Gozamos http://gozamos.com a spotlight on arts, community and culture Wed, 03 Sep 2014 04:25:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 ★ Sones de México Ensemble Chicago http://gozamos.com/2014/09/sones-de-mexico-ensemble-chicago/ http://gozamos.com/2014/09/sones-de-mexico-ensemble-chicago/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:00:23 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43819 2010-Sones_de_Mexico_02_by_Todd_Winters

“We played some sones, and people were astonished, they made a circle, everybody was dancing, people were asking us, “What is the name of your band? Where do you play? Do you have cards? We didn’t have any answers!,” says Juan Díes, one of the founders of Sones de México Ensemble Chicago. 1994-Sones_de_Mexico_01_by_Lisa_Marsicek

Dies is explaining the origins in 1994 of the beloved Chicago group, twice nominated to the GRAMMY™.  In April of that year, he had a concert as a soloist and he had invited friends and colleagues Victor Pichardo and René Cardoza to join him. Shortly after the success of this event, Pichardo came up with the group’s name of “Sones de México Ensemble Chicago”.

The current Sones de México lineup includes founders Juan Díes and Gonzalo Córdova plus Lorena Íñiguez, Juan Rivera, Zacbé Pichardo and Jorge Leal, all multi-instrumentalists on a wide range of Mexican folk instruments.

The group has released six records: íQue Florezca! (Let it Bloom) (1996); Fandango on 18th Street (2002); the GRAMMY® and Latin GRAMMY® nominated Esta Tierra Es Tuya (This Land is Your Land) (2007); Fiesta Mexicana (a children’s album) (2010); ¡Viva la Revolución! (2010); and 13 B’ak’tun (2013).

Sones de México is now celebrating its twentieth anniversary, and Díes says they have learned to rejoice in times of success and overcome other periods marked by difficulty, “We have learned that the life of a group has its ups and downs. There have been moments of great creativity and great popularity, great friendships amongst the members. There’s also been times of greater discord, when people have left the group, times when no one calls us for concerts. It’s a road that has its ups and downs.”

Collaborations have always driven new and exciting eras for the band. Says Díes, “One of the things that have made us most creative are real challenges that we have faced. Like we have to develop something, music for a movie, to work with the Symphony, or a special performance celebrating Buck Owens, or a special show with Led Zeppelin music. We are faced with a situation, and we look for a solution, and because of that, something new arises. That’s the way some of the our greatest hits have come about, collaborations with musicians from the Symphony, with Victor Garcia of Latin Jazz, or Old Town School of Folk Music for a Woody Guthrie tribute.

In their twenty years, however, they have never strayed from a musical vision rooted in the Mexican son, declares Díes, “We explored country western music and Buck Owens, but  we reinterpreted his music as a huapango. However, you will always recognize it as Owens’ music. Same with Woody Guthrie, where we did his song in norteño style.”

It’s like what immigrants go through, explains Díes, “When you are an immigrant in this country, you have to keep a connection to your own connections, but at the same time you have to incorporate a lot of what you are seeing and experiencing here, but in your own style, without forgetting your roots. I think that’s what we have done musically.”

Sones de México will be celebrating their anniversary with a musical extravaganza at Millenium Park, and Dies promises that artists representing Chicago’s Irish, blues, jazz and classical music communities are expected as well as Mexican dance companies. Founding member and Musical Director Victor Pichardo is writing the arrangements for the concert. All past members of the group are also expected to perform during the evening, including founding members René Cardoza and Raul Fernández.  “It’s like a one-night like class reunion!” exclaims Dies.

The concert also marks the beginning of a new phase for Sones de México, which will include new projects with some of the evening’s guests and the founding of a music school dedicated to Mexican music and dance.

It will surely be a night to remember, says Díes, “We started to practice twice weekly in August, with all the different elements of the show, but we won’t be coming together, all of us, until the day of the concert. We’ll see what happens!”

Feature photo by Todd Winters

Sones de México, will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a free concert at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Wednesday, September 3 at 7pm.


Check Catalina’s  weekly show Beat Latino on Facebook,  subscribe via iTunes, and check the playlist or download the podcast from the archives. Airs Friday and Sunday on Vocalo, where Beat Latino is rated #1 as show listened to at least once by listeners!


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★ Legendary Afro-Peruvian Folk Artist Created Space to Celebrate Black Culture in Peru http://gozamos.com/2014/08/peru-mourns-legendary-afro-peruvian-folk-artist-who-helped-peru-celebrate-black-culture/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/peru-mourns-legendary-afro-peruvian-folk-artist-who-helped-peru-celebrate-black-culture/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 03:14:20 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43850 Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 10.13.50 PM

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★ Fat & Happy: Bacon Jam-Stuffed Bread Rolls http://gozamos.com/2014/08/fat-happy-bacon-jam-stuffed-bread-rolls/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/fat-happy-bacon-jam-stuffed-bread-rolls/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:00:56 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43810 image

This month’s recipe swap is a Jelly Cake – two layers of a spice cake with jelly between the layers. The goal of the swap is to modify the recipe by at least 3 ingredients or modify the method. I wanted to play pretty close to the original ingredients but really deviate from the the idea of a sweet cake.

Two words: Bacon Jam. Or you can call it Bacon Jelly, which is also two words. Either way. My first step was to get away from the sweet, fruit jelly – that’s where the bacon jam comes in. Next, my goal was to create a non-cake-like-layered item while using the base cake ingredients.

Add in some yeast, remove the baking soda and cream of tartar, move the spice ingredients to the bacon jelly and WAMO – a rolled homemade bacon jam bun. Successful? Hell yes! It’s a Fat and Happy homemade bacon bread recipe that I highly suggest trying today.

Tips and techniques: If you don’t have time to make the homemade bread, try rolling the bacon jam in phyllo dough or store bought bread dough. The jam itself is deep, rich, delicious – simply not to be missed.


Homemade Bread Rolls

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk
  • 1 1/4 oz yeast package (not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3-4 cups of flour

Heat the water, cream and sugar to 115 degrees, sprinkle yeast over the warm liquid and allow to sit and foam for 10 minutes.

With a fork, mix the egg, molasses, salt, melted butter together – add to the foaming yeast. Use a wooden spoon, begin to stir in the flour, 1/2 a cup at a time. Once the dough comes together, pour onto the cupboard and begin to knead in the remaining flour. Depending on the weather, you may or may not need all 4 cups, go by the feel of the dough and just use your best judgement. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, rub oil on the dough itself, cover with a dry kitchen towel and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (this should take about an hour or so.) Punch down the dough, knead a few times and then roll out into a large rectangle about 3/4″ thick.

Spread the bacon jam over the dough rectangle (I saved a small bowl to eat.) Roll up the dough from the long side of the rectangle and pinch the seam together to seal. Slice the rolled dough into 2″ sections and place in a greased cake pan. Or slice the rectangle into 2 or 3 sections and place into bread pans for a bread roll instead of individual buns.


