After the father’s final prayer we all rise, file outside to our cars and prepare to be moved to the cemetery for Santo’s burial. We walk the casket out like soldiers, for to rally was our only option. The Big Guy informed me that I’ll be driving with him to the burial. I felt close to him in that moment and wouldn’t for the life of me want to be driving with anyone else. The two of us throughout this past year had established a true connection. It was unspoken between us but obvious to everyone else. Walking out from the church swarms of people dotted our radar. And looking around I was becoming cold. I didn’t like the convenient bridge tragedy had presented. I didn’t like all of the woodwork, what came out of it, why and the emotions of convenience. “You can’t tell me people how to feel Carl!” I could see TR, my main man Tick, the hippy of the crew, Santo’s dearest pal, that audio playing on loop in my head as we loaded his casket into the funeral homes black Cadillac Hearst. It was a surreal life. I knew this Heasrt well. The picture of my “pinging” bats en route to our favorite Waltham dive bar with Magic and Des chauffeured by Brett himself on Sunday’s to speculate and for myself, manage my own risk spread throughout the youthful nothings of a wealthy suburb half way turned out.
The back door slammed. The locked could be heard, click. And as I walked out into the bright sunlight away from a deities confusing promises I found strength by the Big Guy’s side. As magnetic magnates in our own traversing odysseys we just sort gravitated towards one another. “You riding with me?” It was a question. It was an affirmation for an always assumption. For even on ACE field trips, faculty and juvenile delinquents such as myself rode a school bus. I rode with the Big Guy. We’d formed an unbreakable alliance.
My teacher and head basketball coach, curator of a provided heaven here on earth. We both enjoyed a comfort in the emotionally porous zoo of townspeople that had flocked to what I’d later learn was typically the least attended aspect in this American ritual of burying our civilians. And in the denizens of human obstacles invading our path to his green Honda, head after head, adult, kid, priests and fans came over to pay condolences or simply say hi and shake one of our hands. The attention had become obscene a harbinger of something far more awful to come for all of us. “Hi” “thanks” “OK” “Good” “OK Copy that” “Roger” “Hi” “Hi” “Hi”
Out of the crowd emerged my father’s sister, my aunt Ursula. She’d help run an art gallery where Santo’s mom sculpted and painted. A few weeks later we’d learn she had gathered the scattered remains of her decimated Silver Volvo from the accident site to sculpt something beautiful out of the remains. “I love you so much. I’m so sorry. I miss you.” Everyone it seemed suddenly loved me. And for my Aunt Ursula hers was a spirit I hadn’t seen since I was kicked out of her current residence, the million dollar Victorian house my father had grown up in five years earlier. I’d made a pact with my mother I’d never go back and be subjected to that type of ridicule again. And no one would call. And no one had checked in. And they knew. My mother’s sickness, the zero percent of family we had in the absence of my father’s side. We had the Outsiders, kids, the Young Guns, pills, comedy and now the Big Guy. And today we lost our captain reconciliation would not be that easy. I’d turn and embrace my dear aunt Ursula, a women my mother had told me judged her harshly for years. A women who’d poke fun at my mothers position in life, not in tune with bourgeoisie mores nor jokes that stems from a growing up having everything and never relinquishing such a lucky lot in life. It burned me. However I was becoming quite polished. I was six feet now and lost my braces. The hundreds of hours in the Hayden weight room using Bart’s BC football weight program had given my shoulders a semblance of upper body strength that complimented my two giant dimples.
I was no longer “dumbo” as my grand mother in the same breath would question my everything asking why I couldn’t be more like Ursula’s children. The Concord children, products of Chote and Exeter and their tony accents and Brook brothers loafers were the ideal she most wanted to think of her family as. They resented my mother as an orphan. They laughed at my dress and manner of speech. And everyone loved my sister Brooke but at the end of the day, she was with us. And ironically my aunt’s trophy cased children were on a fast track to heroin abuse, alarming addictions and accidents. I’d remember the large oil paintings of the children that hung over a long ago Thanksgiving feast in Concord. The black women played the harp as I asked only for dark meat staring at the frosted pond that so eloquently dressed an amazing plot of land in one of the countries premier places of residence.
