Thursday, December 31, 2009

Things I Learned In 2009

- Small things, things that may be completely irrelevant to some, can have a profound effect on someone's life. A white lie, words left unspoken, ignoring that doubt/anxiety in the pit of your stomach, failing to accept the falsity of someone's smile -- sometimes things such as these...well, they are all you need to know to clarify the bigger picture and put it all in context.

- Sometimes you walk with your head in the clouds because denial is easier that confronting abysmal fears but the only way to conquer what you fear is to grit your teeth and face them head on, holding no hands and shedding no tears.

- Terrible times teach you a lot about yourself, your capabilities and who your friends really are.

- Leaving home, transience and moving leave you feeling rootless but the lessons reaped are endless when it comes to what really matters most. Talk about new perspectives and seeing things in a different light...

- There are people you run across every now and then in life who are complete strangers but after a few hours of speaking together you genuinely feel like you've known this person your whole life. Cherish these "new" friends because chemistry and connections like that are priceless, cannot be replicated, or bought/sold in a box and don't happen on a daily basis.

- Happiness is a choice, it's contagious, and infectious. Of course, the same applies to despair. Choose what you will sow and channel.

Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Year of 2009 in Tech

Monday, December 28, 2009

Waiting on a Revolution?

I caught this Vanguard piece on Cuba the other day and had some really mixed feelings about it. It was both dishearteing, enlightening and interesting so I wanted to share it with you:

Latina Books? There's an App for that



Grand Central Publishing introduced their GCP Book Match iPhone Application over the holidays. Over the years, I've heard a lot of people complain about how hard it is to identify new Latina/o reads. Well, now there is an app for that! "The free application asks users a series of quiz questions and determines which of the 14 books from the GCP Latina line they should read.

Each book page features book description, author biography, additional author content, links to additional content as well as links to purchase the books.

Download it here or via the App store from your iPhone or iPod Touch. Just search for “GCP Book Match""

Help spread the news and be sure to write a review and big it up with a few stars.



* GCP is an imprint of Hachette Book Group, the company which employs me.                 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What are you doing?


“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” -- Woodrow T. Wilson

Something for everyone to think about not only as individuals, but for businesses, and organizations too - You want loyal customers, community, followers? What are you doing to enrich the lives of others?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Favorite Post of 2009

This was my favorite post this year: On Being Latina

Stream Navidad Latina on Aol Radio.

This Christmas fill your house with the sounds of Christmas en Espanol: Open the player



Launched in 2004, Navidad Latina includes more than 100 holiday classics in all genres: Merengue, Salsa, Pop, Norteno and Reggaeton. The station's play list includes classic favorites such as Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano), Blanca Navidad (Pedro Vargas) and Los peces en el rio (Bienvenido Rodriguez) and original, never-before-released remixes of La Mari Morena (Sergio Marciano y Rafael Bermudez), Navidad Tropical Medley (Raul Di Blasio) and Gingle Belele (El General).

I found this while looking for Juanes' version of El Burrito de Belen - adore him! He happened to be voted Latin artist of the decade by Billboard last Monday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spanish Movie: A Parody

The latest in Fox's "______ Movie" parody franchise (Scary Movie, Date Movie) now has a trailer: Spanish Movie celebrates the international popularity of Spanish language movies with the parody treatment. We're sure the trailer is funny even if you do know Spanish, but it's definitely bizarre if you don't. ONTD provides a list of the movies spoofed:

El Orfanato (The Orphanage)
Los Otros (The Others)
[REC] / ([REC] / Quarantine)
Volver (Volver)
Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside)
El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)
Alatriste (Alatriste)
Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes / Vanilla Sky

Via Vulture http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2009/12/spanish_language_films_get_the.html#ixzz0ZyPThOJb

Census Bureau Mural in East Harlem

What do you think of this mural used to encourage census participation?



Texas Town Devoid of Bookstores



Laredo places 88th in the top 100 cities in population in the United States. According to the census[1] estimate of 2006, there were 231,470 people. Hispanic or Latino accounts for 197,198 or 94.9% of the population in terms of ethnicity.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who is Pedro Albizu Campos?

Do you know?

Free 2010 National Poetry Month Posters Now Available

Free National Poetry Month posters are available by request—while supplies last—to teachers, librarians, and booksellers. Submit your request now to receive the poster in time for April 2010.

Request at poets.org and help promote the month-long celebration and to increase poetry awareness.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Words from the Taino language

I remember reading last year how pasteles are really the original Taino comfort food so this year (recalling abuela's arroz con dulce) I came across these awesome videos:



Anacaona: Taina Chief

I just discovered that Edwidge Danticat wrote a children's book that the life of Anacaona: Golden Flower as well as many Taino customs.

The book is a tribute to the Haitian hero, who Edwidge grew up admiring.

Anacaona (date of birth unknown – died about 1504, Hispaniola), also called the Golden Flower, was a Taíno chief, sister of Behechio and wife of Caonabo,chief of a nearby territory, two of the five highest caciques (chiefs) who possessed the island of Hispaniola when the Spaniards settled there in 1492. She was celebrated as a composer of ballads and narrative poems, called areytos.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Perez Hilton Named Hispanic of the Year by Hispanic Magazine

Hmph, I guess...



Although I must mention that his site, http://perezhilton.com, is ranked as one of the top 500 sites on the web. His website gets over 1 million uniques/month. He is also the author of Perez Hilton's True Bloggywood Stories: The Glamorous Life of Beating, Cheating, and Overdosing out this month.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Posadas & Parandas - NYC - 12/11

El Museo's Holiday Posada and Parranda Party for Members
Friday, December 11 @ 7:00 pm
$0-$60

Join a festive holiday evening at El Museo! In the tradition of this holiday celebration, popular in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and much of Latin America, there will be plenty of piñatas, coquito and delicious treats...

