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- Growing Up Bronx
I consider myself a columnist. I’m not sure what kind of achievements or degrees one typically needs to have before they can call themselves that, but I already do. Here is why, I have written an opinion column on the same website as Chuck Motherfreaking Norris. Now tell me, if writing an article on the same website as Chuck Norris doesn’t make you a columnist, then what possibly could? He’s Chuck Norris! Chuck Motherfreaking Norris! True story by the way.
All Chuck Norris awesomeness aside, based off of my grind and hustle, I have appeared on several network television shows, FM radio panels, and websites that I’d never dream of making only a few short years ago. I decided that I wanted to write. I love to write, so I simply began to do it! I kept the day job, but I started this site, and just went with it. I decided that I wanted to get on TV and radio, and I just went for it! As you can see from the following pictures, I have been on television! If you try, and you are willing to accept that you WILL fail at times, but are willing to continue trying, then by God there is nothing that is off limits!
Years ago I had decided that I wanted to do no holds barred cage fighting. So, I trained for a few months, and then I went and fought. I’m the guy on the bottom getting his ass whooped by expert cage fighter, Andrew Montanez. I tried, and I lost. Yet, I did it, I had fun, and it is now a part of my life and history! I actually did it! Many talk, some of us do! In fact, I’m fighting again on April 26th!
Last night I saw a posting for a talk today at the Cuny Graduate school of journalism that Errol Louis was going to be a part of. Again, on a whim, I just decided that I would attend this talk! I’m glad I did, the talk was outstanding and I learned a lot simply by listening to these guys.
During the conference, respected reporter Tom Robbins said that a journalist who went to work at the Wall Street journal stated “I am as smart as these guys, and I can make as much money as they can.” Guess what? The man did it, his name escapes me at the moment, but the point was made! The reporter made as much money as the rich bankers that I worked with on Wall street for all those years!
When it comes to journalism, I have zero credentials! Well, that is if we are talking school and education wise. Yet, I have never let that stop me from doing what I want to do in the field! I surround myself with the masters of the industry, and I learn from the best! I am blessed that some folks with extremely amazing experience and credentials have taken me under their wing and shared amazing opportunities with me.
Guys like Errol Louis, Montel Williams, and Julio Ricardo Varela have taken time out of their days to share knowledge with me. Errol has shared pearls of wisdom here and there, while Montel has guided me with his posts and replies when it comes to politics and objective thinking.
Julio on the other hand has actually become a close personal friend, and he is a police officer of sorts when it comes to my writing. He keeps me in check, big time! He throws work back at me if I ever submit something that is just a rant. He doesn’t hesitate to put the smack down and demand more of me. He has the legitimate book credentials from Harvard, runs a successful site, Latino Rebels, and has held various positions in mainstream journalism including producer for The Stream on Al Jazeera and contributor for NBC.
As I sat in on this talk with the amazing professional journalists, Errol Louis and Tom Robbins, I simply listened intently. One of the questions Tom asked the graduate students was “Why would I ask someone for their name? Why do we as reporters want that?” The only answer that I could think of is credibility, to make your story sound more believable. Of course, that was the right answer, to add weight to a story.
Currently I’m working on a huge law enforcement abuse story for Latino Rebels that I am dying to get out. However, I’m waiting for some officer’s names, and backing police reports. I require this to add weight to the story. This is not my usual “blog post,” the allegations that I will be making are pretty strong. We need solid, irrefutable and concrete evidence that the events took place as stated. When we put this out, it may go nowhere, or we may end up on the 10 o’clock news once again! I require solid evidence for this one, and I have made it clear to all parties involved, that we may upset a lot of people when this comes out.
In any case as I sat there, I realized that I knew the answer to that question. I felt somewhat worthy of being around all of these future, professional journalists of America. At first I felt like I didn’t belong there. Remember, I just “chose” to write, these guys are all professionals in the field. I felt slightly out of place. However, being able to answer this (albeit an easy question) without any school experience in the field helped me feel at least worthy of sitting there among these great folks.
