6 Reasons Sole Survivor Was The Ultimate for Sneaker Heads

6 Reasons Sole Survivor Was The Ultimate for Sneaker Heads


Sole Expo Logo

It’s a beautiful morning in the land of the Chi. Today strangely feels like its the beginning of summer, like a fresh new day. 82 degrees, clear skies and a breeze that is certainly sent from Heaven. The weekend was a beautiful prelude to this type of Monday. Royal Diva spent a fabulous weekend hoping from event to event in the city’s West Loop and Pilsen neighborhoods. On Saturday Whitney Young High School hosted the Nike Chi League basketball tournaments; this tournament features the most prominent H.S basketball players with talents able to propel them to the NBA. This 10 game tournament and additional free weekly basketball clinics offer so much to the city that I will dedicate a future post and include lots of pictures! Across the city in the southwest Pilsen neighborhood I attended the Sole Survivor Custom Contest for shoe design at the 2014 Sole Expo Convention. The Sole Expo was strictly for my gym shoe heads and custom sneaker collectors! (In the Chi we always say Gym Shoes!)

There were shoe aficionados from as far west as L.A and as far east as the D.C/Maryland area known as the DMV. Alot of people came to buy and trade custom shoes but I came to watch the process of custom shoes being created. Six dope street shoe designers, creating their art live in the lab, all different designs, same shoe, everyone competing for a cash prize and a full scholarship by Angelus Direct plus bragging rights as their final shoe design gets auctioned off to raise money for Kicks for Creators, a non-profit group which specializes in helping young entrepreneurs launch businesses in the shoe industry.

2014 Sole Expo Convention at the Lacuna Artists Lofts
2014 Sole Expo Convention at the Lacuna Artists Lofts

The venue was a cool artsy loft space with deep wood paneling and an industrial feel. I blended right in with the wood walls as we dripped a few beads of sweat together. It was hot in there! I really enjoyed the mix of the loft vibe with some splashes of modern art. The bathrooms were cool, they were lowered into the ground and featured some nice black and white abstract work on the outsides. Too bad they weren’t labeled, I turned the corner to the urinal area to some very surprised men…sorry guys. Power 92 was in the building along with Chance the Rapper, Stunt Taylor and Twista. Here’s where I have to pause for the cause. You know Royal Diva only gives you the real when I’m out and about. Everyone at the event was super chill. Every artist from the live designers, the sneaker buyers and traders and the promotions and events staff were all pleasant and excited about their craft. However I witnessed one too many people being pushed out of the way and stepped on by the super obnoxious security had by one artist. I watched this sweet lady selling home made cookies physically pushed because said artist wanted to move 2 steps to the left.

My attention was redirected when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, an artist spray painting a shoe that seemed to be referring back to one of the greatest shows of all time, Breaking Bad! Now THIS is the artistry I came for. I walked around the tables and was amazed by the air brushes, pastel and acrylic paints these artists blended together in what can only be a scientific way. Day 1 of the Sole Expo wrapped. I arrived for Day 2 and the judging of the Sole Survivor Custom Contest. Below are the final 6 shoe designs:

 

Winner of the 2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Mauricio. IG- Mauriciopaints
Winner of the 2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Mauricio.
IG- Mauriciopaints
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest contestant Kreative Customs.
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest contestant Kreative Customs.

 

2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Dejesus Customs. IG- dejesuscustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Dejesus Customs.
IG- dejesuscustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Vinny. IG- V.A.B.
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Vinny.
IG- V.A.B.
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Astrotorf. IG- Astrotorfcustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Astrotorf.
IG- Astrotorfcustoms
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Kickstradomis. IG- kickstradomis
2014 Sole Survivor Custom Contest Contestant Kickstradomis.
IG- kickstradomis

Congratulations @mauriciopaints for the 2014 win! Sneaker heads and gym shoe lovers what do you think about the designs? Who’s your favorite? Until next time. -RD

P.S.

