As of January 27, 2011 the army is 348,857 women strong!!! SIGN UP!! SPREAD THE WORD!!! There is still 651,143 recruits left to go!!! ........ To get more information click on the banner to go directly to Army of Women's website.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Time for Harvest & Fall Festivals in New York City

The summer officially transitioned into fall, September 22nd, 2010, the autumnal equinox. But don't go running to get your flannels on. It's still flip-flopping, bermuda-shorts time in NYC. At 84 degrees those precious A/C's are still cranking on high and not ready to go into anyone's closet, basement or garage until Summer 2011.

Many NY'ers are tired of Mother Nature dishing out hot plates and ready for something a bit more cool but she controls the elements of the weather kitchen, so there's nothing one can do but get out and have some fun! Before you know it autumnal equinox will pass the baton to winter solstice and we will all be seeking the comfort of Swiss Miss as we await the coming of spring.

In our city's once upon a time there were farms and farm gardens galore. Even children got into the action through our public schools as result of the efforts of Frances (Fannie) Griscom Parsons (1850-1923), the city's first female park administrator.

1908 Parks Annual Report: Children tending De Witt Clinton Park Farm Garden.
While there are only a few farms left in NYC dating back to the late 1600's, such as The Queens County Farm Museum, Wycoff Farm, Red Hook Farm, NY'ers are proof that the bond between man and nature is strong and cannot be broken by skyscrapers and concrete. Over the last decade the farm and farming gardening momentum has gone from a horse trot to ING Marathon speed. Once abandoned lots and even warehouse rooftops are serving now as beds for oases sprouting everything from fancy organic greens to grapes.

With all the farm and farm gardening going on surely there must be some fun after the hard work of harvest. Those toiling and not have a great selection of activities to enjoy in the coming weeks; Fall Festivals, Beer Fests, October Fests, Street Fairs and more.

Still need some help getting into a Fall, Harvest state of mind? Maybe Neil can help.

Fall Festivals (most start and end from about 11AM-6PM)

Saturday September 25th
Broadway Autumn Fair (on Broadway from Waverly Pl.- 14th Street)

Sunday September 26th
Lexington Avenue Fall Festival (on Lexington Avenue from 34th - 42nd Street)

Friday October 1st
Grand Central Fall Festival (on 43rd St. from Lexington - 3rd Avenue)

Saturday October 2nd
Union Square Autumn Fair (on Broadway from 17th - 23rd Street

Sunday October 3rd
N.Y.C. Oktoberfest (on Lexington Avenue from 42nd - 57th Street)

Sunday October 10th
Eighth Avenue Autumn Festival (on 8th Avenue from 42nd - 57th Street)

Saturday October 23rd
Union Square Fall Fair (on Park Avenue South from 17th - 23rd St.)

Sunday October 24th
Times Square Autumn Carnival (on Broadway from 47th - 57th Street)

NY CRAFT BEER WEEK  September 24th to October 3rd

September 29th- 7PM-10PM  
The Ultimate Brewmaster's Degustation
at Mas FarmHouse 39 Downing Street

September 30th- 6PM-11PM 
Brewers's Choice

October 2nd
Ale Street News Disc Golf Outing & Beer Fest

Links of Interests

Looking for places to go and things to do with your kids in New York City check out Mommy Poppins

For Street Fairs in NYC check out Mardi Gras Festival Productions

The Rise and Fall of  School Gardens in New York's Past Can Guide Us Into the Future by Daniel Bowman Simon


Thursday, September 16, 2010

When MTA Doesn't Go Your Way & LIRR Falls Short: Tips for Surving the Commuting Storms in NYC

James A. Farley Post Office, NYC, built 1912, 421 8th Avenue, located between 31st and 33rd street. Firm of McKim, Mead & White, Architect
Herodotus beats the elements

You would think that the powers that be who are in charge of managing mass transit in NYC would have sufficient experience and preparedness to handle the inclement weather that bombards the city historically, throughout the 4 seasons of the year. But, unlike the postal service which is undeterred in delivering your package, as noted on the facade of the James Farley Post Office "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds (adopted from a saying by Herodotus about messengers)," the mass transit system in NYC makes no such promise.

While NYC may be one of the service capitals of the world. Home to some of the worlds largest and finest educational, medical, science, culinary, performing, visual art, think tank and financial institutions, it is falls short in providing consistently good quality public transportation. It is like a potluck super. Potlucks can be good, but it all depends on the baker or cook and their mood that day. So instead of saying "Bon Apetite," we say "Buena Suerte," at our transit feast.

