Author Archive

Vilage of Light – A Burning Man Winter Celebration in the City

December 15th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

What do you do when some of your best memories take place in the middle of the desert with your closest friends, as exotic DJ beats blast all around you while you examine some of the most beautiful art pieces you’ve ever seen?

You decompress from that experience by bringing it back to life right at home, of course.

This is what the Burning Man community here in New York City did on Friday for Gratitude:Village of Light, an event that celebrated the community of like-minded artists, performers, visionaries, and kindred spirits who practice the 10 Burning Man principles year-round, and invite other to do just the same.

Burning Man is a music and arts festival that began in San Francisco around 1987. Today, the event takes place in Black Rock City, Nevada and boasts an attendance of over 50,000 participants every year, inviting people around the country and the world to take part in an experimental city that is commonly described as an expressive Utopia with extremely harsh desert conditions. In this city, currency and commercialism is non-existent (in other words, not allowed!), and another form of exchange takes its place instead: gifting.

Many major cities, including New York City no less, have a prominent community of Burning Man attendees that have over time transformed the semi-underground annual event into a full on cultural and artistic movement. Friday’s Village of Light event served as a celebration of an embraced 11th Principle, Gratitude, that was first revealed at Figment, a summer music and arts festival on Governor’s Island organized by the same community of artists. Proceeds will go towards Figment as well as the Black Rock Arts Foundation in order to support participatory culture, community and interactive art.

Here is a list of featured highlights from the event:

– A fashion show by designer Wheylan at midnight
– Dozens of 2D, 3D, and Video Art installations
– A Burlesque/Cabaret Revue

DJ Line Up
– An-Ten-Nae (Acid Crunk/SF)
– Arrow Chrome (Disorient/NYC)
– Friar Tuck (Disorient/NYC)
– Karim So (Luvstep/LA)
– The Bass (Disorient/NYC)
– Bit-Tuner (Trepok Rec./Switzerland)
– Blanco (BOOM Trike/NYC)
– D_Juice (House of Yes/NYC)
– Jon Margulies (Hobotech/NYC)
– Joro-Boro (Etno-Teck/NYC)
– Mike Vinyl (injectionmusic/Austria)
– Miss Sabado (Disorient/NYC/LA)
– Morphous w/ ShiZaru (Tsunami Bass Experience/NYC)
– The Munch Machine (
– Orion Keyser (Disorient/NYC)
– Reda Briki (Disorient/NYC)
– Space Invader (MK2/NYC/SF)
– Tektite (Vitamin B/NYC)
– DJ Tinseltown (Flux Factory/NYC)

Live Bands
– Raquy and the Cavemen (NYC)
– Comandante Zero (NYC)
– Neon Dynamite (NYC)
– Lenkadu (Boston)
– Gina Ferrera (Philly)
– Siren (NYC)
– Joshua Tennent & Acoustic Noise Complaint (NYC)
– JustinJustin TOCA & Ale’ Ale’ Drummers (NYC)

For those of you who have never attended Burning Man before, Judd Weiss wrote a highly amusing and slightly explicit description of his experiences there in his blog. Since it was his first year, it’s a great read from a very personal point-of-view. But the truth is, everyone has a whole range of experiences out there, and it can be as crazy or as zen as you like it to be.

For further information, here are some links to New York City Burning Man theme camps and artistic groups. And although it is not updated often, you can also scout out information about the Burning Man in New York City website.


Kostume Kult

Image Node


House of Yes

Soundslides music credits: “Love & Happiness” (Yemaya y Ochun) [Michel Cleis ‘Floreo’ Remix]

The Big Piano

December 6th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

Chestnuts Roasting By the Subway Station…

November 28th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

It’s that time of year again, New Yorkers. The holiday season is upon us, and the city has been gradually putting up celebratory lights. Sooner or later, the mad dash to find presents and shopping deals will make Black Friday look like a joke. But shopping isn’t the only thing that should be on your mind – here is a list of things you can do to ease yourself into the holiday spirit in the city…

* If you haven’t been to Rockefeller Center yet, that’s okay – because the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be take place this coming Tuesday.Word of advise to those who are extremely claustrophobic: wait until after Tuesday to go pay a visit! The turnout for this event can be pretty overwhelming…

* It’s finally getting chillier outside, but that shouldn’t deter you from going ice skating in either one of the rinks in Central Park! Rockefeller Center also has an ice skating rink, but you are likely to find a much longer wait to get on the ice…

* Ever wanted to drink a lot and dress like Santa for a day? Well, now you can! The annual and notorious Santacon event is coming up on December 11. Don’t be surprised if you see a mass of Santas take over the city as they move from location to location, hitting up bars on the way. You can even follow the group on Twitter.

