Saturday, December 18, 2010
|NYPL façade lit by klieg lights (Photo: oinonio)|
One of the things, that I really enjoy about attending discussions like this one is that the passion, innovation, and creativity held by the folks on the stage becomes palpable and you get to take home with you - gotta love the library!
Roo Rogers kicked off the discussion by noting how humanity as a whole is kind and generous, people want to share, and that is integral to the whole social component of the web.
He also spoke about how before consumption become a widespread phenomena within society about 50-60 years ago, institutions such as the NYPL were a font of collective knowledge that was shared publicly, and that we are witnessing a shift back to that sort of public access of information online and IRL. (Wikileaks, anyone?)
Naveen Selvadurai ascertained that the distinction between online and offline (or IRL) is no longer applicable. We are constantly plugged in. Networks like Foursquare, Facebook, and smartphones have made the boundary between the two blurred.
Another thing he noted is that while many people poke fun at the game aspect of Foursquare or trivialize it, it is after all, only one layer built on top of a service that is fundamentally about "social," connecting with others off the web -- the game is just a fun incentive or token to get users to engage and partake in the community.
Kickstarter and Jumo are both very inspiring in that the offer access to movements in a very easy and simple way. (Check out: How To Use Kickstarter to Fund Your Publishing Project).
You can learn more about the cool events and year-long benefits of being a NYPL Young Lion member (such as movie screenings, panel discussions, private tours of the Library, the Young Lions Fiction Award ceremony and more) at nypl.org, and in addition to that, you will will help the Library provide free access to the tens of millions of visitors in New York and worldwide who visit both online and in person.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
The human rights abuses occurring along the U.S. border with Mexico will be front and center for a group of Southern Methodist University students who, starting Jan. 2, will spend two weeks confronting a multitude of migrant issues in Arizona.
As part of the Embrey Human Rights Program, in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, eight students will visit the border and desert areas of Tucson and Yuma to study firsthand the deteriorating conditions spawned by economic and political unrest.
“This is a new trip for us,” said director Rick Halperin. “These issues will be with us for years to come, and as such, our program intends to bring our students to the border to better learn about what is happening there. It also will allow them to get involved in the struggle to end human rights violations.” Led by associate director Patricia H. Davis, students will spend time with the minister-founder of Humane Borders, regional detectives and medical examiners, U.S. Border Patrol agents, and representatives from the Department of Homeland Security.
After the project, students will write research papers “to individualize their experiences” while earning course credit, Halperin said. “This trip is very different than others we have organized, in that it confronts domestic human rights issues,” he added. “Our other trips abroad confront global issues.”
Three times a year, Embrey Human Rights Program participants—including SMU students, faculty and staff, as well as interested members of the community—visit historic areas where human rights violations have occurred, such as Holocaust sites, or places where they continue to unfold, such as Rwanda, Cambodia and Argentina.
The program’s next trip, March 12-20, will include visits to numerous Holocaust sites throughout Germany.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
The El Barrio Firehouse will be a state-of-the-art media center providing local residents with full access to new communications technologies.
In 2007, MNN acquired the historic El Barrio-East Harlem Firehouse in Upper Manhattan. Renovation is underway to create a state-of-the-art Community Media Center. The Firehouse center will offer equitable access to new media skills and training services to local residents and community-based organizations, helping to overcome the digital divide and empower residents and local neighborhoods through access to media.
The five-story Firehouse media center will include: * Three Live Broadcast & Production Studios * A Large Multi-Purpose Meeting, Exhibition & Performance Space * Editing, Camera and Studio Facilities * Broadband Access and Training A key component of the new Firehouse will be a stand-alone Youth Media Center, offering New Economy skills and job training to young people between the ages of 12-25.
The Youth Media Center will also produce 20-hours a week of programming made by youth, for youth, that will air on MNN's four cablecast channels to more than 600,000 subscribers in Manhattan. The Firehouse is slated to open in mid-2011.
The Firehouse is located in the historic Manhattan neighborhood of El Barrio-East Harlem at 175 East 104th Street between Lexington Ave. and 3rd Ave.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
"Become Your Dream: James De La Vega" also examines and reflects on the ethics that rule all documentaries: who's economic gain; political representation of self and the other; and most importantly, the differences in vision that can result between subject and object. Captured and presented for the first time so that a broader conversation can begin about the ethics of documentary.
