Archive | April, 2010

Arizona reminds me of 1930’s Germany

28 Apr

  

Artwork by the brilliant Lalo Alcaraz. See more of his comics at http://www.gocomics.com/laloalcaraz

It’s been a few days since the SB1070 Immigration bill was signed into law by the governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer (La Brew-Ha como le dicen en facebook.) Y aunque este no es un blog político, si es un blog de la vida en spanglish, so it’s about time I voice my opinion. 

Before the hate comments come in (how interesting that when I post something that is immigration related I get a few hate emails which are never published) let me start off by saying there is no easy way out of this immigration mess, no easy single solution that will make everyone happy when it comes to undocumented workers in the US. There are too many obstacles (money, power, race, pride) and too many people (12 million and counting) to solve this in one step. 

The debate heats up every year, around the month of May curiously enough, and everybody gets all worked up and passionate abut the subject. But nothing has changed in years and meanwhile people are divided into camps: Pro-Immigration Reform and the “Send them All Back ” groups como los MinuteMen. 

But we’ve never seen anything like this. Not even back in the days of 187 in California were people so split on this issue.

The extremist and racist profiling tactics and measures that will now take place legally in Arizona are shocking. I don’t exaggerate when I say it reminds me of Germany, Pre World War II., circa 1930. Back then Jews were blamed for everything from diseases to unemployment to taking away from “rightful” citizens to being a threat to the community. Sound familiar?

It seems the people of Arizona took a note out of history and came up with a law that basically would give a law enforcement official, cualquier policía de la calle, the right to ask anybody that doesn’t look “gringo” enough for proof of residencyor legal status and put you in jail or deport you if you don’t have it with you. I suppose they wouldn’t be looking for Chinese, or European, or Canadians, or African Americans, right? This is a law that is aimed at Hispanics and anyone who “looks” Hispanic. What that means is left up entirely to the law officers judgement.

Everyday I come across different opinions on the subject of immigration. Yes there are way too many people who are here without “legal staus”. Yes the system is broken, yes there are crimes and misdemeanors.  However, we are not all criminals, nor thugs, nor abusive “disease ridden illegal aliens who bring lice and diseases across the border” as someone on CNN said recently, imagine that.

What about the millions of hardworking, decent, HUMAN BEINGS that come to work here and grow this country’s economy? What about the people that cook for you in restaurants, wait at your table, clean your office building, park your car, help you out when your car is stranded on the road (it happened to me!), clean your hotel room? What about the construction worker, the janitor, the cook, the nurse, the student with good grades, the nanny, the gardener, the person who helps you carry your groceries, the dishwasher? Don’t they deserve a chance to work/live here legally? Everyday they prove they are worthy of the American Dream. They work hard and provide for their families. I have met people and know stories that inspire, esta gente lo ha sufrido y lo ha vivido. Salen con miedo todos los dias de ser deportados, y aun así se arriesgan. Merecen tener el derecho a trabajar y quedarse aqui. He dicho. 

Jan Brew-ha can say this won’t affect Arizona’s economy. Allá ella. We’ll see. For the moment, I won’t so much as spend a cent in AZ, nor drive through there. “I won’t even drink Arizona Tea,” says my friend Mickey Vega. Lo siento por los residentes de su estado, but that’s the way it is. 

So that’s my humilde opinión. I have a feeling this time things will be a little different. People are more informed. More vocal.And we now have the power of Facebook!  Social Media is a great tool for defending your point of view (either for or against Immigration Reform) and it’s not going anywhere soon. Here’s a few groups that have formed since last week: 

1 Million Strong Against Arizona Immigration Law SB 1070. 

Possible Illegal Immigrants 

Si un policia me dice papeles y yo digo tijeras gano yo 

And other links to Presente.org (a great group credited with bringing down Lou Dobbs)

Shame on Arizona 

And here’s a cool video link my friend Marisol Rosas sent me (Gracias!) from the Colbert Report: (Click below to watch) 

No Problemo

Theres’ still plenty to mention, but for now, here we are.  ¡Animo amigos!

Please go see “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”

26 Apr

"El Secreto de Sus Ojos" is a must see film.

This year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Movie, “The Secret in Their Eyes”/ “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”  just opened this past weekend in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful movie from Argentina directed by Juan José Campanella. Believe me when I say this, you MUST see this movie. De veras. ¡La tienen que ver!

It was exciting to see this movie win the Oscar because it wasn’t considered a contender, but after watching it, and seeing the reaction of everyone in the jam packed theater at the ArcLight in Hollywood, I think this movie will become a classic. Including one scene in a soccer stadium that left us… WOW…how did they do that?

I’m no Roger Ebert, nor Manola Darghis, but I do love films, and for a few years I’ve been lamenting the fact that there are not that many good films being made anymore.  Real films, with stories that move you to the core, and honest acting done by real actors on real sets or locations. It’s almost a rarity now, if you think about it. And it has been a while since I’ve felt excited about a movie like this, especially because it’s in Spanish, y el español se oye muy bonito cuando lo hablan los argentinos.  No tuve tiempo de leer los subtítulos en inglés para ver si eran fieles a los diálogos, así que tendré que verla otra vez. At least in the title, they played around with the translation for “Sus”/”Their” versus “Sus”/Her or “Sus”/His interpretation, which was very clever.

Todos los actores se merecen un Oscar. Ricardo Darín, en el papel de Benjamin Espósito, es lo máximo, un actor al que le sientes toda su emoción en ese mismo momento. Soledad Villamil es hermosa y habla con los ojos; Guillermo Francela es uno de los mejores “sidekicks” que se puedan imaginar. Todos, todos brillantes.

Es difícil describir el género de la película porque los tiene todos. Something for everybody (except kids of course): drama, moments of dark comedy, love and romance, suspenso, misterio, film noir, tragedia, political thriller basado en la historia, un poco de horror, you name it! And even though it’s a bit long (2 hours 7 minutes) and I had a few tiny objections to the makeup and the third act, I loved loved loved this movie.

Check your local listings on moviefone.com for times. I suspect you’ll have to see it at an arthouse or one of the specialty  theaters. This is not a popcorn movie for the masses. It’s smart, intriguing, well written and acted, with a story you’ll be thinking about for days. You’ll remember quotes from the movie and scenes that will grow more on you as you leave the movie theater. “Una pasión es una pasión” is one of them for me. Bravo por “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”, now go see it and show your support for movies en español y el cine latinamericano.

San Lunes #2

25 Apr

Por favor denme café y más café. Para aguantar el San Lunes.

The weekend came and went and 48 hours is not enough.

Here are 2 shots from a very short fin de semana.

Aquí nomas para un lado O para el otro. Yes, these are the ONLY options. Photo by yours truly.

Maybe the answer is found by looking up.

Corazón de Vida is a beautiful cause

24 Apr

People who make things happen are admirable. They are something else. They never cease to amaze. Such is the case of Yarel Ramos and Bricia López, and all the great people who support Corazón de Vida (CDV).

This is a wonderful group that raises money and actually makes monthly visits down to orphanages in Tijuana, Baja California, México to help more than 750 orphaned and abandoned kids. They serve 14 orphanages and their stats are pretty impressive: 2,250 meals served a day; 2,450 diaper changes per week; 750 showers per day; 1,204 loads of laundry per month.

As you can imagine, this requires a lot of effort and money. So in the spirit of helping out, last Thursday, Yarel, Bricia and friends  held a great fundraising event benefiting CDV at La Guelaguetza (the great Oaxacan restaurant owned by Bricia’s family) and the turnout was very positive. Over 100 people attended and had a great time, enjoying traditional dishes from Oaxaca from Guelaguetza’s famous kitchen, as well as live music and cool raffles: Dodger Tickets and memorabilia, Macy’s store giveaways, music cd’s. There was also mezcal and tequila sampling by Real de México.

So if you think you need some Karma “brownie points” (o le deben algo al universo) or are looking for a good cause to support, and if you are particularly interested in the well being of children, think of these orphans and please consider making a donation in money and/or time to Corazón de Vida. Every little bit helps and goes a long way. These kids will thank you and love you sincerely, and appreciate it more than you will ever know.

Here is the website for more information:

http://www.corazondevida.org/

And here are a few snapshots of the event:

Martha Gildemontes, from Macy's, with the organizers of the event, Yarel Ramos, of mun2 and Telemundo and Bricia López, from "La Guelaguetza".

Rosie López, Yarel Ramos and Elena Gonzalez, all active members and supporters of Corazón de Vida.

Full house and good times at La Guelaguetza.

Del Real Tequila and Mezcal. Muy suavecito!

Celebrating Earth Day #40. Madre Tierra sólo hay una.

21 Apr

Gracias a Juana Márquez de Umbral Yoga y Clean Slate PR por enviarme esta información.

Este jueves 22, celebremos el “Earth Day” cuidando más de nuestro planeta y reflexionando sobre como vamos a organizarnos para poder enderezar todo el daño que hemos hecho. Todos podemos hacer algo para mejorar y ser más verdes. ¿Tú que estas haciendo para mejorar este planeta? Hmmm, don’t you think we could all improve our efforts a little bit, at least?

Aquí les presento a Andrés Opsina, un cantante con conciencia y que contribuye a mejorar el planeta todos los dias. Hay que apoyarlo,  ya que lanza su nuevo album este jueves, en el 40 aniversario del Dia de la Tierra. Además, desde el 22 de abril hasta el 30 abril, ustedes pueden bajar el album completo GRATIS en andresospinamusic.com

Chequen este video con una de sus canciones, y ademas nos da un tip para el “composting” ecológico.

Andres Ospina sings for Planet Earth. Check him out at http://www.andresospinamusic.com. (Photo by Laura Wills)

Andrés Ospina is a young Colombian singer/songwriter who is releasing his debut album Buenaventura in observance of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22.

The album was produced with the help of Lee Curreri, who has produced songs for artists such as Natalie Cole, made famous by his starring role in the 1980 movie Fame and the television series under the same name.

Aside from being a talented artist, Ospina has a story and a message to share with the world.  The singer/songwriter comes from a family of environmental activists who have fought for the cause for over 40 years.  In 2004, Andres embarked with his father on the Natibo Expedition, which connected the Orinoco, the Amazon and the Paraná basins by navigating the rivers of the South American continent, and then by sea, exploring the entire Pacific Coast of South America from Chile to Colombia.  Inspired by his travels and alarmed by the destruction of the ecosystems he witnessed first hand, Andres returned to California with his mind set on becoming an ambassador for the conservation effort.

Andres will be donating 20% of proceeds from album sales to the environmental non-profit Treepeople. Buenaventura is a digital-only release, and will be on iTunes after April 22, 2010.

The album is a mix of rock, cuban trova, reggae, blues and other caribbean sounds that carry the poetic lyrics that Andres writes.  His songs are an ode to the idea of going back to the basics, they sing to the joy of having time to connect with nature and celebrate love.

For the release of Buenaventura, Ospina and his band will offer an outdoor concert for friends and media.  The event will take place in TreePeople’s beautiful amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. April 22, 2010.


We invite you to watch the promotional video for the song “Sabia que iba a volver” and that you visit Andres’ blog: www.andresospinamusic.com


 


We should all be paying attention: Cancer Awareness Week

17 Apr

(Para mi amiga Marisol Rosas, the bravest ‘Previvor’ and fighter I know. Wishing you a speedy recovery and sending out all our good vibes so you can be well soon. Ánimo, Te queremos mucho!!)

Cancer is that subject that you never want to deal with, the word you never want to hear, the illness that most scares us. As Woody Allen says in one of his movies, “The most beautiful words in the English language are not ‘I Love You’ but ‘It’s Benign.” (He’s right!)

This week is “National Minority Cancer Awareness Week” (NMCAW) from April 18 through April 24. The American Cancer Society is urging Hispanics and all minorities to be aware of the statistics and recommendations to prevent cancer. We like to avoid screenings and checkups, and yet they are essential, just as eating good food and exercising frequently. We need to know these things and apply them to our daily lives to prevent and fight cancer. Health is our most important possession and we must all keep doing our part to be a healthy community. Even Placido Domingo, who was recently treated for colon cancer, acknowledged that he was lucky because he was treated early for it. And now he’s back to work, as you can read in the article (here) from the LA Times.

Here is the information the American Cancer Society shares in honor of Awareness Week:

Statistics

  • Hispanics are the fastest-growing and youngest minority group in the US.  45.5 million or 15 percent of the total US population is Hispanic.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Hispanics, accounting for 20 percent of deaths in adults and 13 percent of deaths in children.
  • About 1 in 2 Hispanic men and 1 in 3 Hispanic women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
  • Cancers of the stomach, liver, and uterine cervix have the highest incidence and mortality rates for Hispanics, especially among first-generation immigrants to the U.S.

