Thursday, December 27, 2007
Warmest Greetings to all you Rivertonian's and friends. It is with great pleasure that we announce that the westerly border of Riverton, Fifth Avenue-from 110th to 142nd streets, will henceforth be known as Percy Ellis Sutton Way. Big "props" to a big man!!
Seitou Aronde -Photo
On another note, as the year ends, we'd like to invite any who might be interested, to avail yourselves of the tax benefit arising from supporting the continued production of the film "Down by The Riverside" through a tax deductible contribution to the friends of Fred Samuels foundation (via Producer Glenn Hunter at 2300 fifth avenue). Recent interviews for the film include the esteemed David Dinkins, Pulitzer Prize Winning author Leon Dash and many others. Thanks to the many folks who have contributed to the preservation of this great historical legacy. The story goes on!!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Listen up all you contemporary Gospel aficionados, our friend and colleague "Floyd K" Sandifer, the son of the late esteemed jurist Jawn (More on him at a later date) Sandifer has just "dropped" his debut CD and it is powerful. Floyd(or Kim as some of you may know him)is a talented singer and songwriter and photographer to boot.Check him out at www.FloydKphoto.com where CDs may be purchased via paypal.
Monday, October 29, 2007
At precisely 5:05 pm fifteen years ago next Tuesday, in what was undoubtedly Rivertons' darkest hour, a deafening explosion issued from the top of 45 east 135th street ripping open the uppermost floors, killing three residents and injuring at least fifteen more. The gas explosion , which was more than likely ignited when an 84 year old man tripped his light switch, rained debris and terror upon the the stunned community. The blast and the resulting conflagration forced the evacuation of more than sixty apartments, and was battled by upward of 160 firefighters, who, themselves sustained nearly twenty injuries. The Red Cross established its command post at neighboring PS 197 where evacuees were housed until long term accommodations were arranged. At your leisure, please take pause to remember those lost or injured on the horrible night that was November 2, 1992.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Hats off to neighbor Patricia Neely.Not only is she the manager of New York Affairs for the prestigious Sphynx organization, a group dedicated to the furtherance of minorities in the classics....but she is also the featured artist of the month for the Myrtle Hart Society.
Patricia Ann Neely (vielle, viola da gamba, violone, and Baroque double bass) holds a BA in music from Vassar College and an MFA in early music from Sarah Lawrence College. She studied viola da gamba with Grace Feldman in New Haven, Judith Davidoff in New York, and Wieland Kuijken in Brussels and for three years was the medieval fiddle player with the acclaimed medieval ensemble, Sequentia, based in Cologne, Germany and directed by Benjamin Bagby and the late Barbara Thornton. Ms. Neely has been a core member of The Publick Musick, "Rochester's Baroque Orchestra" (Rochester, New York and the 2000 winners of the prestigious Noah Greenberg award), and NYS Baroque. She was also creator and founding member of the viola da gamba consort Parthenia.
Now just what is the viola da gamba?? The viol (often referred to by its Italian name viola da gamba) is a bowed, fretted stringed musical instrument played between the legs (da gamba) like a cello. It developed in the 15th century and was used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The passage of the seasons in Riverton was marked by games and pageantry on an almost epic scale. The recreation staff was headed by the inimitable Dolly King who typically held court at these affairs. But it was of Mrs Bell and Mrs Gates who kept peace and decorum and attended to the occaisional wounded child.
Halloween was a time for trick or treating throughout all of the many buildings , and amassing ridiculous amounts of candy, while keeping a watchful eye out for roving bands of halloween terrorists, bearing chalk filled socks. And of course there was the inevitable stomach ache resulting from candy abuse!!
Friday, September 21, 2007
September of 1969.....Muammar al Gaddafi had seized control of Libya, the My Lai Massacre had just occurred in "Nam", the "Chicago Eight" were being brought to trial, and Jimi Hendrix was taking Harlem by storm. No stranger to soul music he had a few years earlier, recorded with both the Isley Brothers and Harlem legend Lonnie Youngblood.
