From the G-Man
G-man Ain't Havin' It!
Hey people! I'm going to start with an official apology to members of the community who came out in effort to support me and my partner, Joe Bonilla, (The Bass Kings), at the Multi-Cultural Family Festival last weekend. I have been stopped on the street and have received numerous phone calls all week asking why we were not there. Many stated that they came to join in the cultural celebration, but they also stressed that they primarily came to hear us rock "house" music and some of the classic club hits. The community deserves answers, and I'm going to explain what went down, and why we left.
People will be angry with me for speaking out, but I don't care. People will make the decision to distance themselves from me, and maybe even the paper, but I don't care. As long as I have been writing this column, people have come to know me as a man that does not play or bull...! I'm certainly not going to start now, simply because I'm afraid of how I will be received and treated by certain power players in the community. I'm not the least bit concerned with being liked, but the one thing that I command is respect! Now, get ready. I'm about to let the dogs loose.
The whole thing started when Joe and I got to Bayswater Park at 7:15 a.m. the morning of the event. We stayed up the previous night until 3:00 a.m. breaking down our studio system and sorting through records in order to prepare for the heavily promoted event. We were up at 5 a.m., and we got ready to head out to Rockaway because we were told to be at the park at 7 a.m. sharp. Actually, we made good time considering that we came all the way from Brentwood, Long Island. At any rate, no one was in the park when we arrived. Isaac Parsee, the Chair of the Steering Committee for the Multi-Cultural Family Festival, rolled up on his bike shortly after we arrived.
I asked about the generator that we needed to juice up the DJ system, as I stressed that we needed to have it by no later than 7:30 a.m. to start hooking up the system and running sound checks. We were told that it was on the way. The generator did not arrive until well after 11 a.m.! Oh, but it gets better.
During the period that we were trying to get a table to set up our amps and records, and waiting for the generator, a van pulled into the park and stopped within 20 feet of where Joe and I were waiting to set up. The side doors of the van were opened, as well as the rear doors, and my partner and I heard the sound of a generator being started from the rear of the van. Suddenly, music was being pumped throughout the park for the next 15 to 20 minutes. Needless to say, Joe and I looked at each other in total shock.
"What the hell is this?" said DJ Bass King. "This is bull&*%$." What's with all the showboating? I began to ask myself the same question.
You see folks, being professional DJ's, my partner and I practice something called protocol. This dictates that if you are in the company of fellow DJ's, and a DJ sets up his system prior to his scheduled time to play, the DJ should explain why they are doing so. You NEVER just take it upon yourself to just "bum rush" and set up, especially if you aren't scheduled to play until later that afternoon.
The Steering Committee members tried to explain the bizarre action by saying that they were informed that this DJ would be coming early to run a sound check and to set up the sound system for the talent show. There were two problems with this lame explanation. First, no one bothered to tell The Bass Kings anything about it, and secondly, the area where the talent was slated to perform was on the other side of the park! What was the purpose of setting up 20 feet in front of our area and blasting a system for all of Rockaway to hear? My partner made an observation that I really don't want to believe, but it warrants consideration.
"Yo, G. Somebody set us up! Somebody got on the phone and told this guy that there was no sound in the park, and to get here ASAP," said DJ Bass King. It made sense.
Now, I can understand that someone on the Committee may have had concerns about the music, and called the DJ as a precautionary measure. I would have totally understood if the DJ in question would have come to us and said, "We're here to help you out until you get the system up and running." This did not happen, and as a result the situation was made ten times worse. It was not our fault that we did not have the generator. Things were not about to get any better.
Due to the unprofessional manner in which we were treated, and the fact that our playing time was slipping away because we still didn't have the generator, my partner and I made the decision to leave. The Committee convinced us to work with them and give them another chance. The Bass Kings agreed because of our sheer love of the Rockaway community, family, and friends that came to support us. We set up our system, and the only thing left to do was plug the bad boy up to the generator, which had just been dropped off to us. Imagine my surprise, and anger, when I saw the other DJ's crewmembers dragging it over to their van.
"What the hell are you doing? It was explained to you that we would be using the generator, and now you're snatching it from us?" I said.
"Oh, well...we were told that we could use it," he replied.
"I'm taking the generator, and I'm taking it now!" I retorted.
