Tidbit Tuesday

Returning to NYC?

During my last trip to NYC, I failed to meet with my mother. It is not like I didn’t try. I wanted to surprise her before I came back to Syracuse, but she wasn’t home. So, I ended up talking to her a few day ago and I was informed that my uncle is throwing something for my cousin and his fiance on Father’s Day. Clearly, I am invited.

I have several issues with this. It is on a Sunday, which means I have to drive back shortly after this thing. I am so not sure why my uncle would chose Father’s Day to do this, but I wont go there. Gas cost money and I spend a lot of money on my last trip so to go down again? I am not so sure. What I do like is how my mother goes from asking me if I am going to assuming that I will be there…again we will see.

Taste of Syracuse

One of the few things that makes Syracuse bearable is the summer festivals they have. One in particular is the Taste of Syracuse. This is when all the local restaurants set up tents downtown and serve samples of their food. Of course there is plenty of beer and music to go around as well.

I did enjoy myself, but that only last for a little while. Having a square fully of people can get on my nerves. Not to mention people who are only there to drink and smoke. I was waiting on line for some lemonade and there was this nice lady behind me that had a double stroller with her 2 kids. The guy next to her decided to light up and smoke. The had he held the cigarette with was on the same side the kids were on so smoke an ash were going in their face.

So the lady tells this guy about himself and what he is doing. He just shrugs her off. This pissed the lady off and she leaves the line. I am like dumbfounded. The guy had, what appeared to be his woman with him, and she says..”that is why u get a baby sitter”. Who says that??? This bitch, who looked she should be grateful to even get dick because she so ugly shouldn’t be talking. I was not happy. Now you see why I cannot be here.

NBA Finals

I am so not happy with these finals. It is not that I am not a Laker fan or that some would deem me a Kobe Hater. It is the fact that Orlando is so damn wack. It has really been a long time since I started caring about the NBA. I haven’t really watched Pro Basketball since the Knicks got destroyed in the NBA Finals by the Spurs. However, I did keep up the the finals over the past several years.

Maybe it is because I still feel bad for Lebron James. This is a man who is trying his best to be a leader and still cannot win. It is so much a similar feeling to me. he has so much passion and drive and the pain in his face was so evident when the Cavs last week. I feel his pain in so many ways.

Then he gets criticized for not speaking to the media and shaking hand with Dwight Howard. I mean really? Let it go people. He is young, and sure he will make mistakes, but do not question his class because he made a mistake in judgment. I wont lie, I am the worst sore loser. I hate to lose. We live in a society where everything is about winning. Losing hurts a lot and when you feel you have lost everything, you can feel someone else’s pain.

My Near Death Experience

It was a regular day in April of 2007. I went out to food for Josie at Las Delicias. I ordered 2 red snapper meals with arroz amarillo (yellow rice) and 1 side of maduros and 1 side of tostones. I knew I was about eat well! The order was wrapped up well and I placed the bag on the floor of the passenger side of the car.

I started the car up, pulled out my iPod hit and shuffle. “Lovestoned/I Think She Knows” by Justin Timberlake starts blasting. I am ready to go. I pull out of the parking space and I make the turn on to Concord Place. It was pretty nice night. It was later in the evening. I make the next left on to Allen Street. I am driving down this street and there is no traffic then a black cat comes out of no where and I swerve…

I am not sure if anyone really knows the feeling of being in a vehicle when it turns over. It is almost like a roller coaster ride. This all happens very fast, but I was able to hear the car hit the tree. I hear myself scream “NO”. Then the car flips

My life did not flash before my eyes, but I did think I was going to die. I am still in the car, upside down. My nose hurts from the airbag. I have my eyes closed because I run a pain diagnostic on myself. Legs check. Feet check. Arms Check. No blood I can feel. I open my eyes and I am truly upside down. I think to myself… “I cannot believe I just flipped this car.” I can smell the food. Then I think…”Oh shit, I have a full tank of gas..” I unbuckle my seat belt and I crawl out of the car.

On my way out I see my new phone that I just got in 3 pieces (Phone, battery, cover). I stand up and I just look at the car. I see my iPod across the street. I pick that up and then a woman comes running out asking me if I was ok. She blabs about how she is a nurse and how I need to sit down. I can tell she is trying to check me for wounds. She mentions that she called 911. I put my phone back together and I call Josie.

I totaled that car. I just got that car a month prior. The rest of the night consisted of me going to the hospital for testing. I remember sitting on the gurney with both Josie and I crying because even then we knew that our marriage was in trouble. I still think about that day. I was off from work for a week because I was sore as hell. I think about how some of my friends did not call even though they knew what happened and I think about the one person I needed to call me…did.

I will always think about how I almost died 2 years ago. The police told me that if I had not had my seat belt on, I would not have made it. I am re-telling this because this I feel this is the closest I have ever come to death. It would have ended very quickly and then what? I thought about this yesterday. I told myself that I need to finally figure out what I want to do.

I am not staying in Syracuse. I have decided to finish my Masters and get out of here. The city is not for me. This job is not for me anymore. There is a glass ceiling over my head that I know I cannot crack. My mother is now 70 and my aunt is getting older and someone needs to look out for her. My nephew is getting bigger and I am tired of not getting to see Met games whenever I want. I miss New York City and I want to go back now! But, I need to do me. I need to get this degree.

P.S. Yes that is the car pictured above.

Driving and Texting

Recently the city of Syracuse passed a law that states that if you are caught texting and driving you will get a $150 fine. While I think it is about time for this law, I am kinda scared because I know that I have been guilty of this. It took me awhile to really think about the importance of texting. Do I get messages that are so critical that I need to text while I am at the wheel? Probably not.

During this age of social networking and technology, we are connected to the world in ways we weren’t just 10 years ago. The new phones that come out now allow us to do so much more than we could have ever imagined. With all the tweeting and status updates on Facebook, is there no wonder how we all got along without it.

However that bring us closer to the danger we face when on the roads. You think talking on the cell and driving was bad? Last week I was walking to my doctor’s office and I noticed one of the students driving and he was texting. He was approaching a stop sign and was not even looking at the road. Grant he was not going that fast, but does that really matter? I was taken back by this because I asked myself is that what I look like?

I do not text and drive much, but I have done it. At this point, if I do text, I will do it at a stop light or stop sign. I have also pulled over to do that. I know this sounds crazy, but I have reduced my texting due to the fact that I do have an iPhone. I just plug it into the car radio and listen to music. This way I just enjoy music and not worry about texts. If people are texting they can wait right? Otherwise they would call.

Of course that brings up the issue about driving and talking on the phone. I don’t own a blue tooth because I lost the last one. However, if I put my phone on speaker I am fine. Just don’t have an argument with me and we are fine!

Well let me tell you what I really think about when the thought of texting and driving comes to mind: 7 Pounds. If you have seen the movie then you know what I am talking about. Once you see that movie you will second guess everything in your life. More importantly, it will make you think twice about the importance of texting or emailing while driving. It really is not that deep.

I am not sure that the younger generation really takes this all that seriously. I am not even sure that $150 fine is enough. The law takes effect July 1st.

Latinos in Syracuse

The city of Syracuse is known for a few things, but none of them involve the Latino Community. Since I have been a resident of this city, I have seen many issues that revolve around health care, education, migration, and employment (to name a few). What saddens me more than anything is the feeling of general apathy.

Don’t get me wrong, there are several places that provide services for the Latino community, like La Liga (The Spanish Action League) and Westside Learning Center. The problem is, that is it is not enough. The school system sucks. The drop out rate is just not worth mentioning. But there is no buy in from the school district to really step up their game and do so developmental work. That is just one issue.

There is a lack of community development. The one thing that is very apparent is how Syracuse is split into 4 quadrants, all denoted by directional markers. So, the majority of the Latinos are located on the Westside. Most of the development is happening on the North and Eastsides of Syracuse. The University is kind of centrally located within the city and they have a tremendous amount of development. So the Southside, you can guess, is where most of the African Americans are.

