Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Celebrate Duke Ellington's Birthday in New York City

"You must take the A train, to go to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem.If you miss the A train, You'll find you've missed the quickest way to Harlem."

New York City Mayor Mike "Billionaire" Bloomberg has declared April 29th Duke Ellington Day in honor of the 110th anniversary of the jazz legend’s birth. Duke Ellington, one of the 20th century’s most renowned musicians, is among the signature figures not only in the history of jazz, but in the history of American music.

Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974, a month after his 75th birthday. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. His funeral at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was attended by over 12,000 people. Ella Fitzgerald put it best: "A genius has passed."

Wednesday April 29th, 2009 10:00 am
"Take the A Train"
Sponsored by Moda Entertainment and the Islands of the Bahamas.

Ride the Original 1938 Historic "A Train" with Paul Ellington & The Duke Ellington Orchestra in honor of Duke Ellington's 110th birthday!

There will be a special ceremony and performance of the iconic song "Take the A Train" on the mezzanine of 125th Street Station in Harlem at 10AM. All musicians will then board and perform on the historic train as it travels out on it's regular service along the A line to Howard Beach and back. The train will leave from the 125th St. Station at 11AM.

About the A Train:
Seventy five years ago, on 10 September, 1932, the A express train made its first trip under Eighth Avenue spanning twelve miles from downtown all the way to Inwood at the top of Manhattan. Now, the A train travels from Inwood-207th Street to Far Rockaway, 31 miles away in Queens. It is the longest line in the New York subway.

Billy Strayhorn wrote "Take the A train" in 1941. Strayhorn was traveling up to Sugar Hill where Duke Ellington lived when the music flowed into his head. It was inspired by the rapidity of the train that rumbles down express tracks. The song became Duke Ellington's signature tune. "Take the A train" was played at both Strayhorn and Ellington's funeral and is the most well known piece of both jazz musicians. NPR added "Take the A Train" to the NPR top 100 list of America's culturally significant songs.

Wednesday April 29th, 2009 1:10 pm
"Duke Ellington's 110th at 110th"

At 1:10 pm at 110th Street and 5th Ave. Duke Ellington’s family and The Duke Ellington Center for the Arts will be launching a series of activities to commemorate and celebrate the 110th Anniversary of Duke Ellington.

The kickoff will be held at The Duke Ellington Memorial, located inside Duke Ellington Circle, on 110th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Open to the public, the program will feature tributes to The Duke, followed by a brass band and second line procession through Central Park.

The Duke Ellington Memorial is located at Duke Ellington Circle on Central Park’s northeast corner. The sculpture of Edward Kennedy Ellington at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue is the first monument in New York City dedicated to an African American and the first memorial to Duke Ellington in the United States.

More Duke Ellington related events in New York City:

The Central Park Conservancy also has many great FREE programs all summer long celebrating the life of Duke Ellington. These events are co-presented by the Jazz Museum in Harlem, African Film Festival, and the Jazzmobile.

Check out the schedule here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brooklyn in the Spring

Most of these pictures were taken in Crown Heights, Flatbush and Downtown Brooklyn.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Habana Outpost Open for Spring, Summer and Fall!!!

Yesterday marked the opening of Habana Outpost for the spring, summer and fall seasons with their annual Earth Day Expo. And I can't begin to tell you how excited I am.

2008 Earth Day Expo

Habana Outpost is an eco-eatery and community space in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. It's powered by 100% renewable energy. Since its opening, Habana Outpost has been operating on energy derived from their massive solar panels partnered with subsidized wind power. The toilets use water collected from an impressive rainwater collection and filtration system. Even the water used to wash your hands is reclaimed and filtered through a series of wetlands plants. The tables are all made from recycled and reclaimed materials. Plus on weekend afternoons you can save a dollar by mixing your own frozen drink using the bike powered blender!

Habana Outpost serves home-style Latin food with Cuban and Central Mexican accents out of a stationary truck parked in their fabulous and funky courtyard. Like so many New York establishments, there's a trick to ordering (ala the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld). So a tip for newbies: wait in line inside to order, once you pay you get a ticket which you then take outside to the truck, when they're done they will call your name out.

