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Bravo Mario Molina, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2013

21 Nov

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was handed out today to 16 exceptional Americans, civilians that have made important contributions to this country. It is the highest civil honor anyone can receive in the US. I’m always impressed by this ceremony and the range of all the people who receive this recognition.

As I watched the evening news recap, where they kept focusing on the 2 most famous recipients of the group, la Oprah Winfrey and Mr. William Jefferson Clinton, aka the best president in my humilde opinión, I noticed that in the back row right behind President Obama was a familiar face. Why yes! It was Mario Molina, who also received this award today.

President Obama awards Mario Molina the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2013.

President Obama awards Mario Molina the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2013.

This amazing scientist and chemist happens to have won a Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry (1995) and is the person who alerted everybody in the world that the ozone layer was going to be kaput if we didn’t do something about the environment asap. But also important to note, Mr. Molina was born in Mexico (México, DF, 1943 to be exact) and he came to the US in 1968 to continue his graduate studies in chemical engineering at Berkeley. ¡Es de los nuestros!

He studied how chlorofluorocarbons are depleting the ozone layer (I guess we need to read more about it.) He continues to study how the environment is affected by all the messed up things que los seres humanos do to this planet of ours. President Obama said, “Today, inspired by his example, we’re working to leave our planet safer and cleaner for future generations.”

So I’m very proud. Even though he didn’t get air time on TV como Oprah, it was nice to see him get this recognition and see him among the group.

Muchas Felicidades, Mr. Molina. Qué honor tan grandeY muchas gracias for all the important work you do.

(The group also included musician Arturo Sandoval, the fearless Gloria Steinem, the talented Loretta Lynn, the first female astronaut Sally Ride (+) and the editor Ben Bradley, among others. A most admirable group of individuals.)

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Must See Documentary Discovery: Reportero

23 Aug
A documentary by Bernardo Ruiz.

A documentary by Bernardo Ruiz.

Here is a documentary that I found online through PBS and that has hit close to home.

“Reportero” follows the experience of Sergio Haro Cordero, a reporter in Tijuana, and the editorial team of the independent “Zeta” newspaper in recent years. It is an excellent film directed and produced by Bernardo Ruiz, and from now until September 20, 2013 you can watch it online at PBS for free with this link:

http://www.pbs.org/pov/reportero/full.php#.UhcH_q79XYs

Or you can go to the POV page from PBS and click on the selection: http://www.pbs.org/pov/

This is not a particularly “feel good movie” nor an easy story to watch, but it’s important to see it. 

Journalism is a tough profession, especially when your life is at risk for pursuing the truth and writing it.  As we know, Mexico does not have a good track record in protecting its journalists nor its citizens- far from it- and this documentary is an eye opener to all the things they are exposed to in this day and age. It has definitely made me aware of how valuable their work is, and I admire them even more.  

About 15 years ago, I had the pleasure of being a colleague of Mr. Sergio Haro Cordero at my local newspaper. I wasn’t even done with college, I wasn’t even pursuing a serious career in journalism (me tocaba la seccion de Sociales, for crying out loud!) but I was impressed by his work ethic, integrity, professionalism (exactly what you see in the film) and generosity in teaching a “rookie” the ropes.

One time, I tagged along for an interview with the state governor (Ernesto Ruffo) and Sergio let me ask a few questions (and even took a picture of me doing so, for my scrapbook.) I remember him working nonstop, always on the beat, always had a camera in hand. It’s so amazing to see that time has not changed him one bit (maybe for a few extra canas en el pelo) and even more inspiring is to see his wife and son supporting him even with all the risks they face (¡que valientes!)… I am in awe of his story and the film. Además, I’m proud to still have the photos he took of my muy breve, pero divertido paso por el periodismo de Baja California. Espero poderlo saludar un día de estos para darle las gracias pues son de mis fotos favoritas.

On another note, Jesus Blancornelas, the founding editor of Zeta and one of the main characters in the film, also has a personal connection to my family. Era vecino y amigo de mis abuelos y hasta sirvio de testigo en la boda civil de mis padres, en los 70′s. Small world. Mi abuela se emociona mucho cuando los recuerda a él y a su esposa, Beba.

So if you have an hour, if you have the interest, please watch. I only regret not having seen it in the movie theater when it came out, but grateful to PBS for airing it now. Bernardo Ruiz y compañia, soy tu fan. 

No se lo pierdan.

All in the name of good health: Angelina Jolie and my friend Marisol, plus Runwalk 2013

17 May

This week we all heard of Angelina Jolie’s difficult medical decision, and subsequently, all the opinions surrounding her double mastectomy, as a preventive measure against breast cancer. Although I had never been a fan, I must now confess that I have newfound respect for her and for sharing her story.

The first person I thought about, almost immediately after reading her op-ed for the NYT, was my dear friend Marisol Rosas, who made the same decision and underwent the same surgery a few years ago.

Angelina Jolie and Marisol have things in common: the experience of losing their mother at a young age, the family history, the genes, and a young family of their own to think of. I can not imagine being in the position of having to make that choice, but since Marisol is such a brave and beautiful soul, it does not surprise anybody that knows her that she overcame the fear and went through with the experience with courage and grace.

Marisol is now volunteering to educate other women in a similar situation to learn about their choices, as part of an organization called FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, where she volunteers as their National Help Line Coordinator. I am very proud of my friend, who has my total admiration for overcoming this difficult situation and now deciding to help others. She has a fundraising page for FORCE where you can make a donation, in any amount, towards this cause. Please take a look at her story, it’s both in English and Spanish and written by her sister Gaby. The page link is here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/MarisolRosas/heroes

Click on the image to read Marisol's story and donate.

Click on the image to read Marisol’s story and donate.

