If You Live in the City Go to the Zoo

Another World

If you live in the city and haven’t gone to the Bronx Zoo, you really should. It’s pretty incredible. There are many experiences to be had there. A while back my family was invited to a special breakfast that included dining in a special area that had giant windows revealing many a monkey. It was quite something eating breakfast and having a literal window into animals in their own world.

Gorgeous Flamingos

One of my favorites is the flamingos. So beautiful and pink. A group of them together is a visual sight that can take your breath away.

The Butterflies

And finally, yet another highly valued experience is to find the butterflies. Once you do, you will be immersed in an experience unlike anything else on this earth. So go to the Bronx Zoo today. Well actually, not literally today, but sometime after lockdown is lifted.

John Yianni Stamas Writes a Kind of Non Article for Bronx News NYC

John Yianni Stamas writes a kind of non article for Bronx News NY. You see, Stamas was supposed to meet with Big Foot Zombie at Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City at 2,765 acres in size. John and BFZ has a special place they usually meet at in the park where the big hairy one resides. John, against his judgement, left his quarantine location in Manhattan in the face of COVID-19 to meet with Mr. Zombie because BFZ was upset that Stamas had not updated his blog in six months.

John had been asked by Bronx News NYC to write a post for their blog and John Yianni Stamas thought that a chat with one of the Bronx’s most popular mythical creatures, would uplift BFZ’s sad mood. Unfortunately, Big Foot Zombie did not show up at their regular meeting spot. Therefore this post is a kind of non article and is more a piece about writing an entry about nothing except  getting stood up by the big guy.

Mr. Stamas returned to his social distancing location and continued work with his collaborators on a new website called USA How To. Big Foot Zombie later claimed that he had shown up, but to a different location which he mistakenly thought was the correct one. He had been under the impression that John wanted to get together in front of the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.

Who is Chazz Palminteri?

Another Bronx Star

We’ve been talking about Bronx folks lately who have gone on to be quite successful. This time we are going to discuss Chazz Palminteri. He is an actor, screenwriter, film producer and playwright. The years he has been active in the entertainment field is 1984–present. He has a website which is www.chazzpalminteri.net We also thank Wikipedia for their help in telling the Chazz Palminteri story at

Chazz is an Academy Award Nominee

He is perhaps best known for his Academy Award-nominated role for Best Supporting Actor in Bullets over Broadway as well as the 1993 film A Bronx Tale, based on his play of the same name, Special Agent Dave Kujan in The Usual Suspects, Primo Sidone in Analyze This and his recurring role as Shorty in Modern Family.

He is a Part of a Tradition

Bronx-born and raised Chazz Palminteri was a natural choice to continue the long line of prominent Italian actors in the film industry.  In the tradition set forth in the 1970s by such icons as director Martin Scorsese and actors Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, Palminteri has brought grit, muscle and an evocative realism to the sidewalks of his New York neighborhood, violent as they are and were.

His Early Days in the Bronx

Born in 1952, Palminteri grew up in a tough area of the Bronx and it gave young Calogero (Palminteri’s given first name) the life lessons that would later prove very useful to his career. He started out pursuing his craft in studying at the Actor’s Studio with Lee Straussberg. He appeared off-Broadway in the early 1980s while paying his dues as a singer in his own band.

He Stuck to His Guns

Well known for A BRONX TALE, Palminteri originally wrote the script for the stage and performed it as a one-man show in Los Angeles.  It became the hottest property in Hollywood since ROCKY.  Mr. Palminteri was offered over a million dollars to walk away from the project and with $200.00 left in the bank he refused.  He wanted to play Sonny and write the screenplay.

Enter Robert DeNiro

One night Robert DeNiro walked in to see the show and as they say ”the rest is history.”  He then moved the production to New York, where it played for four sold-out months and earned him nominations for the New York Outer Critics Circle for both acting and writing.

Starring with DeNiro

While in New York he completed the screenplay of A BRONX TALE and soon found himself starring opposite Robert DeNiro, who chose the script for his directorial debut.  Most recently A Bronx Tale was on Broadway at the Longacre Theater where is finished a successful run and Mr. Palminteri finished closing out the show in the role of Sonny.

