A Coffee Shop Institution

An institution of all coffee shops in NYC, the “Lower East Side Coffee Shop” says it all.  I love this shop, and pretty much all “Original” and “True” New Yorkers love this place or at least know of it.  What I love the most aside from the price, is that it is completely unchanged and in keeping with the “Coffee Shop” tradition.

When you walk into this java hub, you are taken back to a vintage era.  An age of leather booths for four and tables for two.  The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and breakfast foods, that get your taste-buds going, fills the air.  The staff is professional and seasoned and probably have been at this coffee emporium since its establishment.

Lower East Side Coffee Shop You Me NYC

My favorite time to visit is early morning.  There is nothing better than listening to “WBGO DJ” Gary Walker spinning timeless Jazz classics over a hot cup of coffee.  That first sip of coffee with the anticipation of my favorite breakfast is what I like to call “Great Expectations” as the early morning stress melts away.  Every once and while, you can relive your youth, watching a young guy make an ass out of himself to impress his date after a night out on the town.

What makes early morning special, is you get to see both sides of the city.  The night time crowd retiring and the early risers beginning their day.  Either way this place removes the weight of the world off of you, for however long it takes to down a cup of coffee or a bowl of oatmeal.

The “Lower East Side Coffee Shop” is open 24 hours a day and believe me, I have been there all  hours of the day and evening.  From a night of hard partying with friends to actually meeting first dates.  The “Lower East Side Coffee Shop” is truly a great spot to start your day or end your evening.  It is a staple in the realm of the “Coffee Institution”.

 

 

 

High-Rises to High-Fashion

Exceptional physical condition, extreme weather tolerance and the ability to lift a significant amount of weight, is just the tip of the iceberg, regarding what it takes to be an Ornamental Iron Worker.  Now, couple that with beauty, grace, elegance and high-fashion, the end result is “True New Yorker” Porcha Gordon.

Originally from Houston, Texas, currently living in the Bronx, Porcha is an Ornamental Ironworker going on eight years, with an additional career in the industry of high-fashion modeling as well.  According to Porcha, the uniqueness of her profession and the impeccable views, are what she loves the most about being an Ornamental Ironworker.  What she loves the most about being a model, is being able to dress up and showcase beautiful designs.

One of the challenges of this dual career, was the constant transformation from Ornamental Ironworker to model.  Gordon remembers when she first started to model, she was not graceful at all.  Her walk made people cringe.  She had to learn how to walk all over again.  Balancing both professions takes a lot of physical energy out of her, especially, when a show runs late and she gets very little sleep for work the next day.  Additionally, she tends to get nicks, cuts and bruises, which can be impose an issue in front of the camera.

Porcha Gordon You Me NYC

When asked if she faced any animosity in such a male dominated industry, Porcha replied, “Not really but occasionally, I get a guy who thinks that he can bully me because I’m a girl”.  According to Porcha, due to her size and her looks, she would get a few interesting stares when seen in her hard-hat and construction gear when she first started. Now, those stares have turned in to admiration and people being impressed.

One of her most interesting experiences in her daytime profession, was working on the new Tappan Zee Bridge and in the world of modeling, discovering a whole new universe and being a part of it, which is the opportunity of a lifetime.  However,  where there is interesting there is also embarrassment.  Porcha recalls, a time when she was working over someone not realizing there was a can of “Redbull” in her back pocket.  Somehow she crushed the can and it got all over her and her construction pants.  She had to continue the rest of the day working in her leggings.  Another awkward moment for Porcha was when she was modeling.  She was wearing patterned “granny panties” which happened to faintly show through her outfit.

Porcha’s busy schedule between careers does actually allow for some downtime.  During the few moments she does have for herself, Porcha cherishes the time she spends with her friends, as well as playing in all things makeup.  She also likes to participate in beauty classes and catch up on sleep, which according to Gordon, sleep is boring but it’s the best thing ever.

