May 19, 2004



Interaction Two:

1:40 PM, Wednesday.

I am the Virgin Times Sqaure Megastore. Farley "Jackmaster" Funk is DJing in honor of the Trax Records 20th Anniversary Collection. He is playing something by Steven "Silk" Hurley, which I only know because he tells us. He points out that Screamin' Rachel and Red Alert are in the house and indeed they are. They look exactly like they always look.

It is unclear how to receive Jackmaster's performance. He is stranded way up high in the hexagonal glass tower that runs the height of the store. His performance is being projected on TV screens all through the ground floor, but the camera sees only his shoulder and his back. If we crane our necks and watch him work in real time, we get a similarly obstructed view from a different angle. If we try to place ourselves in accordance with traditional stage performance rules—i.e., looking up at the performer—we block the escalators. It is very hard to be at this event or perform in a way that registers as "being at the Jackmaster Funk thing." I drift away to a listening station, because I espy Beyoncé Wembleying at me. One set of headphones brings me the sounds of Franz Ferdinand and I cannot figure out how to get the properly, crazily in love audio track. By the time I have marshaled my facilities to the task, the image has shifted to the video for Prince's "Musicology."

The audio is low, unadjustably so. Farley's house/house/house music bleeds in. The "Musiciology" video presents a boy dancing in his room to his pop's soul records and singing into a vacuum cleaner. We cut to Prince performing in some gangster (30s) era club, saluting "Earth, Wind and Fire," as well as "Chuck D and Jam Master Jay," now that he simply can't not. It's a JB vamp, barely a song. I am happy just to watch Prince being a reduced but not inaccurate version of himself, throwing out his arms and voting, over and over, for the funk. The woman playing bass is making me kinda dreamy when Jackmaster Dr. Mr. Funk lets the slipmat go under an unusually loud and gospelly track. It's what the dancers in the video are acting like they're hearing. Prince & The Devolution's "70s funk" wedding band pap wouldn't make anyone do The Wop. The tap dancers and zoot-suited folks are having the good time that all of us in the lobby should be having. To teach everybody a lesson, I buy some CDs: the new Alanis, the international version of Come On Over and the acapella CD(!) of The Black Album. This subversive act of consumption catches the cashiers off guard. They are speechless.

Posted by Sasha at May 19, 2004 02:53 PM | TrackBack