And it played in a flash. Coach Farias would always celebrate the bandwagon that formed whenever his teams got off to a 5 or 10 and 0 start. “Can you hear the drums?” He’d ask loudly as the ACE phone rang endlessly with old friends some of which he hadn’t heard from since their last possible state title contender. “Aunt Ursula, I know, It’s OK, I know, thanks, thanks. OK.” I kissed her, embraced her hug and patted her head like I believed a legend would handle the unscrupulous and emotionally explosive situation her breaking through the herd presented. I never had a family. And I learned that toughest of lesson the only way possible. And it was years ago. And it was sad, so sad but I wasn’t going to let people of that character bring me down.
I’d found my own family. A founded a gang, UNLV and we turned into the Young Guns. And they were my sister’s and also my mother’s family. I did that. And unlike a side of a family I’d believed was there, they disappeared too, just like my mother said they would. My family would never. And unlike the family we’d lost, never knew and or ever really had, I’d do anything for my family anything in the whole wide world at the drop of a call, if my homies call.
Snap back to reality. There was this combustion of chaos as people managed to their rides and dozens of people it seemed were approaching myself, the Big Guy as the trek to his green Honda and was becoming a difficult journey.
“You coming with me?” It was the Big Guy now by my side. “Of course. Shotgun.” I smiled whipping out of sunglasses. He didn’t have to ask. “Take care Carl! I love you baby.” I was hardened in a way she could never of possibly conceived. I’d given the moment, but in my head all’s I heard to myself was, get the fuck out of my face with that shit. I was sixteen years old.
Finally the car, shotgun, the side door that put me in my favorite seat, I grabbed the handle. But not yet, my shoulder was grabbed, “hey, het!” I turned to not one but two kids I’d gone back with who’d recently drawn a mutual ire in my high school game of thrones. “Carl, dude, dude, let’s squash it man, for Santo, life is short, it’s not worth it, I’m sorry, are you?” Given the moment I indulge, hugging him, I was defeated and reply, “for sure yo we’re cool.” I’d been squashing beefs I didn’t even know existed most however I was acutely aware of. In all of this sadness and within the mighty politics of sympathy I felt our celebrity growing. All in that one instance outside of the church on the way to Santo’s burial. Allot was coming at all of us.
Another quick set of hugs and I was in, door was locked as Big Guy plopped down, locked his door and the car dropped to low rider status. “Jeepers. This is a mad house.” And from the departing saddened frenzy, sound was forgotten. Driving from the church I was blinded by the flash of a camera. Fuck me sunglasses. I’d seen to have lost them. The trip from the church to the cemetery usually takes ten minutes. Right out of the gates I notice the procession was going to the cemetery in anything but a direct fashion. “Why did they turn that way?” The Big Guy, “Yo, I got no clue maybe Mc D’s!” Fat guy always cracking jokes. As we slowly cruise further and further away from our final destination the high school was within eyeshot.
The deep procession was rolling through the student parking lot. Santo’s parents and his relatives that traveled to be here hadn’t yet seen the voluminous nature of the graffiti laced tributes to their son. It had over taken the field house and one side of the entire high school. It was truly, a sight to be seen. Kids die everyday this was different. It was truly a real time lap around the once crazed and high-flying student parking lot. There were two eighteen wheeler rustic almost train cargo cars that never moved. There were woods, on its right side, the field house and out face of the LHS hoops gym bricked its back. Worthern road ran across its head and due to the fact most Madison teenagers drove their own cars, the student parking lots overflow parked here. Everything was slow motion, glancing at all of the art that graced our high school where Santo starred and gave his life it was the saddest thing. I felt comfort as assuredly the family for the stunning representation that Santo’s death had caused throughout the entire 1245 students at good old Madison high.
