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BrooklynBornThis blog started in my head when I listened in the 90's to friends who feared Brooklyn and newcomers who blogged about BK as if it barely existed before they arrived. Brooklyn as Tabula Rasa. My blog satisfies my need to hear and air feelings of B'klyn from the people whose life experience was born here. Also I hope to provide balance to some of the revisionist historical musings I've seen how Brooklyn and her residents used to be, we're still here. If we can all live as best possible while appreciating the past and neighbors we've inherited that would be great too.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brooklyn Creative Market : Crown Hts Sat. 6/4 meet B'Klyn's newest creatives!


This Saturday June 4th on the rooftop of the Brooklyn Children's Museum will host the Brooklyn Creative Market and you should stop by.

Why and What's this? 



It's a gathering of youth entrepreneurs, new and emerging young people from their teens up, who are being granted an opportunity to bring their Fashion, Music, Photography and art in general, to the public and gain valuable business and marketing experience.

The event will feature a youth lead pop up shop for young creative entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services to the world.

50+ creatives will display their work in Art, Fashion, Food, Photography, Music and more.

  • Live performances
  • Two DJ's
  • 50+ vendors
  • INteractive activities
  • Pitch competition where one  business will win $1,000 for their startup.


For some it will be the first time they're bringing their creativity to the public and for all it will be an incredible boost to confidence and self-determination.



I'm proud to say I helped support this event and as a result 6 of the best entrepreneur's business plans will receive $1000 to act on their ideas.

It's exactly the type of thing many of us talk about, giving real world business opportunity and experience to creative young native Brooklynites in a way that helps them focus and build their future careers.

Here's where you can receive your (free) ticket:

Here's a link with more details on registering as a vendor
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brooklyn-creative-market-registration-25135392636



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

RIP PhifeDawg, aka Malik Taylor and some of 90's NYC

(Above a still from the music video for "Jazz/Buggin' Out" by "A Tribe Called Quest" (1991) featuring a then mostly desolate DUMBO waterfront in the background. Of course that building behind them in this shot is being made currently, into condos.)


Phife Dawg is dead at 45. This one personally hurts.

"Phife Dawg" aka Malik Taylor was a lyricist and key member of hiphop's ground breaking group "A Tribe Called Quest"

Some folks rant about people mourning the death of entertainers or celebs, and if you're kind of fan of "A Tribe Called Quest" then Malik Taylor aka Phife Didd-dawg was the energetic essence of that, but he was also the dude I'd see on the regular in NYC. Specifically in video game arcades where he'd hold down a machine for hours, beating anyone who foolishly stepped to challenge, or just rocking the machine by himself. If you have no idea who I'm talking about let me take a few lyrics from the man himself to explain:

"Now here's a funky introduction of how nice I am Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram I'm like an energizer cause, you see, I last long My crew is never ever wack because we stand strong"

From "Check the Vibe" by A Tribe Called Quest
(This video shot with contours of a desolate DUMBO in the Background)

Phife on his preference of women:

"I like 'em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation Told you in the jam that we can get down Now let's knock the boots like the group H-Town You got BBD all on your bedroom wall But I'm above the rim and this is how I ball A gritty little something on the New York street This is how I represent over this here beat"

From "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest,


Phife On fidelity:

"Original rude boy, never am I coy You can be a shorty in my ill convoy Not to come across as a thug or a hood But hon, you got the goods, like Madelyne Woods By the way, my name's Malik The Five-Foot Freak Let's say we get together by the end of the week She simply said, "No", labelled me a ho I said, "How you figure?" "My friends told me so" I hate when silly groupies wanna run they yap
Word to God hon, I don't get down like that."
Also From "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest

Phife On life(kinda):

"I never half step cause I'm not a half stepper Drink a lot of soda so they call me Dr. Pepper(sad! He was referring to his indulgence of sugars that led to his diabetes) Refuse to compete with BS competition Your name ain't Special Ed so won't you seckle with the mission I never walk the street thinking it's all about me Even though deep in my heart, it really could be I just try my best to like go all out Some might even say yo shorty black you're buggin' out"
From "Buggin' Out" by A Tribe Called Quest,




Damn! Imagine being 20 years old and those lyrics play over Tribe's dope beats as you walk down the street, into the club, off to class, Phife aka #MalikTaylor made an introduction, lines for anyone feeling the vibe, especially someone young as he was then, trying to find their way.


It's very important to note these albums came out over 20 years ago, when HipHop was still a largely unknown genre, and when images of HipHop ranged from under budget to cliched. Yet A Tribe Called Quest powered by Q-Tip's fertile visual imagination, he and Phife's lyrical flows, Ali Shaheed Muhammad's dope beats and all three of their combined energies created videos which were imaginative, bugged out (sometimes literally, as shown above) and always full of Black and Brown faces.

Smiling faces, Hard Faces, Happy Faces, Dancing Faces, Living Breathing on the Block from Bk to Queens, faces. Us just living, being, us.

For a great example check out this video for "Oh My God" which was shot on Monroe (btw Marcus Garvey and Monroe *below) in Bedford Stuyvesant.



I can't begin to express what it was like in the 90's to click on "Video Music Box" (running on a public tv station channel 31 here in NYC at the time) and seeing the block my family lived on, and the people of Brooklyn I recognized as everyday people being the setting for the music of the moment. Tribe was a part of the culture that elevated an unseen NYC for millions of people.
If you're reading this and you've never heard of any of this, it could because while Phife and A Tribe Called Quest (#ATCQ) were pioneers in a jazz infused melodic hiphop that plotted the course for hundreds of lyrasis and producers to come, most notably The Roots, so you may not have heard Tribe on your radio but it didnt matter or as Phife might say:

No need to sweat Arsenio to gain some type of fame No shame in my game cause I'll always be the same Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have You wanna diss the Phifer but you still don't know the half.
From "Check the Rhime" by A Tribe Called Quest
"Rappin' is an art, coming straight from the heart So forget the chart because the action can start."
From "Hot Sex" A Tribe Called Quest (on the Boomerange Movie Soundtrack)

Me, I used to be a gamer, hardcore, and like others I'd go to the city to play the best in the land. I saw Phife regularly in the arcade. Occasionally I'd stand by and watch his gamer skills. He was totally unpretentious. A regular dude like everyone else, flexing skills at a serious hobby, concentrating mad hard, or cracking jokes.

Dudes would come and try talking him up, but usually not, cause Phife was busy leveling up. And if you know, you know how that goes. After a while my visits to the arcade were just to come and go. I'd step in and right back out cause if Phife was on deck nobody had next.

Phife is a part of my NYC, my Hip-Hop my memories. 

Seeing him struggle with diabetes in the "A Tribe Called Quest" documentary was rough, but like anyone would, I'd hoped he was recovering toward a happy ending.

45 is young. Way too young to go.


(Recent photo of Malik Taylor aka "Phife Dawg" Photo credit Andrew H Walker/Getty)
"You on point Phife?" Yo Rest in Peace man.



#RIPPhife #ATCQ #NATIVETONGUES #HIPHOP #FallenRappers #NYC #BROOKLYN #BKLYN #QUEENS #UPTOWN #BRONX #WORLDTOUR #LONGISLAND #VIBE #PEOPLESINSTINCTIVETRAVELS

(Apologies for the wack spacing throughout this, I will be overhauling this blog soon)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Let's Play Politics without Playing Dumb 2016

Hi, good to see you again.

There is so much I want to share, but first I decided to post this response I wrote to some wonderful and intelligent friends on Facebook who seem to have caught Trump-itis, you know the condition caused when enough alarm bells go off in a person's subconscious which results in them spending a lot of time and words discussing Donald Trump with no eye or ear to the fact-supportered realities of his chances of being the next President of the United States.

