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Mar 30, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Raging Bronx blaze injures firefighter


A city firefighter was injured in a raging Bronx blaze early Thursday, authorities said.


Flames sparked on the first floor of a three-story apartment building on Third Ave. near E. 164th St. in Morrisania around 5:05 a.m., according to officials.


It took about 120 smoke eaters almost three hours to battle the roaring fire, authorities said.


The firefighter was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell, where he was treated for a burn to his foot, the FDNY said. 

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new york fires
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Mar 29, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: MTA faults riders for 90-train backup, but workers blame agency


A two-minute delay along a single subway line earlier this month rippled into a 90-train backup across the system, the Daily News has learned — but the cause of the clog is up for debate.


The MTA pins the blame on sympathetic straphangers who they say held a No. 2 train’s doors for too long on a recent sleety Tuesday morning — giving stragglers more time to pick their way across the slippery platform.


But agency supervisors who spoke to The News said the MTA is looking to avoid responsibility for subway slowdowns by ignoring the real reason things fell behind: tentative train operators who throttled down in reaction to the cruddy weather.


What isn’t disputed is the abominable butterfly effect — 90 delayed trains on the No. 2, 3, 5 and 6 lines, all thanks to the two-minute door delay that began in the Bronx.

Veteran MTA worker fatally struck at Queens transit depot


The MTA in internal records listed the causes as inclement weather, excess time waiting in the station and overcrowding, all stemming from the door-holding incident.


But MTA sources said the root reason for the massive delays was something else — and that this incident was indicative of how the agency misattributes the cause of late trains.


An MTA supervisor told The News that the two-minute lag on the No. 2 train could not possibly have caused the 90 delays — especially when the incident occurred at 5:31 a.m., a time when that terminal is not very crowded.


The true cause, the supervisor said, was that some subway operators slowed their trains during the bad weather out of an abundance of caution and fear that they would be disciplined if they overran a station.

State pols close to budget deal that adds NYCHA, MTA funding


Less-experienced operators are wary of new technology on the No. 2 — which prevents wheels from locking in bad weather — leading them to ride more cautiously in the snow. The supervisor said that these operators are poorly trained — an issue that The News wrote about last month — leading them to slow their trains.


“For them to report that it is weather and customers, that is the MTA not taking the blame,” the supervisor said.


Getting to the root cause of subway delays has become a goal of newly hired New York City Transit President Andy Byford. He has criticized the agency’s habit of attributing a large number of delays to overcrowding and has vowed to drill down to find the underlying problem.


The News reported earlier this week that the MTA has had trouble figuring out the reason for a large chunk of its delays.

City pols blast Cuomo proposal to fund MTA with property taxes


Transit officials revealed in a closed-door meeting on March 9 that more than 10,000 weekday subway delays in January had no known cause. As a result, they evenly distributed these delays across 14 categories of reasons for tardiness.


But MTA supervisors told The News that the cause for delays is sometimes shifted around because no group involved in the operation of the subway system — from the track workers to the train depots to the police department to the fire department — wants to shoulder the blame.


“Each doesn’t want to be blamed for lateness because it makes them look bad,” a supervisor said.


Dispatchers write up internal reports explaining each subway incident and the number of delays it caused.

De Blasio administration rips Cuomo for plan to fund MTA fixes


Sources said sometimes a delayed train will be attributed to an incident that had nothing to do with it.


On March 13, the No. 2 train was supposed to start its trip from the Wakefield-241st St. station at 5:31 a.m.


But internal reports show that the conductor contacted the MTA’s rail control center at that time to say that riders were holding train doors open for other passengers who were walking cautiously on the outdoor platform because of sleet and snow. Less than an inch of snow fell that morning.


At 5:33 a.m., the conductor radioed the center to say that the doors were able to close and the train was proceeding on the trip. The train eventually arrived at the Flatbush Ave. terminal station more than six minutes late.

MTA expects to raise fares in 2019 as financial troubles continue


The MTA considers a train delayed if it reaches its end stop more than five minutes late. The agency considers 50 or more delayed trains a major incident.


According to internal reports, the No. 2 train created a chain reaction of 90 delays. In total, 32 southbound No. 2 trains were late, while 30 southbound No. 5 trains were delayed. There were also delays on the Nos. 3 and 6 trains.


“It’s lack of training, lack of experience,” a supervisor said.


Another MTA manager agreed that “lack of training is a big issue.”

Cynthia Nixon wastes no time slamming Cuomo for MTA issues


The manager said fear of being disciplined plays a factor as well. Operators don’t want to overshoot stations because it will go on their record.


The MTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Mar 29, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Guard who slept on break says you can’t fire me for napping: suit


A Bronx security guard says he has been living a nightmare he can’t wake up from ever since his employer canned him for sleeping on the job.


Audie Delacruz, 46, filed a lawsuit last week against Allied Universal Security Services, accusing the firm of wrongfully terminating him over his disability — sleep apnea.


His lawsuit says his bosses accused him of snoozing on the job and telling him “every client that you go to, you’re putting a black eye on us.”


When they fired him, one of his supervisors took a cheap shot at him, saying, “I’m going to get some Scotch Tape to hold your eyelids open,” according to the lawsuit.


Delacruz said that his bosses were wrong about him grabbing Z’s on the job. He said they only spotted him catching winks in a locker room during his lunch break.


“Mr. Delacruz is part of a protected class with a well-known disability, sleep apnea,” his lawyer, Jeffrey Risman, said.


“He was punished for taking advantage of a lunch break to rest and recharge. Instead of accommodating Mr. Delacruz’s disability, Allied terminated and humiliated him.”


Delacruz has been a security officer for 25 years — and spent nearly a decade working for Allied.


His job included guarding posts, checking visitors’ belongings or suspicious packages, and acting as a rover.


In 2013 he provided a doctor’s note to Allied’s human resources department, informing his employer of the sleep apnea and explaining the condition.


But on July 21, 2017, he was found resting during his lunch break in a locker room. The lawsuit says that Allied has no rule prohibiting sleep on a break.


Still, the shut-eye didn’t sit well with his bosses, Jose Diaz and Robert Garcia. They accused him of being inattentive on the job.


They also knocked his sleep apnea, saying that he didn’t have narcolepsy and “therefore should not be falling asleep while at work,” the lawsuit says.


Risman said Delacruz was given no warning about napping during his lunch break. Yet he was fired on July 26 — five days after the incident.


“Mr. Delacruz was and remains extremely distraught with how his termination played out,” Risman said.


“He was in the business of protecting individuals, yet the company he devoted nearly a decade to failed to protect him.”


He referred to New York City’s Human Rights Law, which bar employers from firing any worker over a disability.


Delacruz has been unable to find work since getting the axe, Risman said.


Allied did not respond to a request for comment.

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lawsuits
jose diaz
robert garcia

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Mar 29, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx man dodges pipe attack charges, wins $725G settlement


A Bronx man who was jailed for two years before being acquitted of an attack he says he couldn’t have committed has won a 5,000 settlement from the city.


Cops said Keith Mitchell swung a pipe at a handyman who saw him with items ripped off from a house under construction in Belmont in August 2014. But Mitchell, 64, said that was impossible because he lost the middle and ring fingers of his right hand to frostbite in 1993, when he was homeless. The rest of his hand was left a club, with the remaining digits permanently curled.


Nonetheless, Mitchell found himself accused in the burglary and copper pipe attack.


NYPD Detective Brianna Constantino, who was on the case, must have realized Mitchell was “not physically capable of committing the crime” because the perp was right-handed, he alleged in a May 2017 Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit.


“I can’t tie my shoes right,” Mitchell previously told the Daily News. “I can’t do the belt. I can’t carry things. I use one finger.”


He also said Constantino and her partner struggled to open his hand at the 48th Precinct stationhouse.


“She couldn’t fingerprint me,” he said.


Mitchell’s suit alleged Constantino went out of her way to wrongly pin the burglary on him, including presenting an improper lineup and prodding the handyman into picking him out of a photo array.


Mitchell was arrested in September 2014, but he couldn’t post the 0,000 bail and wound up languishing in a Rikers Island cell until a jury cleared him in October 2016. Court records indicate Mitchell finalized his settlement with the city last month.


“Settling this case was in the best interest of the city,” a Law Department spokesman said.


Constantino, 35, could not be reached.


Mitchell’s lawyers, Debra Greenberger and Douglas Edward Lieb, declined to comment.

With Rocco Parascandola

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Mar 28, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Man wanted for punching boy in face holed up in Bronx psych ward


A homeless man wanted for punching a 5-year-old boy in the face on a Brooklyn subway has been located by cops — in a Bronx hospital’s psych ward, police said Wednesday.


Ramon Thomas, 25, checked himself into Jacobi Medical Center Monday. Police cannot arrest him or even question him until he is released, authorities said.


