Sunday, August 22, 2010

Central Park Summer Stage - August 21, 2010

Yesterday was a great day to be a music lover in New York City. Especially if you're a fan of contemporary R&B and neo-soul music played by real musicians and sung by people who can actually sing like I am. The Central Park Summerstage put on a show that had all of that and them some. Mario, Tamia and Chrisette Michelle on one stage. There isn't more you could ask for. A music lovers paridise in the middle of the greatest city in the world.

The show opened up with Miguel, an up and coming artist, who, from what I could tell is another artist that combines the lines of funk, metal and R&B. He plays electric guitar and his band has a Mint Condition-ese sound to it. As far as the singing goes, he sounds pretty decent. After his set, I kind of regretted passing on the free CD single they were distributed when we were on line to get in.

Tamia took the stage next. All I can say is DAMN. She came out in this white dress that hugged her in all the right places. I could only imagine what Grant Hill was thinking as he watched her set from the crowd. The woman is fine and the second she opens her mouth you know she is a gifted singer. Her set started with "So Into You" and "Imagination". She followed those two songs with her other hits "Spend My Life", "You Put A Move On My Heart", "Still", "Me" and "Officially Missing You". Her set ended with "Stranger In My House". I'm already looking forward to her next album and it's not even coming out until next year.

Mario was next. I don't know what to make of his performance. It was good to hear his old hits "Just A Friend" and "You Should Let Me Love You", "How Do I Breathe" and "Cryin' Out For You" but the rest of his set left a lot to be desired. Gyrating across the stage with children in attendance outside at 4 o'clock in the afternoon might not have been the best decision he made yesterday. Especially when the rest of the lineup used their God-given abilities to entertain the crowd. I'm sure there were some people who were impressed with his performance, but I can't count myself as one of them.

Chrisette Michelle headlined the show. Dressed in a simple black dress and a denim jacket, she stepped on stage and made up for not showing up at last year's concert when she was scheduled to be on a lineup that also included Jazmine Sullivan and Jon. B. She started her set with "Epiphany". From there, she went into her other hits "All I Ever Think About", "Like A Dream", "Golden", "Love Is You" and "If I Had My Way". Her set ended with a gospel inspired version of "Blame It On Me". Who would think that with only two albums out Chrisette is already at a point in her career where she can do a show and not perform songs that would be considered hits. She could have easily done another half an hour or so because she didn't do "Be OK" or my personal favorite "In This For You". Guess I'll actually have to spend money to hear her sing those.

Overall, it was a beautiful day in the park. Good music and a good time had by those in attendance. I almost neglected to mention that "Salt" from Salt N Pepa performed and the DJ kept the party going between sets. Too bad we can't get more than one R&B day in the park each summer. It's always a memorable event.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Restaurant Review - Agave

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat (no, this is not a continuation from my last post ;-) ). Luckily for me, I live in New York where there's practically a restaurant on every corner and I'm not scared to make a reservation and put on a pair of slacks and a button up to enjoy a meal (the times of taking a woman to Applebee's, Friday's or Uno's and calling it a date left with my teens). Sometimes you'll stumble on a new gem, and other times, you'll leave looking for the nearest McDonald's because the food sucked. Either way, the new experience is something you'll remember. From time to time, as I experience new things I'll share them with you here. Sharing is caring.

The Greenwich Village section of New York City has a reputation that might scare some people away, but one thing that it does have going for it is some good restaurants and lounges. Two of my favorite restaurants (Burrito Loco and Caliente Cab Company) and one of my favorite lounges (Fat Black Pussycat) are down there as is the latest restaurant I have gone to for the first time this weekend.

Agave is a southwestern inspired restaurant located convienently on 7th Avenue South between West 10th Street & Charles Street. It's has a spacious enclosed eating area in the front for those who want to enjoy the bright sunshine and the lively scene on 7th Avenue South, a decent sized bar area for those who just want to stop by really quick for a drink or appetizers or the after-work crowd, then a quiet dining area for those who desire an eating experience that is a little bit more intimate.

The staff is quick and friendly. Our food was prepared in record time (as if they knew what I was having before I ordered it). I had grilled tuna with tomato chutney and my companion for the evening had steak tortilla. The portion sizes were idea and the food was splendid. No need to add salt, pepper or hot sauce. The dessert menu looked tempting, but I passed on it. I might have to indulge in it next time. . . YES, there will be a next time.

Agave gets more than a passing grade from me and will definitely be added to the list of restaurants on the regular rotation. Quick service, good food, reasonable prices, nice atmosphere. What more could you ask for? . . . next on the list of new restaurants to try, hopefully, will be Negril Village. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Facebook Fridays: The New Goodnight Kiss

If you are reading this, there's a pretty good chance that you also have a facebook account. Even if you are one of those few people who don't have an account, I'm confident in the assumption that you know someone who does (hell, you're reading my blog and I have one, so that's that). Most of us who have accounts check it at least once daily, either to update the world on what's going on with you, or to find out what's going on with the rest of the world. Whether its a status update, a new friend request, a new group or just to stalk other people, we can't avoid getting on Facebook. Thanks to smartphones and iPods, its gotten to the point that people even update their status while they are on vacation (something I vow not to do if I ever take a vacation, especially one that requires an airplane or a passport). From time to time, I'll come across an interesting status update that might spark a conversation or debate. The status may come from me, but more than likely it'll come from one of my friends (I'll save my controversial stuff for the blog). Either way, if its interesting enough, I'll share it here with you for your take on the topic.

