Saturday, November 27, 2010

We All Have A Little Uncle Ruckus In Us

My favorite TV show nowadays is The Boondocks. I don't know if there has ever been anything like it before. Me personally, I'm somewhere between the Militant Huey and the wise ass Riley. But to be honest, there are times when I get so mad at our folks that a lil Uncle Ruckus comes out.

Who's Uncle Ruckus you ask?

Uncle Ruckus, is the biggest Uncle Tom ever imagined in the history of Black America. I mean, name two Uncle Tom's, ok, Ward Connerly and Michael Steele. Ok, those two have nuttin on Uncle Ruckus. On the episode below, one of his neighbors says something to the effect of, "Alex Haley isn't the only one who knows his roots."

"Huh? Who's Alex Haley?"
"You know, he made ROOTS."
"Roots? What's that some kind of gardening show?"

Okay, I could never get to that extreme. But here me out.

Recently in Atlanta a young man was killed @ a party, he got stomped to death for no reason at all. It's times like that when I wholeheartedly support the death penalty. I don't care about the racial issues surrounding the death penalty, if your black, you are not my brother if you do some bullshit like that.

Anyway, this episode of the Boondocks deals with the criticisms aimed at BET in the last 10 years with Uncle Ruckus thrown in for good measure. This episode was banned and it is my first time seeing it.

I doubt even Elijah Muhammad imagined a black man with more self hatred than Uncle Ruckus, from his constant kudos to the white man for bringing us here from Africa and giving us jobs on his plantations where we were gainfully employed and happy to him telling a white man, "May I jus say mista white man suh, that yo dookie smells like sparkling water with a twist of lime." I don't care what we do, i could never hate us that much, but this shit sure is funny. Lord where does Aaron McGruder get this shit from?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life Changing Moments

I remember the day I graduated from high school, three weeks behind the rest of my class. You wanna talk about embarrassing, it was the first and only time, I had ever been to summer school. I should've dropped out in the 12th grade, cause basically, I rarely ever went.

All I had to do was show up and do four hours of work, which basically came out to something like six or eight pages of worksheets, it might have been less. I think I went to that class twice, I was done in two days. I turned in my work, the instructor stood up, shook my hand, and handed me my diploma. I don't think I ever looked at that diploma again.

Anyway, I've been going through a lot of changes, sorry I haven't updated this site siiiiiiiiiinnnnce, Bush was president. Now that I'm learning how to use my mytouch slide, I can do remote updates.

Keep it pimpin baby,

Mark Skillz

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It was a cold December evening in 1979 when my next door neighbor Adrienne said, “Mark, you gotta hear this new record called Spoonin’ Rap.” In fact everyone in my building was blasting the shit out of it. Up and down Kissena Blvd and Colden Ave everybody with a box was playing the latest jams – but this one was different.

The white-sleeved yellow label said SOUND OF NEW YORK USA. It was the first rap record to have song title listings “I Don’t Drink, Smoke or Gamble Neither”, “I’m the Cold Crushing Lover” and “I Was Spanking and Freaking”. The record itself was called “Spoonin’ Rap” by a guy who called himself Spoonie Gee.

Spoonie was different from every other MC at that time. Whereas most guys had big golden voices, this guy rhymed in a laid back conversational tone. Spoonie was cool.

“I’m the one and plenty lover who gives the good sensations,
I’m the good and plenty kid
With all the qualifications.
Now if the girl is ugly,
And she looks like a dog,
I start to running like a cow,
And leaping like a frog.
No, I’m not conceited baby please don’t take me for a toy,
Just remember me as Spoonie Gee the baddest lover boy.
The rhyme sayin’, girl playing, drink a lot of juice,
And what God gave me baby,
I’m gonna put it to use…”

Nobody rhymed like that back then. Spoonie was a mack.

Christmas morning 1979 guess what was under the tree? ‘Spoonin Rap’. It was the first record I ever got. I sat in the living room with my eyes closed listening to every sound of the record, the reverb, the slick bass line, the whistles, all of it mesmerized me. For eight years Spoonie sporadically released one classic 12 inch after the other, and then nothing. Spoonie’s last stand as a recording artist was a Marley Marl produced cut called “The Godfather”…

“Let’s get this straight there’s no contest,
So now you people know and don’t have to guess,
I’m not the king of rap,
Not lord, nor prince,
I was a young kid rappin’
And I been rocking ever since,
I was just a young buck
I didn’t care what
MC’s were in my they never uttered a what…
Cause I’m the Godfather.”

It was then that he got the most publicity of his whole entire career. Spoonie appeared in Right On! Magazine, Black Beat and got a write up in Spin magazine as well. But there was never anything in depth about the man. As hot as he was at the time there were no videos and he only played spot dates here and there. After “The Godfather”, “Mighty Mike” and “You Ain’t Just A Fool” Spoonie disappeared.

Word on the street was that he was a prisoner of the crack monster. One guy told me he saw him sleeping on a park bench and there were other very sad stories out there about him. Fast forward to 2005. My man Jayquan contacted Spoonie and did the first real in depth interview with the man. Jay and Troy both told me how he was a real quiet dude. A couple of years later Allhiphop dot com held an online chat session with him, one of their writers got in touch with him and was able to interview him. His words would prove to be ominous to me: “Gabriel Jackson is a man of few words…”

Last year DJ Woody Wood did the first live radio interview I had heard Spoonie do in years. He was clearly different from what Jay and Troy had told me about. He laughed; he was more conversational than I was told he would be.

Then it was my turn.

In a sense I have been waiting since 1979 to interview him. After much back and forth with Tuff City Records I was able to get a phone interview with him. He was cordial and polite, but not exactly the most talkative person I have ever come across. Getting answers from him was pretty hard. The only time he really came to life and wanted to really volunteer answers was when I asked him about his previous activities with skeezers…

I was warned (not sternly but hints were dropped) that he doesn’t like to discuss his personal life. I wasn’t going to push him. The only thing he would openly discuss was his love of women. Beyond that, it was pretty tough to get him to open up. There was much he didn’t remember, but to his credit, he tried; in all honesty and in his defense I have to say, it is hard to recall things from twenty-five years ago – I know I have trouble doing so. And also in his defense, I think I woke him up from his afternoon snooze or something, because when I called him he sounded like he had fallen asleep and was awakened by the ring of the phone.

Me: Hello, Spoonie?
Him: (Yawn) Yeah man, what’s up?
Me: Hey, hope I didn’t disturb you, man
Him: (Yawn again) Nah, nah it’s cool…

It was three-way phone call with plenty of office noise in the background, half the time we couldn’t hear each other. There were plenty of times where Spoonie said, “Brother, your gonna have to speak up.”

I got what I needed from him though. In all of the interviews he has done, no one, not one person has ever asked a single question about his 1985 recording ‘Street Girl’. Everyone asks him about ‘Love Rap’, ‘The Godfather’, and ‘Spoonin’ Rap’. I thank God they didn’t because I wrote a classic for Wax Poetics that came out this week, my editor re-titled my story
Streets Disciple and I ain’t mad at him for it either. Brian usually comes with some good titles, my favorite one is “Interstellar Transmission: The Birth of Planet Rock and it’s Electro Repercussions”.

But all in all I got some good information from him. My buddy freelance writer extraordinaire and master wordsmith Michael Gonzales suggested that I should re-interview him, but do it in person. If I had the loot I sure would’ve. Through Michael I got in touch with Barry Michael Cooper. Cooper is the godfather of hip-hop journalism. Period. Point blank. No questions will be accepted. He is the guy that wrote the groundbreaking classics New Jack City, Above the Rim and Sugar Hill. Currently he’s been hard at work producing movies for the web Blood On the Walls and Chief Rocker are two of his latest classics. Tuff City founder and CEO Aaron Fuchs told me how it was through Cooper that he had come into contact with Spoonie. At the time, Cooper was into music and had started making records; one of the people he hooked up with was Spoonie. Cooper was a huge help to me in this article because he painted a picture of Harlem for me and of his impressions of Spoonie.

Bum rush the door of your local record store and cop this joint here, Wax Poetics is also available at Barnes and Noble and Border books.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Date with the Rain

I’ve got a date with the rain,
Gotta go walking in the rain,
The clouds that gather in the skies
Gather in my eyes every time it rains
On such a day you’ll let me go
And as the raindrops begin to flow
I’ll go walking in the rain.
Hiding my tears in the rain.
I’ll grab my coat and leather shoes,
Walk out the door with a bag full of blues
No one notices at all the way my teardrops fall
Walking in the rain…

Eddie Kendrick’s ‘Date with the Rain’

Some of my favorite songs are by guys who go for long walks in the rain hoping that the raindrops will disguise their tears.

