Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Rise And Fall Of The City Of Gotnomoney

I was, like any sensible middle-aged man, on an iced tea and Simpsons toy run.

First I picked up the questionable “Green Tea” at the supermarket, buzzing quickly through the self-checkout line.

I have to wonder why they still make us sign that tiny screen. The pads don’t really work anymore and whatever name you sign comes out looking like this: /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\.

Then it was on to the Toys R Us to see if any of the movie-related toys had arrived yet. Nope. The credit card was safe.

As I started to drive back out of the lot, though, I noticed a young man brandishing a handful of compact discs and motioning for me to roll down my window.

He and some friends were standing around a small van that boasted a custom-paint job. As professional and detailed as anything you’d see on the side of a bus, the van seemed as if it had been plastered in giant dollar bills and the accompanying text extolled the virtues of his rap group, portrayed as a very confident looking collection of young men eager to drop some science, as the kids say.

“Hey,” the young man said as I rolled down the window, “we’re out here with our own music, no corporation, just us, looking for a little support, you know? We’re just trying to do what’s right, know what I’m sayin’?”

I nodded.

“Seems like everybody wants to criticize us when we do bad, but they turn their heads whenever we try and do things the right way, know what I’m sayin’?”

His eyes seemed very bloodshot and he looked and sounded a little like an understated, less glitzy Flavor Flav. He reached in to show me the discs.

“That’s why we break it down with the titles of these three cd’s: the first one’s called From The Hood To Hollywood…”

Indeed it was. On the cover was a picture of him with a large pair of sunglasses and a coat that resembled a polar bear. I turned it over as he continued.

“And then the second step here is to Increase The Peace…”

I could see now that he was wearing a large silver belt buckle in the shape of a skull.

“And we’re just asking 5 dollars for any of these, just 5 dollars. Just looking for a little support from the community so we can try to raise ourselves up…”

It was about this time that I realized that the music I’d been playing throughout all of this was Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, sung in English by Marianne Faithfull. He can’t have thought he had much of a potential sale here.

“Hey,” I said, “other people have done it, there’s no reason why you can’t do it, too.”

“That’s right,” the young man said, “so you want to help support us, help us out?”

I immediately realized that I had no cash at all, just a driver’s license and a credit card.

“I’d like to,” I said, “but I haven’t got any money on me at all. I just ran out to put some iced tea on the credit card. Really.”

He seemed less than convinced but took this in stride.

At this point, a chubbier member of the group approached and said, “Get you some of that 20-year old tail, man!”

“Wait a minute!” I said with mock astonishment. “Is he saying I look old?”

“No, man, no,” the skinny kid said, laughing. “He’s just sayin’ that, you know, you don’t want the Garth Brooks on there.”

He was right about that.

“They’ll run away from the Garth Brooks, man!”

Meanwhile in Seven Deadly Sins, Anna was trying to score some major bling to bring back to Louisiana, one half trying to do things the right way but the other half always winning.

“Good luck, though,” I said, shaking his hand.

I thought about coming back with one of my own cd’s and trying to do a trade.

I’d hand it to him and say, “This will get you dates that you won’t believe.”


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