The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 3B
'CRAZY-RAP' (1999), MOTOWN UNIVERSAL
Reminiscing on nostalgic 'Crazy Rap'
ference is that "Crazy Rap" was
Like in the salons of 17th never on the radio. It grew to
and 18th century France, the behemoth that it is purely
this weekly installment through word of mouth. It's a tale
of shenanigans and reckless aban-
will feature two Daily Arts. don, two things that many college
writers discussing the finer students are a little too familiar
points of arts mediums "Crazy Rap" symbolizes the
from at least 10 years ago. same thing for everyone who likes
it. No one is quite sure when they
heard it the first time, but when it
It's 2001. You're somewhere comes on at a party it's an instant
around adolescence and starting crowd pleaser. Technically, it's
to feel the constraints of living just a slightly above average rap
with your dingus parents. You song. The beat is catchy and the
want to do something that will flow is solid, but it's a classic song
make them scream, but not take because of the loose, candid style.
away your Nintendo 64. What Afroman may embody many of
options do you have? You could the negative stereotypes of hip-
run away, but last time you tried hop, buthis storytellingis endear-
that you ended up sleeping in your ing. He isn't someone you can take
friend's tree house for an hour home to mom, but he's sure to be
before coming home. Your mom a hit when you're kicking it with
didn't even notice you were gone. some amigos.
Frustrated, you sulk. You'll Like Odysseus before him,
never find a way to express your- Afroman's epic journey takes
self. Then, one day, it happens: him across the seven seas. His
You stumble upon a song with a adversaries include a Klansman
lot of dirty words. You don't know in Eastside Palmdale, a green-
what all of them mean, but you haired siren in Hollywood and
know Afroman is talking about temptresses from all over the
sex, drugs and malt liquor: "Colt globe. We, his loyal listeners, may
45 and two zig-zags, baby that's not be there to help him through
all we need, we can go to the park his tempestuous tour, but we can
after dark, smoke that tumble- rap along with him.
weed." You download the song on "Crazy Rap" is a classic because
LimeWire, crossing your fingers it gives the crowd what it wants.
it's not a virus, and it finally hits Whether you're 11, 21 or even 31
that beautiful, blue, 100-percent. (dare I say it), singing along to
Within a week, you and your band Afroman's mischievous exploits
of angsty chums know every word. will put a smile on your face, a 40
The track truly has staying in your hand and a blunt in your
power, a rare quality. College kids mouth.
go crazy for songs like "Mambo -A NDREW ECKHO US
No. 5" and "All Star," but the dif-
Picture a Midwestern base-
ment full. of teenagers: denim
couches, a foosball table, bowls
full of Hershey's kisses, a tinny-
speakered iPod dock. A Cubs
game is on mute on the TV, and
the teens are interacting as har-
moniously as a group of 15-year-
olds can possibly interact. Darts
are involved. Things are going
well. Then you hear a voice come
from the speakers: "Wait a minute
man, hey check this out, man, tell
it. It was this blind man, right, it
was this blind man, right. He was
feelin' his way down the street with
a stick, right..."
Goodbye, harmony. Immedi-
ately, the whole group beelines for
the speakers. Up goes the volume,
darts clatter to the floor, foosball
games are abandoned. The whole
group crowds around on the iPod
dock, and proceeds to sing in uni-
"Colt 45, and two zig-zags.
Baby, that's all we need. We can go
to the park after dark, and smoke
that tumbleweed. And as the mari-
juana burn, we can take our turns,
singin' them dirty rap songs..."
And it doesn't end there. There
are other verses. So, so many oth-
ers - too plentiful or too lewd
to quote directly in this article
(future employers, this is where
you stop reading and hire me).
Now, I don't hold grudges ...
except when I do. For those of
you who didn't have adolescence
that involved basement-and-bil-
liards get-togethers, the "song" to
which I am referring is "Colt 45"
I was going to talk to you about Jesus, but then I got high."
(alternatively known as "Crazy
Rap") by Afroman (alternativey
known as Joseph Edgar Fore-
man). It's a six-minute, shoot-
ing-the-shit, tour de force rap
joint that consists of a bunch of
outlandishly chauvinistic sex-
capades told in succession over
some handclaps, guitar and bass.
And it's all brought to you by the
fine gentleman who put "Because
I Got High" into the universe. I
smell time capsule!
