I really thought they were getting somewhere too.

I bet Guile from Street Fighter watches Friday Night Lights. He just seems the sort. I’ve never seen the show, but it feels like it’d revolve around camaraderie, triumph against adversity, hot tempers and dealing with the foibles of youth. In my mind’s eye I can see the golden mohawk’d jock clutch a red white and blue pillow to his chest, tears streaming down his broad face.

I was eavesdropping on a group chatting on the subway. They were discussing dinner plans and spanning the world while they were at it. “Should we go for Korean or pho?” “Well they’re both good, I don’t care.” “What about pizza?” “Pizza’s great, but I had it for lunch today.” “You could eat pizza twice a day, right?” “Of course. But what about sushi? We could go for all you can eat.” “So, unlimited low quality sushi?” “Pretty much.” “We could try Captain’s Boil.” “We could.” “Is that a no?” “Well have you considered grabbing low key kebabs?” “Oooh, I could go for falafel.” “Oh wait, what about ramen?” “I had ramen on Monday.” “Have you got some once per week ramen rule?” “Nah, ramen’s the best. Except…” “Except what?” “Korean would be pretty boss.” “You’re right. Korean? Korean?” “Yep.” “Yep.” “Alright. Korean it is.”

I was sitting on the bus, waiting for it to head north. A kid (honestly, he was probably 15, but everyone younger than 20 is practically an infant to me now) sat in the empty seat beside me. His friend sat on the seat in front of him and turned sideways. I offered to switch seats with his friend so they could sit together. He said thanks. We switched. They started chatting about something. They were talking about haircuts and the guy next to me turned around. “If you’re shaving some, you’ve gotta be careful about how much. If you get it wrong you’ll look emo and everyone will start talking to you about Dashboard Confessional. Wait, are they still considered emo? I’ve never felt so out of touch.” We chatted about the evolution of emo and how much of a cultural touchstone it was in the mid 2000s. We talked music classification, deviations between emo, post-punk and post-hardcore.

We discussed our own pathways between genres and how they blended. He piped up. “You know, after listening to emo in my teens I needed something darker. I found it in the blues.” We talked blues, rock and roll and the white acculturation of black music. “You know,” he started “it’s been accepted that rock and roll was invented by black people, but people seem to forget it was Sister Rosetta Tharpe who started the whole thing. She’d play at train stations because they were the only places black people were allowed to gather. A gay black woman. White men spent generations shitting on each of those aspects and she was the trifecta. For years it was accepted that rock music was the domain of white men. Because that’s how history goes. It’s even in the name: HIStory. People argue with me and I ask if I really need to spell it out for them.” As I reached my stop and stood up, the dude asked me if I was Kiwi or Aussie. “Kiwi.” I said. “Thought so” he replied “I used to live by Timaru.” A woman on the seat in front turned around. “Oh, my dad’s a Kiwi.” I smiled and turned around as I left the bus. “Choice. Well kia ora folks.”

Don’t get all giddy on the kindness of strangers. On an earlier train some white dude yelled racial epithets at an old Asian woman until she left.

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