IF you ride the NYC subways, with delays comes entertainment.The West 4th station has the best bucket-drummer in NYC – Larry Wright. And yesterday, I along with 75 other people waiting on the uptown and downtown orange line were well entertained..as will you. People cheered from platform to platform. The 5 minute delay was definitely worth it. Gotta Love NYC!
On March 3rd, I was in the right place on the right day. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe opened 38yrs ago, but this is poet Algarin‘s 1st reading at the cafe he co-founded. He read a poem inspired by a visit with Miguel Pinero to William Burroughs’ bunker on NYC’s Lower Eastside. “Willy B..Willy B..Willy B!!” It was a rare night organized by Ra Araya, the Poet Poducer Punk, for a person who founded the most influential poets cafe in America.
Founded circa 1973, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe began as a living room salon in the East Village apartment of writer and poet, Miguel Algarin. Algarin, a college professor at the center of this blossoming arts community, was dedicated to bringing new work into the public eye. By 1975 it became clear that there were many poets and too much energy for Algarin’s living room. William Morrow Inc. had just published an anthology titled “Nuyorican Poetry”. Miguel Piñero’s “Short Eyes” had just won two awards as best play of the 1974 season. Poetry, the vital sign of a new culture, needed to be heard live. So Algarin rented an Irish bar, the Sunshine Cafe on East 6th Street, which was christened The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. By 1980, the overflow of audiences led the Cafe to purchase an “in rem” building at 236 East 3rd Street to expand its activities and programs.
“The storied café currently is in the process of expanding its three upper floors with the help of a $500,000 grant received from the city. The money is going toward developing additional performance space, a classroom and a multimedia lab.” Wall Street Journal article
I bumped into longtime friend J Griff , founder of The Stache Group Collective, Jets Fan and new Dad on NYC’s Spring Street for an animated conversation on being a father. “The first month of childhood be calm..keep it lax..that scream..that first scream will shake you to your core like u aint been shook in a longtime..but you see what life is all about.” And then he gives a great visual demonstration on the art of changing diapers. J Griff..Good People!
Chris Baker graduated from college last year and with his parents support he launched his Electronica music career. And with the support of the Gansevoort Hotel, he performed at the opening of their Park Avenue location. After witnessing the crowds reaction, I had to ask him his story. “To get this as my first gig is HUGE..its a huge struck of luck and I know that..its hard to find gigs in NYC.”
Since 1979, Harlem Stage has been one of the nation’s leading arts organizations devoted to the creation and development of new works by performing artists of color. Brad Learmonth & Simone Eccleston are the passionate organizers behind the programming and arts education departments. We take a tour of HarlemStage, discuss its history, E-moves, DJ Rich Medina and partnerships with NYC schools. Harlem Stage has joined forces with the Apollo Theater and Jazzmobile to present the first Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival May 9, 2011. Celebrating the unique legacy of jazz in the uptown community, the Festival will bring both established and emerging artists to some of the famed venues where jazz flourished in Harlem: Lenox Lounge, Showman’s Café, the Apollo Theater, Alhambra Ballroom, and Minton’s Playhouse. Other festival events will take place at Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Columbia University and a variety of locations throughout the Harlem area.
Born in Denver, Maya grew up in a creative family. She has done everything in the arts from writing, performance to management. We had a refreshing conversation at NYC’s Gramercy Park Hotel about her novel “The Him Book: One Woman’s Almost Religious Search to Find the One” , NYC , Family, longer editorial, Jeffrey Wright and the story behind her bi-annual print magazine THE DDD – Dirty Durty Diary. As an Artist Manager, Maya has worked with distinguished stage and film composers including, Marvin Hamlisch who received an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe and Pulitzer Prize, as well as Bill Conti, an Oscar and three-time Emmy winner and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after composers and conductors.As a musician, Maya has worked with producer Dallas Austin, Professor Griff, composed the music for the Jomadi/Crossroads production of Six from the Rainbow, and was a student of Grammy Award winning drummer Woody Williams.
As a professional writer Maya has covered everything from New York Nightlife to the current climate of the music industry. Her interview credits include: Legendary MCs- KRS-ONE and Pharoahe Monch, Editor-in-Chief of Complex, Noah Callahan-Bever, Editor-in-Chief of the Austin Chronically and Founder of SXSW Louis Black, playwright and actor Paul Stoval-Oakley (Clear, Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci), actor Amina Robinson (Precious, Mamma Mia), Award Winning Director and Producer Jeremy Simmons (Trans-Generation, Eyes of Tammy Faye, One Punk Under God, and The Last Beekeeper) and legendary New York Graffiti crew The Tats Cru.
She knows, loves and practices a vision of success for Harlem’s youth. Yesterday, I attended Harlem Renaissance High School’s “community feedback” meeting. It was an opportunity for the superintendent of schools to hear from parents, staff and activist “How do we improve Harlem Renaissance’s performance?” 100s of NYC schools are going through a similar process. Iesha’s speech (see video) and workshops at the HR high school is the kind of support that the next wave closing schools were not lucky to have.
She has an office at the school, visits the home’s of absent students with the principal, hugs the kids and more importantly, she only sees a vision of success for Harlem Youth. Support Harlem Renaissance. Iesha’s non-profit is http://www.streetcornerresources.org/…
Key Concerns: Harlem Renaissance was identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving by the New York State Education Department in Dec. 2010. Possibilities: Leadership change, Phasing the school out over time, Change in curriculum, staff changes and/or grade reconfiguration.