“Hey,” there was a reason I was rolling with the Big Guy to the burial. “Hey, its going to be OK.” Always wanting to be tough for the Big Guy, I gain my composure as he adds, “Hey there’s a lot of spray paint on this school.” “I know its crazy.” “Hey you betta not be painten.” The Big Guy after all was still the anchor you never wanted to fuck around with. “Hah, its not me.” “Hey, we’ll have this part of it all out of the way soon.” “OK”
And away we driver out of the student parking lot back on straight route to the cemetery, I closed my eyes and imagined next years headline. “The Buy Guy saves the Dream, longtime coach and teacher saves seniors shot at life, Arriving at the cemetery I observe, “what a beautiful day.” “Yeah its like Santo brought the sun back, for all of these days it was cloudy and now, look at this? Once again not a cloud in the sky.” “crazy” The cemetery was quaint, steady. Here in this American option of burial there were no head stones, stones laid flat, it was so filled with finality that I FELT LIKE I WAS IN A GHETTO BOYS video, be careful what you wish for. Arriving to the sheer panic, Jesus, please give me much more strength
Out of the car, there is a role, we still have responsibility and heading to the Hertz, Brett gives a nod and a wink, as we convene and fall into place. Carrying its casket sad, tired and nervous, not wanting to actually carry him to a spot in the ground where they bury him its hard not to say fuck it, and be the one to break, but again I had YG, my family besides we were almost there, what do I give a fuck Always had to say that, as a last resort to keep from being “shook” and emotionally bugging when the cameras were on, or when I accidently touched on of those never go near emotional “tender” reefs.
The burials large cast of straight and sullen faces populate the outer rims of his perfectly dug and carved out lot. We placed the casket as ritual on the mechanism that drops him to his final place of rest. Penny loafer to penny loafer we stand. Straight was our posture. Straight were our faces as the last part of this begun. These are the things that change boys to men. Magic was to my immediate right all lay silent, “Snap” A lone old school camera snapped brightly. “I want that.” Magic whispers “So much” I reply. This was finalization. And we never did see that photo.
The father says a last prayer. He invited all present to share any final words. This was a moment that no one was budging. I wasn’t saying shit. Magic wasn’t either. In fact no one was, this pigeon holed the father a bit. The silence quickly became overbearing. How long could he let this hang?
Finally an all too familiar, unique voice could be heard clearly out of the crickets. We all in YG on the front lines kick saved a stomach “pit” as we instantly recognize the voice. I can already see “blotchy” spots appearing on Magic’s face but he would never. He’d controlled his emotions long before I’d learned. The voice, David Sears was autistic, we thought. He was something. He was off. He knew all of us and forever walked up and down Mass Ave in the center of town showering niceties and small talk in what we believed my have been a manufactured, and very British accent.
“Matt I will miss seeing you at Steve’s ice cream! I will miss you and the ice cream! You were very pleasant, yes very pleasant at Steve’s ice cream.” Boom. Silence broken. It was an instant classic. And one after the other adults and friends kicked the shit out of that once awkward silence. Finally I’d been touched in a very special way, I was compelled to contribute. As if drawn into the center of the circle by some magical tug I stepped out beyond the front row suspending thought, “you know, when you’re a guy always competing, trying to be the best, you” and I managed to choke out, “forget to tell them you love them.” And yet again I broke. I cried. Life wasn’t fair. Both of my hands go over my face in a panic. Falling apart Magic pulled me back towards the now huddling fellas. I felt rapid pats on the head. I dried up. It felt so good.
As the casket lowers itself into the ground I realized I didn’t want to die. It was an act. The chances were calculated. The raps were raps. The casket was lowered. The flowers were iridescent, plush and many. The dirt was tossed on top. And I walked away. And that was it. And I was composed leaving with the Big Guy. “Farewell Santo, I bid you adieu.” I always knew that phrase and last word from a famous Boston sports headline after the Great Ted Williams had finally retired.
The burial, putting the final in finality of an American teenager being laid to rest. Years later I’d hear elders chime over their impressionable muses questions when life’s cycle heaped mortality into their own as a friend or family. I’d hear it’s not like you see in the movies. I’d hear the body is not actually buried. I’d hear people don’t place items into the casket. I’d hear there was typically one wake. I’d hear it is what it is. Santo’s passing and series of events were like nothing any of us would experience again.