Recommendations

  • Community-level engagement to work with families to promote a healthier life-style and include nutrition and physical activity.

-increasing access to healthy foods in schools, work and local eateries

-provide safe, enjoyable spaces for physical activity

-increase access to preventive services such as screenings

  • The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings to improve the chances of a cure for some cancers by detecting it at an early stage.

-For women in their 20’s and 30’s, Clinical Breast Exam are recommended, preferably at least every three years; Women 40 and older should get mammograms annually.

-Colorectal screening is recommended for men and women starting at age at the age of 50

-Men should discuss prostate cancer screenings with their doctors to determine what level of screening is appropriate.

-Cervical cancer screening should be done every year.

  • Access the American Cancer Society website for more information, resources, services and programs at www.cancer.org/espanol or call toll free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for information in English and Spanish – 1-800-227-2345.

Aftershocks/Réplicas en Mexicali

6 Apr

This is how one of the roads in Mexicali looks after the 7.2. Mother nature is fierce. Photo from Facebook.

By now most of you have heard that last Sunday, on Easter Sunday, Mexicali Baja California, México suffered a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. It hit at 3:40 pm, lasted about 45 seconds, and scared the hell out of all the Cachanillas (mexicalenses)  and Cachanilla “ex-pats” living abroad like yours truly. Miraculously, because I don’t know how else you can describe it, there were only 2 deaths. There is a lot of damage to the city and the surrounding valleys, especially to roads and older buildings, but there is nothing catastrophic like Haiti before it (7.1) and Chile (8.8). Mexicali tuvo mucha suerte. It was a lazy Sunday, families were together celebrating Easter and there was still plenty of daylight.

Call it Luck or Grace of God, what is surprising is how LITTLE we’ve heard about it in Mexican newscasts, like Televisa or TV Azteca. I heard about it on Sunday from the New York Times alerts, turned on CNN in Atlanta and they were covering it, and even my local channels in LA had reporters on the scene the very night. NPR sent their best reporter, Mandalit del Barco, who was already across the border by Monday morning reporting live for the east coast. What was Televisa showing on Sunday night? A soccer match, el “Clasico” del America vs. Chivas. No commercial interruptions. What did TV Azteca have on? A lame reality show de puros nacos who want to be famous.

I ask you, Mexican media moguls, Emilio Azcárraga Jean and Ricardo Salinas Pliego, How can you live with yourself knowing that the single most important event in Baja California’s history went by unnoticed? The earthquake got a mention of 5 seconds, 10 seconds at the most in your nightly news, overshadowed by a novela like crime mystery of a 4 year old that had already been in the news all weekend. According to the LA Times, 20 MILLION people felt this jolt of the earth. Is this not more important than your regular programming? Your answer is very clear. If it doesn’t happen in central Mexico, then it doesn’t count. Shame on you!

People in Mexicali are upset by the lack of coverage. Help has been slow to arrive to the valleys and the Ejidos where the epicenter ocurred. They are in dire straits and yet it is going unnoticed in the media outside California. On the other hand, los mexicalenses son gente unida, trabajadora y aguantadora. They’re tough! They take 120 degree heat for most of the year and many earthquakes year round, so they will survive and pull through.

I am very proud of my hometown and my family and friends. Even in the midst of all the nervousness and unimaginable stress, they keept the calm and carried on. They got to cleaning immediately, back to work the next day and are withstanding aftershock tras aftershock, already 600 to date. Can you imagine this and still keep a sense of humor? Somebody on facebook even formed a group called: “Yo quiero mi ‘We Are The World, Mexicali“…so you know we can take a joke. If only mother nature didn’t joke around so much, we’d be laughing more. As my dear Mom, who is always calm and collected, said when I finally spoke to her, “I thought this was IT, for a few seconds I thought this was the end of the world.”

Luckily we live to see another aftershock.

Which also brings this to mind: Let’s be ready. It can happen anywhere and it is happening everywhere. Today it was Indonesia’s turn at 7.8. The earth is living and moving underneath us. Might as well have a plan and plenty of water. Time to dust off the infamous earthquake kit. Y que Dios guarde la hora.

Animo Mexicali!!! Eres el orgullo del pais y por fin ya todo el mundo te ubica en el mapa.

LA Times Photo Gallery 4/6/2010

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