Archive for the NY/NJ Category

10 Questions For Freestyle of the Arsonists

Posted in Archives, Interviews, Music, NY/NJ, Print, Uncategorized with tags , , on February 5, 2017 by Lupa


(I have a lot of material at other blogs and sites.  Some of it is gone forever, some I just need to move over.  This is one of them.  I’m guessing this is from circa 2009.)

10 Questions for Freestyle of the Arsonists

“I love the smell of danger, hearin the word Arsonist ain’t hard to figure yet / Gotta stop smokin MCs, somebody pass me the Nicorette”

If what passes for hip hop nowadays is store bought milk, then the Arsonists are that straight out of the udder, unpasteurized, unhomogenized thick milk i.e. the real shit. It’s not made for strip clubs and it’s not made for the ladies, point blank it’s made for people in the struggle to color their lives.

The Arsonists formed in 1993 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which then was a prime example of urban blight; the streets were awash with drugs and gunplay was common. It is those conditions in which hip hop itself was born. No other type of environment could have breathed life into such a radical art form.

By the mid 90’s the Arsonists had gained local prominence with their single, “The Session.” This paved the way for their debut album, “As The World Burns” (Matador). It’s one of those albums that bumps all the way through in my opinion, just put the disc in and press play, one of those I have to clean the house discs and can’t be bothered to flip through tracks. Bottom line, if you want to listen to real hip hop, the essence type shit, the Arsonists’ music is as good as any place to start. Could they really call themselves the Arsonists if their shit wasn’t fire? Nuff said.

Recently I had the opportunity to ask Freestyle, a founding member of the Arsonists, some questions. Free has rocked the mic with the Arsonists and as a solo performer all over the globe with the likes of many hip hop heavyweights. He also is dedicated and appreciative of his fans, personally responding to every piece of fan mail he receives. He has a solo album due to drop this year.

Lupa: Can you compare and contrast hip hop from when you first started listening to it, to when the Arsonists were first putting out records, to today? What has changed and what has remained constant from your perspective?

Free: OK, that’s a 30 yr span broken into 3. It started out as an all about fun thing, in the streets and at parties, etc. Then when the Arsonists got to it, it was starting to expand worldwide and independent minded people got into it. Now there’s a big divide between commercial and underground, with underground not getting much light & respect at all. At the same time, it’s a lot easier for people to release stuff on their own, but its made things a bit over saturated. Now that anybody can release music, it doeskin take much skill or intelligence to put something out.

To me, probably the only thing that has remained consistent is the fact that hiphop will never die. Everything else has changed and is constantly changing.

Lupa: Do you think there will be a day that Bushwick will become gentrified to the extent other neighborhoods in Brooklyn have, like Williamsburg or Fort Greene?

Free: Of course, no question about that, its just a matter of time. Bushwick wasn’t always what it is now. It changed into what it is now and it’s changing again.

Lupa: What track would you choose to play for someone who has never heard the Arsonists music?

Free: It would be hard for me to play one track being that our songs all came from different angles. You can’t play one song from us that would completely show what we’re about, so I’d play the whole first album, AS THE WORLD BURNS. That would pretty much sum it up.

Lupa: What was it like when you guys signed with Matador? (Matador was and is known for its indie rock, but the Arsonists were the first hip hop group signed to the label.) Was there any apprehension or disagreement amongst the group for that decision instead of going with an established hip hop label?

Free: It was great being signed to Matador, I wish we still were. It was a perfect fit if you ask me. Matador is looked at as obscure and so were we. There were no disagreements or anything. It was all about who could put the music in the fans’ ears and hands.

Lupa: In my experience, music heads almost always have another creative outlet or art form they enjoy as much, if not more, than music. Is that the case for you?

Free: Yep. COMPUTERS! I’ve been into computers since I was a kid and that will never change. I love em both, but music comes first.

Lupa: What are some of your musical influences? What is the shit you bump today? In your opinion, who is the greatest MC and producer of all time?

Free: Soul singers, movies, and my mom. What I bump today? R&B, soul, alternative, and some reggae and Spanish music as well. Alicia Keys is one of my faves at the moment. Greatest MC of all time = Rakim. Producer = DJ Premier.

Lupa: What would someone who is very familiar with your music might be surprised to learn about you?

Free: That I’m so into computers and computer gaming. I do maintenance and fix computers. I’m big on the great outdoors & travel as well.

Lupa: Kennedy, Crown, what’s the difference or neither?

Free: haha! No difference!

Lupa: What’s the last movie you saw in the theaters and what did you think about it?

Free: Avatar, in 2D and 3D, English and French (although I had NO IDEA what they were saying). OFF THE HOOK!

Lupa: When does the new album drop and what are your thoughts on it?

Free: Not sure when, but it will be this year for sure. So far so good, I’m lovin it. I just hope the fans do too.

Many thanks to Freestyle for the interview and you can check out his music at the links below:

(*I updated the links which were non functional at the artist’s request)

http://www.facebook.com/whoisfreestyle

http://www.instagram.com/whoisfreestyle

http://www.twitter.com/whoisfreestyle

http://www.youtube.com/whoisfreestyle

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Freestyle

 

 

 

 

Thank You Hipsters

Posted in Current Events, NY/NJ, Op/Ed, Print with tags , , , , on January 8, 2017 by Lupa
hipster

You’ve done us a great service

It’s not often that New York City hipsters get the (positive) credit they so rightfully deserve.  Whether it is because they are bereft of contributions to the city or they have such a negative stigma attached to them no one is willing to go on the record to heap praise on them I can’t tell you.  What I can tell you is that they have removed a small burden from my shoulders.

They have made me not hesitant to tell native New Yorkers I am from Jersey.

While I can’t define exactly what a hipster is for you succinctly, it would be argued by most that New York City natives are incapable of being hipsters.  I wouldn’t argue that.  Exhibit A Lena Dunham, no more questions your honor, I rest my case.  The consensus however is that the prototypical NYC hipster is from the Midwest.

(And on a side note for all intents and purposes a full fledged native New Yorker is someone raised in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx  or Queens.  Staten Island is arguably more Jersey than Jersey and too remote (no train to the city, no bridge or tunnel to the city and mostly suburban Italian).  Long Island and Westchester don’t count.  Yonkers gets an honorable mention because they pay for it.)

ANYHOO, before New York became such a sought after, desirable destination for mass amounts of non Tri State area transplants people from Jersey were the number 1 object of scorn and ridicule for people living in Manhattan.  Traditionally NYC was, for most intents and purposes, Manhattan.  Manhattan is the Big Apple, the city so nice they named it twice, the City That Never Sleeps, what Frank Sinatra wanted to be a part of and Gotham.  To this day when you say “the city” you are exclusively talking about Manhattan.

At this time being from or living in the outer boroughs was the object of its own derision.  People from Brooklyn and Staten Island were mockingly referred to as “bridge and tunnel” though that term was favored by Manhattanites  (well to do residents of Manhattan.)  This contempt was mutual, as made evident in Saturday Night Fever. There was nothing “cool” at all about being a guido, though to be fair there still isn’t.

I consider myself a naturalized New Yorker.  I’m not from New York but I’ve legitimately earned the right to call myself a New Yorker.

My first distinct memory of New York City was in the late 80’s when I rode the Staten Island Ferry all day during the filming of the Let The River Run video by Carly Simon because my brother was an extra in it.  After that I was sporadically in the city to visit my father, but that was limited because it just wasn’t worth the risk.  I remember my father asking a cabbie what the most dangerous place in New York was with him suggesting it was “Alphabet City.”  The cabbie politely let him know it was the South Bronx, where I would coincidentally later live off and on for a period of 10 years.

In the mid 90’s which coincided with New York becoming significantly safer as well as me becoming old enough to do things on my own I started coming here more often taking the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor line to see my father or go to concerts.  By the late 90’s I was already coming strictly to sin like when I went to the first Million Marijuana March, smoked trees with some guys I met there and then we all went to buy porn.  Yes kiddos, we used to actually have to get porn in a store and actually pay for it.  Then I got into raves and the sinning in NY got out of control.  This was when a fake ID that I got at the Rt 18 flea market could get me in anywhere no problem at all.

In the early 2000’s I went to an audio technical school in the city and was there daily while living in Jers.  I didn’t officially become a New Yorker until 2004 when I briefly rented a room from a Jamaican couple in Harlem, the only time I have ever lived in Manhattan.  When I moved in the husband helped me move all my shit upstairs but they kicked me out because they had to let a repair guy in my room and saw the condition of it.  Suffice to say they watched me carry all the shit downstairs when I moved out.

In my mind though I became a New York resident when I lived in Jersey City a couple years prior in an area that was more NY than plenty of places in NYC.  There was no discernible difference.  Everyone had NY accents.  In fact someone I know from Queens recently told me that was the most hood place he’s ever been to.  Of course this was when you could tell people in NY you lived in Jersey City and those that knew where like damn.

These days I live in ungentrified Brooklyn and literally have no one in my life I see in New York on any kind of regular basis, even once in a blue moon, that didn’t grow up in NY or spent decades here.  Some, if not most, natives will never accept me as a New Yorker even knowing all the previously stated, particularly “hood” New Yorkers.  But I feel more comfortable in NY than Jersey and New York accents, which initially were quite jarring to me, have now become the default accent to my ears; standard American English is what has an accent to me now and it sounds out of place.  But I get it, no part of my childhood was spent living in New York.  Not only that I didn’t even grow up living in an urban environment.  It was basically geographically and with people like you see in the movie Clerks, which is one of the greatest and most authentic depictions of non northern NJ life ever.

I don’t know when it became okay to be from Jersey or at least not as bad but let’s peg it at 2010.  By then everything hipster, it’s accouterments, it’s locations were well and long defined.  In fact I am able to concede my entire argument is simply my perception and there’s probably many New York natives laughing their ass off at this heresy.  But they just never gave it thought.

What the hipsters did was show that New Yorkers have way more in common with typical Jersyans than not and that they all have a reference point for Jersey which they lack for the Midwest.

What New Yorker has never been to the Jersey shore or Atlantic City or Giant’s Stadium?  I don’t think I know any that can say that.  Don’t tell me NY pizza is great because of the water because Jers has completely different water and bangin pizza is easy to come by.  They have the same local TV stations, watch the same local news.  If you watched Channel 9 back in the day you were watching a Jersey product.  And while New York was out of control back in the day, there is nothing in NYC as dangerous as Camden and a lot of Newark.

The two places have ironically traded places.  In large swaths of NYC it feels generic and unauthentic.  It feels fake.  But most of Jers doesn’t feel like that.  It feels like it always did, at least to me when I go randomly once in a while.  It’s still undesirable to people not from there.  Ask a hipster in New York they’ll tell you.  They would NEVER live in Jersey.

Many NY natives have never even lived anywhere else, but I spent a few years in Denver.  Believe me once you go far enough from the tri state area they see no difference in people from NJ and NY at all.  People would ask me if I was from New York and I would say I was originally from NJ and it didn’t even register to them.  To them it was like what’s the difference?

Don’t get me wrong, we know how different NYC and Jersey are and how different the people are but its because we’re looking at it under a microscope.  Go to Cali and they are looking at it zoomed out a million times and to them they can’t see the different details.

So thank you hipsters.  When NY natives ask me where I’m from, even though most people think I grew up in Queens, I don’t have any qualms or dread about telling them I’m from Jersey.  It doesn’t matter if they even see me the same as a hipster and break my balls.  New York has changed so much not only because so many other types have moved here, but so many New York natives moved away, that the goalposts have changed.  I may not be a touchdown, but I’m a field goal and at the end of the day sometimes you just need any score to win the game.

What Do Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly & Glenn Beck Have In Common and Why? Lady Gaga Because…

Posted in Hollywood, Music, NY/NJ, Politics, Print, Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by Lupa

 

 

Poke Her Face

Poke Her Face

A number of well known conservative men have an affection for Lady Gaga. How do I know?  Let’s skip the appetizer and head to dessert, shall we?

On Don Imus’ website is a listing of guests who have provided them with a list of their 5 favorite songs of all time.

Can’t say I’m a fan of the I-Man, but his indelible radio legacy is undisputed.  In any event, assuming this information is accurate, the selections of the individuals are fascinating and ultimately very telling. You can tell a lot by what a person listens to.

Music preference is the number one medium or artform from which some derive their entire identification.  You aren’t what you eat, you’re what you listen to.  Punks, hip hop heads, ravers, jazz heads etc are all collectives based on music preference elevated to a lifestyle.Lady Gaga

I thought it interesting then when going through the list that I saw a song by Lady Gaga among the selections of Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.

What is a person who is perhaps the gay community’s favorite artist and advocate doing on the list of the all time favorite songs by some stuffy, older conservative guys?  For context, lets look at these individuals self described 5 favorite songs. (Links source to the Imus lists)

 Donald Trump 

For someone like the Donald, it’s hard to know if he ever does anything sincerely, unless sincerity is what is needed for self aggrandizement.  If this is an honest list I think the most noteworthy thing is that all the songs attempt to express an emotion.  For someone who seems robotic and alien, it puts a human touch on Trump.  You’d think he’d listen to John Cage experimental music or to white noise, but to him it would sound like the Beatles.

Bill O'Reilly

Bill will get you the O, with apparently less

Bill O’Reilly

Bill in contrast to Donald we can say with confidence is a terrestrial human being.  Most of his choices are feel good and upbeat, with the exception of the Elvis song, though it’s not like Kentucky Rain is Seasons In The Sun.  I’m thinking he arrived at this by figuring out what he bumps on his ear buds after hitting the sack drunk on a Saturday while his producer – I mean wife – sleeps next to him.

Beck

Guess what I’m gonna do with this finger?

Glenn Beck

Not that I particularly enjoy his picks, but Beck clearly is the biggest music fan of the bunch.  His list is entirely contemporary which might indicate he believes music is getting better as time goes by and that possibly if he were asked in ten years what his favorite tracks are they could be all different.  I think the exclusion of a single song from his youth indicates a bit of fraud however.  Even Trump included a song from the 60’s, which I guess is the farthest back he’s comfortable with being nostalgic, probably because he was still a relative peon then.

What does it all mean?

It certainly is a tad ironic Lady Gaga would show up on these guys’ lists. It’s almost like if Ted Nugent showed up on Rachel Maddow’s list.  I think they genuinely like the songs, but I believe there is a psychological explanation.

The brain can connect the senses with a memory that coincides with when the song was heard.  This can produce vivid memories and intense feelings associated with the song.  It’s why whenever I hear Girls, Girls, Girls by Motley Crue I’m transported in my mind to a random strip club.  I believe all these men use Lady Gaga in the same way, to conjure up a pleasant memory.

They say men are only as faithful as their options, and these guys have a lot of options.  For one they are filthy rich and two they are famous and work in entertainment.  Those two qualities ensure these men’s options will be as prolific as spheres in a ball pit – worldwide day or night; a gold digger can smell money on other planets.

My theory is that Lady Gaga is the favorite artist of these men’s side pieces, aka goomars aka mistresses and as a result they associate Lady Gaga with being knee deep in a 23 year old that without the money and fame would feel awkward shaking hands with them.  Every time they hear these Lady Gaga songs, in their mind they are laying pipe in an exclusive neighborhood when under normal circumstances they would be on Tinder with their college photo talking about their great personality.  Or chilling with wifey, assuming they’d still be married.  Keep in mind the subjects we’re dealing with.

Of course that’s just conjecture as I’m not a mind reader (and I don’t need another day in court).  Occam’s Razor would tell us that removing all assumptions we should take them at their word though that is technically assuming they were being forthright about their favorite songs.  I don’t trust a razor I can’t shave with anyway.

In all fairness these guys distort the truth to millions to the tune (wink) of millions every day for self enrichment and involuntary notoriety interpreted as sanctimony to some, verity to others.  What’s a little marital infidelity in comparison?

While there was no lack of interesting tidbits from Imus’ page, here are a select few:

Chris Christie picked 5 Bruce Springsteen songs.  Ultra fan boy CC couldn’t bring himself to even consider another artist having better songs than Bruce.  I never understood the phenomenon of  getting intensely attached to one group and seeing them play over and over again.  In fairness, he could have done a lot worse.  A lot.  This essentially reveals however that Christie is loyal to what he wants to be, not necessarily what he should be.  I mean, he didn’t even throw in a Southside Johnny song.  Nope.  Every New Year’s Eve Christie cries himself to sleep playing Glory Days.

Cesar MilanDavid Patterson, Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace all had Empire State of Mind by Jay Z and Alicia Keys.  Andrea Tantaros, Jeanine Pirro and Mike Tyson also listed Jay Z songs.

Hulk Hogan picked three songs by his daughter Brooke.  Yeah OK Hulkster.

One of former Governor Mike Huckabee’s favorite songs is Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.  Mike buddy, you DO understand it’s about drugs right?

 

De Blasio De Dunce & Wise Wilhelm

Posted in Current Events, General, NY/NJ, Politics, Print, Society with tags , on March 22, 2014 by Lupa
New Yorkers keep electing guys from Massachusetts and wonder why this happens...

New Yorkers keep electing guys from Massachusetts and wonder why this happens…

Bill de Blasio has been mayor for 80 days, which is technically 115,200 New York minutes.

As eager he is to tell you about his “tale of two cities” he is less enthusiastic about telling you the tale of two mayors and two standards.

This isn’t because he literally became a different person.  Some might not be aware Bill de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm Jr.  I have no issue with his name change reflecting his mother’s last name and what he was called growing up, however it can not be overlooked his legal name change coincided with his initial run for NYC office, and he couldn’t make up his mind after the first time he changed his name.

Wilhelm sounds Naziesque, and just sounding Nazi related is no good in New York.  That had to go.  Regardless of his motives, as I haven’t mastered mind reading yet (fingers crossed), the figurative imagery is undeniable; this is a person that is willing to become someone else for political expediency.

Yeah he whipped ass in the general election, though he barely made it out of the primary.  The fact he could ultimately crush up his competition is only indicative of how weak the field was.  Not to mention only 24% of registered voters actually voted, down from when 93% of registered voters voted for mayor in 1953, and 57% in 1993 when Giuliani first got elected.  That wasn’t de Blasio though anyway, that was Wilhelm the real brains behind the operation.

De Blasio is just the proxy in which Wilhelm comes through.  Wilhelm is the pragmatic one, he knows what he has to do to get something he wants.  He also knows now that he has power – for lack of a way of saying it I enjoy more – nobody can say shit to him.  He’s our Daddy now.

De Blasio meanwhile is the supposed populist ideologue with a black, former lesbian wife who will mend the divisions which create the two cities.  He’s the public relations veneer.  To whatever extent de Blasio’s success is, Wilhelm will have engineered it.  Like opposite sides of a coin de Blasio is the face and Wilhelm the foundation.  He’s the one who knew his made for TV son Dante would ingratiate him to a city which prides diversity.  He’s also the one whose level of scruples includes exploiting, I mean utilizing, his teenage son for his own professional gain.

Consider his tale of two cities refrain, a dish rich in irony and actually first served up by Chef Fernando Ferrer in 2001.  The economic and social disparity which exists aside, regular citizen Wilhelm could never speed and run through stop signs with impunity, let alone an officially sanctioned NYPD speed racer like Mayor de Blasio does.  Did I mention this speed adventure was preceded by the unveiling of Vision Zero, a campaign to reduce traffic fatalities, two days earlier?  Puppet Master Wilhelm knows that having the job is different then when you are trying to get it.  After all there might be two cities, but there’s still only one mayor.

Of course de Blasio, the facade, will purport to believe he is not superior or exceptional to the average citizen.

He is so committed to his propaganda, er beliefs, he included shoveling snow on his official mayor’s schedule, including the cameo by NYC’s favorite well coiffed and afroed teenager.  While the snow shoveling was planned I doubt the asinine act of shoveling with sneakers was intentional, though he managed to have the inadvertent audacity to dole out snow shoveling advice.  His zeal for fronting overcame his common sense.  People like a hot plate of BS that tastes good, but when the ingredients of the dish become apparent, people want a refund.  

De Blasio’s tendency to bait and switch or act hypocritically is a well stocked bar.  He brought Police Commissioner Bill Bratton back even though he is an architect of stop and frisk, a practice de Blasio constantly railed against and made a centerpiece of his campaign.  Perhaps my favorite flavor of his proprietary duplicity is the increase of jaywalking tickets by almost 800% while having no problem jaywalking with his city paid security team.

This guy is a piece of work, or maybe not.  His rule is the product of being the last person standing amongst a field of cripples.  The honeymoon period of “anyone else but Bloomberg” is over.  Like the day after a one night stand fueled by inebriation, New Yorkers are cracking their eyes open at 9A and finally getting a good glimpse of what they went to bed with.  And it’s a lot different than the guy buying us drinks while trying to get in our pants.

Who Is A Native New Yorker?

Posted in Bill de Blasio, General, NY/NJ, Print, Society with tags on March 20, 2014 by Lupa

NYC

The native New Yorker is one of the definitive archetypes of our time, emulated ad nauseam to a possibly unprecedented extent.  Perhaps no identification is as self aggrandizing and loaded.  To proclaim one’s status as a native New Yorker is to align oneself with the classic depiction of New York as a labyrinth of concrete and brick where there is no tolerance for nonsense and one can endure harm at any point.  Oh, and the universe moves time differently, hence the term “New York minute”, which means you think faster than you can actually think and pack more into your time than anyone else.

What exactly is a native New Yorker?  It’s not as easy to define as one may think.

New York City in the classic sense is Manhattan, “the city.”  Every other borough is considered a suburb of Manhattan, regardless of how urban the environment may be.  All the outer boroughs are on a distinctly lower level of status; at some point if you had anything going for you or big ambitions, you moved to Manhattan.  The “City That Never Sleeps” is not Queens.

Today the idea of Manhattan being the extent of NYC is outdated, as it should be I believe, possibly due to the success (or infamy) outer borough natives had in the city and their impact on NYC.  The outer boroughs came up – though without confusion – they still have a lower status than Manhattan.

For all intents and purposes outer borough people generally were always native New Yorkers, it’s just the recognition of those places on a level approaching equal to Manhattan was lacking, and it still is (minus the recent emergence of Brooklyn as being superior to Manhattan to some).  However, are all the natives of the outer boroughs native New Yorkers?  It’s hard to say.

What is typical in the Bronx and Brooklyn is less common in Queens and somewhat rare in Staten Island.  Queens is kind of like if you combined Brooklyn with Jersey, and Staten Island is interchangeable with Jersey.  I’ve heard Staten Island described as being “more Jersey than Jersey.”   Can a person raised in the suburban parts of these boroughs really relate to those from the aforementioned brick and concrete jungles?  Moreover, do the natives of these areas have more in common with people from New Jersey than with classic NYC?

One can argue a person from the direct NY metropolitan areas in New Jersey has a greater connection to Manhattan and thus can also be considered NYC natives possibly more so than anyone from Staten Island.  Let’s remember, Staten Island as a whole lacks a number of elements present in every other borough and in these parts of Jersey: a direct bridge or tunnel to Manhattan and train service to Manhattan.  Let’s also remember that these parts of NJ are just as geographically close as the outer boroughs (and closer than Staten Island).  Staten Island is unquestionably more isolated from Manhattan than these places in NJ.

I hate to rail on Staten Island (or not) as I know a number of people from there, but it also lacks any appeal that exists in the other boroughs.  Manhattan is Manhattan, Brooklyn is now battling Manhattan for relevancy and has the Barclay’s Center and Coney Island.  Queens has the Mets and US Open.  The Bronx, the Yankees.  There is literally no attraction that would bring the average person to Staten Island.  You only go there to see people you know, people you didn’t meet there because people don’t go there.  The Ferry is free for a reason.

Having included Jersey in the conversation, I would be remiss to not comment on places in New York state geographically close to NYC but not a part of it i.e. Westchester and Long Island.  In my mind none of those people can really claim to be native New Yorkers.  At the very least you have to actually be from a place in NYC.   I will acknowledge some of those areas feel just like NYC, like Yonkers, but then again so does Jersey City.  Someone from Montauk or Scarsdale is not fooling anyone.

It then presents the question, what does it mean to be “from” a place?

For me, a person who has spent a substantial part of their formative lives (childhood/adolescence) can claim nativity to that place.  Also, I think a person can have spent so much time in NYC and become a quasi native New Yorker.  For example, DJ Premier is from Houston, but he spent so much time in Brooklyn and absorbed so much of its influence it’s hard not to think of him as a native New Yorker.  Having full fledged New Yorkers co sign you helps also.

Extended further, does this mean a transplant old enough to have experienced the old, grittier NYC and spent a considerable amount of time there is just as much a New Yorker as natives who grew up post Guiliani?  Again hard to say.  What NYC is about isn’t exclusively related to the stereotypical qualities of traditional NYC.  Just because a neighborhood is safe, doesn’t mean it’s not New York City.

The End… for now.

(The Cartel does not believe in necessarily having concluding paragraphs which tidily summarize all the preceding ones.)

Curtis Sliwa On Loving EDM, NYC Clubs of the 70’s and Raving in 80’s London

Posted in Curtis Sliwa, Interview, Interviews, Law & Order, Legends of NYC, Music, NY/NJ, Print, Radio, Society with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2014 by Lupa
You heard it here first...

You heard it here first…

Curtis Sliwa, former night manager of a Bronx McDonald’s turned founder of the crime patrol group The Guardian Angels, longtime conservative radio host and victim of a botched Gambino crime family hit allegedly on the orders of John Gotti Jr, has decided to come out of the closet to the Lupa Cartel as a full fledged member of… dance culture????

In an exclusive interview Curtis recounts his love of music, specifically dance music, which endures to this day.  Directly following the interview is a playlist made by Curtis with some of his favorite tracks.

Curtis’ detractors will no doubt be inclined to view these surprising, hard to believe admissions as some sort of scheme to stay relevant and believe it to be a figment of what many say is Curtis’ wild imagination (like Curtis has ever made something up).   To that I can confidently call BS and I offer this as evidence pointing to his early progressive nature.

As recounted by former Sopranos actor Carl Capotorto (Little Paulie), whom Curtis managed when he worked at the McDonald’s in the Fordham section of the Bronx, Curtis officiated what was possibly New York’s first gay marriage ceremony in the Soundview projects including his account of Curtis’ rather animated disco dancing during the reception.  In 2014 it’s questionable if you can do a gay marriage ceremony in a Bronx project without some issue.  In 1977 I imagine it very well could have gotten someone killed.

Curtis at the party following the gay wedding he officiated in the BX

Curtis at the party following the gay wedding he officiated in the BX.  Either Curtis just stepped out of a sauna or he was bustin moves on the floor.  For the record, Bronx projects don’t have saunas,  unless you count lack of AC.

Keeping that third party account in mind, it should compel any cynic to take the following at face value: Curtis was a dance machine before it had acceptance in Canarsie, the heavily guido neighborhood in Brooklyn he grew up in.  I’m not talking about Snookie, Paulie D, Jersey Shore guido either.  I’m talking O.G., original guido; a time when a man simply dancing could be interpreted as a homosexual act, or in their parlance being “half a fag.”

Lupa:  What kind of music did you grow up listening to?

Curtis: When I was a young little huckleberry naturally radio – the old style radio – was the only kind of music to listen to.  I listened to WWRL which is R&B on the AM dial, sampled WMCA which was breaking Top 40, WINS which is all news now would also break a little Top 40.  Never listened to WABC because it only played the Top 40, but I loved R&B and WWRL was the place to go.

Lupa:  And this was in the 60’s…

Curtis:  This was in the 60’s and naturally everything from Sinatra to Dean Martin, which I didn’t like, but it was part of the Italian culture growing up, and then all other songs in between from The Monkees to the Beatles to the Rolling Stones.  The Stones caught my attention and then eventually when it came to hard rock The Who and Led Zeppelin.  But it was really R&B that always held sway, so Sly Sylvester Stewart and the Family Stone was my all time favorite at the time but there were other groups.  I would listen to War, Tower of Power, groups that weren’t necessarily at the top of the charts, but when given the choice to watch Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and Don Cornelius’ Sooooooouuuuuullllll Train, it was Soul Train that I watched over and over and over again and I would dis and dismiss Dick Clark and American Bandstand.

Curtis as a teenage meeting the biggest Dick to ever occupy the Whitehouse.  This was after being selected Newpaper Boy of the Year for his part in rescuing a family from a burning building while on his route for the NY Daily News

Curtis as a teenager meeting the biggest Dick to ever occupy the Whitehouse. This was after being selected Newspaper Boy of the Year for his part in rescuing a family from a burning building while on his route for the NY Daily News.  Look at that jacket!

Lupa:  So when disco came along, the dance music of the 70’s, were you into that also?

Curtis:  I was totally into disco, but I didn’t just discard like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, which was my favorite rock/folk music group, cause I like that genre too.  But when given the choice I much preferred to go dancing late at night because that’s what the ladies liked and when you grew up in Canarsie, or you went to East New York or Brownsville or places like that most guys were gavones. They didn’t want to get up and dance.

There were three types of guys A. the sitters, the guys who would sit or stand and stand and glare, B. the guys who were waiting for the slow jams so they could grind on the dance floor and cop a feel.  That didn’t require any great skill level.  C. the guys who liked to step out and do the hustle.  So if you had any kind of fluid motion, if you could churn and turn a young lady on the dance floor, if you could twist and just bend, the ladies were queuing up to dance with you because all the gavones, all the Italian stallions, were sitting on the sidelines thinking that was totally unmacho.  And this was before Saturday Night Fever and John Travolta so I got into the dance mode very early in my growth period.

Lupa:  How accurate would you say Saturday Night Fever was in representing that time, place and culture?

Curtis:  Oh yeah, Saturday Night Fever was very, very accurate at sort of bringing together the street and the culture because Travolta wasn’t a hitter, he wasn’t a member of organized crime, he was a pretender, a poser as a tough guy.  You punch Travolta in the face and he would have had an immediate mental collapse because remember, it was all about his look.  It was all about him primping up like he was a peacock.  But his ability on the dance floor was what I would always seek to achieve but then again remember, there were other dance styles incorporated by blacks and Hispanics.  So you had the robot that blacks loved to do at the time, the Patty Duke, the bus stop, the hustle obviously which was more in line with what you saw in Saturday Night Fever, but then salsa and merengue.  So I dabbled in a little bit of everything.  Often times I just created my own dance steps.  I would go when I was a night manager at Mickey D’s in the Bronx and close at 2 in the morning and go to the late night red light clubs, the illegal clubs.

Whoever photoshops a picture of Curtis' head onto Travolta from Saturday Night Fever wins a special prize... free access to this website!

Whoever photoshops a picture of Curtis’ head onto Tony Manero wins a special prize… free access to this website!

Lupa:  What were the names of some of them?

Curtis:  There were no names!  They were illegal joints.  Sometimes they would move from place to place.  They didn’t have liquor licenses.  Everything was supposed to be closed by 2, they were open til 6, 7 in the morning.  It was an eclectic mix of people on the fringes of society.  Drug dealers, gangbangers, heterosexual couples who had already been at regular clubs.  A tremendous eclectic mix.

A lot of times they were frequented by these big bull dagger lesbian women with their… females who were – the best way to describe them at that time – is that they were young ladies who were intimidated by men, they had had bad experiences with men, but they loved music, they loved dancing, they were there with the bull daggers – clearly lesbians – but they hadn’t sort of lost the attraction to guys.  So I would be there to try to pick off what they called at the time “fag hags.”  These were young ladies intimidated by heterosexual men, probably because they had been battered, bruised and taken advantage of.  Because I could dance so well often times I would attract them out to the dance floor, have great conversations with them, until all of a sudden a woman would step in between wearing construction boots and telling me to mind my P’s and Q’s and I knew it was time to do the bird.

Lupa:  What about the mainstream clubs like Studio 54?

Curtis:  No, I would have never have been chosen because I smelled like a McDonald’s french fry and hamburgers at 2 in the morning.  I was low budget.  These were clubs where there was a lot of illegal activity going on, illegal drugs, it wasn’t part of my thing.  Guns.  All kinds of vices going on in the back rooms.  I was there to DANCE.  I mean, I was like a Whirling Dervish.  From the time that I got in there at 3 in the morning till the break of dawn at 6 in the morning, that’s all I was doing, dancing.  Not with guys.  Just looking for females to dance with and there were lots, cause again, a lot of women would show up, they would be good dancers, hardcore lesbians, but they would see I was the only one out there on the dance floor.  They didn’t mind doing the boogaloo, the bump, all kinds of dances they probably wouldn’t have normally engaged a heterosexual male in.

Lupa:  In the 80’s came the rise of techno, house music, rave parties.  I understand you went to a rave in England?

Curtis:  I was over in England to bring the concept of the Guardian Angels to the West Indian Caribbean community of which most lived in council estates.  I was over in the Wandsworth section of South London, and I had gotten stabbed up while making a presentation to their youth by their youth supervisors all of whom were working what they call the dole.  20 hours of work as counselors, then they would get put on the dole and they were all working off the books at The Fridge which was a club in the south end of London, a notorious club, very rough.  After I got stabbed up and I was recovering from multiple wounds to my mouth I was still trying to develop the Guardian Angels and people said “if you want a lot of young people, you gotta to go to a rave.”

Lupa:  What year was this?

Curtis:  I’d say ’87, ’88, ’89 somewhere in that time period.  So I said “what’s a rave?”  They’d say it’s a collection of young people, they get together usually in warehouses or community rooms in council estates and they just play music nonstop.  There’ll be sweating and the atmosphere will be almost putrid because of all the body smells, but the music is great, the lights are dimmed and it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced over in the States.

So I walked in one time to what had originally been a factory of some type, I think spinning wool, all the machinery was down and off in the corner there were like hundreds of these people sweating. You could smell the body odor because they had obviously been out on the dance floor for hours but they were like in a trance.  They were like Whirling Dervishes.  I loved the pulsating sound of the music.  I loved the way they would segue way from song to song after long periods of time.  This isn’t like disco where you’d have a three minute song and then they would try and merge into a different song.  Some of these songs would go on for a half hour!   The beats would change but it would still pretty much be the same song.  Then it would have the urge to merge with another song and I fell in love with what was rave music.  There was nothing like it back in the States.  Nothing I could find on the radio, certainly nothing like this I could find in the underground.

Curtis and The Guardian Angels outside the Bronx McDonald's Curtis worked at in the 70's and started The Guardian Angels

Curtis and The Guardian Angels outside the Bronx McDonald’s where Curtis worked at in the 70’s and started The Guardian Angels

Lupa: Didn’t you have a responsibility to try and shut them down or call the cops?

Curtis:  Well actually I felt an identification with the ravers because they were ostracized, they were like nomads, Bedouins, they had to move from place to place.  They had to squat on property.  The bobbies, if they knew of their existence, would have put them out of existence but they were curmudgeons, crabby crumb cakes.  They were out of it.  So I really identified with all the rave people.

Now a lot of them they were in a drug induced psychosis.  Special K, ecstasy they were all emerging and they were taking drugs to enhance the experience.  To me it was like a natural mood elevator.  To this day when I need extra energy I’ll put on techno music, house music, rave music, play it over and over.  People here at WABC where I’m broadcasting once again will tell you about times where they would come in at 3, 4 in the morning when I was doing the morning show and they would be blasted off the foundations listening to this rave music coming from the office and that would be the way I would pump up before the show cause I had only had 2, 3 hours sleep.

Lupa:  Have you ever heard of PLUR?  Peace, love, unity, respect?  It’s like a rave mantra.

Curtis:  No, and in fact if you were to ask me the names of my favorite songs or the DJ’s who were actually responsible for putting together the music and the groups, I would be able to identify them by the sound of the songs but not by acronyms or terminology or groups that would get together.  I’m very much what you could call a free agent.  I love all this music and I think it surprises people, as I approach 60 years old, that I would be into techno, rave, dance music of this type that goes on and on and on till the break of dawn.  In fact, there have been periods where people have left me, come back two, three hours later and they say “are you still playing that same song?”  Cause all I would do is play it over and over again.  I would have it on rewound (sic) and that would be the only song cause I would like completely bug out to it.

Lupa:  What’s the final thing you’d like to say to anyone that had no idea you were into this kind of music?

Curtis:  Not only was I so into it and still am, but I remember this past summer when they were conducting the Electrical (sic) Daisy Carnival on Randall’s Island (*I had previously misinformed Curtis it was EDC when it was Electric Zoo) that was supposed to go three days but they had to cut it short, that when I was coming over the Triborough Bridge going from Manhattan, Harlem to Queens and I heard the music and I saw the lights pulsating down there on Randall’s Island and the bodies just moving in tandem.  I told the Guardian Angels “PULL OVER TO THE SIDE!  PULL OVER!  I NEED TO LISTEN TO THIS!”  I must have been there for a half hour just grooving.  And it was European DJ’s that were dominating, there’s no doubt. As much as I want America to be #1, second to none, when it comes to rave, house, techno, dance music, the Europeans dominate.

Curtis & Kuby

Below you will find a playlist Curtis made of some of his favorite techno, EDM, whatever you call it songs, with some commentary on each track. Make sure and listen to Curtis back on the air with acclaimed attorney Ron Kuby 12-3P Mon-Fri on 77 WABC in NYC and you can find the stream at WABC or the I Heart Radio app.  Besides having a great show with great chemistry, Ron also happens to be The Dude Jeff Lebowski’s legal counsel of choice!

Above & Beyond ft Richard Bedford – Sun & Moon 

Curtis:  This is so appropriate to house/techno music cause you could start when there was sun shining out and play this song till the moon was shining and then until the sun came out again.  Ohhhh, then it just gets into that nice little slow move and then just breaks wild again.

BT & Andrew Bayer – The Emergency

Curtis:  Emergency.  It’s my entire life, emergency, one big 9-1-1 call responding.  I love the flow of the music here because it has the urge to merge.  So if you’re on the dance floor this is where you get up tight, close and like really, really personal.

Ercola – Every Word

Curtis:  These… songs… are the bomb!  It’s OK when a guy sings it but when you hear that female voice vibrate through both your ears.  Then you start listening to the strains and pains in her voice and the anguish of the song.  You just melt, and you imagine she’s melting right into your arms.

Freemasons ft Wynter Gordon – Believer

Curtis:  One of my all time favorite techno/house songs because I fancy myself as a true believer and people who would be out on the dance floor after 4, 5 hours they’re true believers in the music cause it requires the flow to just pump through every vein and artery in your body.  When this song comes on, knock out the lights.

Kaskade – Angel On My Shoulder

Curtis:  Ohhhh, it’s like you’re just floating, from the subways to the streets, and the name of the song definitely attracted me.  Angel On My Shoulder.  Since I created the Guardian Angels it is so appropriate that music like this would be pulsating through my cerebellum and medulla when I would board that number 4 train, that mugger’s express.

Katy Perry – Waking Up In Vegas (Manhattan Clique Remix)

Curtis:  Katy Perry, Lady Gaga.  I go with the Gaga goo goo girl except when it comes to this song Waking Up In Las Vegas.  Anyone who has ever been to that town where the former mayor said “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” knows why her pitch and rhythm fits this city like a finely tuned glove.

Kim Sozzi – Secret Love

Curtis:  Listen to how Kim Sozzi’s voice just jumps from octave to octave and it’s almost like you can imagine yourself chasing her out on the dance floor.  And this is live and local.  She’s a Long Island girl, so she’s got everything the 5 boroughs is comprised of.  She could have been on the BQE heading in to a club in Brooklyn or Queens to sing this very song.

Maniacalm ft LALA – Never Forget You

Curtis:  THIS.  IS.  THE.  BOMB!  This is dedicated to every girl that I had to be extricated from on the dance floor.  Either because, feet don’t fail me now, I gotta get outta here before her boyfriend gives me a beatdown and his friends gather round.  Or it was just getting too hot, too heavy and either the woman knew it was time to turn off the faucet or I’d recognize it was time to take a coooooooold shower.

Interview With A Non Violent Torpedo

Posted in Current Events, Hollywood, NY/NJ, Politics, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 8, 2011 by Lupa

Charlie Sheen’s My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option tour hits Radio City this weekend and it’s worth noting he could have done better with that title.

I mean, aren’t all torpedos intrinsically violent?  Do they make pacifist Ghandi spewing torpedos?  Isn’t that like saying my sweet lollipop or the wet water?

Some of his crackhead ramblings are kind of interesting from a grammatical standpoint, but this is just loco right?  Not so.

The Cartel was contacted by a WWII torpedo from Sweden named Erik who said I have it all wrong.   He, in fact, is a non violent torpedo, there are others like him and it validates Sheen’s show title.  I had a chance to speak with Erik, someone who speaks fluent English.

Lupa:  Thanks Erik for talking with us.

Erik:  No problem Alex.

Lupa:  So tell us how you came to be a non violent torpedo?

Erik:  Well Sweden was a neutral country during WWII, but they weren’t a stupid country.  So they made torpedos, and all sorts of other weapons, that they never really planned to use.  We were just pawns in a huge posturing manuever.  It’s like the virgin that carries a rubber in his wallet.  You’re not using that son, you’re frontin.  So that picture I gave you is an artists rendering of me in the air.

Lupa:  You almost seem solemn when you talk about it.

Erik:  Fuck yeah Alex.  I mean I’m a fuckin torpedo.  I want to be shot, and I want to fuck some shit up.  I feel like the little boy born with a mangled dick so they cut it off and dressed it up like a girl.  But I was born with a dick Alex, and I want to fuck with it!

Lupa:  You seem angry now.

Erik:  Are you fucking stupid?  Of course I’m angry.  These Swedish fucks disenfranchised me.  I should of fucked some Nazis up, but they were too pussy to get involved.  Shit, I would have been fine fucking the allies up to.  I’m a torpedo, that’s how I get down.

Lupa:  Well thanks Erik for taking the time to speak with me.  I hope to shed light on your plight and the rest of the unused weaponry of pussified neutral countries like Sweden.

Erik:  Thanks Alex.  YOU are the man.  In fact, you’re the BOMB.  Get it, you are the BOMB.

Lupa:  I do Erik.  I do.  And you are the torpedo.

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