Finally it was Friday. It had been a long week. I was tired. Today was the burial, Santo’s final act. I’d had a slight incident the night before attending the fourth and final wake. It was nothing. However the Big Guy screamed at me, the one thing I was trying to avoid. “Eh! What the hell are you doing? Your acting like a banana head!” And I wasn’t. I’d simply left. That and laid down on my back on the funeral homes side and watched the stars. It was peaceful. And lasted like any moment of tranquility in my life for a fleeting few seconds. “Yo C. Get up. The Big Guy wants to see you.” Jesus fucking Christ.
Stretch also had an incident already this morning mild in comparison in his Godzilla get away moment at Tuesday nights opening wake. I’d told him, “just be careful buddy, you might end up in a straight jacket.” “I don’t fucking care.” “Yeah me either dawg, but I don’t want the straight jacket.” I was tired of the rituals. The cameras. The curtains. I’d remember Hatty and Monster arguing before Santo’s passing who was poorer. It was emphatic. Rich kids wanting to be poor. It was the single most retarded thing I’d ever heard in my life. “But Brian think of your land and wardrobe. You dads car!” “Dude are you kidding me, two words, Lake House.” Magic and I caught the Bart eyes. By Friday I was becoming negative. Remembering negative things. I wasn’t angry Santo our Young Gun captain was no longer with us. I’d accepted as much that first wake. Was pissed so many others were alive. I had a mountain of unresolved issues that the Big Guy rendered flat in the ACE program over this past year. I grinned to myself laughing at the fact that only I knew how much I didn’t give a fuck, now, and what that might possibly mean.
10AM start. It was another glorious bright sunny day we didn’t have to be in school for. The church service was slated to start at 10 am. I’d already been in the middle of an explosion earlier regarding Magic and Pallbearer selection. Magic justifiably angry left out of the pallbearers. I tried to explain to him that Santo’s dad was never the most inclusive and “you’re an adopted black Jew. Come on.” It didn’t go over well. And I never said that although it was true. It was Magic and because of that I was able to do a mature thing and think how I’d feel. I wouldn’t let that happen. It was clear we were getting rolled all over the place at this point on this thing and enough was enough. “Hold on Mike.” And I walked away.
The church was standing room only. It was a huge show, at that point. At grace chapel and just before 10AM Magic was included with the pallbearers. The body was still at the funeral home. It was now us and the family as the Big Guy and a few aunt’s and uncles had left.
“Boys.” Santo’s dad let us know we could go in and have a last moment. The casket was still opened. It would be the last time I’d see his face. I went first. “OK.” I had my Young Guns uniform like almost every YG pallbearer seemed to be carrying as well. I threw my shorts and #10 tank in their along with an almost three inch herringbone chain I’d bartered with Beef in ACE for a .38 I had laying around Sugar Rays still in the box. If I didn’t like the weed game back in 9th grade, I hated the strap scene on the broker tip this year of 1993. I needed a G for the Nino joint (gold chain) I wanted really wanted downtown on Washington St, and he had it. Beef and I after our fourth lunch detention sitting up in ACE by ourselves worked something out. It was five hundred dollars. The chain I always wanted. Beef was great filling in holes of the inner city gang, crack trade that Spec might have glossed over or suspended talk bored of my always hundreds of questions about this life we’d read about in opinions and obituaries. It was a cup of tea moving heat and the last one I found brought to me from gambling profits, I wanted out of my clubhouse, Sugar Rays. Beef cited the Academies, their Dorchester projects, protections and his own gang that sported Redskin gear, as must have reasons. Done. Chain was mine.