El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue
at 104th Street
New York, NY 10029
212.831.7272 phone
visit website


PARRANDA ...en la casa! 
A Special Holiday Event of In The House
Friday, December 11 @ 10 am & 12 pm
Presented by Los Pleneros de la 21
$5 students/teachers
Call 212-427-5221 to order
official website

Los Pleneros de la 21 proudly present ¡PARRANDA ...en la casa A SPECIAL HOLIDAY CELEBRATION OF Bomba & Plena:

¡MIRA YA TÚ VES, Llegaron las Navidades!
December is the time of the year where Puerto Ricans and Latinos everywhere unite come together to celebrate the year culture through FOOD, FAMILY, MUSIC & DANCE! Join Los Pleneros de la 21 during our favorite time of the year to kick-off this holiday season as we celebrate our FIRST PARRANDA complete with traditional Bombas, Plenas & Seasonal Aguinaldos. In true LP21 style, this show will bring you and your students to your feet, to participate directly with the artists and learn more about this festive time of the year! This is the perfect way to give a close to the year with your students, teachers and colleagues!

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster "chronotopes & dioramas" @ The Hispanic Society of America

This sounds really interesting:



The society also boasts one of the world’s best libraries of material relating to Spain, Portugal and the Americas, a collection accessed through an unassuming side door, which opens onto a small reading room presided over by portraits of great thinkers like the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset and scattered with heavy oak table placards commanding “Silence.”

The collection itself — letters, novels, books of hours, maps, sailing charts, marriage contracts (including one from 1476 for Ferdinand and Isabella’s eldest daughter), land grants, catechisms, scientific treatises and other documents dating back as far as the 12th century — fills the cavernous floor below, in a procession of dimly lighted shelves that can be peered at through small windows, giving the space the feeling of an aquarium or the nocturnal rooms of a zoo.


When the French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster visited these basement stacks for the first time two years ago, the impression that came over her immediately, partly because the collection seemed at the same time so monumental and so cloistered, was “this Citizen Kane, Xanadu feeling,” she said in a recent telephone interview from Paris, where she lives and works part of the year. Sitting in the stacks amid the smell of dusty paper and buckram, she began to envision a kind of parallel library, as if the society’s could somehow dream itself a new existence.

And with help over the last few months from a team of painters and the society’s librarians, it now has, in a way. On Wednesday “chronotopes & dioramas,” an exhibition by Ms. Gonzalez-Foerster that is part of the Dia Art Foundation’s unlikely temporary partnership with the Hispanic Society, opens in a space next to the society that could almost be an annex to its library.

The work presents a meticulously fashioned fantasy of a library in which shelves have become obsolete, and books, like examples of living creatures, are displayed in illusionistic dioramas that evoke those of the American Museum of Natural History.

In this kind of library the Dewey decimal system has been replaced by a subjective method of categorization about as straightforward as Symbolist poetry. Franz Kafka, J. G. Ballard, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Gertrude Stein find themselves grouped together in the depths of the North Atlantic, as writers whom Ms. Gonzalez-Foerster sees as links between Europe and the Americas. Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolaño share company in the desert.

And Paul Bowles, Elizabeth Bishop and the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade are classified under the tropical, their books displayed in a rain-forest diorama in which the ruins of a Modernist house can be seen peeking out of the undergrowth.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster "chronotopes & dioramas" is on view Sept. 23-April 18, 2010 at Dia at the Hispanic Society. For more information visit www.diaart.org or call 212 989 5566.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Latino Book Festival 2010: Call for proposals!

The Latino Book and Family Festival 210

Award-winning author Reyna Grande is calling for proposals and author presentations for next year's Latino Book Festival panel. The festival will be held at CSULA on October 9 & 10, 2010.

If you're interested in participating, please contact Reyna Grande at Reynagrande@yahoo.com with a description of the panel, a title, and possible panelists.

Via Latino Books Examiner

http://lbff.us

Senator Bob Menendez's Book: Growing American Roots

"Bob Menendez was born in New York City to Cuban immigrants who left their homeland a few months earlier, in 1953, seeking economic and political freedom from the repressive government headed by Fulgencio Batista. His father, Mario, was a mechanic and his mother, Evangelina, a seamstress. The family subsequently moved to neighboring New Jersey, where he now serves as United States Senator (D).



Growing American Roots: Why Our Nation Will Thrive as Our Largest Minority Flourishes by Senator Bob Menendez


The high-profile senator shares his vision of a promising future for America with Hispanics playing an essential and valued role.

Senator Bob Menendez has long been disturbed by the rhetoric of media figures like Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh, who, he believes, are spreading fear and misconceptions about the Latino community. For Menendez, who has held the highest-ranking position for a Hispanic in congressional history, it is about time the truth about Hispanics and their potential in this nation is brought into the spotlight—for all the right reasons.

Instead of viewing Latinos as the growing cause of many of America’s problems, he sees quite the opposite—and in this book he takes a unique approach by imagining a hopeful future for our nation. With the step-by-step plan that Menendez has devised and proposes in this book, the United States’ future will be made brighter and more successful precisely because of, not in spite of, the burgeoning influence of the Hispanic population as it “grows its American roots.”

Senator Bob Menendez is the first person of Hispanic ethnicity to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate, and only the sixth Hispanic in history to serve in that body.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Shakira Addresses the Oxford Union

Her interest in education matters brought her to address Oxford’s students, with a passionate speech in which she envisaged a future in which 30,000 teachers might be sent to Afghanistan instead of 30,000 soldiers.

“Its not about charity,” she insisted afterwards, “It’s about human investment. The best strategy to fight poverty, to prevent illness, to improve agriculture and decrease malnutrition, decrease child labour and decrease sex-trafficking, is access to education.”

