Rock Rubber 45s
A documentary about the lives of Bobbito Garcia.
Posted June 26, 2018
Cultures need their icons, those figures whose presence and fame go beyond their achievements. They seem to embody a more universal striving and meaning.
This documentary film was written, directed and produced by its subject, Bobbito Garcia. We observe both a contemporary history of people of color and a variety of huge, societal obsessions by tracing the arc of this man's life. And what a life!
Trying to describe Bobbito is reminiscent of the story of a group of blind men asked to describe an elephant by touching its various parts. Bobbito has been stage center as a hip-hop DJ; a terrific, competitive basketball player; a sneaker fanatic, designer, and promoter; a writer and filmmaker; and a barber, as some examples. Yes, his gestalt is large, and more than the sum of the parts.
Born in Puerto Rico, his mother came to New York when he was a boy. He never spoke Spanish, but his milieu was the barrio. He was/is a light-skinned Hispanic and was, among other boys, called "gringo." But he fit right in and soon led many a pack. He entered ABC (A Better Chance, an NYC program for poor kids of color) and improbably went on to Wesleyan College, the small, precious liberal arts school in Connecticut.
On basketball courts, even at five-foot-nine-inches, he had great moves and a hot jump shot. He had rhythm and a fine sense of how to blend and deliver music that would transport any crowd assembled. And he developed, early on, a fanatical interest in sneakers. He was among the first to collect every brand, model, and color. He soon started to produce and sell shoes (sneakers really). His short videos were used by Nike internationally, and he helped not only sell sneakers but to make them the fetishistic items they have become. Bobbito's collection of sneakers and records would fill a big warehouse.
Ever loquacious, he is a great subject for himself to portray. His fluidity across so many domains of modern life gives the film a lovely, kaleidoscopic quality. He is perhaps what has been called, in his totality, a highly creative, free-lance, performance artist. While the film at times approaches becoming hagiographic, Bobbito’s humility and affability save the day.
By following Bobbito in New York, across the United States, and abroad, we are also on a history tour of minorities, people of color, and immigrants. In other words, the people who have made this country great.
Rock Rubber 45s has special, cameo appearances from Quincey Jones, Rosie Perez (clearly a great friend of his), Spike Lee, Stevie Wonder, Jay-Z, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patti Labelle, Scottie Pippen, and many more. Fun stuff to watch.
Bobbito’s motto is “if it doesn’t work, start something else.” I am sure not all of his sea of efforts were successful, so I imagine he is speaking from experience. Wise counsel from a man of all seasons.