Student Spotlight: Kyran Guerra


By Luis Ari Lopez Wei

Guerra finds his creative outlet through his writing. Photo by Luis Ari Lopez Wei

Guerra finds his creative outlet through his writing.
Photo by Luis Ari Lopez Wei

Bergen Community College has some impressive individuals studying and working here, and Kyran Guerra, is one of them.

Kyran or “Ky”, as everyone calls him, is an employee of the school working for both the bookstore and the custodial department. He travels back and forth between the Paramus and Hackensack campuses as a part time student. Collectively, between working for the bookstore and as a custodian, Guerra works around 13 hours a day; he still finds time to do much more.

Ky writes and recites poetry, does spoken word, raps, performs, gives back to the community, and has started a clothing line with his friends.

Starting to get serious about his rapping when he was 19, he started with a group called Success Over Struggle. Now, he and his team brand themselves as Team MACHO, which stands for, Many Accomplishing Changes Over Time. Guerra has been doing spoken word for longer than he’s been doing rap and admits that he started off writing poetry for girls. He had written a piece for one of his ex girlfriend’s who had loved it and encouraged him to keep doing it, and he hasn’t stopped since.

Ky’s group and another group headed by Public Safety Officer Jaquan Montgomery recently did a performance at the Englewood Teen Talent show where Nancy Jones, mother of rapper Jim Jones, attended, after finishing recording their first music video called “99.”

Guerra shows excitement for it, saying “It’s different seeing a video than being with it from the ground up, it’s totally two different things.”

Team MACHO also just released a new single called “Right Now” and Guerra himself is working on a spoken word piece called “Her Stories in a Jewelry Box.”

For Guerra, all the work he does is connected, saying “Rap is just a more urban form of poetry. “Poetry is just rap without a beat, acapella. Poetry is expressing your art without an instrumental,” he added.
He says that everyone is different, but for him, he does express more emotion in his poetry than in his hip hop. “Ky” Guerra does hope to make money from what he does, but he shares greater enjoyment from letting people hear his thoughts and emotions.

“Real art, comes from real emotion,” he said, after doing couple pieces for the fashion show at BCC entitled, “My Superstar” and “A Monday Morning” – the works focused around about his parents. His mother kicked him out of his home when he was 19 and he’s been on his own since then, using a lot of what he feels about his parents in his work.

Another one of his pieces called “Designer” talks about how often people kill each other over material things. He wrote the piece after seeing on the news that someone had been trampled to death over a pair of Jordans. “How can somebody take a life over something that can be bought?” He said.

Ky’s cousin came up with the name Team MACHO growing up in Weehawken, NJ in a largely Hispanic area, and the idea behind it is to stand as role models for urban youth. “We don’t want to be anybody else,” Guerra says, “we don’t want to be like the people selling drugs, we don’t want to be the group gangbanging, we just want to be influencing the urban youth. The whole idea behind many accomplishing changes, is to get something done positively.”

A plan to start a clothing line with him and his team, Jordii Martin and Jovan Campbell, grew out of wanting to create a united image for the group. The logo, an “M” with a chain around it represents that unity and strength. Today, they’re already selling a number of different clothing items and are working on more.

“Ky” and his group have accomplished a lot in the last two years and they continue to build on their success. Most recently, they’ve been working on their website, more clothes, another music video, more songs, an event on August 29 to give back to a school in Paterson and on September 12, they participated in a fashion show at the Paterson Art Gallery.

“We’re a force to be reckoned with,” says Guerra.

To keep up with Ky and his group, you can find them on Instagram: @ky_gambino.

Originally published in The Torch Student Newspaper of Bergen Community College

Star Wars is Poetry

Star Wars Poetry from whoispablo on Vimeo.

About a week ago (shoutout to Bobby Shmurda) a user, whoispablo uploaded a video on Vimeo entitled Star Wars Poetry.

The video runs at just over two minutes long and shows parallels between the Star Wars original trilogy and movies 1 to 3. I’m a big fan of Star Wars myself, and like many other people, I’ve watched every movie several times over; I’ve even watched some of the unofficial Star Wars movies and read a couple of the books.

