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.