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ID Studio Theater in the Bronx
Theater Gives Voice & Builds Community in Mott Haven
I had an opportunity to visit the ID Studio Theater this Fall in Mott Haven. I briefly met the Artistic Director, German Jaramillo, who gave me a short tour of the theater, telling me that ID Studio Theater had moved into its new home to its new home at 311 East 140th Street in Mott Haven in the Fall of 2016.
German said he'd been working on renovating the ID Studio Theater new home ever since he'd arrived, to make it capable of providing rehearsal studio and performance space to work on new projects, community space and two studio apartments for visiting and affiliated performers. I had the opportunity to view the community space and the rehearsal space which are shown in the photos at right below. In the photo at right is the outside of ID Studio Theater in Mott Haven.
ID Studio Theater - The Performing Arts in Mott Haven Bronx
German told me that ID Studio Theater has been in existence for a long time - since 2001 in fact - at the dawn of the 21st century. The goal of the non-profit performing arts organization is to empower primarily poor, immigrant Latino communities through cultural expression and original works.
The night I visited ID Studio Theater, they were hosting a performance of Pedro Infante. Pedro Infante is a theatrical production by Toby Campion and directed by German Jaramillo that was a part of the Celebrate Mexico Now Festival. The Celebrate Mexico Now is a city-wide celebration of contemporary Mexican art and culture that is now in its 14th year.
Celebrate Mexico Now Festival
I had the opportunity to meet Claudia Norman, the Director and Founder of the Celebrate Mexico Now Festival. She told me that the festival was a celebration of Mexican culture including music, literature, cuisine, visual arts, film and theater. Every year since 2004 Claudia has organized the event with the help of people throughout four of the five boroughs, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The event was an eight day affair [this year October 14 - 22].
Anyhow, there was a small crowd that had gathered on the lower level of ID Studio Theater in their community space where food and beverages were being served. People had come from the other boroughs to view the performance of Pedro Infante. The storyline of Pedro Infante is about a grandmother who is living here taking care of her granddaughter because her daughter and husband work. She begins to yearn to return to the home country of Mexico. And then it happens ...
ID Studo Theater opened with this performance and they've been open ever since. You can check out their website for film showings, rehearsal space info and public performances at www.idstudiotheater.com and there's also a web presence on www.artslatinony.org that I found informative.
- CLICK here to view other stories about things going on in the South Bronx neighborhoods such as Mott Haven.
- CLICK here to view other stories about dance and theater in the Bronx.
- CLICK here for our calendar of Bronx events & things to do in the Bronx - or return here every Friday for a list of Weekend things to do.
Bronx Art Space in Mott Haven
Bronx Cultural Space Provides Venue for Artistic Expression
A few weeks ago I visited the Bronx Art Space as part of my effort to in some measure capture [and release] the heart and soul of the Bronx in pixels. Beverly Emers was my primary contact and her guidance was invaluable not just into the Bronx Art Space, but also in introducing me in some small way to the surrounding community.
As a bit of background, the Bronx Art Space first opened in 2008 in the South Bronx to provide a communal artistic venue to local artists, musicians, film makers and performers. The Bronx Art Space was co-founded by Linda Cunningham and Mitsu Hadeishi.
I arrived on a Saturday evening to witness one of the Bronx Art Space Gatherings. In 2017 at the Bronx Art Space began hosting the Gatherings, which have been organized by James A. Brathwaite, who I met shortly after I arrived. James told me he's been organizing at least one Gathering per month. The Gatherings consist of performances by local talent which is offered free to the public.
James told me it's an opportunity for local dancers, musicians, comedians and performers to get in front of an audience to express themselves and show what they can do. At the time of the October 21st Gathering, James had organized and hosted nine of them year to date.
Beverly, was working at the Bronx Art Space as part of an internship through Hunter College. She's been studying to be a community organizer and from what I experienced in one longer-than-expected evening, I suspect she'll be quite successful. Beverly gave me a brief tour of some of the art hanging on the walls at the Bronx Art Space which as a whole made up the exhibit entitled State Property.
The theme of the State Property exhibit was about American consumerism of prison labor. Private companies profit through the employment of prison labor and other private for profit companies are paid to manage incarcerated populations. The issue is that there's a profit motive in keeping prisons populated and that was the message embedded in many of the works. One of the exhibits noted some of the multi-billion companies profiting from low cost prison labor, going on to contemplate that for some - slavery hasn't ended.
In March of 2017 Mayor de Blasio committed to closing Rikers Island prison over the course of the next ten years. A study was released recommending that the prison be replaced with smaller prisons dispersed throughout the city to keep prisoners near their families and friends, so that their personal ties / human and community networks can become part of their rehabilitation / safety net. Rikers Island prison has been the subject of federal investigations and community protests for alleged brutality and abuses.
One of the biggest complaints is that many prisoners are held for very long periods of time - including minors - without being formally charged with crimes. Beverly told me the story about Kalief Browder, who was incarcerated at Rikers at age 16, held for three years without being charged with any crime. Kalief was held in solitary confinement for 23 days and reportedly beaten by both corrections officers and fellow inmates, so that when he was released he felt uncomfortable around other people and at age 23 he committed suicide.
The art works included an American flag made of spray painted human hair. Another exhibit showed tape markings identifying the spare amount of space prisoners are provided. And there were a number of other art works, including several former prisoners' reflections of their time spent in the pen. It was a thoughtful, moving exhibit that gave voice to the issues of those whose voices can't be heard.
I stayed for some of the performances too. Venture Klan was performing when I first arrived. They're a three member hip hop group from Harlem that started in 2007. They perform in the city and boroughs, and sometimes beyond. The three members are Ave Campbell, BukdaWorld and Leland Charles. You can find their work at www.ventureklan.com.
I also met a solo performer, who goes by the name of Classic. He's been performing for the past ten years and frequently does gigs with a couple of other musicians, but not tonight. He did vocals with background music that he creates with instrumentalists in Eastern Europe. He's currently in the process of copyrighting his work. You can find some of his work on www.weownitrecords.com.
