Archive for March, 2011

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

It has been an interesting week, to say the least, for the majestic Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights. First off, Universal announced that it was no longer interested in putting out the movie version of the musical. Undaunted, Lin-Manuel Miranda will continue to pursue other options to make the movie a reality. In other news, just as In The Heights was gearing up to make its Nashville, Tennessee debut at the Performing Arts Center; the musical was the target of a racially offensive review. The original review, which appeared on the Nashville Scene, has since been taken down with the excuse that it was a first draft that was accidentally posted online. First draft or not, the review was distasteful and odious to say the least. See below for the entire review that I was able to track down and marvel at its magnificent narrow-mindedness.

What will the American musical do for thematic material when the melting pot has completely turned to ethnic mush and no group is really underprivileged? We might be there already, in fact, which makes pondering sitting through this Broadway “blockbuster” a comme ci, comme ça proposition. In the Heights won four 2008 Tony Awards, but it’s getting harder and harder to know if that’s a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval or a rubber stamp that has to be affixed dutifully to some show or another every year. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s story — book by Quiara Alegría Hudes — tells of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, “where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.” In other words, an excuse to employ dynamic youthful minority performers who dance and sing and holler to a lot of salsa music and groove on lyrics about Latin loving and partying. Oh yeah, and also about fulfilling their hopes and dreams in the Promised Land of America (specifically, New York City, where the L train plays a lullaby). This fest of semi-huddled masses yearning to be free encompasses Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans, etc., making it an easy leap to presume their forebears were the inspiration for half the cast of the original production of West Side Story. All that exuberance is great — yet the horns alone might give you a headache. But if you like your ingénues brown and leggy and your music “hot, hot, hot,” this is the show for you.”

On a lighter note, check out the big homie, Lin-Manuel Miranda, rocking out with his boy Jon Rua.

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at ledblackNYC@gmail.com


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BY Carolina Pichardo (@c_pichardo)

When projects and articles like the “Pan Con Queso” hit + UC’s Nutcracker go viral, you know Uptown has a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for…

With that in mind, we’re encouraging you to flex those muscles now with this very important petition and community proposal.

For those that haven’t been following (we discussed it on the Washington Heights & Inwood Radio), there has been a big brouhaha brewing between Columbia University and our elected officials. Columbia is looking to expand and reconceive its 26-acre athletic complex in Inwood.

Although this is going up as planned, there is still much that we as a community can demand for our neighborhood. For example, more scholarships and summer camps/classes for all grade levels, sport opportunities, access to waterfront and more.

Please show your support + tell your friends and families.

Let’s set up our kids and families right, and in the process let our local politicians know that our voice matters + not just for successful rap spoofs (which my daughter sings to every morning) or drink bios—but for big changes also.


For more background on this story, see below for Chiara Sottile’s excellent report.

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Locating the best home cooked meal without cooking or being at home

BY Briana E. Heard

I may live alone, but this does not mean that I eat alone. When dining I am often flanked by attentive men and cheerful ladies catering to my every whim. This throng of helpful hands is not a gathering of family members who live close by and come by for Sunday dinners or friends for whom I throw elaborate dinner parties. They are the waiters, waitresses and busboys in any of the number of establishments I frequent. Living alone and being culinary challenged lends itself to a lot of eating out, or ordering in, as the case may be. Because of my extensive knowledge of eating in stark contrast to the lack of cooking know how I thought I would share some of my dining experiences with the public and tell the tales of a woman’s quest for the perfect maduro.

La Villita One Mexican Restaurant

1455 Saint Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10033-4042

(212) 928-8532

Being a California girl, I was excited to discover this Mexican spot when I moved Uptown several years ago. We all know the stereotype of there being no good Mexican food in New York City and this is largely based on the fact that it’s true. There are, however, some gems hidden throughout the boroughs, and in Washington Heights we have La Villita One, located on St. Nick and 182nd St. Don’t let this tiny, unassuming door be dwarfed by the neighboring La Casa Del Mofongo. What Villita lacks in luster, it makes up for in quality, authentic Mexican fare that tastes good and doesn’t break the bank. Enough with the gourmet Mexican spots downtown, claiming to have top-notch Mexican cuisine, when really they just have overpriced margaritas and appealing presentation. La Villita offers late night delivery, reasonable rates and the usage of frijoles instead of habichuleas – I might just be in love. I can attest to their burritos and tacos being excellent with shredded chicken and creamy black beans. Their salsa is fresh and spicy and served with a seemingly greaseless basket of tortilla chips to each patron when dining in their humble and dimly lit dining room. The jukebox plays merengues and bachatas while you sip Jarritos and sample the spice of Mexico. If you are in need of simple, tasty, Mexican food give La Villita One a try. It might be just the thing you’re looking for.

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Photo Credit: Marcus Yam|The New York Times

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Joel I. Klein, the former schools chancellor, are strong supporters of charter schools. Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein have repeatedly told principals at New York City’s traditional public schools that a new age of reform has dawned, that charter schools are the cutting edge and that if these principals want traditional public schools to survive, they must learn to compete in the educational marketplace.

And so, last summer, Julie Zuckerman, the principal of a highly regarded public elementary school — Central Park East 1 in East Harlem — applied to open a new elementary school on the other side of Manhattan, in Washington Heights. Her plan was to create something truly rare: an urban school not focused on standardized testing.

Ms. Zuckerman, who worked in education as a principal and teacher for nearly 30 years and has a doctorate from Columbia, was given preliminary approval for the school in October. On Jan. 6, she was one of 30 people invited to the Education Department’s headquarters at Tweed Courthouse, where Cathleen P. Black, the current chancellor, congratulated them for being chosen to run new schools.

On Jan. 19, Ms. Zuckerman was informed that her school — to be called Castle Bridge — would be located in a vacant space at Public School 115 in Washington Heights. “We are all systems go,” wrote Elizabeth Rose of the Education Department. On Jan. 27, Ms. Zuckerman was informed by Alex Shub, another department official, that she would be getting $40,000 in start-up money. “Sounds like you are doing all the right things,” Mr. Shub wrote in a Feb. 14 e-mail.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/nyregion/28winerip.html

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Photography by Art By Dj Boy (@Djboy09)

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Photography by Art By Dj Boy (@Djboy09)

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Check out the exclusive UC video of the brunch: http://bit.ly/TheUC-BagoBrunch

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BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

The escaped Bronx Zoo Cobra has been found…..on Twitter. That’s right; the rascally reptile has a Twitter account (@BronxZoosCobra). When I first came across the Twitter feed yesterday in the early evening, the Cobra had approximately 1,500 followers, it now has nearly 50,000 and growing exponentially. The Cobra is a hot Twitter commodity ala Charlie Sheen. It is the Cory Booker of the animal kingdom. Besides the amount of followers, the Bronx Zoo’s Cobra feed is pure genius, belting out side-splitting tweets at a rapid clip. So without further ado, see below for some of the highlights from the Cobra’s Twitter feed. Enjoy!

Follow the Bronx Zoo Cobra: http://twitter.com/#!/BronxZoosCobra

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at ledblackNYC@gmail.com

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