Savory Bacon Jam

  • 12 ounces bacon
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (pinch)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Cook the bacon until done but not too crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside, drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the onions and cook uncovered over medium low heat 10 minutes, stir often.

Add the brown sugar, allspice, cocoa, raisins and cayenne pepper; cook on low for 10 minutes covered. Add in the garlic and cook another 5 minutes covered.
Add in the remaining ingredients, the apple juice, red wine and the balsamic vinegar, cook for 30 minutes covered on medium low. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place the bacon jam in a Cuisinart and pulse on low about 20 seconds. If you want a smoother jam, pulse longer. Cool before rolling in the dough.

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★ The Ponderers – Interview: Vivian Garcia http://gozamos.com/2014/08/the-ponderers-interview-vivian-garcia/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/the-ponderers-interview-vivian-garcia/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:00:48 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43775 vivian garcia

“With you around

I got just what I need.”

It’s always wonderful to catch a musical act that moves you to the point of feeling something on a deeper level, whether about the music, the moment or yourself. Such is the case when listening to Chicago-based musician, Vivian Garcia, whose powerful command of acoustic guitar, along with her smoky and sultry voice, make the world seem so much better to be in. Her songs are an alluring fusion of Latin rhythms, blues and flamenco with nods to hip hop and electronica. It’s exhilarating, intoxicating and beyond empowering.

We had a chance to ask Garcia a few questions about her experiences in music, her album Cold Bed, her work with other musicians and about a new video released for the song, “Loc@s,” which is a collaboration with Chicago singer-songwriter, Armando Perez (Jugo De Mango, ¡Esso! Afrojam Funkbeat).

Has your Cuban background had an impact on the type of music you’ve chosen to perform?

Yes, it is true, both my parents were born in Cuba, but they did not really listen to Cuban music at home. If anything, when I think about it, my grandmother always had Dean Martin and Nat King Cole in the background. It was not until I got to college that Latin music became a focus for me. I ended up at Northwestern at a time when there were only four percent Latinos so cultural identity became more pronounced in my life. I started listening to music in Spanish. It was a wonderful eye opener for me as far as learning about music from all over the Spanish speaking world.

You have a unique style and it’s great to see it evolve and become more complex the more you perform. Can you explain the process you go through when deciding what elements you’ll include in a song?

I have been a gigging musician since 1999. I first began singing with a group we called Mezcal. Actually, some of the current and past members of El Payo were in that ensemble. I only sang at the time; a mixture of ballads (boleros) and rumba-flamenco Gipsy Kings covers. I had taken some guitar lessons but was nowhere near ready to play and sing until years later. I moved from Chicago to Florida from 2001-2005 continuing to perform the same style of music until my last year there when I joined a party band that played anything from covers of Ozomatli and Yerbabuena to Tower of Power and James Brown. It was the beginning of a new way of singing for me. It was so exciting to perform such a range of styles.

In 2006, after returning to Chicago, I decided to really make a big move musically. I wanted to really learn to accompany myself on guitar so I left my full-time job and took the little I had saved to move to Granada, Spain for three months to study flamenco guitar. Uff… I may have had some good times at night but the day time was intense. Two hours a day of just guitar technique and then returning the next day to learn new material kicked my butt. There was no dearth of tears during that time. While I still don’t perform flamenco puro (it takes a lifetime to master) that experience gave me the boost of confidence in my skills to take to the stage and accompany myself, and even some dancers, for a time.

So, after many years of varying musical experiences, I have finally given myself permission to mix and meld at will. I used to be afraid to sing the blues or flamenco for fear of bastardizing the music of other cultures but I am becoming comfortable in my skin and feel like if it is something that feels authentic internally, that will be outwardly apparent. These days, if something starts off folky or bluesy I don’t shun it, I welcome it and let the music flow through me as diverse as the sounds of this great city. I have to say working with ¡Esso! has stoked the fusion fire even more. I am really excited to be a part of this band and can’t wait to share our upcoming album which has everything from cumbia to house music and all kinds of stuff in between. What an amazing gift it is to work with a group of musicians with such depth and breadth of knowledge of theory and genres.

Tell me about Cold Bed and why it was recorded in another country.

Well, funny story. I moved to Madrid to pursue and M.A. in Spanish literature and ended up focusing on writing an album in English and performing in Irish pubs! I had wanted to live in Spain for an extended period of time since I was 18 and finally, at the ripe young age of 35, I made it happen. I loved my visits to Andalucia a few years prior to study guitar and was enamored with the culture. When I got to Madrid, I did not know a single person. Nope. Not a one and so all of a sudden this dream to live abroad, this amazing beautiful experience also engendered feelings of loneliness and homesickness. I had not been in a relationship in sometime and not having a partner to share with made those feelings that much more magnified. More out of a necessity to grapple with my range of emotions than anything else is where some of these songs were born.

I have always been one who writes in journals but there were feelings and emotions that I could only express melodically. It sort of did not matter lyrically at this point. I needed to sing some melodies and the words just started to flow to match…

Honestly, these days when I play “Cold Bed,” the title track, I can barely remember writing it. I do recall sitting on my couch on a chilly day in the fall (my apartment had no heater) and strumming some chords but I have a hard time recalling, even writing, the lyrics. No joke, I feel like it is just a song that always was.

Some of the other tracks are more memorable. I do recall writing “Your Smile” one day sitting on a park bench in Plaza de España waiting to record with my friend Peter Muller. We met at an open mic and began doing some no/low pressure recording sessions and I had a couple of chords floating in my head and just sort of wrote the verses while watching some people go about their walks. These recording sessions led to a friendship and musical partnership which was instrumental in my feeling brave enough to record my first full length album of original music.

Does the work you do outside music, and what you’ve studied, influenced your songwriting?

Hmm… interesting questions. Well, I try not to think too much about what I studied when I write because if I did I would never share anything! Having pursued degrees in the study of literature in both in English and Spanish, I feel quite embarrassed at the simple and repetitive style of my songs. Though sometimes I realize there are some techniques present that I did not intend to use but which have worked their way into my speech and writing after years of study. I don’t think I will ever be a great story teller like some of the great songwriters, but I am happy just having some heartfelt lyrics to use as a means of emoting and evoking certain sentiments via my voice.

You have a new video for the single “Loc@s,” which includes Armando Perez. What was that experience like and how did you all manage to put out a song and video so quickly?

I met Armando a few years back at a party we were both hired to perform. I was playing with our mutual friend Domenichi Morris, who would eventually join Esso, before moving to California. We got to jam a little that night and that was the beginning of future shows together. We played some shows together at People’s Lounge and a few other venues during my breaks home while I was living in Spain. Pretty much as soon as I returned from Madrid, Armando and I set up a time to catch up and jam and I came to him with some chords and a rhythm and based on that, and our discussions, he began composing lyrics and within a few weeks we had a song! He is an amazing songwriter and composer so this track was quite fun to make.

We both really liked the catchy sound of the track and so did our friend and filmmaker, Alonzo Alcaraz. I sent it to him artist to artist while it was still a work in progress and he liked it so much he asked to include it in a short film he was writing at the time called Lex. He used my song “Cold Bed” in his short Albert and had independently worked with Armando for music on that film as well. It was a no brainer. I asked if he could shoot a video for “Loc@s” in return for using it in the soundtrack and a sweet deal was struck.

Alonzo happens to be close friends with my brother in law, Hector Ivan Garcia, who has a degree in film from Columbia College and he was to be the director for the video. Because we are all friends, and all driven people, we were able to make this video happen quite quickly. Incorporating footage from the actual short film Lex, definitely expedited the process and allowed for the video to also be a trailer of sorts for the second part of Alonzo’s film trilogy.

In the time you’ve grown as a musician in Chicago, how have you seen the music community change, if at all?

I began singing in Chicago in 1999 and moved to Sarasota, Florida, from 2001 to 2005. I again moved, this time to Spain from 2010 to 2013. Because of this transient aspect of my life, it is hard to get a good read on the “scene” as it were, in the city. I feel like each time I return I am starting over though at least I have friends and family here.

I would say that the number of venues to perform world music is shrinking.  It can be tough to get new shows because the places that support live music tend to keep the same bands in rotation.  I don’t think that is specific to Chicago, it is the nature of the business in general.

As far as musicians go, I personally have been lucky to collaborate with people who work in other bands. There is a willingness to share talent. It is out of necessity and I think open mindedness. People know that it is tough to make a living as a full-time musician so you know if you are in a band with someone, more than likely they will need to be working on other projects, too.

Since this will be part of The Ponderers series, can you tell us some of the females (artist or non) that have contributed to your poder de mujer chingona?

Wow, there really are so many women whose journeys inspire me daily. In college, my best friend was Maryam Keshavarz. We both changed quite a bit because of our friendship. I took her to poetry readings and invited her to my experimental theater performances and she opened my eyes to the world of travel. Were it not for meeting her I don’t think I would have envisioned myself being able to make my way to Europe or otherwise. The influence does not stop there. She went on to pursue film and in 2011 I was blessed to accompany her to Valladolid, Spain and Rome, Italy to receive awards for her film Circumstance which also won an  audience award at Sundance. She continues to do great things as a director and screenwriter and her ethic and vision inspire me to push forward in my own artistic endeavors.

I would also definitely have to say my sister. I would not be where I am now without all of the support she has offered in recent years during all of my moves from city to city, out of the country, and leaving full-time work to pursue my music. She is an amazing mom and full time worker who keeps her nuclear and extended family going.

As for vocalists, I am greatly influenced and inspired by the work of Nina Simone, Mercedes Sosa and Lila Downs. There are many others but these women and their voices and visions have played a great role in my own development as a singer.

What can we expect from you musically for the rest of 2014?

Currently, ¡Esso! is recording an album that will be released near the end of 2014, beginning of 2015. I am featured on a few of the tracks and sing chorus on many others. I’ve also been writing a few more folk-blues songs and hope to have a solo album out in 2015. There are a few DJs interested in collaborating with me in the very near future. I don’t want to jump the gun and name anyone yet before we can collaborate, but they are exciting prospects! https://soundcloud.com/dj-afroqbano/vivian-y-armando-loc-afroqbano-remix I hope to continue gigging during the year as a solo act as well as with ¡Esso!  I am excited to be on this musical journey and having gone away for a while has allowed me to return with new experiences and influences under my belt.

Upcoming performances?

Every fourth Thursday of the month at Underground Wonder Bar. (I perform a solo set from 8:00 -10:00 p.m. and then sing with ¡Esso! from 10:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.  September 6 – Villapalooza with ¡Esso!

Vivian Garcia on Bandcamp

Vivian Garcia on Facebook

Vivian Garcia on Soundcloud

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★ Preview: Chicago Jazz Fest 2014 http://gozamos.com/2014/08/chicago-jazz-fest/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/chicago-jazz-fest/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:00:40 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43712 sun ra arkestra

A Labor day Weekend tradition for almost four decades, Chicago Jazz Festival offers dozens of free, quality live musical performances to showcase international, national and local talent. Here are a few artists that are true to be special performances. However, don’t hesitate to stop in at any time over the weekend. The fest’s excellent curation means you won’t be disappointed no matter where and when you choose to check the grooves.


Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet

World-renowned trombonist, composer, arranger and producer Wayne Wallace, a six-time Grammy Award-nominee, creates a potent Afro-Latin sound, tinged also with what he learned from playing with greats such as Ray Charles, Sonny Rollins, Tito Puente and Carlos Santana. Wallace, who is on the faculty at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, will be joined by bassist David Belove, pianist Murray Low, conga and percussion player Michael Spiro and drummer Colin Douglas.

Miguel Zenón

Multiple Grammy Award-nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur ‘genius grant’ awardee Miguel Zenon is touring in support of his 9th and latest release “Identities are Changeable”, a stunning jazz and spoken-word project focusing on the cultural identity of the Puerto Rican community in the United States. Zenon has perfected the art of walking a beautiful and fine line mixing modern jazz and the traditional sounds of his native Puerto Rico, and he comes to Jazz Fest leading a quartet which includes brilliant Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo.

Sun Ra Arkestra

Jazz visionary and cosmic traveler Sun Ra, aka Herman Blount, aka Le Sony’r Ra, created beautiful, swinging and highly-textured music that still resounds 100 years after his birth. Chicago was the city where he launched his career, and current and former members of the Sun Ra Arkestra will celebrate his centennial, led by the great alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, who has led the Arkestra since Sun Ra’s death. If you hear the famous Sun Ra chant, “Space is the place!” remember that Chicago is the place where it all started.

Paulinho Garcia Quintet

Beloved singer-guitarist Paulinho Garcia has lived in Chicago for over 30 years, bringing to our city sweet melodic compositions that range from bossa nova to other rhythms from Brazil and draw on his experiences in Chicago as well. Garcia will make an infrequent appearance with his quintet to again weave a delicate romantic spell and surely charm his Chicago fans once more.


Chicago Jazz Festival takes place August 28-31 at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millenium Park, Includes films as well as music — all free!


Catalina explores nuestra cultura via the music on Beat Latino every week. Visit Facebook,  subscribe via iTunes or download the podcast on the archives.

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★ El Machete Illustrated: Our Tax Dollars http://gozamos.com/2014/08/el-machete-illustrated-our-tax-dollars/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/el-machete-illustrated-our-tax-dollars/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 01:42:02 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43752 El Machete

El Machete Illustrated: Cutting Through the Bullshit is a weekly series by political cartoonist Eric J. Garcia. 


