City of Love

by Cameron Cook

Sometimes, you just need a change of mind. Change of scenery, people, mind-set. So, in 1992, my mother made a life-altering decision; it was time to move to a foreign country. The choice was relatively visceral; it would be St. Lucia, a small island in the West Indies. To move from my mother’s birthplace of Chicago, Illinois, we just threw a dart at a map (literally), sold all of our furniture to buy plane tickets, and left the country. My father had died when I was three years old, and my brother was one and a half in my hometown of Los Angeles, California; nothing was really binding us to the United States. 

Unfortunately, tropical promises of “Endless Summers” get old pretty fast, and before long France seemed like an interesting place to park our bohemian lifestyle for a while. I could go on for pages about my St. Lucian experiences, battling with oversized insects and eating enough chicken and rice for at least three lifetimes, but that is not the point of this piece. Another day perhaps. 

I first stepped foot on French soil in September 1995, in Nice. We had moved to a studio apartment for a few months in the near-by town of Cannes, where my aunt lived. She and my cousin were the only French people I knew at the time. 

Quasi-immediately, I was submerged into a totally different way of life: I turned on the TV, and didn’t understand a damn word, went to the shopping center, didn’t understand a damn word. It wasn’t only the language… I was perplexed by the average Frenchman’s in-born power to be constantly blasé; the slightest bump in the road of their carefully mapped out existence, and I thought they would spontaneously combust with anger. The food also, was quite a challenge (even though, I must say that escargot has become one of my favorite dishes). You know that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta tells Samuel L. Jackson about his recent trip to Europe? Well, you actually can buy wine and beer at Mc Donald’s, and a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese is a “Royal with Cheese”. 

Want to know more about France? Check out the French Information Center

School was also a big huddle to over-come, of course. Since I hardly spoke a word of French upon my arrival, I had to repeat the 5th grade, an experience that proved itself highly positive, yet humbling, in a certain way, being a year older than everyone, on top of not speaking their language. But I learn quickly, thankfully, and graduated elementary school that summer with a somewhat perfect knowledge of the French language. 

I spent five long, border lining tedious years in Cannes. Don’t get me wrong, if you are a seventy-year-old retired shoe salesman, it’s probably the happening place to spend your twilight years, but as a young teenager, complete with puberty-caused insecurities and raging hormones, Cannes, with its Mediterranean way of life, inexistent night-life, two movie theaters, three record stores, one concert hall and Beverly Hills 90210 teen mentality, sheer boredom not fitting in were huge issues for me and my little circle of friends. Was it due to the very widespread French elitism, or just the same senseless drudge that every young person goes through during those delicate years? Maybe I’ll never know.

So, after Cannes lost its charm, my family and I headed north, to the flourishing capital of Paris. As soon as I stepped out of the cramped, red, typically French four seated car (did I mention we drove eight hours across country, four people and a cat? Thank God for Discmans…) I knew I had found my element. Paris is one of the most astonishing cities on the planet: the convenience of a big metropolitan, yet it still manages to preserve a little bit of quaintness. First of all, the city is among the most beautiful in Europe, if not in the world (try walking along the Seine at night, watching the bateaux-mouches go by) and little by little, Paris’ beauty can’t help but to rub off on you… soon, you find yourself prancing about Les Champs Elysees, the town’s grandest boulevard, just for the hell of it; walking around The Eiffel Tower and the Trocadero neighborhood that surrounds it, checking out parks and art houses; spending literally entire days at Beaubourg, my personal favorite place in Paris, buying postcards of your favorite photographers (in my case, Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe) and hanging around the museum there (I once spent five hours in an exposition on Surrealism, one of my favorite modern art movements). School was still somewhat of an issue, even though, as the French school system requires of every student, I had chosen a major in the 10th grade (you have the option of either Literature and Arts-what I took, obviously- Science and Economy) and my class was full of what I considered “my” people: the punks, the Goths, the rejects. The last years of high school are especially difficult in France; the work level is equivalent to that of a college sophomore in the USA. But I had found an environment that I could call my own, far away from the preppy, selfish mindset of Cannes. The work was hard, but the play made it all worthwhile.

Alas, my time in Paris was shorter than I would have liked: only two years, from 2000 to this summer, July 2002. Even though I now live in NYC, but sometimes I get a little homesick. Yes, even though I am an American citizen, I consider France the closest thing to a homeland that I have had the pleasure to experience. I plan to go back there soon, maybe have an apartment in Paris, live there for a while. As the French say on July 14th, their independence day, my independence day, in a way, Vive la France!

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Taylor Burgos

Hi ,my name is Taylor and I was born October 2, in 2009. Some of my activities that I do are karate, ballet, basketball, gymnastics, cheer leading, and favorite color is BLUE ,PURPLE, and PINK.My least favorite color is brown.I am in Harlem Live.My favorite food is pizza.

Justice King Johnson

Greetings my name is justice Johnson I was born on August 29 2007 in Bronx hospital my passion was previously researching vehicles but as I have lost interest in that I now have gone to Harlem live to seek a brand new passion that can keep me going for a long time in my life I go to Fredrick Douglass academy 1 and in sixth grade I can

Celebrating The Ones Who Helped Build Today

by Stacy Johnson
photos by Sherell Jenkins

On Monday, September 24, 2001, a ceremony was held at Jackie Robinson Park in celebration of Harlem’s seniors citizens.

The goal of this event was to pay respect to those elders whose daily diligence has helped to preserve the character of the Harlem community. Many of the senior citizens who attended the ceremony have been living in Harlem for decades.

This event also hoped to increase senior citizens’ voting participation, which over the years, have been mediocre.

Senior citizens’ make up a large percent of the Harlem population, and with the increase in insurance and medication fees, more senior citizens need to have an active role in the selection of the city representatives.

Jackie Beavers, a member of the WMMCC incorporated on 152nd street said one reason why the event may have been scheduled for this years, was because more focus needed to be placed on senior voting. “I hope more seniors will be involved,” said Beavers.

This event had a live band and was host to guests such as City Council Candidates

Mario A. Torres and Jackie Ro-Adams of District 7, who were doing some final campaigning, hoping to gain the support of as many senior citizens as possible, before the voting on City Council later this week.

When asked about the event, Torres said, it is “our way of paying tribute to seniors who have lived in Harlem for many years.”

He went on to say that Harlem will grow in the future and this event will also “expand in the future.”

Ro-Adams, who is also the manager for Recreation at Jacki Robinson Park, said “yes”, she would love to have it again next year, because it “gives seniors new life.”

Sponsors of this event included Emp. Zone, Community Board 9, Yankee Stadium, which donated the many roses, 153rd Street Block Association, and D.E.E.L. communication, who coordinated the event.

While many thought this a wonderful idea, some felt the event was not publicized enough. Only a handful of Harlem seniors attended this event, which will make it interesting to see the senior citizen turnout at the polls later this week.

Barbara Britt, one of the members of the Tapping Seniors, a dance group run by Ludy Jones, said she was disappointed there was “not enough publicity.” She went on to say that other seniors centers should have participated. This first annual celebration of seniors will most likely continue in the future and hopefully expand.