"Its Friday afternoon September 5th and a community sound truck races through the streets announcing the United Block Association's Street Block Party Festival at west139th street between 5th and Lenox. It would feature radio DJ Eddie O'Jay, The 128/129th Street Block Ass'n Steel Bands,The Lovemen LTD,Funny MC Chuck-A-Luck, The Sam and Dave Band, Jimmy Brooks, J.D.Bryant, Big Maybelle, The Fabulous Miss Maxine Brown and The Great Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Jimi Hendrix y'all... Rock star wild man who had to go to England to make it! With six "million selling" albums and working on a seventh, brother Jimi is coming home,man, to be with his brothers and sisters. In search for truth and peace, he has now added justice and he's bringing a message to the ghetto, to the people.... and for free!
The sun goes down and thousands of people crowd 139th street. Rooftops,windows and fire escapes are full with community people. Not one sweet little flower child in sight.
Time passes and the other acts play and go home. Mothers close their apartment windows, and only a few hundred people stay out late on the magical night. But it is worth it.
Outside, under the Harlem sky, Jimi and a four man band play. Noises never heard by the human ear blast out of his guitar, speakin' and cryin' to the priveledged and patient.
With a playful, bashful defiance in his eyes,pop goes Jimi , and he breaks out his kaleidescopic and very plugged in version of "Fire" along with Juma Sultan, Jerry Velez, Larry Le, Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell.
Its almost 3 o'clock in the morning and Jimi, ever the showman, caps off the festival with "Voodoo Chile Babe". Its a bitchin' rendition and, the mass relates to that extra something spiritual,that extra voodoo inner drive that has kept us black people going since bondage. Hendrix fades into "Machine Gun" and you could feel the ghosts of all the black Vietnam War dead. Everyone agrees that Jimi's a "down brother".
As Jimi enter his limo, he promises to come back to Harlem, and passes three little poor black boys who should be home in bed. The kids wave goodbye as they play their invisible electric guitars.
Jimi never leaves. Jimi never left. Grant Harper Reid
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Not long ago, a postcard arrived advertising a musical called "Sprang Thang"at the "Amas Musical Theater" in Greenwich Village. A closer inspection revealed that the theater had been founded in 1968 by none other than Rosetta LeNoire ,the consummate actress and social activist who spent many years in the Riverton.
LeNoire, whose incredible career spanned some seventy years, devoted most of her working life to the struggle for racial equity. At times her views placed her at odds with the powers that be, as the spectre of blacklisting loomed over those in the entertainment industry who dared to speak out during the McCarthy era.
The GodChild of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, she was born in 1911 and had her acting debut as a kabuki dancer in the 1939 production of "The Hot Mikado". While time and space do not permit an exhaustive examination of her career, it should be noted that LeNoire is best known to modern audiences for her work in television. She had regular roles on the series Gimme a Break, and Amen , and is most closely identified with her role as Estelle "Mother" Winslow on Family Matters
In 1968, using her own savings, Rosetta founded the AMAS Repertory Theater Company, an interracial theater dedicated to multi-ethnic productions in New York City. With this company, Rosetta created an artistic community where members' individual skills were recognized without regard to race, creed, color, religion, or national origin. She became a successful and groundbreaking Broadway producer developing, among other things,"Bubbbling Brown Sugar". The Actors Equity Association awarded her the first award for helping contribute to the diversification of theater casting; in 1988, the award was named the Rosetta LeNoire Award. Happy Fortieth Birthday to the "Amas Theater"!!!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
When asked about their favorite musicians from the community, most Rivertonians recall the names of Dr Billy Taylor, the late Eddie Haywood, and soul icon Gregory Abbott. But the course of hiphop was profoundly altered by the Crash Crew, a group of kids from Lincoln and Riverton who began "crackin the mike" at project parties in the late seventies. Guy Foster, Kenny Yoda, and the late DJ Daryll C(Calloway) together with their Lincoln contemporaries GMan, La Shubee, Barry Bistro,Ek Mike C and Reggie Reg crafted a unique style that rocked the foundations of the whole neighborhood.In 1980, they pressed up their first single-High Powered Rap and sold it out of the trunk of their car. Guy's mom, Denise, recalls the beginnings of the HipHop phenomenon.
For more info,check ou the following links:
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Its nearly impossible to not think of firefighters on 9-11, and it is equally difficult for me to think of firefighters and not think of Mr Glasse. A quiet and good humored man who was the backbone of Boy Scout Troop 163 , Mr. Glasse was a decorated New York city firefighter, who would ultimately rise to the rank of Bronx Borough Commander...... and remember the Bronx was burning at the time! In his leisure, when he wasn't sharing life/survival skills with the neighborhood youth, this finely tuned athlete and scholar very unassumingly ran, as well as swam the marathon.
But before all of that, he was a Tuskeegee Airman. A B-25 Pilot with the 477th, Mr. Glasse, like many of his African American contemporaries, would find the fight for equality at home to be as perilous if not more than the war raging overseas. In March 1945, along with 162 other Black Officers facing Jim Crow accomodations at Freeman Field Indiana, the young aviator openly(under possible penalty of death) defied orders not to enter its "whites only" officers club. The so-called Freeman Field Mutiny and other similar acts of defiance played a significant role in the decision made by President Truman in 1948 to issue Ex. Orders 9980 and 9981, which spelled the beginning of the end of segregation in the armed forces and government. For more info visit:
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Is it just me, or is anyone else disturbed at the alarming rate at which our Harlem institutions are falling by the wayside.Some like Copelands -are the victim of economics, while others others are falling prey to changing community standards (read gentrification).
I met my wife in the late Eighties in the last iteration of Small's Paradise, the speakeasy cum night club, where on any given night of the week, one just might witness something extraordinary, and entirely unique to Harlem. That venerated space has been reduced to hustling the same pancakes available in almost any city in the world. Not a hundred feet away, the Big Apple, after which our dear city is nicknamed was recently removed in favor of corporate design in keeping with Popeye's look.
Down the street, The Renny lays fallow after many decades, awaiting action by its owner. Will its development follow a course that is respectful of history and tradition or will it be yet one more proceeedure in the evisceration of Harlem.
And while we're on the subject of the evisceration of Harlem, let us not forget the silencing of the Garvey Park drummers who have earned their place in the City's cultural landscape after after decades of support by the community. Is it just me, or is there a pattern in place? What do you think?
Friday, August 31, 2007
Clearly one of the towering figures on the Riverton cultural landscape, Constance Baker Motley was a "lawyers lawyer". As a child in the scouts at PS 197, I remember seeing her with my counterpart Joel at our cub meetings. I knew, even then, that she was someone special, although I didn't know how or why. A dozen years earlier, as a fresh faced lawyer working as a clerk for the NAACP legal defense fund under the leadership of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Motley crafted hundreds of documents which were to become the basis of the ground breaking "Brown v Bd. Of Education" litigation which would eventually change face of educational opportunity in this country. She would later become the first Black Female to serve as a Federal Judge, and was eventually elected to the Borough Presidency of Manhattan.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
When PittyPat first raised the subject of Robert C. Weaver to me, I had little idea of the extent of his legacy in the area of Housing reform. Then as now, black folk were facing a crisis of accomodation in New York. The critical nature of the conflict became most clear to New Yorkers in the Dorsey v Stuvesanttown case which reached its conclusion, after 5 years in the summer/fall of 1947. The verdict, which came down against the 3 African American plaintiffs left Stuvesanttown free to set its own discriminatory policies. This decision galvanized the forces of opposition, and that fall Weaver, the lead authority on northern housing discrimination, allied himself with Charles Abrams of the ACLU , Will Maslow and Hortense Gabel to form The New York Committee on Discrimination in Housing......they in turn lobbied successfully for the groundbreaking Brown-Isaacs bill(passed in 1951) that made it illegal to discriminate in housing developments assisted by the government. Weaver's research for "The Negro Ghetto" would provide much of the scholarly underpinning for the movement.
Years later he would become the first black nominated to a cabinet level position, during the Johnson administration when he was made head of the newly formed HUD agency.
Check out wikipedia story http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_C._Weaverh
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Whats up folks! Just testing out the mechanics of the blog, at the moment there are only a few subscribers, but hopefully soon it will be available for open posting.This seems to be a very capable blog interface which will hopefully allow direct upload from youtube.Sign up and give it a try.
Hats off to Yvonne Delany for a beautifully written article in the "Amsterdam".
On a sad note, Kenny Medley is hospitalized, having suffered a stroke...keep him in your prayers.