CBS: On the Road: Second Chances

It’s so easy to dismiss addiction as just an excuse. You give second, third chances, and when the person doesn’t change, the hurt turns to anger. It’s tough.

As this CBS “On the Road” video proves, recovering addicts do deserve second chances. They don’t always work out. But, when they are ready, they do. And this small business owner is changing lives. Video below.

Father John Flynn of the Bronx

Photo via Daily News:

Some moving words by Fordham professor and activist Mark Naison about the Rev. John Flynn, known as the “street priest” who made a difference in the Bronx:

There are not that many people you meet, in real life, whose personality is so incandescent they light of the world. Father John Flynn, pastor of St. Martin of Tours Church in the Bronx who passed away on Sept. 23, was one of those people. I met him at the height of the crack epidemic when gun battles and beefs were taking an incredible toll on young people in the Bronx. I was part of a group of religious leaders, and community activists who met as his church to try to do something about the violence, which was making normal activity impossible for many people in the Bronx because they literally feared to leave their homes and apartments.

Father Flynn’s parish, only 8 blocks from Fordham University, was in the heart of that zone. He had officiated at more than 20 funerals of young men between 17 and 25 in a single year.

Father Flynn, white haired and in his 60’s, walked the streets without fear, talking to those young men. He knew their pain and desperation. And he asked those of us present to work with him in developing a program for out of work, out of school young people, that would rescue them from the street economy.

If you had a heart and a conscience, you could not help but respond to his plea and his example. So we came together to form the “Save a Generation” program. I spent the next year with Father Flynn and several other great Bronx leaders, among them Sister Barbara Leniger of Thorpe Family Residence, and Dr. Lee Stuart of South Bronx Churches, writing proposals, giving talks, walking the streets, even going to Washington to lobby Congress. During that time, I never saw Father Flynn lose his composure, his optimism, his ability to inspire people with quiet eloquence, whether it was talking to the Borough President, or throwing footballs with local youngsters in the street outside his church. And he was as kind and thoughtful when he was alone, in his parish house as he was in his group. He had been in Latin America before he was in the Bronx and he had a deep empathy for the poor along with an equal level of respect. Working with them was his life’s mission and he did it with joy and a wonder at life’s ironies and life’s mysteries.

I spent nearly four years working with Father Flynn helping to get Save a Generation off the ground, and watched it become a life changing program that offered 35 Bronx youngsters a new chance at life. When the crack epidemic eased, I moved on, but kept in touch until he retired.

Greatness takes many forms. It is not always associated with wealth and power and fame. In the Bronx, it may have reached its highest point in the person of a parish priest who walked the street with the lost boys of the community while bullets were flying. And who those boys learned to love as much as everyone else who knew him.

R.I.P. Father Flynn. You will always live in the hearts of everyone who knew you.

Read the New York Times’ story on Father Flynn here.

Peggy Noonan: ‘We are a big, complicated nation. And we are human beings. We are people.’

Peggy Noonan (a Republican) in the Wall Street Journal on Romney’s recent flubs:

I wrote recently of an imagined rural Ohio woman sitting on her porch, watching the campaign go by. She’s 60, she identifies as conservative, she likes guns, she thinks the culture has gone crazy. She doesn’t like Obama. Romney looks OK. She’s worried about the national debt and what it will mean to her children. But she’s having a hard time, things are tight for her right now, she’s on partial disability, and her husband is a vet and he gets help, and her mother receives Social Security.

“She’s worked hard and paid into the system for years. Her husband fought for his country.

“And she’s watching this whole election and thinking.You can win her vote if you give her faith in your fairness and wisdom. But not if you label her and dismiss her.”

Read more here.


M.A.K.U. SoundSystem brings music of Colombia by way of Jackson Heights

Photo via Daily News

It’s always good to read stories of your favorite bands in NYC newspapers!

By Jim Farber of the N.Y. Daily News

People can travel many miles before they find their true selves.

Camilo Rodriguez traveled roughly 2,496 of them. That’s the distance between where he grew up (Bogota, Colombia) and where he discovered his adult voice (Jackson Heights, Queens).

“When I came to New York, I needed to find out who I was in the middle of all this madness,” Rodriguez says. “I found out through the music of where I came from.”

Read more here.

To read my story about M.A.K.U. in Sounds and Colours, click here.

Hip Hop: Saving lives in Colombia

Via the Seattle Globalist.

MEDELLIN, Colombia–Henry Arteaga could have been a drug dealer.

Growing up during the 1990s in Aranjuez, long one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin, Arteaga could have been a soldier, a gang member, an insurgent, or followed any number of violent paths which have attracted Medellin’s youth over the last 30 years.

But Arteaga was lucky: he found hip hop.

Read more here.

Musica: Downloads of all kinds

Image via

Hello amigos. I’m back with some music recommendations:

  • Heavy Hitter DJ Yonny (NYC) just posted this great remix of Alex Clare’s “Too Close,” otherwise known as the song in the Microsoft IE9 commercial. Cop it while you can. We all know Soundcloud caps the number of downloads.
  • This World Carnival #3 mix posted by Hipsters Don’t Dance has been my gym music since I downloaded it last month. It’s an incredible hip-shaking, tropical bass mix. Download it, play it, close your eyes, move yo ass and pretend we’re drinking something with rum at CARNIVAL!
  • Speaking of Hipsters Don’t Dance, their party for World Carnival featured DJ So Shifty, who is responsible for one of my absolute favorite salsa mixes here.
  • My Argentinian-from-the-Bay Area homeboy Juan Data, who frequently picks his favorite mixes for Remezcla, has given us a new remix! Download Gloryhole 2 (heh!) here. For this mix, Juan Data says he wanted to “focus mainly on current releases, modern stuff … to give a promotional extra push to all those record labels who truly love music.”
  • Keeping with the Bay Area theme, Los Rakas (and AOL Spinner) are giving away a free download for the bass heavy banger, “Bien Ribetiao.” Cutie Raka Rich explains, “Bien Ribetiao’ means ‘swaggin.’ It’s a Panamanian slang word.

“The beat is a style of hip-hop originally from Oakland, California. Songs like Drake‘s ‘The Motto’ and Tyga‘s Rack City,’ which have been popular over the last year at a mainstream level, are drawn from a Bay Area-sound. One example is E-40’s ‘Tell Me Where to Go’ from 2005. This style has never been done in Spanish, so we wanted to do it really well and visually have it rep all our styles being born in Panama and raised in The Bay.”

Lead singer Miles Solay tells American Songwriter:

“In the beginning of our working relationship Tom was fond of giving ‘assignments’. In essence, these were creative devices intended to jumpstart the process of writing a song or a way of focusing on a musical element to lay the foundation for the jam to come. With this song we were instructed to take the bass-line from Metallica’s ‘Seek & Destroy’ and make it the bass-line of our song with the exception being that it would be played backwards. That’s right, the same bass-line note-for-note but with the notes in opposite order. The song was also to be fast tempo and needed a gang vocal saying ‘BO!’ in the chorus.”

By the way, Outernational’s “FUTURE ROCK” EP release party in New York City is this Friday. I’ll be there. It’s an all ages show and features a hot opening band: The Skins. You don’t want to miss it!!!

Fashion Week NY 2012

Photo via

I’m soooooo not a fashion person, but I do enjoy people watching those who are. Fashion Week in New York City is a great for that. I get all creeper and stare at people because the fashion-oriented put extra effort into what they wear, the tallest of the tall models hit the night clubs and there is free booze a plenty.

Tonight is Fashion Night Out in New York City (and around the globe), where retail stores in nearly all boroughs hold events which include musical acts, appearances by celebs, lots of freebies, SALES and a first-look at the next season’s collection. Check out some FNO recommendations by my girl Roz Baron, aka Punkrose, here.

If you can’t partake in person, you can follow along thanks to the wonders of internet. If you search for #NYFW on Twitter, you’ll see lots of first hand accounts of what is going on where, including what celebrity is hanging out at the fashion shows.

For more coverage, here are some cool people I think you should follow:

Former Fordham News and Media Relations intern and friend Nadine DeNinno is moving up in the new media world as a fashion/celebrity writer extraordinaire at the International Business Times, where she busts out several stories a day. Check out her coverage here. (By the way, she designed that #NYFW home page.)

Festivity queen Michelle Christina Larsen is doing her thing over at Hey Mishka. She started up a YouTube channel for the occasion and she won’t just document what she’s covering, but give Do-It-Yourself tips on fashion and other things, like this amazing quick fix elixir, which I should just take intravenously all year.

And, because she’s funny and ALWAYS at the best parties, follow former Ridgewood News intern and hilarious gal Thea Palad on Twitter. She’s the Senior Fashion Editor at Women’s Health, which means she focuses on fun and active fashion! Go stalk her at: @theapalad or her work account, @WHealth_Style.


On Labor Day: Two interesting reads on unions

I’ve only been in a union once in my career. It was the Writers Guild East and I had to join as a condition of employment for a company that produced sports news highlights for a couple of New York City news stations. Aside from the night my friend Michele and I got to volunteer at the Writers Guild Awards, I never really felt *part* of the union, but that’s not surprising as it was a part-time job while I worked at a newspaper during the day.

Sometimes I think that if there were more unions around, perhaps we would not have so many laid off Americans who feel hopeless today. I mean, unions were created to protect workers rights, right? Maybe people would have had to take pay cut or a decrease in hours, but they might still have their jobs if their unions would’ve negotiated some kind of deal. Who knows? As I mentioned above, I don’t have much experience with unions at all.

On this Labor Day, I stumbled upon an obituary for Alexander Saxton, a novelist and historian who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on August 20 at the age of 93.

Saxton had a very interesting life. He went from “upper-income youngster to working-class adult; from Harvard student to Chicago laborer; from novelist to union organizer and Socialist; and from activist to academic who wrote many books.”

Among them, as it says in his obituary in the New York Times, was “The Rise and Fall of the White Republic, known as one of the foundations of ‘critical whiteness studies,’ an academic field that examines the assumptions underlying ‘whiteness’ as a racial designation and political organizing principle.”

But it’s his first historical book, The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California, that I found interesting. Considered a landmark of labor history, the book describes how “19th- and 20th- century labor unions used racism against Chinese immigrants as a tool for unifiying and organizing white union members.

“It challenged one of the foundational stories of the labor movement,” said Eric Foner, a Columbia University professor and Pulitzer prize winning historian. “Instead of the story of solidarity and democracy usually told, Saxton showed how racism was one of labor’s most important organizing tools.”

Who knew? So some unions were created to protect only a certain kind of worker in this country. Can’t be surprised, I guess. Read more about Saxton’s life and work here.

I’d like to recommend another Labor Day read. It’s by Fordham University sociologist, Christopher Rhomberg. His book, The Broken Table: The Detroit Newspaper Strike and the State of American Laboruses interviews and archival research to examine the labor and management disputes of the Detroit newspaper strike of the 1990s and the effect it has had on business-labor relations and workplace governance.

Listen to an interview of Rhomberg on the Craig Fahle Show on Detroit radio station, WDET, here. Read an article about the book in Dissent magazine here. And stay tuned for a GREAT opinion piece on labor and unions he wrote that I am working on getting placed in the media this week.