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Film Review: The Haitian Polo Documentary

A perspective of the young Haitian immigrant experience in Brooklyn during the 1980s and 90s

I attended a VIP screening of The Haitian Polo Documentary, on behalf of What's The 411TV. Honestly, I have to admit, I hadn't read the documentary's background information before attending the screening. Even though I really thought it was going to be about Haitians playing polo, I was like, what the heck, I'll attend. Boy, oh, boy was I in for the rudest bad boy awakening ever.

The documentary quickly captivated me and took me back to parts of an era that I forgot existed. I grew up in Flatbush, as well as the East New York section of Brooklyn, and when I say the music, the stories, the history, the fashion, and the simple story of a people underscores the point that no matter where Haitian people land on this sometimes harsh planet, in the words of the late great Dr. Maya Angelo, "They Rise".

My wish in this article is to convey that The Haitian Polo Documentary brings to the forefront what a community had to endure to become the proud unapologetic, successful, and sophisticated people we see today. It was a hard road for Haitians in the "Big Dirty Apple" back in the 1980s and 90s. And The Haitian Polo Documentary touched on every aspect of that world for Haitians here in this city. And, I need to add; watching this documentary, you felt the pain, the pressure, and most importantly the truth.

During the 80s, I remember my favorite song had the lyrics, "don't use me, cause I'm close to the edge; I'm trying not to lose my head" and as I watched this documentary that song resonated in my spirit If you recall, I know I totally forgot, but the U.S. government claimed that Haitian men brought AIDS to America - that fact was totally discarded from my memory, but the documentary brought that and other concrete hard-to-face facts to the attention of the viewer. And, in view of the falsehoods that the US government leveled against Haitian people, in revolutionary fashion, the Haitians organized, shut down the Brooklyn Bridge and demanded, and received respect. It was similar regarding their fashion, they were picked on and ridiculed for what they wore to school and when Polo came on the scene, you knew Haitians as being one of the best dressed. Lo Lives is what they were called.

In a theater on a warm fall evening, this What's The 411TV correspondent fell in love with the strength and determination of a people that look like me, but bilingual and so fresh to death.

The Haitian Polo Documentary has enlightened, encouraged, inspired me, and also made me think about how I never thought about the pain of others during my youth. I wasn't the one that called out, "Haitian Booty Scratcher," but I was sure glad the "cool kids" were picking on Francois this week and not me. I recall growing up in the late 80s where drug dealers and fashionable ladies roamed the streets of New York. I recall the "Lo Lives" and the group of kids that would do anything to be fresh to death with the latest Ralph Lauren gear. However, I had no idea how deep that pain went for some of the people who came from a land many, many, miles away sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. I now know how badly they wanted to assimilate within U.S. society and how language was the greatest barrier that prevented them from fitting in, but fashion became an equalizer.

I recall when Haitians would never say they were Haitian. Think about the proud parents of those suffering children. Haitians are a proud people and they have the right to be proud. They are the only African descendants in the Western Hemisphere to gain their independence via revolution- that's some strong revolutionary blood. They were also France's contribution to help the Americans in their Revolutionary War against the British. And, now their offspring had to deal with issues of being dismissed by people who were ignorant of their history because of fashion, accents, and hairstyle.

When I sat down in that theater I had no idea what I was in for, but as I write this several weeks later, I can feel myself in the eighties rethinking my steps and the feeling of if I could have seen Francois for who he was and not for what he wore, I would have become better much sooner.

I can go on and on about The Haitian Polo Documentary and I would if I could. However, I will close by saying this, it isn't what the man puts on his body that makes him iconic, it's simply the drive in his spirit that makes his experience everlasting.

Well done Haitian Polo documentary, well done.

You can view The Haitian Polo Documentary trailer, below.


Brooklyn Nets Point Guard Deron Williams in Dog House

Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams is in the What's The 411Sports Dog House more for his on-court performance than the comments he made about Brooklyn (New York City) in Resident magazine.

