There are some friends that you can only keep up with through their press releases. That’s my friend Phillip Rodriguez of Los Angeles. Maybe we can chat up an interview for Eclectique916. Phillip is also one of the most talented documentarians I know. His latest (at least what’s completed and on the air) is “Brown Is the New Green” featuring comedian George Lopez. It’s broadcasting on PBS during Hispanic Heritage month. The official PBS title is “Brown Is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream.” It wouldn’t be PBS without a colon followed by an extended title..

For me George Lopez’s funniest moment was his one-man stand-up “Why You Crying.” I got the DVD as a Christmas gift. When I saw it, I laughed my head off realizing “It’s not just a Mexican thing.”


There will never be another. When Celia reigned Salsa soared. I consider myself blessed to have seen Celia Cruz perform live and in person twice in my life. Once was a free concert in Malcolm X/Meridian Park with Tito Puente for the Latin Festival. We were bopping next to several guys who drove down from Philadelphia for the festival. They were a little drunk but funny as hell chanting “Celia, Celia, Celia.” It was electric.

The second concert was at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium after Tito Puente’s death. Jose Alberto (“el Canario”) stepped in to lead the band. They didn’t miss a beat. Alberto did a set. It was like watching Jackie Wilson with a Latin beat.

After Celia’s death, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History mounted an exhibit dedicated to her style, music, and career. Opening night was the best party the Smithsonian has ever thrown (at least one I’ve been invited to). Live, recorded, or posthumous, Celia is electric.

“Celia: The Queen” is a film by Joe Cardona & Mario de Varona. There will be a free screening October 9 at 7 PM at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, 250 Bedford Park Blvd, West Bronx, NY followed by a discussion with her percussionist, Johnny Pacheco, her niece Celia Cody, and Dr. William Rodriguez, principal of the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music. The event is co-sponsored by Latino Public Broadcasting, the National Black Programming Consortium, The Celia Cruz School of Music and the Lehman Center.

Celia Cruz and other Latin music artists wil be featured in the PBS special mini-series “Latin Music USA” which premieres October 12 (check local listings). I’ll be floating down memory lane with old friends when they get to the Salsa part. Check local listings for all these shows.

RIO GETS IT – The 2016 Summer Olympic Games
This was not a surprise for me.

Both the President, Michelle Obama, and Oprah made personal appearances and pitches for Chicago, their home town. But even that star power couldn’t convince the Olympic international committee. Perhaps, as Markos of Daily Kos pointed out on his Midday open thread, this could have something to do with the decision (from Air America):

America’s visa processing issues have been well-publicized throughout much of the world, with some tourists waiting six months or more to have a 10 minute appointment with a visa examiner in an embassy or consulate to visit America on a vacation. Business visas or those for cultural ambassadors, like artists and athletes, are similarly problematic. Many applicants complain that the system is opaque at best and a crap shoot at worst, with few guidelines provided for applicants and rejections issued pro forma.

The Wall Street Journal speculates that Chicago’s loss stems has more to do with the heavy European membership at the IOC and Latin American IOC members lining up behind Rio; however, the visa issue has been a growing problem since new requirements were issued after 9/11. Perhaps the Chicago loss will provide some much-needed political impetus to finally spur legitimate discussions of political reform.

As the saying goes – 80% of success is just showing up.

Oh, well. I felt the breezes shifting waaay down south when I learned Rio made the final 4. The U.S. has hosted two Olympic games in the last 25 years (Los Angeles 1984; Atlanta 1996). The Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games will be the first hosted on the South American continent. Other cities up for hosting the event included Tokyo (out on the 2nd vote) and Madrid.

According to press reports crowds erupted in celebration in Rio. No surprise there either.