I knew he was lying:
Back in the fall of 1988, I remember playing at my friend Tony’s house. His father, Walter was a big dude, and Tony showed me his weights. He said he could lift them. I said “know you can’t”. He tried and failed.
He said he usually does but just not right now.
I knew he was lying.
Over the years, I saw a world where women and girls could play sports, but not Football. Where boys had GI-Joes and wrestling “action figures” while girls played with dolls. If someone hit a boy or a boy fell, he had to jump up and brag about how it didn’t hurt.
My biological mother, Charlotte allowed me to cry when I got hurt until I was done and ready to play again. I was allowed to quit football when it hurt too bad to get hit. I still learned to walk it off. It’s that I learned to walk it off at my own natural pace.
Going into my adolescence, before I went into the foster care house, I saw all these young guys in Spanaway, popping up, calling themselves “Crips” and “Bloods”. They had no reason to be though. There was no actual gang activity other than getting into a fight with someone that wore a different color.
They did this because they saw themselves as “soft” for bing middle class and in the suburbs, so they sought to emulate what they thought the guys in South and Eastside Tacoma were. They turned what was the casual dress of such sets into elaborate, spiffy, well cooridinated costumes with perfectly matched and brilliantly selected accessories.
They would study the music and Ask Jeeves what the slang and vernactuler meant so they could use it to feel and appear what they found to be very masculine and manly.
The Masculine Performance.
As we went into our teen years, most of them got cars on their 16th birthday and now we could go to more hip hop events and most of them had shed the “Crip” and “Blood” identities they appropriated in their preteens.
I was in foster care at the time and I was a Hip Hop Purist or a BackPacker, if you will.
Between 1999 adn 2002 was good time for the BackPack movement in hip hop.
The movement would have existed without the name, but names help and here’s where it came from. Some New York youth that were into making boom bap heavy music would earn money by boosting clothing from the local shopping mall and they used BackPacks to steal.
So over on that side of the continent, they were known as BackPackers.
Out West, specifically the Pacific NorthWest, us poor kids would load up our hip hop stuff into whatever raggedy BackPack we could get our hands on and go to hip hop gatherings and events. One might have a cassette tape to record whatever was going on. Maybe some Cd Singles that had instrumentals to rhyme over. and of course a notebook with rhymes and a pen.
The guys in the Suburbs saw this utilitarian practice and saw it as a masculine expression of hip hop fundementalism. So they got in their cars their parents got them and drove to the mall. They shopped around purchased brand new name brand backpacks like Ecko and Tripple 5 Soul.
The tough, manly mean mug they had for facing off with rival “gang members” was traded for the “ice grill” they had on as they went to face off with wack emcees in a battle. They would stomp in their brand new Timberland Boots from their Hondas into the auditorium.
It was always kinda funny and kind of weird to me.
Some of these guys I’ve known since we were 5 to 7 years old, and yet I never knew them because they were never themselves.
That now, it was this idea of the Northeast tough-guy that rode the subway and wore these heavy clothes was now the what they would appropriate into their masculine performance.
One guy, Jacob who lived in Puyallup and then North Tacoma would casually talk about his days walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and kicking it in Bedstuy. He actually created this alternate story about his existence where he somehow grew up in New York.
But I knew he was lying.
I’ve also always thought that they knew I knew.
William J Jackson.