Jrnl Entry No. 3.8.2001

I went to a poetry / prose reading last night featuring Nathaniel Mackey in Philosophy Hall at Columbia University. I have never heard of this guy in my life. I was just going to have something to do, to get out from  my apartment and perhaps meet some intelligent black people, or better year, intelligent black women. It was to start at 8 P.M. I got there at 7:15 P.M. I left home early in anticipation of traffic. When I got there, the room was empty except for a few people who were setting up a video camera and the speakers, etc. I just chilled and figured I’d wait for a fly honey to come walking up so that I could get my conversation on with her. I waited, and I waited, and I waited, but none arrived. As time reached 7:45 P.M., I sat down behind the girl running the camera and waited for the show to begin.

In walked this tall light skinned man and his son who was just a little shorter than he was. These two white women who were sitting a seat down from me started looking over there at them and started having a conversation. “Oh, look at him, he looks like a young man, not a kid anymore. He looks like his father, look at him.” They were so fascinated with this kid. He came and sat next to me and asked me was I a student at Columbia University. I told him no. Then he asked me was I a student period. I told him I was twenty-seven years old, graduated from college. He said he was 17 deciding what college to attend; Columbia, where his dad is professor or Jazz Studies or something like that, and he could go there for free. He was thinking of Hampton University to get the black experience and party with black kids, as not to be bored to death like I was in college for the most part. He said he wanted to get away from his parents. I told him that New York was the ultimate experience. He’s not gonna experience much that he already hasn’t seen or heard in New York. It would be good to see how different another place is from New York, but for fun and excitement, nothing tops the NY.

I told him my story of moving to New York to become a producer. He said that he raps occasionally but nothing serious. I told him that I once wanted to be a rapper when I was his age. He asked what type of rap I like. I told him that Pharoahe Monch was my favorite MC at the time, and he quickly agreed. He told me that I should go to some Hip Hop thing that takes place on Sundays. He gave me the name and street that it was on. Right before the show started he asked me to kick a rhyme for him so I spit a verse that was a year old. He said it was hot of course. See people who don’t know me or meet me first as an MC, they respect my skill. But if I don’t let people know that I rap, they never suspect it and don’t take me serious when I say I can. Of course of I can, I been doin’ this shit for 14 years now.

The show started with Nathaniel Mackey reading some poetry he wrote in relation to a couple of jazz artist. He read some of his published stories made up of the character “N” who writes talking about his experiences with music and his Jazz band. Mr. Mackey read different stuff for about an hour then they opened the forum up for questioning. I asked was his character “N” inspired by Langston Hughes character “Simple”. He said yes indirectly, and threw some other name at me that it was inspired by. “Simple” is what it reminded me of since I had read some “Simple” stories about six months earlier. When the show was over they had a few refreshments at a table: some cheese and crackers and soda and orange juice.

I was going to talk to the kid some more. His name was Doug. He told me that a lot of people there knew him because his dad was a professor at the school, and I guess a very sociable guy with white people and had his son around them a lot. I couldn’t talk to him though because over came the two white ladies who sat next to me during the reading, and they surrounded him while he was getting refreshments and I was waiting for him to get off line. So I stood over to the side and just ate my food and looked around the room at the people. There were no intelligent black women there who met my taste so I didn’t talk to anyone. I was just waiting to talk to Doug but these ladies didn’t seem to want to leave him alone talking about college and what school was he gonna go to. It was like in the Spike Lee movie “He Got Game” with everybody being so anxious about Jesus Shuttlesworth and what college he was going to play basketball at. At one point I started feeling like these ladies were guarding him from me, the black Hip Hop guy with no education, just a thug off the street who happened to wonder into the room. I was the only one in the room who looked Hip Hop, but that’s the way I roll, and even though a little uncomfortable I repented myself to the fullest. The one lady seemed infatuated with him. She was the one who said he looked like a young man and not a kid anymore. I wouldn’t doubt if she wanted to fuck him or give him head in the near future. That is how much she seemed to be into this kid. So after standing there for 15 minutes I went over and interrupted the ladies and told Doug that I was about to go and I wished him good luck, shook his hand and left.