The victim and his mother were riding on a G train as it neared the Bergen St. Station in Cobble Hill when Thomas allegedly came up and socked him around 4:25 p.m. Saturday.


“Are you going to cry to ya mommy?” Thomas asked the boy, before getting off the train at Bergen St. and running away, according to cops.

Man punches 5-year-old boy on Brooklyn subway


The boy was treated at NYU Langone Health-Cobble Hill for bruising and swelling on the left side of his face.


The day after the attack cops released photos of the suspect taken by a witness and asked the public’s help identifying. Later that day, they released Thomas’ name and asked the public’s help tracking him down.


Thomas has one prior arrest, for fare evasion, sources said.

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nyc homeless
new york assaults
crimes against children
cobble hill

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Mar 28, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: New gifted programs for city schools in poor boroughs


City education officials are bringing new gifted programs to three underserved neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens — even as the number of students citywide who applied for the programs and met standards fell slightly.


The new gifted classes begin at schools in Morris Heights, East New York and Springfield Gardens in September and will enroll roughly 75 students combined.


The city has been under pressure for years to expand access to gifted classes and has added a number of new classes to underserved neighborhoods since 2016.


Citywide, 32,516 students applied for gifted and talented programs in public schools in 2018, down from 34,902 in 2017. In 2018, 9,034 students met eligibility standards for the classes, compared to 9,997 in 2017.

Brooklyn, Bronx schools to get push for gifted programs


Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack said the city is committed to ensuring the gifted programs meet the needs of each student.


“G&T programs are one of many high-quality elementary school options for students across the city,” said Wallack.


But education advocate Jenny Sedlis of the pro-charter group StudentsFirstNY said the new programs do too little.


“These actions don’t begin to scratch the surface of what parents want,” Sedlis said.

A brighter idea: Opening up NYC’s gifted and talented program

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Mar 27, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Give back by working with new citizenship applicants


Q After going through the immigration process and becoming a U.S. citizen, I’d like to become an immigration officer, interviewing green card or citizenship applicants. How can I learn about job opportunities and job requirements? Should I contact ICE, CBP or USCIS?
Marie, Stormville, N.Y.


A To interview green card or naturalization applicants, you’ll want to work for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The primary activity of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is interior arrests, detentions and deportations


U .S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) patrols our borders and admits — or denies admission to — travelers at our air, sea and surface ports of entry. It is USCIS that grants permanent residence and approves naturalization applications.


Because most people don’t apply for citizenship and green cards unless they qualify, USCIS officers approve most applications, making for a more relaxing job experience. As with most federal jobs, U.S. citizenship is a requirement. For information on working for USCIS, visit uscis.gov/about-us/careers-uscis.


Q In a marriage green card case, what are the rules for getting your interview in the U.S.?


Jasmine, by email



A If the petitioning spouse in the interview process — called “adjustment of status” — is a U.S. citizen, you only must prove that a federal officer inspected you at entry. As the spouse of a permanent resident, to interview here you must prove you entered legally, never worked without permission and never otherwise violated your status.


If the USCIS denies your adjustment of status application, you can renew it in immigration court. If it’s denied, you can appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals and federal courts. You can usually live here until the matter is resolved.


The alternative — applying for your visa at a U.S. consulate abroad — is sometimes risky. If you’re denied, you could get stuck abroad for months or years.


Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10004 or email to questions@allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.

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Mar 27, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Major smuggler charged with moving 44 pounds of fentanyl into NYC


A high-level drug trafficker from Mexico was arrested and charged with smuggling more than 44 pounds of fentanyl into the city, authorities announced Tuesday.


Francisco Quiroz-Zamora, 41, a suspected leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, faces drug-trafficking conspiracy charges.


Late last year, authorities seized some of the fentanyl inside a hotel in the Bronx where the drugs were jammed into a duffel bag and put above a vending machine.


Additionally, more than five pounds of the drugs were seized from a posh apartment on Central Park West being used as a stash house. Officers also found cash and a loaded gun inside the apartment. The drugs were in packages labeled “Uber” and “Wild Card.”


All told, the more than 44 pounds of fentanyl was enough of the highly potent drug to kill 10 million people, authorities said.


Quiroz-Zamora, of San Jose del Cabo in Baja, is nicknamed “Gordo,” which means The Fat One in Spanish.


He was apprehended during a sting operation late last year after he came to New York to collect money from an undercover agent who was pretending to be a drug dealer, according to prosecutors.


Before his arrest, Quiroz-Zamora was expecting a big payday. He was selling the fentanyl for ,000 to ,000 per kilo, authorities said.


