Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

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The New Jersey Nets moved to Brooklyn and received a new set of All-Stars during the offseason. Last year they were fighting for that New York power against the Knicks and got the 4th seed for a spot in the playoffs. They met the Bulls in the first round and got beaten without Derrick Rose playing. Did that hurt the confidence of the Nets or is that just a crazy question?

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry were the new additions to the team over the summer. Can we say, “Wow!” to that pickup? The team already has Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. When you look at that on paper you just think championship, but they can’t even win games on the road against teams they should be blowing out. They have lost to Cleveland, Orlando, Charlotte, Boston, Indiana, Sacramento, and the LA Clippers. Six of those games were away and then they lost to the Pacers at home. It’s a sad, sad day for fans. If Pierce and Garnett had stayed in Boston they probably would have a better chance of getting to the championship.

Jason Kidd is a brand new coach in the league and this is going to be a long, hard season for him if he cannot get this team some wins. They have all that talent and there is no reason they cannot be above .500, fighting with the Pacers or Heat right now for the top spot. I am just flabbergasted at the amount of money they have spent to get to the promised land and can’t even get past the freaking Bobcats. Deron Williams is making 98 million dollars. It is amazing to me that this man can’t stay healthy or play to his potential, but he can get coaches fired. Looks like this man needs to get a pay cut until he starts showing that he is worth all of that money.

Yes, it is the beginning of the season, but it is obvious that the Nets suck right now. It’s bad enough the Knicks can’t even win a few games, but good lord, the battle for New York is basically a waste because both teams look like D-League teams on the court. That is not good entertainment. Who wants to see two sucky teams battle each other for New York supremacy? Neither team is going to have a winning record with the way they are playing right now.

Brooklyn better wake up and smell the roses because you can’t sell tickets to people and lose to teams that have no reason beating you. There are too many All-Stars on one team to be losing to mediocre teams with just one or two All-Stars. I feel like it’s the Lakers all over again with Malone, Payton, Shaq and Kobe. Step your game up and stop wasting people’s time and money by losing to teams that are not even in your class.

While perusing the internet yesterday I managed to stumble upon this gem of a story. It’s about teachers using hip-hop as a tool to teach their students the fundamentals of science. I must say that I couldn’t have seen this video at a better time on a better day. After being told I shouldn’t write or share posts about “rap” music because of its negative connotation during a conversation I had with a very significant family member earlier in the day, I managed to find a video that displays hip-hop in a positive light. Given all of the negative rap lyrics that spew from the mouths of many current purveyors of the genre, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air to see it being used as an instrument for good. And while I can understand the reasoning behind certain people’s apprehensiveness toward hip-hop, I still appreciate the genre for its creativity and its ability to make a lasting impact on people.

People tend to forget that since its inception in the 80’s, hip-hop has always been a tool of expression, storytelling, and nostalgia. But where rap got its bad rap isn’t from the street corner ciphers, the boogie down Bronx block parties, or the poetic tales of black youth. It got its negative image from the vulgarity in the language, the excessive misogyny, and the hyper-sexualized and at times ultra violent images in its audio and visual representations. But, the problem so many viewers and listeners fail to understand is that Hip-Hop portrays realities. And whether those realities are caricatures (fictional) or biographical (real), every rapper is an artist in his or her own right. From vividly painting the experience of being a young black male in Compton on “…a good day” of a 1993 summer, to personifying a favorite art in an evolutionary tale of a maturing muse undergoing various trials and tribulations throughout H.E.R. life, Hip-Hop has always had the ability to take us places we’ve never been and teach us things we never imagined.

Hip-Hop is so powerful and can be used for such great things that it is a shame so many members of the older generation avoid its messages. But, a lucky few youths in New York City, are actually learning through the art of rhyme. I wish I would have had the opportunity these kids have when I was in grade school. When I was growing up, most of the music played in my household was rhythm and blues, 80’s pop, or jazz. My most fond memory, or what I call my intro to Hip-Hop, occurred during a 1990’s summer visit to North Carolina. At a family cookout, an older friend of the family put a tape in the tape deck and the first sound I heard was, “Wooooh ooh ooh” being harmonized by a young female who I would later discover was rapper/songstress Lauryn Hill, followed by a bass drop and a verse from an artist whose name I would later discover was prolific hip-hop artist Nas. The song was titled, “If I Ruled The World“. With Nas’ rhymes of hypothetical world domination and the actions he would take preceding it, I loved what I was hearing, I wanted more, and I have been hooked on the boom bap and the intricate cadences of hip-hop ever since.

So, what I have to say to those giving rap a bad rap is: WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW and see how hip-hop can positively influence lives.


As a lover of music and film, I try to keep my ears and eyes open to the digital streets for anything that might be sonically and visually appealing. While searching YouTube today I randomly ended up at this visually artistic video from “Electro Hip-Hop Soul” music producer Derek Vincent Smith best known by the moniker ‘Pretty Lights’. I’m certain some of you who delve into the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) world are going to shake your head at me for saying this is the first time I have ever heard of Pretty Lights. But, I really just recently gained my love for audio synthed, bounce beat, wub wub, sample dropped music that producers and music artists like him create. So please do pardon my ignorance, but I am being enlightened slowly but surely. With that said, his latest visual for “Around the Block”, a record featuring vocals from NYC hip-hop artist Talib Kweli displays some ultra creative videography in its ode to New York City, while giving us a slight glimpse into the music production process. For me, the beauty and the artistry of the video comes from the dynamic camera perspectives throughout the video and the trippy, acid-drip like visuals nearer to its end. Smith says, “It’s all about slowing down and enjoying the best moments in life.” and I can definitely see that being portrayed in the videography of this visual. This song is from his new project titled, “A Color Map of the Sun” and will be available for free download here when it is released on July 2nd. Check out the video and let me know what you think. Artistic or just another music video?

Around The Block


Snack – Insomnia Cookies

insomnia-cookies2Before my fiance and I embarked on our New York City Spring Break, I took the liberty of checking out the surrounding businesses of the Park79 Hotel and discovered that there was a cookie place right around the corner from there. After reading a lot of positive reviews, I knew we just had to get some cookies from Insomnia Cookies located on Amsterdam Avenue of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Because we were so full from dinner the night before, we decided to grab some cookies on the day of our departure from NYC. So we left the hotel loaded down with bags in each hand and decided to get in line at Insomnia and see what the rave was all about.

insomnia-cookiesAs we waited in line behind a large group of kids (who should have been in school at the time), I looked at the overhead menu and tried to make a swift, decisive choice of cookie. After finding out they were all out of oatmeal raisin (my favorite cookie), I decided to go for chocolate chip which the cashier pulled fresh out of the oven below the cash register. That initial bite sent my taste-buds into a state of bliss that led to what can only be described as a chocolate supernova (no relation to Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” by the way). The chocolate morsels literally melted in my mouth as we walked to the subway station. It’s ooey gooey goodness had my tongue begging for an ice cold glass of milk to wash it down. Lucky for me, the cookie was so chewy and soft it didn’t really require any additives for the experience. Insomnia Cookies made our exit from NYC a good one and made me wish they would expand to the DMV (DC, MD, & VA. area). But hey, at least I got to enjoy it while I was there. (Official website of Insomnia Cookies: Insomnia Cookies)

BreakfastManhattan Diner

The next morning we were on another mission to find somewhere to eat. As we walked around NYC we stumbled upon this place called Manhattan Diner. Initially I was a little apprehensive about eating there. Up to that point my experiences with diners hadn’t been a good one and I wasn’t too sure about chancing my dining experience on another run-of-the-mill “Diner.” But lucky for me, I decided to throw caution to the wind and eat there and had a great experience. The Manhattan Diner is located in a ritzy area of the Upper West Side of NYC. Just to give you an idea of how ritzy the area is, about one block down the street from the diner there are condo’s selling in excess of $1.5 million dollars. And now that I look back at it, I should have known a run-down diner would not have been able to stay in that area for eleven years if the food was less than amazing. So there we were, seated at this restaurant that has all the features of your basic diner. There are bar stools situated in front of a large wrap-around kitchen counter top in the main area of the restaurant, tiled walls,  tables for two and four guests and large windows for viewing the busy NYC streets.

After we are greeted by our server and given menus, we look through the extensive list of dishes that all look and sound great. I loved the wide variety of food options. I could get breakfast, lunch, or dinner and me being the omelet connoisseur  that I am, the sound of feta cheese, fresh spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms was too enticing to pass up. So I ordered what they refer to as the “Athenian Omelet” with a side of home fries. Now you have to trust me when I tell you, it was one of the best, if not thee best omelet I have ever had. It wasn’t overcooked or undercooked. The feta cheese melted well into the omelet and the mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach gave me the flavorful, veggie filler that every healthy breakfast needs. The dish went well with the two slices of toast that accompanied it. I only finished one slice of the toast. I was so full and the orange juice on the side put me over the top from full to borderline stuffed.

