FREEDOME BRADLEY: Director of Theatrical Programs for New York’s City Park Foundation & SummerStage (Central Park)

I spent the day in Central Park with a friend of 20 years. As Director of Theatrical Programs for New York’s City Park Foundation and SummerStage, Freedome is a passionate force behind New York’s largest free performing arts festival, bringing over 100 performances to 18 parks throughout the 5 boroughs. If he ever decides to run for NYC Parks Commisioner, he has my vote. Freedome is driven to bring “top flight art” to adults and kids via Central Park’s SummerStage, The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre and Puppet Mobile. I filmed our conversation as we tour the Swedish Cottage (the theatre where the puppet shows take place daily); learn Freedome’s story; the mission of the City Parks Foundation; meet the Puppet Mobile crew; and view the new development at Marcus Garvey Park, which opens June 2nd.

This story was filmed April 26th, 2011. I began sharing “My Small Story” April 26th; thus, I could not think of better story to begin my 2nd year of stories – a person that is committed revitalizing NYC parks and bringing art to New Yorkers in parks in all 5 Boroughs. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.

The Swedish Cottage, built in Sweden in 1875, was placed in Central Park in 1877 at the suggestion of Frederick Law Olmsted. Since its arrival in the US, the Cottage has served a variety of purposes, perhaps most importantly being used as the headquarters for the Civil Defense during World War II. It was also formerly a tool house, a library, and Central Park’s entomological laboratory.

In 1947, the Swedish Cottage became known, as it is today, as the home of the Marionette Theatre. In a show of patriotism, both Swedish and American flags fly from the roof of what was once a traditional schoolhouse.

The 2011 season of SummerStage, New York’s largest free performing arts festival, brings over 100 performances to eighteen parks throughout the five boroughs. With performances ranging from American pop, Latin and world music to dance, spoken word and theater, SummerStage fills a vital niche in New York City’s summer arts festival landscape. Since its inception twenty-six years ago, more than six million people from New York City and around the world have enjoyed SummerStage. The festival runs from June 7th until September 2nd.

Toure on Upcoming Projects , Storytelling, His Story, Multicultural America & Book Recommendations

While checking my email at the Soho Apple Store, I ran into long time friend and very talented writer, Toure. Referred to as “a one-man media conglomerate” by The Daily Beast’s editor Tina Brown, the pop culture commentator has his hands in various media works, from penning articles for Rolling Stone, where the scribe has been a long-time contributing editor, to contributing to MSNBC and hosting the Fuse’s Hip Hop Shop. His TL is not short of tell-it-like-it is commentary. Touré is expecting the release of his fourth book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? on September 13. These days Toure is Fuse’s pop culture and music insider Touré, takes on double hosting duties with two of the networks hottest shows, “Hip Hop Shop” and “On The Record with Fuse.”
In addition, Touré is the author of Never Drank the Kool-Aid, a collection of published articles, Soul City, a novel, and The Portable Promised Land, a collection of short stories. He is also a Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone, formerly a host and correspondent at BET and was CNN’s first Pop Culture Correspondent. He has appeared on the “Today Show,” “the Paula Zahn show,” “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” “Topic A with Tina Brown,” “Anderson Cooper 360°,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “Dateline NBC,” “Nightline,” and many others.

Maya Contreras: Drummer, Author & Editor-In-Chief of The Dirty Durty Diary

 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.

PARK HERE: Free NYC Indoor Pop Up Park @Mulberry Street

 Welcome to the sunny and 73-degree world of Park Here, an indoor alternative to Central Park in January & February, where you’ll relax on the grass during the day, and dine with a movie night on the lawn. It’s open and free now. Let’s take a walk in the park and meet the owner/curator behind the Openhouse’s 5,000 sq ft Park Here, where the grass is fake but the warmth and people’s response is real. The trees are plastic foliage stapled to wooden trunks. The sunlight emanates from light boxes designed to treat seasonal affective disorder. The birds chirp through a sound system.  In addition, there is yoga sessions daily along with movie and dinner parties at night. The park occupies the Openhouse Gallery through the end of January (maybe longer) and is open to the public every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit their site http://www.openhousegallery.org/  Look out for five-course picnic baskets by the likes of Daniel BouludThe Little Owl, The Fat Radish and Nobu. Also, fireworks. Read more: http://www.urbandaddy.com/nyc/leisure/12319/Park_Here_An_Indoor_Park_in_the_Dead_of_Winter_New_York_City_NYC_Destination#ixzz1BPbzRR8M

SMILEY’S YARNS: NYC’s #1 Knitter’s Haven Since 1935

 My first time in a yarn store so I turned on the camera. I stumbled upon the knitting factory for  New York’s melting pot. Based in Woodhaven, NY, Smiley’s Yarns is a company, established in 1935, that sells discounted yarn online and in store.  Some of the name brand yarns that it supplies include Lion Brand, Red Heart, Patons, CrystalPalace, Premier, and Tahki. This yarn store is worth the subway fare to Queens (it is very near the Woodhaven stop on the J train).

ARTCRAWL HARLEM: A Trolley-Bus Art Guide Across East Harlem (WBLS.Com)

A Sunday morning trolley-bus art tour through East harlem. ArtCrawl Harlem™ is a guided trolley tour of local galleries. Participants visit 5-7 Harlem art galleries and receive a 20-30 minute “tour within a tour” at each site. Here are 3 spaces I visited: Media Noche addresses the oil spill, HipHop hall of Fame @Studio 176 & James De La Vega’s mural of renowned Nuyorican poet and playwright Pedro Pietri is a community mainstay on the side of the East Harlem Café at Lexington Avenue & 104th Street.

Gabriel Urist: Jeweler on MetalSmithing, Branding, NBA & Teaching Kids

Leaving my editing office on Broadway, I bumped into “Gabe The Jeweler” for another unscripted conversation with a NYC entrepreneur. Gabriel Urist is simply a “1man show”. His past work/clients include the Air Jordan 5 “Platinum Gold” Pendants, ALIFE , the Air Jordan 4 Military Blue Pendant; the Adidas TS Pro Model Pendant are nothing less than amazing and he crafted a keychain of Converse’s newest silhouette dubbed the Pappalardo Pro to highlight some of his creation

Yusef Sirius El: Footwear Designer on Fila, Carnegie Mellon, NYC & 10 yr Stages

 “I’ve been an artist since I was 2”. Yusef Sirius El (Joe Davis) 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 his start and technical training at FILA where he was director of basketball & cross-training..then off to Avirex in 1997 where he built his “1st footwear line from scratch”. He took the business from $200,000 to $40million. Yusef shares his passion for working with small brands/companies, politics, shoe design, sneaker freaks, NYC Boroughs, moorish roots, love for painting, his label as well as his focus on being a strategic thinker by mapping his life out in 10 year stages. “A Mental Revolutionary ……on the path …puttin’ in work.” Yusef

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