Tuesday, February 18, 2014

He Ain't Nothing but a Car Thief Who Must Be Stopped

I know it seems like I should've been kidding, but when I told one of my classes that Keifer had shamed my family by liking Eminem, I totally wasn't. When I told them with a shudder of horror that he wears an 8-mile beanie all the time and recites rap lyrics, as well as the history of Eminem, like they're going out of style, they probably thought those things didn't bother me, or at least not as much as they do, but if they did, they were wrong. Because they totally do.

I know it seems dumb. I know you'll think it dumb. I know you'll think me dumb. I also know you'll probably think it doesn't entirely--if it does at all--make sense. You like the Beastie Boys, you'll say. What's the difference? you'll ask. And why do you even care? you'll wonder.

I don't know why. I just do.

And that, readers, is what we're here to figure out.

Like almost everything else in the world, it goes back to when I was twelve, when--laugh if you must--my status as a metalhead was solidified. It goes back to that summer when my friends and I hung around the house, blasting Motley Crue, Poison, and Cinderella on my dad's stereo and watching the Motley Crue Uncensored video all day and night; back to that time when my friends and I ripped our jeans and drew anarchy A's and pentagrams on our folders and shoes; back to those days when we skulked through the streets of Woodscape smoking cigarettes in the middle of the night and then slept all day long; back to those years when Headbanger's Ball or Dial MTV was a constant in the background, the soundtrack of our then-lives.

Metal, glam, punk, new wave, alternative, grunge--whichever one, whatever you want to call it, some form of rock has always been not only what I listen to, but also a huge part of who I am.

But it's not just that.

And until this exact moment, I had no idea what the other thing was. And now that I do, I don't know that I want to write about it. But I've never backed down from a blog before and suppose now isn't the time to start.

(Bear with me here. This line of thinking is completely new to me, and it's coming as I go.)

If my friends and I were metal, surely there was an opposite, an antithesis, a complete and utter deviation from our norm. Surely there were Socs to our greasers, pure and absolute enemies to what we wore, what we spoke, what we heard, what we believed. I don't know what you'd call them now, but in 1988, they went by two names: b-boys was one; bassers was the other.

The basser, or b-boy, could be summed up in few words: he drove some kind of on-the-big-side car that looked like it was made for a grandpa, like a Buick or a Cadillac, and he drove around with the bass in it turned up so obnoxiously loud, it made people's windows shake in their frames. He hung out with his friends, marker in hand, but instead of drawing on his folder or shoes, he defaced public property, writing his "tag" or the name of his gang on walls or street signs or overpasses or anywhere he could without getting caught. He was mean to anybody who wasn't like him, people he deemed "freaks," people on the fringe, people like my friends, and people like me.

It was a basser, or a b-boy--or four of them if you want to get very technical about it--who participated in the rape of a metalhead girl when she was a month and a half away from fourteen. It was bassers, or b-boys--named Tony, Jimmy, James, and Mark--boys who listened to rap, boys who used that music to guide their lives the way young people can't help but allow their music to guide their lives, who tied her hands with an electrical cord, pushed her back and forth from one to the other in a bedroom in a house on Alhambra Drive until she bounced like a ball in a pinball machine, and ignored her constant screams. It was bassers, or b-boys, who gave her the ultimatum--have sex with the one on house arrest who just got out of jail or have sex with the other three--even though she was terrified and only thirteen. It was bassers, or b-boys, and the things that they did that December day that  drove her to do what she did, to take those pills, to try to leave everything behind. It was bassers, or b-boys, who have, whether she likes it or not, played a large role in shaping the woman she has become.

And now, as silly as it may sound to some, as irrelevant, as unconnected as it may be, it's those bassers, or b-boys, that strike fear--hatred--disgust--into her heart when her son worships at the altar of Eminem upon his knees.

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