Dear Summer 2011 – The UC Bids Farewell To A Summer To Remember

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Photo: Ruben Henriquez

I have said on many occasions that there is nothing in the world that compares to an Uptown summer. Uptown summers are magical, memorable and magnificent creatures. A summer Uptown is its own entity, embodied with self-generating electricity, noise and presence. Certain Uptown summers leave an indelible imprint on your memory. They become the stuff of legend. This summer will go down in history as one such year and the Uptown Collective was there to capture, document and broadcast that kinetic dynamism for the world to see, hear and feel. So here it is, with fall seductively whispering into our ears, the Uptown Collective’s Summer 2011 retrospective.

The summer began with a bang, with the 40 Oz Bounce that didn’t happen but kind of did with thousands of people showing up from across the city and 40 OZ Van even managing to shut down mass transit. Nothing says an Uptown summer like a 40 Oz Bounce event. Check out our treasure trove of them: More Pics From 40 Oz Bounce 2011, 40 Oz NYC X Atmos , 40 Oz Bounce – Dyckman Fields & 40 Oz Bounce Gone Loko.

Summer Uptown means the Uptown Arts Stroll brought to you by the good folks at NoMaa and the Manhattan Times. Being that the Uptown Collective was an official partner this year, we were there to cover it like no one else. A big shout out is in order to the Bago Bunch and the People’s Theater Project for helping to make this the best Uptown Arts Stroll ever.

Uptown Arts Stroll Kick-Off Reception. Photo: Art By Dj Boy

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The one and only Briana E. Heard was there to capture this year’s Hike the Heights.

Photo: Briana E. Heard

We also took a trip to DR with Rainey Skates who provided an exclusive behind the scenes look at the Palo Mamajuana Tea operation.

We were there for the annual Festival del Boulevard that transforms St. Nicholas Ave to the land of make believe.

Photo: Crystal Rodriguez

Click here for Paul Lomax’s pics from the festivities and here for the ones from Dj Boy.

As always, Bago Brunches & Mixers are must attend events. Each function is bigger than the next. The Uptown Collective considers the Bago Bunch as prime movers of the Uptown Renaissance. Much love and respect goes out to those folks.

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That particular Bago Mixer set the stage for one of the most important days of this incredible summer, 6/11/11. On this particular Saturday, the People’s Theater Project, the Uptown Collective and the Bago Bunch combined forces to create a literary and cultural extravaganza never before seen Uptown. From the Page To the Stage: A Literary Walking Tour of Northern Manhattan began with a People Theater Project production, The Chalkboard Trilogy, at the Inwood Public library, then went to Apt 78 for the inaugural Led Black Book Club event featuring author Jon Michaud and culminated with the Bago Bunch putting together a double header consisting of stage adaptations of novels by Piri Thomas and Junot Diaz at the Shabazz Center.

To find our more about the inaugural Led Black Book Club event click here, here, here & here.

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On a more serious note, Uptown Collective contributor and 55 Crew representative, Maury Matos penned this poignant piece on his childhood best friend and war hero Merlin German.

The Uptown Collective was there to cover and support the community affirming space that is Word Up Books.

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Our wellness contributor, Eileen Z. Fuentes, took us on a trip to a farm in upstate NY where the produce for our local CSA is grown. Click here for more informative and insightful articles from Eileen Z. Fuentes aka @theSPEACHgal.

I know this goes without saying but Apt 78 has completely changed the game when it comes to top-notch talent coming Uptown to do their thing. In addition to the Uptown Summer Series, which had Bobbito, DJ Spinna, Rich Medina & Pete Rock touching down in our hood, Apt 78 also had Amanda Diva, Red Alert, Tony Touchand Large Pro among others making their Uptown debuts. Apt 78 also was the first to bring the incomparable Flaco Navajo Uptown. Click here for my recap of that night.

Ruben Henriquez

  

Ruben Henriquez

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Photo: Rafael Jimenez | R2 Studios

Photo: Ruben Henriquez

Click here for more pics from Mario Peña.

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Photo: Art By Dj Boy

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Yours truly also teamed up with the extraordinary team of Jay Franco and Amanda Hiciano to produce one of my favorite posts to date, a profile of Uptown Gem, the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Center. Click here to check it out.
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The tireless Briana E. Heard took us with her to the picturesque Belize for a little R&R. Click here for the eye-popping pics.
Photo: Briana E. Heard

Photo: Briana E. Heard

 From Belize to the block, Briana gave us a gander at her decidedly low profile 4th of July barbeque. Check it out here.

Photo: Briana E. Heard

Photo Credit: Briana E. Heard

The Uptown Zoo was in full effect for the epic Mike Diaz aka Juan Bago B-day celebrations. Click here for pics from the b-day bash of the summer.

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Photo: Ruben Henriquez

This was definitely a Heineken summer, early on the good folks at Being Latino invited the UC to an awesome event held at the Heineken Headquarters downtown. Click here for those pics.

The UC also helped to get the word out about Heineken’s The Spot curated by our good friends over at Remezcla. The Spot was a pop up dedicated to the awesomeness that is Latino music and culture held at the incredible Openhouse Gallery, the New York pop-up space. Speaking of Openhouse, they commended the UC for our coverage of the Spot. Stating, and I quote, “We’re hosting Heineken’s The Spot, a Latino pop up curated by Remezcla, but Uptown Collective is covering it best.” Click here to read the rest and much love to Openhouse Gallery.

Photo: Briana E. Heard

Click here for more pics.

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

Click here for more pics.

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Click here for more pics.

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Photo: Art By Dj Boy

Click here for more pics.

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This summer also saw the debut of the cinematic opus that finally does justice to our beloved Washington Heights. More than being just an awesome movie, the folks behind the film, the director Jonathan Ullman and the cast (Rayniel Rufino, Antonio Ortiz, Luis Ramos, Dominic Colon, John Rafael Peralta and Tommy 5000 among others) are family. GWB is 150% percent UC Certified. Don’t forget that the Uptown Collective put together a trailer release party, replete with the infamous Wash Heights Nutcracker, for this film, smack dab in the middle of the hood at Robin Barbershop on 186th Street & St. Nicholas Ave. What other film would ever be audacious enough to pull that off. Much love and respect goes out to GWB. Click here for my review of the film. Also check out: A Night Uptown: The Cast & Crew of GWB The Movie, The GWB Trailer Premiere Party – The Recap & The GWB Trailer Premiere Party & After Party As Seen By Dj Boy.

Photo: Greg Baker

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

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The UC was there for Harlem Stage’s incredible Park Jam featuring musician/DJ/composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson with his world-class contemporary ensemble, as well as special guests Zap Mama, Jose James and Pharoahe Monch at Annunciation Park (Amsterdam Ave. and W. 134th Street). Click here & here for more from that awesome outing.

Photo: Edwin Guantic

Photo: Edwin Guantic

Photo: Edwin Guantic

My good friend Paul Lomax and I had the jealousy inducing assignment of covering the annual A Toast to Fort Tryon Park. Fine wine, good company and all for a good cause, what more could you ask for. As Paul would say “this is magnificent – cheers mate.”

Click here for more pics.

In addition, we had the honor of hanging out with Dominican-American superwoman Madelyn Rodriguez. This multi-talented tv and radio personality has quite a bright future ahead of her.

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Click here for more.

Big shout to my man Jay Franco and the other photographers (Jonathan Guerrero, Magdiel Baez and Tomas De Lo Santos) featured on the NYC Over & Under Photo exhibit that took place at the Rio Gallery on August 6th.

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Photo: Steven Mercado

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

Click here, here & here for more.

Kudos to our people at Higher Level Tattoo for putting together a monster of a comedy show featuring Ruperto Venderpool, Edgar Rivera, Tommy 5000 & Geoff Kole.

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

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With the NBA lockout a distinct possibility, the stars of the league came out in droves to get their shine on at the hottest streetball tournament in the city. A who’s who of NBA talent showed up to ball in our very own backyard; folks like Ron Artest, Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker, Brandon Jennings and Michael Beasley among others. Even Mavs owner, Mark Cuban, made a brief pit stop at Dyckman Park. And thanks to our friends at Blow Hip-Hop TV and their unrivaled coverage of the Dyckman tournament, we were right there with them.

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Furthermore, we were there for the continual blooming of Inwood Boulevard, with Dyckman Bar turning Sundays into fun days. It seemed that all of NYC was at Dyckman Bar on Sundays.

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

Photo: Briana E. Heard

Photo: Briana E. Heard

Click here, here & here.

Lastly, when it was all said and done, after we had covered Uptown like no one else can, I took a trip to the motherland, Quisqueya, to recharge. The trip was for a pleasure but it was also for business as I have been trying to finish my book, DR Travelogue, which is my heart-felt ode to the Dominican Republic. DR Travelogue is a native son’s poignant and hilarious journey to the heart, soul and soil of the Dominican Republic. As a matter of fact, the quest to get my book published officially began on July 7th at Word Up. Stay tuned for more on DR Travelogue.

Click here, here, here & here for more.
The only way to end this retrospective is with the sights and sounds of summer. Adios summer until we meet again.

Photo: Guillaume Landry

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

Photo: Art By Dj Boy

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Click here for more pics.

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at ledblackNYC@gmail.com

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