I admit though, that even though I’ve watched the movies many times over, I’ve never noticed the parallels shown in this clip, and with the beautiful soundtrack of Ludovico Einaudi’s Experience, over it, I must say, it’s beautiful.

Midnight rant on wasteful spending

Honestly, today I looked at my wallet and I did not feel good about myself. Quite literally about two weeks ago when I looked in my wallet, I would have felt fine, but not on this day. My wallet seems to be getting skinnier and skinnier and my stomach seems to be increasing in size – or at least not getting any smaller.

I realized I’ve developed a bad spending habit. I have been spending money that I shouldn’t be, on something that gives me no return – eating out. This whole summer I’ve spent more money than I’d like to think about, eating out, and it isn’t as if there is an empty fridge at home and I have to look for food elsewhere, which makes this even worse. It is a shitty feeling looking back on it. I hang out with friends, all who have jobs and a steady income. These things, I do not have. I have in fact been terribly stupid in spending all this money on food, and now, I hardly have enough money to spend on things that will actually give me a return on my investment or things that will last me, like a new camera lens.

It is past time for me to stop this nonsense, go get that job at my school, get more work doing photography, save money and focus on things that matter more. It really is true that one of the main reasons poor people stay poor is because they spend so much money on eating out. I see that I am a perfect example to reflect this. It’s sad too that, and of course I’m guilty of this, people are so much more willing to drop money on food, constantly, but they can’t justify to themselves donating to charity, giving a few dollars to someone who might need it, supporting a cause or buying someone a gift.

The way we spend our money is one of the most important things and everyone needs to learn how to spend their money more wisely.

Nice, Green, Fair Lawn fair

The town Fair Lawn’s Green Team hosted its third annual Green Fair last night. The fair consisted of a number of different exhibitors ranging from The Hackensack Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch and Fair Lawn high school’s Environmental club to the Historic Commission, Safe Routes to School and even a hand’s-on composting demonstration. The Fair attracted over 150 attendees, including members of Bergen Community College’s NAACP and Fair Lawn’s mayor.
The highlights of the event were the presentations done by Daphne Boss Ayalon, Matt Smith and Eric Fuchs-Stengel. Ayalon is a Master Gardener who drove two hours from upstate New York to do the composting demonstration, Smith is the North Jersey organizer for Food & Water Watch who did a presentation on fracking, and Fuchs-Stengel is the founder and CEO of Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO). He did a presentation on his organization, why he started it and what they do. It attracted a lot of interest and all the students from the FLHS Environmental club signed up to do internships with MEVO.
The fair was held at the town’s recreation center on Wednesday, March 4 at 6 p.m. All the vendors present were from organizations that promote environmentally friendly, or “green” ideas as well as sustainability. The Teaneck Girl Scouts were going around offering free reusable bags, the FLHS Environmental club was giving away free shoulder bags if you could answer correctly two environmentally-related questions, the FL Green Team held a raffle and the rest of the vendors all offered a wealth of information and about their organizations and upcoming events.
“It exercised the importance of living in a clean world,” said Jessie Hewing, VP of BCC’s African Student Union when asked what he thought of the Green Fair. Awareness about the importance of going “green,” and being more sustainable has risen in the past years, and events like these are just how awareness is raised.

Militarized police are out of control.

Another innocent young man has been killed by another out of control police officer. Michael Brown, an 18 year old youth was shot by a police officer for walking in the street. The officer told Michael to “Get the fuck onto the sidewalk,” and when Michael told him he was just going to his home not far away, the officer pulled out his gun and shot Michael, shooting him about 10 times as he ran away trying to get to safety.

Following the incident, residents of Ferguson, Missouri took to the streets in protest. The city has fallen to rioting, looting and citizens marching. The police have been armed to the teeth, wearing body armor, gas masks, carrying assault rifles and driving armored vehicles. These police officers are better armed and equipped than many of the United State’s armed service members.

The reason for the heavy arming of America’s police forces began with the National Defense Authorization Act, enacted by Congress in 1990. Section 1208 of the NDAA allowed the Defense Secretary to “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition.” Congress replaced Section 1208 with Section 1033 in 1996, and procurements under Section 1033 are not matters of public record. Since 1996, around $4.3 billion in surplus military equipment has been given to state and local police forces, which they receive free of charge.