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★ Maybe http://gozamos.com/2014/08/maybe/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/maybe/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:00:57 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43728 Screenshot 2014-08-25 17.01.08

Maybe I grew up in a mostly Latino and African American neighborhood because that was where my parents could pay rent.

Maybe they could only pay rent there because my parents immigrated to this country with only a bag of clothes. Maybe they worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week in ranches cutting cabbage. Maybe they worked 2 or 3 jobs, and yet it was barely enough to get by.

Maybe there was a crack house on the corner that not only served the junkies within the blocks, but the people who came in from surrounding suburbs to get their fix. Maybe the cops harassed the lady selling tamales and elotes outside the grocery store to feed her family, but never once pulled over the white gentleman who came to pick up his drugs in his Cadillac. Maybe that made me question the police and their morals.

Maybe my father would get pulled over walking home after work at night because he looked suspicious. Maybe there were gangs on the blocks I lived on. Maybe I had to throw gang signs every time I walked past the corner, as I walked to my cousin’s house down the block, just to make sure I was clear to pass. Maybe I had to choose one of the gangs on my block, because I felt the need to feel safe when I walked my neighborhood. Maybe that was a bad decision.

Maybe that wasn’t true. Maybe when my friend got shot and killed while he played basketball, the police never came. Maybe when my father was mugged at gunpoint, the police never came. Maybe when the gentleman who worked the grocery store night shift threw the garbage out and got shot in the head, the police never came. Maybe this made me feel like we weren’t worth their time. Maybe this made me feel worthless. Maybe this made me question the police.

Maybe at 18 I smoked a joint. Maybe I had been asked to smoke hundreds of times before, and I had always turned it away. Maybe I finally made a decision as an 18 year old that I wanted to try it. Maybe that isn’t true. Maybe I have photos of me smoking a joint with a friend. Maybe I have a picture of me and my friend throwing a gang sign. Maybe that isn’t true. Maybe that was the reality I lived in.

Maybe I knew there was more to the world, but at this moment I had to live in this environment. Maybe we did get out of this neighborhood eventually. Maybe my dad had a better job. Maybe I graduated high school. Maybe I graduated college with a BA and planned to go back for my masters.

Maybe a policeman talked down to me as I walked down the street with a friend. Maybe after all of the years of seeing the injustice going on in my neighborhood, I talked back to the cop. Maybe he didn’t like me talking back to him. Maybe there was an altercation. Maybe he shot me once. Maybe I ran. Maybe he kept shooting. Maybe I turned around and ran back because I figured this cop doesn’t stop shooting me, and from most of the experiences I’ve had, I’m really not worth much to him. Maybe let me fight with everything I have at least.

Maybe this isn’t true. Maybe he shot me once, I ran away, then when he continued shooting, I turned around, fell to my knees with my hands up. Maybe this isn’t true. Maybe I died on the street. This is true. Maybe the cop hasn’t been questioned or detained. Maybe I didn’t ask for people to protest my death. Maybe you’ll call me a thug. Maybe you’ll forget I was human.

Maybe we shook hands before. Maybe we talked and laughed before. Maybe you thought I was a good person. Maybe you didn’t know much about my past. Maybe I was left dead on the street. Maybe you’ll base all of your opinions on the pictures you saw of my past on TV. Maybe you’ll forget I was human?

The one thing I know for sure, is what side you will be on before a trial is even underway. You will be on your computer, calling me a gang banger, a thug and using every racist undertone that exists in your mind, but are too scared to let out on a daily basis.

Thanks for letting me know where you will stand, if I were ever killed, shot 6 times in the middle of the street.

Republished with the permission of Navarro, the hip hop artist formerly known as Scheme.

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★ The World According to Cantinflas http://gozamos.com/2014/08/the-world-according-to-cantinflas/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/the-world-according-to-cantinflas/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:30:33 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43717 Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 11.28.16 AM

The Real Academia Española’s renowned Spanish-language dictionary has an entry for ‘cantinflear’ (a term widely used in Mexico), which refers to a way of speaking that “makes no sense, is incongruous, and says nothing.”

This peculiar verb takes its roots in the name of Cantinflas, born Mario Moreno, comedian, singer, and actor who appeared in more than fifty films. A philanthropist and beloved Mexican icon, he was famous for improvising endless plays on words, which were matched in originality only by his amazing physical comedy.

Imagine a body that could express as much pain, pathos and humor as Charlie Chaplin attached to a mouth that could ad lib like Robin Williams. That comes almost close to describing Cantinflas.

And all the while Cantinflas seemed to make no sense at all, as a card-carrying and activist member of the union of his industry, he criticized the intense bureaucracy and stagnancy of a wide variety of Mexican institutions from political to religious to judicial to social from a working man’s point of view.

In celebration of the upcoming Cantinflas movie, we’ll do our best to share some classic ‘cantinflismos’ from the real thing — a few scenes that display his marvelous comedic skills in both words and movement.

Grammar according to Cantinflas

In this scene, the doorman of a school tells teachers (who have Spanish accents, poking fun at the Spain’s insistence on its version of Spanish being most standard and correct) how to conjugate. Cantinflas, as the doorman, refers to “el indioma castellano” (instead of idioma), making a reference to the indigenization of the Mexican dialect of the Spanish language.

Cantinflas crosses the border

Cantinflas makes gentle fun of immigration, borders, Americanized Latinos who work for Immigration Services, and the whole customs process as he crosses the U.S. border “door” at a point where it is nothing but a fence between two posts in the middle of nowhere. The official documents Cantinflas as a tourist, but with his burro and his horse (who have to be admitted to the country as his relatives).

Ahí está el detalle

The title of this movie actually coined a phrase in Mexican Spanish, “ahí está el detalle,” and this masterful dialogue between a scorned wealthy husband and the ne’er-do-well Cantinflas.

Cantinflas being interrogated by the police

In this movie, “Abajo el Telón”, a common theme in several Cantinflas movies is playout out. A humble worker (in this case a window-cleaner) is wrongfully accused of a crime (in this movie, a robbery of a jewel). In this scene, he is confronted by the police.

Master of the dance moves

In his movies, Cantinflas danced just about every dance imaginable, including cumbia, tango, swing and twist, always with his famous little hops and wearing probably the very first, the original low-riding pants (we’re talking low-riding pants as of the 1940′s). But one of the most classic scenes is the following one of Cantinflas dancing to Ravel’s Bolero.

The Cantinflas movie opens in Chicago August 28.

Catalina explores nuestra cultura via the music on Beat Latino every week. Visit Facebook,  subscribe via Itunes or download the podcast on the archives. However, she was trained as a linguist and has loved Cantinflas as long as she can remember.