Once finished with her journey of self discovery, Porcha eventually wants to travel the world with her best friend.  For now she will continue to maintain two careers and continue the path she has been following which makes her great grandmother proud.  Although her great grandmother is no longer with us, she is still Porcha’s greatest influence in life.

Pure Samba

Making people happy and smile is what is most important to Lisa Ferreira, founder and director of “Pure Samba” a dance and entertainment company based out of the “Fort Greene” section of Brooklyn.  Originally from Long Island, Lisa currently resides in and is a proud resident of “Fort Greene” Brooklyn.  She considers herself the mayor of “Fort Greene”, as she is one of the last remaining cool “Fort Greene” residents from an era of Black Excellence, Black Renaissance, and Black culture of “Fort Greene”, Brooklyn.
Pure Samba Lisa FerreiraThe first time Lisa witnessed a Samba performance, she was enthralled and captivated as to how beautiful, strong, and confident the women were performing.  Her love for Brasil, its people, food, music, dance, culture, energy along with her “West Indian” Heritage,  are all factors that lead up to her decision in becoming a Samba performer.  Lisa’s father’s people are from Trinidad and as a child she and her siblings would hear their great aunt and uncle profess their love for Carnival when they would come back from their trips to Trinidad.  Lisa was fascinated by the costumes worn and the joy expressed by the people participating in Carnival, in the pictures her great aunt and uncle would share with her and her  siblings.  According to Lisa “It is a beautiful coincidence that as an adult I came to fall in love with Carnival from Brasil. It is in my roots, my blood, my heritage as well. My great aunt and uncle have since passed, but I know they are proud to see me living the Carnival tradition by way of the colorful stories they shared with me as a child”.

According to Ferreira, there are a few pop influences that have an impact on the way she dances, along with the beautiful dancers she has the pleasure to work with as well.  However, the most significant are the Passistas, the superstars of Samba dance of Brasil, it’s their joy and innovation that inspire Lisa’s dance technique.  According to Lisa, her main motivation behind the establishing of her company is her beautiful mother.  Her mother would encourage her to be the best that she can be and find bliss in doing her own thing.  Unfortunately both her beloved mother and father passed away in 2014.  “Pure Samba” is her tribute to her mother who is her eternal revelation for everything she does in life.  “I continue hearing her say ‘Go ahead do it, do it with all your might'”, Lisa says.  No matter how tired and exhausted she is, her mother’s influence keeps her going, as she puts her heart and soul into every performance.  According to Ferreira, she guesses she is always looking for her mother’s validation which keeps her striving to be the best.Pure Samba Llisa Ferreira

Being a performing artist and the owner of a dance company in New York City, the winter poses an issue with keeping her body warm prior to shows, which is one of the challenges Lisa deals with.  Other than that, there are very little challenges due to her love for dance.  Listening to the music makes her smile and wearing one of her beautiful costumes is like a fantasy.  Samba makes her happy, it’s magical she explains.  If Lisa’s having a bad day, the moment she starts to dance, it all melts away, without a care in the world.

Aside from the demanding world of dance and the countless hours that are spent by being a business owner, there is actually some downtime.  Being a SAG/AFTRA actress, she likes to spend time watching episodic television, dance alone at home enjoying the relationship between dance and music and spending time with friends over brunch.

When asked what advice she would give to up and coming dancers that want to make a career out of dance, her recommendation is to love what you do and be the best that you can be at the moment, along with not judging yourself if you are injured or having a bad day.  With that being said, Lisa has always had a vision to continue to empower the dancers of “Pure Samba”, by creating high profile opportunities for each of the performers, such as the co-creation of a commercial for Hershey’s Kisses “Say it with a Kiss” campaign and an appearance on on the “Nightly Show”, with Larry Whilmore about Cuba.  Lisa also co-stared in a comedy pilot for A&E as a Samba Dancer and she also choreographed a routine for a very well known men’s fashion designer, for New York Fashion Week Mens.

