Tag Archives: New York

The Ave Podcast – Confessions of A Fan… Vol. 2

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 67: Confessions of A Fan… Vol. 2

Today on The Ave Podcast, I invite back SSA Family Member Kevin W. as we revisit his life as a die-hard fan…. of the New York Knicks. We update the trials and tribulations since the last episode two years ago. From the Kristaps Porzingis trade, to James Dolan banning someone else from Madison Square Garden, rooting for the Carmelo experience, the cynical POV of a better tomorrow with all that salary cap space this summer, Dyin’ for Zion, we get all in the crevasses of this franchise. We wrap up the podcast discussing the dysfunctional Los Angeles Lakers season.

These confessions are similar to Usher’s, except it comes with zero awards or accolades, and it’s much more painful. Please enjoy…

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below, and also, the podcasts are now available for download. You can now check out the podcasts on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, and Spotify. You can get to all of those apps on your IOS or Android devices. ***

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 67

Related image


To download the podcast, feel free to click the logo below:

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to South Shore Ave, click onto the Follow button, and enter your email address, or click onto the RSS Feed. Very special thanks to Kevin W. for his guest appearance on this podcast. 

#TheStoop: The Problem Child Interview

#TheStoop: The Problem Child Interview

Today on the Season 3 finale of #TheStoop: A Mini-Podcast Series, myself & guest-host DJ Chris Nice (Grooves & Rhythms Mixshow, Fridays from 2 – 4PM on MyLime Radio) are joined by Soca sensation Problem Child. We discuss the beginnings of Problem Child’s career, the process of how he puts his songs together, how his insane work effort fuels his success, & much more.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below, and also, the podcasts are now available for download. You can now check out the podcasts on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, and Spotify. You can get to all of those apps on your IOS or Android devices. ***

#TheStoop: A Mini-Podcast Series // The Problem Child Interview

(Photo taken by Teeography)


Download the podcast, feel free to click the link below:



Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to South Shore Ave, click onto the Follow button, and enter your email address, or click onto the RSS Feed. Very special thanks to Problem Child & DJ Chris Nice for their guest appearance on this podcast.


Golden Era: 20th Anniversary of New York Undercover, Part 2

We here at South Shore Ave are gassing up the DeLorean & taking you back to 1994 where we bore witness to a groundbreaking show that influenced a generation. Twenty years ago this week Executive Producer Dick Wolf and FOX Network launched the first episode of New York Undercover, which starred Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo as Detectives J.C. Williams and Eduardo Torres. In Part 2, myself & Headley Bent wonder if this show can work in 2014, our favorite episodes, and the one and only……. Danny Cort.


Danny “Danny Up” Cort

Cee: The 90s version to Avon Barksdale. Safe to say this was the best villain in the history of the show. They had some pretty good ones too. John Santucci & his mafia, Adolfo Guzman and his gang who beat Torres up when he kept messing with his Dad. Those were just small tremors compared to the contempt Cort & JC had for each other. Their relationship was the definition of a blood feud. Quick rundown of the beef: In one of the earlier episodes from Season 1, Cort ran an elaborate CAT drug lab that communicated through ghost emails & pagers (as high end as technology got back then). Torres helps break up the operation being undercover & puts Cort behind bars. Once Cort got out, he tried to run another operation again that ended up being foiled by JC & Torres in a wild shootout. JC ends up killing Cort’s younger brother with the monster afro. Oh & let’s remind you, this whole shootout all happens a couple of days before JC gets married to his fiancee Sandy. This is where everything flips on its head.

Normally with these network shows, maybe the villain would try to exact revenge by maybe holding the cop’s loved one hostage or something, but usually the good guys prevail at the end no worse for wear. By having Cort run up in JC’s apartment (after his right hand man Big Dawg tracks down JC’s address), impersonating someone making a delivery to Sandy & then shooting the living daylights out of her with a machine gun…. I’m not even sure if mind blowing is the right term to describe it. Anyone who watched that episode remembers, you were left stuck in your chair with the air completely sucked out of you. Like someone sucker punching kicking you hard in the stomach right when you’re swallowing some food. Outside of Dwayne Wayne breaking up Whitley’s wedding in A Different World, & Optimus Prime actually dying in the Transformers movie, I can’t remember a time when a TV show threw me for a loop like that, but this was so brutal, you felt for JC like it was your brother. Right then & there, I became a fan of Ice-T.