The food is local and organic, they do serve meat, but special note to vegans: they have some of the best veggie dogs in the world. And at the condiment station they have nearly as many different types of hot sauces as I do in my own kitchen (which is a lot). Most of the food is really expensive, but they have unbelievably cheap local craft beer on sale. New York's Six Point Ale on draft for only $2.50 a cup. The cup, like all their disposable dinnerware is biodegradable, which you can deposit in their awesome recycling and compost station behind the truck.

Perhaps best of all is their FREE Sunday night outdoor movie series in the courtyard where they project cult/classic movies onto the side of a building. The Sunday night movies run from the beginning of May until the end of October. Most of the movies have a New York theme (Warriors, Crooklyn, Do the Right Thing, Scarface). If you plan on getting a seat for the movies, I'd suggest coming at least an hour early. Last year when we went to watch Scarface and the courtyard was so packed we had to stand outside of the fence. Eventually people were spilling out into the streets. Probably the most fun was watching Flash Gordon, the crowd was so much fun. Everyone was yelling at the screen and singing along to Queen's infectious sound track.

This year, you can bet your ass I'm going to be there May 10th for the quintessential Brooklyn movie, Warriors.

10-The Warriors
24-Coming to America
31-Krush Groove

7-Way of the Dragon
14- Salsa
21-Satuday Night Fever
28-Do the right thing

19-Drunken Master
26-SuperMan II

Wait, did I mention that there are monthly burlesque shows in the courtyard all summer long? You have to love a city where you can have outdoor burlesque shows and no one complains! Bare breasts outside, where nature intended them, with all different kinds of body shapes and sizes.

Burlesque at Habana Outpost Brooklyn, Sept. 2006

Common at Habana Outpost Brooklyn

Stroll around Habana Outpost

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg Publically Humiliates Disabled Reporter

Here's NYC's billionaire Mayor being a douchebag to Michael Harris, a disabled reporter whose tape recorder was accidentally bumped into, thus activating the play button during a press conference announcing the introduction of legislation designed to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of New York.

Notice when City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn leans over to Mayor Bloomberg and whispers in his ear “he’s disabled.” Billionaire Bloomberg doesn't give a fuck. What do you expect from the richest man in New York City and one of the ten richest people in the United States? He's used to walking all over whoever he feels like walking over.

Later Bloomberg offered a backhanded apology, stating that he was sorry if Harris was offended. Gee, I'm sorry if you were offended that I was a total douchebag and publically humiliated you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Not Homeless, Just Not Home Yet...

While I was checking out the schedule for the New York City Anarchist Bookfair I stumbled across the following music video by Melodic on the Surreal Estate website. I gotta say, I love this song. It's a healthy mix of reggae, soul & rock with conscious lyrics about surviving homelessness in NYC. Excuse me, not homelessness, just not home yetness. It's about retaining dignity, it's about being human. On another note, the video has some great shots of the New York subway system and a cool low-fi quality to it. Enjoy!

Melodic "Ride On -Not Homeless, Just Not Home Yet"

After watching that video, I had to find out more about Melodic and in my search I found these awesome videos of Melodic and other performers at Mark Shine's Rocsta Party at the Village Underground in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. They all appear to be from last year. Looks like I really missed the party. The live band was truly rockin', and the vibe looks positive. Damn, I wish I knew about this while it was goin' on. When you move to the city they should let you know about this shit, know what I mean?

Melodic performing "One" at Mark Shine's Rocsta Party Live at the Village Underground NYC 11/07/08.

Melodic and Mark Shine performing "Frontline" at Mark Shine's Rocsta Party Live at the Village Underground NYC 11/14/08.

Inna Vibe performing "What We Need" at Mark Shine's Rocsta Party Live at the Village Underground NYC 11/14/08.

Want more? Check out Rocsta TV's YouTube page.

While trying to figure out if the Rocsta Parties were still happening, I stumbled across this video sampler for Village Underground's Wednesday and Thursday nights. I'll most definitely be checking out this show. Everyone seems to be having so much fun.

Video sampler of several weeks worth of Wednesday and Thursday night performances at the Village Underground NYC.

Want more? Check out Village Underground's YouTube page.