Shakira is impressively focused and articulate, well prepared with facts and figures. “There are 75 million kids who don’t receive an education, 226 million who don’t have access to secondary school. The children are the foundation in a house, and, if you don’t build strong foundations, you will spend your lives trying to fix problems that will arise.”
via www.telegraph.co.uk

Spanish Harlem Stroll Down History Lane

Julia de Burgos: Poet, nationalist and feminist. Found unconscious and carrying no identification in 1953 on a street in El Barrio/ East Harlem, near 106th and Fifth Avenue, she was taken to the Harlem Hospital where she died. The streets of East 106th Street from Fifth Avenue to First Avenue have been renamed in her honor.

On 103rd Street and Third, were the large discount store is now, there used to be a theater called The Eagle. They showed vintage films (a $1 a pop) and held live performances. Cinematreasures.org



La Marqueta is a marketplace under the elevated Metro North railway tracks between 111th Street and 116th Street on Park Avenue. Today it's a remnant of its "heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, where over 500 vendors operated out of La Marqueta, and it was an important social and economic venue for Hispanic New York.


The market was originally an informal gathering place for pushcart vendors and other merchants, but since 1936 it has been officially sanctioned, and vendors rent their stalls from the city. It was once possible to buy food (fresh fish & fruits), traditional medicines, recordings of Latin music, and supplies for charms and curses at La Marqueta. New York Times article about its history


Of course, I am old enough to remember the Cosmo Movie Theater that used to be on 116th Street between 3rd Avenue & Lexington (where Regine's is now). This theater shut its doors in the late 1980s but many memories and newspapers still hold the stories of the Cosmo, where you could see a double feature ($5 in my day) and sometimes live performances. Founded in 1922, it was a one-story that had 1405 seats with art deco architecture.

Famous East/Spanish Harlem Natives include:

Tito Puente,
Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona,
Cicely Tyson,
Henry Enrique "Erik" Estrada,
Tupac Shakur,
Felipe Luciano,
Burt Lancaster,
Oscar Hijuelos,
Marc Anthony,
Jonas Salk,
Groucho Marx
Piri Thomas,
CBS reporter Pablo Guzman,
Al Pacino,
Taye Diggs

Irene Vilar Speaks on Impossible Motherhood

Monday, December 07, 2009

Let Freedom Ring: Digital Library on American Slavery opens

Wonderful news, wonderful new resource available:

The Latinidad Book Gift Guide

Marcela Landres' Book Picks:

Literary Fiction
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea: Simple prose and easy humor belie a substantial story with a political edge.

Poetry
Bird Eating Bird by Kristin Naca: Expands and embraces the possibilities of language.

Chick Lit
B as in Beauty by Alberto Ferreras: Sexy, laugh-out-loud chronicle of a big girl who learns to love her curves.

Short Story Collection
How to Leave Hialeah by Jennine Capo Crucet: A smart and smart-mouthed writer to watch.

Mystery
G.I Bones by Martin Limon: An historical page-turner with a keen eye and ear for detail.

Memoir
Havana and Other Missing Fathers by Mia Leonin: Absorbing and beautiful account of the author's search for truth and love.

Self-Help
Parents Who Cheat by Ana Nogales: Think your parent's infidelity didn't affect you? Think again.

Cookbook
Simply Mexican by Lourdes Castro: Even a novice can quickly master these refreshingly well-written recipes.

Young Adult
Riding the Universe by Gaby Triana: The ultra-fabacious story of a clever girl and confusing boys.

Middle Grade
Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez: Warm, heartbreaking tale of a motherless girl and her absent-minded father.




Sunday, December 06, 2009

Draw Your Dreams on a Very Large Canvas



* James De La Vega at work

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Racism in Cuba

A group of prominent African Americans, traditionally sympathetic to the Cuban revolution, have for the first time condemned Cuba, demanding Havana stop its ``callous disregard'' for black Cubans and declaring that ``racism in Cuba . . . must be confronted.''

``We know first-hand the experiences and consequences of denying civil freedoms on the basis of race,'' the group declared in a statement. ``For that reason, we are even more obligated to voice our opinion on what is happening to our Cuban brethren.''


Among the 60 signers were Princeton professor Cornel West, actress Ruby Dee Davis, film director Melvin Van Peebles, former South Florida congresswoman Carrie Meek, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of President Barack Obama's church in Chicago, and Susan Taylor, former editor in chief of Essence magazine.. read the rest here

Nazi Mystery: Twins from Brazil - Tonite on Nat Geo

Joseph Mengele, the escaped Nazi war criminal and SS physician, known as the Angel of Death, spent years doing bizarre medical experiments on twins at Auschwitz working to determine if twins held the key to building a blond-haired, blue-eyed master race for Adolf Hitler. Now a historian says he has evidence that Mengele's attempts may not have ended at Auschwitz, and that his obsession to engineer an Aryan master race continued, and that succeeded while he was on the run in South America.

Deep in the Brazilian outback in a tiny town among the 80 households in a one-square-mile area are reportedly some 38 pairs of twins. Blond, blue-eyed twins. Bizarre and inexplicable, could they be the product of Mengele's machinations? Now, with exclusive access, EXPLORER goes inside the investigation; From the secret agents who trailed him, to the scientists now uncovering the facts behind the fantastical phenomenon, no stone is left unturned.

Read more: natgeo



nationalgeographic.com

Friday, December 04, 2009

Pelicula News

From my inbox:

Cinema Tropical compiled a list of the Top Ten Latin American Films of the Decade (2000-2009), based on a survey of distinguished critics, scholars and film professionals based in the NYC area.

This first-ever survey of its kind was culled from 35 prominent local voices in film whose work has been devoted to the promotion and dissemination of Latin American cinema in New York and the United States. In all, 124 films representing 14 Latin American countries were nominated for the distinction of being Best of the Decade, demonstrating the great quality and diversity of films from the region.

And the winners are...