It’s a very full plate that Lisa has on her table and what’s amazing is that she still has time for a social life.  She will continue to create high profile opportunities for the members of her dance company and herself as well.  She is looking forward to continued success in her performing and one day also to be married.

Malecon

Now I already know that all of the original New Yorkers know about this restaurant, and I am sure most true New Yorkers know as well.  If you are new to “The City”, you need to make note of this alluring dining hashery.  The name is “Malecon” and it’s Dominican Food at its finest served in an atmosphere that is very comfortable and enjoyable.

Whenever I walk into any of their locations(my favorite is the one on Amsterdam Ave, it’s around the corner from me), the aroma of Rotisserie Chicken fills the air and really gets my appetite ready for some of the best food for the money.  Malecon is one of the most affordable dining establishments in “The City” and all of their other locations around the boroughs as well.  Each one of their eateries have plenty of space to sit back, relax and enjoy one of the many Dominican delicacies on their menu including quite a few seafood dishes as well.  I went with my customary, half a Rotisserie Chicken, yellow rice, and black beans and as usual the tender garlicky chicken and the sides were all on point.malecon you me nyc

Now all of my readers know that I am a real stickler when it comes to service.  The staff does a great job, they treat me like I am part of the family and that is not because I have been going there for years.  I have observed over the many times I have dined there, all customers are treated the same, with courteous professionalism and first rate skill.  You can tell this is a favorite of all original New Yorkers, just because almost everyone who comes in is a long-time customer.

Malecon is all about repeat business and that is why when partaking in the hospitality being offered from this bistro, there is never any disappointment.  One assurance that can always be reproduced is that you will never leave hungry and most of the time you will probably be taking food home because the portions are very generous.  If you are looking to eat a lot on a shoestring budget and dining ambiance that is carefree and unrestrained head over to Malecon.  Tell them Dave Jacobs sent you.

Malecon
764 Amsterdam Ave
New York, New York

Fishing for Compliments: Jazz Album

People ask me all the time if there is a particular Jazz album for a specific occasion or “What’s a good album to sit back and just chill to”?  I make a ton of recommendations because there is a lot of Jazz out there.  One album that really stands out to me is “Fishing for Compliments” a blend of Cool, Swing and Smooth Jazz all rolled up into one hell of an album created by tenor sax phenom Scott Kreitzer.  Kreitzer is accompanied on this album by one of the best rhythm sections in the business today, including: Kenny Washington, David Finck, Andy Ezrin and Kreitzor’s mentor, Ira Sullivan.  Each artist in this combination, compliment each other throughout the entire album the way only true Jazz masters can. This compilation is flavored with all of the various influences throughout Scott’s Career such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, and Ira Sullivan.

 

Scott Kreitzer Fishing for Compliments

 

Just a little about the man behind this album, a current New York City Resident, Scott is originally from South Florida and started his musical journey on the clarinet when he was twelve years old.  At the age of fifteen, Scott was introduced to the tenor sax and Jazz legend Ira Sullivan, who later became his  mentor.  When Scott turned nineteen he ventured off to New York City where he was able to study with Joe Lovano, Eddie Daniels, and Bob Mintzer, while he was still able to continue his education at William Paterson College.

“Fishing for Compliments” is on of those albums that can be played on any occasion for any type of mood.  Whether your throwing an exclusive dinner party or you need to come down after a stressful day, this album is the perfect answer for any situation.  Have a listen, swing and enjoy!

Pennies from Breakfast Heaven


In the over-crowded Washington avenue section just south of Atlantic ave Brooklyn, there is a little slice of breakfast heaven called the “Penny House Cafe”.  As soon as you walk into this hidden gem of a coffee shop/cafe, you are greeted by an aroma of coffee and a menagerie of pastries which tantalize all of your olfactory senses.

