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

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


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


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.

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 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 and 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 to sign their guestbook.

Chicago Teens Like Latin King Memoirs

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

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...


Stuff I'm Totally Sweating

They're all out of these amazing automatons at, 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 via

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.


"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."


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

Some more web news:

From (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.

" 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:

Inside the Mind of a Genius: Edwidge Danticat

Love this:


Age: 40

Hometown: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Current Location: Miami, FL

Occupation: Writer

1. What four adjectives would your first best friend use to describe you?

Funny, neurotic, sensitive and, I hope, kind

2. What dish do you make well?

Rice and beans

3. What was your favorite song when you were in high school?

“It's Raining Men” by The Weather Girls

4. What is the quickest, best form of charity?


5. Do you believe in magic?

I do

6. What's your drink?

Anything fizzy

7. What's the oldest piece of clothing you own?

My wedding dress, which is 7 years old now

8. Do you handle compliments well?

I try.

9. What habit would you like to break?

Eating too much sweets.

10. Mac or PC?

Yeah, MAC. I've had a Mac since that first little box, the very first one.

11. Who would you destroy?

If I told you, they might try.

12. What holiday do you enjoy?


13. What is your favorite of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?

The first

14. What is the difference between genius and talent?


15. On a scale of 1-10, how lucky are you?


16. What is your definition of luxury?

Peace of mind

17. Do you make your bed every day?

No, but don't tell my husband.

18. You own three novels by the same author. Who is it?

Toni Morrison

19. What has been the most extreme opposition to your work and way of thinking?

People who say stop writing such sad and negative stories. You make us look bad.

20. Vanilla bean, dark chocolate or Bing cherry?

All of the above, thus my problem with sweets.

More: Go inside the minds of the 2009 MacArthur fellows: Edwidge Danticat, Elyn R. Saks, Daniel Mikhail Sigman, Rackstraw Downes, Esther Duflo, Richard O. Prum and Lynsey Addario.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Goggle's Story - In 2 Minutes

A (very) quick look back at the Google story over the last 11 years.

Visit the for more information on the book.
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