From The G-Man Breaking It Down For You
From The G-Man
Breaking It Down For You
Hey people! I had the opportunity to speak to some teens on the street other day, and they stated how they read my column on a regular basis. They also told me that they felt I was too hard on "hip-hop" followers, and that I do not know how tough it is for young people out there because I had the opportunity to go to college and probably had a privileged childhood. I’ve heard this before, and those who believe that are sadly mistaken.
I had reservations about writing this article because I believe some things should be kept private. The reason why I chose to do it is because it would dispel certain myths the youth might have about me, and it could show young people that I’m just like them and that anything is possible in life.
To begin with, I did not have a privileged childhood. I spent a major portion of my life growing up in the Redfern Houses complex of Far Rockaway. I was raised by a single parent, and we struggled every step of the way. Banana sandwiches were delicacies in our house! It was one woman, my three sisters and me, and in light of the serious dysfunction that exists within families today, my mother did one hell of a job. You won’t see any of us on Jerry Springer!
I can understand why certain people may think I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. When you grow with a major star in the family, people tend to think you are raking in the bucks. In the mid to late 70’s my father skyrocketed to fame as the leader of "The Gary Toms Empire", and he is responsible for smash hit, domestically and internationally, "7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Blow Your Whistle".
The song is frequently played on stations across the nation to this day, and several rap artists have sampled it. In his heyday, my father was on "Soul Train", "American Bandstand", "Soul Alive", "Disco 77" and a host of other great disco shows that were on at that time. He was on the Billboard charts for weeks, and the record made millions.
However, because of unscrupulous business executives, and very little knowledge of the industry, my father was cheated out of millions and millions of dollars. So you see, there was never any silver spoon, and it’s one of the reasons why The G-man goes up against all types of "BS" and injustice. I saw what happened to my father, and I have been on this crusade ever since. Damn! We could end up on VH-1’s "Behind the Music".
There was a point when I had the chance to receive a track scholarship to North Carolina State. I was in Far Rockaway High School at the time, and the coach Mr. Moritt, believed that I could go to the Olympics one day. I was breaking state records left and right, but my mother became seriously ill, and I wanted to be here for her and my sisters. It was a difficult time, but by the graces of The Creator we survived.
I did attend Queens College, but that was no big party for me either. I had to pay mostly out of pocket to go to school because President Reagan was cutting and slashing education benefits like a butcher! I had to work two jobs just to pay for books, tuition, my car, food and rent. In the end, it all caught up to me, and I became seriously ill. Again, it was not easy, but I made it through.
It was during the early 90’s that I became homeless and on welfare. I had gone to Hollywood, California, to pursue my dream of becoming a screenwriter. I left with $200 in my pocket, a sack full of scripts and sheer determination. I spent a number of months there, and as in the case of my father, the industry had found a way to screw me. A movie was made, but I got no credit, no royalties and no help from my attorneys. In a matter of time, I was on the streets with no place to go. It was the kindness of an old friend, in Far Rock, that enabled me to come back to New York and reconstruct my life. On the day I left, a major earthquake rocked Hollywood and other portions of Los Angeles.
I’m not trying to gain any sympathy. I just want the young people who read this column to realize that I did not have it as easy as they think, and that I do know what struggle, hopelessness and depression can do to you. However, based on the few examples I’ve provided, and I have many, it clearly illustrates that you can beat the odds. You may live in the projects, but the projects don’t live in you! You can rise to great heights if that is what you wish to do. It’s not easy, and racism definitely can play a role in preventing one’s success, but like Eddie Kendrick said, "Keep On Truckin’ Baby!"
The fact that I’m writing for this paper does not mean I’m not struggling. Greater opportunities have not come as of late. I have yet to fulfill my wish and life’s purpose, and I know what I want may never come, but I refuse to go through life asking myself, "What if?" No matter what, you’ve got to take chances and fight for the good life, especially if children are involved.
Here’s a quick programming note. Far Rockaway’s own Patricia Medlin, PM Production director/ writer/ producer has a soap opera premiering on QPTV. "The Series" can be seen starting October 2, at 11:30 p.m., on channel 57 in Queens and 56 in Manhattan. The show is repeated every Wednesday, at 5:00 p.m., on channel 56. It will run for 27 weeks, and it promises to be extremely entertaining.
Hit me at Mapel2000@aol.com if you like, and I’ll see you next week!