“I’ve been an artist since I was 2” Yusef Sirius El is a a man of many talents. Painter, musician but he is known for his success as a footwear designer. Name the brand..Adidas, Nike, ENYCE, he has designed for them. Millions have worn his designs. Our conversation covers the story of Yusef, footwear designer.
I along with millions of Americans have grown up “Fatherless”. And today 40% of American children live in a fatherless home raised by single mothers, aunts, grandmothers and other female caregivers. Kobie Brown’s 2012 film From Fatherless To Fatherhood explores the causes, effects and possible solutions to turning the corner on father absence. We met at Central Park for an unscripted, insightful conversation about the inspiration for the film, his family story and his goals. I love and support what Kobie is doing, solutions through dialogue.
“Before You leave this planet, it is important that you get in touch with what your purpose is and not be defined by what your job or career may be..but find out what it is you are suppose to do for the betterment of mankind and everything else will fall into place.” – Kobie during our Central Park conversation
14 NYC stories in 14 minutes. A thread of conversations beginning with a new New Yorker who is proof that people move to NYC from all over the world; a man roller skating w the bottom of a mannequin on his head in soho; Freedom Bradley Dir-City Parks Foundations on what else “NYC Parks”; Founder of cleanplates.com the online healthy version of zagats; Guy wearing airtrekkers on Park Avenue; Iesha of Street Corner Resources, anti-violence teen protest @129 & Lenox; DJ Moma on going from engineer to DJ and “escaping the rat race”; Abby & Tori on the call that sent them to Haiti; Footwear designer Yusef Sirius El on 5 and 10 year business plans; Opera singer Joanna Bergin on the day she knew opera was her calling; Stylist Jason Rembert@Rocawear pop-up store on how he got his first internship at Elle; my first Yankee game, in the parking lot I get schooled on Yankee culture by my host and former Yankee exec onYankee branding..but he has a World Series ring, I LOVE NYC; Cinematographer/producer Shawn Peters on what is Weeksville.
“Bitchin about what Brooklyn is now is like bitchin about what Hip-Hop use to be like..aint gonna happen..Paid In Full is not coming back out again.” Amy moved to Fort Greene 28 years ago from the Lower Eastside. We have been friends since the 90’s when I lived in Fort Greene & Clinton Hill. After a stroll around my old neighborhood reminiscing about my Brooklyn days – my house parties, Brooklyn Moon Cafe, Madiba, Franks, Mikes Diner, The Friendships – I met up with Culture Critic-Substitute Teacher Amy Linden at the entrance of Fort Greene Park for an animated conversation on 28 years in Fort Greene, Rafael Saadiq, Charter Schools & Obama.
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!
(Part II) In Harlem last Friday, teens representing high Schools across Harlem came to speak, rap and lay down on the street for 5 minutes; thus, putting themselves in the place of someone who has been shot. Here is an additional edit of the teen’s speeches, rap and words from Iesha on “why we are here” prior to their demonstration https://mysmallstory.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/harlem-teen-ant-violent-protest-april-15th-129th-lenox/
Iesha of Street Corner Resources& Harlem renaissance High School brought Harlem community leaders from the NYPD, City Council, Teachers, Pastors and Jacob Restaurant provided the backdrop and much needed electricity for the sound system.
After sharing a poem on Facebook in response to the revolution that was happening in her home of Tunisia, Samia was asked to read for Miguel Algarin, the Founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Samia is the 1st Tunisian poet to be published in English; and, read at the Nuyorican, one of the most important venues for the development of poetry, music and theater in New York. In 1973, Algarin’s mission was to create a multicultural venue that both nurtures artists and exhibits a variety of artistic works to both enlighten and empower the underclass, it is a mission that has remained true to this day.
“If you have the baby here tonight, the baby will be named Nuyorican” Miguel said with a laugh to Samia before her reading. I filmed my taxi conversation with Samia enroute to the venue about Tunisia, NYC, language and poetry. Ra ,a seasoned Nuyorican organizer, explains how he discovered Samia and why he “wanted her to read for Miguel”. She read 5 poems that night. I shared the poem Samia read in Arabic titled ارادة الحياة ( English translation “Will To Live”) written in 1933 by Chebbi. Part of the poem is the Tunisian anthem and now chanted during the ongoing revolution in Tunisia and Egypt. She is also featured @ The Poetry Foundation.