Oran ‘Juice’ Jones was gonna ‘do a Rambo and whip out the jammy and flat blast’ his girl and the dude he caught her cheating with while walking in ‘
The Rain’.

Eddie Kendricks rocked the house with his dance floor phenom ‘Date with the Rain’ and while I’m at it, I can’t forget that The Dramatics had a huge hit in the early 70’s with
‘In the Rain’. Now I’m going to tell you the reason why all three of those songs have meaning to me. Life does imitate art.

The first time I really heard ‘In the Rain’ by the Dramatics, I was seventeen years old. Mind you, I had heard it in the 70’s when I was a little boy, but I couldn’t feel it when I was a little kid, you know what I’m sayin’? I had to fall in love to really hear it, know what I mean?

In the mid to late 80’s, Bay Area radio was at its best. I say that because back then, if you wanted to hear some hip-hop, you had to wait for the weekends which was when college and community stations would play all of the latest hip-hop records. Sunday's were a big deal back then because KALX, KPOO, KZSU and KPFA were gonna hit you upside the head with all of the latest jams. I don’t care where you lived back then (except for LA and New York) commercial radio was not playing hip-hop like that.

Sundays on KALX featured a brother named Natty Prep (God Bless him) who had a show called 360 degrees or something like that. He used to open his show with the phrase: Three hundred and sixty degrees of muuuusic…Three hundred and sixxxttttyyy degreeeees of mussssicccc. Anyway, every once in a while the brother would take you back in time and play some eight-track-flashback-type ish, nah I mean? One of the records he broke out on one of these Sunday mornings was ‘In the Rain’ by the Dramatics. I heard that record, man, it blew my mind. The song opens with a thunderstorm and then transitions into a lone guitar lick which echoes off into the distance as its being plucked. And then the first verse starts…

I wanna go outside in the rain, It may sound crazy, But I wanna go outside (go outside) in the rain Now I, I think I'm gonna cry, And I, I don't want you to see me cry, I wanna go outside in the rain, It may sound crazy, But I wanna go outside in the rain

A little background information would be useful here: At this time I was getting over my first real heartbreak.

I had been dumped by my first real girlfriend, her name was Stephanie she was my first real love. Yeah ok, I had other girlfriends before her, but she was the first real chick like that, nah I mean?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. I was working at Mickey D’s at the time, I can’t remember why I was there on my off day, but as I was leaving when I looked in the lobby I saw a bright pair of pony eyes looking dead at me.We couldn’t stop looking at each other. It was almost as if time stood still for that moment and we were the only ones in the room. She was a caramel colored cutie with a mushroom style hair doo with a red ribbon that matched her shirt. Her high cheek bones were accentuated by her bright pony eyes, but the icing on the cake was the fact that she was a short skinny chick with 36 D’s!

For four months she and I were inseparable. We went everywhere together. And ya boy hit that in some of the craziest places. But I don’t tell those kinds of stories in such a public setting. Needless to say, I really got into the habit of cutting school once she and I got together.

I remember her mother invited me over for Thanksgiving, it was the first time I went over to a girl’s house for a holiday. I remember walking up Hillside Avenue in East Oakland on the way to her house. Guys driving Cougars, Mustangs and Caprice Classics raced up and down the Ave blasting Toddy Tee’s ‘Batterram’ and RUN-DMC’s ‘King of Rock’.

I don’t think I’ll ever meet anyone like her mother again. She was the rudest, meanest, nastiest mouthed woman, I have ever met. For some reason she liked me. Well somewhat. She referred to me as ‘Church Mark’. I don’t know where she got that impression from – at that time, I had only been to church ten times in my life maybe. Maybe ten times in my life. I didn’t tell her that I didn’t go to church, she just assumed that I did. I guess it’s something about my baby face and laid back demeanor. I’ve been told by many women over the years that my looks are deceiving, I’ve heard the phrase wolf in sheep’s clothing one too many times in my life. Ain’t my fault. Anyway, her mother would vacillate between calling me ‘Church Mark’ to nigga. As I walked in the door and greeted her she introduced me as ‘Church Mark’ to the family. Five minutes later when I said I don’t eat chitlin’s she said, “
Fuck you nigga, eat my pussy… nigga, my chitlins are good!”

For real she did.

I was embarrassed and so was Stephanie. But the rest of the family wasn’t. They just went on passing a joint between each other.

Later that night Stephanie and I sat and talked about our future together and how much we wanted to be with each other. I was so happy that night I swear ain’t nuttin’ like new love! We bought matching Addidas jackets and spent every second of every weekend together.

As I left her house to catch the 40B I heard Eddie Kendrick’s ‘Date with the Rain’ playing from an open window as I walking up the street. I didn’t pay that damn song any mind, it didn’t have anything to do with me. I was in love.

Anyway, a few months later she dissed ya boy. It was the birth of the crack era. Jimmy Crackcorn was on and poppin’. Dudes were making money off of that white rock on the block everywhere you went. If you were getting your money like that back then, you could’ve had any girl you wanted. But ya man Skillz couldn’t do that. Nope, it was something about my Black Nationalist upbringing that wouldn’t allow me to push that crap.

So…if you ain’t have cash for clothes, cars and jewels you had a hard time keeping a girl. And that’s how I lost her.

And then along came Angelic.

It was one hot summer day when me and my two best friends in life: Mark and Rodney, were driving down the street, when we saw a chick in some pink stretch pants. The ass was off the hook. I think we spotted her from a block away.

My boy Rodney was the one that rolled up on her that day. But nothing ever came of it.

And then a couple of months later school started back. And guess who was in my class?
From the first time I met her the little voice in my head said Don’t trust her. But I liked her even though I knew I shouldn’t. We had typing class together. She sat directly in front of me. I’ll never forget that first day of class, I waited for her to turn around, but she didn’t. When class ended she got in the wind. Quick.

The next day in class I tapped her on the shoulder, and asked her if I met her over the summer? She didn’t really even look at me when she responded “Yeah,” and then turned around and went back to work. A week went by and she hadn’t been in school, I figured she dropped out or something. But then she re-appeared.

Angelic was a short Mexican chick with a light brown Jheri Curl, and the prettiest pair of light brown eyes I have ever seen. She was a quiet girl who popped her Spearmint gum incessantly. For a whole week, she did her best to avoid me. But whenever we saw each other we couldn’t take our eyes off of each other. I knew she dug me because not only could she not stop looking at me but she would blush. One day I cornered her on the lunch line, she didn’t have any choice but to talk to me. I walked her home that day. I heard something deep inside of me say, “Mark, this is your girl.”

I had to have her and she knew it. We were inseparable. We shared a locker together. We went to school together. All of that kind of stuff. One day on the way home on BART she said to me “Mark, I consider us engaged.” I laughed. She didn’t find it funny. She told her mother about me. I told her we’d see after we got out of school.

It was one thing about her though: her jealousy quickly became an issue. I couldn’t look at another broad, I couldn’t talk to another broad and all kinds of other shit. I wasn’t going for that. Hell, I was seventeen years old, it wasn’t happening. That’s when the arguments started.

At this time a song came out called ‘The Rain’ by an obscure Harlem singer who called himself Oran ‘Juice’ Jones. That dude was for real. He talked like a hustler. “
I saw you and him walking in the rain. You were holding hands and I’ll never be the same.”

I dug that song.

One day I was late for school. As I was sitting on the train I noticed this guy who was wearing a white and red sweatsuit and a Kangol hat with a big silver chain. I didn’t think anything of him I just seen him.

I got to school at damn near eleven o’clock. As I left my last class before lunch I found Angelic. We usually ate lunch together. As we were sitting there talking I noticed the guy from the train earlier that morning walking through the court yard. I turned to her and said without thinking about it: “There goes your man right there.”

I have often thought back on that moment many times over the last twenty-one years. I don’t know why I said that, and I don’t know why I saw that guy that morning on the train. The only thing I am sure of is this: The Creator has a master plan.

As soon as I said those words, Angelic turned and looked and said, ‘Oh shit, there goes Michael!” She grabbed me by the hand and said, “We gotta go!” It was all surreal. "What the fuck is going on? You know him?" I asked her. "Yeah," she said in a hurried panic, 'he thinks I go with him." What the fuck? "Mark, we have to go," she said, 'you don't know him and what he'll do." I walked her to the bus stop, as the bus was coming, here he came running up the hill. He got there just as the bus got there. He said, “Angelic, where you been? I been looking for you!” She told him that she didn’t want to be with him and that she was with me.

