And now I’d like to read to you from the book of Whodini – verse 1 :

Friends

How many of us have them?

Friends

Ones we can depend on
Friends

How many of us have them?

Friends

Before we go any further,
lets be
 Friends

Is a word we use everyday
Most the time we use it in the wrong way
Now you can look the word up, again and again
But the dictionary doesnt know the meaning of friends
And if you ask me, you know, I couldnt be much help
Because A friend is somebody you judge for yourself
Some are ok, and they treat you real cool
But some mistake kindness for bein a fool
We like to be with some, because they're funny
Others come around when they need some money
Some you grew up with, around the way
And you're still real close too this very day
Homeboys through the Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall
And then there's some we wish we never knew at all
And this list goes on, again and again
But these are the people that we call friends…..

I knew I first wanted to be a dj when I was 6 years old. My mother’s friend nelson came over to play records. This was tradition that nelson and my mom had going ever since we moved to 188th street. That day he brought over the Krush Groove soundtrack. The record was bright orange. He put it on the platter and threw on “Krush Groovin”, the title track. He let it play for a second and then he said, “watch this” he put his hand on the record and rubbed it back and forth. There it was “wikki wikkki wikkki wik” and my mom freaked. “what the hell are you doing?!” but he kept going. “stop you are going to ruin the record player you idiot!” “no I’m not it’s a special record, its made to be scratched.” “yeah but the record player isn’t.” It would be months before we replaced the record player.

Music and I had always had a friendship, but up until that point we were just “hey wassup” buddies. That day, we became BFFs. The first tape I bought was from the 188th street flea market. It was a pause tape with Run DMC, Whodini, and The Treacherous Three. By junior high I was collecting the Double R DJ’s, DJ S&S, DJ Clue and Tony Touch tapes by the dozens. They were my text books. I listened until they would break in the tape player.

When I was 14, I was sitting on the couch at my friend’s Al’s house listening to the some of the greatest music I ever heard. The music kept doing tricks. Songs would start over, stop in the middle, turn into other things. I had heard these things before, but this was so new, so incredible, it was all the best parts of all my best tapes. And then I turned around. DJ Spin. I had seen him at block parties, and at the bodega but I had never been that close to him, in fact I had never really been that close to a dj before. I could now put the sounds I was hearing on my tapes with physical actions.

From then on I hung out exclusively at dj’s houses. I became friends with anyone I knew had dj equipment. Turntables, recording equipment, mics, anything. I started making my own tapes. I went to parties and hung out by the dj all night.

When I got to college I was in my 3rd year of dj’ing and I sucked. It was then that I realized the main difference between music, which was my bestie, and my human friends – my human friends fell into two categories: those that told me I sucked and I needed something new to try out, and those that told me I sucked, and I needed to practice harder.

By the time I finally worked my way into a spot on the dj roster at a party, I still sucked. The dance floor would be packed before I went on; people wall-to-wall, sweating, grinding, gyrating, loving it. Then it would be my turn. It’s as if someone yelled, “fire” “earthquake” and “nuclear bomb take cover run outside of this party and don’t come back in,” all at once. My friends though, they would still be there on the floor, pretending to be having a good time. Blood streaming out of their ears, they would be doing the white-mans overbite, the black-guy bounce, the Spanish-guy-everything’s-salsa-moves. Party after party, year after year, people around campus would laugh at me, the word got around that if I was going to dj a house party it probably wouldn’t be much for dancing…or fun. Coincidently there was always someone who would come down with a sever case of alcohol poisoning during my parties. By the time I graduated, I am happy to report, I was better (but… in the way that scabies is better than lice).

Here is my advice to the class of 2012:

Stop taking pictures and start being there. Stop thinking about the last time you were all together and start being there in the moment. Start listening to the music. And recognize that people are like great songs – take pleasure in the fact that someone can be your best friend for just one night, or one summer or one year. Don’t force it. Don’t simulate it, live it. Dance for your friends. Some friends will return to your life and some friends, like truly great songs (or every Radiohead album), you ain’t ready for yet, but when you are, they’ll be there.

Today a bunch of you are going to turn to your friends and begin a long litney of “I love you’s” “you’re the greatest man!” “oh you the woman!” “oh my god I’m gonna write you everyday” “hey I will visit you every other weekend in college” “dude our colleges are so close, its like only 2 hours away so I’ll be there like every other weekend.” “you’ll see me so much you’ll get sick of me!” and then come the “oh man in 10 years we’ll meet here, right here on this very spot to drink a beer and cheer the class of 07” “hellz yeah” and finally someone in a state of mass disillusionment and blasted out of their mind from senior euphoria says “we will be best friends forever!” try, try, try to let that rest. I’m not saying that these things are not going to happen, hell in 50 years you guys might reconvene to have a drink over my grave while laughing about what a dumb as I was and how I bet against you and your best friends.

Friends and friendship, like music, is more than a number. I implore you as you leave this campus today for the last time, to think about your own friends and what you are going to do to show them you love them. Music has the power to make the world a wonderful place, and so do you. Think about the state of the world and try to figure out what you and your friends are going to do about it. No one can fix all this craziness alone. Think about whether you’re going to pretend your friend is creating great music while you dance your ass off or will you tell him that he should give up what he loves.

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