Refuse To Choose
Sep 29, 2013

Playing the middle between old school and new school, hoping to learn from both

Several of my artsy peers have posted distressed tweets and Facebook statuses recently, upon the realization that they have hit the era referred to as "middle age." The drama of it all is lost on me personally. My 30th birthday party was a righteous celebration, overflowing with friends, music, cake and champagne. 40 was quite a bit more genteel, but spent with someone I love dearly and full of laughter and reminiscing. I try not to take even a second of my life for granted, given that my mother passed away at 39 and her mother at 54. With that kind of history, I dare not get caught up in the numbers game. Every single breath is a blessing.

Last week, many of our WURD family were gushing about how impressed they were with the young people who gave their time to be our STUDENTS SPEAK panelists. One of our new interns has hit the ground running with enthusiasm, looking for numerous ways to learn about what we do behind the scenes and determined to encourage more young people to listen in to our insightful on-air exchanges. It is absolutely true that popular culture overwhelmingly favors youth and youthfulness. Innovation over experience. Fresh faces trump maturing beauty. Society is so eager to toss aside "tried and true" in search of the next best thing. And we rarely realize what we're missing until it's gone.

One of the surest signs that there is a major glitch in the matrix came last week when it was announced that the Rock The Bells tour was forced to cancel its scheduled stops in DC and NYC because of minimal ticket sales. Allow me to elaborate briefly: Rock The Bells is the premier concert for what is commonly called old school hiphop. Its entire purpose is to keep the music and culture alive and well in the hearts of people like me, who grew up on hiphop music and fully understand its power as a communication vehicle and art form. For my hometown of DC to drop to the ball with this show is regrettable. But for New York, the birthplace of hiphop music and culture, to allow this show to be canceled due to lack of financial support is deeply wounding. We cannot be so enamored with the message and melodies of modernity that we cast aside our classics. There can be no new school without an amazing old school to precede it, laying the foundation for the success and innovation to come.

We also received word that the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh is deeply in debt (over $7 million in arrears on its mortgage) and is moving into receivership by month's end. The city's premier arts presentation venue, named after its award-winning playwright and Black native son, soon to be shuttered and sold. Likely to be renamed by whatever deep-pocketed white knight steps forward. Another treasure, lost to apathy and mismanagement.

One of the most hopeful messages to emerge from our Students Speak program was a clearly-articulated objective from the youth and the elders that more opportunities to come together and share information were greatly desired on both sides. It is only through a two-way exchange of wisdom and forward vision that the appropriate gains can be made to lift people out of oppression. The fearlessness of youth, with the experience of age, make for an undeniable formula for success. Not either/or, but rather both/and. Equally appreciated and respected. There's room at the table for everyone.

Here is last week's playlist: