I just woke up from the worst nightmare. I was breakdancing and everyone was laughing and saying, “you know we’re all better than you right?” And I was then naked and forced myself awake. I spend more time naked in my dreams than in real life.
But the dream was close tot he truth. Because when I was a kid I WAS the best breakdancer. In my mostly white (jews) and Indian (doctors) neighborhood. I had every cassette tape for guys like Run DMC, Whodini, Grandmaster Flash (my father upset when I would play "White Lines" for my sister) and I would listen to them on my Sony Walkman. This sounds like a bad movie script from the 80s but there it was.
One day I really wanted something. And I get what I want. So our housekeeper drove me over to the carpet store so I could get a 10 by 10 foot square of Linoleum. My Grandparents took me to Quakerbridge Mall where Joey Cappacio got a blowjob (I accidentally wrote “blogjob” at first but that was only much much later, in the distant future) in the stairwell but nothing like that ever happened to me. And at the mall I got a PUMA track suit with PUMA high tops.
Here’s my explanation. You can’t practice spinning on your back without linoleum. I don’t know why. You just CAN’T. And if you’re going to spin on your back you need the slickness of the PUMA jacket to slide appropriately across the lineoleum. You lay down on your back, move one leg way in front of the other and then KICK and BOOM you are spinning on that linoleum and the PUMA jacket provides not friction and then you bring your legs in close so that you spin faster.
Why the PUMA hightops? Duh? If you’re going to even think about any kind of moonwalking, Michael Jackson style and even better, you have to make sure there’s ankle support so your toes can go straight up off the ground.
[Note: Here is the youtube video of the above "battle" from the movie. My favorite is "Mr. Wave".]
I’d go over my friend’s houses and after we’d play with our Star Wars Legos in their basements I’d show them a few moves, confirmed for them that “that was the most stupid thing I’ve ever seen anyone do” and then I’d leave. I had better things to do while they laughed and played ping pong. I had to practice my “above the floor” stuff in the mirror.
Then one kid moved into town. THE ONLY ONE. You know what I mean. Andre. I’d go into his house and it would be like going to the magic kingdom. None of my friends had houses like his. There were paintings of naked black women from Africa all over the walls. It was the coolest house in the world! He’d say things to me like, “are you the smartest kid in the school?” and I’d pause for effect and maybe some false modesty and then say, “probably. I mean, I can’t think of who else it could be so I guess that means me.”
And I’d ask things like, “how do you meet a girl?” And he’d laugh and say, “You just ask!”
People always say that. “You just ask!” But first it’s gotta be this for someone like me: She already has to like me in advance. For some reason she has to either think I’m “safe” or “cute” and maybe there’s a list of ten other reasons on her mental checklist. Claudia told me later she had a checklist and I almost failed it on the first date (She asked on the date, “Can I ask you a personal question?” And I said “No” and she checked me off the list but then I said, “Yes. I was just joking.” (I accidently just wrote choking. Where’s my therapist) And she then put me back on the list. The worst most common joke in the world almost got me eliminated in the Girl Tank.
So I’ll start my "ten things I learned from breakdancing" with that one.
A) “You just have to ask!” means you have to be able to handle rejection over and over. I've learned this in a ton of cases. To sell a company you have to ask 20, take 6 meetings, get 3 offers, accept one. To ask out a girl, same ratio. And so on. But it takes the ability to handle a LOT of rejection. And most girls (or potential mates of any gender) you ask are going to say “No”, or will simply walk away (the latter has happened to me more than the former) without saying anything.
B) Get the equipment. I’m not going to play tennis with a badminton racket. Then I’d look like a little girl. I’m not going to start an Internet company unless I know someone who knows all the latest programming languages and tools and unless I know someone who knows all of the latest marketing tools and tricks (he will hate me saying “tricks” in Internet marketing.)
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C) Be yourself. NONE of my friends liked breakdancing, the music, or anything about it. They didn’t get it. They thought it was a fad and nothing more. They didn’t understand why I thought the best idea on the planet would be if someone made a “Dancing channel” just like there was (the beginning of) MTV. They all 100% thought I was a crazy. My grandparents said, “I don’t want to hear about this. How are you ever going to get into college!” But I had a passion for it. I thought about breakdancing all day long.
If you love something, set it free. Inside of yourself. Go for it. Read about it. Get what you need and…
D) Practice. I practiced every day, all the time. Do I regret it? Was it a waste of time? Maybe. Maybe going to medical school is a waste of time. How many people will you kill when you are a doctor? I can see the comments now, “what if they save your life?” Sorry, if I need a pancreatic whoofer like Steve Jobs did to live another few years then I will just say my good-byes instead. What’s so great about this planet that I’d kill myself to live in it.
E) Money. Lots of money. You mean, did I roll out my linoleum in NYC and put a cup so people could put money in it while I did my awesome breakdancing? Of course not! Didn’t you hear me before: I WAS A WHITE JEWISH KID FROM THE SUBURBS. There was no way I was going to ever make money breakdancing.
But when you grow up your early passions have time to marinate. And they can come out and into the forefront in the strangest ways.
Because for the next twenty years I listened to all the music, read all the magazines, kept up with my “moves” for the hell of it and just immersed myself in the culture it was a natural for me to make money off of it.
My first company, Reset, made websites for entertainment companies. We did the site for every rap label and then their rap groups: Bad Boy (Puffy, Notorious BIG), Loud Records (Wu-Tang Clan), Interscope (Death Row Records), Jive, and then we did the site for The Source magazine, which was the primary magazine for rap.
I remember our first job in that space was for Loud Records. First off, you walk in and get frisked by the hugest guys in the world. And guess what, they were Jewish and in their 50s. Then you wait. Then Steve Rifkind called us in. He, of course, was not only Jewish but the son of Jules Rifkind who started Spring Records (James Brown’s record label) and was probably the basis for that guy in the Sopranos who had conned all the superstars of his day and age 50 years earlier. And Jules Rifkind was the son of some guy who used to throw parties for Meyer Lansky back in the day. That’s the way it was. The Source magazine also: all Jews. Interscope records: Jews. Bad Boy was Puff Daddy but his #2 guy: Jew.
Then I go into Steve Rifkind’s office and he’s meeting with his broker. Steve turns to me, points to the broker, and says, “I can’t figure this guy out. Maybe you can make heads or tales." So his broker (jewish) says, “Steve, this is a great fucking story. Record label, basketball camps, street teams, clothes, we do the first African-American rollup and take it public. You’ll be a billionaire.”
Steve says, “I’m fucking coming. My dick is so hard I gotta go to the bathroom and jerk off until I come.” So he leaves the room.
I turned to the broker, Justin Weil, and introduce myself. Less than a year later Justin introduced me to the company that bought my first company.
I made a lot of money learning how to breakdance.