Friday, December 15, 2006

Buñuel does Christmas

I'm not sure what kind of mind thought this up ... it's more than a little creepy, and yet an interesting take on things nonetheless .....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Something serious and something funny

Hey, I'm a Gemini with a split personality and a dual bilingual soul on top of it, so why not put two completely unrelated posts together?

First, here's the start of an abstract that I'm submitting with a friend for a conference called "Beyond Borders: Global Change and Education in Action", presented by the NYU School of Education International Education Program. (Doesn't that sound a bit like the Department of Redundancy Department? But anyway, I digress ....)

My friend Liz just sent me the start of her thesis on multiculturalism in foreign language education, and I realized that it had a very common thread with my article in Language Magazine (June 2006) calling on foreign language teachers to take a stand in promoting the celebration and validation of other languages and cultures in this country (and to help stem the xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-anylanguageotherthanEnglish tide of sentiment that was permeating the immigration debate). So we decided to put our heads together and make a presentation at this conference. Here's what we've come up with so far ...

ABSTRACT: Foreign language educators can take the lead in promoting multiculturalism if we take “foreign” our of our mindset and our vocabulary, and instead work to connect our classrooms to other languages and cultures in our own communities. Language teachers are a unique and underutilized resource in multicultural education, and we can and should be a much stronger force.

One might think that language teachers are at the forefront of international and multicultural education in the United States. After all, we are the ambassadors of language and culture in our schools – and indeed, we do teach the language and culture of many other countries. But what are we doing to promote other languages and cultures in this country, and to open our students’ minds to the multicultural society in which they live?

As language teachers, we can and should do much more to promote international education and multiculturalism at a much deeper level for our children and our society. It can begin with a simple paradigm shift: we need to stop thinking of languages other than English and cultures other than the dominant one as “foreign.” We are a nation of immigrants representing almost every language and culture in the world. We need to bring these local, not foreign, resources into our language classrooms. By doing so, we give students a local and immediately relevant connection to “foreign” languages and cultures, while at the same time opening them to multiculturalism in their own communities and in society at large.

We will present two ways in which language teachers can promote multiculturalism and make language learning more personally relevant to students in the world language classroom. First, we will discuss using fables and legends to teach multiculturalism. Second, we will demonstrate ways in which language teachers can bring local multilingual and multicultural community resources into the language classroom and make real-life connections to language and culture for students.

Let's move away from teaching languages as something that is "foreign" and towards a multiculturalist approach that will help create more locally active and globally aware young citizens.

And on a completely different note ...

Here is my nomination for funniest video of the week (and possibly of the year), by the outrageously fun Venezuelan group, Los Amigos Invisibles. (Note: do not watch this if you understand Spanish and get easily offended. If you get easily offended but don't understand Spanish, go ahead and watch it, though ... it's a hilarious throwback to the 70s, the tune is fun and sounds sweet, and you will think it's very cute.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

We're live!

Break out the champagne and celebrate a new birth ... Chispa Productions has a new website!!!

I am so excited with how it all came out!

The wonderful creative genius behind this exciting new site is none other than the Web Muse herself, Anita Larson. Boy, did she and her amazing team of designers have to be patient with me. We went back and forth on the logo, the borders, the colors ... everything! (Those little green dots in the border? That was an entire day's worth of discussion with my husband and just about everyone else I knew...)

And then there was the moment of panic today when I accidentally erased my entire home page ... But Anita saved the day, and we were back online within the hour.

So click right on over to Chispa to check out what all the excitement is about ... and find some great tips for teaching Spanish with sabor latino!

Now, about that champagne ...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What happened to salsa?

I miss salsa.

Sure, there are now more salsa clubs and salsa classes and even salsa conferences than ever before.

But it's not the same salsa that I first knew. Somehow, salsa has lost its soul.

Back in the late 70s, when I was a college senior and Gloria Estefan was just one of the singers in a new band called "Miami Sound Machine", I learned how to dance salsa in the apartment of my Venezuelan friends. It was simple, and it was fun. Grab your partner, feel the beat, and move.

If you wanted to get fancy, maybe occasionally you and your partner would throw a turn in there. Or you could add that little extra beat with your foot ("la patita") before stepping into the next step.

But mostly, you wanted to feel the music and enjoy dancing with your partner. You could even chat while dancing. Either way – verbally or nonverbally – salsa was about communicating with your dance partner and enjoying the music.

Not so anymore.

Salsa has somehow become a competitive sport. How many turns can you do in one beat?? What's your signature flash move? Don't forget to throw your arm up in the air with a flourish every time you turn or step away from your partner! And do you dance on 1 or on 2?

Communicate with your partner? Enjoy the music? Not a chance. And converse? ¿Estás loco?

Give me old-style salsa any day ... and give salsa back its soul!

Friday, November 03, 2006


I just love this song ... it is so much fun!

The beat is infectious (just like the lyrics say) and the lyrics are just a riot – a pure celebration of Spanglish with a Puerto Rican accent. I love how they unhesitatingly rhyme "esmalte" with "taparte" and "retratarte!"

Take out the reference to nalgas and tapa rabo (not sure I want to explain the origin of that one to a class...) ... and I guess gloss over some of the other suggestive phrases if you have a young or sensitive class... and this would be a great song to teach informal commands, especially commands with reflexive pronouns. I've highlighted the commands below .... and hey, you've even got a matching negative reflexive command (Ponte and No te pongas), a command with both a reflexive and an object pronoun (súbetela), and some subjunctive to boot!

So what do you say, Spanish teachers? If this song is too risqué, then find another one ... but use popular music to make Spanish popular! ¡Salganse del closet, y atrévanse!

Atrévete, te, te, te
Salte del closet,
Destápate, quítate el esmalte
Deja de taparte que nadie va a retratarte
Levántate, ponte hyper
Préndete, sácale chispas al estárter
Préndete en fuego como un lighter
Sacúdete el sudor como si fueras un wiper
Que tú eres callejera, “Street Fighter”

Cambia esa cara de seria
Esa cara de intelectual, de enciclopedia
Que te voy a inyectar con la bacteria
Pa’ que des vuelta como machina de feria
Señorita intelectual, ya se que tienes
El área abdominal que va a explotar
Como fiesta patronal, que va a explotar
Como palestino…
Yo sé que a ti te gusta el pop-rock latino
Pero es que el reggaeton se te mete por los intestinos
Por debajo de la falda como un submarino
Y te saca lo de indio taino
Ya tú sabes, en tapa-rabo, mama
En el nombre de Agüeybana
No hay mas na’, para na’ que yo te vo’a mentir
Yo sé que yo también quiero consumir de tu perejil
Y tú viniste amazónica como Brasil
Tú viniste a matarla como “Kill Bill”
Tú viniste a beber cerveza de barril
Tú sabes que tú conmigo tienes refill

Atrévete, te, te, te
Salte del closet,
Destápate, quítate el esmalte
Deja de taparte que nadie va a retratarte
Levántate, ponte hyper
Préndete, sácale chispas al estárter
Préndete en fuego como un lighter
Sacúdete el sudor como si fueras un wiper
Que tú eres callejera, “Street Fighter”

Hello, deja el show
Súbete la mini-falda
Hasta la espalda
Súbetela, deja el show, más alta
Que ahora vamo’a bailar por to’a la jarda
Mira, nena, ¿quieres un sipi?
No importa si eres rapera o eres hippie
Si eres de Bayamón o de Guaynabo City
Conmigo no te pongas picky
Esto es hasta abajo, cógele el tricky
Esto es fácil, estoy es un mamey
¿Que importa si te gusta Green Day?
¿Que importa si te gusta Coldplay?
Esto es directo, sin parar, one-way
Yo te lo juro de que por ley
Aquí to’a las boricuas saben karate
Ellas cocinan con salsa de tomate
Mojan el arroz con un poco de aguacate
Pa’ cosechar nalgas de 14 quilates

Atrévete, te, te, te
Salte del closet,
Destápate, quítate el esmalte
Deja de taparte que nadie va a retratarte
Levántate, ponte hyper
Préndete, sácale chispas al estárter
Préndete en fuego como un lighter
Sacúdete el sudor como si fueras un wiper
Que tú eres callejera, “Street Fighter”

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Salud, amor y pesetas


Un grupo de amigos, un vinito ....

Best friends and a good wine .... is there any better combination? Latin cultures have known this forever.

So it's no wonder that there are so many different ways to toast with friends in Spanish.

The simplest and most direct:


But few are satisfied with that. So it is often expanded to:

¡Salud, amor y pesetas!

Good, but still not good enough. Sure, health, love and money are important, but you need something more ... and everyone has their own favorite variation of this theme:

Salud, amor y pesetas, y tiempo para gozarlos

Salud, amor y pesetas, y tiempo para gastarlos

Salud, amor y pesetas, y tiempo para gustarlos

Salud, amor y pesetas, y tiempo para disfrutarlos

(And by the way, how come that never got updated to Salud, amor y pesos, or Salud, amor y bolívares, or Salud, amor y colones?)

But my favorite bríndises are the ones I learned in college from a dear Venezuelan friend (and by the way, one constant in my life seems to be incredibly wonderful Venezuelan friends ... I'm going to have to blog some other time on what is either the amazing Venezuelan national character, or my amazing luck in finding such wonderful friends). But back to my point .... the toasts:

Pa' arriba
Pa' abajo
Pa'l centro
Pa' dentro!

.... and this treasure ....

Manjar de dioses,
Dulce tormento,
¿Qué haces afuera?
¡Vámonos pa' dentro!

Recently I wrote to my college friend and told him that I still remembered the toasts he taught me, more than 25 years later.

His response:

Estiro el brazo,
Empino el codo,
Y de un solo golpe,
Me lo tomo todo!!

Good friendships last forever, and that is certainly something to toast to.

Anyone else have a favorite bríndis to share? Add them to our comments .... and ¡salud!

Monday, October 30, 2006

We need more Tommy Torres!

So many of my posts these days seem to be about music ....

But music is such an integral part of why I love Spanish, and Latin cultures, so it's not too surprising.

One of my favorite artists is Tommy Torres. He's often in the background, generously supporting other artists with his beautiful songs, guitar-playing and voice, and as a producer as well (for Ricardo Arjona, Ednita Nazario, Robi Draco Rosa, etc.).

Here he is with Julieta Venegas:

Julieta Venegas y Tommy Torres

But when he steps out front, wow ... es increíble, y me encanta. Check out both his albums, "Tommy Torres" and "Estar de moda no está de moda."

So given how much I admire Tommy Torres' music, I shouldn't have been surprised the other day when I heard Ricky Martin's new song, "Tu Recuerdo," on the radio and fell in love with it ... because when I looked up the video clip, who did I see in the background playing and singing, but Tommy Torres .... and who wrote the song? Tommy Torres.

Ricky Martin, Tommy Torres and La Mari

I'll definitely be buying the Ricky Martin MTV Unplugged album ... but I really hope Tommy Torres comes out with a third solo album soon. The world needs more of him out front, not just behind the scenes.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Te Mando Flores - from Colombia to the U.S.

It often seems as if in today's world, we have instant access to everything ... a click of a mouse, and you can find whatever you want.

That wasn't my experience, though, when I had lunch with some friends visiting from Colombia back in the fall of 2004. We were discussing music, and they told me about a great new singer named Fonseca.


Of course, I went home and got to work. I searched Google, iTunes, Amazon .... EVERYTHING!

No Fonseca.

I kept trying every few months, but still ... no Fonseca.

I asked my friend Liz to look for a Fonseca CD when she went to Venezuela .... but no Fonseca there, either.

I kept trying.

The next summer (2005), Liz returned to Venezuela. I got a call from her saying, "You know that Fonseca? They're playing his video all over the television here!" She still couldn't find the CD to buy, but she was able to download a few songs and brought them to me.

I finally had my Fonseca! And yes, he was great! He has a warm and engaging voice, beautiful lyrics, catchy vallenato-based music ... a total delight.

But why wasn't he in the U.S.?

I kept looking to see when, if ever, this incredibly talented artist was going to show up in the U.S. market.

Well, it took two full years, but he's here!

And not only is he here, but he's nominated for two 2006 Latin Grammys: Record of the Year and Best Tropical Song.

Best of luck to Fonseca ... it took long enough, but I'm glad he's here! And I hope his success means that it won't take two years for his next CD to get from Colombia to the US. He's worth the wait, but I prefer instant gratification.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


This has nothing to do with Spanish ... unless you count the fact that many Latinos cultures seem to know this innately ... but it puts a smile on my face every time I see it, so I'm sharing it here:

¡Un fuertísimo abrazo para todos!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Which language should your child take?

