elevator music

The first school I went to was a Jewish school. I went from kindergarten until grade seven then told my parents I wanted to change to public school. Years later I understood better the experiences of my mother when she was a girl and how it was her mission to put her kids in protective cultural places. Maybe she saved me from bad things that happened to her, but by twelve I didn’t want any more bubble. It was stunning to be at public school, forming relationships with many different kinds of kids. Also, frightening when I met Randy Buhr, alpha among the bad tough kids who gave off a terrorist vibe smoking cigarettes and spending winter afternoons sitting on the radiators by the only exits. They never went to class. Pretty sure the teachers were scared of him too. Kike was outdated by then, but he used it and other choice expressions for whoever was Italian, Asian, Indigenous or African descent. There would be many more tough guys and tough girls I would meet in the future, who would test their aim, lobbing those kinds of words in the air, see if they could score a hole in one, see if the sound of it could hurt someone.

A band was started with me, John Deamel, Danny Row and Jim Clark. Three guitars and drums. Johnny B. Goode and Smoke On The Water is all I recall and Danny’s drum kit on a riser in his basement. This made him an even more substantial musician. The ability to play music well, was a status symbol. When kids heard about us, interest in me from tough guys was raised. Randy saw me as a friend and it was exciting, coming from my bubble, to be up close and personal with someone so different than me. Eventually, he called me the only good kike in the school – mission accomplished. Even though he was oblivious, I liked knowing in the back of my head that something was short circuiting inside the back of his head. How could he extend something that looked like friendship, if he also was committed to viewing me as a Martian?

Read about a Black man who attends KKK rallies and tries to make friendly conversation with klansmen. The press was confused about why he would do that, didn’t seem so perplexing to me. Like the musician who didn’t seek out elevator music but when she was stuck with it, occupied herself with listening to how it works.

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