Beverly also introduced me to one of the Bronx Art Space neighbors, the Artistic Director of ID Studio Theater, German Jaramillo. ID Studio Theater is a non-profit Latino arts theater organization that develops and performs new works. They moved into their new home next door to the Bronx Art Space in Mott Haven about a year ago , and this evening there was a production being shown in tandem with the Mexico Now Festival, which was founded by Claudia Norman. Claudia told me about the Mexico Now Festival which is an NYC-wide festival celebrating Mexican culture.
Before I left, Beverly introduced me to one of the neighbors, an artist who has a studio just behind the Bronx Art Space - Maria Scapini of www.scapinistudio.com. I didn't get a chance to see her work as we only met briefly on our way out.
All in all it was an interesting and fun night out, but really just the beginning of getting to know what's doing in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx.
Yankee Stadium History: Concourse Neighborhood Bronx
A Bronx Institution Since 1923 was Rebuilt in 2009 with Taxpayer Funds on Public Parkland
In 1901 the New York Yankees baseball team originated in Baltimore as the Orioles [no relation to present day team]. In 1903, they were purchased by casino man Frank J. Devery and former police chief William S. Farrell, and moved to New York, where they were renamed the Highlanders, because of a Scottish reference and because they played in Hilltop Park which is in present day Washington Heights. Today Hilltop Park is occupied by New York Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center at 165th Street and Broadway.
The New York Giants baseball team had reportedly tried to keep the Highlanders out of New York, by disallowing them the use of the Manhattan Polo Grounds as a venue. The Manhattan Polo Grounds was located in East Harlem at 112th Street west of 5th Avenue [and just north of Central Park], and it is where the New York Giants baseball team played.
In 1911 the Manhattan Polo Grounds burned down, and for a time, the NY Giants used Hilltop Park. While the Manhattan Polo Grounds was being rebuilt, relations between the two teams warmed. So, in 1913 the Highlanders baseball team started playing at the Manhattan Polo Grounds where the team was again renamed– this time as the New York Yankees .
The New York Yankees shared the Manhattan Polo Grounds Stadium with the New York Giants baseball team until the opening season of 1923, when they moved into their new stadium.
Click here to read our report about the history of Yankee Stadium in the Concourse neighborhood of the Bronx.
Mott Haven: Historic District & SummerStage in St Mary’s Park
Large Audience Gathers to Enjoy Communal Music Feast
On Sunday, July 30th, I attended the SummerStage concert in St Mary’s Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. The stage was set in the western side of the park, which opened up onto a large field, but also gave the advantage of providing ‘balcony seats’ where one could enj oy the concert watching and listening from the hills.
SummerStage Concerts Bronx: St Mary's Park Mott Haven
The SummerStage concert in St Mary’s Park featured Lisa / Lisa who hit the national scene in 1985, in the year before she turned 20. The Hells Kitchen native and her 1980’s group – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam - took the hit single ‘I Wonder if I Take You Home’, to #1 on the Billboard Hot Club Dance Play chart for a week in June of 1985.
Lisa / Lisa is of Puerto Rican descent and was born and raised in Hells Kitchen in Manhattan. Lisa / Lisa was one of the wave of freestyle musicians to help usher in dance pop. In 1982 Michael Jackson released his best selling dance album Thriller which rose to become the world’s best selling album – a title which I believe it still holds to this day. In 1984 - just two years later - teenager Lisa / Lisa and her Cult Jam band released ‘I Wonder if I Take You Home’, which as mentioned above, rose to number 1 atop Billboard Magazine's dance pop charts.
Lisa / Lisa shared the stage in concert where she had a male and female dancer who artistically interpreted her magical music while we in the audience moved to the rhythms. In the photo above right, Pop Dance Hip Hop musician Lisa / Lisa with one of the dancers at the SummerStage concert in St Mary's Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.
The weather was a warm but dry 80 degrees as the sun was making its way west and we were sheltered by the St Mary’s Park foliage. While most folks in attendance were adults there were also a number of families with children.
Mott Haven Historic District: Bronx
After the concert I made my way down past the Mott Haven Historic District to the #6 subway at 138th Street and Third Avenue. The Mott Haven Historic District is rather small, running along Alexander Avenue between 138th Street and 141st Street. The buildings date back to the last half of the 19th century, when people were moving to the Bronx because rail transportation was enabling more easy movement of people and goods. Alexander Avenue is believed to have been named after Alexander Bathgate who was the Morris land holdings manager.
The photo at right shows some of the houses from the 19th century that still exist in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.
The Morrises bought the land in the south Bronx in 1670 from Jonas Bronck, a Swedish immigrant and one of the original Bronx settlers and after whom the Bronx is named. Bronck in 1641, less than thirty years earlier, bought theland from the Dutch West India Company, which had purchased the lands from the Indians in 1639.
The Bronx neighborhood in which Alexander Avenue resides, is called Mott Haven, and was named after Jordan Mott. Mott was the inventor of the coal burning stove. In 1828 Mott opened up the first manufacturing facility in the Bronx, his ironworks. Today Mott Ironworks manhole covers are reportedly still in use today.
Also nearby is St Mary's Park where the SummerStage concert took place, as well as St Ann's Church, which is an Episcopalian Church where two generations of Lewis Morris are buried, as well as Gouverneur Morris. They are members of one of the founding families of the Bronx, second only to Jonas Bronck himself.
The Bronx SummerStage concert series is organized and sponsored by SummerStage and City Parks Foundation in tandem with the NYC Parks Department. SummerStage organizes several free concerts in Bronx each summer, including two concerts in Crotona Park in the Central Bronx.
Click here to view our story about the Mott Haven Historic District in the Bronx.
Fashion Show on the Hudson
Riverbank Park Fashion Show Highlights New & Known Clothing, Models & Designers
August 1, 2017, Inwood Neighborhood / Manhattan Fashion & Designers / Manhattan Buzz NYC.
