Things That Make You Go Boom | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Things That Make You Go Boom

The band director walked in the door of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

"They're ready," he said.

"Do you want me to clear a path?" I asked. "No," he answered with a smile. "They'll move."

Move they did. The hundreds of Jacksonians at the JFP's 2008 Best of Jackson party got the hell out of the way when the drum line of the Jackson State Sonic Boom came marching through the door. It was so loud that the bartenders couldn't hear the people ordering the free wine and beer on the side. In fact, perennial Best of Jackson party-goer and attorney June Hardwick—who missed the drum-line performance—heard them in her house blocks away.

When the drum line got to the dance floor in front of DJ Phingaprint, they turned toward the crowd and did their thing in front of the huge William Dunlap paintings covering the wall to their right. When I looked back at the crowd behind me, I could see a mammoth crane hanging over the convention-center-in-progress across the street. The red neon of the Standard Life building glowed behind it as if to say: "Hold on, I'm coming, too."

The Boom's thing, of course, is about more than just striking a drum. It's about movement, passion, coordination, dancing, rhythm, accuracy, pride, self-esteem and human connection.

For the next 20 minutes or so, they barely missed a beat as Jacksonians—young and not-so-young, of all races, backgrounds and political parties—watched, many mesmerized with their heads bobbing; others (like the chicks around me) emitting little squeals of delight. The Weeks—who won best original band and best rock band this year—stood next to us, looking like they wanted nothing more in the world than to join that drum line.

Over the course of the rest of the party, person after person—including King Edward re-developer David Watkins—stopped me to say that the drum line was an amazing climax to a party with some other things going for it as well (like food from 18 local restaurants, beautiful people and outfits, and great dance music—not to mention a venue filled with art to be proud of, much of it by Mississippians).

JFP columnist Lori Gregory was even heard to say of the drum line: "That's the coolest thing I've ever seen."

It might have been for me, too. And it wasn't just because these guys are phenomenal. I knew that already; I had first spotted them performing at a college day in the gym at Rowan Middle School and coveted them for the Best of Jackson party (and then JFP's Kimberly Griffin lined them up).

What was amazing was to (a) watch these beautiful performers, (b) march into a remarkable new art museum in (c) downtown Jackson to (d) whip up a frenzy among (e) a diverse crowd there to (f) celebrate the best Jackson had to offer.

There was belief in that room. Hope. Determination. Every year since the first in 2003, the party has attracted people who are hellbent on making this city into everything she can be. I remember watching all the people come into the first one in Ad Director (and JFP co-founder) Stephen Barnette's loft in the Ironworks Building.

"This is Jackson?" one after another asked then.

Funny, I didn't hear anyone ask that Sunday night. Now, it's more of a statement: This is Jackson. There's a huge difference.

In some ways, the city's warriors have learned to swath themselves in psychological armor to shield themselves from the naysayers who want Jackson to fail (many who live outside its city limits). These are the people who write wishful, mean letters to The Clarion-Ledger about how downtown development will "never" happen. (I remember a certain old-timer who wrote that in a guest column one time about the King Edward. Ahem.) Or how about the editorial writers at that paper who proclaim that crime is Jackson's—and downtown's—"NUMBER ONE ISSUE"? And that crime must be solved before meaningful redevelopment can take place?

(Wrong. That's how we ended up with a Melton—because he claimed to a gullible citizenry that he could solve crime in 90 days.)

No, crime is a symptom, and it's one we should respond to in myriad ways. But we can no longer afford to respond to any symptom with apathy and neglect. We've had decades of that stankin' thankin' in our city, and it's how the crime got here. And it will recede when we re-invest in our city in every way we can.

Of course, the irony about downtown is that it is actually one of the safest places to be in Jackson. It has low crime rates, and crime will likely fall even further once the streets become more active at night. And it's sure a lot cooler than anything happening in any Jackson suburb right now, especially the trail of cookie-cutter shopping malls that are chasing suburban dollars into cow pastures.

