Saturday, January 31, 2009
1st Puerto Rican astronaut, Joe Acaba, carries pride in heritage
Ralph Acaba will never forget the day his son Joe called to let him know his life had astronomically changed.
"He called me at work, so I answered as I used to do, 'Hi, this is Ralph,' and my job title," said the father, who was a private-school administrator. "He said, 'Hi, this is Joe, astronaut.' There are very few things in life that one remembers forever."
Nearly five years after that phone call, the Acaba family is counting the days until Joe's first trip aboard space shuttle Discovery, which is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 12.
For the complete report, go to
Thursday, January 29, 2009
SAVE THE DATE.
Next National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights meeting in NYC is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, February 11, at the Community Service Society, 105 E. 22nd St., Manhattan, 9th floor board room.
For more information on the NCPRR, go to www.ncprr.us.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The Santuario is a no-kill animal shelter in Cabo Rojo and it is in need of donations.
According to the Santuario, this no-kill shelter "was created with the efforts of community members who saw the great need to protect the animals. It has not received any government help yet, despite its 9 years of operation. They have no water or electricity service but have an amazing volunteer workforce. It is quickly becoming one of the West coast's "Porta del Sol" sightseeing and tourist's visitor's points for animal lovers." For information, visit www.safapr.org
Here's how you can help:
1. Donate via Paypal: http://safapr.org/donations/
2. Make a deposit to Banco Popular de Puerto Rico in the name of:
Santuario de Animales SFA
Route No. 021502011
Account no. 255-279166
3. Mail a donation to
Santuario de Animales San Francisco de Asis, Inc.
P.O. Box 566
San German, PR 00683
source: Santuario de Animales San Francisco de Asis
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
If you are into horror flicks, "The HORRORphiles," featuring the work of emerging Latino directors working within the genre is playing a series of horror movies tonight in New York City.
Latin Horror, in association with Anthology Film Archives, presents a special edition of the NewLatino Filmmakers Screening Series - "The HORRORphiles." NewLatino Filmmakers is billed as the best and only independent Latino “cinematheque” showcase in New York City -- now in its 7th year. "The HORRORphiles" will run from 7-9:30 p.m. tonight at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue at Second Street in the Lower East Side. The price is $6 at the box office.
Tonight's "Horrorphiles" will feature "Monster Job Hunter" by writer/director Yehudi Mercado, "Sandman's Box," by writer/director Gilberto Flores, and "Repentance" by writer/director Julio Antonio Toro, all shorts.
HORRORphiles will also showcase "Tales from the Dead," a digital feature by writer/director Jason Cuadrado, which is described as a "terrifying Japanese-language anthology of four ghost stories as told by Tamika, a strange young girl with the ability to communicate with the dead."
There will also be a trailer spotlight of new works in development by Latino filmmakers: "Dark Tales of Tortured Souls" by Pepper Negron and "subHysteria" by Leonard Zelig.
Tonight's horror lineup will include a Q&A with filmmakers in attendance. To read more about the films playing, go to www.latinhorror.com, the official publication of anyone interested in the genre. Latin Horror is one of the first English publications dedicated to the emerging genre of Latin horror.
Puerto Rico Sun speaks to series director/curator Edwin Pagan about his own love of horror movies, the Latin horror movement and about tonight's "HORRORphiles."
The Interview: Edwin Pagan
1. Please tell me a little about you.
I was born on the Lower East Side of Puerto Rican parents, and raised in the South Bronx. I'm 45-years old. I became involved in the arts via the Boys & Girls Club of America where I was first introduced to photography and film. I currently live in the Lower East. I'm a cinematographer and producer; principal in the film production company Pagan Images, Inc.; founder-in-chief, Latin Horror; and a horror fan.
2. What about the horror genre you love to so much? What fascinates or moves you about this genre?
I love horror's ability to make people feel unsafe, like when you were a child and afraid of the darkness. It offers the opportunity to always be able to re-discover new ways to be afraid of what's just inside the darkness. Fear is a primal emotion and one most people spend a great deal of effort trying to avoid. It's a quick shot of adrenaline and I embrace it.
3. What was the first horror movie you watched? And, what is your favorite horror flick now and why?
The first horror film that completed captivated me -- terrorized me -- was the "The Exorcist," in 1973. I was 10. I saw it in the Bronx at the then Whitestone drive-in before it was torn down and became a mall-style multiplex. The movie scared the hell out of me. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards. I still can't watch "The Exorcist" without feeling my hairs stand on end. It has stood the test of time, and it's still one of my favorites movies, ever!
But that film also stayed with me in another way: I began to read everything I could get my hands on related to horror: comics, graphic novels, paperback. I remember I had all these gargoyle posters in my bedroom and my friends would only call me out to play through the window - once they had visited my room, they would never come back a second time. [laughs] I also went to see a great deal of horror films as a teenager: "Phantasm," "Friday the 13th," "Jacob's Ladder," "Seven," are some of the others that have stayed with me, right up to the present.
4. I remember a teacher once telling us in a production class that horror is actually the most morally-based genre because it is about good and evil. For instance, teens doing bad things get killed...Could you elaborate on this?
Yeah, that's a great point, and one that is very true. "Promiscuous" teenagers get chopped to pieces in log cabins by a masked stranger; spirits haunt new home owners to enlist their help in exacting justice on the previous murderous tenants; hell is so full of sinners that the dead must rise and walk among the living, aliens in flying saucers invade earth during the cold war, etc. Horror films, or its related literature, have always been a great way to ascertain the relevant fears of society at any given time in history. I'm not quite sure what the current trend of shake-and-bake horror cinema in the U.S. says about us as a modern society, but I'm certain it would make a great psychology thesis. Don't get me wrong, I love horror in all its forms and see and enjoy them all (well, almost). I'm just Jonesing for something to come along and also engage my mind, give me an engaging story line and not just gag over plot.
I think it's only a matter of time before we return to an intelligent horror film formula with actual suspense as a basis for the fear, not just gross gore. It's why American audiences made "Pan's Labyrinth" such a successful hit, even when it was in another language [Spanish] during a time of extreme xenophobia. Latin horror innately brings that and Hollywood is watching. The discovering and re-making of a slew of Japanese horror films is starting to turn an eye at what Latin traditions an storytellers are brewing. Already Universal Pictures has slated Juan Felipe Oro's "Al Final del Espectro" for production, set to star megastar Nicole Kidman. And we have ample local grown talent also creating new Latin horror stories, which is promising. Our March 2009 edition of Latin Horror profiles some of this new crop.
5. Could you tell me a little about your own projects in this genre and what are your influences? Does being Latino have any influence on your work in this genre?
I have worked primarily as a cinematographer, producer, and more recently as an emerging writer/director.
Over the years I have been fortunate to work as a cinematographer with very exciting, talented directors: Derek Velez Partridge, Pepper Negron, and Julio Antonio Toro, just to mention a few. The latter two work primarily in horror and this has allowed me to fine-tune my cinematic eye within the genre of horror in terms of lighting, composition and use of color, and I think together we have made some interesting work. I am currently in production on a short film I wrote called "Anima Sola," a Latin horror project, a ghost story of sorts. It's an English film but very grounded in Latin cultural traditions and beliefs. Google the name and you'll recognize the iconic image that comes up on which my story is based. My decision to write and direct Anima was grounded in wanting to put my own thumbprint on film in a larger way and get closer in context and subject matter to material grounded in Latin horror. As you might have guessed, Del Toro has been an inspiration. He's a master storyteller with a solid grasp of visual imagery and that is the kind of sensibility I hope to bring in my own work.
Being Latino, definitely has had a marked impact on how I see the world around me and thus my personal work in film. Being born in New York City to immigrant parents who brought their own stories that were extremely exotic from what I was exposed to via American culture, is also an influence. Stories of creatures and Boogiemen that would come out the forest for "bad" children like "El Cuco." Or watching my mother cleanse the house each spring or with incense on Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead, All Souls Day, All Saints Day - November 2nd) and watching her have heated conversations with dead relatives whom I'd never met, or had, which was even spookier. It was never questioned. No more than one questioned the air we breathed or water that came out of the tap. It just was and so that became instilled in me and comes across in my current work.
6. Why Latin horror? How is it different or unique from let' say mainstream horror movies? Is there a difference between the English and the Spanish horror movies? How about between movies based in the United States from those that are based out of Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico or Spain?
Horror as a device in Latin culture, as a story convention has always been deep rooted. It's books, oral histories and art are full of these examples of ghosts and other-world creatures lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce at a moment's notice. It was inevitable that the expression of fear would carry over to film. This transference is only as prolific directly in proportion to the regional film industry. While Latin horror is not a widely-known commodity in the U.S., it is a genre that has begun to grow in popularity and become more recognized, especially since the release of Guillermo Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," and Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Orphanage," both of which were productions out of Mexico and Spain.
The base difference between American horror and Latin horror is quite profound. In U.S.-based horror, the primary convention is to seek out and destroy the physical human being. So much so that the term "slasher film" has become a common moniker of the genre. You could literally sit in the theater with a hand tally counter and click off the body count. It didn't start out that way but that's where it currently stands as a genre. Latin horror, on the other hand, is more concerned with destroying and torturing the soul and mind, and the characters and story are paramount. You might end up with a bloody body or two but how they get that way is at different ends of the horror spectrum. In that respect, aside from the language, Latin horror is a close sister to Japanese horror (J-horror) in that we both culturally believe in the spiritual world, and that the dead walk among us or are within reach and contact. Again, "Día De Los Muertos" is in our culture.
The primary reason for starting the Latin Horror publication was to consolidate the genre as a validated and recognized entity and to provide a focal point for its fans worldwide. The website is just one way to do this. We have to also be more proactive by spreading the word at the usual horror watering holes like film festivals, comic conventions, and collaborating with established publications that focus on horror and starting a dialogue with them that begins to spread beyond the printed page. The material being created by Latin horrorphiles in all forms is out there. We just have to put the spotlight on it - that's our mission.
7. I know you have a website dedicated to Latino horror at www.latinhorror.com. What are your short- and long-term goals with your upcoming "The HORRORphiles"? What can people expect? Is this for hardcore horror fans or for anyone?
Yes, the Latin Horror website was a way for me to consolidate my three favorite passions into one dream: my love of horror, my passion for film and art, and my appreciation of all things Latin.
In short order, task one is letting Latin horror fans know we exist. We are constantly expanding our knowledge database of prospective people to profile going forward and our fans are already submitting the favorites they'd like to see featured on the website. In the long term, we plan to incrementally roll out more features - a blog is in the works called Blog Of Pheare; and even an online store where Latin horror fans can purchase their favorites movies, books, songs, posters, comics, etc. Latin Horror is a grassroots effort so it's slow-going but growing process, and that's a good thing because we can grow something together with our fan base that we can both be proud. We also plan to carry a line of Latin Horror swag that includes T-shirts and other related items. We've already printed a small run, which we have distributed among our collaborators. The shirts were custom printed by longtime friend Luis Cordero.
8. "The HORRORphiles" is a way of showcasing emerging Latino directors working within the genre of horror. Generally speaking, is there a trend for Latino directors to do these kind of movies or is there a need for more Latino directors to get in this genre? Why do you see it is important to have Latino directors working in this genre?
"The HORRORphiles" is about film. But it is also about all the other "dark creative expressionists" we plan to cover over the coming years: writers, illustrators, painters, poets, and bands.
Latin filmmakers as a whole are not innately drawn to making horror films. Since we are culturally enticed by the genre, it's becoming a point-of-departure for many Latino filmmakers to cut their teeth in movie making. These kinds of films can be made on very low budgets and still keep within the conventions of the genre. Fake blood is easy to make, screams are free, and anyone can convince their uncle to allow them to shoot in the garage. Films actually being made by Latino filmmakers is steadily growing, both in the indie and commercial worlds. But there is a distinction to be made about Latinos mimicking slasher-inspired films and those working to develop Latin horror, which is more about a story and less about gags and thus a more disciplined craft.
It's funny but the master of the zombie genre, the one who put it on the map in the 1960s, George Romero, is actually a Cuban-American. So aside to creating our own distinct genre - Latin horror, our contributions are also ingrained in the DNA of U.S.-based horror, whether people know it or not. Given the opportunity to interview Romero (Yes, he's at the top of our knowledge database), one base question I would have to pose would be if the Latin tradition of "Día De Los Muertos" played a role in his creation of his first zombie films. Hmmm?
9. What are some of the biggest challenges for a Latino director to get into this genre? Is it the same as any other genre or different?
Film as an industry is about the bottom line: MONEY. As more Latin-themed horror-based films hit the market and make favorable inroads at the bottom line of the box office - PROFITS - the more we'll see Latino filmmakers, and other artists get more work, green-lit, published, signed and endorsed. But that's a tough nut to crack because we're in the very early stages of the growth of the Latin horror in the U.S. market place. I think we as Latinos have to validate the genre. Horror as a whole is a sub-niche market and Latin horror-themed projects even a smaller fraction of the overall economy of horror as a business. But the same was the case when Rock en Espanol started popping up on the music landscape. Today no one questions it as a category of music and it has its own distinct fan base in all parts of the world. It's a matter of creating the groundwork for a movement and bringing together people that are like-minded to create the critical mass to make it viable. And horror fans are loyal and not just to English, Italian, or Japanese horror. Horror fans move across cultural and language borders to whatever they feel is legit. That's why the Norwegian vampire film, "Let the Right One In" was such a tremendous hit. It was fresh, a new take on the theme and true to the genre and horror fans from across the spectrum responded in-kind. Me too. I couldn't tell my friends enough about it. Latin-based horror is so true to the genre and has the potential to become a worldwide phenomenon given the right stories.
10. Please tell me anything else that you'd like to share with our readers.
Halloween is my favorite day of the year.
Latin Horror was officially launched on Halloween 2008.
Latin Horror will be taking its show on the road in 2009. We'll be hosting panels at film festivals to discuss and promote the genre of Latin horror, as well as participating in comic book and horror conventions to promote and meet, attract new fans to the revolution. We are already registered to attend the New York Comicon at Jacob Javits (February 6th-8th), and Comicon International in San Diego (July 23rd-26th). Look for us there.
For more information on "The HORRORphiles" or Latin Horror, visit www.latinhorror.com.
-- Clarisel Gonzalez
(Photos courtesy of Edwin Pagan)
Meanwhile, 31% said they do live in Puerto Rico. Another 23% said they don't live in Puerto Rico but plan to move to the island in the future. Nobody chose the other two options available.
The question asked in the poll was: Do you live in Puerto Rico?
Thanks to those who took part in PRSUN's snap poll.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Check out this link for the spring lineup of Puerto Rican-related activities going on at Centro/the Center for Puerto Rican studies @ Hunter College, NYC.
The calendar kicks off with "On and Off the Avenue," Loisaida N.Y.C. 1976-2009, an exhibition by Marlis Momber on February 5. Activities, which run until May, range from research seminars on such topics as migration, religion, voting and welfare reform to a meet the author series.
For more information and the complete calendar,
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Puerto Rico Sun readers get 25% off tickets with special code
Jazz at Lincoln Center is presenting nine-time GRAMMY® winner Eddie Palmieri who will perform in February at the Rose Theater, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Puerto Rico Sun readers, if you take advantage of this special offer, you get 25% off tickets.
Eddie Palmieri has reigned as a true mambo king for the past 50 years, absorbing the sounds of Puerto Rico and New York into his particular fusion of salsa and jazz. He revisits the music and sound of his influential 1960s La Perfecta orchestra with this latest edition of his ensemble, featuring energized new versions of La Perfecta-era salsa and fiery new Latin jazz compositions.
