Tag Archives: New Yorkers

“Hip Hop…Hooray.”

(Note: Webster defines Hip Hop as ‘rap music; also : the culture associated with rap music’.)

“When I first arrived to the U.S., Hip Hop quickly became my favorite genre of music. I had grown up in Germany and Italy and was therefore naive to most of it, American music was hard to come by overseas. I had also just entered my teenage years and could relate to most of the lyrics in most of the songs. Although I hadn’t grown up in the lifestyle that was often rapped about (drugs, violence, drug-use and life in an urban city), I could associate with the culture of it…fun, freedom, non-conformity and the expression of oneself through music and other forms of art. For many years recently, however, I’ve felt as if Hip Hop has changed into something that I no longer understand. It seems to be flooded with money, exorbitant living, disrespect to opposite sexes and races, and a bevy of one-time, one-hit, one-good-song artists. Not only has the music scene changed completely, but the culture associated with that music has also become unrecognizable.”

“I used to wonder why my parents (and the generation they belong to) still listened to music from fifty years ago when so much more has been released since then…I understand now. To continue enjoying the culture that I found so dear to me, I find myself holding onto the music, clothing styles and social scenes that I was a fan of years and years ago. As a New Yorker, that was easy to do…I simply had to look up the music or crowd I wanted to mingle with and then go to that location. Now that I live in Italy…it’s not so simple. Most of the city (and the country, for that matter) doesn’t listen to Hip Hop. It’s true that there is a very large selection of American music around, in locales as well as on the radio, but for the most part it’s music that I don’t listen to. In the rare instances that I do find a place where they’re playing the music that I enjoy, the culture of that music is missing. The crowd remains completely, well, Italian. The Italy of today is exactly like the Italy I grew up in 30 years ago; Hip Hop-less. Or so I thought…”

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(photo: Samuele Storari)

“Two weeks ago I stumbled upon an event here in town. It was billed as ‘the newest Hip Hop night to hit Verona’ and cleverly titled ‘Hipology’. I was asked to be the night’s photographer, and I was looking forward to it because I was told ahead of time that my favorite local DJ (my good friend Carletto) would be there. So even though I could trust the music would be solid, I wasn’t truly aware of what the scene would be until I got there. Some of the nights out I had experienced during my first year here in Verona were filled with my kind of music, but as I mentioned before, the environments had been different. I wasn’t entirely prepared for what was in store for me, but I can safely say that I wasn’t disappointed in the least!”

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“It was as if walking through the doors of the establishment was the same as jumping in a DeLorean and going back to 1995. Not only was the music exactly what I knew it would be, but he ambiance fit the bill as well. The attire was a recipe of 90’s dress code and NYC/LA outfits, with a pinch of the stuff ‘kids wear today’ thrown on top. Hairstyles, accessories and shoes were picked to match…with the occasional gold tooth and nighttime sunglass-wearer thrown into the mix.”

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“Everything about the place screamed Hip Hop! The dance floor was packed, and counting the number of dance battles took two hands instead of one. Three separate DJ’s spun a never-ending supply of ‘that’s my jam!’ songs, interrupted only by a mid-party pause featuring a handpicked selection of some of the local b-boys and fly girls. The line outside was long, the bouncers were big and the VIP tables were perfectly typical: at first too empty, then before you could say ‘I’m on the list’, too few.”

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“Finding Hipology not only proved that there is in fact a Hip Hop scene in Verona, but it gave me a taste of an Italy I had never seen. Black, white and mixed people were everywhere…there were no groupings of different creeds, colors or races. And even though Italian and English were the main languages spoken, many others had come out to play…giving it that NYC, melting pot feeling. I was happy to see a room full of multiracial friends, as well as multiracial couples, enjoying the night carefree…it made my job as a photographer not only easier, but more enjoyable personally. I’m certain it’s a bias, preferring to shoot environments filled with mixed race individuals, but I can’t help it…I am one myself.”

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“Like the party flier said, the entire event mirrored the Hip Hop culture that I had adopted and made my own while in New York for fifteen years. No one was afraid to flaunt their own style, and those that were afraid flaunted it anyway…even as far as the race of friends you hung with or the person they called their own. Their people were their people, and their music was their music…period.”

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“The only thing that mattered was Hip Hop.”

– F

* All photos by me, except the first *

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Filed under La Bella Italia, New York City, Nightlife

“No Sleep Til…”

Sleep…it seems like such a simple thing.

You get tired, you lay down, you close your eyes and eventually it comes.

For many New Yorkers however, sleep is a  luxury not so easily  afforded. There is so much to see and do in the Big Apple and so little time to do it all. Work gets in the way. Family gets in the way. The everyday responsibilities that end up taking longer than usual get in the way.

So you sleep where you can, when you can…sometimes even on a subway bench.