My daughter Janelle and my mom came and stayed with me for two weeks. It was love having my daughter around. She’s not a bad child at all. I thought I was gonna see another side of her that I couldn’t see during our weekend or day visits in Ohio, but it was just the same. She likes to play and talk and eat. She doesn’t bother shit that she is not supposed to like tapes or CDs. She also likes to watch movies. We watched Toy Story every night before she went to bed. I read her stories before she went to sleep. She wanted to take a bath every night and put her jammies on, as she calls them. At times when I didn’t feel like giving her a bath, she insisted, so I had to oblige.

I took her to Sesame Street at Madison Square Garden and she enjoyed the show. I’d take her out just about every night with me to the grocery store or where ever. We visited my friend Tilly and played drums over his house. She said she was gonna play with his cat, but when we got over there she was scared of it and crying an jumping around on the couch every time the cat got near her. I rode her over the Queen Bridge where she could see all the city lights in the sky line and she liked that a lot. You can see the city from outside my apartment in Queens and she asked me could we go over there the night I was bringing her back from Tilly’s house. I took her over there because she wasn’t sleepy and ready to go home. I rode through the Met Life Insurance building and she liked that a lot also. I took her to the FAO Swartz toy store where I thought she was gonna go crazy asking me to buy her stuff but she didn’t. She asked me to buy her this $60 Angelica sing-a-long doll which I couldn’t afford at the time. I got her a slinky and a saxophone that plays notes and songs of Sesame Street when you push the keys. I took her to walk around in Times Square where I took a few pictures of her. She didn’t complain one time that she wanted to go home, which means that she loves me and my company just as much as her mothers’. That is a good thing that has come out of me fighting in court to see her and spend as much time with her as I can. It was wonderful. I could keep her if I needed to with no problem. I had to do her hair because the braids her mom had put in her hair before she left Ohio started to frizz up like after one week. I did it pretty good too.

I used to do her hair when she’d stay with me for the weekend in Ohio, but I thought it would be different since her hair is longer, but I did pretty well. I was proud of myself. I took off work the two Fridays that she was here to spend the day with her. I took her to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on the last Friday she was here. She didn’t like it and neither did I. It was pretty boring. She ate good while she was here: oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and mostly chicken for dinner because that is all I cook these days. I’m looking forward to her coming back to stay another two weeks with me. I may just take a week’s vacation next time I get her and drive to Atlanta or something to see my dad or maybe to Mississippi to see my folks there.

I wish I could have had a family, but I guess I’m just an unfortunate one. I ain’t trying to have no mo kidz. I’m about to try and get my balls clipped, which will mean I won’t have kidz by my wife if I ever get married. I think it is bullshit that you can fall in love and get married for practically nothing if you go to the justice of the peace. But when you want to get out of it, you have to pay $700 – $2000 in lawyer fees. You might have to pay alimony, etc. I don’t want to get caught in all that shit. And I’ve learned dealing with Victoria that a woman’s baby is her baby. A man only has rights through a court room and a judge. When it all goes bad, if you don’t have a court order in regards to your kidz, you ain’t got shit. I ain’t gonna be like stupid bitches who have three kidz by niggaz who don’t want to be bothered, trying to be humanitarians, giving birth to beautiful children. I’ve learned from this one experience and I ain’t gonna experiment again, weather it could come out good or bad. I ain’t takin’ another chance.

Jrnl Entry No. 9.13.2000 “MY HIP HOP STORY” PART V

I drove from Mount Vernon up to the Bronx still looking for a mall like the traditional inside the building malls of Ohio. I seen this one sign that said it was mall, but it was like a circle of stores outside, not exactly what I was looking for. I got the idea around 4 P.M. to call Stu Fines and try to meet him since we had talked on the phone a few times and I had written him a few letters. He didn’t know where I was and how to tell me to get to his office. So I drove some more and parked my car by a train station on Baychester Ave. I went walking down the street a little and walked into this shoe store that didn’t have anything that excited me too much. I was actually looking to buy an African America College Alliance sweatshirt and tie-top skully hat to match like the rappers wore in the videos.