I don't hate "Colt 45" because
it's demeaning, vulgar and stupid.
I like plenty of other things that
are demeaning, vulgar and stupid.
I don't have any feminist-related
indignation, despite the pro-
pensity for most lines to closely
resemble the "I ate that pussy like
shrimp fried rice" line. It really
boils down to one simple quality
that I can't overlook: "Colt 45" is,
plain and simple, a really, really
fucking annoying song. And it
doesn'thelp that it goes on for-ev-
ER. Forever, I tell you. The thing
just doesn't quit.
And the other most annoying
part? Being able to recite every
single dumb and dirty verse was
a no-fail barometer of your Cool
Status in high school. Like, oh,
that 14-year-old white Jewish kid
who doesn't smoke weed, has no
idea what seeds and stems are,
and is mispronouncing "tumble-
weed" as "tub of weed" knows
every line of "Colt 45?" Yeah,
man, he must be cool. Please.
Why was it that every time
"Colt 45" came on at a party in
high school, all .other activities
would cease so a fake rap battle
could ensue? And by rap battle, I
mean a bunch of posturing subur-
ban kids trying to yell over each
other about banging chicks from
Hawaii, a KKK-affiliated father
and an '83 Cadillac Coup Deville.
Yes, because all of that hits so
close to home. The kids who loved
"Colt 45" were either stoners,
wannabe stoners, wannabe gang-
sters or kids who just didn't want
to feel left out for not knowing the
words. In a word: poseurs.
All this, for a song that prided
itself on being obscene instead of
actually good. Now that is some-
thing I can never understand.
to be s
has a s
for a o
Ism when a professor offhandedly
told her she was in the wrong
Page 1 B area of concentration. Later on,
he told her he was giving her a
compliment, not a literal com-
duals, the members say. mand. But she had made up her
g autism is a difference, mind. She wanted her profes-
ure, but it's not inferior to sor's job. She wanted to enter
her notion of mental devel- academia.
it, no less valued than the After getting an M.A. at DePaul
f one's skin or one's sex. University in Chicago, Yergeau
autistic community even headed to Ohio State University
special word for it: neuro- for a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Composi-
ity. Having people of dif- tion & Digital Literacy.
neurological perspectives It was at Ohio State where
es our perception of the Yergeau really got involved in
they say. autistic activism.
luote the words of autistic The impetus was the annual
Temple Grandin: "Who charity walk held by Autism
think made the first stone Speaks, a pro-cure autism orga-
That wasn't the yakkity nization composed largely of par-
tting around the campfire. ents of autistic children. Several
some Asperger sitting in of her autistic friends attended
ck of a cave figuring out the walk with their families, but
o chip rocks into spear- were put off by the organiza-
Without some autistic tion's inflammatory rhetoric of
you wouldn't even have a autism being a "disease" or all
ling device to record this autistic individuals being a "bur
'sation on." den on their families." Yergeau
was worried that this perception
In the beginning would leak into academia, that
her professors and peers would
Beau, who is originally somehow find her work inferior
New Hampshire, dropped because of her disability.
high school at the end of "Sometimes, to me, it's like,
shman year, overwhelmed 'Will it become high school all
llying from peers who over again?' " she wondered in
i her with lit cigarettes a 2009 interview in the Digital
achers who told her she Archive of Literacy Narratives.
tne sick puppy." She had She and two other autistic indi-
acked in special education viduals, Meg Evans and Andrew
for years, stigmatized for De Carlo, got in contact with the
y she acted and spoke. national branch of ASAN and
vas really depressed," she formed a local chapter in Ohio.
her experience away from Slowly, Yergeau gained more
"I worked at Dunkin' activist traction.
s. I don't recommend She designed a letter writing
ng at Dunkin' Donuts." b campaign. She staged walks and
this period also marked a protests. She posted on forums.
r Yergeau: the purchase of She met with state, Rep. Ted
op computer. Through the Celeste (D-24) and was featured in
et, Yergeau gained con- a mailer he sent out to his district.
ness of the online commu- After leaving Ohio State, Yer-
dedicated to her disability. geau accepted a tenure-track posi-
ught herself HTML and tion at the University as a digital
i a blog. She read about media studies professor. Though
liversity. For the first time, her involvement at Ohio State
d found a place where she has fallen away, she remains fully
enter into a dialogue with committed to autistic self-activ-
inded individuals. ism. Currently, she's gathering
hink that this is the case supporters to form a chapter of
ot of disability communi- ASAN inAnn Arbor.
that when you're growing "It's really starting to come
en you're the only person together, which is really nice,"
e that particular disabil- Yergeau said. So far, she's had
ergeau said. "Locally, you some interest from students
ave the opportunity to get at Michigan State University
h with other like-minded and the neurodiversity club at
That's where this pre- Washtenaw Community College.
her opinion on ASAN's mission.
