May 27th, 2016 by chocko
UK psychedelic relics, The Zombies played an intimate show at Rough Trade in New York City recently and treated the crowd to a sweet, 30 minute set. The lineup was whittled down to the duo of Rod Argent on keyboards and Colin Blunstone on vocals, both original members of the band which formed in 1962. Their second album with the misspelled title Odessey and Oracle is a critically acclaimed classic which features the 1969 hit “Time Of The Season.” Lots of great songs on that slab of wax from yesteryear…many still resonate generations later. The first song on the album, “Care Of Cell 44” was covered by many artists including Elliot Smith and “This Will Be Our Year” has been covered by artists such as Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters. The Zombies started their set with two tracks off their 2015 release Still Got That Hunger, “Moving On” and “Edge OF The Rainbow” a bluesy track that showcased the duo’s talents and love for performing. The Zombies also played “Care of Cell 44”, “Tell Her No”, “Time OF The Season”, and “She’s Not There”. Blunstone’s huge smile and outstretched arms encouraged the crowd to sing along and harmonize. The show ended with their cover of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” The band stuck around to sign their new album. Check them out when they play a venue near your jungle hut. They’re playing a whole bunch of festivals in the UK this summer then coming back to the States in September to play shows all over California, Arizona and Colorado. Check out some videos from their Rough Trade show below!
May 27th, 2016 by Mr. C
The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair is one of those hidden treasures of sanctuary that I like to roam around in during blooming season. Wandering around the city and walking around the grounds of a well manicured garden such as the Presby are some of my favorite types of exploration. There’s something about the calming effect to walk the presby and just let the eyes scatter around absorbing the beauty of the irises which at that moment lets the mind escape the everyday mundane & troubled times. Peak bloom time is usually around mothers day but this year, the irises bloomed really late. As it stands, the best time to see the irises at the Presby Gardens is now through Memorial day! So NYC, get those zip cars ready for a trip into suburban NJ! The colors of these many many varieties of Irises and its hybrids at the Presby are amazing! I’m not a horticulturist – don’t pretend to be, and far from a connoisseur of irises or any plant life for that matter. I just appreciate the beauty of these plants when they bloom which also signifies a change into the summer season. Live jazz bands play on the grounds of the presby every weekend in May. The free Summer Series – movies under the stars is also another fun event. The Presby Iris Gardens is one of the venues for the free movies under the stars. Check the Summer Series schedule! In the meantime, go checkout the Presby Iris Gardens this weekend for the booming blooms! If you get the bug to grow irises, definitely check out the plant sale they have at the Presby Memorial Iris gardens every weekend in May. All the iris plants on sale at the garden have been cultivated onsite! All proceeds go right back into the preservation of the garden! The cycle of life!
“The Citizens Committee funds and manage the operations of the iris gardens. The public/private partnership with the County of Essex allows for the continuation of this historic and beautiful site so that it can be enjoyed by new generations of iris lovers and garden enthusiasts alike.”
The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
474 Upper Mountain Ave
Montclair, NJ 07043
New York on Location – ready, set, action! Cut! Cut! Cut! – Kaufman Astoria Studios / Museum of the Moving Image
May 22nd, 2016 by Mr. C
(rain-maker maybe not needed as much – since it’s been raining a lot lately, but yes to artificial snow!)
It was a great time wandering around NEW YORK ON LOCATION in Astoria Queens NYC today, an all-day Street fair and celebration where they take you behind the scenes of film production so you can see the nuts and bolts of a film shoot. Thanks to the Museum of the Moving Image, Kaufman Astoria Studios, Theatrical Teamsters, the Motion Picture Studio Mechanics Local 52, & probably many other unsung behind the scenes staff that made this all happen! I have to say this is one of the better annual events if not the best that NYC has to offer that can be enjoyed by the whole family and even some of the rough-necks out there! And if that wasn’t enough – adding to the festivities, the Museum of the Moving Image had free admission all day long! By coincidence or not, the Moving Image just opened up the Arcade Classics exhibition where they have for your playing pleasure, 30 classic arcade games released from 1972-1993 that you can get your hands on and play! The classics are all there: Asteroids, Donkey Kong,Pac Man,Space Invaders,Centipede,Qbert,Mortal Kombat,Pong,Breakout…more!
