Blake Morrissey was not the only black kid at Trinity High but it sure felt that way sometimes. Especially being the only black kid in the tri-state area (whatever the fuck that meant, but it sure felt like it) who doesn’t listen to rap.
But when they catch him listening to Funkadelic or to Lenny Kravitz or Jimi the hell Hendrix, they screw up their faces and ask him “Boy, why you listening to that white people music?”
He looks at them like Are you kidding me?
“This is Ben Harper,” he’ll say, or whatever, try to turn the tables on them. “You don’t know Ben Harper? Shi-it.”
“Man,” said Mike Cobb one time, “You really oughta get the fuck outta rock, man. I’m telling you.”
“Black people started rock’n’roll music. We founded it, that’s our baby. Then white folks come in, pour bleach on it, give it surgery, some shit, and what? We s’posed to just walk away? That’s our baby, dude! You don’t walk away from no damn baby. Besides, you never heard of Eminem? You ask any white person name five rappers, you know who they say? Every one of them goes for Eminem. Maybe even Vanilla fucking Ice. Probably round off with the Fresh Prince. Yeah, you heard me. But you think they listen to Dr. Dré? Snoop? Biggie? Tupac? Nah, man.”
Mike Cobb crossed his over-sized arms. “Do you?”
It was a sore spot for Blake socially, possibly even more so than the cutesyness of his given name, which far too many people just simplified to “Black”.
It was also what made him nervous when he heard that Angst was forming.
“Black folks got rhythm, right?” he’d said recently, spinning one stick. “So when’s the last time you heard of a black drummer in a rock’n’roll band? Man, they go bitchin’ and bitchin’ and bitchin’, just bitch bitch bitch about ‘can’t find drummers worth a shit’—you hear the shit they talked about Ringo back in the day? Ringo! That ain’t right! It’s a public service, me taking up the drums. Gonna do for drums what Jimi did for gui-tar.”
That wasn’t the real reason he’d taken up drums. He actually had a thing for a girl in the school band, Marjorie, a white girl, nice girl, turned out to be gay, though, long story. But once he was in it, he actually kinda liked it, and once he heard there were freshmen wanting to start a band—
“Hey,” Declan finally approached him. “You’re Blake, right?”
He endeared himself by not pausing over the irony in the name. My brother, later on, was not so gracious.
“You play the drums, right?”
“Who’s askin’?” Though, of course, by then he’d heard some stuff.
“I hear you like Rock, lot of the old stuff?”
“I like Rock’n’Roll,” said Blake. “Don’t know how I feel about the ‘Rock’, though. Seems to me it doesn’t roll much anymore.”
“You down to give it a shove?”
Blake liked the repartee. “What’s in it for me?”
“Right now, not a damn thing other than the music.”
Liked the honesty, too. “I’ll think about it.”
“Take your time.”
But it only took him about five minutes to decide.