This post was originally written on Monday July 21, 2014. In the middle of writing this article I received a phone call that my grandmother had left this side of life. My thoughts traveled back to an hour ago where I was entrenched in a breeze that I felt was delivered from the Heavens and the feelings of renewal and beginnings I’d just possessed. Perhaps that was my grandmothers soft whispers letting me know in her always subtle way, that everything is ok. As always thank you for reading and yes grandma, everything is ok 🙂

My Train’s Better Than Yours!

My Train’s Better Than Yours!

Map of all the CTA Branch lines. Lines include the Purple, Pink, Brown, Blue, Yellow, Green and Orange Lines.
Map of all the CTA Branch lines. Lines include the Purple, Pink, Brown, Blue, Yellow, Green and Orange Lines.

I have traveled all over the country, I’ve even been Blessed to travel beyond our borders and experience the lifestyles of our Jamaican, Mexican and Canadian friends! I cannot tell you how happy I am when I touch down at Midway International, exhausted from traveling, and board the clean, shiny Orange Line. Orange Line? You don’t know about the Orange Line, well what about the Green line? No. Blue Line? No. Pink, Purple, Yellow or Brown Lines? Whhhaaaaaatttt? Well welcome to the worlds best transit system! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

If you have never had the pleasure of riding our city’s “L”, a nick name for elevated rail cars, then you have been missing out. Let me preface this shout out to the “L” by saying that any form of transportation outside of the comforts of a personal vehicle will have some elements that suck. I just happen to think that we in Chicago, riding our fancy smancy “L” tracks, suck….less. You know, a lot less. And please understand that my love for riding the “L” has nothing to do with my disdain love for CTA. Oh just keep reading to see what the difference is!

The history of the “L” lines are kind of cool. Operating as one unified system now, each rail line began as its own company! Can you imagine different fare amounts and different time schedules for all the trains that we take today? That would be a nightmare!

Mass craziness waiting for train. Photo courtesy of businessinsider.com.au
Mass craziness waiting for train. Photo courtesy of businessinsider.com.au

Although accolades for the first elevated railway system goes to the city of London with its London and Greenwich Railroad (1836) Chicago was not far behind when it championed, in 1892, the Chicago and South Side Rapid Transit Railroad. To give you a scope of its service, the rail line was only 3.6 miles long, I currently walk 3.5 miles everyday on my lunch break, so you know in 1892 people weren’t getting very far, very fast. One of the coolest features of the “L” that so many tourists and even Chicagoan’s enjoy today is the fact that the “L” runs adjacent to most city alleyways. In the late 19th century, in Chicago, it would have required a private business to get consent through a petition signed by the community homeowners to allow a transit line to run on the streets. Therefore the rail lines were commissioned to only run through city owned alley ways, earning it its first nick name of “Alleyway L”. How gangster. Fast forward 12 decades and 18 mayors later and we still get that one of a kind city glimpse whether we are going north for a Cubs game or headed out west to the ‘burbs, the “L” is still a great way to see the city!

My beautiful New Jersey homie Carla riding the CTA for the first time!
My beautiful friend, Carla, from New Jersey riding the CTA for the first time! Notice the alley ways.

In 1924 all of the various “L” lines were consolidated. The demand to get people from one side of the city to the other was growing by the minute. Despite the enormous personal gains of rail owners the system got too big for its britches and could not continue to successfully operate under private ownership. In 1947 all private railways were seized and the city owned and operated CTA, Chicago Transit Authority, was born.

In 2012 my son and I ventured to New York City, all of my local friends yelled at me and told me I did not want to take the MTA into downtown. Who really listens to people anyway right? It was the WORST! Everything was so crowded and packed, and this was a Tuesday night! There were 3 people sitting on my lap in addition to the homeless guy nestled snugly into my neck while I was being serenaded by some rendition of a Michael Jackson and Dionne Warwick mash up. This. Can’t. Be. Life. I thought that nothing could top my first experience on Atlanta’s MARTA. Here I was a fresh eyed 17 year old college freshman set to explore the city with my new roommates as I boarded the train and encountered…….carpet. Orange shag carpet on the floors, on the seats, on the walls. Wow. The stench of decades old carpet was more than my northern nose could bear. I stepped off the train at the Lenox Station and threw up. Although the MARTA began to upgrade itself in 2005 it still boasts a whopping 38 stops on its entire rail system. Meanwhile across the country, my Bay Area compadres riding BART are dealing with this. Wow.

And just for fun....a young Royal Diva's CTA Student's Riding Permit.
And just for fun….a young Royal Diva’s CTA Student’s Riding Permit.

What different cities transit systems have you taken? Which ones were the best to you? comment below or shoot me an e-mail at royaldiva.tv@gmail.com and tell me some of your craziest public transportation moments! Let me wrap this post up so I can catch my train. Until next time.

2015 Bulls Draft Day

2015 Bulls Draft Day

It’s that time again. Yep, its’s NBA Draft Day! Well, it was yesterday and now we’re going to recap the Bull’s draft, trade picks and options. By all means, we need a championship dammit and we need it now! Come on Thibs.

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New 11th Round Chicago Bulls NBA Draft pick Doug McDermott. Photo courtesy of blacksportsonline.com

The Bulls Organization went into the 2015 Draft holding the 16th and 19th picks but got the 11th overall pick when they traded up with the Denver Nuggets. And the winner is……….NCAA National Player of the Year Doug McDermott! McDermott comes to us from Creighton in Omaha, NE where he was coached by his father Greg McDermott and was a first team All-American in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and just for bragging rights he is ranked number 5 of all-time scorers in NCAA Division I Men’s basketball history. We diiid that! Six years ago we had the number 1 Draft pick and acquired Chicago native Derrick Martell Rose. In what is looking like Rose’s anticipated return season, McDermott and Rose may be gearing up to create a power house in Chicago basketball. But all the great powerhouse NBA teams are comprised of at least 3; the 1960’s Celtics’, Russell, Heinsohn, Cousy, Sharman, and Loscutoff. The 1980’s Los Angeles Lakers’ Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy and McAdoo. The 1990’s Chicago Bulls’ Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Kerr and Kukoc. The 2000’s clearly go back to the Los Angeles Lakers with the Bryant, O’Neal, Horry and Fisher line up. So what does that mean for us? Carmelooooooooo Anthony!

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Carmelo Anthony in a Chicago Bulls jersey. Looks good right? Photo courtesy of fantasybasketballmoneyleagues.com.

Can’t you see it now? In my super cool, throaty announcer voice, ” And now your starting line up for the 2014-2015 Chicago Bulls….. Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony!” The crowd goes wild! The Luvabulls flip, jump and cheer, Anthony and Rose high-five and fist bump…we win the 2015 NBA championship! “It Could All Se So Simple” in my Lauryn Hill voice. But I realize its not that easy and the Bulls would definitely have to move some key players around and make some contract adjustments. Starting with my favorite Bull that I love to hate, the handsome Carlos Boozer. In my opinion Boozer has been mediocre at best since joining the franchise in July 2010. Despite averaging 16.2 points in the 2012-2013 season Boozer is hardly a clutch player and doesn’t seem to provide the Bulls with the power and force needed by this squad. Additionally the Bulls’ traded Anthony Randolph to the Denver Nugget’s but absorbed his $1.825 million dollar contract in agreement with the Nuggets organization for the number 11th draft pick.

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Chicago Bulls logo courtesy of ztona.net

With the POSSIBLE acquisition of Anthony, the Bulls are shaping up to have a great year. It is absolutely necessary that we acquire a star with the $13-16 million opening in our salary cap. Carmelo Anthony is ideal but I hear Lebron James may have free-agent status as well. While I see James as far fetched I believe Carmelo will be a good fit for the city and the city will be a good fit for him. Chicago is such a great city and big enough for a star like Anthony. Meanwhile his wife La La and I can attend charity events together and I can be her muse for her cosmetics line Motives! Our beloved Chicago Black Hawks have been holding the city down in the past years with championship titles and appearances but its time for our Bulls to give them some help. We can always depend on the White Sox for a good run and God, please, Bless the Cubs.

Who Only Has 2 Seasons?

Who Only Has 2 Seasons?

A lot of my readers come to my blog for an inside perspective on Chicago. You know, the type of info that the news won’t give you. Have you ever heard that Chicago has 2 seasons? Don’t believe us?

Exhibit A-  My car thermometer on Wednesday March 26, 2014

5 degrees

 

Exhibit B- My car thermometer on Monday June 16, 2014

100 degrees

 

Ahhhhhh!!!! The confusion is real. When you visit the Chi send me some pics to royaldiva.tv@gmail.com and let me know what you wore and what the temp was when you were here. And always remember when coming to the Chi…..rather summer or winter, spring or fall bring your coat, sun screen, shorts, hats, gloves and all! 🙂 -Royal Diva

James R. Jordan Foundation 4th Annual Read with Me Festival

James R. Jordan Foundation 4th Annual Read with Me Festival

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Co-Host Lah Tere singing to the crowd sharing the stage with our youth.

 

Hello Chicago! This weekend Royal Diva had the pleasure of attending the Read with Me Festival at Touhy-Herbert Park on Chicago’s west side. This event was definitely a treat for my entire family and we happened to arrive right on time. As we walked into the park co-host Lah Tere began to flow and sing methodically to children, parents and community partners under the big blue sky and bright sun. It was truly a picturesque Saturday afternoon. Lah Tere was joined on stage by the most beautiful boys and girls; one by one they showed us their talents and gave it all they had.

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Tent after tent of learning and fun at the 4th Annual Read with Me Festival.

 

We left the stage to explore the rest of the activities. The first tent we stopped at was the food tent. Hey, we just went in order of which tent came next :). There were plenty of hotdogs (beef..yes!), chips, Gatorade and water for all the children and their parents. I cannot forget the ice cream cart. Free unlimited ice cream bars and popsicles for the kids. Thanks, yep thanks! Lol, as my son made a B-Line to the park area I decided to take a stroll and see what else the festival had to offer.

 

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Co-Hosts Binkey and Lah Tere sharing a moment with our youth after the festival.

 

There was a Creative Writing workshop, a poetry table, free toy giveaways, games and my favorite of the day….the book table! There were hundreds of books each separated by grade level, free for the children to choose from. As my son ran back to the table he grabbed a bag and was instructed to choose 12 books, any ones that he liked and take them home with him. All the children’s faces were lit up with joy as they looked through the titles and picked out their favorite books. I wonder if they know how priceless the gift of reading is? We walked around and played some games. Just for the record I am no good at carnival games.

As the event was winding down the Foundation held some raffles and gave away electronics, free passes and lots of other goodies. I would personally like to thank the James R. Jordan Foundation and Bernie’s Book Bank for supporting our children during the summer months. Statistics show that 1 in 7 school aged children do not receive the proper nutrition during the summer months. It’s important that we continue to support the James R. Jordan Foundation and all other organizations that change the lives of our youth on an everyday basis. If you would like to invite CBD to cover your event click on the Contact Page and submit a request. Until next time, I’ll see you in the streets :). -Royal Diva

Now You Can Have Your Corn and Eat It Too

Now You Can Have Your Corn and Eat It Too

NW View from Lake Shore Drive. Nothing like my beautiful city.
NW View from Lake Shore Drive. Nothing like my beautiful city.

It is officially summer time Chi! If you don’t know what Summer time chi is all about please listen to Kanye West’s Good Life and you can instantly feel the breeze from Lake Michigan hitting your skin. There are a few things I love to do more in the summer than grabbing a giant cup (or ear if you’re nasty, no really, it’s a mess) of Mexican Corn! Elotes! Mmmm mmmm I can just taste the mayo and Parmesan cheese melting in my mouth right now.

Hey hey, I hear your moans and groans loud and clear. Corn? Mayonnaise? Parmesan Cheese? Together? Lol, well don’t knock it until you have tried it. Chicago’s famous corn stands can be found on pretty much every corner on the west and north sides of the city. You will know that you’re at the right place when you see a colorful umbrella rising out of a handmade food cart.