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Link: Forcing the Issue in Ecuador » http://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2014/08/23/nota/3520961/rafael-correa-anuncia-que-homosexuales-podran-registrar-union-hecho http://gozamos.com/2014/08/forcing-the-issue-in-ecuador/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:54:00 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43707 Pres. Rafael Correa on Friday granted recognition to same-sex unions on government IDs. But before you break out the balloons:

Correa made clear that ‘I have never offered [approval of] homosexual marriage,’ as the LGBT groups are asking for. Correa, a left-wing Catholic, has repeatedly expressed  his opposition to marriage between two persons of the same sex, while also opposing the adoption of children by gay couples.

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★ Fat & Happy: Lemony Red Lentil Hummus Spread http://gozamos.com/2014/08/fat-happy-lemony-red-lentil-hummus-spread/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/fat-happy-lemony-red-lentil-hummus-spread/#comments Sun, 24 Aug 2014 15:00:34 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43692 image

Having an array of sauces and spreads in your kitchen repertoire is key to elevating flavor in your dishes. Equally as important is creating those items in a healthy manner.

Sure, you could just purchase a pre-mixed, pre-packaged spread from the grocery store, but what you get with that is a whole bunch of sugar and chemicals that are going to wreak havoc on your body. Plus it’s really easy to make your own, especially of you happen to have some pre-cooked lentils around.

This isn’t a true hummus, which calls for chickpeas and tahini; it’s a lentil spread or dip or salad topper — perfect for sandwiches and snacking. The lemon adds a brightness which is perfect on grilled chicken and veggies (I used it on a lettuce wrap filled with just such items).

Light, super healthy and super delicious — this lemon and red lentil dip spread is a perfect addition to any meal.

 Happy Healthy Tip: Lentils are a great source of cholesterol-reducing fiber.


Lemony Red Lentil Hummus Spread

  •  1 cup uncooked red lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. In the meantime, rinse the lentils and pick out any stones. Add the lentils to the water, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 10 – 15 minutes).

Peel the garlic clove and add to the lentils (this is not to cook the garlic but rather just soften it slightly). Remove from heat and let cool.

In a blender or food processor, place garlic clove, half of the cooked lentils, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the lemon juice & zest, and the salt. Pulse and blend until smooth. Add in the remaining cooked lentils and a twist of black pepper and blend until smooth. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to thin the spread out if it is too thick. Enjoy!



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★ How Latinos Can Help End Racism in America http://gozamos.com/2014/08/how-latinos-can-help-end-racism-in-america/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/how-latinos-can-help-end-racism-in-america/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:00:07 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43677 Statue of Liberty drawing

I suppose I was one of the 82 percent of Latinos not following the events in Ferguson all that closely. But it wasn’t due to lack of sympathy for the black boy shot and killed in cold blood by one of Ferguson’s finest, or a lack of understanding as to why it happened. I saw the headlines and knew what it was.

I knew another black boy had been killed by another cop. I knew another black body had been deemed disposable by the powers that be. I knew the system would try to justify another one of its public executions by suggesting Michael Brown deserved it, that he had threatened an agent of the law and, thus, was a threat to the society that the law is meant to serve and protect.

Yes, I knew all of this, which is why I couldn’t bear to see the whole callous tragedy played out as scripted, yet again. So I kept my mind busy with other things. I wrote on recent events in Honduras and Brazil, and added several thousand words to my short novel.

But soon, almost inevitably, the role of Latinos came into the media’s focus, as much of America began wondering what the country’s largest minority group had to say about the scenes being broadcast from Ferguson.

First there was a Pew study showing that, in terms of their views on racial issues, Latinos are much more like whites than blacks. Immediately the charge was refuted by self-appointed representatives of the Latino cluster, as artists and activists took to their laptops to ardently insistent on Latinos’ solidarity with the black people of Ferguson and, by association, all black people in the United States.

One of these passionate little commentaries was even published under the ambitious and presumptive title “Yes, Latinos Do Care About Ferguson,” which I’m sure a lot of you saw, retweeted or even read. When you take a moment to think about what the title is claiming, you realize the statement “Latinos do care about Ferguson” can’t be true for apparent reasons.

Before I go on, I think it’s best to clarify what the title means to say. It does not mean Latinos care about a small town in St. Louis County, Missouri. That would be sweet but ridiculous. What the title means to say, which seems pretty clear, is that Latinos care about what happens to black people in America. Therefore, a less ambiguous translation of the title would be “Latinos do care about black people.”

Yet, even when chiseled down and made more direct, the title is no less dishonest.

It’s obvious that some Latinos care about black people, because some Latinos are in fact black people themselves. I myself am one of those Latinos. Maybe you’re one of those Latinos too, or you know one or two or ten. Members of my family have called me “Negrito” since I was in the first grade. I used to think, because they were dark-skinned, that the Puerto Rican side of my family was mostly Taíno, until I realized that my father looked like Bill Cosby, and I looked like Roberto Clemente (whose blackness I’d never questioned), and that there were no Taínos — or at least not enough of them left for the odds to suggest I could be one myself.

There’s plenty of European blood in me, on my mother’s side specifically, for me to pass as a Latino or an Arab or any other non-black category during the more cloudy months of the year. Once May swings around, however, my inner africano steams to the surface, and I maneuver through society as a black man til September, sometimes November. The strangers who meet me in July and don’t think I’m black seem to do so on the bases of my Spanish name and my nose, which people have complimented me on for being narrower than what they’re used to seeing on a person of my skin color, I assume.

That black Latinos have more than one mask to wear is one of the reasons why Latino blackness is unlike typical blackness in America, which is the kind of blackness most black people wear year round, day in and day out. My skin color is not the lingering memento of the fear, the pain and the dehumanization inflicted on my forebears that a typical black person’s skin is, because my skin signifies, and I know it to be the case, that I’m only partly of African descent, namely through my father’s father.

My ancestors in Latin America and Europe survived their own trials and tribulations, to be sure. But I’m also sure not one of their ordeals was as utterly destructive to the human spirit as the extra-brutal kind of chattel slavery imposed on blacks in the United States, or the kind of second-class citizenship imposed on black people to this day.

Not only must we address the reality that some Latinos are also black people, we must also face the fact that too many Latinos are themselves anti-black.

Writing for a Latino site like this one, it seems unnecessary to delve into the various ways in which anti-black sentiments have endured within Latino ranks. We all have families, don’t we? We all have tíos or titis with a few choice words for their black neighbor or coworker. We all have parents who worry about the black friend we’ve been hanging out with lately or the black lover we’re getting serious with. And need I even mention the beloved viejitos in our families, who pull us aside at a gathering to tell us something that sounds like it could’ve been written in an Aryan pamphlet?

The existence of Latino white supremacists shouldn’t surprise anyone. Though it’s been perfected nowhere more than here in the United States, white racism is not the exclusive domain of English speakers.

Toward the tail end of the Islamic conquest of Iberia, as they were driving the heathens into the sea, the white Christians of Spain and Portugal sought to distinguish themselves from the Muslim Moors and the Jewish Sephardim by asserting the superiority of white Christian blood. They referred to it, appropriately enough, as limpieza de sangre, cleanliness of the blood. Thereafter, an Iberian with a Muslim grandparent, or even a Muslim great-great-grandparent, was considered tainted.

The Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores exported this belief to the Americas, a land they claimed to have discovered, even though it might have already been home to, by some accounts, nearly 20 million natives by the time ol’ Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Very quickly a caste system was set up to preserve the power and privilege of the white minority living amongst the natives, the Africans and the mixed-bloods.

That caste system has persisted to this day, politically and psychologically. It reveals itself, for example, in the racial inequality that grips Brazil, in the Honduran government’s attack on the Afro-Caribbean Garinagu, in the mistreatment of native peoples from Chiapas to Chile, and in the anti-black policies of Dominicans denying the rich African blood coursing through their own veins.

White supremacy is as much a part of Latin America as the Spanish language and Jesus Christ, and for exactly the same reasons. So who would fool themselves into believing that many Latinos haven’t brought their racist ideology here along with their recipes and music, especially when it pays much more to be white in America than it does in the old country?

In light of all this, it’s clear that if a Latino does care about the black people in Ferguson and elsewhere, they care for one of two reasons: either they’re black themselves and are concerned with the plight of other black people; or they’re not black but, like most decent people, are able to sympathize with the abused, whatever their color may be.

There are some Latinos, however, who are watching the events in Ferguson very closely, but for an entirely different reason. They’re keeping an eye on it because, as non-blacks, they benefit from the evil racist machinery whose gears are greased by the blood of black boys. And they don’t want that machinery stopped or slow down.

The rest of the Latino cluster are like most Americans in that they either don’t know the history of institutional racism in this country, are too lazy to learn it, are too distracted to learn it, or too busy to. We better hope they learn that history. We better hope more Latinos care about the black people of Ferguson, just like we better hope more white people care and more of everybody cares. Because it’s not just about Ferguson or black people. It’s about everybody — you, me and every other person living in this country.

America claims to be a lot of things, but it’s one thing for certain: it’s a vast collection of humanity from all over the globe and all walks of life being forced to share one land for the sake of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some of us came with luggage. Others were shipped here like sardines. Some of us came for opportunity. Others fled violence and hopelessness. Nonetheless, we’re all here now.

The Founders may have only concerned themselves with securing the lives, liberties and pursuits of happiness of wealthy white men, but today women, people of color and LGBTs look to expand that vision of America.

At present, the United States has yet to get over the fact that it entered this world and grew strong in it as a slave society, if only for the fact that it still is a slave society. They added an amendment in 1865 and passed a civil rights act almost a century later, but the widespread captivity of black bodies by today’s criminal justice system belies even the insinuation that black liberty has ever been squared with white liberty. And if the wanton destruction of black bodies at the hands of police officers — who are no more than modern-day slave drivers — tells us anything, it’s that, after 400 years, the power that designed and controls this nation still refuses to consider black bodies even remotely equal to white bodies.

Latinos have flung themselves into this red-white-and-blue furnace for the chance at better lives, and now at the start of a new millenium, they stand ready to add their metal to fire. As the Latino population continues to grow, eventually overcoming whites as the largest ethnic group in the United States, how Latinos address the race question may be a deciding factor in whether it’s resolved at all.

Neither a race or even a community, the Latino cluster is poised to chuck America’s age-old black-white antagonism onto the proverbial garbage heap, but only if Latinos themselves can summon the will to cast out the bigotry rotting away at their own bonds. The sooner Latinos stop putting a premium on white skin, the sooner white Latinos stop seeing black Latinos as other and start seeing them as brother, the sooner they can help the rest of America do it. And everywhere you look — Ferguson, Chicago, D.C., New York, Detroit — it’s obvious America desperately needs help.

The United States will either become a truly multicultural society or tear itself to shreds. It’ll either grant freedom and respect to all its people, or it’ll choke on its own hatred and cruelty. Black, white, Latino, Asian, Arab, Native American — all must lend their hands to the dismantling of the old America and put their backs into the elevation of a new America, one in which people are allowed to be different but are treated equally under the law.

Then, and only then, will every inhabitant of this nation finally become a true citizen of it, with intolerance and injustice toward none.

[Photo: Cuauhtemoc-Hidalgo Villa-Zapata via Flickr]

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★ Director Richard Linklater, actor Ellar Coltrane discuss ‘Boyhood’ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/director-richard-linklater-actor-ellar-coltrane-discuss-boyhood/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/director-richard-linklater-actor-ellar-coltrane-discuss-boyhood/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:12:53 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43551 boyhoodinterview

While most people would call writer/director Richard Linklater’s new independent movie “Boyhood” one of the film industry’s most ambitious projects, the Austin-based, two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker describes it a bit differently.

“It was just such an impractical and crazy idea,” Linklater, 54, told me after “Boyhood” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March. “It sort of defies typical, organizational thinking.”

Linklater, best known for films such as “Dazed and Confused,” “School of Rock” and the Before trilogy (“Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight”), shot “Boyhood” over the span of 12 years with the same cast. The approach allows audiences to witness the film’s lead character Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) grow up right before their eyes. The film also stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s divorced parents who try their best to create a stable upbringing for Mason and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), despite life’s mad curveballs.

During an interview with Linklater and Coltrane, we talked about what it was like growing up in front of the camera over the last 12 years and how the film evolves when the maturation process kicks in during Ellar’s teenage years.

boyhood_xlgRichard, “Boyhood” is sort of in the same vein as your Before trilogy except that you didn’t make three films out of this story. Did you approach the projects the same way?

Richard Linklater: You know, they are two very long, time-based projects, but they’re very different. The Before trilogy had some gaps in time. “Boyhood” was a constant thing. It demanded to be told this way and required constant attention. With the Before films, I didn’t have to think about the next one for seven or eight years.

Ellar, you were only six years old when you started making this film. When did you realize how ambitious Richard’s idea actually was?

Ellar Coltrane: (Laughs) There definitely was a gradual realization about just how massive it was and how important of a part of my life it was. I’m really grateful that I was given the chance to work on a piece of art like that.

Richard, the script was completed prior to shooting, but it seems like you were open to adding to it. I mean, you include a scene referencing Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential run, which I’m sure you didn’t know would happen six years prior.

RL: Yeah, one year we were shooting in the fall during the Obama/McCain race and I thought the moment was worthy of adding in. Even if it didn’t end up being a huge cultural moment, it was real. We were just trying to be honest about that moment. The film wasn’t trying to reflect on too much pop culture. I wanted to reflect on what it’s like as a kid growing up and having everything coming at you—from the culture to the way you pick up on your parents’ politics. Everything is sort of in your face.

You know, most directors would’ve simply cast three or four actors to play Mason at different ages.