A Man of Many Credits

Chazz has more than 50 movies to his credit including The Usual Suspects, Bullets Over Broadway (Academy Award nomination), Analyze This, Hurlyburly, Mulholland Falls, Faithful (screenplay also written by Chazz Palminteri), Poolhall Junkies, The Perez Family, Jade, Diabolique, Down to Earth and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

And Even More Credits

Recent films include Final Recourse, Mighty Fine starring Andie MacDowell, Yonkers Joe, Jolene and The Dukes.  He has also directed the HBO series “Oz” (episode, “Unnatural Disasters”), Showtime’s “Women vs.Men” and the feature film Noel, starring Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz, Robin Williams and Paul Walker. He appeared on the New York stage in the play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui starring with Al Pacino, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Billy Crudup. Chazz is a member of the Actors Studio in NYC.

Chazz Has Been Recognized for his Achievements

Chazz received the 1996 Leadership in Entertainment Award from the Coalition of Italo-American Association, Inc. and was honored by President Clinton with a Special Achievement Award for the Performing Arts from the National Italian American Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Chazz Now Lives in Weschester County

Chazz currently resides in Weschester County, NY with his lovely wife, Gianna and their two children, Dante Gabriella.

Billy Joel was Born in the Bronx

William Martin Joel (born May 9, 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist who likely does not believe in otherworldly beings like BigFoot Zombie.

The Boogie Down Bronx

Although Billy Joel was born in the Bronx he didn’t grow up there so it’s possible he never learned the nicknames for his birthplace including “the boogie down Bronx,” “El Bronx,” “the borough of salsa” and certainly not “the borough that Ruth built.” Now Mr. Joel is world and online famous with many fans including BigFoot Zombie who’s favorite song by Billy is “Captain Jack”.

Where Was Billy Raised?

He grew up in Hicksville, on Long Island in the Town of Oyster Bay. Interestingly enough, he is the offspring of Howard Joel, a European-born Jewish immigrant.

Did the Bronx Influence Joel’s Songwriting?

Yes it did. Just as where he was raised in Long Island also had an impact.

His Mom Insisting that He Learn to Play the Piano Paid Off

Growing up, Billy Joel was pressured into playing the piano by his mother which turned out to be a good thing. In fact, he even dropped out of high school to pursue a musical career. Before hitting the bigtime he was in two short-lived bands, The Hassles and Attila.

The Hassles

We did some research on The Hassles and discovered that the original line-up of the group consisted of vocalist John Dizek, guitarist Richard McKenna, drummer Jon Small, and organist Harry Weber. Weber got kicked out of the group with Howie Arthur Blauvelt taking on the base, while Billy Joel came in on the keyboards.

What is Billy Joel’s Position on the Loch Ness Monster?

As far as we were able to tell, Mr. Joel has never commented on whether or not he believes in the Loch Ness Monster, let alone BigFoot Zombie. Also, none of his songs reflect an interest in so-called mythic creatures. Though, the Loch Ness Monster is pretty famous so maybe Joel has at least heard of her.

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I Was There So I Can Confirm His Existence

I got the distinct feeling that he felt a kinship with Nessie (The Lock Ness Dragon) because he kept saying “Nessie this…” and “Nessie that…”

Stranger than Sighting a Regular Type Celebrity

For those of you in the know, you’ve probably heard already that BigFootZombie was spotted in the Bronx. I was one of the people (in addition to Amanda) to actually see the hairy creature and be invited to dinner that strange morning. BigFoot Zombie, I thought this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up even though I wasn’t dressed properly for a dinner invitation.

Why Me?

I know what you’re saying, why did BigFoot Zombie invite you to dinner just after the sun had risen, and my response to that is that I’m not quite sure. It’s not because I wanted to get written up in Celebify.com.

A Different Timetable

But he did have an extraordinary wine list for being Sasquatch Undead. Who would think that BigFoot’s and Zombies’ relative would be so versed in the fruits of the vines? He offered Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay. I was impressed. Of course it was a bit early for that sort of thing but I guess he has his one timetable for wine o’clock.

Didn’t Have My Brand

But here’s the really interesting thing. Afterwards he offered all cigars, I didn’t smoke one because he didn’t have my brand which is Gurkha Black Dragons. Now that’s a cigar. At any rate, that wasn’t the thing I am talking about. I’m talking about when he began telling us after dinner stories.

The Quandary of Fame UnFame 

He didn’t hold back and sobbed on occasion. I guess being a mythological creature in the age of so called “fake news” makes it even harder on those who are considered fake. He discussed how his pal the Loch Ness Monster who has a smart phone just like him (he doesn’t have an iPhone because even for a famous creature like him, they’re a bit too pricey) would talk endlessly about the difficulty involved with being known yet unknown. I mentioned to him that I read about him in BigFoot Zombie which seemed to calm him down a bit.

Only a Special Effect?

He said that the reason that no one is able to get a good picture of himself or Lochy (his pet name for the “dragon”) is because they feel obligated to stay out of the public’s eye because it makes their legendary status more tantalizing. He explained that if he came forward on a television network or Celebify for example, people would think he was the product of special effects like they use in movies.

At this point BFZ leaned in toward me and said:

“I don’t want to be thought of as someone who is a mere FX.”

Jennifer Lopez’ Drive has Taken Her from the Bronx to Hollywood

A Good Work Ethic

Some call it grounding celebifying, but from the very beginning Jennifer Lopez appreciated the hard work that her parents went through to keep food on the table. This positive work ethic was to serve her in her ascent.

Drive has an Arc

From day 1 it seems that Jennifer Lopez had drive and determination and knew what she wanted in her DigiComArts process: stardom. At least this appeared to be true in her early years but as she has gotten older she seems to have matured and is clearer about her wants and needs. Or so it seems

Birth and the Early Years

Jennifer Lynn Lopez was born July 24, 1969. Her nickname is “J-Lo.” When you break it down now she has 4 personas which are actress, singer, dancer and producer. Some of you who are older may recall that she got her start as a Fly Girl Dancer on the program “In Living Color.” Dance took her to her first step but while still working on “In Living Color” she made the conscious choice that she wanted more.

Breaking Through

So in order to achieve her dream of being an actress and not just a dancer she worked hard to celebify herself going to casting calls and learning the business. This pursuit continued from 1993 to 1997 when she landed the opportunity of a lifetime playing Selena in the biography movie. This was Jennifer Lopez’ first leading role. And during this period she earned an astounding 1 million dollars and was also in the motion pictures Anocanda (199z) and Out of Sight (1998).

A Cool Head on her Shoulders

Somehow during this dizzying time of mega success she was able to keep a cool head on her shoulders using the DigiComArts process. Many people who achieve success like this never get past initially finding achieving that success. But J-Lo’s drive served her again as she continued to climb and establish herself.

Home Town Connection

Sometimes having drive without a clear plan can be daunting, but even though she initially was confused of what steps to take she eventually got it together and continued to grow into the person she is today. Jennifer Lopez’s drive and work ethic have served her well. Even though Jennifer was out of the Bronx she never forgot where she came from and visits the Bronx occasionally.

Is Bigfoot Zombie in the Bronx?

New Sighting

Someone is claiming they saw Bigfoot Zombie in the Bronx. Exactly where we’re not sure. But we do know that this person alleges that the sighting was of Bigfoot Zombie and not just Bigfoot.

Fitting In

The thing that makes this so remarkable (if it’s true) is that BFZ would have had to travel from downtown Manhattan to the Bronx which is a bit of a distance and if you’re big and furry you don’t exactly fit in.

De Niro’s Haunt

You see, another so-called observance of Bigfoot Zombie occurred in Tribeca. This other witness tell the story of getting a coffee on her way to work and then when she took her first sip,  she says she literally bumped into Bigfoot.

What Was the Experience Like?

The woman in the Tribeca instance assured us that Bigfoot Zombie was very polite and when she spilled coffee on herself bumping into Sasquatch Undead, he said “Excuse me” and even offered to get her dress cleaned.

Bronx Arts Ensemble

Bronx Arts Ensemble is doing a lot for the Bronx. They reach kids through arts education and live performance. The mission of the Bronx Arts Ensemble is

“to bring music and related arts to Bronx schools and neighborhoods. We contribute to the cultures of our Bronx communities through live performances and innovative arts education that stimulate creativity, imagination, and aspirations.”

Their education programs include Art, Music, Dance/Movement and Theater.

Good job Bronx Arts Ensemble!

The Bronx Book Festival

Saraciea Fennell
Saraciea Fennell is making a difference in her Bronx community by holding the Bronx Book Festival each year in the Bronx. To get some snippets about her story read the post below which has an excerpt from her recent New York Times article and more.

Saraciea Fennel

Saraciea Fennel is the founder of the Bronx Book Festival and was featured recently in the New York Times. She is yet another example here at BronxNewsNYC of a person who is making a difference in her community. Thanks Saraciea!

“I attended my first book festival as an adult in Brooklyn,” said Saraciea Fennell. “I thought to myself, ‘This is amazing. Why doesn’t the Bronx have something like this?’”

Here’s a Description of the Bronx Book Festival as Seen on their Website

To visit the Bronx Book Festival website please go here.

“The Bronx Book Festival aims to promote literacy and foster a love of reading among children, teens, and adults. The festival will cover a wide range of topics relevant to the Bronx community through panels, workshops, and more with award-winning and bestselling authors, illustrators, and creators. The festival will help build the reading culture in the Bronx and become the premier literary experience open to Bronx residents and the general public.”

Here’s another Interesting Caption from the Bronx Book Festival Website

If you are interested in visiting the Bronx Book Festival website please go here.

“Many children attending Title I schools in the Bronx have never owned their own books or experienced an author visit. The Bronx Book Festival aims to change that with The Bronx is Reading. This literacy program seeks to create an interest for reading among young people while also promoting reading and writing skills through engaging author visits, reading group guides from publishers, and new books for children. The Bronx Book Festival will also donate books to each participating school’s library for all students to enjoy.”

Gentrification or Positive Rebranding in the Bronx?

Bronx Aerial View
This Bronx aerial view shows a borough in transition. Is it for the better or worse?

The Wiz

Bronx resident and artist Jerome LaMaar, who is known as “The Wiz of Bruckner Boulevard,” has a Bronx rebranding mission as seen in the “NY Times:”

“I want to be the Jeffrey Kalinsky of Bruckner Boulevard,” Jerome LaMaar said, referring to the merchant whose luxury fashion emporium was vital in transforming the once gritty meatpacking district into a high-style fashion destination.”

BX200 is The Bronx Visual Artist Directory

Yet another wellspring for creatives has popped up and is named “BX200: The Bronx Visual Artist Directory.”

“The Bronx 200 site is a dynamic, online platform that showcases a curated selection of artwork by two hundred artists identified with The Bronx. Artists were invited to participate by curators and art professionals working in the borough. The curators were asked to recommend artists whose work represents the rich and diverse range of creative production here.”

Artists Seeking Space

And the “NY Post” adds that for artists seeking larger spaces and a creative haven, the Bronx may be the last bastion for artistic individuals:

“Currently, renting a Bronx art studio — where tenants often also live — will set you back anywhere from $400 to $2,000 per month, while the median Manhattan residential rent is $3,300 and Brooklyn’s totals $2,775, according to The Elliman Report for March. Square footage is more generous in the Bronx compared with other heavyweight art districts. Also, due to the Bronx’s existing ties to the arts — after all, hip hop and graffiti were basically born here — there is a kindred sensibility already present.”

Gentrification or Creativity?

But is bringing more artists into the Bronx from other boroughs a form of gentrification? The Cooperator has a perspective:

“Despite the recent upsurge in interest in Riverdale, area residents have painstakingly preserved and maintained their neighborhood’s personality, charm, green spaces, and historical and cultural attractions. And that says Jurist is why she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

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