New Jack City

Yesterday I attended a talent contest in a very uneasy part of the Second Life grid called New Jack City. I’ve already tried to look up New Jack City in Microsoft Bing. It’s very likely I will write the first authoritative article about this hip-hop community “‘hood”.

New Jack City is where black people go out of their way to be black. Here the people dress in muscle shirts and bling-covered cargo pants, speak in vulgarities you would not utter around your children, and call each other the dreaded n-word. They drive low-rider automobiles with tricked-out hydraulic suspensions and wear low-rider pants that give an unobstructed view of much of their Fruit of the Looms. It’s as natural for them as breathing.

Outside the theater, flying is not allowed, and your health percentage is displayed, suggesting that this is an unsafe combat-enabled area (under the Linden Lab Combat System) where avatars can be killed and sent back to their homes in lieu of heaven.

It was not easy to sit amongst these people in its counterpart to New York’s Apollo Theatre. I was worried that the universally honored good citizenship practice of sitting quietly and saying nothing would not work here. After all, I am, avatar-wise, a bear with white wings and a halo of stars over his head. And a ballcap worn country-style, with the bill up front.  In the ‘hood, just looking “wrong” can attract unfavorable attention.

So what the heck was I doing there? Eliana Paine asked me there, for moral support as she entered a talent contest in that same Apollo Theatre. She is an unusually highly educated African American who spent much of her childhood in England. This can make her every bit as out of phase with New Jack City as being an angel bear. But she still considers these her people and wants to perform for this audience, even if she gets more than her share of heckling from the haters.

One can get as much or more entertainment from the audience as from the stage. Just as people were getting seated for the talent show, a guy comes in with this huge rocket stuck to his head. He claimed it was put there by some racist white kids using some kind of HUD-controlled program. The 20-foot tall missile flailed about wildly from his neck, colored gray, waiting for the sim servers, overtaxed from all the bling the avatars wear, to provide it its texture.

The Apollo Theater can benefit from a trick used at the Jericho Hill Hockey Arena to help control their lag. Here’s what they’re doing.

Jericho Hill Arena straddles a borderline between two sims, the hockey rink on one side of the boundary line, and the spectator bleachers on the other. This way, any scripts being run by the spectators do not contribute any lag to the game being played in the rink. If the same tactic was employed by the Apollo Theatre, the spectators can wear as much bling as they want to and not affect what is happening on the stage.

I’ll be more than happy to tell you how Eliana did in the next post.


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