RL: I think I just have more patience. I thought there would be more beauty this way. I mean, it’s completely understandable to do it the other way. You cast an actor as a kid and then you cut to a new actor as an adult. It only makes sense.

Yeah, but then sometimes they don’t even look alike.

RL: They often don’t! I mean, I had to watch “Goodfellas” a few times to believe Henry and Tommy as kids grow up to be Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci since Pesci is older than Liotta in real life. But it doesn’t bother me. It’s all about the storytelling. But, yeah, “Boyhood” was just a whole different methodology. I was just trying to get in touch with that maturation process and make it feel very real and organic.

I really got a sense of that. It feels like it becomes more and more Mason’s story as the film moves forward year by year.


RL: Yeah, as the film goes on, it becomes less about Samantha and the parents. When you’re a kid, you’re just being dragged along by the family. You don’t have your own motor. I knew as they years went by, it would be his story and everyone else would become supporting characters.

The music you chose is such an important aspect of the film. Why did you decide to set “Boyhood” to a soundtrack rather than, say, a traditional score?

RL: I had to work through so many ideas to get this film where I wanted it to be. You couldn’t really impose anything on this film, so a score really didn’t work. I wanted songs that would evoke that period and make them from the characters’ point of view.

Ellar, watching the finished product for the first time, did you recognize all the songs Richard uses? I mean, you were only six years old when Coldplay’s “Yellow” came out, which is how the film opens.

EC: Not all of it. I think the music was chosen because it was popular and people resonate with it. It marks that time and might remind you of something. Later on, some of it is more of the things that I remember, but a lot of it is like, “Oh, that’s that song I heard on TV.”

Something that really struck me was how you capture how easily people come in and out of each other’s lives. One day they’re there, and the next day they’re gone.

RL: Yeah, I mean sometimes people move and you never see them again. I wanted this film to feel like a remembrance of the present. You mean to keep in touch, but you never really do.

Do you think that’s how things are going to be for you in real life, Ellar? I mean, people move on. Are you they type of person who signs friends’ yearbooks at the end of the year with things like “Keep in touch” and other phrases like that?

RL: Ellar is not the guy to ask about that.

EC: (Laughs) Yeah, my life has been very bizarre. Yeah, that definitely is the case. There are people who you spend all this time with and then suddenly you never see them again. It’s just how things are. It’s very different for me because I’ve lived in Austin my whole life and everyone I know lives here. Even if someone leaves my life in a direct sense, they’re still around.


Did you ever think as another summer rolled around, you didn’t want to work on the film anymore?

EC: I don’t remember ever not wanting to do it. As I got older, [Richard] made me more of a collaborator on the process. I just became more excited and less passive. I mean, when you’re young, even if you think something is cool, you really don’t know how to engage.

RL: Yeah, a film production is pretty overwhelming, especially for a kid. As you educate yourself and know what everyone else is doing, Ellar became more comfortable and a bigger part of it.

How does it feel watching yourself grow up on screen like that? It must be surreal.

EC: (Laughs) It’s unspeakably surreal.

RL: Yeah, not a lot of people have experienced this. People have been in documentaries like this, but not in [a feature film].

EC: Yeah, how does one witness one’s self aging? I get to do it to a certain extent.

RL: Ethan and Patricia have their own version of aging in the film. But you and Loreli have a full-on, growing-up, maturity thing that’s unique.


Ellar, do you see yourself in Mason. Is that you? Are you acting?

EC: It’s very much both. It goes back and forth a lot, especially as the character gets older. I’m more conscious and can craft my ideas. That’s the weird thing. There are moments that are very much me and moments that aren’t so much.

RL: Just like any actor, you’re creating a parallel character and finding your way emotionally into a character that is created that isn’t you. That’s what we wanted to do every year. Any good actor gives all of themselves to a role.

So, Richard, any chance you go into another 12-year production and return to SXSW 2026 and premiere “Manhood?”

RL: (Laughs) I don’t know about that. I was sort of on this grid for years 1-12 for this one – like first through 12th grade. I’m not sure what the next 12 years would look like.

Would you consider revisiting the Before series and making a fourth film somewhere down the line?

RL: You know, it would be cool to do something really conceptual and take 30 years off and then come back and do a fourth one. That just might be my fate.

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★ Fat & Happy: Watermelon Feta Salad with Spicy Vinaigrette http://gozamos.com/2014/08/fat-happy-watermelon-feta-salad-with-spicy-vinaigrette/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/fat-happy-watermelon-feta-salad-with-spicy-vinaigrette/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:37:24 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43603 image

Looking for a super fast, super delish summer salad? This is it! It isn’t new, and I didn’t originally create it, but I put my own spin on it with the addition of the mint and extra pepper.

One of the keys to this salad is to spend the money on a REALLY GOOD block of feta cheese. It will make a difference.

Fresh, sweet, creamy, crunchy and a good dash of spice — this is your new go-to salad!

Happy Healthy Tip: Watermelon is like a tomato in that it’s loaded with lycopene, which has great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits!


Watermelon Feta Salad with Spicy Vinaigrette

  • medium-sized,seedless watermelon
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh mint
  • Coarse salt

Whisk together:
olive oil, lime, vinegar, shallots and peppers

watermelon and feta into large cubes

Layer the arugula, watermelon and feta. Drizzle the dressing over each layer

Tear fresh mint and thyme over the top

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★ Artist Profile: From the Streets of D.F. to Chicago http://gozamos.com/2014/08/artist-profile-from-the-streets-of-d-f-to-chicago/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/artist-profile-from-the-streets-of-d-f-to-chicago/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 19:43:25 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43590 Gran Om

Mexico City artist Omar Inzunza—also known as Gran Om—never set out to be a poster artist. Having worked in a variety of mediums, Inzunza first tried his hand at graphic design when he volunteered to design an album cover for a friend. The experience quickly spiraled into a style rooted in Soviet and German propaganda, an attempt to reclaim the art for social movements, for the young and for the streets.

“What I like about it is the game,” Inzunza says. “Playing with an image and throwing out a message to see what the repercussions are, to see if it resonates with people, and if they can appropriate it for themselves.”

So Inzunza has taken a break from the packed, stressful streets of D.F. to bring his work to Chicago for his first U.S. exhibition—and to talk to Gozamos about his work, Mexican art and the role of solidarity.

Be sure to catch Gran Om tonight, from 6-10PM at Cobalt Studio, where he’ll be exhibiting some of his propaganda-inspired poster art.


Tell us a bit about your exhibition, as well as your plans for your time in Chicago.
The exposition is going to be a review of posters that talk about certain situations in Mexico. They’re posters I’ve worked on and that have circulated [in Mexico] and that are going to be on display for the first time in Chicago.