Thoroughly frustrated, I walked over to confront members of the committee for the third time. I wanted to inform them of what had just happened, and to note that I still did not have a table to place our amps and records. Again, apologies were offered and promises were made. Another 20 minutes had passed, and no table was provided. I walked back over to the area where my partner was, and guess what I saw? The DJ in question, and a crewmember, were dragging the generator over to another section of the park. Now, I'm ready to go ballistic!
"What do you think you're doing?" I asked.
"We need it for the Winger Wagon and talent show. You can hook up to the Park House if you need power," they stated.
I knew hooking up to the Park House would not supply our needs because my soundman had already told me that if we tried to do that, our system would clip every five minutes. Besides, we were promised the use of the generator, and that's what we expected.
"Go ahead and take the (expletive) generator," I snapped.
Enough was enough. I told my partner to start packing up, much to the displeasure of the committee. We had lost so much in the way of playing time, and with all of the aggravation and unprofessionalism we experienced, we decided it was not going to be worth all of the time and effort we had spent trying to do the right thing. Joe was beside himself with anger, as was I. The committee tried to convince us, yet again, to stay. Again, enough was enough. We felt that concessions had been made for other people, but none were made for us. So, to those that I can still call friends and supporters of The Bass Kings, that's why we never got a chance to perform.
Let me tell you what really pisses me off about this whole thing. After everything thing went down, people started saying things like, "The G-man ain't s..t!" or "The Bass Kings are whack!" "They proved they aren't about community by breaking out on us!" I'm going to say this one time, and one time only. I'm the editor of community newspaper. No one places more focus on the community, and is more pro-community, than an editor of a community newspaper! Just ask all of the people and families that have received satisfaction and some sense of closure via The Wave's efforts. (The Ross family, the late Flornell Myers' family and others!) So, don't even try to go there because I'll chew you a new one!
In addition to this, from the moment it was made known that I was throwing on the old mixing gloves, people told me they were coming no matter what the weather was like. I'm mad as hell that my biggest fan, my mother, Bertha Sutton, who has a medical condition that makes it very difficult for her to walk at times, trudged through the pouring rain to see her son play. If my mother, God bless her, had fallen in that rain, with all the garbage we went through, trust me.... there would have been hell to pay! She's a Christian, but my mom will shake what her momma gave her when she hears a slamming "house" track! Let's keep it real. She was disappointed, as were many that I spoke to this week, and it was all because of the overcharged egos of certain people who insisted on making things difficult for The Bass Kings. My sincerest apologies to my partner's family, who got up as early as 4:30 a.m. to travel to Rockaway with us. They actually witnessed this nightmare.
Understand something folks, this is as real as it gets. My partner and I have been playing as professionals for the last 22 years. We were not treated as such, and I've got a problem with that. Oh, but check this out. For all the crap we experienced, we did not ask for one, red cent! We waived our fee, which can range anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 on any given night at a club if requested. With our different business endeavors, we knew that we could afford to cut the organizers of the event some slack. DJ's who played the Multi-Cultural Family Festival definitely got paid.... and got paid well! So, again, don't come to me saying that I, or The Bass Kings, are not about community, simply because we refused to swallow the crap we were being fed!
My mother always told me, "God don't like ugly." I suspect that she is absolutely right, so I'm not worried about those who may want to respond, or retaliate, as a result of this column. I'll get "ghetto" if I have to, and I'll take on whomever I have to on this one because what happened to us was grossly unfair. I'm not so far up the ladder that I don't remember how to get "raw" when the situation calls for it. I can wear a Brooks Brothers suit while kicking somebody's butt, in a pair of Timberlands, at the same time! Just try me.
My partner and I are extremely confident that The Bass Kings will have their day in the sun. One day, we will come back home to Rockaway and play "house" in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of Rockaway residents. I'm also looking into "House on the Hudson", a five-hour dance party/cruise, featuring new and classic house music, aboard "The Spirit of New York" in Manhattan. When we finally do get to showcase our talent, and love for the community, you can bet your grandmother's girdle that we'll have our own (bleeping) generator by then.
I want to send a very special "thank you" to Aria Doe and all the kids in the ROC for YOUTH organization. I recently featured the group in a series of photo spreads, and to show their appreciation, they sent me a package this week that included tee-shirts and 25 cards with personal messages from all the kids. You kids have really touched The G-man's heart, and I thank you. As for the rest of my readers, thanks for listening.
See you next week!