1. LA CIENAGA (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2001)
2. AMORES PERROS (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexico, 2000
3. LUZ SILENCIOSA / SILENT LIGHT (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico, 2007)
4. CITY OF GOD / CIDADE DE DEUS (Fernando Meirellos, Brazil, 2002)
5. ÔNIBUS 174 / BUS 174 (Jose Padilha, Felipe Lacerda, Brazil, 2002)
6. Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN (Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico, 2002)
7. WHISKY (Juan Pablo Rebella, Pablo Stoll, Uruguay, 2004)
8. LA MUJER SIN CABEZA / THE HEADLESS WOMAN (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2008)
9. LA NIÑA SANTA / THE HOLY GIRL (Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2004)
10. EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO / PAN'S LABYRINTH (Guillermo del Toro, Mexico, 2006)

Click here to see the complete list, the participants in the survey and the individual selections.

The Spanish Cinema Now festival - NYC - December 4-20, 2009

Featuring 22 films, plus a series of shorts, there’s a little something for everyone, and the best film to come out of Spain over the past year, plus a few classics. Enjoy!

“This year’s Spanish film harvest once again presents filmmakers exploring new and provocative ways of working with classic film genres. See terrific new films by veteran filmmakers Fernando Trueba, Jose Luis Garci, Marc Recha, and Joaquin Oristrell, as well impressive debut features by David Planell and Gabe Ibañez. Our Shortmetraje program, curated by Marta Sanchez, assembles some of the finest Spanish short works from the past year. Through the courtesy of the Filmoteca Española, discover two fascinating films by Carlos Velo, revealing another, rarely-seen side of Spanish cinema.

Finally, we honor Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez, a consummate actor known for his work in so many cinematic masterpieces, with a screening of Carlos Saura’s Cousin Angelica.” – Spanish Cinema Now

More information and tickets sold here www.filmlinc.com

Join The Bronx Museum for an exciting First Fridays! program celebrating the 30th anniversary of El Súper.

Friday, December 4th from 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Free
Bronx Museum of Art
1040 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10456
www.bronxmuseum.org

Recipient of 5 awards, the legendary film El Súper will be commemorated by The Bronx Museum following a Q&A Session with the screenwriter Ivan Acosta then music and performances all night.

El Súper is a film about a Cuban exile struggling to survive as the superintendent of a New York City apartment building, along with his wife and 17-year-old daughter.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thursday Round Up

Can everyone please stop talking about Tiger Woods?

Did you know Google Can Help You Send Holiday Greetings via Snail Mail for Free?

Brian Solis tells us that Facebook is losing the 18-24 demographic, which is pretty interesting.

I was lucky enough to interview Chris Brogan, the co-author of TRUST AGENTS and Mitch Joel, the author of SIX PIXELS OF SEPARATION on BlogTalkRadio this week.

John Batelle tells us why he won't be reading books on his new ereader.

My new fave blog, The Feminista Files, is written by Erica-Kennedy, author of FEMINISTA and BLING.

It's rather upsetting to me that sometimes when I am researching on net, the term "Latina" gives me tons of porn results.

The Daily Beast: The 25 Smartest People of the Decade

What a cool gift idea: film of the month club membership.

How about a books-on-cheap subscription to www.bookswim.com - a Netflix for books?

Stanley Crouch on Big Behinds and the New Plastic Surgery Phenomena.

I can't say this enough: watch what you post on Facebook and unless your job entails it - don't post anything during work hours... 8 Facebook misfires that ruined lives

And another take: Read: Schoolchildren 'should be encouraged to blog and use Facebook to improve literacy at www.telegraph.co.uk.

Interesting article on acculturation, Latinos, quitting smoking and gender at www.scienceblog.com

Watch: Rosie Perez shows Martha Stewart how to make Coquito (traditional Puerto Rican Egg Nog)

Some local charities are asking whether children are in the country legally before giving them toys.

Follow-up: hoax behind Peruvian human fat ring

www.hispanic-culture-online.com launched

www.postbourgie.com takes a look at the regional/racial tradition of having macaroni and cheese at Thanksgiving.

Katie Couric speaks with Grammy winning musician, Shakira about being sexy and the importance of women being both strong and sexy on www.cbsnews.com.

Download and get the lyrics to Spanish Christmas Carols here.

What Bolano read: his top 5 and his top 5000

News: Spain and Spanish publishing will be the focus of BEA's Global Market Forum program in 2010.

Hip Hop lovers everywhere rejoice: There's a new site that allows you to discover the origins of any song - WhoSampled

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Go where you're celebrated not where you're tolerated

Rejections a severe teacher and you’ll most likely log some time in this classroom at some point in your life. But rejection can be even more instructive than favor because it forces you to come to grips with who you really are and who you’re not.

It lets you know where you don’t belong and who you don’t belong with.

You’ll never ...succeed with people who devalue you  -  Go where you're celebrated not where you're tolerated.
-- Bob Beaudine, via Facebook

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Latinas are five times more likely to contract the HIV virus

In honor of World AIDS Day - Damaries Cruz's story:

How do you think you were infected?

I know how I was infected -- it was by my fiancé at the time. I met him and I asked him if he was positive, if he ever tested, and he said, "Yes, I'm negative." Then I started to have a lot of yeast infections for a whole year, vaginal infections. The doctor thought that I had cancer and he said, "Go and get tested for cancer. Do a biopsy, because I'm sure you have cancer. Do HIV just to rule it out." The biopsy came back negative and the HIV test came back positive.

When I went home and I told my fiancé, he said, "I knew I was going to take someone with me. I never thought it was going to be you." He knew all along that he had it!



Every 9½ minutes someone in the US is infected with HIV. Act Against AIDS. Be the Solution: NineAndaHalfMinutes.org

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Whose Barrio?" by Ed Morales and Laura Rivera



Whose Barrio? is an emotionally charged look at the changes in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem as real estate speculation pushes rents and property values past the point of affordability for most area residents. Author and journalist Ed Morales tells the story of his personal relationship to El Barrio, as well as the neighborhood's history and the real estate forces that threaten it. By digging deep into the flavor of a neighborhood long regarded as a cultural homeland for Latinos and other ethnic groups, the film reveals a complex web of individual and community interests.

