Super Saturday – Chinatown NYC

March 1st, 2015 by Mr. C

(Rockits)
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(Norman Chin’s Jook Lum Southern Praying Mantis)
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The Lunar New Year celebrations in New York’s Chinatown marched on with tradition as Kung Fu schools, Youth organizations, Benevolent Associations, Community Organizations, & Dance troupes in the New York city area all came out to perform traditional Lion Dances in the streets going from storefront to storefront to welcome in the new year and to wish prosperity & health to all the businesses. Each Lion Dance organization would dance in front of the establishment and then slowly prance into the store to collect their “red envelope” fortune for their good luck drum beat & Lion prance routines. This festive day is known as “Super Saturday” dubbed by NYPDs 5th precinct as the local police officers would help organize this special day with the community as they block city streets & enforce the rules & procedures to the Lion Dance teams who were chosen to perform through an application process. For those that think what’s the big deal with performing on the streets, think again. There are traditional customs and signs of respect between two Lion Dance associations as to not cross each other and interrupt each others performance. Traditional Lion Dancing in the past between schools & organizations were a very competitive & territorial situation so careful timing and organizing of the routes for each school are imperative. Remember that these Lion dance teams were basically local Kung Fu schools that want to show their bravado. Of course, 2015 is not as volatile as the days of the late 70s to the early 90s when gangs and territorial struggles were abundant.

(Canal Street & Essex)
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I’m not sure what it was but I found yesterday’s Super Saturday showing not as crazed and festive as in years past. Maybe it was the nippy weather or maybe not as many organizations took part as in years past or it could be the teams were spread out more across manhattan’s chinatown so I didn’t get the congested feeling of associations running back to back to each other. Also Chinatowns in Brooklyn & Flushing,Queens are probably getting some attention too. I normally comb the chinatown streets from Mott on both sides of Canal from Hester Street to Bayard and work my way to Elizabeth. Either way, I always have a good time and there are plenty of great photo ops!

(My super saturday got started right right at the glorious Doughnut Plant on Grand Street)
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(One of my favorites – Peanut Butter & Banana Creme filling!)
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(Welcome to Chinatown!)
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(Norman Chin’s Jook Lum Southern Praying Mantis performing in front of Fong Inn Too on Mott St)

(Wing Hong Yip’s Dragon style Kung Fu School)
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(Wan Chi Ming Hung Gar Institute)
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(United East)
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(NY United Lion Dance Troupe)
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(Norman Chin’s Jook Lum Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu)
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(Baby Lion dancers!)
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(Wan Chi Ming Hung Gar Institute)
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(Rockits – skateboard on hand!)
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(Staten Island Lions)
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(Wan Chi Ming Hung Gar Institute)
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(Time to defrost at Spicy Village on Forsyth Street!)
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(pancake w/ pork)
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(Big tray Chicken w/ hand pulled noodles)
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Spicy Village serving up some delicious Henan style spicy fare in the outskirts of Chinatown!

Spicy Village
68 Forsyth St #B
New York, NY 10002

After a bit of strolling around to work off a strand of that spicy village chicken, we ended up at Shu Jiao Fu Zhou for some of their dumplings and noodles. All for a glorious price of $5! I also recommend their fish balls (stuffed w/ ground meat) and their wontons. Their diminuitive wontons are fuzhou style which means they use a thin – transparent wonton wrapper in contrast to the HK cantonese style wontons.

(Shui Jiao otherwise known as “water dumplings”)
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(Egg noodles with peanut sauce)
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Of course the day didn’t end there as we stomped across to the other side of Delancey Street to our old stomping grounds of ABC No Rio for some good ol’ crusty Saturday matinee hardcore punk music! ABC No Rio is a community based organization comprised of local artists & international folks alike. ABC NO RIO is the little engine that could, the underdog, & the under-appreciated fighting for the rights of the under-privileged & outcasts not fitting the mold. The ABC DIY space includes an art gallery performance space & Zine library with over 12,000 items! “ABC No Rio is a place where people share resources and ideas to impact society, culture, and community. We believe that art and activism should be for everyone, not just the professionals, experts, and cognoscenti. Our dream is a cadres of actively aware artists and artfully aware activists.” -ABC NO RIO

Thanks to Chocko for taping some of the afternoon punk matinee at ABC No Rio last Saturday including performances by an NYC Filipino Hardcore band – Namatay Sa Ingay; Lakras – high energy Latino hardcore, & Tin Vulva, an experimental – alternative band from Brooklyn. Last Saturday’s performances at ABC No Rio was a benefit show for the Workers Justice Project – Proyecto Justicia Laboral! Let’s stand together in unity to help others and to continue to fight for the working class!

(Lakras – Latino hardcore – video by Chocko)

(Namatay Sa Ingay – a Filipino hardcore punk band performing at ABC NO RIO on Sat 2/28/15 – Video by Chocko)

(Tin Vulva – an alternative,experimental band from Brooklyn – video by chocko)

(Punk Matinee at ABC NO RIO on Sat 2/28)
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ABC NO RIO
156 Rivington Street
NY,NY

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You goat girl – Moon Over Manhattan: Celebrate the New Year 2015 – Year of the Goat

February 22nd, 2015 by Mr. C

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(Korean drumming)
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(Bo Law Kung Fu)
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My original plans to invade Flushing, Queens’ Chinatown for the Lunar New Year celebrations were foiled as the Planet Chocko spaceship was in the lab getting a circuit board swapped out due to malfunction. When the systems were all a go again, I was running late so the backup plan was to dive into Manhattan’s Asia Society were they had some festivities of their own dubbed the Moon Over Manhattan: Celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The celebrations at the Asia Society were catered more for the family and kids but the event was still fun & festive nonetheless. First on the lineup were 2 short films, one was the Hunchback’s Tale – a cartoon that told a tale through a series of events where different people think they have commited a murder. It was the ultimate lesson learned between covering up the murder and revealing the truth. It seemed a bit harsh to talk about the subject of murder with children in the audience but in the end things would work their way around full circle. The 2nd short – What’s Yours is Mine was a story about a clumsy fisherman who would have his luck turned around when he meets a mermaid. The greed of others will rear its ugly head while the good natured will try to remain persistent and humble. You can tell the success of children’s film when the kids erupt in laughter.

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After the films, The New York Bo Law Kung Fu school would welcome in the Year of the Goat by performing a traditional Lion Dance to bless good luck, wealth, & health to all! Some of the kids in the audience would take part to help feed the Lions after the festive dance and present them a ‘Red Envelope’ for their efforts.

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A kung fu demonstration would follow the Lion Dance.

(King of Weapons – the Spear)
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(Staff vs Bench)
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(Double Axe)
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(Double Sai)
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(Butterfly Swords)
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The next thing on the lineup was the Korean Drumming performance. The NY Korean Traditional Marching Band performed “Salmulnori” (Playing 4 things – The changgo or hour glass shaped drum; the buk or barrel drum; the jing or large gong, & the kkwaenggwari, or the small gong.) These drummers were fantastic. At times they sounded really traditional which then morphed into an all out blend of wild percussions, a sort of jazz session and hypnotic tribal beats!

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(the kids bum rushed the stage & banged the drums!)
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There were also activities for the kids to make stretch dragon puppets with the Chinese Theatre Works folks as well as making Paper Lanterns, and creating a Year of the Goat clay figure with master ceramic artist Syma.

(Making paper lanterns)
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(making clay Goats)
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Savages played Saint Vitus

January 31st, 2015 by chocko

Savages at Saint Vitus 01-17-15
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UK post punk band Savages wrap up their 9 show New York City residency with a sold out show tonight at Saint Vitus in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Planet Chocko was in the house for their first show at Saint Vitus which usually hosts metal shows. The all female band played a fantastic set list that mixed familiar tunes from their 2013 album, Silence Yourself along with brand new songs for their next album. Lead singer Jehnny Beth showcased some intense stage presence and pointed out the low lighting in the performance space was intentional. So, put down those clunky cameras and sleek smartphones, and focus on the music! I’m down with that. Johnny Hostile (producer and musician) opened up with a set of grimy Dirty Beaches/Suicide sounding tunes. Tonight’s show features opener Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. See you there!

exclusive tour poster, shirt and other goodies at the merch table
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No (New Song)

Shut Up

When In Love

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Doing some Van Dammage at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Yonkers, NY

January 19th, 2015 by Mr. C

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(Cristina Cacioppo and Alamo programmer from Austin hosting the event)

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There was definitely some Van Dammage done last weekend as we celebrated the ‘split personality films of the muscles from Brussels – Jean Cleade Van Damme! There was a secret 4 movie marathon held at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers, NY in honor of JCVD and the movie selection probably surprised a whole lotta folks! None of the classic Van Damme films were shown like Bloodsport, Kickboxer, or No Retreat No Surrender – the three films that really lifted him into stardom with the suave attitude and kickass persona that we would link him to. The four films they did show at the marathon in order of appearance was: Sudden Death, Lionheart, Knock Off, & Hard Target – all in 35mm format. Sudden Death and Lionheart were great to see again! I had forgotten how fun and illogical Sudden Death was! So much effort was put into this eventful sudden death Stanley Cup finals game all just to extort money! Then again it wouldn’t be a Van Damme film if it wasn’t this epic! Lionheart took us back to Van Damme’s roots of being a kickass underground fighter all the while exposing his ass to the ladies! Knock Off really knocked me off out of my seat literally, I’ve never seen this Jean Cleade – Rob Schneider – Paul Sorvino comedy/action/drama mash up directed by none other than Tsui Hark. The film looked great in terms of production and action choreography no doubt but the film was so disjointed in many places that it was hard to take in at times. I love me a really silly Rob Schneider film anyday but the story was so weird and out there that it made the chemistry between the cast so ‘what the fuck’. I have to say there were some scenes with explosions and ass-kickery that entertained the hell out of me though. I also very much enjoyed the filming location in Hong Kong, too! The last film was a dead give-away because of the contest they had prior to the screening. The contest involved punching and eating snakes! Hard Target was an absurd blend of the high kicking, charismatic, & questionable acting chops of JCVD with the often slo-mo, violent but stylistic blood shed scenes of John Woo. The Woo definitely made Van Damme look extra cool flapping those guns around while doing those infamous JCVD kicks! The plot of the movie was very much contrived but who watches a John Woo and Jean Cleade films for the story? Consider your ass kicked!! Ding Ding Ding!

Thanks to Alamo Drafthouse for organizing such a fun event including the delicious and creative Van Dammage menu! The Sudden Death Chicken and Waffles was a winner! The double impact fries had me doing the deuce by the end of the night!