Listen, as a rapper, I really wasn’t the biggest fan of Ice-T. I know I’m supposed to hold Colors in high regard, but maybe I was too young to fully appreciate it or it just sailed over my head back then. To be honest, I’m still not crazy about his songs. But Ice-T the actor? Two thumbs up.  His start in New Jack City was great, but I’ll always associate that movie with Wesley Snipes, who in this movie was at the height of his powers with his charismatic forceful personality & his dark-skinnededness. He was raising the flag for dark-skinned brothers everywhere at the time, and of course I had to ride for that! Not to say whenever I think of this show I think of Ice-T, but he had a major impact on the show that you couldn’t shake. It forever changed JC’s character on the show, even made him slightly crazy after Sandy’s death (which was amazing by the way). Ice-T was ruthless, relentless, & was one of the most underrated & overlooked villains of our time.


Torres: “Listen, you’ve gotta take this kid with you. He’s gonna die if he doesn’t get to a hospital!”

Cort: “Look, I would if this was a ‘saving the kid’ kind of a day, maybe. But unfortunately, today’s turning into a ‘save my ass’ kind of day.” – Quote from Season 1, episode #19 “CATS.

This was the kinda guy Danny Cort aka DannyUp was. To put it lightly, he was a drug kingpin, but accurately, he was a psychopath.  Like Cal, I’m not the biggest fan of Ice-T’s rap career, but I give due where due is deserved, and he’s a pioneer. Even Ice T admits he wasn’t the best rapper but he was Tupac before Tupac. He put out tracks we only thought about. If Ice T was indicative to what kind of music that Danny Up would be listening to, I’m sure Original Gangster, New Jack Hustler, Midnight and Cort’s favorite Cop Killer would get so much play it would cause his yellow Discman to smoke. DannyUp was only in three or four episodes?!?!?! I swear I thought he was in more. I remember him like he was a pivotal part of the plot. That goes to show how his small role was impactful. I’ll say this much: had they spread that storyline the whole series, it would have been on par (okay not on par) of drug lord Gus Fring in Breaking Bad season 2-3-4. Fring and Cort did their business completely different, all I am saying is that Cort could have had his own Wikipedia page had it developed more. But as it stands, nothing touches Gustova. NOTHING! That’s for another time.  But I find it timely to mention the actor that played him in Breaking Bad (Giancarlo Esposito) also guest starred in New York Undercover as Adolfo Guzman. He was an associate to the John Santucci mafia you mentioned Cal. Well it was Guzman’s character that had a long brewing feud with Det Torres and temporarily took over Natalie’s from Eddie’s pops!!! I’m telling you, this series was the catalyst to a lot of great acting. We just had no idea what we were watching. As we know, Ice-T also became better known as Det. Fin on Law & Order: Special Crime Unit from 2000 to the this very day.

Interesting Note: Ice-T also won the NAACP Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 1996 for his Danny Cort role. See, it wasn’t just hyperbole, he really did knock that role out of the ball park. Not sure who he competed with that year but let’s not pay any attention to that.

Favorite Episodes

Cee: The aforementioned Danny Cort one where he kills Sandy is really close to being my favorite. My favorite one personally is the episode when Cort comes back out of jail & terrorizes JC until they meet to the death.  Sending JC two human middle fingers by way of his son Gregory aka G., leaving a dead body in his car, having Naomi Campbell (who played JC’s new woman in the show) help kidnap his son & Chantal (Mother of JC’s child). I’m not sure if you can hit the mountaintop of the blood feud any higher than Cort playing Russian Roulette with JC’s son and laughing. I’m sure some people turned the other way in real life when they saw Ice-T coming. He played that shit a little too good.

