What comes to mind when you hear the term “America”? Is it the country – the US – or the continent? In this piece, we explore how a continent became a country, why “America” is now synonymous with the US, and the ramifications of this peculiar phenomenon for the rest of the continent.
My first word baby will be out later this month – both in eBook and print format. I wrote it in English and Spanish to honor my origins and pay tribute to my grandpa, Nanito. I’m sharing one of the many special stories he shared with me. This one is close to my heart because it’s a testament to my grandpa's curiosity and willpower.
This approaching May marks the 5th anniversary since the departure of my querido grandpa, Nanito. He was one of the most important, perhaps the most important man in my life. He meant the world to me. To commemorate his life, I will publish my first word baby as a tribute to his legacy. This book is a labor of love for my grandpa, for my family, for my community, for myself.
Corridos are a narrative style of Mexican music that date back to the Mexican Revolution, in the early 20th century. This genre of music, akin to a ballad, was a way for news of battles and victories to travel from one part of the country to another. Instead of perishing with the war, corridos have evolved over time and adapted to reflect the themes affecting modern life both in Mexico and parts of the US. This style of song remains popular today.
Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos is a holiday that pays tribute to the dead and also celebrates life. This spiritual tradition of Mexican origin consists of ancestral rituals to honor the memories of deceased loved ones. The life-affirming holiday is observed every year on November 1-2 and has become an important part of popular culture across the U.S. and beyond. To provide a more visual illustration of this holiday, I showcase the film photography of my friend Viv Delgadillo.
Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the U.S., from Sept. 15th through Oct. 15th, to recognize the important contributions Latinos/Hispanics have made to the country. During this month, Hispanic history and culture are honored. To join in on the annual celebration, photographer Viv Delgadillo and I honor our heritage through a tribute to Maria Felix, Mexico’s most legendary film actress. Through this visual and written homage, we aim to capture her iconic style and independent spirit.
If I've learned anything in my 24 years of existence is that the only constant in life is that nothing ever remains the same. That change is the only thing we can always count on. And the thing is, as humans, we don't tend to love change. We kind of hate it. We resist it because change is hard and painful. But in a beautiful paradox, change is also essential and necessary to lead meaningful and purposeful lives. With that in mind, Viv & I have curated another mixtape to serve as background music and inspiration while you sit down to reflect on the past year and set goals for the year ahead. Join us in setting our intentions for 2016 with the theme of change.
Mi obsesión musical con Nicolas Jaar, el artista de música electrónica, comenzó desde el 2012. Aún recuerdo vívidamente cuando un viejo amante mi introdujo al Essential Mix de Jaar. Este mix de dos horas es una odisea musical que cubre un sinfín de variedades e influencias musicales como The Brothers Four, Beyonce, Ricardo Villalobos y hasta música clásica de piano. De repente, escuchaba con la facilidad que Jaar mezclaba géneros tan diferentes con una facilidad y naturaleza sorprendente. Suena dramático, pero mi mundo musical ¡cambio por completo! Jamás había escuchado sonidos tan mínimos, experimentales, ambientales y melancólicos que pasaban a través de mi cuerpo con un poder increíble. Entonces, no es coincidencia que la industria de la música electrónica ha llamado a Nicolas Jaar un ‘prodigio’ casi desde que comenzó su carrera.
My musical obsession with Nicolas Jaar, the electronic artist, started in 2012 when a former lover introduced me to Jaar’s Essential Mix. This two hour musical odyssey covers a dizzying array of music influences and varieties including The Brothers Four, Beyonce, Ricardo Villalobos and even features ten minutes of piano classical music. All of a sudden, I found myself listening and admiring the way Jaar mixed genres with an amazing ease and fluidity. It blew my mind! It was the first time my ears were taking in sounds that were minimal, experimental, and ambient with a touch of melancholy all nicely packaged into the same compilation. It’s no wonder that the electronic music community started calling him a ‘prodigy’ almost since he appeared on the scene.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of watching Sergei Eisenstein’s ¡Que Viva Mexico! for the first time while Chicago’s Mexican folk ensemble Sones de Mexico complemented the avant-garde film with a unique score. Eisenstein was an innovative Soviet filmmaker considered a pioneer of montage and a great influencer to cinema. I was pleasantly blown away by the majestic film that is a mixture of cinematic narrative, documentary and a sort of ethnography of my motherland. Read on for the three reasons why this pelicula should be added to your list of odd & obscure movies to watch. If you don’t already have a list, I highly suggest you start one!
My friend Viv and I have somewhat of an unhealthy obsession with exchanging knowledge, ideas and music. To cope and find a place for our exchange of songs, we decided to start co-creating thematic playlists. For our first mix, we chose gratitude. Both of us contributed 5 songs and provided a brief explanation on each. I don’t know about you guys, but I never received or gave someone a mixtape. And I’m kind of upset about it! This curated mixtape , if you will, is our gift to you. Scroll down to the bottom to listen while reading the descriptions :) Enjoy!
Some of you may not know this about me: I am an obsessive movie buff. From foreign, to indies, to comedies, I enjoy most genres. I do have a sweet spot for weird and artistic films but I also love feel good features. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I thought I’d get in the holiday spirit and share a heartwarming movie I recently watched – Buen Día (Guten Tag), Ramón.
October in Chicago marks the transition into cooler weather, the change of color in tree foliage, and the beginning of fall. During this time of year, I like to mourn the brutal winter that lays ahead and commence my hibernation period. My Latin blood kicks in and orders me to say “no” to fun and remain indoors, because it’s warmer and cozier. This is when I try to accept and cope with the fact that I will be miserably cold for the next 5-6 months. I know, dramatic, but true. However, this year I am bowing not to give in to this depressing behavior as this month brings the Chicago International Film Festival and Artists Month. Both offer an incredibly exciting array of films, exhibits, and a plethora of must-attend events. I plan to remain active in the wake of the looming winter and I hope you join me too.
The famous song “Only The Good Die Young” by Billy Joel comes to mind when one hears the name of Selena. No, I am not referring to Justin Bieber’s former girlfriend and Disney star Selena Gomez. I am talking about the beloved and legendary Mexican-American artist, known as La Reina del Tex-Mex (Queen of Tejano Music), Selena Quintanilla. Most non-Latin folk might be unfamiliar with this iconic musician because she was tragically killed at the tender age of 23; right before her crossover English album was released. But for Latinos in the US and Latin America, she was a household name. Her Tex-Mex tunes with influences of pop, cumbias, rancheras and R&B conquered the hearts of millions of fans. This entry details Selena’s life, her wildly successful musical career and the way this singer has managed to remain relevant 20 years after she was unjustly taken from us.
This past Wednesday marked the beginning of Buena Vista Social Club’s North American farewell tour and the very first time I saw them live. From the original ensemble, only four members remain alive and with a slew of younger musicians, they are known as Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.