crop of 30 somethings, black and white, faced about race in their youth hasn’t. Maybe it’s not much of a leap. Me, I don’t really hate “Eazy-Duz-It” anymore, but it sure makes me fucking uncomfortable.

Just Call it a Comeback!

This Roddick-Federer match is unreal. It makes me think of when you’re first learning the rules of tennis, and you say, “So really the game could just like go on forever!?!” And then the adult who’s explaining this to you says, “Well, it could, but it doesn’t. Somebody gets tired or messes up or something.”

“But, like it could, right?”

“It could, but it doesn’t.”

“And then what if you have to go to the bathroom?”


Well here’s the case where it really could go on forever, at 14-14 in the 5th set!

Eventually, near the end of the writing of this post, Roddick mis-hit a hard Federer return, popping the ball far out into the sky (and far out of the court), and Federer did indeed win. It seemed bittersweet, even for Federer, who is now at a record 15 grand slams. Winning isn’t always 100% unbridled awesomeness, said Roger’s (re-)strained post-game interview. Through after he goes home and stops starting at Roddick’s glum face, it might get better…

Which is only to say, that after a five (FIVE!) year hiatus, this blog is back!