Previous month:
November 2006
Next month:
January 2007

December 2006


The Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons in 2004 and now it’s the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks in an embarrassing basketbrawl game. The NBA penalties are likely to be severe and I do hope they are. Come on, theses guys are supposed to be professionals. If there was any issue it should have remained between two players --- J.R. Smith and Mardy Collins. It should not have resulted in the ejection of ten players.

We keep dancing around the issue that we have raised a generation of undisciplined folks that are not equipped to handle themselves in tense situations without resorting to violence right away. Is that the result of too much PlayStation, XBOX, violent movies, rap music, latchkey kids, etc? Whatever the reason, these guys need to be put in check. Such unprofessional behavior must go.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: , ,

Developers to buy Florida town!

BOB CROSLIN/ST. PETERSBURG TIMES PHOTOS Nancy Boczon and Bill Tolford relax on the Briny Breezes house that sits next to the Atlantic Ocean and 600 yards of private beach that belong the the mobile home community.

This sounds like a great deal but it's not. Could this be the future of New Orleans?

Published Sunday, December 17, 2006

Town May Sell Itself Out

Developer Could Turn Some Residents Into Millionaires


A link to South Florida's past saw the future Tuesday: It's big and splashy and comes with a lot of zeroes.

And, if shareholders in this oceanfront mobile home park give their blessing, a Boca Raton developer they already had spurned once will buy their town down to the last boardwalk, bench and bicycle rack as early as March 2009. It would end an era.

Directors have unanimously approved and signed a contract for the sale of Briny Breezes to Boca Raton-based Ocean Land Investments for $510 million. Briny is a corporation whose residents own shares weighted by the location and size of lots; a vote equal to two thirds of shares is required to ratify the deal. The vote is set for Jan. 10.

Ocean Land founder Jean Francois Roy said in a news release that tentative plans call for various residences, including high-end condominiums, townhomes, a boutique condo-hotel resort and a marina, as well as retail and commercial space, restaurants and parks.

And "the name Briny Breezes would still be in there somehow," Ocean Land Senior Vice President Mark Issenman said.

Ocean Land will team with the Related Group and Catalfumo Construction. Ocean Land and Related also are partners in several luxury projects in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and Related helped build CityPlace and is building a nearby condominium. Catalfumo is building the planned new city hall complex in West Palm Beach and the proposed Ocean Mall redevelopment project in Riviera Beach.

Ocean Land said the project will take 10 to 15 years, but the first residences would be ready six years after the 2009 closing.

"We understand we're changing the lives of a lot of people," Roy said at midday Tuesday outside the auditorium that more than 300 residents packed to hear the announcement. The meeting was closed to the public and media.

"All right. We're doing a deal," shouted Lori McCall of Philadelphia as she left the meeting. She bought a unit two years ago for $66,000.

Retired art teacher and advertising executive John Sideris said, "I've got to find something to take its place. Waterfront property is very, very expensive. We have a few years to think about it."

Over the last few years, the residents' relative age has dropped as children of residents inherit homes and other young and middle-aged couples moved in. One was John Connolly.

"I'm still confused. I'm sitting on the fence," he said.

"In the last year we met many residents. We understand the lifestyle here. It cannot be replaced," Roy said. "It's sad. But if you have a hurricane, you cannot replace it anyhow."

It was the onslaught of three hurricanes in two years that helped turned the minds of many Briny residents.

The park drew "tin can tourists" as early as the 1920s, was bought out by its residents in 1958 and incorporated as a municipality in 1963.

For decades, developers had courted the 43-acre park near Boynton Beach and its 600 feet of oceanfront and 1,100 feet along the Intracoastal Waterway. Residents had always waved them away, insisting no amount of money would be worth losing the unique lifestyle that had vanished from so much of South Florida. Then Roy came along in October 2005 and offered the park a staggering half-billion dollars.

The town and Roy later parted ways when the town said it wanted to shop around. "They were looking to try to get the best offer," Roy said. "I don't blame them."

Ocean Land said it never stopped talking to Briny Breezes.

When the park solicited bids in May, demanding a nonrefundable $20,000 deposit and a minimum bid equal to Ocean Lands' original $500 million offer, four developers qualified. The Duane Morris law firm, hired by Briny, then negotiated with the four before deciding on Ocean Land about a month ago. Lawyers said the other three will not be revealed because of confidentiality agreements.

In the end, Roy ponied up only $10 million more than his initial offer.

But lawyers said the difference between the October 2005 offer and the deal struck Tuesday, and what gave Ocean Land the nod, was its agreement to do a "reverse merger." That meant Ocean Land was buying the corporation rather than the land, and residents should be facing only about 15 percent in capital gains taxes. The amount could have been as much as 40 percent for a difference of as much as $200 million.

At $32,478 a share, the deal would, on average, make instant millionaires of the park's 488 mobile-home owners, most of them retirees from the North and Midwest. Because units account for different amounts of shares, some will get more, some less.

The Palm Beach County property appraiser has said the deal likely would set a record for the county.

All the residents would be paid on the same day soon after the 2009 closing.

The town is also a municipality. Lawyers for Ocean Land said there are no plans to dissolve the government. Mayor Jack Lee said of the proposed deal, "I have a good feeling about it."

The deal must pass local and state hurdles before any shovel is turned.

While the town government would be responsible for writing a new comprehensive plan and development rules, the changes in traffic patterns caused by the new development would have to meet county standards, said Barbara Alterman, executive director of county planning, zoning and building.

Ocean Land did not want to hold any discussions with county zoning officials until the deal was made, Logan Pierson, Ocean Land's vice president of acquisitions, said Tuesday evening.

But he said the firm has researched the issue and is confident it can get the proper zoning as well as the blessing of adjoining towns.

"We also are not reaching to build a miniature Manhattan either," Pierson said. "We're not looking for something that the neighbors are going to be aghast with."

Pierson also said the developer is confident its planned community will more than pay for its investment. In nearby Highland Beach, developers of Toscana built three 420-unit towers on 17.3 acres, a footprint less than half of that Briny Breezes.

The current residents would have to be out around the time of the March 10, 2009, closing. But Joseph Aronica of Duane Morris told Tuesday's meeting, "We don't expect a bulldozer coming in the next day."

Residents cheered Roy when he entered. Residents stuck around for more than two hours, peppering directors with who, what, where and when.

"It gives you a couple more seasons," Aronica told the crowd, "a few more seasons to determine what you want to do," And as they straggled out, not all were as unanimous as their board had been.

"I've got to go home and think about it," Henry Dombroski, a resident since 1957, said, clutching in his hand a fact sheet that had been handed to residents. "There's quite a bit here on the plate."

Tom Byrne had no such qualms. He wore a big white button with blue ink reading, "Save Briny. Vote no."

"I don't need the money," Byrne, who moved 20 years ago, said outside the meeting. "I admit it's an attractive proposition. But that's what you save your whole life for. A lifetime you can enjoy."

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: , , ,

Can the HEAT get Allen Iverson?

I would love to have the Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson playing for the Miami HEAT. Iverson has never really made the impact on the NBA that he should. Moreover, the HEAT could use him now with the injuries to Shaq and D-Wade. Who knew that the HEAT bench was so weak without the two? If anyone can pull off an AI trade, Pat Riley can.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: , , , ,

Remembering the Queen: Celia Cruz

One of the most popular entertainers in the world was a Black woman from Havana, Cuba we would come to know as Celia Cruz. If you are not aware of whom she was, here’s a bit of information on this trailblazing performer. Living in Miami, one cannot escape the influence of Afro-Cuban culture as such Celia Cruz’s beats and high-energy music permeated many neighborhoods ---- her music a unifying force that crossed cultural backgrounds.

There was a bit of controversy a few years ago about Whoopi Goldberg starring in a movie about the singer’s life. Many Cubans felt that Goldberg couldn’t do the film because she’s not Cuban. That’s very short sighted. Celia belonged to the world. I also think a better choice to play Celia is Patti LaBelle. That being said, I do hope the movie is made, Celia’s life is such a fascinating story.
[Did you see the photo of Celia Cruz with Bill Cosby and Tito Puente?].

From World Music Central

A native of Cuba, Celia Cruz was the legendary queen of salsa. Her more than 50 CDs showcased her talent, intensity and determination. Cruz’s fans reached over four generations breaking down racial and cultural barriers. She collaborated with an eclectic group of musicians, ranging from Puerto Rican salsa and jazz celebrity Tito Puente to pop star David Byrne.

In a field so powerfully dominated by male singers and musicians alike, Celia Cruz won global recognition, numerous tributes, a Yale University doctorate, the admiration of her peers, a Hollywood star, a Grammy, a statue in the famous Hollywood wax museum, movie and theater appearances, the key to numerous cities, and the key to the hearts of music lovers everywhere.

Born in the humble neighborhood of Santo Suárez in Havana, Cuba, she was one of 14 children. Her mother however, knew that this was a special child telling Celia that she earned her first pair of shoes by singing to a tourist who bought them for her. At home, Celia's chores included singing the younger children to sleep. Yet, like the pied piper, the adults would gather to listen, annoying the young songbird that would close the door on them confusing their admiration for surveillance.

Since then, those shoes became prophetic in taking the vocalist around the globe and into the most prestigious music and concert halls.

As a teenager, she began singing in school programs and community gatherings. Her aunt would periodically take her and her cousin to cabarets and nightclubs where the impressionably talented songsters got a first-hand view of the local talent. Yet, while her family supported her musical abilities, her father encouraged her to continue her studies and become a schoolteacher. However, it was one of her own professors who told her to take a chance with music because "You could earn in one day what it takes me a year to make."

Celia Cruz began entering the local radio talent shows winning fancy cakes and more opportunities to compete and sing with the popular orchestras of the time. Her big chance came in 1950 when the regular singer with Cuba's popular Sonora Matancera returned to her native Puerto Rico and the band took on an unknown and slightly rough around the edges Celia Cruz. Singing with Cuba's La Sonora Matancera was tantamount to singing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The popular group was known and loved throughout the country. Consequently, the public was not used to unknowns trying their talents with the greats, and so it did not fare well for Celia at the very beginning. The public began to call the radio station complaining about the young singer. Executives in the industry also did not believe that female singers could sell albums. But the band believed in Celia. She had the feeling, the timing, and the inspiration. She had swing.

Celia’s perseverance overcame the obstacles, and Celia eventually became permanent "featured added attraction" of La Sonora Mantacera, traveling extensively throughout Latin America and Mexico with the orchestra while accompanied by a chaperone. Her golden era with La Sonora spanned fifteen years where she and the band became known as "Café con Leche" (coffee with milk).

By 1960, Celia Cruz left Cuba permanently to pursue a career in the United States. She became a permanent citizen by 1961 with a contract to perform in the Hollywood Palladium. It was during that time that she fell in love with the tall, dark and dashingly handsome first trumpet of the orchestra. His was the first friendly face she grew to search for. He was attentive, caring about her feeling toward the arrangements, the timing and the music. And for Celia, he was truly her knight in shining armor. Celia Cruz and Pedro Knight married in 1962. By 1965, he decided to step back from his own career to manage the wife he adored.

"Afro-Cuban music is the root of today's Salsa", Celia stated. "It is steeped in cultural identity and embraces the folklore of every town and province of the tropics. It is a source of pride, of happiness, of being alive. It is what I bring to the people."

Celia Cruz combined forces with Tito Puente in 1966 recording eight albums with him for Tico Records. However, the power of these two great musical did not reach the music peak that these two giants inspired. Celia signed with the Vaya label (a subsidiary label of Fania Records), eventually teamed up with Larry Harlow, accomplished pianist and band leader who wrote the tune "Gracia Divina", for the Latin music operetta, Hommy (adapted from The Who's rock opera Tommy). It was 1973. Young Latinos in New York hungered for identity, for roots and for heroes. They discovered Celia Cruz. She burst unto the Carnegie Hall stage wrapped in the flamboyant costuming that has now become her signature style. She drove the crowd into a united, unprecedented rolling wave of human enthusiasm. Celia Cruz was electrified, revitalized. She was back.

