The following was inspired by Kashif's Condition of the Heart (Arista Records, 1985):
I used to work with this bald headed chick that I always mentally referred to as ‘Curly’. I realize that this, at its absolute best, might seem only slightly juvenile, however I never actually called her this to her face nor did I ever do so behind her back amongst other free-thinking, like minded colleagues. I’d like to think that my character is not comprised of an entirely blasé fabric, but I guess, if it’s not already apparent, that it is actually pretty debatable.
I should probably also make it clear that her hairless existence wasn't exactly by choice, rather it was the result of a fairly circumstantial series of events. It had something to do with a particularly aggressive set of dreadlocks she had in the late nineties. Apparently you can wrap them too tight and if your not careful you can end up on what I like to call a, “permanent dreadlock holiday.”
This was her story at least and I’m no barber or anything so I just took it at face value because it just didn’t seem right to question that sort of alibi. The finer tenets of African American hair care leave me feeling, how should I put it, out of my depth. Probably the less said about it the better. Continued after the jump...
Hairlessness aside, Curly knew an inordinate amount about early eighties R&B. She was from some precinct of Houston that I had never heard of, but when I mentioned Ronnie and Deborah Laws I think she figured out pretty quickly that my familiarity with the more dimly lit corners of adult oriented jazz, R&B and its other attendant families was no casual affair either. I don’t want to paint the picture of a pissing contest here and especially not one between myself and a baldy from south TX, but it was what it was.
Actually, she did shed considerable light onto a few recording artists that had until that time escaped my indefatigable scrutiny. One of the brighter lights being Kashif, an artist that populates the dollar bin of self respecting record shops everywhere with such frequency that it's easy to understand why he may go unnoticed to all but the most resolute collectors. I won't lie to you, not everything the kid touched was gold, but depending on your level of resolve and broad-mindedness you might be rewarded here and there. I can personally recommend a track entitled 'The Mood' in particular.
Besides discovering Kashif's back catalogue it's been a pretty huge year for me in terms of how most normal people gauge success in America. I got married, bought an apartment and finally secured full time employment that doesn't involve me suggesting clever biodynamic blends that pair nicely with heritage breed veal cheeks. Things are looking up for me and no more than a few people have commented on it. You can't even imagine the sense of relief that my parents have been finally granted after 33 years of what I can only describe as a tooth loosening amount of complete and total worry with very little reprieve until extremely recently. The lost lamb has returned to the fold.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but it doesn't feel like I thought it would. It doesn't even feel bad in the ways that they said it would. I don't feel stifled or tied down with too much responsibility. I don't have the feeling of is that all there is nor do I think that grass is necessarily greener somewhere else. No, none of those pathetic cliches even begin to describe the feelings of blunt horror that seem to encroach upon my horizon on a daily basis. In fact the scariest part of all is how it's practically undetectable. It just kind of lurks. In fact, it kind of feels like someone is slightly tightening my dreads just a little bit every day.
The slowness of it all is what really terrifies me because nothing ever feels final. It just slowly tests my thresholds for pain and disillusionment and it's not ever going to stop. In the end my hair will probably all fall out and I will do silly shit to keep myself pretending that it isn't all that bad. Elaborate and intricately folded lies, distractions and other metaphorical toupee's will fabricate my entire reality to the point that any remaining vestige of someone with any sort of dreams or hopes for anything at all will become little more than an unrecognizable mirage. An unrelenting upping of the voltage that you'll never be able to fully comprehend. Oh it's definitely a cruel and twisted screw. And I know it sounds a little far fetched, but the fact that I'm actually seeking out adult oriented R&B records is all the more proof that I'm probably right about this whole thing.