If certain autistic individuals
considered autism to be an inte-
gral part of their personalities,
should the search for a cure be
put on hold?
Kobrick said she thought that
while high-functioning autis-
tic people - those with "special
math skills or scientific skills,"
as she putit - didn't necessar-
ily need to have a cure if they
didn't want it, the remainder of
the autistic population ought to
"You really have to look at
the kinds of people who are not
as high-functioning. There are
some people who cannot do
math problems," Kobrick said.
"At (one) school, they teach them
how to fold their socks and put
the laundry away. Things like
that. They need a cure."
John Best, author of the Hating
Autism blog, put it in more suc-
cinct terms: "It's time to put an
end to celebrating having brain
damage," he said in a New York
Magazine article on the autistic
In Ohio, an ASAN protest
against an Autism Speaks walk
quickly devolved. Passersby
flung insults at the young pro-
testers, calling them retarded
or threatening physical harm.
One person had to be physically
restrained from lunging at them
by a walk official.
"I pretty much drowned," said
Corbin Kramer, an artist and
autistic rights blogger based in
Columbus who calls himself Yer-
"I got sick of it. I got sick of
working my ass off and getting
yelled at. I got sick of getting
very little recognition within
ASAN. Advocacy will beat you
down if you let it."
In the field of academia, Yer-
geau encountered different chal-
lenges: those of incorporation
During the job search, she
often tried to "pass" for nor-
mal, worried that displaying too
much of her disability would
cause others to find her unable
to deal with the stresses of daily
life. So she practiced eye con-
tact. She rehearsed questions
and answers for small talk, add-
ing in "um"s and "uh"s to make
her speech sound more natural.
She sat on her hands so that she
wouldn't visibly stim. But, after
long days, the system would
Conferences were difficult.
Yergeau would get overwhelmed
by the masses of people coming
out of the ballrooms, the nev-
er-ending buzz that emanated
from all parts of the building,
the orange lizard pattern on the
carpet. It was difficult for her
to initiate social interactions. At
banquets, she would nod, smile
and push food around her plate.
Classes were difficult. In grad-
uate school, Yergeau took small
seminars composed of fewer
than eight or nine people. Par-
ticipating verbally was a strug-
gle for her. She couldn't keep
track of the group conversations
quickly enough, always trying to
figure out who was saying what.
And because she was unwilling
to fully disclose her autism, she
had to find alternative ways of
But what happened if a por-
tion of her grade depended on
"It really sucked," she said,
laughing. "It wasn't really some-
thing I could do. The strange
thing is, if the class required a
presentation or something that
could be memorized, I was abso-
lutely fine. But if it's actually
interacting back and forth, then
it just totally broke down."
Autistic and proud
A few years ago, Yergeau came
to a critical decision. She made
the choice to disclose her disabil-
ity in everything she wrote.
"(Before), I only told select
people that I was autistic and
I'd rather people assume I was
really, really weird than assume
anything else," she said. "And
now, I'm very, very open about it,
and my hope is that other people
are open about it."
Nowadays, she's grown com-
fortable with sharing many
aspects of her autism - on her
blog, aspie rhetor, inop-ed piec-
es, even in her aademic papers.
Her voice - urgent, pleading,
sometimes angry - has become a
staple of her writings, academic
"It's a really hard-hitting
voice, an insightful voice," said
English Prof. Cynthia Selfe, Yer-
geau's adviser at Ohio State. "It's
somethingthat makes people pay
attention because it's so honest."
"I am deathly polite," Yergeau
writes in a webtext published
in Computers and Composition
Online. "I stare at the bridge of
your nose when you speak to me,
and I nod, even if I haven't the
slightest idea as to what you're
saying, because I know that nod-
ding is appropriate, as is the illu-
sion that I'm sharing an eye-gaze
with you rather than counting
the pores on your cheekbones. I
empathize with your ear lobe."