(Note: I make a cameo appearance around 6:18 minutes in and later on you can hear part of my interview with him)
Become Your Dream - James De La Vega from Cortlan McManus on Vimeo.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, December 6th, at 5:30PM
President’s Conference Room, 17th floor,
Hunter College East Building
Co-authored and with photographs by Jeff Schonberg and published by the University of California Press (Public Anthropology Series), Righteous Dopefiend is a powerful study that immerses the reader in the world of homelessness and drug addiction in the contemporary United States.
For over a decade Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg followed a social network of two dozen heroin injectors and crack smokers on the streets of San Francisco, accompanying them as they scrambled to generate income through burglary, panhandling, recycling, and day labor.
Righteous Dopefiend interweaves stunning black-and-white photographs with vivid dialogue, detailed field notes, and critical theoretical analysis. Its gripping narrative develops a cast of characters around the themes of violence, race relations, sexuality, family trauma, embodied suffering, social inequality, and power relations.
The result is a dispassionate chronicle of survival, loss, caring, and hope rooted in the addicts' determination to hang on for one more day and one more "fix" through a "moral economy of sharing" that precariously balances mutual solidarity and interpersonal betrayal.
Philippe Bourgois is the Richard Perry University Professor of Anthropology and Family and Community Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. His other books include In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (1995) and Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation (1989), as well as a volume co-edited with Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Violence in War and Peace (2004).
If you do not have a CUNY ID card, go first to the Hunter Visitors’ Center in the West Building lobby (south side of 68th Street, just west of Lexington Avenue).
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Trinidad and Tobago has had book fairs and literary events over the years but these are few in comparison to the number of books published by Caribbean authors all over the world. Nor does the Caribbean region have a major award for literature, when it has produced some literary greats, including three Nobel Laureates.
That is all set to change next April when a new annual prize for Caribbean literature is launched. The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, with a $10,000 USD cheque attached, courtesy the One Caribbean Media group, will be awarded to the best book published in 2010. The book will be chosen from the winner in each of three categories - fiction, literary non-fiction and poetry.
Published writers who are Caribbean by birth or citizenship living and working anywhere in the world will be eligible for the Prize, which is the first indigenous Caribbean prize for Literature. The ten international judges, all Caribbean in origin, will produce a short list by 28th March 2011 and the winner will be announced on 30th April 2011.
The new literary award will be one of the highlights of an annual literary festival, the Bocas Lit Fest, also being launched in March and sponsored by Republic Bank, OCM, Flow, KFC, British Gas, and still un-announced other sponsors. Weekend events are planned for the month of April, culminating in a four-day event that the organisers expect to take place at NAPA, the National Academy of the Performing Arts, in Port of Spain, between 28 April and 1 May. The last weekend of April has been the date designated for the event every year.
Founder of the annual Prize and of the Bocas Lit Fest, Marina Salandy-Brown, explained, "It will bring together writers of all sorts, local, regional and international, wannabe and secret writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, agents and everyone in the business of writing and those taking pleasure from it. There will be readings, performances, workshops, panel discussions, children storytelling, book singings, book launches, drama and music, the chance to get feedback on your work in progress and to buy the newest titles.
And although we are calling it a literary festival, because so much of our literary tradition is derived from our oral and folklore tradition we are thinking of it more as a festival of words. That's one reason why we have called it the Bocas Lit Fest – to do with the mouth. We will be catering too for those interested in creating lyrics and storytelling."
The announcement of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the Bocas Lit Fest was made at the International Convention of Caribbean Literature held in Port of Spain in November. All the information for entry is at: www.bocaslitfest.com
Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Many travelers will have their first taste of the TSA's new stricter security measures this week as the busy holiday travel season begins. With some passengers-rights groups urging people to opt out of security scanners on the day before Thanksgiving for more time-consuming pat-down screenings, the PBS NewsHour wants to know about your airport security experience.
Starting on Wednesday, tweet @NewsHour the time it took you to get through security -- from the time you got in line until the time you put your shoes back on -- and we might include your tweets in a future blog post and round-up of how the new security measures and some passengers' resistance are playing out.
Here's how to participate via Twitter:
Include the hashtag #TSATime in your tweet.
Include the three-letter code for the airport where you were screened (Example: #LAX, #CMH, #MIA).
And don't hesitate to provide more details or anecdotes about your experience as space permits. Quotes and observations are welcome. But make sure to keep the language clean and follow the rules at your airport.
Daisy's Holiday Cooking: Delicious Latin Recipes for Effortless Entertaining "offers up timeless and mouthwatering recipes like Ruby Grapefruit Ceviche, Spaghetti with Chipotle-Pork Meatballs, Creamy Chicken-Lime Soup, and Flourless Chocolate-Chile Cake that will prepare you for everything from a cozy festive fall dinner to an elegant New Year’s Eve celebration.