The menu had a ton of delectable items on it.  Since this was my first time in this establishment, I carefully studied each item, trying to decide which was best, to match my palette’s craving.  Everything was so tempting and then it jumped right out at me.  The three cheese omelette with American Cheese, Swiss Cheese, and Sharp Cheddar, all encapsulated in one of my favorites, the “Everything” bagel.  I placed my order with the server behind the counter and was told to grab a seat.

Just as I sat down, I literally only waited about two minutes(original New Yorkers don’t like to be kept waiting more than five minutes) and the server already brought my sandwich over to me which was completely overstuffed. That’s what an original “New Yorker” like myself and all others truly relish, good food and fast service.  As I took my first bite, I tasted the perfect melding of the three cheeses along with the seasoning that our chef flavored the eggs with.  Flavoring of the eggs is a very important quality everyone should look for when visiting specific breakfast eateries.  The bagel was a “New York” bagel, considering “New York” bagels are the best, that was an added bonus to the medley of tastes that danced across my tongue as I was getting ready to take another bite.

Pennies from Breakfast Heaven

In between each succulent bite I took a few sips of some very good brew.  I asked the server what kind of coffee I was drinking and he said a combination of a “La Colombe Coffee Torefiction” and La Colombe Nizza Espresso”.  The perfect way to wash down a breakfast delight that I completely devoured in a “New York” minute and yet still enjoyed each bite to the fullest.

If you are in a rush or if you are looking to sit down and enjoy  a hardy breakfast pleasure, head over to the “Penny House Cafe” you won’t be disappointed.  Make sure you tell them Dave Jacobs sent you.

The Penny House Cafe
732 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238

 

My Passion – My Therapy – My Life

From Hitsville USA (Detroit Michigan) to Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvesant) Brooklyn, Kendra J. Ross, professional dancer, professional choreographer, teaching artist, arts administrator, and community organizer was able to set aside some time out of her extremely busy schedule for us so that we may get to know more about this “Detroit” native, now one of the most well-known performers in the Brooklyn and New York City dance community.  Growing up in Detroit has shaped Kendra into the proud black woman she is today.  One of the most segregated cities, Kendra was always surrounded by black people of all shades, colors and aptitudes.  According to Kendra, black has always been beautiful, she never experienced being a “token” until her adulthood.  Being from Detroit, has given Kendra a love for the flashy elements with a little bit of grit.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

In her early years, growing up in Detroit, Kendra (pictured here courtesy of Longtower Photography) was always a performer.  Her career started with a performance of an assortment of MC Hammer and Michael Jackson interpretations, in a well-know venue to her, which was her living room in front of a very tough crowd, which happened to be her parents and grandparents.  Even though Kendra did not start taking formal dance lessons til she was twelve years old, she was always fascinated with dance.  Her eternal love for the art was conflicted with also wanting to go into the legal profession as an attorney and she would have, until her AP Chemistry teacher told her that aspiring to be a dancer is a “waste of her talent”.  “I do not take kindly to people telling me what I cannot do so I decided to prove her wrong” Ross says.

When asked what she loves and what are some of the challenges she faces in her field of expertise, we find that connecting with other people through movement is what Kendra loves about what she does in her chosen profession.  She can express so much more than words can signify through her choreography,  especially at that moment when she discovers a quality about herself through dance and when she is able to help someone else reveal an attribute about themselves through their progression as well.  With her love for contemporary dance and folkloric dance, specifically Afro Caribbean dance, which tends to be underfunded, coupled with the fact that people aren’t going to live shows as much, unless it’s Broadway or a very well known company, due to the growing popularity of the Internet,  Kendra has to take on the role of multiple jobs while creating and performing her masterpieces.  Fortunately she works in the realm she also creates in, Kendra is the “Director of Programs and Administration” for “Cumbe: Center for African and Diaspora Dance”.  According to Ross, the labor can be exhausting and not as financially rewarding as the amount of work she puts in, however, in her own words “art is my passion, my therapy and my life so I do it anyway”.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

