What No One Tells You About Spring In Chicago

What No One Tells You About Spring In Chicago

Heey Spring! Yep this is spring. I took this picture from my window yesterday March 23, 2015
Heey Spring! Yep this is spring. I took this picture from my window yesterday March 23, 2015

It’s Spring time baby! Birds chirping, baseball season and……snow! Yes today March 23, the 4th day of Spring, Chicago was hit with up to 6 inches of snow in some areas. I know what all you out of towners are saying, why don’t we get snow until April Chicago is so lucky…..said no one ever!

You know the funniest shit I saw today? People were actually putting their lawn chairs and house furniture back out in the street holding parking spaces. If you’ve never rode through a Chicago neighborhood after a fresh snow you have missed the pleasure of seeing 1981 kitchen chair sets and old baby strollers hold parking spaces after a hard day of shoveling. It gets so real in Chicago that someone cut a woman’s brake lines on her car after they had returned home and found she’d move their lawn chair and parked her car in their space in the Ukranian Village neighborhood.

Jesus cures the blind, walks on water and holds it down on the parking side in the Chi!  Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
Jesus cures the blind, walks on water and apparently holds it down on the parking side in the Chi!
Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
But if Jesus is busy ya know being Jesus grab that old t.v. off of the back porch and stake your claim!  Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
But if Jesus is busy ya know, being Jesus and all,  grab that old t.v. off of the back porch and stake your claim!
Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com

It’s not all bad though Chicago! When the tides do change and the temp hits 70 we have to enjoy one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world.

I took this photo standing on top of the Halsted street bridge looking into downtown.
I took this photo standing on top of the Halsted street bridge looking South East into downtown.

Navy Pier. Shopping that will tire out the flyest of Housewives. Home of America’s 1st Black President. We have an amazing city and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Throw on that winter coat for a few more days Chi city and get ready for some beauty. It’s almost April, it can’t snow forever! Until next time.-RD

Photo Courtesy of billboard.com
Photo Courtesy of billboard.com

The Chicago music scene has been continuously seeing its star get brighter and brighter. With Emcee’s Common, Kanye West, Lupe and Shawna paving the way, 2015 is seeing the underground Chicago music scene boil over into mainstream label ready artistry. Chicago is home to one of THE hottest up and coming lyrical beasts. Rather singing or rapping this femcee sets the bar high for the competition. Signed to Mosley Music Group through Epic Records Chicago artist Tink has taken her underground following and out of the box lyrics to a soon to be international platform.

Photo courtesy textbooktimbo.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy textbooktimbo.blogspot.com

Before being signed to a major label Tink was already a force in the Chicago music scene. Her first mixtape Winter’s Diary dropped in 2012 to a good reception but it was her A Zae Production, Chief Keef-3 Hunna freestyle that caught the attention of the world. Don’t you just love YouTube? Gotta give it to the platform for allowing such creative minds to upload their craft. What can seem like over night, Tink was scooped up by music mogul Timbaland and since he took her under his wing she’s been making major moves with the heavy hitters of the industry.

In an ode, a dedication, to America’s Babies Tink released the Timbaland produced track “Tell the Children”; in wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. “Boys being gunned down, your boys is havin’ fun now. With our blood and our sons, disturbing the peace. He’s more afraid of him and he’s the one with the piece?” Going where most of today’s artists are scared to go, or let’s be honest just really don’t give a f@$% about going, she is filling a wide void that’s been left open since…….Lauryn HIll. Yes I said it and that’a huge statement. With flows, verses and vocal ability she covers the versatility in style and delivery, couple that with the honest and necessary for the times lyrics I think we may have someone for the kids to listen to, maybe it’s Tink if it isn’t you? The big homie Yeezy said it best in his 3rd studio release summer anthem Champion, “When it feels like living’s harder than dying, For me giving up’s way harder than trying. Lauryn Hill said her heart was in Zion, I wish her heart still was in rhyming. Cause who the kids gone listen to? I guess it’s me if it isn’t you.”  Not stopping there Tink already has 2015 going crazy with her newest hit Ratchet Commandments. Although a bit vulgar for the first few minutes she does hit dead on the lifestyles of some of our most precious queens and kings. “I told Tim like, I’m irritated, devastated. I thought, I thought we had some young queens what you mean? We act beligerent, generation of ignorance. Chicks live for ‘the Gram so they life ain’t got no significance. And guys is ratchet too, just in another way. You fake fathers never held your daughters, never had a conversation. You too f@#$ng immature to get an occupation.”

Photo courtesy of Lauryn Hill's twitter @misslaurynhill
Photo courtesy of Lauryn Hill’s twitter @misslaurynhill

I’m excited! Music is representative of the people. It’s been a while since we’ve had someone rep the Queen. No disrespect to any current artists but we all know lyrical conversations for the soul of the queen have been on pause for a while. Could Tink be apart of the answer, its too soon to tell but she is certainly on her way. All Chicago love, until next time. -RD

The Secret Way Geeks Are Leading Luxury Fashion In Chicago

The Secret Way Geeks Are Leading Luxury Fashion In Chicago

Royal Diva Pop Art in Fashion Geek head to toe.
Royal Diva Pop Art in Fashion Geek head to toe.

When you think of Chicago what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Barney’s or the House of Chanel on Michigan Avenue? If you only think of Michael Jordan and snow storms when you picture the Windy City you are missing out on some of the dopest fashions! One of today’s hottest luxury fashion brands has been in the city for over 10 years and travels all over the country giving a little piece of Chicago to the world. Ever seen one cool as hell illustrated duck with the blue specs?

FG Duck Coat
Signature Fashion Geek Duck Mascot. Men’s waist length leather coat. Photo courtesy of chicagofashionincubator.com

Or the super cool geek logo in bright blocked colors?

Fat shouts to my late night #geek #fleek from Fashion Geek 69 East 16th Street Chicago, Il.
Fat shouts to my late night #geek #fleek from Fashion Geek 69 East 16th Street Chicago, Il.

If you walk the circles of Chicago’s trendy wear then I’m certain you’ve peeped these Fashion Geeks! I stopped by the Store today at 69 East 16th Street and found a cool welcoming environment. They even offered to laugh if I would have hit the electric slide across the floor in my boots…..just like family! 🙂 As I tried a few of the pieces on one thing I noticed was the quality of the materials they use. I was really feeling the deigns on the clothes so I asked store owner and designer Alonzo ‘Zoe’ Jackson a few questions about the pieces and his inspiration.

Born and raised on the South side of Chicago Fashion Geek began when Zoe was a just a teen sketching the now famous duck mascot. The brand started out with handmade pieces created by the founders but as clientele and demand grew, the process did too and the clothes began to be manufactured, although the patches are still hand sewn to this day.

FG Table of Clothes

FG Jesus Piese Sweatshirt

Fashion Geek is one of the most recognizable brands out of Chicago. Celebrities often rock FG including D. Rose,Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. I asked Zoe what makes his brand stand out from the rest, he said its quality. “I’m ready for a hater to say something, its at the top of everything.” Most pieces range from $40-$600 and you can stop this South Loop treasure at 69 East 16th Street daily from 12-7, 312-465-2664. I had a good laugh or two this afternoon when I stopped by and everyone in there was really nice. Go check out Fashion Geek on IG @fashiongeekzo and Twitter @fashiongeekzo

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.

Image
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!

Image
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.

Image
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.

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!