Ready or Not

 

Ready or Not:   Fly Robin, Fly...
For Empowerment of All People (FEAP)

by Robin Renee Thompson (Whitehead)

 


Chapter 2

“Fly Amongst Stars, Fly”

My cousin Cornell Clark was working with or around musicians most of my life, with entertainers like Curtis Blow, the Fat Boys, Run D MC and L.L. Cool J. I didn’t even get the chance to go to my grandmother’s  house out South Ozone Park or Jamaica Queens where they rehearsed in her basement. My grandmother’s house was a safe haven for James Todd the  now infamous entertainer who use to frequent and be mentored by Cornell. However, I did get to meet “LL” thanks to my cousin who often came with an entourage to visit us whenever he performed in Virginia. I recall being back stage and interacting with several entertainers like stuck up Keith Sweat, and down to earth fun filled New Edition. I remember when “LL” took my  mother to Red Lobsters for dinner, right in Hampton VA., off Mercury Blvd and he called my mother Auntie Lo. I had the opportunity to meet his father who wasn’t very friendly but most importantly was the times we spent in the presence of “LL” on at least three separate occasions, all during the times when he had a show scheduled on the Peninsula or in Norfolk. The most memorable experience was when we all stayed at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Hampton. The show was really nice and my cousin always got us back stage passes and I even had the opportunity to bring two friends to meet “LL”. My friend Tonya gave him a flower and a picture of her daughter these are memories I will never forget.

I do regret that my mother took the time to make LL’s daughters and wife three beautiful dolls dressed in handmade crocheted dresses. Only because his staff was supposed to pick them up but they never showed up and the next morning my cousin and the tour were gone before we could check out. It bothered my mother and I was a little disappointed too. As for my cousin, he was doing so many things for LL Cool J, that he was security, choreography, hype man, and worked with stage presence. Cornell was very talented, but he also was obnoxious. I loved him and times he plucked my nerves being over protected. He did not play and was a beast when it came to being security. He died, and the last time I saw “LL” in regards to my cousin Cornell was at Cornell’s funeral in Queens on the boulevard. I was not doing too well during that time period when my cousin was working with “LL”. If you look at the photos in the appendix you will see my sister “A-T” is in most of the photos, and I wasn’t. At that time I was going through my  mental health issues dealing with my Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and discharge from the Army. I was crying out for help although many didn’t know it. I'm not sure if I will add pictures to this book. It’s really irrelevant I don't have to prove nor do I get any kudos from any celebrities I met.

Out of the whole entertainment experience my most fond memories were those with Treach from “Naughty by Nature”. He was so real and genuine and I wished all the performers were like him. He was kicking it  with me, and I know I looked a hot mess lol, but he was a real brother.  He told me to keep my head up and made me laugh if I ever see him again I will thank him for that boost of encouragement. As I stated before Keith Sweat was stuck up but my sister “A-T” got a picture with him, as well as several with LL Cool J. At that time in my life I didn’t want to be in too many pictures because I didn’t look healthy.  I am not in any of the celebrity photos I have some with me in them but care not to share them because I looked bad. I can say I was happy at the last concert I attended with my cousin Cornell, that is when my friend gave him a flower and I looked 100% better than the previous visits. I had a crew of friends at the Radisson and I was getting treatment and professional counseling at the Veterans Hospital for depression. I also was in a partial program at Mary Immaculate Hospital for women. I wanted to run away when they were leaving I wanted to go on tour as a helper with the wardrobe or marketing crew but my cousin wasn’t having it.  I wasn’t doing anything with my life and I didn’t think anyone would care. However, my cousin nipped that suggestion in the bud. I remained in Virginia, didn't put much effort into working on my marriage, but was getting my life back on track. It was the early stages of me becoming a civilian from the medical military discharge that I received.

I feel I need to add this piece to the book because I want to thank all the celebrities who I may have encountered who were nice to me, especially “LL” because he was nice to my mother, and Aunt Alice. I saw him one last time in person at his book signing in Hampton Convocation Center, and I took him a copy of my first edition and he spoke to me for about 15 minutes. He told me to go get my moms and he gave his security my book to hold and was signing autographs for his new book as I waited and chatted with him. I told him my mother was on her way and he said he will be there, but he simply went in the back and disappeared again gone. My mother came 30 minutes later and they said he left the building. It was disappointing again but I put  our numbers and information inside my book we never heard from him so I guess he never read it? I still feel the same like when I first wrote this book I am grateful for the experiences he gave me and my family. When his tour went to Birmingham Alabama my brothers Byrrh and Jessie were big entrepreneurs and we were back stage with ”LL” again, so he gave me experiences I will never forget. My two brothers were powerful in Alabama with a store, club, and within their personal lives, so at that concert and visiting them will be remembered always. Most importantly I want to tell James Todd thank you for all the love and support he had for my cousin Cornell. I also am thankful to my cousin for if it wasn’t for his connection to “LL” I may have never been in direct contact with so many celebrities.  Rest in peace Cornell, tear drop! I now know I will probably never have direct contact with “LL” again but I hope we meet again someday. I would love to see my mother have the opportunity to see him again and my nephews who was kids, and Isaiah was a baby who now is all grown. After Cornell’s death I knew we would probably never have direct contact with him again, but who knows maybe when he returns in Virginia or in an area where he can be reached by his staff and/or his cousin. His cousin was usually the one who would come with us back to the house, he was good people. I am so proud of all that James Todd accomplished in his career and I only have positive things to say about him and wish him the best. I love Simone his wife too because she often dealt with crazy Cornell too, and one day God's will we may meet.

I pray for his family and his wife Simone. I read about her health struggles and illness and pray for her recovery and good health. If they do get to read this book I pray that God continues to bless them, and once again thank you.  This is not a plot to get resources from his name or fame, because I know what they did for my cousin and it was a blessing. I’m simply making note of it. I received nothing in the 1st edition, and expect nothing from mentioning him in this revised edition. I think it is important to identify with those who have an impact on your life. When I read the autobiography that James Todd wrote, he reflected the role and friendship that he had with my cousin prior to his death. It was a blessing to find a friend, because not many people will do unto you as you do unto them. I know that my cousin had a special friendship with James Todd and both of them remembered that friendship till the end.

It took my mother a while once we moved to Virginia to get her life on track. Alcoholism has been in my family since I was a baby. My mother would drink on the weekends, and often she would have fights with her own siblings, but life seemed to be good from an adolescent perspective. My mother was a good mother very loving, and always a caregiver. My mother had to overcome my dad’s philandering ways. I knew my entire sibling’s mothers and they embraced me with love from as young as I could remember. My mother eventually got fed up with my dad especially when my younger brother was born and eventually she had met a man who became her boyfriend. His name was Melvin and he was dedicated and loyal to our family. He was in our lives up throughout from a very young age and gave  my mother a car when she left him in New York City and moved to Virginia. Melvin was good to us and my father even liked him because he was a good person. He did things with me and my sister like took us to Coney Islands, Yankee stadium, and bowling. He lived in Patterson Projects too, we lived in building 291 and he lived in building 315 which was walking distance. My mother worked during the week for Women Infant & Children (WIC), and partied on the weekend. I guest she wasn’t truly happy in New York because she gave up her state job to relocate to Virginia.

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