Category Archives: NYC

The High Bridge NYC Review!

Here’s our review of the High Bridge in NYC! Complete with DJI Phantom 4 footage! Use your city parks, yo! Get active! Part of veganism is being out and about and moving that body, including out in these city streets!

40 Pounds of Rice

How it’s done! Get your rice in Queens in bulk, strap it to your cargo bike and roll it back to Manhattan! Money = saved!

Central Park Airways

Here’s some drone footage over the Harlem end of Central Park, Manhattan, NYC. Still learning the ropes with flying, filming, and editing drone footage to tell an interesting tale. Stay tuned for more! We will be reviewing the best of city parks and urban infrastructure in the coming days and weeks.

Go to the park, yo! Free vitamin D! Free space to jog, bike and lounge! You need that in this vegan revolutionary socialist life!

Maiden Flight (DJI Phantom 4 @ West Harlem Piers)

We’re airborne! We’ve got a DJI Phantom 4 to explore the urban outdoors with, and share the awesomeness of nature inside the city. City parks, infrastructure, we’re going there and encouraging everyone to explore their city and use their city parks!

Stay tuned for more quadcopter aerial cinematography from us at Green Chimurenga/ Gotham Parks!

Sixty-Dollar Finger Food

This blog really isn’t about restaurant reviews, but I’m gonna throw this out there anyway, since I recently went with a friend who, like me, just wants to get out the low-down on this joint. Pure Food and Wine, an all-raw vegan gourmet restaurant on Irving Place near Union Square in Manhattan, is a joke. Don’t go there, raw vegans, if you don’t want to get robbed. They charge an insane premium for presentation, prestige and pop marketing, and they don’t even really feed you. Both of us recognized that the food tasted good, but they have you paying around $25 for a plate of grub no bigger in volume than a fist, maybe a fist and a half.

I had the “Zucchini, Local Heirloom Tomato Lasagna” off their menu. Delicious. Cost $24 and it was one small little plate. My friend had the “Sweet Corn and Cashew Tamales with Chili Spiced Portabella” dish. Also delectable and scrumptious. Cost $26 for a single modest serving. And we were told that these were the largest dishes they served. We were far from full after chomping those. Already the money spent would have paid for like seven bags of produce – fruits and veggies – to fill me for days, not minutes. This was the first blow.

Meanwhile, as we ate, we were bumped from our seats so they could combine our old table with others to accommodate a larger party. My friend wondered if they felt comfortable doing that since we were the only Africans at the time in the establishment, but then the house promised us a single desert dish for the inconvenience, and we held them to that. We decided to share the “Pumpkin Cheesecake” dish, worth $15. And we were astounded when they presented this dish to us, a single slice of this mock cheesecake literally two square inches in size. Not making that up – it was a little square like a Rubik’s cube. And a spoon – one spoon – of the faux “brown ale ice cream” that goes with it. Worth fifteen freaking dollars! This was the second blow, the one that truly knocked our heads sideways. Thank goodness that little morsel was on the house!

My friend had some insightful comments about the food culture this represented, a French or European one that valued presentation over everything, over actually being fed. It’s artisanal food. We as Africans, she remarked, could perhaps do a better job of presenting our food, in the broader culinary world. But as a general rule, we serve food to feed each other, to get full. At African households the world over, people are making food and then hollering “come eat!” in whatever language they may be speaking over the sweet or savory aromas of food prepared with a purpose.

I added that this is a result of successful marketing and the brilliant manufacture of taste that is also a part of culture and commerce. Those who have real money to burn – not us, who did this as a one-time excursion with the mindset of culinary students – seem not to mind paying such a great cost to have the experience of “beautiful food” over which only to socialize and make aesthetic remarks. The rest of us just need to eat and sooth our hunger.

I’m not a calorie-counting, portion-size worrying eater. As a raw vegan and a person who lives a physically active lifestyle, I don’t much need to be. I eat when I’m hungry and until I no longer am. So I need to be fed well and good. And the sorts of portions you’ll find at Pure Food and Wine will not do the trick, nor is it worth the money to take a gamble and see if it will work for you – if you’re anything like us, it won’t.

Furthermore, the sort of premiums a place like Pure Food and Wine present are perhaps what can make veganism, particularly raw veganism, unappealing to the everywoman and the everyman out there struggling to get paid by whatever means. An aloof, wealthy, overwhelmingly white crowd hobnobbing over expensive nibble-food turns my comrades and I the hell off, and every other person from the world I know of working-class folk of color. Veganism should look good, taste good, be practical to prepare, be abundant, and most of all be affordable. Fresh fruits and veggies and other healthy plant-based items are still largely unavailable in all the hoods I know around the NYC area. How much of an extreme is it then to take a stroll out of a food desert to downtown to see what veganism looks like as this fancy highfalutin finger-food experience.

So we learned something through the whole affair, and socialized with one another, and made a pleasant evening out of the wallet-vacuuming experience. The flavors presented to us were excellent and unique, inspiring more curiosity about how to combine spices to match or surpass those wonderful tastes.

But we were also reminded that we’re just fine doing things practically, the African way, in which we eat to eat. Any place you go out for food where they charge Fort Knox money for finger food, walk away, walk to the farmer’s market or grocery store nearest you, get whatever healthy stuff you can get, and do something funky-fresh and dope with it in your own kitchen.

Furtive Movements

The Precision Afrikan, very dark and furtive, doing furtive movements like squatting in an empty room and chewing, indeed chomping, into the innocent white flesh of an apple. Filthy delinquent.

I have wondered about the criteria for NYC’s (and other cities’) stop and frisk policies for some time now, namely that of “furtive movements.” I have been a black man in NJ and NYC for 28 years now. I have been stopped and questioned in NJ once, stopped and frisked there once, and stopped, frisked and arrested in NYC once, that one for riding a bike in the street, all charges dropped of course. All of this happened in the period from my mid-teens to my very early twenties, the early 2000s, and none recently. All of it happened while just walking or standing around somewhere, or in the Manhattan case, bike riding, not on the sidewalk or anything, nor in the opposite direction of traffic. 100% law-abiding casual activities. But I know very few young or older black men in my circle who haven’t had such an experience, as law-abiding, peaceful citizens doing ordinary things in their everyday travels. Neither I nor any of these men have ever been engaged in Uncle Sam’s work of poisoning our community with narcotics, have never engaged in highway robbery nor attempted knocking over a bank, have never abused women nor anyone else sexually, nor perpetrated any other proper statutory crime. Yet we all walk around as suspects automatically as a result of our existential condition as black men inhabiting North America.

The wiktionary defines “furtive” as stealthy or exhibiting guilty or evasive secrecy. The NYPD will initiate a stop and frisk on the basis of, among other justifications, “furtive movements,” which is my favorite. The NYPD has stopped and frisked 4 million New Yorkers since 2004, and about 690,000 in 2011 alone, 85 percent of those stopped and frisked black or latino, the vast majority young men. Only 9 percent of these stops yield arrests, those often for past warrants for minor crimes, along with a very modest number of discoveries of narcotics and even less weapons (read a good Village Voice article on the matter here). So stop and frisk evidently has nothing to do with crime, and everything to do with intimidation of an entire population which the city, the Bloomberg administration anyway, does not want around – young black and brown men like myself.

We can also safely draw the conclusion from the evidence presented that all movements by black men are furtive. Notice the picture above, wherein the Precision Afrikan chews an apple. How furtive! How dare he! What is he hiding? Why is he being so sneaky, squatting in the corner, darkly and rudely, slinking around with mysterious and ominous intentions? He must be about to sell crack cocaine while raping a baby. The image says it all.

If you’re young, black and male and you’re brushing your teeth, you’re guilty. If you’re young, black and male and you’re scratching your nose while reading a newspaper on a bench in Prospect Park, you obviously just flooded the hood with heroin laced with gun powder. If you’re black, young and male and you’re taking a walk, we all know you just molested a toddler before mugging a tourist. And if you’re black, young and male and you’re taking a jog around the neighborhood, you definitely just killed five white people.

Everything we do, by the mysterious, snaky gesticulations of our lanky black limbs, by the odious shifting of our dark eyes, is obviously suggestive of evil intent. Yes, this must be why this happens to us. Existentially, black youth is elementally married to the characteristic of furtiveness. Even the most mundane thing we could possibly do has the flavor of villainy. At least to cops.

That’s why they’re also very quick to kill young black men, even in their own homes, like the teenager Ramarley Graham earlier this month in the Bronx, who was unarmed and assassinated by the cops in his own bathroom in front of his little brother and grandmother. This sort of police terrorism happens ever so frequently and consistently. With us, any commitment to apply constitutional considerations or restraint of force flies out of the window. The “war on drugs” and “tough on crime” policies are primarily about containing and terrorizing youth of color and ruining our lives, not crime prevention or improving our quality of life, not in the least. The police truly work us and our communities like an occupying army.

I go to school at Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights; most afternoons during lunch break I take a walk around the hood, around the Heights and Harlem. And whenever I see the cops, I admit, I hate them. I often feel like wearing this black skin and being a young man is something akin to wearing a yellow star of david in Hitler’s Europe – not precisely like that, but not too far either. The prison-industrial complex, a beneficiary of society’s willful failure to provide a future for youth of color, a beneficiary of the insane war on drugs, and a beneficiary of the criminalization of people who look like me, is literally eating black men alive by the hundreds of thousands in this country. This is how a vile colonial relationship with imperial power works, with mass incarceration of subject populations. This is how a caste system works, where it is assumed that a young black or brown man is a lesser being and a morally depraved being, a convenient conclusion to those who profit from our oppression and destruction.

So is it so far fetched to assume, based on how society shallowly and dishonestly draws its racist conclusions, that when they see me eating that apple, they see rage and dark intentions, solely because I’m a black man?

Naked villainy.

How many other brothers out there, particularly up here in NYC, or in Newark, Philly, DC or wherever, feel me on this? That we are almost made to internalize our own supposed guilt about something, so that we learn somehow to move in “less threatening” ways? I just move however I want, personally, and stare down the cops, cursing under my breath, and watching them close, the same way they do me.

Discuss. More importantly, organize and resist. As Dead Prez said, it’s war.

VeganHood TV!

VeganHood TV

Come and see how to live healthy

Best believe you don’t need to be wealthy

Follow me to the knowledge tree

We just fulfilling the prophecy

And eating what nature’s provided me

>Repeat<

Word, son! This is exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve been checking out VeganHood TV on Youtube for the past couple weeks. They are excellent. Black vegan men in Brooklyn. Showcasing the realness and teaching the family. These are the sort of cats I’ve got to collabo with once I move to BK later this year. They should win awards based on their theme song alone, I love it. When I hear those lyrics my fist is up and my head is bopping. It’s so simple and nice and the beat suggests urgency. Live and direct. Call me mad corny but this is what’s up. So I’m highlighting their work here today, supporting more productive black vegans in the family. I see you! Keep repping the cause.

Black vegan straight-edge vigor forever. Black vegans ain’t going nowhere.

Watch it all right here (what they have up so far, a work in progress):

Episode 1

Episode 2 – part 1 of 4

Episode 2 – part 2 of 4

Also, a revolutionary brother named Safari-Black related to this endeavor posting earlier about the Vegan Hip-Hop Movement:

Vegan and hip-hop are two of my main ingredients in terms of how I’d have to be defined. Vegan Hip-Hop movement? I’m ’bout that.

Enter the Durian


Yesterday I had durian for only the second or third time in my life – the first time being in 2003 or 2004 during a college spring break hanging out with my uncle in Toronto, Ontario. He’s the one who predicted I would become a raw vegan/ fruitarian long before I had even known much about that whole practice, though I had been a conventional vegan for four or five years by then, just emerging out of my teenage years at that time.

I’d been thinking about it for a while. Many weeks ago a friend of mine and myself had a little chow at Bonobos, the raw vegan hole in the wall on 23rd St and Madison Ave right in front of Madison Square Park. My friend sampled their durian “ice cream” and then I followed. Not being into “raw gourmet” much at all anymore, I nonetheless entertain daydreams of eating tropical fruits like durian and such all the time, and most days I realize those dreams by at least eating bushels of bananas and oranges each day and a daily avocado, and some papaya and/or mango at least a couple times a week. I eat many apples as well, grown mostly in Washington State on the opposite side of this continent. Greens I eat – “spring mixes” of various lettuces, chard, cabbage, etc., as well as celery – are often grown in Mexico or California; I eat raw okra too, imported sometimes from the US South, though more often from Asia or Afrika. I’m not a great locovore as you can surmise. But nothing much is growing in NJ or NY during these arctic dog days of winter. In any case, back to the story: I fantasize about, and eat, foods mostly “exotic” to where I live. (Hence my recent refrain – time for me to get very, very serious about resettling in Afrika and the tropics more broadly and as soon as I’m ready.)

The durian was bound to enter my realm at some point. Hearing raves about it from raw vegans and fruitarians on these here internets, and following initial exposure by my uncle some years back as a younger man, it was only a matter of time and commitment before I would start getting my hands on those things more often.

So after my “soft tissue conditions” class yesterday, I headed into Chinatown before making my way back home. I had some leads that good durian were to be scored on the corner of Grand St and Bowery. Not finding some there, I headed towards Mott St and walked down a bit, and sure enough the spiky punks were staring at me outside in the frigid air like gunslingers challenging me to a duel. Well, it wasn’t that dramatic.

Anyway I bought two of them, at $1.25 a pound (but each one is pretty damn heavy). I threw them in my army duffel bag and headed back towards Herald Square on the Canal St N, from where I entered Penn Station to get on home.

To make a long story short, the verdict is that durians are now among my favorite fruits. And these were just the imported-frozen-from-Thailand variety! How much more succulent, fleshy, filling, sweet, creamy, and all manner of nice could a fresh-from-the-grove one be? Seriously, these fruits are fiercely tasty – durian is no joke, son! Reading about durian culture and activity in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, I understand that there are varieties that are very expensive, that won’t or can’t even necessarily be exported far off to the wilds of Manhattan and environs, and that there are many flavors and so I’m left thinking this “durian mornthong” I picked up near the corner of Mott and Grand is just a starter brand.

I am quite pleased indeed to have initiated myself into this fruitarian culture of durian connoisseurs. These spiky guys aren’t that cheap. I don’t imagine I’ll be after them all the time. But so long as I’m here in NYC where I can have them from time to time, why not do just that?

Further down the line, when I’m setting up land for an agroforestry preserve in the Congo Basin or Niger Delta wet equatorial rainforest regions, I might plant some durian, jackfruit, and mangosteen trees, varieties from identical climes and soil conditions in Borneo, for my Afrikan fruitarian arboretum. Of course the many rare and advanced fruits with supreme phytonutrient content growing deep in places like the Ituri and Kivu rainforests, as yet only at best lightly explored with intent to find “superfoods”/ “superfruits” and medicines because of all the wars there, may occupy too much of my time to get around to bringing strong seedlings from Borneo to Central Afrika. South America and Southeast Asia surely aren’t the only places growing these “superfoods,” y’all self-styled raw-vegan superfood gurus! Where are the Afrikan varieties? If not y’all, at least I’ll be on the lookout for them. There are fruits I couldn’t even name right now that I had in Ghana, and many others yet to be explored and, well, popularized.

Anyway, the future is bright and tasty one way or the other. Fruitarianism in Afrika! Wet tropical regions grow the tastiest things for humans to munch on and grow big and strong with. Wet tropical regions are where I intend on spending most of my life once I’m done with my obligations and studies in Gotham.

A note about the scent of the durian: it is not a “bad” smell at all! I don’t know how folks came up with that one. It must surely have been sensory-deprived Europeans overwhelmed by the power of such a botanical powerhouse as the durian. It’s a sweet and succulent smell that tells you, once it hits you, that durian-related activities are occurring nearby. Yes, the scent is strong, getting through my army duffel bag from behind newspaper and plastic wrapping, and on a 20 degree day! But those who think it smells bad must be alarmist, sense-inhibited, orientalist tourists and passersby to the durian world. Because durian absolutely has a signature smell, and it is GOOD!

I’ll be eating some durian in my afternoon meals tomorrow and perhaps even Saturday if my stash lasts that long. Long live fruitarian adventurism!

On Medjool Dates

So today was interesting. Before attending a critical planning meeting with some elders, I scoped out a capoeira class which met in bourgeois-ass Soho. But they asses didn’t start on time, so I left. I hate lateness, have no tolerance for CP-time and what not. Matter of fact for the record I’ma say it twice: motherfuck CP-time!!! And of all things to start late, a martial arts class? My kung fu never ever starts late. And I’ve only been late once – last week in fact. Time is of the essence! You see that quote over to the right now – take heed. Discipline is sweet like desert blues; indiscipline is bitter like the evening news.

So with extra time to kill I rode my bike up them snow-plowed Manhattan streets and popped into Westerly Natural Market (on 54th and 8th), all trendy and organic and shit. But I doubt I’ll ever go there again – $5.39 for 4.4 ounces of organic blueberries? The fuck are they smoking? They got them trendy white liberal prices – yes. Nonetheless I picked up some organic medjool dates, which I never had until today. Ten bucks for 13 ounces of them – sheeit! I said fuck it, lemme try this.

I almost wanna say it’s like candy (in good ways).

I munched on the dates all day and finished them as my dinner. They really something, so sumptuous, of a most delicate texture, uniquely and profoundly stimulating to an Afrikan palate. In other words, they the shit. I probably won’t go after them too often. They was grown in California, why they cost so damn much? Their expensive price is strongly related to where I bought them, methinks.

Dates are very serious foods. Raw vegans/ fruitarians can have maad fun. It’s a shame I wasn’t introduced to that shit much earlier in life; people been growing dates for thousands of years (in Afrika!). The conventional household is full of such a limited selection of foods. But the curious and adventurous fruitarian almost never runs out of species to taste and flavors to enjoy.

We fruitarians are living in a world of plenty, in other words the real world. Everyone else is stuck in plastic meat trays and cardboard cereal boxes.

Hood Diet

This new joint by Loer Velocity and DonnanLinkz out of Brooklyn presents a simple reality of the limited access to healthy foods in the American ghetto where Afrikans dwell. This simple reality is to me one of the saddest characteristics of all of our downpression in these United Snakes and all over the planet. Let’s just take the health-foods giant, Whole Foods, which is not to be found in the hood. It is to be found in Columbus Circle, Union Square, and Chelsea in NYC; in North Jersey you’ll find them in wealthy white suburbs like Montclair, West Orange, and Millburn. You don’t find them in Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, East New York, Brownsville, or elsewhere in Central Brooklyn, or anywhere in the Bronx or Harlem; you don’t see them in the whole city of Newark, NJ, nor in Irvington, East Orange, Hillside or even Jersey City. Just by the example of Whole Foods one can see that healthy eating in America is associated with communities of highly-educated, wealthy white folks. As the mc’s state in this song “Hood Diet,” we don’t even hardly get the farmer’s markets.

I sometimes volunteer at an Afrikan People’s Farmer’s Market (it’s at 456 Nostrand Ave in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn – please visit on Saturdays!). There is not enough of this sort of food offered in locations conveniently accessible to Afrikans in this area, though. I’ve spoken about food security to revolutionary comrades and to Afrikans who farm, and we agree that we are falling far, far behind in terms of access to healthy whole foods, and in terms of food security itself. Shut down the grocery store/ bodega industries in the ghettos of America, and Afrikans might starve en masse, so far removed we have become from the notion of growing/ cultivating food. And Afrika and the Caribbean grow maad cash crops for export to the West in exchange for crappy American white rice and 4th-rate shitmeat. This is part of what is killing us, raising our blood pressure, reducing our life-spans to half what they are in Japan, Sweden or Hawaii, giving us maad diabetes and Cancer. The Hood Diet – common to Afrikans whether in urban America or urban and increasingly rural Afrika – is killing Afrikans! And it is deliberate! It is a function of our colonial existence!

We better start growing more real and quality food. We better open some of our own chains of whole foods-based groceries in our own communities. We better expand and serve our own farmer’s markets where we live. All this if we are really serious about living, about surviving, about thriving.

Junk food, MSG-laden cheap Chinese food, fast food, shitmeat, food colorings, etc. – all these are not foods. These are, as Micheal Pollan said last week on Democracy Now!, “food-like substances.”

FUCK THE HOOD DIET!
DEATH TO THE HOOD DIET!