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(photo: Fidel Amos)

Perhaps that’s why they call this the city that never sleeps…

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Filed under Blog Quickies, New York City, This Thing Called Life

“$40 Million Dollar Slaves & The Woman On The Train.”

A couple days ago I boarded the downtown 4 express train, headed for Union Square. As the doors closed and the train began to move, I found myself a seat and began to fumble with my iPod. Before finding the song I was looking for (Coldplay’s Viva La Vida…for those of you that are REALLY into details) I happened to glance across the subway car to the seats in front of me and saw one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Her hair was long and the darkest of browns, almost black…dyed slightly lighter at the tips and pulled into a single large braid behind her. Her skin was light, internationally mixed and absolutely flawless: the kind of color you get when you pour a little too much fresh milk into your morning coffee. Her eyebrows were dark and thin, her face classic, the only modern touch was a single tiny golden stud in her left nostril. She wore a sleek and perfectly fitting top and a simple skirt, which in my opinion happened to be exactly the length and style that a perfect lady would wear. Her long, full legs were in a pair of black heels that you just wanted to buy ten more pairs of in ten different colors for her JUST because she looked so good in them.

Her big, brown eyes acknowledged my presence with a quick blink before looking away just in time to avoid that “uncomfortably long stare”. She reached down into her shoulder bag and pulled out a book that I had never heard of…$40 MILLION DOLLAR SLAVES. This enhancesd the attraction, as her reading such a book denoted character and intelligence. How do I know..? Because I was reading the comics section of the Daily News…

As she found her place and began to read, I found myself daydreaming about what I would say to her should the opportunity arise for conversation. I could have just admired her beauty in awe and silence without interrupting her. But what would be the point of that? Even Outkast once said “Everybody knows you can’t let a pretty one pass you by…without saying hi.” For those of you that have no clue who Outkast is, how about a different analogy, “If you saw a sparkling diamond just sitting there within your grasp…wouldn’t YOU try to pick it up?”

But I digress…where was I?

Oh yeah…

The point is, how does one start a conversation with a woman who has probably already shot down ten other men better than you just in the last hour?? What perfectly original, sincerely smooth, ear-opening comment do you make to such a woman?

“Hello there young lady, I see you’re reading my favorite book of all time…$40 Million Dollar Slaves.”

No…that’s not it.

“Hey girl, I noticed you sitting over there, looking all good, reading $40 Million Dollar Slaves.”

Nope…definitely not gonna work.

“Excuse me miss. I seem to have lost my copy of $40 Million Dollar Slaves and I was wondering if I could borrow yours?”

Geesh…shoot me.

How do I speak to her? How do I tell her that she’s absolutely stunning and even though I don’t know her in any way, shape or form, I feel that my day might be a little more grey if I don’t continue to look in her direction? How do I explain to her that if she’s at all as interesting, funny, cool, or understanding as I THINK she might be, than she should let me take her out, wine and dine her, meet her parents, prove my love, propose and grow old with her until we both die happily like those two fools in The Notebook…???

How do I tell her…?

“Um…hi…”

I look up…she’s standing above me, $40 Million Dollar Slaves in her hand.

“I’m sorry,” I say, pretending to turn down my iPod to buy some time, “What were you saying..?”

She blinks her baby browns at me again. “I was just saying hi.”

“Hi,” I mumble, shyly.

She sits next to me and reaches into her purse.

“I feel a bit foolish,” she continued, “but I saw you looking in my direction earlier and I thought you might introduce yourself, but you didn’t.”

She blushes ever so slightly.

“Well, the thing is, I don’t really know anyone in New York, the subway’s a short ride so I never know how to start a conversation with anyone…and you’re really cute.”

She pulls her hand from her purse…it’s holding a business card.

“…anyway, if you’d like to…I don’t know, get coffee or something, my number’s on the card.”

Before I can part my lips to speak, the doors open, she smiles again and leaves me sitting there on the downtown 4 express train.

I don’t say anything.

I don’t do anything.

I simply put the card in my jacket pocket, go back to fumbling with my iPod and begin laughing aloud like some kind of crazed lunatic.

– F


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Filed under Love Life, New York City, Throwback Blogs

“Just Like That…Your Wallet’s In The Mail.”

A little while ago my mind was blown.

I found myself enjoying the regular, run of the mill, average, old, everyday grind…when out of nowhere, my wallet arrived in the mail. Now it wasn’t the fact that my wallet was actually in the mail and not on my physical person that surprised the hell out of me.

You see, because last week (I believe it was thursday) I stupidly left my wallet inside of a taxi cab after paying for my ride (and tipping nicely if I do say so myself). Leaving one’s wallet inside of a taxi cab in this big bad apple we all call New York City is nothing new. I mean hell, I must have lost 3 wallets, $100’s of dollars, 4 cellphones, and a miniature Doberman inside of various taxicabs in the six years that I’ve been living here.

