Reading Juliet Takes a Breath

At this year’s Bronx Book Fair, I had the pleasure of meeting the awesome people of Riverdale Avenue Books, based in Riverdale (duh!) They were gracious enough to let me pick one of their books to read, and Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera was the one that stood out to me.

I recently wrote about The Education of Margot Sanchez and how amazing the cover is, and Juliet Takes a Breath is a book with another eye-catching cover and after reading the blurb on the back, I knew it was the one.

Following Bronxite Juliet, an undergrad who, after reading fictional hippie feminist Harlowe Brisbane’s Raging Flower” Empowering Your Pussy by Empowering Your Mind, decides  to move across the country to Portland to intern for her new hero. But not before coming out to her family and leaving them to deal with the news.

What I enjoyed most about this novel is Juliet’s transformation. We see her with a tough exterior that I’m sure many of us who have grown up here will recognize, but she is incredibly vulnerable and unsure of herself, trying to figure out who she is. I also enjoyed Rivera’s use of language. Juliet does not mince words and her personality comes through in the way she mixes her growing knowledge of feminism and intersectionality with the slang she has learned growing up here in the Bronx.

Definitely something to take along with you as you head to Orchard this summer!

 

JulietTakesABreath_1400

 

The Art of TATS CRU Opening This Week at BronxArtSpace

Internationally renowned graffiti artists, TATS CRU, will be the subject of a new exhibit at  BronxArtSpace. It’ll kick off with a block party this Saturday, June 3rd and an artist talk and documentary screening on June 22nd.

From BXNYCreative:

The Art of TATS CRU will show a representation of past projects through photographs and videos produced by Miguel Teck Arteaga. There will be works on canvas by NICER, BIO, and BG183, and a new mural collaboration reproduced as a poster to commemorate the exhibition. “We are looking at a unique rise to art world success. It’s inspirational in that it illustrates that every artist doesn’t need to follow the standard, art school, gallery system, connection-based path,” says co-curator Eileen Walsh.

The Block Party will feature homegrown, Bronx entertainment. DJ Pusha will keep the party going, with additional dance performances by BBoy & Emcee Chief69, and Hip-Hop legend Rokafella’s Full Circle Souljah‘s dance troupe.

Live music performances by up and coming Bronx MINDIE artists Statik Vision, and alternative music group, The Nobodies, and a presentation by spoken word artist and rapper, Safiel Vonay.

The exhibition for this event is sponsored by JCAL Development Group. Neighborhood businesses participating in the block party include ID Studio TheatreZaro’s Bakery, La Grata Italian RestaurantFiltered Coffee, and Bronx Native. We are also happy to have the support of Port Morris Distillery and The Bronx BreweryThe Bronx Children Museum will host creative activities for children and families, and will have their museum on the Go Bus parked on the street outside the gallery. The event is free of charge and all are welcome.

tats cru

Photo Courtesy of BXNYCreative

The Education of Margot Sanchez is the Book I wish I Had Growing Up

The March read for the book club I joined this year, Readers & Shakers, was The Education of Margot Sanchez by Bronx-raised Lilliam Rivera.

The young adult novel follows Bronx teen Margot Sanchez and her quest find herself set against the backdrop of the battle over the gentrification of the South Bronx. When I was a teen, I loved reading romance comedies, but was also (and still am) an absolute nerd for politics and news. There never seemed anything that was somewhere in the middle. I think The Education of Margot Sanchez is a step in the right direction.

The novel takes place over the course of a summer. Margot, whose family lives in Riverdale, but owns two supermarkets in the South Bronx, not far from St. Mary’s, is desperately trying to fit in with the “popular” girls at her affluent prep school. Forced to work in her family’s supermarket for the summer, she spends her time trying to avoid creepers and drama with the cashieristas. One day, she meets Moises, a young community activist trying to prevent developers from coming into the neighborhood to build luxury buildings that are obviously not for any of the locals *swoon.* On top of all of this, she’s also trying to figure out her friendship with her best friend from elementary school, who instead of attending the elite prep school, has gone to an art high school and made a bunch of new friends, causing Margot to feel insecure.

I’m so glad I’m not a teenager anymore.

With all of the Bronx references and the complexity and endless drama that comes with adolescence, I know that 16 year old Lisa would have really enjoyed this novel. Then again, so did 27 year old Lisa.

I did feel that the ending was a bit rushed and I couldn’t believe it was over so quickly! But, I think the desire to want more from a book in this way isn’t a deal breaker. At the book club, we talked about keeping the audience in mind, which is also important. For a teen, it may not be a big deal or they may not even notice.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot and definitely recommend checking it out and supporting a writer from the Bronx.

Also, the cover is gorgeous!

margot sanchez

 

 

Let’s Show the World that #theBronxReads by Supporting the Lit Bar

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few months, you’ve heard about Noelle Santos and her mission to bring a  bookstore/ wine bar to the Bronx. With the closure of the Bay Plaza Barnes and Noble, the Bronx’s 1 million+ residents are left without a bookstore, independent or otherwise, which is an egregious sin. Show the world that the Bronx reads by supporting this important cause and if that’s not enough to convince you, check out Noelle’s video below in which she outlines (with an amazing flow) why the Bronx needs the Lit Bar. Donate to the Indiegogo campaign here.

The Bronx is Beautiful Art Exhibition at Gun Hill Brewery Sept. 10

Check out the flier below for information about an upcoming art exhibition at Gun Hill Brewery including art from one of my super talented friends from elementary school AND the master behind my Super Mario star tattoo, Shak. The exhibit will feature work inspired by the Bronx and of course the always amazing Gun Hill Brewery will be serving up refreshments.

TheBronxisBeautiful

Imagining a South Bronx Version of MTV’s Cribs

One of the very few things that could motivate me to clean my room as a teenager was the dream that someday, somehow I could be on MTV Cribs. I had all kinds of scenarios in which I would lead the camera crew through my house and to my bedroom, “where the magic happens.” (Though, tbh, the only magical thing happening there was the 14-hour slumbers I was able to pull off. Ah, to be 16.)

So, I’ll never get to be on MTV Cribs, since it’s no longer on (yes, that’s the reason) but a really cool project from ID Studio Theater here in the Bronx is giving some South Bronx residents a chance to show off their homes as part of the “Mott Haven Home Movies: South Bronx Cribs” project.

The idea behind the project is to teach residents to shoot and edit their own episode of “Cribs” to show what living in the South Bronx means to them. This is so so so important in the face of the battle we must fight against gentrification and the displacement of Bronx residents.

Currently, funds are being raised to supplement the grant the project received from the Bronx Council on the Arts. To read more about the project and/or donate, click here. 

***Please note that the project is not affiliated with MTV Cribs.***

 

Crotona Park Photowalk Recap

Last week, Bronx Narratives, Dandy in the Bronx, and I teamed up for the Crotona Park Photowalk. This is the third photowalk Bronx Narratives has hosted and I was so glad to be a part of this one!

Though gray clouds loomed overhead, there was a sense of camaraderie and good vibes radiating from the group. I don’t consider myself a photographer and didn’t have custody of the camera this weekend, but it was so amazing to see the shots the participants took as we explored the park.

We visited Indian Lake, stopped by the playground, and even had a jump rope and frisbee contest. To see some of the amazing photos captured during our walk check out #crotonaparkwalk on Instagram. Even better, we’ll soon be announcing winners for the best photos taken during the walk! Prizes from Frank and Oak and Timberland are up for grabs so stay tuned.

Below are some photos from the walk I captured on IG.

Crew love #crotonaparkwalk #Bronx #nyc #outdoors #thisisthebronx #howwebronx #photography

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The weigh in @dandyinthebronx vs. @theekatsmeoww #Bronx #thisisthebronx #howibronx #nyc

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@projectbronx dominating the monkey bars #crotonaparkwalk #Bronx #outdoors #nyc #thisisthebronx

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