I think it was the carpet, an old, itchy, scrap of green, sculpted, wall to wall wool, salvaged from the street at a neighbors house as they remodeled, that gave the studio it’s underlying scent. A
subtle hint of mildew that is reminiscent of the first taste of whole grain bread after a lifetime of eating white. A room defined by smoke, the ever-present reminder of a fire that had raged over
fourty years ago presently combining with cigarettes and insence blending into a sweet and sticky odor, thick like sugar when first added to a hot pitcher of sweet iced tea.
Studio, a word the kids use as if it elevated them to stardom and at once raises their status among their peers. Studio, a work room for the creatively inclined. This is no million dollar, cluster
of acoustically treated spaces filled with state of the art electronics and top of the line instruments and microphones. No, this is one room, the left over relic of a bygone era when tobacco
warehouses and auction blocks covered this part of town. A sad little room that still held the memories of murder and rioting and the fire that leveled nearly ten acres of this city. Delegated for
use as a storage room ever since and stale as a coffin.
The ceiling presents a texture as crisp and brittle as the piles of leaves we dove into as children. A stochastic pattern of paint chips and char on antique bead board that had blackened, bubbled
and burned from the intense heat of the racially fanned flames that brought the national guard to this small southern city nearly forty years ago. Three walls, painted in a gradation of rising
smoke stains, growing darker as they approach the ceiling. Coarse as grit sand paper, each wall unique as snowflakes or the personalities living behind the eyes of each human being. One new wall, a
cover up, empty and frigid, like the glare one gets when broaching a subject “that we just don’t talk about.” A space oppressive when first discovered yet holding hope and the potential for dreams,
our minds modulating the perceptions of the images that our eyes beheld.
This forlorn place, slowly evolving away from its disturbing dreams and memories, has now become a haven for young musicians, multi-racial, exercising in the light of creativity. The room is
bedazzling with its new white Christmas lights defining the ceiling's perimeter like stars reminding us of our common dreams. Colored floodlights fill in the remaining voids, adding warmth to the
darker corners and a feeling as if the room were embracing you. Laughter and creativity, friendship and love now occupy this void, even with the music that thumps through you like a jackhammer
tickling your bones while flinging off the angst and dissatisfactions of a new generation. A new life and hope overlay the ashes of discontent and despair that occupied this place for so long.
Wounds will heal. Time will march on.
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