Disclosure in academic writ-
ing has been a form of activism
"As a disabled person and an
academic, when I read people
who have that sort of authorial
presence, it is so meaningful to
see people putting themselves
out there," she said. "I think the
primary reason why I disclose is
because there needs to be some
kind of visibility to (autism)."
Yergeau is embarkingon a new
chapter of her life as she starts
the seven-year climb to obtain-
ing tenure. Whether she will
remain permanently employed
at the University will depend on
what she publishes and presents
in the next few years.
In many ways, academia has
been the right path for her. Like
many autistic individuals, she
has hyperfocus. It shows in the
prolificacy of her work: Yergeau
has amassed an enormous num-
ber of published abstracts and
video texts during her short time
in the field, all of them meticu-
Yet Yergeau still consid-
ers herself to be disabled. She
continues to seek out disabil-
ity accommodations as a faculty
member, teaching all her classes
in computer labs so as to fake eye
contact better. Surrounded by
a sea of computer screens, she
can create the illusion of looking
at the students without actually
looking at the students.
And she's worried thather dis-
ability might hold her back from
obtaining the position and status
"When we're talking about
disability, including anything
that can be considered men-
tal disability, there's so much
stigma," she said. "Speaking on
a wider scale, faculty with dis-
abilities are often invisible and
they often aren't tenure-track.
And there are just a lot of issues
regarding the whole process and
how disability enters into that."
The perils of disclosure
But how much disclosure is
too much? There are things she
won't talk about. In her second
week at the University, Yergeau
was involuntarily committed
to the psychiatric ward at the
University hospital. She wrote
an impassioned blog post about
it after the fact, full of bile and
anguish. But in the shadow life
of her office, she stays taciturn.
She regrets that she shared too
much, she tells me.
Is it ever a worry that you're
revealing too much of yourself
on the Internet? I ask her. Do you
ever have regrets over the con-
tent you choose to disclose?
"It's very much a worry," Yer-
geau said. "It's always been a
worry. The longer you do this,
the more people you begin to
know and meet and the more
public it feels."
I know a lot of things about
Yergeau. Before meeting her, I
knew that she doesn't like the
texture of fruit. I knew about
her obsession with Electric Light
Orchestra. It's both uncomfort-
able and familiar knowing such
intimate details about a person
you've never met before.
She is married, but I don't ask
questions about her husband.
She is a first-generation college
student. Her family, from what
I've gathered, is Pentecostal.
"There are certain things that
I won't disclose," Yergeau said,
tentatively. There are details she
still wants to have control over.
She considers herself to be a pri-
vate person. "But it's hard."
But how much control does
Yergeau really have over the
things she says? Even if she
chooses to move on or research
other things, memories of her
past self will forever cling to the
To me, there seems to be a
marked conflict between her
wish to keep her personal life
private and her obligation - we
could even call it "responsibility"
- to disclose.
It is, in a sense, a responsibili-
ty. Yergeau broughtup the notion
of beinga disability role model in
the academic and activist sphere
as motivation for her disclosure.
She said she aspired to be some-
one who could pave the way for
a younger generation to explore
and question notions of mental
So far, she's already impacted
a number of people - friends,
peers, strangers, superiors.
"I don't feel like I can bring
some of my ideas to some of my
professors, but with (Yergeau),
I feel very comfortable doing
that," said LSA senior Emily Bre-
hob, whose honors thesis Yer-
"She's taught me a lot of
things," Selfe said. "She's taught
me how to be braver in my own
writing. Her writing reminds
me of how important that kind
of personal honesty is, and how
valuable it can be for everyone."
I'm reminded of a YouTube
video ofa protest orchestrated by
ASAN against an Autism Speaks
walk in central Ohio. The pro-
testers, there are maybe eight
or nine in total, look sad, but
determined. Wobbly choruses of
"Autism Speaks needs to listen!"
scatter across the Columbus
streets. Yergeau, holding a large
posterboard stamped with the
text "LISTEN TO ME, I HAVE
AUTISM," can be seen among
"Wherever she goes, Melanie
helps people open their eyes,"
uachine sort of comes into
he said, caressing her sil-
ok her only a year to get a
nd another two to receive
ociate's degree from a
technical college. Her
originally computer sci-
wiveled rapidly to English
Seeds of discord
;eau's brand of thinking is
ked Public Policy junior
Kobrick, who is a vice
ent for the Autism Speaks
r at the University, about