Eddie Palmieri & La Perfecta II
8 p.m., Friday-Saturday, February 6-7
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Broadway at 60th St., Manhattan
Remember Get 25% off tickets!
Use code “Jazz 25” and save now!
Tickets Start at $30!
Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office
Broadway at 60th Street (ground level)
10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday
noon to 6 p.m., Sunday
Here is a link to the Jazz at Lincoln Center website for more information on the performance, for a link to listen to a sampling of Eddie Palmieri's music online and to purchase tickets:
Aprovecha and enjoy.
Friday, January 23, 2009
bamboo heart of my Boriken
roams the ghost of Tio Nando
touching Titi Carmen
on the shoulder before
she cries herself to sleep
Thundering out of the dark eyes
of the enchanted island
is the coqui orkestra
5 million translucent tree frogs
singing as they must
aiming their love at the
murderous F-18s dropping
bombs and dripping poison
on Vieques, residential bombing site.
Roiling in the ocean blood
of the home of
my Taino antepasados
y los que viven aun
are the hopes and dreams of
fruit and yautia vendors
selling their wares
from the backs of dented
This is the body
of my island
this is the blood
of my love
Poem reprinted with permission from the author Rick Kearns-Morales. See related entry posted today in this blog for more information about the author.
From the author's bio:
Rick Kearns, aka Rick Kearns-Morales is a poet, freelance writer and musician of Puerto Rican and European background based in Harrisburg, Pa. As a journalist Kearns has written for daily, weekly and monthly news publications since 1986. In the last decade his work has focused on Latino and Native American issues. In 1998 he won Best Interview of the Year from the National Federation of Hispanic Owned Newspapers for his interview with Manuel Rodriguez Orellana, spokesman for the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Since 1999, his articles have appeared in national magazines and newspapers such as Hispanic, Native Peoples, Native Americas. Since February 2006, he has been a contributing writer for Indian Country Today. Kearns writes mostly about indigenous Latin American issues for ICT with special focus on the administration of President Evo Morales of Bolivia along with stories from Ecuador, Columbia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Paraguay and Puerto Rico among others.
Kearns’ poems have appeared in the following anthologies: El Coro/A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1997); In Defense of Mumia (Writers & Readers Press, Harlem, NY, 1996); and ALOUD; Voices from the Nuyorican Cafe (Henry Holt & Co., NY, 1994. Winner of the American Book Award.) His work has appeared in literary reviews such as: The Massachusetts Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Chicago Review, ONTHEBUS, Poetry Motel, The Blue Guitar, Drum Voices Revue (So. Illinois University Edwardsville), The Patterson Review, HEART Quarterly, Big Hammer, Palabra: A Journal of Chicano and Literary Art, Yellow Medicine Review, Fledgling Rag and others.
Three of his poems, “Aurelio’s Vengeance, Puerto Rico, 1901,” “Pasteles” and “The Body of My Isla” are included in the poetry section of www.virtualboricua.org (since 2005).
Kearns has given readings of his own poetry as the featured reader in Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, Baltimore, Camden (NJ) and other places since 1988. Much of his work deals with his Puerto Rican heritage and identity.
His poetry has been published in three chapbooks and two full collections: Street of Knives (Warm Springs Press, 1993), Boricua In Between (1997), Jazz Poems (1997), Endtime Poems, (1998, Pacobooks), and in 2007 he published “The Body of My Isla.” Red Pagoda Press has published five of his poems in brochure form since 2000.
He received a B.A. in Spanish from Millersville University of Pa. (1984), and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University School of Journalism (1986).
Meet the author from 3-5 p.m., Saturday, January 31
2721 N. 5th Street
For more information, visit www.tallerpr.org.
Jose “Chegui” Torres was known as a man who wore many hats because he did. Torres, a former light-heavyweight champion who became a boxing official and a writer of books about Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, died January 19 in his native Ponce. He was 72.
Torres was laid to rest in Ponce. His wife of 48 years Ramonita Ortiz said he suffered a heart attack. Torres was honored as the hero he was on the island. The mayor of Ponce declared three days of mourning and ordered flags flown at half staff.
Many in New York City where Torres lived for many years also mourned him.
David Bernier, president of the United States Territory Olympic, spoke about Torres during a radio show, saying, “Puerto Rico has lost a great Puerto Rican, a very valiant person who aside from being a good boxer was a fine human being.”
New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson said: “He cared passionately about this city and all New Yorkers. He gained notoriety in the boxing ring. Eventually, he will be remembered for his strength of character and wealth of generosity.
“He was a role model not just for the Puerto Rican community, but for all New Yorkers who saw that one person could make a difference,” Thompson said. “He wanted our streets/neighborhoods to be safe and clean, and refused to sit on the sidelines because he believed in the power of the people.”
A place that Torres frequently visited in NYC was El Maestro boxing gym in the Bronx. Fernando "Ponce" Laspina, one of the top trainers at the gym, remembered that Torres also made it a point to visit the gym every time he was in town. He wouldn’t work out with the fighters or trainers, but he always talked to the kids, Ponce said.
“He never turned his back on anyone,” Ponce said. “He was always talking to kids telling them to stay in school, not to hurt each other, shaking hands with everyone in the gym. A true sportsman, gentleman.”
Torres was awarded in 1956 the silver medal at the Olympics games at Melbourne, Australia. He turned pro in 1958. In 1965, he became the first Puerto Rican to win the light heavyweight title. He also served as as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission.
As a writer, Torres contributed to English and Spanish newspapers. He co-authored the book “Sting Like a Bee,” a biography on Muhammad Ali and wrote the book “Fire and Fear,” a book about former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
In the early 1990s, he served as president of the World Boxing Organization until 1995. He was a member of The International Boxing Hall of Fame. He also served as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission. – Ismael Nunez
Note: The website Virtual Boricua has a tribute to Jose "Chegui" Torres. To visit, go to
Thursday, January 22, 2009
This is a pretty popular Puerto Rican saying which generally means that people need to get their heads out of the sand and recognize all the stupidities they're committing and allowing our politicians to commit. -- Silvered Capture
For more of Silvered Capture's work, go to her flickr site at
Silvered Capture is a member of the Puerto Rico Sun photo group.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Poetry performance of new work by Maria Aponte with musical accompaniment by Chacho Ramirez and Dwight Brewster
Cemi Underground, NYC's East Harlem
Click on image to view larger text and for more information.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.
PUERTO RICO SUN WANTS TO KNOW
Gente, do you believe Barack Obama will help bring positive change for Puerto Rico? Do you think he will help resolve the island's political status issue?
Do you think boricuas and Latinos in the United States will make great strides with this new administration? I keep hearing all this black and white talk, so I'm wondering. In some ways, I find Latinos have been marginalized from all the media coverage, which is focusing on how blacks and whites feel...
Send Puerto Rico Sun your thoughts.
Latin music rejoices with the return of Tite Curet Alonso's music back on the airwaves after 14-year absence
by Aurora Flores
It was in Old San Juan’s “Bombonera” restaurant in 1977 when I spotted the traditional straw hat and signature daisheke on the man sitting at the counter. Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso was holding a note pad and tape recorder when I sat beside him. He was reserved, diffident and guarded, until we began talking about Ismael "Maelo" Rivera’s, “Esto Si Es Lo Mio” that I was reviewing for Billboard Magazine. That’s when a glint appeared in his eyes, a smile crossed his face, and we bonded for that moment around talk of ‘Maelo, plena, bomba, poverty, race, politics, religion y música!
Curet defined a revolutionary period in Latin music. His compositions brought out the best in the interpreter. Masterworks included Hector LaVoe’s “Periodico de Ayer” or “Juanito Alimaña,” Cheo Feliciano’s “Anacaona,” Pete El Conde’s “La Abolición,” Andy Montañez’ “El Echo de Un Tambor,” Celia Cruz’ “Isadora Duncan,” and La Lupe’s “La Tirana.”
Curet’s name was ubiquitous, gracing hundreds of album credits of many of the top Latin music artists of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. He penned more than 2,000 songs, spawning and jump-starting the artistic careers of many, from La Lupe, to Cheo Feliciano to Frankie Ruiz. The most in-demand composer of tropical music, Curet’s songs were guaranteed hits, and classics today.
“You had to take a number and wait on line,” Ruben Blades told the L.A. Times when Curet passed away. “His songs could revive any career, so there was always a fight to get new material from Tite,” recalled the Panamanian singer/songwriter whose interpretation of Curet’s “Plantación Adentro” also hit the top of the charts.
Curet helped father the nascent salsa movement that was marking time in clave through the streets of Puerto Rico and Latin New York. Through news events, music and lyrics, his words inspired hope and faith, solace and joy during a time of social upheaval. In more than 2,000 tunes, Curet was the musical narrator of current events and national pride, romance and religion. He wrote in a time when the social reality of the poor was in direct opposition to the political power line, leaving music as the life-support of hope and faith. Tite Curet reflected the face of a community in need of answers.
His talent for composing extended beyond the borders of the Caribbean dipping into Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay, Spain and Brazil which he credited for receiving his best musical training referring to them as the “sorcerers of ‘el medio tono’,” (the half tone). His merengue for Los Hijos del Rey, “Yo Me Dominicaniso” made much noise while Tony Croatto’s version of Curet’s “Cucubano” became a hit, later recorded by Menudo. From Chucho Avellanet to Nelson Ned, Tite Curet Alonso was a pivotal figure in the musical repertoires of many Latino superstars.
A compilation of the music of one of Puerto Rico’s most important composers of the late 20th Century now comes to light after a fourteen-year absence in Puerto Rico. Emusica has just released a 31-tune double CD set, featuring some of Curet’s most-loved works.
His songs were unavailable since 1995 due to a separate performance rights society contract Curet signed that built an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy between the radio stations, the publishing rights organizations and the composers. Basically, Tite Curet signed a contract with ACEMLA (Asociación de Compositores y Editores de Música Latinamericana), a performing rights organization that insisted on aggressively collecting additional fees from radio stations on top of the already established publishing rights organizations such as BMI, ASCAP or SEAC. Now imagine the chaos this would cause if every composer insisted that every radio station pay another organization, (not even the individual directly) for performing rights.
“It was a cultural crime,” notes Latin music writer Jaime Torres Torres of El Nuevo Dia. “An entire generation was deprived of the genius of this notable and creative songwriter.”
“When a younger generation cannot hear the songs of the masters that came before them, they create their own,” adds Richie Viera of the Viera Record Shop in Puerto Rico noting this lack of Curet’s commercial hits on radio as a contributing factor to the growing trend of “reggaetón” while salsa music still struggles on the island.
