Bread to the Tunes of The Jackson Five

By Dana Hogan

A mysterious question arises as I digest what was, a few seconds ago, a beauty grown from mere yeast and flour into a miracle of crust surrounding a puffy sensation. Can you love something, be it a food or a band, so much that your identities blend into one? Whether I am living up to the phrase, “You are what you eat,” by devouring an entire baguette in one sitting, or by putting myself in the dancing shoes of the Jackson 5, I can always find comfort in both a piece of bread or a Jackson 5 record.

According to a Buzzfeed quiz titled “Which Type of Bread Are You?”, I am multigrain bread. This answer proves that Buzzfeed quizzes are complete baloney because I feel my personality is more of a French baguette. Maybe that question, “Which type of bread are you,” is impossible to answer since my interests and personality are as variable as bread’s pairings, and my ingredients change based on context. While surfing, I am a simple bread and butter pairing, absorbed by the waves and truly in my element. When I am reading and annotating Spanish literature, my makeup is more complex, like an onion ficelle with brie cheese. Bread goes with anything: butter, jam, cheese, olive oil, etcetera; it is one of the most versatile foods and can find its home paired with many options, similar to my variety of academic interests.

Carbs aside, the Jackson 5 not only draws me in with their upbeat tempos, rainbow outfits, fast dance moves, and perfectly groomed Afros, but they reflect my love of history. Learning their “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” story helped to feed my interest in all-things history and my curiosity with studying people’s stories. Whether I am reading an account of the first American colony, watching a documentary on JFK’s assassination, or reading biographies of Michael Jackson, I love placing myself into the past.

I don’t know the exact origin of each love; but, I do remember that going to the local gourmet market with Mom was one of the gems of my childhood. As soon as the automatic door swung open, I would rush to the bread baskets. While sifting through the possible contenders, I was always confused when other people walked right past the bread section. Nobody goes to Disney World and decides not to see the castle; it’s the main part of the trip. It is no wonder that I preferred grocery shopping with Mom to any playground.

My love for the Jackson 5 is a more complicated story. I recall my second grade teacher throwing dance parties right before school ended every Friday and always playing ABC. However, unlike bread, what really ignited my adoration for the Jackson 5 were our magnetic differences. I am not a baby boomer. I am not a black male. I don’t sing. I don’t have eight siblings. It is not surprising that it is impossible to name one similarity because my intellect is so often driven by my love of difference. By the time I was 13, those few minutes of Jackson Five on Fridays turned into a 24/7 fascination that still helps me find my rhythm when tackling Calculus homework. As soon as I hit play and hear Michael’s drawn out “Wheeeeennnn,” in Who’s Loving You, I find the strength to start pumping out derivatives and limits.

When I look at my life, I cannot escape these two dependable constants. Listening to the Jackson 5 is like biting into a sweet cinnamon toast late at night. Both lift my spirits and give me the energy needed to finish a Physics problem set or complete a journey through century old NYC census records. They mirror my relationship to academic subjects. When asked, “What’s your favorite subject?” the answer is as long as any list of breads or Jackson 5 songs.

Dana Hogan, a graduate of The Nightingale Bamford School, will be a freshman at Colgate in the Fall.