Dude was upset – understandably. I later found out that she had told him to bring her some money for lunch. She didn’t think he would really do it. But surprise.

Heartbroken I wanted nothing to do with her. I remembered that little voice in my head saying ‘Don’t trust her’. Foolish me.

Somehow or another the situation was resolved, and she and I got back together a couple of weeks later. But I just couldn’t trust her. I loved her but I couldn’t trust her. I tried to break up with her several times, but she didn’t want to let me go. I remember one night as I walking her to BART I told her, ‘Yo, we can’t be together anymore.”

Her eyes mirrored in the phosphorent glow of the moonlight as tears slowly dripped down her face. She sat on a bench staring at me quietly with tears falling out of her eyes like a leaky faucet. She pleaded with me to stay with her. My soft heart wouldn’t allow me to let her go. This went on several more times until Christmas break. I decided to stay with her.

Christmas time rolled around. She was suspiciously quiet. I called her and asked her if everything was all right. She said she was cool. But she wasn’t calling me like she had been. One day at the mall, when my godfather was in town, I saw her with her friends. She told me that she was going to be someplace entirely different. Even my godfather could tell that something wasn’t right. He must’ve seen my jaw get tight as I approached her. He pulled me away from her. He told me to let her go. I didn’t want to.

School started back, first period, this big mouthed clown asked me, “Hey, where’s your girl?”

“I dunno.”
“Who was that she was with during Christmas?”
“I dunno.”
“Oh”, big mouth said with a shit eating grin.

That’s when I knew something was really wrong.

For whatever reason Angelic stopped coming to school. She was staying with her friend, who’s house I would call her at. One day she showed up at school.

“Yo I need to talk to you.” I said to her.
“About what?” She asked.
“Come on let’s talk.” I said as we walked to a secluded spot.

“So what do you want to talk to me about?” She asked when we got to our destination.
“Where you been?”
“No where.”
“Come on man, I don’t see you anymore, I don’t talk to you anymore… I think this is over.”
“It don’t have to be over.”
“Nah, it is.”
After some back and forth she agreed, but for whatever reason, she felt like we shouldn’t break all the way up. I was fed up with her and was like, “Nah, this is it.” And I pushed her, not hard, but I pushed her away from me. I didn’t want to keep going back and forth. She got upset with me about that. I apologized for pushing her.

For whatever reason I started hearing from her more after we broke up than when we were together. I thought that there was a chance that we could get back together. One day I called her from school at her friends house, she was really quiet on the phone. Much more quieter than normal. All of a sudden she said, “I can’t talk to you anymore.” Shocked, I asked her why not. She couldn’t tell me why. And then I heard: “Give me that goddamn phone…I told you I was going to break up with him…fuck that shit you said that last time…”

“Who’s this? Is this Mark? Stay away from her I’m tired of this shit she’s with me nigga…”

Angelic grabbed the phone crying and said, “I’m with Michael now I can’t talk to you anymore.” And hung up the phone. I was in disbelief. Later that night she called me and said that she wanted to work things out with me.

The next day a fierce storm drenched the city, the raindrops were hitting the ground like a zillion dancing diamond feet. As the storm subsided I went out with my friend Mark, I told him I just needed to clear my head because of all the drama that was happening with Angelic. I’ll never forget Mark asking me, “Man, you really love her, huh?” “Yeah I guess I do.” I said.

As we were driving down the street, Mark said, “Who are them niggas…” And in another surreal moment I turned my head and looked…It was Angelic and her new boyfriend holding hands walking in the rain. Just like the song.

Mark, looked at me and I looked at him, I was helpless, powerless almost as if all of my strength had been zapped from me. To this day, Mark will tell you, he had never seen me come that close to crying before. I wanted to. I just couldn’t though. Mark dropped me off at home. I sat silently outside on a park bench across the street from my building and let the raindrops caress my face.

The next day who should call me but Angelic’s friend, I don’t know what she was up to, I guess she was feeling me out while Angelic was running her game. I told her to forget it, I didn’t want to talk to her, I saw her with him.