This compilation reflects several of the master composer’s themes. However, Curet was most proud of his writing skills, in particular his journalistic ability often pointing to his scant use of adjectives in crafting a hit number. Tite Curet wrote for newspapers, magazines, hosted radio shows and was later writing screenplays for stage and television as well as children’s songs and hymns.
To read Aurora Flores' complete article profiling Curet, go to her site at
c 2008 Aurora Flores/All rights reserved
Monday, January 19, 2009
For more of my photos from last night's celebration at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center in NYC's El Barrio, go to www.flickr.com/photos/clarisel (Click on the Navidad '08-Octavitas '09 photo set.)
In 2008, the fact that there are about 4 million Latinos, mostly the residents of Puerto Rico, who are United States citizens but do not have the full rights of most American citizens emerged in dramatic terms. There was the oddity of the Democratic and Republican parties holding presidential primaries in Puerto Rico although the people of Puerto Rico, all US citizens, could not vote for president in the general election. In addition, although they are US citizens, the people of Puerto Rico do not send full voting representatives to the US Congress, but only one Resident Commissioner who cannot vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and no one to the US Senate. Will President-elect Obama be able to resolve the status problem during his first term as he has pledged? We wish him luck on that one! -- Angelo Falcon, president and founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy, which is based in NYC.
This article by Angelo Falcon was originally published in the recent issue of the National Institute for Latino Policy's e-newsletter.
La Voz del Paseo Boricua in Chicago is looking for volunteer translators
For nearly five years, La Voz has served as the newspaper of Chicago's vibrant Puerto Rican community. Monthly it distributes 10,000 copies throughout the greater Northwest Side of the city in the areas of Humboldt Park, Logan Square, West Town and Hermosa and beyond. The purpose of La Voz is to provide information and analysis on issues of importance to the city's Puerto Rican residents, such as housing, youth, culture, health, and community empowerment. Specifically, La Voz is a key part of the educational campaign, "¡Humboldt Park No Se Vende!"
Currently, La Voz is seeking volunteer Spanish translators. As a completely volunteer-run newspaper, La Voz cannot offer monetary compensation, but it offers experience working with a local newspaper and a chance to contribute to the Puerto Rican community, anchored on Paseo Boricua. If you are interested in translating or supporting this effort, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (773) 227-7794.
To check out the newspaper online, go to
source: The Puerto Rican Cultural Center (Chicago) newsletter
Sunday, January 18, 2009
For more photos from the Bridgeport fair, go to www.flickr.com/photos/clarisel (Click on the New England set)
Friday, January 16, 2009
Christmas is not over yet for many boricuas pues estamos en las OCTAVITAS.
Join the Comite de la Fiesta de San Juan Bautista for
Dedicated to Rudy Vargas
6:30-10:30 p.m., Sunday, January 18
Julia de Burgos Cultural Center
2nd flr. Theater
1680 Lexington (btwn. 106 & 105th Sts.)
NYC's El Barrio
As we celebrate
"La Fiesta de San Juan Bautista."
Zon del Barrio
Estampas De Borinquen
with a "controversia" (vocal duels)
by Trovadores Boricuas
Bring your instruments
There will be food, raffles & refreshments.
A recent study found Puerto Ricans to be the happiest people on earth. Some say it's because we celebrate
the Christmas season (Las Navidades) longer than any one!
Puerto Rico's holiday season begins with Thanksgiving and ends with Octavitas, the last holiday of the season, beginning 8 days after the Epiphany (Jan. 6, 3 Kings Day) and lasting for 8 more days! In Puerto Rican tradition, if you received a visit from a friend or relative on Three Kings' Day, you return the visit eight days later.
The traditional festivities of San Juan Bautista are a form of cleansing in tribute to St. John the Baptist. In Puerto Rico and other islands, people take to the beaches in a communal cleansing ritual completed by music, dancing and food.
The festivities will begin with songs to the Three Kings followed by a "controversia" where troubadors compete with one another to see who can improvise the best. Zon del Barrio will follow with aguilnaldos, bolero, plena, bomba, boogalu and Salsa Navideña for the dancers! ¡Wepa!
In N.Y. we celebrate with music, dance, song and food at this time when people everywhere want to "renew" themselves making "resolutions" for a better year and a better life. Celebrate this life with us on Sunday and bring your instrument, voice and just plain good cheer one last time as we celebrate the end of the holidays with Zon del Barrio.... in el barrio, of course.
-- Aurora Flores
(photo of Aurora Flores and Zon del Barrio at the 'Mis Banderas' concert at Hostos Community College in the Bronx last December; photo by Clarisel Gonzalez)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tune in at 9 p.m. tonight for a chat with Luis Cordero, the owner of Cemi Underground, a cultural bookstore and gallery in East Harlem that features literature, arts and a host of community events highlighting boricua and Latino talent. We will chat on Cemi Underground's challenges, accomplishments and future plans.
For more information on Cemi Underground, go to www.cemiunderground.com.
Photo of Luis Cordero and Elena Marrero at the Viva Bronx festival last year. (photo by Ismael Nunez)
UPDATE: Listen to show right here in this blog or go to www.blogtalkradio.com/prsunradio.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Obama vows to solve Puerto Rico's status
It's a 110-year-old dilemma that Congress has never committed to solve: Puerto Rico's ambiguous political relationship with the U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to turn this around.
