Frost Williamsburg Brooklyn

As we all know, Brooklyn has really blown up over the last couple of years.  Highrises going up all the time as well as cool and trendy shops popping up all over the place.  Williamsburg and it’s sought after real estate is old news.  The original fabric has pretty much dissipated in Brooklyn, except for a certain demographic that continues to profit off the “Brooklyn Boom”.  At one time Williamsburg was pretty much known for the “Peter Luger” steak house and that was it.  I can remember getting off the train and making run for it.  However, in the same neighborhood, there’s another restaurant that has stood the test of time as well.

Frost is a neighborhood Italian restaurant that all of the natives know.  It’s hard to believe that there is still a neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn.  The fact that it’s been around since 1959 is a pretty good determinant.  It’s a family-style restaurant which is a concept that escapes most eateries in the 5 boroughs today.  Whether it’s the first time you’re walking in or you’re a longtime customer, the family atmosphere attaches itself to you.

As my readers know, I’m a big fan of Fettuccini Alfredo.  I use that dish as my deciding factor when it comes to trying out new Italian Restaurants.  However, all the menu items at Frost are delicious.  For my appetizer, I had the Portobello Mushroom, which was cooked to absolute perfection.  My entree was Frost’s “homemade stuffed shells”.  Frost also makes their own pasta on a lot of their signature dishes.  Service is another influencer when it comes to my dining experience and Frost never disappoints.

Conclusion

Frost | You Me NYCFor a true Italian Neighborhood dining experience, Frost is where you want to be.  Named after the street it’s on, you can pretty much ask anyone in the Williamsburg area where it’s at.  However, with the rapid changes happening in Brooklyn, especially in Williamsburg you better call or Google for directions.

 

193 Frost St,
Brooklyn, NY 1121

 

DanceAfrica 2019

The DanceAfrica festival this year was absolutely fantastic as usual.  I expect nothing less from the largest festival dedicated to African Dance and music, returning for its 42nd year.  In case you don’t know, the festival takes place at BAM(Brooklyn Academy of Music).  I arrived just in time to get to my seat to watch each performance, one more amazing than the next.

Abdel Salaam | You Me NYCRwanda Reborn: The Remix is the title of this year’s DanceAfrica performance.  Under the leadership of artistic director Baba Abdel R. Salaam(pictured to the left, courtesy of BAM), this presentation acknowledges the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.  This production offers a moment to celebrate the path forward towards reconciliation and renewal of the devastating travesty(more than 1 million people killed within 100 days) that occurred 25 years ago in Rwanda.

Rwanda Reborn: The Remix was performed through traditional and contemporary dance, music, along with theater and spoken word.  The program demonstrates a perfect example of linking classic and modern techniques together to convey a tribute to all the lives that have been affected by past tragic events in Rwandan history.  I enjoyed every moment of this incredible theatrical arrangement.Dance Africa | You Me NYCAs the show comes to a close, I exit the theater quickly.  My usual constitution is to walk down Lafayette Ave. through the heart of the festival.  Making my way through the crowd recognizing the usual faces and vendors,  I also see a lot of new faces, shopping, eating, vending and enjoying as well.  All the vendors lining the street with beautiful and exotic merchandise for sale are such a welcome site.  The smell of food fills the air with a delicious aroma rivaling the already well-known restaurants in the area.

This is what I love about this festival.   In an area of disappearing culture due to forced gentrification constraints, it is great to see that this festival is still a staple in this community.  It brings an experience that all Brooklyn natives in the community as well as newcomers have enjoyed and took part in for years. Dance Africa | You Me NYC

 

The Suitcase of Opportunity

I’ve lived in Brooklyn for almost four years now and I still hear the story. “The Suitcase of Opportunity.” The way the story goes apparently is that a group of Hasidic Jewish men drive around different neighborhoods with a suitcase full of money and when presented is too much to turn down. A tool of bribery to get people to move out of the neighborhood and corner the market. I thought this was just a running joke until I heard of more than one person speak of the infamous suitcase.

As much as everyone says they love this place, what would you do if the suitcase appeared at your front door? How would you react? With this place ever changing, do you see a future for your homeland or the beginning of the end? This isn’t just to make my natives think but also the people who travel and bust their ass literally to live and be here. Do you see the longevity in a place you fought so hard to be in? A place that played a part in making you who you are today-good or bad?

