The name and the game means everything

Hayes Football

Photo: Daniel Rivera

File this under the old adage of this is why they play the games. Last night I attended the semifinal matchup pitting Holy Trinity High School of Hicksville, New York against my alma mater the Cardinal Hayes High School. The game was for the right to play Mount St. Michael for the CHSFL AA football championship.

The game was at first a struggle on both sides until the second quarter when it looked like the Titans were going to impose their will on my Cardinals. Penalties and mistakes looked to doom boys from 650 Grand Concourse as they trailed 14-0 at the half. Mount players even showed up during the game after their upset of St. Peter’s out on Staten Island. “We came to see how we’re going to play for the chip”, Mount players shouted in the most arrogant tones I’ve ever heard.

At the half I left my spot on the sideline to use the restroom. While waiting on line I witnessed a Holy Trinity player and a Mount player chatting it up. “We got this”, the Trinity player told the Mountaineer. “They’re (Hayes) soft. They’re scared. We’ll see you next week.” The Mount player echoed the same sentiments. What a pair these two were. I never said a word and kept it to myself until I told my fellow alums on the sideline.

Apparently the football gods heard all the BS these knuckleheads spewed. In the second half Hayes outscored, outperformed and outclassed Holy Trinity 31-7. They forced three turnovers and imposed their will on the Titans in spite of losing their starting quarterback Juan Cruz to a knee injury.

The audacity of these kids to overlook an opponent galled everyone. I know it was a long ride back to Hicksville for the Titans to say the very least. As for Mount their egotistical nature doesn’t surprise me one bit. Nothing has changed with regard to the Hayes-Mount rivalry and it never will. Correction, maybe something will.

The Cardinals haven’t beaten the Mountaineers’ since 2008 when they snapped a 30 losing streak. It looks like it may be time to change that. They’ve always felt they’ve had it like that. As if they can walk in grab the hardware and walkout with little or no effort put in. The culture fostered in their institution is one of let’s look past these nobody’s from the South Bronx. It has always been that way.

Again this is nothing new.

“I’m an old fashioned guy because I believe the name on the outside of a place ought to let you know what’s going on on the inside”, George Carlin once said. The legendary comedian who was once a loyal son and true, had a point with this statement he made in his standup routine. The name on the outside is embodies what still goes on inside of the building.

The most famous address in the borough still produces winners, leaders, scholars and then some. It’s been doing this for over seventy years. Just check the list of noted alums against theirs. I compare to a very Yankee like quality or even better that of the Cardinals for those who follow baseball closely. Those franchises honor their own very well as do we.

We’re everywhere. We’re internationally known.

As for the title game to be played on Thanksgiving of course I’ll be there. As will the rest of the men who make up one of the best fraternities in this nation. We look forward to this contest just like the current players do. As for the other guys I have a feeling they have no clue what’s in store for them.

The definition of a sellout

Rivera_5.26I woke up this morning early as I usually do. I checked my email and social media feeds. This has been a part of my routine for the past three years just like many in this country. But when I got to my Twitter feed I noticed I was thrown in the middle of something.

I my via my work as a reporter/blogger was thrown in the fray of a twit for tat debate.

Over what?

The subject in question is the man on the top left. Yes, the Geraldo Rivera was the hot topic once again. But it wasn’t for something he did or said recently. Rather it was over his words from well over a year ago with regard to his incendiary comments about the late Trayvon Martin. Comments which he was blasted for by the likes of myself and his very own son. He would later issue a public apology with regard to his words.

 

https://twitter.com/DJNITTI/status/392137722090893312

https://twitter.com/GeraldoRivera/status/391627957183066113

 

 

The other thing that came from this was a response from Geraldo. The Twitter account blasted him with the 90s slang term sellout. You all know what that means. We heard this all over the airwaves in that decade with regards to rappers breaking bank and their counterparts questioning their motives plus business acumen. A separate topic altogether to be discussed another time. However, I just wanted to paint you a quickie portrait as to what Mr. Rivera was called.

Geraldo has been called many things over the course of his career as a lawyer and news reporter. The list is too long and I won’t get into it. In my eyes sellout is kind of an immature barb to sling these days not to mention if it is done with a bit of recklessness as was done in this case. Yes, I my youth I’ve used that term myself but in these days no I don’t. And yes it has been flung at me like monkey’s tossing turds. In the past I’ve received negative backlash from people and potential employers who dislike the fact that in college I earned credits towards my degree doing PA work on Bowling for Columbine. I won’t get into what was said to me in the past with regard to the film because I’ll be here forever. Plus I’m not one for sour grapes and pity parties.

When it comes to incidents such as these I’m reminded of something that my father once said to me after one of my many fist fights prior to my high school life. Yeah, I guess I just incriminated myself. He once sat me down and said, “You’re not going to please everyone. So don’t bother trying so fucking hard.”

This may sound rather crude and anti-social for patriarchal figure to dispense such a set of comments. My father at times didn’t know any better but by no means was an irresponsible oaf. Or did he know better?

In the case of his, what I’ve dubbed “jibaro del campo” advice he did. What he told me was not everyone is going to like me and be my friend. You can do the best job at whatever it is that you do and people will either not understand it, not like or despise you. And that doesn’t mean stop doing what it is that you do. Take in those who generally like and appreciate who you are and what you do.  In short fuck the haters.

With regard to Mr. Rivera and Mr. Moore both are welcomed around me – controversies and all. In fact I’ve met the former via a good friend who has worked with him. Geraldo like Mr.Moore was good to me. He cracked jokes, made me laugh and advised us all jokingly as our attorney. I never got to show him the YLO pin my mom gave me. No she was not a member but as she put a “silent supporter” in those days.

By the way if the G-man as my good buddy calls him and Mike want to sit with me to have an on-air discussion about things I’m game. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been inside FOX News. And if they want to slug a few good beers afterwards even better.

Look to be perfectly blunt yes there’s still some pretty fucked up shit out in the universe. American jobs are still heading overseas, unemployment is still high and some politicians are raping the public good for their own personal gain. You know what this is folks? It’s the cycle of life! Deal with it as best you can!

As to the definition of a sellout I’m not going to give anyone who reads this a fucking EPMD styled answer. Hell no. I mean fuck no. I’m not wasting my time on that. I’m not going to romanticize any of the nonsense about revolution because it’ll give me a coronary embolism and then some.

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My thoughts from ’93 until…

NirvanaIt was the fall of 1993, I was young and when I wasn’t following the dress code at 650 Grand Concourse I – like many of my generation – wore black. No, it wasn’t because I was in mourning. It was rather to best hide my chubby exterior and it was one of the cool things to do. But what was cooler than the attire that part of the year were the seminal albums that dropped.

Let’s face it my generation is the most completely spoiled of them all when it comes to music and overall pop culture. We had some great material to listen to. And if that wasn’t enough we were raiding our parents’ liquor and record cabinets with regularity. With both there was more than a little something for everyone.

With regard to the era I speak of this was the last shot many deem for truly classic material.

Think about it for a second. You had Souls of Mischief with “’93 til Infinity” plus Wu-Tang Clan released their first effort on the same day A Tribe Called Quest put forth “Midnight Marauders”. I remember the entire summer preceding the infamous release of “Enter the 36 Chambers” when the Wu received no love and respect throughout the city. Everywhere you went people called them Pu-Tang Clan. Mixtape DJ’s refused to play them as did radio station. Yet they persevered, earned their popularity and established a much deserved legacy that cannot be touched in the negative.

Man they really don’t fucking make records like these!

Speaking of the duplication of recorded material that cannot be achieved another album was released which was set to be the crown jewel of this class. Nirvana’s “In Utero” was the most anticipated of these records. It would also become known as sort of the swan song for the band as we all know what unfortunately occurred the following spring.

Recently the remaining band members Krist Novoselic, Dave Grhol and Pat Smear reunited with producer Steve Albini to re-master the record to commemorate its 20th anniversary as part of a box set. The package contains outtakes and rarities. It also includes the entire last taped appearance by Nirvana on American television, a New Years Eve concert dubbed Nirvana: Live and Loud. Now on the heels of this the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced the band as part of its list of nominees to be enshrined in 2014.

It’s a no brainer that Nirvana will get in right off the bat. How can they not? They’ve influenced a ton of bands in the past twenty years. Every single band has tried the loud quite loud dynamic in songwriting because of them. However, when it comes to the lyrical content no one can quite come close. Good luck trying that.

It’s safe to say that Nirvana was truly the band that left you wanting more. Of course they did, because they’d play for close to an hour then trash their gear to avoid encores. Today, twenty years later, we still want more and wonder what could’ve been.

As for me as a fan and reporter I cannot lie. I like everyone else would love to do press with the remaining members. For years I’ve compiled a list of questions for Dave, Krist and Pat. Some may have been asked before but I know one that hasn’t and I won’t release it until I get them live on-air.

When will this occur? Soon I hope. But who knows? Not me.

My post card from New York Comic Con 2013

Con Post CardI know. I know. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here; actually six months for those who are actually counting. But I figured with all that has been going on in my life now is a good time to clear the cobwebs that have been collecting on this site. And with Halloween just two weeks away this looks to be the best time.

I just wanted to take the time and say thank you to all who come across my work. I truly appreciate it. No I’m not quitting and this is not one of those reads.

This is about the sites, colors and sounds of the ever-growing pop culture phenomenon housed in the glass menagerie of the Jacob K. Javits Center.

Yes, this is about Comic Con New York style.

This nerdfest is the reason why I keep doing what I do. Sure, I cover shit ton of entertainment from music artists to actors. But this is why I keep going. Because it houses all the things I love and that others do as well.

I cannot begin to tell you all what it’s like to do press with people I’ve seen on the big and small screens. To cover people I’ve actually grown up watching is…well to put it proper context I’ll use a word that Chris Elliot threw out when I interview him, surreal.

Some may not know what it’s like to be at a table, not only to do an interview but to be flanked on the left by Robert Carradine and to the right by Curtis Armstrong from Revenge of the Nerds. I have to tell you all it’s pretty fucking awesome!

Taking photos and blasting them throughout the social media outlets is a complete joy. Seeing cosplayers, gamers, and whole families dressed in brightly colored costumes is not only mind-blowing; it demonstrates what an extremely active imagination can accomplish once it has become free. It also makes it cool to be an overgrown child.

It’s always a blast meeting people like George Perez, Tom Smith, Dexter Vines and Sanford Greene in Artist Alley. I hope that part of the event never gets lost in the expansion of it. Why? Because they take good care of their loyal fans who are true to them.

Sitting with actresses who are difficult to look at in a very good way such as Nicole Beharie, Katia Winter, Maria Thayer and Laura Haddock is definite treat. The intelligent and humorous answers they provided to my questions were a big plus. What?! You all thought I was just going to be a giant pig in this paragraph. Not a chance. Beauty plus brains is always part and parcel with Con.

No matter what we do in life in the end we’re all fans of pop culture. We regurgitate it and spit it up. We breathe it in and out. Then shell out a few bucks for keepsakes. It’s all good as we say in the hood.

Before I leave and go in hard to the core with my write ups – nearly seventeen to be exact. I just wanted to extend another giant thank you to the promoters at Reed Pop, the event staff and of course the publicist for making it possible for me to cover this event yet again. You all ROCK!!!!!

For those who feel that they’re struggling to make it in the businesses of pop culture and media, just keep at it. I’ll leave you with this quote courtesy of film director Renny Harlin from the Hercules Legend panel. An aspiring filmmaker in attendance was seeking advice. Harlin offered the following:

“I came twenty-five years ago from Finland straight to Hollywood with a dream. I didn’t go to film school. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any connections. I didn’t know anybody. I broke every rule in the book. And that’s how I got through the wall of Hollywood and become a filmmaker. And that’s what I would say. Break rules. Don’t use the normal channels. Go nuts! Use your cell phone. Use your camera. Whatever you have, make a little film with your friends. Show it to everybody. Put it on the internet. Do whatever. When I started the internet was not invented. But just use your passion. If you have passion and you have talent that will equal as luck.”

Crossing boundaries and colors with “Magic Trix”

20130508-115326.jpgLet’s say on one sultry day in San Juan, Puerto Rico Ani DiFranco, Regina Spektor and La Lupe all met up. They were introduced to the Pixies and Aphex Twin. All are trapped in the same space under the hot sun, were made to join forces and form a choir fusing their musical styles at the insistence of a director by the name of Eddie Palmieri. What would one get? What would be the outcome? The answer may have very well been found this past Friday night at the Cameo in Brooklyn, New York.

Xenia Rubinos, who hails from Hartford, Connecticut and is of Puerto Rican and Cuban ancestry, has lived in the borough for the past six years in order to pursue her dreams of musical success. The singer/songwriter looks to be well on her way and doing it on her own terms with the release of her debut album “Magic Trix” on the independent Bada Bing Records label. Rubinos performance at the Cameo was part of a party to celebrate the release of the record and it was met with a packed house full of die-hard supporters.

“It’s a really homemade record. Some of these songs are ten years old but some were written as recently as a year ago”, Xenia says of the album which was co-produced in her basement with drummer Marco Buccelli and engineered by Grammy Award-winner Jeremy Loucas. “Marco is a sound wizard and I would bring these ideas to him and we’d craft them. The record was all tracked live to give that sound as if we were playing live. Marco ran his drums through distortion pedals to get his sounds.  In the case of this record its best experienced live.”

As for the music it does display a wide range of musical influences which have enriched Rubinos life and career thus far. Xenia states that her father was a classical music fan who often took her to shows. And while she grew up on salsa and Afro Cuban jazz she developed a healthy appetite for other forms of music. Although she started out as jazz singer and composer being influenced by the likes of Mingus, Abbey Lincoln and the Bad Plus; she would eventually move on to create instrumental and electronic music.

Somewhere on artistic plain between bopping out to Bjork and head nodding to A Tribe Called Quest, Rubinos came to a musical epiphany that would cause the late Kurt Cobain sport a grin that would be the envy of the Kool Aid Man. “I fell in love with ‘Surfer Rosa’”, Xenia opined. “I felt I could relate to the Pixies and Minor Threat when I listened to them. It basically opened the doors for me. Thinking about music in terms of genre became useless. I saw how limiting that was since there’s so much great music. It’s silly and it doesn’t serve any purpose since there’s so much great music out there. I think of it as colors and different tastes.”

It with its authoritative vocals, 1970s Moog sound from the keyboard and Buccelli’s powerful percussive force “Magic Trix” has an appeal that goes across boundaries both ethnic and social. Anyone who attended the show at the Cameo can attest to this. Even hipsters in the crowd were shouting about the need to learn Spanish while in complete awe of the songs “Pan y Café”, “Prendas”, “Ultima” and “Los Mangopaunos” which served as an encore.

“I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a latin artist. I don’t feel I’m a latin artist. I consider myself to be a person making music”, declares Rubinos with regard to her craft and concerns of the growing investment in the “Trillon Dollar” Latino Media Market.  “My ethnicity is important to me. It makes me who I am. I do happen to be a Latina woman making music. But I’m not a Latin artist. I feel Latin media doesn’t speak for me or represent me because a lot of the cultural figures that are propagated and promoted don’t reflect me. I don’t hate it nor am I bitter about it. But there is more to us than that. These stereotypes such as Carmen Miranda with a banana on her head are stunting our growth as a people. I let my work speak for itself.”

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

The scarlet letter of resignation

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Dr. Robert Barchi (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

A full week has nearly passed since the viral video seen in this article has been digested by the public. The video obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines from former NBA point guard and head of Rutgers player development Eric Murdock has led to some serious fallout. Mike Rice, Jr., whose father is the television voice of the Portland Trailblazers, was terminated for his more than putrid actions documented on the thirty minute tape. Athletic director and former Scarlet Knight football player Tim Pernetti eventually stepped down. But what also came out of this mess was some major league buck passing from acting university president Dr. Robert Barchi.

Barchi, who has been on the job only eight months, held a press conference in which he came off as about as clueless as our nation’s forty-third president. He was very flippant in his demeanor when discussing this issue of the tape, while mentioning the name of the late Tyler Clementi and even when speaking the functions of his position including his contract situation.  Case in point Dr. Barchi admitted that he would get lost while perusing the campus in Piscataway.  This clearly shows that after eight months a cadaver in the university’s medical center has greater pulse than he does when it comes to campus affairs. It’s quite obvious that he needs to be removed from his post at Rutgers.

If Rutgers is to enter the Big Ten Conference beginning this coming fall with a completely clean slate this move must be made. The conference is coming off of one of its better seasons collectively in both football and basketball. It has long craved the New York City area television market and now has it thanks in part to Pernetti who has departed from the university he loves. The Big Ten has had to deal with scandals of its own in recent years with Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State. The legends and leaders could do without one more, especially one from an incoming program.

As for second chances at redemption that’s debatable when you look at the cases of each man embroiled in this mess.

No one in their right mind should take a chance on hiring Mike Rice, Jr. as a coach at any level of basketball. However, there’s always that one person who might be willing to roll the dice. Tim Pernetti may get a shot to be an athletic director with another university. How soon that will happen is anyone’s guess. In spite of the scandal Pernetti’s résumé looks impeccable and prior to him leaving Rutgers he had the public support of former student athletes such as Shaun O’Hara and Eric LeGrande.

The lack of accountability displayed by Dr. Barchi during his press conference last Friday is disturbing to say the very least. It’s clear that he is not capable of handling a crisis let alone a large university which participates in NCAA Division I athletics. He seems to be better off handling a smaller institution, one that doesn’t cater to a large media presence since he has very little savvy when it comes to the press. One thing is for certain when it comes to the man. That is even someone with a doctorate can come off like a complete buffoon.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Welcome to Bushwick: East WillyB Season Premiere

Julia Grob, Yamin Segal & Flaco Navaja Photo © Daniel Rivera

Julia Grob, Yamin Segal & Flaco Navaja Photo © Daniel Rivera

The Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York has seen its fair share of change over the past forty years. It was once deemed as filthy and crime ridden by many looking on from the outside — as done with other sections of New York – but is now one of the many up-and-coming hotspots to be seen. Bushwick like its counterparts in the Bronx and Harlem has managed to develop and maintain a flavor all its own; one which is in stark contrast to those of neighboring Williamsburg and Ridgewood, Queens. In addition to this it now boasts a multi-colored representation of itself in the form the new web series East WillyB.

The multi-arc show is the brainchild of co-creators and Juila Grob and Yamin Segal.  East WillyB by design addresses a myriad of issues which include identity, diversity, gentrification and relationships some of which the Emmy Nominated series Girls (also set in Brooklyn) initially missed on. “What you saw tonight has really been our vision since the beginning. One of the things that’s been cool is we decided to be very transparent about our journey”, the Ivy League educated executive producer Grob told the audience who saw the season premiere at the Bryant Park Hotel. “We started by playing around and ended up putting out the pilot season. It was just us getting together with three or four friends, someone holding a boom mic and writing scripts for whoever was available that weekend. It was a real development process. We brought on three additional writers and spent several months running a writer’s room drafting out a full twelve episode arc. From that development process we always had this vision of a story about a community.”

In viewing the premiere episodes for this upcoming season the viewer will see that a diligent work effort was put into the writing process. The show moves at an up tempo yet rhythmic pace allowing it not to become stagnant although it is set in a specific neighborhood. The dialogue is a fresh mixture of street savvy one-liners, zingers and refined banter which the ensemble cast uses to play off of one another. Not only is this a show the community of Bushwick can be proud of but is certainly one that can appeal to those outside of it.

“I think a lot of credit has to go to the six hundred plus Kickstarter donors that we had”, Segal who serves as head writer stated. The money obtained from this campaign was predominantly obtained from the community where the series is based on and shot. Thus making it the first community funded Latino web series. Added Segal, “If it hadn’t been for that support we would not have been able to sit down, write the show and get together with the incredible cast and crew we have. What that money allowed us to do was create fuller storylines and characters. It allowed us to really work together with our actors to go over them and fill them out.” This is key when you have a talented cast comprised of the aforementioned Grob,  Flaco Navaja (Baby Girl), Rick Gonzalez (Old School), Danny Hoch (We Own the Night) and rapper Joell Ortiz.

“We wanted each character to represent different types of tropes and archetypes from our community but to be completely unique in who they are”, explained Grob. A sample of this was seen by all who attended the premiere. If anyone is searching for specific example look no further than the character Ceci portrayed by Grob. The character, while living in world which immersed in a “hybrid culture”, deals with this issues of not only being a Latina of a lighter skin tone and eye color but a woman in search of her true sexual identity.  “This season I’m excited about the way her story develops. Ceci is going to begin a journey to find out who she is. She becomes more of a dramatic anchor on this season”, she went on to tell attendees.

With regard to the future of East WillyB all things seem to be headed in the right direction. It has dedicated people working hard to provide quality programming content, a solid following and the support of the community it portrays in an accurate manner. Look for the series to continue explore the issues previously mention while infusing some musical integration from its cast.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at DanielRivera2424@gmail.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

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