The Bronx in The Smithsonian and Abe

Crazy Leg's Jean Jacket in the Smithsonian
Crazy Leg's Jean Jacket and MC Lyte's journal in the Smithsonian.
Smithsonian Placard for Crazy Leg's Jacket
Dorothy's Ruby Slippers in the Smithsonian
Dorothy's Ruby Slippers in the Smithsonian

Last week on Inauguration Day, the Smithsonian, thankfully, was open.  So we had a nice spot to get warm and to use the facilities.  [As a side, I did not know that the Smithsonian was not one museum but nineteen.  We told ourselves that we’ll definitely come back to DC for a weekend visit in an effort to up our identification of buildings other than the White House.] We stopped in the Air & Space Museum and then later walked across the Mall to the National Museum of American History.  I overheard two women mention the Julia Child kitchen had just closed, darn, I really would have liked to see that. But a nice woman in early American dress, either Jamestownian or Williamsburgian, I’m not certain, told me that Lincoln’s top hat was on display upstairs. We got a bit side tracked with Stephen Colbert’s portrait, then ended up in an alcove with Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, the original Kermit and Oscar the Grouch, a beaded gown and super high heeled wedges worn by Celia Cruz. Further in was a case of objects once owned by the Founding Fathers and Mothers of Hip-Hop:  Grandmaster Flash‘s turntable resting on top of Fab 5 Freddy‘s Boom Box,  Crazy Legs‘s jean jacket, (The Big Guy recognized graffiti artist Shy 147′s tag painted in the background, maybe he painted the entire jacket? No mention on the placard)*,  Afrika Bambaataa‘s Zulu nation pendant and MC Lyte‘s suspiciously brand new looking journal.   A few years ago, The Smithsonian launched a multi-year collecting initiative to begin documenting the impact and importance of Hip Hop in American culture.  Ahhh, the Bronx representing in our Nation’s capital.

Grandmaster Flash's Turntable at the Smithsonian.  The white line on the record is the mark made by the DJ where the beat begins.
Grandmaster Flash's Turntable at the Smithsonian. The white line on the record is made by the DJ to mark where the beat begins.
Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat worn the night he was assassinated.
Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat worn the night he was assassinated.

Here is Lincoln’s top hat, the last one he wore on the evening he went to the Ford Theatre. I had a spooky feeling looking at his hat, half expecting to see a round bullet hole. I didn’t see one. I didn’t want to see one.

A wall of Lincoln portraits from the age of 37 to 56 showed how much he’d aged and so quickly.  What a transformation! Upon seeing his face at 37 — clean shaven, bright eyes and dimpled chin, I gasped. Loudly. Others nearby laughed knowingly. His face at 56, with dark shadows around the eyes, the full beard, looked haggard but the more familiar Lincoln image.  (Oddly, though, his hair had not turned white, unlike most recent presidents at the end of their tenure, ie Clinton and Bush Jr.)

Abraham Lincoln at 37 years old.
Abraham Lincoln at 37 years old.
Abraham Lincoln at 56 years old at the Smithsonian.
Abraham Lincoln at 56 years old.

The man standing next to me said, “Hey if you it was your job to free the slaves, let’s see how good you’d look.”

*UPDATE 4/6/09: Legendary break dancer Crazy Legs, sent a comment regarding the artist who painted his jacket — West Coast dancer, Easy Roc did the artwork. See his full comment below.


3 thoughts on “The Bronx in The Smithsonian and Abe

  1. I’m a security guard at the smithsonian, and sent Crazy Leg’s message to the appropriate people who will make sure that information is saved with the jacket. Glad i could do something to help!

  2. People have been asking about who was the artist that painted the jacket that I donated. Just to clear things up on that. I have to let you know that it was Easy Roc, from Rock Steady Crew. Easy Roc is a b.boy from the west coast who has served as a major influence to b.boys and b.girls on the west coast as well as through out the world. Especially in the late 80’s and 90’s. I felt that it was important to donate that jacket and make sure that there was something that was representative of East and West Coasts. In the artwork there are pillars that feature the names of RSC members that passed away as well. Buck 4, Kiriaki, Shy 147, Dondi, Lil Edgar, Rasean (Kippy D) and Larry Love are the names on the pillars. I just wish that I could add Frosty Freeze, who also is no longer with us.
    Crazy Legs

    1. Wow!
      Hello Crazy Legs,
      Glad you stopped by!
      Thanx for identifying Easy Roc as the artist of your jacket.
      Sadly the placard at the Smithsonian does not credit him.
      At the museum, we did see the names painted on the pillars, but my photo of your jacket did not capture them well.
      I’m glad you listed their names here.
      Thank for your comment and taking the time to respond.


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