This article is a somewhat of a response to Kappstatter’s latest article “Bronx Borough Pres. Slams ‘American Idol’ for dissing the area, while Jennifer Lopez stays quiet”. Firstly, I want to thank Kappsttater for his mention of the Boogiedowner and myself in his article. I see it as an invitation to “play in the sand box”; so let’s get started.
This article might get somewhat “heavy”, long and devoid of photos since it pertains to a serious issue that many Bronx residents deal with; the often negative depiction of the Bronx. Much of my conscious desire as a NYS Lic. Real Estate Broker to sell property in the Bronx, including what most call the “South Bronx”, is almost a crusade to bring back my beloved Bronx; back to the pristine neighborhood it once was and will be again. Rest assured I am not he only one out there.
I have had the pleasure of meeting all of the above listed in the header, even if they do not remember meeting me or care if they did. Each were mentioned in Kappstatter’s article. I meet Kappstater at the Bronx Ball and at a fundraiser for the Bronx News Network. I meet B.P. Diaz Jr. at various fundraisers, as well at the annual S.O.M.O.S. convention in Puerto Rico. Assemblyman Carl Heastie and I were Boy Scouts together in Troop 164, run out of Holy Rosary Church on Gun Hill Road. Jennifer Lopez and I were both members at Kip’s Bay Boys & Girls Club in Soundview. If you recall in one of Jennifer’s videos she includes footage of the Kip’s Bay Boys Club.
As per the B.P.’s Diaz Jr. outrage of the negative depiction of the Bronx, I applaud him and thank him for sticking up for the Bronx. The Bronx in the 70’s was a very different place. Yes, the Bronx was once a symbol of urban decay. I admit my even my family was part of the “white flight” from the neighborhood depicted in the video American Idol broadcasted. Yes, my family and I were victims of crime decades ago. Some I can look back on and laugh at, like the time someone stole the windshield of the family car and the million questions I asked my mother as a young child as to why we were driving around with no windshield; or the T.V’s / VCR’s that when brought home were just frames and a brick on the inside were wires, transformers and I assume chips should have been. I will even admit to some more serious not worth mentioning that were the eventual tipping point that forced my family to leave the West/South Bronx and migrate to the more residential East/North Bronx neighborhood of Pelham Parkway. But once again that was 30 years ago and the stigma has not left partly due to “cheap shots” like the latest one from American Idol.
The Bronx is presently an active market where real people from all over are moving to. To prove it here are real statistics and testimony from real people. Counting only my sales in the last 3 years or so 35 people choose to move to the area wrecked by American Idol. One closed this week to a Sara Maxwell, who just moved from D.C. to a beautiful art deco building located at 55 E 190th St. When I asked her how she was getting along she said; “I love it; I love the colors, the life, the people”. (I will have a separate post about her with photo and more detail in my next blog). The next closing in the area should be 563 Walton Ave between 149th and 150th Street. That whole block will be revitalization due to it’s architecture and proximity to the new Gateway mall, new Metro-North Station, new Yankee Stadium and one of the first subway stations into/from Manhattan. Presently it is a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) that will be converted back to a 3 family and made new via a major 203K loan renovation. It will be purchased by a long time Bronx residents who see the prudence in investing in the Bronx.
As per why I used the phrase “Cheap Shots” above when discussing American Idol’s depiction of the Bronx; here are just the top three .
#1) The interview was very vague about the contestants living in the Bronx beyond the 2 or 3 years he mentions living in the shelter. What was the residential neighborhood he lived in before that the father mentioned? Where do they live know? If the prior and present neighborhoods are Bronx neighborhoods why not discuss them as well? Is it because there is nothing negative to say about them and negative “sells”? How much of his life did he spend in the Bronx vs. other boroughs or counties? Can he be considered a Bronxite? If not why even mention the Bronx?
#2) The video showed an ambulance with lights flashing rushing somewhere in haste. Unfortunately, they forgot to show Bronx Lebanon Hospital ,which from the footage provided, should be a few blocks away. I should hope there are ambulances rushing to the Hospital with their lights on. They also forgot to show the new multi-million dollar wing under construction at the Hospital as well.
#2) The video also showed a police car pulling someone over. Yes, the Bronx has a VERY strong police presence, especially on the Grand Concourse. Some would say it’s a pre-cursor to gentrification. It is another sign of the revitalization, not decay. Most people want a strong police presence. Why sell it as a negative?
As per Jennifer Lopez, I must admit I feel obligated to defend her; if she needs defending? I have not reviewed, nor do I believe she will let me see her tax returns to review what she has or has not given to the Bronx. What I do know is that she has supported many international charities, mostly protecting woman’s right. I also know that when offered 2 million dollars to perform for one night at new casino resort in the illegal occupied territories of Northern Cypress she declined. As a Greek-American I will never forget this and am eternally grateful. There are Greek and Turkish Cypriots who lived together and played as youth together for centuries. It's their island. The Turkish invasion was and is nothing more than a human rights abomination. Thank you Jennifer Lopez for not putting you name as a co-signer of aggression, war and attrocities.
It’s obvious American Idol needed some “Bronx Flavor” to turn rice into paia. (Small pun for Baron Ambrosia) But like B.P. Diaz Jr. states, why not show the revitalization going on. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon. American Idol should have explored their content and come up with something original and more accurate instead of jumping on the back of the Bronx public with another reiteration of a negative stereotype from decades long past. As per Kappstatters inference between Heastie and Diaz I know they worked together in the past and I hope they work together in the future. Both are beacons for hope for the Bronx. As per the young man with the golden voice good luck but think about the borough that gave you shelter during your families difficult times.