A couple of weeks ago I made my way to the 8th Annual Fashion on the Hudson fashion show at Riverbank Park at 679 Riverside Drive along the Hudson River in the Inwood neighborhood of upper Manhattan. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon as I headed into the Cultural Building in the 28 acre park.
The audience filled the Cultural Building, so I had to move around to get some photos of the models who were in the process of displaying men's swimwear. The muscular male models, with washboard ribbed stomachs marched down the runway showing a range of swimming suits that ranged from modest white trunks, to skimpy speedo cuts with psychedelic designs. I surveyed the crowd and found a number of women who seemed appreciative of the new designs and cuts.
As I was tight on time, I decided to make my way backstage to talk to a few of the models and designers to learn a bit more about them. Backstage a number of models had queued up for the ongoing swimwear segment of the program, while deeper backstage a number of the formal wear models were prepping for their debut.
In the photo above right you can see members of the audience enjoying themselves at the Fashion on the Hudson fashion show at Riverbank Park in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan.
Fashion on the Hudson Showcases Local Designers & Models
Fashion aficionado Daryl H. Miles, Founder of Beyond Styles by Miles, took a few minutes to talk to me about the show. He told me that Sofia Davis, editor of Fashion Avenue News, founded the show and that it has been produced at this location since its inception. At first Sofia held the show outside, but given the vagaries of the weather she decided to bring it in, where it has been ever since.
This year the show hosted 30 designers displaying swimwear, formal wear, casual wear and other stylish creations. The show is free to the public, but you must rsvp because seating is limited. The Fashion on the Hudson fashion show represents a great opportunity to see what's new and what's hot in the local NYC metro fashion world, and provides an opportunity for people interested in the business to meet models, designers and fashion buyers.
Daryl of Beyond Styles by Miles [www.beyondstylesbymiles.com - not to be confused with www.stylesbymiles.com] has been in the business for a number of years helping designers, models and fashion show organizers promote their fashion lines and brands.
I stayed a bit longer shooting photos of the models and lines before departing. And I'm looking forward to being able to spend more time covering the show next year.
In the photo above right you can see models who participated at the Fashion on the Hudson fashion show at Riverbank Park in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan.
Quite a Memorial Day Weekend in the Bronx
Good Weather, Cook outs Galore & Plenty of Things To Do
I spent a fair amount of time biking around the Bronx this weekend. I ventured as far east as the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in the East Bronx across the waterway from Co-op City [Hutchinson River?], as far north as the Woodlawn Cemetary and Mosholu Golf Course by Norwood, as far west as the High Bridge [formerly an aqueduct] in Highbridge along the Harlem River and as far south as Barretto Point Park in Hunts Point. And overall I found traveling the borough to be good exercise and quite fascinating.
Over the Memorial Day Weekend I found more people cooking out than I've seen in any other borough over the past 30 years. People were relaxing, hanging out with their family and friends, and playing games with their kids.
Given it was Memorial Day Weekend, I stopped by the Woodlawn Cemetery to pay my respects to those who fought for the freedoms we currently enjoy. To be sure Freedom is a Right. But it's a right that had to be fought for and many died so that others might live. It seems our freedoms are under attack these days, so it's worth reminding folks of a few sayings that one of our Founding Fathers said.
Thomas Jefferson said that "Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy." and "A nation that expects to be ignorant and free is expecting something that never was and never shall be." and "were it left to me [Jefferson] to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
There are those who seem to never be able to get enough for themselves, no matter what the cost by others. And these people, throughout all prior generations, and for generations to come, are constantly finding ways to hack our system of checks and balances so that they might get more and others get less - by simply changing the laws to work in their favor. Left unchecked, we will return to the misery of the past.
The first place to start is to make sure that you're not voting on soundbytes put out there by unreliable or very self-interested people. We've been running a series on billionaire Rupert Murdoch who over the past few decades bought and now controls Fox TV, the Wall Street Journal, the NY Post and the National Geographic. He appears to have taken these generally reliable brands and repurposed them to further his own interests, oftentimes at the expense of the American people. Scroll down to learn more.
Bronx Things To Do - South Bronx
Things to do in Mott Haven, Concourse, Melrose, Soundview, Hunts Point, Port Morris, Highbridge, Claremont Village & Clason Point
This section includes events venues for things to do in the South Bronx. This listing of events venues also contains links to the monthly calendar of things to do in the Bronx this weekend and this month.
Click here to view Things To Do in the South Bronx Neighborhoods in NYC.
Free Things To Do in the Bronx - Free Summer Concerts in the Park
Free Concerts In Bronx Parks - Fordham, Mosholu, Pelham Bay & Van Cortlandt Park NYC
This report includes a list of some of the free things to do in the Bronx this summer.
Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free things to do in the Bronx - free concerts in Bronx parks.
Free Things To Do in the Bronx - Free Summer Movies in the Park
Free Movies In Bronx Parks - Fordham, Mosholu, Pelham Bay & Van Cortlandt Park NYC
This report includes a list of some of the free things to do in the Bronx this summer.
Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free things to do in the Bronx - free movies in Bronx parks.
Free Things To Do in the Bronx - Free Summer Theater & Shakespeare in the Park
Free Theater In Bronx Parks - Morris Park & Van Cortlandt Park NYC
This report includes a list of some of the free things to do in the Bronx this summer.
Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free things to do in the Bronx - free theater in Bronx parks.
Which Bronx & NYC Pols Support $8 Tolls To Cross 60th Street & East River Bridges?
Borough President Brewer, NYS Assemblyman Rodriguez, Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs Weprin & Many Manhattan CCM's Support $8 Tolls to Raise Capital for the MTA
NYS Governor Cuomo Supported Congestion Traffic Pricing in the Past & Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin Is Supporting It
The new Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan has been making its way into the legislative process over the past year. Just last week NYS Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, a Democrat from Manhattan introduced the bill on March 23, 2016. The Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan is being sold into the legislature as a means to raise revenue to fund MTA Capital projects.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYS Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin, CCM's Ydanis Rodriguez, Margaret Chin, Mark Levine & Corey Johnson support installing $8 tolls on 60th Street & East River bridges to raise capital for the MTA.
