May 11 • 7M

A Very Nice Place To Start.

This is episode one of volume 2 of lower black pain.

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Appears in this episode

Jd Michaels
Life’s lemons into rich, dark chocolate.
Episode details

I would not dare to refer to myself as a professional writer; perhaps more of a storied amateur, a local craftsperson, an inspired aspirant. I’ve just begun writing things people could read, and you never learn anything at the beginning. At the beginning it all seems to be going well because you don’t know the difference.

My first class in college was a Literature course where we began with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The professor copied part of the prologue on the blackboard and had someone read it out loud. He waxed about the meter and pointed out the rhyming patterns and informed us how incredible it was that this had been written at all, how incredibly different it was, had anyone EVER heard of something this unique.

I now understand that this question was rhetorical.
I see that now. Hindsight. 20/20.
But in my myoptic youth I thought he was asking us a question, so I decided to answer it.

“It’s a rap.” I told him. (I did raise my hand, and he’d called on me.)

“Excuse me?” he asked.

I realize that he heard the word “rap” with a “w”. I realize that now. “Wrap”.

“It’s a wrap” is a phase he was certainly familiar with, had he seen any of hundreds of episodes of 1950’s television or several select films about filmmaking.

And I should have answered his question. That seems super clear, at this point, but instead I did something I had never actually done before. It shouldn’t have even worked, it was right out of a John Hughes movie.

“Gimme a beat.” I said to no-one in particular.

And no one in particular happened to be this black haired kid from New York City, who immediately began beat boxing. Without turning my head, I began -

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour

And that was a mistake, I see that, of course I see that, but then everyone started tapping the desk in time and I got all inspired and did another four lines or so. I’m not sure how I nailed the Old English, but we’d read it in high school.

The professor thought I was a witch, and I had taken over the classroom with some kind of spell of some kind or something, because he asked when I finished, “What was that?”

Another student explained to him that this was a new form of expression called “hip hop”, born around five years ago in New York City, where entire pieces weren’t sung but indeed spoken, much like the prologue.

He seemed shocked that everyone was familiar with this specific cultural phenomenon, given the room’s source demographic.

I might have been able to fly under the radar had I not turned in a final paper titled “Bald Headed Babies from the Other Side of Town”, a musical in the neighborhood of Frank Zappa that also tripled as my final paper for my Sociology and Music classes. It had a companion cassette tape with the soundtrack, which I’d recorded using a piano, and my saxophone, and intriguing lyrics which told the story of a scientist who faked evidence proving that the amount of hair on a newborn baby’s head directly correlated to their eventual role as a miscreant of some kind, and thus wanted them all to be gathered up and arrested, but when the government tried to do just that, the bald headed babies revolted, resulting in all manner of formula based assaults.

I got three B minuses. It wasn’t purely that I didn’t know any better. I began to suspect it was going pear shaped somewhere in the middle, but nobody told me not to so – forgiveness rather than permission.

I was told that all three professors met in a teacher’s lounge somewhere and discussed what to do. “A cassette tape,” the literature professor said, “No one, has ever given me, a cassette tape.”

He had written the books we were studying from. I thought all professors did that, like their perfect bound lesson plans, but when I went back to Kansas City and my friend was studying from that same book I began to realize he was probably a big deal. But I was just starting out. The beginning. I didn’t know anything, I just put everything I had into everything I was doing and hoped that worked.

I don’t know if it worked, but I made it from there to here. And here I am, back at a beginning, but slightly farther than the very beginning. This year there will be more music, and perhaps slightly more fancy title sequences, and if things go well I will have enough material for an album. Ooo.

Welcome. Thank you for your time. Let’s begin.

[If you’d like to hear “The Bald Headed Baby Tarantella”, it’s at the end of this week’s recording.

Just in case y’know, you thought I made that up.]

audio: The Bald Headed Baby Tarantella
©1984 - Jd Michaels