Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Mo' Murder
Got back from a very welcome February Break to learn that another student had been killed. Valentin Hernandez was a senior with a baseball scholarship to college. 3:00am after a party he had the shit kicked out of him by a crowd of guys and then was stabbed to death as he lay unconscious on the street. The story is he was on the wrong block (read: not in the right gang,) but it sounds more and more like the beating stemmed from an altercation over a girl at the party.

There weren’t any riots this time. But the walls were covered with tribute posters, many from young ladies who seem to be under the impression that they were Valentin’s one and only. Go Valentin.

Friday after-school in the teacher’s cafeteria at a monthly student open-mic poetry thing - normally a mix of bad, clichéd, cloyingly positive poetry and bad, clichéd, comically violent rap - all the talk was of Valentin.

Lots of cheesy poems were read, a couple of girls glared holes in each others foreheads, and the vibe was pretty heavy. “Legacy,” a mildly talented rapper who takes himself way too seriously and is always at the Open Mic despite the fact that he graduated at least 3 years ago, was even more melodramatic than he usually is. Dude ends nearly every performance on his knees, veins popping on his neck, staring plaintively towards heaven and wiping a mock tear from his eye. It’s pretty silly, but when spitting about his dead friend, to a room full of his dead friend’s friends, it worked.

The real highlight of the Open Mic wasn’t an ode to the dead though, just a good old fashioned celebration of the eternal bump n’ grind. Last performance of the afternoon two guys walked up to the mic, cleared their throats, and unleashed a quiet storm upon the room, busting out an a capella version of Usher’s “Nice and Slow,” a song I’d never given a second thought to before.

From the opening line, “It’s 7 o’ clock/ on the dot/ I’m in my drop-top/ cruisin’ the streets,” it was hypnotic. The guys were smooth. The crowd started swaying, girls were singing along (“...ain’t gotta rush,” “I-I wanna do something freaky to you,”) and the teacher’s cafeteria, with it’s industrial green paint and trashcans full of discarded, half-eaten Salisbury steaks and tater-tots, was transformed into the syrupy center of a monumentally deep groove. When the song ended the sound guy announced he had the beat, and they did it all over again, this time just holding the mics out and letting the crowd carry the jam. It was the kind of genuine, spine-chilling, spontaneous, shared musical experience you never actually have, and a more fitting tribute to Valentin, our slain Cassanova, I can’t imagine.

A few hours before it had been announced that yet another student, Phillip Prince, had been murdered at the train-station 5:30pm the evening before, shot point-blank in the chest with a shotgun for unknown reasons. Peter was Special Ed, always high, and never said a word, that anyone (any adult at least) ever heard. Nobody at school seemed to give much of a shit about his passing, but someone has been canvasing the neighborhood with a can of Rusto silver writing "RIP Phillip" on every available surface.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com