Thursday, December 28, 2006


When I was 12 or 13, I snuck away with a friend to the Cleveland Arena to see James Brown. I had already played a few JB tunes in a band I was part of in a New Hampshire camp the previous summer, but here was a chance to see The Man in person. I think the tickets were like $3 or something, and that was for the full three-hour-plus revue.

There were some other white folks there, but not many. I had already started hanging around with some black kids, one of whom would be the lead singer in the high school band I’d later join. This seemed like no big deal to me, and only became one when the other school kids began to shun my crowd and me. This was my first taste of being an outsider, of there being an Other Existence that was little represented in my suburban Clevo community.

I had no real sense of racism until that moment, or of there being an entirely separate life experience that was being lived in huge parts of the Clevo area/inner city that we white kids just never got exposed to.

Here also lived the coffee house poets, folkies, artisticbohosquarepegfreethinkingsoontobepotsmokingfreefucking kids who got bent early and stayed bent for the rest of their/our lives.

This all started with a $3 ticket and a sweating, screaming black man with a killer band behind him.

NP: XM’s ‘Soul Street’ tribute to JB. fav quote: "It's all about the hair and the teeth!"

PEEVE DE JOUR: did NOT make January’s rent at the roulette table.

JOIE DE JOUR: crazy cab driver’s animated story ‘bout how her previous fare had been a child molester she was taking to court, and how after trying to stiff her on the fare, the cop she called paid it for him. And the smiling, joking Elevator Driver at The Stratosphere Tower on The Strip. And the ‘damn I’m in a good mood’ electric cart driver at Clevo-Hopkins who gently announce his presence vs. running over all the somnambulant travelers who were always blocking his way. All transportation sector folks who had their gigs down, and were gonna be happy on Dec. 27th no matter what.

cb…where are you?



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