Sunday afternoon I was approached by the middle kid, who dropped the following question my way.
“Father”, that right there scares me. “Dear Father”, I’m screwed. “Do you happen to have any pressing plans this evening?”
Watching football, eating ice cream out of the carton, pluck nose hairs, getting my corns rubbed, ‘yeah I think I’m pretty busy.” His little face fell a bit. Mrs S, monitoring the conversation upstairs, offered some encouragement “DOING WHAT?”
Actually, I had planned to work on some stuff that I needed to get done, I had real plans.
Not good enough.
The lad, backed up by his absent brother and doting mother wanted me to drive him to Uptown MPLS to visit the Fifth Element Shop, where a certain Freddie Gibbs would be performing.
I don’t know who Freddie Gibbs is either, other than from what the boys tell me. He’s “sick”, “dope” and “better than Nas”. This, is high praise from my kids. I know who Nas is,he is the rap guy who hates Bill O’Riely. I hate Bill O’Riely too, we have that in common. Now it was coming together, he wanted to go to an in store appearance of a Hip Hop artist, and I was supposed to take him. “what’s Fifth Element?” Turns out it’s store, a retail operation by Rhymesayers, a underground hip hop label. The fact that I could fill in the blanks on some of this makes me that much more in the know that 78.3% of all other 47 year old fat white guys in the United States, I guess you could say I’m “Down”.
Well, there was no way that on a Sunday Night, my typical decompression time, that I was getting into car and driving for half an hour to the Urban Hipland center of Minneapolis for this thing. Seriously here, by 6:00 on Sunday I’m looking for me cheaters, an afgan, a book and my Epson salts. Not to mention the Jets were beating the Patriots and was adamant about settling in for the second half.
“NO, I’m not going”. Pure and simple.
I rescheduled the signing stuff and Mrs S did the dishes, so we were able to get uptown by about 6:00. The event was a instore appearance, show and autograph signing, there were a couple artists in the house for the event and the lad was pretty excited. You know who was really excited was his older brother, all the way from Michigan. The Middle Kid was nice enough to take a $20 out of my wallet to buy Mr. Gibbs newest CD in order to get signed for him after the show. We’re a close family that way.
Fifth Element is an interesting place, especially when it’s filled with Rap fans.
I looked around the shop and made a couple observations; 1) I was the oldest person in the place by about two and half decades. 2) Many of the folks there were staring. At ME. One fellow, a nice looking kid about 6’8”, full sleeve tats, a shaved head and beard that a rabbi would proud off, came over and gave me the nod. “He-loo “ I said. He stared for a minute and then looked through me to the stage where the first artist was doing a sound check.
The first guy, Shad and his sidekick DJ T-Low were starting to “pump a jam”, kids were digging it. I actually had a bit of an epiphany at that point, this underground hip hop scene reminded me a lot of the kind of punk deal that I used like when I was about 18 years old. I can still remember feeling a bit rebellious in the day, listening to Black Flag, X and the Dead Kennedys. I was as passionate about that music as these kids are about this stuff.
My parents wanted nothing to do with it, I’m not quite that harsh with this stuff, but the whole scene was vaguely familiar with one good difference. In my day the crowds at a DK’s show were nearly 100% white. Black kids were listening to something else all together, and we didn’t mix much. The crowd here was much more integrated, a good thing.
I was trying to fit in and look normal, did the head bop thing like everyone else was doing. After the first couple songs the big fella next me leaned over and asked “You 5-oh man?”
“No, my kid is up in the front row there, I’m just the chaperone” “oh ok, cool”. He went back to staring through me and nodding his head to the beat.
Five Oh.. I’d been mistaken for a narc. My cover blown and feeling about like the chaperone at a school dance, I looked across Hennepin to Spyhouse Coffee Shop. I love Spyhouse. No sense in hanging out there anymore. I texted the kid that I was heading over and he should join me when he was done with the autographs.
Spyhouse, Uptown, Sunday night. I exchanged one young crowd for another, the only difference most of these kids had their pants on right and were not wearing hoodies with the hoods up. But I was still the oldest person in the place by two and half decades.
I ordered a latte, my warm milk, and sat down at the window seat looking out on Fifth Element. As I sat there I had the realization that not only was I too old for Fifth Element, I just might to damn old for the entire Uptown neighborhood, hell South Minneapolis in general. But, nothing like a coffee shop to put things in perspective and calm the nerves.
After about 20 minutes the kid made his way over. “Okay Dad, we can go” I was sitting enjoying what had to be the best latte I’d ever had in my life. It was only about 1/3 gone. “No, I’m not done with my drink”. After I had taken my pound of flesh from kid making him wait patiently we boarded the car and headed home. He had his CD and autograph, I and another new experience to write about. All in all, a decent evening, a very decent evening.