Brilliant color, bold flavors, and an innovative mix of traditional and modern cuisines are the hallmarks of Daisy’s cooking. Can’t-fail dishes—like Coconut and Winter Squash Soup—that Daisy learned to cook alongside her mother and grandmother in Puerto Rico mingle with recipes she’s used to entertain her family and friends through the years."
She's also launched Latino Cooking 101 with Daisy Martinez on Youtube
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Most of us are guilty of it, we celebrate the holidays, pig out, without ever really thinking about what we are really celebrating.
When it comes to celebrations that are deeply entrenched in Puritanical ideology and colonialism, the fallacy and internalization of is especially thought-provoking for colonized peoples.
I wanted to bring your attention to:
After reading this interesting perspective on the history of our all-American holiday, I was only left with the thought that maybe "Thanksgiving" should be called "Slaughter the Natives and their Fowl" day.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Barnes & Noble has opened a Spanish-language digital bookstore, Nookbooks en español. It is selling Spanish-language bestsellers, new releases, classics, works in translation, and other books. There are also free works available, and all can be read on Nook devices.
B&N is working with international and U.S. publishers to expand its catalog of Spanish-language books. It currently includes more than a third of the top-selling trade Spanish-language titles in the U.S. Patricia Arancibia, international content manager, digital products at B&N, said,
“For the first time ever, Nookbooks en español enables Spanish speakers in the U.S., and those interested in learning and reading in Spanish, to get Spanish-language new releases, bestsellers, and classics in a digital format.” Theresa Horner, v-p of content, digital products, said the company’s goal is to make the largest and most diverse selection of digital content “convenient and accessible for everyone.”via PW
Learn more and experience NOOKbooks en espanol today by visiting www.barnesandnoble.com/ebooksenespanol, part of Barnes & Noble's NOOKbook Store (bn.com/NOOKbooks).
It's stunning! Via openculture
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
20 Things I Learned About Browsers And The Web.
More from geek chic:
Huffpo's picks their favorite author websites
Check out Vintage Web Design from the Archaeology of the Web Exhibition at Digital Archaeology
This article provides interesting historical perspective on social media
I think that's really cute! Here's my mom, who's almost 70 years old, and what she wants for the holidays is the memoir of a hot teeny bop sensation (okay, he's all grown up now and a humanitarian - but still - just go with me here). Adorable! I think Santa might approve this one. Shake that bon-bon, with your bad self, Mami!
Side note: Yes, I confess, I was a huge Menudo fan back in the early '80s. In fact, I had a cat, a female, named Ricky, but she was named Ricky after the original Ricky in the group, Ricky Meléndez, not Ricky Martin, who was my crush. I also named her Ricky by mistake because at first, I thought she was a boy. Poor Ricky!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
|credit: Lebrecht Authors|
For those of you who haven't read Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway, which was published posthumously in 1986, it's the story about an American husband and wife abroad on holiday on the French Riviera and their tryst with a young woman they both fall in love with - mind you, this is a novel he began writing in 1946. It's incredibly sexy..."you aren't very to corrupt and you're an awful lot of fun to corrupt" (love that line!) and explores the dynamic between gender roles, androgyny, and male/female relationships.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Freighted with meaning, “el barrio” is both place and metaphor for Latino populations in the United States. Though it has symbolized both marginalization and robust and empowered communities, the construct of el barrio has often reproduced static understandings of Latino life; they fail to account for recent demographic shifts in urban centers such as New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles, and in areas outside of these historic communities.
Beyond El Barrio features new scholarship that critically interrogates how Latinos are portrayed in media, public policy and popular culture, as well as the material conditions in which different Latina/o groups build meaningful communities both within and across national affiliations. Drawing from history, media studies, cultural studies, and anthropology, the contributors illustrate how despite the hypervisibility of Latinos and Latin American immigrants in recent political debates and popular culture, the daily lives of America's new “majority minority” remain largely invisible and mischaracterized.
Taken together, these essays provide analyses that not only defy stubborn stereotypes, but also present novel narratives of Latina/o communities that do not fit within recognizable categories. In this way, this book helps us to move “beyond el barrio”: beyond stereotype and stigmatizing tropes, as well as nostalgic and uncritical portraits of complex and heterogeneous range of Latina/o lives.
Monday, November 08, 2010
El Museo del Barrio and Comité Noviembre have partnered up to host the 16th Annual Day of Community Service & Social Responsibility, taking place on Sunday, November 21, 2010. On this day, we will distribute food care packages to 75 pre-selected underserved families from El Barrio at El Museo's El Taller in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday.
We are currently collecting food donations for qualifying families, and hope you'll help us support this wonderful cause by donating canned foods or other non-perishable items.
To learn more about Comité Noviembre, please visit their website at http://comitenoviembre.org/English
If you have any questions and/or inquiries, please contact volunteer coordinators:
Kariela Almonte: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emmanuel von Arx: email@example.com
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Puerto Ricans ages 16 to 24 have the lowest rates of school enrollment and employment, and the highest rates of poverty among Latino New Yorkers. Puerto Rican men are more than twice as likely as their Mexican peers to be out of school and out of the labor force. Puerto Rican women are more likely to be out of school and unemployed than Dominican or Mexican women. The findings, culled from the Census Bureau’s annual surveys from 2006 to 2008, show that Puerto Rican youth are the most disadvantaged of all comparable groups, including young black men, in New York, the report said.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
Join editors Juan Flores and Miriam Jiménez Román for a conversation-in-the-round about Afro-Latino identity of Black Latinos in the United States.
Moderated by Celeste Headlee, co-host of The Takeaway.
Date: Sunday, Nov 14
Studio Museum in Harlem
144 W 125th St
New York, NY 10027
Click here to RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Another [cool] feature, called Pass It On, lets users suggest books to others, and the map feature shows the places people are who have put a particular book on their profile. There is not a "buy" button on any book page. The site has a separate community for young readers with kid-friendly activities and information about books. In the future, Scholastic will update the site with new features, including Book Buzz, a live feed of comments, news, and reviews.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
We all know of El Cuco, the mythological monster, our parents all warned us about and sometimes even utilized to put the fear of God into us and make us do their will. The other day I was thinking about El Cuco and wondering if perhaps its origins came to us from our Yoruba ancestors since the term sounds African. I was surprised to learn: (it was originally an European pumpkinhead!)And if you ever wondered about the nature of Africa's indigenous beliefs, you should definitely check out V.S. Naipaul's The Masque of Africa, which sounds really interesting:
From Wikipedia's article on 'The CUCO': The Cuco (Coco, coca, or cuca) is a mythical monster, a ghost, witch; equivalent to the boogeyman found in many Hispanic and Lusophone [Portuguese-speaking] countries.
The myth of the Coco originated in Portugal and Galicia. According to the Real Academia Española the word "coco" derives from the Portuguese language, and referred a ghost with a pumpkin head.
Traditionally, the coco, or its feminine counterpart "coca", is represented by a carved vegetable lantern made from a pumpkin with two eyes and a mouth, that is left in dark places with a light inside to scare people. The vegetable lantern is similar to the Jack o' lantern. Coca the dragon is another representation of this scary being and is present in the folklore of Portugal and Galicia. The name of the "coconut" derived from "coco" and was given to the fruit by the sailors of Vasco da Gama because it reminded this mythical creature. The legend of the Cuco began to be spread to Latin America by the Portuguese and Spanish colonizers. There is no general description of the Cuco, as far as facial or body descriptions. The legend of the Cuco is widely used by parents in Spain and Latin America in order to make their children go to sleep. Parents usually tell small kids that the Cuco will take them away if they don't fall asleep early. This method has been in use for decades now.
Popularity and other names TheCuco method is very popular among parents from Dominican Republic to Argentina. In many countries, the character has different meanings: in Mexico, for example, parents prefer to call Cuco the similar name "Calaca", which also means skeleton there. In Brazil Cuco appears as a female, 'Cuca'. Cuca appears as the villain in some children books by Monteiro Lobato. Artists illustrating these books depicted the Cuca as an anthropomorphic alligator. In Northern New Mexico, where there is a large Hispanic population, El Cuco is referred to in its Spanglish name, the Coco Man. His image is construed with Brazil's sack man; he carries a bag to take naughty children around Christmas time, and demands repentance in the form of Catholic prayers. The Bogeyman (or boogeyman) could be considered an English equivalent of the Cuco, since both monsters attack children who misbehave.
POPULAR SONG FOR THE CUCO: duermete niño, duermete ya...que viene el cuco y te comera (sleep child, sleep now...or else comes the coco to eat you)
* Photo credit: Self-portrait by Jamie Wyeth
Here's just a sprinkling of their most intriguing books (in no particular order):
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I originally met him in 2007, back when I worked at Aol, and he is one of brightest (and best-dressed) stars of the tech world. His work never fails to impress me, which is why, you should take a look at his new trailer for his book. Yes, it's over the top - but there's nothing wrong with that - I happen to like that. As for marketing techniques, it's over the top but simple, how's that for brilliant?
