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Friday, November 12, 2010

Birth of a Blog and the Band N*E*R*D

Here's an odd way to start a conversation, but start it will: in a random moment of pop-culture consumption, I caught sight of a band which surely is so well known, my citing it here will only prove the randomness of my dip into the honeybath of contemporary America.

It was the band from Virginia Beach called N*E*R*D, its asterisks flying high defiant -- http://n-e-r-d.com/about  if you are a hypertexter - and what struck me as much as the lead singer's androgynous charisma, his cool control of the semiotics of hiphop, the throatiness of his back-up singers, as much as the train-blast of R &B from some destination still living somewhere smack inside the decade that began in 1968, a real bass spitting at the rhythm, as much as the moves so Dionysian and self-pleasuring in their excess performed onstage by two wild girls that they threatened to split the stage as much as their already split jeans, was the oddity of a band composed of anyone who could trace some kind of descent back to Africa but for the keyboardist, the one guy whose face was completely covered with both odd eyegear and a mugger's ski mask.

The brilliance of it struck me: this was the kind of involuted minstrelsy I felt growing up as a white kid in the era of busing back in Berkeley, often the only white kid in the class, wishing I had not been born so melanin-deficient, going to schools with principals named Big Daddy, becoming proficient in performing all sorts of Black Panther handshakes eyes closed, seconds flat. How brilliant and oddly correct to have the one white wannabe in the ski mask, and how badly I wish I could have time-traveled back to that long-ago corridor in Martin Luther King Junior High when for the fortieth time a particularly naughty group of girls caught up and razzed me; how I wished back then some mask fairy might have descended into those anodyne halls and offered some first and final redemption.


  1. "first and final redemption!" woohoo! I loved this blog, this insight into your childhood, the tip about a band I'd never heard of (and will now look up), and your fountain-pen-language--complex, evocative and fluid! Thanks, Edie! I miss you!

  2. Larisa,

    Fountain pen: now that as a topic alone could inspire a dormant blog to burst into some kind of lunar winter life.