Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Playwright Diaz wins ATC's 2008 Latino Award - Latino Perspectives Magazine - January 2009 - Phoenix, Arizona

Playwright Diaz wins ATC's 2008 Latino Award - Latino Perspectives Magazine - January 2009 - Phoenix, Arizona: "Arizona Theatre Company has selected a Puerto Rican playwright with a “hip-hop flair” as the winner of its 2008 National Latino Playwriting Award.

Kristoffer Diaz’s winning entry was The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a work with a main character called The Mace, a Puerto Rican pro wrestler from the Bronx. The play takes a “comic look at pro wrestling, geopolitics and raisin bread.”

Arizona Theatre’s Company’s National Latino Playwriting Award annually recognizes an outstanding work by a Latino playwright. The winner receives $1,000. Diaz earned an MFA from New York University’s Department of Dramatic Writing."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feliz Navidad: Puerto Rican tradition says Christmas isn't over yet

Growing up in Puerto Rico, I have fond memories of the holidays. Christmas, was just the beginning and we would receive one gift. The real holiday came on January 6, El Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day).  I remember the day before and going in the fields with the other children in the neighborhood to gather grass. We would put the grass in a shoebox and leave it out for the camels. 

After waking up and receiving our presents our family would get in the car and visit relatives who live in the mountains for the real celebration.  Lots of relatives, lots of children and the food, arroz con gandules, pasteles, and lechon, all made for an experience I still long for today. Unfortunately, times have changed and that tradition is being forgotten. 

Reading the article below brought back all these fond memories. 

Feliz Navidad: Puerto Rican tradition says Christmas isn't over yet

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ron Rivera, Potter Devoted to Clean Water, Dies at 60 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com

As the year draws to a close, it is a time to remember those who passed. I always look forward to reading the New York Times year end issue "The Lives They Lived" to read about fascinating people that died throughout the year. Often I come across people who I had not heard of and their contributions. 

This one in particular drew my attention because he was a Bronx born Puerto Rican who devoted his life to helping others. He was a potter that created "Potters for Peace" and help build 30 factories in the poorest parts of the world. His main cause was bringing clean water to stop disease. It is ironic that he died at 60 due to malaria while finishing his 30th factory, this one in Nigeria. 

Read the obituary below to learn more about this great human. The second link is to the article in this week's NYT Magazine.

Ron Rivera, Potter Devoted to Clean Water, Dies at 60 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lemon's Where I Am From Poem

This Tony Award winning poet will be performing his one man show "County of Kings: The Beautiful Struggle" at The Public Theater as part of the Under the Radar Festival. Lemon won a Tony Award for his participation in Russell Simmon's Def Poetry Jam . He can also be seen in HBO's version of the show.


Wednesday, January 7 @7PM

Thursday, January 8 @3PM

Saturday, January 10 @9:30PM

Sunday, January 11 @3PM

Monday, January 12 @7PM

Tuesday, January 13 @7PM

Wednesday, January 14 @2PM

Friday, January 16 @7PM

Saturday, January 17 @3PM

Sunday, January 18 @7PM

Tickets $15

Ticket information can be found at The Public Theater Web Site

Support Latino Theater!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

The Lost Taino Tribe

For most of my life, I have been taught that Tainos were extinct. In the past few years, there has been a movement to disprove this theory. This documentary is a work in progress to look at the facts and the myths surrounding the Taino Indian legacy. The filmmaker, Alex Zacarias has created a website and social network where people can share their stories or knowledge of the Tainos. The website is www.losttainotribe.com or you can click on the badge below.


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Friday, December 5, 2008

Cumba Media Presents Podcast Episode 1 - A.B. Lugo

A.B. Lugo is an actor, playwright, poet and director who lives in New York City. I had a chance to sit down with him and discuss his career, his inspirations and his body of work. With three plays being produced at the same time, he is a busy man on the verge of a breakout. The first play is "Manchild Machismo" a one-man show he wrote and performs, the second play Geneva is being presented in both Spanish and English as part of the Asi Somos Festival at Teatro LaTea at the Clemente Velez Soto Community Center in the Lower East Side. The third play "Emboscada (Branches)" is being performed this month at Teatro Coribantes in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.

Listen to interview here - Cumba Media Presents Podcast Episode 1 - A.B. Lugo

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Pageant Honors Link to Puerto Rico’s Native Tribe - NYTimes.com

Wow, I can't believe that the New York Times had two articles on Puerto Rico one right after the other. More surprising is that it was a featured article on the front page of their web site and it had nothing to do with tourism.

This article is about the Taíno influence on the island and centers on the National Indigenous Festival of Jajuya where they award a young girl for her Taíno looks and costume.

Pageant Honors Link to Puerto Rico’s Native Tribe - NYTimes.com

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Help our children

In this time of giving, I have chosen to support our children's education. There is a great site called Donors Choose, where teachers can post projects that they are trying to fund. You can see a link on the left column of this page.

