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Biz Markie and White Cheddar Boys @ The PNB Penthouse.

November 11, 2013

BizMarkieWCD05Text by Jumah Chaguan. Images by Menglong Liang.

It’s true. Sometimes, we are part of a scene. And if we are willing to play the game, we can get access to any place. In this case the place was a party held on the 25th floor of the PNB building’s penthouse, right across from City Hall. The White Cheddar Boys were to be the opening act for legendary rapper Biz Markie.

The Friday event was orchestrated by advertising cowboys known as Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners, an example of Generation X and Y who had made it Mad Men big but instead of being called “Draper,” were known as “Red” and “McCools.”

The White Cheddar Boys were asked to be the welcoming committee to the cowboys’ soiree. Two days before, the White Cheddar Boys’s frontman Huey West pinched his left arm while busking at Rittenhouse Square. He thought it a dream.The Tettemer gig would be the biggest for the band to date. Huey was excited. Tettemer allowed the White Cheddar Boys guests. Huey chose his VIPs – his mom and sister.

The band’s task was simple: create electricity. And the band did just that, they were chosen precisely for that. They fit nicely with Red Tettemer’s penchant for strategic hodge podge and calculated irreverence. Next to the band was a crate filled to the brim with trophies piled on top of each other. Across from the band was a Jesus Christ statue covered in scarlet velour. Underneath Jesus was a fist-sized eraser with the words “Big Mistake Eraser.” A silver sign with black letters read, “Be Unforgettable.”

And this place was just that. Royal blue perfectly clashed with electric yellow. Busts of bald men were anchored to walls, their chests tattooed with geishas from a Ukiyo-e print.  A newcomer with eyes wide open would float in this space.

A place were icons were quickly replaced, recycled and used as adornments. A Ted Turner autographed magazine and a signed Wynton Marsalis poster hung in the dames room.  The vintage Jessie Jackson presidential poster flanked the quintessential Miles Davis in a Kind of Blue cover. No space in the wall was bare. And if it was bare, it was probably on purpose.

Right at the entrance of the second floor, an old-school type writer held Chateau Marmont stationery. Perhaps the agency used it as a lucky talisman, they had just opened another office in L.A. To be on the safe side, they hired a fortune teller for the night.

An Asian goddess measuring about 3-foot in height was placed at the top of the stairs. Someone left a $10 offering by her feet. Hours later and when someone wasn’t looking, the offering had disappeared.

Not too far from the serene goddess a map of a cow’s circulatory system showed the way to the dance floor. Colorful alternating lights gave a jolt to the attendees. The place was crowded. It was inevitable to spill drinks on black sparkling mini dresses. Apologies were drowned in the loud music.

The White Cheddar Boys ended their set. Some noticed and applauded.

“It’s not synthetic or plugged into anything,” said Joe Z, studio director at the agency. “It’s pure and not in your face. It’s a talent. I can’t do it.”

Biz Markie was next to play on the main stage.  And the attendees headed upstairs, including some of The White Cheddar Boys. Now the crowd waited for the fashionably late moment. Thirty minutes later, the Tettemer posse came out and greeted with rockstar applause from the awaiting crowd. Biz Markie wore red and followed.

Most in attendance were in their toddler years when Biz Markie was in his prime. It didn’t matter. Biz Markie had a part to play in the affair. Suburbanite females pretended to hold gats to “Rapper’s Delight.” Biz Markie scratched. He didn’t say much but did give his signature grin on cue.

The Tettemers heads were rapped and pleased. This was all part of an on point cultural mash-up that occurred on the 25th floor of a der kunst haus. Down below bored cars imitated glittering ants on concrete roads.

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