The range of weather patterns that can capsize the bobbing Big Apple is astounding.

It's too hot -- No train service.

It snowed -- No train and sometimes no bus service.

It rained -- No train and sometimes no bus service.

It's windy outside, "fogetabou" your hair concern yourself with how you'll get to where your going.

Today thousands of New Yorkers hi-hoing their way home after a long day found themselves stranded in Manhattan trying to figure out how to get to Long Island, serviced by the LIRR or neighborhoods nestled in the path of the NYCTA #7 train which runs from Times Square to Main St. Flushing. Yours truly included.

The lesson to be learned my friends is you cannot depend on the mass transit powers that be to get you where you have to go with any consistency so you have to take power into your own hands-- be a more savvy commuter. How do you do this? Know where you are heading and have a backup plan. Do your homework in advance and know what trains or buses can take you from point A to B and at what points if any along your journey you will have to take a yellow cab or car service and at what cost.

E.T. Phones home

My journey started shortly after 6PM. I took an F train to 34th Street to catch the LIRR at Penn Station. Commuters were flooding in as usual but the outflow made me wonder "what's up?" I saw the storm from the windows of the office. It was bad but didn't last long. I thought, "perhaps some sporting or other event is taking place at Madison Square. Yeah, that's the ticket. No need to worry." But the crowd at the end of the escalator red flagged me to "time to start worrying." Like many commuters my first thought was like E.T's "PHONE HOME!" "PHONE HOME!" My daughter goes on the internet and tells me there is no LIRR service. Fortunately I have an alternate route home via the #7 train and connecting bus service.

After getting off the train at 42nd St.-Times Square I grab a seat on the train and close my eyes to take a nap. Moments later I am awakened by an NYCTA employee announcing that "Number 7 train service is suspended," and for alternate routes take the E, F, or R service to stations in Queens with connecting shuttle bus service. It's just before 7PM. We have gone through this before. Service is suspended and 15-20 minutes later it is back. Too tired to fight with the crowds flooding platforms for the other trains and connecting buses I sit tight.

Fifteen minutes pass. The crowd continues to grow. No change in service. Another NYCTA employee comes by with the same announcement. Commuters still take to filling the trains. Five minutes later the trains are taken out of services and the platform clears except for a few who stay behind to read, nap, listen to music, play with hand-held games or chat. It is at times like this that NY'er let their guard down to engage each other in polite if brief conversations.

Someone is without their gift tonight!
8:01PM- I am setting on a bench. Transit workers come around to remind stragglers there is no train service. No one is in a rush. Those who were in a rush are long gone and some long parted from possessions they were toting. It can't be more quiet or stress free where the throngs are waiting to exit stations and board buses. The reading, napping, music listening, gaming playing and chatting continues. If the moving of commuters elsewhere was in part just for crowd control it was a success. I rather stay to write and read.

8:07PM- One of the workers smiles at the benchwarmers and announces there is a "nice air conditioned" car at their disposal that will be making limited stops. Limited. C'mon this is NY. You are only as limited as you choose to be. Got a worm in your apple cut it out. Got a sour apple drizzle it with some honey or Bake it.

At 8:15PM less than 20 people fill the car as the first train leaves. It stops at each station and there are delays along the way. But at least we are finally on our  way home.

Online Trip Planners

You can plan a trip via MTA's website, using "Plan A Ride"  or the following: 

Hop (NYC) Select your transportation mode, Subway/Rail Only, Bus Only, Subway/Rail or Bus Only, Walking Only

511NY Gives you an option of selecting carriers such as Amtrak, NJ Transit, Suburban Transit, Westchester Bee-Line, etc.

Trip Planner Choose Travel By Subway, Local Bus, Express Bus and starting and ending line preferences

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years Old: 9/11 Changes

"It's the economy stupid." "It's the jobs stupid." "It's the Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Cuba."

"It's Communism." "It's Socialism." "It's Capitalism." "It's Castro, Chavez, Obama, Bush, Americans."

"It's the Chinese." "It's the Russians." "It's the Jews, Muslims, Christians, Whites, Blacks, Mexicans, Japanese."

"It's Men, Women, Teens." "It's the generation gap, gen X-ers and Y's, Millenials and Boomers."

"It's Beethoven, the British Invasion" "It's all the shaking and gyrating." "It's not enough shaking and baking." "It's Rock, Rap."

"It's Alcohol, Cigarettes, Drugs, Guns, Over/Underpopulation." "It's the Axis Evil, Hopelessness, Fear."