Which language should your child take?

As a Spanish teacher, I’m always being asked for recommendations about which language a child should take.

This frequently comes up when children are moving up from elementary school – where in many cases, Spanish is the only language offered ¬ to middle school, where they actually have a choice for the first time. And this is what I often hear:

“Joey want to take French, but I think he should keep taking Spanish. I mean, he’s been learning Spanish since kindergarten, and it’s such a useful language ....”

To which I reply ....

Joey should take whatever language he wants!

Parents are almost always surprised by my response, especially since I am a Spanish teacher. And in fact, there are a number of language experts who disagree with me as well. Neither one likes to see what was learned in elementary school “wasted” if the child moves on to another language.

But to me, language is about a passion to communicate, a connection to the people, a love for the sound and feeling of the language, an interest in the culture and the countries where the language is spoken.

So as much as possible, you should be studying the language that appeals to YOU.

I don’t want people in my Spanish classes because they think it’s useful or – even worse – that it’s easy. (Hello?? Por vs. para? Ser vs. estar? A gazillion irregular verbs? Subjunctive????)

I want students who want to learn Spanish because they love it, because they love the sound of it, the culture, the music, the people, the poetry, the history, the literature ....

Certainly, we as teachers will always strive to bring that excitement into our classrooms and instill that love in all students. But sometimes, as in any relationship, the heart is elsewhere.

In languages, as in love, el corazón tiene razones que la razón desconoce. The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.

But what about those “wasted” years, the time spent on another language that would be abandoned if a child moves on to another language?

No te preocupes. Don’t worry. I don’t believe any of that time, or any of that language learning, is wasted. In languages, anything that you have already learned will enhance what you study in the future. Even if it’s a different language, you are still programming your mind to learn different vocabulary, different sentence structures, and different ways of expressing things. And anything that you study in the future will reinforce what you have already learned – “Oh yes, that’s like what I learned in Spanish,” or “Oh, that’s different from the way you say it in Spanish.”

To reinforce my point, I always point out to parents – whose children, in most cases, started learning Spanish in kindergarten – that I didn’t learn a word of Spanish until 11th grade. I took Latin for four years, and then started Spanish (and the following year, added Italian). And even I, with my very self-critical manner, will say that I am near-native fluent now.

How and why did I become fluent? Because I loved the language, the culture, the people, the music, the food, the poetry, the literature .... all of it. Because I followed my heart and my interests and my passion.

So, which language should your child take?

Ask your child.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Immigration and the real linguistic danger

Direct from my Reuters news feed today. The facts speak for themselves ... although in a couple generations, they probably wouldn't be able to do that bilingually. And that, in my opinion, is the big story here, and the one we need to address.

Immigration no threat to English use in U.S.: study

PHOENIX (Reuters) - U.S. citizens concerned that Latino immigrants will have them singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish can rest easy, according to an academic study published on Wednesday.

A report in the Population and Development Review found that far from threatening the dominance of English, most Latin American immigrants to the United States lose their ability to speak Spanish over the course of a few generations.

The study by sociologists Frank Bean and Ruben Rumbaut of the University of California, Irvine, and Douglas Massey from Princeton, drew on two surveys investigating adaptation by immigrant communities in California and south Florida.

It concluded that by the third generation, most descendants of immigrants are "linguistically dead" in their mother tongue.

"Based on an analysis of language loss over the generations, the study concludes that English has never been seriously threatened as the dominant language in America, nor is it under threat today," the researchers said.

"Although the generational life expectancy of Spanish is greater among Mexicans in Southern California than other groups, its demise is all but assured by the third generation," it added.

Third-generation immigrants are American-born with American-born parents, but with three or four foreign-born grandparents.

The study, which also included some data from immigrant groups from Asian countries, weighs into a polarizing debate in the United States on the desirability, or otherwise, of linguistic assimilation for immigrant minorities.

Differences flared earlier this year when a group of Latino and Caribbean artists recorded a version of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish, prompting condemnation from some public figures including President George W. Bush.

"The national anthem ought to be sung in English," Bush said of the version, dubbed "Nuestro Himno" by the artists. "And I think people who want to be citizens of this country ought to learn it in English."

Friday, September 08, 2006

She makes a man want to speak Spanish ...

... and more than a few women, too!

(She also makes me want to take about 8 hours of belly dancing classes a day ...)

I went to the Shakira concert at Madison Square Garden last night – a fantastic experience. Shakira looked more comfortable and natural than she has in years. She was barefoot the entire night, left her hair loose and naturally curly, and wore loose-fitting pants and a crop top or T-shirt for much of the concert, instead of the overly sexy, bleached blonde, tight-leather-pants-and-high-heeled-boots look of her last tour.

I still prefer the dark-haired Shakira of her pre-American-market days, though ... but that's another story. I guess she did what she felt she needed to do to conquer the American market. And who am I to argue, if she just sold out two concerts at Madison Square Garden? Now she's a big enough success to have her Spanish-language songs become hits on English-only radio stations. (And to anyone who thinks she has sold out commercially, I would ask: "When was the last time you saw classical Indian dance on the MTV Video Music Awards?")

Vintage Shakira

Last night's included such a wide range of musical and cultural influences that I couldn't even begin to count them! But I'll mention the ones I can think of ... Colombian, Middle Eastern, Indian, hip hop, reggae, rock, bossa nova, pop .... well, that's a start, at least.

And our special treats for the night: an opening set by Wyclef Jean, who was incredible; a surprise appearance by Alejandro Sanz that was greeted with an ovation that nearly blew the roof off the Garden, and a "Hips Don't Lie" finale including the saffron-sari'd Indian dancers who were featured with Shakira on the MTV Video Music Awards.

My only complaint – for someone who makes so many people want to speak Spanish, she herself didnt speak any last night! She addressed the crowd entirely in English (extremely fluent English, by the way). Given that the audience was at least 80 percent Spanish-speaking, that was a surprise. Fortunately, most of her songs were in Spanish, though – which is a good thing, since she sounds so much better in Spanish than in English. ("Hips Don't Lie" is the exception that makes the rule, in my opinion.)

That's a minor complaint, though, given the the incredible creativity, artistry, musicality, warmth and non-stop energy that Shakira shared with us last night. I can't wait to see what she will do next. And while I am waiting, I'll sign up for some more belly dancing classes. What an inspiration!

(PS - Thanks to my best comadres, and our honorary compadrecito, for being there to enjoy the experience with me!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Becoming a citizen

I went with my friend Liz yesterday to watch her take her oath of
citizenship. Even though she probably would have become a US citizen at
some point anyway, she actually didn't have much of a choice. She's a
teacher here, and if you apply for a teaching license in New Jersey,
you must sign this statement: "I realize that if I do not become a
United States citizen within the next five years, the New Jersey State
Board of Examiners may revoke any license issued to me." So to keep her
job, she had to become a citizen.

Her appointment was for 8:00 am at INS in Newark, so we got there
early. Four and a half hours later, she was a citizen -- literally the
very last one to receive her papers on a very long day, when she had
been one of the first to arrive. (There is no concept of "first come,
first served" at INS, I guess.)

Interestingly enough, here is what you do NOT do when you become a

1. Recite the pledge of allegiance

2. Sing the national anthem

Here is what you DO do:

1. Recite the oath below

2. Watch a video of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" (and sing
along if you want to)

The Oath of Citizenship

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national
importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. In acknowledgement whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature."

Were any of you US citizens aware that we are supposed to be bearing
arms on behalf of the United States when required by law, and
performing noncombatant service and "work of national importance under
civilian direction when required by law?" I certainly wasn't. Or maybe
only naturalized citizens are required to do this??

You also get to watch a video of George Bush saying "God bless you and
God bless America." (So much for separation of church and state.) At
least we had an immigration official with a sense of humor, because he
said, "After the President speaks for two minutes, the screen will go
black. Don't forget to clap."

I also expected an inspiring speech, but basically all we got was a
reminder to register to vote, and a warning that you are now stuck in
the United States because the government took your green card, and you
don't have a passport, so don't plan on going anywhere (even for a
family emergency) until you get your passport ... which, by the way,
takes 4-6 weeks.

Despite the delays and the bureaucracy, though, I will say that every
single person we came into contact with there was extremely nice,
polite, pleasant and helpful. That was a probably the nicest surprise
of the day. I guess Tuesdays must be "oath of citizenship" day, so
there aren't any major problems or arguments going on, and there is a
nice energy to the place (or there would be, if you didn't have to wait
four and a half hours - which, by the way, apparently is "short,"
according to one of the workers there).

So, all in all, a lesson in democracy and bureaucracy. And now Liz can
do two things: vote, and keep her job as a teacher.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

More Trino

Well, between this post, the previous one, and the one before that, I have a trinity of Trinidades ....

I have been looking for an article about Trinidad Sanchez, Jr. that would do justice to his work -- not just his poetry, but his dedication to teaching poetry, especially to the young and/or disaffected or marginalized. I found this wonderful piece in the Denver Post.

"Trino's" poems gave color to life

By Claire Martin
Denver Post Staff Writer

August 5, 2006

Trinidad Sánchez Jr. wrote popular poems and worked with young offenders and prison inmates.

Chicano poet and activist Trinidad "Trino" V. Sanchez Jr., who died July 30 at age 63 in San Antonio, was renowned for the hip, socially astute writing that galvanized audiences in venues including the Taza Cafe he owned with his wife near downtown Denver.

Sanchez's seminal "Why Am I So Brown?" and other popular, provocative poems inspired younger generations of poets. The poem's title is a question asked by a Chicana elementary schoolgirl in one of Sanchez's writing classes. She was among countless children who knew Sanchez through artist-in-residence programs and other venues.

The poem is his response to her query. An excerpt: "Understand ... brown/ is not a color ... it is: a state of being/a very human texture/alive and full of song."

"When I think about Trino's legacy, I think about all the children and young people he taught," said Maurice Ka, a Denver poet and spoken-word artist who performs as El Negro.

Sanchez was the ninth of 10 children born in Pontiac, Mich., to poet and pool hall owner Trinidad Sanchez Sr., and Sofia Sanchez. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he yearned for hugs and encouragement from his father, who rarely displayed affection.

Trinidad Sanchez Sr. spent 12-hour days running his pool hall. At home, he holed up with his manual typewriter, writing poems. When Trinidad Jr. left home at age 19, his father wrote "To Trino," a poem that began:

"When you feel lonesome and blue,
Count all the stars in the sky.
It is the times we think of you
Since the day you said 'Good-bye."'

At the time, Trinidad Sanchez Jr. dismissed the poem. He left home and eventually joined a Jesuit monastery in Detroit, where he worked with young offenders and prison inmates. He had a special affinity for Chicanos and African-Americans, many of whom had discordant relationships with their own fathers.

When he was 39, Sanchez reread "To Trino." The final lines leapt out at him - "Don't fear the storm, in the brink/Or the high winds in the night/It is Papa, who took a drink/And wanted to hug you tight."

Sanchez finally recognized the poem as the expression of the love his father never expressed aloud or with hugs. He included "To Trino" in "Poems by Father and Son," his 1991 anthology of his own work, and his father's.

By then, he was writing poems too, many of them published in journals and anthologies. After 27 years as a Jesuit monk, he left the order but remained active in prison ministry. Sanchez used poetry as a medium for emotionally constrained men and included writing in his men's workshops and community outreach groups.

He became a schoolteacher. He led creative writing classes in Michigan and Texas and worked with the developmentally disabled as well as conventional students.

Between the late 1990s and 2003, when Sanchez lived in Denver, he worked with young fathers through Family Star's Montessori and Early Head Start and other programs. Social services workers from Colorado to New York knew Sanchez as an exceptionally successful mentor for disaffected young fathers.

He led workshops urging them to express their love for their children. In a 2000 Denver Post article, Sanchez lamented that of Family Star's 75 fathers, only 38 were listed as an involved parent.

Sanchez proved more artist than businessman. Cafe Taza, the Platte Street coffee shop designed to showcase spoken-word performances, closed in 2003, about a year after Sanchez and his wife, Regina Chavez y Sanchez, opened it.

Young poets and spoken-word artists sympathized. Their support for Sanchez continued after he and his wife moved back to San Antonio, shortly afterward.

When Sanchez suffered two strokes last month, Colorado poets and performance artists promptly rallied to hold fundraisers to pay for daunting hospital bills. It was one way, Ka said, to repay the man who was mentor and confidant for so many.