I’m excited to work with artists from Chicago. I’ve gotten a positive reception from local artists, and they have opened their doors to me and recognized what I’m doing. I still have a long way to go to improve and to learn. And I get to see all this amazing work from people in Chicago and see works that in other circumstances that I wouldn’t see. It shows me how far I can take my art. There’s also an opportunity for me to paint a mural on a wall along 18th Street, and I’d like to paint a mural of Palestine, taking advantage of how relevant the theme is right now. We may also have another mural in the works.

What is the role of politics in your graphic work?
My work has some political undertones for obvious reasons. But this exhibition isn’t explicitly political. There are posters that have political connotations, but more than political, they’re humanist. If you’re discussing these themes, inevitably you touch on political issues. You can’t be indifferent. But it’s not like I’m constantly looking to include political slogans. I think that social and humanitarian concerns are just inevitably also political.

How did you first become interested in social and political themes?
As a kid, my reference points in terms of social concerns were, without a doubt, rap music and all of African American culture. That was a really strong influence for me. While all my classmates were listening to other types of music, rock like Metallica and Guns N’ Roses and all that, I happened to have the opportunity to hear rap projects from the ’80s. It was a really combative era of rap and for the African American people. It was very politicized. So at age 10 I found authors like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Angela Davis and a whole movement that to me seemed super forceful and powerful. And all of that provoked an interest in social issues for me. Thanks to rap, I later encountered this combative and libertarian spirit around the Latin American movements, and tried to understand more about where I was: Mexico. But I attribute it 100 percent to that era of rap that was true to its political roots.

What kind of reactions has your graphic work received in Mexico?
It’s been a surprise for me because, as I told you, I had no intention of dedicating myself to graphic arts. If there’s one thing about my work, it’s that people turn to look at it, and they appropriate it. So it’s been curious that people have had such a positive reaction to it. I release a poster, and that same day—I don’t want to exaggerate, but in local terms, in Mexico, in D.F.—people have a reaction. They appropriate it for themselves, and they start to ask for more work. So, little by little, my graphic arts are starting to demand more of my attention and concentration and energy.

How do the themes in your work apply beyond the Mexican context?
In the end, the posters communicate something a lot more important than just specific instances. The posters I selected for the exhibition are a discourse that could be understood by anyone because they speak in general terms about different issues, a state of consciousness that is universal. I try to make messages that aren’t just things Mexicans will understand, messages that can be captured anywhere in the world. And I’ve had the opportunity to have people outside of the Spanish-speaking world—because the posters are in Spanish—know and feel how the works apply to their own realities.

We all have certain issues that we care about, and we want to give them visibility in other parts of the world. So it’s not specifically important that people in the U.S. see what I’m doing. Because I try not to be nationalist, but more universal. I want people who see it in Africa to feel it resonates with them, but also in the U.S., and in Chile, and so on.

I’m very influenced by the Zapatista movement. I lived for some years in Chiapas. And Zapatismo in a way formed me in moral terms, in terms of my ideals and values. It molded my character and my perspective on many things in life. And the Zapatistas have a phrase: that it’s one world in which many worlds fit. So that’s along the lines of what I’m trying to communicate with my graphic art. There should be no a difference between what’s happening in Palestine, in New Orleans, or in Chiapas. And it’s not that we always have to be aware of what’s happening in every place, but when you become sensitive to it, you have a certain degree of solidarity. And that encourages people on the other side of the world.

What else are you working on?
What’s taken most of my time and energy this year has been my graphic work. So because of that, I’ve been distancing myself little by little from producing movies. But I’m still involved in these documentary projects in Mexico, and I have one that’s a project of video clips called “Videoclip y discurso.” What I’d like to do is drive certain musical projects in Mexico—not only in D.F., but around the country—that are politically and socially conscious and express that in their songs. And what I’m trying to do is promote them, little by little, as much as is possible. Because there are resources and money involved that these groups don’t have and that, most of the time, I have to put the resources in myself.

The most important project of everything that I’ve done is one that will open in September called “Protesta.” For that project, I invited about 16 Mexican singers to make a song that vindicates protest, because right now there’s a context of repression in Mexico and a criminalization of protest. So that’s taken a lot of my time.

What’s the art scene like in Mexico?
In Mexico, it’s funny because there really isn’t an independent art scene. It has a lot to do with economics. There are a lot of people making art, trying to do things. But sooner or later, they stop doing it because their first priorities are the essentials. So little by little, they stop working on their creative projects to go into a traditional job, to take care of their families.

I see that my close compañeros start distancing themselves from their projects to live day to day, find a job, pay rent. All those concerns in a country like Mexico—it makes it twice as hard. Because on the other hand, artists in Mexico can’t live from their work. It’s a reality that’s very depressing, but it’s so true. So they make these incredible works, but they don’t have the mobility because there aren’t people who buy art in Mexico for the same economic reasons. There’s not much of a culture of art consumption. And on top of that, if the themes of your work are political or social, it’s worse. Because the art institutions and state infrastructures that decide what’s culture and what’s not, what’s art and what isn’t art—well, it’s not direct censorship, but they won’t fund you, they won’t support you. And it’s the same thing with the people who are able to collect art. They’re indifferent to your work. So it’s very difficult.

But people are trying, and I think it’s a good moment to find strategies to maintain a scene and be able to live off your work. I’ve been very fortunate because I can live from other things. My job that generates income is something else, so I can finance my personal projects. It’s twice the work, but I try.


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★ President Obama on Police Shooting of Unarmed Teen in Ferguson: Was it enough? http://gozamos.com/2014/08/president-obama-on-police-shooting-of-unarmed-teen-in-ferguson-was-it-enough/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/president-obama-on-police-shooting-of-unarmed-teen-in-ferguson-was-it-enough/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:38:50 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43583 feat

An unarmed black teen was killed by police days before beginning college. What has followed is five days of protests, police in riot gear and armored trucks releasing tear gas and rubber bullets, and Anonymous releasing the name and photo of the police officer that allegedly shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. This afternoon President Obama finally spoke on the situation in Ferguson. What do you think of his statement? Was it enough?


“…I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country as police have clashed with people protesting. Today I’d like us all to take a step back and think about how we’re going to be moving forward.

This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who’s been following and been in communication with his team. I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground. The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the attorney general that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done.

I also just spoke with Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri. I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now’s the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened and to find a way to come together going forward. He is going to be traveling to Ferguson. He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that working together, he’s going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way.

Of course, it’s important to remember how this started. We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. He was 18 years old, and his family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities, including the police, have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death and how they are protecting the people in their communities. There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.

Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority. I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law, basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest, a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us, and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.
So now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. And I’ve asked that the attorney general and the U.S. attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward. They will be reporting to me in the coming days about what’s being done to make sure that happens.”

Read the full statement here from The Washington Post.

[Photo: Flickr/Dignidad Rebelde]

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★ Interview: Danay Suárez http://gozamos.com/2014/08/interview-danay-suarez/ http://gozamos.com/2014/08/interview-danay-suarez/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 15:00:51 +0000 http://gozamos.com/?p=43576