"It's interest rates, inflation, over spending, over saving, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the snack food industry."

"It's the Auto Industry." "It's Outsourcing, Offshoring, Protectionism, Globalization, the Dollar, Euro, Yen, Yuan, Pound, Peso exchange."

"It's Fat Cats with deep pockets." "It's Welfare recipients with no pockets." "It's Wall Street." "It's Main Street." "It's the A/Bi/Hetero/Homo/Transsexuals." "It's Walmart."

"It's the NRA, ACLU." "It's the Unions." "It's not enough Unions." "It's the Schools."

"It's deforestation, global warming and not global warming." "It's the Oil Industry." "It's the Fashion Industry." "It's the Fed."

"It's taxing too much." "It's not taxing enough." "It's the City Folk, Country Folk, Village People."

"It the Southern states." "It's the Northern states." "It's the Midwest." "It's California, Arizona,Washington." "It's Hollywood, NASA, the Pentagon."

"It's too much Surplus, too much Deficit." "It's the Great Depression, Global Recession."

"It's the Housing Bubble." "It's the Dot-com Bubble." "It's the Asian Contagion." "It's the Greek Contagion." "It's the Politicians, Economists, Businessmen, Lobbyists." "It's the Pharmaceutical Industry." "It's TV."

"It's the Internet." "It's Porn." "It's Video Games." "It's Gambling." "It's Sex and the Media."

"It's too much sugar and candy." "It's Mad Cow Disease." "It's Swine Flu." "It's Bird Flu." "It's the Plague." "It's Yellow Fever, HIV/AIDS." "It's West Nile Virus." "It's DNA."

"It's NOT ME, it's YOU!" "It's not YOU, it's ME!" "It's not US it's them!" "IT'S BIG FOOT." "IT'S ALIENS." "IT'S LEPROSY!!!" "IT's...

There are so many IT's we can choose from to make excuses, sense of or to lay blame for our and others' actions. On what is happening at home and all around the world. In that no one country, people or group is alone. What an astute and growing population there is globally in the art of finger pointing. That it is being past down generations like a precious heirloom should move us inside from ORANGE to RED ALERT. One can only imagine how our human race may appear in the sight of LIFE beyond the parameters of our solar system. God, Deity, Creator, etc. The Alert Systems some may have in place. Perhaps something like this...

The Human Security Alert System
It's hard to blog about New York City and not make some commentary about the September, 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. How once upon a time you road the trains and the only security you expected to see was your Finest NYPD blues. The shock to see Armed forces in camouflaged fatigues joining their league underground. The initial shock, comfort and discomfort to see so many armed and ready. And joining the ranks of service dogs for the blind and disabled, the dogs on duty to sniff for bombs and collateral materials. Thinking that some day the heightened alert would end and their services would no longer be needed. At some point I think most NY'ers came to the realization that our reality was forever changed. This it the New, New York. Troops, bag checks and all.

The amount of hatred, bitterness, resentment, violence and oppression people have and exert towards others all around the world is astounding. That it continues to be perpetuated among generations alarming. Have we learned nothing from these tragic events? The commonalities we all share? The life forces that bind us? Is there no longer enough sense of humanity to turn the bad tide around or shore up against it?

December 21, 2012 the Mayan's predict will be the end of the world as we know it. Some say with the increase in natural disasters year over year some major cataclysmic event will unfold, others that the end is the end of an age bringing forth another. An awakening of human consciousness. Perhaps a rebirth. A joining of all across the world as ONE PEOPLE. We are after all, ALL related? We all start life off the same. A small,  blastocyst, unfolding. Cells differentiating to form inner organs, frame, nervous system brain and flesh. We are touched by the same universal events of life, birth of a child, unions by individuals, death. Cause for joy, celebration, tears.

There are many events throughout New York City held in remembrance of 9/11 filled with speeches, quiet moments for reflection, interfaith prayers and music. From Memorial Floating Lanterns Ceremony to Tribute of Lights.

It is a happy-sad day. So many of us have or know someone who has the story to tell of how a lost wallet or keys or some other delay that morning is the reason the breathe of life still rises within, or of others who died or are sick today because they were exposed to contagions in the air. We must use remembrances as opportunities to build bridges, fill the gaps that divide humankind, with love and compassion, patience and understanding. Tolerance. Otherwise it is all for naught.

Next year it will be a decade gone by since the terrorist attacks. Seize the day, the opportunity to reach out to your neighbors to learn about another culture, faith, philosophy, way of life. Seek out to engage in random acts of kindness indiscriminately each and every day. Set out to be a brick in the foundation of a humanity united across divides and let's see the difference all can make in the coming year. 9/11 Changes.

Today I woke up listening to songs filled with messages of hope, calls for peace and reflection. John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," is beautiful in its simplicity of word, poignant in message as heartfelt today as when it was recorded in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal 41 years ago.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Days

Crimson Curtains
By Maureen Baraka Bonfante

Cool bursts push the crimson curtains forward.
Like a parent readying a child for a full swing.
First an inch, then six, fourteen, twenty.

Cool bursts push the crimson curtains forward.
 Holding them out generously, like Magi bearing gifts.
A special summertime gift.
For the count.
One, one two, one two three.
Fading memories of endless hazy, hot and humid days.

Crimson curtains undulating divinely to cool heaves.
Their momentum rising like a pair of belly dancers
charged by the energy of adoring fans,
until a short respite collapses them back swiftly.
Pressing them gently upon the screen.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Steam, Clean, Press: A Dry Cleaning Story and Look at Two Great, Black Inventors Thomas L. Jennings & Lewis H. Latimer


Experienced preferred.
(Will consider training bright beginner). 
Inquire within.

Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time and Life Pictures/Getty Images
"Should I?" "Shouldn't I?" "Should I?" "Shouldn't I?" Good thing I don't have a daisy in my hand. It would be pulp by now. Who would've thought applying for a job could cause so much internal debate.

"I have a Bachelor's Degree. From Queens College! You know, Jerry Seinfeld's Alma Mater!!"

(But, the bills are piling up and we may not make next months rent and utilities).

"Okay. Let's say heads, yes, tails, no!" Need a coin. Need a coin. "I gotta have a quarter in here somewhere!" Damn deep empty pockets. "Lint, keys... Yes. A nickle! That'll have to do!"


"Maybe I should sleep on it. I have only been out of work a few months. There's gotta be something better out there coming my way eventually." Eventually. A word you gotta love/hate. Eventually like sometimes and maybe opening up your heart's, soul's, thought's internal universe to some possibility but probability unknown.

(Then there's eating. We like and need to eat. Especially the child). 

"But what if the job's taken tomorrow?" 

(Yeah, how many people are looking for jobs at a dry cleaner?) 

"Well, there's me. So, why wouldn't there be someone else, too? Someone with experience!"

I can't even get a part-time job as a waitress at a diner where they know me. "Do you have experience?" "Yes, I serve my family. I'm a Mom. You know I know how to multitask and stay cool under pressure. In addition, I help serve meals at community dinners." "No, I mean waiting tables." My interviewer smiles ever so compassionately. We both know how this brief interlude is going to end. "No." "Sorry." "Good luck!" "Thanks!" "I am really sorry," she says, "maybe when you get some experience we can consider you." (Yeah, like that's going to happen. I tried where they don't know me and got NO's. Heck. Now what?). Watery eyes pass around like drinks at the neighborhood pubs on pay day. The owner turns his away quickly to the cook's counter and wipes a bottle of ketchup on "Sorry." I am heartbroken, discouraged and ready to throw in the towel but not mad. I can't be mad. Her sorry is sincere. I know she's been there and understands my plight.
"No time for pride. Gotta survive!" SNAP. SNAP. Compose composure.

It's time to head to the bus stop to pick up my daughter. Kindergartners tell the best stories of their days and I love to listen to hers. So much passion. So much energy. So much color and life. "You know what Johnny said to me... and Mrs. Quincey... and then we went outside for recess and..." This is my favorite time of day. Then it comes. "Mommy can I get some candy today?" (Yikes.) "Pulee-ease!" She's getting expert at making THE FACE. The how can you say no to me face. (It's just a piece of candy). Stupid V-8 double head smacking stupid. I really should have done all my shopping before I picked her up, so we could go straight home, with maybe a short to medium stop at the park on the way. We always enjoy that! How many times must I say "later," or cover up with a "It's not good for your teeth!"? She has to know I know she knows that. Still.

A dozen eggs. A container of milk. A loaf of Wonder. Half a pound of yellow American cheese. Tomato soup. And, a quarter in the change. (To flip or not to flip it?) "Here you go sweetie. See what you can buy."

I can only imagine what is going through her mind "Wow, a quarter, but.." After scanning the inventory of sweets, with sugar and spice and a look of determination she approaches the cashier. "Excuse me. How much is a blow-pop?... And, what about the jelly fish?" She makes do with the quarter and does me proud settling on the blow-pop which is like 2 treats in one.