In a letter sent earlier this month to newly elected Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno, Obama pledged to "enable the question of Puerto Rico's status to be resolved" during his first term. For more, go to
I plan to go to Bridgeport, Connecticut this weekend to take part in the Three Kings exhibit. I plan to exhibit my photography as well as promote Puerto Rico Sun Communications, a community-minded independent multimedia social entrepreneurship.
The exhibit, which was postponed from last weekend because of bad weather, will be held on Saturday, January 17.
The Puerto Rican Parade of Fairfield County is organizing the event, which will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Chase Wellness Center, 1071 East Main St.
I was invited to exhibit my work by the organization’s president, Diana Calderon Torres, a new member of our Puerto Rico Sun social network. She says they have about 22 artists and craftspeople lined up for the event.
If you go, make sure to stop by my table.
English/Spanish film...Puerto Ricans witness the occupation of Palestine
In light of the events in the Middle East, Cemi Underground presents this film.
3 p.m., Saturday, January 17
Cemi Underground, NYC's El Barrio
Suggested donation: $5
For more information, go to www.cemiunderground.com.
"Pregones Theater Music Emsemble" to perform in NYC's El Barrio
'Theater Music, Afro Caribbean Music, Spiritual Music' performance
Camaradas El Barrio in East Harlem
9:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 14
To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Gabriel Higuera is of Mexican and Cuban heritage, lives in Brooklyn and works at El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem as the coordinator of public programs. He describes himself as a writer, educator and organizer. Today his play inspired by the Mexican tradition of pastorelas will debut at the museum’s Heckscher Theater.
Set in East Harlem, the shepherd in the theater play is replaced by a tour guide, leading a flock of visitors through an entertaining and informative journey through the history and sites of the neighborhood. Some surprises are revealed as the tour winds to a close.
The theater play is part of the museum’s Three Kings Day celebration today, which will also include live parrandas with Eddie Alicea y Su Trio de Epoca. Admission is free, but space is limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis. The event runs from 3 to 5 p.m.
I recently met up with Gabriel Higuera for a Q &A.
Q: Tell me about your play and does it focus on the Mexican community here in East Harlem or is it broader than that?
A. The play is about a tour group walking through El Barrio. This is interesting because so many times, people forget the beauty under their feet. They ask: “Why would someone take a tour of my barrio?” This play will tell you why. The history and cultural production of East Harlem has a worldwide audience, and it is important that the audience understands and appreciates that. The play is in the pastorela format celebrating a neighborhood, which since the 1950’s, has been largely Puerto Rican.
Q: You work in a respected cultural institution founded by the Puerto Rican community and which is more diverse today. You walk daily in the community. Do you see conflicts in the community?
A: I am honored to work for El Museo del Barrio. I feel a strong connection to the roots of the institution. I know what it is like to grow up Latino in a city where my history is not taught, not understood or appreciated. East Harlem is richer for having El Museo, the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center and many other organizations dedicated to preserving and promoting Puerto Rican and Latina/o history and culture. The only conflicts I have encountered in fulfilling the mission of El Museo that are merely budgetary.
Q: Going back to the play, will it show some of the hardships that Latinos in the community go through every day and will there be some cultural elements included in the play?
A. In the play, there is a focus on the poetry of East Harlem. This poetry often speaks of the hardships as well as the beauty of this area. Through poetry, I make connections with other cultural groups who are facing the same issues: identity politics, economics…
Q: Will the play include political issues such as immigration and housing?
A: Keep in mind that this is a holiday play. Through the use of projected images, some of the themes you mention will be gently touched upon, serving as food for thought. – Ismael Nunez
(photo courtesy of Gabriel Higuera)
Friday, January 09, 2009
NYC's El Barrio is decorated with signs like this, promoting leaders in the world of arts, politics, culture and other areas. The leaders featured are diverse, but there are several that highlight prominent boricuas.
Here's one featuring El Maestro.
Take a stroll and check it out.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
PR gov declares fiscal emergency, spending cut
Puerto Rico's new governor Luis Fortuno on Thursday declared a fiscal emergency because of the U.S. Caribbean island's darkening budget forecasts and a towering deficit of $3.2 billion.
For the complete AP report, go to this link
Or, join the Puerto Rico Sun social network at www.puertoricosun.ning.com or http://www.puertoricosuncom.
See you there.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Rich in culture, its food and music full of life and fire
That we have waterfalls, rainforests, mango and platano trees…ah, and the coqui
That we are a unique people
Proud and strong
Full of fight
That our island is only 100 miles long and 40 miles wide of…beauty
So I was taught
I remember running through the dirt roads and backyards of family members as I vacation each and every summer
I remember the aroma of Abuelitas cafecito
The aroma that would pull me by my nose and drag me into the house
For a taste of its richness
Mmmmmmmmmmm, café yaucono con leche
I remember her yuca, yautia, malanga and bacalao dishes made with love and delicately put together con un poguito de arroz blanco y tocino
I remember running free
Arms stretched out
The sun shining in my face
Sitting under a palm tree
Swinging in a maca
So I thought I was taught
That this was mine
It was for me
Because after all I am a Boricua and this is where my family is
My island, my home
All 100 miles long and 40 miles wide
So I thought
It belonged to my Abuelita and Abuelito that worked so hard for it, planting and painting and sowing and cutting and building and working
I learned that all this time I was a squatter on my own Island
I learned about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Christopher Columbus and his three little ships
But I never studied anything about Betances, Jose de Diego or Julia de Burgos
Never even heard of Pedro Albizu Campos
I ran through the dirt roads of Puerto Rico
Lay on the hammock and chased lizards
Thinking it was all mine...for me
Thinking that this must be paradise because this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen
I was taught and I believed
Could I possibly be?