Along with poet Day Acoli and other Sanchez admirers, Ka is organizing a memorial tribute this weekend at the Aurora Black Arts Festival, 9900 E. Colfax Ave. Organizers named the festival marketplace after the poet and established a community altar where mourners can leave candles, letters, poems and other ephemera.

Survivors include wife Regina Chavez y Sanchez of San Antonio.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Death of a Peaceful Warrior

I'm in shock ... I just got back from a week-long trip to Costa Rica (more on that later) to find that Trinidad Sanchez, Jr., the wonderful poet I met in San Antonio two months ago, has passed away from a stroke.

The funeral is today in San Antonio, and additional memorial services are also being arranged. Many are benefits to help his family with expenses, because he did not have medical insurance. Please consider sending a donation in honor of Trino and all that he brought to us.

For more information, click here.

And in the meantime, take a moment to listen, and to celebrate Trino's life and poetry.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Gracias, Trini Lopez

This is a copy of an e-mail I just sent to Trini Lopez, whose "Latin Album" may actually have been the first spark to ignite Chispa!

I had been looking at a copy of his album on my wall (I have it framed), decided to Google him, and came across his e-mail address ... here is the result.

Hola Mr. Lopez,

It occurred to me the other day, as I was looking at the framed cover of my absolute favorite "The Latin Album" on my wall (sharing a space with the cover from Eydie Gorme and Trio Los Panchos' "Great Love Songs in Spanish"), that I should write to you to thank you for sharing your music with the world, and in doing so, sparking a lifelong love of Spanish for me, and helping me to become what my friends call an "honorary Latina."

Despite the fact that my mother was a Spanish and French professor, and she originally spoke Italian as a child, I didn't grow up speaking any language other than English. But I did inherit my mother's facility for languages. And, just as fortunately, I also "inherited" the two record albums mentioned above, which she must have bought in the 1950s or whenever they originally came out.

I started studying Spanish in 11th grade and immediately knew I liked it. But I think it started to become much more than "like" when I came across "The Latin Album" in our family's extremely tiny LP collection. I listened to that record over and over and over. And over again. I loved every song, even before I could understand the lyrics. And then, miraculously, after all that listening, I started to be able to understand the lyrics!

(My mother also knew the power of your music to teach Spanish -- once I sat in on one of her college Spanish classes, and she was using your version of "Adelita" to teach the subjunctive.)

I have listened to that record over and over and over again in the more than 30 years since. I recorded it onto a cassette tape. And then FINALLY, after a very exhaustive search (ending up with a record store in England), I was able to find it on CD and bought it, along with a few extra copies for my dearest friends.

Since falling in love with Spanish language and culture -- and yes, I do think it was "The Latin Album" that really started it -- I have lived in Spain, become fluent in Spanish, gained an entire community of Latin friends, become a Spanish teacher, and now, a producer of Spanish educational videos featuring US Latinos.

And I have become a Latin music addict; I can't tell you how many CDs I own and how many albums I have bought from iTunes, in every Latin genre you can think of, from bolero to rock to pop to flamenco to merengue to salsa to reggaeton to you name it.

And my favorite, favorite album, through it all, is still "The Latin Album."

Thank you so, so much for being a spark for me. I hope I am a spark for others to also fall in love with Spanish language and culture ... and that's why I named my Spanish educational video company "Chispa Productions." And my videos are designed specifically to teach Spanish by featuring the Spanish language and Latino cultures in the United States, and by celebrating the contributions of Latinos to our culture. With this, I feel as if I have come full circle from when I first started learning Spanish 30 years ago, with the Spanish language songs of a Mexican-American singer born in Texas.

I wish you all the best, and once again -- un millón de gracias.

Un fuertísimo abrazo,

Ruth Kunstadter

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Viva el Star Ledger

It seems I write a lot of posts on how some people react with what I will euphemistically call "insensitivity" to other languages and cultures in this country.

But sometimes I also have an opportunity to commend someone who has done exactly the opposite, showing how our other languages and cultures here are to be celebrated and promoted, not feared and smothered.

Today I get to do both!

Originally, I planned to write about the mayor of Bogota, NJ (that's pronounced Bo-GO-ta, not Bo-go-TA, by the way), who was offended by a McDonald's billboard in Spanish. He wasn't offended by what the billboard said (it was promoting iced coffee, not undocumented immigrant rights or any other political issue). No, he was offended by the mere fact that it was in Spanish!

According to Mayor Steve Lonegan, putting up billboards in Spanish sends a message to immigrants that they don't need to learn English. He labled the billboard "divisive," and called for a local boycott of McDonald's.

Marisa Trevino, in her always on-target blog Latina Lista, points out how faulty the reasoning behind these sentiments is, and just how harmful such attitudes can be.

And that was my original story, too.

But then I turned to the editorial page in the same paper. And this is what I read, word for word:

Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan objects to a billboard pushing iced coffee that was put up in his Bergen County town. It's not the cold java that upsets him; it's that the billboard is in Spanish. That sends a message that Spanish speakers shouldn't learn English, he says. In any language, that's just silly.

Además, un cartel en español puede animar a los anglo-parlantes a apreciar este bello idioma. Y, tal vez, aprender a pronunciar Bogotá.


Viva el Star Ledger and its editors for their stand on the issue, and for their wonderful use of Spanish in making their point. They officially get my new Viva La Chispa award for being a spark of support for Spanish language and Latino culture in the United States, and for doing it with a sense of humor, too! Other Viva La Chispa honorees would have to include the producers of "My Name is Earl", and the Little League International organization (see links to my previous posts to find out why!).

Monday, June 12, 2006

This is America - We Speak All Languages Here

I'm a pretty tolerant person, and as a Gemini (see below), one of my problems is that I can understand and even identify with both sides of almost any issue.

So it takes a lot to p•ss me off.

One of the things that will do it, though, is when someone disrespects someone I care about.

Another is when someone disrespects something I love – and in particular, other languages and cultures.

The other day, someone did both.

One of my closest friends, who is from Venezuela, was at her own son's birthday party. As she was gathering the kids together for a picture, she counted off before taking the photo, "Uno, dos, tres . . ."

Then it happened. Another mother there turned to her and said, "What's that? In America, we speak English."

If anyone doubts what the effects of all the anti-immigrant and pro-"official language" (read: monolingualism) rhetoric will be, there you have it. Intolerance, ignorance and idiocy.

We won't get very far in a global economy - or in the political influence that our country so desperately wants to spread - as a monolingual and xenophobic nation. We need to celebrate and support all languages and cultures, because that is really what makes "America" unique. And that is where our future economic and political power lies.

We can become the country that can interact with all other countries, because we have a cadre of linguistically proficient and culturally aware leaders, who can carry out complex business and political negotiations in all languages and cultures, not just one.

Rather than saying, "This is America - we speak English here," our new cry should be:

This is America. We speak ALL languages here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

San Antonio is a Gemini!

No wonder I get along so well with San Antonio! The city of San Antonio is a Gemini, just like me!

My trip this past weekend (see below) was kind of a birthday present to myself. My birthday falls just at the start of Gemini. And even though on paper I could be a Taurus/Gemini cusp, in reality I am pure Gemini .... and so are a lot of my friends.

Not that we start out being friends because we're Geminis. We're drawn to each other, and then only later discover that we share the same crazy sign. Sometimes we even share the same birthday ...

So it was not all that suprising that my San Antonio weekend was filled with everything Gemini. At least half of the amigos electrónicos I met up with turned out to be Geminis. And appopriately enough, some even had double connections ... I walked by a sign for something called Gemini Ink, which I thought might be a printing company, and it turned out that it is a writers workshop ... at which one of the Geminis I met with teaches, and another one takes classes.

I even bought myself a charm bracelet with a Gemini charm ... and then turned on the TV to hear Kelly Ripa on "Live with Regis and Kelly" talking about how two of her three children are Geminis (which she accurately noted was like having a total of five children).

But the best was my last night in San Antonio, when I took the Riverboat cruise at twilight ... as we floated past the statue of Saint Anthony, I learned that San Antonio was named after St. Anthony because it was founded on St. Anthony's day, June 13.

So San Antonio is a Gemini ... that explains how it can have so many facets, so much creativity, so much energy, so much beauty, and a little bit of craziness thrown in. And maybe it starts to explain why I've always been drawn there.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

How to spend a perfect weekend in San Antonio (Forget the Alamo)

I am in my favorite city in the US, San Antonio ... I needed to recharge my batteries, and this is my charger of choice .... and wow, am I ever recargada!! Culture and connections have abounded, just what I needed to nourish my spirit and refresh my creative spark.

Skipping the traditional Alamo/Riverwalk sights, I spent Saturday visiting the Missions. One look at the picture above is all you need to see how close San Antonio still is to its Spanish roots ... one of the reasons I love it so much. I watched a very well done documentary at the Mission San José Visitors Center, Gente de Razón, on the history of the people of the missions. Maybe I'm just emotional these days, but it did bring tears to my eyes at the end when the narrator (singer/songwriter Tish Hinojosa) said, "I ask my daughter what she thinks happened to the Indians of the missions. She replies, "They're all dead, mamá. Then I tell her to go look in the mirror"....

Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure to meet with Trinidad Sánchez, Jr., a poet and a gentleman – and the first of several people I met this weekend who are amigos electrónicos, i.e., people with whom I'd been corresponding for quite some time by e-mail, but had not yet met in person. Not only did I have the chance to enjoy merienda with him, but he shared his poetry with me and even read me several of his poems as a Spanish guitarrist happened to be playing in the background. I told him that completely made my weekend (it did!) Please, please check out his new book, Jalapeño Blues, an incredibly wonderful, bilingual collection of poetry.

Then, on Saturday night, an unbelievable stroke of el destino gave me the opportunity to see my favorite singer, Patricia Vonne, who happened to be playing at the new Red Room in San Antonio. What a treat; I honestly couldn't believe my luck, and it was a fabulous show in a truly unique venue, complete with gauze covered ceiling and walls, red lights, flickering candles, low tables and lots of huge pillows and cushions on the floor (think of the inside of I Dream of Jeannie's bottle, and you'll be close). She did an acoustic show with just herself and her guitar player, and it was beyond wonderful.

And as for today, Sunday? I drove up to Austin and had the great, great pleasure of finally meeting up with Marisa Treviño, the brains and energy behind Latina Lista, which right now is "just" a blog (go read it and you'll see why I put "just" in quotes), but in the future will be a movement.

Topped off the day with a visit to the San Antonio Museum of Art, and then tomorrow I meet with yet another e-mail friend who is a writer and another source of energy and creative ideas.

With all these incredible, energetic, creative and fabulous people in the same orbit, I feel a critical mass growing .... there is something we are all supposed to do together, and I feel that pretty soon, we're going to start figuring out what it is!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Earl does it again!!

"My Name is Earl" wins the prize again for creative use of Spanish!

(And for one of the best inside jokes for Spanish speakers that I've ever seen on national television!)

For those of you who aren't familiar with the show, the two women characters are Joy, Earl's white-trash and hilariously over the top ex-wife, and Catalina, the kind and sexy maid who has befriended the main character, Earl, and his brother Randy.

Whenever Joy insults Catalina, Catalina responds with a stingingly nasty flurry of Spanish.

The thing is, though, what she's actually saying in Spanish isn't nasty at all! It's a "secret" message to the show's Spanish-speaking viewers. Scroll down two posts to see what Catalina first said to Joy (and to which Joy responded in her inimitable drawl, "I don't speak maid!").

Last night, my kids called me in excitedly to tell me that Catalina had done it again, and they wanted to know what she said. Thanks to Tivo, we rewound, and I saw Catalina saying in her most vicious tone to the exasperating Joy:

"Con esto concluímos nuestra primera temporada de 'Earl.' Estamos muy agradecidos con su acompañamiento. Anticipamos verlos el próximo otoño!"

Translated into English, she said:

"WIth this, we conclude our first season of 'Earl.' We thank you so much for joining us. We look forward to seeing you next fall!"

Well, I'll definitely be there next fall, not only to watch one of the funniest shows on TV, but to keep an eye out for more "mensajes secretos" for the Spanish-speaking public ...

¡Que viva Earl!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Chispa in the news again!

Click here to see a wonderful article about the filming of Chispa's second video, in Visalia, California! We travelled to the Central Valley to film the talented and dedicated young men in the program Sequoia Gateway.

