The other day in one of our pre-shift dinner meetings at the Grill, towards the end when the staff is anxious to jump up outta their seats and get back to work, the wizened owner gingerly took a piece of paper up to his spectacles, lowered it, and said to me, “Arthur, tell us about security.”
I’m sorry, but aren’t we living in a post-9/11 world? When someone says the word “security” to me about a million thoughts strum my brain strings. It was hard to find a tune, and so I sat there with a blank expression on my face, empty plate in front of me. I said nothing. The disappointed owner became annoyed. “Alright, nevermind then…” He went on to cover issues such as calling the police or using the bats on criminals. An incident was recalled when a purse stealing perp was chased and tackled.
Again, I apologize. First of all, I do think about security all the time, especially in the world of heightened dangers that is the city. Rarely, if ever, do I worry about foreign acts of terror. Sometimes, watching the evening news or even listening to NPR, witnessing the brutality that takes place everywhere everyday I feel damn lucky to be alive. But as a forward leaning street attorney, as a double major in “keep the peace” and “protect ya neck,” my security protocals are strictly personal.
The vacant eyed stare usually is not the best way to look up to someone who controls your job, especially not when they are in your face with a serious question, but I wasn’t about to spill my secrets for free when its totally unnecessary. Every staff member in that room knew how I roll out or roll back or roll with the punches. In a lot of ways, I kept my mouth shut because I was on the cusp of revealing a waking dream that I’d had the same day regarding security.
My headphones were on and I was computing before work. The album playing in the discman was, “Fishscale,” by Ghostface Killah, whose flow evokes wild imagery for me. New York City defense squads, grime, ambulances, drug issues… in the pre 9/11 world it might have been possible for me to hear about such things in front of a compelling beat without drawing the lines of a larger picture, but in the new world order my brain is reordered.
The terrorists who attacked on September 11 tried to take down the WTC, just as had been previously attempted in the early 1990s, except this time they thought they had found their success. However, being foreign terrorists, they couldn’t find the WTC, especially not in a plane flying at hundreds of miles an hour. Instead of locating and bombing even one of the 36 Chambers they drove those death planes into the largest dullest buildings in the city…
Yes, my mind had made the post 9/11 jump into victory think, flamboyant glorious. The real WuTang Clan was underground in New York that day, in basements, corner stores, living rooms, bedrooms. Safe in studios that savage men from Afghanistan and points Middle East have never heard of. Places that would take their breath away because thats where the real enemy they searched for on the internet and in religious texts is found.
Hip hop, as birthed in New York, whose iron flag is still in the grip of the RZA and Ghostface, is probably the best way known today to get into the heads of the youth of the world, to change their hearts and minds. Its the sexiest and most seductive cultural export to the impressionable young of the world that this country has to offer. It is our sword, and for the aspiring jihadists, it becomes a leering seductress.
Can you focus on jihad when our new culture is making your head nod? Can you see straight to shoot when your ears sieze up in spasms? That’s when you shook, over to the dark side for the beats and rhymes… In terms of who is writing the storyline for the potentially angry youth grown up in the toughest places on Earth, the final showdown is between extremism and hip hop. And to the self-satisfying American censor suckers; which side do you think holds the most potential for present and future positivity?
Hip hop is part of my security. I side with the Shaolin.