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Archive for December, 2010

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

It is only fitting that we end the year with our top 10 posts of the year. For the record, these are not necessarily my favorites but the ones that got the most hits. 2010 has been an amazing year and 2011 is shaping up to be even bigger. So without further ado, here it is. The top 10 posts of the year.

Rafael Jimenez|R2 Studios

1. Even though this story was posted way back in February, the Nutcracker post still manages to get hits every day. Even though, several news outlets such as The New York Times and NBC News among others covered the story, our piece is the definitive history of the infamous libation. It is by far, the post that has received the most hits.

Read the full story: http://uptowncollective.com/2010/02/06/eat-up-drink-up-the-nutcracker/

M. Tony Peralta

2. This post by M. Tony Peralta literally caught fire when it first appeared and has not stopped since. It is a relative newcomer to the site as it was posted on September 21st but it has amassed a tremendous amount of hits since then.

Read the full story: http://uptowncollective.com/2010/09/21/uptown-cholo-invasion/

3. This was the first 40 Oz Bounce event I ever attended and I was completely blown away. I could not believe that so much people from all over the city could converge somewhere through the power of social media and word of mouth and the fact that it was all love without any incidents made it even cooler. I also got to meet the man behind the movement, 40 Oz Van.

Read the full story: http://uptowncollective.com/2010/08/16/40-oz-bounce-the-uptown-edition/

4. This was the first post to generate a ton of hits in one day. It is an interview with Graffiti goddess Indie 184.

Read the full story: http://uptowncollective.com/2010/04/08/i-am-uptown-indie-184/

5. Ok, this article by Claudio E. Cabrera it a MUST read. It tells the hilarious, controversial and vulnerable story of Claudio going to Inwood’s sole gay club, Le Boy. It is the post that received the most comments. Let’s just say the post caused a reaction.

Read the full story: http://uptowncollective.com/2010/10/22/the-night-i-went-to-le-boy/

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BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

The Peralta Project|Buena Suerte Series

“When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.”

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Its 2010 People

O-9 is in the rearview – old school like moon shine

Get on your grind cuz I’mma get on mine

The present is a present, a gift that is divine

It’s not just another year it’s another decade

The future will be as bright or as bleak as you envision it to be

Tomorrow is always a day away and yesterday is but a memory

Now is the new black

In an ever-expanding universe limits are illusions

A habit of looking back will stop you from moving forward

Paradigm shift is the order of the day

Evolve or become obsolete

It’s now or never – shift or get off the pot

Supernatural selection – Darwin with a vengeance

Succeed or succumb – irrespective of circumstances

Use what you got to get what you want

Excellence is a choice that is yours to make

That poem was written 1 year ago, on December 30th 2009 to be exact. At that point in my life, I sensed that I was due for an awakening. I felt that even though I made a decent living and was raising, clothing, feeding and supporting my family, that there was more to life. For someone who came up on a rough block in Washington Heights and saw so many of my childhood friends end up either in jail, on the run, killed or in dead end jobs, I could already be considered a success. I am a self-taught professional, I owned a piece of property and more importantly, I had aspirations of make of a living from my writing, editing and entrepreneurship. For the longest time, I had nurtured a vision of my life that would transcend a day job. One where, I could make a living from being creative full-time, the problem was that it was just a vision – it needed action and elbow grease. Little did I know then, that it would also take blood? But I digress.

I didn’t so much write the poem as it virtually poured forth out of me, completely formed. I went into a trance like state and I just wrote. After it had exited my soul, I read it aloud. Better yet I declared it. The act of writing it and then reciting it, set the whole metamorphosis in motion. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, the rejuvenation was in progress.

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BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Q. What are some of the things you love about living Uptown?

A. Some of the things I love about Inwood
– Inwood Park
– Carrot Top
– La Nueva España restaurant
– The diversity of people
– The Dominicans
– 207 train yard
– having two trains lines to choose from: the 1 and the A
– Piper’s Kilt
– Fort Tryon Park
– its remoteness
– Indian Road cafe
– Parkview Cafe
– that its graffiti friendly

Q. What made you fall in love with Graffiti?

A. The way the trains looked in the 80’s made me fall in love with graffiti. While in high school I was fortunate to see the works of writers like Seen, Zoom, Web, Reas, Ghost, Wane, Sent, Dero, and others running on the trains and it was better than any museum you can imagine. Along with that growing up in Williamsburg there was a writer named Atom that had some of the best pieces in all of Brooklyn right in our hood. He kept Brooklyn colorful and fly even with all the abandoned buildings. Later when I first met the writers that were doing it and they broke down how it was done, I was hooked.

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BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Briana E. Heard

The City University of New York’s Dominican Studies Institute recently conducted the most comprehensive study to date on the lives and perspectives of New Yorkers of Dominican descent. To help us understand the findings better we asked the Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, Ramona Hernández, a few questions on the landmark study.

Q. What was the rationale behind undertaking the first comprehensive study of Dominicans in New York?

A. This survey of 636 heads of households, randomly selected, is the first ever telephone survey conducted of Dominicans in Manhattan and the Bronx. The questionnaire contains 40 questions about a wide range of daily life issues and was conducted by the Baruch Survey Research Center in 2008. It has taken us about a year to analyze the very large amount of data generated.

We decided to undertake this survey at this time because the Dominican community is one that is transforming itself from one that was largely immigrant, to one that is increasingly second and third generation. The growth of the Dominican population is no longer driven by immigration but by birth.