Many Brooklyn Nets fans are disappointed with Deron Williams' performance for the past two seasons.

Many feel the Brooklyn Nets could have gone further in the playoffs had Williams been healthy and able to perform better.

Unfortuantely for Williams, the fans don't care about his ankle issues, what they want is performance for his five-year $98 million contract.

Perhaps, the fans will get production out of Williams this season since he has had surgery on both ankles and has been given the green light to play.

For Williams' adjustment to NYC, he admits to having a hard time adjusting to life in New York, saying "I don't really feel like a New Yorker."

"I grew up in an apartment in Texas where you could send your kids outside like, 'Yeah, go play in the sun.' Here it's more challenging," Williams said.

Williams lives in a fabulous pad in the Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street) area in Manhattan, which is home to Robert DeNiro and the Tribeca Film Festival.

It is asphalt and concrete and a far cry from Utah or parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, Nassau or Suffolk counties areas in New York with trees and grass.

For a person who likes grass and outdoor living, why Tribeca over areas he finds more favorable?

Just asking?

The Judgement of Brooklyn: Wine, Beer, Bling...BK Style

As my taxi pulled up to the Art Deco masterpiece, Skylight One Hanson, an event space like no other located in downtown Brooklyn in the world famous Williamsburg Savings Bank Clock-tower building, the stage was set for the Judgement of Brooklyn. A custom designed Lamborghini Murcielago decorated by Artist Rashaad Newsome was parked at the entry way. The automobile mirrored the opulence of Sklylight One Hanson's interior of mosaic murals, marble, and carved teller stations. The Judgement of Brooklyn has arrived. The first event of its kind in Brooklyn adapted from the original "Judgement of Paris '76 Tasting", created by Michael Brooks, Co-Owner of Bed-Vyne Brew and Bed-Vyne Wine.

Sponsored by numerous companies in the wine, beer, and lifestyle industry, folks from far and wide came to one of New York's hippest boroughs to partake in the festivities.

Tanya Jackson, daughter of Tito Jackson, promoting her new album came through by way of L.A. dressed in a gold gown, bringing a little extra bling to a momentous event.

Judge Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy's No. 43 chatted holding a glass of beer. He wouldn't divulge his beer of choice but indicated they were all great. I guess we'll have to wait for the final results.

Barbara-Bullard Jimmy-Carbone Jimmys-No-43-Restaurant Judgement-of-Brooklyn 05172014

What's The 411TV correspondent Barbara Bullard with Jimmy Carbone, owner, Jimmy's No. 43. Photo Credit: Donna Leslie/What's The 411 Networks

James Tai, Certified Cicerone ® & BJCP Beer Judge divulged that his passion of beer came from his college days! I researched the meaning of "Cicerone". For novices like me, the word Cicerone (pronounced sis-uh-rohn) was chosen to designate those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring, and serving today's wide range of beers. Go figure!

Among the list of sponsors VON Wine and Spirits gave a heads up on their new restaurant soon to open in Bedford Stuyvesant named Casablanca.

It was also great to see non-profit participation with "God's Love We Deliver" as a sponsor. The organization does such great work and its Director of Volunteer Services and Special Events, Steven Marion, came through to give Judgement of Brooklyn some love.

Jeff Kings Band performed an amazing set, which had people grooving while guests enjoyed their own samplings. An electronic voting system was provided so that guests could compare their own evaluations to those of the critics.

Last but not least, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams showed up bringing some Brooklyn love. The crowd got revved up with Brooklyn energy as the Brooklyn Borough President spoke about the future of Brooklyn.

Congratulations Judgement of Brooklyn! You have set the bar in a borough that continues to uplift and expand! Kudos! See ya'll next year!!!!!


Editor: Ruth J. Morrison

Flashback: John Calipari Checks in at the Barclays Center Opening

John Calipari checking out Jay Z and scoping the Barclays Center ahead of his Kentucky Wildcats taking the floor in a college basketball tournament showdown

As basketball lovers across the country are getting ready to watch the showdown between the cats and the dogs or, the Kentucky Wildcats and the UCONN Huskies, I'm going down memory lane to a first meeting of Kentucky Wildcats head basketball coach John Calipari.

It was the night of the Barclays Center opening. Music and business mogul, Jay Z was about to take the stage and perform, the first performer to do so. Coach Calipari was among the many that had come to the Barclays Center to celebrate a new beginning in Brooklyn and a new day of basketball in Brooklyn.

What's The 411TV, based in Brooklyn, NY, was out in full force on the red carpet and Coach Calipari stopped to chat it up with What's The 411SportsTV correspondent, Andrew Rosario.

So, what does Coach Calipari think of the new arena?

"Since we're going to be the first college game in here, I said I better get over here and see it (Barclays Center) and since Jay Z's on stage, I said I might as well do both."

Yes, basketball will be great in New York City with the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets battling it out.

"...that college game is going to be fun," said Calipari referencing the University of Kentucky's upcoming game at the Barclays Center and nicely reminding us that basketball professionals will be sharing the court with college kids.

With all new players, Kentucky was poised to face Maryland. Although Calipari lost his previous team, he remained optimistic saying, "it'll be fun."

Knowing that some of the kids on his team are from Nashville (Tennessee) and Arkansas, Calipari understands that when they arrive in New York City, it will be culture shock, but in Calipari's words, "it's going to be a great experience."

Is Calipari a Jay Z fan?

"Oh yeah, oh yeah; now he (Jay Z) came into our locker room and it cost him $50,000," Calipari said with a smile. "Now, I wonder if I go in his locker room, if it's going to cost me $50,000?"

By the way, I'm rooting for the freshmen (that's Kentucky if you're not a follower of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament).

Check out video interview with Coach John Calipari here:


Brooklyn Nets Beat Detroit Pistons Improving Home Win Record

Thank God, It's Friday, Right?

For the Brooklyn Nets this is game No.75, as they host the Detroit Pistons, and this final regular season series between both teams favored the Nets for the first time all-season, The Nets defeated the Pistons, 116-104.

After failing to extend their winning streak to four straight game after taking a trip across the river to face their brothers from another borough in the New York Knicks, the Nets returned home looking to avenge that 110-81 loss. Determined to right their wrongs and protect their home-court, the Nets did exactly that plugging the Pistons, 116-104.

In winning, the Nets extended its franchise record of consecutive wins at home to 15 straight games.

This is a Pistons team that the Nets have struggled against all year in all three of their previous affairs, losing all three contests.

No motivation needed.

Message received.

Timing is of the essence and with a playoff berth guaranteed in the Eastern Conference, the Nets will look to use these last few games as tune-up sessions to further enhance their overall play and performance as they envision a deep playoff run.

For all intended purposes, its game night and for those who missed tonight's action, this is what followed:

In the first half, following a 22 all conclusion of the first half, the Nets orchestrated a three-point barrage that gave them a comfortable advantage, achieving their highest point differential of 20 points.

Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and reserves Marcus Thornton and Mirza Teletovic all connected from behind the arc shooting 70% from three point range, 7-10, over a plus 5 min stretch, which aided the Nets improving their overall lead to 51-31 with 5:12 remaining in the second quarter.

Basketball is a game of runs, and like any other NBA team that enjoys an early substantial lead, the Nets botched their lead within the second quarter surrendering a 14-6 run courtesy of the Pistons who cut the deficit to 12, as the Nets progressed into the intermission period ahead 57-45.

And now your second half.

The Nets picked up where they left off in the first half, resuming their offensive efficiency from the field translating it to the second half.

The Pistons made an attempt to close the gap coming to within 10 points on an Andre Drummond put-back lay-up, now trailing 61 to the Nets 71 with 5:36 remaining in the 3rd, but their inability to produce stops on the defensive end of the floor only gave the Nets the benefit of the doubt in maintaining their lead.

With 5:13 left in the third quarter, a Brandon Jennings turnover was retrieved by Williams who spearheaded a one man fast-break converting on the opposite end via a lay-up while absorbing a foul by Jennings.

A three-point play was rewarded as Williams sank his +1, and on the ensuing Nets possession, a Pistons turnover resulted in another three from "MT3" the nickname appointed to Teletovic by the Nets game announcer, draining his sixth three-pointer of the the night thus far, with both sequences extending the Nets lead to 17, 78-61 with 4:37 until the end of the 3rd quarter.

The Nets Public announcer addresses the crowd in attendance at every home game before the start of the 4th quarter advising the audience to help encourage the Nets to attain victory against all of their opponents, and in ending his address, commands the thousands in the stands to "Stand UP".

As the crowd stood, the Nets raised their efforts and gave the fans something to cheer about in the closing minutes of the final quarter.

The Pistons made their final attempt to bring drama to this game, slicing the deficit to single digits, down 9 points, 96-87 by a made free throw from Jonas Jerebko with 7:08 existing in the 4th quarter.

Despite the Pistons mission, it came to no avail as an alley-oop pass from reserve Andrei Kirilenko to Shaun Livingston converting with a one-arm slam while being fouled by Jerebko, gave livingston a shot at a three-point play which he completed, increasing the Nets back to double-digits, leading 99-87, 6:57 left in the 4th.

More of the same followed from Livingston who connected on a turn-around bank shot with a little over 5 min remaining and a lane driving dunk with emphasis by Paul Pierce with 1:29 left till the resolution spelled their fate in a positive fashion.

The player of the game is reserve Teletovic, better known as "MT3", who continued to display his exploits from behind the arc and his reliability, adding six threes of ten to the Nets cause, leading all bench scorers with 20 points.

Livingston led all Nets players with 23 points alongside Williams in the starting unit, showcasing his skills that warranted NBA recognition when he was selected 4th overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.

Immediately following the Nets win, Livingston shared his thoughts to media correspondents from the Nets locker-room regarding their performance at home.

"We've been playing well at this arena," says Livingston to media correspondents.

"I think it's a comfort zone and were just trying to build on the momentum that we have".

Like Livingston, Head Coach Jason Kidd also addressed his team's performance in his post-game press conference, which he commented on the success the Nets enjoyed from downtown.

"The one thing that leads to threes is everyone being unselfish," said Kidd to media correspondents.

"When you're unselfish like that, you get the looks that we're getting from behind the three," Kidd continued.

I'd say it's been a successful year for first year head coach Kidd, who's leading the same franchise that employed his services as a player and now as a coach to the playoffs in his initial head coaching gig.

The Nets stand motionless in seeding with the win, as they improve their overall regular season record to 41-34 currently cemented 5th in the eastern conference standings, looking up at the Chicago Bulls and ahead of the Washington Wizards.

Only seven games stand on the Nets schedule until the conclusion of their 2013-14 NBA campaign, embarking on a three-game road trip as they visit the likes of the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night, and back-to-back contest challenging the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic respectively.

The Nets have their postseason berth but the season isn't over.

These last few games feature what's wrong with the Eastern Conference and albeit a soft schedule ahead with the one exception in the Miami Heat, the Nets can utilize these games in integrating injured players like Kevin Garnett back into their rotations and fine tuning their overall team production.

With May in sight, it seems like everything is OK in Brooklyn, for now.

What’s The 411 Wins Free Speech Award for News and Information

What's The 411, the weekly entertainment news and lifestyle television show, produced by Ruth J. Morrison, is now an award-winning entertainment news and lifestyle television show.

With 14 other honorees in its category, the show took home the coveted B FREE Award for news and information from the Brooklyn Public Network.