The Civil War… In Color?

Artist John C. Gunztelman in his work, The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States, has taken to colorizing black and white photos from the Civil War. He has brought the marvels of modern imagery to the pictures taken during the the Civil War, giving a uniqueness to them, doing something which could not have been achieved back then.

Here is a link to the article and more pictures:

Union Civil War drummer boys

Superhero in History short story

Standing on the beaches that day reminded me of what had taken place so long ago. The day I started to believe in the existence of both G-d and Satan. A day filled with seemingly unprecedented fear, death and destruction. Looking down, I remembered vividly what had transpired decades ago to the day, as if it was yesterday.

June 6, 1944
Omaha Beach, Normandy

“Three minutes to landing!”

“Alright boys, get ready! Now, it’s a complete mess out there, once that door drops, we’ll be exposed to German 42 fire from those bunkers. You’re going to double time it off the boat and head up the beach! Do not get caught in the open, you keep moving until you reach the sand bar. There, we’ll use the bangalores to clear a path through the barbed wire, then it’s straight forward from there!”

“Thirty seconds!”

I was PFC Lopez, under the command of Captain Mullard in the US Army. We were on a landing craft taking part in an operation dubbed Overlord. On D-Day. Even standing beside my best, most trusted friend, Bruce, I was scared shitless. A bunch of guys, tightly packed on a landing craft, cold, wet, nauseous and with bullets, explosions and screams all around. It was enough to drive someone crazy. To my surprise however, Bruce appeared visibly angry rather than scared, he was gripping his M1 so tightly it looked as if he might break it and he was shaking. I tried talking to him and nudging him to get his attention, but he seemed to not notice one bit.

“Prepare for landing!”

“Five! Four! Thr-”


A bullet struck the craft’s pilot in the head, and he flew backwards, dead. The craft began to turn right, out of control. I tensed up, someone began climbing to take the wheel to straighten out the craft. As soon as he situated himself and started to straighten the craft out, there was an explosion right next to us, the whole thing lurched violently to the side and fell over.

The next thing I knew, I was looking up into the face of Captain Mullard, he was yelling at me to “Wake the fuck up and move up the beach!” It took a minute to sort myself out. Once I did, I began looking for Bruce. I looked to Captain Mullard,

“Captain, where’s Banner?”

“Who the hell knows where anybody is! Just move up the beach private!”

Doing another quick scan around me, I still didn’t spot Bruce, I was worried about him, but I couldn’t stay where I was, we were getting chewed up, with the ocean behind us, I had to move forward, there was nowhere to go but forward. I carried my M1 at my waist and began moving from beach barricade to beach barricade, as they provided the only cover. I kept moving forward jumping from one to another until I reached the last bit of cover before the exposed part of the beach and the sand bar. I hunkered down, gripping my gun tightly, fully expecting I would either be gunned down running for the sand bar, or blown to pieces by 88 fire if I waited there. What happened next, I never would have dreamed of.

Above the noise of the dying, crying, explosions and bullets, there was a ferocious roar followed by a huge splash in the water. out of that came a huge, irate, terrifying looking monster. It resembled a green human being, bigger than big foot and with unimaginable strength. The beast pounded it’s chest angrily and continued to roar. For as far as the eye could see, both Germans and Americans alike had ceased fighting. Everyone was in awe and terror of the beast. Nobody moved. There was a standstill.

The beast eventually stopped its roaring and chest pounding and began frantically looking around.
“What the fuck is that thing?” Someone whispered.
“Es ist der Hulk!” Was shouted from somewhere in the German lines.
“Schießen, schießen, tötet ihn!”

Then an MG42 open fired on the beast. The bullets tore into it, clearly agitating it, but seeming to not really harm it. The ‘Hulk’ as everyone started calling it roared even louder than before, then it jumped out of the water, a great distance and charged right for that bunker the 42 was in. It smashed the roof in and completely destroyed the installation. The rest of the German line began firing upon the Hulk and us again, and we returned fire and continued with our mission. The Hulk continued jumping from bunker to bunker all down the German line. His rage was fueled by every bullet he took as he decimated the Germans. In only a few minutes, we stopped taking German fire, they had abandoned their positions, turned on their heels and fled from the Hulk. Not us, but the monster.

