Finale Club Review by Natasia DaSilva

Last Saturday, I attended a Jason DeRulo and Ja Rule concert at the Finale club, which is near the corner of the Bowery and Spring Street. Thankfully, I got in for free due to a club promoter one of my best friends knew. Judging by the well-dressed crowd outside, it looked like it would have been quite expensive to get in if I had paid the full price. Although the bouncers were quite pushy and threatened to call the cops due to the congestion of people, we got in after a 25 minute wait.

Inside, it was a nice set up. There was a large lower dance floor and the upper dance floor had plenty of seating. The only problem was that it was very crowded so there was no where to sit when I was there. This was probably because of the very famous headliners they had that night. There was also a platform along the wall people could stand and dance on as well as one on the lower dance floor. Before the main event, they had a nice mix of house, EDM, 90’s hip hop and rap.

Jason DeRulo was a great dancer and sang hits such as “Wiggle Wiggle” and “Talk Dirty”. I thought he really engaged the crowd well. Ja Rule came after him. I wasn’t particularly familiar with his music but he had a similar sound to old-school rappers from the 90s, such as Nas.

Although not at the same level as One Oak, Finale definitely has its good points. I would suggest though trying to see if you can get in free to avoid paying for the expensive drinks.

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Trip to Montana’s Yellowstone National Park by Natasia DaSilva

 Photo courtesy of Natasia DaSilva

In the summer of 2010, I traveled to Idaho to visit my grand parents at their lake cabin and took a side trip to Montana’s Yellowstone Park. That was definitely the most incredible part of the trip. Overall, Montana had a very rugged, natural beauty. It was like nothing I had seen before back in the Northeast and I treasured everything I saw there.

Yellowstone was akin to going to another planet. Everywhere I looked, there was steam rising from mysterious looking, bubbling pools and magnificent vistas of mountains.  Apparently, the pools were sulfur springs and animals gathered around them for warmth during the winter months.While driving around in Yellowstone, my family and I also saw tons of buffalo walking alongside the road. It was like they could care less about the presence of humans. We were in their territory. In the picture I took above, there is one lying down by one of the sulfur springs.

I stayed at the Old Faithful Inn during my trip. The rooms are pretty old-fashioned and spare but visitors at the inn get to see the famous Old Faithful geyser. Interestingly enough, it starts off slowly and then eventually builds up to a powerful jet of water. It is very much like a water version of a volcano. Besides the Old Faithful attraction, the food is also quite tasty — I highly recommend their buffalo steaks.

For anyone who likes nature, Yellowstone is a unique place to go to. It has everything from petrified trees to intriguing rock formations. There’s nothing quite like it.

Consuming the Pain: My Relationship with Food and Depression by Giovannah Philippeaux

Entering the New Year I discovered two disturbing things about myself. One, I do not love myself…I do not even like myself. Two, that my diet, lack of exercise, and overall neglect of my physical health will kill me. I thought I was over my depression and suicidal ideation, I thought I had won. But I am not, some part of me still wants to kill myself, some part of me still does not have the urge to live. I do not get it. I do not get how I could be so blind to the struggle that is still raging within me. Maybe I did not want to see it? Maybe it is just easier to ignore?

This was a gradual realization but it all hit home when reading an article about a severely obese man who had lost his life as a result of his struggle with weight. First featured in the San Antonio Express-News, the pictorial essay depicted the heartbreaking life of Hector Garcia Jr. who remarked that he could not remember a time when he was truly happy. Prior to reading this article, I was excited to be gaining weight. My short-term goal was to reach two hundred pounds. I was, and still am, excited about being fat; I am oddly comfortable with the idea of gaining weight. “Trying to make that 2-0-0” became my personal mantra.

Being big, having layers has always been my form of protection. It is how I ensure that I remain invisible and ignored. It is how I ensure that I am not a challenge; everyone’s comfortable with the ugly fat chick. Being big feels good to me, it feels comfortable, and it feels safe. But after reading that article, I realize that it is also what will kill me.

I have already begun to experience some of the side effects of being overweight. I hate climbing stairs because by the time I get to the top I am out of breath. Carrying a load of laundry while climbing is even worse, it automatically leads to huffing and puffing. I have started to have leg and joint pains. Not a day goes by without me experiencing some pain in my legs, hips, or thighs. Worst of all, I have started to have chest pains right around my heart. A flutter or sharp stab, quick and noticeable pains that are clearly telling me that something is not right. Part of me does not care and another is too scared to confront it. I excuse my behavior by saying “well we all have to go somehow” or “we are all going to die anyway.”

My family has a long and extensive history of heart disease…heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. These should all be warning signs, but I just do not care enough about myself to make a change, to do something different. So I sit and eat, consuming my pain, my anger, my hurt. Packing on layers of fat disguised as comfort; being too detached from my own self, from my own body to accept that I am killing it. Because deep down, I still do not care. I still do not like nor love myself. I still do not feel worthy of existence, of health, of beauty, or of confidence.

It is a struggle, a struggle that I still have not committed to fighting.

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Fat Shaming by Giovannah Philippeaux

Today I was fat shamed.

I had been craving cheese fries and Nathan’s hot dog nuggets all day long….ALL DAY LONG. It was a strong craving, so I decided to treat myself to 15 pieces of hot dog nuggets and cheese fries with extra cheese.

First of all I was the only woman on-line for fast food, which made me feel supper weird and uncomfortable. But I pushed through, even though I felt like I was standing out and that people were silently judging me I decided to not let their ignorance get in the way of my meal. So I ordered, in an albeit hushed voice…especially when I asked for the extra cheese.

So I was already feeling fat and uncomfortable after I had placed and picked up my order. When on-line I noticed women eyeing me, you know that up and down look of judgment that says “who does she think she is” or “what’s wrong with her.” These silent looks of judgment reveal that they secretly have deep held insecurities, so again I pushed through.

But the final hit came when I stepped up to the cashier. She asked what I had ordered and I told her “large cheesy fires with 15 pieces of hot dog nuggets.” Her response, a facial expression of shock and judgment followed by the question “15?!”, which was really a statement of judgment rather than a question. Of course being me, I made excuses for my order saying that “it was just one of those days.” What really sucks is that I felt the need to excuse myself, like I had made a mistake. I was craving for cheesy fries and hot dog nuggets, I don’t eat it everyday and I was so damn tired of salad. So what the hell is wrong with a little salty fried cheesy goodness every once in a while?

This is the reason I deal with so much self-hate. Not because I innately hate myself, but because everyone else makes me feel like crap, like something is wrong with me, and like I should hate myself.

Today brought to mind a video I recently watched on “feeling fat.” It speaks to the truth of body shamming, acceptance, and self-love. The struggle for self-love is so real, and Caroline Rothstein speaks to it with grace, confidence, and honesty.

Wishing you self-love and acceptance.

Losing Touch with Humanity by Naeemah

I saw this video pop up on my news feed. Perfect timing, as I was just about to get bogged down by other people’s lives.

“Did you know the average person spends 4 years of his life looking down at his cell phone?” That’s the opening line of this video that portrays our society under a harsh computer screen light, saying that we are too obsessed with cell phones, laptops, tablets, and not focused on building real relationships with people. We hide behind screens to protect ourselves from deep connections, and we count our “friends” by the numbers we see on our pages.

Don’t get me wrong. There are tools and types of technology that actually foster community, that can actually bring people together and create that community. I’m a huge fan of meetup.com and of course we’re all on this site for a reason. But, when I’m at a dinner table with a guy or a girl, and we can’t hold a conversation without looking at our phones, that’s a problem. Yes, things can get awkward when there are lulls in conversations, but that’s when great things can happen. If you’re on a screen, you may miss that.

Enjoy.

The Average Black Girl Who Speaks White by Naeemah

As an educated black woman, I often have this comment thrown in my face. “You speak so well.” At one point, I was even asked if I had gone to school to speak the way that I do. Yes, I did go to school, but that is not a question you would ask a white person.

Ernestine Johnson, a Spoken Word artist, showcased her piece on The Arsenio Hall Show, and it resonated deeply with me. Take a look below and see what she has to say.

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How Growing Carrots Almost Got Me Arrested

Originally posted on TIME:

In 2003, long before a warrant was issued for my arrest for the crime of planting vegetables, I remember going to a store in South Central L.A. and picking up some tomatoes. The stickers on them read: “Coated with shellac.” That’s when it really hit me.

There was a complete lack of healthy food in my community. Growing up in South Central L.A., we had restaurants where you could sit down. But some time in the late ’70s or early ’80s, those places shut down and were replaced by fast food joints. Later, when I was raising my kids, I used to drive damn near an hour round-trip to places like Culver City to find fruits and vegetables that hadn’t been grown with pesticides.

I wanted to change all of that. I wanted to rid the streets of trash. And I wanted healthy food options and organic fruits and vegetables…

View original 604 more words

Table Talk-By Carol A

Hello Again!

This past few months have been a whirlwind of change, adventure, and introspection for me. The following is inspired by Director Ava DuVernay during a talk at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, discussing the importance of female voices alongside Mindy Kaling, Greta Gerwig, and Kristin Wiig: http://youtu.be/ikeCA1O7ri0 .

“The work we do affects the way we see ourselves and the way that we are seen. It is vital work. Just by our very presence, we speak loudly.”

-Ava DuVernay, Director of Selma, 2014.

We Speak with Passion.

So Trust your voice

Strength that comes from within,

Critiquing the present

Whether surrounded by the most prolific thinkers [or the least].

We Speak Earnestly-

Raw/Fierce/Delicate.

Leave your reservations at the door;

There’s no scorn here!

We Speak Loudly.

Speak your mind,

With sincerity, imagination, Wit.

Our only contract is Respect.

Create, remain present

Look beyond pressures and confines of your Everyday.

Come away inspired, transfixed,

Saddened by the raw,

Poignant stories that manifest during each moment.

Speak.

 

It Was An Accident by Naeemah

It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it. It wasn’t even my fault. The gun was in my hand.

Saturday, May 25, 1996

Boom. Boom. Boom. Feeling the rhythm in my soul, I dance around crazily, drunk out of my mind. My red silk dress sticks to my skin as someone grabs my hips and grinds against my back. I barely even notice, just adjust my thighs to get a better fit.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“What?” I say.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

I finally realize who’s talking to me, and I look up startled. Shit. I didn’t even realize he was here.

“You’re basically fucking this guy right in front of me,” he says, as he walks closer to me. Every angry step makes me more anxious.

He grabs my arm as the guy behind me yells, “Come on man! I was dancing.”

“You think I give a fuck what you’re doing with my girl!”

I love when he calls me that.

I trip several times as he drags me across the floor. Taking me to a wall, he shoves me against it and leans in towards me until I can feel his breath on my face as he speaks. Peppermint and cigarette smoke. Like always.

“You think I didn’t realize you left with your friends to come here. Don’t think you can leave. I will follow you wherever—“

“Hey! What are you doing? Get away from her!” my friend says.

He pushes her and tells her to back away, that this does not concern her.

“Yeah it does. You have no fucking right to treat her like this,” she says, as he drags me towards the door.

As we exit, I can hear my friend following us, though I can’t see her because he has my head in a tight grip. We reach his car. My friend catches up and grabs me, trying to pull me back.

I become the rope in this tug of war.

He opens the car door, and my friend attempts to pull me away, but not fast enough. He takes something out and turns around. This time he has a gun in his hand.

“Back the fuck off before I shoot her,” he says to my friend.

Eyes wide, scared completely, she still tries to help me. But I push her away, telling her that it’s okay, I’ll be fine, he won’t shoot. She doesn’t believe me and wants to stay, but I push her.

He grabs me. Sticks the gun under my chin and clicks the safety clip.

Frightened, I freeze. My friend begins to walk away, and he puts the gun down.

Loosened from his grip, I attempt to grab the gun. I catch the tip and it slides away.

My friend grabs for it and points it at him. I scream and tell her not to shoot.

She doesn’t listen.

Pop. I jump in front of him.

“No!” my friend yells.

Running to me, she crouches and tries to staunch the blood. I feel somewhat numb.

“This is all your fault!”

Pop. Without realizing it, he had gone for the gun.

Shock. The emotion on my friend’s face before she dies.

“You bitch. Look what you made me do,” he says, as he wipes his fingerprints off the gun, places it in my hand, and walks away.

The Sad Side Of Gentrification by Giovannah Philippeaux

Does anyone ever really see the faces of those negatively effected by gentrification? Do we consider those evicted and left without a home or community all in the name of gentrification? We get so comfortable in our daily lives that we often ignore those who do not share our privilege or those who pay the cost for our privilege. I am guilty of this practice as well.

This story shares the experiences of just one man who has been evicted multiple times and has lost his community all for gentrification, all for the privilege of the few who benefit from his loss. Yes our privilege does come at an expense, when we take someone else losses. The only real solution is to share equally and unbiasedly, but when will that begin to happen?

These Pin-Up Photos From ‘Shameless Photography’ Show That Every Body Is Gorgeous by Nina Bahadur

Loving the body positive message of this article and the campaign. Yes, woman do not appreciate and accept their bodies (I am one of them). This fact is unfortunate; I often find myself wondering what it would feel like if I really loved myself. This is a great read!


Anyone can be a gorgeous, glamorous pin-up model.

That’s the idea behind Shameless Photography, started by photographer Sophie Spinelle in 2009. Spinelle, alongside fellow photographers Carey Lynne and Maxine Nienow, aims to help clients feel beautiful and confident in their bodies during their photoshoots. The result is sexy, feminist, body-positive images.

(Some images below may be considered NSFW.)

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As well as providing commercial photoshoots, Shameless hosts a yearly “Love Your Body” competition, inviting women to write love letters to their bodies for the chance to win a photoshoot with the Shameless team. More importantly, according to Spinelle, the letters create a sense of online community, and spread the message of body love.

“We get hundreds of amazing letters from around the world,” Spinelle told The Huffington Post. “People with cancer, rape survivors, mothers of seven, trans women, pole dancers — you name it. We post a selection of the letters and invite people to read them and share them.”

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“Doing this work has transformed my life,” Spinelle told The Huffington Post. “I’ve met the most amazing people, and they’ve been brave enough to share their fears and dreams with me, and to have that become part of the photographs. I’ve learned how rare confidence really is, and how precious. You’d be amazed how many truly beautiful people have no idea that they’re beautiful, and it has a huge affect on what they feel is possible for their lives.”

shameless photography

Spinelle hopes that clients and strangers alike will be inspired by the images and learn to love their bodies.

“The most important audience for the Shameless pinups series is the models themselves,” Spinelle told HuffPost. “I hope that when they look at these images, they can see how truly powerful, inspiring, and soul-deep beautiful they really are.”

See more incredible photographs from Shameless Photography below.

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This Girl Can by Giovannah Philippeaux

So this went viral and rightly so.

I am loving the diversity of color, age, body, and ability shown in this video; all women are represented. This video is not about the male gaze, it is not about making grown full-figured women look like little girls or perpetual teens. It is about embracing the curve and the strength of the full-figured female form. A call to action, encouraging woman to take of themselves FOR themselves and not for others. Loving the message and every inch of this video. It is exciting to see this come out and get as much attention as it has; I hope this leads to major change regarding how we see women and what we expect of women. I know it has already changed me. Exciting!

Spicy Tibet – A Zesty Asian Cuisine Experience in Jackson Heights, Queens by Natasia DaSilva

As a native of Queens, I usually love trying different kinds of food. One of my favorites places to go do this is in Jackson Heights, which is right around the Roosevelt Avenue train station. You can take the M, R, E, F or 7 trains to this very convenient and eclectic neighborhood. From great Spanish cuisine to spicy Indian food, this up and coming neighborhood has a lot to offer in terms of great cuisine options.

In the last couple years, I’ve seen Tibetan restaurants opening up shop around Roosevelt Avenue. Tibetan food has South Asian as well as Chinese influences. Spicy Tibet is a great little spot that I found on 75th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. Formerly a small pizza joint, the space is small and the decor is pretty plain. However, I have always found the food there  to be quite flavorful and well-made. I highly recommend a plate of momo dumplings or momo dumpling soup. Usually, momo has ground up beef or chicken,cooked unions and spinach inside. I found their momo to be very tasty, especially with the orange spicy sauce they serve along with it. It creates a great contrast with the more plain-tasting dumplings.  Their menu also has many different options besides momo; you can enjoy other things like a plate of Chinese-inspired chop suey or ground beef soup.

Overall, I would say that this is the perfect place to eat on a cold winter’s day, especially with their great selection of soups. I always stop by when I’m in the area. I recommend Spicy Tibet if you are looking for a new takeout place or you just want to try something new.

Image of Tibetan Flag