Governor Cuomo's Words Are ...
Governor Andrew Cuomo supported the Congestion Pricing Plan put forth years ago, which wasn't popular with many of the voters in Brooklyn & Queens. The two boroughs have a combined population which rounds to 5 million or 25% of the 20 million people who live in New York State.
Cuomo was quoted as making the following statement by the Observer in an article published a year ago on March 15, 2015,
"It's not, 'Can I support it?' Will the people support it? Can you get it done? Can you get a
congestion plan passed and we've gone through this a couple of times and it was an
overwhelming 'no' and I haven't seen anything happen that would change my opinion,"
The Governor has essentially been repeating this position publicly ever since.
Inconsistent with Governor Cuomo's Staff Actions
But while the Governor is publicly distancing himself from the measure which is unpopular in Queens and Brooklyn, former NY City Councilmember Mark Weprin, who is now Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs, has supported the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan.
Weprin vehemently oppposed Congestion Traffic Pricing in 2008 when he was a NY City Councilmember, but in 2015 Weprin began publicly supporting the revised Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan as he transitioned from NY City Councilmember to becoming Cuomo's Deputy of Legislative Affairs. NYS Assemblyman David Weprin, Mark's brother, continues to publicly oppose the plan.
It's worth mentioning that the Weprins and the Cuomos have had close family political ties spanning two generations.
Move NY's 'New & Improved' Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan
We studied the Move NY Traffic Congestion Pricing proposal by first taking a closer look at what groups are pushing the plan [follow the money]. Gridlock Sam Schwartz Consulting LLC is one of the primary promoters of the plan, and the consulting company is owned in part by a large, multi-national, transit infrastructure contractor. We also evaluated the assumptions they used to create the estimates provided in the plan, which we found to be inconsistent with fairly recent independent studies by respectable institutions, and we also looked at what happened in one of the other cities around the world that implemented the plan.
In essence the plan retrofits [re-prices] the fossil fuel infrastructure, by making a significant investment to install and operate tolling around the center of Manhattan. The remaining proceeds would then go to fund other MTA capital projects [in London this was about half the proceeds]. The pricing would require those who can't afford the $8 tolls [each way] to either use mass transit [recent NYC metro studies have shown this switching doesn't happen] or to cross the bridge at other times at which time the tolls would cost less. The proponents say this would enable those who can afford the tolls to cross the East River bridges and 60th Street more quickly and move around mid Manhattan more easily [less traffic congestion with the rest of the community priced out of their way]. How 'democratic' is this?
Previously MTA Invests Billion$ in New Subways Appearing to Accommodate Billionaire Manhattan Developer(s) & Now Pols Want Metro Residents & Employees to Fund a System to Toll Tax Them to Fund MTA Capital Budget
The MTA during the Bloomberg (Republican) Administration made approximately $8 billion in MTA capital investments for about 30 to 40 blocks of Manhattan subway lines. One line travels from Times Square to the Javits Center [$2.4 billion mostly paid by city] and the other, which was strongly supported by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, is expected to travel along Second Avenue from about East 60th Street to about East 86th Street when it is completed [ran way past budget and time estimates - currently about $5.2 billion].
The latter subway line has been called the 'subway to nowhere', while the other isn't much different - as it terminates at the Javits Center and billionaire real estate developer Steven Ross' & Related Companies' new Hudson Yards development - without any other subway connections. Pundits have opined that one [new #7 Hudson Yards station] and possibly both of these multi-billion dollar investments were made to accommodate Manhattan real estate developers [such as Ross], more than to facilitate transit for commuters and residents of New York City.
When I confronted an MTA spokesperson with this perspective, they told me that the Q line extension would alleviate a considerable amount of the congestion on the north / south east side Manhattan subway line, but made no comment regarding the Hudson Yards station.
The photos above show no passengers on the Javits subway [at an admittedly random time and not long after it was installed], while the second photo shows the #6 subway along the Upper East Side, also at a random time. The map to your right shows the new #7 subway line extension ending as an unconnected spur.
Perhaps if the MTA and the government officals who oversee MTA capital project spending were more judicious in their selection of multi-billion dollar projects and allocation of funds, they wouldn't need to make a huge investment of the public's money in the creation and operation of an expensive new tolling system which they plan to use to charge taxpayers $8 tolls to cross 60th Street and the East River Bridges.
This plan essentially aids the wealthy by making their lives easier, while economically discriminating against those with less wherewithal, by making their lives harder. This doesn't strike me as a solution that's 'democratic' at all. There must be less costly, more fair ways to raise additional revenue for transit that NYC commuters - not Manhattan real estate developers - really need.
CLICK HERE TO SCAN / READ THE FULL REPORT on the Move NY Congestion Traffic Pricing Plan.
De Blasio Delivers State of the City Address
Mayor Takes Humanist, Social Science Approach to Solving NYC Problems
NYC Crime Down, Stop N' Frisk Down 97%, NYC Public School Graduation Rate Up, H.S. Drop Out Rate Down, College Bound Graduates Up, 70,000 Children Enrolled in Universal Pre-K, Financing Initiated on 62,000 Units of Affordable Housing, NYC Budget Surplus
See Related Analysis of Reporting by Multi-Billionaire Owned NY Post
I attended Mayor de Blasio's third State of the City Address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Monday. The beautiful old theater, built in 1904, didn't admit African Americans until thirty years later. And it was in 1934 that the historic theater began earning the fame it has today, by becoming the showcase for African American musical and theatrical legends.
In the photo at right is the Apollo Theater as seen from one of the balcony booths prior to the beginning of Mayor de Blasio's 2017 State of the City Address.
