[Editors Note: The Pier’s own Jeff Pliskin, of Raised Fist Propaganda, is also an English teacher for a middle school in Brooklyn, NY. He also happens to be good friends with Angelo Moore of Fishbone – Read from Jeff what happened when he brought Angelo Moore to his class]:
The great Angelo Moore, Dr Madd Vibe himself, of Fishbone decided to stop by during my 8th grade English classes on Friday, April 17th to teach the youth about positivity. Angelo, being a proponent of love and all that involves unity, was quite excited to be in the Brooklyn, NY classroom.
I prepped Dr. Madd Vibe in a Brooklyn Reggae Dub Lounge the night before. We have been meeting once a month to finalize our first short film for Sundance and Tribeca film festivals, respectively.
“You know these kids are from Bed-Stuy (Bedford–Stuyvesant) Brooklyn, Angelo – they can be quite hyper,” I told him. He smiled with that patented grin, bobbed his head along to the King Tubby beat that played in the background and responded: “It’s not something I’m not used to, Pliskinite!”
Angelo looked psyched, almost as if it was his mission to show kids that energy can be channeled into a positive force. There was no reason to hate or hurt each other. From my understanding, watching his dealings with his band, I could feel a sense of urgency and contemplation. One thing we had in common was the desperation to be understood through our art. Our passion.
“We’re gonna do this Jeffro…” Angelo stood up from his seat next to the vinyl turntable booth. He fixed his stetson hat and stuck his chest out: “We are going to inspire these kids.”
Fast-forward to the next morning, and multiple cups of coffee later, Angelo Moore is pacing in my classroom, more hyper than the Brooklyn School kids that are anxiously awaiting to meet him. His saxophone lay in its open case in the front of the class. He is wearing a full body army-camouflage pajama suit with white converse sneakers and red laces. His classic stetson derby hat remain intact on the top of his shaved head. Punk rock.
I showed the kids every Fishbone video ever made the day before as a visual lesson. The kids liked the fact Angelo was eccentric.
As the first class entered, I warned Angelo that things could get really hyper. He started playing on the sax, and within moments, hypnotized 30 Brooklyn school children into a silent majority. They were enamored.
Then, the magic happened. Angelo Moore smoothly stepped on top of a desk and blurted out some epic riddims on his sax. The sounds permeated the hallways of the Brooklyn Middle School. My principal walked in with a few teachers. The sounds continued as the children slowly took out their cell phones to film this excellent slice of life.
Then, the fire drill alarm went off.
Angelo Moore is laughing the entire time as fellow teachers and my principal are yelling at kids to keep quiet. We walk through a residential neighborhood on the border of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill where Biggie Smalls grew up. The Fishbone front-man is excited beyond belief. The children sense it in him. Once again, his smile permeates as he carries his golden saxophone throughout the mean streets of Brooklyn. He walks directly behind the 8th graders in perfect line formation.
“Mr. Jeff, is he really your friend?” my student Destiny asked. “Yes Destiny, Angelo is my friend. Now keep quiet – it’s a fire drill.”
I must have gained half a dozen points in street-cred that day from the students.
We walked the halls after the fire drill. Angelo wanted to check out the music class. Within moments, dude was playing drums. A student hopped up to the front and played bongos. The class was loving it. Angelo was in his element. So was I. The kids saw it too. Smiles all around. It was a great day for our school.
I gave the kids a copy of the Fishbone logo on white paper. Angelo signed autographs as he broke into spoken word. Once again, silence and respect for what was happening. These 6th and 7th graders had no idea who Fishbone was, but they did know there was someone of important significance standing in front of them. An artist who was showing off his craft with extreme confidence and passion.
Our last stop was Mr. Mack’s class, a fellow English teacher. He saw Fishbone and Red Hot Chili Peppers play in the mid-west during the ’90’s. When we walked into his class, his jaw dropped. Mr. Mack handed Angelo a spoken word poem, his favorite one of Angelo’s. And so the last chapter of the visit began.
Angelo Moore stood in the front of the classroom reciting the entire version of “Mack Truck” as students read along in unison. Full of energy and depth, he even walked over to a pair of girls who were talking and recited the last stanza of the poem in their ear. He commanded their respect. Epic.
“So now that I got a podium, now that I got a little stage – Say what you feel. Say it to the world. This is how I feel. My name is Angelo Moore, Dr. Madd Vibe, Fishbone Soldier #1. I’m from Los Angeles, California. And I like to love. (Whoo! – student in first row) I like love and I like loving everybody… And if you don’t love me back, you can kiss it! Straight up! There’s too much hate in the world today. Peace and Love everywhere and everybody.”
– Angelo Moore 4.17.15 Brooklyn, New York
More photos from class: