Surfing is just a road trip away from New York City if you head out to Montauk!
Sponsored video brought to you by Mercedes Benz
Surfing is just a road trip away from New York City if you head out to Montauk!
Sponsored video brought to you by Mercedes Benz
Cadillac revealed the 2015 Escalade last night with a stylish and festive party in New York City. I was on hand to check out the new luxury SUV as it was introduced by Bob Ferguson, senior vice president of Global Cadillac, along with Ed Welburn, vice president of design for GM. This fourth generation vehicle is immediately recognizable as as Escalade but the improvements are quickly apparent as well, particularly the new headlamps and taillamps. Cadillac is emphasizing the craftsmanship that goes into the luxury accents of the Escalade as they highlighted some of the people behind the vehicle with beautiful photography by Autumn de Wilde. Sitting in the Escalade one certainly notices the comfortable and luxurious interior that buyer will expect.
With the emphasis on luxury craftsmanship and technology, the 2015 Escalade is loaded with features that will draw in consumers in the luxury SUV segment:
- The new Escalade interior features cut-and-sewn and wrapped materials along with real wood trim options. The use of premium materials is immediately recognizable when you sit in the vehicle. The new seats are also very comfortable.
- The new LED lighting jumps out as the most distinctive part of the exterior design evolution with Cadillac’s vertical light signature. The headlamps consist of four vertically stacked crystal lenses and LEDs. Coupled with the large and chiseled front grille the Escalade retains its very distinctive look with these upgrades. The rear of the Escalade is now even more distinctive with tall, thin vertical LED taillamps that reach to the top of the vehicle and feature the brand’s wreath-and-crest insignia which illuminates in the dark.
- I’m a big fan of Cadillac’s CUE system for navigation, media and other internal controls and it will be standard in the Escalade. I like how CUE uses proximity sensors to activate common options and controls as your hand approaches the screen. The new CUE also offers an expanded “favorites” section that provides quick access to station presets, favorite phone contacts and navigation destinations all in one convenient spot.
- Cadillac claims the new interior will be “dramatically quieter” due to a stronger new body structure, new and enhanced acoustic material, and Bose Active Noise Cancellation technology.
- The Escalade is Offered with 2WD and 4WD drivetrains and features a new 6.2L V-8 engine rated at an SAE-certified 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque – a nearly 5-percent increase in horsepower and 10 percent more torque.
- Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension system is now a standard feature.
- The front seating area offers more than 1.5 inches more headroom and more than four inches of additional legroom compared to previous models while the 2nd and 3rd-row seats fold flat.
I’m looking forward to driving the new Escalade to fully experience the new features. The updated design and luxury features will definitely generate more attention for this iconic nameplate.
Last night at Manhattan’s East River Park, the legendary Lyricist Lounge continued their 20th anniversary celebration with a free show featuring two of Hip-Hop’s all-time greatest producers and deejays, Pete Rock and DJ Premier. Hosted by Lyricist Lounge founders Danny Castro and Ant Marshall, the show was dubbed “Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier,” though it was really less a battle than a collaborative showcase. Castro began the show by schooling the audience on a bit of trivia about the East River Park bandshell, which is where the finale of the 1983 Hip-Hop classic “Wild Style” was filmed.
Pete Rock and Premo opened their shared set with a tribute to Rock’s cousin, the late, great Heavy D, taking turns spinning some of his best-loved jams, including the classic “Nuttin’ But Love.” The evening was heavy on R.I.P. shout outs to some of the great musicians of the past, including a medley of Rick James songs like “Give It to Me Baby” and “Mary Jane,” a brief medley of the Jackson 5 hits “I Want You Back” and “ABC,” and a much more extended medley of the James Brown classics “The Payback,” “Soul Power,” “Make It Funky,” and “Sex Machine.” Along with cuts from Al Green, Kool & the Gang, the Commodores and more, Premo and Rock’s set felt like a miniature history lesson in black music, continuing into the rest of the evening.
