Persona Don Dada: Persona non grata + Don Dada (Jamaican slang for “pimp”)
My name is Joel Cusumano, and Persona Don Dada is my blog. I mostly write about music, music that I’m listening to or think would be cool if others got into. I also post about things I think are funny.
A portrait of the bloggist as a young fan:
Born to sail the seas and play football! Er …
I was born in Yokosuka, Japan, and I don’t remember much about it. We moved around a lot because my dad worked for the military, and eventually ended up in Naples, Italy for almost 5 years during elementary school.
Hm, I think this photo explains all that therapy …
As a kid I didn’t actively listen to much music. So I never really got into the current stuff kids were listening to, though I knew most kids liked Vanilla Ice, New Kids On the Block and MC Hammer, and kids who had rat-tails and alcoholic fathers liked Guns ‘n’ Roses. But I didn’t listen to any of these groups.
Mostly during this time I listened to oldies radio with my parents. I was big on the Supremes, the Beach Boys, the Everly Brothers, anything with big melodies. To round things out, my family also owned a copy of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous on cassette and had two tapes full of ’80s Italian pop songs given to us by our neighbor that we played in the car constantly. That was about it.
When we moved back to the States in 1994 I started middle school and was pretty much forced to start listening to the alternative rock. You didn’t really have much of a chance at making friends unless you could argue who was better — Green Day or the Offspring. So I started checking out the local alternative radio station and started turning into your average young alterna-teen.
I was the shit in ‘96
The first records I ever owned were U2’s Achtung Baby, U2’s Zooropa, the Batman Forever Soundtrack and the Goo Goo Dolls’ Boy Named Goo. It was Christmas 1995, I was in seventh grade and I got all four CDs at the same time. I really liked U2. And shit.
But around the time I started high school, I was getting bored with alternative. I think it was around the time when being “alternative” was more about singing like Eddie Vedder than rocking sweet grungy melodies like on my favorite Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots songs. Around this time I got really into the Beatles and Cream and Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan and Styx (OK, so it wasn’t a perfect transition).
Looking spiffy for homecoming.
And then I picked up the first Clash album, and that one just blew me away again. I started getting into old school punk and slowly disowning my classic rock collection. What a bunch of dinosaurs eh? Screw all that lovey hippie shit and wanky extended solos, just give me that raw punk energy!
College is the place for new friends and experiences.
But my ascetic punk leanings that didn’t last too long. I soon learned to reconcile my love for punkery with my love for classic rock. Then came college. College is the place to find yourself, and in the 2000s “finding yourself” meant from a musical perspective “getting all indie rocked up.” Which I did. I started working at my college radio station, 88.1 KCOU-Columbia, and going to shows and generally acting like a real hip guy.
Right now I’ve generally released any restrictions to my musical diet. If anything I’ve given up chasing down every single new hyped up release, and generally kind of seek out stuff that’s a little older and not well known. This site in a way celebrates the ability to discover literally every recorded release in the age of the almighty Internets.
By the way, I used to be in this band in college. We were called the Missouri Sex Offenders, and in our short, one-year career we opened for the Unicorns, Andrew WK, Mission of Burma and Twista. We even played with the White Rabbits. Here’s a copy of our only recorded material for free: