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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)





You Can Or Can Not Call Me AL

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 5, 2017 by Lupa


The name AL is like white bread. Unassuming. Prosaic. Relatable. Comforting.

(Before I proceed I will explain that I write the name AL in caps because Al looks like the abbreviation of artificial intelligence every time I read it.)

I doubt there are any King AL’s anywhere. The name is simply too peasantlike. You can’t bow to that. It doesn’t command respect nor could it be taken seriously even contemplating it. It has an almost juvenile quality you have to roll your eyes at. “Sure AL you’ll be president one day, just don’t forget to pick up some milk on your way back from the mall.”

It is not concerned with triffling matters but is not interested in seriousness unless it is warranted. It is relentlessly and unabashedly without trepidation. No not confident or cocky which would hint at ego. Simply free from emotional and psychological hindrance.

The name likes to sleep in and take regular naps. AL is familiar with and enjoys vice but is not consumed with it. AL quit smoking but your second handhand smoke doesn’t bother or tempt him. AL got mustard on his shirt at lunch but since he’s not leaving home anyway he doesn’t bother changing it.

AL is that guy.

Because hardly anyone’s given name is AL and it is an abbreviation, most of the people with the moniker tend to have the attributes of the name because they have either decided to be called it or others christened them that.

Let’s take Albert Einstein. Do you think a random person that didn’t know him called him AL? Na, Einstein was of too much consequence to be an AL to the public. But I bet those closest to him called him AL. “Yo AL I’m really feeling the insight into the relationship of mass and energy you blessed us with.”

AL is noirish. He is the bartender at the dive bar that gets all the troublemakers but no one ever tests him. Not because he’s big or menacing.  Because he’s AL.

AL’s tend to be funny, cool, badass, authentic or a combo of all three.There’s a correlation with easy goingness associated with the name.

AL In Due Time

Nominative determinism is the idea that your name affects your life because you will gravitate to things similar to it.Like how the owner of Tito’s Vodka is named Tito Beveridge. Or there’s a urologist named Dr Dick Chopp.

So who knows if people named AL become such because they are such or they became that way.

Let’s take AL Bundy. Maybe if AL’s name was Robert he wouldn’t be selling shoes. Maybe he’d be a boss of some kind. But AL certainly did become the previously stated funny, cool, badass and authentic.

Pacino, Capone, Lewis, Davis, Green, Sharpton, Cowlings, Borland

They don’t have much in common. But all those AL’s are approachable. They aren’t distant. They are people people.People if you stopped them in the street respectfully you wouldn’t expect a problem from. They are just AL’s.

AL ALong The ALiteration

To top it off AL means “to the” or “at the” or “of the” or “in the style of” in Spanish. So if your name is say AL Swift in Spanish that could be interpreted as in the style of Swift (e.g. tacos AL pastor). Big time bonus for AL’s.

But wait there’s more.  In Arabic AL means “the” (e.g. AL-Qaeda or The Base). So if your name is AL Rios in Arabic it would mean THE Rios.

So then let’s take Pacino. Spanish and Arabic speakers basically know him as THE PACINO.  THE as in the one you should know. The Pacino not A Pacino.

Final Thought

I guess for matters of clarity I should note that many people call me AL.  But I think this a very fine and cogent exposition in any event.  This might be esoteric AL stuff right here I will admit. All my AL’s will get it.  If you don’t your name is Steve or Bill.

Actual Texts I’ve Received

Posted in Actual Texts I've Received, Uncategorized with tags on February 2, 2017 by Lupa


“Ok Alex. Haven’t had my coffee yet. Not In the mood to deal with your narcissism yet. As a matter of fact we should set a rule to not send any messages before 11:am unless its money related.”



Actual Things People Have Said To Me

Posted in Actual Things People Have Said To Me, Dogs, Print, The 80's, Uncategorized with tags , on January 10, 2017 by Lupa


I had the following exchange today with someone I know and consider a friend:

Friend: Is he (Spuds Mackenzie) still alive?

Me: I don’t know, I’ve never met a 30 year old dog before.


Other than the mistaken belief that dogs can live longer than Jimi Hendrix my friend made another mistake: Spuds Mackenzie née Honey Tree Evil Eye was female.

Well the character Spuds was definitely male – a guy’s guy and perhaps the Most Interesting Dog In The World – but the actor was female.  And you thought she was good at her craft before, but so convincingly being able to play a different gender is nothing short of remarkable.

Honey Tree died at the age of 9 of kidney failure in 1993.  Was she perhaps getting high on her own supply?  The immense pressures of stardom can not be understood by those of us who have not experienced it first hand.  It has no comparison.

If you are like me and see a reference to something from your childhood on the internet and then google it to find out more and to experience it as an adult, Mental Floss has a typically interesting article on Spuds.




Why Didn’t Jesus Slip Some Physics In There?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 25, 2013 by Lupa

As a general rule, I try not to believe in anything that can’t be proven.  That does not mean I don’t have faith in things I can’t see.

I am an athiest, but I am not at all convinced beyond a doubt, some semblance of what could be defined as God exists.   My concept of what God is is substantially differnt than say Judeo Christianity.

Lets take a colony of ants.   In their world many Gods exist.  We are all God to those ants.  Extended, I believe theres a great possibility there is something that much more advanced than us.  They didn’t create everything, but their power would be considered God like to us. So in that sense I’m open to the belief in God.

