Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So, over break, I've been reading both Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," and Jay-Z's "DECODED." These, oddly, tell basically the same story. Poor kids from poor neighborhoods locking into an art form just as it explodes; K&C, comics, Jay-Z, hip-hop. Both tell the stories of unsuspecting young men, who are more fans of their art than practitioners, better, seemingly, at idolizing than being idols. Jay-Z felt it important to tell the stories of his streets, K&C, as young Jews, felt compelled to fight the battles no one else was fighting, i.e., going toe-to-toe with Hitler years before the rest of America would.

Both parties, by keeping their art personal, infused it with a passion their audiences could almost hold in their hands, and both make clear, that is where their true talents lie..."how distant is the story of your own life ever going to be?" Moreover, both took art forms considered simple...trashy...uncomplicated, and made them, really, made them impossible to ignore, impossible to not take seriously.

What is, perhaps, the most interesting overlapping in these two books, is how both use personal stories, not just to relay the histories of their respective genres, but also to grow and expand American history, by looking at it through specific windows, by acknowledging its effects on them and their effects on it.

Maybe, though, what I like best about these two books, is that they manage to make relevant today, the things I loved when I was young. That they make serious two things I had, for awhile, stopped being so serious about. I love comics and I love hip-hop, and especially I love the escapism both allowed me when I too was young and poor and often scared, the escapism both are allowing me right now.

In short, I feel like it has been snowing forever...

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