Elegía de América

June 30, 2007

Elegía de América

América sin más nombre que tu solo nombre
sin más hoy que el que nos dejaron,
crisol de tristeza, fragua de la alegría.

Tierra de los diaguitas, incas, toltecas, mapuches,
pampas, matacos, tehuelches, sioux, chiuanos , kaiapos
no quedan más que memorias de sus lejanos tambores.

“América de los americanos, América de todo el orbe”
continente donde mezclamos, las sangres y los amores
indios, colonos, conquistadores; hoy somos tu sal y tu siembra.

América de Walt Whitman, Neruda, Vallejo,
Luis Franco, Martí, Javier Heraud.

Suelo de la desnutrición, los caudillos y los esclavos;
horizontes del horizonte, las “nuevas Indias y “el cabo”.

Amétrica conectada con el pasado y oriente,
la de la coca, el peyolt, la chicha y el pescado.

Comarcas del Machu Pichu, del Titicaca y el Ande.

La de la cruz y la espada, de mitos y de leyendas,
de brujos y sacrificios, de “civilización” y de mártires.

América de Tupac Amaru hollada por la tortura
los soles y los quebrantos, la muerte y los centenarios.

Elegía de la esperanza, fénix de razas y llantos,
letanía de tantos hombres, América de antepasados.

América con la ilusión de la ciudad de los Césares,
el oro se lo llevaron y no quedan más que sueños
para escribir este canto.

– Guillermo Ibáñez

These coloreds don’t run

June 30, 2007

Michael Stuart brings salsa into 21st century

June 30, 2007

Michael Stuart brings salsa into 21st century

By Ed Morales

Last year, Michael Stuart’s “Back to da Barrio” employed an innovative strategy – he picked several major reggaetón hits and did conventional salsa versions of them.

So a song like Boricua Boys’ “Mayor Que Yo” gets its dembow rhythms trimmed off, replaced by a salsa piano tumabao, and a new tropical sound came into being. Now Stuart is back with “Sentimiento de un Rumbero” (Machete/Universal), an album that continues this innovative young singer’s quest to usher mainstream salsa into the 2st century.

Full Article

Voice of the Day

June 29, 2007

“Alliance: In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted into each others’ pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third”

– Ambrose Bierce

Iraq by the numbers

June 28, 2007

Click on the article link for the rest of the grim statistics that give a fuller picture of the reality on the ground in Iraq, the reality of a lost war and the amount of death and destruction that has been brought upon the people of Iraq as a result.

Iraq by the Numbers
Surging Past the Gates of Hell
By Tom Engelhardt

Sometimes, numbers can strip human beings of just about everything that makes us what we are. Numbers can silence pain, erase love, obliterate emotion, and blur individuality. But sometimes numbers can also tell a necessary story in ways nothing else can.

A caveat about numbers: In the bloody chaos that is Iraq, as tens of thousands die or are wounded, as millions uproot themselves or are uprooted, and as the influence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s national government remains largely confined to the four-square mile fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, numbers, even as they pour out of that hemorrhaging land, are eternally up for grabs. There is no way most of them can be accurate. They are, at best, a set of approximate notations in a nightmare that is beyond measurement.

Here, nonetheless, is an attempt to tell a little of the Iraqi story by those numbers:

Iraq is now widely considered # 1 — when it comes to being the ideal jihadist training ground on the planet.

Iraq is # 2: It now ranks as the world’s second most unstable country, ahead of war-ravaged or poverty-stricken nations like Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Congo, and North Korea, according to the 2007 Failed States Index, issued recently by the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine.

Number of American troops in Iraq, June 2007: Approximately 156,000.

American military dead in the surge months, February 1-June 26, 2007: 481.

American military dead, February-June 2006: 292.

Number of attacks on U.S. troops and allied Iraqi forces, April 2007: 4,900.

Percentage of U.S. deaths from roadside bombs (IEDs): 70.9% in May 2007; 35% in February 2007 as the surge was beginning.

Percentage of Iraqis now living on less than $1 a day, according to the UN: 54%.

Number of Iraqis held in American prisons in their own country: 17,000 by March 2007, almost 20,000 by May 2007 and surging.

Average number of Iraqis who died violently each day in 2006: 100 — and this is undoubtedly an underestimate, since not all deaths are reported.

Full Article

Para la paz

June 23, 2007

Para la paz

Será cuando la luna se despida del agua
con su corriente oculta de luz inenarrable.

Nos robaremos todos los fusiles,

No hay que matar al centinela, el pobre
sólo es función de un sueño colectivo
un uniforme repleto de suspiros
recordando el arado.
Dejémosle que beba ensimismado su luna y su granito.

Bastará con la sombra lanzándonos sus párpados
para llegar al punto.

Nos robaremos todos los fusiles,

Habrá que transportarlos con cuidado,
pero sin detenerse
y abandonarlos entre detonaciones
en las piedras del patio.

Fuera de ahí, ya sólo el viento.

Tendremos todos los fusiles
No importará la escarcha momentánea
dándose de pedradas con el sudor de nuestro sobresalto,
ni la dudosa relación de nuestro aliento
con la ancha niebla, millonaria en espacios:
caminaremos hasta los sembradíos
y enterraremos esperanzadamente
a todos los fusiles
para que una raíz de pólvora haga estallar en mariposas
sus tallos minerales
en una primavera futural y altivarepleta de palomas.

– Roque Dalton García

Music Video of the Week

June 22, 2007

Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit

Friend or faux

June 22, 2007

Semper Fi: One Marine’s Journey

June 22, 2007

Jeff Key stands out — six feet four, square-jawed with a quiet authority that is tempered by an easy Southern drawl. Born in rural Alabama and schooled in the Church Of Christ, he is a true believer in God and in Country.

Key is a Marine.

Key is also gay.

SEMPER FI: ONE MARINE’S JOURNEY is the story of Jeff Key, a kid from Alabama, who set out for Hollywood where he found freedom, acceptance and deep friendships.

This new-found acceptance gave him the courage — at thirty-four — to join the Marine Corps Reserve only to find his life again transformed in the wake of 9/11. After those terrible events — knowing he could get out of the service by telling his superiors who he really was – Key decided to go to war for the country he loved.

Once in Iraq, Key’s heart was broken by what he saw.

Despite his patriotism and his commitment to serve, his deeply felt ideals could not and would not allow him to support the conflict.

Through journals and his own in-country home movies, Key traverses the American experience in Iraq. He records the little moments of war and the quiet moments when friendships are made and when strangers meet across vast cultural divides. However, he also reveals his feelings about hiding amongst friends and trying to keep up an illusion for what he believed was a just cause.

His growing disillusionment with the war soon becomes overwhelming.

Finally, when he makes the decision to reveal his homosexuality, Key becomes true to himself. Back home, he uses his war journals to create a one-man play that never flinches from what it meant to be Gay and at war — revealing the dignity and power of his experience.

Framed by Eyes of Babylon, Key’s award-winning, critically-acclaimed, one-man show, the documentary SEMPER FI: ONE MARINE’S JOURNEY reexamines the events that brought him to his life-altering decisions.

Movie Website

Fania Newsletter – June 2007

June 22, 2007

June 2007 FANIA Newsletter

Fania: News and Updates

A Hot, FANIA summer!

It’s an exciting time for us at FANIA—a brand new batch of hard hitting, summer releases is bound to captivate a new generation of music aficionados. Here are some upcoming highlights:

Just in case you’ve been living on a desert island, the much-anticipated Héctor Lavoe Hollywood biopic El Cantante, starting Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopes—will be hitting movie screens across the globe in August. To commemorate this special occasion, Fania will release El Cantante: The Originals, a career retrospective of the legendary Puerto Rican singer.

The album will feature all the songs included in the Jennifer Lopez produced film, plus an exclusive remix of “Mi Gente” by Louie Vega—the celebrated DJ from Masters at Work and Lavoe’s nephew. Stay tuned for more details on the film El Cantante by visiting us on the web at faniarecords.com

Moving on, the exclusive STARBUCKS album, Salsa Explosion is a collection of the best tracks from Fania’s renowned catalog. This album features 15 classic songs from the greatest players of the Fania family, including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe and Ray Barretto. The new compilation will make a perfect gift for those looking to take their first steps into the deep grooving world of salsa.

Now let’s take a bold step into the future with FANIA LIVE 01:From The Meat Market, featuring the skills of New York City’s DJ Rumor. The LIVE series incorporates new elements of dance music from the greatest DJ’s in the world and completely re-imagines the FANIA sound for the 21st century.

The journey begins with DJ Rumors’ seamless fiesta mix of 20 Fania classic cuts—an innovative way to re-experience the one and only FANIA sound.

Fania History:

1975: The Year Héctor Lavoe Released His Solo Debut.

Did you know the album La Voz marked a new and electrifying phase for Héctor Lavoe’s illustrious career?

Yes, by 1974 Héctor Lavoe was known for his role as the lead singer for the best selling Willie Colón salsa orchestra—scoring hits like “Che Che Cole” and “Abuelita”. Even so, Lavoe’s first solo effort came to fruition when an over-exhausted Willie Colón decides to abdicate his role as bandleader in 1974.

Taking over from Colón, Héctor Lavoe became the new orchestra leader and work began on the flawless La Voz (The Voice) in 1975. The new album was produced and arranged by none other than Willie Colón—who remained a life-long friend of Lavoe.