I am also a huge fan of beautiful infographics (who doesn't like pretty.data-that is?) and Brian, along with JESS3, are the creators of the Conversation Prism, a whole view of the social media universe, categorized and also organized by how people use each network. V 3.0, their latest version, introduces new groups and networks and also removes those networks no longer in play.
Join author and activist Angela Davis and Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Toni Morrison for this exclusive conversation.
NYPL LIVE: Angela Davis and Toni Morrison
Monday, October 25, 2010
For me, they are really interesting from a cultural perspective. My interest in marketing was minimal especially as a child pondering the future, mine or anyone else's for that matter. In junior high school, we had an executive from Johnson & Johnson come in to speak to our class about how they created and marketed their products. Afterwards, we were all assigned a project to design the packaging for a J&J product and a marketing plan for it. That was actually really fun and enlightening. As an 11 year-old, I had never really thought about what about a product's packaging and how its copy/design elements induced me to want to buy it.
Even as a younger child too, I was intrigued by the character of Darrin Stephens on the iconic show Bewitched, who was an executive at the Madison Avenue advertising agency "McMann and Tate" and often brought his work home with him. We seem to be fascinated more than ever with marketing and advertising, just look at the explosion of social media experts/gurus, marketing blogs and books, and even our love affair with the TV drama, Mad Men, which "is set in the 1960s, initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, and later at the newly created firm of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce." We live in a consumer-driven, capitalist society fascinated with materials goods but also one that deeply enjoys analyzing our own selves.
This post was inspired by a few ads that I have seen lately on the TV, the train, and in IRL, as well as a new (funny but sad) microblog, I recently discovered - Marketingdouchebags!
|QR Code: Scan it and it take you www.literanista.net|
I wish I could remember which companies the ads/spots were for (clearly demonstrating their effectiveness, IMO)-I think it might have been mostly utility or insurance agencies (like State Farm or Con Edison), which left me with the thought why would I want to "like" you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter or Youtube. Are you going to lower my bills? Teach me something? What's the cool factor? I'm sorry, Con Ed, your cool factor is zero. Why should I pull out my phone and scan that QR Code? What's my incentive? What do I get out of it? Also, I am sorry but I don't think QR Codes are mainstream enough (not yet) that the general population even knows that that is what they are and/or that they are supposed to scan them.
They recently reached over 1 million fans on Facebook). Now that is something I can become a fan of - engage me, make me remember your brand, your philosophy or teach me something useful and/or offer me something that is of value to me - that will make me remember your name and bring you fame.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
In the best news ever category:
Judy Blume will adapt ‘Tiger Eyes’ for the big screen
Saturday, October 23, 2010
In related news, earlier this summer: List of Illegal Immigrants Leaked to Media and State Agencies in Utah
when I was just starting out as a writer at home in Santiago, Chile, in the late 1980s, the nation's premier writer, Jose Donoso, who died late last year, invited me to participate in a workshop to be held at his house, and he eventually became something of a mentor to me. I usually took whatever advice he had to offer. Donoso had taught creative writing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City during the 1960s and always talked about it with great nostalgia and respect. He encouraged me to apply to the International Writers Program there, and after a couple of letters and some string-pulling, I got in, arriving at Iowa from Chile in the summer of 1994 with high hopes.
I had a secret agenda that wasn't really a secret at all: I wanted to take advantage of my being in the heart of the heart of the literary land. And I also wanted get published in the States, the home of so many writers and artists who had inspired me. To be published in English, in a sense, was like joining that group. Iowa City, to me, was the promised land. I felt like a true literary pilgrim, and it seemed altogether appropriate that my dorm was called the Mayflower. I felt I had arrived at last, but I soon found that I still had a long way to go. Unlike most of the other participants, I wasn't out to write a book or get my first novel published. I already had three under my belt. The problem was: They were in Spanish.
My first afternoon at Iowa proved to be a sign of things to come. I was invited, along with the other foreign writers, to a welcome reception. There were people from Nigeria, India, Syria, Malaysia, Burma, Poland and Israel. One of the program coordinators casually suggested it would be great to see everyone in their "native outfits." So, following his suggestion, I went down in an MTV Latino T-shirt (sent to me by a VJ friend), baggy shorts and a pair of Birkenstocks. The coordinators were disappointed, to say the least.
