I hate missing out on things. Even when they’re bad. I remember about five years ago there was a gigantic steam pipe explosion in midtown on a corner two blocks from where I was supposed to be meeting a friend. An hour before it happened, I decided to reschedule. Later when I found out about all of the chaos that ensued precisely where I was supposed to be, I was super annoyed at the fact that I had bailed and now had no harrowing story of survival to tell everyone I knew.
However, the same goes for things like concerts and restaurants and new bars. I’m always dying to be in the middle of everything, which is weird because on any given evening I am almost definitely on my couch, harassing my cat. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be out there living a life. So you can imagine how much anxiety my weekly Time Out New York subscription gives me. Every Wednesday I’m delivered a map to a social existence far more exciting than the one I currently observe. It’s a lot of pressure. There are plays and film festivals and outdoor sculpture gardens to explore and Time Out makes it seem like everyone in the world is doing these things except for me. Like there’s this big club that meets on a regular basis to be really interesting and I’m not a member. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve considered canceling the magazine because I can’t handle the responsibility that comes along with it.
Then I decided, fuck that.
The only thing stopping me from being a part of everything I see going on in this city is my own lameness. No one’s putting a gun to my head and forcing me to be home by eight every night, I’ve just gotten lazy. So instead of peering desperately out of my apartment window at what everyone else is doing out there, once a month, I’m going to pick an event that speaks to me (or doesn’t for that matter) and see what all of the fuss is about.
This is the first one I chose:
To be honest I had no idea who Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia were, I just wanted to see the exhibit because I love all things related to New York City in the 80s and early 90s. When I saw the guys from the radio show were going to be there it was a bonus because pretty much all I listened to at that time was Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97 and I figured they’d be talking about the kind of music he played.
Side note: Funkmaster Flex once asked my best friend Vanna to marry him after pulling us into the DJ booth at the Paladium when we were freshmen in high school. Quite possibly the coolest thing to happen to her (us) to date.
ANYWAY, it turns out I was a little confused as to what the night was all about. This wasn’t an opportunity to see the exhibit, rather it was a panel discussion where Stretch and Bobbito were talking about how their radio show was a jumping off point for a lot of the bigger names that we’re familiar with in rap today, particularly focusing on what was current in 1993.
I was immediately nostalgic.
1993 was an awesome year for me. I was a sophomore in high school, a varsity athlete, I had a boyfriend I was madly in love with, plus I was going to my first real parties and experiencing that initial taste of freedom that was like, the most exciting thing ever. Short of busting out old year books, the only thing that’s ever brought me back to that period so specifically, is hearing a song I used to listen to at that age. So naturally when Stretch and Bobbito started talking about DMX and Everlast and Red Alert, I felt that cozy kind of happiness that is remembering the best time of your life.
I also loved what they were talking about. These guys were like twenty-three at the time they were doing this radio show that was hosting groups like Souls of Mischief and Wu-Tang and Cypress Hill. That’s huge! Given that I’m thirty-four now and only just starting to “apply” myself, it’s hard to imagine being so on my game at such a young age. Maybe if I had been, I’d be hosting a museum discussion on whootying right now instead of sleeping til three due to my lack of employment but that’s a whole other issue.
Another side note: I used to tell people in high school that I was related to B-Real. Get it? You know, because of my name. Ridiculous yes, but some people believed me.
Then there was the audience. The whole room was like a time warp for me because there were so many different kinds of people. As I’ve grown older, the spectrum of friends I hang out with has gotten narrower and narrower. At this point in my life, everyone I know is pretty much like me; white, marginally successful, sardonic, we brunch, you know, that kind of bullshit. But in that small room full of people who were there because they loved this early 90s era, it was like being back in high school again where you would hang out with everyone from skaters to thugs to jocks to geeks.
Also, the radio guys still use words like “dag” and “snap” and Stretch even referred to someone as a “nerd” at one point but in that hip hop way that I had forgotten all about. I loved that.
At a time in my life where it’s become increasingly difficult to deal with my age, spending the night with not only the guys from the show, but also a room full of people who enjoyed this particular time as much as I did, made me feel fucking awesome to be thirty-four and know what it was to live during that period. As far as TONY dates go, this was totally worth it.
Just for fun, I decided to do a little digging of my own to see if I could find any personal relics from 1993. What I uncovered is borderline mortifying to say the least but in the interest of full disclosure, here is part of a letter I found between me and Vanna which pretty much sums up who we were at the time. Which would be complete idiots, but we meant well.
Let’s quickly break this down. At the top of the letter Vanna is suggesting we come up with our own personal “tag” names. My boyfriend’s at the time was Sec-1. A tag was essentially your graffiti signature and you would scrawl it everywhere you went to let people know you were an inconsiderate asshole. Me and Vanna ultimately became Frog and Snail.
When I greet her by saying “What-up G?” I’m not even sure I knew at the time what the “G” stood for but I was sure we were one of them, as was every fifteen-year-old suburban white girl at the time. Then I suffered another mishap when I was so excited to be able to tell her that we’d finally become OGs, until I remembered that the “O” in OG stands for “original” and not “old” gangster.
Also, I guess I was solidly digging Method Man at the time.
And hey, why wouldn’t I be?
Oh! And here’s a bunch of music that reminds me of drinking Cisco, getting high and making out with boys. Does it get any better than that?
I’ve since talked to a lot of people about this radio show. People who lived anywhere from DC to London at the time it was on and everyone’s like “Yeah, duh.” when I bring it up, making me feel like I did when I started listening to The Smiths only two years ago and wanted everyone to get on board. Just once I’d like to know what the hell is going on, when it’s going on and not twenty years later!