By 1974, Celia was riding a high tide of success. She hit the market hard with a concept album where she teamed with Johnny Pacheco. His love of Afro-Cuban and charanga rhythms made him an innovator in producing updated arrangements of classic tunes. The LP, Celia and Johnny, went gold. Salsa was re-born and Celia was on her way to becoming its most shining star. After two more record-breaking hits with Pacheco, Celia was featured with the Fania All-Stars, a star-studded ensemble composed of band leaders signed with the label. She traveled on international tours with the group that covered England, France and Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo). Celia visited all of Latin America. She recorded twenty gold LPs and has received more than 100 awards from various countries' institutions, magazines and newspapers. She appeared in a special segment of the Grammies in 1987 where she performed with her old time collaborator, Tito Puente.

Celia carved out her niche in the '80s on the strength of many other collaborations joining forces with young and elders, cutting anniversary recording with her first associates, La Sonora Matancera while appearing in movies such as Salsa, and in 1992 in the Hollywood feature film, The Mambo Kings. Her voice can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as Something Wild and Invasion U.S.A..

Notwithstanding the music's 20-year on-again off-again romance with American publics, Celia Cruz survived the musical droughts and intends to keep on singing until her very last note. She managed to capture the attention of the American press who, not having a point of reference for comparison, insisted on equating the inimitable Celia Cruz to jazz greats, trying to similarities between the Latin "soneo" (phrasing) and the jazz scat.

Celia's style was incomparable. Rhymed/timed, rapid-fire staccato bits of witty wisdom, social commentary and general observations in tune to tunes, were not easily attained by even the best of contemporary song stylists. Celia Cruz cut her teeth on the music that has moved the world and she had, in the process, carved out a special niche reserved only for her. "Azucar" was her calling card and sugar is what she sprinkled over her audiences wherever she went. She was a monumental figure in a musical form reserved once only for men.

Celia Cruz saw the music grow from small, scattered areas in shops where flamenco music was sold next to Xavier Cugat records, to the special sections now marked "Salsa". Despite her vast success, Celia Cruz remained a humble servant of God, wanting only simple pleasures in life. She confided that her ultimate wish was not a fancy car or mansion, or even her own jet. What Celia most wished for was to be able to return to her native Cuba to visit her mother's grave.

"Music is the only gift I have that was given to me by God. Unless He takes it away, I will continue to share my gift with everyone. It is what gives me pleasure. It is what brings me happiness. And that is my purpose in life. In a sense, I have fulfilled my father's wish to be a teacher as, through my music I teach generations of people about my culture and the happiness that can be found in just living life. As a performer, I want people to feel their hearts sing and their spirits soar."

In 2000, at the age of eighty, Celia was still performing, singing and dancing, and did not plan to retire. Her year 2000 CD was dedicated to Tito Puente and includes the song "Oye Como Va" that was composed by Tito. It was finished before he died and the idea was to have Tito Puente play a solo, but it was too late. The album also features a tango and a song by Gloria Gaynor, in additional to her usual fiery salsa.

Celia's 2001 recording came out in October and it featured three music directors: Sergio George, Isidro Infante and Johnny Pacheco, with their respective bands. In addition to Celia's characteristic son montuno, there is also Puerto Rican bomba.

On December 5th of 2002, the 78 year old singer, was hospitalized in New York. She underwent surgery to alleviate a brain injury that affected her nervous system. She was released a week later with her husband Pedro Knight by her side. Her physician advised her to take 2-3 months to rest and limit all of her engagements during that time.

Celia Cruz, the most popular salsa singer, died from cancer July 16, 2003, 5 p.m. EST at her home in New Jersey, with her husband, trumpet player Pedro Knight, and family friends, by her side. Celia Cruz had been in a coma since Tuesday, July 15.

Part of the biography courtesy of Duende Management.

NOTE: Her trademark “Azucar” literally means "sugar," but served Cruz as a "battle cry" and an allusion to African slaves who worked Cuba's sugar plantations.

Vintage Celia Cruz performing with La Fania All-Stars in Africa (Quimbara)

Grammy Award-winning tune “La Negra Tiene Tumbao”


Celia Cruz: Her Life and Music

A Tribute to the Queen of Salsa

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: , ,

Golden Beach town manager resigns

Check this out, Golden Beach town manager Bonnilyn Wilbanks-Free has resigned. As you may recall from an earlier post, Wilbanks-Free referred to her assistant, Barbara Tarasenko a a “mammy.” Wilbanks-Free is white and Tarasenko is Black.

Click the link below to read more details. The “mammy” term was likely a “slip of the tongue.” A slip of the tongue? Oh, that makes it OK then.

RACISM: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

From the Miami Herald:
Town manager resigns, says racist term was a slip of the tongue

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: , , , ,

Remembering Peter Boyle

Actor Peter Boyle transitioned yesterday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 71.

Boyle was incredible in every role I’ve seen him in. He seemed to provide excellent performances without much effort. His breakthrough role arguably was via the Mel Brooks movie, Young Frankenstein, but I will never forget one of his more recent roles in the Academy Award- winning Monsters Ball.

Modern technology will allow him to continue to be with us via film, television, etc.

Rest in Peace, Peter Boyle.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: , , ,

One of my favorite poems

This is one of my favorite poems. I have seen it on the internet in various forms, sometimes with minor revisions and claimed by others.

I saw it first in a September 1975 edition of Essence magazine. It was intentionally in all caps when it was originally printed. Remember that 1975 was way before nettiquette existed. LOL

The same page also contains another powerful poem titled, “I MADE IT THROUGH THIS WEEKEND WITHOUT YOU”; I will share it with you another time. In the meantime, enjoy.


I wish I could be the water of you bath I would surround you with mellow warmth liquid lovelike a frolicking/childish wave on the sandy shoreI would dash and break upon the firmness of your bodyengulf and moisten the places I dream of

the water of your bath
I would memorize
each and every muscle
and being liquid
I would take your shapemold myself to your every curve
your every indentationI would roll on/over/and off your satin skin

the water of your bath
I would send part of me
to gather in the recess
of your navel
there my temperature would rise to match yours
and like plants of
the sea
I would move your body hairs
in and out with the tide
created by your movements
i would slosh against your
and become very intimate
with your nature

the water of your bath
i would cleanse you
as my ancestors
the nile & congo
cleansed your ancestors
even more
when you leave me and
pull the plugI would defy the natural order of things
and stay and wait
for your naked return

© Ahmasi 1971

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

apolloniasixer's Common fantasy

This collage is a gift to fellow Common fan, appolloniasixer. If you're not feeling Common, I can respect that. Appolloniasixer (work it out, girlfriend) and other Common fans... turn up the volume on your favorite Common tune as you check out these photos... enjoy!

Image Image

Check out some of Common's projects:

Common Ground Foundation

Keep a Child Alive

Hip Hop Schoolhouse

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: ,

Korean Domination of the Black Hair Care Industry

Blacks make-up 10% of the American population but Black women purchase 70% of the wigs and hair extensions in the United States? If you are Black, Aaron Ranen's documentary will likely stir many emotions in you, one of them being anger. Well, don't be angry with the Koreans, be angry with the Blacks that support them. Could that be you?

Watch each video and e-mail your friends about this documentary. Support Black businesses and teach your children to do the same.

Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary Part One

Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary Part Two

Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary Part Three

Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary Part Four

Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary - UPDATE ~ Part One

Aron Ranen's Black Hair Documentary - UPDATE ~ Part Two

Related links:

Black Hair DVD

Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (BOBSA)

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Nicole Richie arrested for DUI

Although no alcohol was found in her system, Nicole Richie was arrested for DUI this morning. Richie was spotted driving the wrong way in traffic on the California freeway.

OK, what is this about? Can’t Paris, Nicole, Britney, et. al. behave like young ladies? It seems as if they are going out of their way with the negative behavior bit just for the publicity it garners.

The latest acts of Hollywood's true brat pack are almost as bad as 50 Cents’ lame Oprah-bashing tactic for a little face time on camera. I mean really, give me a break, please.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Labels: , ,