It’s so easy to bash MTV’s new show Washington Heights. How can you not when 100% of MTV programming is garbage? I live in The Heights. I’ve been hearing adjectives such as “exploitative” and “inaccurate” by people who live here. This is funny because besides a recent screening at the Paramount Room the majority of folks have not seen the show.
MTV’s Washington Heights is not the Jersey Shore or The Real World. If you were to compare it to something on MTV it would be more like “Laguna Beach” or “The Hills” in that the cast already knows each other before shooting and that there is a hint of care given to cinematography. MTV’s Washington Heights is beautifully shot and doesn’t often cut to the behind-the-scenes interviews that viewers are used to.
As a director of photography I’ve spent a lot of time scouting The Heights and am pleased to see the neighborhood photographed with care by the show’s DPs Glen Mordeci, Pedro Feria Pino, and Nelson Noel Salcedo. You may remember Pedro and Nelson from a few music videos for Audubon who appears on the show. I’ve only seen Audubon in person once at Apt. 78 and if he’s not who you’d want to represent Washington Heights I don’t know who is. Some other cast members were there that night but I don’t remember them.
The content of the show may not be entertaining for me as I’m older than the entire cast but to see my hood being broadcast to the world, I feel an interest to see how it is represented. Washington Heights is the main character of this show. It’s easy to bash the show. It’s easy to be negative. Don’t be so quick. The first two episodes air to the public tonight at 10PM on MTV.
Quite often during the summer, Jetskiers circling Manhattan enter Inwood Park’s cove. It could be by error but it’s usually just to have fun. However, due to the fact that the cove is man made, dependent on tides, and subjected to human-caused erosion, more and more mud seeps in every year. Over the past 30 years the mud levels have reached an all time high. I find the number of stranded Jetskier’s and boaters continues to rise. The man above was part of a party of three who all got stuck. As it made quite the hilarious spectacle filled with police boats, fire trucks, and laughter, let’s hope they own those Jetskies and didn’t rent them. The tides take many hours to cycle.
Everyone’s been making jokes about how La Marina is THAT spot now. I checked it out a couple weeks ago. It is THAT spot. Yesterday was the Dominican Day Parade and I think everyone had the same idea…LA MARINA!
Inwood‘s own Will TeeZ is in need of some help. If you don’t own one of his shirts, I’m sure you’ve seen one. He has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia which is a cancer similar to one that almost got my mother. You could catch him everywhere from Indian Road Cafe to the farmer’s market. He represents Inwood. There is an Indiegogo campaign to help Will that is truly unbelievable. I’m already amazed at who has donated. Please click the image below and help out if you can.
MyInwood.net was recently contacted by Frank Yannaco who sent words and photos of his family’s food shack in Inwood Park. Some of my earliest memories trace back to this shack. Here are Frank’s words:
My Family owned the stand from the mid 1920′s when the Presbyterian Medical Center was built. It was given to my Grandfather James Pupley and his brother Peter by the NYC parks department when they arrived in this country from Greece in the 1900′s. They went to the Parks Department with the idea to sell snacks in the park. His original stand was on the site of the Presbyterian Medical Center. They asked him what park he wanted to relocate to and he chose Inwood Park.
Inwood was and is a place for youth sports. Growing up in Inwood I built vivid memories of many hours running around Inwood Hill Park. Summers were filled with Inwood Little League baseball, free Wednesday soccer, free tennis, and basketball, all within running distance of each other. I still keep in contact with some of the friends I made back then.
The City Parks Foundation, United States Tennis Association (USTA), and Columbia University offered free tennis instruction for city youth on Inwood’s tennis courts. A typical day learning tennis here would include calisthenics and drills in the morning with games and matches in the afternoon. Throughout the Summer, Inwood would also participate in tennis tournaments around the city. We would play Harlem, Central Park, and teams from all the boroughs. The tournament structure was that all players were separated by sex and individually ranked within their team. They would then play equally ranked players from other teams. I was the top ranked male in Inwood. This may be a braggart statement but it’s more a point of reference because on Inwood’s courts two sisters consistently led the pack.
Stephanie and Irina Falconi could be found playing tennis in Inwood almost every day of the week. The older, Stephanie, was two years younger than me and was easily the dominant youth tennis player in Inwood. Irina, about six years younger than that, was barely the size of a tennis racquet but easily held her own with the older bunch. She was later known as “The Crown Jewel of Inwood“. In a series of ego-crushing losses, the Falconi sisters humiliated my doubles partner and I in front of many locals. We may have been young but I took those matches very seriously. I stopped pursuing tennis after I entered high school but have since keep my ears open for the Falconi name.
In June of 2010, Irina turned pro and was the only American woman to qualify for the U.S. Open. Going into the 2011 U.S. Open, she’s among the top five Americans behind McHale, Mattek-Sands, and the Williams sisters. The Irene-delayed U.S. Open starts tomorrow in New York City with Irina facing off against higher ranked Klara Zakopalova. The match won’t be televised but you can follow it at USOpen.org or on the U.S. Open iPhone/Android apps. Stephanie, played competitively into college but has since moved to Florida.
Irina lost in the first round of last year’s Open but much has changed since then. Inwood and the USA have someone to look out for this year.