You can imagine that after the Angelina Jolie story came out, there was a lot of interest in all of this, and Marisol was on television the next morning on Univision San Diego.

Click on the link to watch the video (en español) and see how great she did on TV. The link to the interview is here: http://www.univisionsandiego.com/videos/?pl_id=21522&va_id=4058199

Bravo Marisol, we’re so proud of you!

♥♥♥

On a related note, last Saturday May 11 was the 20th annual Revlon RunWalk at the LA Coliseum, and -Full Disclosure- I was invited to take pictures and walk with Team Macy’s, who was one of the major sponsors.

The event always draws tens of thousands of people, women, men, entire families who have al been affected by breast cancer and other women’s cancers, and who all want to put an end to it.

There was joy and optimism in the air, even as you read the signs and the reasons why people were walking and participating. It always gets to me, reading those signs, with names and pictures of the people who’ve passed and the survivors who’ve beat it. We are all affected, we all must do what we can’t to support the fight against it.

Here are a few pictures of a wonderful event.

She's there EVERY year. The beautiful Ms. Halle Berry at the starting line.

She’s there EVERY year. The beautiful Ms. Halle Berry at the starting line.

Lilly Tartikoff, founder and organizer for RunWalk, and Andy Garcia, who came out to support and cheer everybody on.

Lilly Tartikoff, founder and organizer for RunWalk, and Andy Garcia, who came out to support and cheer everybody on.

All those signs you read, all the names, they are powerful reasons to walk and fight for a cure.

All those signs you read, all the names, they are powerful reasons to walk and fight for a cure.

Such a great group of people, getting up super early on a Saturday morning to walk: Team Macy's.

Such a great group of people, getting up super early on a Saturday morning to walk: Team Macy’s.

Walking into the LA Coliseum is such a great feeling. Here approaching the finish line.

Walking into the LA Coliseum is such a great feeling. Here approaching the finish line.

Jimmy Fallon + Mariah Carey + The Roots = A New Christmas Classic

5 Dec

Here’s a great new rendition of “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, plus a few cute kids.
Click on the link to the video. I guarantee you’ll like it.


Needless to say, it got me, the official Grinch de mi familia, in a festive mood.

Could it be? Am I actually looking forward to this? Hmmm, ese Jimmy Fallon es LO MAXIMO.
Enjoy!

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From Jimmy’s Instagram. What a cool way to update a classic.

A “Taste of México” in Los Angeles

2 Dec

You know it’s going to be a great evening when the top Mexican restaurants from Los Angeles get together under one roof for one night and bring out the best of la cocina mexicana.

And indeed it was such a night on Friday, when the second annual “A Taste of México”  event was held at the St. Vibiana venue in downtown LA, pulling all the foodies and foodie wannabes who packed the place to capacity. Add a little tequila, mezcal and a mariachi band, plus dos que tres famous celebrities, and you have yourself a fabulous party.

The line to get in was ridiculously long. It went around the block, even with the threat of rain y el “chipi-chipi”, but once inside there was food and fun to be enjoyed by all. Also worth noting, tickets were $50 dollars, so you know these people were really looking forward to the food.

Among the founders of this event are Bricia López from Guelaguetza restaurant,  who was the belle of the ball, a true hostess with the mostess, making sure everybody was well taken care of and promoting the new and amazing lines of their auténtico Mole Oaxaqueño Guelaguetza, among other delicacies and an amazing Michelada Mix. Bravo Bricia!!

We also had a chance to sample food from La Casita Mexicana, with owners Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu a todo lo que daban pero super contentos como siempre, with a great menu to share and a long line at their station; los de Frida restaurant lead by Vicente del Río tenian unos tacos deliciosos, de carnitas, de mole y de pescado en chile colorado, y ademas ceviche, so yummy; y para no olvidar el postre, there was a desert paradise in the form of mini tres leches bites, strawberry shortcake and pan dulce mexicano, cortesía de Ricardo Cervantes and the famous La Monarca Bakery. All good stuff in generous quantities. Nadie se quedó sin probar. Plus not to be outdone, brands like Goya, Tapatio, Guerrero and several cervezas made sure to sample their products.

Made me feel happy and lucky to know there are great Mexican food restaurants and good options all over LA. I’ll make it a point to support authentic Mexican food by visiting these amazing restaurants. ¡Que me esperen en la mesa!

Crowds gather to listen to the ariachi band at Taste of Mexico, held at St. Vibiana's in DTLA

Crowds gather to listen to the Mariachi band at Taste of Mexico, held at St. Vibiana’s in DTLA.

Authentic Mole Oaxaqueño from Guelaguetza restaurant. Delish!

Authentic Mole Oaxaqueño from Guelaguetza restaurant. Delish!

From Bricia Lopez' twitter feed (@bricialopez): You know it's good when La Reina del Sur herself, Kate del Castillo, stops by for a taste of Mexico.

You know it’s good food when La Reina del Sur herself, Kate del Castillo, stops by for a taste of Mexico. (Photo from @BriciaLopez on Twitter.)

Jaime Martin del Campo, from La Casita Mexicana, doing his thing. (Delicioso el pavo en achiote!)

Jaime Martin del Campo, from La Casita Mexicana, doing his thing. (Delicioso el pavo en achiote!)

The food station at La Casita...

The food station at La Casita…

Una probadita de Chilitos en Nogada.

Una probadita de Chilitos en Nogada.

Great food, great service, y de buen ambiente, el equipo de los restaurantes Frida y La Casa Azúl.

Great food, great service, y de buen ambiente, el equipo de los restaurantes Frida y La Casa Azúl.

Everybody's favorite: Tapatío was giving out mini hot sauce botellitas to take on the go.

