Monday, January 25, 2010

My Dinner with Tupac

Hey kids, do you like the hip-hop music? You do? Well, did I ever tell you about the time I hung out with Tupac Shakur in Atlanta? I didn't?

Well, that's because there's really not much of a story there.

We got a delivery order for a club downtown near the end of a day shift. The club was pretty well-known, although I have no idea what the name was now. I ended up getting the order, which was fine; the craziness of lunch had died down, so I could take my time, and clubs were usually pretty good tippers.

So I gather a box of food and drive downtown. "Man, am I lucky," I'm thinking to myself. I get to close out my shift with a big ol' tip. Everyone knew that clubs tended to tip well, they were second only to strip bars in knowing the importance of tips.

So I get there and there's a group of about 10 guys waiting for the food. They're wearing big gold necklaces and a couple guys are sporting diamond earrings. Right away they start trying to determine who ordered what. This happened a lot, especailly at hospitals or strip clubs. This meant you had to stand around while everyone argued with each other for about a half hour. In strip clubs, it wasn't too bad, they have naked ladies there and you'd end up with a fat tip for your trouble(get your mind out of the gutter). In hospitals you'd end up standing around forever while all the nurses paged each other, then paid with a handfull of change and stiffing you on a tip.

So I was used to that. All the guys seemed to be deferring to a guy in the middle. I had no idea who he was, but they seemed to act like he was important.

I stand around while the guys discuss the bill (by the way, America? You know when a good time to do this is? AFTER YOU'VE PLACED THE DELIVERY AND BEFORE THE DRIVER SHOWS UP.), then take my cash and leave.

On the way home I realize I've been stiffed. Hell, the whole thing was as crappy as going to Grady Hospital.

Couple days later we're watching the news and I realize that the guy in the middle was Tupac. I had checked out of hip-hop after they stopped discussing sucker MCs and waxing and milking, so I had no idea.

Anyway, Tupac was on TV because he had shot an undercover cop the night after his posse stiffed me. Or been shot by an undercover cop. If it had been a dude from Fugazi or Jesus Lizard or the Didjits cold shootin' cops, I might have paid more attention.

Apart from the weirdness of figuring out that I sort of met someone famous (OK, was in the same room with someone famous), I was just pissed. Famous Tupac and his friends can't leave a tip? With all that gold they were wearing? LL Cool J would have tipped me. Run DMC would have tipped. Boogie Down Productions would have tipped me and dropped some knowledge on me.

Tupac would be dead a few years later. To this day the media wants you to believe it had something to do with a West Coast/East Coast rap war, but I've heard on good authority that it was a server, delivery driver or wait person pissed off over a missing tip.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To the Gothic Castle

I don't really remember how we ended up at the gothic guy's apartment. It was one of those blurry nights back in the early '90s in Atlanta with my roommate Rachel. Somehow we were out with our neighbor, Juliet.

That was strange in itself. We shared a hallway, and were nice enough to each other, but she would go on these screaming and crying jags late at night. We weren't really sure if we were supposed to do anything or not, so we'd just turn the TV up louder (free cable!) and drink more Natural Light. I remember our downstairs neighbors warning me about her. "I'm from Ireland," she said. "I know about banshees."

So we tended to keep our distance.

Somehow after drinking somewhere Juliet ended up taking us to a friend's apartment. I don't remember the guy's name, let's call him Raven or Mykel or something. I remember the apartment was painted black and he had a lot of black and spiky furniture. He also didn't seem to want us hanging around. Probably because we looked pretty square, and weren't our stripper neighbor.

Raven kept talking to Juliet while Rachel and I giggled about how much of a cliche the dude was. I mean, he was wearing leather pants, just sitting around the house! Sure, it was immature, especially since the guy had begrudgingly given us more beer and a dark place to sit in, but you know how it is in your early 20s. And hey, we had to amuse ourselves somehow while he tried macking on our neighbor.

"What's the matter, you don't like Nine Inch Nails?" Raven yelled over the stereo.

"Yeah, they're OK, I guess," I said. "They played them in the mall last week while I was shopping for Dockers."

"Oh yeah? Well, check these out."

With that, Raven dropped a pile of photographs on my lap.

"I don't know if I want to look at dead people, man."

"What's the matter, can't take it? Well, I've got tons of these. Most people can't take it, but this is unfiltered, in-your-face reality."

"Yeah, well, I guess you totally win...hey, wait a minute! This picture's from a movie. That's from Dawn of the Dead, right?"

I ended up trying to talk horror movies with the guy, but he was a little crestfallen after finding out that his in-your-face reality was actually concocted by special effects wizard Tom Savini.

I can't remember how we left the guy's apartment, or if we were still with Juliet, but I can say with about 90 percent certainty that we ended up getting Taco Bell, drinking Natural Light and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I never really did make that many friends in Atlanta.