Friday, October 29, 2010


Thursday, October 28, 2010


INFLUENCERS TRAILER from R+I creative on Vimeo.

"A film that explores what it means to be an influencer and how, today, trends and creativity become contagious in music and fashion. Directed by Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson, the film is a Polaroid snapshot of New York influential creatives (advertising, design, fashion and entertainment) who are shaping pop culture."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloweenie: Origins "El Cuco"

This is one of my favorite posts from last year.In the spirit of Halloween, I am reposting:
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!)

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

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:

Caribbean, African, Middle Eastern and World History Books

It's not often one sees a catalog and wants every title in there. That was my experience on browsing through the site.

Here's just a sprinkling of their most intriguing books (in no particular order):

Frontiers, Plantations, and Walled Cities Essays on Society, Culture, and Politics in the Hispanic Caribbean, 1800-1945 by Luis Martinez-Fernandez
For decades, the Hispanic Caribbean has eluded attempts by historians striving to view and analyze Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic as a region ...      More Details
Women in Caribbean History by Verene Shepherd
Early historical works portrayed women, especially those of African descent, in a sexist and racist manner. Women in Caribbean History embodies the progress of research ...      More Details
La Indianidad: The Indigenious World Before Latin America by Hernan Horna
Among the few historical documents by or about early Native American history are pre-Columbia Mayan manuscripts and stone glyphs, and documents written in Spanish by ...      More Details
Tropical Diaspora: The Jewish Experience in Cuba by Robert S. Levine
“This unique, well-documented social history invites the reader to explore Cuban Jewry as a fascinating chronicle and to ‘capture the flavor of their lives.’ This ... More Details
African Experience in Spanish America by Rout Leslie ,Jr
This pioneering book, a founding text of African diaspora studies, continues to hold a prominent place in any bibliography of its field and remains the ...      More Details
Trujillo: The Death of the Dictator by Bernard Diederich
On May 30, 1961, a hail of bullets ended the life of Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, known to his countrymen as "The Goat" for his ...      More Details
Afro-Cuban Myths: Yemaya and other Orishas by Romulo Lachatañere, Jorge Castellanos, Siegfried Kaden, Christine Ayorinde
A moving collection of myths and tales, AFRO-CUBAN MYTHS was first published in 1938 under the title Oh, Mío Yemayá!, These stories lead readers into ...      More Details

Chinese in the Caribbean by Andrew Wilson
The history of the Caribbean is a history of migrations. The peoples of the region came as conquerors and planters, slaves and indentured laborers from ...      More Details

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Book Trailer for Brian Solis' ENGAGE

If you haven't ventured over or checked out his most recent book, Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, then shame on you!

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 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.

It's gorgeous enough to frame and display!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 7:00 PM EDT
$25 General Admission, $15 FRIENDS, Seniors and Students with valid ID

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
Angela Davis is an American socialist, philosopher, political activist and retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Davis was largely active during the Civil Rights Movement and was associated with the Black Panthers. Her research interests are in feminism, African American studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music and social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. She authored the book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave.

Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed black characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If Strangers Meet

"Sometimes you have to get to know someone really well to realize you’re really strangers.” 
                                                                                               --Mary Tyler Moore

Ineffective Ploys, Douchebags and Marketing

Marketing and advertising have always been at the crossroads of corporate culture and whimsical creativity (cue: Willy Wonka's Imagination), and so has suffered from cross pollination of both ends of the spectrum - too silly, too radical, too out there to too stuffy, clueless, irrelevant, etc.

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
On TV ads and in posters on the NYC Subway, I have begun to notice an increase in the use of Facebook and Twitter icons, even Youtube channel call-outs, and in print ads, the use of QR Codes. This seems great, brands are getting it, they are getting with the program, right? But some are just doing it wrong and sometimes trying is not enough. Marketing is one of those things that in order to be right (read: successful) it has to be done right (tangent: like math - shivers at the flashback).

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.

Exhibit A
Now, I am not a big fan of processed meats to begin with but, why on Earth would I follow or fan this brand? I think I would only need to "talk" to them if I had a concern or issue. I think their call to action should be better than "talk to us." While poking around on their website, I learned some informative things like that that they have been around since 1905 and that their products "contain no fillers, gluten, artificial flavors, colors or trans fat." Now these are things that pertain to me - history and facts: love it! Why don't you address those in your ad and give me an incentive to look you up?

Or why not have fun with your brand? Look at Old Spice, no one I know actually likes Old Spice (except a few of my older uncles) but their recent ad campaign has made Isaiah Mustafa, into a celebrity, and their brand and the campaign have become icons of pop culture, even satirized by Sesame Street (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

Two to Watch: Grave Sight and Tiger Eyes

Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connelly series of books will be adapted by Ridley and Tony Scott's production company into a new mystery series called "Grave Sight," coming to CBS, Variety reports.

In the best news ever category:
Judy Blume will adapt ‘Tiger Eyes’ for the big screen

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On the Witchhunt and Outings Front

Uganda: A local paper has come under intense criticism after publishing a blacklist of supposedly gay Ugandans.