A few months later on a bright sunny day Mark called me up and in a quiet voice asked me, “Man, when’s the last time you spoke with Angelic?”

“I dunno, it’s been a couple of weeks or something like that.”

“Man, I don’t know how to tell you this but…she’s pregnant.” This was the ultimate heartbreak. I had been feeling like at some point she and I were going to find our way back to each other. Like the day would come when we would find that vibe together like we originally had when we first got together. But that was it. It wasn't gonna happen.

She called me an hour after Mark did, “Have you spoken to Mark?”
“What did he tell you?”
“Is it true? That’s all I wanna know.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry. Oh boy. I didn’t want you to find out this way…”
I hung up on her.

Ironically, that bright sunny day slowly dissolved in the ether as grey clouds overtook the sky and the force of a rolling thunder bolt shook the city. I grabbed my Addidas jacket and headed outside… I had a date to keep with lady rain.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mark Skillz is losing it

Maybe it’s the start of a nervous breakdown or something, I dunno. I used to be a cat who was always in control of himself. But lately I don’t know… Before the guys in white jackets come and take me away maybe I should tell you what’s going on.

I can’t put my finger on it I’m not sure when it started. But lately whenever I hear the music of my youth I get misty eyed and lose control. I don’t know why it keeps happening to me. I’ve noticed slow subtle changes around me. The hair on my chin ain’t black anymore it’s salt and pepper. I’m getting heavier and my muscles stay sore longer than they used to.

I know, I know I’m getting older, yeah, but I think the reality of it is catching up with me. And that sucks.

I can't rhyme along to RUN-DMC records without breaking down from remembering the Fresh Fest tours, Def Jam Tours, Dope Jam tours and a whole bunch of others. I can't rhyme along to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five records without crying thinking about the first time I heard 'Freedom' and how hyped me and my friends got hearing it.

Everytime I hear the song 'Peter Piper' awww man, "Then like all fairy tales end you'll see Jay again my friend!'

The other day I was sitting in a conference room at Verizon Wireless for an evaluation test one of the questions was: At this point in your life are personal pursuits more important than a career?

I’ve always worked. Jobs have been just that for me: J-O-B’s. Just something to pay the bills nothing to build my life around. When I went back to school at 34 years old I made up my mind that writing was going to be my career. And it’s a hard field to make a living in – especially when your niche writer. So I’ve had to do what I’ve had to do to provide for my family.

It sucks to be damn near 40 and having to apply to jobs that don't pay a whole lot. I'm really focused on writing I guess you can call that my salvation if you will. If it wasn't for the fact that i have this gift I'd truly be up sh-- creek without a paddle in a sinking boat.

When I look at what I've accomplished story wise I feel better about myself, but financially, oh it sucks to be me right now. The Eddie Cheba article has finally been published I'll be posting that on Hip Hop 101A in a week or so. I'm trying to cut the word count of my Iceberg Slim article down, my editor says he wants it but, 6300 words is too many, 'How about 5,000?" He asked me. I thought cutting 1300 words would be easy - it ain't!

I've sent in enough articles to Wax that 2008 should be a good year for me there. I wrote a piece about the rise of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Disco Bee, EZ Mike, Rahiem and Mele Mel gave me some really good stories for it too.

I bumped my writing skills up exponentially when I wrote this really great piece called 'Street Girl: Spoonie Gee's tale of a Doom Fox'. Spoonie is still one of my favorite MC's of all time, he's been getting his life together in the last couple of years.

My man Sammy Bee over at Tuff City hooked me up with Spoonie for a phone interview, Spoonie doesn't talk much, but I got a little something out of him.

The real highlight for me though was I reached out to Barry Michael Cooper, the guy that wrote New Jack City, Above the Rim and Sugar Hill - basically this is the dude who's stories helped shape my generation. Barry gave me some insights into Harlem and Spoonie that I have never read anywhere. I don't know when the article will be published but please believe me it is ghetto red hot!

My next assignment is going to be a monster feature about Kurtis Blow, needless to say I am pulling out all stops for this one!

But with all of that going on I still have trouble paying my rent and providing for my kids. And it hurts. It wasn't supposed to be like this at this point in my life. I have to do this writing thing now - I don't have the time to do it 'later', anything can happen to me later. My aunt Zelma just passed the other day from a brain aneurism. Just like that, bam...If I should die tomorrow at least i have contributed some great work about my generation. And i have more to say, I ain't just some guy who knows nothing but old school hip hop, i have more interests and things to add man, but I gotta do it now, cause tomorrow ain't promised!

