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Snapshot: Putting the 'Patrice' in P-Funk
National Public Radio®

This week's Snapshot returns us to Lake Wylie, South Carolina, where commentator Patrice Gaines celebrates her fifty-eighth birthday with a trip to a George Clinton, Parliament-Funkadelic concert.


We close the show as we do every Friday with a Snapshot. A few weeks ago, we introduced you to Patrice Gaines. She used to be an award-winning reporter for the Washington Post, but she burned out on big city life, packed her bags and moved to small town Lake Wylie, South Carolina.

There is just one catch - she's black and Lake Wylie is almost entirely white. That's made for some interesting and fun cross-cultural experiences.

Ms. PATRICE GAINES (Award-winning Reporter):
As part of my 58th birthday celebration, my sister Carole, my friend, Jeanette and I, decided to see George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. Fans of the group are called funkateers, and we four women consider ourselves among the most faithful funkateers around.

Patrice GainesJeanette, our chief funkateer, dons a multi-colored Afro wig. I'm talking neon - orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, you name it. She also wrapped a tie-dyed sarong around her hips, accenting her blinding gold lame pants. Carole and I toned it down a little with tie-dyed shirts, and we all wore oversized neon sunshades, the kind clowns wear at the circus.

When we stepped outside my house, all funked out, we ran into my neighbors on either side, Martha and Dale. Dale is so Southern, there's not a one-syllable word in her vocabulary. Where are you all going dressed like that, she asked. Going to see George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. She told us to have fun. We didn't have fun. We had a blast, cheering and dancing nonstop for three hours in front of the stage. When we finally got home, it was just past one.

The next morning, Martha dropped by. How was your political event? Dale said you all went to see the Clintons. My sister and I howled. Didn't you see how we were dressed? Well, I did, Martha said, but I figured you were for Barack Obama and you wanted to protest at Hillary's fundraiser. Martha was laughing now, too, but she still tried to explain. Dale said her father told her that Bill and Hillary were in the neighborhood.

It was time to give Martha a lesson in funkalogy. We had her repeat the words Parliament Funkadelic at least five times and then we explained funkateers. I get it. They're like Deadheads, she said. Yes, we said in unison, and all of us laughed heartily.

Later, we delivered the news to Dale, too. She said she'd heard of George Clinton but since her father just told her about the political fundraiser, she supposed she'd had the other Clintons on her mind. I was afraid you all were going to get arrested, she said.

Funny she should mention the word arrested. I forgot to mention our drive home from the concert. As we pulled into my condo's lot, a security guard pulled up behind us, shinning his spotlight through our back window. Jeanette, who was driving, recognized the guard, who was white, as the same retired state trooper who had recently stopped her for coasting through a stop sign.

Do you know what you were doing, he asked us. Jeanette told me later that she nearly answered, yeah, driving while black. You were doing 41 in a 35 zone, he said firmly. It's then that I mentioned we've been celebrating my birthday at a George Clinton and Funkadelic concert. Suddenly, his face softened. Believe it or not, he smiled. Oh, yeah, I like that group, and he let us go without a ticket. Only in Lake Wylie.

(Soundbite of music)

CHIDEYA: Now that was extra funky. Patrice Gaines, writer and journalist living in Lake Wylie, South Carolina. To see a picture, you got to see this picture of her fellow funkateers or hear her previous Snapshot from Lake Wylie, go to our Web site,¬es. And that's our show for today. To listen online or subscribe to our podcast, visit us at¬es.

NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

(Soundbite of song, "Bop Gun")

CHIDEYA: I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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