Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Real Recognize Real

There are a lot of things that I can relate to. I relate to those who love basketball. I relate to people who care about objectivity in journalism. I can relate to people who are against bias, and one-side being championed over another. I can relate to people who have come from a single parent home to beat the odds and try and make something of themselves. But the one thing I definitely can relate to is the city.

I dont know what it is, but I'm a natural city boy. I can't go to sleep comfortably with the sounds of cars or sirens. Hip Hop and R&B are my music of choice. I can't stand country music. I love skyscrapers, the fast pace life, the Starbucks and McDonald's on every corner. I would rather have the condo on the 57th floor than the hundred acre ranch. I knew that I love the city and that it loved me back, and out of all the time I've spent with it she's never done me wrong. I'm not dead, I've never been robbed, and I've never gotten too lost lol. If you know me you know that the District of Columbia is my heart, one of my passions, and most favorite place to be. Also if you know me, you know that New York City is my mistress; my second love. Thats why when i first came here on leisure I knew I wanted to be here. But these past two weeks and few days have further solidified that I want to live her. For a long time.

I am going to post all of what I want to say later, but I thought I would let you guys enjoy some of my pictures instead of hearing me ramble :)

All of these pics and more can be seen on my facebook! God Bless!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Little Taste of Cairo

There are a few things you can count on smelling while you peruse around New York City. Trash is one. Exhaust fumes are another. But around virtually every corner, you can’t escape the tantalizing, mouth watering smell of one thing: shish kabobs.

Those who think street vendors are just small, insignificant businesses that don’t have any order or structure need to think again. Street vending is a 1.7 billion dollar a year industry in America, with half of that revenue coming from New York City alone. The cost of a single car starts at $2,000, and can raise as high as $40,000. The carts average revenues of $250,000 annually, and average $750 daily, with a third of that being net profit.

The Vendy’s, which is held in New York city, gives awards to the best food vendor in the city. Street vendors gathered in front of City Hall protesting to pass legislation that would increase the number10,000 more jobs by increasing the number of licenses and permit for vendors.
That’s right, vendors even try and flex their political muscle too. But they provide NYC with an invaluable service, especially to those who are on the move.

A hungry well dressed New Yorker whips around the corner of 5th avenue and 33rd street. Quickly, he gives his order to a short, burly man in a black Champion fleece and a ball cap. The man quickly reaches his gloved hands into a dark steaming bed of meat and pulls out a juicy lamb shish kabob dripping with sauce. The well dressed guy pays what he owes, thanks the burly man, and sinks his teeth into what must have been heaven.
Madhat Ensyed works the corner of 33rd and 5th by the Empire State Building selling refreshments, pretzels, and of course shish kabobs, to New York City’s hungry patrons. Ensyed emigrated from Egypt in 1997 with his family, looking for better options in the “land of opportunity”. A stout and rather menacing figure, Ensyed isn’t a jokester. There might be the flash of a smile to a kind customer, but for the most part he keeps a stern down-to-business demeanor, and doesn’t take crap from anyone.

“There were 5 black boys that came to my cart one day.” Ensyed recounted. “They were ordering a lot of food and when it came time to pay, they tried to give me a Metro Card.” Flashing a rare grin he said, “I told them this isn’t the subway, I only take cash.”
5,621. That’s the number of miles from Cairo, Egypt to the island of Manhattan. Though New York City is largely dominated by other vast majorities and demographic minorities, the country of Egypt also has staples around the city that are unique and specific to it. There is an obelisk (a long narrow four sided structure that forms into a pyramid at the top) in Central Park. Not far from that, there is an expansive Egyptian Art exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yet the most glaring aspect of Egyptian life to other nations is the people. Egyptians started to immigrate to the United States at the latter part of the 20th century. Roughly 15,000 Egyptians flocked to America after the Arab-Israeli war in 1977. Most were educated professionals and skilled workers. “Egyptian American” by Mona Mikhail, an overview of the history of Egyptian emigration and activity in America, says that “the nuclear family is the basic social unit of Egyptian Society.”

Ensyed stated that his only influences growing up, and his only influences here in America, were his mother and father. Being hard working immigrants, they instilled in Ensyed the values of sticking together and remembering their heritage.

“All of my family is close knit. Everyone. I am very close to all of my friends too.” Its this family dynamic that keeps everything together, keeps him motivated and working as hard as he needs to make it in this economic downturn. He in essence embodies the soul of New York City. The drive, the passion, the hope, the hard work. New York is a city that will always strive to make the bottom line, from the top of the Financial District all the way to the merchants in Harlem. Each borough is filled with people who are determined to do better and push toward success. People just like Madhat Ensyed.
So the next time you buy that hot dog, chew on that pretzel, or smell that shish kabob, take a minute to think about what it all means; New York City.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Weirdest Night in NYC EVER

Today has been an amazing day. I know i might have said that a lot in the past few days, but its true. This program has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Today's assingment was to go to a certain part of Manhattan, and interview people about how the economy has affected them personally and what struggles they are going through especially if they have a business, family, etc. My assigned part was Harlem. I was the only one in my group who knew about it, and exactly were to go. So we went out to interview folks and had to send the info through text message back to people who stayed behind so they could write up all the info everyone else sent. This went amazingly well, and i will be writing my own story of what happend shortly.

We went to dinner (on WJI lol) and had a great time learning more about each other and what we wanted to do with our lifes. I had the best Calamari I have EVER had, and I've eaten a LOT of Calamari. The night assignment was to go out and talk to someone who looks hopeful...to talk about what give them hope.

Easy right?


This was the most difficult assignment I've had yet. What does hopeful look like? How do you ask someone if they are hopeful?

My buddy Andrew Terpstra was with me, and he wasn't really comfortable with interviewing someone by himself. Being the good person that I am, I saw someone reading the bible by themselves and knew that they would be easy to talk to. So, I let Terp have 'em.

Thing is, the rest of the night, NO ONE would talk to me. I got shot down at least 4 times. But this one african woman was about to let me interview her, but she didnt want me to record her. I (like a fool) didn't bring my pen and pad with me. So, i just left her to search for others. But she stopped me and said she needed a journalist.

When I asked her for what, she showed me a her website called professional-blackwoman.com or something like that. It sounded like she needed help, but she didnt even have like an office or anything, it was just something she started. She kept saying we, but never said any names or anything. Her english was ok, but she had a very thick acccent. She kept talking to me for like 20 minutes, further decreasing my chances for getting someone else to talk to me. But then she said the magic words "We don't pay, but we hope to pretty soon. We offer unpaid internships." The question that kept floating in my mind was....."Who?"

So eventually I gave her my information. Interesting experience right?

I would love to say after that I got someone to talk to me but I didn't. No happy endings here. What I did get out of it were some of the funniest things I had ever seen or heard in my life. There's one quote that is too explicit for me to put on here lol. But ask me and I'll tell you through another avenue.

The defining moment of the night was a guy walking past Terpstra and I with a McDonald's straw, and what Ibelieve to be a leaf from a tree sticking out from it yelling "Roses for sale! I got Roses for sale here!" Mind you, all he has in his hand is one McDonald's straw, and some type of vegetation.

Then the guy walks past me, as I look to see if he really believes he is selling roses. He then proceeds to tell me "Don't hate brotha, don't hate on this." After dying out of laughter and utterr shock, i could only say one thing-

I love New York City

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


These acronyms have become not only a part of the teenage internet craze/cult, these new age media terms are slowly trickling down to the old-heads and the not so technologically savvy. If you didn’t know, OMG stand for Oh My God(Gosh, depending on your convictions), WTF stands for What The #$%&(or Frick, or freak once again depending on your convictions), and SMH stands for Shake or Shaking My Head.

Being a part of this internet age of the new millennium, there are many times where I use these on computer based communication, text messaging and so on and so forth. But there are times where when in my daily routine of things, I use these in real life or these phrases run through my mind.

As I was in class today at the World Journalism Institute (WJI), I read about 3 or 4 articles on the Washingtonpost.com. One about a Peaceaholic (a non profit group that works in the inner city and urban areas to promote non violence) intern that allegedly molested a 15 year-old girl from Spingarn In DC. I also read an article about DC Mayor Fenty allowing a church to destroy a building because it was an eyesore to the community. But then I came to something that made me say OMG, WTF, and SMH all at the same time. The first time I did that, it was because of this. Which, rather ironically, had to do with the same affiliates as this time.

Notre Dame University invited President Barack Obama to give the commencement speech at their graduation this coming Sunday. As most know Notre Dame is a the lighthouse Catholic university in America. J. Bottums, a speaker at the WJI on yesterday said that “Opposition to abortion is the signpost to Catholicism to American public life.” There is a plane flying around Notre Dame’s campus with a banner of an aborted fetus that reads “10 Week Abortion”.

To that I said, OMG. How distasteful to fly that around a college campus like that. If there is a racist Caucasian group at a state college, is it ok to fly around a picture of a dead black person or something of the sort. If an atheist did something like that about a Christian, or something he believes in that goes against what we Christians believe, there would be unprecedented outrage. Especially among the conservatives.

After thinking about it heavily, I asked myself why I was surprised. Through the link provided above, I had to remember that such extreme and disgusting tactics are a staple of the conservative right aka the Republican party. Negative attack ads, propagandas filtered through the internet, all those things brought me back to the months leading up to the election.
Further reflecting on it, I said WTF. If I was going Notre Dame, I would be pissed beyond measureable degree because these politicians (such as Randall Terry and the DETESTABLE Alan Keyes) are taking the moment that I worked so hard for, put 4 (or 5….or 6) years of my life toward, and one of the happiest days of my life, and turning it into a media circus and frenzy. I cannot begin to feel how much the events that will take place on Sunday will affect those graduates. That’s like having Alan Keys come to your birthday party, but push you out the way and stepping in your birthday cake.

Finally, I just had to shake my head. When will the Republican party realize that these tactics don’t reach unbelievers? When will they learn that these types of outrageous antics only push away people who don’t believe as they believe? Did they not see after their “mavericky” candidates were smacked THOUROUGHLY in the general election that those scare tactics don’t work?

I guess not. And that’s a daggone shame


Empire State Building Feature Story

This is the story I told you guys I was writing yesterday. Enjoy and comment!

When you first arrive to the outskirts of the New York City area, whether it’s from the Lincoln Tunnel, George Washington Bridge, or the Brooklyn Bridge, the domineering figure that graces the New York skyline is the Empire State Building. After the World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Empire State building became the tallest building in New York City and New York State, a title which it held for 40 years until the North Tower of the World Trade Center was built in 1972.
Located on 34th street and 5th avenue, the Empire State Building raises 102 stories in the air hosting over 850 different tenants. Inhabitants of the building range from shops and merchants, small businesses, national food chains, and even a college campus.
Other than the world famous observatory deck that attracts millions of visitors each year, there are many other special locations in the building. The New York Skyride is a motion simulator gives a virtual aerial tour of New York and its expansive skyline. There are over 35 radio/television stations that broadcast from the top of the building. The building has been featured in many movies, most notably two versions of the movie “King Kong”. It was the scene of the climatic final scene of “Sleepless in Seattle”, where the main characters meet in the observatory deck.

But more intrinsically, the building is a myriad of eclectic tastes, sounds, and dialogues. From the security workers at the front, to the maintenance guy who pushes carts to and from elevators, the building is way deeper than an edifice for commerce and business. It is also to some a symbol of the power and the conglomerate aura of New York City, the same aura that exudes from the walls of the building. Each person who looks out of the 6,500 windows has a story that is uniquely and unequivocally their own. One can walk through the halls and hear many different accents, languages, and thoughts spoken by the many different people that come and go through those revolving doors. It is symbolic how the revolving doors usher out the old occupants and ushers in the new tenants, letting in new possibilities and opportunities with every swivel.
There is a sense of respect and history that is utterly captivating. There rarely are ever any employees who don’t greet with a good morning or a smile. There is a compelling feeling of family when co-workers enter an elevator together.

There also are dark sides to the building such as suicide attempts, the latest happening on Friday April 13, 2007 by a disgruntled lawyer.

While there is no perfect place, the Empire State Building gives off an ambience of satisfied employees who take pride in their job. The doormen, clad in red suits and caps, help direct wayward visitors to the destination of their desire.
Withal, the Empire State Building is a special place, that embodies the heart and soul of New York City.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mr. Can't Get Right

If most of you don’t know, my favorite current NBA player is Carmelo Anthony. No not Gilly the Kid, not Lebanon James, not even the Black Rapist himself. This is for a few reasons. One, even though he was born in NYC, he reps B-More. Now everyone knows I don’t claim B-More, but I definitely know that it is the most important city in Maryland. (Baltimore and I have a love-hate relationship but that’s another note.) I love Maryland ballers (no homo) and since I am the epitome of an “objective homer”, there was no doubt when I watched Carmelo throughout his freshman year at Syracuse that I respected and admired him. When I watched him slip to the 3rd overall pick behind bench sensation Darko Milicic (ask Detroit if they would do that twice), and go to the rebuilding Denver Nuggets, I instantly became a Nuggets fan.

But ever since Melo has been in the league, he’s been plagued by not-so-smart decisions and affiliations (not including his marriage to La-La, that was a good one). There was the first Marijuana charge at the Denver Airport, the whole “Stop Snitching” video fiasco, ANOTHER marijuana related incident, and the Knicks-Nuggets brawl of 2006. Some of these incidents have extremely bad timing, such as the K-N brawl coming while he was leading the league in scoring (he ended up averaging 28.9 ppg even after the 15 game suspension), and subsequently lead to the trade for A.I. (subsequently leading to a drop in Anthony’s ppg.). But withal, I thought that with the gold medal win in Beijing, Melo was turning a new leaf.

But then he committed the unthinkable; he refused to come out of the game when coach George Karl tried to sub him out. Now, to some other people whose basketball love and IQ are not very prudent, this might be an “Ok…..so?” type of ordeal. But as all b-ball head can agree, you just don’t defy your coach on the court, in-game, on NATIONAL television. If you rebel against the coach, what are other players going to think of you? Are they going to respect the coach after that if he takes no action? Are they going to respect YOU for not showing any respect? George Karl has probably been coaching basketball longer than Carmelo has been alive. If George Karl wants to take you out for a rest, just get out. Its not like he will never put you back in, YOUR CARMELO ANTHONY. I think a few minutes of rest won’t kill your career Melz.

That got me to thinking, why in the world would a player do that? Is it ego? Did Melo take for granted that he was NOT the coach of the Denver Nuggets or knew how to manage and make substitutions for a professional basketball team? Has someone gassed up his head so much that it caused him to do said action? Has all the accolades gone to his head? Are the Indiana Pacers that important of a team that he would want to stay in? Were Indiana Pacers standing between the Nuggets and the last spot of the Western Conference Playoff Bubble? (Not paticularly, the Nuggets are 7th in the tightly contested West)

Maybe its an intrinsic force inside Carmelo to rebel. Maybe he feels he is owed respect due to his expansive repertoire of offensive skills. Maybe the thin Denver air is getting to him. Whatever it is, Carmelo Anthony is one of the greatest talents the NBA has to offer right now, but until he can get his off the court (and on the court) issues resolved within his game or within himself, he well be pounding on the glass ceiling to NBA Legendry.

Love, Peace, and Hairgrease.(had to bring the signature back)