Most of the projects are very low cost, sometimes less than $100.00 can provide classroom supplies that should be a right for any student.

Here in the U.S. education seems to be left behind when budget cuts are considered. It is a testament to the true heroes in our society, the teachers that commit themselves in spite of the lack of support.

I have created a donors page that can be accessed through the link above. In here I have posted some projects that will be expiring soon and need very little money to complete.

Please help in any way you can and be proud of the fact that you are doing some good in a child's life.

A Taste of Puerto Rico in Cities Across the Land - NYTimes.com

Nothing says the holidays to a Puerto Rican like pasteles! Memories of the kitchen full of people working together to make dozens of pasteles to distribute among the family. A few months ago, I got together with a friend and her mother to make pasteles and there is something in working together to make a meal that reminds me of my childhood. As our parents get older or die, people tend to rely on people who make them for sale.

This article from the NYT highlights one woman who maintains the tradition.

A Taste of Puerto Rico in Cities Across the Land - NYTimes.com

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Friday, November 28, 2008

December 1st is World AIDS Day

This Monday, December 1 is World AIDS Day, I joined Bloggers United as a way of spreading the word that AIDS crisis is unfortunately still with us. This is a very personal issue with me since I have lost so many friends to this disease. Having been around before the advent of AIDS, I saw the crisis come into being and have been a witness to the suffering it has caused to those infected and their family and friends. On the other hand, I know a few who have been able to survive and live a full life in spite of their HIV status. We must remember that getting diagnosed as HIV positive is not a death sentence. The advances in medicine are able to keep people healthy for many years.

The important thing is to get tested and take care of yourself. Unfortunately, this is not an option for many people. In many countries, including here in the United States, many people don’t have access to information and health care. There are so many great organizations trying to close the gap but with the economy the way it is, donations to charitable organizations are becoming scarcer everyday. Donations are only one way to help, volunteering and spreading the word are other ways to help.
In preparing this post, I came across an organization based here in New York called Aid for AIDS . They recycle medicine no longer needed and distribute them to people in Latin America and the Caribbean who can’t afford them. This seemed like a weird concept to me but in the United States medicines can’t be shared and for many people with HIV/AIDS they often have to change medicine leaving medicine unused. Unfortunately with Puerto Rico being part of the U.S. they can’t benefit from this program to deal with their crisis.

The video below explains more about the organization. Please support whatever organization you feel does the work that needs to be done. Let’s not forget others especially during this holiday time.

About AID FOR AIDS from Ian Jopson on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teatro La Tea "Asi Somos" Bi-lingual Playwrights Festival

You can click on the images for a larger view.

The festival runs from December 5th- December 14th. All plays will be performed first in English, then in Spanish. The theater is located at 107 Suffolk St. New York, NY 10002. Tickets can be bought at Smarttix.com

I conducted an interview with one of the playwrights, A.B. Lugo, writer of Geneva. You can listen to the interview here Cumba Media Presents Podcast Episode 1 - A.B. Lugo

In the meantime, support Latino theater!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Who is Albizu Campos Documentary Trailer

As per a request, here is a trailer for a documentary on Puerto Rican Patriot Don Pedro Albizu Campos.

The website for the documentary is www.whoisalbizu.com

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Borimix: Puerto Rico Fest 2008

The third Borimix: Puerto Rico Fest, celebrating Puerto Rican heritage, art and culture is currently under way in New York City. With a mixture of events including theater, music, movies and art, it is a great way to see the great contribution of Puerto Ricans to the current art scene.

For more information check out their website www.puertoricofest.org

If you attend and would like to post some reviews, please let me know.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Puerto Rican Art Websites

Here are some of my favorite website on Puerto Rican Art.


DEFINING IDENTITY: Modern and Contemporary Puerto Rican Painting

This is one of the most comprehensive sites regarding Puerto Rican painting. The site was created by Gabriel Caro and includes a brief overview of Puerto Rican painters as well as bios of some of the more popular painters.


African Boricuas is a blog by Edmee Cappas Velez where she interviews and showcases some of the contemporary Puerto Rican artists.