But THIS time was different…

THIS time I had just received my spankin new NY license.

THIS time the wallet was 2 days old, a small Perry Ellis perk left over in a VIP giftbag after one of the insanely expensive events hosted at my job.

THIS time I was having a bad day, week, month…whatever period of time you wanna say it was, I was pretty pissed off.

So I cursed New York City.

That’s right my friends.

I friggin cursed this friggin piece of s**t city that keeps friggin kicking the friggin s**t out of me every friggin day when all I friggin wanna friggin do is just friggin LIVE my damn life in peace and friggin loneliness without getting the friggin piss stomped out of me every time I friggin turn the friggin corner…

…but I digress.

The point is I was mad at New York, and I couldn’t understand why after six years of ups and downs, after six years of trying and trying and trying and trying, after six years of standing up for her…she was letting me down again.

I thought to myself “No one is going to return my Perry Ellis wallet. No one is going to give a damn that it contained my money, cards, contacts, and brand spanking new NY id. No one.”

So I got over it.

I accepted it.

I took it all with a grain of salt.

I chalked it up to experience.

Whatever the hell you call it, I gave up.

And then it happened.

I checked the mail. I opened the letter that someone had ACTUALLY paid $1.06 at the post office to mail to me. I carefully checked the contents inside the wallet. I noticed that EVERY SINGLE THING was there. I smiled. I almost cried. I giggled like a little red headed schoolgirl on her first day at 1st grade in her first new red dress…

The good news is they used the current address on my new NY id to mail it to, the bad news is they put no return address…so I’ll never be able to write them back and thank them. I just have to thank them internally and keep on keepin on.

I love you beautiful stranger.

I love the fact that you went that extra mile when no one else would.

I love that you’re faceless, nameless, gender-less, race-less, but in all those seperate ways more human than most.

Thank you my friend.

And thank YOU New York.

– F

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Filed under New York City, The Good In Mankind, Throwback Blogs

“No 9/11 Mosque? Tough Crowd…”

I love NY, and I love the fact that it made me the New Yorker I am today.
I also love my fellow New Yorkers, and not just because they all happen to live in New York, arguably the most well known, talked about, and sought after city in the world. New Yorkers are so much more than that. They’re all from other places, which makes them the closest thing to being European/American. This, as you guys know, is exactly what I am…so I hold a personal, biased love for them.
Um, I mean us.
Us New Yorkers also have the ability to be able to tell you exactly what we’re thinking, any time of day, all day, every day, twice, in very few words…which usually start with the letter “F”. It is this brass, forward, confident, self-empowering style that caused me to immediately fall for this big, bad, Apple.
* Note: I’d like to express a personal apology to all my friends in Kansas, but just because I went to college there doesn’t mean I’ll ever claim being a Kansan. I love you guys, and it was a nice place to live during some of my formative years, but I’m only Italian, or New Yorker…no Kansan. I’ve got a NY license and everything now, get off my back!! *
…but I digress.
It is perhaps due to the intimate relationship I have with the City (NY gets the big “C”) that never sleeps that I’m exactly torn down the middle of this “mosque being built near the 9/11 site” issue. Well, that and the fact that I’m half American, and probably bleed red, white, and blue…Italian white though.

Half of me is proud of the fact that Mayor Bloomberg and “the gang” want the mosque to go up based simply on the fact that we’re America (hell yeah), and anyone can be American (except illegal aliens, terrorists, and a few select folks in Arizona), and everyone has the right to worship who they want to worship (unless the person you want to worship is David Koresh) here in America.
We’re fair, that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it. We have to be stand by what we said, and we have to lead by example, and be right…even when that means doing something that may seem wrong. That’s the way that we, as Americans, are going to do things around here because we have rules…AMERICAN rules, and those will never die. Born in the U.S.A. Talk to me Goose. Some folks were made to wave the flag, ooooh, that red white and blue.
The flip-side of that coin however, is me thinking “You wanna build a mosque WHERE..?” Not because the people building it are Muslim, or Arab, or believe in a different God than I do…or whatever else it is everyone who’s against them is complaining about. I just think it’s a little sketchy because it was folks from that way of life (allegedly), representing that nation (supposedly), and claiming to be followers of that religion (probably) that most of us here in America don’t follow.

Call me crazy, but folks who have all that in common with the terrorists that caused one of the most tragically memorable moments in America’s history would have to have some major balls to just want to build their place of praise…well…right there. Wasn’t there some other block in this gigantic City that they could’ve chosen..?? That’s kind of like the relatives of the person who killed your kids asking you and your spouse if they can move in across the hall from you.
This is officially the first time I’ve ever ended one of my blog entries with a question, but as I have no official position (because I’m having trouble choosing one), and I really don’t know what else to say, it seems like just this once, it may be the correct thing to do.
…what do you think?
-F

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Filed under Controversy...Ya Gotta Love It, New York City, Religion