listen to the jam master as he starts to rock'
-from Run DMC's Jam Master Jay
in 1986, derrick was this kid, a seventh-grader just like me, who appreciated the finer, seemingly incongruous, things in life, namely the equal genius of bands like the cure and run dmc. we lived on the same block, we were both skate rats, and a big group of us (tony, stewart, matt, mike, jason, derrick, me) would tear ass around base on our boards, sneaking cigarettes and listening to music. had you walked by while we were playing basketball or skating in the bowling alley parking lot, there would be music playing and you would be as likely to hear 'king of rock' as you would 'jumping someone else's train.'
we began hanging around the youth center and quickly took it over as our own. marge, the boss of the place, would let us work the concession stand and, after a short time, she let us DJ the dances on friday or saturday nights. the building was new, so there was a sound booth above the floor and even though we had to use the old speakers, the rest of the equipment was pristine- two turntables and a numark mixer with a couple of channels and a crossfader. good enough for a few of us to learn on.
one piece of vinyl that was never far from reach was run dmc's self-titled debut. even years later, when derrick and i were sharing a dorm room in new orleans crammed with bunkbeds and turntables, that record was always sitting on the stack or leaning against the brick wall. there were so many good breaks on that album and the cadence of the emcees and their lyrics lent themselves well to our amateur turntable wizardry. it was also a perfect record because it was inundated with shouted Js and Ds...for as long as i can remember, i have always called derrick, D, and, instead of james, he has always called me, J.
all of this might help to explain why it hit me a little harder than most to wake up this morning and read about this. i'm sure, like proust, everyone has their own madeleine; mine seems to be the first run dmc album.
last heard: call and response 'rollerskate'
last read: the news that was the catalyst for today's entry