13-21 year olds apply by Jan 19 for free Freedom to Read Advocacy program

BPL Freedom to Read Institute header

PEN America & the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) are co-hosting the first-ever Freedom to Read Advocacy Institute in February 2023! This free, online, 4-week program is open to all high school students nationwide. Apply by Thursday, January 19 – applications close at 11:59 p.m E.T. Learn more & apply.

More information about what the BPL offers students who want to be able to read all types of books – even ones that are banned in some places.

The awesome video work of Ari Lopez Wei

Ari in WWI uniform in a period train car

Ari Lopez Wei is The Wei’s photographer, videographer and Media Manager. He’s also a living historian who educates people about what life was like for colored and black soldiers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and WWI.

You can see Ari’s fotos and some video shorts on Instagram and his blog. If you want to know more about the header image on this page, here’s the full post where he reflects on birthdays, and the day it was taken.

Newville Reenactment 2017
Alina & Gary Wedding Highlight Video
Camp Doughboy World War I (WWI) History Weekend

Inspiring messages of strength and hope in music videos by First Nation youth

Many Paths
Source: Many Paths … “The place where I was born is perfect”
Worth music video group shot
Source: Worth music video

Adams Lake (all girl) Indian Band’s “Worthy” carries a message of hope for youth:

The light will glow and inspire your journey … when you get a little older everything will be all right… you are worthy, you are worthy

Many Paths music video
Source: Many Paths music video

“Many Paths” with Kawacatoose First Nation youth

I’m going to keep my head up and make better decisions. You have to walk in my shoes to understand my position … If there’s one thing that a native people lack, the love and care – so unfair as I’m looking back … We walk the land of many paths, a narrow road that will lead us back to a life that we had …

When the Dust Settles
Source: When the Dust Settles

“When the Dust Settles” by Oxford House, Manitoba

… so many can relate with these broken-down homes … with a little bit of pride and a little bit of hope … we have been blinded with all we have been through, we’re always reminded it’s time we live true. When the dust settled you can see clearly, there’s hope where our home is, hold your tears. read more

On the topic of Philly’s Cheesesteaks – and a list of best places to buy

Corleones cheesteak
Foto: Corleone’s

So, I collected this list of Philly cheesesteak restaurant reviews in 2016 from a Facebook thread, but didn’t record whose thread. I need to share it, for the couple of real gems in the list and because Ari and Jorge Ivan are in Philly today, contemplating cheesesteaks. If you’ve got a favorite spot to add, share it!

Here’s what I concluded after reading through the comments:

  • Pats, Geno’s and Tony Luke’s are tourist places. Steve’s is another non-traditional spot but it gets banging reviews.
  • The consensus among Philly natives is that Papi stores make the best cheesesteaks – and they only cost $5-10
  • If you pay more than $10 for a cheesesteak you’re getting ripped off

This is my favorite comment 🙂 :

Vernon King: Foh dh. Who n the hell will pay beam dub on chessesteak with sesame seed long roll. When u could go to the Papi store & Get it for $4.00 or $4.50. I can buy new pair of J`s or Some Polo shirt. No State/City can make better chessesteak than ppl who was born/raised n Philadelphia,Pennsylvania hand down.

And the rest, for your reading pleasure:

