Voice of the Day

February 18, 2009

“If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

– Lila Watson

Willie Colón to release new album

February 17, 2009


A new Willie Colón album is certainly a noteworthy event these days.

The new record will have great traditional Puerto Rican music along with some extended jams and a tribute to Hector Lavoe.

I will be getting this music right away!


Willie Colón: ‘El Malo’ strikes back
By Angela González and Maite Junco

More than a decade after his last CD release, and an immersion lesson in digital technology, salsa legend Willie Colón is back with a new album.

In between his latest recording, “El Malo, Vol. 2: Prisioneros del Mambo,” and 1998’s “Demasiado Corazón,” Colón devoted himself to touring and city politics — far from the mixing studio where he last worked with tapes.

“It took me a while to be ready, but once I got used to the new technology, which is like a word processor, I added a lot of details, sound levels,” says the Bronx Boricua. “It looks simple from afar, but it’s complicated.”

The result is 13 songs — some with Colón’s trademark social message — that mix salsa with plena (“El Brujo”), bomba (“Mucha Leña Pa’l Fuego”), son, 1970s descarga and even some urban music, a combo of genres he calls his “Afro-Boricua rhythm.”

“In this album, I play various trumpet and trombone solos, I sing and even do the chorus of some songs,” he explains. “Also, there are various of my own arrangements and compositions. I was able to do a bit of everything.”

The 58-year-old Colón, who has worked with Rubén Blades, Celia Cruz and Héctor Lavoe and whose name is synonymous with the heyday of salsa, retakes the name of his first album, “El Malo,” from 1967.

He also breaks with today’s music rule that songs should not exceed four minutes “so they are played on the radio,” he says.

Actually, nine of the songs in “Prisioneros del Mambo” break the barrier. “Four minutes is not really enough to develop the musical stories that I want to create,” he says.

Released on his own label, Lone Wolf, the CD is on sale on Amazon, in local music stores and at http://www.williecolon.com.

He hopes it will mark a new beginning for his live performances.

“It would be a gift to be able to play a new repertoire, because where I go, people have the list of what they want to hear. They ask for ‘El Gran Varón,’ ‘La Murga,’ and if you want to play something new, they want to stone you.”

A critic of the “El Cantante” movie because it focused too much on the “tragedy’ of Lavoe’s life and addictions and not his music, Colón includes his own tribute to his friend in the CD.

Nearly 14 minutes long, the “Héctor Lavoe Medley” runs through the classics “El Cantante,” “Periódico de Ayer,” “Todopoderoso” and “La Banda.”

“I wanted to do something fitting,” he says. “I feel I have the right to do it because I wrote the music to all these songs.”

An adviser to Mayor Bloomberg on media and Latino entertainment issues, Colón has run various times for public office. The last time, he was a candidate for Public Advocate in the 2001 Democratic primary.

He told the Daily News he wanted to do this album “before I hang up my trombone.”

“I don’t know the exact date, but it’s a matter of time,” he said.

And from politics?

“They are not getting rid of me yet,” he says with a laugh. “I want to stay active.”


Cartoon of the Day

February 17, 2009


Two Judges Admit Jailing Kids For Cash

February 17, 2009

What a sickening news item.

These judges, though, are in the grand tradition of the american injustice system. You can be sure that this business venture involved selective repression of Blacks and Latinos.

Corrupt judges paid to detain youths in private jails

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Two former judges in Pennsylvania have admitted to receiving more than 2.6 million dollars in pay-offs from companies that run private prisons for sending them minors for detention or disciplinary camps.

The admissions, which were made by judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan in a plea agreement filed in federal court last week, has sparked protests by outraged parents and relatives of youths whose cases were handled by the judges.

In the plea agreement, Ciavarella and Conahan admitted they “abused their position … by secretly deriving more than 2,600,000 (dollars) in income … in exchange for official actions.”

Those actions included “entering into agreements guaranteeing placement of juvenile offenders with PA Child Care, LLC (and) facilitating the construction of juvenile detention facilities,” according to the document.

Pennsylvania Child Care and Western Pennsylvania Child Care also stood to make tens of millions of dollars from the scheme, the plea document said.

They were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States.

The Juvenile Law Center, an advocacy organization for youths in trouble with the law, will file complaints from several dozen families who learned that their child was unjustly detained, a spokesman told AFP Monday.

Some families have filed complaints separately.

More than 5,000 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 were found guilty between 2002 and 2007 when the judges were active in Luzerne county, an impoverished former mining area where the majority of residents are white.

Of those, more than 2,000 were ordered sent to detention, said Marie Roda, a spokeswoman for Juvenile Law Center.

Many were from families with little money or education, which made them “easy targets,” she said.

“A lot of them didn’t have lawyers and when they asked for a public defender and they were told it would be weeks to wait,” she said.

The judges face at least seven years in prison under the plea agreement. But the federal judge hearing their case could sentence them to up to 25 years in prison.

A decision is not expected for several months.

“Families have been calling non-stop since this came out but not all of the families have signed onto the suit yet,” Roda said.

“We don’t know how many families it’s going to be. We know some of them are not going to file. They just want it to go away, they just want to let it go,” she said.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday named a special judge from outside the area to review all the cases tried by the tainted judges.

The cases include those of a youth detained for nine months for stealing a four-dollar jar of spices, and a 13-year-old who was sent to “boot camp” for several weekends for exploring an abandoned building.

In many cases, youths were sent to prisons far from their families, often against the recommendation of probation officers.