Mos Def. So sexy. Light and shadow, beats and drum, beautiful people. Fine dining. Harsh work, overtime. Ladies and gentlemen, toss your boogie man in the closet. Get your train badge, your mile high gold badge. Break some hearts. Most of all, WAKE THE FUCK UP EARLY SO YOU CAN GET MORE WORK DONE & live longer. You're making me stronger. I'm much more stronger now.
I'd be lying if I didn't admit I can't keep up with life lately. Work, friends, men, wine, movements, moments. The beat goes on, just gotta keep up, keep things in order, keep it tightly wrapped.
Whispers glide past my ear, and the next we're zipping from office to the Hutongs. The beat goes on. I'm meeting up with my nineteen-year-old skateboarder parkour spoken word friend and we be chasing French folk, Brazilian funk, dub step around the drum tower. Later T.J. said "Clem had a Mohawk" and I'm all like, fuck, really? All I remember was he had a small, tanned head and a voice that spoke like it sang and sailed. Clem and I met at some writer's group with nice, Christian people. The second time I saw him was at some Open Mic night he organized that happened to have a lot of Christian missionary kids who read from the Bible with tears stinging their eyes. During the middle of it, with Goon Squad in my hand and Jesus Christ on my mind, I gestured to Clem aka Tseng Xiaolong, "hey, hey Clem," I said. "I'm Atheist."
My eyes zeroed in on him like it was an ultimatum. I'm down with Christians, but if Clem was one, he'd be one of those Young Life hippie Christians who scares the shit out of me. So when I say my eyes zeroed on him, I mean it was a question chipping at the foundation of this budding friendship. Hey kiddo, what are you? I asked. Clem laughed like an Indian guru. He looked like one that day, with his wispy white tunic and bare feet. I remember that his feet were slim and tanned and he had a gentle smile of a cat. He said "no no" like he was tossing an apology, but I like that he embraced people with that smile of his.
I smiled back to let him it's chill, that somehow I already knew the answer, that Christian or not or whatever else, we were on a weird wavelength that made sense, and maybe that's all that matters in this city of Hutong mazes and impossible friendships.
That night it rained and we hopped over fences until we lost our shoes but not our hearts. Clem bought us four 老Beijing popsicles and cigarettes in exchange for T.J. taking care of the bill. T.J. always takes care of the bill. But he does it so unobtrusively and sincerely, that it actually makes you feel good. When you do it not for face, not for any ulterior motives, all you need in return are four 老Beijing popsicles and a pack of Nanjing cigarettes.