The bad: on the J train

I live in Hamilton Heights and work al the way to Bushwick. It’s a LONG commute, about 1hour and a few minutes of my day. But had I not endured all these hours on the subway, I doubt I would have witnessed pretty much every vignette of new york life you can imagine. Oh the things I saw, heard, and smelled!

One time on the 1 train, a guy sitting beside me insisted on demonstrating to me the newly acquired flexibility of his broken arm. I declined and let out a nervous laugh. Broken arm guy shrugged one shoulder in sign of indifference but another stranger sitting across from me scolded me for making fun of him. This is one of many examples of the most unlikely interactions I had with other riders.

The weirdest, most shocking incident happened during a morning commute to work, on the J tain between Flushing and Myrtle av., I think. There was at the most, three other people on the train – usually people travel to Brooklyn from Manhattan in the morning, not the other way around. I was changing into my work shoes when I noticed the homeless man who had been sitting diagonally across from me since Marcy Av station. We locked eyes. I knew that look

I have been working with children since 2007, as a day care assistant and as a babysitter. I am very familiar with that look. I just had never seen it in an adult man before. To the untrained eye, it may be confused with the “glazed look”, but it reflects a person experiencing full concentration, pleasure, and slight embarrassment. More often than not, this look is accompanied by a semi-open mouth and a slight frown. This man was, without a doubt in, pooping. Seconds later, the most foul smell invaded the subway car, making it impossible to disprove my hypothesis.

Not giving a fuck about the $75 fine, I made my way to the next car. Of course, not before exchanging one las glance with the homeless man who now sported a very different look of utter satisfaction and mischief.

MTA subway map, zoom on Manhattan-Brooklyn line


The good: Spread Love Party in Greenpoing, BK (and how I avoided a fine)

Based on TV shows, articles in magazines, and my own wild imagination, I constructed a pretty solid yet possibly misguided image of what underground brooklyn dance parties are like, or should be like. I have been looking to experience this ideal since the first time I visited New York during Summer 2011 and the quest only intensified once I moved here in May. It finally came to an end last night at the Spread Love Party in Greenpoint, organized by the Brooklyn Good Guys. I am not sure who the Brooklyn Good Guys are. I just know that they are a collective of artists, musicians (and good guys?) who organize dope events. Dope as in fucking amazing. I found out about this one through a 3rdWard post on their blog about stuff going on this weekend, which you can find here.

The Spread Love Party was advertised as a live dancehall/rap/hip-hop music event with no cover, in front of the waterfront, and to which you could bring your own booze, drinks, beer, liquor, poison…. Now if that doesn’t sound like the best event, I don’t know what would. Unless you hate rap/hip-hop and happiness, in which case you should just die or something. Check out the awesome flyer below.

I went there with a new friend, Julio, who I met through couchsurfing. He’s from El Salvador, just like me! Other couchsurfers as well as my friend Jerome visiting from Quebec joined us later. Julio and I got there super early (around 8:30), with a 6-pack of brooklyn pilsen. We wanted the party to get more ballin’ before going in so just we sat down by the water, a few centimeters away from the venue which was half a construction site & half a backyard (?) behind an apartment building. Low resolution pictures I stole from twitter are below.

We started a-drinking… enjoying the New York skyline and the good enough sunset –mediocre compared to salvadorian sunsets obviously. Two guys came up to us at one point and asked us how to get into the party. Seconds after we directed them, Julio spotted a police car. I know, WHOoaaA.

We instinctively hid the booze behind a concrete slab and i lit a cigarette. Not due to stress but to seem like we had nothing to hide — it made sense in my head at that time. We also started taking pictures of each other as well as excessively and exaggeratedly pointing at the buildings in manhattan, to pretend like we were there for the view, YOU KNOW. The cops didn’t even come to talk to us or anything so IT WORKED! Unfortunately, the guys who asked us how to get in did get a fine. ha! suckers. Just kidding, poor dudes.

I actually took this one

After the cops left, we finally went into the party. I am still not sure if it was somebody’s house or maybe a studio but we definitely went through an apartment-like space. The first DJ set was very good. he was playing some cool vintage Rap and Hip Hop. The second set was OK although he didn’t have any Das Racist and was playing almost all top 40 music, which I dont mind. However, one of the highlights of the night was the live show by the band Nyle vs. the Naysayers, which played at around 10pm (after the first DJ set) and again towards the end of the party (after the second set). They were SO GOOD that Das Racist might have to make some room in my heart for them. Check their website and music here. If I had to describe their musical style, which I am not very good at doing, I would say they are a hip-hop/punk/reaggae group. But who isn’t these days? The important thing is that they fricking rooockkeedddd.

I am not sure if this would qualify as an “underground party” as ir was definitely advertised and the purpose was to celebrate the CD release of Nyle vs. the Naysayers. To be honest I don’t really care. I had so much fun and my friends did too! I think they under the erroneous impression that I am some sort of cool girl who knows about all these ~underground~ events. But I try to explain to them that I am just a really good researcher!!!

The good: I saw Das Racist for free in Brooklyn!

“I’m at the Pizza Hut
I’m at the Taco Bell
I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”

– Das Racist

Anyone a fan of Das Racist? They may come off as a joke rap group at first, but they have a unique hip-hop/electro/rap/hardcore/punk sound that really sets them appart from any other rap group. In addition, they are lyrical geniuses, often inserting a clever racial commentary and obscure references in their songs.