After a few weeks, I began to suspect that I might actually have a chance at getting published in English, even if I didn't have the right outfit. After all, I was Latino, and everything Latino was "hot." Bookstore shelves were peppered with Latino names and colorful dust jackets: Santiago, Alvarez, Cisneros, Anaya, Esquivel, Castillo, Allende, Rodríguez, Viramontes. There seemed to be a Spanish-language wave that I wanted to ride on my South American board. I couldn't believe my luck. I figured that all I had to do was get someone to translate something I wrote, and then my work would speak for itself.
A student translator eagerly invited me to her house one day. She served me some nachos with salsa and put on a Silvio Rodríguez tape (Rodríguez is a pro-Castro Cuban troubadour) in an effort to make me feel "at home." She began our work session with her opinion: She really enjoyed my work, but somehow, she felt, it lacked "magical realism." We worked on it, but the flying abuelitas and the obsessively constructed genealogies didn't seem to fit in my work. Weeks later, the Iowa Review rejected the first story I submitted to them. In a polite letter, I was gently told that it wasn't what they were looking for. In fact, the story I had written could easily have taken place right here, in America, they said.
I got the message. I knew I had done something wrong, and I had the sinking feeling that my North American glory days had come to an end before they had even gotten started. Add some folklore and a dash of tropical heat and come back later. That was the message I heard. So I went back to the bookstores and took a closer look at all those novels with Hispanic authors. Sure enough, they fit the formula. They had done their homework. Each book offered either color-by-numbers magical realism or the cult of the underdeveloped. Sagas of sweaty migrant farm laborers, the plight of misunderstood political refugees or the spicy violence of the barrio. All decent themes, of course, but quite removed from my middle-class, metropolitan Chilean existence. All of a sudden, it hit me: I was Latin American, all right -- I just wasn't Latino enough. My American dreams came to an abrupt end.
Fast forward: Things happened, and a combination of luck, good timing and the right people came into my life. My first book, "Mala Onda," was finally accepted for publication in the United States by a large New York publishing house. Luckily, I found an editor who felt as I did: He was fed up with García Márquez wannabes and is a true believer in cultural realism, a sort of NAFTA-like writing that he felt I exemplified. Great. However, I realize now more than ever that I still somehow don't feel part of the Latino canon. And I wonder if I ever will. But what can I do? My language is Spanish and my home is in South America. How much more Latino can you get?
The thing is, I get suffocated by thick, sweet, humid air that smells like mangos, and I get the munchies when I begin to fly among thousands of colorful butterflies. I can't help it; I'm an urban dweller through and through. The closest I'll ever get to "Like Water for Chocolate" is cruising the titles at my local Blockbuster.
Reinaldo Arenas, the well-known writer and Cuban exile, hit the nail on the head when he attacked the South American literary stereotypes that so-called "developed" countries have fostered. "To write in Latin America is a drama (whether conscious or not), played out beneath the eternal double curse of underdevelopment and exoticism." Arenas feels that Latin American magic realism has degenerated to the point that its dominant theme is nothing more than a desire to pander to the magic-starved sensibilities of North American and European readers. I tend to agree with him.
"The other side of the curse is that of conformity. We [Latinos] ... are [considered] noble savages, simple, passionate beings whose only goal in life is to cultivate an acre of land, and dance the cumbia ... By taking the path of exoticism, and with the paternalistic support and understanding proffered by the Europeans and North Americans, one can easily reach fame and fortune, and, sometimes even the Nobel Prize."
Exactly. Unlike the ethereal world of García Márquez's imaginary Macondo, my own world is something much closer to what I call "McOndo" -- a world of McDonald's, Macintoshes and condos. In a continent that was once ultra-politicized, young, apolitical writers like myself are now writing without an overt agenda, about their own experiences. Living in cities all over South America, hooked on cable TV (CNN en español), addicted to movies and connected to the Net, we are far away from the jalapeño-scented, siesta-happy atmosphere that permeates too much of the South American literary landscape.
Julian Barnes echoes this feeling in his novel "Flaubert's Parrot," where his scholarly narrator declares that the entire genre of magical realism should be banished: "A quota system is to be introduced on fiction set in South America," he says. The example he gives speaks for itself. "Ah, the fredonna tree whose roots grow at the tip of its branches, and whose fibers assist the hunchback to impregnate by telepathy the haughty wife of the hacienda owner ..."