Rock the Boat! (NYC Music & Transportation Pt. 3)

Ok, check it. Part three of my ongoing obsession of music performed on various modes of transportation in the big city. This time around it's live music on boat cruises around Manhattan Island! Sounds really bougie, but it's surprisingly affordable. Some of these boat cruises are only $20. A lot of people would pay that much for a cover charge. Not me, but lots of people do. And you not only get to see big name bands (Bad Brains, New Mastersounds, Matisyahu) but you're on a freakin' boat! How cool is that? And not a normal boat ride, oh no, you're cruising around Manhattan Island, down the Hudson,, out into the harbor, out to the Statue of Liberty, up the East River (which is actually not a river but a tidal straight), under the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge, all the while soaking in the beauty of the Manhattan skyline.

Back in October I took my girlfriend on a Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan for our seven year anniversary. It was really amazing. Great way to see the city from a whole different perspective. I can only imagine how much cooler it would have been with live music and alcohol. Apparently the Circle Line does offer live music cruises featuring Jazz and Latin music.

For those about to rock... we offer you the Rocks Off Cruises, which showcases some of the finest independent music on the high seas (Punk, Indie, Hip Hop, DJs).

If Blues is more your speed, there's the NYC Blues Cruise (now called NYC Rockin' the River Cruises) which plays not only live Blues, but also Alt-Country, Rock and Zydeco. Unfortunately their cruises are way more expensive. $40 and up. Even for the cover bands. WTF?

On the other end of the spectrum there's Barge Music. It's perfect for anyone who enjoys listening to Classical music performed in the bowels of a vessel that used to run sacks of coffee beans up New York Harbor. This flat-bottomed barge was beautifully converted into a floating recital hall in 1977. Barge Music offers year round concerts at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Best yet, they offer free monthly concerts.

So, landlubbers, put on yer skipper hats and check out the YouTubes below. They vary in sound quality, but I chose a few with bad sound because they are much more obviously shot on a boat. Enjoy!

Future Rock with Matisyahu live on Rocks Off Boat Cruise NYC.

H.R. of Bad Brains performing "Didn't I tell you that I Love You" and "Drama Queen" on a Rocks Off Boat Cruise around Manhattan 09/08/08.

Drug Rug's first NYC show ever, on the Rock's Off Boat Cruise around NYC 05/24/07.

Turntablist Amon Tobin live on the Rocks Off Boat Cruise 08/16/07.

The New Mastersounds performing "Nervous" on the Rocks Off Boat cruise around Manhattan 07/09/08.

Rhianna performing "Word Love" with the New Mastersounds on the Rocks Off Boat cruise 07/09/08.

Cafe Wha? Cruise "Love Shack" (bad sound quality, but check out that view of Lady Liberty).

Subway Performers (NYC Music & Transportation Pt. 2)

OK, the other day I blogged about the Dollar Van Demos, so today in keeping with the spirit of music on different modes of New York City transportation I thought I'd bring you good old fashioned subway performers on the trains!

Drumming on the F train.

Drumming on the uptown A train.

Drums on the trains always make the commute more enjoyable.

Mexican folk music on New York City subway! Makes me miss Pilsen/La Villita in chicago.

More great Mexican music on the Bronx bound 6 train.

Breakdancing on a NYC train. What could be more New York?

More breakdancing. I can barely stand on the train without holding the bar.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dollar Van Demos (NYC Music & Transportation Part 1)

Have I mentioned how much I fucking love this city? Especially Brooklyn?

Check out Dollar Van Demos.

From the Borough of Brooklyn comes Dollar Van Demos, a series of music videos showcasing talented musicians, rappers and comedians performing inside a real New York City dollar van with real passengers on the streets of Brooklyn, USA.

Dollar vans provide a much-needed transportation for neighborhoods under-served by mass transit. Typically operated by West Indian drivers, the ride is cheap, adventurous and now immensely entertaining!

Crosby http://www.crosmopolitan.com/

Leeia Music http://www.myspace.com/leeiamusic

More on Dollar Vans:

Arising out of a Mass Transit Authority strike in 1981, dollar vans have become the transportation of choice for many residents within the Flatbush community. Cheaper, more convienient and more reliable, dollar vans provide a much needed service to areas of Brooklyn that are under-served by the MTA. Once illegal, many are now licensed by the city.