The Vernon

Heavy’s death made me think on my hometown…

For the longest time, I had beef with where I grew up. I suppose it has more to do with the fact that I was an outsider mostly and didn’t much fit in. I always ended up befriending people much older than me because my peers often teased me for being a goody two shoes or a nerd. It didn’t help much though…I ended up being teased for being the younger, more sensitive one.

I DO have memories that were pure and beautiful…

Living in the “projects” when it was still clean, respectable, and safe. How us kids were watched by the adults in the park and not preyed on. We were timed by the street lights, but not limited to them. If there were adults on the park bench, my grandmother would just holla out of her 2nd floor window and ask someone to keep an eye on me. “No problem, Mrs. Gunn…”

I remember playing in the grassy “quartered fields” of the PJ’s park. The five buildings faced three different blocks. The back of the buildings was connected by a round concrete walk, where the five buildings’ paths connected. In the middle of it all was four parts of grass, fenced off into triangles. Two big ones, two smaller ones…which made for football, baseball, kickball, dodge ball fields for us kids. The girls made up cheers on the side while the guys played ball of whatever nature…but don’t get it twisted. Us girls got involved! We played “touch” football *lmao* with the guys. Sheesh…I can remember going hard…trying to score a touchdown (thinking this was the object of the game) when all of the older kids are on the field kinda…well, rolling around and flirting. Here I am, spiking a football…when the “cute” girls are fighting off tickles and hugs. ~sigh~ Always the quarterback never the hot cheerleader…lol

I remember when Halloween was safe. When we played “ladder”…a game where we started at the 10th floor and systematically went down floor to floor ringing doorbells and running. HAHA! I remember when we all had monkey bar races (the iron “skeleton” house familiar to older parks) where we’d do “TEN FLIPS HERE…RUN TO THE OTHER SIDE, DO FIVE THERE, COME BACK AND DO TEN!” …lawd…we ended up dizzy mostly. I’ve won plenty of them. (Might be why I ain’t right, lol) I remember playing “Red Devil“…wow. I just had a flashback. ::pausing for some emotion:: I remember my “cousin” Abdrice (Ab-dreece) ~Rest In Peace~…we called him Drice…used to hate to play that game with me. I was a pretty fast runner. Red Devil is when a bunch of kids sit on the bench (ready to run) having picked a color…as the main person yells, “RED DEVIL, RED DEVIL, WHAT COLOR ARE YOU?” …then they’d yell out a color. If they yelled your color…you had to run around a quarter of the grass (described above) and if you got caught…you became the Red Devil and had to chase folks until you caught someone. I ALWAYS caught Drice…I caught MOST, but HE hated it. lol. I remember how the city’s recreational department would come through during the summer, set up a stage and put on a production for us. We had a good time…we really did.

I had WONDERFUL memories as a kid…but my adolescence sucked a little. From unrequited love to rumors of me being a big ass liar (It is NEVER fun for a boy to deny being with you…especially when he’s supposed to be your best friend AND your first). I wasn’t a Gucci/Fendi bag-carrying, Guess jean-having, Owning every color of the rainbow Reebok-wearing, Fly girl. I was your average kid whose parents worked and gave me decent clothes. Add being what now is considered “thick” to the mix and that geek shit and you have a tortured kid. I couldn’t stand folks at times. You never knew who your friend was because EVERY thing you said got reported and contorted. Most of the stuff folks said I said, I didn’t say…and honestly…what I did say went over a lot of folks’ heads. Being smart is lonely….no one ever gets you. I’m sure I had my moments where I said something wrong, but shit…we all did…we were kids. I always seem to be the scapegoat. Not much has changed either…except, well…I call you on your shit now. I’m surely not 14 anymore.

I had my light moments…my shining points of growing up. I had my darker moments, too. I suppose such is life, ya know? What I do love about where I grew up is that there are things indigenous to JUST Mt. Vernon and the small townships surrounding it that make it special. No one knows about Shabazz’ Philly Burgers or their fish sandwiches. How my mom made their banana pudding for the longest time. No one knows what “Ronelle’s”and “Chamber’s” was. Or H & L Greens. I dare you to say you know something about one of the best donut shops in the COUNTY (the name is escaping me right now). How shopping on 4th Ave. was everyone’s bright spot come the new school year and summer. We had one of THE best marching bands for our high school. The parades were HOT! *reminiscing on the MLK band*. Still to this day, Mt. Vernon High School has the boss basketball team and the Razorbacks (football) still kicks major ass!!