  • Belly busters have the best cheese steaks I have ever had!
  • Got a place down here in Miami Springs called A Little Bit of Philly. The owner Pat is from Philly. And it’s the best philly cheese steak around, and only $8. Authentic down to the Amoroso bread. But no cheese wiz. But I’m ok with that. Lol
  • Hassan Dioubaté:  My girl’s from Philly. She brought me to Jim’s (not the South St one). The shit was soooooo damn good. I’ll be back!
  • The nostalgia of going to Philadelphia and having a classic cheese steak from Pats or Steve’s makes it worth it! Thats just my opinion.
  • Nick Tremarki:  Nothing beats Chinks.
  • Erick Naranjo:  chubby’s steaks on Henry Ave the best ???
  • Shantel Vails:  Cheesesteaks from Max’s are the best!!
  • Jordan Alexander Wallace:  Atlas on 52nd and Market out in West Philly.
  • Melanie Ways:  Don’t miss Tony Luke’s! In Camden, check out Donkeys on Haddon Ave. I fell in love with Tony Luke’s pork sandwich. My husband discovered their cold sub is excellent as well. The secret is the bread!
  • Jeffrey Graham:  Maybe you don’t REALLY understand how passionate we are about OUR cheese steak here in Philly Jean Claude Mendez. We love our grease running down your knuckles, meat falling out of the sandwich on a good soft Philly baked Italian roll, belly filling cheese steak. It’s very insulting when you hear or see a variant that no where near how we do it and then jack up the price that NO real Philadelphian will EVER pay. It’s not called Philly pride for nothing.
  • But have at it if that’s your flow.
  • Shantae Pretty BrownSkin:  Maxx’s is where it’s at!!! Inexpensive for an awsome big meaty cheese steak
  • Jake Royal:  I live right outside of Philly . pat and Geno’s way overated. The suburbs of Philly make the best cheese steaks. But if anyone is planning a trip to Philly try. Lorenzo’s. Or Sam’s. They are really good
  • Crystal Strand:  Paganos, Max’s , delassandro’s, Steve prince, ischia bibles… There are too many to chose from, but I guarantee whichever one you chose you won’t be disappointed Nikki Balseca Valentine
  • Victoria Tori Parsons:  Poppy stores. Bomb ass cheese steaks for 4 bucks. Grab a drink and a bag of chips, full for under 10. I’m good
  • Eddie Alcantar:  Personally Jim’s is one if my favorites. One of the best cheesesteaks I’ve ever had
  • Layd Kayd:  Pat’s or north 11thst…yesss
  • Kev Walshie:  This video just made me want a $6 steak from Carmen’s
  • I have had probably 20 different steaks in the city and totally agree with Pagano’s and even Jim’s. If you want a custom steak for a slick deal with amazing flavor go to Shank’s on the pier, get their mushroom and aged prov all the time when I am down there.
  • Arthur Brown IV:  Maaaaan go to a Papi store
  • Josh Priar:  Jim’s on 4th and South… hands down the best. I’ll take 2 wiz with and 2 cans of lager
  • Elissha Franklin:  Ariel Manzano They are just tourist attraction. And they don’t know any better.. Every Neighborhood has at least one popular Steak shop.. Along with many small mom and pop shops you can get a good steak from.. Some of the steak shops has been Mentioned, Max’s, Steve’s, Dalessandros just to name a few.. But they’re also in the hood. So if your not a philly native and or affiliates with someone that will take you. Most likely you won’t know about it, or venture on your own..I’m from south philly and I go to Ishkabibles which is on south street. Very popular and Tourist friendly. So to speak… I’m just keeping it honest.. If you’re ever in philly look me up. And I will show you a steak good time
  • Dan Hafner:  Kharrima Stevens-Jackson It’s at 18th and Locust
  • Ebin A. Draper:  BELLYBUSTER’S IN OXFORD, PA! We don’t do Steakums & Cheez Whiz!!! REAL TALK!
  • Jake Royal:  Belly busters have the best cheese steaks I have ever had!
  • Leslie Stars:  Byblos on 18th & Chestnut in Philly has a filet mignon cheesesteak for $15 and its out of this world.
  • Jackie Leinheiser:  Or you go to the one pound cheesesteak place on Kensington and Lehigh at 2 Am and get a two footer for 11 bucks lol
  • Sheed Sturgis:  Or paganos on ogontz ave they pack ya steak heavy
  • Jackie Leinheiser:  Pats, Geno’s and Tony Luke’s are all tourist places that act like we actually order our cheesesteaks “wit” or “wit out” when we actually just say “mayo, ketchup, salt, pepper & fried onions”
  • Brian Weissman:  Jackie Ann, I really hope you ain’t from Philly and if you are I hope you get evicted from my city because what you just said ain’t no cheesesteak, you just ordered a pile of dogshit on a roll. STEVES PRINCE WIT WIZ! FOH.
  • Michael Tomassetti:  Jim’s Steaks 62nd & Noble. And nobody drinks that Swill you have a Yuengling with it.
  • For my money though I’d rather shoot up Swanson to John’s or grab a couple roast beef combos at Old Nicks up on Jackson.
  • Josh Priar:  Best spot in Philly is Jim’s. Tony Luke’s is for people in MTL when they can’t get over the bridge. And idgaf if youre putting mayo ketchup or some of you actually do mustard….. you’re eating the wrong sàndwich
  • Joe Shook:  Genos and Pats are tourist steak places. Steves Prince all the way.
  • Rah Diezel:  I think I’m bout to go there now. There or Dwight’s. I swear they’re putting crack in that bbq sauce. That shyt is addictive.
  • Latasha Parker:  Ya prices way too high you need to cut it ?????? …#PhillyNative P.S. Every true Philly native knows that the best cheesesteaks come from the Papi stores!
  • read more

    Kimi’s Super Duper Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Sausage

    In 2016 we were able to get most of the produce needed for spaghetti sauce from our own garden plot. Well, let’s be honest – from Ivan’s garden – since he does most of the work to make it work. And believe me, it takes plenty of work to make this kind of abundance happen, beginning with setting up the community garden, which Ivan helped with.

    Herbs, tomatoes, eggplants, scallions, we had it all in 2016. 2017 was pretty much a bust for growers though, all across our region in northern New Jersey. Rain persisted for weeks into the early summer and then it stayed cold for a while! Tomatoes don’t like cold and apparently, a lot of other veggies don’t either.

    Thanks to Jim, whose Matarazzo Farm stands supplied us with what our garden wouldn’t produce, we were still able to enjoy spaghetti sauce this year made from farm-grown ingredients. Here’s Jim at the Ramsey Farmers Market taking a break to enjoy a visit from a 4-legged friend.

    Jim Matarazzo with 4-legged friend
    Jim Matarazzo getting a visit from a 4-legged friend

    I’m sharing Kimi’s Super Duper Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Sausage recipe with you today. If you make it be sure and let me know how it goes for you. The sauce takes a while to make, but it’s full of tasty and healthy ingredients – and it freezes really well. If you can’t get farm fresh tomatoes, buy the most pungent smelling ones you can find in a store.

    Nick Cannon kills it in ‘Stand for What’ video

    Source: Nick Cannon Stand for What
    Nick Cannon’s Stand for What via YouTube

    Published Sep 24, 2017

    Stand For what?!
    You want me to stand for a song that continues to remind me of all the harms that have done me wrong?
    Stand for what?!
    For your Army that none of our sons truly belong
    Stand for what?
    The 100 years it took them to convince Congress to become the anthem after 40 failed attempts
    Stand for what?
    Your forefathers who really just Pimps.
    Stand for What?
    A song about War, not freedom
    That’s how you want to lead them
    Brainwash your people? that’s how you want to treat em
    Slavemasters whips to Cops night sticks, that’s how you continue to beat em.
    Stand for what
    the beginning of Slavery in 1619
    Or the end of those Black Marines of 1814
    That’s really what the lyrics are about
    They may have taken the word slave out
    but they forget to remove the slave connotations from their brains and they mouth The mentality to make America Greater than your imagination is how you pout
    Hating because we burned down their White House
    Gave proof through the night, that its light out
    For the old elitist white man thinking
    Drunk off they ass with power at baseball games singing and drinking

    Man stand for what?

    Stand for something or fall for dumb shit!

    Stand for what

    To salute the Red White and Blue, on a Flag where my Colors not reflected

    Stand for what
    To uphold laws that were embedded to have my community negatively affected
    Stand for what
    Your racist systemic melodies of mind manipulating rhetoric?
    Did you know the government pays Sports organizations for plays, to make people more patriotic
    This MK Ultra Soul control needs to stop it
    I can still love my country and hate that fucked up song about rockets, and bombs bursting air
    Reminds me of Charlottesville’s vicious glares
    And police shootings with no care like the dash cameras wasn’t there.
    Stand for what
    Monuments and statues of old slave masters
    Constant reminders of our nations disasters
    The Heros in Houston, the Doctors, the Poets and the Pastors.
    That’s who I want to shape our greatness after
    I honor and respect our men and women of service
    But we’ve been taught to idolize wars without purpose
    The majority of our Militaries casualties are minority soldiers
    So let’s make statues of those warriors because they truly deserve it
    Mt Rushmore was built by the Ku Klux Klan, so why the fuck should I have respect for those men

    Damn, This is not my country and it’s not yours either.
    Go back to Africa? I wish we never had to leave it
    But the entire World is our neighborhood
    So why do we perceive certain blocks to be bad and other blocks to be good?

    Instead of glorifying the past we gotta focus on the future
    Dick Gregory warned me if U speak up They probably gonna shoot ya!

    But I shout for his eternal voice along with Martin, Malcolm and Marcus Garvey and
    march wholeheartedly for their legacy
    Because I’ll say it loud as you can see
    Fuck Francis Scott Key and Robert E. Lee
    They don’t represent me and neither do either of these hypocritical political parties
    I am a native to the cosmic and Universal God Energy.

    Even though the constitution really doesn’t apply to me
    I’ll try to exercise my freedom of speech

    So you can tell them you heard it from me.
    Yeah I said it
    Brutality, Historic Fallacies and
    All war is wrong and so is that fucking song!
    It’s Been way too long!
    It’s time to make a change and acknowledge that your home of the brave was built on the back of a Slave.

    So bowing down to a true King
    Is the only way to let freedom ring

    Stand for what?

    I ain’t standing For Shit… except Kaepernick!

    Lyrics and video ©2017 Nick Cannon #SpokenSundays #StandForWhat #poetry Hat tip to Chuck Saunders for the share

    National Brotherhood Week (parody sung by Tom Lehrer)

    Tom Lehrer via YouTube
    Tom Lehrer via YouTube

    Tom Lehrer performs his parody about National Brotherhood Week – that difficult week in February when Americans, “…are supposed to stop whatever we’re doing … burning, killing, whatever and love everybody else … and it’s really quite a strain.”

    Some of Tom’s lyrics:

    Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics and the Catholics hate the Protestants, and the Hindus hate the Moslems and everybody hates the Jews!

    But During National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week, step up and shake the hand of someone you can’t stand. You can tolerate him if you try … It’s only for a week so have no fear. Be grateful that it doesn’t last all year!

    Advice from a Navy Seal commander: To change the world, make your bed

    Admiral William H. McRaven
    Source: Texes Exes 2014 U Texas Commencement Speech

    Former US Navy Admiral William H. McRaven shares sage advice with 8000 plus University of Texas, Austin class of 2014 graduates on how to change the world. The admiral’s first life lesson of ten is, “If you wanna change the world, start off by making your bed.”

    The short version on why making your bed is such an important task (1:41 mins):

    The full 19:26 minute speech with all ten of the admiral’s life lessons:

    Range, power, soul – Johnny Manuel’s awesome voice has it all

    Johnny Manuel sings
    Johnny Manuel’s cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’ earns him a standing ovation – from the America’s Got Talent judges and everyone else in the room. Amazingly enough, Simon positively beams. Manuel has a beautiful voice, and a range almost impossible to believe. Unless you hear it for yourself, so listen.