Monday, July 25, 2011

Puerto Rico: To Perceive Anything Else is Like an American Dream

"While teaching a college literature class in which I focused on colonization, post-colonial lit, Dominican students said Puerto Ricans had it easy. The Puerto Rican students got angry but they knew nothing about P.R., so they couldn't argue. I had to do the Puerto Rican history lessons and the Dominicans said "Oh, shit! You guys earned your citizenship!" -Odilia Rivera Santos FB Status

Indeed, what Puerto Ricans don't know can't hurt them. After all, it was 113 years ago, on July 25, 1898, that U.S ships landed in Guanica, Puerto Rico and the impression was that of greater things. As if Ancient Rome, in all its glory had re-emerged and planted its foot on the shores of the island promising to include it in its legacy. The great empire it was, but even the great Roman Empire came to a decline and fall. I would not wish upon such terms but would rather see a nation that could openly admit to its own transgressions. Unfortunately, saving face is of much greater concern. A cruelty, at the expense of millions, in light of worldly weakly appearance.

 Much can be said about the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico and so much has. Like the child that tells his story of abuse and goes totally ignored, Puerto Rico suffers its own story of being ignored. Puerto Rico's history is one of pain and suffering, of valor and sacrifice and of promises and misgivings. Sadly, 113 years later, it still remains a colony of the U.S. and the oldest colony in the world.

Nothing gained, much lost and so much potential. Unfortunately, colonialism has dominated the psyche of so many generations that to perceive anything else is like an American dream.

An Evening With Miguel and Friends

How wonderful. Indeed a late afternoon and evening very well spent. I am left with an undeniable feeling of want for more.

It was roughly two years ago when I and my wife walked through the door of the East Harlem Cafe and were quickly met by two individuals whom I had only met on Facebook.The cafe was crowded and not much room was left for sitting but it was these two individuals who promptly made sure we were seated. This simple action left an impression on me and, today, I am glad to call Papo 'Swiggity' Santiago and George 'Urban Jibaro' Torres friends.

What that evening led to was a peek into a world I only thought existed within the pages of books. Poetry, spoken word and free verse have since become a very important step forward in my attempt at self discovery and expression.

The late afternoon and evening which left me for want of more was one that paid homage to poet, writer and founding member of the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Miguel Algarín. The early gatherings, for poets and artists, in his apartment living room in the early 1970's paved the way to renting what is today the Nuyorican (affectionately called) on East 6th Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The evening was indeed for Miguel Algarín, who even as a man of his stature, had recently lost his lower East Side apartment, an apartment where he had lived since the '80s. Such is the case in the city of dreams but when writer and poet, Charlie Vasquez, heard of Algarín's plight, he quickly organized an amazing event to help benefit him.

This is what great stories are truly made of. A huge thank you to Charlie and to all the performers for making it an outstanding event.

You can still make a donation. Just click on the photo of Miguel Algarín below:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Once Upon a Time in Puerto Rico" a new Documentary

Until all colonialism is ended, the power of the imperialists and their rule over a colonized people cannot be stressed enough!

Indeed! It is for this reason that to the effects colonialism has had on the island of Puerto Rico need be repeated over and over again. Five hundred years and there are those who are so colonized that they fall to their knees when imperialist come calling. It is with the power of video, internet and other forms of social media that greater reach can be obtained when telling the story of Puerto Rico's colonial dilemma.

The latest project to make the attempt at raising awareness is one by director/producer Danny Ramirez. Ramirez' project is a documentary film entitled "Once Upon a Time in Puerto Rico".

The following video is courtesy the films Kickstarter page:

Support this project, make a pledge HERE.
Film project website--->
Coqui Jams: Artistic Expressions by Danny Ramirez

Sunday, July 17, 2011

José S. Alegría Santos

José S. Alegría Santos ,born July 17, 1887 in Dorado, Puerto Rico, was a teacher, journalist, painter and poet. He studied painting under renowned Puerto Rican artist Francisco Oller.

Alegría Santos earned a degree in law at Valparaiso University in Indiana in 1908. He was a Municipal judge in Manati, Puerto Rico, president of the Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista), a district representative in San Juan and a member the Puerto Rican Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Puertorriqueño).

He served as president of the Puerto Rican Society of Journalists from 1943 to 1945. He published many literary works and received numerous awards such as the Royal and American Order of Isabella the Catholic.

José S. Alegría Santos died in Santurce in 1965.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Bailar la Bomba con BombaYo

All critics aside, Bomba is a folk musical genre with influences coming largely from the african slaves that were brought to Puerto Rico. The rhythms and beats coming from the use of drums are just one component of this high energy music. In accompaniment,  there is always a dancer ready to move his/her body to every beat of the drum.

The Bomba was an important way for the slaves to express themselves as they forbidden to worship their own gods and practice their own religion. They incorporated the music in such a way that they were both able to still worship their gods and maintain spiritual strength.

In keeping the tradition alive and preserving the tradition of the Bomba, BombaYo, is deserving of some serious accolade. As BombaYo states in their website, aside from the word Bomba, the Yo in their name has several meanings, "Yo, is "I" in Spanish, or self - "I am Bomba" Yo, English slang to call one's attention, as in Yo', short in English from Your, "Your Bomba".

Thanks to Jose L. Ortiz aka Dr. Drum and Melinda Gonzalez, the group brings high energy to any performance venue. I have had the privilege of watching their performance and was not left disappointed other than for want of more. Visit their site here.

(Bomba via Music of Puerto Rico)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gilberto Concepción de Gracia

Gilberto Concepción de Gracia (July 9, 1909 – March 16, 1968) lawyer, journalist, author, politician and founder of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño -PIP)

PIP Bio..Por Gilberto Concepción Suárez

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"If we know ourselves better, then we will be prouder of who we are, what we have, and what we want to preserve.” - Ricardo E. Alegría

It is with great regret that we mourn the loss of another Puerto Rican cultural giant. Ricardo E. Alegria, cultural anthropologist and archeologist, passed on today July 7, 2011 but not before leaving us with a legacy. His life story, is a story that put pride in Puerto Rican culture. He will be sorely missed but his legacy is one deserving much accolade for years to come. Gracias....Don Ricardo E. Alegria (April, 14 1921- July 7, 2011)

Friday, July 1, 2011

This is not an abandonment but rather a step into different pastures. I have, recently, begun posting to a new site I have entitled, "A Pitirre, Released." The reasoning is quite simple. I would prefer to maintain this blog for longer posts, those more in tune with the Puerto Rican universe. While the new site (at tumblr), will contain some similar content, it will contain content that is shorter, consist of lines of poetry, spoken word, quotes, videos, etc.

My intro, to A Pitirre, Released...

The Pitirre (spanish for the Gray Kingbird), is a fierce little bird found in the southernmost eastern US to Central American and Caribbean regions. Although small, it is one to defend its territory against some serious intruders.
And so, it is now that the bird, within me, that had been caged, is released. Now free and defending its territory.

The mind will not be a part of the wasteland!