Showing posts from October, 2016

Remembering Juan Gabriel: Jan. 7, 1950 - Aug. 28, 2016

by Richard Vásquez I remember my first conversation with Juan Gabriel. I sat across from him in the dining room at his house in El Paso, Texas. He was tired, he admitted to me, of touring in the US, and everywhere else for that matter. He said that people only saw him as a meal ticket, a way to get rich quick. He said plainly that if that was what I was trying to do, I should line behind every other promoter who could probably deliver more and what he was used to already. I asked him what he meant by that, and he took a sip from a glass of fresh tomato and ginger juice his homemaker Luisa, had just squeezed for us, and he began to recount his experience as a major touring act in Mexico, the US and Hispanic America. It was 1988, he was just realizing how big he had become. He was emerging as the voice of a generation of immigrants eager to make their mark in an America that was already beginning to feel the seismic shift of Latino immigration and native births. He told me abou

Celebrating Morrissey at 'Teatro Moz'

by Alicia Vargas This fall, Casa 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights was transformed into Teatro Moz —an evening of live music and theater celebrating “Mozlandia.” Now, Mozlandia is not a word this reviewer made up or pulled out of the air—to make it clear for any forthcoming, well-intentioned reviewers. The term was actually coined by Dr. Melissa Hidalgo, the Chicana Ph.D. and expert consultant for Teatro Moz. “Mozlandia” refers to the unique Chicano/a Moz fan-base Morrissey has amassed in his musical career throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond. In fact, Dr. Hidalgo’s forthcoming book Mozlandia: Morrissey Fans in the Borderlands , devotes an entire chapter to the birth and development of Teatro Moz in particular. The opening act at this year's staging of the East Side staple is a cheerful musical biography tracing history leading up to the birth and rise to fame of Steven Patrick Morrissey, presented as a dual timeline alongside what was happening in Mexican American E

Martin Espada's 'Vivas to Those Who Have Failed'

Review by Mike Sonksen Poet and professor Martin Espada’s latest book, Vivas to Those Who Have Failed , takes its title from a line in a Walt Whitman poem. Published by Norton, the 34 poems in this collection carry on the Whitmanian tradition of paying tribute to the everyday American and those who are usually in the shadows. Espada teaches at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and his register deftly oscillates between calls for social justice, cataloging 21st Century America and coping with the death of his father. Divided into five sections, the book is dominated by elegies, transcendent images and subtle humor simultaneously. The titles of the five sections also reveal his poetic aims: Part 1 is “Vivas to Those Who have Failed”; Part 2 is “Heal the Cracks in the Bell of the World”; Part 3 is “Here I Am”; Part 4 is “A Million Ants Swarming Through His Body”; and Part 5, “El Moriviví.” Part 5 is the cycle of poems dedicated to his father. The titles of the poems themselves