We must defiantly, and at every turn, fight the forces that want to make all the whining and kvetching about Jackson, and especially downtown, into a self-perpetuating myth. We must call them out and ask them to back up their assertions with facts. This won't always be easy; every time JFP bloggers do this to a Jackson-hater online, pointing out for instance that it's hard to get anything tackier than the nouveau-riche gas stations near Madison, they get defensive and start whining about us dissing the 'burbs.

Shoe, meet the other foot.

The truth is that I don't care where people choose to live. I personally despise commuting—I'd rather hang by my toenails than get on a thoroughfare during rush hour—and I do not like bland development. I don't like living around people who all look like me, or make similar amounts of money, or even who vote like I do. I love diversity in all its forms. It's stimulating and exciting.

But at the point where we urban dwellers no longer have to balance the false hype coming out of our bedroom communities, I won't ever mention why I don't do the 'burb thing again. For now, though: We have a job to do to rebuild the core, and the tolerance, in our city. That means defending our city from assault.

Think of it as a movement, or a revolution. If you haven't already, please come join us and help move the city of Jackson to where she has every possibility of being. And trust us: When downtown Jackson comes into her full glory in a year or two, one thing is for sure.

They'll move.

Previous Comments

ID
76038
Comment

This is excellent too. I like everything I've read thus far. Gotta get a paper copy.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2008-01-30T17:42:17-06:00
ID
76039
Comment

Tell the truth and shame the devil! Enjoyed every word...

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-01-30T19:26:50-06:00
ID
76040
Comment

Well like that was a Jackson event at the museum, Jackson State Football team will be at metrocenter this sat at 2:00pm in the court. they will be having the Swac championship Trophy celebration and The Sonic Boom will be there so come and support another Jackson Event. I want to see black and white and orange and green people there and buy something from the metro while you are there.

Author
NewJackson
Date
2008-01-30T19:39:49-06:00
ID
76041
Comment

As soon as they walked in and got in front of the crowd, I grabbed Todd and I think my exact words were "That's the coolest thing I've ever effin' seen!" Elizabeth and I (since she knows the 'backroads' in that place) snuck through the exhibits to get a front row seat. Drums are SEX. A drumline is just SEXY. They were unbelievable. I don't think people moved in that place for twenty minutes except to "bob their heads" as you said. It was the kind of beat you feel in your chest, that brings goosebumps to your arms, and makes you think that you can do anything...in short...dangerous. ;) Loved it!! I told The Boyfriend after the event it the drumline was one of my top three all time favorite live performances (and I'm counting this in a list that includes seeing REM at Red Rocks while it snowed) I'm currently working out my own ideas about moving from Madison to Jackson. I needed a few weeks to wrap my mind around it. It definitely is a difference...and I'm loving it.

Author
Lori G
Date
2008-01-31T07:48:03-06:00
ID
76042
Comment

Lori G even KANYE WEST Likes the Sonic Boom check out this link on his WEBSITE. http://www.kanyeuniversecity.com/blog/?em3106=192367_-1__0_~0_-1_1_2008_0_0&em3161=&em3281=&entry=192367&ugcp=1

Author
NewJackson
Date
2008-01-31T19:03:41-06:00
ID
76043
Comment

I'd say that a nod from Kanye West is a good thing.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-01-31T22:26:06-06:00
ID
76044
Comment

JSU's Sonic Boom led the Motown Review in California about 12 years ago. It was televised nationally. I got chill bumps watching the beautiful Jasettes march down the isle to "GET READY." These kids performed with Smoky Robinson, Stevie Wonder and a host of others. The BOOM have been making people go "BOOM" for a very long time. This is truly a good thing.

Author
justjess
Date
2008-02-04T13:15:55-06:00
ID
76045
Comment

I remember seeing that, jess. Are you sure that was 12 years ago? I thought I was in elementary school or junior high when that happened, but I could be mistaken.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-02-05T14:48:08-06:00

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