They were playing a FREE show last night at the Red Hook Park, in front of the Recreational Centre, in Brooklyn. The event was part of the SummerStage concert series, which I highly recommend checking out. Find more info about lineups, dates, and locations here. Actually, SummerStage is ran by the organization I am interning at, which is the City Parks Foundation. Represent!!


The show was AMAZING, to say the least. The crowd was great. This for me means that most of the people there were over 21, that it was only about 30% white hipster, and that people actually danced. Not bad for a free, all ages show in Brooklyn!

I also discovered some great new muzik: rock/punk group Trouble Andrew and rapper Action Bronson. Action Bronson at one point threw little bags of weed to the crowd and smoked a blunt on stage. I may or may not be in possession of one of those bags. Can you fricking believe it? I still can’t This is America people, and it’s great. Actually NO, this is Brooklyn people, and it’s fucking dope. Literally.

Also I think I fell in love with Dapwell (from Das Racist)

Brooklyn unexpected industrial pockets

On my way to she show from the Caroll St G,F stop

Trouble Andrew

Dapwell (Das Racist)

The bad: How I was stood up by a brooklyner

So this post was supposed to be a happy post about how I went to this awesome event that takes place every wednesday in Brooklyn at this art gallery/space/studio called 3rd ward. Instead, this is an angry post about how this guy who I thought was my friend totally bailed on me! Cancelling is one thing but this guy didn’t even bother to tell me he wasn’t coming or to even apologize afterward for not showing up. Human beings simply should not do that to other human beings.

The event in question is called “Drink & Draw” and it consists of a life-drawing session and beer in all-you-care-to-drink quantities. Info can be found here. It’s from 8:00-10:30pm and I recommend you get there very early because it gets packed. I waited for like 30 minutes for the guy because I am always late so I figured, why not? But after 2 unanswered calls, I made my way to 3rd ward alone. Unfortunately, the place was full so I couldn’t even get in. Oh well.

The good: Meeting my cousin for the first time at an illegal bar

Have you ever red One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez? If not, skip to the second paragraph or go read it and then come back. I suggest the second. I first read the book when I was around 17 years old and I have been convinced ever since that my family is the real-life incarnation of the Buendia family. We, the Aranivas have it all: notoriety in a small town in El Salvador, a killer patriarch, a Rebeca who used to eat dirt (ca c’est moi), emotional unavailability, forbidden love stories, a longevous matriarch, and you know… we’re kinda weird-quirky-yet-awesome.

I am an Araniva on my mothers’ side so I unfortunately do not carry the name but I feel more Araniva than anything. My father is mexican and he doesn’t get along with his family all that much. I barely know who they are and I’ve met my dad’s family maybe three times in my entire life. But I don’t mind at all. Although small, the Aranivas are a pretty tight clan and it’s all the family I need.

A couple of years ago, my cousin Fran created a Facebook group for all the Aranivas to join and keep in touch since we are all scattered throughout America and Europe. As a side-note, he’s my mother’s cousin so I think I should call him my cousin once removed, but who has time for that shit?

So anyways, the group remained open and people from everywhere started joining. It was pretty neat because we all turned out to be somewhat related. Let it be known that Araniva is actually an alternative spelling of the basque last name Araniba or Aranibar. It is fairly uncommon outside of the small town of Chinameca in El Salvador. One way or another, all Aranivas are connected. When the group was first created I thought “omg this is sooo lamerz, I’m totes ~tooo kewl for this~ who r this random pple anywayzzz?” so I didn’t join.

Eventually my mom befriended on of the people in the group, a girl living in new york. She dreams of going to Peru and I think that’s how she started talking to my mom, who travels to Peru every so often for work. I noticed on my Facebook feed that they’d write on each other’s walls and like each other’s comments. I didn’t think too much of it until I visited new york last summer with my friend Talia and I decided to contact this “fake” cousin of mine. Our schedules ended up conflicting and we missed each other.

This weekend, we finally met up! She took me to this really cool reggae show/party in Bushwick, Brooklyn which is the new Williamsburg or in other words, the new up-and-coming hipster artsy neighbourhood. Half overpriced bars and pretentiousness, half interesting people and places. The event was held at this illegal bar, meaning that some dudes’ decided to sell booze in their converted loft without a liquor license. In case big brother is reading, I will keep the address to myself. Although apparently every other house in Bushwick is an illegal bar (in other words a huge party).

Guys, this was totally like Party Girl’s opening scene:

Except the guy charging cover was not as charismatic as Parker Posey. And no cops came. Also, the bathroom had barbed wire, as pictured below:


My cousin used to live there and I highly considered moving there but the barbed wire kind of threw me off.

Also make sure you watch Party Girl! It’s a great movie.

A bit of Brooklyn love

Hey all!

It might be no secret that I’m a bit in love of Brooklyn. Brooklyn is gigantic and I am by no means close to knowing all of it. I’m barely slightly familiar with a few Brooklyn neighbourhoods. So maybe I’m not in love as much as I am in lust with the place. Anyways, I found this really cool video so I thought I’d share it.

Jay Z – “Hello Brooklyn” from Greg Solenström on Vimeo.