Adages, a fable’s crippled little cousin, tend to set me off more than anything. Of these, the one about, “what you most dislike in people are things that remind you of yourself,” is the one that kills me.
Which leads me to Kanye West and my mother.
I love Kanye West, and I love my Mom. Somewhere over the course of the past few years, they’ve merged into the same person. Which is why I suppose she isn’t that into his new album.
Both are prone to inflammatory statements, have a sizeable God complex, take great pains to point out what they construe as boldfaced racism, and over the past few years, developed a strange fascination with Kim Kardashian. Also, both are so very angry.
I grew up in Chicago, during a lovely time to be in Chicago. Common was still Common Sense, Wilco and Son Volt played shows across the street from each other, and you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a member of Tortoise or an auxiliary member of KMFDM. And on top of all of this was Kanye, in his pre Roc-a-Fella glory, making Chicago proud.
I spent every summer as a teen with my mother, a psychologist doing AIDS research, working at the needle exchange program on the South side of Chicago in a poorly air-conditioned RV. One dirty syringe gets you two; a pretty sweet deal. Junkies tend to cop in the morning, so a lot of time was spent hanging out in the neighborhood, on stoops and office chairs rolled into the sidewalk of the South Side listening to mixtapes and holding up the corner.