The stories of individual choices and concerns for the future give way to a vocal debate between different constituencies of the community. While everyone seems to agree that change is inevitable, the struggle intensifies over who gets a say in what some call the neighborhood’s development, and others its gentrification.

Only God Knows Why

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Catching up

Last year, I did a little round up of Latina-inspired Thanksgiving dishes.

I finally saw Che, starring Benicio Del Toro and couldn't stop thinking about the real El Che all weekend. Although Benicio Del Toro does such a great job it's hard to separate him from the character.

This year Michael Casey examined how Che has become a global brand in Che's Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image. Interestingly he notes how Che's image has been used on everything from condom wrappers to NeoNazi propaganda, which sort of breaks my heart. There's also an interesting article here on Cuba from a Cuban writer: Travels by Taxi

For more reading (this time fictional) also check out: "Ruins by Achy Obejas is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching novel about the dignity of one man in the face of harsh daily deprivations and the slow deterioration of his dreams. Set in Cuba in 1994, it tells the story of Usnavy, a man fated to live his life under the shadow of the United States and yet determined to live as a proud Cuban and to hold faith in the revolution that Che Guevara promised."

And finally someone talks about the cable and internet connection monopoly in upper Manhattan via gigaom.com

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

The Lacuna

In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TIM BURTON BOOK SIGNING AT THE MOMA BOOK STORE TODAY

I'll be at the NEW MOON Screening but don't miss...

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 18: TIM BURTON BOOK SIGNING AT THE MOMA BOOK STORE

Coinciding with the launch of Tim Burton's career retrospective at MoMA -- which features artwork from the conception of his dark oeuvre, work from unrealized projects, and early student films -- our goth prince visits the museum's bookstore to sign copies of the exhibition's catalog and book The Art of Tim Burton, a 400+ page collection of Burton's spooky, spindly genius. Play hooky from work and go see him in the pale flesh.

MoMA Books,
The Museum of Modern Art,
11 W. 53rd St., 2nd fl.,
(212) 708-9400.
2:30-4 p.m.
Free.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Follow Up to the Nestle Water Post

After writing Nestle Corp Opens Retail Store in Bronx: Sellin Tap Water to the Poor by best friend, Z (who I met in one of Anthropology courses long ago), chimed in to tell me about a book - Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health, Revised and Expanded Edition (California Studies in Food and Culture) by Marion Nestle (yes, the author's last name is Nestle).

Z told me, "It's really good book on the origins or the FDA and the politics of the food pyramid and how our food is controlled politically. It also discusses the major food corporations, what people used to die of..."

Sounds interesting!




We cannot live without water and when access to water becomes privatized, these companies have the ultimate power to decide who gets access - who gets to live. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Film w/ Laurence Fishburne & Amaury Nolasco: Armored

I received word that Armored, a new movie coming out on December 4th, tells the story of a "crew of officers at an armored transport security firm who risk their lives when they embark on the ultimate heist….against their own company. Armed with a seemingly fool-proof plan, the men plan on making off with a fortune with harm to none. But when an unexpected witness interferes, the plan quickly unravels and all bets are off."

The movie stars one of my favorite actors: Laurence Fishburne. As well as Amaury Nolasco, Matt Dillon, Skeet Ulrich and more.

Oh yeah and did I mention the hotness that is Amaury Nolasco!


AMAURY NOLASCO, a native of Puerto Rico, studied biology at the University of Puerto Rico. His plan to enroll in medical school was cut short when a director approached Nolasco, and encouraged him to pursue acting. He was immediately cast in his first television commercial and began working consistently as an actor in Puerto Rico.

Eventually, Nolasco moved to New York and studied at the American British
Dramatic Arts School. Shortly thereafter, he guest starred on several TV shows including, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ER, George Lopez, and CSI: New York.

Nolasco landed his first major supporting role in the film 2 Fast 2 Furious as Orange Julius. He went on to costar in several more films including, Mr. 3000 opposite Bernie Mac, and Benchwarmers opposite Rob Shnieder and David Spade.

Most recently Nolasco co-starred in Michael Bay's Transformers, and David Ayer's Street Kings opposite Keanu Reeves, Forrest Whitaker, and Hugh Laurie. He also appeared opposite Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne.

Nolasco’s upcoming releases include The Rum Diary with Johnny Depp due out in 2010.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Every Now And Then

Friday, November 13, 2009

Have No Fear: Mayan Culture Experts on Far-fetched '2012'


We're misreading that "Long Count" calendar, adds Eleanor Harrison-Buck, a Maya scholar who teaches at the University of New Hampshire. "The Mesoamerican concept of the ‘end of time' is in some ways similar to our own New Year's celebration.

"It represents the start of a new beginning ... Time and space are cyclical - never ending."

Read more:




Latina Covergirl: Sonia Sotomayor




Thursday, November 12, 2009

IndieBound Weekend

It's Indie Bookstore Week

 
What: Author readings, discounts, and more from local neighborhood booksellers.


Why: Good reads and free snacks, support local bookstores and meet new people.


When: Fri.-Sun.


Where: Bookstores across the city; go to ibnyc.org/calendar for times and locations.

Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood

There are some interesting perspectives in Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood

Examining the True Historical and Political Causes of Poverty




The End Of Poverty? from Philippe Diaz




Global poverty did not just happen. It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization that resulted in the seizure of land, minerals and forced labor. Today, the problem persists because of unfair debt, trade and tax policies -- in other words, wealthy countries taking advantage of poor, developing countries.

Renowned actor and activist, Martin Sheen, narrates The End of Poverty?, a feature-length documentary directed by award-winning director, Philippe Diaz, which explains how today's financial crisis is a direct consequence of these unchallenged policies that have lasted centuries.
Consider that 20% of the planet's population uses 80% of its resources and consumes 30% more than the planet can regenerate. At this rate, to maintain our lifestyle means more and more people will sink below the poverty line.

