Author Archives: alofters

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What’s Next for Dirty Mac?

From performing in front of 10 people to performing in front of 40,000 people, Dirty
has come a long way after 11 years of making a dream. The 24-year-old hip
hop artist, whose real name is James McNamara, was first introduced to the hip
hop world at the age of 13, during a freestyle cipher in his middle school in Elizabeth, NJ.

“I tried [freestyling] and the response that I got from doing it was surprisingly good,” says Dirty Mac. “From that point on I knew something was there and I needed to dissect it more so that I could make something out of it.”

Shortly after participating in his first freestyle cipher, Dirty Mac moved to the city he reps in his songs and currently resides in, Scotch Plains, NJ. According to Dirty Mac, the move played a large part in identifying himself as an artist and he has come a long way since then.

In 2008, he became the USA MC Challenge Champion and most recently, he had the opportunity to perform at Rutgersfest 2011, a concert held at his own school, Rutgers University. In front of 40,000 people, his largest audience to date, Dirty Mac opened the concert for Yelawolf, 3OH!3 and Pitbull.

Dirty Mac at Rutgersfest 2011

Every up-and-coming artist dreams of an opportunity to share the stage with those who have already made it in the business and for Dirty Mac, it has been a push in the right direction. In the weeks since the concert, his career has taken off immensely.

“I have been booked for many different interviews and shows and contacts have been flying all over the place,” says Dirty Mac. “The fan base has increased significantly and I have been playing more shows than before. Rutgersfest 2011 was not only an experience to
perform in front of 40,000 people, but it was also a great opportunity to showcase
myself as a student of the university.”

With new opportunities emerging, Dirty Mac is preparing for the release of his second album, “Service With A Style” along with the production of his second music video, “Get Back (Be About It)”. His first video, “iLL Scalpel (Reprise)”, received 3,136 views on youtube and with his increased fan base from Rutgersfest, the hope is that the second music video will be even more popular.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Luckily, most of the people working on Dirty Mac’s music videos were friends who volunteered to participate for free. The director, Anthony Infantino, is a friend of Dirty Mac’s and the video was his first project as a director. Thanks to Dirty Mac’s impressive
negotiation skills, they were also able to use several locations in New Jersey
at no cost for the “Get Back (Be About It)” music video.

Photo by Tommy Leong

With the release of his album and video approaching, Dirty Mac has a lot of work ahead of him, but his summer tour may slightly put things on hold. “Along with the release, I do have a small tour in mind for the middle of the summer,” says Dirty Mac. “A lot of the dates and places are undisclosed at the time, but will be announced once the final word is out on the release of the project. I have a lot of things planned out. Timing is everything at this point, but be on the lookout.”

Despite the uplift in his career, for now, Dirty Mac will continue working his day job, bartending at Famous Daves. He feels that keeping a steady job is important until he begins to make a consistent income as an artist.

“I am not one of those artists who can go into the world thinking I’m going to go from working for tips one day to selling out Madison Square Garden the next day,” says Dirty Mac. “Realistically, it’s a matter of what you can do with the money you save as a ‘struggling artist’ and how you can turn it into greater exposure for yourself and earn decent pay being more exposed to the world. Until I figure that out, I’m sticking to the 9 to 5 routine. Everyone’s got to have something before they can cake off of their craft.”


Posted in Music | 119 Comments

When Robots Make Love, 3OH!3 is Born

It was a freezing day in New Jersey and still, girls bravely sported mini-skirts and boys walked around shirtless.  Thousands of people gathered around the stage and with less than an inch of space between each person, the outside temperature had no chance of breaching the bubble of body heat. Yurcak Field was mud-ridden from the previous night’s rain and we were all ankles deep in the muck. Nature may have been against the concert, but it had no effect on us. For the next few hours, we would be in a zone unaware of our surroundings, focused solely on the stage. Afterall, this was Rutgersfest.