My first video, La Chispa del Béisbol, was officially released in March. It's been featured at several major foreign language teaching conferences and is being used in classrooms across the United States.

For my second video, I went to Visalia, CA to film the absolutely incredible group of academically and athletically talented high school boys who are part of Sequoia Gateway, a program designed to help them get to college on soccer scholarships.

In most cases, these young men come from the crop-picking families of the Central Valley, and will be the first in their families to go to college.

The Sequoia Gateway program provides intensive soccer training, takes the kids to tournaments where college recruiters will see them, provides tutoring and college advising, takes them on college visits, and carries out character education workshops. With Sequoia Gateway's help, these young men plan to become engineers, architects, teachers, businessmen, and whatever other careers they have as their goal. And I have no doubt they will achieve their goals!

I highly encourage you to find out more about Sequoia Gateway by visiting their website. You will be as inspired and moved as I was when I first learned about this group, and as my husband, daughter and two sons were when they came out with me to Visalia.

In fact, my entire family helped out with the shoot, as you can see by the photo above! My daughter showed an incredible knack for picking just the right camera angle, my husband and older son were invaluable in connecting all those wires so that the sound would come out just right, and my younger son repeated his role from the first video as key grip and top production assistant!

The video is already generating a lot of excitement, even before it is completed. It is truly an amazing story, and I am so honored to be able to feature the leaders, coaches and participants of Sequoia Gateway so they can serve not only as teachers of language and culture, but as role models for young people around the country who are looking to achieve their dreams.

And I have to say that, given the tenor of the current immigration debate, I am so pleased to be able to put materials out into the world that celebrate the Spanish language and Latino cultures in the US.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mi Nombre es Earl

Felicitaciones to the producers of the program, "My Name is Earl," for their creative use of the Spanish language and the non-stereoptyical way they portray Latinos!

I've always enjoyed the character Catalina, played by Nadine Velázquez. Catalina is caring, funny, mysterious and naturally sexy.

In tonight's episode, Earl's ex-wife, Joy, says something snide to Catalina about her work as a maid. Catalina responds with an evil eye and a blistering paragraph in Spanish.

If you didn't know the language, you would think that Catalina is cutting Joy down to size with a scathing insult in Spanish. But in reality, this is what she said:

"Quiero agradecer a todo el público latino que nos acompaña cada semana, y para los que no son latinos, les felicito por aprender otro idioma."

("I want to thank the entire Latino public that watches us every week, and for those of you who are not Latino, I congratulate you on learning another language!")

I loved it!!

Also loved this past week's Saturday Night Live, by the way, with all the Spanish spoken by Antonio Banderas, Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen (whose mother is Venezuelan, we found out).

Viva el español ... and the producers who recognize that a second language is to be celebrated, not feared.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sabor y Cultura en Durham, NC

Just got back from Durham, NC and surrounding towns, where I took my daughter (and her two brothers) on college visits to Duke, UNC, Wake Forest and Elon.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity I saw in Durham. It was my first time in North Carolina, and I couldn't believe how much Spanish I heard being spoken. There was also a nice selection of libros en español at the Barnes & Noble I went to, and I was even able to get a copy of Laura Esquivel's new book, Malinche, which I had been wanting to get.

I also had the pleasure of meeting my blog friend, Nayeli, a doctoral student in film and literature at Duke, who is from Mexico City and writes a blog called Native Stranger that I serendipitously found one day and loved. We ate at Super Taquería, the most authentic Mexican restaurant I've ever eaten at in the United States, complete with huge glass barrels of aguas frescas, including tamarindo, jamaica, horchata ... ¡riquísimas!

Picture of aguas frescas (not at Super Taquería, but this is exactly what they looked like!)

Nayeli noted that the Mexican population in Durham has grown 500% in the last five years. It was like seeing Hector Tobar's "Translation Nation" in action. Even the tiniest little towns that we drove through (like Elon) have at least two Mexican restaurants on their main strip, and they look real (not Taco Bell-type).

After our dinner, we went to Duke to watch the 2005 Oscar-nominated shorts. And that's where we saw Nacho Vigalondo's 7:35 de la mañana. I can't explain why I loved this so much, but it is just incredible. To see what I'm talking about, go here. And watch it twice (it's quite a different viewing the second time around!).

Scene from 7:35 de la mañana

Who knew a visit to Durham, NC would be full of Spanish language, literature and film? Definitely a pleasant surprise for me, and another sign of how our country is being enriched more and more by Latino cultures all around.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A cualquier edad....

Qué suerte tengo yo....

I am a lucky girl! In the past 48 hours, I've gotten to see two amazing shows, one by an old favorite, and one by a new favorite.

But when I say "old" for the first one, I only mean in terms of the number of years I've been watching him. He will never be old, and he will never lose his sex appeal.

I am talking, of course, about Tom Jones!

Dios mío, can this guy put on a show. To paraphrase one of his songs, two hundred pounds – and 90 minutes – of heavenly joy.

My friend Marielle and I both renewed our love for Tom Jones during a trip to Madrid back in 2000, when we caught his version of "Mama Told Me Not To Come" on Spanish MTV. We were hooked, and both bought his album "Reload", which for some ridiculous reason was only available in Europe, not the United States. It had an amazing mix of songs with new artists, including a scorching remake of "Burning Down the House", and our absolute, all-time favorite and now signature song, "Sexbomb."

So when we heard he was coming on February 14, we knew we had to be there .... and it was incredible. The man can sing – he can sing anything – pop, blues, rap, funk, you name it. He can charm. He can move. And he does it all with a sense of humor and never taking himself too seriously.

That is why he's still sexy, and will be at any age.

Then last night, we got to see another singer, one of my new favorites, Rubén Flores, the talented young singer and actor from Mexico who wove the story of his life together with poetry and song at Joe's Pub back in December. This time he treated us to "Latin Love Songs" (including a special surprise duet with Joyce DeWitt, who looked and sounded fabulous!!). Talk about cortavenas ... some of the selections were just heartbreakingly beautiful. Others were so much fun that Marielle and I, along with our famous arepas-making friends Liz and Gilde, were dancing in our seats (Joe's Pub needs a dance floor....).

Again, through it all, Rubén sang, moved, and charmed ... but with warmth and a sense of humor, never taking himself too seriously (he even stopped one song twice, admitting that he'd messed up the lyrics, and had everyone in the audience completely charmed).

And that is why he is sexy, and will be at any age.

And he had teamed up with an equally wonderful producer: Richard Barone, the former lead singer of The Bongos who not only tells his own stories through song (May 13 at Joe's Pub – be there!), but uses his warmth and artistry to produce shows that speak directly to the soul.

Rubén, Joyce and Richard

In fact, I don't know if Richard Barone is Latino, but if he's not Latino by heritage, he is Latino in his soul. So is Tom Jones. And Rubén Flores, well, por supuesto.

Living with passion and creativity and warmth and humor ... this is what makes us all sexy (and Latino de corazón y de alma!) at any age.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Art de la Soul

Wow, Kathy Cano Murillo has done it again!

Check out her new book, Art de la Soul and ENJOY!

I first discovered Kathy by accident a few years ago; I saw the book La Casa Loca and just fell in love with it, and all the projects in it. Then I discovered her website, Crafty Chica and fell in love with that, too.... and in fact it was through her fabulous Loca Links that I discovered my unbelievably wonderful coach, Nancy Marmolejo of Comadre Coaching ... which has in turn led to the birth of my creative venture, Chispa Productions.... a series of very fortunate events.

Now Kathy's new book, Art de la Soul, is out, and I want to make every project in it! And even if I can't make all the projects, I will just spend hours soaking up all the wonderful color and sabor that are just bursting from this book.

Do yourself a favor and check it out!!

And here's a link to La Casa Loca, which I also highly recommend! Go out and get loc@!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Amor Mio

What better way to celebrate El Día del Amor y de la Amistad, El Día de Los Enamorados, y El Día de San Valentín, than with these beautiful stamps! In fact, buy them for every day of the year!

They are a new treat available from my favorite artist, María Sánchez of Sandía Fria. My walls are rapidly filling up with María's beautiful artwork – it is truly artwork to make your soul smile! Check out María's blog frequently to see her latest pieces ... although I probably shouldn't be telling you this, since now I'll have more competition in bidding for her pieces on eBay!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Judíos, latinos y el resto de la banda

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me this Ladino Hanukah greeting – a hip hop version of "Ocho Kandelikas," which is actually a song I play every December in my Spanish classes when I teach about the holidays. This version is way more fun than the one I have, though!

I found out the song was by the Hip Hop Hoodíos, and did some more research on them. I liked what I read and ended up downloading their album "Agua Pa' La Gente" from iTunes.

It has been in constant play ever since. Rarely do I find something that appeals to so many aspects of my multiple Gemini-Sicilian-Jewish-Latina personality!

The music is movida y divertida – I always love the cultural fusion of different sounds, and this record blends klezmer, cumbia, hip hop and more – and the lyrics combine the absolutely hilarious with the strikingly true (with a little mysticism and poignancy thrown in here and there to balance it out).

How can you not smile at a group that boasts, "You like our d•cks and you like our noses, you see a Jewish guy and you forget where your clothes is ... venga mami, take a little sip from my ladle, I'll take you back to my room and you can play with my dreidl!"

But other lyrics are much deeper: the song "1492" talks of how Jews were forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition, noting that while the Hip Hop Hoodíos "Jewish-Spanish" combination may seem unusual, it really reflects what's hidden underneath the surface throughout the Spanish-speaking world: "Jews and Spanish, you think that we're token but ... here's some news that will hit you with a thud: millions of Latinos, they got Jewish blood." And "Ancient" pulses with the refrain, "Ancient, ancient, la dignidad humana – judíos, latinos y el resto de la banda."

I'm definitely enjoying the Hip Hop Hoodíos - "up in your face with three languages, cabrón!"

PS, Aside from "Ocho Kandelikas," I could never play this music in my Spanish classes (I teach K-5!)...but actually, "1492" would be great in a middle or high school Spanish or social studies class.

PPS, As you can probably tell from this post and the one below it, I've got a pretty eclectic range of music that I like. My favorites these days (in addition to the above, and in no particular order) are Elefante, Andrea Echeverri, Alejandro Fernandez, Ozomatli, Tommy Torres, Juanes, Cabas, Edgardo Monserrat, Fonseca, Shakira, La Mosca, Jorge Drexler, Zucchero, Pepe Alva, Los Lonely Boys, Del Castillo, Tribalistas, Bebo and Cigala, Juan Luis Guerra (pre-2005!), Gipsy Kings and Patricia Vonne. And my oldest favorite, trumping all others, is Trini Lopez's "The Latin Album". It's the album that made me first fall in love with Latin music and with Spanish.

Friday, January 06, 2006

¡Buenas noticias! More Rubén Flores ...

Just got this buena noticia from Richard Barone, who produced Rubén Flores' "The Latin American Songbook at Joe's Pub!

Dear Ruth,
Thank you for your wonderful and insightful comments on last night's show,
"Rubén Flores: The Latin American Songbook" at Joe's Pub. It is a very special show that I am thrilled to be part of. I just wanted to let you know that it is not a once-a-year event, but we are developing various installments to be played at different times throughout the upcoming year. We plan to return to Joe's Pub on February 15 with Latin love songs. We will let you know as soon as the date is confirmed.
Please stay in touch, and come see us again!
All my best wishes for a happy and healthy new year,
Richard Barone
Producer/Director - "Rubén Flores: The Latin American Songbook"

This is fabulous news for me; I loved the original show and will definitely be looking forward to the future installments! And by the way, check out Richard Barone's own site, he's clearly a very talented guy in his own right. He must have a Latin soul ...

If you are wondering why I'm so loca about this guy and his performance, just click here to listen.

So, nos vemos at Joe's Pub el 15 de febrero! Click here for more info and tix.

PS, just realized that this is actually the night after I see Tom Jones in concert (don't laugh, especially if you've never heard the song "Sex Bomb", or his version of "Mama Told Me Not To Come"), so it'll be a busy week for me .... I would have gotten tix to Franco De Vita that week, too (on a double bill with Aventura), except that he's playing on the same night as Tom Jones, and I already had the Tom Jones tix. Ricky Martin is also in town that week, by the way. A busy month for Latin music – but never enough for me.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Caminante, no hay camino

Thinking about Rubén Flores' show at Joe's Pub (see below) brought Antonio Machado's poem to mind.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;

caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.

Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en el mar.

Happy new year and best wishes to everyone as they make their way on their own journeys!