Monday, September 30, 2013

Alex Cuba on music, identity: “It’s important to reach beyond language”

by @nina_terrero 
5:00 am on 09/26/2013

Video by Alessandra Hickson and Barbara Corbellini Duarte
Alex Cuba is Afro-Latino, Cuban and Canadian; inspired by neo-soul, jazz and Latin rock, he’s a bilingual musician that defies stereotypes effortlessly.
“I don’t try – it’s just the way it happens,” says Cuba, who’s currently on a nationwide tour. “What I do speaks a lot about my identity and the way I see the world. It’s always been very important to me to do music in a way that lets you send it out into the universe and reach beyond language.”
Born in  Artemisa, Cuba, the singer/guitarist moved to Smithers, British Columbia with his Canadian sweetheart. Smithers can be a cold, snowy place, but it’s now home; a restful place where Cuba resides with his wife and children.
“Canada is a beautiful country, but very cold,” admits Cuba. “For me, it’s been an incredible experience. I think when you emigrate for a reason like love, you can adjust to living anywhere. And it’s inspired me from the beginning. I love the snow; I love driving down the highway and seeing a bear.”
And being inspired – even by a place as remote from Cuba as Smithers – has allowed the fro-haired Cuba to develop his signature blend of funk, jazz and acoustic sounds. But his music, showcased in albums like 2012’s “Ruido En El Sistema,” doesn’t necessarily fulfill expectations of what Latino artists should sound like – and that’s “ok,” says Cuba.
“I believe I have something to say in terms of writing songs, poetry and music,” says Cuba, who has earned Latin Grammy awards for both his music and songwriting. “I really embrace the idea that what I do is universal and my hope is that it gets to everyone. I don’t care where you’re from or what you look like.”
And that’s because he can’t imagine doing anything else. His own father was a musician and by 4, Cuba was wholly immersed in the world of music. A BMI Latin and Juno award winner, Cuba says that accolades don’t matter, as he wants to be remembered “as somebody who didn’t put any conditions to the thing he loved the most in life.”
“What I mean is that I’m doing what I love,” shares Cuba. And there’s a lesson there for his children, he says.
“My father practically gave up touring because he wanted to raise me and my brother,” recalls Cuba. “I don’t think I could live any other way, although it does keep me away from my family a bit. But my kids know that daddy’s happy when he’s home – and I’m happy because I’m doing what I love. I think I’m teaching them to believe in themselves and I want them to know that whatever they choose to do, daddy supports them.”
Watch Cuba share his thoughts on creating music and learn what type of legacy he hopes to make on the world of music.

Foreign Policy to Latin America in the 1940s

Walt Disney's film The Three Caballeros (1945)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

History of Salsa from Africa to New York


Tato Laviera's "AmeRícan"


Humor in Nuyorican poetry

"Problems with Hurricanes" by Victor Hernández Cruz 


Problems with Hurricanes (transcription)

A campesino looked at the air
And told me:
With hurricanes it’s not the wind
or the noise or the water.
I’ll tell you he said:
it’s the mangoes, avocados
Green plantains and bananas
flying into town like projectiles.

How would your family
feel if they had to tell
The generations that you
got killed by a flying

Death by drowning has honor
If the wind picked you up
and slammed you
Against a mountain boulder
This would not carry shame
to suffer a mango smashing
Your skull
or a plantain hitting your
Temple at 70 miles per hour
is the ultimate disgrace.

The campesino takes off his hat -
As a sign of respect
toward the fury of the wind
And says:
Don’t worry about the noise
Don’t worry about the water
Don’t worry about the wind -
If you are going out
beware of mangoes
And all such beautiful
sweet things.

From Maraca New and Selected Poems 1965-2000, by Victor Hernández Cruz
Copyright © 2001 Victor Hernández Cruz


We Like It Like That, The Story Of Latin Boogaloo (a documentary)


Monday, September 23, 2013

"Puerto Rican Obituary," by Pedro Pietri




Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution will not be Televised"


Conference about Latin America @ Cornell U - "Democracy and Dictatorship" Sept. 27th-28th, 2013


Film writing workshop in Ithaca, NY this Fall 2013

Beyonce and Jay Z 'rock Havana' for their anniversary

HAVANA | Fri Apr 5, 2013 6:09pm EDT
(Reuters) - American pop star Beyonce and rapper husband Jay Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary this week in Havana, where big crowds greeted them as they strolled hand in hand through the Cuban capital.
They ate at some of the city's best restaurants, danced to Cuban music, walked through historic Old Havana and posed for pictures with admiring Cubans, who recognized them despite the past half-century of ideological conflict that separates the United States and Cuba.
They were the latest and perhaps greatest big-name American stars - actors Bill Murray, Sean Penn and James Caan among them - to visit the Caribbean island in the past few years, but the first to cause such a stir everywhere they went.
Fans in the street below cried out Beyonce's name as she and Jay Z and their mothers dined at the upstairs restaurant La Guarida, famed as the location for the hit 1993 Cuban film "Strawberry and Chocolate."
A crowd of several thousand people swarmed around them in the main square of Old Havana, which prompted their security team to put a halt to their visit to the site.
"I was in the eye of the whirlpool. We had to cut it short because it got so crazy," said architect Miguel Coyula, who gave the couple a tour of the 16th century heart of the city.
They also visited a children's theater group called La Colmenita, a source close to the group said.
On Thursday night, they dined at La Fontana, one of the city's more established private restaurants, or paladares, and a favorite of visiting foreigners, but police blocked off surrounding roads to prevent onlookers.
Later, they went to El Gato Tuerto, a famous Havana nightclub, then to the Casa de la Musica in the Miramar district where the source said they "danced until dawn" to salsa and other music by the band Havana D'Primera.
On Friday, they toured Cuba's famous art school, Instituto Superior de Arte, and, according to government blogger Yohandry Fontana, Beyonce was to have lunch with "important figures of Cuban culture."
His blog ran several photographs of her and Jay Z under the headline "Beyonce Rocks Havana."
Jay Z, in shorts, a short-sleeve shirt and straw hat, looked like a typical tourist, puffing on a big Cuban cigar.
Beyonce, camera in hand, wore a colorful print mini-dress, big sunglasses, dangling ear-rings and her long braids piled high. The Grammy winner posed for a photograph with a group of smiling Cuban schoolchildren.
The couple declined to talk to the media to explain the purpose of their visit. The source close to the group said they were invited by Cuba's tourism ministry.
The longstanding U.S. trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling to the island without a license granted by the U.S. government, though President Barack Obama's administration has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba for academic, religious or cultural exchanges.
In Washington, the State Department said it had no prior knowledge of the visit. A spokeswoman at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana said she did not know if the two stars obtained a license for their trip, which if they did not could expose them to a fine.
Publicists for the couple did not return emails or phone calls seeking comment. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which handles licenses for travel to Cuba, said it does not comment on individual cases.

(Additional reporting by Nelson Acosta in Havana and David Adams in Miami; Editing by Will Dunham)

Welcome to the Caribbean Literature and Film Course!

Dear students,

Welcome to the course!

I have created this blog as an easy way to post videos, songs, important links, other blogs, etc., related to our discussions in class. It is also our connection to the outside world! Please send me your email address in order to add you as a collaborator.

Welcome, and let the fun begin.

Enrique Gonzalez-Conty
Modern Languages and Literatures
Ithaca College