He was busted when he arrived by train at Penn Station.


The suspect, along with five co-defendants, is scheduled Tuesday for arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court.


Fentanyl busts by the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in the city have gone way up, from 35 pounds in 2016 to 491 pounds last year.


The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan and other law enforcement agencies.

With News Wire Services

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Mar 27, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: NYC slay suspect arrested in Pennsylvania after fatal 2016 fight


A 34-year-old man suspected of slaying another outside an Inwood club in 2016 has been apprehended in northeast Pennsylvania, police said Tuesday.


Merlin Dilone was tracked to a Hazelton home, about 100 miles north of Philadelphia, Monday after spending more than two years on the lam, according to authorities.


The victim, Eddy Guzman, 38, of the Bronx, died about a week after being stabbed in the chest during a March 9 brawl outside the Opus Lounge on Tenth Ave. and W. 202nd St.


The cause of the fight was not known but police said the two men knew each other.


Dilone, who has been charged with murder in Guzman’s death, has since been extradited to New York. U.S. Marshals helped with the arrest, cops said.

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Mar 25, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: CARIBBEAT: NFL’s Jason Pierre-Paul is traded from New York


It’s been a “Super” time for NFLer Jason Pierre-Paul, but the second-generation Haitian-American’s stint in the New York area ended last week when the Giants traded the talented defensive end to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


According to The Associated Press, the unexpected trade for Pierre-Paul — part of the Giants’ victorious Super Bowl XLVI squad — gives the team two draft picks and needed salary cap space for 2019. Tampa Bay will get a key player to help the Buccaneers rebuild their defensive power and bolster their long-denied playoff hopes.



Pierre-Paul had 68 tackles, 8 ½ sacks and two forced fumbles last season. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and 2012 and was an All-Pro in 2011, when he had a career-high 16 ½ sacks, the fourth-highest total in Giants history. And he also helped the Giants defeat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2012.


“Jason is an elite-level edge rusher who will make an immediate impact on our defense,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a story posted on the team’s website. “We are adding a two-time Pro Bowler who is passionate about the game and has established himself as one of the league’s premier defensive ends.”


Born in Deerfield Beach, Fla., to Haitian immigrants in 1989, Pierre-Paul — a high school and college standout — was a first-round draft pick for the Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.


While with the Giants, Pierre-Paul severely damaged his right hand in a fireworks accident in 2015, resulting in the amputation of his right index finger. Last year, he signed a million contract.



GUIDE TO REST, RELAXATION AND MORE


Taking sun and fun to a higher level, the Caribbean Tourism Organization has declared 2018 the Year of Rejuvenation and Wellness and created the “Caribbean Guide to Rejuvenation and Wellness” to tout the region’s many activities to calm the body, mind and soul of visitors.


CTO officials heartily encourage the public to spread the word of the region’s “Rejuvenation and Wellness” opportunities far and wide.


There’s also a download link for anyone who wishes to print copies. We do hope you’ll share as widely as possible, and will encourage others to read and share the publication.


Edited by CTO communication specialist Johnson JohnRose and designed by communications specialist Kristy Morris, the inviting and informative guide displays events, activities and happenings in CTO member nations for government officials, tourism professionals and the general public.


Retreats, conferences, yoga sessions, fitness events, meditation locations, spa parties, body treatments, natural-made products, and wellness foods are some of the topics covered in the guide’s chapters.


Visit http://bit.ly/2018CTOWellnessGude to see and download the guide.


THANKS FOR GUYANA CHARITY WORK


Congratulations on a job well done was the message conveyed to the Subraj Foundation last week by members of the Indian Diaspora Council International and other dignitaries who recognized the foundation’s decades of medial missions and charity work in Guyana.


The foundation’s founder, the late George Subraj, and his family were honored on March 18 in Queens Village, Queens, for conducting medical missions to Guyana, which brought state-of-the art medical technology and provided corneal transplants and other procedures to needy people in the country.


“Whether it is building schools, so tomorrow’s future leaders can be educated for the world they will inherit or bringing vital medical treatment to parts of the world where people can’t afford life-saving care, it is so important for those blessed with good fortune to give back,” said Anthony Subraj, son of foundation founder George Subraj.; Guyana Consul General Barbara Atherly, Vrinda Jagan, granddaughter of independence leader and former Guyana President Cheddi Jagan, and Gloria Subraj, widow George Subraj, were among the dignitaries at the event.



