Wednesday, June 23, 2004

B-Boy BBQ 

I've been tied up for the past few weeks, but I wanted to drop a quick note about Saturday's 5th Annual B-Boy BBQ. Alex Welsh & I entered the gates of the Hawthorne Community Center into what seemed to be an entirely different city in its togetherness & calm- for Philadelphia, that is.

I had visions of name-rings & New Yorker laces as we came upon the linoleum square that served as a dance floor for the breakdance kids. The dancers were probably just being conceived while Slick Rick & MC Shan were on the radio, so this old-head memory is just history to them. It was late in the day, & there was visible fatigue in their head spins & windmills. Dancing is the most multi-cultural of the hiphop arts, & the group reflected this demographic. They were black, white, latino, asian & combinations of all of the above. The boys seemed to hog the tiles, while the b-girls just popped on the sidelines for the most part. It was frustrating to watch them maneuvering to the floor, only to be banished by some guy's wild, flailing legs.

I give them credit for breaking to Phil Moore Brown, who was pretty much a rock band w/ some instruments missing. Not that the band's music is lacking. They were actually missing personnel, but they made due. The DJs that followed were hot, especially the Illvibe Collective & Botany 500.

The first person I recognized at the event was mural artist Mike Smash, who was being chastised by an earnest woman who took issue with the violent images on his T-shirts for sale. I felt responsible, since he designed the grenade shirt w/ "I will blow up" across the back for me. The woman went on a little long, but she had positive intentions, so... what can you do? If you're in South Philly, check out Mike's mural that borders the Hawthorne Center (12th & Carpenter). And if you're in the neighborhood, you can find his "Inheritors of the Dragon" mural around the corner(11th & Washington) on the side of Pho'75.

The fence surrounding the playground was covered in tarp, as grafitti artists tagged up every available inch of marker space. They were mostly kids w/ a genuine paranoia of being spied on by "ANTI", shorthand for the Philadelphia Anti-Graffitti Network. The vacant lot across the street was sectioned, where the Philly Legends (artists from the 80's & 90's)worked their ladders & spray cans into a series of murals that was fascinating to watch & intoxicating to breathe- so many paint fumes in such a small area. These guys were veterans, & were fielding questions & sharing techniques w/the younger writers.

Kice Of Course began his MC set, which left us flat. If was the perfect time to break for tacos. We got got back to catch the last act- a dual set w/ Chief Kamachi & Reef The Lost Cauze. At least one of these guys will definitely break in the next year or so. I've seen Reef a number of times in the last few years, & he keeps getting better & better- the best freestyle in Philly. But I never saw/heard Kamachi, & this guy was unbelievably tight & versatile. He kept apologizing for slip-ups nobody even noticed, claiming he was up for 24 hours in the studio & came directly to the BBQ. Mid-set, an old-lady food vendor interrupted the set w/ her hair net & apron on & asked for the mike. Kamachi obliged, & the woman started screaming for her grandson. "Thomas, get your ass up to this stage & give me my money before I whoop your ass!!!" Thomas did the smart thing & remained MIA, & we called it a day.

My only complaint- no barbeque at the BBQ! What gives?

- Frank Sherlock

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