With two sour apple blow pops and a nickle in her little pocket, I drop her off at her best friend's to play.

Monday 8AM- Bus stop. Hugs. Kisses. Waves. Smiles. Corner Deli coffee and a butter roll. It's time.

Day one- sorting and ticketing. Coffee gets cold. Roll gets crunchy. Look at chart for tag color code. Red = RUSH (makes sense). Blue = two days. Yellow = three... Strategically staple tags so workers can spot them easily while making sure no damage is done to garments. It's all about work flow efficiency and quality. Use pins instead of staples if so written on slips and on delicates.

The bins just keep filling to the brim. "Wow that's a lot of clothes!" (Are they going to keep me at the counter? Counter work and light cleaning is not so bad for $300 bucks a week that comes to... maybe not so good but still.. Who can press all this stuff anyway?) Six hours later. It's time.

"Look at the picture I made! That's me and you cooking... And then Samantha said that Linda said..."

Day two- End task of Classifier start job of Finisher. The mystery of the overflowing bins is solved as I walk to the back of the shop and hear thumping of presses closing while bursts of steam rise above the revolving racks of bagged linens and his and hers things. "Shauna is in charge of finishing women's clothes, coats and jackets," I am told, "You'll be handling linens, pants and shirts." "Ready?" (No time for pride. Gotta Survive! SNAP. SNAP). "Yes, I'm ready!"

I learn how to use the puff irons on the seat of the pants and shirt shoulders. Steam, press, iron cuffs and collars, creases and seams. Layout garment on board, bring cover down. Steam press. Vacuum steam. Release lever and repeat. Right side, left side, right leg, left. A hundred pressed items, and three good flesh burns later. It's time.

Hugs. Kisses. "Momma you tired?" "A little." A pair of little arms extend an extra warm hug. Screen door snaps close as we take our Beagle out for a walk before the tired Dad comes home from work and we settle down to grilled cheese, soup and the Simpsons.

Day three epiphany- I am told I HAVE TO press everything in ALL the bins for my station each day before I CAN leave. "Say what?" (That's like 300 pants plus. Who picks up the daughter at the bus stop?) The "OR" is implied subtly in the inflections of the owner's voice. Yeah, we know were this brief interlude is going too "IF" I want to keep this job. No breaks except for the absolutely necessary bathroom breaks. I can now understand the use of depends by line workers in high pressured environments. But while I gain some time doing this it is not enough. I need to become a pressing machine. The solution was simple- time to dance. Press 'n dance. Dance 'n press. Left foot to peddle down. One-two-three press. Vacuum steam, then cover up. Un-dos-tres. Left foot off peddle, back. Then, swing cuff right. Press. Press. Then, swing cuff left. Press. Press. Fold. Hang. And, 1-2-tres. Repeat.

Shauna had an almost 2 hour commute each way, each day (I just walked a couple of blocks). She worked most days until the gates came down. If the loads demanded even later. Sometimes, we would sneak through the small side gate and bring her something from the Deli. She never complained. She earned her keep as a Finisher. I didn't learn until week one was over that her silence while we worked was because of a disability not lack of desire. There after we communicated with knowing smiles and occasional notes on paper like two school girls.

My pressing stint lasted from the tail end of winter, to spring's blossoms and the Fourth of July weekend. After pressing thousands of pants, shirts and assorted linens, learning how to spot, laundry and dry clean, it was time to flip the chapter of one of the most difficult but rewarding times in my life.

Life does not always offer up a million and one choices or even just two and we have to depend on our own sense of ingenuity and will to succeed. The impact of the recession has many Mama and Papa Bears today pondering what is the best path to take to secure the future of the Baby Bears. Whether a dual income is necessary. What expenses can be cut. What is the bear minimum in resources they can manage with.

Hardships force one to look inwards for the strength to succeed outward. Not fun. A must do. It's time.

Lewis H. Latimer

Lewis H. Latimer (1848 - 1928)
Photographer: Unknown

I couldn't imagine blogging about the city I love and call Home Sweet Home, Hogar Dulce Hogar, without recognizing all celebrations, and the great accomplishments of NY'ers. Each group brings something wonderful to the table to share at the feast. 

Living in Flushing for over 3 decades, it seemed fitting to write about Inventor, Lewis H. Latimer, son of fugitive slaves, Civil War Veteran and his contributions in recognition of Black History Month, which was celebrated in February. I remember what an amazing feet it was to move the Queen Anne-styled home he lived in from 1903 to 1928 in 1988 from Holly Avenue to Leavitt Field where it stands and serves as a Museum today. 