Fighting Tyranny & Thomas Paine: These are the Times that Try Men's Souls
There were a number of performances and speeches leading up to the Mayor's address, including a performance by the Dorothy Maynor Choir of Harlem and an operatic delivery of the Star Spangled National Anthem by FDNY's Regina Wilson. Recently deceased Detective Steven McDonald's son, Conor, gave a speech, as did NYC First Lady Chirlane McRay, the Reverend David Ramos, Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Imam Souleimane Konate.
The Pledge of Allegiance was delivered by Jian 'John' Yuan Lin, Chyna Huertas and Eva Lin. And the Reverend Michael Walrond, of the First Corinthian Baptist Church, gave a fiery, inspirational speech talking comparing the national state of affairs today to the American colonists fighting to shake off the shackles of tyranny. He cited the words of American Revolutionary Thomas Paine, who in 1776 said,
"These are the times that try men's souls."
Just before the Mayor came on stage was a video highlighting the de Blasio Administration accomplishments.
Mayor de Blasio Standing Big & Tall for All New Yorkers
The Mayor came onto the stage, beginning by thanking the various people and departments that helped make his Administration's accomplishments possible. His thanks always include his wife, Chirlane McCray, who has been evolving in her role as NYC's First Lady.
Here's a sampling of the de Blasio's efforts to make New York a better place for all New Yorkers. Some of the information came from the video presentation referenced above, which I have augmented with some additional research and information obtained in prior reporting efforts.
In the photo at right stands a weary, but determined, Mayor Bill de Blasio at his 2017 State of the City Address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
I. De Blasio Administration NYC Public School Achievements
A. Social Science & Humanist Approach to Education
• Universal Pre-K Enrollment 70,000
• Advanced Placement For All
• Drop Out Rates Down
• Graduation Rates Up
• College Bound Graduates Up
The slide at right shows some of the gains made by the de Blasio Administration with the NYC public school system over the past three plus years.
1. Stop the Bleeding - Stop the 'CORPORATE' run Charter Schools from Maximizing Profit at the Expense of Maximizing Human Potential
Editor's Note: There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between the NON-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOLS and FOR-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOL CORPORATIONS. Non profit charters are generally older organizations, designed as an alternative in response to failing public schools decades ago, and whose focus is on improving education - not improving profits.
By contrast the FOR-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOL CORPORATIONS generally arose in the 21st century, and this group appears to be pillaging the public school system by recruiting and siphoning off the good [low cost / high performing] students so they can maximize profits - not enhance public education.
The despicable consequence of this for-profit charter school strategy is that they are simultaneously robbing the most vulnerable, disadvantaged children of anything resembling an opportunity in life as promised in the founding documents of this nation.
Family background continues to be the highest determinant [have the highest correlation] of a student's academic achievement.
So the de Blasio Administration has significantly slowed the corporate charter school assault on the public education system.
Corporate Charter School Business Strategy Comparable to Old Health Insurance 'Gaming the System'
Recruit the Academic Achievers, 'the Healthy Ones', Because They're Most Profitable & Shun the Rest
It appears the charter school corporations have employed a strategy designed to recruit and retain the best students to their schools, while leaving the rest behind. They appear to recruit the kids who are already performing well, because the performing children cost the least to educate, thus providing the highest return to the hedge fund profiteers because the funding is allocated on a per capital / per student basis. High performing student enrollments also enable corporate charter schools to claim they are 'performing well' because they've recruited the highest scoring students.
The recruitment and retention strategy referenced above resembles the old health insurance strategy of recruiting the healthy people to buy health insurance as they are the most profitable, while denying those who aren't blessed with good health because they cost the most to keep healthy. This was a systemic inequity Obamacare attempted to eradicate.
In the photo at right stand an Imam [Islam], a Rabbi [Jewish] and a Reverend [Christian] all sharing the same podium with a message of love, peace, respect and understanding.
2. Help the Youngsters & Maximize Human Potential - Not Profits
The De Blasio Administration pushed through universal Pre-K, which has enrolled 70,000 students since its inception in the Fall of 2014.
When this first came out I, and a number of people I know, didn't really grasp the importance of this effort. As family support is the highest determinant in a child's success, many youngsters were entering the public school system at a significant disadvantage vis a vis their better parented peers.
By accessing these kids while they are younger, and providing access to the guidance and resources of the public school system earlier, the NYC Public School system now has a greater chance of motivating these kids, which will inevitabley empowering them, raising their self esteem, and give them a chance at a far more engaged and productive life.
I now get it. And this seems like it can only be a good thing for all of society, as it will reduce societal costs of failing these people early on.
MAXIMIZE HUMAN POTENTIAL - Good Public Policy Costs Less in Long Haul & Enormously Benefits Society
This approach to education enables us as a society to maximize our human potential, which will benefit all the community - and in some small way - all mankind. Not only is this a more humanistic approach to engaging these children, but it's more cost effective in the long haul, as those left behind will inevitably cost society more through lost opportunities, lost productivity, and increased spending on health, human services and criminal justice programs.
In the photo at right is the Mayor on stage at the Apollo Theater with all of the people working for the city that he honored that night including policemen, firefighters, sanitation workers and educators. The Mayor appears to be one who is very much in touch with the middle & working class rank and file of New York City.
Click here for our report about Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City Address 2017 including an update on crime, the affordable housing crisis, the city's finances, sanitation and social activism.
4th of July Fireworks 2017 Bronx
Best Viewing Places / Locations to Watch Fireworks in Bronx NYC
July 1, 2017 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
The Macy's 4th of July fireworks will be shown along the East River this year. They were shown along the East River in 2014 for the first time since 2008. Mayor de Blasio had lobbied the change, which now spans three years.
Weather. Highs will be in the mid 80's during the dayand in the high 60's at night. As no rain is forecast it should be a near perfect night.
The Grucci Brothers will be doing the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC. They have been doing fireworks for many years and the Macy's July 4th fireworks in Manhattan for decades.
