ask Kweku about
music venues • dance bars • historic sites • jazz clubs • parks • hidden bars • breakfast and brunch
a bit about Kweku
What do you do and why do you do it?
I am an IT consultant. I love numbers and information and there's no better cross-section of the two! My job allows me to travel and keep the reward points so I'm lucky enough to move about the globe frequently at a low cost.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?
My first tax paying job was as a dishwasher at a gourmet restaurant. I was at the absolute bottom of the totem pole at work and my voice had no importance. I remember cleaning the bathrooms with my apron on after a patron had an accident (don't worry, I changed the apron after I was done). A parent on my soccer team came in as I finished and I said "hello." The look of disgust that someone in such a position was talking to him was memorable. I don't think he even bothered see who greeted him. I found a better job that year as a soccer referee for triple the pay. We all have to start somewhere. Please respect your servers.
Were you born and raised in New York? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to New York?
I was born in Canada and spent most of my formative years in the Southern United States. Work and school have taken me to Canada, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Ghana, and France. I came to New York because I was lucky enough to have a job that let me live anywhere I wanted in the lower 48. Why not come to the entertainment Mecca? In New York I may come across an opportunity I was absolutely meant to pursue and never previously considered.
What’s your current hood in New York and what’s the best/worst thing about it?
I live in Harlem. It's amazing and sorely overlooked. It's the largest neighborhood in Manhattan by landmass, stretching from the East River to the Hudson. Nightlife, restaurants, and parks are great but nothing touches the history. It's an invigorating feeling to know you're walking the same streets as pioneers of the Harlem Renaissance and vanguards of the Civil Rights movement. Talks at the Schomburg Center are informative and allow you to interact with thought leaders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. There's an entrepreneurial attitude of its residents that's unmatched, which is saying something in NY. Worst- distance from downtown/BK.
What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?
I've been waiting for over a decade to hear the screamo song that moves me. I prefer R&B, soul, jazz, hip hop, and deep house above all else. My Southern upbringing leads me to desire a nice country tune on a calm summer afternoon.
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
Anything by Corinne Bailey BAE gets me emotional! Roads by Portishead, Forever Don't Last by Jazmine Sullivan, Kiss from a Rose by Seal, High and Dry by Radiohead, What Kind of Love by Childish Gambino, Formidable by Stromae, Nothing Even Matters by Lauryn Hill & D'Angelo, You Sent Me Flying by Amy Winehouse, You Know I'm No Good by Amy Winehouse, Love Is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse, Tears Dry On Their Own by Amy Winehouse, Wake Up Alone by Amy Winehouse...I'll just play Back to Black chronologically.
Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?
I don't know if a show will ever be as relevant to its time and setting as The Wire. Black Mirror has definitely propelled itself into that sphere too. For the more lighthearted moods, Rick and Morty has become my new Futurama. I'm trying to limit my TV hours though. I spend too much time in front of it and it's been killing my productivity.
Name some spots in New York that are good for a Tinder date.
If you're like me and don't like crowds, search for things in the outer boroughs or even Jersey. One of the best dates I ever had was riding bikes at the Boardwalk in Jersey City. The view was splendiferous!
Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).
Boris Johnson purely for his roast rebuttal. Search "Boris Johnson invertebrate jellies" on YouTube (https://youtu.be/UMFPH6OCkQs) for an indelibly gratifying 16 seconds of viewing pleasure.
Who’s your hero and where in New York would you take them out for a serious hang?
I would take Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Brooklyn Bridge Park and have a kickabout. Get well soon, big man.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
Apps. I suck at shopping.
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
The Hudson River with cinder blocks shoes.
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
I want to snowboard more upstate, but it's tough to do here without a car. I now have access to one though, and plan to fix this next winter. I have also never gone to the beach in New York.
Where do you go in New York for a casual night out?
Harlem Nights if I don't want to bother with crashing somewhere or the commute since it's casual. Union Pool is always a good time in Williamsburg. Royal Palms Shuffleboard in Gowanus is also good for an early night. None of these are geographically close or similar in vibe. I strategically make friends for the sole purpose of acquiring crash pads all over NYC.
Where would you go in New York to celebrate some freaking good news?
Honestly, I don't like celebrating. I'm weirdly superstitious about those things, so I'd probably buy something nice for myself or a person close to me and keep it moving.
What’s your choice of transportation in New York and why?
My pegs. But for the farther commutes, the subway and buses are most practical and simple to learn. You can download the MTA's NYC Subway app and figure out the routes. Citymapper is a good app to get real-time info on arrival times and which car to ride. Google Maps is great with the buses. If you're visiting, cover as much ground as you can on a bike at some point.
What are the New York spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
You have to come to Harlem and eat all the soul food. There are tried and true establishments like Melba's, Sylvia's, and Amy Ruth's which spark fights and create factions. Newer institutions like Red Rooster, Solomon & Kuff, and Angel of Harlem keep the scene fresh. Check out Harlem's selection of Latin American, Mediterranean, Caribbean, East African and West African food as well. Once you're well fed, take a look at my map! I always recommend renting a bike in any city you're trying to explore. You'll see more than if you're stuck on the subway all day.
What are the New York spots tourists should run from screaming?
Their hotel room, because it's probably haunted.
Tomorrow’s your last day in New York. How do you spend it?
Playing soccer on Randalls Island, Gantry Plaza Park, or at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Beautiful game. Beautiful view.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
Berlin for the nightlife and Natal, Brazil for the people and the pace. If you want to party, Berlin does not stop over the weekend. If you have the stamina you can literally spend every moment of the weekend in a Kreuzberg club. When you finally feel your head pounding, the WWII and Cold War era history throughout the city is marvelous. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe took my breath away and Treptower Park is an overdone, tacky Soviet masterpiece. Everyone is also extremely friendly and the kebabs are scrumptious. Running out of characters, but Ponta Negra Beach in Natal is the best combination of relaxation with hustle and bu...