Friday, November 18, 2011


That time of year to think about the grace of giving ...

Juanito's Lab is a documentary film that explores the life and art of 22-year-old Juanito Castillo, a blind musician proficient in 14 instruments and considered one of the most talented and versatile young accordion player in South Texas.

You can check a 3 min video and read more information about the project here:

Four years in the making, 60 hours of amazing footage; interviews with well-known and award-winning musicians, and intimate cinema verite style sequences with this young prodigy who grew up in the West Side of San Antonio. We're very passionate about this project and we feel this is a unique and powerful story that needs to be captured on film!

We’d love it if you helped spread the word and tell your friends and people who you think would want to support it; and please post it on your FB wall!

Any size donation helps, and it's tax-deductible! We have some great perks available for anyone that’s interested in supporting us in this effort.


Thank you!

Guillermina Zabala
Enrique Lopetegui


I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Castillo perform at this year's Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio. Everything they say about him is true - prodigy, virtuoso, a rare talent playing music of the people, for the people. Check out the video at this link.

Hello All: I'm on the board of Rights for All People (RAP) or Derechos Para Todos,, whose mission is to bring the voices of immigrant leaders and allies to the struggle for equality, mutual respect, and justice in the metro Denver area through education, community, organizing, and successful campaigns.

RAP’s annual La Posada Sin Fronteras is an event in which we celebrate immigrants in our communities by offering a modern take on a Latin American Christmas tradition: La Posada. A live theater presentation is written and acted by our members. The celebration will also include great food, a silent auction, live music, a raffle and piñatas. It is an event that has been widely supported by the community for ten years now and we expect an attendance of 300 people. This year, “La Posada Sin Fronteras” will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at Bruce Randolph Middle School in Denver.

I'm selling "angel tickets" to the event, which cost $20 per person. Even if you cannot come to the event, if you can make any sort of contribution to support the event and/or RAP, that would be great. RAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so any contributions are tax deductible. Thanks for your support.

Jennifer J. Lee
Migrant Farm Worker Division
Colorado Legal Services
1905 Sherman Street, Suite 400 Denver, CO 80203
(303) 866-9366


Jen Lee is a tireless advocate for farm workers, immigrants, and poor people in general. She's also a very smart and talented lawyer who knows how to win. If she says something is worth supporting, you can take that to the bank (when you pick up your donation.)

And a Few Books

It Calls You Back
Luis J. Rodriguez
Simon & Schuster - October, 2011

[from the publisher]
Hundreds of thousands of readers came to know Luis J. Rodríguez through his fearless classic, Always Running, which chronicled his early life as a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles. The long awaited follow-up, It Calls You Back, is the equally harrowing story of Rodríguez starting over, at age eighteen, after leaving gang life—the only life he really knew.

It Calls You Back opens with Rodríguez's final stint in jail as a teenager and follows his struggle to kick heroin, renounce his former life, and search for meaningful work. He describes with heartbreaking honesty his challenges as a father and his difficulty leaving his rages and addictions completely behind. Even as he breaks with "la vida loca" and begins to discover success as a writer and an activist, Rodríguez finds that his past—the crimes, the drugs, the things he'd seen and done—has a way of calling him back.

When his oldest son is sent to prison for attempted murder, Rodríguez is forced to confront his shortcomings as a father and to acknowledge how and why his own history is repeating itself, right before his eyes.

Deeply insightful and beautifully written, It Calls You Back is an odyssey through love, addiction, revolutions, and healing.

The son of Mexican immigrants, Luis J. Rodriguez began writing in his early teens and has won national recognition as a poet, journalist, fiction writer, children's book writer, and critic. Currently working as a peacemaker among gangs on a national and international level, Rodriguez helped create Tia Chucha's Café & Centro Cultural, a multiarts, multimedia cultural center in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Visit his website:

The Time In Between
María Dueñas
Atria - November, 2011

[from the publisher]
At twelve, Sira Quiroga sweeps the atelier floors where her single mother works as a seamstress. At fourteen, she begins her apprenticeship. With the Spanish Civil War brewing in Madrid, Sira leaves her mother and her fiancé, following her handsome lover to Morocco. However, she soon finds herself abandoned, penniless, and heartbroken in an exotic land. As the great powers launch into the dire conflict of World War II, Sira is persuaded to return to Madrid, where she takes on a new identity to embark upon the most dangerous undertaking of her career. As the preeminent couturier for an eager clientele of Nazi officers’ wives, Sira becomes embroiled in the world of espionage and political conspiracy rife with intrigue, and betrayal.

María Dueñas holds a PhD in English Philology and is currently a professor at the University of Murcia. She has also taught at American universities, is the author of several academic articles, and has participated in various educational, cultural, and editorial projects. She is currently writing her second novel.

The Barbarian Nurseries
Héctor Tobar
Farrar, Straus & Giroux - September, 2011

[from the publisher]
The great panoramic social novel that Los Angeles deserves—a twenty-first century, West Coast Bonfire of the Vanities by the only writer qualified to capture the city in all its glory and complexity.

With The Barbarian Nurseries, Héctor Tobar gives our most misunderstood metropolis its great contemporary novel, taking us beyond the glimmer of Hollywood and deeper than camera-ready crime stories to reveal Southern California life as it really is, across its vast, sunshiny sprawl of classes, languages, dreams, and ambitions.

Araceli is the live-in maid in the Torres-Thompson household—one of three Mexican employees in a Spanish-style house with lovely views of the Pacific. She has been responsible strictly for the cooking and cleaning, but the recession has hit, and suddenly Araceli is the last Mexican standing—unless you count Scott Torres, though you’d never suspect he was half Mexican but for his last name and an old family photo with central L.A. in the background. The financial pressure is causing the kind of fights that even Araceli knows the children shouldn’t hear, and then one morning, after a particularly dramatic fight, Araceli wakes to an empty house—except for the two Torres-Thompson boys, little aliens she’s never had to interact with before. Their parents are unreachable, and the only family member she knows of is Señor Torres, the subject of that old family photo. So she does the only thing she can think of and heads to the bus stop to seek out their grandfather. It will be an adventure, she tells the boys. If she only knew . . .

With a precise eye for the telling detail and an unerring way with character, soaring brilliantly and seamlessly among a panorama of viewpoints, Tobar calls on all of his experience—as a novelist, a father, a journalist, a son of Guatemalan immigrants, and a native Angeleno—to deliver a novel as broad, as essential, as alive as the city itself.
Daniel Olivas interviewed Mr. Tobar for La Bloga back in September - you can find the interview at this link.

José Saramago
translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt - October, 2011

[from the publisher]
In this, his last novel, Saramago daringly reimagines the characters and narratives of the Bible through the story of Cain. Condemned to wander forever after he kills Abel, he is whisked around in time and space. He experiences the almost-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Joshua at the battle of Jericho, Job’s ordeal, and finally Noah’s ark and the Flood. And over and over again Cain encounters an unjust, even cruel God. A startling, beautifully written, and powerful book, in all ways a fitting end to Saramago’s extraordinary career.


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