Some of the highlights of the day included the special demonstrations with the High falls where stunt performers take some daring plunges, the car stunts, the street fighting segment where stunt performers rehearse fights throughout the day, and the fire stunt where performers set themselves on fire. Another popular segment of NY on location was the hair and makeup trailers. Lots of folks were interested in the makeup portion of the set! I dipped in, dipped out of these trailers in order to let the connoisseurs get in on the facial action! Overall, it was fun seeing all the trailers including the stars hangout, production trucks like the grips, cameras, electric, props, wardrobe, & honey wagons! Oh, I didn’t forget our favorite trucks – the movie catering & treats truck!
As with most of our updates, we’ll let the photos do the talking! We can’t wait till next year so we can do this all over again!
Kaufman Astoria Studios
12, 34-12 36th St, Astoria, NY 11106
The Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave, New York, NY 11106
(I take a little break myself from the action with a slice of old NY at Rizzo’s Fine Pizza on Steinway Street. Thin & saucy sicilian slice w/ mozzarella cheese. a nice representation of a classic NY slice! I recommend!)
May 19th, 2016 by Mr. C
(Judy Torres performing Sad Morning + Love you, Will you love me at the 2016 Bronx Week celebrations)
Planet Chocko and the old school crew headed over the Hudson and sauntered towards the Mosholu to celebrate Bronx Week last Sunday with live performances by Tito Nieves, Judy Torres, & Naughty by Nature plus special guests! This years lineup was as action packed and relevant as last years with the familiar triple phat decker Bronx music sandwich composed of salsa, latin freestyle dance, & classic hip hop! It started off with Tito Nieves working up the puerto rican centric crowd with some happy feet of the pitter patter variety – 2 step dance moves along with that rhythmic twist of the hips! Nieves ignited the crowd to party people status with “I like it like that”. The audience was esta loca with the dancing feet and clapping hands. Tito is going to be a hard act to follow!
Bronx’s own – born & bred – Judy Torres came out next! For those not in the know, Torres had more than a handful of dance hits in the late eighties into the nineties. Her genre of dance music was known as freestyle dance which was a blend of synthesizers,high tempo looped percussions mixed with an early form of electro/hip hop beat like Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock which was a big influence to freestyle. Throw in some sampling and that rounded off the instrumentals which married with lyrics of love and heartbreak. For those that remember, Freestyle dance/Top 40/House music reigned supreme on HOT 97 back in the late 80s and early 90s until R&B and Hip Hop eventually took the cake away which then prompted 103.5 WKTU to be the new home of Top 40. Enough of the boring history lesson and back to Judy Torre’s performance! Judy belted out her hits including “No Reason to Cry”, “Come into My Arms”,“Sad Morning”, “Love You, Will You love me”, & more! She was still a powerhouse performer on the stage combining singing, dancing, and just overall mic skills to rile up the crowd! Her story about her niece who knows nothing about freestyle dance and often questions its validity was quickly put into perspective with Judy Torres’ analogy – “you have Rihanna – we had Cynthia. you have Justin Bieber – we have George Lamond. You have One Direction – we had TKA – You have Lady Gaga – we have La India.” The crowd went buck wild! It was an overall fun, throwback performance by Judy Torres!
(Judy Torres performing No Reason To Cry – video by Loopyvids/Chocko)
After freestyle dominated the stage, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. stepped out in the limelight with his charming and relatable self to take control of the mic to stall for time! It’s no secret Ruben is a late 80s/90s hip hop aficionado and freestyle dance music freak as well! Both genres of music that originated in da BRONX! It came to no surprise Bronx Prez Ruben Diaz turnt this muther out with his performances of Doug E Fresh’s “The Show”, Eric B & Rakim’s “Paid in Full”, & Slick Rick/Doug E Fresh’s “La di da di”. Ruben may have just found another career as a rapper after his reign as boro Prez of the bronx is ova !
