An excerpt from David Foster Wallace now priceless 1990 book on Hip Hop culture, Signifying Rappers
Rjam Productions, modestly headquartered in a mixed black/Hispanic Field, Corner section of North Dorchester, is as follows:
* One (1) four-car garage fitted with dubbing and remastering gear worth more than most of the rest of the real estate on the block; * One (1) touch-tone telephone (leased); * Two (2) Chevy Blazers, vanity-plated RJAM1 and RJAM2, each equipped with cellular phones and slick tape decks (also leased); * One (1) VCR with Kathleen Turner’s Body Heat cued up on the morning in question; * Most importantly, eight (8) promising acts under binding contract.
If, as has happened to many local labels, Rjam were liquidated to satisfy creditors, these would be the pieces. But there are stores of value in the converted garage beyond the reach of the auctioneer’s gavel. Schoolly D, the original Signifying Rapper, looms irresistibly from the pages of rap “fanzines” Hip-Hop and The Source; and Rjam’s prime, unauctionable asset is the consuming ambition of the artists in its stable to be the next Schoolly D. Or the next Ice T, or Kool Moe Dee, or L. L. Cool J., or whoever’s the special hero of the kid cutting the demo.
Despite some of the mythology that has come to surround “investigative” journalism, it is important to remember what we did and did not do in Watergate. For what we did was not, in truth, very exotic. Our actual work in uncovering the Watergate story was rooted in the most basic kind of empirical police reporting. We relied more on shoe leather and common sense and respect for the truth than anything else—on the principles that had been drummed into me at the wonderful old Washington Star. Woodward and I were a couple of guys on the Metro desk assigned to cover what at bottom was still a burglary, so we applied the only reportorial techniques we knew. We knocked on a lot of doors, we asked a lot of questions, we spent a lot of time listening: the same thing good reporters from Ben Hecht to Mike Berger to Joe Liebling to the young Tom Wolfe had been doing for years. As local reporters, we had no covey of highly placed sources, no sky’s-the-Iimit expense accounts with which to court the powerful at fancy French restaurants. We did our work far from the enchanting world of the rich and the famous and the powerful. We were grunts.
"I adore that pink! It’s the navy blue of India," declared Diana Vreeland, former editor of Vogue and source of many aphorisms. By this she meant that, just as navy blue in our culture tends to signify conservative respectability, pink exemplifies tradition and balance in India. The existence of universal stylistic and psychological color reactions is therefore placed in doubt: what we would consider a wild, flamboyant, and feminine color is, in India—at least according to DV—considered refined and conventional.
I asked my daughter, who is thirteen and loves the color pink, why the attraction and what it’s all about. She said it’s a “nice color,” it “looks good on me,” and “guys can’t wear pink—it makes them look stupid” (more on this later). “Pink and black look good on everybody—except redheads.” When pressed, she suggested, “Maybe it’s because of Barbie” (proof that kids are aware of the effects of marketing, branding, and advertising). “Maybe because I was given pink stuff as a baby—and maybe because it’s pretty.”
Contusions and confusions. Half-mourning and melancholia. Twilight and adolescence, home decorators and homosexuals. Drag queen hair, cheap swag, braggadocio. Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley (that “monstrous orchid,” said Wilde). Orchids, especially Cattleya labiata. All things orchidaceous, including the word “orchidaceous.” Prose just shy of purple. According to Nabokov, time itself.
A young chemist tinkering with coal tar, hoping to find a way to synthesize quinine to treat the malaria felling British soldiers stationed in India, discovers, instead, a color. Mauve, the color of disappointment.
Everybody was staring in transfixed horror at one of the very few pieces of video CBS never reran, which was a distant wide-angle shot of the North Tower and its top floors’ exposed steel lattice in flames and of dots detaching from the building and moving through smoke down the screen, which then that jerky tightening of the shot revealed to be actual people in coats and ties and skirts with their shoes falling off as they fell, some hanging onto ledges or girders and then letting go, upside-down or writhing as they fell and one couple almost seeming (unverifiable) to be hugging each other as they fell all those stories and shrank back to dots as the camera then all of a sudden pulled back to the long view — I have no idea how long the clip took — after which Rather’s mouth seemed to move for a second before any sound emerged, and everyone in the room sat back and looked at one another with expressions that seemed somehow both childlike and horribly old. I think one or two people made some sort of sound. It’s not clear what else to say. It seems grotesque to talk about being traumatized by a video when the people in the video were dying. Something about the shoes also falling made it worse. I think the older ladies took it better than I did. Then the hideous beauty of the rerun clip of the second plane hitting the tower, the blue and silver and black and spectacular orange of it, as more little moving dots fell.