Eventually, after there was not a German who wasn’t dead or captured in sight, the Hulk stood above a destroyed bunker, relatively calm. Most seemed to just stop and look at the Hulk, and suddenly it started to shrink. It continued to shrink until it was the size of a person and it was no longer green, then it collapsed. Me and some guys from my unit made it up to the bunker. What we discovered when we got there was truly shocking. The collapsed figure was Banner. I stood there for a couple minutes dumbfounded. When I finally collected myself, I went to Banner, picked him up and carried him to one of the medical tents set up on the beach. He was examined and they said he was perfectly fine. The thing was, he had no idea what had happened. It was if the last few hours had been completely wiped from his memory.

I stayed with him a while and explained to him the things that had taken place over the last few hours, told him that he, or the Hulk rather had saved a lot of lives. It was a miracle. Before long, some suits identifying themselves as OSS showed up. They were there for Bruce. I asked them what they wanted with him, they said they needed to take him for a debriefing. I tried arguing with them and keeping them away from him, but they overpowered me, took him, then they just left. That was the last time I ever saw Bruce.

To this day, I still don’t know what became of Bruce. I was never able to find out what had become of him. I can only hope that whatever happened to him, he was alright. He had saved thousands of lives that day. I’ll never forget Bruce. And I certainly will never forget the Hulk. I don’t think anyone there that day would ever forget the Hulk.

Memorial Day Parade

Today, as part of the 6th USCT I participated in a Memorial Day parade in the township of Union. Again, like last year it was a lot of fun. This year there were only four us including myself, but we still had a presence! The only part that was difficult to tolerate was not even the heat, but the pain in my shoulder! Carrying around a rifle that weighs around 15 pounds can take a toll on you, especially when it’s been a while since you last did it! Although, being a part of the USCT, of course I conquered it and huffed it out. After the parade was over, we got to take pictures by a light 12 pounder cannon and it’s crew, as well as with some onlookers who were more than eager to get a picture with us! We even got to observe the cannon being fired in honor of those who have fallen in the line of duty. The cannon’s shot rang loud, and the smoke produced was amazing. After seeing the cannon being fired, we were directed to where hot dogs and refreshments were being served to anyone who had participated in the parade, upon arrival, we devoured about 4 hot dogs a piece, and I myself drank 4 things within an hour. The heat was not intolerable, but it was hot. Upon taking off my petticoat I saw my shirt was completely drenched in sweat; it looked as if I had take a shower with my shirt on.

Altogether I was there for 5 hours although the actual parade, including standby time took about 2 hours, but I didn’t mind at all! It was a fun morning, and I’m looking forward to attending soldier’s training this coming Saturday!

Do or do not drop the bomb?

Something I wrote in eighth grade English. The task was to write the arguments for both the scientists who made the atomic bomb, and the military generals who wanted to use it.

The Scientists

The scientists were completely against the use of the atom bomb. They feared what its use could bring about to the world. They knew it was just a stepping stone to building other weapons of mass destruction that could kill even thousands of more people with single blows. They said that its use would also bring about another arms race like the one that started the Great War. However, this time it would be a race of who could build a weapon capable of inflicting the most damage, but also the means to deliver such payloads. They were also opposed to the use of the bomb because they considered, not only the short term consequences, but the long term consequences as well. They knew the magnitude of death, pain and suffering it would cause the victims and their descendants for many generations.

American Military Generals

The commanders were strongly for the use of the atom bomb. The commanders wanted to use the bomb because it was the only realistic alternative to a very costly and timely invasion. As they has learned from all other encounters with the Japanese Imperial Army, the Japanese, no matter soldier or civilian, would fight to the death for their homeland, and would rather kill themselves, than surrender. The commanders felt that an invasion of Japan would make the Normandy D Day landing look like a lark. The Japanese were fanatic nationalists, especially the kamikaze pilots who flew their planes directly into US Navy ships in service for their beloved homeland, hoping to keep it safe from the invading Americans.