29 03 2009

Last year My aunt Cheryl turned the big 5-0. I don’t think she even believed it. She pointed out to me once that our birthdays were both on the 29th of our months and my mom and her son’s birthdays were on the 18th of their months. I pointed out that we are 25 years apart so our milestones will fall in the same years. I turned 25 last year and she hit 50. I celebrated like there was no tomorrow for my b-day and I wanted to show the same love for Cheryl on hers. We threw her a surprise party at the clubhouse of my apartment complex. And though there were moments where it seemed like there weren’t going to be enough people or that the jig was gonna be up, the day arrived and she was completely surprised.

I remember the expression on her face when she realized what was going on. She just reared back and let out that “awwwwww”

She was the queen for the day, her family was there, favorite friends, good food, cake and more candy than Halloween. We played a Cheryl Themed Jeopardy game that she got such a kick out of. It gave her a chance to retell stories from when she was coming up and when we were young in that way that only she could.

Me Girl Cheryl on her 50th

Me Girl Cheryl on her 50th

This is the day I want to remember when I think about my last year with Cheryl. When she was happy, surrounded by people she loved, crackin us up, havin a ball.

Happy Birthday Cheryl

I miss you.


Back Up Amy Ruth

28 03 2009
Chez Brian Crafts world's Greatest dinner

Chez Brian Crafts world's Greatest dinner

Times are tough, so instead of dropping 7 bucks at Popeye’s I decided to grab a 2 dollar pack of chicken and fry up my own little piece of heaven.

The accomplishment is that, I’ve never fried chicken from scratch before (excluding chicken strips). I took the advice of my cousin Courtney in on cook time and seasoning. I think it came out well.

Thanks Cookie

Why I love Living Here

28 03 2009

Because I can come home from work and encounter this:

A Big Network TV show filming on my street corner.

Outside my door, down my block.

Growing up tv shows were made in some faraway land. Even while studyingfilm and TV in college, full on productions were things discussed, things alluded to or seen only in DVD extras footage.  But in this city there is a production happening in every corner at almost any time of day.

I get so excited to see a production and a little sad at the same time. I always feel like I should be on the other side of the crowd control guy. I should be a part of what’s happening. Teaching filmmaking, talking about media is one thing, it’s what I’m doing now. But to actually be making movies, filming, performing it’s in me, begging to get out. Now it seems to be knocking on my doorstep…

As I came down from 125th & St. Nic subway stop I saw the production trucks and orange cones in the street and recalled the email the Community Board  sent out about Fringe shooting on our block. After stopping at CASH (the Non-Profit I work for right across the street from my apt) to upload photos for a slideshow, I went back to my house and grabbed my camera and lenses.

There have been quite a few occasions worthy of recording that I have blown out of sheer laziness or this weird, ‘eh I’ll meet them again attitude’ I’ve developed. (again stemming from this notion I have that I should and will be on the other side of the shoot sooner than later) such as the Spike Lee Do the Right thing Screen a few weeks ago. By chance I was invited and Spike and 3/4 of the cast were there including John Turturro and Rosie Perez, yet I didn’t bring my camera. I didn’t want to be there like a tourist. If that makes sense. But today, I was going to seize the opportunity. The last time I’d seen anything being filmed on our block was that day I was watching a car chase from a 2003 episode of Third Watch and they drove down 123rd and up Morningside. So I went out just to get some shots of the production and lucked out to catch the show’s stars out and about.

I got some paparazzi-style shots of the shoot and towards the end some of the other onlookers said they were able to get some pics with the actors.

I always thought I’d enjoy meeting famous people but it is a weird experience for me. I never quite know what to say beyond, hey, nice to meet you, mind if I take a photo with you?

I feel like I know these people, like I’ve known them for a long time but when you get in their presence, when there is no character, just a person with a familiar face you realize wow, I don’t know you and we have no common ground for discussion. In fact you’re probably busy or on your way to meet someone you actually know. Hmm. I get stumped on what to say next, because I don’t want to do the old cliche ” oh I love your work or I loved you in xyz, I don’t want to be just a fan. So I keep it brief and they are friendly and just like that I’m going back to whereever I came from trying not to linger, like I roll in these circles all the time and it just so happens we ran into each other. All the while thinking the next time I meet a celebrity or actor it’ll be on the associate level instead of the random dude with a camera level.