But for those looking for fireworks on 4th of July 2017, you'll have ample opportunity to view the fireworks as the pyrotechnic performance expansion is being continued this year.
Click here for a report about where to watch the 4th of July Fireworks 2017 Bronxn NYC & surrounding areas, including times and locations for the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC.
Bronx Swimming Pools - Public Pools in NYC
June / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
Bronx offers easy access to a wide range of recreational swimming pools. The following is our first attempt to provide you with a view of the range of public swimming pools available in the parks of the Bronx. We encourage you to make use of these facilities because they provide healthy, fun, and frequently free or inexpensive entertainment for both individuals and families with children.
The following is a listing of Bronx swimming pools including South Bronx, Central Bronx, East Bronx and North West Bronx swimming pools.
Free Public Swimming Pools in the South Bronx. The Floating Pool at Barretto Point Park at the corner of Tiffany & Veile streets in Hunts Point.
The Mullaly Pool at 164th Street and Jerome Avenue just north of Yankee Stadium in the Concourse neighborhood of the Bronx.
Free Public Swimming Pools in the Central Bronx. The Claremont swimming pool in Claremont Park at 170th Street and Clay Avenue in Claremont Village neigoborhood.
The Crotona Pool at 173rd Street and Fulton Avenue near the Crotona Park Nature Center in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx.
The Mapes Pool across from Mapes Ball Field at 180th Street and Mapes Avenue in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx.
Free Public Swimming Pools in the North West Bronx. The Van Cortlandt swimming pool at 242nd Street and Broadway in Van Cortlandt Park in the Van Cortlandt neighborhood.
Free Public Swimming Pools in the East Bronx. And the Haffen Swimming Pool at Ely and Burke Avenues in Haffen Park in the Baychester neighborhood of the Bronx.
Clinton Defeats Sanders, Trump Defeats Rivals
Clinton 58% vs Sanders 42%; Trump 60% vs Kasich 24% & Cruz 15%
April 20, 2016 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
Bernie Sanders has been campaigning in New York the past week, drawing large crowds ranging from thousands to tens of thousands, as if he were a rock star. But on Tuesday, the voters weighed in and handed Hillary Clinton a convincing victory, helping her widen her delegate lead, and likely put her on the path to the Democratic Party nomination.
Democratic Delegate Count
To win the Democratic Party nomination, a candidate needs 2383 delegates of 4763 total. Within that total there are 712 super delegates, who can align themselves / vote for whomever they want but there's pressure to vote in favor of the direction that the state voted. The remaining 4051 delegates are won via the voting process and are called pledged delegates.
According to the Associated Press estimate, following the NY State win Hillary Clinton now has 1428 pledged delegates and 469 super delegates, while Bernie Sanders has 1151 pledged delegates and 31 super delegates. There are 1472 pledged delegates remaining, so to win a majority of pledged delegates, Hillary has to win 598 or 41% of the remaining pledged delegates, while Bernie has to win 874 or 59% of them. Clinton has already received commitments from more than half of the 'super delegates'.
Given Sanders is generally still behind in the polls in some of the larger remaining states [behind 16% in Pennsylvania and behind 8% in California], that seems a tall order. While the polls were dead wrong in Michigan, they were spot on in New York. The Sanders campaign told a news outlet Tuesday evening that they will see how they do in the contests this coming week and then evaluate their chances going forward. The Democratic Convention has been scheduled from July 25 - 28, 2016 in Philadelphia.
Republican Delegate Count
Meanwhile on the Republican side there wasn't much news. Trump won handily defeating Kasich and Cruz. The Republicans have 2473 total delegates and 1237 are needed to win. According to the Associated Press estimate, following the NY State win, Trump has 845 delegates, while Cruz has 559 and Kasich has 147.
Trump needs 392 more delegates [about 40%] to go uncontested to the Republican Convention. There are 992 delegates remaining, but according to CBS only 674 delegates are available in the remaining voting contests prior to the Convention. So Trump may have to win 60% of the remaining unpledged delegates to go to the Convention uncontested. The Republican Convention is scheduled for July 18 - 21, 2016 in Cleveland.
The voting contests next week include Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware.
The fat lady hasn't yet sung, but it is beginning to look like a Clinton / Trump race to the White House.
De Blasio's State of the City Address 2016
Progress Moving NYC from 'Tale of Two Cities' to 'One New York'?
I attended Mayor de Blasio's second State of the City Address delivered at the Performing Arts Center at Lehman College in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. In spite of its northern, non-central location, the speech was well attended. About three dozen protesters also made their way north of Manhattan into the Central west Bronx, wielding placards asking the Mayor to stop gentrification and something about fair labor practices.
I took my place among the press corps where we were seated right in the middle of the auditorium. After settling in, I started photographing the slides whizzing by on the main stage, showing the accomplishments of the de Blasio Administation during its first two years. I have included a slide show a bit later in this report, which contains some of the slides that I photographed.
Unlike last year, when the Mayor and the Police Commissioner were having difficulties adjusting to each other, this year the mood seemed buoyant. In front of me was a group of students from the Laboratory School of Finance & Technology - MS 223 - at 360 East 145th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx. The school is connected with Bronx Prep and hence handles grades 6 through 12.
Click here to read our report of Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016. The report includes video excerpts of the Mayor's speech, as well as two other short video pieces including the harmony singing of the National Anthem by a talented Bronx choral group, and a few exchanges with the teachers and students of MS 223 in the Bronx.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker
Columbia School of Journalism Dean Coll Moderates Conversation with Authors Gay Talese & Thomas Kunkel
January 18, 2016 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Manhattan History / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.
I received an invitation to attend a conversation at the Columbia School of Journalism about a new book covering the professional life of one of the most prominent writers of The New Yorker magazine. The Columbia University School of Journalism is easily one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation; and Columbia also hosts the judging for the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered one of the highest awards a journalist or author can receive.
