LaVall Jordan: The Man Who Wanted Butler

While the Butler Bulldogs may have regressed this year in terms of win total and regular season rankings, players, fans and the people who work around the team are optimistic about the future of the program after what they’ve seen from first-year helmsmen LaVall Jordan.

Jordan, the winningest player in Butler history, the two-time all conference player for the Bulldogs, three-time NCAA tournament participant, the coach who was a mere game away from bringing an 11-win Milwaukee team all the way to the NCAA tournament just last year, is now the coach behind Butler’s first-ever Big East Tournament victory.

The 75-74 win over Seton Hall demonstrated Ball’s coaching skill, as Butler trailed by seven in the game’s final minutes. The win is one Butler aficionados of the world hope is only the beginning of what will be a program-defining legacy.

“Jordan is a Butler man through and through,” said Butler Collegian sports editor Dana Lee.

Jordan made that evident at his introductory press conference.

“I can’t wait for the first game when I hear the chant: ‘BU – TLE – R U a Bulldog’…and I might stop coaching for a second and say, ‘Hell yeah,’” he said.

Jordan’s connections to Butler go beyond his playing days and in fact extend through most of his post-collegiate life.

After returning from a one-year stint playing overseas in Europe, he served for four years as an assistant on coach Todd Lickliter’s Butler staff before following him to Iowa, where he assisted Lickliter for three more years.

When Brad Stevens, Lickliter’s replacement, left Butler to lead the Boston Celtics in 2013, Jordan was one of the leading candidates to replace him, but was eventually passed up on in favor of Brandon Miller.

According to those who are close with him, he never stopped pining for the Butler job, and after missing out on it the first time was more than willing to lie in wait for another opportunity. In the meantime, he honed his coaching chops as an assistant coach at Michigan before eventually undertaking his one-year stint at Milwaukee.

Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said his three matches against Jordan this year have impressed him.

“I think LaVall has – the league is lucky to have him,” Willard said. “Obviously Butler is lucky to have him. And he’s done a phenomenal job.”

More specifically Williard pointed to Jordan’s superior usage of Martin Wideman and Kamar Baldwin down the stretch, something he believes Jordan improved upon from earlier in the season.

If the reaction of fans, team media and even his own rivals are anything to go by, Butler is indeed lucky to have him for any potential tournament run now, and for however many seasons his passion for Butler University basketball continues to light up Hinkle Fieldhouse and wherever else the Bulldogs need someone to steer them through it all.

Villanova dominates the 2nd half, cruises to 88-64 victory over Marquette

The Villanova Wildcats opened up their Big East Tournament play in decisive fashion against seventh-seed Marquette, pulling away in the second half to a 94-70 final score.

Redshirt junior forward Mikal Bridges was the key for the Wildcats, scoring a team-leading 25 points and eight rebounds while adding four assists and a steal. Junior guard Jalen Brunson was also a big factor, dropping 21 points, including three of six from behind the arc, and three assists on the night.

“I think they showed they played last night,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “They were a little sharp with us early, but we hung in there. I think the leadership of Jalen [Brunson] and Mikal [Bridges] kept everybody together.”

The game started out slow, with both teams shooting fewer than 25 percent from the floor and combining for only 4-18 from 3-point range. No team lead by more than five points until 12 seconds before the end of the first half, when Villanova pulled ahead by seven on a Phil Booth layup.

It was all Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey for Marquette in the first half, combining for 30 of the Golden Eagles’ 34 points. They rained threes on Wildcats for as long as they could, going 4-6 and 3-8 from the arc respectively.

Marquette’s victory against DePaul on Wednesday began to show through during the second half, with Villanova outscoring them 53-34 and running the Golden Eagles’ legs out from under them. The Wildcats had a variety of contributors in the half in addition to Brunson and Bridges, including redshirt junior guard Phil Booth, who tacked on 13 points and two assists, and redshirt junior forward Eric Paschall, who scored nine and also grabbed two of his seven rebounds on the night.

“We just gave them too much space in the first half,” Wright said. “I thought our guys did a great job in the second half, they got a little worn down, and we were able to stay fresh.”

The Wildcats were able to neutralize Markus Howard in the second half, holding him to just seven points and 1-4 from 3-point range after he scored 16 on 4-6 in the first half. As a team, their 3-point field goal percentage dropped from 46.7 in the first to just 33.3 during the second half.