The Suitcase of Opportunities You Me NYC

I can’t point the finger at all the people. It plays a major role but the main cast is the realty companies that set the trend to begin with. They seem to forget that these are people’s homes, to build and protect their families, not a fashion statement. The only real up and coming trends are the children that come out of these neighborhoods. 

Realtors are the Christopher Columbus of gentrification. They come to an area that was already established. Stick their sign down and rename it some bullshit they think sounds cool and modern. To diminish the identity that laid the foundation, for the apartment buildings and fancy supermarkets that destroyed so many homes to build. 

So I ask you again, where do you stand? 

The Van Dam Diner

Long Island City is an area in Queens(for some reason people refuse to admit that it’s Queens),  still going through a major gentrification renovation.  I pass through this area of Queens quite a bit and on Van Dam St. the heart of Long Island City is the Van Dam Diner.  A classic eatery, with seats at the counter, a line of booths on one side and tables on the other.  Every inch of this restaurant screams nostalgia and I eat here as often as I can when I’m in this part of Queens.  Van Dam Diner You Me NYC

As soon as I walk in, the host who knows me for years, seats me at my usual spot, right by the window.  I love the window seats because they’re great for people watching, which is getting more interesting every year.  As I take my seat, I’m immediately accompanied by a cup of coffee from a server who is new to this stomping ground of mine.

Van Dam Diner You Me NYC

As I look at my phone to respond to a text message, my breakfast is sitting right in front of me as I look back.  Service is one of my most important determinants when it comes to recommending a place for my readers to enjoy.  Now I didn’t give my order to the server and yet there my breakfast is right in front of me.  The host knows what I want and puts the order in.  The server benefits from the gratuity I am about to leave after receiving excellent service.

My meal is always excellent when I come to the Van Dam Diner as it should be.  I have never been disappointed no matter what the meal is, hence why I am not going to elaborate as to what my meal was.  Dining establishments can have the best food which can always be ruined by sub-par service.  That is why I love Van Dam Diner, the service is great and on point.

Conclusion:

The Van Dam Diner is a pillar of the community and hasn’t changed all these years.  Gentrification has had no effect on this classic grill and I am absolutely sure it’s going to remain the same.  Gentrification causes change we are all aware of that, it’s places like Van Dam Diner that are resistant to change and keeps us optimistic about the future of New York City and its boroughs.

Transplant Nation

There really aren’t many of us left and that sounded super weird in my head and even more weird to admit on paper but its true. More times than not, I bet you are the only New Yorker in your group of friends or even at work.  You ever go somewhere with them and they try to tell you the best way to get somewhere when they weren’t here for tokens or 9/11? 

 It’s almost like starting High School and hoping you see a familiar face somewhere in the crowd. Forced and/or bought out of their homes to make room for people who are too scared to live in it themselves. “It’s not the best neighborhood but the rent is cheap and they just built a hotel, which means it will be really nice in 5 years! Haha, I definitely won’t be there by then.” Literally a real conversation!

Being ditched by your first yellow cab, eating dirty water dogs(hot dogs) and of course running for the train only to be in the lonely car with the homeless guy who carries his original fragrance. If they survive more than a year of that, people consider themselves Native. That’s the average day for a  New Yorker and that’s only the morning time. I need your public school to have a number in it. Did you take the regents? Ever go to school during a snowstorm? Can you double parallel park anything? Even then, you’re not valid. 

A big part of New York isn’t just about great shopping, pizza, skyscrapers and the sight-seeing. It’s about the people, which makes New York New York. It’s damn near a novelty and a raw form of respect that comes with it. We’re exposed to a lot so we’re open but could sniff bullshit before it hits our nostrils. I’ve heard a lot of transplants admit they couldn’t grow up here or even raise their kids here, a lot of our parents did both. Now a lot of people are either being pushed out or just tired and leave.

Conclusion

This is not to talk complete shit about transplants. I have many friends from the transplant community. You get to experience a place you’ve been your whole life in a completely different way. Take everything in! Admit-tingly, you end up doing things you would not have done and finding little things you walked past every day. Specialty shops that make eating fun and just happen to be vegan, gluten-free and sourced locally.  I know for a lot of people that come here, it’s about conquering fears and following dreams, New York is their Wizard of Oz. I just don’t want to look up one day and not be in Kansas anymore.

