When you’re rolling down that slope that comes after middle-age, you either become “that guy” and flaunt it proudly, or you desperately don’t want to be him.
I really, really don’t want to be “that guy.” I don’t want to feel like what’s current and popular have not only passed me by, but are evils sending civilization to its doom.
When I was a wee laddie, my dad got a big laugh from a newspaper headline that said “Rolling Stones Breaking Rocks” after Keith Richards got arrested somewhere for something drug-related. The Stones were bad boys, in their attitude and behavior, the scourge of parents from Manchester, England, to Manchester, Iowa. I loved them.
That was then. Saturday, I was at Kinnick Stadium for the Iowa spring football game. I found myself wondering not only why the constant stream of music on the public-address system was so loud, but why I didn’t know any of the songs.
Yeah, “that guy.” I bet I wasn’t the only one.
I’ve heard it suggested the volume was to drown out cursing from coaches and players. Football is an earthy game.
I presume the choice of music for the two hours of hip-hop hits wasn’t for the 18,000 fans in the stands, but for the recruits in attendance. This campus is a friendly place for 18-year-olds, the music may have told them.
So that’s all fine, and who other than the hard-of-hearing really cares? Except that I would hear occasional lyrics that jumped out at me and made me go “What the what?” Or something like that.
The one that intrigued me most was when a rapper said “in the elevator like Ray Rice.”
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So later in the weekend I Googled that phrase to track down the song. It’s called “U Mad,” by Vic Mensa, featuring Kanye West. I could quote the entire line of the song that referred to Rice, or several other lines that might offend you. But then I’d have to answer hundreds of emails from offended readers. If I still had this job. You can see them for yourself here.
(I didn’t hear any obscenities from the p.a., and no one has told me they did, either.)
Let’s just say there’s a lot of shock value in the song, and a lot of misogyny. It didn’t seem appropriate for a crowd that included a lot of kids, and I know. “That guy.” But still ...
My guess is that had someone set the lyrics on Kirk Ferentz’s desk Saturday morning, he would have used his presidential veto.
But I also accept that hip-hop has plenty of greatness. Several of the genre’s artists, after they die, will be hailed as innovative geniuses by people who perhaps don’t see it now. Just like David Bowie and Prince were recognized after their deaths this year.
My satellite radio’s channel settings exclude hip-hop stations. As well as jazz, classical, electronic, heavy metal and country. So I’m an equal-opportunity shunner, and not proud of it. But long live adult alternative rock.
Going beyond music, tattoos are an endless source of fascination and confusion to me. They used to stand out. Now, everyone’s body seems to be a tattoo artist’s palette. How and why this happened, I have no idea.
Say it with me. “That guy.”
After Saturday’s spring game was over, I asked Hawkeyes running back Akrum Wadley why he had a clock tattooed on his right arm with its hands set to 10 o’clock.
“That’s the time I was born,” he said. Asked and answered.
I told Wadley I should get a similar tat. He laughed at the thought, slapped me gently on the shoulder, and said we could be twins if I did.
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I won’t be rapping along to any lyric that includes “in the elevator with Ray Rice.” But maybe I need to find out what time I was born and see someone about some ink.
If I can claim to be Akrum Wadley’s twin, there’s hope for me yet. But you’ll never convince me any recording that played in Kinnick Saturday was as good as the Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”