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Austin Croshere Stole My Dreams
Austin Croshere ruined my night and several days to follow. He played a starring role in my nightmare last week. A nightmare that was directed by Quentin Terrantino.
Yeah I know. It was my dream so Austin Croshere really didn’t do anything. I have admonished friends for that very point in the past. They’ll tell me about a dream they had and what a horrible person so-and-so turned out to be, whether it was their ex-mother-in-law, Tyra Banks, God, whoever. But the dream was conjured by their mind. Tyra Banks had nothing to do with how she came off in their head while they slept, I remind them. But people forget, as the Who once sang. And I too had forgotten.
Introducing Green Concrete:
The foundation for this dream was laid years ago. I met a character in the late 1990s who called himself “Green Concrete.” He was a most unusual character as his nickname suggests. Teaching in the suburbs, one crosses students who may best be described as “wanna-bes.” Generally they are white students who want to be neither white nor students. They would prefer to be black thugs. They are often caricatures, bad jokes, painfully contrived. They speak like Marshall Mathers in the grating white-person-trying-hard-to-be-a-black-person nasal twang. They reek of desperation.
But Green Concrete wasn’t one of those. He was several steps up the feeder chain. He saw some irony to his predicament. He didn’t want to be a thug at all, but a rapper, definitely. And he appreciated that he was rebelling against some pretty lame shit. When I asked him what he had to rap about in the suburbs, he said, “My house has too much aluminum siding. My 56k modem is really slow. I have only basic Comcast cable channels.” Right then, I knew that I liked Green Concrete – aka Jeffrey Louden – quite a bit. I became perhaps his biggest fan when he told me about his rap group. “We’re called The Clique. We are going to be huge in Belgium,” he said without any other clarification. So I asked him what songs the Clique were working on.
“We work on material all the time but never really finish anything, ever,” he clarified. Among the songs stuck in perpetual progress was “I Hate Austin Croshere.” For the uninitiated, Austin Croshere was a member of the Indiana Pacers from 1997 to 2006. He came from Providence College in Rhode Island; a 6’10” reserve forward. Unlike other Pacers of the era, he never got arrested for smoking weed, selling weed, shooting firearms outside of gentlemen’s clubs, or beating his domestic live-in partner/ spouse. He was simply a part-time player who had moderate NBA-level talent, and worked hard. In a city like Indianapolis, he was hard not to like. But Green Concrete clearly did not like him.
“He’s not ‘street’.” That’s how Green Concrete had explained it to me. Austin Croshere was simply too Caucasian. “He’s got those 90210 sideburns,” Concrete lamented, barely hiding his disgust. “He looks like Luke Perry.” He said it the same way he’d told me about his slow 56k dial-up modem. He just wasn’t having any of it.
“I like Kobe. Austin Croshere is the anti-Kobe,” he stated with no further explanation. I never tried defending Croshere to Green Concrete. It seemed undignified somehow. I liked Austin Croshere. But I was older. I didn’t understand the finer nuances of rap, of aluminum siding stigma, of feeling late-‘90s suburban angst. Green Concrete told me one day semi-seriously, “You don’t know what it’s like to come home to your subdivision, eat some pork rinds, do some algebra homework, listen to your mom tell you about being single and then have to watch Austin Croshere play seven minutes a night for the Pacers on cable television.” Concrete shook his head like all this left an extremely bad taste in his mouth. And then he gave me a look like he thought I understood. So I did the decent thing and shook my head in accord. “Yeah, man. That bites hard,” I said. “It’s good that you rap about all that to get it out of your system.” Concrete smiled.
As Green Concrete continued to front a non-existent rap group, I asked him one day why he was called Green Concrete. “There’s a so-called park by my subdivision. It’s got no grass. To save money the township just painted some concrete green. That’s my turf.”
He continued. “You think it’s easy living out here (suburbia)? The closest strip mall doesn’t even have a Game Stop.” He let the words just hang there for emphasis. He seemed no less ridiculous to me than Eminem or Vanilla Ice, honestly.
“My mom and her friends shoot each other up with B-12 after a night of heavy drinking.” What kind of freak show was Green Concrete being subjected to, I began to wonder.
“They’re nurses. They drink heavily but keep syringes of B-12 around for hydration after drinking. Most of them are morbidly obese,” he added, dashing any erotic fantasies before they could hatch. “I don’t even get ESPN2 at home.” He was shaking his head.
“Maybe you could rap about that,” I offered.
“Already wrote the song,” Concrete explained, handing me a scrap piece of paper with the heading, "album #1 by The Clique, song titles":
SLOW AOL CONNECTION; I HATE AUSTIN CROSHERE; B-12; CONCRETE SUBURBIA; WE'RE OUT OF PORK RINDS AGAIN; YOU AIN'T 'STREET' - I'M STREET; BIG IN BELGIUM; I HATE ALGEBRA 2
So when Austin Croshere hijacked my dreams and destroyed my will to sleep, I irrationally blamed Green Concrete for the whole sorry mess.
Next installment: My disdain for Austin Croshere knows no bounds. Please read: