Sunday, June 16, 2013

In the Mouth of the Whale

I grew up in New York City.

Recently, a partial memory of my early childhood came back to me of a enormous, stone whale, me playing within its gaping mouth and nearby water. I must have been perhaps four years old because I can only remember snippets and the thrill of being in that dark, cavernous creature's mouth while my mom sat nearby in the sun.

For some reason, I associate the memory with Central Park but I know the ins and outs of Central Park and many of the other city parks well, like the back of my hand. I have never been able to locate this place with the whale and the sprinklers/water works.

via http://vintagechromes.blogspot.com

This weekend sparked by a conversation about the memory, I did some research and then shared my findings with my mother who put it all together for me.

The whale was part of the Central Park Children's Zoo, the old Lehman one that was demolished in 1996, which was a 50th wedding anniversary tribute from the Senator and his wife. It featured  Jonah's Whale or Whaley, Noah's Ark, Hansel and Gretel's cottage and other storybook scenes. 

The interesting thing about this is that the "new" Central Park Zoo, opened in 1997, has been one of my all-time favorite places to go in the city since my college babysitting days and I've been there so many times and never realized this was the same place.


via The Central Park Zoo By Joan Scheier
Whaley (or Whalemina as she came to be called), decomposing, peeling and chipped by then was moved to Rockaway Beach in attempt to recuse her from the trash pit in the mid-1990s but was damaged during the trip - her jaw collapsed and her tail was lopped off. She was patched up and became a beloved beach mascot for another generation but ultimately, she was washed out to sea during Hurricane Sandy, last october and all that was recovered was her reattached tail.
Whalemina, Rockaway Beach
Whalemina, Rockaway Beach (Photo: gsz)

She lives on only in the memory of the brave children who traipsed inside her basin during the 1960s-1980s, and the ones who gazed upon her majestic mosaic in her Queens retreat. 

There is something beautiful, cyclical and constant about her return to Yemaya and the sea, once beached and now set free. 

When I spoke to my mother, she told me that she would often take me to Zoo after her physical therapy sessions at the hospital when she was young and sprite in spite of the devastating hit and run that changed the course of her life. That I loved to play the inside the cottage and peek out at her from the windows and from  the Ark and make friends with the other kids who frolicked in the mouth of the whale.

* Local Rockaway artists have vowed to resurrect Whalemina and rebuild the community, to learn more about the Projects of Peace and donate to help support their efforts click here.


Here's another whale you might also remember from the same era:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lit Links and Scoops

Your weekly link pack:

To be, or not to be a Latino Author

- Mexico’s illiteracy problem is growing worse

- I'm sort of obsessed with Joss & Main, a home goods limited sale site.

- A list of the 2013 International Latino Book Awards Winners! via @mamiversebooks

- Racism on Twitter - yet again.

- Watcha Magazine is seeking advertiser. Be part of the 1st Latino Hip hop Magazine in the Nation! Shoot them an email at info@watchamag.com.

- Moms Turn to Tech to Get Kids Access to Latino Authors via ABC News

- Podcast: 200 Years of Latino History in Philadelphia" by WHYY Public Media via soundcloud

- "The idea that larger, traditional publishing houses—like Simon & Schuster, Alfred K. Knopf and
MacMillan—are passing over Hispanic authors, despite the quality of work and incredible niche in the book market, is disappointing." via Voxxi

- Great essay: the truth about multicultural stories via the Rumpus

- Have you joined this amazing group of Latina Bloggers yet? Join on Facebook.

- Very excited about Guillermo Del Toro's book, The Strain, coming to TV. Via Screenrant I also want to catch up on the BBC miniseries, In the Flesh, that I missed. iTunes, here I come.

- A fascinating map of the world’s most and least racially tolerant countries via Washington Post

- Great read: "The Truth About Bicultural Consumers and How Marketers Are Taking Notice Cultural Identity Is Crucial and Should Be Represented in Media" via AdAge.

- FX Courts Latinos (hard) for Crime Thriller 'The Bridge' - Early screenings, Q&As in bilingual media and a multicity mural project help boost awareness among a potential Hispanic viewership of 48 million. via Hollywood Reporter.

The Future Silicon Valley: Latina Coders via SV Latino

- Simón Bolívar: The Latin American Hero Many Americans Don’t Know via Time

- Am I an ‘Immigrant Writer’? By AMIT MAJMUDAR

Well done, Bacardi!


Check out these two new projects that need your help:

2013 indigogo Video from Renzo Devia / Creador Pictures on Vimeo.




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Invest in Afrolatinos: The Untaught Story

With your support, together we can bring the story of Afrolatinos to the world! Siempre Pa'lante!


2013 indigogo Video from Renzo Devia / Creador Pictures on Vimeo.

Learn more: http://www.afrolatinos.tv/ Also follow on Facebook, TwitterTumblr and Instagram. Conectate!

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Crush it en la Cocina! A Pilón/Molcajete Giveaway

I've always been fascinated by pilóns, the wooden mortar and pestles, so commonly used in Latin cuisine that I'm instantly taken to my mother's kitchen as she crushed garlic and oregano in a teeny bit of olive oil and salt to make her dishes like pernil or mofongo amazing.