Filmed in the slums of Africa and the barrios of Latin America, The End of Poverty? features expert insights from: Nobel prize winners in Economics, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz; acclaimed authors Susan George, Eric Toussaint, John Perkins, Chalmers Johnson; university professors William Easterly and Michael Watts; government ministers such as Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and the leaders of social movements in Brazil, Venezuela, Kenya and Tanzania . It is produced by Cinema Libre Studio in collaboration with the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

Can we really end poverty within our current economic system? Think again.

The film has been selected to over 25 international film festivals and opens in theatres in today. Directed by Philippe Diaz, produced by Cinema Libre Studio with the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 104mins, 2008, USA, documentary in English, Spanish, French with English Subtitles.

Remember Thomas Jefferson Park Circa 1912

Inspired by this post at Harlem Bespoke:








Crazy Bunch Barbecue: Jefferson Park, Summer 1999

This is definitely
for the brothers
who ain't here
who woulda said
I had to write a poem
about this get together
like a list of names
on a memorial
to celebrate
our own old-timers day
for those of us
who age in hood years
where one night
can equal the rest of your life
and surviving the trade off
was worth writing on the wall
and telling the world
that we were here forever


The day started with snaps
on good-livin' pot bellies
receding hair lines
and new roles as Mr. Moms
Jerry had the best joke of the day
when he said that my family was so poor
that on Thanksgiving
they had to buy turkey-flavored Now & Laters
the laughter needed no help
when we exposed the stretch marks
of our growing pains


Phil had barbecue on the grill
He slapped my hand when
I tried to brush extra sauce
on a leg
“Yo, go find something to do
write a poem
write something
do something
I got this
I'm the chef
You the poet
Talk about how you glad to be here
do something
look at that little boy
on the baseball diamond
running circles around second base
today is his birthday
look at him
beat the wind
with his balloon.”


It used to take a few drinks before
we could cry and say I love you
we have always known how to curse
and bless the dead
but now we know how to talk in silence
as we walk into the sun
like the little boy's sneakers
we disappear in a cloud of dirt
and we go home
grown up
and full


This is definitely
for the brothers
who ain't here
who woulda said
I had to write a poem
about this get together
like a list of names
on a memorial
to celebrate
our own old-timers day
for those of us
who age in hood years
where one night
can equal the rest of your life
and surviving the trade off
was worth writing on the wall
and telling the world
that we were here forever

© 2001 Willie Perdomo

Prayer Request for My Aunt


My family is holding a vigil, most of us virtually, as my aunt struggles to continue to live and stay with us. Last month, my aunt, who we call "Tata" suffered a devastating stroke and last week her heart stopped, she had to be revived.

The doctors have told us to prepare for the worst, death is imminent. As I watch my mother (her sister) and her daughters and sons (my cousins) deal with this insurmountable news, my heart aches for the funny aunt I so fondly recall.

She introduced me to delicacies of Crab and taught me how to eat them, which easily became one of my most favorite foods...

I hope (even though I know that hope is passive action) that she makes it because it would too much for all us too bear, we have lost so much already. Our hearts and souls are heavy.

Please pray for her!

The LOST TAINO TRIBE Documentary


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nestle Corp. Opens Retail Store in the Bronx: Selling Tap Water to the Poor

Seriously! I'm not in the habit of writing rants but this one I just couldn't ignore.

I happened upon an announcement that Nestle "is celebrating its commitment to

the Hispanic community with the opening of its first U.S. Nestlé Pure Life Mercado del Agua (Water Store).

Bringing the benefits of Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water to the Hispanic community, the Mercado del Agua store celebrates its grand opening on Sat., Nov. 14, 2009 in the Bronx, NY from 12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Internationally acclaimed Hispanic TV personality and spokesperson for the Nestlé Pure Life brand Cristina Saralegui will make a special appearance at the store from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m."


Ah, the irony! Here's why:

"The Nestlé Group is headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland. It's the world's largest food company. The water division of Nestlé is known as Nestlé Waters, which today serves 70 well-known bottled water brands in 160 countries world-wide. In addition to the Perrier and Vittel brands, Nestlé Waters North America also imports the S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna brands from Italy. Their bottled water brands also includes Arrowhead, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills, Ozarka, Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Aberfoyle Spring, and others." In 2008, its revenue was $94.42 Billion. According to their company profile: "water is the embodiment of "the very best" and all that nurtures life." 

Perhaps that sentiment in regard to bottled water is because "Nestlé's beverage division is almost completely reliant on bottled water."

But sales are down this year according to Reuters and there's the huge backlash from enviromentalists and activists (read more www.stopcorporateabuse.org and www.treehugger.com) to deal with, in addition to recent recalls of contaminated water...

So they've "launched a series of television advertisements to promote its Pure Life brand as a healthier alternative to sugary drinks. The advertisements are presently [heavily] targeting the US Spanish speaking population and will move into English language television advertising soon. The company hopes that consumers of carbonated soft drinks will continue shifting to bottled water."

That's great but what wrong with regular water?

Last year, Nestlé Waters North America signed a two-year partnership with Cristina Saralegui, one of Time Magazine's 25 most influential Hispanics in America. She is now their spokesperson and will be part of the meet and greet at the Bronx store on Saturday.

Now here's the clincher: The store is offering the community a variety of their "healthful waters," including Nestle Pure Life purified water in 5 gallon bottles.

Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water is basically tap water! It's been filtered and then had certain minerals re-added.

Now for those of you who don't know, New York has one of the best water supplies in the nation. Our water is clean and free! Free as in monetary and free as in nothing added. (Note: It is treated however, with chlorine, flouride and orthophosphate)

"Very farsighted people built the New York water supply system, starting with the Croton reservoirs built between 1842 and WW1, and the Catskill system started in 1927. Altogether 1,900 square miles of land containing pristine lakes and reservoirs supply approximately 1.4 billion gallons of water each day to nearly 9 million people in New York City and surrounding counties. It is pure, clean, and unfiltered."