Promising to soon go head to head with some of their own original beats, the two deejays first segued into the Hip-Hop portion of the evening with some ’80s favorites like Afrika Bambaataa‘s “Planet Rock,” MC Lyte‘s “Survival of the Fittest,” Audio Two‘s “Top Billin’,” Eric B. & Rakim‘s “Move the Crowd,” and Biz Markie‘s “Nobody Beats the Biz.” When Premo spun the Boogie Down Productions battle classic “The Bridge is Over,” a diss track aimed partly at Marley Marl (a huge influence on both Rock and Premo), Rock observed, “It’s even hard to hear at a distance, ’cause those are my people.”
Unfortunately, before they could get into the golden era of ’90s Hip-Hop, including the promised battle of their own productions and a promised special guest rapper (who, based on the outstanding scope of their past collaborations, could have been virtually any heavyweight emcee still alive and breathing), there was a power failure that brought the show to a premature end. I thought it was a gimmick at first, and much of the crowd began chanting “Hip-Hop,” as if our true belief could bring the lights and sound back on. Sad to say, in a city with subways full of ads featuring the slogan “Never be powerless,” the promoters and technicians were unable to bring the show back. It was a disappointing ending to an otherwise enjoyable evening of music brought to us by two of the greatest deejays alive.
Tags: '80s music, '90s Hip-Hop, ABC, Afrika Bambaataa, Al Green, Ant Marshall, Audio Two, Biz Markie, black music, Boogie Down Productions, Danny Castro, deejays, diss track, DJ Premier, East River Park, emcee, Eric B. & Rakim, Ezra Stead, Give It to Me Baby, Heavy D, hip hop, I Want You Back, Jackson 5, James Brown, Kool & the Gang, Lyricist Lounge, Make It Funky, Manhattan, Marly Marl, Mary Jane, MC Lyte, Move the Crowd, New York, New York City, Nobody Beats the Biz, Nuttin' But Love, Pete Rock, Planet Rock, producers, Rick James, Sex Machine, Soul Power, Survival of the Fittest, The Bridge is Over, the Commodores, The Payback, Top Billin', Wild Style
The Upright Citizens Brigade theater, nationally renowned as one of the absolute best resources for improv and sketch comedy in the country, presented a couple of its best troupes last night in New York City’s East River Park, as part of the annual SummerStage festival. Showcasing two distinctly different collectives with a brief intermission, the show was a great example of how good improvisational theater can be when carried out by skilled performers adept at thinking on their feet. It was a unique treat to be in attendance, especially since this particular show will, by definition, never be seen again.
The first troupe, known as The Pox, followed the format of UCB’s celebrated “ASSSSCAT!” show, featuring a monologist telling a personal anecdote based on an audience suggestion, followed by a series of improvisational sketches based on that monologue. Their skits revolved heavily around the experience of out-of-towners visiting New York, such as a scene in which a tourist is robbed at gunpoint in Central Park, then decides that video of the robbery would be a great souvenir of his visit and begins directing the robber while his friends film it. Another highlight was a sketch in which a teacher ruins the joy of swearing for her twelve-year-old students by telling them that Shakespeare coined many of the English language’s best curse words. One of their best ideas, however, was the last scene of the first set, in which a man gives god credit for everything from work promotions to his wife’s pregnancy (“No, I think I knocked god up … or god knocked himself up”), then likewise shifts the blame for a car accident in which he is at fault onto the almighty.
The second troupe, Sandino, was even better, weaving their sketches seamlessly together into a bizarre, alternate-world scenario until, by the end, they felt less like random sketches than cohesive scenes in a play. Using a shouted audience suggestion, “P90X” (which further research tells me is some sort of workout program for which I am undoubtedly too lazy), Sandino improvised a dystopian tale of a world in which robots are programmed for only three functions – rage, sex and boredom – and people have jobs like drunkenly dancing nude in glass towers. Though the set begins with two of the performers working out, the phrase “P90X” ended up referring to a prisoner who has become a problem for his captors, one of whom suggests that the solution is to let him loose in Detroit and see who survives, him or the city of Detroit. This is all part of an evolutionary experiment he feels is vital to the human race, and later this same character reappears to serve an arsenic-laced dinner to a friend, for the same reason. “It’s not a lethal dosage,” he insists. “It’s just going to hurt real bad.”
It’s truly amazing how well Sandino incorporated elements of all their sketches into one large narrative, to the point that the final revelation that prisoner P90X is actually Virgin Group mogul Richard Branson (who designed the boredom robot in order to gain perspective on his overly exciting life) made perfect sense. This is a tremendously talented group of performers, and while I feel privileged to have attended their only performance of this specific material, I certainly hope a video recording is made available in the near future.
Tags: ASSSSCAT!, Central Park, comedy, Detroit, East River Park, Ezra Stead, improv, New York, New York City, P90X, Richard Branson, robots, Sandino, sex, Shakespeare, sketch comedy, SummerStage, The Pox, UCB, Upright Citizens Brigade, Virgin Group, workout
Forty-three years after their original 1969 formation, the legendary band War can still rock a stage with the best of them and provide a funky good time for audiences of all ages. Of course, the only original member still in the lineup is keyboardist and current lead singer Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan, but since the band has cycled through more than 25 members since its original inception, this is no surprise. The band, in its current seven-piece configuration, played a free show at Queensbridge Park in Queens, New York, last night as part of City Parks Foundation’s annual SummerStage series. Probably about 400 people, ranging in age from toddlers to elderly folks, were in attendance, and War played an excellent two-hour set full of positive energy and musical prowess.
After an hour-long warm-up from DJ Felix Hernandez’ Rhythm Revue, War opened their set with the funky, upbeat “Me and Baby Brother,” from their 1973 gold record “Deliver the Word,” and the already dancing crowd really began to get down. Jordan is an exceptionally charismatic frontman who really commands the stage even when boxed in behind his keyboards, but he stepped out early on in the show to lead an audience sing-along to the 1972 hit “The Cisco Kid.” He joked that if anyone in the crowd could tell him how many other War songs contained the word “wine,” he would let that lucky fan buy him a glass of wine.
Jordan then slowed the upbeat set down a bit with the more serious jam “The World Is a Ghetto,” from the 1972 album of the same name, taking time to speak off-the-cuff about changing the world for the kids in the audience. He referred specifically to an adorable toddler dancing near the stage, of whom he couldn’t quite identify the gender, saying, “They don’t know when they’re that age anyway. Let ‘em worry about all that when they get older.” The band also catered to an unexpected fan request by playing the gorgeous, tempo-shifting instrumental “City, Country, City,” also from the “World Is a Ghetto” album, which really gave saxophonist Fernando Harkless and harmonica player Stanley Behrens a chance to shine.
Though the overall set was mostly very up-tempo and danceable, War took time for a couple of slow love ballads near the end. Jordan took a lengthy vocal and keyboard solo for the beginning of the beautiful 1973 title track “Deliver the Word” before letting the rest of the band join him to jam it out, and drummer Salvador Rodriguez sang a love ballad of his own before War broke out their two biggest hits. On “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” from the 1975 album of the same name, each of the seven members of the band sang one two-bar verse, except for percussionist Marcos Reyes, who relegated the last small verse to an audience sing-along.
They closed with the iconic hit “Low Rider,” from the same album, and of course the crowd loved it, many of them begging for one more song. Unfortunately, the free outdoor show had a strict ending time, but it is a testament to War’s energy, vitality and long list of beloved hits, that a two-hour set could still leave us wanting more.
Tags: City Country City, City Parks Foundation, concert reviews, concerts, Deliver the Word, drummer, Ezra Stead, Felix Hernandez, Felix Hernandez' Rhythm Revue, Fernando Harkless, funk music, gold record, harmonica, harmonica player, keyboard player, Leroy "Lonnie" Jordan, Low Rider, Marcos Reyes, Me and Baby Brother, music, New York, New York City, percussionist, Queens, Queensbridge Park, Salvador Rodriguez, saxophone player, saxophone solos, sing-along, Stanley Behrens, SummerStage, The Cisco Kid, The World Is a Ghetto, War, Why Can't We Be Friends, Wine