There is a large source of influence and inspiration Kendra pulls from, including, her family, ancestors, the Orishas,  Detroit and Bed-Stuy and her appreciation for music, all of which inspire her and the different moods it creates.  As far as individual influences, Kendra holds in high regard, both Katherine Dunham and Pearl Primus for their movements and strict commitment to evolving tradition.  Adia Tamar Whitaker the “director” of the “Ase Dance Theater Collective” and the way she continues the legacy of being grounded in tradition along with creating new tradition also has quite an impact on Kendra, who is also a member of this company.  Efeya Sampson, a beautiful dancer, teaching artist, cancer survivor and Kendra’s best friend also inspires and influences her by reminding her to be strong, to walk the world with grace and power, while challenging her to be a better dancer because she doesn’t want to be out-shinned by her “bestie”. (photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)

With all that is going on in Kendra’s life there is actually a fraction of downtime.  Kendra has started a new Sunday morning self care ritual.  She starts off by playing her music, then she starts dancing in the mirror, followed by dancing over to the kitchen, to fix herself some “gluten free” pancakes.  On other days, she likes to talk to friends and family in person or over the phone or watch television, her new fix is a show called “This is Us”.  She loves to cook and on days where the weather is cooperating, she loves to walk around  the rapidly changing Bed-Stuy especially during the warm months or sometimes just sitting at home in silence contemplating in her peaceful surroundings.

Kendra J Ross Teaching Artist

Her current residence of Bed-Stuy surrounds her with diverse motivations, ideas and enthusiasm, all a part of community and legacy the two most important factors about what she does.  Since her work is rooted in the African Diaspora, she believes in upholding and carrying on these traditions that hold the ancient knowledge that the people of the African Diaspora have used for survival. Through her work, the companies she dances with and the art she administers, Kendra believes that she is creating community for people.  Hence her creation and founding of “STooPS” a conduit for community building and intentional artistic experimentation.  New York City is massive, it can feel over crowded and lonely at the same time, the community she creates along with other communities she is a part of, serve as a family support system for herself, for those she works with and the continuing of the “Kendra J. Ross Legacy”. (photo courtesy of Ivan Forte)

Kendra J. Ross Teaching Artist

(photo courtesy of Erik Bandeiro)

Little Known Facts About Queens



Queens, a misunderstood borough, mostly because people just pretty much know this borough for three reasons, LaGuardia airport, JFK airport and Citi Field(home of the “Mets”).  However, what most people don’t know, is that the borough of Queens is named after an actual queen.  Queens is named after Queen Catherine of Branganza who was the wife of King Charles the II.  Catherine was born in Portugal and she was wed to Charles back when the British colony was established in New York.

Astoria Queens is the home of one of the world’s finest pianos.  Steinway and Sons, one of the most if not the most famous piano manufacturers calls its home there, for the past 100 years.  The first grand and upright pianos were crafted in Astoria back in 1853.  Tours are given all the time at this astonishing facility.

Famed music performers the “Ramones”, first started to rehearse in a small studio in the basement of Joey’s mom’s art gallery in Flusing.  A few other music legends  that also lived in Queens are John Williams, Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley from the band “Kiss”.  Cyndi Lauper, Daniel “Dee” Snider, along with rappers and Hip Hop performers, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Nas, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J,  and Run DMC, were residents as well.  Jazz legend Louis Armstrong called Queens home up to his last days, his house is now a museum.

With over 2 million residents, Queens is the most diverse borough out of its’ rival boroughs.  If Queens were to secede from New York City and go back to being an individual city before it joined New York City, it would be the 5th largest city in the United States.  Queens has about 400,000 less people than Chicago.  With that being said, Queens is more than just the borough that houses two of the top ten worst but not the worst airports in the country and home to the “Mets”, Queens has a very rich and dynamic demographic and quite a bit of history that was barely touched in this article.  Get out and enjoy Queens for a change maybe go to a Mets game or one of the numerous museums as well.