Puerto Rico 1952-1985 in Posters

A great online exhibit of posters by some of the great artists from Puerto Rico. 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Viajeroart - The Metamorphosis of PASANDO

One of the great pleasures of having this blog is not only sharing the history of those who came before us but also to expose new artists contributing to our culture. One such artist is Adrian Daniel Roman, aka Viajero. I came upon him while searching the internet for more information on Rafael Tufiño, a great Puerto Rican artist.
You can visit his website http://viajeroart.com/ for more information on this talented artist.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rita Moreno - Archive Interview Part 1 of 6

An interview with the Archive of American Television with the great Rita Moreno. Despite the stupidity of the interviewers first question, stating that Rita was not born in America (which Rita clears up with annoyance) it's a revealing interview about her professional life.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pura Belpré -Writer, Editor and Librarian

Born in Cidra, Puerto Rico, circa 1899 and died on July 1, 1982 in New York City. Like many Puerto Rican women of the time, she moved to New York in 1920 and worked in the garment industry. Shortly after that, she became the first Puerto Rican hired by the New York Public Library. She was hired as the Hispanic Assistant in the Harlem branch on 135th St., while working at the library she studied to become a librarian and developed a passion for storytelling. She was transferred to the 115th Street branch in Spanish Harlem, in 1929, and became and advocate for the Spanish-speaking community. She instituted bilingual story hours, bought Spanish books and began programs based around traditional holidays. Her first book Pérez and Martina: a Portorican Folk Tale, based on a traditional children’s story from the Caribbean, was published in 1932. She was one of the first Puerto Ricans to be published by a major publishing company. She went on to write more stories and eventually compiled the first book of Puerto Rican folk tales published in the United States. She became an author, editor and translator, collecting children’s tales from all countries but she her primary concern was the preservation of Puerto Rican folklore.
She lived throughout her life in Harlem participating in cultural and civic organizations. In 1996, the Pura Belpré Award, was established by REFORMA, an American Library Association affiliate. The award is presented to Latino/Latina writers and illustrators whose work portrays and affirms the Latino experience in children’s literature.
The Center for Puerto Rican studies of Hunter College has her papers and archives. For more information on this great Puerto Rican woman, visit the Center’s website. http://www.centropr.org/prwriters/belpre.html

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Edgardo Vega Yunqué (1936-2008)

On August 25, 2008, controversial writer Edgardo Vega Yunqué passed away. He was the founder of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in the Lower East Side. His obituary can be found here in the Daily News. One of the most honest obituaries I have read.
I have known Ed since the early '80s and it did not surprise me that it took two weeks for the news of his death to be released. He was one person I can truly say made up his own rules in life. He will be missed.
Here is a link to someone who had a recent encounter with Ed.
On a side note, it was approximately two weeks ago that I picked up his last published novel, Blood Fugues. Have not had a chance to read it yet but looking forward to spending some time with the book.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Juano Hernandez, Actor

“This is an article adapted from one that I wrote for my personal website. I have seen the article on other websites without any credit. I thought Mr. Hernandez is one of those talents that deserve recognition for their contributions and accomplishments to the arts.”

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico (anywhere from 1896 to 1901 according to several sources) he achieved success playing African Americans or Africans on the screen.
Orphaned at an early age he ended up in Brazil where he joined a circus as an acrobat. Never having any formal education he taught himself to read and write in several languages. Besides the circus he worked in vaudeville and minstrel shows. Studying Shakespeare he developed perfect diction enabling him to become a radio voice actor. His first Broadway show was Showboat in 1927.

After making a few all black films with Oscar Micheaux he received recognition for his first mainstream film in 1949, Intruder in the Dust based on a Faulkner story. His performance as Lucas Beauchamp, the poor southern sharecropper unjustly accused of murder. The performance received great praise and most thought he deserved an Oscar nomination if not the award itself.

What made him stand out is that he never took any roles that he felt were demeaning or stereotyped. Among his other roles were the jazz musician in Young Man with a Horn, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs, The Pawnbroker and Trial in which he played a judge. For an African-American to be given a role as a judge in 1955 was no small event.
In later years, he retired to Puerto Rico and formed Puerto Rico Films, Inc. to stimulate film production on the island.
Mr. Hernandez died on July 17, 1970 and is buried at Cementerio Buxeda Memorial Park in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jacobo Morales

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is presenting Latin Beat 2008, their annual survey of Latin American Cinema. In this series, they are presenting a tribute to Puerto Rican auteur, Jacobo Morales, three of his films will be shown with an introduction by the director.
The three films to be screened are “Angel” (his most recent film), “What Happened to Santiago” (1990 nominee for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film) and “Linda Sara” (starring popular Puerto Rican singer Chayanne and former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres).
Jacobo Morales was born in Lajas, Puerto Rico in 1934. He began his career as an actor in theater and radio when he was fourteen years old. In 1954 he began working in television as an actor, writer and director. He worked in Hollywood, as an actor in the 1970’s then became a film director in 1979. He has written and directed six films.
If anyone is in the New York City area the Latin Beat 2008 is running from September 5-September 25. In addition to the tribute to Jacobo Morales, there will other panels and film series. For more information click here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jose Rivera - Writer, Producer and Director

Back in 1986, I remember tuning in to PBS’ American Playhouse to see a TV adaptation of a play, “The House of Ramon Iglesia” by Puerto Rican playwright Jose Rivera (born in San Juan, PR on March 24, 1955). The story totally drew me in, as it was one of the rare occasions where I felt that I was watching something I could relate to. The story revolves around a Puerto Rican family living in Long Island. Retired, Ramon wants to sell the house and move back to Puerto Rico. The eldest son graduated from college and comes back to inform his family that he will not be moving back to Puerto Rico. With a twist in the dream, the story of assimilation and cultural pins father against son.
The playwright, Jose Rivera wrote other plays but I personally had not seen anything recent from him, or so I thought. It turns out that he moved to Hollywood and wrote for television and film. He was the screenwriter for “Motorcycle Diaries”, the story of Che Guevara’s motorcycle trip with a friend when he was younger. The screenplay won an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay, making Mr. Rivera the first Puerto Rican to have that honor.
In addition to his film work, his television work includes writing for sit-coms such as “Diff’rent Strokes”, “Family Matters” and “Goosebumps”. He was also co-creator, writer and producer of the acclaimed but short-lived series “Eerie, Indiana.”
Currently he has two movies in production, a remake of the Korean movie “Failan” and a screen adaptation of the Jack Kerouac book “On the Road”, the latter with the same director as “ The Motorcycle Diaries”, Walter Salles. In addition to writing, Mr. Rivera has directed and written a short movie, “The Tape Recorder.”

Bilingual "West Side Story"

With the success of "In The Heights" on Broadway, it was inevitable that someone would try to duplicate the Latino theater experience. One would think that they would be searching Latino theaters and talent to bring something new. That would be too much effort for a Broadway that has made its business with revivals and musicals based on movies.
The new big idea, ironically by the same producers of "In The Heights", is to do a revival of West Side Story but to have the Puerto Ricans speaking Spanish! This would have been innovative about ten years ago.
As much as I appreciate "West Side Story" as a classic musical, it has haunted my life as well as most Puerto Ricans who grew up in New York in the sixties and seventies. When I was younger, I could not tell you how many people I met who upon learning where I was born, brought up the fact that they loved "WSS". The ones who felt the impact most were Puerto Rican women, especially if they had the misfortune of having the name Maria.
The one positive aspect of this revival is that, hopefully, some Latino talent will be hired for the starring role and not just the chorus line.
To read the story click here. Registration may be necessary to read the article in The New York Times.

La Bloga: Review: South by South Bronx.

Here is a review of a book I am currently reading, "South by South Bronx" by Abraham Rodriguez, author of "Spidertown" and "The Buddha Book"

La Bloga: Review: South by South Bronx.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lorenzo Homar

A nice blog post about the great Puerto Rican Artist Lorenzo Homar with samples of his work can be found on http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/2008/06/lorenzo-homar.html

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lamento Borincano

Lamento Borincano
Originally uploaded by Moliniano
This is one of the many images by this very talented young man that I found on Flickr. This particular photo fits so well with the lyrics to the song. Check out his work.

In The Heights Wins Big at the Tonys

Broadway critics and theatergoers are always bemoaning the fact that attracting a younger, more diverse crowd is essential to the ongoing success of live theater. Watching this year’s Tony show, I was glad to see the diversity in talent nominated. The live performances were a mixture of old school Broadway (including most of the new musicals) and two distinct and dramatic departures from the singing and music often heard on the Broadway stage.
At this point, I need to put a disclaimer that I am not a regular Broadway attendee. Most of the singing styles I find quite annoying and not something I would like to sit through for two hours. Having said this, I found the performance for “In the Heights,” the most exciting and entertaining. The liveliness and the real singing from the cast, especially Karen Olivo, blew me away. The “Passing Strange” performance was also enjoyable but for pure joy on a stage, “In the Heights” took the prize (literally and figuratively).
It was a proud moment to see a Puerto Rican (Lin-Manuel Miranda) win the Best Musical as well as the Best Original Score for his first effort.
I have yet to see the show but I did buy the Original Cast Album and it has been on my iPod in regular rotation. The music, lyrics and singing are great. The score uses all types of music from hip-hop and salsa to reggaeton and bachata. Buy it and support Latinos in the arts.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Borinqueneers trailer

This is a wonderful film about the 65th Regiment, an all Puerto Rican regiment that fought in the Korean War. Support this film by buying the DVD on their website prsoldier.com.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Puerto Rico en los años 40

A nice collection of photos of puerto Rico in the 1940s set to Mark Anthony's version of "Lamento Borincano"

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Democracy at Work in Rural Puerto Rico? Part 1

Interesting propaganda film from the forties by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Extension Service regarding Puerto Rican agriculture.
The irony of the use of the song Lamento Borincano as background to show how happy the farmers are living. The fact that the song is about how the farmers are suffering by not being able to make a living farming is totally lost by the director of the film.


A beautiful version of the famous Puerto Rican song Lamento Borincano.