Gorillaz Gone Ape In the Barclays

Closing in on the colossal stadium, in the now metropolitan, which is Fort Greene, lies the Barclay’s Center.  The Barclays Center is certainly a circus of lights, advertisement and a certain glint of “New York” spirit. Whether it is the most out of place Roc-A-Wear clothing store or extremely lit (with actual lights) subway entrance to guarantee that you’ve definitely made it to your destination the Brooklyn way. Making my way into the colosseum in the city there’s a brief halt to the glamour and glitter while being checked in through the short security section. The lobby area is nothing special, especially when comparing to the light show that’s going on outside. Once past all the meekness of entering the tunnel to get to your seat, lies vendor after vendor serving decadent meals and frosty cold beers. The homage train car near the exclusive “American Express” entryway isn’t lost on this New York however, it does serve as a cool separation for the haves and the people who are actually riding the train.

Gorillaz Gone Ape You Me NYC(Image Courtesy of New York City Theater)

The Internet was a sublime opener for those previously unaware of the group. With a cocktail mix of R&B, hip-hop, funk and electronic they served as the perfect amuse-bouche to the audience. Even though there were a number of seats still being filled in, the waiting crowd was vibing to the beats.

Anticipation wore heavy on me wondering with questions of what form the band would appear in for the show. Previously known for concealing their identity with some groovy animations or using their silhouettes, the band storms on stage with a wild energy. Their outfits matching the presence of their music, electrical and eclectic.  All except for the frontman of the band, David Albarn’s character 2-D, represents a similarly grungy, laid back, cigarette ashing on my washed out black T-Shirt vibe. The other members performing as the backup in some radical bright patterns and eye-catching colors, like the animated videos in the background showing the remaining animated members of the band.

Gorillaz Gone Ape You Me NYC(Image Courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan)

The first song bringing the band on stage “M1 A1” screams out an ominous call for help, behind a building guitar riff which is reminiscent of early guitar hero strumming that breaks into an electrifying brit rock anthem. It was an excellent way to start and rile up the crowd after a comparatively calm band like The Internet.

Followed up by ‘Tranz’ a trancey toon with an animated video of the nonhuman portion performing, gives a feel of what some of the first songs put out by the band.  There is more of a rock influence backing the track.  ‘Last Living Souls’ was next up using a beat machine.  David Albarn introduces a tougher hip-hop beat while the song sings out questioning the humanity of people while alternating between beats and a country-like ballad.  This song shows how the band can seamlessly incorporate different genres.

The band coasts through “Rhinestone Eyes” a softer melody before getting into the far creepier “Saturn Barz” featuring Popcaan. The song is dark visually and linguistically.  Popcaan sings through some of the painful realities of his life growing up in Jamaica, to a contrastingly creepy electronic rhythm. The electronic presence of the group, likely wouldn’t have translated as well without the harmonious background cast of all black singers. There, a solo by a spectacular talent that was especially appreciated by the audience.

Other highlights of their epically extravagant set include a variety of guest stars including De La Soul, Peven Everett, Bootie Brown and a Brooklyn native Mos Def. The experience was a definite separation from a typical concert experience with well-choreographed animated videos, to bring clarity to the lyrics that are usually far more serious than their sometime’s pop-punky backtracks. Towards the end of the show, most of the sparsity in the crowd was filled with standing fans singing along. This being a more personable performance for the band, it only leaves us fans anticipating what the transformative group has ahead of them.

Last Butterflies in Bedstuy

Dwindling in population steadily over the last two decades, more significantly within this past decade, is a colorful, diverse and growing extinct species.  However, they have an amazing ability to migrate and leave many dazzled by their ability to move through spaces designed specifically against them. Wonderful beings, dying out by the haphazard misguidings of the authorities and communities meant to protect them. People of color deserve far more.

Once the majority of the ghettos we were once segregated to, slowly but surely a large shift in the neighborhoods once deemed “unsafe” by the people who now inhabit them. Either grown tired, evicted from or displaced, the numbers of the black and brown natives are exceptionally low. The faces of those who built up the oh so cultured neighborhoods are now more commonly seen with goofily smiling faces on street murals, as if in a happy memorial of oneself.

Last Butterflies in BedStuy You Me NYC

Even though there aren’t many things more discomforting than seeing the faces get paler closer to the final or ‘hood’ stops on the train. The thought of the young pupils growing further and further away from the mosaic of mothers shouting down shopping lists from the second floor, the quick sentiment of “borrowing” a jump from the pig tailed double dutchers disappearing or the barbecues that started on Friday and ended the week after fading away, is a striking one.