HAWKE FRACASSA has been a working journalist and columnist in Metropolitan Detroit for 33 years, writing about everything from new car test drives to corruption and graft, cop killings, college hoops, bad priests and Marshall Bruce Mathers III's unlikely ascension from Gilbert's bus boy and high school dropout to the rhyming genius we now know as Eminem.
The first time Eminem talked with reporter Hawke Fracassa, he was angry. It was a land-line telephone conversation initiated by Em from Amsterdam. Em had a chip on his shoulder the size of a Joel Osteen Sunday congregation. It was because he was nagged by his grandma, Betty Kresin, to take time away from his lewd, nefarious behavior to answer questions from a journalist who had refused to take "no" for an answer.
Betty nagged her scrawny grandson to do it because "that Hawke is a nice boy." Em's wife and mother also nagged him a few times to talk to Hawke. He did it just to shut them up.
What resulted was tumult. Grandma gave Hawke childhood photos of Marshall, and most them looked like a kid who was begging to be beat up. When one of the first stories from the interview came out, Em wasn't angry at the pictures that made him look like he had a "kick me" sign on his back. He was upset that we were given pictures of his daughter. He wanted her left out of the papers. It'd be OK if he could sing about her to make records, though.
I remember telling Marshall Bruce Mathers III, which is what we called him because that's what the police and judges called him, too, that he was nobody and that in six months nobody would care. Wrong! In time, Eminem outsold the Beatles and Elvis combined.
No small feat. It is with the realization that I was so wrong that prevents me from pursuing a career as a bookie. I'd lose my shirt.