Longform

Among the Young

Page 3 of 8

James's grandfather, Leo Fullwood, was a Miami tennis pioneer who founded the Coral Oaks Tennis Club on Red Road near Parrot Jungle. James's natural father was once the club pro. From age three until age twelve, James was at the courts almost every day hitting a ball around. He gave up sports because he doesn't like to sweat so much any more. He also says he has a far better chance of being successful in rock than in tennis. "I was like one of the best in the club, but when you talk about the world, that won't get you anywhere," he says of his tennis days. "My dad's friend's son was like the best in Miami. The best. But he was like number 200-something in the world and barely making money. I'll never put my kids into sports. Then they're going to want to be professional basketball players and have their minds set on that. It's really not worth getting their hopes up."

While James's sports past is still represented in his room, more predominant now are pictures of the Smerffs hanging next to flyers of shows he has either played or attended. There is a poster of Lookout Records, his favorite label because they signed Green Day before the band went big. Medals from the state band contests he has won (playing upright bass) rest on a cluttered dresser. The bass he plays every week in a community orchestra lies on the floor near a stool and some sheet music.

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."

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Robert Andrew Powell