So this is just one of the reasons "environmental groups have campaigned against bottled water, saying resources are wasted in bottling and transporting water which may be no safer or healthier than tap water, while selling for up to a thousand times the price."

"If you've seen FLOW [I really recommend you watch this - you may never buy a bottle of water again - You can watch it online here] or any of the other recent documentaries about water rights, you know that one of the (many) problems with bottled water is that local communities are sold on the idea of having cheaper water rates through privatized water and instead end up oftentimes without water. While this program does not include privatizing water, it does give water right to a company, when the rest of the community is under tight water restrictions. Communities looking to fight off big water are in for a serious battle."

This however is not the problem here...

"According to a recent census, the Bronx is still one of the poorest counties in the U.S. and according to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, 50.7% of the total population are Hispanic or Latino."

My point: You are telling me that Nestlé Pure Life brand spokeperson Cristina Saralegui, the Hispanic Oprah, and Nestle Waters are opening this Mercado de Agua in the Bronx and selling tap water to Hispanics and the Bronx community (one of the poorest places in the US) because it's good for them? Give me a break! Clearly they aren't worried about the best interests of this community, especially during a recession...

What I don't understand is the lack of media coverage or the missing outcry of protest from the community...and that's why I wrote this

Honoring Those who Serve and the Fallen:

As we celebrate over a century of service to the nation and commemorate our heroes, I invite you to pay tribute to those Puerto Ricans and fellow Americans who serve(d) proudly

Visit http://www.valerosos.com/ to sign their guestbook.

Chicago Teens Like Latin King Memoirs

According to www.schoollibraryjournal.com, Chicago teens thrive on vamp books (of course), scary stories and true-life scary stories - like Latin King Memoirs.

www.schoollibraryjournal.com

Great ideas to get your teens reading and perhaps scare them straight?

My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King by Reymundo Sanchez

Once a King, Always a King: The Unmaking of a Latin King by Reymundo Sanchez

Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen by Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"25 Books Every Latina Should Read" Challenge

I would like to propose a new book challenge for bloggers (perhaps for 2010?), based on "the compilation of the best literature every Latina should check out put together by Latina Magazine: 25 Books Every Latina Should Read"

The "25 Books Every Latina/o Should Read" Challenge:
  1. The House of Spirits Isabel Allende 
  2. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. In The Time of the Butterflies Julia Alvarez
  4. When I Was Puerto Rican Esmeralda Santiago
  5. Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes
  6. Kiss of the Spider Woman Manuel Puig
  7. Death in the Andes Mario Vargas Llosa
  8. Hopscotch Julio Cortázar
  9. The Labrynth of Solitude Octavio Paz
  10. The Death of Artemio Cruz Carlos Fuentes
  11. Like Water For Chocolate Laura Esquivel
  12. The Alchemist Paolo Coelho
  13. Las Peliculas De Mi Vida Alberto Fuguet
  14. The House on Mango Street Sandra Cisneros
  15. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  16. Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara by Jorge G. Castaneda
  17. A People's History of the United States Howard Zinn
  18. The Aleph Jorge Luis Borges
  19. Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in the United States Juan Gonzalez
  20. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair Pablo Neruda
  21. The Brief & Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Diaz
  22. Dreaming in Cuban Cristina Garcia
  23. The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories Horacio Quiroga
  24. Pedro Paramo Juan Rulfo
  25. Men of Maize Miguel Angel Asturias


What's the challenge? To track, blog, share, and discuss the 25 books listed above with other members of the challenge. Some people may also choose to set their own personal goals to read more books, or more non-fiction, or newer books.



Sign up below:


Challenge begins January through December, 2010.

You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2010.

You are welcome to come back and post links to your reviews here

Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street

I was raised on Sesame Street as I am sure many of you were too - I have only sweet memories and many lessons learned.
Happy 40th Birthday!






Sunny Day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street

Come and play
Everything's A-OK
Friendly neighbors there
That's where we meet

Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street

It's a magic carpet ride
Every door will open wide
To Happy people like you--
Happy people like
What a beautiful

Sunny Day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame street...
How to get to Sesame Street
How to get to...


Read more at www.npr.org

Stuff I'm Totally Sweating

They're all out of these amazing automatons at Anthropologie.com, which is a real pity but at $248 - I  really couldn't afford the splurge anyhow...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Link Lovin'

"Precious" Adaptation Scores Box Office Record

The Future of Latin American Fiction (Part I)
Three Percent: International Literature, from University of Rochester

NY Hate Crimes on the Rise

Company offers "book-of-the-month gift"
GiftLit, a new Internet-based company, announces the perfect holiday gift--book-of-the-month gifts that are hand-selected by book experts, include personalized bookplates and offer the flexibility to substitute any book. Ten percent of GiftLit`s profits go to organizations that promote literacy. The high-quality books are chosen by literary experts--librarians, writers, and editors. For more visit www.GiftLit.com. via Reading.org

Mixed Race Americans Picture A 'Blended Nation'

A woman in Texas was fined $204 for not speaking English.

East Harlem Victory Against Multinational Landlord

What did Sammy Sosa do to his face? And the rest of his body?

Jamaican Official Lobbies for Spanish as Second Language

Jamaica’s foreign minister says his country should adopt Spanish as a second official language to foster expanded trade and cooperation with its neighbors in the Caribbean and Central America. Growing ties between the Caribbean Community and Latin America, the Dominican Republic’s desire to join Caricom and the fact that Jamaica is surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries make it imperative for Jamaicans to become proficient in Spanish, Kenneth Baugh said… “I think all Jamaicans, all schools and teachers, have to become conscious that there is a desperate need for us to become Spanish speaking,” he said. via Ourlatinamerica

Richmond is dealing with the fall-out over the gang-rape committed at a high school homecoming dance two weeks ago.