This weeks topic comes from a former college classmates post on Sunday night. It simply stated the following:

That comment alone isn't what prompted the discussion. What prompted the discussion was the fact that one of his friends commented that she doesn't perform oral sex, although she is a very willing receipient of it. I know everyone is entitled to their opinions and I don't know her reasonings for the opinion that she has, but it is definitely rare. In the sexual society that we live in its rare to find men or women who choose not to perform oral sex. In certain instances people will be satisfied with just being allowed to perform or receive oral sex.

I do agree with her in one regard. In regards to oral sex, or anything sexual for that matter, I have always felt that it would be more enjoyable for all parties involved if you do whatever you do because you want to do it and not because the other parties want to do it. Life is short, do (or don't do) what you want and don't worry about being judged about it. That piece of advice can apply to any aspect of your life, not just sex. If someone asked you to bake them a cake, do it because you want to, not because they asked you to. That was a stretch considering the original topic, but I'm sure you understand where I'm coming from (no pun intended).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Evolution of Friendships

I have always been a firm believer in the addage that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Recent events in my life have definitely supported that belief. The only thing about it was that up until recently, I tried to control who stayed in my life, how long they stayed in my life AND what role they played in my life. I am just starting to understand the fact that those decisions are not in my control. I have friends that I have known almost all of my life (two of my friends I have knows for 27 years) and I have friends who have come into my life in the last couple of years who I couldn't imagine life without. In between, there have been others who have come and gone. Although they are gone, they aren't forgotten because they left footprints and lessons that will be cherished forever. Their reason or season in my life was not in vain.

This summer, my church started having 2 services on Sundays. They moved the regular 11am service up to 10:30am and added an early morning service at 7:30am (a service that I hope sticks around at least through football season). I attend the 7:30 services because 1) they are casual and 2) it gives me the rest of the day to myself. Lately, I have been given a third reason to enjoy the 7:30 services. A group of us, which includes three of my mentors, have started going to breakfast after church. This is nothing different than when they used to take us out when they were my age and I was a teenager. Only difference is that instead of the mentee/mentor type conversations, we have evolved into friends. We joke together, hang out together, talk on the same level. I couldn't have imagined this type of friendship developing when I first met them way back when.

My mentors have been in my life for over 20 years now. They have seen some of my highs and have been there at all of my lows. They've done things for me that my family hasn't even done and stepped into situations for me in which my family wouldn't. I appreciated them for what they've done for me as part of my growing up and becoming the man I am today. Never did I think that they'd still have a major role in my life once I became an adult. Thankfully, those decisions aren't made by me. I'm glad that our friendships have evolved to the point that they are now. Like I often tell one particular friend of mine, sometimes its better to to get what you need instead of what you want. My mentors have become just as close as some of my friends, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The (Crazy) Ex-Files: Birthday Present

Those of you out there who know me know I have a funny philosphy on receiving gifts. In particular, I have a hard time answering the question "what do you want for (birthday/christmas/etc). I have and will always be of the opinion that if you want to give me something, go ahead and do it. At the same time, make it something meaningful. Different things have different meanings to me depending on who they come from. On the flip side, if I do get up enough guts to tell someone what I want (from them) I need some kind of assurance that they'd actually be willing to make it happen for me. That brings me to today.

Today is the birthday of one of my ex-girlfriends, "Chicago". How do I know? Partly because it's written down in my birthday book and partly because she reminded me. Not only did she remind me, she told me she wanted to see me today. What makes this even more interesting is that she's in Maryland and I'm in New York. I received an e-mail yesterday asking me if I was available this evening for a few hours. Mind you, this is woman who I haven't dated since the late 90's and haven't seen since a New Year's weekend trip to Philly in 2005. I wonder what makes her think I'd want to see her after all these years. I don't even know why I bothered to respond to the e-mail, but I am glad I forgot that I was actually free tonight.

As I sit here typing this there's a part of me who wonders what keeps her going after all these years. I've seen movies start out like this. I don't want to be the star of a Lifetime movie. I wouldn't even dare stroke my own ego because I know I'm a better man now than I was when we dated so she can't say she misses this version of me. I hope that this situation doesn't linger on past today. She went after what she wanted for her birthday and didn't get it. Let's hope I don't here from her or any other ex's for a very, VERY long time . . . Then again, my ex-fiance's birthday is Thursday.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I Want That Kind of Love

Three years ago, I started becoming an active member of the Men's Ministry at my church. With the exception of the two years that I played semi-pro football, this was the first time in my life that I have been around a bunch of men on a regular basis. The major difference is that this group of men is a bit more like minded than my former teammates. The only thing I had in common with my teammates was our desire to win a championship. The men in the men's ministry bring a little bit more to the table that I can benifit from. Today provided another example.

I was walking to church this morning, when one of the guys from the church, we will call him The Hammer, drove by and offered me a ride. He asked me if I minded if he drove by McDonald's and get a cup of coffee. Of course I didn't, he was giving me a ride. Anyway, during the ride, we started talking, or should I say he started talking and I just started listening. He was telling me how he just brought himself and his daughter matching 2010 GMC Terrain's and how he finished buying the summer house that he and his wife had planned on buying in South Carolina before his wife lost her fight with cancer last year. During the conversation, you could tell in his voice that he still loved and missed his wife. He also said one thing that stuck with me. When talking about the summer house, he said "I'm going to finish the dream that Chris(tine) and I had.".

I am far from being married, let alone being in a position where I have to bury my wife, but to know this man loved his wife so much that he's still going to finish what they started tells me a lot about what kind of love they had for each other. I'm thankful for a glimpse of real love and hopeful that it will come my way one day as well.