Writers today who mold themselves after the Latin American "boom" writers of the 1960s (García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, to name a few) have transformed fiction writing into the fairy-tale business, cranking out shamelessly folkloric novels that cater to the imaginations of politically correct readers -- readers who, at present, aren't even aware of Latino cultural realism. David Gallagher, writing from Chile for the London Times Literary Supplement, considers this obscurity an asset: "These writers don't have an international reputation to protect. Nor do they feel the necessity of submerging themselves in the waters of the politically correct. Since they don't have the advantage of living abroad, they wouldn't even know how to write a PC novel ... they aren't writing for an international audience, and therefore, have no need to maintain the status quo of the stereotypical Latin America that is packaged up for export."
I feel the great literary theme of Latin American identity (who are we?) must now take a back seat to the theme of personal identity (who am I?). The McOndo writers -- such as Rodrigo Fresán and Martin Rejtman of Argentina, Jaime Bayly of Peru, Sergio Gómez of Chile, Edmundo Paz Soldán of Bolivia and Naief Yeyha of Mexico, to name a few -- base their stories on individual lives, instead of collective epics. This new genre may be one of the byproducts of a free-market economy and the privatization craze that has swept South America.
I don't deny that there exists a colorful, exotic aspect to Latin America, but in my opinion, life on this continent is far too complex to be so simply categorized. It is an injustice to reduce the essence of Latin America to men in ponchos and sombreros, gun-toting drug lords and sensual salsa-swinging señoritas. As a character from my second book said: "I want to write a saga, but without falling into the trap of magical realism. Pure virtual realism, pure McOndo literature. Kind of like 'The House of the Spirits,' only without the spirits."
In the past, Latin American writers felt compelled to leave their home countries to be able to write about them. Not only were they seeking political freedom, but cultural nutrition. As expatriates, they idealized their countries to the point that they created a world that never really existed. I feel very comfortable at my desk in Santiago, writing about the world around me. A world that comes to me through television, radio, the Internet and movies, which I send back through my fiction. My Latin American fiction.
June 11, 1997
"Alberto Fuguet is a freelance journalist and the author of the novel "Bad Vibes" (St. Martin's Press). He lives in Santiago, Chile." Born in Santiago de Chile, Alberto Fuguet spent his early childhood in California. He is one of the most prominent Latin American authors of his generation and one of the leaders of the literary movement known as McOndo, which proclaims the end of magical realism. He has been a film critic and a police reporter.Visit him at www.albertofuguet.cl
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
* Texaco,” by the Martinican writer Patrick Chamoiseau
The novel, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1992 and was one of the Book Review’s Notable Books, traces more than a century of Caribbean history through tales told by Marie-Sophie Laborieux, a descendant of slaves. “Both true and fabulous,” Leonard Michaels wrote in the Book Review, the novel’s stories of Martinique “constitute a personal and communal record of black experience on the island from the early days of slavery through its abolition and beyond — a record more real than ‘history,’ which is a formal, impersonal narrative.”
“Family Installments: Memories of Growing Up Hispanic” by Edward Rivera
“Poison River” and “The Death of Speedy,” two collections of the Love & Rockets comics by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez
“The Keepsake Storm” by Gina Franco
“The Housekeeper and the Professor” by Yoko Ogawa
* Soon to be on reading lists everywhere!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Don't miss your chance to call in and chat with us or listen in!
Hispanic Heritage Month - The Latina Mosaic: Strength in Diversity
10/15/2010 1:30 PM ET
Call-in Number: (646) 378-0039 or listen online
Monday, October 11, 2010
@GaryJBusey: "Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband too. 'Cause Christopher Columbus is raping everbody out here." - 1492 tweet
@TWlTTERWHALE: Happy Christopher Columbus Day. Now go out and discover something that was already discovered.
@DeathStarPR: Christopher Columbus: discovered nothing, kidnapped, enslaved & murdered natives & gets a national holiday honoring him? Well played, sir.
@ish: I don't have a Christopher Columbus joke. So I'm just going to take someone else's, and say I discovered it.Happy Dia De La Raza!
Saturday, October 09, 2010
In his unforgettable telling of the short, deplorable existence of the “Hottentot Venus”—née Saartjie Baartman, a slave from Cape Town who was exhibited as a freak-show attraction in early 19th-century Europe—Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain) delivers a riveting examination of racism.
Gawked at and groped in grimy carnivals in London and, later, high-society Parisian salons, Baartman soon becomes the object of prurient fascination of French scientists, obsessed with calibrating every part of her anatomy—particularly her enlarged buttocks and genitals. Though Baartman’s life was unspeakably grim, Yahima Torres’s remarkably complex portrayal of the title character reveals not just a mute symbol of victimhood but also a woman capable of fierce defiance.Here's a peak (in French or German):
Friday, October 08, 2010
“I think Latin American literature deals with power and politics, and I would say this is inevitable. We in Latin America have not solved yet basic problems like freedom, like stable institutions, like tolerance, coexistence, and diversity.