(Naughty By Nature performing a classic hip hop medley + Everything is Going to be alright – video by Loopyvids/Chocko)
Of course, Naughty By Nature would not be outdone by the performances earlier in the day as Uncle Vinnie, Treach, & DJ Kay Gee rocked the stage! It’s no coincidence that Naughty is celebrating 25 years of longevity in the game! Vin & Treach would show that they still have that crazy mad lyrical juggling and onstage presence that really amps you up with energy! Naughty would not leave the stage without performing their iconic hip hop anthems including OPP, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, Uptown Anthem, & Hip Hop Hooray! Vin & Treach then introduced BBOD (Bad Beauties On Deck) to the stage and the young’ins in the crowd seemed to eat up the catchy rap flow of SexxyLexxy and Miss Moe Money! I was not familiar with them but apparently BBOD are on VH1s Docu-series – Love and Hip Hop. Checkout BBOD’s performance below!
And if that wasn’t enough, Naughty by Nature brought up special guests – Smif N Wessun to perform another iconic hip hop anthem from the 90s – Bucktown! The Smif n Wessun performance most definitely blew up the crowd to smithereens! I’m glad no-one carried around Smith and Wessons for fear of firing up up to the sky with glee!
At this point I was ready to go home happy with my tail wagging between my legs from the Bronx Week performances but Naughty by Nature would add more layers of fondant and icing to the cake! Treach & Vin would introduce rap legends that are closer to the top of the hip hop tree – Master Gee (Sugar Hill Gang), Grandmaster Caz (Cold Crush Brothers), & Melle Mel (Furious 5) to grace the stage! The trio performed Sugar Hill Gang’s Rappers Delight and Grandmaster Flash/Furious 5’s – The Message with much gusto and creed! Fun times celebrating Bronx Week! Can’t wait to see who is on the lineup next year! We know the musical formula, though!
(Melle Mel,Master Gee,& Grandmaster Caz performing Rappers Delight + The Message – video by Loopvids/Chocko)
May 13th, 2016 by chocko
The documentary MAD TIGER recently wrapped up its run at IFC Center in NYC but not without going out with a blast. MAD TIGER features the Japanese punk rockers Peelander-Z, a happy, fun and wacky costume wearing band whose shows consists of a lot of crowd participation and fun activities such as human bowling. The movie focuses on the effects of the friendship between original band members, Yellow (Kengo Hioki) and Red (Kotaro Tsukada), after Red decides to leave the band. Can Yellow, the head honcho, keep his cool and keep the band going after a close bandmate bounces, then shortly after their drummer Green decides to call it quits too? The movie offers an inside look at a volatile period of time with punk rockers from another planet just trying to make a living and spread some joy. Unseen Films calls MAD TIGER “Truly Great…An Absolute Must See.” Directors Jonathan Yi and Michael Haertlein and band members Peelander-Yellow and Purple were in the house for a Q&A at last Tuesday’s 9:30 PM screening at IFC. Check out the pics and video below!
Chocko got some records and CDs signed. I love these guys..good luck to Yellow and the gang! Go see MAD TIGER. Check out their website for future screenings and be on the look out for a DVD release later in 2016.
Tags: documentary, IFC Center, jonathan yi, kengo hioki, kotaro tsukada, Mad Tiger, michael haertlein, movies, new york city, nyc, Peelander Yellow, Peelander Z
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April 29th, 2016 by chocko
The Planet Chocko goon squad hopped in our flying saucer and landed in Queens to check out the opening day of the exhibition, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk at the Queens Museum. By the time we got to the doors, the fire department had come in to limit the amount of cretins allowed into the building to see the exhibit dedicated to The Ramones, whose self-titled debut album turns 40 this month. We eventually got in, the place was packed and there was no way we were going to see the exhibit…the line snaked through the lobby and we were told the wait was more than two hours. We took photos of some of the many posters, memorabilia, photos and shirts from doorways we couldn’t enter. One room easily accessible was screening a Ramones concert from London 1977, Shepard Fairey paintings of the original Ramones lineup were hanging on a wall in the back and their awards for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and Grammy for Lifetime Achievement were on display.
We were able to catch the NYC band Show Me The Body. A mosh pit formed in front of the stage and there was little museum security could do to maintain control. The young and rowdy elbowed and crowd surfed to the stage, reciting their favorite lyrics. It was a smashing set of hardcore tunes from the Queens natives but it would have been icing on the cake if they played a Ramones cover or two. Check out some videos from the mosh pit sidelines below including a brand new song, “Aspirin.”
Show Me The Body at Queens Museum
Come on down…Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk will be on view at the Queens Museum through July 31, 2016. We’ll have to make a trip back to the museum soon, but until then…Adios, Amigos!
Tags: dee dee ramone, exhibit, exhibition, hey! ho! let's go!, joey ramone, johnny ramone, new york city, punk, punk rock, queens museum, ramones, the ramones, tommy ramone
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April 24th, 2016 by Mr. C
April always signifies a whole month long of celebration with the Cherry Blossom Festival at Branch Brook Park in Essex County, NJ. It started on April 9th with the bike race and then continued on with the 10K run, 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk, family day, and then the grand finale – this year it was the 40th anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Bloomfest! Today, the schedule of events included Japanese cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food, and yes – we always throw in street art because that is nearby the grounds of the park, too! The cherry blossoms already went past its peak bloom, but it was still purdy’ regardless! Follow along with the photos to get a glimpse of what went down at Bloomfest!
(Brick City Jazz Orchestra – 20 piece ensemble from grades 9-12 / NJPAC Center for Arts & Education)
April 2nd, 2016 by Mr. C
This weekend thousands will flock to Trenton, the Capitol City of NJ for the Punk Rock Flea Market held at the historic Roebling Machine Shop building. I made the trek 70 miles south on the NJ Turnpike from Northern NJ – Exit 16W or 18E if you know what I mean! It was my first rodeo at the Trenton Punk Rock Flea and it was a great time! Bands took the tiny stage – food trucks were battling each other for business – vendors were selling everything from handmade jewelry to NJ themed artifacts & clothing, toys, vintage everything, vinyl records, original artwork, & much much more! Besides the really unique wares at the flea market, I was equally as fascinated with the buildings and architecture of old Trenton, NJ! The Roebling Machine Shop/Wire Works building where the flea was held was also an amazing structure! After shopping & draining my wallet a bit, I wandered the area outside of the flea and just soaked in the sights of the beautiful old storefronts & factories. Some were abandoned & shuttered, others were in decay & disarray, but still in operation. I couldn’t help but imagine what it must of been like many decades ago here. The hustle & bustle of some of these businesses – the workers in the factories milling about in town. This part of Trenton surely has seen a better day. I also had a chance to stop by TerraCycle, an amazing business that collects and recycles almost any form of waste.
TerraCycle is a company that reduces waste by finding innovative uses for materials others deem garbage. TerraCycle pays non-profits and schools to collect used drink pouches, yogurt cups, chip bags and more! TerraCycle also collects industrial waste. The materials are upcycled into affordable, high-quality products.
Oh yeah, and besides that TerraCycle has amazing aerosol street art, graffiti, & murals, adorned to the exterior of their building! Come & watch what I saw through my viewfinder today! The Trenton Punk Rock Flea market will be open again tomorrow Sunday April 3rd from 10am-5pm. If you can’t make it tomorrow then plan to meet us there in August when the Trenton Punk Rock Flea will rise again!
Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market at the Roebling Machine Shop/Wire Works Building
675 South Clinton Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08611
121 New York Ave
Trenton, NJ 08638
March 31st, 2016 by chocko
Despite being in the news a couple months ago for violating safety violations and getting shut down, Paterson’s Art Factory, an art venue housed in a monstrous 19th century industrial complex, remains standing. Mr. C and Chocko rolled up to the parking lot and walked around on the cobblestones to take pics of the street art on the outside walls.
When in town, one must check out the Paterson Great Falls National Park. The Great Falls towers at nearly 80 feet and and measures 300 feet wide and dumps as much as two billion gallons of water daily from the Passaic River into a canyon below. Walk on The Great Falls Bridge and you will be treated to a closeup view of the flowing waters and the rugged canyon which was formed thousands of years ago from retreating glaciers of the last Ice Age. Mr. C is pictured below checking out some graffiti off the beaten path. Our curiosity led us to the wastelands of the Mill Ruins.
The Mill Ruins are located about 700 feet downstream from the Great Falls and was once a bustling area that manufactured Colt revolvers in the 19th century which later led to the rise of the silk industry in that part of the city. The area has been shut down for nearly 30 years and after being ravaged by fires, what’s left is a toxic wasteland of crumbling buildings and massive, rusting machinery. Mr. C and Chocko explored the area and took pics of the graffiti and eye-popping art littered about the bombed out landscape. Definitely a cool spot to check out some art but enter at your own risk! About a year ago, drums containing hazardous materials such as sodium hydroxide, oxidizers and peroxide were removed from the area by federal authorities. If history repeats itself, then the cleanup is probably nowhere near complete. Heed the “No Trespassing Sign” and beware of toxic zombies and the freaks that come out night!
March 30th, 2016 by chocko
All Elements, Big Jeff Ent., and Castro Co. in collaboration with Queen Yonsada and the Justice League NYC combined their efforts to put on a great hip hop show recently at SOB’s to benefit and shed some light on the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Proceeds from the show would go to the residents of Flint so they can get water filters to access some clean drinking water. I hobbled in around 9 pm and Frank Knight jumped on the stage. The dude is a live wire on stage and nasty on the microphone. Knight shared the stage with recording artist, Cheri Lashell before bringing up his mentor, Brooklyn MC Sav Killz for a few songs including “Dope” and “Saturday Morning Cartoon,” a feel-good song off his most recent release, Immovable Kings. DJ J-Ronin kept the show moving along with Lyricist Lounge Co-Founder, Danny Castro who introduced performers to the stage before they rocked for a few songs.
Quadir Lateef made quite an impression with his mighty voice and ability to get the crowd to participate in a song that featured the Dead Prez instrumental of “Hip Hop.” Dylan Dili brought his island smoothness and swagger to the stage for some reggae tinged tunes. Dylan felt dissed when Castro mentioned his Making The Band affiliation and defended himself by grabbing the mic and shouting out P. Diddy before slamming down the mic and walking off the stage. Mysonne Linen representing Justice League NYC dropped some knowledge and Nitty Scott, MC represented female MCs with J-Ronin on the turntables. The legendary DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore, the inventor of the scratch blessed the crowd with a routine that included his infamous no-look needle drop. He also performed while balancing a record on his head. Skyzoo performed tracks off his recent album, Music For My Friends followed by Division X from South Bronx and Smoothe da Hustler who performed “The Art Of Rap.”
DJ Poska all the way from Paris popped up on the 1’s and 2’s for the remainder of the night backing up legends such as Sadat X and Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian. Sadat X an Lord Jamar performed a combo of hits including “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down.” Queens MC, Royal Flush followed with a short but memorable set and the night concluded with another Queens legend, Mr. Cheeks of the Lost Boyz cranking out some old hits including “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless,” “Renee” and “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz.” Big Jeff aka Zulu Jeff made a couple announcements at the end of the show including a mention of an upcoming event at SOB’s: The X-Clan 25th Anniversary show on April 5 at SOBs that will feature Live performances by Bro J (of X-Clan), Sadat X (of Brand Nubian), Wise Intelligent (of Poor Righteous Teachers), Mic Handz, Pri The HoneyDark, Lucky Tatt, DJ Cash Money, DJ Butta L and more surprises. Be sure to check out the website www.hiphop4flint.com
Check out some Videos below courtesy of LOOPYVIDS.
Tags: all elements, Cheri Lashell, dj jronin, frank knight, Grand Wizzard Theodore, hip hop, hiphop4flint, MC, mr. cheeks, Mysonne Linen, Nitty Scott, ny hip hop, Quair Lateef, royal flush, sav killz, sob's
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March 12th, 2016 by Mr. C
Surely you must be thinking that Planet Chocko has turned into a tree hugging – all out nature blog. Not really, we’re just sharing some local trails, parks, & marshes that we come across which we feel are well worth a visit. A day spent outdoors at a park – navigating, exploring, learning, & appreciating our land is a day well spent! Wait, I’m sounding like a hippie?! In our minds, you have to balance out all that city stomping, brickface chopping, toll collector mongering, & big city dreaming with some mother-nature ups, too! All the places we mentioned are ridiculously close to NYC.
The NJ Meadowlands Commission have been hard at work preserving 3000+ acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands, vastly improving the water quality of the Hackensack River which in turn helped bring back a resurgence of wildlife to the Meadowlands.
The Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus,NJ is a great example of the revitalization and enhancement of the Meadowlands. As you take a walk on the trails, you’ll start noticing quite a few stumps of once where stoic cedar trees throughout the marsh tidal pools. I went back home and did some reading and found out that the Atlantic White Cedar forests once covered a third of the Meadowlands for hundreds of years. That is a lot of consumption of cedar wood that we destroyed the forest for.
I didn’t spot any exotic birds on my visit just lively seagulls, geese, and some sparrows flying in and out of some of those birdhouses perched in the shallow part of the tidal pools.
It’s amazing to be able to see the beauty of the wetlands, marshes, and the wildlife that inhabit the area and then you take a look at the backdrop to see the NYC skyline with its famous monster wall of skyscrapers. You then take another minute to realize the once booming cedar forest in the meadowlands that have been cut down since were the real natural skyscrapers of the day. The entrance to the Mill Creek Marsh is also mind numbing and full of contrasts. You basically park at Bob’s Furniture store at the Mill Creek Mall in Secaucus and look to the side of Bob’s loading dock and you can’t miss all that natural heavenly wetland glory!
Mill Creek Marsh
Park Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ
March 9th, 2016 by Mr. C
This 30 foot sinister looking clown has been at this location on Rt. 35 in Middletown, NJ since 1956 advertising the local FOOD CIRCUS supermarket (predecessor to the FoodTown supermarket chains). This Food Circus market has been closed for 25+ years and a Spirits Unlimited/Circus Liquors have taken its place since, but now talks of selling the property and business, has the locals all fired up about the possibility of taking down Calico – the evil clown of Middletown – an icon of the town for 60 years!
So, in comes the Evil Clown Art exhibit hosted by the AJ Dillon Gallery nearby at Atlantic Highlands featuring local artists from the Jersey shore displaying creepy clown artwork in the vain of Calico, the Evil Clown of Middletown – all to bring awareness to the 30 foot tall steel structure. I live in North Jersey but I work nearby the iconic clown sign for years now but I honestly never paid too much attention to it other than I thought the clown was cool and nostalgic. Then the news about the evil clown exhibit had my antennas on overdrive and after reading up more on the history of Calico and Food Circus – I felt more of a connection to the cause. The Planet Chocko crew made the 50+ mile trek from up North to get a glimpse of the art inspired by Calico – who has been frightening and delighting passerbys since ’56. The Evil Clown of Middletown has been set to be removed from its original location to make way for commercial development but hopefully the awareness from the art exhibit will stir something up otherwise to keep Calico in place! Visit the Evil Clown exhibit at AJ Dillon Gallery – buy the artwork – get T-Shirts – talk about it amongst friends – spread the word of Calico! Cherish local culture and stay weird!
But first, we MUST stop by another iconic destination all in the name of Kevin Smith’s – 1994 movie – CLERKS! We couldn’t believe why we haven’t visited Quick Stop sooner since we all live and work in NJ. But today, we would slay 2 iconic Jersey monsters with one stone!
Spirits Unlimited (Circus Liquors)
835 State Route 35
Middletown, NJ 07748
AJ Dillon Gallery
54 First Avenue Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Evil Clown Show exhibit on display from March 5 for 1 month
Quick Stop Grocery
58 Leonard Ave, Leonardo, NJ 07737