Flushing Meadows Park Queens

 

Nothing Can be Finer Than Being at Mike’s Diner


Earlier this morning I was at a cozy diner in Brooklyn on Utica Ave.  I am sure all of my readers have passed by it once in their lifetime.  Utica is a main street that pretty much runs all the way through Brooklyn going North and South.   I have driven by it for a long time myself and I just never had the time to go in and partake, except for today.  When you drive by Mike’s Diner, it’s tiny, you could miss it, even though it’s on the corner of Utica and Winthrop.  However, when you go inside, it lives up to the cozy ambiance you would expect from an old-school diner, especially when being greeted at the door by Michelle, one of the servers.

I ordered my usual breakfast standard, two eggs up, bacon, home-fries, and coffee.  Now I know what you are thinking, any diner can do that and do it well, however, not every diner can serve it well.  I was in there during the heart of the rush and Michelle who was my server didn’t miss a beat.  She took my order and at the same time she was pouring my coffee she offered me a shot of vitamin “C” (Orange Juice in case you don’t know).  She is a true professional at what she does, especially when she brought my order out which was piping hot.Mike's Diner Utica

The food itself was good, as stated earlier, my order came out piping hot and I didn’t have to wait long at all.  The coffee was fresh and the eggs were good, the bacon and home-fries were delicious.  Mike’s Diner is a breakfast cooking machine and definitely prides themselves on return business because they have me as a repeat  customer for future dining experiences.

What sets Mike’s apart from every other diner out there is the service and the cleanliness.  Mike’s dining staff is truly exceptional at what they do, from the chef in the back to the people upfront.  Head over to Mike’s when you have a moment for breakfast and ask for Michelle, she will take care of you and make you feel like you are the only one in the restaurant.

Mike’s Diner
630 Utica Ave, Brooklyn NY 11203

Belgian Beer Cafe


It was around 9:30 in the morning on a Wednesday, I was walking down 5th ave, in “The City” (Manhattan in case you don’t know) and I was absolutely famished.  I wanted breakfast and I am not talking about a “McMuffin” or something from one of the many “Deli and Grill” places that camp out on every corner of this vast and limitless city of ours.  I want to sit down and enjoy for a change.  I came upon an inviting establishment named “Belgian Beer Cafe”.  I have been by this place many times during the afternoon and evening and it’s always packed, however, I have never been by this early and wouldn’t you know it, they had a nice little sign out front saying “We Serve Breakfast”, which is just what I needed to see.

As soon as I walked through the door, the atmosphere was tranquil and I was greeted by a friendly and delightful staff member.  She sat me in a great spot, right next to the window, where I was able to observe what was going on outside from a peaceful distance.  The aesthetics were very pleasing and charming.  The music was at a perfect volume.  I was so relaxed as I sipped my delicious coffee, I forgot all about ordering.

The server came over to me and was ready to take my order.  I ordered the “Grand Belge”.  This was off their complete breakfast section of the menu, which comes with eggs any style, brioche french toast, bacon, side salad, french fries and already scrumptious coffee.  Let me just say the “Grand Belge” was awesome.  The eggs were cooked to perfection, the bacon was a delicate crisp, the brioche french toast was fluffy, the side salad was refreshing and the french fries were delightful to say the very least.

The service was very good, my cup was always filled without even asking, and the server was very professional and courteous, which is rare these days during breakfast time.  After I finished my meal, the server cleared my place and there was no rushing me out at all, it was a come in a stay for a while fulfillment.

This was truly a wonderful dining experience during the breakfast hour and I definitely recommend this restaurant to all of my readers.  The “Belgian Beer Cafe” does breakfast Monday through Friday 8 to 11 am.  They are located at 220 5th avenue at the corner of 26th street.  Tell them Dave Jacobs from “You Me NYC” sent you over.

Belgian Beer Cafe