Photo: Queens Tribune                      Photo:

(Left to right) Lewis Latimer house on the move 1988. Lewis H. Latimer House Museum Today

Latimer was a self made man. He learned mechanical drawing on his own, later becoming Thomas Edison's Chief Draftsman, and Engineer in his research team "Edison's Pioneers." He invented and patented, a carbon filament and the process for manufacturing it in 1881 and 1882 respectively, increasing the amount of time that incandescent bulbs burned and a step closer to where they are today.

In the course of my research I discovered many other great African American inventors among them a native New Yorker, Thomas L. Jennings, which conjured up memories of my dry cleaning days.

Thomas L. Jennings' Patent for "Dry-Scouring"

Thomas L. Jennings ( 1791 - 1856)
Photographer: Unknown

You want to look sharp for the big event. You spend a lot of time and effort selecting your costume. Whether it is made to order or off the rack you want it not to be fine, but THE F-I-N-E-S-T!! A little tailoring at the shoulders the hips the waist the legs the sleeves the bust the butt the inseam. To cuff or not to cuff? What's in? Ask your tailor. They are in the know.

The big event is over, there's a little spot of gravy on your tie, a grease stain on your dress that didn't fully spot out with the soap from the ladies room and some how the little one got splatters on the back of his pants, though it wasn't raining he managed to find a puddle to muck in. You leave the clothes in the corner, junior stores his under the bed. A week later you remember. "I gotta go to the cleaners!" And your interlude with your friendly neighborhood cleaners begins.

Dry Cleaner with a head shake and a tisk: "You really should have brought these in sooner."

You, eyes bowing. Sentence followed by a sigh: "I know, I have just been so busy."

Dry Cleaner looking at little boy pants, eyes aghast, tone alluding (how could you let this happen?): "I'll see what I can do with these." Pulling a squished Hershey's kiss and piece of cookie from a pocket the Cleaner continues. "I can work on the bit of gum on the cuffs, the oil on the back, but make no promises on the smell of cat."

"Necessity, who is the mother of invention." 
- Plato (427 BC- 347 BC), "Republic"

Thomas L. Jennings was born a free man in New York City. He held many jobs before becoming a well regarded tailor with clients traveling long distances for his service.

Much time and effort goes into crafting a fine piece of menswear or ladies wear for it to be soiled without remedy and end up in the trash or worn with stains. So Jennings went in search of a solution and on March 3rd, 1821 at the age of thirty he becomes the first African American to receive a U.S patent for the dry cleaning process he developed. Patent number 3306x "Dry Scouring of Clothes." He saved his customer's clothes and used the profits from his invention to free the rest of his relatives from slavery and support abolitionist efforts. Neither a small feat by yesterday or today's standards.

There is little published regarding Jenning's invention in comparison to that of other Black inventors such as Latimer because the details of his invention were unfortunately destroyed in the great fire of the U.S. patent house on December 15, 1836 along with thousands of other "Name and Date" patent records. But what can be said is that along with other inventors he laid the foundation for the science and business of dry cleaning as we know it today; saving wedding gowns so they can be worn for several generations, our fine wools and silks, suits and dresses until we part with them because closets are too full, or tastes change.


By Frank S. Horne
(Brooklyn Poet: 1899 - 1974)

I am trying
to learn to walk again...
all tensed and trembling
I try so hard, so hard...

Not like the headlong patter
of new and anxious feet
or the vigorous flailing of the water
by young swimmers
a new element
into submission...
It is more like
a timorous Lazarus
to take up the bed
on which he died...
I know I will walk again
into your healing
outstretched arms
in answer
to your tender command...

I have been lost
and fallen
in the dark underbrush
but I will arise
and walk
and find the path
at your soft command. 


I started this writing back in February but as I say "Life Happens!" And while this may be late in posting for Black History month (and so many other wonderful celebrations have come and gone) by the same token I would like to think that every day is Black History or Other Day, and we all stop and take some time to learn about one another. Savor the riches each group, each segment of our societies brings to complete the course at the table. It's time. Feast.

Links of Interest 

Historic House Trust.Org: Lewis H. Latimer House

Lewis H. Latimer House Museum
34-41 137th Street
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 961-8585
Hours (New hours):  Tuesday-Thursday & Saturday, 11am-4pm.

: Subway: Subway #7 to Main Street Roosevelt. Take Q25 to Linden Place and 35th Ave. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

2010 Year of the Tiger: New York City Celebrates Chinese Lunar New Year

Gung Hei Fat Choi! 
Congratulations and be Prosperous!