We still have ... behind us this atrocious tradition of authoritarianism and brutality in politics. So it’s very difficult for a Latin American writer to avoid politics and these problems that are larger than politics. They are social; they are civic; they are moral.
I think that is the reason why Latin American literature is impregnated with political preoccupations that, in many cases, are more moral preoccupations than political ones. I think literature is an expression of life—and you can not eradicate politics from life.
Even if you think politics is, in many cases, a disgusting, dirty activity.”
-- Mario Vargas Llosa, in response to being asked if he thought enough novelists worked sufficiently at the task of understanding state power in their fiction here.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Guatemala asks US for full disclosure on sex diseases study (AFP) – 17 hours ago GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala on Wednesday issued a formal request for full disclosure on how US scientists deliberately infected hundreds of people here with sexually transmitted diseases from 1946-1948. "All of the information has been requested officially but it is still at the university where they found the archives," President Alvaro Colom said of the cases of 1,500 Guatemalans who were used unwittingly in testing that some locals have likened to Nazi experiments.
Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize in literature the Swedish Academy announced today. The writer, 74, is the first Latino to be awarded the Nobel literature prize since Mexican author Octavio Paz won in 1990.Check out a neat slideshow about his life here
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
A re-interpreted modern dance piece that will surely stop you in your tracks and take your breath away!
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
In the Village Voice, Steven Thrasher offers a harsh look at baby boomers, the economy, and how "40 percent of the nation's population under 18 is already non-white," reversing the traditional power dynamic of otherness and vulnerability, and thereby, pitting "the Grays against the Browns."
Malcolm Gladwell's Small Change: The Revolution Will Not be Tweeted and Anil Dash's response Making the Revolution
Once upon a time, things were simpler. Issues could be looked at through polarized lenses, the Haves and the Have Nots, educated v. uneducated, or among racial trajectories - Black and White. Today, it isn't that simple. While those dichotomies have not disappeared... the economy, globalization, techonology, the web, and a growing awareness of multiracialness are changing the paradigms. It will be interesting to see where the path leads us - all of us since, ultimately, for better or worse, we are on it together.
Monday, October 04, 2010
On the film:
By means of this documentary we hope to disentangle some key factors: his intimacy, his never ending education, his coherence, studies and thought processes at the service of action and the construction of a new world, his extraordinarily poetic outlook of reality.
The narrative's primary support is the atmosphere generated by the evocation of memory; the idea is to present snippets of memory in which certain acts or deeds take place, seen from an intimate and subjective viewpoint, that of Ernesto Guevara, based on his texts, his recordings and literary narrations, stock footage from the time in which he lived and its contraposition to the current times, with a world scarred by violence and inequality.
After more than ten years of research while studying his written works, we believe that it is fundamental to offer the mythical image of Che from a new perspective, from the depth of his philosophy, to offer a dimension that lends new meaning to his public performance and shows the greatness of his acts.
Also this week in NYC:
Celebrate the Life, Legacy and Work of Ernesto "Che" Guevara! Friday, October 8th from 7:00pm - 10:00pm at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 521 West 126th Street (Amsterdam Ave. and Broadway)
This year marks the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Ernesto "Che" Guevara; a hero, warrior and teacher to all peoples! El Che's work and life story has inspired countless revolutionaries around the world. In honor of his life and in solidarity with the Free the Cuban 5 Month, The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 is organizing this event to pay homage to a man whose life, legacy and work still touches us all. Come learn, share and discuss the life of this incredible man. S
Come learn, share and discuss the life of this incredible man.
Film: El Che: Love, Politics, and Rebellion
Claudia De La Cruz, La Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas/UCC
Radhames Morales, Fuerza de la Revolucion
A representative from the U.S. Cuban Mission to the United Nations
A representative from El Circulo Bolivariano de NYC
A representative from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
A representative of Da Urban Butterflies
Friday October 8th, 2010 at 7pm
St. Marys Episcopal Church 521 w.126th St. Sanctuary
Between Amsterdam Ave. And Broadway
Take the 1 train to w. 125th St. Suggested Donation: $10 (no one will be turned away)
For more info. Contact The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5: 718-601-4751, Freethecuban5@gmail.com, www.freethecuban5.com