In the video below, Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Founder, What's The 411 Networks and producer of What's The 411, takes us back to the early days through her acceptance speech as narration and a montage of video and photos of notables and celebrated personalities interviewed by What's The 411 reporters.

The video includes in order of appearance: actresses Susan Sarandon; Angelina Jolie; and Kimberly Elise; former U.S. President, Bill Clinton; the filmmakers of Love and the Small Print; comedian and actor Chris Rock; Ericka Pittman, Vice President, Blue Flame Agency; actor Malik Yoba; singer-actress Miesa and Melba Moore; legendary author and poet, Maya Angelou; actress Angela Bassett; New York Knicks fans (in happier days); Earvin "Magic" Johnson; singer-actress Jennifer Hudson; Blood, Sweat, and Heels reality TV star, Daisy Llewelyn; the legendary actress Cicely Tyson; actors Meryl Streep; Phylicia Rashad; Jamie Foxx; Denzel Washington; Halle Berry; Kerry Washington; Beyonce; and Samuel L. Jackson; New York Knicks President, Phil Jackson; tennis legend Billie Jean King; Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston; NFL Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Russell Wilson; NBA basketball players, Kevin Garnett; Paul Pierce; and Jason Terry; NFL football players, Victor Cruz; Eli Manning; and Peyton Manning; the Heisman Trophy; Texas A&M football player and Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel; boxers Mike Tyson and Sonya Lamonakis; Olympic Gold Medalist, Sanya Richards-Ross; and tennis great, Serena Williams.

Hosted by Bianca Peart, Glenn Gilliam, Jacinda Motton, and Kizzy Cox, What's The 411 airs nationwide on DISH TV's SimplyMe video on demand network and on Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Verizon FiOS Channel 43 in New York City.

Watch Video

2013 Brooklyn Beer and Wine Festival Comes to Bedford-Stuyvesant

On one of the hottest days of the summer, What's The 411TV's correspondent, Stacy Narine, was out at the 2013 Brooklyn Beer and Wine Festival held at The Lab in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Amidst the DJ sounds of DJ Red Boy and DJ CEO, she met Brooklynites and others from Manhattan and New Jersey enjoying beer, wine, food, donuts, and good music.

Pearl Callender, a Trinidadian living in Bedford-Stuyvesant for the past 20 years, was sipping a ginger syrup from Barrow's called Intense Ginger Liquer; while Andrea Rothchild was finishing up a Curious Traveler, a refreshing drink that taste like lemonade mixed with beer. The one and only Todd Jones, donutologist and owner of Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts was also in the house.

The organizers may need to find a bigger venue for next year because the word is already out to be there next year!


Videography by Jesse Whitehead

Todd Jones Owner of Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts Brings the Sweet to Brooklyn Beer and Wine Fest

On one of the hottest days of the summer, What's The 411TV's correspondent, Stacy Narine, was out at the 2013 Brooklyn Beer and Wine Festival held at The Lab in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

At the festival, Stacy caught up with the one and only Todd Jones, owner of Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts. A donutologist, Todd has been in the donut business for 40 years; first working with Dunkin Donuts for 25 years to now the owner of Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts.

Even at a beer and wine festival, Todd brought his professional donut making equipment, which is capable of making 1200 donuts in an hour with precision. What makes Sweet Dreams' donuts unique are that they are mini donuts and that Todd uses his donutologist's techniques to come up with unique flavors.

So what's in Todd's creative bag of flavors? How about buttermilk and donuts for grownups: White Hennessy and Ciroc donuts. He is even introducing salty caramel and strawberry shortcake donuts.

Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts are popping up everywhere. They have found their way into the halls of Google and many a celebrity wedding.

Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts is soon to be dispensing its confectionary greatness at a new location, in the heart of Brooklyn's corporate park at 2 MetroTech Center.

Can't make it to Brooklyn? You can always reach Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts online at www.SweetDreamsMiniDonuts.com and on Facebook. You can also call them at 347-724-6200.

Videography by Jesse Whitehead


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