And I was smart enough to not wear it. Knowing myself I was forcing it, body language and the spotlight forever fixated on me built me proficient avoiding its detection. It was stupid regardless how good a 4-inch gold plated herringbone me feel privately in the mirror. After all calling out older rich kids and bullies brought the same emotion. The guns? I didn’t need that. It wasn’t lost on me the irony sprinkled over the fact, I was part of the bigger problem I’d forever try and twist the adults of our famed historic land to try and better understand. I’m the fucken worst
It was true. Santo’s passing had crushed what was left of my self-confidence. The pandering was illusion and that’s why I had so many enemies, after all it was an Ivy League town, they saw. I wasn’t confident. I was a mess. And my sister and my mother were too along with so many of the few that visited our kitchen.
But I had the chain. I had my breath. I had a few soldiers with the same still on tap. I had basketball. I had muffin. I had energy, a dark mass that excited itself in my own circuitry for this shit to end and for me to make those both in novel and scratch. I got the chain. What’s in your locker faggot?
I’d decided the night Santo died I’d throw it in his casket. I’d written my very first poem and found the strap at Sugars the morning after. I was admiring his own attempts at tags and signatures on the idled ply wood left up there many moons ago when my next store neighbors family like my own thought they might be one. #Morris 22 I’d knighted him Morris when the world was ours against it our freshmen year tearing up headlines in the mobility of a new frontier sprinkled with talents, freedom and an admirable sets of colorful lunatics. Morris #22
He was the kid that night. He got so drunk he ate cat food. I laughed thinking about how at least he still got pussy that night. I laughed at the 9th grade. I laughed how different we made it. I laughed that they all followed me. I looked down and discovered the .38. Sugar Ray’s by then had become the Cannabis castle, a refuge for my sister and Porshe’s legendary high school friends. And with our own beckoning into a game as such, it had changed. It was messy. A place to go, smoke and drink. And I found the gun. Not even opened. A whadawhadawhda .38 I needed it unloaded chuckling at my life, Beef was the buyer. I felt awful almost immediately after the actual transfer went through hand to hand. Fuck that shit, I’m tossing it the homies Morris casket, gold for him, clean hands and trail for me on some stupid fucking shit I couldn’t say nah 2. Please Jesus, hear me when I say I’ll never ever do that type of shit again. I’m a toss it in the casket straight Eric Chrichlow.
It was because of a story Magic told me about Eric’s younger brother Eton’s death back in the 3rd grade. His brother the D1 track star at Auburn, a Lexington legend carried the genes of immortality. His brother was part of the sacred 88 class. A legend and division 1scholarship athlete I’d never forget the story the story Magic told me. I hadn’t attended the burial. His brother Eric standing at Eton’s casket had torn off a gold chain indicative of the fastest person in MA. I’d never forget the story. I’d do the same with this chain I loved so much in shallow ineptitude I confused as game.
I also threw my YG shit in the casket. And dye casted figures from our old 5th grade matches of the glorious 80’s game known as electric football.
It was our team. Just a summer league team, on paper. But to us, it was like being artists and the owners of our own label and we were twelve talented rappers from Manhattan. It was everything. And we were so good. Together we were so dam good. And it hurt. I loved hitting leadoff. I put the herringbone in there. I Laid my YG shit and said some corny wanna be gangster shit and kissed my man on his cold deaded lips. After all I was in a thousand dollar Armani suit I borrowed from Enrico. My partner coveting that shade. The Italian. If anyone had a thousand dollr suit. But this was Madison everyone did. Des, Lynx, many kids wearing suits way too expensive.
It was bright and sunny. It was go time. “OK, let’s go.” Someone said. We knew. There were ten of us. It was heavy. We all sulked down once we had to deal with gravity. It was heavy. And no one ever would admit that. This was the most serious days in all of our lives. And it was no trot to Grace Chapel from the funeral home. My arms were already tired. It was my first question of the day. I’d assume even though a mere hundred yards away we’d utilize the hearst. What the fuck kind of shit is that? I voiced only a portion of the never ending reel to reel of thoughts flying in hyper spaced across the vast field of my mental wilderness. I clearly needed Ritalin and was mandated everyday at noon in front of a living witness to do just that. And I hadn’t swallowed one in years.