The problem is that if you wanted to find a job, going to the South or Westside is not a place to look. There is no Home Depot or Price Chopper (Pathmark of Syracuse for all the NYC peeps) to apply for jobs. In order to do that you have to catch a bus. The Centro Bus system is probably the worst transit system I have ever seen. So catching a bus is no going to happen since the ride is long and the buses are not reliable.

Healthcare is an issue because people do have insurance because there are no jobs. The ones that do have jobs might working off the books or their job does not offer health benefits. Not to mention that language is an issue. There are very few interpreters for people that may come into the hospitals.

Language becomes a huge issue. It is hard to get immigrants to get services they need when no one has the resources to get them help. Now, the Westside Learning Center does have ESL classes but, there are only so many resources to go around. If you cannot speak the language then employment, education, and health care become inaccessible. We need a system that will connect the dots.

The last issue is that out of all this, there is a small percentage of Latinos that actually do make it through this terrible system (can anyone say institutional and systemic racism?). The problem is that they do not stay in the community. They leave, never to return and can you blame them? This issues here in Syracuse are dire.

Fortunately, I was at a meeting today that was called by the Governor’s office, in which all of this was discussed. I have a chance to be a part of real change. I just hope it works.

P.S. That is a pic above is of me from a town hall meeting about a year ago. I was surprised to find it. Click on the pic to read article.


Yesterday I had the privilege of being interviewed by a Syracuse University student who was doing volunteer work for credit. He was helping CNY Latino gather a database of like who is up and coming in the Syracuse Area. This would be a way for Latinos here in Central New York to network and pool resources if we had to on projects and various community outreach. I think this is a great project and I am sure it will work out well.

The interview was cool and I enjoyed it. I tend to learn about myself when people ask personal and thought provoking questions. After the interview was done, Josh reminds me that I need to send in a picture and a bio. Damn. I forgot about that.

The picture I am ok with. I have tons of those. I can use the one I took at work. But, the bio I am not so sure about. I think I tried this before and it did not work for me. I am pretty sure that someone had to write it for me.

I find this to be crazy because I love to write. I can write about anything that comes to mind, however, if I try to write about a bio about myself and I only get as far as one line: Anthony Otero was born in the Bronx, New York.

That is it! That is all I got! Where do I go from there? Shit, I went to high school, started no trouble. Didn’t do anything of importance until college. Lost my virginity at 19. Graduated in 1996. Stayed in Syracuse because of a woman (rolls eyes) and worked for SU. Returned home in 1998 because my dad had cancer. Got my first Apt in the Bronx in 1999 where I met my wife shortly after. Survived 9/11 then returned to SU in 2001.

Worked tirelessly for the students and student affairs. Advise 2 student organizations that is not apart of my job description. Plan and schedule numerous events where I have met tons of people. I must say I love my students. I am also the chairperson for and community based organization called ANCLA (which is a whole separate can of worms) where I have planned a conference and 2 dinners.

Somehow I find time to take classes and sleep. Did I mention I have a blind dog? Played on some city rec basketball team (can of worms too) and is the captain of the student affairs softball team. See, I wrote a bio….but I am not sure this is good enough to go a publication. So back the drawing board I go…

Driving While Black

One of the things that I have said during my Racism classes and various dialogue circles is that there is a reason why I try to be very careful when I drive around the city of Syracuse or any of its many neighboring towns. As person who is as brown as myself, I understand that I can be pulled over for any reason at all. It has been my experience that we tend to fit many different profiles and can be easily mistaken for anyone. Perhaps, I even look like the type of person who can look suspicious while I am driving.