Underrated favorites are the first 4-5 episodes of Season 2 when JC comes back on the force after Sandy’s murder/JC-Cort Round 1 & was mad at the world. He snapped on everyone, beat up criminals way too aggressively, even smacked around Torres at one point.  Every time he flipped out, my cousin Brian would call me & we’d freak out about it like Jordan came down the lane & dunked on somebody. And vice versa. If you’re thinking it, you’re right: we were idiots.

Headley: I’m going to simplify this and bring it down to one episode. This might not even be my favourite episode but it’s the most memorable. What’s reminiscent is the scene with Det JC Williams chasing down Danny Cort by the docks. It’s the one singular scene which captures a genie in a bottle. For those playing at home that haven’t caught on yet, it’s the same episode that Cal mentioned earlier about Danny Cort cocking his gun to G’s head.

Before I get into it. Let me give you some interesting facts which we never realized before the lineage that was forming. We always talk about the heavy hip hop influence on the show. Reggie Rock Bythewood who wrote the episode and one of the main writers of the series went on to write the biopic Notorious on the acclaimed life of Notorious B.I.G. Also Cal, you make a reference to legendary villain Avon Randolph Barksdale of the infamous The Wire series.

Get this: Actor Steve Harris who plays Terry Ellers which has a longtime fued with JC. Ellers early on in this episode walks into the precinct accusing JC of harassment, and later on ends up dead with his finger cut off. Danny Cort has his finger gift wrapped to JC delivered by his own son G, Cort is nuts. Well, Steve Harris became a larger star in the American legal drama The Practice , playing lawyer Eugene Young. To this day, that acting is one of the best played out characters I have seen on the small screen, and Steve Harris has the awards to back it up. One of my all-time favorite dramas too. We were privy to a preview of his discovery on New York Undercover. And Cal, guess who Steve Harris kid brother is? You give up? None other than Wood Harris. Yes, the same Wood Harris that would later on bring Avon Barksdale to life on The Wire. He actually had a cameo in season four on New York Undercover too. Okay, school is out.

The reason why I love this series is because the storyline of Danny Cort was finally coming to a climax. The build-up was intense, like I’mma ‘bout to pop that…. lid (trying to keep it PG people). As Cal said, Danny Cort had already solidified himself as a maniac, you just wanted to see him and JC finally square off. And nothing becomes more apparent with Danny Cort’s mindset then when he explains the mental torture he wants to put JC through when he’s in the car with his right-hand-man, CoCo. And the twist of finding out that JC’s girlfriend played by the lovely Naomi Campbell is a double agent who is really in Danny Cort’s camp. You knew something was up when she accused Torres of hitting her. You realize Danny Cort is one sick, but smart ass dude. Finally, when JC is praying for his family’s life and Danny’s yukking it up, you forget Danny Cort is just a character and start to think Ice-T might be nuts. But when JC get’s the upper hand and the foot race is on…. I swear to you, I watched the scene on my feet when it first happened. You’d a thought I was watching 90s playoff basketball…. I WAS AMPED. I had been waiting for this showdown to finally happen like prize fighters, the time for talk was over. And when JC catches him, and Cort goes on that rant from his back saying:

“Listen, this thing ain’t neva gonna end, not until you’re  dead, not until Chantal’s dead, and not until I kill your kid. I’ll be back before you know I’m gone. PULL THE TRIGGER YOU LITTLE BITCH!!”

J.C’s eyes bugged out. Episode just ends with a single gunshot heard. You could have heard a pin drop in my basement. Oh yeah, and to top it all off….Al Green was the musical guest at Natalie’s. **drops mic**

(** But I have to say watching the episode again, it’s not as nearly at mind blowing as I first remembered but neither are eye candies in old 2 Live Crew videos either. It’s the times. **)

Can this show be remade in 2014?

Cee: I don’t even see how that’s possible. Seriously. First of all, on the musical side, the music has changed so much since 1994, that hip hop today mostly sounds the same. Meaning that it doesn’t matter what region you’re from, most of it has that same trap music sound. The best part of New York Undercover musically was that with the distinctive New York flavor (where most of the rappers rarely sounded alike even though they lived in the same city), the show just felt like a New York city show. Right now the show would have to be called Miami Undercover or Atlanta Undercover or even Louisiana Undercover. But not New York.

Secondly, who would even play the role of JC & Torres? Who pulls that off? Or do they just come with different characters altogether, like Detectives Ronde Jenkins & Benito Santiago? Most importantly, they have to not only be female eye candy, but also have enough swagger and sense of style that the guys want to follow as well. In the social media world & all the distractions and avenues that it can take you on, I’m not quite sure how that happens. Unless…..

….you put this show on HBO. This show would have to be darker, sexier, more violent, and whoever plays Nina Moreno or her equivalent has to be hot & willing to be naked. A lot. So much so that I’m tweeting about it, posting her pics on Instagram, and definitely talking about it non-stop with my peoples on WhatsApp. That will pique my interest for starters. Overall however, the show would have to become even more grittier than its predecessor. This may be fine, but then you kind of lose its coolness factor of the show too, & that kind of defeats the purpose. You know how some songs are sung so well that they should just be left alone? Some songs are meant for that time, in that era, & to be sung only by those original artists. Well, this show might fall into the same category. Yoba & DeLorenzo had a natural chemistry that’s not easily repeated. That’s the thing about chemistry with regards to any kind of relationship. It’s not something that happens often, but when it does, you know it right away. Sometimes it lasts forever, and there are times it doesn’t, but when it does, you always know for certain that recreating that feeling is impossible once the elements change. That’s why Season 4 never worked once Torres & Lt. Cooper were gone & all the new castmates replaced them. The chemistry died once the JC & Torres dynamic was altered. It couldn’t be done in 1998 & it’ll be hard to do now. That memory needs to remain in our minds & on segmented Youtube clips forever….

…..unlike Season 4 because we’ll always pretend like that shit never existed.

Headley: I disagree with some of your points. The chemistry between Torres and JC isn’t something that was made in a lab and is now buried in a time capsule. It can happen again. The problem is when they killed off Torres, we couldn’t fathom seeing anyone else as JC’s partner. This isn’t Chicago PD or Game of Thrones, or The Wire era. We weren’t use to main characters being off’d. Almost like the series was better off with them both dead and starting two fresh lead characters. Although the series still didn’t do any better, but could you imagine if Derwin and/or Melanie started messing with someone else while their other character moved away in The Game?!?! Those two were corny but their corniness worked together. And I never knew about Malik Yoba or Michael DeLorenzo before New York Undercover, so for a remake, it doesn’t need named actors, the history of the show, and not the actors, is what will draw past viewers, and attract new ones.

With all that said… my simple answer to this question is still “NO”. Lol. Not with how attention spans are now, and to the great lengths shows have to go for originality and plot development. This show would get swallowed up. You’d need a Danny Cort-type character in every season or it wouldn’t have the same impact. Just like RUN-DMC not being able to duplicate its run in the 80s if they came out now. But the same way I would love to see them in concert, I’m not sure I want to hear a comeback album. There’s a meaning to “the right place at the right time”. I won’t say it would have been impossible but DeLorenzo destroyed that.

The rumors were that DeLorenzo got into a contract dispute with the Executive Producers/FOX and completely annihilated the show after only three seasons. I understand him wanting to cash in on the popularity but when they wrote him off, this series went right off the cliff. We talk about this series and it was on only three seasons (the last season like the Arsenio Hall and MJ returns are so unmemorable, I try to block it out my memory). And the worst thing is, you never saw Michael DeLorenzo again, this was his apex. At least when David Caruso walked away from NYPD Blue after one season, he resurfaced again with CSI Miami. I have literally never seen DeLorenzo again!! Is he doing community production stage plays of New York Undercover now?!??! The joke is, he left because of cash and the royalties they could have made if he had stayed was probably more than he would have ever made afterwards. His bluff got called and he didn’t even have a pair of twos. He’s no better than Shereè leaving RHOA (from what I am told. I don’t watch that… ummm… ever. Really. Really). But let me digress, I know this wasn’t the question but if this series would have gone eight plus seasons strong, it would have had a Miami Vice rep and we’d be talking about big budget movie options like they had (which was horrible by the way). Point being right now with a short-lived series and over saturation of cop dramas, it won’t happen.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Just recently a few years ago, a New York cop series premiered with a Jay Z song “Heart of the City / Ain’t No Love” as the opening jingle. I had the show PVR’d before you could spell out PVR. I had the memories of New York Undercover spinning in my head like your HS sweetheart when I saw the commercial.  Show looked to have some potential swag, following rookie cops in the Upper Manhattan side of NYC. The show lasted one season and it was one season too long. Can’t be duplicated.