Entering the church the large crowd instantly fell silent. The delicate organ proceeded as we made our way down the aisle to the front of the mosaic laced, financially laced, Catholic house of the lord towards the father, the son, Santo. The place was mobbed to a degree that broke fire codes and would never be repeated. I loved over flowing crowds. People in the windows. A therapist would conclude it was my mother’s fear of abandonment but back then I’d conclude only no, it’s because I’m live and love history. Be careful what you wish for. It was paralyzing.
It’s what drew me the most to Lexington basketball. The crowds. And I wanted attention. I needed it. But I didn’t hear the Jackson 5. And the crowd only confirmed what I knew, the awful truth about everything that had to do with me. My arms started to burn and my right wrist pained. We were almost there halfway down the aisle and Scully knees starting to give. Abruptly Scully’s fingers slipped, his hand let go of the casket it drooped. I grabbed his hand, whispering in his ear, “pick it up buddy, I got you.” These words seemed for the moment to artificially lift his spirits just long enough for us to reach the front of the church. I whisper to Magic as we were seated adjacent in the front row. “Shh” he snapped back in total seriousness
And so went magic’s fist church service of his life.
What fucking idiots we are Jesus? Take a good fucking look and tell me if this is how you imagined your presidential funeral to be asshole I suck Seated in the box seats for something I’d rather not we observed everyone we ever saw in this small hamlet slowly file through, approach and offer a final prayer to Santo’s now closed casket inside the church. Face after face, and Young Gun parental combo, one after the other I’m tranquil watching the procession, all into I see my dear mother with my sister Dana. I become nervous as her time calls, knowing how hard it was for me, unable to comprehend how hard this would be for my mother. In a life defined by loss and heartache until our success on the hardwood as friends, my friends were all me my mother and my sister had (once her skating career was over). With all eyes focused in the most seriousness of moments I bug as my mother begins to lose it. Her legs wobble, not wanting to be yet another “story” for privileged people to discuss our weaknesses as a family Scully grabs my hand, returns the favor as I had moments earlier done unto him and softly says,
“She’ll be OK.”
Knowing at this point that she wouldn’t I abjectly say nothing, and then I watch when out of the stars my father divorces himself from protocol and advances a few heads beyond his place in line grabbing my mothers hand, hugging her and escorting them both away for the nest people behind to pay their final respects to their boy Santo. My mother had lost it, and my father like a true American compelled to duty was there in a moment when life truly called. You can’t have the good without the bad.
“I just want to see my father danced with my mother again.” Luther Vandross.
Oh the freestyle, next to hedge fund the most overused myopic terms that somehow still garner credibility. But for me, it's always be fun, a few fellow, very white former co-worker would laugh, your practicing your freestyle? "That's so funny dude." Um yeah. if it's real you practice. If it's made up you rehearse. Simple, dimple, talk it out, people know anyway, I mean people being, enlightened cats, true MC's, fans or just people. I once walked in with my summer crush to an open mike on U street 2006. it was our first week in our new loft and I was anxious to show off.
It was a good 1, OK, but I was into it, strong presence, confidence and Bombitty smiles. I got shit from the guy MC'ing the thing which was cool, I was the underdog, only white kid. I left was deranged sense of anger against most American and British white people out of the spit. And then the other bozo's in jersey's and sweat towels over their shoulders chimed in as well. "nah, nah, it was written." It was OK, but confident and incorporated stuff in the NOW. Anyho (anyhoo those that say that relinquish any happy thoughts u may or may not have about me and Sum, the worst!) Long story longer, 65 year old black grand actually greatgrandmother jumped out and had my back. "That was freestyle bitch." We embraced. It was , and she knew it. So many, 90% are not. Try it yourself sometime, rap about your room, no lay up.
Ill FAN of Kanye takes availible footage from the internet and makes a documentary lamentings the genius and journey of mr. Kayne West, great stuff. Yes, yes, yes I can.
And THE MOST LEGENDARY FOLLOW UP INTERVOEW YOU'LL EVER, EVER SEE
From the narration of the Penguin March to this. First time? Get involved? Heard before. Gets better. I think I need to unearth the Mel Gibson tapes now