Villanova really began to pull away with 14 minutes left in the second half, when a long 3-pointer from Booth put the Wildcats up by 15. At the five-minute mark, redshirt freshman forward Omari Spellman hit another three that pushed their lead to 24. The Golden Eagles’ were never able to get back under 20.

For the game, Villanova outplayed Marquette in almost every statistical category, shooting 15 percent more efficiently than the Golden Eagles while outrebounding them 37-26 and scoring 12 more points in the paint.

This makes the 36th straight year that the Big East Tournament was held in Madison Square Garden, which makes it the longest-tendered venue for any conference basketball tournament. Historically, the Wildcats play very well in New York and in the Garden.

“I think every game here means a lot to us,” Brunson said. “It’s great tradition, great history here in this arena. This tournament has a lot of great memories. It’s always a battle whenever you’re in a game here.”

On Friday night, Villanova will take on the Seton Hall Pirates, who were victorious over the Butler Bulldogs on Thursday, in the Big East semi-finals. According to Coach Wright, improving their defensive effort will be the key for the Wildcats.

“Defense and rebounding. It’s the same thing all year for us. We’re a good offensive team but you could see we went through some spurts there where we get it going offensively and then just relax defensively. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”

Below the streets, above expectations

With instruments ranging from vocals to a decorated accordion, subway performers bring culture and life to the monotony of the everyday commute.

Dagen Julty, for instance, is Lovejoy the Clown by day and an occasional Times Square subway performer by night. His attire was welcoming, featuring a fuzzy rainbow sweater and a generally eccentric aura. Julty is full of smiles and emanates positivity and good vibes.

“I started performing when I started entertaining kids and babies in 1996,” Julty said. “I was a school music teacher and someone said, ‘try being a kid entertainer’ . . . and I gave it a try.”

Julty has been involved with music for as long as he can remember and sharing his upbeat tunes has been his way of preserving bliss within society. “Especially now with the phones, I think it’s so important that people do things in 3D,” he said.IR 2.png

Julty said that he does not currently live in the Big Apple. He traveled from upstate, about two hours away, to come perform underneath New York City.

His recent endeavor is an experiment, and only now has he started asking for money. Before, he would choose a spot in the subway and begin performing and just go for it. “Most people would ignore,” Julty said. “Some would take an interest.”

“I’ve always had bands, I’ve always had music, I’ve always been experimental . . . I was one of those people brought up in a creative home with a creative license,” he said.

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From what it seems, Julty, who is in his mid 60s, is always going to be a musical man and will not stop performing with his trusty 22-year-old accordion, donned with colorful jewels and shiny beads.

But it isn’t just solo artists below the surface, there are group performances as well. One group, ranging from ages 14 to 16, “Songs of Solomon” sings modern pop songs below Times Square in order to raise money for a convention in August.

They attend Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts and have been performing to raise money for about a month.IR 3.jpg

Generally, they have been getting good responses although there have been a few exceptions.

“There was a group of kids that came over here that started dancing, and then they like, threw their food on the ground and they kicked it towards us,” Harper said.

The students believe that there is a stigma amongst street performers that they are typically poor or homeless, but that is often not the case, so they made a sign in order to show why they were singing.

“We wrote a sign that told people like, what we were raising money for,” Barkie said. “And the same day we made the sign we raised $200 . . . People start seeing it, and then [they] start donating more money.”

Some perform for the sake of religion. One group, who often sets up in Grand Central Station, made music on behalf of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. They make music with instruments such as drums, harmoniums, and finger cymbals to produce a spiritual ambience within the station.

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Group members will approach passersby with promotional books and pamphlets, attempting to raise money for the monastery.

“This is not exactly musicians in a subway,” Mahot Sahah Das, a member of the Bhakti Center monastery, said. “It’s not a performance, it’s basically a form of worship and a form of sacrifice.”

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“It’s the mantra we chant over and over again . . . it’s a spiritual sound that doesn’t get exhausted,” he said. “[It] gives you access to the most personal form of God, so you can actually have a loving reciprocation with it.”

“Most people, they sort of have belief in God, but they don’t have any information of who God really is,” Sahah Das said. “How will you love someone if you don’t know them?”

In the New York City subways, performers generally have artistic freedom, with only a few small rules.

According to transit officer Tahir, who did not provide a first name, artists only need a permit when using loud speakers and amplifiers, and they can only do so in common areas. They can not interfere with the loud speaker announcements or perform on the trains, but acoustic performances are allowed on subway platforms.

Clocking In To Harassment

In our evolving society, woman continue to face trials and tribulations in the workplace. According to a recent study done by the UN, women who work in the ‘labor force’ must work 2.6 times harder then their male counterparts.

With the #MeToo movement gaining attention, sexual harassment has become a topic of conversation many people try to avoid.

According to a survey done by Stop Street Harassment, 38 percent of woman have dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace, compared to 13 percent of men who said they have faced some form of sexual harassment at work.

Every day, more women continue to speak their minds and voice their opinions. But for older generations, that was not the case.

Take Norma, 54, an accountant, who, when faced with harassment, made the decision to step away and avoid the situation.

“I’m 54 years old,” Norma said. “Our generation generally didn’t speak about it. Just recently there’s more talk about accusations and the people are the ones who shine a light on the issue.”

Norma reflected on how her generation dealt with harassment stating, “Before, if it happened to you or your friend you wouldn’t talk about it to avoid embarrassment.”

There is a cultural shift when it comes to harassment: young women who work in New York as nannies, hostess, bartenders, actresses and students who make this city run, find themselves being harassed by coworkers, customers and men of power.

Take Suzie, for example, a young vibrant woman who faces harassment to this day, “The managers would frequently feel comfortable to comment on my body and what I was wearing and how it may extenuate my curves,” When asked if she took the steps to report her manager, Suzie stated, “ I never reported because I didn’t want to cause or stir anything up.”

She, like many other victims didn’t want to cause any form of hostility within their workplace.

Nevertheless, recent generations are learning from those who continue to speak out and use their voices to bring justice and solidarity within the comfort of their city.

Lenette and Camilla, actresses who work in New York, are a prime example of what the future holds. Young women no longer live in fear of speaking out against the injustices occurring in the workplace, refusing to clock in to harassment.

Fashion & Makeup

By: Brody Salazar, Maranda Gonzalez & Esmeralda De Santiago

New York, the fashion capital of the country, requires seamstresses, designers, makeup artists, and someone to bring it to the light of public. Social Media editor Christina Monroe worked on her very first New York Fashion Week (NYFW) this year. With a view of the Hudson River where ferries full of tourists and locals cross towards Brooklyn, Monroe gets a view while she analyzes the statistics of this month’s social media results for Revlon.

After falling in love with the “magical energy” of New York City less than a month after graduating college, Monroe decided to move and become a New Yorker. Monroe is on the global social media team for ALMAY, a brand owned by Revlon.

“I am responsible for creating, monitoring and growing social communities,” said Monroe. “I interact with so many brilliant minds on a day-to-day basis.”

Monroe shares how much she enjoys her job and appreciates the people she meets, as well as taking pleasure in working her colleagues. Monroe acknowledges the fact that Revlon has given her so many opportunities throughout her career impacting not only her life but New York City as a whole.

“Fashion is important in the city,” said Monroe, “…fashion is a direct reflection of the culture of New York City, which is more important to note, in my opinion. Hip-hop – which is not just about music – is deeply rooted in the fashion, art and language of New York City. Street style and street culture impact the fashion of New York City unlike any other.”

In this year’s NYFW, Monroe worked with the brand C.N.D.(Revlon owned) to design nails for the models. She expressed fashion week nails tend to be nude, but this year, “We had nails with a fringe, that were dragging across the runway. Statement pieces, loud, bold, in your face … In the politically charged climate that we live in now days your nails also have expressions.”

Monroe states how one does their nails is a significant expression of who they are. Monroe loves fashion and how it gives her the ability to express herself.

“I never feel completely done unless I have a perfectly polished nails,” Monroe said. “C.N.D. makes me feel more powerful as a woman.”

As she walked to her work space she explained the various types of departments in ALMAY. Furthermore demonstrating the processes of her daily life at Revlon.

Video interview with Christina Monroe

Patzeria takes center stage

Author’s Note: A majority of the interviews conducted for A Piece of Pie was transcribed from Spanish to English.

There’s a certain honesty to Patzeria on 46th. There’s very little presentation for the food: slices of pizza are served on a paper plates, and the sandwiches are wrapped in tin foil. The interior is thin, narrow, and potentially uninviting; the only eating space available is at a counter with four flimsy wooden stools.

A busy night at Patzeria Photo credit: Daniel Valencia

So how did this no-frills Manhattan pizza joint become intrinsically tied with the pageantry of Broadway?

Patzeria worker Juan Cielo believes it’s from the passion of the staff.

“We take interest in what we do…if you’re going to do something, do it well,” said Cielo. “40-50 percent [our clients are from Broadway].”

In particular, Patzeria has had an unlikely relationship with the thespians and clientele of Richard Rodgers Theatre, where Hamilton plays. Cielo is a friend of the musical’s playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda. In fact, he recounts a shared moment between Miranda and himself.

“When [Miranda] won his Tony Award, he came in, and said ‘take a photo with my Tony Award’,” said Cielo. “I took out my phone, but Lin-Manuel said ‘no, I’ll take it [of you]. “

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Cielo posing with Miranda's Tony Award

Fans flocked into Patzeria after Cielo’s picture with the Tony surfaced on Miranda’s Twitter page.

There are no official job titles at Patzeria; the workers are all personal friends outside of work. In addition, while Paterzia is owned by an Irish-Italian investor, the pizza joint is comprised of entirely Mexicans from central Mexico. The menus and the recipes are entirely created by the staff.

The pizza joint’s staff is reflective of the large Central Mexican-American community in New York City, also known to many Mexicans as ‘Puebla York’ due to the large population reigning from the state of Puebla in central Mexico. So how does a staff of Central Mexican immigrants learn how to craft one of the most popular pizzas in New York City? The answer for Cielo is straight from the source; he learned how to cook pizza from working at a Sicilian restaurant upon arrival in New York as a teen.

Reynaldo prepares to cut a freshly-baked pizza.

His experience, coupled with the rest of the staff’s, has allowed the Patzeria to formulate true New York style recipes.

Patzeria is not only popular but also enduring. It has been serving patrons for 16 years.

Cielo notes that he worries little about competing pizza places in Times Square.

“We don’t worry about the competition. The competition worries about us.” said Cielo with conviction.

From the fields to the city, a journey of challenges and victories in New York.

Efrain Lopez-Mendez, Rosalio Fierro, Jesus Lopez-Mendez and Carlos Castillo pose behind the counter of Carlo’s Pizzaria in Queens, NY.
Valerino Rafael Mendez and Carlos Castillo take a break from the rush hour at Carlo’s Pizzeria.
Walking nto Carlo’s Pizzeria in Ridgewood, Ny around 4pm, the smell of pizza mixes with that of black beans and chicharrons. The T.V. is turned to a soccer match and Mexican Music comes from the speakers. Behind the counter, an employee opens the oven to expose a dozen tortillas warming beside a cheese pizza. The six employees gather at a back booth to share a meal between rushes.

Rosalio Fierro bought Carlo’s restaurant in partnership with his brother, Trinidad Fierro, 13 years ago after working there for 15 years. Fierro moved from Puebla, Mexico when he was 14 years old to escape the extreme poverty he was born into.

He said his life in New York City was very difficult at first. Fierro faced discrimination and had a difficult time learning both the English and Italian he needed to communicate.

“I did not know anything. I came from a field. Someone would tell me to bring a sauce and I just ran I did not know what to bring to my boss, was hard to learn.”

He said that he has noticed a more accepting, less discriminatory demeanor in the young generations. He still hears comments from people saying he can’t possibly know how to make pizza, since he is Mexican.

“They say, all you know how to cook is tacos, but I say, just try it and you’ll see for yourself,” Fierro said.

Carlo’s pizzeria has four and a half stars on Google, and they compete with the at least 19 other pizzerias in Queens that appear on Google Maps.

Fierro has found the security and success he sought in the U.S., but it’s come at a high price, with 12-hour work days, six or seven days a week. Long hours and hard work haven’t won Fierro a life of ease and luxury, but it has given him the opportunity to provide for his wife and children, aged 25, 12 and six, and employ his friends.

“If I was not the owner of this [building] I would not be able to have this team, because rent is so expensive. I would not be able to survive and keep my ‘muchachos’ on staff.”

The Office of Advocacy’s 2016 Small business profile states that small businesses make up 99 percent of all NYC businesses, with 38 percent of those having owners of Hispanic origins.

