Eddie Gale — Black Rhythm Happening (Black Rhythm Happening)
My girlfriend, my dear friend Chris and I went as “Kanyes West” for Halloween this year. Simply oversized .pdf photos of Kanye’s mug printed out, pasted to cardboard and applied with wood paint stirrers to make for handles, our costumes were some of the least elaborate among the other partygoers at the basement dance party we attended that evening. Yet, they drew the most curious and generally creeped out looks. This is probably because Kanye was on a media tear at the time, about to release an album that received a lead, five-star review in Rolling Stone, et al., he was on the tip of every tongue of adults 18-35 years of age and interested in pop-culture. And, well, seeing a Kanye trifecta dancing to “C’mon and Ride It (The Train)” flanked by a Telemundo bee and a banana person in some rando Bloomington basement is right up there among any pop-culture psychedelic experience I can think of at the moment. Once tossed out as a possibility, the Kanye Halloween costume seemed the most obvious answer. Honestly, I feared an over abundance of Kanye Wests on Halloween. “There’s a little Kanye in all of us,” I would yell to the puzzled masses. That seems the easiest explanation for why this costume worked so amazingly well. I’m one of the few Kanye detractors (critics? haters?) I know. Yet, I can also admit he is absolutely The Man of The Year: Self-obsessed and self-martyring; materialistic; faux-spiritual; faux-apologetic; social networking pioneer and slave; simultaneously low, mid and (on a pretty pedestrian level) high-brow; surrounding himself with the uber-hip in attempts to validate or mask his own cool or gaps therein; endlessly shouty. He is you and me at our best and worst. We’re all just walking contradictions, and Kanye puts a magnifying glass to it. He bounces it off satellites and broadcasts it across the networks, across Twitter. He is every character in Black Swan (tip of the hat to Marathonpacks). Black Swan could/should have been an Eddie Murphy-like vehicle for Mr. West.
On the 2:30 a.m. walk home from the basement dance party, my lady and I decided to take the back alleys. This route took us down the alley that runs behind Sports, one of Bloomington’s “bro”bars, but also one that can feel stra. To its credit, Sports has an upstairs dance club that is one of a handful of quasi-metropolitan experiences offered in Bloomington. Mainly, it’s because a lot of black people go there too, and the dancing and DJing are pretty damn legit. That night, the downstairs patio portion of Sports was blasting “Ants Marching,” Dave Matthews Band’s breakthrough hit from 1994. I received Under the Table and Dreaming for my birthday that year, and was an avid DMB fan through high school and into college. In the alley behind Sports, Kanye and Kanye began to dance. At first, it was the hippie crab-hand dance. Then, Kanye was spinning Kanye, round and round. Kanye was dipping Kanye. Kanye mimicked Michael Jackson for Kanye. Kanye kissed Kanye to a Boyd Tinsley violin solo. Two mirrored but separate walking contradictions twisted up together in joyous dance. Time became unstuck. Pop-culture was delineated, was a vacuum. All art was a giant painting, an endless song, a neverending story, on an invisible plane just out of our reach — but one to which even tiny moments like this, in the alley behind Sports, were valid, maybe even important, contributions.