It’s frightening how much algorithms manipulate our lives. From politics to travel, food to clothing, we make decisions every day based on a soulless computer’s word.
Longshoreman and freelance DJ Navaughn Kearse (a.k.a. Moony Dee) strikes me as a passionate soul who leads from the heart and mind. So a screen isn’t going to run his life.
“They might say 200 can get on this deck by the computer mapping it out,” he says of loading vehicles onto ships. “But we might end up getting another 30-40 cars on deck.”
Kearse’s deft cargo handling boosts our economy. And talking about his job covers his face in a smile, a pride he shares with his co-workers. “We make the computer lie.”
A Brooklyn native, son of local historian Nathaniel “Baldy” Kearse, he rightly boasts about his dockside work. But I actually didn’t know he was a longshoreman until we met.
Lots of folks around here know Moony as the man behind many a hot dance party. The music master, he of old school jams, takes a dim view of letting software control the mix.
“If you’re just up there pressing buttons, you can’t feel that,” he says. “If you’re just using the computer and not really mixing, I don’t see how people even enjoy that.”
At his Georgetown home studio, where he hones his DJ skills just about every day, his hands fly on the records as he scratches, turns and blasts the music into his being.
He starts almost every set with Alicia Meyer’s “I Want To Thank You” and MFSB’s “Love Is the Message,” songs which define his positive, late 70’s and early 80’s vibe.
“People got away from writing the music, feeling the music, loving the music,” he says when I ask him why he likes the old stuff. “They started to please the industry.”
In fact, music in all radio genres today seem like they come from an industry algorithm. I’m sure you’ve seen the video of new country songs mixed together. It’s the same song!
That’s why Kearse carefully curates any modern hip-hop selections. He wants originality and clean lyrics. “Some of the up-to-date rap I don’t play because it’s too negative.”
Moony spins records at Savannah’s Star Castle, in Atlanta and New York and across the region. He’s got his eye on a radio gig in his native Big Apple, too. He’s got the talent.
“It’s never you’re always the best,” he says. “There’s always something better, a new trick, a new mix. When you get a new mix, it’s almost like a new set of fire to their soul.”
I wish an algorithm could reproduce this desire to learn and do good. But people aren’t like that. Some see the wrong path and follow it. Kearce decided to forge his own way.
“I don’t owe nobody in the street no explanation,” he says. “I don’t have nothing to prove. And I don’t follow people.”
Instead, he followed his own passion into semi-pro football. A high school standout, he now helps kids in a little league team and hosts an annual charity game in November.
It’s actually his bike fraternity (he loves motorcycles, has two and races) called Legion of Zoom that puts on the Thanksgiving Day football game at Optimist Field in Daffin Park.
The free match at 1pm is part competition, food giveaway, family fun and extension of a young life that refuses to live by rigid, inhuman values, computerized or man-made.
“I do it because I come from nothing,” he says. “It’s out of love and about having fun.”
Computerize that? You can’t.