“My only fear of death is coming back reincarnated.”
Tupac said this once. I know because I saw Resurrection. I actually own it, and sometimes when I’m drunk and alone with a girl I will grab her by the shoulders, shake her (not violently), and yell, “OH MY GOD LET’S WATCH RESURRECTION! IT WILL CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.”
As I walked through the rainy streets of New York City to meet Hologram Tupac for an interview, I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head. It was kind of funny to think about, given the circumstances. Then I thought of the title of that documentary about Pac’s life—Resurrection—and I giggled a little. My giggle turned into a cough, and a chunk of potato from the clam chowder I had eaten earlier found it’s way back into my mouth. It still had some flavor on it, so it was all good. “Nice,” I thought while I nodded my head, feeling like I had just stolen a small victory from this dreary day.
Time to get my head back in the game. I only had 10 minutes with Hologram Tupac, and my goal was clear: I needed to know what Hologram Tupac thought of the prospect of this new character, Hologram Elvis. Would he see him as a kindred spirit? New competition? Complete indifference? Has he even heard the news? Was I about to tell Hologram Tupac that Hologram Elvis is on the way? I imagined Hologram Tupac getting mad. I’m not sure why he would, but sometimes when I’m told news that I don’t understand, my knee-jerk reaction is to get violent. I wondered if I should have brought my butterfly knife. I wondered if stabbing a hologram was even possible. Probably not. Even if it was, I could never bring myself to stab Hologram Pac. I could maybe cut him a little, though.
The meeting spot was a Starbucks. I suggested Mexican but Hologram Pac said Mexican food “goes right through him.” I laughed and complimented his humor, but he quickly adopted a serious tone, “Do you know the Starbucks across the street?”
“Really, Pac, Starbucks?”
“Hell yeah, their chai tea is bomb. I’m looking into a sponsorship.”
“Okay, we can do Starbucks.”
The glaring difference between Hologram Tupac and Real Tupac was starting to rear it’s ugly head already. Of course Hologram Pac was a corporate whore. When I walked in to the Starbucks, Hologram Pac was hunched over at a table along the wall. He was easy to spot; he had a glow to him. I went in for a hug while he extended his hand for a shake. I quickly adapted my hug motion into a low five, but it was clear Holopac wanted a more formal handshake. My body was clumsy, and I fumbled around to get into the right position but accidentally brushed my hand against his semitransparent crotch. I blushed. His brow furrowed. We were off to a bad start.
“So good to see you in the flesh, Hologram Tupac!”
He forced a friendly face and nodded unconvincingly. I wondered if I should apologize for touching his crotch. I decided that would just make things more awkward so I dove right into things and got straight to the point, like a motherfucking professional.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to ask a few things. I know you’re busy and a lot of people want to talk to you but this will only take a couple of minutes. I guess this whole hologram thing has caused a lot of controversy and everyone has their opinions. Hey, I’ve even got mine, but I’ll spare you! I just think it’s kind of weird, to be honest, and I gotta admit… In my opinion, seeing you live at Coachella was AWE-SOME but when I started to think more about it, I got all weirded out, like maybe I was watching the beginning of a big old slippery slope getting that would only get bigger and more slipperier. Like, what’s next? Do we pay to see Hologram Tupac tour with Hologram Biggie? Will there be a Hologram Backstory about how the beef was settled? Will there be new Hologram Music and Hologram Music Videos? And when that happens, who cares about these new rappers because fuck it, 2Pac and Biggie are back and touring together! You know? It’s like…”
“Yo I gotta bounce in 2 minutes…”
Fuck, fuck, fuck, I had just rambled. I looked at my watch. Yep, two minutes left. As I checked the time I caught a glimpse of the note I wrote on my hand (yes, I still write notes on my hand). “Don’t ramble about the slippery slope thing.” BUT IT IS A SLIPPERY SLOPE AND HOW DO WE NOT TALK ABOUT THIS.
I had to pee. Do I pee? No, only two minutes left, peeing will take at least one, and if I try to cut the stream off prematurely I’m liable to dribble on my pants. Whatever. Fuck it. If he notices the dribble I’ll just be like, “WELL WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT MY CROTCH?” That would kind of even things out with the whole incident that happened during the ill-configured handshake.
“Ok, lemme just pee real quick. Be right back.”
He was angry, and the fact that I could tell that says a lot—it’s not easy to read the emotions of a hologram. You’d be surprised what a big difference a little less opacity makes when it comes to reading human facial expressions. The little wrinkles, the muscles in the face that signify different things with the subtlest of contractions… without these things, humans seem as hard to read as cats, which are capable of going from vibrating little purrballs to malicious scratchasses if you touch them in the wrong place (it’s their mouths, cats hate to be fingered in the mouth.) But for sure, Hologram Tupac was angry. One big Coachella performance and all of a sudden this motherfucker is hot shit. Ok, we get it.
While I was peeing I thought about things. I thought about the impact of Resurrection. I thought about Hologram Tupac being cool, but also being more meme-ish than meaningful. I thought about that fucking slippery slope that always has me rambling. I saw a sharpie drawing of a penis on the wall and wondered why everyone thinks “penis” when they feel inspired to draw on the walls of the men’s bathroom. Pretty simple explanation, I suppose. I remembered that I still need to ask about Hologram Elvis. I pushed, I shook, I tucked. I prayed for no dribble. My prayers went unanswered. I cursed at the heavens.
When I got back, Hologram Tupac was already looking shifty, ready to make moves.
“So what I really wanted to talk to you about was Hologram Elvis. Have you heard they’re making it happen?”
I expected something deep and insightful, but Hologram Tupac was no Real Tupac. This was a gimmicky illusion created to entertain. The very human, fiery passion wasn’t there. Hologram Tupac looked at me, the way the eye of your computer cam looks at you while you’re video chatting, and said, “Props where props are due, I’d collaborate with that motherfucker if the price was right.” He began speaking in third person. “But Hologram Tupac doesn’t speak on that. Hologram Tupac has some other big money-making plans…”
For the first time during our conversation, he looked like he had something to say, but as he stood up and turned, his image started to become distorted. His voice got drowned out by the noise you hear when an old television loses reception and spits fuzz. He continued to talk, but it was impossible to get any meaning through the static. As he walked away still talking into the air, a kid, probably 15 or 16, walked by with headphones blasting Drake’s “The Motto.”
I sat down and played the Hologram Tupac performance one last time, but it wasn’t the same. After coming face to face with Holopac, it was obvious that you can’t recreate the passion of Tupac, no matter how good the technology gets. You can’t bring back the charm of Elvis, the energy of Jimi, or the attitude of Kurt. I shut my laptop case, headed for the door, and bumped into a guy wearing a suit on my way out. The lights in Starbucks flickered one time. Hologram Tupac had left the building.