How They Write a Novel: JUNOT DÍAZ & EDWIDGE DANTICAT

JUNOT DÍAZ
"I think 90% of my ideas evaporate because I have a terrible memory and because I seem to be committed to not scribble anything down," says Junot Díaz. "As soon as I write it down, my mind rejects it."

Juggling everything in his head has drawbacks, one of which is writing very slowly, he says. He threw out two earlier versions of his novel, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"—the equivalent of about 600 pages—before the final version began to take shape. He also researches obsessively. When writing "Oscar Wao," he read J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy half a dozen times to get inside the head of his protagonist, an overweight Dominican teenager who's obsessed with fantasy and science fiction.

He often listens to orchestral movie soundtracks as he writes, because he's easily distracted by lyrics. When he needs to seal himself off from the world, he retreats into the bathroom and sits on the edge of the tub. "It drove my ex crazy," he says. "She would always know I was going to write because I would grab a notebook and run into the bathroom."

EDWIDGE DANTICAT

Before she begins a novel, Edwidge Danticat creates a collage on a bulletin board in her office, tacking up photos she's taken on trips to her native Haiti and images she clips from magazines ranging from Essence to National Geographic. Ms. Danticat, who works out of her home in Miami, says she adapted the technique from story boarding, which filmmakers use to map out scenes. "I like the tactile process. There's something old-fashioned about it, but what we do is kind of old-fashioned," she says.

Sometimes, the collage grows large enough to fill four bulletin boards. As the plot becomes clearer, she culls pictures and shrinks the visual map to a single board.

Right now, Ms. Danticat has two boards full of images depicting a seaside town in Haiti, the setting for a new novel that takes place in a village based on the one where her mother grew up.

She writes first drafts in flimsy blue exam notebooks that she orders from an online office supply store. She often uses 100 exam books for a draft. "The company I order from must think I'm a high school," she said. She types the draft on the computer and begins revising and cutting.

Finally, she makes a tape recording of herself reading the entire novel aloud—a trick she learned from Walter Mosley—and revises passages that cause her to stumble.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Archaeologists Excavate for Federico Garcia Lorca's Remains

I never realized his remains were missing - so sad: "Work has begun to excavate a grave in southern Spain that is believed to contain the remains of the poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca." Via news.bbc.co.uk

Some more web news:

From http://www.briansolis.com/ (one of the most brilliant social media minds on the web): Social Media Influencers are not Traditional Influencers - a great piece on how online influencers with large followings are not always real world/offline influencers.

"http://www.poetryspeaks.com/ was launched by Sourcebooks this week, which has published the successful Poetry Speaks book series for nearly a decade. The new website is designed to serve as a social networking venue for poets and poetry lovers, as well as a business and marketing engine for poets and poetry presses."

First Bilingual Educational Toy Brand, Ingenio(TM), Hits the U.S. Market

Is It Better To Be Mixed Race? In this documentary from the UK, Aarathi Prasad, a geneticist and mother of a mixed race child, sets out to challenge the ideas of racial purity and examines provocative claims that there are in fact biological advantages to being mixed race. I've always heard of these biological advantages in every biology and anthropology class I've ever taken.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tom Wolfe's Upcoming Book Explores Immigration in Miami



His new novel, "Back to Blood," is set in Miami and focuses on immigration and bloodlines. It's due out in fall 2010 from Little, Brown & Co.

"I kept hearing about immigration. There are a lot of great stories about how people got into this country illegally," Mr. Wolfe said in a telephone interview from his New York City office. "I was more curious about what's the life of immigrants once they're here."

Miami is the perfect setting for his novel.

"It's the only city I've been able to find ... where more than half the population are recent immigrants -- people who have come to the country in the last 50 years," he said.

Cubans are a powerful constituency.

"You have people from another country with a different language and a very different culture coming into Miami and dominating it politically through the voting machine," Mr. Wolfe said. "Only in America could people from a foreign country with a foreign language and foreign culture establish themselves so quickly in 30 years."

Miami teems with Cubans, Haitians, Russians and newcomers from Nicaragua, Honduras and Venezuela.

Educated people are streaming into Miami from Venezuela because their country's leader, Hugo Chavez, wants to emulate Fidel Castro.

Immigrants continue to change the city's neighborhoods.

"What used to be called 'Little Havana' in Miami seems to be dominated by Central Americans, generally Nicaraguans and Hondurans. That's quite a change," he said.Then there's Hialeah, a separate city near Miami in Dade County. Originally a town of 200 people in the early 1920s, it attracted the rich and famous after a gorgeous horse track was built there in 1925.

In 1959, Hialeah's population began exploding when Cubans who fled Castro's regime landed there and today, it's the fifth largest city in Florida with 225,000 people.

The racetrack is closed.

"It's a symbol of the old Anglo establishment," Mr. Wolfe said. "In Florida, that's the term for white Americans of European ancestry."

"In an odd way, Hialeah, this rich, gorgeous place popping up on the prairie, is like the Cuban immigration," he added.

People speak of immigration in Florida in terms of vintages, he said.

The Cubans who arrived in the 1960s were sophisticated, educated and well-to-do.

"They set up businesses very quickly. Cubans tend to be very entrepreneurial. They certainly did well," Mr. Wolfe said.

"So many businesses have been developed by Cubans that instead of Latins having to break into American business networks, it's the other way around."

In 1980, the Mariel boatlift allowed working class Cubans to land in Florida, including criminals and mental patients. But the people who arrived here from Cuba in 1980 had lived under Communist rule for a long time.

"They were not used to working hard because no matter how hard you worked you were not going to be rewarded. So why beat your brains out?" the author said.

Interestingly, Miami's police force is quite representative of its racial makeup.

"Just about 70 percent of the police are Latino (and probably more than 50 percent are Cuban); 18 percent are African-American and 12 percent are American whites or Anglos," the author said.

Read more: www.post-gazette.com
 
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