But here’s what constantly goes through my mind: What happened to the 18 year old guy with the world at his feet? Where did that go to? Where did the guy run off to? But more importantly will he come back?

Not likely.

It’s been a stressful time: I’m finishing up my first book which, by the way is called ‘When the Music’s Over’ and of course (I don’t want to mention the name of the company) I had to quit my job recently because I can’t work for a crazy person.

For a year and a half I worked for a person who is the mental and emotional equivalent of Jim Jones. No for real. I wish I was lying. I have never been in a situation before where a person manages their company through manipulation, paranoia and other mind games that would make a psychiatrist like Frazier Crane say ‘Take a seat.’ She really had no idea how to run a company or manage people it is the worse example of mis-management that I have ever seen in my life, this story almost has Ken Lay-like overtones, for real.

The person I worked for has a Napoleon complex as well other inferiority issues, the only way she knows how to make herself feel better is if others aren’t doing well, she constantly talks about what that person has done wrong, but what I’ve learned is that she is merely deflecting attention away from her many faults. Someday I’m going to write about it, but I need more distance. The perspective title for the book is ‘The Sinking Ship’.

I hope I don’t crack up in the meantime.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

'Borat' and 'The Other Hollywood'

I’ve been broke lately so I’ve been staying indoors mostly reading books and watching movies. I finally got to watch ‘Borat’. I fell on the floor laughing at that movie. Now I know I’m late seeing the movie ‘Borat’, but I ain’t late to the party. I’ve been hip to Sasha Baron Cohen for a few years now.

It all started for me, with some damn Madonna video. I saw this guy with a red sweat suit and a red doo rag, I’m thinking to myself ‘look at this idiot’. I didn’t who he was or nothing. I just thought he was some funny looking guy in a Madonna video. And then HBO premiered something called ‘Da Ali G Show’. It was bugged out. My wife couldn’t stand it. As a matter of fact I’m the only person I know that liked it. I called Davey D and was like “Yo D, yo D, man, you gotta see ‘Da Ali G Show’ kid”. He said, “hell no, that show is full of stereotypes and shit, man.” What did I expect from a liberal Berkeley activist, huh?

Anyway, this guy Sasha Cohen is a genius. He’s a lot like Andy Kaufmann. I mean he’s really on the edge. You couldn’t really call him a comedian in the classic sense, because it’s not like the guy could get onstage and do a routine, I mean he could, but like Kaufmann, what makes him funny is how far he takes his characters. He plays jokes on unsuspecting people and gets the funniest results. His comedy is really a commentary about how cynical and xenophobic our culture really is. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m not a cynic or that I’m not xenophobic or homophobic or any of that stuff. If some guy walked up to me and tried to kiss me, I’m putting my hands up. For real. I don’t care what your culture is – I ain’t kissing no man.

But as funny as ‘Borat’ is…right now, somewhere in America there is a guy named ‘Bruno’ playing the same kind of jokes on unsuspecting people. The ‘Bruno’ jokes will definitely be played on people in the south and the Midwest. God that shit is going to be funny.

I’ve been reading – nah, that’s not the right word, I’ve been engrossed in a book called ‘The Other Hollywood’. I’ve never read anything like it. It tells the story of the rise of the porn industry. I know, I know, I know: the porn industry? Yes. It is a shocking and funny story. The book is by Legs McNeil. It tells the story of John Holmes’ rise and fall. For those that don’t know who John Holmes is…. well, google him and you’ll see. Ironically enough I’ve never seen a John Holmes movie. I’ve seen pictures of the guy, but never seen a movie. Anyway, he was an interesting guy. Not the smartest guy you’d ever meet. Nor was he the nicest guy for that matter. It would be safe to say that he was a sleazy kind of guy. He seemed to have at least two part time jobs and two full time jobs: he was a part time porn actor and sometime batty man. Full time? He was a drug addict and an idiot.

My favorite stories are the ones that detail how the Feds were trying to build a case against the Mob – who were the one’s profiting from the porn business. The most shocking story was when there was a HIV epidemic in the industry. Wow. That’s all I can tell you.