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Also thanks to Alamo Drafthouse’s creative programmer – Cristina Cacioppo and her partner in crime from Austin for MC’ing the event! Love the JCVD pin!

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(Uncle Douvee’s mason jar & the JCVD pin! – Photo courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers,NY)

Sandwiched in between the surprise films were fun trailers, commercials, and past appearances by Jean Cleade Van-Damme and the special Q/A session with JCVD – you really can’t make any of this stuff up!

(Van Damme’s famous split in the Volvo Commercial)
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(“This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo dynamic steering.”)
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(Jean Cleade showing of his speed & accuracy by kicking the bottle off the man’s head)
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(Jean Cleade working out to Johnny Kemp’s song – Just got paid)
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Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital

December 29th, 2014 by Mr. C

tour general infectious
(To the left was the general hospital – To the right, infectious diseases – left we went!)

eery hallway

Last weekend I had the privilege to go on a ‘Hard Hat’ tour of the abandoned hospital complex on Ellis Island. I had first learned about the tour through Nick Carr of Scouting New York, who is a professional movie location scout in New York. His job is to stare and take notice of NYC locations with more of an eagle eye for architectural aesthetics. He has an excellent web site called what else, Scouting NY and he documents what he experiences in the NYC, surrounding areas, & sometimes beyond which most of us overlook in our everyday travels. Scouting New York is one of my favorite web sites to catchup with in all things NYC! Go see for yourself!

Most people only associate one main building formerly known as the Ellis Island Great Hall which was a pre-process location for all incoming immigrants from 1892-1924. This building was restored in 1986 and reopened as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The hard hat tour that I went on actually took us to the Immigrant hospital which served as a detention center for immigrants that were deemed not healthy or unfit. They would get treated and either released to their new life in the Americas or deported depending on the situation. There was an insane asylum in the premises as well for those that they thought were unfit for society. The criteria for being tagged for being insane seemed to be very subjective and discriminatory. What a scary thought! The Hospital grounds housed overe 20 buildings. There are at least 3 main wings of the building: one was the general hospital, one for infectious diseases, and the other was the psychiatric ward. The psychiatric ward was too unsafe and dilapidated to get to.

jr exhibit 3
jr exhibit 2

The grounds have to be experienced first hand. Putting words together to describe the eery feeling when walking through the silent hallways and rooms of this abandoned campus that once housed desperate folks looking for a better life does not do it justice. We walked through the morgue and amphitheater where autopsies were performed and wow! Ellis Island recently opened up the hospital grounds in October 2014 for these small group hard hat tours. French artist JR has site specific art installations throughout the hospital called “Unframed – Ellis Island” in which these historic images from Ellis Island’s past is brought back to life to mingle with the crumbling state of the hospital to form a memory from the past. The tour guide mentioned that JR is working with Robert Deniro to film a short documentary on the hospital grounds. Check out the Hospital grounds yourself on one of the hard hat tours on Ellis Island while you can! Help preserve a piece of American History! Tickets for the tours here.

Above & below are some photos that I captured on the tour to help put an image together of the hospital that once was from 1902-1930.

womans ward
washer dryer
view window

(Laboratory to test on animals)
testing lab animals

stovetop hood
kitchen
room2

(Morgue)
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(Amphitheater/Autopsy)
autopsy amphitheater

linen cloth room
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grounds
room chair
room

(Detention Center)
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broken windows
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Ronnie Spector played at B.B. Kings

December 22nd, 2014 by Mr. C

bb kings
ronnie spector

The Planet Chocko muppets ventured out to BB King’s Blues Club in Times Square last Saturday to celebrate the best Christmas party in NYC with Ronnie Spector at the helm! It was great listening to Spector in such an intimate venue and such a throwback for us to those days when we used to see her perform at Coney Island High on St. Marks Place and at the Continental on 3rd ave during many of the Ramones shows! Thanks to Chocko’s good memory and his great footage of many live Ramones concerts to prove it – Joey Ramone always introduced Ronnie Spector to the stage as “one of the original bad girls of Rock n Roll!”.

Being a Ramones geekhead like he is, Chocko immediately spotted Daniel Rey on guitars as soon as the band came out to warm up the crowd at BB King’s before the Spector spectacle! Daniel Rey was a producer for many of the Ramones albums as well as for The Dictators, Ronnie Spector, The Misfits, & D-Generation to just name a few.

The band got everyone in the festive mood by staying true to the club’s roots by playing the bluesy ‘Christmas comes but once a year’ followed by a funky instrumental version of White Christmas with the sax wildin’ out!

ronnie xmas
ronettes

Miss Ronnie Spector then proceeded to come out like it was 1960…well maybe 1990 as she gave us a holiday grab bag of The Ronettes goodness with a viscous blend of Ronettes hits,christmas songs, and covers from some very good friends of hers. Ronnie’s raspiness in her vocals has creeped into her shows for a long while now as her girl band voice of yesteryear has all but disappeared. That being said she had already reinvented herself with that knock’em out sock’em out – funky & spunky disposition when performing her rock n roll love songs! TRANSLATION…we still love her performances! She still has that uh-uh-uh-grab that crouch attitude! She rattled off her set in one hour and it was great. The only song that I didn’t quite think worked for her was The Carpenters’ “Yesterday once more”. My favorite performances from the night included Back to Black (Amy Winehouse), Walking in the Rain, You can’t put your arms around a memory (Johnny Thunders), Baby I love You, & Be my baby! See her complete setlist below as well as a few videos from the show thanks to Chocko.