Cee: That DeLorenzo holdout point you made was very depressing. He single handily may have killed the long-term potential of the show. I think I actually saw him as a dance instructor teaching Duane Martin to dance on the show All of Us about 10 years ago. Maybe that was his way of taking it back to his Fame roots, who knows? Either way, that was a sobering way to end this blog. Thanks for killing my buzz.


Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to The Baseline Blog, click onto the Follow button. Very special thanks to Headley Bent for his contributions to this posting.

Golden Era: 20th Anniversary of New York Undercover

We here at South Shore Ave are gassing up the DeLorean & taking you back to 1994, where we bore witness to a groundbreaking show that influenced a generation. Twenty years ago this week, Executive Producer Dick Wolf and FOX Network launched the first episode of New York Undercover, which starred Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo, as Detectives J.C. Williams and Eduardo Torres. By the end of its first season, it garnered critical acclaim & helped influence the musical and fashion decisions of youth everywhere. With the help of my friend Headley Bent, we will break down those influences plus discuss all things that New York Undercover impacted in the mid 90s. Yup, we’re on the case….

How did you first come across the show?

Cee: Sounds like a weird question until you realize that back in 1994, I lived in the South Shore & did not have any access to FOX. We only got it a few months later during the holidays. No more waiting for Headley’s sister to mail us** videotapes of Martin & all the other black shows we didn’t get in Montreal. I could watch it on my own now! Before FOX came into our lives, we had to depend on local stations to carry those shows, which of course, they never did. So one night as I was getting ready for bed, I had the TV on CFCF 12 (CH. 12) in the background as the news was ending. While I’m changing my clothes, I hear Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage being played out of nowhere. I pulled that “180 slo-mo” turn toward the TV with that WTF look on my face. I’m seeing this guy running away from two goons before eventually falling to his death. I didn’t understand what has happening. I only had two channels in my room: CBC & CFCF 12. Ok, & sometimes if there were no clouds in the sky & the antennae was tilted juuust right, I’d get to watch Bleu Nuit on CH. 4 too on Saturday nights….but that’s another story for another time. Basically though, how the hell would CFCF even know about Hip Hop, much less playing it?? And why was it being played for this segment? What was so fantastic about this voyage???

Eventually, I realized it was the first scene of New York Undercover, & I’m seeing the Spanish dude from Fame & one of the Black Bobsledders from Cool Runnings as the two stars. Ok, lemme kick back & watch! As the show continued on, it immediately roped me in. Detectives J.C. Williams & Eduardo Torres looked like us, spoke like us, and dressed like us. In most cases, they dressed waaaay better than us. Everything came to a climax when they showed Torres rocking the Ottawa Senators hockey jersey with the Jordan IIIs running around New York city chasing a lead. IT WAS OVER. DONE. If the show was a cult, I would have thrown on a robe & started following the leader. I just couldn’t comprehend what the fu** was happening. On a random Wednesday past midnight, I’m watching a cop show whose detectives are wearing all the latest apparel & other stuff we didn’t even realize was hot yet, and spoke just like I did, while playing all the hottest hip hop & R&B tracks in the background. Oh yeah, & I’m watching all this in my bed on a local channel where the only black people that were on there was Oprah & one of the Montreal Expos players (probably Marquis Grissom) on the news. What the hell was happening here?!??

** Also Headley, notice I said Us? I don’t care, I benefitted from those videotapes too. So really, it was like both of ours…. you just kept it at your house.

Headley: Lol,  The other show was Living Single. What’s sad is you’d think my sister lived in the heart of the States, in the Big Apple, or somewhere easily accessible to these shows. She lived in Pickering?!?!?! And yet she had to feed me sitcoms like it was classified. But we ate it up. New videotapes was like putting on a new pair of kicks.

But back to your question. This is actually a haze to me. Like trying to recollect your first steps, but you know it happened seeing as you’re running today. All I know is the show debuted on CFCF 12 at midnight, and I just stumbled upon it. I think I was watching the news (yes I watched the news back then) and sports segment came at the end of the broadcast. There was no all-day sports channel in English for us Anglophones in Montreal. RDS (a French Sports station) didn’t get much play in our house. Plus I was lazy & we had no remote to just signal off right away, I had to work the energy to get up and physically turn the dial. Yes, I didn’t stutter…. I SAID TURN THE DIAL. So before I could conjure up the energy to turn off the TV, I heard the music from the opening scene, and the perplexed look on my face had to have been priceless. I froze for a second like I heard footsteps in the attic. My face was in the pillow and I said to myself, “that sounds like Video Music Box”. I now turn around to face the TV, and I’m seeing a scene that looks like a video I’d often record with my VHS tape on SLP, when I visit my fam in NYC. I’m like “what am I watching?!?!?” Nothing like this ever came across my TV set unless it was controlled by my VCR. Needless to say, I watched the entire episode like I was watching Santa from behind the door on Christmas Eve. I was hooked before the beginning credits were finished, and all sleep had left my body. By the time it ended with a scene at Natalie’s, I’d already convinced myself I’d see no rest before 1 a.m., whenever this show was on in the immediate future. That was a guarantee.

Cal, did we talk about it in school the next day? I felt like I had a story to share. Like it only came on my TV. Hadn’t been that geeked up to talk about a show since watching an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, where Lois had a running slow-mo scene and the bounce…. ***daydreaming***

Cee: AHHHH yes. There were few things more resourceful & valued back in the early to mid 90’s than Teri Hatcher & her breasts. For God’s sake, they even created a whole Seinfeld episode around them. I’m sure there were many faculty members of school boards across the country who wondered why their male teenagers kept showing up every Monday morning with one of their forearms looking like Popeye’s.

But yes, I’m sure we had healthy conversations about the beginnings of New York Undercover back then. I mean, how can you not have??? Especially when most people in our city only heard of Martin & the other black shows that did not air on NBC or ABC. The girls were in love with the sex appeal of the two stars (especially when J.C. took off his shirt). The guys loved the overall swagger of the show, the really horny guys wanted a piece of Lt. Cooper for whatever reason (trust me, I knew a couple), and the show among black people & anyone else who embraced hip hop & urban culture grew a cult following almost overnight. You wouldn’t dare miss an episode afterwards.

What kind of impact did New York Undercover have?

Cee: I would say it without knowing the data or statistics of the demographic groups back then, but judging from my eyes, on a scale from small to MAJOR, it probably had as much impact as a Tsunami crashing onto a small island. At least to anyone 25 and under at the time. You have to remember, this show came smack in the sweet spot of the best time in Hip Hop, back when all the new major artists were pumping out some of the best work we had ever heard. East coast, more specifically, New York’s hip hop scene was going through a renaissance period, that was dominating the airwaves around us. Simply put, hip hop artist were becoming superstars & affecting the culture around them. Their music itself blended perfectly with the main characters & storylines from the show. We weren’t used to seeing a Hispanic and a black male being the main leads on a TV show, much less for a major network. The music that was played in the show was extremely relatable & realistic to how they carried themselves.

Let’s get into the fashion sway that NYU had over my generation for a moment. I said earlier that they dressed way better than us. I’ll take it a step further, that show was our motivation on how to look and dress. It’s not an exaggeration. Whatever JC & Torres wore, after a while was studied down to a science. A lot of it was borrowed from the hip hop artists, movers & shakers during those times without question. In fact, it was an explosion in urban fashion where wearing name brands became something you had to do. But the show gave it further validation when we kept seeing it on a weekly basis with consistency. From the hockey jerseys, the winter skullies with the beak, the black university tees and sweaters, the army fatigue pants with the drawstrings in the cuffs, it was like a how-to on how to look fly. Quick story: I’ll never forget the first time I saw a bubble goosedown winter coat, it was when JC rocked it. My cousin from New York was coming up to see us, & I basically told him don’t enter my house without that bubble goose (I would pay him back of course). He got me a black South Pole bubble goose down 3/4 length with the matching skully. NOBODY had that yet.  They didn’t even sell the jacket in stores yet much less the 3/4 length one. When I went to school the following week with that on, plus the mustard Timberlands I got from my older brother, with my Franchise Athletics black & yellow hockey jersey… simply put, I felt like a pimp. The only thing I was missing was a gold cane, but the way I strutted through the front doors, it was like I had an invisible one anyway. At that moment, I was Kanye before Kanye. Everyone was looking at me & I was looking back at them like, “Excuse me, was you saying something? Uh uh, you can’t tell me….NOTHING!!” The impact on us was unreal. I don’t think any show influenced me like that before or ever since.

Headley: Cal, you sound like when I bought my first pair of name brand sneakers entering High School. We’ve shared stories for years about the dreaded visit to Pitt/Yellow shoe store off Tashereau in Greenfield Park. Last I remember, those stores are still there today.  Buying cheap sneaks which would disintegrate on your feet while wearing them was the norm. But our parents were sucked in by cheap prices (even though you had to replace them monthly). When I went to NYC on Labour Day weekend in 1989, and got my first pair of legit sneaks, you couldn’t say nothing to me. I walked the halls with pointed feet. And get this… THEY WERE AVIA’s!!! Back to the question at hand….

Let’s just forget the series for a moment. I’m going to ignore everything you just said. Not because it’s not valid, but because I cannot explain it any better. That impact was undeniable. But I’m going to touch on another aspect that gets lost but was profound to Montreal specifically.   This series, this show changed the way we advertised for parties in Montreal. Up until that point, it was purely pushing flyers, basically old school. Still to this day, it’s the most grassroots marketing for parties. With all the technology out in the world, pushing flyers is still effective. As we’ve gone from LP to CD to MP3, you can still expect to get flyers on your windshield on a hot weekend. Well, back then that was the only way you got parties promoted. I didn’t get my first email address until 1996 when the series was well underway. But it was during New York Undercover programming that we started seeing commercials for parties. This was epic! No such thing as PVR, yes you could set your VCR to record, but most people watched the episodes live. You couldn’t bear to wait longer than the necessary week, from one episode to the next, so everyone into urban culture was glued to the set and having to endure the commercial breaks. It was a savvy move to drop a commercial ad because the time slot would be relatively cheap and everyone in your niche market being catered to would be watching. I think it was either a Rickey D & Shaheed or the Keith & Karen ads I first saw, and soon became routine to see the low budget commercial on the reel during New York Undercover. The sophistication on advertising parties had arrived in Montreal’s urban scene. It was the shift to new school marketing in our party scene.

Interesting Fact: Malik Yoba (J.C. Williams) and Michael DeLorenzo (Eduardo Torres) were the first two people of color to be in the starring roles of a police drama on US Television.


Headley:  I referred a bit to Natalie’s in the first question. The fictional café jazz lounge featuring live band performances. I think the concept of Natalie’s clubhouse probably originated as a humble story line to encompass the music culture into the show and morphed into being as intriguing as the program itself.  Natalie’s was owned by Natalie herself, then later in Season 2, by Detective Eddie Torres’ father, Mike Torres, a musician and recovering drug addict. You could argue that the acts and anticipation of the performances covered on the show, were as big as the musical guests on The Arsenio Hall show. Yes, I said it. Again, seeing black acts on TV wasn’t regular as it is today. We didn’t have BET, or any of those specialty channels in Montreal, so it was Arsenio’s show that we relied on. Arsenio coincidentally ended his stint (I don’t acknowledge his return back to TV like I try to forget MJ wore Wizards colors once) right around the time New York Undercover debuted. So you looked forward to those five minutes of the Natalie scene at the end of episodes because they had star studded performances everywhere from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to The Temptations. While I get that Arsenio was more revered because in addition to singing, there were interviews that allowed a voice to a muzzled, somewhat controversial, culture which was hip-hop back in it’s early infancy… but the acts weren’t any bigger. New York Undercover brought in top acts. I also willfully enjoyed the throwback artists such as The O’jays, Chaka Khan and George Clinton, to name a few. Not saying that Arsenio didn’t support these type of artists, but watching them perform in a jazz band was very reminiscent of how their career started. My sister was a collector of LP’s (we have several years difference) so I would play a lot of records growing up, and was familiar with some acts, but watching a performance, although short, was still riveting. Natalie’s brought back sounds of yesteryear that we all lost some appreciation for. They brought divas and legends back to life. My appreciation for rhythm and blues / soul / jazz / whatever you want to call it was reinforced because of this lounge. Between Natalie’s at the end of the episode, and the music played in the opening scenes, it was a great way for infusing musical content in a show which really hadn’t been done as smoothly unless the show was about the type of music you heard on Glee. The music content just seem so relevant but never overpowering. Cal, do you remember who played Natalie, the lounge it was named after? Hint, she’s a diva!

Cee: “Was it………um……Gladys Knight??”

“Survey say….**DING!** Gladys Knight everyone!! Gladys Knight was the #1 answer!” #SteveHarveyvoice

Knight was the original Natalie, which I found weird because she was only featured in a few episodes in the first season. Shouldn’t she have been featured in more episodes considering the club was named after her? In real life, can you imagine night after night all these superstars & upcoming artists just rolling up on stage? What was the cover charge?? Was it on some exclusive, VIP-type levels where you needed to be on the list & give up a vial of your own blood?? Think about it: you’re chilling with your date nursing a drink or two & up walks Luther Vandross on stage & he starts singing “Here and Now”. You supposed to sit there all cool & calm like a karaoke singer just walked on? Is that the rule when you’re sitting in Natalie’s, don’t over-cheer? I can never understand how you’re supposed to remain cool with all these heavy hitters performing on a regular basis. Anyhow, if I owned the club, I’d charge $75 a pop & who would say no? You could see Mary J. Blige, you could see Aretha Franklin, who knows. But you gonna pay that $75 though & smile while you’re doing it.

Think about how cool this concept was for a TV show. It didn’t have just one, but it had two different soundtracks which included some of the hot R&B tracks of the time plus the performed songs from the show. You’re right Bent, it was a great concept. I’ll take it a step further and I want you to think about this. This was one of the few shows in TV history that produced an original song that ended up being a classic. Don’t remember? I’ll give you a hint….

Tell me what you like, baby….

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the legendary Guy!! The show was so popular that it brought a group together who was broken up at the time, to make one more classic. That song dropped on the show, everyone flipped out as it was so unexpected and it departed from the norm of artist doing cover songs or something that we knew. AND IT WAS FIRE. A couple of months later, the song was literally everywhere & we all thought Guy was coming back together. The hype was for nothing as that was literally the last song that they ever made & Teddy Riley continued on making a new future with Blackstreet.** It happened so fast, the reunion thought was gone before it can even marinate in your mind. Sad really, but was grateful for Natalie’s because even in fictional terms, it was able to produce a real life classic. How many shows can you say did that?

Headley: Cal, if you recalled I always said if I ever owned a lounge club, I’d call it Natalie’s. Not because of your sister (I love you Nat!!) but because of this show. I loved it that much. I’ll leave it at that. How many TV shows had soundtracks back then? Could you fathom buying a Friends or Frazier soundtrack? Case close.

Interesting note: Back in the early 90s, this concept was tried in Toronto by R&B star Keith Washington, who had opened a lounge here with performers & everything. Almost like Natalie’s. After a couple of months, a few people decided to have weekly & impromptu MMA street sessions (aka wild fights) that sent people scattering for their lives. Needless to say, the club closed down before it made its real mark.

** Also, Guy did actually come back with an album in 2000 called Guy III. But much like Wayne Gretzky in a St. Louis Blues uniform, we try to forget that actually happened. Let’s move on before we start remembering again.



Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

To subscribe to The Baseline Blog, click onto the Follow button.