I got on the train. I can’t remember if I asked directions to get to 125th Street of not, but I was on the train. This kid got on and I started talking to him. He had a heavy New York accent that I could barely understand him. He told me I could get one of them sweatshirts on Fordham Road or probably 125th St. I asked him how to get to 125th St and he told me. I called my mom while at a train stop and told her where I was. She was shocked. I hung up with her when a train started coming and we couldn’t hear each other no more.

I got off the train at 125th St and it was like a whole nutha world right there at Malcolm X Blvd / Lennox. I smelt this heavy incense smoke like no smell I had ever smelt before. I seen all the African vendors lined up on the sidewalk. I started looking to see if anyone had them sweatshirts and those hats. I asked about the sweatshirts and no one had them. I asked about the hats because I didn’t see any on display. This one lady pulled out a piece of cloth that was open on both ends and she tied a string of cloth around one of the ends, and sure enough, right in front of my eyes was a tie-top hat like the rappers wore in the videos. I bought one. It was black and white stripes going down and the tie was black. I continued to just walk up and down the street. The vendors were starting to pack up. I was looking for a club or something once they left the street, but there weren’t any. People just walked up and down the street. People with their polaroid cameras were out taking pictures for I think $6 to $8 maybe $10. I had taken one picture.

I got back on the train around 11 P.M. and went to my car. I tried to drive back over into Manhattan but I kept running into bodies of water and dead ends, so finally I gave up, went and parked my car by the subway station I was at before on Baychester. I figured this was a safe place to park and go to sleep because people walking past my car would either be going to get on the train or getting off the train to go home; no time to be vandalizing my car or tryin’ to rob me. I climbed in the back seat and went to sleep. I’d wake up every time I heard a truck go by. In the morning I woke up to kidz constantly passing my car to get on the train or walking to school. But at about 9 A.M. or 10 A.M., I began to wonder were these kidz goin’ to school at all. In Ohio, the streets are clear of all kidz by 8 A.M. It was like 10 A.M and kidz who looked like they should be in school were steadily coming up and down the street.

I got up around 12 P.M. and went back to 125th St to look for my sweatshirt and my tie-top hat to match. It didn’t even matter what school or color, I just wanted one. I went into damn near every sports store on the street and asked for them damn sweatshirts. My lucky store that I went into and asked about them, they weren’t even officially selling them yet or they just got them in or something. Because I asked the guy about them, he said, “hold on, I’ll be right back.” He came from out the back with about three or four of them. I chose the grey, yellow and black Hampton University sweatshirt; you know, colors of the frat. They didn’t even have a price tag on them, and I really didn’t care how much they cost. He charged me $75 for it and I paid it. It was a pretty heavy duty champion-like sweatshirt, and I thought it was worth it. It was definitely worth it because I still have today. After I got it, I was happy. I walked up and down the street some more. I bought me a golden like tie-top hat to match the sweatshirt.

I went back to my car at like 3 P.M. and headed back to Warren, Ohio. I was a victim of racial profiling in Jersey. I got stopped and the cops searched my car thoroughly, trunk and all, looking for drugs. I wasn’t nervous. I let them handle their business. They said they stopped me for speeding, which was a lie because I wasn’t speeding at all. They let me go and I proceeded home. I got home and all my friends were telling me how crazy I was for driving that car to NY, and how come I didn’t tell any of them I was going, etc. From that point on, me and a couple of my friends took trips to New York 125th St once a year at least. After about two years, we ventured over into Brooklyn to the Fulton Mall, and those were our stops: 125th, then to Brooklynto the Fulton Mall. We didn’t know to take the subway, and didn’t want to try and park anywhere else when we’d see stores, so those were the only places we shopped.