25 03 2009

I know I started this off with the promise of keeping this blog to let people know what I was up to while living in the Big City. There were so many points after the last entry that I should have written. Should have been recording who and what I had encountered and how it affected me but the Truth is I didn’t know what to say.

I didn’t know how even begin digesting all that was taking place within and without me. So I didn’t. I did my best to just ride it out. To roll with it and see where it got me.

And here I am. 8 months later, 10 years wiser.

I will just summize that moving to a place filled to the brim with every type of talent, go-getter and hustler made me realize very quickly how unprepared I was for “living in the world.” I questioned more than I ever have just what the hell I’d been doing with myself up into this point. I found myself utterly overwhelmed by my own ignorance. I had know idea how much I did not know. About everything. Like managing money, cooking, having friends over, picking up a tab, organizing for, decorating. Nothing I did made any sense. I’m a creature of habit, whose habit hadn’t changed since it was 12. I seriously didn’t know what to do and really there comes a point in life where one just needs to figure things out on their own.

This was my point. And it took a little while… A long while- and that constant uncertainty made me nervous.

So I did what I always do when I’m uncertain, I got busy.  I went to work on everything all at once. I said I’m going to fix all these flaws and be better at everything I’m doing. I became so engrossed in being the best at my work, at bettering my self, at elimnating old habits and creating new better me qualities that I forgot to just live. I didn’t give myself a chance to exist in the world I moved into.   I was too busy to hang out, too broke to go out, too self-conscious and confused to really relate to anyone in coversation. It was a mess. All within the walls of my being.

But thank God for stepping in, showing his face when I felt like I was slipping away. Putting the right people in my path, shining a light on the pathways for me. I feel like I’m on track now. He let me know that I can’t do it all on my own. That I’m not supposed to, he basically brought me out here, to humble me for whatever is next.

And I’m thankful for that. I feel like I’m on my way somewhere, but at least now I’m enjoying the walk. I’m strolling and not sprinting wildly into the bushes.

I’ve started working on creating a non-profit and I have a feeling it will become something worthy. It feels good to be focused on something I’m passionate about. Ok, ok it feels good to give myself a reason to watch movies all day. But that’s neither here nor there.

All this to say, I’m glad to be writing again

Brian, Blockparty; Blockparty, Brian

23 08 2008

How about I awake this fine morning to someone on a bullhorn riding up and down the block going:

“Move your cars or get a ticket! MOVE YOUR CARS PEOPLE”

I drift back to sleep and then I’m roused by the steady thump of a sound system pumpin out Labelle and a different guy on a bullhorn or mic yappin about something.

It’s too loud to be coming from the park or the people three houses down who like to kick it on their sidewalk and bump classics and play cards. So I get up and check it out:

How about that’s RIGHT in front of our apartment. It’s the Neighbor-to neighbor block party on our street and Harlem Week festivities going on Morningside Ave near the park. The guy is announcing the upcoming events of the day. There’s a mobile radio station set up and there’s going to be a 5k and some other stuff.

Gives me a little sumptin sumptin to do after I put my desk together.

Did you catch that, put my DESK together! I got the dang thang and I’m bout to get my space to work together. That in itself deserves a post and I will write about it today. BUt right now I need to get this thing set up so I can get my lesson planning out of the way and go meet Brad in mid-town to stop by Home Depot.

Visual aids

22 08 2008

Bear with me I’m trying to figure out how to better embed photos on here

in the mean time just check out my flickr page:



i miss wal-mart

22 08 2008

who knew one would ever have to say that. But it’s true, I miss the convenience of a one-stop shop with quality(well at least non-expired) products at low prices.

Here there aren’t many shopping centers or places like that and the select few Targets and Home Depots are spread out over dodge so you need a buddy with a car or a Zipcar rental to get anything that won’t fit in a bag to your home.

I found that out today when we made our way back out to Brooklyn to check out the Target.

