Rock-N-Roll-Nigger

You Got It by Naima Lowe

NKOTB

Dear 13 Readers,

You should know that I was never one of those fainting, crying crazed girls with the big buttons and the t-shirts. My sister was a teenager when they came out, and she kept a watchful eye on my fashion choices. I wasn't allowed to peg my jeans either. It didn't bother me really. I had been reared on Motown, Nina Simone, Michael Jackson... Not to mention all of the live music I got to hear played by my father in university concert halls in Connecticut and late nights at jazz clubs in New York. I knew they were silly, but it was nice to have something in common with the gaggle of blond girls who only just barely started to tolerate my presence in the 4th grade after a two years of ceaseless teasing. Those girls had the buttons, bought the albums, knew the words to all the songs, got their parents to take them to concerts. I would roll my eyes on the inside whenever the songs would come on the radio, but I'd sing along anyway. I knew they were silly, but the part of me that liked a good outsider story thought it was sort of cool that they were white boys who'd got their big break at the Apollo Theater.

You should also know that The New Kids on The Block were from a town that wasn't too far from me. They were Boston kids, and the kind who reminded me of the sweet chubby Sicilian boys next door with the dark hair and blue eyes that I had a crush on. Those boys next door would wash their grandfather's Cadillac every weekend and invite me over to swim in their above ground pool that had a grape arbor hanging over it.  Sometimes my dad would disappear into their basement with their dad and emerge hours later triumphant with a jar of marinara. Those nice chubby boys would sometimes walk me to the bus stop or around the corner to the store for the candies that we all had to hide from the well trained eyes of our mothers.

You should also know that one time those blond girls came over to my house, and I remember them giggling about the boys next door. Look at their greasy hair, they said. I think one of them got held back, at public school, they said. And they giggled some more before we went inside to listen to the New Kids some more.

Yours Truly,

Naima

 

I want to like Patti Smith. Really I do. by Naima Lowe

My Dearest 10 Readers, I have forsaken you. It has been over a year since my last post. This blog has gone the way of many that have come before it. Big dreams about the radical potential and ease of online presence crash and burn when faced with the realities of having a full time job or just being too unmotivated to write. Also there's this whole Tumblr thing that seems to be all the rage these days. I'm behind the curve apparently.

I'm not going to make any grand promises to myself or anyone else about my new-found commitment to the craft of pithy web presence. I will, however, attempt, in earnest, to share some of what's been running through my head over the last 14 months or so.

The biggest “project” that I’ve taken on has been my move to a small town in the pacific northwest called Olympia, WA. This town is the home of The Evergreen State College, where I am a member of the faculty. It is also the state capitol, the entry-way to the Olympic National Forest, the owner of a fantastic food co-op… And so very much rain. Rain, rain rain. Ugh. I think someone told me that Kurt Cobain wrote that last album up the street from where I live. And then there was all those pissed off white girls screeching…

Ok, that’s not especially earnest. Dammit! On the one hand, this place leaves me more earnest than ever, with its slowed down pace, its plethora of small farmers grinning me down at the market on the weekends, and its total willingness to embrace all sorts of unapologetically weird people into its fold. On the other hand, I am damp for 9 months out of the year and the lack of black people is almost as alarming as the volume of shapeless fleece outerwear. I am often at a loss for nice things to say, even when I’m feeling perfectly happy. Ambivalence is turning out to be a major theme in my interactions.

This was the culmination of one particularly difficult week last spring.

Naima, bashful, with Flyer

It is actually a whole lot more earnest than it seems. I even made a potential set list of my favorite songs by the artists’ pictured, and printed 50 flyers to post around town. They are all sitting in my little office though. I never got up the nerve to put them up. I suppose the rain just kept me from wanting to do much more than make soup and be cranky.

That, my dear 10 Readers, is the start of an honest assessment of my life in Olympia. There’s more to come, I hope.

Yours Truly,

Naima