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@!