Tag Archives: 1990’s

The Dopeness Not The Wackness

17 Aug

I saw the movie “The Wackness” last night and totally loved it.  A few months ago I started noticing the posters on the subway and the part that read “NYC.  SUMMER 1994…THE MUSIC WAS DOPE…” had me at hello.  The movie is set against an early-mid 90’s hip-hop NYC backdrop, and that was all I needed to know.  I graduated high school in 1993 and spent summer days and nights cruising around, windows down, blasting Black Sheep and Paperboy, and to this day I still have a hip-hop/R&B “thing” that took root in the early 90’s, the rhymes just make my heart sing.

Watching it brought me back to my comparatively-carefree (only in hindsight, not at all at the time) high school days of partying, and walking home from the subway after the movie, I wished I had a 40 in a brown paper bag to sip on while I smoked a Marlboro Light or two, although when I woke up this morning nothungover and headachey, and with the ability to take full, deep breaths, I was so happy that that was just a passing fantasy I didn’t act on.  I always get so nostalgic about drinking and smoking, probably because I was such a Good Girl and was proud of the multi-factedness of getting drunk and sneaking cigarettes on the weekends.  I think, too, that it represented rebellion and reminds me that I used to play more.  And while I now have an extremely low tolerance and barely drink, and am highly sensitive/allergic to cigarette smoke, thinking of the days of 40’s and Marlboro Lights, I remember that I have to channel that rebellious energy in other non-alcoholic, non-nicotine, and perhaps healthier ways and not risk losing it altogether, and that I want to, and need to, play more, and have fun more often, because in adulthood, fun has become something that has to be aggressively pursued and/or planned for, or it will get lost amidst rush-hour commutes, bill paying, and to do lists.

“The Wackness” also made me nostalgic for first loves and the pitter-patter milli-second before a first kiss, and Luke Shapiro, the endearing pot peddler, kinda almost made me want to date a cute hip-hop loving drug dealer with heart, and then made him a mix tape.  Sidenote:  I think love got a lot more complicated when the cassette tape died out, as making someone you have a crush on a playlist, or even a burned cd, just doesn’t have the same impact.  Making a mix tape required exponentially more effort, and sometimes it took a village to make a mix tape. 

The summer after my senior year in high school, my two best friends and I decided to make a mix tape before we went to college, and we assembled in my den to make a list of the desired songs.  First, we checked off the songs that one of us had.  Then, we marked down people in our class who were likely to have other songs.  For instance, Eric L. was a vocal Springsteen fan and would definitely have “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live: 1975-85” 3-CD Box Set, so we could get “Thunder Road” and “Fire” from him.  Next, we had to call all those people on their home-not-cell phones, confirm that they in fact owned said cd(s), arrange for a pick-up time, copy the song onto the mix tape in the correct order as order is everything, and then schedule a drop-off time.  I remember driving to people’s houses, running up their front steps, ringing their doorbells, having them come to the door with a stack of cds in hand, and then running back to my car for the next stop.  Lastly, all the songs that we could not acquire from our own and our classmates’ music collections, we had to get off the radio, all old school and shit.  Like, hours would be spent in the evenings, poised with fingers holding down the pause, play, and record buttons, listening to the Top Nine at Nine on Z100 for the missing songs.  And when the song came on, you had to be quick, and hit it just right, immediately after the dj finished introducing it but before you lost too much off the song making it invaluable, and sometimes those djs would talk right up to that very first word, so you might get a little dj intro on your mix tape if you weren’t super-speedy on the draw.  And finally, you had to name your mix and make a cover with colored fine-point magic markers.  But then the hard part was over, and you could just give it to a boy and it was like, “Here is a mix tape.  I like you, and when you listen to the songs you will feel my love through the significance of the tunes that I carefully selected.”  Love just has not been the same since the advent of iTunes.

There are lots of mix tapes exchanging hands in “The Wackness,” the music is mad dope, and for all the craziness that happens, underlying it all the movie captures so many wonderful, recognizable, simple and sweet coming-of-age moments.  One of my favorites was when Luke and Stephanie are on a beach in Fire Island splashing in the water, and he is worrying about what will happen between them in the future, and she questions how he can think about the future when where they are now is so great.  Telling him that he has a messed up way of looking at things she says, “I look at the dopeness in life, and you look at the wackness.”

Amidst the 40’s, the smokes, the pot-dealing, and the pulsation of Notorious B.I.G, R. Kelly, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, this movie is a reminder to take your eyes and your mind off all that wackness, and focus on the dopeness, yo, ’cause beyond your worries about the past and projections of the future, there is a ton of dopeness in this moment right now, and as SWV would say in their song that was in the running for Side A of my summer ’93 mix tape, “Right Here.”

I think I have to keep the 90’s dopeness alive and buy “The Wackness” soundtrack right now-on cd, not the downloadable version-or at least dig up some old mixes to rock out to…