You’ll find that I am brutally honest about my feelings. I have no problem putting my reality out there. There are times I feel inadequate, or that I feel I don’t belong at the places that I make my way into. Yet, I always say to myself, you are here for a reason. Don’t doubt yourself, Angel!
When I was on network television judging food dishes among professional, celebrity chefs, I felt like I didn’t belong there. I had moments of self doubt. Then I said to myself, these people reached out to you, they vetted you, and you are here because THEY WANT YOU to be here. All that being said, how could I doubt myself? This is network television, no favors are being done here! I earned my place!
Even yesterday when I was on HOT 97 FM, on a panel discussing race, for a moment I felt out of my league. Both of the other guests were retired NYPD Officers, one went on to become a lawyer, and the other is a Professor of Criminal law. Me, I’m just a political and food blogger with a big freaking opinionated mouth with a tech degree who’s read a few books on our constitutional rights! Hah. Yet the fact of the matter is that I was invited to talk, and I should respect myself for that.
When I opened up the “We’re Kicking it” charity concert for all of those “NBC’s The Voice” performers, once again, I felt inferior. As I sat watching these amazing performers warming up, I kept asking myself “What are you doing here, Angel? These guys are celebrities, why do you deserve to perform your music on the same stage as them?” I fought back those doubts, and I said to myself, “Because the organizers believed in you, they asked you to open up the show! Out of all of the Indie artists available, you were chosen! You won the contest! How dare you question the win, their choices and yourself this way?”
I really need to start giving myself some credit. I’m sure that we all go through these moments, right? Or is this just me? Are there only a select few of us who feel this way? What does it mean? Is it being humble? Is it fear? What is it? I always fight the self doubt, but I hate that I have to fight it. Does that make sense?
I am considering applying to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. I have to think about this. I really have to measure out the time and financial investment, and weigh that against what I may be able to accomplish simply by continuing to get in people’s faces all over the country as I have already been doing. I’ll talk with my trusted mentors and see how this goes.
I wanted to talk to admissions today, but a guard there didn’t seem to want me to go there, he offered me a booklet, but couldn’t find one. He then directed me to check their website. It’s a completely new field, but as I said, if you want it, just do it! You can see below, I graduated with Honors, and earned every medal that they had to give at graduation! I do my best to excel at whatever I do. Yet I never feel like it’s enough. I wonder if that is a good thing, or a bad thing in life? Will one of you spiritual hippy types please explain the effect that this has on my person. Does it make me strive for more, or does it keep me unfulfilled?
It was great to be around like minded individuals. I was able to meet Marguerite (Twitter) during the event, and after the event I met a gentleman from the NYTimes named Andy. It was a great listening to Errol Louis and Tom Robbins. I’ll be doing some reading on Attica after listening to this talk on the prison and the riots. I made some very interesting parallels with the current “Police state” and how places like Attica have been run for all these years.
This next picture shows me in Tech School while serving in the Air Force. See that rope on my arm? That was a sign of responsibility and leadership. Once again I distinguished myself from the pack. This was just another manifestation of my refusal to be “normal,” just one of the guys. Again, hippy types, give me some of that zen and help me come to terms with this need to be “set apart.” My mom loved me enough as a child, I swear. Haha.
For a quick laugh, look at my first conversation with Tom Robbins.
(I think I accidentally skipped some people. Sorry about that folks.)
Me: Great talk my good sir.
Tom: Who are you?
Me: I’m Angel Rodriguez.
Tom: Are you the twitter guy?
Me: Yes sir, I’m the twitter guy.
Tom: What do you do?
Me: I’m a blogger with NYCTalking, and a few other sites.
Tom: Good to meet you, thank you for coming.
Me: Yes sir, thank you for the talk.
I loved how he hit me with, “Who are you?” LOL. The way that happened felt funny to me.
Growing Up Bronx