The record featured some of the most beloved songs from Lavoe’s career. Especially important, was the inclusion of the Johnny Pacheco penned “Mi Gente” (My People) arguably the most popular song in the Lavoe repertoire—a rallying cry for Latino unity.

The record also features the vocals by a young Rubén Blades, who supplied the chorus to most of the songs.

Lavoe’s debut was received to widespread critical and commercial acclaim: with fans and critics marveling over Lavoe’s melodious, powerful, velvet voice. What’s more, La Voz went on to win “Best Male Vocalist” and “Best Orchestra” in the respected Latin NY magazine and the 1975 debut album remains to this day, the perfect document of Lavoe’s status as the king of NYC salsa.

Standout Tracks on La Voz: “El Todopoderoso” “Rompe Saraguey” and “Mi Gente”

Featured Artist:

La Lupe “Queen of Latin Soul”

No other female artist revolutionized the sixties music scene like the incomparable La Lupe. Born 1939 in Cuba—Lupe Victoria Yoli Raymond (a.k.a. La Lupe) is regarded as the “Queen of Latin Soul, ” a title given to her by the legendary Tito Puente..

Throughout the 1960’s La Lupe acted as the lead singer for the Puerto Rican bandleader Tito Puente, selling a then unheard of, 500,000 copies of their debut La Excitante La Lupe Canta con El Maestro Tito Puente in 1965.

The American and Spanish media loved La Lupe; she preformed hits like “Take It Easy” and “America” to adoring crowds at prestigious venues such as the Carnegie Hall and the Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The Cuban chanteuse’s recordings were punctuated by over top exclamations and inimitable style of intonation. Numerous fans were drawn to her “street talk” and also to her diva image.

La Lupe was one of the first Latin performers to bring a real sense of “high theater” to her live shows. Betrayal and loss were La Lupe’s favorite themes and with each performance she brought those dark, inner dramas to life—it was not uncommon for La Lupe to tear her clothes apart and to throw her shoes into the audience.

Unfortunately, La Lupe’s fortunes began to decline after Tito Puente fired the singer from his top selling orchestra. During the seventies, La Lupe released a series of albums, but she was never able to regain her 60’s era sales figures. After her death in 1992, La Lupe’s catalog was re-discovered by a new generation of fans. Her interpretation of “La Tirana” (The Tyrant) was included in the Pedro Almodovar film Woman In The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown. Top selling Artists, like the reggaetón diva Ivy Queen have cited La Lupe as major influence and an in-depth documentary by Ela Troyano will be premiering this September in the United States, PBS television stations.

Would La Lupe be surprised by all the ongoing attention to her work? Not at all, in 1971 she told Look magazine, “people like me because I live the life they secretly yearn to live.” After more than 15 years after her death, La Lupe remains the unquestionable Queen of Latin Soul.

Essential Album: They Call Me La Lupe

Featured Classic Album

Cruz and Colón: Only They Could Have Made This Album

It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when New York City salsa was considered by some to be a passing fad. Old timers thought the genre lacked the soul and flavor of the original tropical rumbas, boleros and guarachas. So in 1977, when an old-school chanteuse like Celia Cruz collaborated with salsa’s bad boy Willie Colón, salsa had a new level of credibility.

At the time of the recording, Colón was busy collaborating with Rubén Blades, but he found time to produce this hard-hitting salsa gem, and along the way revive the career of the great Celia Cruz.

The record’s strength was the variety of mixed musical styles. From the opening Brazilian samba of “Usted Abuso” (You Abused Me) to the funk horns of “Zambullete” (Submerged) the album finds Cruz stretching beyond her traditional repertoire. The highlight is the Johnny Pacheco’s “Pun Pun Catalu,” a shimmering number that showed Cruz at the height of her vocal abilities.

As for Colón the album gave great credibility to his genre, and he proved to his peers that he could work his production magic with legendary artists like Celia Cruz.

Stand Out Tracks:”Zambullete, “Burundanga” and Pun Pun Catalu”


1948-2007 Tito Gomes: singer La Sonora Ponceña, Ray Barretto
1941-2007 Hector Casanova: singer Johnny Pacheco orchestra, the Fania All Stars

New Releases June 2007
Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez Soy La Ley
Roberto Roena La Herencia
Charlie Palmieri La Herencia
Ismael Quintana La Herencia
Eddie Palmieri Molasses
Tommy Olivencia Introducing Lalo Rodriguez &Simon Perez
Roberto Roena Super Apollo
Fania Live 01//From The Meat Market
Angel Canales Sabor
Sonora Ponceña Sabor Sureño
Julio Castro Julio Castro y La Masacre
Estrellas De La Fania Vol. 2