We can now say, and this survey confirms, that people of Dominican descent constitute, increasingly so, a rooted/settled community, no longer having one foot here and the other in the Dominican Republic.

We wanted to ask Dominicans the same questions that have been asked of other Latino groups. How do they self-identify; how do they perceive access to public services in the areas where they live; how is that perception influenced by how they self-identify. We are also interested in their views on cultural adaptation and transmission.

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Jag9889

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

INWOOD — Manhattan’s northernmost neighborhood is receiving some long overdue accolades for its architectural diversity and unique landscape design.

Chosen as one of two Manhattan neighborhoods that warrant preservation, Inwood was named part of the Historic Districts Council’s first annual “Six to Celebrate,” an effort that will be made through a coalition of community groups to preserve neighborhood treasures throughout the five boroughs.

“Neighborhoods throughout New York are fighting an unseen struggle to determine their own futures,” said Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s executive director. “By bringing these locally-driven neighborhood preservation efforts into the spotlight, HDC hopes to focus New Yorker’s attention on the very real threats that historic communities throughout the city are facing from indiscriminate and inappropriate development.”

The six neighborhoods — which also include the Bowery and Morris Park in Manhattan; Bedford Stuyvesant and Gowanus in Brooklyn; and Jackson Heights in Queens — were selected from applications submitted by community organizations and were based on the “architectural and historic merit of the area, the level of threat to the neighborhood, strength and willingness of the local advocates, and potential for HDC’s preservation support to be meaningful,” according to the group.

“We’re very excited about it,” Gail Addiss, a founding member of Volunteers for Isham Park, a local Inwood preservation group, which will work with HDC in the coming year to identify neighborhood landmarks to propose to the for landmarking, which will likely include historic sites surrounding the Park Terrace area of Inwood, including Isham Park and the Seaman-Drake arch.

The Landmarks Commission will then have a final say in which sites receive the distinction.

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20101229/washington-heights-inwood/inwood-chosen-as-one-of-six-neighborhoods-that-deserve-historic-preservation

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BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Photography by Paul Lomax

In unity there is strength. Last night, the denizens of Uptown came from east and west of Broadway alike, Washington Heights & Inwood, and got together for a common and noble cause. The Bumrush. Simply defined, the Bumrush, is when a group of people gather with little planning or prior preparation at one of Uptown’s many cool establishments to have a good time. But the Bumrush is about more than just folks getting their buzz on. Ultimately, the Bumrush is about establishing new channels of communication between locals and further strengthening the ones that already exist.  A great time was had by all in attendance but more importantly we networked, conspired and colluded. Put on your shades because 2011 is looking quite bright indeed. The future is ours to shape.

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BY Tony Gonzalez (@TonyCreative)
There is truly nothing as rewarding as being called upon to serve, in some unique way, the very place you have called home for decades. For me, this came one wintry morning in January 2007.

At the time, I was a draftsman for a small architecture firm in Brooklyn, studying part time to get my architectural degree and just scraping by financially. That morning, the boss was eager to greet me at the door, rush me to his Jeep, and quickly explain what was happening. “Well Tony,” he said, flooring the pedal, “I’m letting you run point on this project. There’s a fire damaged building in Washington Heights, and they asked us to take over the process of getting permits for them to continue work.” He was referring to 1620 St. Nicholas Ave, where a fire had broken out just a few weeks previously, taking out a pharmacy, an eatery, and quite a number of apartments on the southwest corner of the building.

Now, I was only on the job for about three weeks, but I knew enough about what he meant to know this was going to take up a lot of my time for the next few days. The process, while simple, involves a tremendous amount of waiting. First, plans of the original structure are drawn up, and then a second copy is drawn up showing the revisions, changes, and repairs. These are submitted to plan examiners at the building department who run through them with a fine-toothed comb and annotate any issues.

The next step is to check online to see if the plans have been reviewed, and what, if any, issues have been brought to light and then you schedule an appointment with the examiner to either talk your way out of the building code or understand better what needs to be changed. In general the process takes about a month to two, depending on such factors as re-zoning, fickle examiners and ambiguous building codes.

The first problem, and most major one, was that there were no plans on record for the building. There was only one for the main floor, drawn about fifteen years previously, and which had since been changed. To get the remaining six or seven floors drafted, I had to go and physically measure them out.  Floor by floor, every nook and cranny and crevice, armed with little more than a clipboard, pencils, tape measure and a flashlight.

For the next three days, working over eight hours at a stretch, I battled the freezing cold and measured out each apartment. I have never seen destruction so up close…parts of the floor had given way, broken glass lay every where, standing water in the toilet bowls was frozen solid. Fridges were propped open as their contents slowly diffused the aroma of decay. The windows were blackened by smoke, making natural light almost impossible to get. Charred toys laid next to burned out furniture, photo albums melted into hardened puddles, abandoned dumbwaiter shafts laid bare. And it was quiet. Intensely, oppressively, quiet.

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By Friday, the plans were submitted to the D.O.B and after a rather intense week of waiting and checking online to see just how many problems the examiner would fabricate, we found that they had been approved. Within hours, the permits were tacked up on the front door and the reparation process began in earnest.  What was sure to be about a two-month wait, was knocked down to just a few weeks!

That was almost four years ago yet the lesson I learned would stay with me for life. Of course, I have since transitioned out of architecture and went in a totally different direction, but nonetheless, I will continue to look for ways to service my community with the skills I have. Truthfully, when it comes to using them, there is no place quite like home.

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