Who would’ve known that on the corner of Broadway and 77th Street sat a gem of a diner. But, don’t get too overjoyed my fellow foodies. If you were to go to that same very spot today you won’t see the booming Manhattan Diner that I speak of in this post. Its land, like many parts of other major cities, was apparently bought up by a big developer and it is currently being converted into a large high rise. But, with that said, there is some good news for all of you diner lovers. Manhattan Diner did not go out of business. It still exists. They simply moved to 2532 Broadway between (94th & 95th street). So as a satisfied customer, I am advising you to experience the Manhattan Diner at least once in your lifetime. And whether you live within a mile, or a hundred miles of it, mark my words when I say, “the trip will be well worth it!”

Manhattan Diner Official Website: Manhattan Diner

My NYC Spring Break To Be Continued in Part 2.3: The Insomnia Cookie Experience

So there we were. After a four hour ride from D.C., we had finally arrived in Manhattan. The excitement filled the air as we off loaded our stuff from the MegaBus and began to take a bite of the Big Apple. And I use the term “bite” figuratively and literally. As I am sure many of you may know, NYC offers some of the best places to dine at, serving some of the finest cuisine you can get in the great ol’ U.S. of A. Well, I don’t know if any of you have noticed or not, but I LOVE food. I am a sucker for delicious and unique dishes that leave a long-lasting impression on me. So I was prepared to take full advantage of  all the great food that NYC had to offer during our stay. With that said, here’s what we ate during our mini-vacay.

Lunch – Bettola

Bettola Dining Room

After arriving at our hotel and being without food for the last few hours of our trip, we needed something to eat. Since we were staying at Park79 on the Upper West side of Manhattan, we didn’t feel like taking the train all the way back down to Time Square. So we searched for places to eat near the hotel and after walking for a few minutes we walked past a very warm, cozy looking Italian restaurant named Bettola. We briefly looked over the menu and were instantly sold. The brick and stone walls combined with the amazing scent of  homemade Italian food, the occasional sound of wine glasses clinking and the look and feel of a wood burning oven added to the romantic, earthy ambiance. The pretty Italian server we had, who, unlike myself,  pronounced every word on the menu perfectly added to its authenticity. Her courteous attitude combined with the hospitality and polite persona of the bussers and other servers made the evening feel special and reminded me of those family owned businesses who actually value their food and their customers. Actually, the only thing better than the customer service was the food.

Bettola Outdoor Cafe

For a starter, or as they say in Italian, the “Antipasti,” we ordered the “Calamari Alla Griglia.” It was grilled calamari! Yes, you read me correctly, Grilled Calamari over mixed greens and tomatoes and it was De-Lic-Ious! I had never tasted calamari prepared in any other way than pan-fried or deep-fried until this point, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise to taste it grilled. The greens and tomatoes blended well with the taste of the calamari and it was seasoned perfectly. As an entree, I ordered the “Braciola Di Pollo” which was stuffed baked chicken with spinach, fontina and mushrooms with aged Marsala sauce and pureed potatoes. This dish was PHENOMENAL! The combination of the semi-sweet and salty from the Marsala sauce with the hint of salty from the spinach, the cheesy fontina with that great texture from the pureed potatoes and baked chicken made me want to savor each and every delectable bite. This was not your momma’s spinach stuffed chicken meal. This was heaven on a plate and ecstasy in food form.

Bettola Wood Burning Oven

My fiance ordered the “Salmone Al Forno” which was their oven roasted salmon filet with vegetables and roasted potatoes. After we sampled from each others’ plates we knew we made the right choice in dining at Bettola. The salmon was moist and flavorful and went perfectly with the vegetables and potatoes. And just as we thought the meal couldn’t get any better, we ordered their “Apple crisp with vanilla gelato” for dessert and simultaneously gave sighs of satisfaction as the warmth and sweetness of the apple crisp collided with the cold, sugary, creaminess of the vanilla gelato. Needless to say, we left the restaurant pleased, making our server the benefactor of our wonderful dining experience. So, as a word of advice: If you are ever in the Upper West Side of NYC and looking for a place that offers great food and a great atmosphere, this is what quality looks and tastes like.

Official Website of Bettola: Bettola

My NYC Spring Break To Be Continued in Part 2.2: The Manhattan Diner Experience