Friday, November 14, 2008

Rhythm Nation on the Finally Friday Freakout

It happens when you take artists and performer for granted. You forget that these folks are not flashes in the pan. They have a body of work and they evolve and develop their craft. Janet Jackson is certainly in that group.

The year was 1989 and the video is Rhythm Nation.

The memory of the week happened while I was on the bus. The bus was late. It was packed. The seats up front are for senior citizens. There was this middle aged woman sitting in one of those seats, lets call her Bertha who was with her friend chatting.

An older woman was standing who had trouble doing so. One older gentleman asked the middle aged woman to get up so the older woman could sit down.

Bertha looked at him like he was dirt. She looked at him, ignored him and kept talking with her friend.

Now let me back up here. I have seen people from Thugnation get up and offer a seat to an older person. Winos find a way to do it. It is a custom that people actually perform on L.A. buses. So for a person not to do it will draw the kind of attention you do not want. Back to our story.

Another rider not so politely suggested that she get up and let the lady sit. An older man siting next to Bertha got up and helped the original woman to his seat.

It was if somebody had lit a match and a verbal explosion of anger was being hurled at Bertha. Bertha did not care. Bertha announced that it didn't have anything to do with her and did not care if the woman had a seat or not.

At this point we had a multi-lingual cuss out; Farsi, Spanish, Tagalog and Armenian. There was some English too but it was more reportorial communication to the folks sitting in the middle and the back of the bus what was happening in the front of the bus.

Bertha's friend, who had a hell of a lot more good sense than Bertha, seem to understand that you do not piss off a bus load of tired people on a Friday afternoon. They were out numbered about 65 to 2.

Bertha's friend is trying to pull her to the exit. Bertha is busy giving the finger and dropping F-Bombs in two languages. She is jamming her finger up and down to show precisely the extent of her lack of civility. 

That was not the thing to do cuz that caused the middle section of the bus to start chanting "get the F - off the bus." The bus driver is telling her get off the bus. Bertha is half up with her knee on the seat so she can make sure she is visible to all those that didn’t see her give the finger before.

Bertha's friend has now got a body lock on Bertha and is pulling her out the front door. Defiant to the last, Bertha shares heart felt parting shots at what the whole bus can do with themselves.

Folks were still angry but they settled down as they watched Bertha still giving the finger outside of the bus. The original woman who needed at seat? Totally oblivious to the commotion. She sat quiet in her own world.

It is taking longer to type the story than the length of time that it happened. So I guess the lesson of the week is that courtesy is not just a social nicety. It can literally prevent wars.

To the extent possible, err on the side of courtesy and, if you ride L.A. Metro buses, let the little old ladies have a seat.

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