In 1992, the Subraj Foundation was started by the late George Subraj, who founded Jamaica, Queens-based Zara Realty in 1982. The company grew to become a major manager of residential property in Queens.


Subraj died in 2016, but his foundation, which collaborates with Guyana’s Georgetown Public Hospital and other institutions and organizations, continues to improve the lives of people in his Guyana homeland — bringing medical experts for corneal and kidney transplants.


The event was also used to mark the anniversary of the end of the Indian indenture system, which, under British colonial rule, brought people from India and spread them throughout the British Empire to labor as debt-bonded workers after slavery was banned.

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Mar 25, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Cops looking for Bronx man who shot roommate over drugs


Cops are looking for the man who allegedly shot and critically wounded his roommate during a fight over drugs in the Bronx, police sources said Sunday.


Douglas Sellers, 36, pulled a gun on the woman he was living with and shot her repeatedly during the clash at their Norwood apartment last month near Mosholu Parkway and Decatur Ave., according to authorities.


Medics rushed the woman to a nearby hospital in critical condition after the Feb. 18 shooting. She was treated for gunshot wounds to her chest, stomach, right shoulder and left hand, cops said.


Sellers and the victim, who sources said were not romantically involved, were squabbling over drugs before he shot her.


Police shared a photo of Sellers on Sunday in hopes of finding him.


He is described as black, about 5-foot-7, 170 pounds and bald with brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray


sweat suit. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

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Mar 25, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Hip hop icons celebrate Bronx’s musical significance, famed zoo


They brought the real Bronx cheer.


Hip hop icons joined other Bronx-born notables and the Wildlife Conservation Society this week to highlight several hallmark features of the borough’s cultural heritage.


Among those: Its status as the birthplace of hip hop, and its internationally known zoo.


“The Bronx is so diverse culturally,” Bronxite and hip hop pioneer Curtis (Grandmaster Caz) Fisher of the Cold Crush Brothers told the Daily News. “With all races, colors, creeds and religions. We all met at the zoo — that’s one thing that we all had in common.”


In upcoming months, the zoo will have unique pieces of art on display, integrated with wildlife and conservation — plus breakdancing classes and doo-wop, hopscotch and rhyming performances, and more.


The events slated to roll out this spring are part of the Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo campaign, created to honor the borough’s rich culture as well as the multitude of folks — and species — who call it home.


To kick it all off, several iconic borough figures got together in a garage on Bruckner Blvd., where they watched famed graffiti artist John (Crash) Matos tag up a classic 1980s taxi.


“I wanted to just let the cab talk to me, so I brought a lot of really vibrant colors because, being Latino from the Bronx, colors is what we do,” Matos told the Daily News.


Matos chose the chromatic hues of the Amazon rainforest to put a Bronx spin on the old Chevrolet Caprice.


“I came with hot pinks and turquoises, which also (emulate) the zoo.”


Matos, who painted the underpass at the main entrance to the Bronx Zoo for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 100th anniversary in 1998, said this week’s project took him back to familiar days growing up in the borough.


“You know, 1980 Caprice takes you back to the old cabs of New York,” he said.


Another Bronx-born hip hop legend, Melvin (Grandmaster Melle Mel) Glover, recalled his early years growing up in the then-crime ridden Bronx, and said the zoo served as a place for him to escape.


“The people of the Bronx deserve a neighborhood instead of a hood,” he said. “What we’re trying to do with the zoo is, we’re trying to elevate everything to another level.”


Mel, 56, the original vocalist on Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s iconic Grammy Hall of Fame tune “The Message,” said the animal haven still holds a special place in his heart.


“I used to live where Marmion Avenue is. We used to go to the zoo, pack a lunch,” he said. “You’d see animals from all other parts of the world. The way they had it set up, it’s almost like you went there, you went overseas or you went to Africa, or you went to Australia. That was the beauty of it, just to see something other than what we grew up with.”


Caz, 56, who has been credited for much of the lyrics to the Sugarhill Gang’s 1980s hit “Rapper’s Delight,” grew up in the South Bronx, not far from Melle Mel.


The hip hop extraordinaire left his native borough just once, to live in L.A., but he stayed only two years before returning to the Big Apple.


“Hip Hop hit me as a kid and I jumped on the cultural bandwagon, like a lot of us did, and I’ve been riding it ever since,” he said. “It’s like my life has come full circle, where now I’m performing at the zoo.”


Boogie Down at the Bronx Zoo programs run weekends from May 5 to June 3. Sign up to receive event alerts at https://bronxzoo.com/boogie-down.

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