In related news, earlier this summer: List of Illegal Immigrants Leaked to Media and State Agencies in Utah

I am not a magic realist!

Excellent thoughts on Latin American fiction, magical realism, and the politics of literature... Via (originally posted in 1997):

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Singer Concha Buika on Growing Up Black in Spain

Don't miss her tomorrow, 10.22.2010: Tribute to Chavela Vargas: Buika

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Junot Díaz: Books that Floored Him

* 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

Join Me Tomorrow for a Live BlogTalkRadio Show on The Latina Mosaic: Strength in Diversity

I'll be hosting a conversation between Selina McLemore, Senior Editor at Grand Central Publishing, Leila Cobo, journalist and author of TELL ME SOMETHING TRUE, and Belinda M. Gonzalez-Leon from the National Hispana Leadership Institute, on how Latinas are strengthening the social fabric of this country, the upcoming Leadership Conference, and the Mujer Awards, tomorrow on at 1:30pm ET.

Don't miss your chance to call in and chat with us or listen in!

Show Information:
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

Columbus Day Tweets

@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

Black Venus - A Film

Playing tonight at theNY Film Festival.
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

Mario Vargas Llosa on the Political Power of Latin American Literature

“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.

Further Evidence of the Emergent (?) Web/Boomer Divide

Thursday, October 07, 2010

U.S. Scientists Intentionaly Infected Guatemalans in the 1940s

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.

In a phone conversation with Colom on Friday, US President Barack Obama expressed his deep regret for the experiment conducted by US public health researchers six decades ago and apologized "to all those affected." The study, which was never published, came to light this year after Wellesley College professor Susan Reverby stumbled upon archived documents outlining the 1940s experiment led by controversial US public health doctor John Cutler. Cutler and his fellow researchers enrolled people in Guatemala, including mental patients, for the study, which aimed to find out if penicillin, relatively new in the 1940s, could be used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Cutler, was also involved in a highly controversial study known as the Tuskegee Experiment in which hundreds of African American men with syphilis were observed but given no treatment for 40 years, between 1932 and 1972. Colom, who has formed a panel to investigate, said it was "important for Guatemala as a nation to get the investigation done as soon as possible." At least one patient died during the experiments, although it is not clear whether the death was from the tests or from an underlying medical problem.

Peruvian author, Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize in literature

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

Fierce: Bourne's Swan Lake

What do you get when you take an alluring romantic Russian ballet, Tchaikovsky's music, and switch out all the traditional troupe of frilly female dancers (swans) with a menacing flock of bare-chested men?

A re-interpreted modern dance piece that will surely stop you in your tracks and take your breath away!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Game-Changing Cultural Shifts

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the dumbing down of America while at the same time there seems to be a lot of hysteria about books/print, who's reading them, and what the web is or isn't doing to us. In this same vein, I wanted to share three articles that I found really speak to what is going on - things are changing dramatically - what we are looking at are major cultural shifts happening in our lifetime.

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."

From a tech perspective, we see two differing takes on shift here with 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

From Che, With Love

"And now for you, Aleida, what is most deeply mine and the deepest part of both of us...” --Ernesto “Che” Guevara, speaking to his wife and reading from the poems of Martínez Villena, César Vallejo, and Pablo Neruda in a new documentary, Che, Un Hombre Nuevo.

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,,

Sunday, October 03, 2010

El Museo Del Barrio Presents NUEVA YORK at the Woodlawn Cemetery

Sunday, October 10, 2010
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Admission: Free
Prepare for the most lively cemetery experience of the year.  As part of Nueva York, El Museo is partnering with the Woodlawn Cemetery and City Lore to offer a walking tour of the final resting places of renowned Latinos Celia Cruz, Carmen Miyares de Mantilla, Juan Machado, and others. Learn more about these notables through Calaveras, a form of poetry created during Day of the Dead celebrations to humor celebrities, performed on-site by poets and spoken word artists. Please meet at the entrance of The Woodlawn Cemetery, located on Webster Avenue & E. 233rd Street.

Reading is...


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Gender Bias, Anyone?

New Book: Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (The Toni Morrison Lecture Series) by Edwidge Danticat
"Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."--Create Dangerously In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile, examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus' lecture, "Create Dangerously," and combining memoir and essay, Danticat tells the stories of artists, including herself, who create despite, or because of, the horrors that drove them from their homelands and that continue to haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt who guarded her family's homestead in the Haitian countryside, a cousin who died of AIDS while living in Miami as an undocumented alien, and a renowned Haitian radio journalist whose political assassination shocked the world. Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library, a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a public witness against torture, and the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States reveal that the countries are not as different as many Americans might like to believe. Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy. Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of two novels, two collections of stories, two books for young adults, and two nonfiction books, one of which, Brother, I'm Dying, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. In 2009, she received a MacArthur Fellowship.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Margaret Atwood on Social Media

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood did an interview with Big Think about (among other things) her usage of and thoughts about Twitter.

What Kind of Person Does this?

October is National Adopt a Dog Month. I love animals and I think everyone should have them - not liking animals is a pretty good gauge of what type of person you are and the person who abandons theirs - well, that's pretty horrid!
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