The Rutgersfest crowd waits for 3OH!3

The annual free concert held at Rutgers University is notoriously known for drawing several non-Rutgers students, like myself, because of the popular bands it features each year. This year, one of those bands was 3OH!3. The electronic-pop band consists of two members, Sean Foreman and Nathaniel ‘Nat’ Motte. The band shot to fame after their 2007 self-released album, put together in Nat’s apartment, was passed along to Photo Finish Records, where label president Matt Galle was blown away by their unique sound and brilliant lyrics. To top it off, the band also had a unique name, which came from Sean and Nat’s area code in Boulder, Colorado. Their first single, “Don’t Trust Me,” released in 2008, went double platinum and sold over 2.6 million tracks. On 3OH!3’s official website, Nat describes the band’s sound the best. “It sounds like robots making love,” he says.

Sean Foreman of 3OH!3

It’s no surprise that 3OH!3 was asked to perform at Rutgersfest, since a large part of their fans are college students. The minute they stepped on stage, Sean and Nat were full of energy. They jumped on speakers and ran across the stage, holding the microphone out to the crowd at times, allowing the audience to sing along. They performed hit songs such as Don’t Trust Me, My First Kiss, Touchin’ On My and I Can Do Anything. The rebellious songs carried on the theme that they don’t care about what anyone thinks. They sang loudly and despite all the running around they did, there was never a point that they were out of tune. The radio doesn’t do this band justice. Their vocals are even better live.

Nat Motte of 3OH!3

If they hadn’t been on stage, Sean and Nat easily would have been mistaken for students from the way they were dressed. They both wore hoodies, jeans and leather jackets. Nat had a beanie on most of the time, and zipped down his jacket to reveal a red and white checkered button-up shirt, the kind you get from grandma for Christmas. Sean also took off his jacket to show his green and blue plaid shirt (I’ve seen an identical one at Hot Topic). Their choice of clothes, much like their songs, gave off the impression that they aren’t trying to impressing anyone and fame hasn’t turned them into money flaunting jerks.

The crowd sings along with Sean


Even offstage 3OH!3 was nonchalant and friendly towards their fans and students. One camera man mentioned that they walked into his tent and struck up a conversation so casually that he mistook them for crew members. The down-to-earth attitude that Sean and Nat are both known for is what makes me like their music even more. They’re not fake like some musicians tend to be. They sing about what they know and have fun doing it. I would definitely recommend seeing them perform live. It’s an unforgettable experience and I’ve even bought tickets to see them perform again at Warped Tour over the summer.

Posted in Music, music reviews | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

And You Call Yourself a Singer?

What I’ve noticed lately, is that every day there are more people popping up and calling themselves “singers” when they’re really entertainers. Some of them aren’t even talented, but become famous because they put on a good show.

Ke$ha rocking the uncombed hair look

Ke$ha is a perfect example of this. Her lyrics are funny, she makes noises and growls in her songs, and her hair normally has an uncombed look to it. Although this all makes her great to watch, her actual voice is high-pitched and irritating. She can’t compare to someone with real talent, like Madonna, and yet she’s famous because we all want to see what she does next.

The same goes for Lady Gaga, who rose to fame by making a spectacle of herself. Her ridiculous outfits and crazy persona overshadow her music. She uses blood and makeup and hairpieces in her performances.

Eric Rachmany, lead singer of Rebelution

Now, I like a good show as much as the next person, but I’d much rather go to a concert and hear REAL music, a concert where the focus is the talent, rather than the costumes and props. I recently saw Rebelution perform at Irving Plaza and I thought to myself, this is what music is all about. The concert focused solely on the band’s talent.

The lead singer was passionate and sang in tune the entire time. You could tell he was feeling the song and he prolonged stares with audience members to make sure they were feeling the same as he was. That’s what I call a real musician. I’d like to think one day entertainers will stop calling themselves musicians and leave the singing to people who are actually talented.

Posted in Music Rant/ love song | 4 Comments

Alias Restaurant Behind the Red Walls

Clinton Street in the Lower East Side tends to be a little scary at first glance, due to the unnecessary clutter of four nail salons and two beauty parlors at the head of the block, but once you get to the corner of Rivington Street, you’ll hit Alias, one of the infamous restaurants located on Clinton.

Alias's Walls

While NYC & Company’s Annual Report showed that there were 23,499 active restaurants in New York City in the past year, few of those restaurants are as eye-catching as Alias. The bright red walls on the restaurant’s exterior were painted by Emily Noelle Lambert and her Foundation students from Parsons The New School for Design as their class’s final assignment. The animals, people, figures and shapes featured on the walls have customers curious and enticed before even entering the restaurant.

After almost ten years, Alias has become extremely involved in its community. It has raised money for several organizations, including the Unicef Tapwater Project and the Grand Street Settlement, but most recently, the restaurant hosted its Annual Charity Eggnite Eggstravaganza. The event included egg painting competitions with prizes, free food and free drinks. The proceeds this year were donated to Mark DeGarmo & Dancers’ programs in literacy, dance and creativity in local LES schools.

“We definitely support all schools and local charities,” says owner Janet Nelson, who is also a Lower East Side resident. “I think every business owner should definitely be involved in the neighborhood and supporting it, especially since I’m also a neighbor.”

Nelson has had plenty of experience in the business after owning several restaurants, including 71 Clinton Fresh Food, but it took a lot of hard work to get to where she is today. “I started at the very bottom, which is the way a lot of people start in the business,” she says. “I was a buffer, then a waiter and then I went to doing office work and financial work. There was never cooking for me. I never made it into the kitchen, except to wash dishes.”

While Nelson is extremely dedicated to Alias, she accredits much of the restaurant’s success to her staff and the other owners, one of which is her sister, Marybeth Nelson. “We’re a small restaurant, but the people who own it and run it, we’re all a family,” says Nelson.

Customers agree that a large part of the restaurant’s appeal is the environment created by its staff. They are not the typical behind-the-counter staff that serves you your food and disappears until it’s time to bring you the check. They are friendly and attentive to the needs of their customers. “They always walk around and converse with people,” says Sunita Lofters, frequent customer and owner of Sunita Bar in the Lower East Side. “It’s important as an owner to have that connection with your customers. The more they get to know you, the more they want to come back.”

To show its appreciation to the community that has made it so popular, Alias now offers a 10% discount to customers who live or work in the area. Aside from the discount, residents are drawn to the restaurant because of its unique menu.

Duck Leg Confit

Seared Hanger Steak

The Duck Leg Confit was the appetizer that appealed to me the most, despite ordinarily being a chicken and turkey eater. The duck, which was slightly crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside, had a wonderful texture and easily fell apart in my mouth. It was served with dirty rice, caramelized onion and apple chutney, giving it a sweet and tangy taste.

The Seared Hanger Steak entrée was prepared with blue cheese butter, sherry glazed onions and olive oil crushed potatoes. The blue cheese provided a delicious kick, but wasn’t so overpowering that you lost the flavor of the meat, which was tender and perfectly cooked.

Chocolate Guinness Goodness

The desserts are all exquisite, but the infamous Chocolate Guinness Goodness is a staff favorite. The chocolate mousse is topped with a Guinness-flavored cream and the bitter addition is a refreshing change from the traditionally too sweet chocolate mousse.

With such a distinctive menu, it’s no surprise that the restaurant is a favorite in the Lower East Side, but with dishes that change seasonally, how do they ensure each one will “step up to the plate?” Nelson insists their secret is in the ingredients.

“We try to use local ingredients,” she says. “We go to the Farmers Market and use a lot of fresh and organic foods. We’re also part of the Slow Food Movement now.”  In the spring and summer, the menu changes more frequently, due to the exciting produce that emerges during these seasons. As the warm weather approaches, Nelson recommends that customers try her favorite dish, the Asparagus soup. “The soup is for spring and it’s fresh.”

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Tamar-kali–“Pearl” featuring Jean Grae

The singer is very talented and the vocals in her song are powerful. However, I wasn’t too crazy about the music video. It lacked creativity and substance. It was essentially about a bunch of girls getting ready and going to a party. If I heard the song alone I probably would have liked it better, but after hearing it along with the video I’m not a fan and it’s definitely not worthy of my ipod.

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Radiohead “Lotus Flower”

This is the type of song that you either love or hate. I think the artist was making a point to show his personality in both the song and the video. While his dancing is more like drunken convulsing, it’s entertaining to watch. I admire him for making such a bold move and exposing himself to the criticism that I’m sure he anticipated. He sings in a high but soothing voice. It’s a catchy song and it’s one of those beats that gets stuck in your head easily.

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Baluchi’s– Half Good, Half Bad at Half Price

Baruch students rarely find themselves on 3rd Avenue, unless they’re grabbing a drink at Fitzgerald’s, but next time you’re down to your last $10, you might want to consider skipping happy hour and heading across the street to Baluchi’s. The small Indian restaurant serves its entire menu at a 50% discount from 12pm to 3pm.

Taj Mahal or Dollar Tree?

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a classy Indian setting, Baluchi’s might not be the place for you. The half price discounts are well paired with the tacky ceiling lamps, which I imagine were bought at half price as well. If you try not to get distracted by the lamps, you can actually focus on the menu. With two categories for appetizers (Regular and Vegetarian) and five categories for entrees (Chicken, Lamb and Goat, Seafood, Vegetarian and Tandoori), there’s something for everyone.

The Samosas sport halos to prove they're heavenly!

Personally, the Samosas ($6.95), were my favorite thing on the menu. The appetizer comes with two fried dumplings filled with peas, chick peas and potatoes. It was a perfect mixture of doughy and crunchy, but I’m also partial to anything that’s fried.

Chicken Tikka Masala, Garlic Naan and Rice

I wasn’t quite as taken by the entrées. I was split between one I liked and one I hated, but I’ll start with the good news first. The Chicken Tikka Masala ($15.95) was excellent served in a tomato and cream sauce. It wasn’t too spicy, but provided just enough kick to tantalize my taste buds. The sauce doubled as a dip for the Garlic Naan I ordered on the side, which is fluffy bread seasoned with garlic. The only thing that didn’t thrill me about the dish was its size. It was considerably small compared to the entrée sizes of other Indian restaurants I’ve been to. It also didn’t come with rice, which I assumed was a given, and I had to order rice separately.


Now for the bad news. The Goan Shrimp Curry ($15.95) was a disappointment. The menu describes the dish as “cooked with sautéed onions, lime juice, spices and fresh coconut milk”. With all those exquisite ingredients, I was shocked that I couldn’t taste a single one. I’m sure there will eventually be a word to describe food that tastes like Styrofoam, but for now I’ll use the term bland. I found myself doing a lot less savoring and a lot more swallowing to get through the dish and on to dessert.


I wish I could say dessert saved the day, but alas, I was disappointed once more. The Rasmalai ($4.95) was another dish that looked great on the menu, but didn’t translate well from paper to plate. It consisted of two soft cheese patties, which were poached in a condensed milk sauce. The patties were completely flavorless and cold. In fact, the only thing I could taste was the condensed milk sauce, which was basically milk with sugar.

When the check came, I found that with the discount, I paid about $10 for a three course meal. For lunch, I’d say it was a good deal and I might go back for the Samosas and Chicken Tikka Masala, but I definitely wouldn’t go back for dinner and pay full price. $15.95 is way too pricey for entrées that tiny.

Posted in restaurant reviews | Tagged | 3 Comments

Baruch Sits Down With Adrian LeBlanc

I was recently given the pleasure of attending a reading and conversation with Baruch’s Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence, Adrian LeBlanc. LeBlanc is a nonfiction writer and is well-known for her first book, Random Family, which focuses on a family in the Bronx. During her reading, she described the family she followed for several years and it was clear how much she cared about them. I could see that her passion for telling their story is what made her literary depiction of their lives so realistic.