Jesus Lopez-Mendez, and employee and friend of Fierro’s, also works 12 hours a day, six days a week. He wakes up at dawn to get his kids, aged 12 and 11, ready and drive them to school. He won’t see them again until they repeat this routine in the morning. He’ll return home to share a cup of coffee with his wife before he walks the five minutes to Carlo’s, where he works with his brother and brother-in-law.

Lopez-Mendez is no stranger to hard work; he’s been working since he was six-years-old.

Lopez-Mendez comes from the same province as Fierro, the most rural part of the Puebla Provence, where there is little to no access to transportation and work.

His eyes became watery and his voice and body language softened as he described his life in Mexico. He said that he remembers going hungry often. Lopez-Mendez attended school only until the sixth grade, when he had to quit to contribute to his family’s meager income. He worked in the field, picking up flowers, helping in the field taking care of animals or picking up fruits.

Lopez-Mendez followed his brother to NYC in 1995, when he was 17-years-old. He hasn’t stepped foot on Mexican soil since, he said.

He has no regrets about moving to the U.S. and likes living in NYC, he said. He is surrounded by close family, and he is able to give his children better opportunities, but life in the states isn’t everything he expected.

“This country is an Illusion; it looks like you live good but you have to work and work and work,” Lopez-Mendez said.

Though Lopez-Mendez lives in the land of opportunity, he doesn’t get the chance to experience life outside of work much, at 72 hours a week. It’s all worth it though, he said, knowing that his children will experience more of the American dream because of his sacrifices.

He said that he gets his satisfaction from providing for his family and seeing that they are happy.

Fierro said he agrees with this sentiment, and he sees the results of his sacrifice with his 25-year-old son already.

“I feel so proud of my oldest son who became a police officer in New York City because I come from the field,” he said.

Even as a police officer, his son struggles financially, though. Fierro said that his son brings home about $500 weekly of his estimated $1,000 per week salary. With a median rent of $2,750 in Queens according to the Dec. 2016 Elliman Report, conducted by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Fierro’s son still lives at home out of necessity.

Both Fierro and Lopez-Mendez have spent their lives in search of the American dream, not for themselves, but for their children and their children’s children, they said.

The Quiet but Full Life of an Immigrant Housekeeper

As the sun rises over the Brooklyn Bridge and the sounds of The City That Never Sleeps resonate through the crisp winter air, not far in neighboring Throgs Neck in the Bronx, Laila Banu’s day comes to life. Echoing the stories of Ellis Island decades ago, Banu exemplifies the tenacity and might of immigrants to America and specifically, to New York City.

The American Dream of Laila Banu begins in 1990 on a plane en route to the Big Apple as she emigrated from Bangladesh in search of a better life. Her husband had citizenship in the United States and a steady enough job to sustain a family of four. This, however, would not last long.

“My [first] marriage was not a ‘love-marriage’ [and] pretty soon we started having problems. So I left,” said Banu.

Banu is one of over three million immigrants living in New York City working behind the scenes, allowing for New York City to maintain its stratospheric level of service.

Wishing to avoid the court system for child support and without any family in the city, Banu had to find work to support her to children, aged three and seven at the time. As the oldest of her siblings back in Bangladesh, Banu was not accustomed to having to work. Often, her daily chores and responsibilities were taken care of for her.

“I never had to wash my clothes or make my bed back home, I was sort of the princess of the family,” Banu said.

So, it comes as quite the surprise Banu found work as a housekeeper in a well-known New York City hotel, cleaning fourteen rooms a day, five days a week. In the 19 years, Banu has worked for the hotel so far, she was able to successfully care for herself and her two children, and in 2001 remarried, on her own terms, to a man she truly loves.

Despite her perseverance as an immigrant single mother, her own mother did not share Banu’s confidence. “One time my mom visited me in this country and she wanted to see what I do. When I brought her to the hotel, she cried of disappointment,” Banu explained.

Fortunately for Banu and her children, her determination paid off. “My daughter is now pursuing her master’s degree to train as a speech therapist and I have a house with my loving husband,” she exclaimed.

Feeling as though she fulfilled the American Dream, Banu says she is happy with her life overall in New York, but the job can certainly present its positive and negative experiences. “Nobody bothers you if you are not doing anything wrong,” Banu explained. But despite the solitude of her work, not all is always peace and quiet.

“Sweet Sixteens are really bad; but, the worst is the couples who want you to come and look at them. I’ll knock on the door and they won’t say anything but once the door opens, it is not the sight you wish to see.”