Yea…Hev put us on the map. No doubt. He gave us pride…yet, there was always SOME thing to be proud of. I pray there still is. I’m allergic to Mt. Vernon these days. LOL I have no desire to return for any reason other than to see my one remaining grandmother or my dad, uncles, etc. Hanging there isn’t my thing. Perhaps I’ll always be an outsider *shrugs*…one thing is for sure…I will remember those days when Mt. Vernon made being a kid the BOMB!

It’s where I’m from…you know?

Larger Than Life: Rest In Peace, Heavy…

This isn’t a blog of biographical statistics. I’m not reporting the news. I’m here to pay homage to my town’s pride…so excuse me if this blog isn’t cohesive.

I  hail from Mt. Vernon, NY. We call it 4sq. because it’s literally 4 square miles. A small city sitting on the edge of Westchester County, bringing us within tickling distance of NYC’s influence. Growing up in Mt. Vernon was kinda cool. I think my era was one of  the best…maybe even the last of the surge of good offerings to the talent industry.

From my town hails Dick Clark, Stephanie Mills, sisters Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen, Al B. Sure, Sean Combs aka Diddy, Doug E. Fresh (both of whom also share roots in New Rochelle), Misa Hylton our fashionista, basketball player Ray Williams, comedian Talent and our own jazz love, Michael Phillips aka Mike Philly. We’ve always had extreme talent in our town…you were beyond blessed to make a name for yourself and make it out. Hev has definitely done that. From his music to the big screen, he has made us proud to have known him first.

Heavy and “the Boyz” (Eddie F, T-Roy and G-Wiz) rapped and danced their way onto the scene in 1987. I was just 14 and could remember how proud we were that they’d made it. Not long after their single debuted, I can remember them visiting the high school and just chillin’ in the cafeteria. (I had a little crush on G-Wiz LOL). They walked and rode around like they weren’t making videos and had their faces on an album cover, lol. Hev in that Blazer…was a summer staple for a long time before his success got hold of him affording him travel and appearances far from home. No one hated…we loved it. He was “ours”. They were ours…

Heavy D, or Hev (born Dwight Myers)…boasted pride for his town and his native Jamaica. You can’t deny that his lyrical prowess was a seamlessly fused combination of New York hip hop and Jamaican smoothness. His “bon diddly diddly dee” is often imitated but NEVER duplicated by those captured by his lyricism. Hev could dance too…light like a mug. lol He damn sure could keep up with the boys.

**I remember when Trouble T-Roy…one of the boys, died. I believe it was 1990 and it couldn’t have hit my town any harder. They were just getting the success they’d worked so hard for and his life was snuffed out so suddenly. An accident on tour where he’d fallen and hit his head…was the reason one of our pride was gone. S/N: I remember not long before T-Roy passed, I saw him in the “Puerto Rican” store (even though I’m sure it was owned by Dominicans, lol) and just remembered his smile. I can’t lie…I was wondering why he was smiling and speaking to ME, but that’s just how they ALL were. Raised right, given manners and respect and just all around good dudes. For his death to be announced not long after was enough to make you flop lifelessly in your seat and ask, “Why?”.**

Still…they pressed on. They made the album “Peaceful Journey” in his memory. (Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth later made, “They Reminisce Over You” which is still one of my fave hip hop joints to date.) As they continued making that music we LOVED to bump in the car…we loved and supported them. They pulled many along for the ride. Hev in many ways encouraged and mentored Diddy. My girl Tei gave me a link to an article Hev wrote about Diddy and it’s quite inspiring. Read “Believe in Ridiculous Dreams” here.

When I was on my way out the door on November 8th to run errands…the last thing I saw was an influx of posts on my Facebook ticker. I statused that I needed confirmation because we all know how the Internet does. When I got in the car, my mother turned on  98.7 Kiss and it was confirmed. At 44, Hev had begun his own Peaceful Journey. It was devastating…IS devastating. There’s no describing how or why it hurts…it just does. I spent the entire evening in tears…and it still brings tears to my eyes. Hev will be missed.

There will be services held in Mt. Vernon. The following link has all of the information for those interested. I don’t think I’ll be going. It would be hard to get in and I honestly think that this is a time for his family and close friends. I knew him…but, not like that…and I respect this time of mourning. I will be praying for his services that everything is blessed with PEACE and order. My condolences to the Myers Family.

My condolences to his fans as well…Mt. Vernon is inconsolable right now.

Remember Heavy D

My fave song…I can hear me and my bestie, Vikki singing this loudly along with the music in her car on the way to nowhere. lol