Monday, July 30, 2012

Greatest Pop Warner Team...Ever!

I started playing football when I was 6/7 years old and this past November my football career came to end as I played my last game ever. To this day I miss playing the game I love. When I talk to some of the guys I played and graduated with at Columbia, we all wish we can play one more game. I had the time of my life playing and in 2003 I played my first season of contact football as an 8th Grader. My mom was hesitant to sign me up because there was a weight limit to play and in order for me to participate I had to lose 40 pounds. After changing my diet and running extra after practice, I lost 40 pounds in 2 months and I was able to play for the Northridge Knights. Ask anybody that saw us play and they will say that we were the greatest Pop Warner team they ever saw. We went 13-0 and the closest opponent to beating us lost by 25 points. That I know of, we had 5 guys go play D1 college football: Chris Potter (Boise St.), Milton Knox (UCLA/Fresno St.), Donovan Carter (UCLA), Dayne Crist (Notre Dame/Kansas) Me (Columbia University) and Carlos Lopez went on to play baseball at Cal St. Fullerton. The cool thing that I wouldn't have predicted was that our Championship game was held at Birmingham HS, the HS I ended up going, where I also played on a successful team. I was part of 2 championship teams, and to this day our 2007 team is debated/believed as the greatest ever to come out of the LA City Section. Anyway, if you don't believe how good we were in 2003 you can see for yourself below. I want to give a huge shootout and thanks to my head coach Dana Potter and the rest of the coaching staff for everything they did for us, from giving us rides to practice and feeding us before games. Definitely one of the best coaching staffs I have ever had. 

Shout out to my boy Milton for uploading this on Youtube. FYI- the guys mentioned above except me are playing in their final year of football, so make sure to check them out and support them!

After the first week of the season everyones team, except Chris and Boise St., were able to pull out victories. Dayne started for the Jay Hawks and a solid game, Milton scored a touchdown, and Donovan helped anchor the defensive line for UCLA. Boise St. had a tough game at Michigan St., but I know they will bounce back. You can follow their teams progress and see their individual stats on

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Design 2 Final Project

When people find out I received my degree in Architecture, a lot of people ask to see my work. As a requirement, I had to make a portfolio which is a compilation of my best work. Essentially it is a picture book of what I did at Columbia, and this book weighs heavily in an architects hiring process. The photos below are of my final project in my Design 2 Studio class. Through various diagrams and studies I made of the China Town area, I had to come up with a design for a Civic Center that accommodated multiple aspects of the neighborhood. Such aspects were bus and bike hubs for daily commuters, a Public Library, and an auditorium. Along with these 3 main programs, I also had to include cafes, office space, a gift shop, locker rooms etc. One unique aspect of my design was actually inspired by Columbia's overpass from Main Campus to East Campus. For those not aware of this pass, it connects two parts of campus with a grass area along with a couple sculptures. It is essentially an elevated garden inhabited by visitors and students whom utilize it for lunch breaks, to do homework or to intake the amazing views of Harlem and the Upper West Side. China Town has been engulfed in trash and distinct smells over the years, so I wanted to create somewhat of an elevated oasis which visitors can use to drink coffee, read a book or just take in the views of the historic area; without dealing with the chaotic sidewalks of the neighborhood.
The Civic center is composed of 3 levels. First level houses the bike and bus hubs, auditorium, office space, locker rooms and gift shop. The Second level houses the outdoor garden, library, reading rooms, a gallery space and a cafe. And the Third level contains an extension of the outdoor garden, meeting rooms and an archive space. There are elevators and a series of interior and exterior staircases that connect all 3 floors.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Iconic or Not?

Architecture and sports are my 2 biggest passions in life. I was blessed to have the opportunity to play college football while majoring in Architecture. A lot of people ask me how I did it and to be honest I do not know, I just stayed focused and pushed through it I guess. Even one of my Senior Seminar Professor's said "If I knew you your freshman year I would have made you choose between football or architecture." Well, I am happy she did not know me until my final year in college. That being said, I am fascinated and obsessed with sports architecture, and it is the area I want to pursue as I begin my career and eventually go into Grad School. With the Olympics around the corner I am interested to see how London compares to Beijing architecturally. The Olympic stadium for the 2008 games, known as the "Bird's Nest," was an engineering and architectural wonder. The way the steel was morphed and shaped is very unique and inspiring. But, in London, the city and Olympic committee have steered off in a different direction when it comes to designing stadiums. Back since the Greeks and Romans large monumental stadia were constructed to last, but 1,000's of years later for the first time ever, a group of architects were asked to design a stadium that can be reduced and taken apart. The 80,000 seat stadium will be reduced to 25,000 permanent seats after the Games. When it comes to Olympic structures, most of them just collect dust and put the city in debt because they are too big to operate. To prevent financial issues in the future the stadium will be taken apart like a lego set and is currently up for auction. The debate now is, can we consider such designs like the London Stadium as iconic and monumental if they are built not to last? Or, is this our generation's iconic architectural masterpiece? (The stadium was designed by Rod Sheard and his firm Populous)
 The link below is from the Wall Street Journal discussing the London stadium.

Here is another link from the WSJ of a cool interactive video showing the design of the structure.

English Premier League team West Ham is making a strong case to move to the London venue. With the Paralympics wrapping up, many critics are now concerned of the 'White Elephant' in the room which is the stadium collecting dust and serving no purpose. The link below is a short interview by West Ham's manager.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Making History: The Blues in the Bronx

 Last night I was part of history and had the opportunity of a lifetime to go see my favorite soccer team in the world play: Chelsea FC! The game took place at the new Yankee Stadium which is the first soccer game ever held at the venue. I was not sure how the turn out was going to be because soccer, in America at least, is still a sport growing financially and support wise, but the setting was perfect for great game. 38,202 people filled Yankee stadium and predominantly was covered in Royal Blue; Chelsea's home color. It is intriguing that soccer is the most popular sport in the world but does not come close to its other counter-parts, such as baseball, football and basketball in the US. But last night was a prime example of the sport becoming more and more popular in the States. Chelsea, a team based out of London and plays in the English Premier League, played Paris Saint-Germain; a French team that participates in Ligue 1 (highest soccer division in France). Both these teams are the some of the wealthiest clubs in the world and it is fitting they played in a stadium that cost $1.5 billion. It is pretty cool that historic soccer clubs come to the US because it exposes the sport in the country and it allows fans like myself who don't have the time or money to travel and watch them play.

It was awesome being to watch some of my favorite players like John Terry, David Luiz, Peter Cech and Ashley Cole. Chelsea Football Club was founded in 1905 and based out of Fulham, London where their home stadium, Stamford Bridge is located. Chelsea is currently ranked as the 7th most valuable club in the world and just came off of winning its first UEFA Champions League Trophy; the biggest club tournament in Europe.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Dark" Tragedy in Colorado

Today I woke up with terrible news from Aurora, Colorado. At an event that was anticipated by millions and sure to break Box Office records this weekend, 12 people did not return home early this morning as they were killed by a man who opened fire at a movie theatre. Reports say an additional 50 people were hurt and in the video below you can see the disturbing images of people walking out with blood all over their clothes. Police said they found a couple weapons including a rifle and hand gun. Witnesses said that they heard and saw some sort of gas inside and which was quickly followed by gun shots from the suspect. It is crazy to think that going to a movie theatre is not safe anymore. This was a time for fans to celebrate the end of an amazing trilogy and now we mourn an pray for the families that lost someone before the sun came up this morning. I have a friend in Aurora and I saw on her Facebook that she is safe! President Obama stated early this morning "As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors." My thought now is what are people all over the country thinking as they line up to watch this movie over the weekend, the same movie that those 12 innocent lives were taken in another part of the country. When did going to a movie theatre go from being innocent and fun to running for life? It really baffles me and makes me upset that someone is crazy and stupid enough to do this. Those people did not deserve to die and it is a fucking shame that 12 families never saw their loved ones return home early this morning

Here is a link and updated information about the man they believe is responsible of this shameful and disgusting act.

UPDATE: So the suspect told police he was 'The Joker'. Here is a link from MTV News.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sexual Orientation in Hip-Hop/R&B

If you look through my iTunes library it is pretty safe to say hip-hop/r&b are my favorite genres of music. Artists such as Gang Starr, Lupe Fiasco, Lauryn Hill, Rick Ross, Outkast and Jay-Z  dominate the playlists on my ipod. Ever since I started listening to music I've been captivated by the sound and lyrics of hip-hop. Even as a hip-hop/r&b head, I have noticed the change in lyrical content over the years and this is a big reason why people are unattracted and turned away by this style of music. I'll admit, many songs have ignorant messages that revolve around sexuality and women. Sexual orientation, more specifically as in gay males, is heavily criticized and abused in the industry. A lot of artists incorporate lyrics poking fun at "gays" and referencing weak qualities or unorthodox actions by other males as "gay." This being said I always wondered if a male rapper/r&b singer would come out and tell the truth of his orientation. Obvisouly the fear for artists who still hide their sexuaity is the negative impact it would take on their careers. The fear of losing millions and not being accepted in the industry is severe enough that I can understand why there has not been an announced gay artist. Well, a couple weeks ago some of my questions would be answered. R&b artist Frank Ocean revealed in a letter on his blog about a relationship he had with a male when he was 19. I follow him on twitter and the days after his announcement Frank was under heavy attack by "fans". Some stated that they were going to delete all of his music of their iPod's because he is gay and some just bluntly criticized him for his orientation. I found an interesting interview by rapper Game where he discusses his view of gay men in the industry.
I have my own views on the sexual orientation, just as everybody has a right and entitled too, but if  your music is good, it's good. Like Game stated in his interview, they're a few rappers that he "believes" are gay and has collaborated with. Your favorite artist might be gay and you never know. Music is all about comfort and so far Ocean's music has changed where it makes me uncomfortable not to support. That being said Ocean's new album Channel Orange is pretty good. I think his mix-tape Nostalgia, Ultra was better but music is music, and so far it has been 50/50 as far as support for his new album. My favorite track is "Pink Matter" featuring Andre 3000. Check it out!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New York's first "Oasis"

Currently I am a Teacher Assistant for an Architecture program at Columbia University. I work with students from all over the world such as Italy, Costa Rica and Japan. Aside from the time in the studio, me and the head Professor  take the students around New York to expose them to vast structures that make up the most famous skyline in the world. Despite living in the city for the past 4 years there are many buildings I have not visited and last week I came across one of my new favorite structures in Manhattan: The Ford Foundation Building.
This building was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates in 1963 and completed in 1968. From the exterior it resembles many of the facades of the city, but what separates this structure from the rest is the unique interior tree-filled atrium that rises from the ground level to the top of the building. It was the first garden of its kind in New York which paved the way for indoor public spaces in the city. The garden consists of trees, flowers and a variety of vegetation, along with a "Wish" pool where visitors throw in coins to support hungry children.
 Various staircases create different levels within the garden, allowing visitors to admire the design of the whole project. I really enjoy the weathering steel which gives a rusty look to the frame. Along with the steel, the brown-pink granite used to wrap the walls gives the building a more natural look which ties well with the garden. I am a big fan of the exposed section views made possible by the visible steel frame. Rain water collected by a unique system on the roof keeps the garden flowing and green year round.
A product of the International Style, this modern architecture design pushed the envelope for new materials and plan (the Ford Foundation Building has an L-shaped office block) compared that to the glass-box of the Seagram Building (also located in NY). What makes this design also unique and personally awesome is the fact employees are visible to each other. It ties into the mission statement of the Foundation of supporting each other and being aware of the activities of the company; creating a tight knit environment and family. Discovering this building supports my claim that NYC is an architects "Disneyland" with fun, fascinating and inspiring projects around every corner.

Cartoons: Can we go back to the 90's!?

So it is Saturday morning and the first thing that pops into my head is cartoons. People say I am too old for cartoons but they do not understand that I grew up in the decade that perfected the cartoon. I feel bad for today's young generation for one reason and one reason only; they live in the Era which I like to call "The Death of Cartoons". I have a 12 year old brother, his name is Alejandro, and it is sad for him that the quality of cartoon shows today do not even come remotely close to the quality I had growing up. Saturday mornings were the highlight of my week growing up. I had nothing to do other than sit in front of the TV while watching my favorite cartoons and my lovely mother making me breakfast. Yup, those were the good ol' days and now when I go home and see the junk my brother watches it really disappoints me. Now you have shows like "Total Drama Revenge of the Island" or "Secret Mountain Fort Awesome"...Like what!? What are these shows about?? What happened to the simple plot and titles of cartoons that made the 90's cool!? For example, my favorite show "Doug" had a simple plot and title. Doug was trying to win Patty Mayonnaise's heart over while avoiding/competing with the daily hassles of High School such as his arch enemy Roger M. Klotz. On a side note I don't think my mom liked me watching Doug because I wanted to get a dog like Porkchop, but my mom didn't want any pets. Anyways, I figured for Christmas I will buy the DVD collections of my favorite cartoon shows growing up and give them to my brother so he can see what makes a great cartoon.
What were your FAVORITE cartoons growing up? Post the link for your show if you want. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Infomercials: Legit or Scams

When I hear the word insomnia I think of infomercials. Why? Because a large percentage of people resort to TV as a way to put them to sleep. Well, I am guilty of this and unfortunately at 2 am  the only thing on TV are infomercials. I always found humor in them because my first thought is only  stupid people get suckered in actually believing the products being displayed work. Well, call my stupid because this past January I bought my first product off an infomercial. I use to play football in college, but after I was done playing I didn't want to become fat and lazy. I needed something that would keep me motivated, so one late night Shaun T's product Insanity popped onto the screen. I was very skeptical about buying exercise videos because there are so many, and according to people who were suckered in buying one, told me they didn't work. But I had a gut feeling Shaun T's product was legit. It's a 9-week intense cardio program and along with the DVDs it gives you a calendar and recipe book that lists easy healthy meals to prepare. Because of Spring Break and Finals I only completed 6 weeks of the program but I definitely saw results. I lost 2 inches off my waist and a total of 25 pounds. My body looked a lot tighter and I just felt healthier overall. The $120 was worth it and currently I am starting the program again; this time with no interruptions. The videos are great because Shaun T pushes and encourages you throughout the workout which is always a nice boost when you are dying and short of breath. The premise of the program is time-interval training which allows you to progress on your own pace, rather than having x-amount of sets with x-amount of reps.
Have you ever purchased a product off an infomercial? if Yes, what was it? and was it legit or a scam?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Conspiracy of Love

On July 17th, 2012 I attended my twin brother's Commencement at Stanford and I aside from being happy and proud for him, I was thoroughly moved by his Commencement speaker. Cory Booker is the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey and received his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and received his PH.D from Yale University. I can honestly say for me personally, is the most powerful speech I have ever heard and a moment that will always stick in my head forever. He spoke about his father and grandfather and how they shaped his life today. He called it The Conspiracy of Love which reminds us that we enjoy the shade from trees we did not plant and eat from large dinner banquets we did not prepare. The conspiracy is to make sure we as people and society do not become lazy and content in the many blessings we have today, but rather use it as motivation to continue the long tradition of hard work and dedication that has shaped our lives today. He also preached about faith and never allowing yourself to lose it. To keep your faith he harped on the idea of courage and after a dramatic experience he defined courage as: "Real courage is when Life has beaten you down so low, when you are broken and when you have wounds that you wonder if they will ever heal...courage is not the roar, it is the small voice in your mind that says get up, get out of bed...and go outside for another day of can cut me deep but, you can never stop me from loving...and bring on the light"

Since my brother's Commencement I have followed Mayor Booker on twitter and it is amazing how interactive he is with the public. Both supporters and hater, the mayor responds to both of them with respect and love. I will admit that I am not heavily involved in politics, and to be honest I do not know enough about both parties platforms. But the reason I pay attention to the Mayor is because he talks about the bigger picture. He has stated numerous times, it is not about left or right, or Republican and Democrat, but rather us as a Nation to work together to get us out of debt and recover in much needed areas such as the school systems. Obviously the speech below is for the DNC, but I think everybody, doesn't matter of your political affiliation, should listen to his words. Because at the end of the day we need to work hard and commit ourselves like our ancestors did back in the day. The Mayor has definitely become one of my favorite people to listen to. Ever since his "Conspiracy of Love" speech at Stanford (video above) I have listened to him whenever I can.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jersey Boys

Tonight I went to the Theatre District to watch Jersey Boys. This Broadway production is based on the story of the singing group "The Four Seasons". Jersey Boys is the 4th Broadway show I have seen since I moved to New York. Must people wouldn't expect me to be into musicals but I appreciate all forms of art whether it be music, paintings, architecture or theatre productions. It was an awesome and entertaining show and I highly recommend it if you ever visit New York. I also learned some history from the play. For example, I did not know that "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" was originally performed by Frank Valli's; one of the members of "The Four Seasons". It reached #2 on the Billboard Charts in 1967. The song has been covered by numerous people including Lauryn Hill, which is my favorite rendition of the song.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Valleys and Peaks"

I appreciate the love and support from everyone so far. I have never done a blog before so bare with me while I work out all the kinks. But one question I have been receiving is why title my blog "Can I Live?" I based the premise of my blog around Jay-Z's classic track "Can I Live?" I can relate to this song on multiple levels, so for me this song goes deeper than just being a Jay-Z classic. For me it reflects my current state of mind and is reminiscent of my past, present and future. This track is off Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt album which is my favorite of all time. It also happens to be that Jay-Z is my favorite artist as well. This song talks about the hustle Jay had to go through to be successful. His lyrics paints vivid images of his time selling drugs on the streets and the daily battles/tests he went through, which ultimately helped made him one of the most successful people in America. But he also elaborates on being cautious of your surroundings and not allowing your evils around you disrupt your progress and strip you of your success. It is a great message for me as enter the next phase in my life. There is still many more things I want achieve and this song is a daily reminder what I have to do to obtain my new goals. 

Cap & Gown

8 years ago me and my twin brother had the opportunity to attend top schools on opposite sides of the country. This was us at our our high school graduation. (Birmingham H.S.) #classof2008

4 years after our H.S. graduation I received my B.A. from Columbia University majoring in Architecture. My twin brother Daniel graduated from Stanford University with a double major in Philosophy and Political Science. (Our cousin Eduardo "Lalo" is the short guy in the middle lol)