* Get musical and join a free community sing-along event with award-winning choir Songs of Solomon. On December 1, 4 and 10, this choir will hit up Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx to sing and let others join in the merry-making. The sing-alongs take place until February…

* Hit up Union Square’s holiday market. It’s a great place to find an ideal holiday gift for anyone or just browse around to enjoy.

* Go to and browse around the site for numerous fun, free things you can do around the city! Events range from holiday musical performances to poetry readings to tours.

* Attend a wreath-making workshop at the Queens County Farm Museum December 4 and 5. Everything is provided for you to craft and have fun, as long as you book your place in advance: (718) 347-3276 Ext. 301.

* Take a walk down 5th Avenue starting front Central Park. Window shopping at the stores on this street will get you in a cheerful mood thanks to the unique display of lights and holiday decorations.

Mixed Cuisine in Diverse District

November 22nd, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

In Brooklyn’s Community District 12, which includes the neighborhoods of Borough Park, Kensington and Midwood, the food is just as diverse as the residents who reside there. In Kensington alone, the diversity of cultures range from Bangladeshi to Mexican to Polish. If you’re feeling adventurous (and very hungry!), it might be worth exploring the different foods available in these neighborhoods. Bon apetit!

View BK Community District 12 in a larger map

Broadway Signs

November 11th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

Young Voters Lack Election Zeal

November 7th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

Are young voters really feeling abandoned by our president, or are they just swinging to a more conservative side? Or is there a better reason why they felt so disengaged from midterm elections?

In the the 2008 presidential elections, the majority of young voters ages 18-29 fully supported Barack Obama, and were actively involved and enthusiastic in helping his campaign. However, despite the tense yet anticipated midterm election results,  it was reported that young voters were mostly disinterested in voting, or didn’t place as much importance on these elections as the previous ones.

In a survey conducted on voters at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism ages 21-29:

* 14/15 people voted in the 2008 Presidential Elections

* 14/15 are happy with the way in which President Obama has handled the country’s problems in the last two years

and yet…

* 5/15 voted in the Primary Elections

* 3/15 voted in the Midterm Elections

According to this small sample of results, most of the young voters in this poll didn’t vote because they felt unmotivated and it didn’t seem that important, they believed their vote wouldn’t count and that their city was liberal anyway (as they were), or because they felt these elections didn’t portray how any major central political figures would affect their lives in an immediate way. Overall, most of the voters approve of President Obama’s work, yet fail to understand why the midterm elections are weighed so heavily. A similar view is reflected in a poll conducted by New York University’s Washington Square News in which young students felt that the presidential election was significantly more engaging and interesting to them overall.

Even though young voters seem to be uninvolved in the voting process right now, it may not mean that they are all unhappy with the way our president has been performing. It may just mean that the Democrats should pay more attention to the young adults who they won over so ardently before. Continuing to emphasize why primary and midterm elections have a major impact on the current party in power can show young adults that even though the politician of their choice is still the president, their choices can either prevent or push important bills, such as health care, to be repealed.

A Taste of the Country in the City

October 17th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

It is common knowledge that New Yorkers love good food. The city has a wide variety of delicious foods with plates from all over the world, and weekly markets with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

In Hamburg, Pennsylvania, a place called Eckerton Hill Farm has received attention for its amazing variety of tomatoes and chili peppers, and its presence in the Union Square Greenmarket on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. On occasion, New Yorkers have made their way to Eckerton Hill for the annual pig roast. But if you’ve never been to the farm, that’s okay. Chances are, you’ve tasted this farm’s tomatoes at a restaurant you’ve been to recently, like Peaches HotHouse in Bedstuy.

Farm manager Tim Stark, 48, talks about Eckerton Hill Farm:

On the farm’s beginning:
1. by Luz118

On selling products to the New York City Greenmarket:
3. by Luz118

On the annual pig roasts:
4. by Luz118

Rain Rain Go Away…

October 4th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

We’ve all been there before. You’re standing on the corner of a busy avenue, drenched from head to toe in that luke-warm, New York City rain, desperately waiving your hand around as though you were an eager student who knew the answer to the question a teacher asked. Except that you’re just trying to hail a cab instead. And while there are numerous, potential saviors – various highlight yellow cabs spread out all over the street, not a single ‘available’ light sign is on. All the cabs are full. And there you are, wondering if you will ever get home within the next half an hour, as you slowly catch a cold.

There are many things that are downright pesky on a rainy day in New York City. And while every New Yorker has been inevitably affected by the occasional downpour of rain, there are ways to avoid having bad rainy days, and start enjoying them instead. Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Issue: You are walking to work during a torrential downpour, trying to keep your things dry under your tiny, $5 umbrella, when a careless New Yorker walks passed you with an umbrella five times their size, hitting everything and everyone in its path.

Solution: Save yourself from any more pokes in the eye, and hit up a store nearby where you can get dry and entertain yourself for a little while, until the rain lets up.

2. Issue: You wore inappropriate shoes that day, thinking that the weather would continue to be dry and sunny. Instead, your feet are so soaked from the rain you make tiny squeaky noises every time you take a step, and you can’t really feel your toes anymore!

Solution: Take your shoes off and run through the streets barefoot. Or hit up a discount shoe store to invest in some warm, comfortable rain boots. That way, you can do some serious puddle sloshing for fun.

3. Issue: You are stuck at home with nothing to do, and you wish you were able to get out of the house and get active.

Solution: Then do just that, and hit up a few bookstores or museums to pass the time. Nothing makes a rainy go by faster than curling up with a book.

4. Issue: You have somehow ended up in Park Slope, and you are caught in a sudden, relentless storm.

Solution: Stop by Tarzian Hardware store and other merchants in the area to pick up a free umbrella, part of a community program for the neighborhood. You can stay dry throughout the day, and when you’re done, just return it from where you picked it up!

5. Issue: It’s been raining for days, and you are stuck in a rut, or perhaps the lack of sunshine has triggered a small case of seasonal affective disorder.

Solution: Realize that the variance in weather is just a natural part of life, and there is always a lighter way of looking at things that at first seem so dreary.

City Pests of the Fourth Kind

October 1st, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

For most New Yorkers, dealing with pests is an almost daily occurrence. The city’s 311 call center has been hit with so many bed bug complaints that the bed bugs eventually made an appearance there! But unfortunately, there are certain kinds of pests that you can’t get rid of with a little bit of Raid. More specifically, the MTA and its planned-but-somehow-missable service changes are a different kind of city pest altogether.

Picture this: You get up early one weekend and run through your daily routine, catching the train in order to make a doctor’s appointment in the next 30 minutes. You sit down in your seat and distractedly open up your kindle, or power up your i-pod for the next few moments… until, with a horror, it slowly dawns on you: Why is the train stopping at Essex instead of Broadway-Lafayette? Whereupon the mad dash to get off on the next stop and get to the correct train line ensues. Sound familiar to anyone?

Perhaps this is why the MTA decided to give their service change notice signs a makeover. The endless stream of complaints about the confusing posters have resulted in the debut of a completely new design, which the MTA hopes is an improvement from the old posters. The new service change signs include transit information about the train concerned as well as its connecting lines, making changing trains a little clearer to straphangers. Although our blogging buddies at 2nd Ave. Sagas are happier with the new signs, other ideas on the notorious MTA posters have been pitched in the past.

In a more humorous attempt to display the frustrations of working New Yorkers towards the MTA, the Working Families Party created satirical “service change” posters that graced subway stations around the city in March. Although city transit officials didn’t see the humor in these posters, 77% of readers who took a NYDailyNews poll did. Ironically, this was not the only time that MTA poster designs were used as a means to advance satirical messages.

In April, graphic designer Jason Shelowitz, 30, chose to use the MTA-style service change posters to send out messages to a different kind of pest: New Yorkers themselves. Hopefully between the new service change posters and the etiquette slap on the wrist, we can all be polite to each other while we ride the subway, even if we end up going to Flushing when we meant to go to Red Hook.

First published: September 12, 2010

Tackling City Pests with Bicycle Obsessions

September 26th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

New York City has a plethora of cycling routes and activities for bicycling-friendly residents, and offers a much quicker option of getting from point A to point B than the MTA does lately. While riding one’s bicycle seems like the best way to get to work or just enjoy the day, residents should keep their eyes open for a city pest that is known so notoriously to most cyclists, that they barely have time to get off their bikes before they turn around and their tire and handle bars are gone. That’s right – I’m talking about the professional bike thieves who roam the streets of the city possessing some crazy disassembling skills.

So exactly how can a New Yorker protect or prevent their cherished $150 Craigslist bicycle from getting stolen?

When it comes to getting your bike stolen, no one could do it faster or more efficiently than these pro thieves could. But this begs the question – are these guys getting away with stealing bicycle parts because they’re good at it, or is it that no one’s really paying any attention? It seems that residents feel like their bike woes have been going completely unnoticed until recently. But at least some take comfort in the fact that if they get their bicycle stolen, they can always check on Craigslist to see if the thief was dumb enough to re-sell it.

While nothing could beat a resolved thief with a massive pair of bolt cutters,  all you need occasionally is some alertness and a video camera to send out a strong message. More humorously, if the deed has already been done and you are left heartbroken without your bicycle, you can always deal with your emotions by telling your story to the guys over at Or if you find it later on in the streets with a new owner, leaving a passive-aggressive note can make you feel better too.

Otherwise New Yorkers, you can prevent yourselves from going home using the subway by staying up to date on precautionary measures and exercising them meticulously. Because the real deal is, no bike lock is actually secure enough to protect your bikes! As long as you make sure that the place where you purchased your bicycle isn’t actually buying stolen ones and re-selling them, you are already in a place of advantage.