Beautiful Corn Stand located on Chicago's West Side
Beautiful Corn Stand located on Chicago’s West Side

 Most often you can find fresh fruit, produce and cold treats like nieves, paletas and helado. For my non Spanish speaking compadres those are snow treats, ice pops and ice creams. But the best food is most certainly the corn! Here’s how it’s made, remember you can get it in a cup or on the cobb with a long wooden stick. For the cups, first the corn is sliced off of 1 ½ ears onto a plate then slid into a cup. Next there is spreadable butter placed on top of the corn followed by mayonnaise and topped with Parmesan cheese and Cayenne pepper if you like it hot! Take your spoon and mix it all together and voila! You have the best dammed ear of corn you’ve ever tasted in your life.

Don’t believe me? Go anywhere on the city’s West Side up and down 26th street between Western and Kostner, take your $2.50 and let me know in the comments section just how delicious this corn was! One taste and you will certainly be a believer. I have turned many Michigan, New Jersey, Atlanta and New York folk into believers. For those of you who would like to try this at home the recipe is really simple as explained above. Just make sure to use actual mayonnaise and not Miracle Whip, that just won’t cut it. Send me your pictures of your homemade elotes to royaldiva.tv@gmail.com. Now excuse me for a moment while my son and I demolish this corn.
Before….

Fresh boiled corn before the fixin's!
Fresh boiled corn before the fixin’s!

After….

Yummy corn on a stick (elotes) after adding all the toppings! Photo Courtesy of laeastside.com
Yummy corn on a stick (elotes) after adding all the toppings! Photo Courtesy of laeastside.com

Happy summer time Chi!

A New Experience For an Incredible Price at Mariano’s

A New Experience For an Incredible Price at Mariano’s

Chicago Mariano’s is here! Dominick’s who? Lol. Well my Saturday experience at Mariano’s on Halsted was everything a trip to your local seafood house, wine bar and community social scene should be. It’s like grocery shopping for the cool kids. The Hipsters. It was definitely more than a grocery store experience.

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Upon entering Mariano’s, with the most beautiful 4 month old ever, I had the pleasure of being serenaded by a live pianist. Fresh out of the free valet parking offered Saturday’s and Sunday’s, the tuxedo clad pianist furthered my expectations of a good shopping experience. We proceeded with our shopping cart and Sophie the Giraffe in hand and was greeted by a full service wine bar! Although I took a pass I did notice the exquisite ambiance and 3 friendly ladies seated at the bar sharing a glass of wine and lots of laughs. Further along in the store I encountered a very neat and beautifully displayed seafood counter. Everything from Octopus to Crab Legs to fresh Wild Salmon. Despite the entrance being relatively small and crowded, once we passed the seafood counter and entered the store the aisles widened and were very easy to move through with the cart. It was super busy inside the store but everyone was surprisingly polite. From the staff to the other shoppers everyone said their please and thank you’s and wore their best Saturday morning 85 degrees finally in Chicago happy face. Que Pharrell. While a lot of grocery store experiences will leave you drained and feeling like doing anything but cooking when you get home this shopping experience was not stressful.

So now, the question you’ve all been waiting for……how were the prices?!?! I must be very honest; for all of the ambiance, upkeep and extra amenities that Mariano’s offers, their products were affordable and reasonably priced. As always there were a few specialty items that I purchased which cost about 10% more but for the family staples like meat, bread and veggies the prices were on target. For the organic lovers like myself, Mariano’s offers an organic selection for almost every type of produce available. This saves me the debate of good prices versus chemical free, fresh and quality produce.

As for cons, there were no sanitation wipes or methods of disinfecting your shopping cart at the entrance of the grocery store. That’s a major Royal Diva no no! Fortunately I keep hand sanitizer and sanitation wipes handy. Additionally there were no cart return decals in the parking lot on the upper deck. After loading groceries and packing up the family it sucks to have to walk all the way back to the store to return the cart. Overall my Mariano’s experience was very positive and enjoyable. Royal Diva will definitely be returning to shop again.