A victim of psychological propaganda?
I learned that we are NOT allowed to govern ourselves,
We are NOT allowed to decide for ourselves,
We are NOT allowed to protect our own interests
I learned that I was NOT allowed because I was subservient to the interests of the country that dominates me.
I was not taught to be politically independent
I was taught that if Puerto Rico were to be independent
We as a people would starve and eventually sink right into the middle of the ocean
I am afraid
Afraid they will buy up all the land
Tear down my Abuelitas house
Knock down all the trees
Take over all the mountains
With No where for us to go we are …dumped, rushed and pushed out
I am afraid as I look at the experience of the Native Indians in this country
and fear the same happening to me
So I learned
I learned that when one is faced with oppression, colonial subjugation and inhumanity
One must resist…or perish as a people …Just to be FREE!!!!
© Mia Roman Hernandez 2008
This poem was republished with writer's permission.
Francesconi, a boricua, was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division of the II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp LeJuene, North Carolina. He died while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I wish to extend our condolences to the family, friends, and fellow Marines of Lance Corporal Francesconi,” states Paterson. “Lance Corporal Francesconi’s service to the United State of America will be honored and valued forever.”
Paterson has directed the flags on all State buildings to be lowered to half-staff in honor and tribute to our state’s soldiers who are killed in action.
source: press release
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Puerto Rico Sun wishes you a Happy Three Kings Day.
May the bright star guide you always.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Three Kings Parade in El Barrio is Tomorrow
The camels are back! El Museo del Barrio is thrilled to announce that El Barrio community members together with government officials have rallied to save the camels. Mayor Michael Bloomberg will lead Tuesday’s parade together with the Three Kings and some 1,500+ children.
This morning, Commissioner Guillermo Linares of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs came to El Museo’s aid by identifying a possible donor, local developer Atlantis Management Group, to help fund the camels. At the same time, local Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito and East Harlem activist Gloria Quinones made a heartfelt appeal to the neighborhood and raised additional funds. Together, these donations mean that the Three Kings will once more march with their camels (and sheep!) through El Barrio.
“This is a gift in the true spirit of the Three Kings—the community saw our need and came to our aid,” states Julian Zugazagoitia, director of El Museo del Barrio.
In the end, El Barrio leaders came to the rescue, together with Atlantis Management Group—a company which owns and develops gas stations and Dunkin Donuts franchises in New York City.
At this time, El Museo has received donations for the camels and sheep from Atlantis Management Group and community members Maria Cruz, Robert Espier, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Albert Medina, Lynn Lewis, Lulu Lola, Myrna Rivera, Haydee Rosario, and Gloria Quiñones. More community donations are expected.
Parade officials expect that this year’s event will bring all the excitement and cheer of this festival to 5,000 spectators and as many as 1,500 children, who receive gifts from the Three Kings. In addition, families and community members will partake in the Saturday Jan. 10th celebrations.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, January 6
*stiltwalkers, camels, three kings in costume, puppets, artists, school groups, music*
For more information, www.elmuseo.org.
source: El Museo press release
Marking the anniversary of the death of one of Puerto Rico's giants, Latino Sports in the Bronx recently had an exhibition in honor of Roberto Clemente, the fallen baseball player.
December 31 is not only New Year's Eve. It is a day to remember Clemente, who was more than just an athlete. He was a humanitarian who died on his way to help others. On December 31, 1972, Clemente had taken upon himself to direct personally a relief mission to earthquake torn Nicaragua. Bound to Nicaragua, Clemente and four others loaded a small DC-7 plane with food and supplies that never got past the San Juan, Puerto Rico border as the plane almost immediately crashed into 30 feet of water in the Caribbean Sea.
During the month of December, Latino Sports on the Grand Concourse celebrated its 2008 21 Days of Clemente exhibit at the clubhouse.
Latino Sports is among those involved in the movement to retire of Clemente's 21 from Major League Baseball in tribute to the legacy of Clemente.
For more information, visit www.latinosports.com.
While there, check out this article titled "Remembering Clemente on the Holidays" at http://latinosports.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=214&Itemid=66.
(Photo courtesy of Latino Sports)
Sunday, January 04, 2009
A group of musicians and singers walked the streets of El Barrio and ended up at La Marqueta, which back in its heyday was a thriving marketplace.
For more of my photos of the Barrio parranda, visit www.flickr.com/photos/clarisel. Click on the Navidad '08-Reyes '09 set.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Friday, January 02, 2009
Thursday, January 01, 2009
my Clarisel's Photo Place blog at www.clarisel.blogspot.com.
By the way, this 2009 calendar is available for purchase at PRSUN's shop at www.cafepress.com/prsun. Proceeds help support the Puerto Rico Sun cultural news project.
Happy New Year PRSUN readers and supporters.