We’re already looking forward to Ronnie’s show next year! Happy holidays, y’all!


(Chocko with a signed vinyl of “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica”)
ronettes vinyl signed

(Slideshow stills of The Ronettes of yesteryear)
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(Amy Winehouse – slideshow stills from the show)
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Setlist

Christmas comes but once a year. (band only)
White Christmas (instrumental)
frosty the snowman
Do I Love you
It’s Christmas once again (Frankie Lymon)
What I’d say (Ray Charles) – (Murray the K’s Dancing Girls)
So Young
Best Christmas Ever (From her solo album/Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Ever)
Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
You baby
baby I love you
Yesterday once more (The Carpenters)
Sleigh ride
walking in the rain (Ronnie’s favorite Ronette song)
breakin up
You can’t put your arms around a memory (Johnny Thunders)
be my baby
I saw mommy kissing santa claus
So this is Christmas (John Lennon)
Rockin around the Christmas tree
I can hear music

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International motorcycle show at the Jacob Javitz Center

December 15th, 2014 by Mr. C

santas on bikes
(Santa riders ripping & roaring outside the Motorcyle Show/Jacob Javitz enjoying Santa Con!)

The Last time we covered the Motorcycle show we were in zine form from the late 90s to early 2000s with a print output of no more than 300 copies per issue. So much has changed since then and apparently the cycle show has too!

My thoughts on the 2014 Progressive International Motorcycle show in NYC – not as grandiose as in yesteryear shows that’s for sure but still a good time had with felllow cycle lovers! It was great to see KTM, Triumph, and Ducati reign supreme with their displays but Suzuki, Kawasaki, & Yamaha continue to spread cheer showing off their new models. I was interested in seeing the new 2015 Suzuki GSX-S750 and it looks great in person! It’s a minimalist looking streetfighter bike but those lines really shows off her curves! I was also interested in sitting on the new Yamaha FZ-07 and I was picturing tearing her up on the streets of NYC when I did mount her! Perfect size bike to troll the urban terrain! The FZ-07 seemed very comfy and upright, the steering felt nimble and light to the touch, and the foot controls were comfortable. I always love looking at the custom bikes and cruisers but Victory’s model – the High-ball custom cruiser with ape hangers almost had me wanting to reserve one! I really loved the black matte color paint scheme on the High-Ball! Though I must admit when I sat on the High-Ball it made me feel small. Not to outdo the Victory bike but it really did, I felt quite at home when sitting on the Harley Davidson Sportster seventy-two. The Seventy-Two is cleverly named so because of the 1970s Chopper Look and I love it! I also love the spoke wheels! The candy speckled paint job looked great. The gas tank was on the smaller side but I really digged the look and shape of it. My days of ragging on Harley Davidsons might be over. I might have to add one to the collection in the foreseable future! Vroom Vroom! I also sat on the retro Triumph Scrambler, a bike that I’ve been coveting for awhile with those cool looking exhaust pipes hanging by the legs. It’s a tall bike for the vertically challenged and a pretty heavy bike at that too. Overall, the Suzuki GSX-S750, the Yamaha FZ-07, The Victory High-Ball, and the Harley Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two were winners in my book! Royal Ensfield, a company that I wasn’t familiar with but looks to have a long history in making motorcycles,bicycles, & lawn mowers from the late 1800’s in the UK but now licensed to India had a really neat display of retro looking bikes called the bullet 500. The bikes looked great but remains to be seen with the point of presence and ridership in their bikes to be able to sustain the ride for upkeep. In that same vain, a bike shop in Yonkers, NY called Johnny Pag Motors also had a very busy display showing off the 320cc Ventura Chopper priced to sell at $4995! The engine displacement might be on the smaller side but the stance on the chopper looked pretty darn mean!

I couldn’t leave Midtown west without paying respects to Hideki Matsui and Go! Go! Curry! on 38th Street! Of course, I hit a Grand Slam takeout!

All in all, a great day was had at the bike show with good friends. Cheers!

(I salute you Matsui and Go! Go! Curry!)
hideki matsui
go go curry

(Victory High-Ball)
victory high ball

(Suzuki GSX-S750)
suzuki gsxs750 2015

(Harley Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two)
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(Royal Ensfield Bullet 500)
royal enfield bullet 500

(Johnny Pag Motors – Ventura 5000)
Johnny Pag Ventura 5000

(Indian Larry custom wishbone-rigid frame)
indian larry custom wishbone rigid

(Triumph Thruxton)
triumph thruxton

(Yamaha cafe)
yamaha cafe

(Custom chopper)
stretch custom

(Steampunk)
steampunk

(Indian Scout)
indian scout wall of death

(Indian Scout custom)
indian scout custom

(Honda CB cafe racer)
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honda cb cafe 2

(Gravesend Cycles)
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fire red custom

(Diana)
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chaos speed custom
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Shadow Box Film Festival

December 13th, 2014 by Mr. C

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We were able to bob & weave into a few Shadow Box Film Festival screenings which was held at the School of Visual Arts Theater on 23rd Street despite the relentless rain we had last weekend. It was the 3rd edition of this low profile gathering marketed as the world’s only ALL-BOXING Film Festival! You have got to love a film festival whose major sponsors included a Termite and Pest Control company! Talk about eradicating opponents in and out of the ring!

(Heather Hardy at the Shadow Box Film Festival – photo by Chocko)
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On Friday night of the festival, we jetted out of the traffic free super-highway slabs over the GWB during usual gridlock holiday time to head downtown Manhatty to SVA Theatre. I’m sure the rains had to do a lot with the emptier roads for we made it just in time for the great roundtable discussion on the state of woman’s boxing with whatever content the ladies & Dibella wanted to bring to the forefront! The panel included Lorraine Price (Director of Doc: Last Woman Standing) which was part of the program/screening that we missed that night; Lou Dibella (Boxing promoter and Executive Producer of Hardy), and Heather Hardy (Boxer and subject of Doc: Hardy). The roundtable was moderated by Steve Farhood (Showtime Boxing commentator/anaylyst & Broadway Boxing commentator). Farhood did a great job in asking pertinent questions to tender the subject of woman’s boxing and how the business is changing for the ranks of lady pugilists. Thanks to Chocko for recording the roundtable for further review!

(video by NJChocko)

(Photo op after the Roundtable panel included: Lorraine Price,Lou Dibella,Michael Bentt,Heather Hardy,Steve Farhood – Photo by Chocko)
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After the panel, We saw the HARDY documentary again and loved it even more the 2nd time around. The film follows Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn’s own Heather Hardy as she realizes her dream of boxing at a later stage in life. Hardy is really an inspirational story about searching for self esteem & identity and chasing after your dreams. More is at stake here than first glance,as boxing is also the means of survival for Hardy and her daughter. It was interesting before the screening as Executive Producer Lou Dibella mentioned that the director of the film – Natasha Verma did a great job with her first film but he (Lou Dibella) also changed the film into a very good film. I wondered what he changed and what he really meant by this?!

(Former WBO Heavyweight Champion – Michael Bentt at the Shadow Box Film Festival – photo by Chocko)
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On Saturday, I returned to catch the short films segment. I was mostly looking forward to the films – Greatness: The Story of Floyd Patterson and Sunnyside but ended up seeing some other eye opening shorts!

Greatness: The Story of Floyd Patterson
This doc was more about the greatness of Floyd outside of the ring and in his personal life. We all have heard stories of the boxing genious of Floyd Patterson but the humble, quiet, & gentlemen stature of the great Floyd Patterson reigns supreme here! Several of Floyd’s more successful boxing students Andrew Schott and adopted son Tracy Harris Patterson step out of the shadows to relive some of their teacher’s glory in and out of the ring. Much of the film is spent on Floyd’s life after boxing at Floyd’s gym in New Paltz, NY as he passed on his boxing chops just like Cus D’mato did for him.

Sunnyside is a documentary that unearthed a New York City boxing club/arena in Sunnyside, Queens that I did not know existed! This legendary fight club full of boisterous fans and lure of smoke from cigarettes & cigars had its heyday from 1947-1977. I’m pretty familiar with the area that this former legendary boxing venue was located which is on Queens Boulevard & 45th Street which is now the grounds of fast food chain Wendy’s! The 59th Street Queensboro bridges is just a hop,skip, & a jump away! If I can remember correctly, it costed $4000 to rent out a night of boxing cards at the Sunnyside. This film honored the history of the Sunnyside Gardens Arena as one of New Yorks most influential fight club and unfortunately one of the last as well. It was hailed as the minor leagues, the training grounds for fighters before/if they get called to fight at Madison Square Garden. Some boxers and wrestlers that trolled through the Sunnyside are Floyd Patterson, Gerry Cooney, Bobby Cassidy, Bobby Bartels, Lenny Mangiapane, & Bruno Sammartino to just name a few.

Champion was a charming documentary that highlighted a decorated Iraqi boxer who fled his country to seek a better life for himself. Fast forward to the present as this former Iraqi Champion boxer is living a happy life in Chicago with his wife and children as he drives a taxi to support his family. This film was very inspirational and touching as the love between husband and wife was the real story behind this documentary – less about the boxing.

Round 10 was a re-enactment of one of the most infamous rounds in boxing history. It was the first fight between Jose Luis Castillo and Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales on May 7th, 2005 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. To call this fight and 10th round dramatic would be an understatement. Now, I want to see Round 9 re-enacted from the Mickey Ward vs Arturo Gatti – 1st fight! Any takers?

Babyface was a documentary that followed 19 year old James ‘babyface assassin’ Tennyson who was on his way to becoming the youngest Irish Boxing Champ in 65 years. Raw footage full of thumping blows from the babyface assassin while training at a satellite Kronk gym in Ireland! R.I.P. Emmanuel Steward.

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Bumblefoot and Sharkmuffin played Two Boots (Park Slope)

December 8th, 2014 by chocko

Bumblefoot at Two Boots
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Last month, Two Boots pizzeria opened a new location at 284 5th Ave. in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The Cajun-themed pizza joint celebrated their grand opening with a night of free food, booze and live music by guitarist extraordinaire, Bumblefoot and Brooklyn all female band, Sharkmuffin. I walked through the doors and the place was packed, free slices of pizza were being given out at the counter along with wine and beer. A huge tray stacked with sliders made it through the room and they definitely had a kick which was provided by the key ingredient of Bumblefoot Hot Sauce. Yes, so not only is Bumblefoot presently in Guns N Roses but he also makes hot sauce. A band from the neighborhood, Sharkmuffin kicked off the live music portion of the night. The all female trio blasted through a set of songs that ran the gamut from pop, garage and punk rock. It was the first time for me to see the band play and I can’t wait to see them again which will be January 4, 2015 at Knitting Factory. According to the band’s website, their debut album “Chartreuse” will be coming out in the summer of 2015 and features Patty Schemel (Hole) on drums.
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Rachel Lorin, Tony Harnell and Bumblefoot
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Ron Thal a.k.a. Bumblefoot capped off the evening with his double neck guitar and classic metal and rock songs. He started out his set with a cover of “Used To Love Her” by Guns N’ Roses and an impromptu Kiss request of “Detroit Rock City.” He was joined by Tony Harnell (lead singer of Norwegian power metal band TNT) for a few songs including a mashup of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” and the Guns N’ Roses classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Harnell was awesome along with Rachel Lorin who also stepped on stage for a cover of a Heart song, “Alone.” I wish I recorded a video of her singing…whatta set of pipes! Great singing, powerful vocals. Definitely be on the look out for Rachel Lorin. My favorite part of the evening was when Tara of Sharkmuffin requested Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” which had everybody dropping their slices to move around and sing a long. It was a great moment and I left shortly after knowing it would be hard to top that. Check out some videos from that night below!

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Rubble Kings screens DOC NYC

November 19th, 2014 by Mr. C

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Rubble Kings was a great documentary film on the state of gangs in NYC during the 1960s & 70s. It primarily focused on why they came to be, their rights of passage, & their savageness in the streets when someone, anyone who stepped on their turf who didn’t have the same colors. Most gangs formed because of the social movement going on during those times of socio-economic upheaval and inequality. It was a way to protect themselves in their own neighborhood. Meanwhile, unfathomable amounts of gangs formed in the urban jungle across all boroughs of NYC. The scene didn’t look too far fetched as depicted in the movie “The Warriors”. Actually the film was tame compared to the battle cries of the real scenario. Some gangs that were noted in the film included the Savage Nomads, the Black Spades, Savage Skulls, The Harlem Turks, Dirty Ones, The Chockos, and the Seven Immortals to just name a few of the players. All would turn for the worse regarding turf wars as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and John F. Kennedy were assassinated. Civil rights and the Vietnam war brought even more social & political unrest to the concrete slabs. The 1970s was a turbulent time in the streets of NYC. Heroin was being introduced to the streets and the zombies took over as well as the irrational fight between the inner city gangs. This was the time when the magic word of “urban renewal” took flight as modern NYC architect Robert Moses instituted a plan to create the Cross Bronx Expressway which unfortunately meant wiping out established homes, businesses, & hearts of the folks in the bronx. This was the infamous time when the bronx was in decay. Landlords would burn down their own buildings to try to collect insurance. The wealthy in the Bronx fled to the burbs. The city was just an urban wasteland. As you can imagine gangs would continue to flourish in order to just survive the day to day in this urban decay.

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Documenting the nasty side of this chaos was just part of the story. Rubble Kings went on to inspire as one particular gang in the Bronx called The Ghetto Brothers looked beyond the infighting between all the gangs in NYC. They wanted to get more education and wanted to stop the drug epidemic. They fought political & social injustice. In the Ghetto Brother territories which spread beyond the Bronx, they made sure to push the pushers out. They tried to rehab the junkies in their area by looking after them 24×7 so they can go cold turkey off the dope. The Ghetto Brothers in turn tried to influence other gangs throughout NYC by promoting stop the violence as all gangs are one and that they should fight against society, the government, and the City instead of spending energy fighting themselves. This is exactly what the government wanted, the gangs to desecrate themselves. The peace treaty that the Ghetto Brothers would organize in the YMCA on Hoe Avenue in the Bronx amongst all leaders of the gangs in NYC would be a game changer going forward.

Another layer of bringing community together to heal was music! The Ghetto Brothers besides being the peacemakers, were talented jamming out as a band. They played latin funk and it really brought out the fun and sense of brother & sisterhood to ALL when they opened up the party to EVERYONE. Bring out your bongo or your favorite instrument and just jam out was their motto! The mastermind behind the peace sign in the Ghetto Brothers was founder ‘Yellow’ Benji Melendez. The muscle behind the clan was Karate Charlie from the Marines!

Afrika Bambaataa would also play a big part in the film as he eventually morphed the badass Black Spades gang into the Zulu Nation promoting peace, community, and Hip Hop. Bambaattaa had his part in using DJ’ing and block parties as he blended music into the new gang culture as a way to battle amongst each other using tunes instead of fists. A whole segment in the film gave props to Kool Herc and other DJs in uniting the community and using Hip Hop, though the term probably did not exist at that time, as an outlet instead of gang banging. The new battle cries would be in the form of b-boy’ing, graffiti, EMCing, and DJ’ing. These competitions against each others crew with dancing, rapping, DJ’ing and tagging art in public spaces would prove to be more productive as it formed a new culture! Grandmaster Caz,Flash,AJ amongst others were mentioned. DJ Red Alert and Jazzy Jay had a few talk back moments in the film as well.

Folks, if you get the chance, please see RUBBLE KINGS! It’s an eye opener and just part of the history of New York City! Appreciate! Rubble King’s screens today at DOC NYC at 5:20pm at the IFC Center on 6th ave.

As a note, another film which documents street gangs in the south bronx during the 1970s that is worth seing is 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s. Rubble Kings and 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s really brings the subject matter to context.

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Hardy (2014) – DOC NYC

November 16th, 2014 by Mr. C

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(Pro Boxer – Heather “The Heat” Hardy at DOC NYC – Bow Tie Cinemas in Chelsea)

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Director: Natasha Verma
Film subject: Boxer – Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy
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Hardy was a documentary film that debuted at DOC NYC which screened at Bow Tie’s Chelsea Cinemas. I limited myself to seeing 3 films at the Festival this year due to time constraints and monetary reasons. Suffice to say I picked 3 topics/subjects that I enjoy very much. The first film was on street art – Banksy Does New York. The 2nd film was on punk music – Salad Days: The birth of punk in the Nation’s Capital, and last but not least a film on boxing – Hardy!

(L-Director/Natasha Verma,R-Heather Hardy at DOC NYC)
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Hardy was a documentary that told the story of female boxer – Heather Hardy – born & bred in blue collar full of city of new york workers (sanitation,NYPD,FDNY) Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn not very far from Coney Island,Brighton Beach, & the Manhattan Beach areas. Born to a 3rd generation Irish american family all raised on Gerritsen Beach, Hardy had a funny line in the movie when she said that she could spit anywhere on Gerritsen Beach and she would hit 3 of her cousins before the spit would hit the ground! The film started out with Heather jogging across the Brooklyn Bridge into the arms of the world famous Gleason’s Gym in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn. Her first boxing trainer at Gleason’s was WBO woman’s champion Alicia Ashley until Alicia’s trainer – her brother Devon Cormack took the reigns of Hardy’s hardships in/out of the ring. You can see Hardy’s passion, dedication, & drive in her eyes with boxing. Something just clicked in Heather when she had her first amateur bout which made her want to make this a fulltime profession. Maybe it was the intense competition between two people in the ring – part of it was the independence – some of it was the energy of the crowd, and a lot of it was the feeling she felt when she was able to slowly chop her opponent down between the ropes. She had big dreams of being the female version of Mike Tyson. Um, that’s a pretty bold statement! Let’s crawl before we shadowbox!

(Heather Hardy at DOC NYC)
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Director Natasha Verma shadowed Heather with her training, boxing career, and personal life during the filming. We soon found out that though the main draw of the doc was about a female boxer, the underlying story was really about a woman trying to find herself, find her soul. She had a tough life growing up and has had a traumatic experience in her adolescence that she still struggles with to this day. Hardy wanted more than to be just a housewife or house mom taking care of her child. She noted that there’s nothing wrong with staying at home but it was obvious that she had bigger dreams for herself. After she separated from her husband – the drive in finding this something else would explode in her!

(Director/Natasha Verma)
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I really liked the character, the story, and the vibe of the subject matter at hand. Besides the boxing which I adore very much – it was the interactions that Heather had with her family, her daughter, sister, and trainer (turned boyfriend) that opened up her heart and vulnerabilities fpr everyone to see, not to mention the stress & struggles of a woman trying to get booked for a fight in a male dominated arena. The documentary reveals that many if not all boxing promoters require all boxers (maybe just the woman?) to sell a certain amount of tickets for that particular boxing event which you can imagine would influence the decision of that said promoter to put that fighter in the undercard or not. That sounds pretty darn crooked if you ask me! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with the cut throat boxing business. I found the dynamics of the relationship between Heather Hardy and her trainer to have so many layers of potential troubled waters that it made me fascinated. I mean dating your mentor/trainer who was so much older than yourself – adoring and falling in love with this person but also finding yourself being disciplined by the same man – it just sounds so damn hard to do. It really comes down to being able to separate the business from the personal and THIS business – professional boxing is not just any old storefront. So yeah, the relationship between student and trainer and in the big picture – the big boss fight promoter in this case Lou Dibella Entertainment really drew me into the film. The main objective for Heather was to get signed to a full time contract with Dibella as she goes through a few undercard fights with him to see how she does. Did I also mention that Hurricane Sandy on October 29th, 2012 would turn Gerritsen beach into one big recovery effort like many shore towns up and down New York & New Jersey.

(Boxing promoter – Lou Dibella)
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After the screening Lou Dibella, Natasha Verma (director), and Heather Hardy were in attendance for a brief Q/A! See below video of the Q/A that we took at the event!

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Heather’s next fight is at BB King’s Blues Club with Broadway Boxing/Lou Dibella Entertainment’s undercard on December 3rd! See the movie to see how she made out with Dibella Entertainment! http://dbe1.com/popular-female-boxer-heather-hardy-subject-of-the-new-documentary-hardy-added-to-dibella-entertainments-next-broadway-boxing-event/

Do you want to take private/semi-private boxing or kickboxing classes with Heather Hardy? Go here for more info > http://www.heathertheheathardy.net/Schedule—Classes.html

Hardy the Documentary looks like it will be screening at the 2014 Shadow Box Film Festival in NYC coming in December – lookout for it!

After the film, Steve from Unseen Films and I crossed the street to grab lunch at Boston Market and Steve Farhood – famous boxing historian,analyst, and commentator on Showtime Boxing & ShoBox happened to be standing right behind us on the line. He was at the Hardy screening as well and said he really enjoyed the movie! We asked Farhood who were some of the competitive female boxers around nowadays, and he mentions a really good fighter from Germany that I can’t remember for the life of me. We’ll get back at him on social media to find out! He also was the one that reminded us of Heather’s next fight at Broadway Boxing on December 3rd at BB King’s. Maybe we’ll see you at the fights!

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DOC NYC November 13 – 20, 2014

November 13th, 2014 by chocko

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If you love documentaries and live in the NYC area, then you are in the right place at the right time! The 5th Annual DOC NYC (America’s largest documentary festival) is in full effect starting November 13 to November 20. DOC NYC will feature over 150 film and events including panels, workshops and Q&A’s with filmmakers and special guests. Get your tickets and head over to either IFC Center, SVA Theatre or Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas. Get those eyeballs ready because there’s plenty to see!

The following are some reviews or a couple words on some DOC NYC films we’ve seen in advance. The first three movie reviews in this post are by our special guest writer, Ariela from Vegan in the Big Apple. She went to see Banksy Does New York, A Small Section Of The World and Back On Board: Greg Louganis. Chocko reviewed Still Dreaming and Meet The Patels. Keep it locked for more updates and DOC NYC reviews.

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BANKSY DOES NEW YORK
DIR: Chris Moukarbel

“Banksy Does New York” is a documentary about Banksy’s month long residency in New York City. The first thing we find out, is that Banksy has no affiliation to the documentary.

Banksy, a British street artist, posted a photo a day on his website, without announcing the location of the piece. The documentary travels day by day to the various art that Banksy created throughout the city, interviewing Banksy fans, art critics and gallery owners. Many fans considered it a 31 day scavenger hunt. The film often follows two dog walkers, who are also known as Banksy Hunters (anyone trying to find Banksy’s art, is considered a Banksy Hunter), who try finding Banksy’s work by clues on Instagram and Twitter. Often, hoping they will find it before it was removed or before someone graffitied over it. Much of, if not the majority of, the film, shows the public’s reactions to his work, both via interviews and via Twitter “tweets”.

An interesting part of the film, is that we also get to see some of the people who helped preserve Banksy’s work, such as the two lovely gentleman who own Zabars on the Upper West Side, as well as seeing some of the people who had “stolen” Banksy’s work, to which they say “it wasn’t reported missing, so it wasn’t stolen”.

This is a fun, light film, which also includes some New York history of street art. From Banksy’s point of view “the outside is where art should live, amongst us, where it can act as a public service, promote debate, voice concerns and forge identities. Don’t we want to live in a world made of art, not just decorated by it?”

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A SMALL SECTION OF THE WORLD
DIR: Lesley Chilcott

“A Small Section of the World” is a very inspiring and moving documentary. It shows how a group of women in Costa Rica form a coffee growing collective, called ASOMOBI(Association of Organized Women of Biolley- the M because in Spanish women is mujeres) They build a place to make coffee, without knowing anything about growing coffee or having a business. They sold it to several people who told them it was awful. They connect with a local exporter, also a woman, who appreciates what they are trying to do, and appreciates their dedication, and gives them advice on firstly, how to actually grow coffee! You will be surprised to learn where coffee beans actually come from! Few know, even those who are coffee addicts. Through the help of this woman, they eventually become an international coffee company.

This film shows that anyone is capable of doing anything if you don’t give up. They have been there for 17 years, it took them a long time and obstacles to get started but they were committed and kept at it, and thrived in the end.

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BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS
DIR: Cheryl Furjanic

“Back on Board” is the story of 4-time- gold medal Olympian diver Greg Louganis. He’s considered the greatest diver of all time with diving records yet to be beaten. He won his first gold medal at the age of 24. At the age of 26, he found out he was HIV positive and decided to still compete. While being a diver, he always felt that he didn’t fit in, he didn’t make friends, some having to do with jealousy, but much of that having to do with being gay. No one wanted to room with him. He later became one of the first openly gay men in sports,opening the world for other gay athletes. I was not familiar with Greg Louganis prior to watching this documentary. I noticed myself rooting for him throughout the movie. The documentary was inspiring and moving. The Nov 16 screening is sold out!

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STILL DREAMING
DIR: Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller

This film is about the elderly, retired performers who reside at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey (not too far from Manhattan!), an assisted living facility that cares for retired entertainers and their family members. Young professional Broadway directors are brought into the picture to help prepare the elderly entertainers as they take on the challenge of performing the Shakespearean play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I loved this documentary! Some of the characters that you will come across from the sweet old grandmas to the rebel-loner types, will have you cheering them on as they rise above the limitations that come with old age. I enjoyed the stories of the old folks recalling their early days in entertainment and watching the movie made me think that you could certainly learn a thing or twenty from the elderly. The movie is about second chances, respecting your fellow human beings, taking on challenges and realizing that life is short. I highly recommend this film.

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MEET THE PATELS
DIR: Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel

This is a highly entertaining and funny documentary about Ravi Patel, a first-generation Indian-American who is looking for his perfect mate. Lighthearted animation sequences are scattered throughout the film which starts off with perhaps a homage to “When Harry Met Sally” where Indian couples recall how they met and talk about their happy marriages. Ravi, the subject of the film is fast approaching 30, recently breaks up with his secret white girlfriend of 2 years and due to his parents’ wishes and pressures of his Indian culture, sets out on a quest to find the perfect Indian bride.

Ravi’s adventures include blind dates all across the country and Canada, looking for brides in India and attending a Patel matrimonial convention. All of this is captured on camera by his sister, Geeta. The film is not only hilarious but it’s also an eye-opening look at Indian culture and customs. Ravi is fun to watch as well as his persistent, matchmaking parents. This is a film I cannot wait to see again.

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