Among the Young

Shave your head, ditch your classes, chug your beer, duck your parents, thrash your music, and don't let anyone mess with your teenage life

Lee grabs the acoustic guitar and strums some chords while James tears into a package he received in the mail. Two weeks ago he ordered a Screeching Weasel T-shirt and he assumes this is it. It is A sort of. The shirt he ordered was black; the one that arrived is white. He already has a white one. "I was going to wear that shirt at the show tomorrow," he complains. Lee asks if he can have it and James throws it to him in disgust. "Let's get out of here and go to Y&T," he commands.

Yesterday & Today Records is James's favorite place to purchase the vital, fresh music that Miami radio just doesn't play. Bands he loves, such as the Queers, and songs he loves, like "Teenage Bonehead," can be found in the pale blue bins of the small store.

Y&T, located in a strip mall on SW 57th Avenue in South Miami, is also a repository for obscure older recordings (cassettes of the first two Soul Asylum albums, back when they still had a punk edge) and used posters of bands that are no longer trendy (R.E.M., the Smiths, the Cure). T-shirts of every current pop band line the walls: Belly, Hole, and Nirvana still, despite the year-old suicide of lead singer Kurt Cobain. James heads straight for the bins of vinyl seven-inch singles to see if there are any new Screeching Weasel records he doesn't already have. The singles are often the only way he can hear new music. Up by the front door James checks to make sure photocopied notices for the upcoming Smerffs show are prominently displayed. He flips through a few of the free magazines stacked near the cash register. "I just want to be able to like open up Maximum Rock 'n' Roll -- it's the biggest 'zine around -- and just be able to like see our names somewhere in that. It's nothing special, but I want to do it to be a band. It is my dream to get in Maximum Rock 'n' Roll."

James is running late at 5:30 p.m. It's time to go to Patty's, but not before some fast food. "Taco Bell should like rule the world," James shouts over the music on the way to the restaurant. "Did you ever see Demolition Man, where all the restaurants are the same? That's like my dream. Me and Lee always said that if we can get famous, we're going to buy a Taco Bell and then we'd get to eat all we want any time we want."

James's evening meals are almost always eaten at home, where his mother spends much of the day preparing dinner. "My mom's whole life is revolved around dinner," he mutters as he downs a Taco Supreme, a Texas Taco, and water from a clear plastic cup. "It's like, 'You need to be here at dinner because I planned out dinner all day. When you don't show up for dinner, it messes up my whole plans.' I mean, if like not coming home for dinner is messing up your whole plans, I mean there is something wrong there. I mean, dinner is your whole life? I don't know. It's just really bad."

James's mother, Christine, admits that she probably does spend too much time planning and preparing dinners, but the evening meal has always been very important to her. "It is the only time the whole family comes together," she explains. "I like to hear what they've done with their day and what they hope to do the next day." She has consciously arranged her life in order to make dinner such a priority.

Just 22 years older than James, Christine is a third-generation Miamian reared in a house her grandfather built in the venerable northeast section of Miami. She moved to Miami Beach in the sixth grade and didn't leave until she entered college at the University of Miami. The school gave her a full scholarship because of her outstanding talents on the violin.

But after only two years, she dropped out. "I had reached my goal in music," she recalls as she toys with her necklace, which bears three gold charms: a cross, a tennis racket, and the word Mom. "I always said I wanted to be concertmaster at the UM orchestra. When I made top violin after two years, I was bored. And then James's dad came into my life." Jim Fullwood was a gem dealer at the time who traveled all over the country before he eventually returned to teach tennis at his father's club. To a bored concertmaster who had lived her entire life in the same place, he was as dazzling as the stones he sold. "I thought that was just very exciting -- to travel -- and so I kind of left town with him without telling anybody," Christine recalls. "We were gone for I guess six months, but we did come back and we did have a formal wedding."

James was born soon after they returned to a life that proved to be more uncertain than Christine wanted. Because Jim worked on commission, money was always a concern. As Christine looked at their future together, she didn't see a time when she could ever quit her job as a legal secretary to stay home and raise children. She wanted a different life. Her mother, who had divorced after 29 years of marriage, told her that if she was ever going to leave James's father, she should do it quickly, while the child was still young. Christine did just that.

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