It was a fairly warm October evening as I made my way north on the subway along the Upper West Side. I got off at 116th Street and walked east through the main campus to the Faculty House. The Faculty House sits atop the Morningside Heights ridge overlooking Harlem, the Upper West Side and the rest of Manhattan.
The entrance into the Faculty House was from an interior courtyard where Columbia University students were hanging around in casual conversations. Once inside, I was directed to an upper floor where the event was being held.
Seated at the head of the room was Gay Talese, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of numerous books including The Kingdom & The Power. He was in the company of the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author having penned several tomes about issues in Asia, most notably the Middle East. And of course, there was the guest author of the evening, Thomas Kunkel, who is the President of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and who had penned the book being discussed this evening entitled Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker.
NYC Marathon: A Brief History
A Closer Look At The NYC Marathon Course & Runners
November 2, 2015 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
Every year about 50,000 runners converge on New York City on the first weekend of November to run in the New York Marathon. The race begins at 8.30 am with the wheelchair division, is followed at 8.52 am by the athletes with disabilities and handcyclers. And then from 8.55 am until 11 am a horde of 50,000 runners passes the starting line on their 26 mile journey ending in Central Park.
The course has changed since the first NYC Marathon and now runs through all five boroughs, starting in Staten Island, coming up through western Brookyn, cutting through Long Island City between the Pulaski and Queensboro Bridges and then looping up along the Upper East Side before circling back around just north of the Harlem River in the Bronx and heading back south into Manhattan and terminating in Central Park.
The race lasts about eleven hours, as the official end time is 7.30 pm, but the reality is that it's mostly over by about 5 pm. The NYC Marathon began in 1970 and the first one was held entirely in Central Park by having the runners circle around the park on various roadways multiple times. And, of course, it was a much smaller group of runners.
NYC Marathon Runner Demographics by the NYT
The NYT published a report about the NYC Marathon demographics. In it they noted that about three quarters of the runners make it over the finish line, and that about 40% of the runners are now women, which is up significantly from none in the first NYC Marathon in 1970.
This year only 48% of the runners are Americans, while another 4.5% come from Canada and Mexico, France and Italy represent 14% of the runners [split about evenly], and Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are another 15% (contributing in descending order], other parts of Europe, Latin America, Japan & China, Austrailia and South Africa.
Age-wise the largest group is between 30 and 40, the 2nd largest between 40 and 50, and a good measure from the 20 to 30 and the 50 to 60 demographics. Apparently many reaching their 40th and 50th birthdays like to 'prove that they still have it'. You can find the full report on www.nytimes.com, including some fun graphs.
NYC Marathon Winners Past & Present
The last time an American won the Marathon was in 2009 [Meb Keflezighi - a 2004 Olympic silver medalist born in Eritrea], and the last American winner born in the United States was Bill Rodgers in 1979. This year Meb was the first place finisher among all Americans and he broke the record for Masters Runners.
This year the winner for men was Stanley Biwott of Kenya who ran the NYC Marathon in 2:10:34, the winner for women was Mary Keitany, also from Kenya, who ran the course in 2:24:25, making this her second win in as many years. In the Wheelchair division, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa beat Josh George of USA by one second coming in at 1:30:54. In the women's wheelchair division, Tatyana McFadden a Russian-born American, broke the NYC Marathon course record by seven minutes. It's been quite a year for her as she also won the marathon in Boston, Chicago and London this year.
Men's & Women's Marathon Times
As you can see by the times above, the best marathoners generally make the trip in a bit more than two hours, which means they ran at a pretty good clip of almost 13 miles per hour for over two hours. And it's worth mentioning that the gap between male and female NYC Marathon runners has been closing and at present is about 15 minutes.
Organizers & Sponsors of the NYC Marathon
New York Road Runners or NYRR is the organizer of the NYC Marathon and this year Tata Consultancy Services or TCS is the premier sponsor. TCS is an Indian software and IT services company based in Mumbai [formerly Bombay].
Century Bike Ride Manhattan
September 14, 2015 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
The Sunday forecast included a high probability of scattered thunderstorms, but fortunately for the Century bike riders the weather appeared to favor them.
The Century Bike Ride is organized by Transportation Alternatives, an environmentally-friendly group that promotes non-carbon and low carbon 'transportation alternatives' to NYC residents. This is the bike ride they sponsor and the receipts go toward their efforts to ensure the various levels of government do what they can to help promote a safe and regenerative urban transportation environment.
The Century Bike Ride offers four biking alternatives that individuals and / or groups can pursue on their own during the most-of-the-day event. The first start time was at 5.30 am in Central Park [Manhattan] and at 6 am for a Prospect Park [Brooklyn] start and the last rest stops at the two parks closed at 6 pm.
The four bike routes included a 35 mile, 55 mile, 75 mile and 100 mile [hence the name century] loop.The 35 mile loop is called the East River Ride, which runs along the East River primarily in Brooklyn and Queens. The ride started at 7.30 am and was expected to last between 3.5 and 7.5 hours. The 55 mile loop is called the Waterfront Ride which includes the East River loop, but also the Verrazzanno Bridge, Coney Island and part of the Brooklyn Greenway. This ride started at 7 am / 7.30 am and was expected to take about 3.5 to 8.5 hours. The 75 mile loop is called the Rockaways Ride and it excludes the north / south run along the East River in Brooklyn / Queens in exchange for a haul out to the Fort Tilden Beach in the Rockaways then north through a number of Queens Greenways [parks] before turning westward back toward Manhattan. The Century Bike Ride, the 100 miler, starts at 6 am / 6.30 am and is expected to take between six and twelve hours.
The Century Bike Ride started in 1989 and is celebrating its 26th year.
MTA: Subway Fare Increases March 22
February 13, 2015 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
The Board approved increasing the base fare for the subway, bus, and MTA Staten Island Railway by 25 cents to $2.75, while also more than doubling the bonus amount added to MetroCard® purchases of at least one round-trip.
