Wednesday, September 21, 2005


We spent Sunday evening at a little event known as Critical Breakdown, a Hip-Hop Extravaganza at a community center in Boston’s South End…three hours of rap artists, breakdancers, and poets. Without question, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were the oldest and whitest individuals there.

What were we doing there? you may well ask.

We were there at the behest of Elder Daughter, who works for a nonprofit organization – Project: Think Different – whose mission is to use the arts and media to help foster accomplishment and purpose among inner-city at-risk youth. The rationale is that if urban kids have a creative outlet – one that emphasizes positive messages instead of the Gangsta Ethos – they are much less likely to end up in trouble.

Of all the hip-hop rhymers and rap artists we heard that evening, there was not one foul word. No painting violence in a positive light. No drug references, except in a Strongly Cautionary Vein. Any “gangsta” crap would get you booted off stage.

And SWMBO and I actually enjoyed the show. I’ll admit, there was some of that Fish Out Of Water thing going on, but I gotta give props to any form of music that would have made Lawrence Welk bleed from the mouth and rectum simultaneously.

Strange, though. Being of a perverse cast of mind. I couldn’t help but think back on that classic Lenny Bruce routine: How to Talk to Colored People at Parties.

You have to visualize how things were in the late 1950’s when Lenny Bruce invented this bit. Racially integrated social interaction was so rare as to be almost nonexistent, and the average Suburban Honky would have had absolutely no idea of how to carry on a conversation with a Person of Color. Even the term “colored people” was, at the time, retro enough to be impolitic: Lenny used it as a tip-off to the Main Character’s cluelessness. He imagined that Difficult Conversation for us, starting with inane pleasantries about the décor of the house, followed by the Uncomfortable Silence, and then:

“You know, Joe Louis was a helluva fighter…”

Of course, things go straight down the tubes from there, eventually devolving to Wild Speculation on Penile Dimensions.

And that is why, as the Missus and I sat there amidst the Inner-City Youth of Boston, I could not help but think of a few Things It Might Have Been Impolitic To Say:
  • Abe Lincoln. George Bush. Ya gotta love ’em…they’re both Republicans!
  • Thank Gawd the French Quarter stayed dry. The hell with the rest of it.
  • Damn, those are some baggy-ass pants! I can hook you up with the lady that does my alterations.
  • I don’t know about you, but I think Jesse Jackson is one grandstanding muthafucka.
  • I don’t know about you, but I think Al Sharpton is full of shit.
  • I don’t know about you, but I think Louis Farrakhan is really full of shit.
  • That Bojangles – Christ, could he tapdance.
They don’t call me Mr. Discreet-Pants for nothing. I may think this shit up…but I know when to Shut The Fuck Up.

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