On Sunday, February 14th, 2010 in addition to exchanging satin-covered-red-lace trimmed boxes filled with chocolates and 101 ways to say I-Heart-You greetings, many NY'ers as others around the world were fire-crackering-in the first day of a 15 day long celebration welcoming in the Chinese Lunar New Year (also known as the "Spring Festival"). Family, friends, poetry, gifts, music and food are all key ingredients to the stream of festivities.

The color of the day is red. Bright red for happiness in concert with gold and orange (happiness and wealth).

Handcrafted, tasseled decorations, lanterns, scrolls and banners filled with couplets about happiness, wealth, longevity and best wishes for the New Year are carefully hung all about, especially on windows and doors.

At the zero hour lion dancers accompanied by loud drums and clashing cymbals, and arsenals of firecracker pops scare away the evil spirits of the old year as the Door Gods usher in the good.

Guests at celebrations are treated to an abundance of wonderful foods many as the pyramidal center pieces of oranges or tangerines to bring good luck. Candied lotus seed to bring many children (especially sons) to a family, candied coconut to bring about unity/togetherness, and candied melon for good growth and health. Fish and Chicken for prosperity are served whole (heads and tails intact) to symbolize completeness.

The food name (homonym) as well as its appearance determines its reference as one for luck in a meal. Noodles (uncut) to represent long life, spring rolls for wealth as they are similar in shape to gold bars, and sweet and sour dishes because the word sour is similar in pronunciation to the word for grandchild. Tofu and bean curd are avoided because the color white is symbolic of death and misfortune.

In addition to sweets, and other treats, children look forward to receiving two Lai See, lucky, red money envelopes from elders (this includes family friends). The reason the elder gives the child two instead of one is because happiness is said to come in two's and this has been the tradition of passing good fortune from one generation to the next. Unmarried guests are also given Lai Sees and business owners give them to employees and associates. Lai See is given with an even-numbered denomination of currency, determined by the second digit. For example, 32 as 22 is lucky. Odd numbered amounts are only given at funerals. And the number 4 should never appear in the number of the amount given because the word for four is similar in pronunciation to the word for death.

Homes and offices are adorned with colorful fresh-cut flowers such as azaleas, peony, plum, peach blossoms or water lily and other plants for luck, as well as their beauty.

On the first day of the New Year those who follow traditions strictly do not clean so that the good fortune is not swept away.

On the 15th day a Lantern Festival is Held.

Chinese New Year Celebrations in NYC

If you missed the firecracker celebrations yesterday don't worry there are more celebrations to come.

14th Annual Chinese Lunar New Year Parade, Flushing, Queens

Flushing also known as the other Chinatown or NYC's little Chinatown, though its populations is quite large will host a parade on Saturday, February 20th from 11AM to 1PM. My Dad and I like to meet at one of the many Chinese Bakeries along and just off of Main Street, to fuel ourselves up on pastries and coffee and the excitement of other parade goers.

For more information go to:

The 11th New Year Parade and Festival, Manhattan 
(Starting in Little Italy ending in Chinatown)

The parade begins in Little Italy on Mott Street and winds its way through Canal, Bowery and other streets ending on Grand Street at Sara Roosevelt Park on Canal and Forsyth St. The parade will be held Sunday, February 21st from 11:30AM to 4:00PM. For more information go to Make a day of the parade, starting with some Dim Sum before the parade begins, and taking a break in between for more good eats and treats and shopping.

Shen Yun Performing Art Group at Radio City Hall

Traditional Chinese Dance and Music.

Saturday, February 20th at 2:00PM & 7:00PM
Sunday, February 21st at 2:00PM

For more information go to:

2010 Year of the Tiger

There is nothing timid or predictable about a Tiger. It is big and bold yet moves with grace and great stealth. It sits tranquilly, yet yields to none in attack, triggering a polarity of emotions in man of fear and admiration.

The Chinese Zodiac consists of twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig ) and five elements (metal, water, wood, fire and earth). The tiger's quick thinking and sharp actions are said come from the element of metal. 2010 is the year of the Metal Tiger.

Eye of the Metal Tiger


A pair of stainless steel tigers sculpted by Ruffin Hobbs flank the north entrance to Princeton's Stadium like door gods.

