Interview with John "Cutter John" Sykes
by Reggie Dinkins, Jr. (Assisted and Narrated by Salvador Gabor)
I gotta chance to sit down with a great yardsman in the D.C. Area. John "Cutter John" Sykes developed his grass cutting skills in the Northeast D.C. Area. A lifelong citizen of the Riggs Park area, "Cutter John" loves his "hood" and likes it to look nice and well kept. I gotta chance to sit outside and chat on the porch at "Cutter John"'s mother's house on Chillum Place in N.E.
SG: John How are you?
Cutter: aw man i'm real good business is bout to boom!
SG: I see your hands are a lil dirty already there Mr. Sykes!
Cutter: please dont call me Mr. Sykes, "Cutter-John" is what my clients call me....but yeah i was down in Ms. Lewis' flowerbed this morning. Look here take a bidness card, you can reach me at the number on the back, in the highlighter. Spelled my name wrong though, they got Stokes on there.
My nephew made them......Boy only 3
SG: So how did you get into landscaping?
Cutter: oh man I got started long time ago.......I remember it like it was yesterday I got detention at Backus JHS over on South Dakota Ave. Got caught peeing on the radiator. So Mrs. Lewis, the principal, had me cut that big ole patch of grass next to Backus and all the grass across the street. Yep thats the same Mrs. Lewis whose flowerbed I work in now! I figure I wont charge since she helped me get started
SG: What is it about the landscaping industry that kept you in the game?
Cutter: aw man well you know in Riggs, there are alot of senior citizens, and they need their landscaped. So i scape it for them, for a small fee. Ya know, just enuff to keep me afloat. hmmmm
I remember back in 85 LawnDoctor tried to drive me out......hey man hold still you got a "skito" on your lapel, lemme get this OFF I made....here it is (squirt) (squirt)
SG: Thanks Cutter. That almost got on my Gartelle Button-Up
Cutter: Ya notice that lemon-lime scent? That's my own trademark. Oh yeah and the name's CutterJohn to you.
SG: Alot of the younger guys embrace you around the Riggs Park neighborhood, how do you respond?
Cutter: (pulling out shower cap) man you got to love that which loves you. If you dont, you have love lost. That is why I take such pride in scaping. Whether it is Mrs. Lewis' yard (putting on shower cap, and tightening laces on Asics) or the Widow Watkins-Dean. I just gotta sculp the lawn, hone my skill, perfect it, because it symbolizes the Riggs section........(waives to neighbor) Hey there Mr. Randolph, be there by 4:50!!!!.......Dont worry i'll fill that birdbath too. Mmmmhhmm. I like to put a lil cinammon in Mr. Randolphs birdbath, keeps the robins nice and red
SG: How do you gain clientele?
Cutter: Well..... you know everybody around here pretty much knows me you know i grew up around here, right back there on Chillum they see me all the time, I like to take walks down to Jaybird's all the way down the other end of Lasalle Elementary. Kinda hard to miss me in my attire
i like to match my head gear with my tennie's. Gotta stay professional
SG: What other interests do you have?
Cutter: Well I do enjoy a nice game of badmitton after I have groomed a lawn. Then take in a lil Smackdown, once i get cleaned up. Ya know......watch a lil wrasslin
SG: Married? Any Children?
Cutter: Naw, single just like my weedwacker. Just out getting a lil cut-up and taking it on in
SG: Is there a life for Cutter John outside of "Scapin'"
Cutter: Oh man you cant be limited to just one thing. I got 2 lemon trees in the back. also got some throwback Carrol HS jerseys. Been selling these Clement Stokes' for bout $250 since November. Old clement went on to Notre Dame too. But to answer ya question.....got to be diversatile
SG: was there ever a person you modeled your work after
Cutter: Well there was one man, they called him "Toots", lived Uptown on 7th and Jefferson, used to edge yards with scissors. Man was he precise!!!! i must say I took my wall edging style from him
But other than that, this here (extending arms from Lasalle to Newtown) is all me!!!!!!!!....................hey man i gotta run, i'm 5mins late for Mr. Randolph. Hey Mr. Randolph got some of those lemon cookies when I get done!!!!!!!!!
SG: Any last words Cutter John?
Cutter: Cut grass.... dont smoke it. Hey you heard this cut? My young man down the street played it for me (plays UGK's "Choppin Blades") I wanna Chop Blades....... Looka Ya! I said yeah buddy........that is CutterJohns joant right dere. Gotta go, he gets that back yard for free if I am five minutes late!!!!!
If you want to call on Cutter John for a landscaping job, he's always out and about in the Riggs Neighborhood in Northeast D.C.. Just look for the middle-aged man wit the shopping cart full of grass-cutting materials, a khaki suits and some old Asics that his incarcerated nephew used to wear.
by Reggie Dinkins, Jr.
There are some niggas you just cant kill. Today we focus on one, a buddy of mines, named Procrastination. I call him "Cras" for short. He is the type of nigga that has been with you for years and years, just hanging around. Don't get me wrong he aint all bad, he aint just on the corner, the dude has a degree.
Nobody knows for sure when the nigga was born, probablly the reason this holiday is celebrated on the 10th and not the 9th. Just wanted to wait in the womb, because that anesthesia had a lil nigga woosy. He is often seen pulling all-nighters to finish papers, and meets you at the let-out instead of going to the party.
Cras lives by intricate financial policies, he would rather wait and see if something goes on sale, than buy it prematurely. A very laid back individual to say the least, nothing really gets to Cras, doesnt start worrying til the 25th hour, but then again, he aint never late, just close enuff to make you wonder with wet armpits.
Cras is the type of guy that will even save your life, he aint in no hurry so while the hotheads are pressed to get fly for some honies, ole Cras is just laying in wait, more than likely let-out bound. Just in time to miss the fights, shootings, but early enuff to find a tender or three. "Dont mind me, I'm Cras, not Rude his car is burgundy".
Cras is known to hang with the big-wigs. All up in Congress fooling with the Senate, why you think it takes so long to pass good laws. Ted Kennedy invited Cras over for dranks. Cras is the reason we get gift-cards, malls get way too crowded and everything is gone by the time Cras picks you up to go shopping. He often keeps many brothas sober, Cras aint ready to drink unless it is past 9pm, but then again, you know the nigga dont live to far from Bass Liquors.
Cras is the type of nigga you might not see for a while, rumors circulate, about no more Procrastination. I dont fool with the guy anymore, sure you dont, that nigga comes over late at night have you girls trying to pay that light bill online, because he kept you in all night and the next day and you couldnt get any stamps. Dont trip Cras is still alive, seen him go 2-3 months without a peep, but always shows up if not on the first but definitely by the 15th.
Procrastination is a well-known figure in the Black Community. When he is at the clubs and cookouts, niggas from miles around are heard calling him by his nickname "Hey, get it Later"