It is not to say that racial profiling is just a problem within Central New York. I feel the same way driving everywhere I go. Truth be told, I have never been stopped when I am driving. So I can never been guilty of a DWB. However, I have been in a vehicle when a friend has been stopped. As, a matter of fact, I have several friends who have committed several DWBs.
To understand what it is like to be stopped here in CNY, you first need to understand that I live in a very lily white city when it come to the infrastructure and the law enforcement. I am generally surprised if I see a Black Police Officer. So, when someone like me gets pulled over, which is commonplace here, there is often a need for two police cars. Which, is a surprise to me. Growing up in NYC, when someone is pulled over, it is normally one car. Two cars generally mean that NYPD has been looking for you

So, getting back to being in the car when a friend commits the crime of driving while black, I am sure one can imagine how it may feel when you come home from picking up food and pulling into the driveway of the house you live…and seeing 2 police cars in the rear view mirror. While that happened more than 13 years ago, it still happened in Syracuse and still remember it vividly. Which has given me the reason to think twice before I go out and drive with my brown skin on.

I have been followed. I have been followed on campus by Public Safety. I didn’t have on my official business attire on that day. But, I was in the car with a co-worker driving to one of our student centers. When my co-worker got out of the car (I was dropping him off), the officers must have recognized who he was and then proceed to move on with their day. So, when I tell people that racism still exists, I am not making this up.

Which brings me to the point of this who post today. My good friend Eddie that I went on that shopping trip with, committed his very first DWB last night. We went to Chili’s last night and hung out for awhile. He lives in the village of Liverpool which is very upscale and white. So, on this way home he gets the CNY police treatment. He gets stopped…by 2 cars…and he gets 7 tickets. Don’t adjust your screen saver…7 tickets! One for having his high beams on (it is mad dark..but ok), One for the SU parking decal hanging from the mirror, One for having his headphones on…(he as an iPhone), One for a small crack on his windshield, and I am not sure about the other 3 but I can guess (too black, too tall, and too southern).

Personally, I think that breaks a record of how many tickets you can get in one sitting. But, since I know the Liverpool Projects are really hopping on a Thursday Night, they have to make sure they keep the Negros in check.

Nice Way to Start the New Year…

{Originally Posted on Blogger}

Well, Happy new Year!!! So much can happen in 2 months. Lets see if i can summarize…I went to Florida in December, saw some really cool shit. Been to New York City, saw some really cool shit. Of course I still don’t miss NYC. Some idiot decided to but a Toys-R-Us in the middle of Times Square. So now there is just wall to wall people on the streets…slow people to be exact. Orlando was cool. Went to Universal Studios, what a waste of money. 45 minute wait for rides. Disney is much better. However, They have a “City Walk” that is very cool. We went to the Motown Cafe and to the Latin Quarter. I would recommend both. Also go to see some online friends…and that is always cool.

It was cool to be in a place where it is always 70 degrees…we drove down and back. The entire way back..no sign of snow, until we reached the city limits of Syracuse. We returned on December 29th…and it never stopped snowing until February 1st. I cant how many times I almost busted my ass on the ice of the streets and sidewalks. Now, I love our landlord, but homeboy has no concept of chipping icy stairs. I may need a snowboard to go in and out my apt. I still got ice on my back steps from November. Speaking of ice, I had the one of the worse encounters of my life. We got into a car accident. We are ok, don’t worry. The car is in bad shape, but it is totally fixable. We slid on black ice on the way to NYC. We ran into a truck that had already spun out from it. We were 2 hours away from Syracuse and we get into a accident with an SU student. Go figure.

Well the last piece of info is that we have an addition to our family. Her name is Jasmin and she is Josie’s god daughter (cousin). She has moved in with us from Virginia. She has had some issues down there and we have volunteered to take her in. She is 14 and has enrolled into school. This where I find out how backwards this place is. The school district has told us that she lives too close for her to take a bus. So she has to walk from now on. She live 2 miles away and they want her to walk. Fine if we lived in Sunny Fucking California, but has anyone noticed that we get more snow then Alaska? So they expect this child to walk home from school in -20 weather…I thought that banned smoking crack in the schools? Oh, it gets a lot better! We live down Gennesse St. He school is straight down that road. Why is there no bus that runs down this block. This makes no sense. At least the MTA in NYC made a little sense. Centro makes none! Anyway, the good thing is she i making friends. The first day of class and she already got little chicks calling here,,better yet she got a concert in like 2 WEEKS!!!. Talk about adapting to your environment. She gonna be running that place by May.