Years of the Metal Tiger:  
17 February 1950 - 5 February 1951
15 February 2010 - 2 February 2011

Water Tiger

 Photo by Robert Pollack

Initial reaction this photo "Awwh... it's so cute!" And, "Wow, what an amazing and powerful animal. Able to not only conquer earth but water too, if only we let its habitats be, if only we fought to protect its right like ours to exist. 
Years of the Water Tiger: 
8 February 1902 - 28 January 1903
5 February 1962 - 24 January 1963

Tigers Returning to the Woods 


Years of the Earth Tiger:
31 January 1938 - 18 February 1939
28 January 1998 - 15 February 1999

Tigers Under Fire of Extinction 


Indonesia (Sumatra)

Years of the Fire Tiger:
13 February 1926 - 1 February 1927
9 February 1986 - 28 January 1987

Tigers Gone from the Face of the Earth

South China Tiger has not been spotted for over 40 year in the wild! 

Years of the Earth Tiger:
31 January 1938 - 18 February 1939
28 January 1998 - 15 February 1999

Many efforts are underway from wildlife organizations and governments around the world to ensure the global population of lions double by the next year of the Tiger. There is still a long way to go and many still to come on board and act as guardians for these great beasts.

Have some fun: Techniques for making your eyes stand out like a Tiger's during the celebrations.

We have all heard Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," and remember how it set the tone for Rocky III. Here's a great anime short taking the theme from boxing to samurai sword play.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

NYRR: Run/Walk for Haiti February 20th, 2010

  Mark, Set and Go for Haiti
By Maureen Baraka Bonfante

With Rhythm and Sound,
Will pound pound pound.
Start to
W                E
A                 S
O - N - E
Great Piston of Brotherhood
Will Run and Walk for Haiti!

The New York Road Runners and The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation are co-sponsoring a four mile Run/Walk for Haiti on Saturday, February 20th, 2010 at 9AM, in Central Park. There will also be Kids' races at 10:30AM. The registration fee is $40 and 100% of the fees collected will go to New York City's Haiti Relief Fund, administered by the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. (Kid's Races- ages 2 to 12, Free entry).  

Update (2/19/10): On Race day you can register from 7:00AM to 8:30AM at the registration tent at Central Park). Kids registration will be from 9:00AM to 10:00AM).

This race counts as 2 qualifying races for the ING Marathon.


NYRR: Course est Marche Pour Haiti, 20 de Février 2010

 À Marquer, Prêter, Partir Pour Haiti
Pour Maureen Baraka Bonfante

POUR  L' A-M-O-U-R !
En rythme est dulce bruit,
Du début á
Ligne d'arrivée
N O          U S
 C O M M E,
Un Seul

Grande Piston de Confrérie,
Courrons, Marcherons pour Haiti!

New York Road Runners et New York City Department of Parks & Recreation sponsorisent un Course/Marche de 4 milles Samedi 20 de Février 2010 à 9 du matin, dans Central Park. Il y aura aussi Courses pour les Enfants à 10:30 du matin. Le droit d'entrée est $40 et 100% serait donne à New York City's Haiti Relief Fund q'est adminstre pour Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. (Courses pour les Enfants, 2 à 12 ans, est gratuit).

Mis à jour (2/19/10): Dans le jour de course on peut s'enregistre de 7:00 à 8:30 du matin au tente de enregistration dans Central Park et enregistrement pour les enfants serait de 9:00 à 10:00 du matin).

C'est course fera compte comme 2 courses qualifier pour ING Marathon.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV: When The Saints Coming Storming In They Beat The Colts 31-17

The Super Bowl! ¡El Super Tazón! 
By Maureen Baraka Bonfante

Jalpeños y

On November 1st, 1966, All Saints Day, New Orleans' Football team was admitted to the NFL and in commemoration of the day christened the "Saints." Given given their record one wouldn't think that they had many saints watching over them causing their fans like those of the Colt's to be sitting on the very edge of their seats. Jumping and Hollering at their HDTV's. 

Colts to Saints (10-0) 1st Qtr, (10-6) 2nd Qtr, (17-16) 3rd Qtr. The Colt's were cutting it close... And the Saints come storming in, scoring 15 touchdowns for the win! Maybe 44 was their lucky number or maybe the underdog Saints outperformed the favorite and showed when the going gets tough the Colts get going, down. Not a prayer could have saved them from the incredible defeat.

Besides the hoopla about the scores, the offensive and defensive moves, missed, successful and questionable passes the Superbowl is about its Halftime show and commercials.

My Fav Commercials

I switched between watching the game in Spanish and English but unfortunately could not find any of the Spanish commercials like Danone's to share.
Don't leave your keys lying around!

It's all in your reach. Just one click away!

Wild dream. Great music!

Look who's talking: Babies on trades!

Halftime Rocks with the Who!

Links of Interest

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