I am going a little stir crazy about my room’s perpetual state of disarray. I need to get those storage racks and that desk so I can finally unpack things and have some sort of work space. I found the two things that I want, This perfect sized desk with the proper kind of storage and filing space for my media projects and supplies from Ikea and a 4 -tier chrome rack system  to store my clothes. Once I get these things I can have some order and peace of mind to finally start cracking down on my lesson planning for my fall classes.

It felt like things just kept getting dragged out regarding this and I couldn’t do much about it. I can’t carry these things on the subway, the cab fare would be more than the items combined, there’s no way in hell I’m driving from uptown to Brooklyn by myself or at all for the matter. So I’m at the mercy of others and lets face it people got their own things to do.

I found myself frustrated and I knew the feeling wasn’t going to go away until I got these things taken care of so I stopped playing the nonchalance card and nagged about when we were going to go to Ikea and back to Target to get these things. I must have brought it up a least 12 times, but I didn’t care. I could tell this was only a priority in my book so it was up to me to do whatever it took to get it poppin. I wasn’t going to stop talking about until there was a solid plan, because up until then it had been all “oh, we can go later, or we’ll go in a few days.”

No can do, I gotta work, and to do that I gotta have a workspace. right now we got nothing and when ever  I go out into the city to find a cafe or something I’m just too overstimulated by all the cool stuff going on.

All kinds of people, buildings flowing together creating this rich tapestry of history and culture. Sometimes look at the buildings and neighborhoods is like looking at a tree stump’s rings. You can see all these different layers of time and all the changes and experiences that came with it.

Like down by the river there are these huge buildings in the port area and one had a modernish sign that said something like NY Port Police Headquaters  but the original letter was still there across the top screaming UNITED STATES LINE. And I thought about how like 100 years ago this is where all the cruiseliners would come back when this was still the main way to travel overseas. It’s crazy how old the the place that supposed to be the mark or modernity really is. All these little hints to a former time are still present everywhere you look.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re supposed to get a zip-car and FINALLY pick up these larger items. I really really hope we do, somehow I slipped to the end of my rope on this and I’m ready to tie it off.

I’m also going to stop in to the Wingspan office to meet my supervisors there. This is an area wide like arts enrichment program. They have afterschool programs for the kids that allow them to participate in all sorts of creative things. I had originally signed on to teach news and media but the directors were in need of someone to do the Filmmaking class and I was all over that. This should be fun, I’ll be doing my workshop with 3rd -5th graders and in the end they will produce a movie. I’m pretty excited about that.

Oh, yes last night I partook in my first “Rockband Wednesday” Brad LOVES the videogame Rockband and can totally see why.  It let’s you experience playing your favorite songs in a band made up of your friends without having to know anything about music. It’s great when you’re playing it at home but it’s a whole nother experience playing it in public, like at a bar. Kinda feels like a battle of the bands concert. So last night we went to Patty O’Brien’s the bar that half of Brad’s posse works at and rocked out. It was a good time. I got to know our roommate Ray (who is a bartender there) better and met some pretty interesting people from around the area. What’s nice is that the places in the city do not close at 9 or 11 or 2 they close at like 4, the party never stops hahaha and since I don’t have to work in the morning I can stay out and sleep in guilt free. Good times.

It’s kind of fun to watch, Brad and his homeboys have been playing so much and so often there they are like the main act for those who show up. They usually wait around til 1130-12a and then politely replace the amateurs on the faux instruments and promptly go to town. Then there begins this little ego contest between the two groups. The newbies are hungry to get up and play even if they are slightly terrible and as the night wears on they become less and less able to sit out a set. The rotation shrinks from 4 songs to 3 to turn after turn.

I played a few songs, and aside from mangling  a Fall Out Boy tune on vocals I did fairly well playing bass, guitar and drums. Can I just say that everyone thinks they are the greatest drummer to grace the stage. It is the glory instrument for whatever reason. It cracks me up how many people choose the drums to prove themselves.

Once Ray moves in and we get the 37inch flat screen hooked up we will be jammin all up in the house. I don’t think it will take long for me to elevate from groupie to rockstar.