Friday, September 25, 2009

Bits and Pieces

So much happening ...

Literature ... Cuban-American journalist Achy Obejas will speak at IU Bloomington September 30 during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Her lecture, titled Navigating Multiple Identities, will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center (730 E. Third St.) and will address the issue of the interwoven facets of identity -- race, culture, sexual orientation, gender and religion -- that make us who we are. ... Obejas, an author and teacher, grew up in Indiana and attended IU from 1977 to 1979 (she eventually received a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College in 1993). She later moved to Chicago and wrote about culture for the Chicago Tribune, where in 2001 she was awarded a team Pulitzer Prize in the category of explanatory reporting. As a Cuban-lesbian-Jewish woman, Achy can speak from multiple perspectives, said Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa. Her visit will be an excellent opportunity to engage with students and the community and have a meaningful dialogue about these issues. In 2008, Obejas translated Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao into Spanish. Her most recent book, Ruins, (March 2009), has met with international acclaim. Said Junot Díaz of the book: Daring, tough and deeply compassionate, Achy Obejas's Ruins is a breathtaker. Obejas writes like an angel, which is to say: gloriously . . . one of Cuba's most important writers. More info here.

Richard T. Rodriguez will discuss his new book, Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics, on Thursday, October 8 at 4:00 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Bookstore in Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave. S.E., Minneapolis.

The family has been the heart of Chicano/a cultural politics since the Mexican American civil rights movements emerged in the late 1960s. Rodriguez explores the competing notions of la familia found in movement-inspired literature, film, video, music, painting and other forms of cultural studies and feminist and queer theory. Next of Kin examines representations of the family that reflect and support a patriarchal, heteronormative nationalism as well as those that reconfigure kinship to encompass alternative forms of belonging.

Rodriguez will sign copies of his book following the discussion. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, or to order a signed copy visit this website.

FuentesRenowned Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes will speak on Friday, October 30, at 6 p.m. in the University of New Mexico Student Union Building Ballroom, Albuquerque, NM. Fuentes will speak on Mexico in a Nutshell featuring a panoramic vision of Mexican history and culture from the pre-Hispanic epoch to the present.

Fuentes’ talk is the final of a three-part series hosted by the UNM Provost’s Office with a theme of Mexican relations and immigration. The lecture is free and open to the public. Media Contact: Karen Wentworth, (505) 277-5627; e-mail:

Fuentes also is scheduled to appear in El Paso, Texas. The acclaimed author will talk about the book Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories at 2 p.m. October 31 at the Plaza Theatre, 125 Pioneer Plaza. Free tickets available at El Paso Public Library. 543-5480.

Lucha Corpi informed La Bloga that her latest Gloria Damasco novel, Death at Solstice, will be available after October 15. Booklist says the multilayered plot full of California history and Latin American lore will interest a wide variety of mystery readers.

Music and Movies ... Chicano music is getting more recognition as a unique genre of American music. Several books and movies about the music have appeared recently, and I've read how one branch of Chicano music, Conjunto, is immensely more popular than Salsa, although you might not know it based on mainstream media attention. In case you didn't know, Chicano music is made up of diverse musicians and styles such as Ritchie Valens, Carlos Santana, Los Lobos and Los Tigres del Norte. Recent movie releases include the terrific Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East L.A., which followed ground-breaking movies such as Chulas Fronteras and Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano. Now comes word of La Onda Chicana, a documentary that figures to provide more attention to the music some of us grew up with and still listen to. Here's the intro to an article about La Onda Chicana by Ramon Renteria in the El Paso Times:

New York filmmaker John J. Valadez describes "La Onda Chicana," not as another boring documentary, but as "Mexican-American Music 101, full of surprises."

"We don't pull any punches. It's about people's real life experiences," Valadez said in a phone interview. "The obstacles that these artists have overcome were enormous."...

The film ... will be shown October 19 on "Latin Music USA," a four-part documentary series airing on PBS stations across the United States. Jump to this link.

The Latin Recording Academy and McDonald's will host Latin GRAMMY In The Schools programs in New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Dallas. This educational program is an initiative of The Latin Academy to provide students who are interested in pursuing careers in the music industry the opportunity to learn from musicians, songwriters, producers, record label executives and other members of the recording industry about the various career choices within the music business. McDonald's will serve as presenting sponsor of the program for the second year... The Latin Recording Academy is thrilled to once again offer students this exciting education initiative and highlight the various career choices within the music industry, said Gabriel Abaroa, President of The Latin Recording Academy. This is one of the initiatives that The Latin Academy is most proud of as we connect successful musicians and business people with future musicians and executives. We thank McDonald's for their continued support and we look forward to another grade A+ Latin GRAMMY In The Schools program.

The Latin GRAMMY In The Schools program is scheduled to visit Celia Cruz Bronx School of Music in Bronx, N.Y on September 25; Benito Juarez Community Academy in Chicago on October 2; Coral Park Senior High School in Miami on October 9; the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles on October 16; and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas on October 23. Additional program taking place in Las Vegas will be announced shortly. Additionally, making stops at each of the programs will be the Fiesta­ Tour McDonald's Music Experience — a traveling music exhibit that features memorabilia from more than 50 Latino artists who have contributed to the advancement of music, culture and education. The music exhibit is housed in a 70-plus foot vehicle and includes a walk-through display of artifacts and memorabilia and great moments in Latin music history. Organized by decades, from the 1950s to the present, the exhibit includes items from Celia Cruz, Thalía, Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Alejandro Sanz, Pepe Aguilar, Beto Cuevas, Maná, and Ivy Queen just to name a few.

Theater ... El Teatro Campesino, the groundbreaking Chicano theater founded during the United Farm Workers' grape strike in 1965, visits Arizona State University to reprise a classic play about the lives of Mexican migrants.

First performed in 1974, La Carpa de los Rasquachis - or The Tent of the Underdogs - is a bilingual piece that sets a migrant worker's American journey against a mythic backdrop peopled by figures from folklore. The story is accompanied by musical performances of folk ballads, or corridos. Read the rest of the article by Kerry Lengel of the Arizona Republic at this link.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, September 25 and 26.

Where: Galvin Playhouse, Arizona State University, 51 E. 10th St., Tempe, AZ

Admission: $7.

Details: 480-965-6447,

Meanwhile ... Denver's Su Teatro announces the statewide tour of its production of Luis Valdez’s La Carpa de los Rasquachis, directed by Anthony J. Garcia. Beginning Wednesday, October 7 in Fort Collins, Su Teatro will tour the Carpa along the Front Range, down to the San Luis Valley, and possibly to the Western Slope. For more information, please contact John Kuebler, media coordinator, at or 303.296.0219.

Here’s the schedule so far:

Saturday, October 3, 2009: Special sneak preview (location TBA)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009: Colorado State University in Fort Collins

Thursday, October 22, 2009: Regis University in Denver

Friday, October 23, 2009: Adams State University in Alamosa

Tuesday, October 27, 2009: Denver University

Photography ... The photographic exhibit Baja California runs to January 3 at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.

In addition to photographs by Ralph Lee Hopkins, outstanding images by American and Mexican photographers will also be shown. On view will be photographs of Baja California by Octavio Aburto, Pilar Artola, Miguel Angel de la Cueva, Jack Dykinga, Patricio Robles Gil, Flip Nicklin, Abe Ordover, and Julio Rodríguez Ramos.

These images bear witness to the great natural diversity in the 800-mile-long peninsula, says Annaliese Cassarino, curator and director of the museum's Ordover Gallery, where the exhibit will be housed.

Many people aren't aware of the immense diversity of the flora and fauna in Baja California, she says.

And that's because the peninsula is much more than the tourist destinations of Tijuana, Ensenada and Los Cabos.

There's the San Ignacio Lagoon, a sanctuary for whales that migrate from the Arctic Ocean every winter. There's the Sea of Cortez, considered to be the world's aquarium. And there are the deserts, brimming over with cactuses.

Tijuana's Rodríguez is participating in the exhibit with photographs of the vineyards and the wine culture of the Guadalupe Valley.

I tried to capture the grandeur of Baja California,” he says. “These photographs are proof that the peninsula is much more than just a region with rocks and thorns. Learn more here.

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