Until I see it though I’m going to say it doesn’t exist.  I have nothing at all to gauge whether some other life forms exist, or God in the traditional sense.  It’s possible we are the only intelligent life in the entire universe.  Why not right?

Years  of PBS and  Discovery channel tend to make you realize, life as defined by physics is incomprehensible, at least to me.

Multiple dimensions, parallel universes, dark matter, super light speed, infinity.  Once you have a basic understanding of some of these things and what it means if it is true then the idea that a guy 2000 years has any connection to the creator of the universe is pretty absurd.  There’s no knowledge given in religious texts that was remotely divine for its time.  It’s all relative to its time.  The people who built the Egyptian pyramids had curiously advanced knowledge of math, but there’s no science in Judeo Christianity at all.  Why didnt Jesus slip some physics in there?

Having much experience with the religious, I know how this sounds to them.  “Well so you’re saying everything came from nothing.  Right”

That’s a fair point.  What isn’t is that any woman in the history of the earth has been impregnated without having sex.  If we recorded that today it would be one of the biggest things in the history of man.  Face it, that never happenned.

No one has communicated with God because it’s obvious God doesn’t communicate in a way we can understand.  There are things about religion I can respect, such as values, however these other things are not little things that can be glossed over.  If you believe a woman was impreganated without having sex or that humans have communicated directly with God a la a burning bush, that’s just madness, and I’m mad enough as it is.

Its not an all or nothing thing though. Lets take Jesus.  Just because I think he’s not GOD doesn’t mean he’s not OK in my book.  But lets face it we can’t relate to people that lived that long ago, so once you’re through believing in his divinity you realize he is something of a caveman compared to us.  2000 years ago was a LONG time.   He probably had a quarter or less of the vocabulary an average person has today because the words didnt exist yet.  He probably stunk something awful in that desert heat.  And dying at 33 wasn’t really dying young

Speaking of dying, it’s very possible when that happens its just like the end of the Sopranos.  That’s it.  I believe it.  Or perhaps there is an essence that lives on, a heaven of the mind perhaps.  There is no place where dead people physically are you know.  I mean, we know about the vastness of the universe, but in that time we haven’t found heaven or hell.  Doesn’t it have to be somewhere?

In my opinion life is less stressful when you don’t spend so much time with what happens when you die, why we are here and will we ever see dead people again.  We’ll all find out eventually.  And maybe eventually some people will never find out or at least they’ll live as long as there’s a planet for them.  Ay ya yi so hard to understand, kind of like the world is moving 67,000 MPH but I can’t tell….

Opinions Expressed Are My Own Only

Posted in Print, Uncategorized on February 22, 2013 by Lupa

To all my loyal visitors, unsuspecting fools, but mainly for inquiring minds from my employer:

All the views contained in this website are my own. I guess not entirely though.

Sometimes I hear something I like, change something enough to satisfy my guilt in stealing it and present it as my own. These are generally the opinions people respond most positively to. The rest is basically insane drivel. I can fully appreciate that any employer of mine would be concerned such a well known and respected figure as myself would somehow taint an otherwise impeccable organization. FYI I would never consider employment at any place I am not confident maintains the highest work standards, let alone labor laboriously for, or walk through major natural disasters for.

I respect all views. Respect implies civility in action. What I personally think of anyone I work for, or anyone in that matter, in it’s truest sense can sometimes use hyperbole, irony and a pronounced dryness. Perhaps I can be a jerk sometimes also. I hope they will act in accordance with my example and respect my views, regardless of the daily indoctrination into their beliefs I must endure.

I guess at the end of the day everyone should just consider this page a joke. Don’t take it seriously. It’s like a game of Monolpy: you’ll get the Boardwalk in the next game and bankrupt me. It’s just paper money though.

The PR Psychological Exam

Posted in General, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2011 by Lupa

I’ve devised a highly technical and sophisticated new psychological exam that puts Myers-Briggs and Rorschach to shame.  My only criticism of it is that perhaps it is pedantic, but hey I’m just so thorough in everything I do.

It’s called the PR test and it can determine certain characteristics of a person by what they immediately think of when they see the letters PR in succession.

For example if you see PR and think Puerto Rico, you are probably a minority, more specifically Latino.  There’s also a good chance you smoke weed and like porn.  You might also abuse public assistance, but it’s OK because it’s free.  See also Permanent Residency.

If you see Public Relations or Press Release you are probably a white-collar professional or yuppie.  At they very least you aren’t poor and went to college.  You are also likely to think low of people who see PR as Puerto Rico or permanent residency.

If you see PR as prime rib, pot roast or pork roll, well you are obviously fat.  If you aren’t fat then you at least you love to eat and incessantly work out or were blessed with the genes to not gain weight.  More likely though you simply can’t fit in any jeans.

If you see Pattern Recognition or Proportional Representation you probably like Star Trek and haven’t been laid in a while.  In fact, the highly complicated system indicates you may be a virgin. 

If you see Progesterone Receptor or Peripheral Resistance you are probably smarter than any of the other groups, but also humble.  You didn’t think Doogie Howser was far-fetched because they based it on your life.  See pattern-real.

If you see Payroll you work in PR or are a Jew… or both.

If you see Pakistan Railways you are a Muslim or a terrorist, not that there’s a difference.

If you see Punt Returner you are a sausage.

And lastly if you see Pet Rock you are a dumbass.

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