Israel in 10 days

July 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Through funding from the Israeli government and private donors, the Taglit-Birthright organization allows almost any American with Jewish ancestry the chance to experience Israel through a 10-day trip throughout the country. The possibility of such a trip has been on my radar since I found out about it in college but even though I love traveling, and took the opportunity to study abroad twice in school, I procrastinated until the last few months that I would be eligible. The cut-off age is 27 and my 27th birthday is in the fall, so this summer was the last chance I would have to take advantage of this opportunity. So during the first two weeks of this July, I did.

There were a number of reasons that I initially put off going to Israel through Birthright: I felt like I had plenty of time, I didn’t want to go by myself, I didn’t think I was religious enough. The main reason, though, is the one I imagine most people give for opting not to go on Birthright, even if they are eligible: what if a full-on war breaks out in the middle of my trip?

The safety measures that Taglit implements are no joke. The organization boasts that they have not had any incidents with participants, even though trips continued throughout the 2006 Lebanon War. Despite these statistics, I’m not sure how much it quelled my mother’s anxiety to know that I would be arriving in the country on the day that Israel would be mourning three yeshiva students who had been killed by Hamas and found only a few days before. Only a few hours after I arrived, a Palestinian teenager was lit on fire and left to die in a revenge killing. Three Israeli Jews are now suspects.

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On the Air at Ditmas I.S. 62

March 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

These students have it covered.

Budding journalists at Ditmas I.S.62 are getting an early taste of the ins and outs of television production with the Ditmas News Network (D.N.N.), which is tied to the school’s media program.

All the segments are written and produced by the students with the help of teachers David Liotta, Michael Downes and Angelo Carideo, with script editing help from English teacher Dr. Rose Reissman.

Although Liotta—who joined the program in 2011 to help launch the station—is new to being a teacher, he seems to be enjoying the experience.

“It can be fun…fun and frustrating,” he adds with a laugh. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cooking Collards at the Hattie Carthan Community Market

December 11, 2011 § Leave a comment


As summer comes to a close, the Hattie Carthan Community Market is making the best of the final good weather.

Just Food Chef Yonnette Fleming led a cooking demonstration for youth at the market on Saturday and offered an easy and fast method for preparing collard greens.

Fleming’s approach was a departure from Southern collards, which is a more commonly known method for cooking the leafy vegetable and which takes at least an hour to make.

Preparing the greens Brazilian-style was an appropriate way for Fleming to demonstrate the goal of these cooking demos: to give youth the intelligence to understand food better, and to give them unique and creative ideas for cooking with fresh foods.

The meal contained only three ingredients–collard greens, red onions and garlic–and only the red onions were not locally grown. Throughout the demonstration, Fleming emphasized the importance of the services that the market provides for the community.

While bodegas are scattered among various neighborhood street corners, the area has only a few bigger grocery stores and very few options for fresh, organic produce. Market manager Fai Walker said the farmer’s market fills that hole by providing locally-grown produce right across from the housing projects.

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Ilya Zhitomirskiy, your passing is a damn shame

November 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Finding out that a friend has died from reading the news is strange and unsettling, but that was how I found out. Ilya and I had no mutual friends, except for mutual acquaintances,  people that I introduced him to that he promptly forgot, but who still remembered him, because he was in so many ways unforgettable. Joanne was one of those people. Technically she’s the one who told me, but she found out about it through the news. The only other information I got about it was through the news. My friends knew that I knew him, but none of the people that he was close to for the last few months of his life knew that we knew each other so it feels like the friendship we had might not have even existed.

When Joanne first told me, it felt like a fist had wrapped itself around my heart, or some other ambiguous place in my chest. I never really understood or believed in such a feeling until she said ‘Ilya died’ on gchat and then I felt it periodically for the next two hours, and in a milder form for the next few days as the shock wore off. I say ‘wore off’ like it’s past tense but it still has these weird elements of feeling like parts of my life are in a dream and it’s soon going to go away because I’ll wake up and realize it didn’t happen. I refused to believe it on any level until I saw that the home page of Diaspora* had been modified in his memory. One of the regrets I know I shouldn’t have is that I wished I had called him last week when I thought of it, instead of assuming I could keep putting it off, and do it ‘eventually’. The other thing that forced the reality into my brain was calling his phone, hearing it go straight to voicemail, and hearing the message greeting in his voice.

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Music NOW

October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

This has almost unintentionally become a music (let’s be honest here, Ted Leo) blog, but I’m kind of okay with that. Although this does also encompass the whole ‘free’ aspect, so that works too. The L Magazine hosted this free (with RSVP) event (sponsored by AT&T!) about the state of music today, compared with five years ago.

Friends (this band, definitely not this band) opened before the panel, which included discussion between Lio Kanine from Kanine Records, Ken Weinstein from Big Hassle Media, Vince Bannon from Getty Music, Dave Haynes from SoundCloud,  Brian Feit from BMF Media, Amanda Petrusich from NYT/Pitchfork, Matthew Perpetua from Rolling Stone and Ted Leo from… Ted Leo. and the Pharmacists.

I took a couple of videos of Ted Leo until my battery completely died, so most of them are here. I also took an artsy picture of Ted’s shoes, but I’ll save that for my photography portfolio.

Ghosts (cover) 

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Man Man @ House of Vans

August 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m not a million percent thrilled about this show because every time I see them lately it gets worse. Apparently they have an even newer album than Rabbit Habits called ‘Life Fantastic’ and if it’s anything like Rabbit Habits I’m sure to be disappointed. However. I will admit I got the old familiar rush of excitement when I saw they had a show today. Free, even! So what’s the harm, really? It’s at the House of Vans in Greenpoint and it looks like the harm is really just getting deluged with product placement and sponsors. It’s also first come, first serve; doors open at 7pm but line-up starts at 5pm, so show up fashionably late at your own risk, I suppose. RSVP required for entry, no outside food/drink, etc. Glass Candy and Crystal Antlers are also playing the one tonight.

This is apparently the fourth of these gatherings; Tokyo Police Club, Againt Me!, Big Freedia/Japanther and Team Robespierre are set to play at the next one on August 18th and the last one is August 25th with Converge, All Pigs Must Die and (wait for it) SPECIAL GUEST.

Ted Leo @ Union Hall

July 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Comedian Gabe Delahaye hosted Mr. Coconuts at Union Hall last night with a handful of comedians on the bill. And Ted Leo, strangely. I went one hundred per cent for the Ted Leo but didn’t really know what to expect, since Mr. Leo isn’t generally known for his sense of humor (although he does an excellent witty banter). It turned out they had invited him to play ‘three or four songs’ at the end of the show. And that’s one of the things I love most about him: his willingness to still play a couple songs in a weird Brooklyn bar’s basement all by himself even though he has no problem selling out a venue and playing packed shows with his band.

He started off with Bleeding Powers (video here) and One Polaroid a Day, with a new song (The Little Smug Supper Club) following that, as seen in the video below.

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