Everybody’s favorite: Tapatío was giving out mini hot sauce botellitas to take on the go.

El Eugenio Siller se echó unos taquitos ( y nosotros un taco de ojo.)

El Eugenio Siller se echó unos taquitos ( y nosotros un taco de ojo.)

Not only does he do a Rock of Ages, now Diego Boneta is with the Mariachi band!

Not only does he do a Rock of Ages, now Diego Boneta plays with a Mariachi band!

For the sweet tooth que todos llevamos dentro, pastries and pan dulce from La Monarca Bakery.

For the sweet tooth que todos llevamos dentro, pastries and pan dulce from La Monarca Bakery.

I love Miguel Bosé y su PAPITWO

19 Nov

El nuevo disco de Miguel Bosé, PAPITWO. (Warner Music Latina)

Time to start a new and very busy week with fresh music.

Estoy super emocionada con el nuevo CD de Miguel Bosé, “PAPITWO” que es la segunda parte de los duetos de sus greatest hits. What a clever title! Y en Spanglish para que mas nos guste.

Ustedes no saben la emoción que me dió encontrarmelo el otro día en el Barnes and Noble, como tampoco sabrían que es uno de mis artistas favoritos. Lo amo a él y a su música con pasión desde que salía en la televisión bailando y cantando, disfrazado de Don Diablo con los then baby-Timbiriches way back in the 80′s, cuando hacian sus especiales musicales en México y lo veia en casa mi bff, la Ale. He was a hottie (lo sigue siendo a sus 50+) y todas sus canciones son lo máximo. Miguel Bosé is pretty much the author of the soundtrack of my youth en español.

En este disco hace dueto con Juanes, Alejandro Sanz, Juan Luis Guerra, Jovanotti, Ximena Sariñana y Penélope Cruz, entre otros. Yes, people, Penélope Cruz sings, and she is a great singer if you really must know. (O sea, no contenta con todos sus talentos también canta la mujer, and she does a lovely job too.)

Me dió mucho gusto leer los “liner notes” del librito en donde escribe una cartita muy bonita, que cuando la leí pensé que me la habia escrito a mi (isn’t every fan kind of egocentric?)

Dice Miguel Bosé:

Gracias a Penélope, Ximena, Bimba, Helen y Malú por sus voces de sirena y su tremendo cariño. Gracias a Alejandro, Juanes, Joaquin, Dani, JuanLuis, Pablo, Lore, Tiziano y Aleks por su lealtad guerrera y entusiasmo.

Gracias a todos y a cada uno de los que han hecho posible la segunda parte de esta saga, por su creatividad, técnica y paciencia. Gracias a mi nueva familia por las puertas que cada día me abre a nuevas emociones y sensaciones.

Pero sonre todo gracias a la gente en general que ha construido mi carrera año tras año y ha hecho grandes cada una de estas canciones. Vuestras son y a todas y todos vosotros va especialmente dedicado este nuevo trabajo.

Gracias y salud! Nos seguimos viendo…Besos y abrazos.

-Miguel.

Aww. I love you Miguel!

Nice little interview que le hicieron en la revista InStyle México en octubre 2012.

Time for Argo. But more importantly, Ben Affleck habla Spanglish!

12 Oct

Happy Friday everybody. It’s time for a good movie.

I’m looking forward to ARGO, a new film out this weekend by the multi talented and multi guapísimo Ben Affleck, who acts and directs. It’s about a real life event that you may (or may not) remember from the Iranian hostage situation back in 1979. (Yo sí me acuerdo un poco but I have to spruce up on my history lessons.) It looks like a  smart movie, with a great story and good actors in it. It also was shot by the wonderful Rodrigo Garcia who is one of the best cinematographers around y además es mexicano.

¿Pero qué creen? Resulta que el Ben habla español muy bien! This makes me happy, I don’t know why, but whan I saw this video I was very pleased to learn that he can handle his Spanglish beautifully and that he’s friends with el Chivo Lubezki (another wonderful mexican cinematographer) and is not afraid to say Alejandro González Iñárritu out loud, among other things.

Here is the link to the interview and please be patient because it loads up pretty slow… but I promise you a nice Taco de Ojo con and a very smart guy. Who knew Ben Affleck lived in Mexico when he was 13 years old and that his favorite word in Spanish is “Sacapuntas“?… Awww! So funny! Take a few minutes to watch it.

My film recommendation is to go see ARGO and support al Señor Affleck. He keeps making good movies so it’s worth a trip to the theater.

Here’s the link from Warner Brothers: Ben Afffleck Interview en español.

El Ben Affleck habla español muy bien! Pero también sabe un poquito de Spanglish. His new movie “Argo” is out today.

And here’s the trailer for ARGO:

A must read: Andrew McCarthy’s new book “The Longest Way Home”

1 Oct

“When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus, humanist and scholar

Fall is here  (or so the calendar says) and it’s time to get new reading material.

I really love to get my hands on a fabulous new book, but most of all, I love discovering a great writer…Little did I know THIS ONE and I have a history that goes way back to 1986.

His name is Andrew McCarthy. His book is called “The Longest Way Home” and let me just say, it is excellent. 

My new favorite book.

Oh, he’s also an actor who you may remember from Pretty in Pink and all the other movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s.

 YES, THAT Andrew McCarthy. ¡Es el “Blane” y el de Mannequin!

 (And if you were not alive back then, then I feel sorry for you kids. You missed out! De veras amiguitos… those movies were something else. Y la canción de OMD “If You Leave” is permanently engraved in my life soundtrack. But I digress…)

I went to a book signing last weekend and met him in person. So you can imagine the teenager in me was kind of excited, but since I’m already a grown up, I honestly went to get my booked signed and meet the author, ok?

 Andrew McCarthy listens to his introduction at Vroman’s. He is an accomplished actor, director, travel writer and National Geographic Editor at Large. He’s got a pretty impressive resumé.

As it turns out, Andrew McCarthy has been traveling the world for the last decade, in addition to the show business- acting and directing, and has also become an award winning travel writer and editor at large for National Geographic. How cool is that! And how did he go from one thing to another? We’ll, you’ll just have to read the book.

I came across the title on a Sunday morning, reading the NY Times Sunday Book Review two weekends ago (The New York Times REALLY loves him-click here to read it) and also their Travel Magazine, where they had an excerpt back in August, and I was intrigued.

During the presentation there were funny moments and great stories about his life and travels.

How random is it then, that I should be in Pasadena the day he came for a book signing? Serendipity, I tell you! It’s not often that your teenage crush turned accomplished writer visits your favorite bookstore in town, the lovely Vroman’s on Colorado boulevard. But there he was.

He’s still super taquillero…. It was a full house, and not just all of us ladies, the “groupies” (You know who you are!) Había gente from every age group: men and women,  a bit older, wiser folks who appreciate a good book and author when they see one.

The crowd at Vroman’s, and this was before it started.

Andrew said someone described his book “The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down”  as Eat, Pray, Love for men, and then he joked that he wanted Julia Roberts to play him in the movie. Yet in the NY Times book review, Cheryl Strayed writes “It’s a good book about a good man who’s trying good and hard to figure himself out.”

So it was wonderful to see him in person, listen to him read from the book, talk about his life, his family, a few of the movies and acting, the travel experiences, what traveling does for your soul and how it’s made him a better person, a bit of everything that leads up to the memoir.  He is a funny, smart and articulate person, and had us laughing and hooked throughout.

 Además… sigue estando super cute, no se le quita. ¡Esa sonrisa!

Yes, he’s still got it. Tan lindo él!

 We all got our books signed and he even took pictures with everyone, and there were over a hundred people. A few even brought their Pretty in Pink memorabilia and he signed everything. Such a cool guy!

 So yes, please read his book. You’ll enjoy it.

He was so gracious and signed everyone’s book until we all went home.

(In the meantime you can also read his piece for the LA Times Travel section on Ireland, published this past Sunday. It’s quite good!)

Yeah, I did a little swoon…

That evening I followed Erasmus’ advice and got a few other books.  Turns out my teenage idol, Molly Ringwald,  TAMBIEN has a new book out recently! This one is fiction and it’s called “When it Happens to You.” It’s a novel told in short stories, I’m also looking forward to it. So it’s kind of a reunion of sorts.

Together again. Both Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald both came out with new books this year. And I’m going to read them both.

But it blows my mind a little bit. Imagine watching their movie in 1986 a hundred times, and now in 2012 both of them have become writers with new books and new careers.  It’s like they now live in this wonderful parallel literary universe.  Goes to show you, true talent will take you far indeed!

Bravo Dreamers! Bravo President Obama!

15 Jun

Today is a good day if you are a young undocumented student in the USA and you were fighting for a chance to stay legally in the country you love, and the only country you know. Breaking news this morning! This is a bit from the New York Times:

U.S. to Stop Deporting Some Illegal Immigrants

By 

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be able to obtain work permits and be safe from deportation under a new policy announced on Friday by the Obama administration

The policy, effective immediately, will apply to people who are currently under 30 years old, who arrived in the country before they turned 16 and have lived in the United States for five years. They must also have no criminal record, and have earned a high school diploma, remained in school or served in the military.

See the complete article here.

Congratulations to the Dreamers, and we realize that there is still so much more to do for them. Here’s how you can participate and support, through one of the major organizations fighting for them, Presente.org. I just received an email from one of its founders, Gaby Pacheco, and it urged us to keep fighting. This is from her email:

It would be easy to stop here and celebrate the President’s words, but we’re 1.2 million deportations past words at this point. We have to send the country a message that while we appreciate the President’s announcement today, we won’t stop fighting for change until we see it.

That’s why I need you to tell the President, Congress and other leaders in this nation that you stand with me, and millions of undocumented people who have become Americans, even if we don’t have papers that recognize us as such. If you tell them that you stand with us, you’ll be sending a message, and that you’ll continue to fight against every deportation. Tell them, now, and tell all your friends to do the same:

http://act.presente.org/sign/withdreamers

Go to Presente.org for more information.

So on that note, let’s keep up the fight for these kids. I personally know of several exemplary, smart, hard working, decent, and best all around kids who would love a chance at citizenship and who love this country just like any citizen born here. You would do anything to help them because they are the best of us, really.  As TIME Magazine said this week (bravo Time Magazine! This is the 2nd cover in 3 months dedicated to Immigration issues) “WE ARE AMERICANS…. Just not legally.”

It’s about time to make it happen for them and for the rest of the hard working, respectful immigrants who want to do things right and stay here legally.

Amazing cover by Time Magazine for the week of June 15, 2012. They probably just increased their Latino readership ten fold with all their new readers!!

A Teacher, Oprah and the power of Twitter

13 Jun

Here’s a story that proves things can happen in an instant when you put your intention out there and have a little faith. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…” (Matthew 7:7)

Cen’Cere Cooks is a high school teacher in South Central Los Angeles who, like every year, was on a mission of helping her students get ready for their prom. She is also one smart lady who knows the power of Twitter. (You can follow her on Twitter @cencerecooks.)

Every year she helps girls in her class get their prom dress, but this year had been a little tough. So a few weeks ago in May she sent out tweets to very important people who could help her get 25 dresses for her girls. It was a very sincere and direct request trying to make something happen.

Little did she know that THE person who would respond to her almost immediately was the one and only Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) offering to help out…Can you imagine the excitement?!

Here are the tweets that tell the story:

Cen’Cere can be found on Twitter @CencereCooks. “High School educator in South Central Los Angeles, committed to changing this generation one student at a time!”

Here is one of the responses from Oprah! Good to go!

By then, things are in motion. Oprah made a call to her friends at Macy’s (you gotta love @Macy’s) and they got on board. Pretty soon they were confirming that they were donating 25 prom dresses for the girls in Ms. Cooks’ class! Isn’t this amazing? Sometimes all it takes is a call, or a tweet, and the goodwill of someone who makes things happen.

Fast forward to this week, when 25 lovely ladies, along with Ms. Cooks and chaperones Loretta, Misha, Sivonney and Gabrielle, went to Macy’s South Coast Plaza to choose a prom dress. There was an expert styling team to help them, and the girls enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the store as well.

Here are some pictures of the exciting day. Thank you Macy’s for the opportunity to photograph this event. There was so much joy all around, it was contagious!

These beautiful ladies are ready for their prom thanks to their teacher, Oprah and Macy’s.

Bravo Ms. Cooks! You made it happen.

The girls choose their prom dress from a selection at Macy’s.

So many to choose from, the girls had fun trying on all the dresses.

Susan Koziak and her fabulous styling team did a great job helping the girls choose their dress.

Team Effort: Loretta Cotton, Raegan Gall from Macy’s, Misha, Amanda Dobernic from Macy’s, and Cen’Cere Cooks.

Sivoney Gomez and Gabrielle Ramirez, chaperones on the field trip to Macy’s South Coast Plaza.

The girls and their prom dresses.

All the girls received a Macy’s goody bag.

And, if I may, on a personal note: tonight I saw on Twitter that Ms. Winfrey herself had seen the photos and tweeted one of the photos I took. Needless to say…This made my day and my year. Thank you Oprah!! Your generosity provides so much happiness. 

Nice try, William Levy

22 May
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4 shots taken with the iPhone from the Season Finale of Dancing With the Stars on ABC. William Levy came in 3rd place.

Pues he didn’t win the disco ball trophy de Dancing With the Stars, pero como dicen por ahí: No gano pero como me divierto. Call me “wishy washy” pero…in the end, despite my earlier criticism, I ended up rooting for William Levy. So it was kind of disappointing to see him in 3rd place. Pero reconozco que le echó muchas ganas.

(De veras que sometimes ni yo me entiendo!)

Anywhoo, it’s just another reality show coming to and end. Which means, ahi vienen los Summer reruns.

Calle 13, I’m your fan!

18 May

Do you ever have the feeling of being a little late in discovering music that other people love? I had the chance to see Calle 13 last Sunday night at the Nokia Theater in downtown LA and I was blown away by their live music y la manera como se presentaron. Gracias a Rocío Gutiérrez (on twitter at @digitalgirl_inc) por la invitación.

An adoring crowd was obviously smitten from the get go, and they knew the words to every song… aunque créanme que saberse las words to every song de Calle 13  requires clever tongue twister skills to keep up with the lyrics!

Calle 13 is made up by René Perez, Eduardo José Cabra, and Ileana, all half brothers and sister, según me acabo de enterar por Wikipedia. They’ve got one fabulous show with a full blown band, great production (lighting, awesome graphics and video) and really meaningful music, a mix of hip hop, jazz, regaetton, salsa y cumbia.

Yo confieso que soy muy pop en mis gustos musicales, even though I am a KCRW addict and get my musical influences mostly from this station. And yet it’s been a while since anybody played Calle 13 on any radio station in LA, which even René (the lead singer) acknowledged on stage.

Estas son las canciones que no tocan en la cabrona radio…,” he said, and other pretty bold statements such as “Dejen de ver esos estúpidos programas de chismes en la televisión que sirven para un carajo!”

Plus he also requested everybody read books, in English, in Spanish, and educate themselves. This is not your typical musical act. They add lines to their songs that reference Gabriel García Márquez, so that should tell you something.

Here are a few pictures from the event (they don’t let you bring in cameras inside the Nokia Theater, so I had to use the iPhone) and a video song I believe everybody should sing to themselves just to remind yourself que “No Hay Nadie Como Tú.”   (It comes in after the advertising.)

Cántatela a ti mismo out loud and feel it’s magical empowerment…¡Arriba Calle 13!

En el concierto de Calle 13 at the Nokia Theater in LA.

¡Que Viva Puerto Rico y su talento! René Pérez from Calle 13,  from the video screen at the concert.

This girl!! Ileana has a voice that kills you. Canta padrísimo.

Y que se quita la camisa… Nice bod, Mr. Calle 13.

A captive crowd listens to the message in the lyrics.

And here is “No Hay Nadie Como Tú”

At the 2012 Revlon Run/Walk

17 May

The 19th annual EIF Revlon Run/Walk benefitting the fight against women’s cancers was held last weekend at USC and it was an event to remember. I attended and walked as part of Team Macy’s (one of the sponsors) and it was a powerful experience to see so many people come together and participate.

People of all ages and entire families all showed up to support the cause for a 5k walk around the LA Coliseum. Everybody had someone special they were walking for. Most people wore big signs and bibs mentioning their loved ones battling cancer who they were walking for and supporting, or honoring their memory, which was extremely moving to read and see. I saw a few que casi me hacen llorar, so it definitely makes me appreciate health and that we must do everything in our power to fight this disease.

I took some pictures of the event which I wanted to share below. If you are interested in participating and/or making a donation to find a cure for cancer, please visit http://do.eifoundation.org and see how you can get involved. The statistics mentioned were pretty scary if you are a woman, but you CAN fight it and beat it if you detect it early on. So if you’re around the age of 35 or older, you should request,and demand to your doctor if needed, to get started with mammogram testing once a year.

Women, we need to take care of ourselves. ¡Cuidémonos todas! Here’s to good health, positive vibes and Godspeed in finding a cure for cancer.

Around the USC campus before the walk, the fair starts really early around 6:30 am.

At the starting line on Figueroa Ave, everybody looking good and ready for a 5K.

Team Macy’s 2012 supports the cause. Macy’s is one of the major sponsors of the RunWalk.

The beautiful and amazing Halle Berry is the Revlon Spokesperson and year after year speaks at the event. I loved her new curly hairdo, rizado chinito chinito!

Look at those dimples! Mr. Mario Lopez also was there to support.

Matthew Morrison of Glee gives a big hug to Lilly Tartikoff, one of the cofounders of the Run/Walk.

So inspirational! Lilly Tartikoff, co-founder of the Run/Walk, knows we will find a cure.

Julia Goldin, Global Chief Marketing Officer from Revlon, cheers everyone on at the starting line and talks about why it’s so important to join the cause.

Stacy Kiebler also walked and spoke on why she supoprts the cause, since it has affected her family. She’s very nice in person, pero no llevo al George Clooney!

Halle speaks and tells us women: Starting at 35, ask to get a mammogram! “Early detection is our best defense!”

And then I look at her and think, Hmm como que she looks like la Whitney Houston, verdad? Un poquito.

Confetti and cheers at the start.

All cancer survivors received a pink hat honoring them.

After the walk, a few refreshments inside the LA Coliseum.

Yeah, Macy’s. ¡Asi se compra!

Cupcakes for all!

Big party at the Coliseum lawn for thousands of people.

What to do this weekend in LA:

11 May

Spring is in bloom and here we are already in the second weekend of May. Ayer festejamos a las Mamás mexicanas y el domingo May 13 we do it again para las Mamás in the US. Did you already get you Mom a nice gift? I hope you did!

But there are other things to include into your weekend festivities if you live in LA.

The Lea-LA Book Fair (La Feria del Libro en Español)  opens today at the Convention Center in DTLA, organized by la Universidad de Guadalajara. It’s a 3 day event that promises interesting book selections and purchases, and a number of author presentations and conferences. Click here for the complete program and go support la lectura en español. It is a free event for the entire family, lleven a los niños y compren libros en español, para que se vayan acostumbrando.  Goes on from Friday May 11 to Sunday May 13, 10 am to 6 pm.

Lea LA starts Friday May 11 and goes on til Sunday May 13, from 10 am to 6 pm. Don’t miss it.

Another big event this Saturday is the annual Revlon Run-Walk at the USC Campus in LA. It’s a major fundraising event for the fight against breast cancer. I’ll be participating in this walk with Team Macy’s, which is a major sponsor of the event and always supports the cause with a big team of volunteers and walkers. If you know anyone who is going through cancer, and you want to support them, you may want to check out this link and see how you can get involved.

Revlon Run Walk is happening Saturday May 12 at the USC Campus. Join the fight against Breast Cancer at do.eifoundation.org

Busy Weekend en LA: Casa de Mi Padre, St. Patty’s and LA Marathon

15 Mar

Parece que va a ser un busy weekend en LA, de esos en que hay something for everybody.

If only the weather would cooperate. Seems like we are on stormwatch all over the place, from the valleys to the beaches, and that does not bode well for the thousands of runners doing the LA Marathon on Sunday.  I have a theory that it always rains on Marathon Day and this year the forecast even calls for hail in the mix. Damn!

The forecast for LA is not too pleasant for the weekend. From http://www.abc7.com

De todas maneras, les deseamos a todos los corredores lots of luck and a good finishing time. It takes a lot to train and finish a marathon, so just by getting to the starting line, they have all my respect and admiration. I was thinking of going out para echarles porras, as I usually do each year, pero con la lluvia, se me hace que solo les mandaré la buena vibra por televisión. Besides, the city is practically undriveable on Marathon Sunday. There are street closures all over the place.  Here is a link to a site with all the details and what streets to avoid. The race starts at Dodger Stadium and ends at the Santa Monica Pier.

The map and course route for the LA Marathon on Sunday March 18, 2012. It is called the race "from the Stadium to the Sea."

On another note, if you like to go to the movies on rainy days, there is a new movie coming this weekend out which has been getting a lot of buzz.

“Casa de Mi Padre” stars the wonderful Mr. Will Ferrel and el Diego y el Gael, because that’s what we call them at our house, “el Diego” (Luna) y “el Gael” (García Bernal). I do believe I’m going to enjoy it. Look at the trailer and tell me you don’t think this is hilarious. So cheesy, so camp! Yes it’s a spoof, but who cares. Me encantó. And a few of the producers-distributors are mexicanos, of course.

This week, Will Ferrel has been doing all the promotion, and he visited Jimmy Kimmel where they had a very funny interview, completamente en español! Y hablaron bastante bien. Will practically has a perfect Spanish accent. Go Will!

Here’s a clip from the show that my dear friend Olivia sent me (thanks Olivia!) and please watch it until the end. There is something I’ve never heard before, not on English TV, not on Spanish TV.  Shocking!

Here is Will Ferrel En Español.

 

Let us not forget that Saturday March 17th  is Saint Patrick’s Day. Un día muy importante, since all the mexicanos are practically half Irish (somos como primos hermanos de cariño, we love them so much) and since it’s practically a national holiday in the USA, how about we have a celebration? Here’s a list of places to go to, my personal favorites being Molly Malones on Fairfax and Casey’s in DTLA, although be careful, it tends to get a little crazy.

Francisca Valenzuela: I’m a new fan

9 Mar

“I’m half gringa and half chilena,” said Francisca Valenzuela a few nights ago as she started her performace at the R Bar in Korea Town. The good people of Sala de Espera Radio organized a pre SxSW (South by SouthWest) appearance in Los Angeles and it was a a great night for the singer, songwriter, producer and indie star. It was a double treat since the opening act was Fernanda Ulibarri, another chilena (en route to Mexico City) and she was also a great surprise. Arriba las mujeres del indie-rock!

I first heard Francisca a few months ago on KCRW and was intrigued by her music and lyrics, porque canta en español, and rarely do you hear any female Spanish indie rock being played on radio stations in Los Angeles. So when my friend Rocio Gutierrez of DigitalGirl invited me, I didn’t miss the chance. (Thank you Rocio!)

Francisca has a great voice and sings with intelligent lyrics, mostly about love, lust, life, disappointments, the what if’s… plus, she also plays her own keyboard. ¡Muy talentosa esta chava! I enjoyed the set very much. She also speaks perfect English, which is nice to hear, and that means of course that Spanglish was spoken here.

Her upcoming performance is at SxSW next week, and if you’re reading this in Austin, make sure to check her out. I have a feeling we’ll be listening more of her pretty soon.

Website for Francisca Valenzuela: www.franciscavalenzuela.com

MySpace for Fernanda Ulibarri: http://www.myspace.com/fernandaulibarri

Francisca Valenzuela during her L.A. perfomance for Sala de Espera Radio at the R Bar. March 7, 2012.

Nice show, intimate setting with Francisca.

Catch her in Austin at SxSw. Click on the image to go to the link.

Fernanda Ulibarri was the opening set for the evening. A great night for indie rock.

Mexicanos en el MOMA: Diego Rivera

5 Mar

Visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and you will be inspired by the most amazing creative and artistic minds of the 20th and 21st Century.

Please forgive me if I exaggerate a little bit when I say this: A recent trip to the MOMA was almost like a spiritual retreat. Add to the fact that we encountered several artistas mexicanos y latinos in the mix, and it was just like heaven.

Da muchísimo gusto ver que uno (o varios) de los nuestros es reconocido en uno de los most important museums in the world. And that they have their own special placement and exhibit going on at the moment.

Diego Rivera: Murals for The Museum of Modern Art is one of the current exhibitions and stays till May 14th, 2012. Click on the link to go to the website. It is a wonderful exhibition that recounts Rivera’s famous exhibit in 1931 for the MOMA in New York, and how he produced five murals at the museum, inside the museum (at the previous building) so they didn’t have to complicate the transportation.

Back when it opened, the exhibit “set new attendance records in its 5 week run from December 22, 1931 to January 27, 1932″ according to MOMA, and even today, 80 years later, this new exhibit is still drawing the crowds in. On the Monday morning we visited, the place was packed and you had to make sure you could get a nice angle for you to fully appreciate each of the works.

In addition to the murals, which all have the essential Diego Rivera elements like the class struggle, the vibrant and muted colors, the inequalities in life and the broad scale of each work, there is also a bit of Diego’s history on view. You’ll find newspaper clippings on his NY residency (even Frida is in the pictures!) and fabulous Moleskin notebook sketches in watercolor from a trip he made to Moscow in his early years, cuando se hizo rojillo y le pico el asunto del socialismo y la revolución. It was like having a picture diary from Moscow in the 1920′s with great historical references, and you can see how he was influenced by the socialist doctrine.

On that note, I have to say that for a socialist, Diego Rivera was pretty upscale. Como que le gustaban the finer things in life. En sus murales se ve la actitud de protesta, la lucha, y el reflejo de la realidad y pobreza que nos cuesta trabajo aceptar. Pero luego lees sus vivencias y sus experiencias, y se nota que era de una clase privilegiada. He was traveling around the world, adopting his point of view, learning from the masters, living in New York, then working for capitalist millionaires, like the Rockefellers, and being promoted and admired by all the art benefactors in the first world.

Para ser socialista, a mi se me hace que Diego Rivera era mas bien del jet-set. He was embraced by the cultural and economic elite in New York City at the time of the Great Depression. Imagine that. He was even given his own space at the MOMA to produce the work!  So I’m sure he appreciated the perks. This is of course mi muy humilde opinión, ok? Luego no quiero ofender a ningún socialista, nor do I want to offend any art purist who will surely debate this.

Of course, there is the matter of his mural being rejected for Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, which is also explained in the exhibit. (Lo contrató Nelson Rockefeller y después le rechazaron el mural porque pintó a Lenin en un lugar prominente. Y pues como que el ícono del socialismo no iba muy bien con las ideas del capitalismo ni con el Sr. Rockefeller, quien le pidió que lo quitara, pero Rivera se negó. Así que no hubo mural de Diego en el Rockefeller Center.)

Here are a few snapshots from the exhibition, and please forgive my angles and weird composition. The MOMA did not allow photography in this exhibit, but being the rebel that I am, and considering my Life in Spanglish readers, me puse a tomar fotos a escondidas. Shooting from the hip, I tell you. Totally undercover, á la James Bond – hidden camera style. Ahi disculpen si no se ven muy bien, and if you’re from the MOMA, I’m sorry! pero la exhibición estuvo tan bonita que tenía que compartirla. I just had to share.

(You can take pictures at the other areas of the MOMA, where photography is allowed. There are a few of them below.)

For more information about the exhibit and visiting the museum, visit the MOMA website. Es visita obligada si estan en NY.

The Museum of Modern Art, MOMA. Entrance on 11 West 53rd Street, NY, NY. 10019. Open from 10am to 5:30pm, Friday 10 am to 8pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Entrance is $25.

The entrance for the Diego Rivera exhibition on the 3rd floor.

Entrance to the viewing area. There is a huge image of Diego as he worked. He was given a workspace inside the MOMA for a few weeks back in 1931 so he could produce the murals within the museum and not complicate transportation.

The crowd at the Diego Rivera exhibit.

Admiring “Frozen Assets” which was the most impressive one of the murals, in my opinion.

Please forgive the composition. Photos were not allowed, but I shot from the hip. This is “Frozen Assets” which merges Diego’s capitalism views with the vertical landscape of New York. Very stark and humbling. No white lily of the valley nor “flores de alcatraces” here.

A view of “The Uprising” by Diego Rivera. Again, my images are off because I was not looking through the viewfinder of the camera.

Commemorative poster of the Diego Rivera exhibition sold at the MOMA Gift Shop on the first floor.

The companion book to the Diego Rivera retrospective is beautiful. Sold at the MOMA Gift Shop.

The book illustrates Rivera’s time in New York City in the early 1930′s, and includes points of interest and inspiration. He loved the NY skyline.

Más mexicanos en el MOMA:

In exploring the MOMA floors, I was delighted to find some of the best Mexican artists among the most fabulous art in the world. Dignos representantes del arte mexicano:

David Alfaro Siqueiros “The Sob” 1939, at the MOMA.

José Clemente Orozco “Dive Bomber and Tank” 1940, at the MOMA.

Frida, of course! Frida Kahlo “Self Portrait with Cropped Hair” 1940. Her sadness resonates. It reads “Mira que si te quise, fue por el pelo. Ahora que estás pelona, ya no te quiero.”

At the Oscars: Demián, Demián, Ra! Ra! Ra! (New Bromance: Bichir and Clooney!)

27 Feb

¡Seguimos echando porras!

However, Oscar night did not go as planned for our favorites, at least for the Mexican nominees Demián Bichir and (five time!) nominated cinematographer Emanuel Lubezki. When all is said and done, we still feel a little bit robbed, but as they say, “it is an honor just to be nominated.”  I’ll leave out my nationalistic sentiments and all the “shoulda woulda” comments. Ni modo, no nos ha tocado ver ganar a nuestros nominados todos estos años, but at least it was a fun ride.

Para mi Demián fue el ganador y no sólo porque en mi humilde opinión fue la mejor actuación. Ganó porque sólo hay que ver como lo reciben y quieren todos los del Hollywood royalty to know he’s up there with the big guns.

Look at this picture below from the arrivals last night and how Clooney greeted Bichir in this lovely “Quiubole compa!” moment. That is genuine love among men, my friends. You can’t fake that, I don’t care how good an actor you are.

We witnessed a true Hollywood romance brewing before our eyes on national television in the Oscar pre-telecast:

Feel the LOVE. Clooney and Bichir are the newest Hollywood power couple. (photos from the E! Telecast)

From People.com, a lovely moment between Demian and Clooney.

We also found these great pictures on Quien.com, back from the Oscar nominee luncheon in Beverly Hills a few weeks ago. You can practically feel the joy in these images en donde se ve que le están echando muchas porras a Demián. 

Y así se acaba otro Oscar season. Congratulations to Lubezki and Bichir, you made us very proud.

From Quien.com (Demian y su momento Whiskey, articulo 26 de febrero 2012)

Demián, Demián, RA RA RA!! Foto de Quien.com ("Demián y su momento "whiskey" articulo 26 de febrero 2012)

Great Time Magazine cover this week: “Yo Decido”

23 Feb

Ya era hora que alguien lo dijera. Bravo Time Magazine. We love it. What a brilliant headline. I think it will catch on as a new mantra, along the lines of the always energetic but overused “Sí Se Puede.” (Para los mexicanos esto representa el amor/apoyo a la Selección Mexicana de Futbol solamente.)

“Yo Decido,” which for all my English speaking amigos, translates to “I Decide,” is a pretty strong statement. Yes, we have the power to make a difference.

I think this might be the first time that the magazine has a Spanish title on their cover and a mainstream media outlet declares the power of Latinos in the next elections. Look for it this week on your newsstand. I looked for it yesterday but it had not arrived.  It’s already making the rounds all over the place for the daring title and important subject matter.

Case in point: my 92 year old grandmother became a US Citizen last year and when they asked her why she wanted to become a citizen she said, “PARA TENER VOZ Y VOTO.” (“So I can have a voice and vote.”)

Here is the cover below and the link to the article online at Time.com “Why Latino Voter Will Swing the 2012 Election.”

From Time.com, the cover for the week of March 5, 2012.

Andale Demián! Mr. Bichir is having fun in NYC

16 Feb

Faltan sólo  2 weeks until the Oscars and our sentimental (and critical favorite) Mr. Demián Bichir took a few days off to go to New York and have some fun and promote “A Better Life”.

This morning he was interviewed on Good Morning America by George Stephanopolous. And we have to say he looked great, so relaxed and cool. You can tell he’s enjoying this moment. He talked about the movie, he squeezed in a little shout out to his paisanos los jardineros, and he joked that he is now BFF’s with George Clooney and Brad and Angie. Qué tal!

Here’s the interview for you to enjoy: Click on this link to take you to the ABC page:

Tambien le tocó estar en el Fashion Week. He made an appearance at the Oscar de la Renta fashion show earlier in the week, with front row seats! And obviously, he was checking out the models (and the fashion).

Photo from Quien.com

De la revista Quien.com

Pero lo que mas gusto nos da es que la gente lo está empezando a reconocer y le piden autografos. Here he is, happy as a clam, signing autographs as he leaves the GMA show in Times Square.

Bravo Demián, we’re rooting for you! Queremos que ganes.

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