Nutcracker Inc. on Indiegogo

Ok folks, so I have teamed up with my friend Jon Ullman of the movie GWB to produce what will be the definitive documentary on the elusive and enigmatic elixir known as the Nutcracker. What I have dubbed “modern day moonshine” – Washington Heights style!

We will delve into the history of the infamous libation and chart its growth from an obscure but potent potion into a virtual cottage industry. Along the way we will look at the cast of characters who created the phenomenon and help to fan the flames of its rise and it’s popularity not just in Washington Heights but also in all of NYC and beyond.

This documentary will be an exhaustive and in-depth take on not only the history of the Nutcracker but also looks at Uptown barbershop culture as well as the epic and monumental tenacity, hustle and determination of Dominicans in particular and Latinos and immigrants in general.

Please help us make this movie and become a part of Nutcracker Inc. Thank you.

Led

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I Am A Dominican York

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

I am a Dominican York. According to the Urban Dictionary, a Dominican York is either a Dominican immigrant living and working in New York City or an American-born person of Dominican descent who was raised in NYC.

Originally the term was used derisively to refer to the drug dealers and criminals that were deported back to the Dominican Republic after being incarcerated in the states. Dominican New Yorkers have been slowly adopting the term over the years, sans the negative connotations.

I am a Dominican York. That term succinctly defines my existence. I was born in the U.S., but was raised in the Dominican Republic from when I was three months old until the age of five. Inside my little apartment in Washington Heights, it was the Dominican Republic; Mami ruled, Merengue played and mangu eaten, but outside of it, New York City and its accoutrements; Hip-Hop, graffiti and pizza beckoned.

I am a Dominican York. My parents on the other hand, even though they have lived here since the early 70′s, are Dominican. My mom has only a few words in her English language repertoire and while my dad has a more extensive vocabulary, the words he knows are usually curses and only uttered when he is inebriated. I still recall with horror the one incident that encapsulated our different and divergent worldviews.

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The Bust Down: Loosies

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Loosie [pronounced Lu-See] - noun

A loosie is a single cigarette that can be purchased illegally in some of the bodegas and smoke shops of the neighborhood. But be warned, if the proprietor of the business doesn’t know you or you look like a D.T. (undercover cop), you will not be able to obtain said loosie.

For the most part, a loosie is synonymous with Newports but a few of the smoke shops also offer Marlboros. Back in the day, when I was a kid coming up, loosies were 10 cents. Now that a pack of cigarettes are like a hundred dollars, a loosie can be purchased for the ungodly sum of 75 cents. Some enterprising individuals are buying packs and selling loosies themselves, just to support their habit and make some money on the side.

Another term that is affiliated with a loosie is a bust down. The bust down is when you give someone else the remainder of your cigarette. The way it works is that as soon as someone you know sees you with a loosie, they will shout out – ” let me get a bust down”. But, now that a loosie costs 75 cents folks are much more reluctant to give bust downs. In fact, people are actually smoking their loosies all the way down to Brownsville, which is the very end of the loosie where the tobacco meets the filter.

Related Words: Loose, Stogie, Cancer Stick

Loosie in a Sentence:

A young man walks into a smoke shop after a long day of work and shouts at the Arab man behind the counter, “Yo Habib, let me get a loosie.”

The Led Black Book Club – When Tito Loved Clara

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Even though I am a voracious reader, I don’t usually read fiction but when I found out that our beloved Inwood, New York City was one of the settings where Jon Michaud’s first novel When Tito Loved Clara takes place, my interest was piqued. Right from the first paragraph I was hooked. By the time I finished the first chapter I knew that I would not really rest until this fascinating and titillating novel was consumed whole. Warning: This book is crack-like addictive. Jon Michaud is a masterful storyteller who reels you in by dropping a bomb on you out of nowhere and then slowly and painstakingly filling in the details. I found myself not being able to put this book down, when I was wasn’t reading it, I was extolling its virtues to anyone that would listen.

Here is the breakdown: Clara Lugo is a Dominican woman who grew up in the hood but does not want to be held back by it. She is firm in her determination to escape her past and by the time we catch up with her; she has moved to New Jersey and is married to an American man, Thomas, who she has a son with and is struggling to conceive another child. By the way, Thomas has a few skeletons in his closet as well.

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The Infamous Washington Heights Nutcracker

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

If you know where to go uptown, you can get totally shit-faced for a mere $10. I’m not talking about happy hour at any of the many excellent bars, pubs and lounges of the neighborhood. No, I am talking about the elusive and enigmatic elixir known to the locals as the NUTCRACKER. This is the story of this storied concoction. Many fights have started, many babies have been made and plenty of people have gotten completely and utterly twisted – all because of this mysterious libation. This column will not only reveal the ingredients of the drink but also tell the tale of the person who first brought this potent potion to the streets of Washington Heights and beyond.

Photo: Briana E. Heard

The first time I tried a Nutcracker was back in the year 2000 when my barber, who will be referred to as Fatyul (pronounced fa tuile) to avoid any legal ramifications, offered me one as she cut my hair. Ever the entrepreneur, Fatyul decided to sell the mixed drinks on the side after noticing how well they sold at the Flor de Mayo restaurant on 83rd street and Amsterdam. After obtaining the recipe she began to sell them out of a cooler she kept next to her barber chair. For a paltry 10 bucks you received a heaping 32 ounces of alcohol laced goodness in a large plastic soup container. My haircut that day took longer than usual because almost every other minute someone was stopping in to buy more of her modern day moonshine. I couldn’t care less though as I was mid way through my Nutcracker and I was feeling euphoric. I ended up having 2 more Nutcrackers and needless to say I wound up whispering sweet nothings to the toilet bowl later on that night.

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The Uptown Driving Manual: Part 1 – Get Your Mind Right

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Photo: Paul Lomax

This is written for anyone who has either never driven Uptown or those who have but didn’t make out too well. You have to understand; driving Uptown takes a whole different mindset. Whether you’re coming from New Jersey, the Bronx or even other parts of Manhattan, realize that once you enter Uptown territory, using whatever bridge, highway, street or avenue that got you here, you better have your A game, if not, it won’t be pretty. It’s not just the locals and cab drivers you have to watch out for but basically everyone on the road. The UPS dudes, the city bus drivers and even the ice cream truck drivers, all those people drive like maniacs.

The first thing you must do, and this is an important step, as bizarre as it may sound, is get your hands on some really hard, gutter Hip-Hop. Someone like Young Jeezy or Uncle Murder (you have to be gutter if your name is Uncle Murder) comes to mind. Believe me, even if you don’t like Hip-hop, the testosterone-laced music will put you in the right frame of mind to drive Uptown. Make sure you get the explicit version, you’re going to need all the curse words you can get to fuel the necessary fire to traverse the neighborhood. Make sure you put it crazy loud, as in the famous words of my dad, “a to le que da”. Seasoned Uptown drivers can skip the Hip-Hop tunes altogether. A dude like myself, could drive with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony playing whisper low and still handle things. But I digress.

The next step, and again, this is a big one, as it is a philosophical adjustment, is realize that you’re Uptown. You have left wherever you have come from and have entered uncharted territory. The comfort and solace provided by rules, regulations and niceties are in the rear view mirror, so its time to man up. The driving rules that exist in other places simply are not in effect here. Red lights, stop signs, one-way streets, anything and everything is up for interpretation. Shoo, up here, turn signals are for woosies. This is a place, where there is such a thing as a good triple parking. With this handy manual and a little chutzpah, you should be on your way. More to follow…..

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