In fact, I've started collecting my own array of these traditional tools sometimes made of ceramic, stone, metal or wood and used to crush, grind, and mash ingredients, medicines, herbs and seasonings. There is something so powerful about the act of grinding nature's bounty, almost like an alchemist, with your own two hands in a way that your ancestors have for thousands of years.

Italians used mortars and pestles since the 15th Century in apothecaries, the Molcajete or Mexican version dates back to over 6,000 years ago, Aztec and Maya cultures and is made literally of the earth, from volcanic rock. The Thais usage dates back to the 13th Century.

IMUSA, which specializes in Hispanic cookware and appliances, recently reached out to me about their line calderos (dutch oven pots), griddles & sauté pans, tostoneras, authentic molcajetes, empanada makers, tortilla warmers, salsa dishes and much more. They have some really great products that celebrate both the culture and cuisine of Latinos.

Honestly, some of these kitchen items are so cool and beautiful that they make perfect gifts. They have been kind enough to sponsor a giveaway for Literanista readers - more below on how to win one of three Lava Rock Molcajetes: Made from ultra-durable natural volcanic lava rock, this mortar and pestle set is large enough to grind up a party-size batch of guacamole, then mix and serve it in the same bowl. ($59.99 at Macy’s) Enter to win one below and help my blog gain more visitors:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guacamole and avocado are some of my favorites, just take a look at my Literanista Eats Pinterest Board to see what I mean but having these in your home makes so many healthy, fresh foods even a Mojito easy to make quickly.

Enjoy!

You might also like:
Latina Cooking: Healthy & Low Fat Versions
6 Books About Food Every Latina Should Read
Have You Tried Nueva Cocina Foods Yet?
New Book: Gran Cocina
Just Say "No" to MSG - DIY Recipes for Adobo, Sofrito & Sazon
Sonia Sotomayor's Favorite Dish

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Book: Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies & Q&A with Dr. Seth Holmes

I recently had an opportunity to interview Dr. Seth Holmes, an assistant professor of public health and medical anthropology at UC Berkeley, about his upcoming book Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States.

Here's what Dr. Holmes told me:

Dr. Seth Holmes
I would say the most interesting finding from the field research, from my perspective, was how social inequalities and health inequalities come to be taken for granted in society and in health care.  For example, indigenous undocumented Mexican migrant farm workers live and work in very poor conditions and, as a result, have many related health problems.  

However, their living conditions, working conditions, and health are considered normal and natural by many people in society at large and in health care due to different framings of them as deserving these conditions.  Some of these framings relate to understandings of ethnic body differences, including people saying that indigenous Mexicans are perfect for picking strawberries "because they are lower to the ground", etc.  

Perhaps the most interesting part of the field work from a journalistic perspective would be the border crossing.  I accompanied several undocumented Mexican men as they trekked through the border desert from Mexico into the United States.  We were all apprehended by the border patrol, they were deported to Mexico and I was kept in border patrol jail for one day and then released with a fine for "entry without inspection."  During this experience, it became clear to me that the understanding of Mexican migrants as voluntarily choosing to cross the border was incorrect.  

My Mexican migrant companions experienced this crossing very much as something they were forced into by large social, economic, and political structures.  Thus, the common understandings of some migrants being voluntary versus forced does not hold up when it is considered in the context of the actual experience of the migrants most often categorized as voluntary.  

This is important because the understanding of their crossing as voluntary can often be used to blame them for the crossing (and sometimes even to blame them subtly for their death if they die trying to cross the desert).  

He received his PhD in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco, and his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco.

About Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies:

This book is an ethnographic witness to the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants. Based on 5 years of research in the field (including berry-picking and traveling with migrants back and forth from Oaxaca up the West Coast), Holmes, an anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, uncovers how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care. 

Holmes' material is visceral and powerful--for instance, he trekked with his informants illegally through the desert border into Arizona, where they were apprehended and jailed by the Border Patrol. After he was released from jail (and his companions were deported back to Mexico), Holmes interviewed Border Patrol agents, local residents and armed vigilantes in the borderlands. He lived with indigenous Mexican families in the mountains of Oaxaca and in farm labor camps in the United States, planted and harvested corn, picked strawberries, accompanied sick workers to clinics and hospitals, participated in healing rituals, and mourned at funerals for friends. The result is a 'thick description' that conveys the full measure of struggle, suffering and resilience of these farmworkers.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The New Extension of the Quantified Self: Your Quantified Pet

Two stories demonstrate how this trend is progressing:

How Technology Helped Track A Wandering Cat - WHEN CAROLINE PAUL’S KITTY REAPPEARED AFTER A LONG MONTH AWAY, SHE DECIDED TO FIGURE OUT WHERE HE HAD BEEN SPENDING HIS TIME. via Fast Company

Startup Whistle has designed an activity tracker that clips on to your dog’s collar, but its core offering is a cloud-based analytics service designed to quantify your pet’s health. via Giga Om

Now we won't need to wonder so much about what our pets are up to when we aren't looking.

Happy Friday!

 



 
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