Fishscaling: "Beauty Jackson" and "Heart Street Directions"
It's hard to be a playa on the bus.

Even a gangsta gets lonely. In this installment of translating the world of Ghostface Killah's brilliant Fishscale, we arrive at "Beauty Jackson," which reveals Tony Starks' softer side. In addition to acknowledging that he lives alone, our man concedes that his life's not all Hummers and Escalades. Sometimes he rides the bus. When he does, however, he's not averse to hitting on the ladies. "Beauty Jackson" is a short interlude, but it's a workhorse nonetheless, successfully fleshing out Ghostface's Tony Starks with a Raymond Chandleresque eye for detail.

The skit that follows "Beauty Jackson," which I'll include as a bonus in this post, pretty much destroys any of that earned goodwill. It's called "Heart Street Directions," and it seems strategically placed to do just that. A woman stops to get directions and, in a jerky move that's pretty funny nonetheless, Starks turns into an unrelenting asshole who verbally assaults a woman whose only crime is being lost. Maybe he's sexually frustrated by the near-miss with the bus rider?

Below, a two-for-one translation, first of "Beauty Jackson" then of "Heart Street Directions."

Lady: I'm at the bus stop when a man behind me says, "Hi, baby." I melted because I hadn't heard that voice in a long time. I turned around.

Tony Starks: Yep. You should have seen me warm her up. She was pretty. You heard her voice -- she sounded hot, didn't she? Here's what happened:

She turned around. She was a mature woman. She said hi. I was stunned. "Peace, nice to meet you, sweetie. Call me Tony or, if you want, call me Ghost. May I invite you over for some red wine and Barry White?"

She pulled out a cigarette. I lit it for her. Her voice was sexy, like a full-length white mink coat. She had a beauty mark on her right cheek. When she spoke, the smoke from her throat spelled "Honey" in the air, then it turned to water. I was infatuated.

She sprayed some perfume on her neck from a nickel-plated bottle. She had style. I felt old, like a husband shopping with a wife who hates him. She wore an emerald on her finger, Revlon face blush, and Cover Girl lipstick. Her fingers were plump, her nails painted.

When she flicked the ash off her cigarette, it gave me goosebumps (plus, the wind chill factor had dropped). "Here, take my number, miss. I live alone." Her face fell when I dropped my gun, and she asked for my number.

"Heart Street Directions" (verbatim)

Tony Starks gets off the bus and a woman approaches him.

Woman: Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to Heart Street?

Tony Starks: Hmm ... Heart Street. Alright, you go down three blocks, right. You get on Bush Highway. Go past Vagina Street and Get off at Dick. Make a left and you'll run into Walls. Next block is Clit Boulevard. But you gotta be careful, it's kind of wet down there. You're going to pass Guts. That should take you to Tits Project. My man Balls and them will be around there somewhere. The Heart is around there somewhere. Or, you could go 45 minutes — you could take Butt Avenue to Hershey Highway, up Spine, and you'll be at the Mouth of the Tunnel right there.

-Randall Roberts

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