The combination of the increased fare and the increased bonus creates an effective fare increase of 4.1%, or 10 cents, for the Bonus MetroCard, which is used for 43% of trips. The 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 29% of trips, will increase 4% to $116.50. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 21% of trips, will increase 3.3% to $31. The remaining 7% of trips are made using non-bonus MetroCards, cash on buses or Single Ride Tickets, which are largely purchased near major tourist destinations.
Vision Zero Appears To Be Helping
Mayor de Blasio's Effort to Reduce Traffic Fatalities Appears To Have Some Success
December 22, 2014 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
As of October 1, 2014 there were somewhere between 86 and 97 pedestrians killed by motorists in NYC, and 17 cyclists. In all of 2013 there were 177 pedestrians killed by motorists and 12 cyclists.
If the monthly average of deaths continues through to year end, then some progress will have been made in reducing motorist fatalities in NYC.
Communities have banded together to begin addressing the issue of traffic fatalities on New York City streets. Solutions included reducing the speed limit to 25 mph, continuing the effort to provide separate lanes for cyclists, and rearranging traffic patterns in order to protect pedestrians from death and motorists from ending up in jail.
To be sure, much more needs to be done to make our streets safe, but there was some small measure of encouragement in the 9 month fatality scorecard.
People's Climate March Photos
Over 300,000 People March / Interesting Signage / Creative Costumes / Jazzy Music / Important Message / By The People & For The People / We Are One World / We Are One People / We Must Learn To Live In Harmony With Each Other & With Our Ecosystem
September 22, 2014 / Midtown Neighborhood / Bronx Environment & Parks / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I came up the subway stairs at Times Square Sunday, September 21, 2014 shortly before 1 pm. I had hoped to cover the People's Climate March story beginning at 11.30 am at Columbus Circle which was when the parade was to start; but I was detained and rushed to cover what I had thought might be the END of the parade. Boy, was I wrong. I ran head on into the BEGINNING of the parade, although I had missed the very front of it.
It truly was a People's Parade as there were few government officials were in attendance. According to one report I read after the parade, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the head of the parade around 12.45 pm, which wasabout the time I had arrived, so I missed them.
There were also a few NY City Council Members who marched, versus an NYT report that indicated a third or more planned to march. I recognized three of about five NY City Councilmembers that were there: NY City Council Speaker Viverito, UWS CCM Rosenthal and Astoria Queens CCM Costa Constantinides.
Green Companies Missed Big Marketing Opportunity To Reach Their Passionate Audience
Click here later today to read our full report of the People's Climate March including hundreds of photos, and a number of parade marchers' views of what's really going on, as well as what can practically be done by regular folks about it.
Click here to read our report and view photos of the UN organized People's Climate March in NYC. Story and photos by Michael Wood.
East Bronx Neighborhoods - East Bronx News
East Bronx Neighborhood News in NYC
December 2017 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
This section includes stories about the history, culture, arts, restaurants, shops, real estate and politics in the East Bronx. The East Bronx includes City Island, Pelham Bay, Coop City, Parchester, Schuylerville, Throgs Neck, Eastchester, Edenwald, Country Club, Baychester, Pelham Parkway and Unionport.
Click here to view reports of the news in the East Bronx Neighborhoods in NYC.
Bronx Things To Do This Weekend - Bronx NYC
December 2017 / Bronx NYC / Bronx Buzz NYC.
ONE OF THE MOST COMPLETE BRONX EVENTS CALENDARS contains notices of things to do in the Bronx borough of NYC including art exhibitions, films, theater, live music, comedy, dance, sports social events, classes, and restaurant reviews for Mott Haven, Fordham Heights, Riverdale, Hunts Point, Concourse, Middletown Pelham Bay, Morrisania, Norwood, Kingsbridge, Soundview, High Bridge, Throgs Neck, Westchester Square neighborhoods of Bronx NYC for October 2017.
Click here to view the Bronx Things To Do In Bronx this weekend during the month of October 2017.
Bronx Street Fairs 2017 - In NYC
Bronx Street Fairs 2017 - Mott Haven, Fordham Heights, Mt Eden, Mt Hope, Morris Park, Riverdale, Hunts Point, Concourse, Middletown Pelham Bay, Morrisania, Norwood, Kingsbridge, Soundview, High Bridge, Throgs Neck, Westchester Square & Plenty More
THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE BRONX STREET FAIRS including DATES, FOTOS & maps of most of the Bronx Street Fairs and Festivals in the NYC neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Fordham Heights, Riverdale, Hunts Point, Concourse, Middletown Pelham Bay, Morrisania, Norwood, Kingsbridge, Soundview, High Bridge, Throgs Neck, Westchester Square and plenty more.
Click here to view our report, including links to maps, of Bronx Street Fairs & Festivals 2017.
Bronx Farmers Markets
See HOURS, MAPS, ITEMS / SELECTION of the 13+ BEST Farmers Markets / Green Markets in Bronx, w/ savvy shoppers' tips. This report includes the Mott Haven Farmers Market, Concourse Green Market, Coop City Farmers Market, Fordham Manor Green Market, Parkchester Farmers Market, City Island Farmers Market, Hunts Point Farmers Market, Claremont Village farmers markets and in between.
Click here for dates, times, locations of the Bronx Farmers Markets.
Bronx Shopping & Shops - BronxNYC
Shopping & Shops in the Bronx in NYC
December 2017 / Shops & Shopping NYC / Bronx Buzz NYC.
This section includes stories about many of the interesting shops in the Bronx.
Click here to go to the Bronx Shops & Shopping section of the site.
Bronx Restaurants - Bronx NYC
Cafes, Bars, Diners & Restaurants in the Bronx NYC
This section includes reviews of Manhattan restaurants.
Click here to view the Bronx Restaurants NYC section including reviews of the restaurants in the Bronx NYC.
South Bronx Neighborhoods & South Bronx News NYC
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