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.

Parking Tap

So here I am, in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn and as usual, looking for parking.  Of course there is no parking, however, one space did just open right in front of me, which I can’t believe.  Now we have all been on  the delivering and receiving end of a parallel park.  If you haven’t then keep reading and learn a little something.

I say “delivering and receiving” because  we all delivered the tap and we received a tap from someone else.  I get into position and I start doing the dreaded parallel park into a miniscule space.  I back in and pull forward.  All is well, however I appear to be a little far for my standard of parking, especially for a native.  After pulling back a little more I pull forward and I tap the guy in front of me.  Since it was a slight tap, normally people usually don’t make a big deal about it.  However, if you tap a nice car there might be a little static.  It’s Brooklyn, everyone taps a bumper here and there.

The guy I tapped doesn’t have the same  philosophy, therefore he decides to get out and take a look at his bumper.  He then looks at me and I give a friendly wave of apology to him.  I look at his plate and see he is from Florida. He has one of those “Save the Manatee” plates.  He glares at me and I crack my window slightly open.  He approaches with his hands out at his side and I ask “You having a bad day”? “I am now” he replies.  I ask “How long you’ve been living here”? “Couple of months” was his response.  “You’ll get used to it” as I jokingly say with a smile.  “It’s nothing to smile about” he says as he continues to glare at me.

At this point I can see he’s not letting up so I decide to get out of my car very carefully and say “My man you are going to have a lot of bad days around here because that’s all people do, we tap each other’s cars most of the time. You’re just heated because you happen to be in your car when it took place.  Don’t make a big deal about it.  Go about your business and think of the Manatees, what would they do in this situation” as he continues to glare at me and I glare back at him.

Parking Tap You Me NYC

Before he could say anything else, I continued with “We wouldn’t want the Manatees to lose a contributor, due to a sudden disability would we? You can never be too careful around here”.  He continued to glare and I glared right back at him, also keeping an eye on his hands just in case he tried to take a swing.

Conclusion:

What’s hilarious about this situation is that this guy got all bent out of shape over a tap on the back bumper of his “Toyota Rav 4” a car that can take a tap.  The lesson learned, is not to take a tap too seriously.  Also be careful, a slight tap could be someone looking to start something.  As far as Mr. Manatee is concerned, I am guessing he is not long for Brooklyn.  One of those moments that make you say Really!!?.

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)

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

Adding the Finishing Touch

“Wrapped by Nellz” a Brooklyn based hair wrap line is making quite a stir in the local community and New York City as well.  Jamaican born, moved to Brooklyn from Florida where she was raised,  had a lot to do with why Nellz got into the custom hair wrap industry.  She loves the diversity and the fashion the city has to offer.  Nellz has always worn hair wraps and  has received a ton of compliments.  She would use scarves and shirts, however it would just not look right, the threads would be showing, amongst other effects, which was another factor that prompted her to get into the business of making custom hair wraps.

After praying and consulting with the pastor of her church, and aligning her vision with her church, Nellz stepped into the world of being an entrepreneur.  Owning her own business plays a huge part in maintaining the ministry and the church of which she is a part of.  Taking that bold step, has really jump-started a passion and ignited her creativity side.  Nellz started to wash, cut, iron and sew her own wraps and created many various sizes for all to enjoy.

Wrapped By Nellz

Her design style is focused mainly on a lot of African prints and patterns with a collection of calm textiles and materials as well.  She gets most of her fabrics from Africa, California, Florida, Texas and New York City.  She likes to obtain from these different areas based on their distinct vibe as opposed to what is already the standard in New York City.  With that being said, one of Nellz’s favorite designers is Betsey Johnson and the way she boldly expresses her love for the “out of normal style”.  Nellz follows suit by not always matching her wraps with her outfits, creating her own “out of normal style”.

One of her biggest challenges of owning her line is finding the medium and looking for repetition.  Being fairly new to the industry, Nellz experiences little day to day achievements and struggles as she tries to pinpoint the trend and avoid the norm.  Once she has defined the mean, she will know what to expect at that point going forward.

Whatever little downtime Nellz has, she focuses on her family and her heavy involvement with her church.  She also has been evaluating as to whether she will be adding earrings as an additional accessory to her line as well.  She has been receiving a lot of positive feedback from her customers regarding her wraps and when she will be adding earrings as well.  Should Nellz decide to add earrings to her line, I am already positive it will add an additional “finishing touch” along with one of her wraps, to any wardrobe that is missing that eye-catching accent and completing the look with a touch of exceptional brillance.

 

 

 

 

Fashion Trap

Fashion TrapHaitian born and Brooklyn raised since the age of 8 years old, founder and head designer of the urban clothing line “Fashion Trap” Carl M, is a true believer that one really can control his or her own destiny in life, by taking nothing for granted and seizing every opportunity that comes along.  The confirmation of starting his line is based on his ability to create, his desire to connect with people and that he just wants to influence the industry by speaking a language that everyone can understand. He defines fashion as an art, a dialect of expressing himself and the way he cultivates relationships with others.

Fashion Trap

Fashion design is not a career to Carl, it is a passion and a purpose to create a vision, turning that vision into reality and sharing it with everyone around him.  Everyday,  just by walking the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, Carl is influenced by all the people he sees, their personalities and their style.  SOHO, Meatpacking, Tribeca, 7th ave along with the internet and social media, is where Carl frequents the most, for his inspiration and to keep up to date with the current trends, only to work on his own interpretation of those trends as well.Fashion Trap

When asked about his personal style, Carl equated his style to the equivalent of the “Boy Band”.  He has many styles and doesn’t like to be labeled under any particular type of genre.  Depending on his mood for that day, his style could be that of a rock-star, urban, and or preppy look.

Carl’s hard work, and dedication to his craft and his line is very impressive.  I, along with the rest of our readers are looking forward to seeing what else he is going to bring in this fast-paced ever-changing industry of ours.

Fashion TrapFashion TrapFashion Trap

 

 

 

Problems with Originals

Just a quick note, I was in “Best Buy” a couple days ago over in South Brooklyn at the Caesar’s Bay Shopping center.  I was looking at the flatscreen televisions and I was approached by one of their employees who asked me if I needed any help.  I kinda shooed him away and continued to look at the sets and viewing the information on them.  I then started to do a little comparative shopping on the web to see if there were any better deals.

While I was shopping online, I hear a strong Brooklyn accent over by the computers and he was rather perturbed.  I started laughing a little and he looked over at me.  “You find something funny”, he asked as he glared at me.  After glancing quickly at his shirt with his name on it, I replied “No not all Joe, it’s good to see a few ‘Originals’ are still left in the neighborhood over here, you know what I mean, we’re disappearing”.  Joe then says “What are you talking about, I work with 4 Joes at my job, we have to refer to each by first name and last name’s first letter.  I work with a ‘Joe B’ ‘Joe D’ and “.

I then interrupted, extended my hand, shook his and said “Well it’s been a pleasure Joe and whatever your last name’s first letter is” and walked out of the store just saying to myself “Really”!!?  I guess he thought my name was “Joe”, and how in the hell can he think I was referencing to the fact that his name and my name  are the same, as opposed to being an original from Brooklyn.  I got out of there looked at my watch and saw it was time for a cocktail.