October 2010 Archives

Just Like High School

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In the eleventh grade, when my class was studying political science, our teacher had us create campaign videos for a phony presidential election we were doing. While my campaign (our candidate was Pat Buchanan, played by a 17-year old from Harlem) lost the election, we by far had the best videos.

This summer it was eleventh grade all over again.

I signed on to the Mark Levine campaign to produce and direct their videos on a volunteer basis. Once again the campaign with the best videos (and the best candidate) ultimately came second in the race for the state senate's 31st district seat Eric Shneiderman is vacating. 

Bragging aside, with the election over exactly four weeks ago today, I finally found time to upload all of the ads for various seats that played on the very Washington-Heights-oriented Queens Public Television's (QPTV) Dominican TV shows produced at DBS Media on 181st street. 

These are the ads from the 72nd district state assembly race, 31st district state senate race, and the 15th district congressional race. 

All of the ads are in Spanish. Watch them after the jump.

Moving Forward

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RIP_Tyler.jpgOn October 8th, 2010, a group of northern Manhattan residents gathered near the George Washington Bridge. As the sun set, they lined the span with streamers, promoting tolerance of persons oppressed by their sexual preferences.

While the group initially set out to commemorate Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide by jumping off the bridge on September 22nd, the timing of the event could not have been more relevant. 

Last week there was an anti-gay beating at the Stonewall Inn. In the Bronx a group made up of mostly teenagers beat and tortured their 17-year-old friend into admitting he, and three other persons, were gay. And yesterday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino went on a homophobic rant that included in his written text: "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual."

Friday, Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, who helped organize the streamer lining and is chair of Community Board 12's Parks & Cultural Affairs Committee, said, "In the same way that the civil rights struggle in the 60s started to really get traction, when white people realized this isn't a black people problem, this is an everybody problem. And the feminist movement started to get a little more traction when men realized this isn't a women thing, this is an everybody thing. This is not a gay thing. This is an everybody thing."

"Moving Forward" was shot and produced by Alex Castex-Porter, includes footage by Jonathan Reznick, and the music is "Mermaid" by Anamanaguchi.

Northern Manhattan Packs Buses for One Nation Rally in D.C.

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helen_robert_maria_100210.jpgPEACE, JOBS, demanded the large signs carried by New York City Councilman Robert Jackson and Barack Obama Democratic Club of Northern Manhattan Treasurer Richard Cipolla at the One Nation rally in Washington, D.C. last Saturday. They were joining 175,000 other marchers supporting progressive policies to address national issues. 

The northern Manhattan participation was organized by a coalition including Northern Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice, the Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association, New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodgriguez, the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Northern Manhattan, and buses were provided by local 1199 of the United Health Care Workers East.

Cipolla, a Washington Heights resident, was one of dozens from the area who packed the two buses, along with elected officials, residents, and students enthusiastic about the message they wanted to bring to Washington. Cipolla elaborated when asked about the two signs he made. 

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"Jobs and peace, these are probably two of the most important things our country needs right now." With the Washington Monument towering behind him, he added, "Because we have higher unemployment rates than other parts of the city, there's lots of young folks from our neighborhood that wind up signing up for the armed forces. Peace would do a lot for them."

The peacemaking efforts weren't only directed at international conflicts. 71st AD Democratic District Leader and former state senate candidate Mark Levine rode the same bus as City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who strongly supported and campaigned for Adriano Espaillat during the state senate primary this summer. Levine made his way to the front of the bus, shook Rodriguez's hand, and the two sat together and chatted during the ride. There were no cameras or press encouraging them to smile; they seemed to be relieved to be talking as just two guys with common enthusiasms about the progressive causes being brought to the table that day. 

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Later, Levine shared his thoughts on the rally as he was marching towards the Lincoln Memorial. "People on the left are as much, if not more, patriotic as any other Americans.... Being patriotic means wanting a united country, where everyone, regardless of their background, has a fair shot, has opportunities."

Councilman Rodriguez also pointed at the ideological divide. "There's a right wing. This time led by the Tea Party, that wants to impose their agenda. And we have to show that nationwide the progressive force has to be part of the debate [on] the future of this country."

Among those on the buses were high school students from Gregorio Luperon High School at 165th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Many of the students are recent immigrants from the Dominican Republic. As the day was wrapping up David Dubnau, one of the event organizers from the Riverside Edgcombe Neighborhood Association, spoke of what he felt was accomplished. "I think that this huge gathering represents a certain amount of power, potentially." 

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One needed to look no further than the Luperon students to see that potential power. Clearly the day had an impact on them, a first trip to Washington for some in the group. On the bus ride home some of the boys wanted to come to the front of the bus and freestyle using the bus's microphone/announcement system, something they had likely been eyeing the moment it was first used that morning. While many on the bus were exhausted and wanted to rest, it was not lost on most riders that the excitement of these young people was to be encouraged, that they had asked for opportunity, the patriotic ideal that Levine had spoken of earlier. That, as Dubnau had commented, the accomplishment of the day was potential power, perhaps achieved through the simple empowerment of handing a teenager the microphone. To hand him a voice, an opportunity.

Photos provided by Barack Obama Democratic Club of Northern Manhattan President Nicole Monegro. Video produced by Alex Castex-Porter.

The Long War

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This summer I produced a series of videos for the Mark Levine for State Senate campaign. I first met Mark exactly one week after I launched The Uptown Current at a local meeting held by the MTA, and was immediately impressed by his accomplishments and track record for improving the lives of those living in northern Manhattan. During the next year and a half I continued to follow Mark's work, and when the campaign contacted me asking for my vote, I went a step further and offered to create some videos for them.

This is the final video I produced for the Mark Levine campaign. Mark was running for the 31st district New York state senate seat being vacated by Eric Schneiderman. It includes footage from primary night, interviews with volunteers, and sadly Mark's concession speech. 

I am proud of Mark for his huge accomplishment in shaking up local politics by running a diverse campaign that unified much of northern Manhattan. Dave Crenshaw, a full-time volunteer for the campaign, expresses his enthusiasm about Mark in the video, "It's not because he's a nice guy, it's because he's an effective guy and he gets things done for all parts of the community.... Mark Levine my neighbor, the teacher, I love him."


Expect a couple more post-primary-election posts in the coming weeks. Including a roundup of various campaign ads that ran on TV during the local primary campaigns.