So I wrote all this. Now I do have a lot to say about alot of recent NYC and of course especially Brooklyn news, like the planned streetcar line, the method of redevelopment in East New York, the (I'd estimate) 500 new units of housing coming to small area of Crown Heights destined to shift lift further from "affordable", and best of all The Brooklyn Community Foundation, a non-profit that is directly and positively impacting Brooklyn communities. So that will come.

 First, I'd ask you to humor me and do this: swap Bernie Sanders for Barack Hussein Obama, and Donald Trump for John McCain (remember early 2008 John McCain? The very experienced, war hero, centrist who speaks plainly and has the support of all sides!! yeesh) and it becomes obvious that almost everything this year is playing out like 2008. Personally on the Dem side I know many friends support Hill over Bern, and thats fine because it doesn't matter. We all on the Dem side essentially have the same politics, it's a matter of who we prefer and trust (for a number of reasons) to enact those policies.

At this point if the Democrats nominated that robot in the new Boston Dynamics videos everyone will come around and support it. It doesn't matter, after the convention there will be one Dem candidate and we'll all support them.

After the Dem convention someone electric probably joins someone's ticket maybe one of the Latino-American political twin Castro brothers from San Antonio TX, and then they go campaign, with 2 (maybe 3) former Democratic presidents in tow, because the Dems won't make the mistake of 2000 again and not use the sitting president's bully pulpit to galvanize turnout among African Americans especially (which is one reason why the talk of if Bern can get support from the African American electorate is silly)

So no matter who is nominated on the Dem side, no significant number on the Democratic side is going to defect to Trump, Rubio or Cruz. Just like no significant number defected from Hillary to McCain in 2008. I'm sure some people refused to vote for Obama but ultimately twice in the last two elections, with wars and soldiers abroad and a bad economy, the majority of presidential voters picked the guy who supposedly couldn't over come the heated anger of the Right wing. Trump doesn't have the numbers and the entire GOP set of candidates this year are too extreme (Except Kasick who interestingly, Trump's wins is pushing out of contention)

Primaries in most states are closed, meaning when Trump wins he's winning ONLY among Republicans, he's getting no Democratic votes and no Independent votes because most of them are not allowed to vote in the Republican primary. Current records in Nevada for example show around 750,000 self-identifying Latinos in the state.

Of that number about 16% were and were able to vote in the Republican primary and Trump won 7% of them with the other Republican candidates splitting the remaining 9%. The Democrat and Independent self-identifying Latino's in Nevada are over 70% of all Latino. Trump didnt "win the Latino vote in Nevada" he spun it, said he did, and everyone keeps repeating.

Please stop.

Many people write these and other factually inaccurate stories about Trump, and Trump's chances and its a waste of time, energy and a distortion of reality. A better more important more long impacting story is about the remaining vocal fringe of unabashed racists that make up a significant number of his supporters.

The news media gets more money in views, paper sales, and tv ratings by talking up Trump, they think they have to. But it's as useful as when the NYC media pretends to be excited for the new New York Knicks and Nets seasons, knowing damned well they are going to be no where near the championship when it all winds up.

The real issues are making sure more than 40% of the eligible electorate comes out to vote, because the national electorate swings overwhelming democratic. (It doesn't seem like that because of news and congress, but the congressional districts have been rigged by republican (and sometimes democratic) governors to corral people by their party affliction.

So I suggest the real issue is getting more people to vote because that better ensures a democratic win, and how about the news media and the people who shares stories online worry less about trump and more about the virulent strain of americans who obviously for much of their lives support racism and believe in the oppression of their fellow citizens? Acting on those things is the best usage of time this election season.

Friday, August 28, 2015

TOMORROW: GAMES, FOOD, SCHOOL SUPPLIES for the Kids in Crown Heights



S.O.S. Crown Heights (Save Our Streets) is hosting a street party tomorrow on Kingston Av from Eastern Parkway to St. Johns.

They're a great group with a great cause and there'll be food, games, sports and giveaways all for the kids. Spread the word, share the streets.

For more info contact SmithJ@crownheights.org