Aside from reading passages from Random Family, LeBlanc also shared some passages from the latest book she is working on, which is about stand up comedy. In the book, she talks about a comedian that goes from having a humiliating experience on stage, to putting on a great show and having the best time of his life. LeBlanc used the comedian’s experience to offer helpful advice to aspiring journalists. “I think failure is the best thing that can happen to you,” she said.

Posted in LeBlanc Talk | 2 Comments

Light Mayo… Or Is It?

I used to work at a Subway Restaurant in Roosevelt Field Mall, Long Island, and after a year of making hundreds of sandwiches, I came to realize that people are just too picky when it comes to what they eat. For example, I’ve had tons of customers ask me for light mayo or light ranch on their sandwich. For some reason, people think that light dressing makes a huge difference. My coworkers and I always joke about this. “Like light mayo is gonna stop that inevitable heart attack,” says Josh Baum, a former coworker.

When you’re cutting calories, switching from brownies as a snack to carrots makes a difference, NOT a few calories in your dressing! The truth is, it’s all the same anyway.  Just because it says light mayo on the container, doesn’t mean that’s what it is. There were several times that I told my manager we were out of light mayo and he always told me to just fill the container with regular mayo and put a light mayo lid on it. As long as it’s mayo, we could care less whether it’s light or not.

There was one instance where a customer came in and insisted on having light mayo on her sandwich. My manager’s number one priority was always to keep the line moving and his rule was to never go in the back and waste time, especially not to fill a dressing container. So, as usual, he told me to grab the regular mayo, and put the light mayo lid on it.  Once the customer was satisfied with her sandwich, I asked her if she’d like a drink. “I’ll take a large cherry coke,” she said. Really? After making a huge deal about light mayo you’re going to consume hundreds of calories anyway?

The point is, you have to take fast food for what it is. It’s fast, not perfect. Every fast food restaurant has its flaws so try not to be so picky with your food and let some things go.

Posted in Food Rant / love song | 5 Comments

Move Over Adventure, Make Way For Astronomy

If you ask any student what their favorite film genre is, they’re likely to say comedy, adventure or drama. That’s because these have been the top three most grossing genres in the last sixteen years, according to The Numbers Movie Market Summary. It’s doubtful that someone will say their film of choice is an educational film on astronomy, but that’s what Tony Richards hopes to change. For the past year, the 27-year-old filmmaker has worked towards producing a film that is both entertaining and educational.

Spiral Galaxies in Collision

As a certified Electrical Inspector, Richards has little experience in the field, but he feels that experience is overrated. “You don’t need a degree to make movies,” he says. “You just need to know your audience and what they like.”

Richards’ first film, Memories, was a short film about a soldier that returns home with posttraumatic stress disorder. The film was shot in his hometown of Coram, Long Island. The resources for the film were easy to come by, according to Richards. “There are lots of actors that want to make it big. All I had to do was put out some flyers and people were willing to do the film for free.”

Richards' Telescope

While he was satisfied with the film, Richards wanted to start making films that are less traditional than what we see in theaters today. The solution came when Richards received a telescope from a friend as a gift and became fascinated with astronomy. Seeing so many educational movies that bored him to death, Richards decided to combine the two things he loved, film and astronomy, to make a film that people could watch in its entirety without falling asleep.

The film, which has yet to be given a title, features all the planets and is the first of a series of films that Richards plans on creating dealing with the solar system and deep space. Most educational films show slides and images with voiceovers, rather than actors, but Richards’ film veers away from this tradition. He incorporates several actors in the film to give it a more interactive feel. “It’s definitely more interesting than your average science film,” says Raheem Kareem, one of the actors in Richards’ film. “When I read the script for the first time, I really got into it. I even learned a few things myself.”

For Richards’, like many aspiring filmmakers, the goal is to make a name for himself. If the film lives up to his expectations, he plans on pitching it to several astronomy websites and high schools in Long Island. “I have a good feeling about this one,” he says.

Posted in Independent Film | 1 Comment