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This Week’s Music: Latino Icons

Now that you caught our Latino Icons rebroadcast, you can also listen to some of the music we featured in the show. Each week, we create an Spotify playlist like the one you see here. For more playlists, follow us on Spotify.
 

 

 

#1527 – Latino Icons

Latino icons are all around us, from stars like Anthony Quinn and Rita Moreno, to gathering places like San Bernardino’s Mitla Café. We take a look at these icons and their lasting legacies.

La Malinche: The Story of Mexico’s Eve

La Malinche, often referred to as “the mother of all mestizos” is one of the most controversial figures in Mexican history. She’s been called a traitor and a victim. She was a Nahua woman who acted as interpreter for the conquistadors in the early sixteenth century. She had a child with Hernan Cortes named Martín and he is often called the “first mestizo.” Mestizos are the mixed race people of Mexico that make up 60% of the country. Her legend led to the creation of the term “Malinchista.” A Malinchista is a traitor, or someone who denies their Mexican culture in favor of another.

But since the 1950s, female writers have been trying to reclaim and vindicate the story of La Malinche – not just in Mexico but also here in the U.S. Chicana writers relate to La Malinche. They too are stuck between two cultures: their Mexican heritage and the U.S. culture they live their daily lives in.

We look at who La Malinche was and what she has come to represent over time.

Anthony Quinn Remembered With New Mural

Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn was Hollywood’s first real Latino star, appearing in films like Lawrence of Arabia, Zorba the Greek and Viva Zapata! Thirteen years after his death, he remains an important icon in Hollywood—and now a new mural in Los Angeles is commemorating his career. Shara Morris looks back on Quinn’s life and impact.

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The mural “The Pope of Broadway,” at 242 S. Broadway.

 

 

Photo by Quim Llenas/Cover/Getty Images

Roberto Clemente: The Musical

Roberto Clemente, one of the all-time great players in Major League Baseball, is nothing short of a legend in Pittsburgh where he played for the Pirates for 18 consecutive seasons through the 1950’s, 60’s and into the 70’s. Throughout his career as an outfielder, he was awarded the Gold Glove twelve times, and at his last time at bat during a regular season game he tallied his 3,000th hit—a distinction only held by eleven other players in history at the time.

But the Puerto Rican-born all-star was not just an incredible player. The first prominent Afro-Latino in the league, he became equally as known for his humanitarian work, his intolerance towards racism within the baseball, and ultimately his kind-heartedness.

In Pittsburgh, composer and baseball fan Alki Steriopoulos has written a new musical called 21 about Clemente’s life and untimely death in 1972. Erika Beras went to see the musical and learn about the impact Clemente has had on Pirates fans and beyond.

Photo by Via Tsuji via Flickr.

The Infinite Dream of Chilean Pop Music

Before Augusto Pinochet took power in 1973, Chile was a poor country known for its rich folk traditions. During his reign, however, cultural expression was suppressed; Protest singer Victor Jarra was put to death a few days into the dictatorship. Villa Grimaldi, once a famous cultural center, was turned into a detention complex for dissidents. It wasn’t exactly that Pinochet wanted to destroy arts and culture, it’s that he wanted Chileans to make economic prosperity their top priority. But this came at a sharp creative cost.
For Chilean children of the 1980’s, the only window to the outside world was music and television imported from outside. Now that Chile has been opened to that world, it’s experienced a musical boom from those now grown-up children. But as Anne Hoffman explains, this has created a modern pop aesthetic that seems stuck in the past.

Correction: Augusto Pinochet was voted out of power in 1988, not 1991 as stated in this piece.

 

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Fans of Chilean pop singer Fakuta.

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Fakuta performing.

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Objects found in Fakuta’s apartment.

Chespirito: An Enduring Legacy

Anyone who grew up in Latin America knows Roberto Gomez Bolaños. They don’t know him personally, but he was, and still is, in the homes of millions of people everyday.

Bolaños, better known as Chespirito, is one of Latin America’s biggest television stars. His two TV shows, El Chavo del Ocho and El Chapulin Colorado were huge hits.

Even though El Chavo del Ocho ended production in 1992, it continues to carry cultural relevance.

Chespirito died at his home in Cancun, Mexico this past November at the age of 85.

We take a look at his enduring legacy.

ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images

The Restaurant that Inspired Taco Bell: The Mitla Café

Sometimes, a restaurant is more than a restaurant. The Mitla Café in San Bernadino, California has been a catalyst for social change since the 1930s. Cesar Chavez ate and political movements, like desegregation movements, were brainstormed there. It doesn’t hurt that their hard-shell tacos were tasty enough to inspire Taco Bell.

 

Friendship Park: A space on the border

For many families split by the US-Mexico border, a place called Friendship Park between San Diego and Tijuana is the only place where they can meet. But the park is open only a few precious times a year. We follow one family whose members try to find each other there.

Sabiduría: Rita Moreno weighs in on Insecurity

Rita Moreno, the first Latina to win an Oscar and one of the 12 people in the world to have received the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards), still gets insecure sometimes.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This Week’s Music: Rebels

Here’s the latest Spotify playlist we curated for the Rebels show. You can follow all the Latino USA playlists at our official Spotify site.

 

 

 

#1526 – Rebels

From an actress who stars in one of the most rebellious shows out today, Orange is the New Black, to the hidden Latino history of one of the most rebellious film genres, film noir – Latino USA explores stories from the road less traveled.

Selenis Leyva, Success with a Purpose

Actress Selenis Leyva makes the most out of small moments. She plays the character Gloria on the hit Netflix series Orange Is The New Black. With the raise of an eyebrow or the turn of her head, Leyva’s Gloria is full of attitude and opinion. Gloria is a fierce Latina, trying to survive in prison. And in real life, Leyva is just as passionate.  “When I think of a Latina, I think of a strong survivor and that’s what Gloria Mendoza is,” says Leyva.

She was born and raised in the Bronx, the daughter of a Dominican mother and a Cuban father. She began her acting career in Latino theater groups and comedy clubs in New York City, and very quickly felt what it was like to be pigeon caged in stereotypical roles. “There were many, many occasions where I felt that I was not given an opportunity because I was not fair-skinned,” she says.

It took her twenty years of struggling as an actress before her big break on “Orange”. In that time, however, her life experience has informed her role on the show her view of what it means to be a celebrity. In this extended interview, she opens up to Maria Hinojosa about the long winding road to fame, and what she plans to do with it now that she’s there.

 

Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for New York 

Cine Negro: Hispanic Contributions to Film Noir

One of the most rebellious… some call it a movement, others a genre, even a style of film is film noir. Our producer Antonia Cereijido is a huge Turner Classic Movie channel fan, and a classic movie fan in general. So she was very excited when she found out that Turner Classic Movies and Ball State University were teaming up to teach an online film noir class this summer. (If you are also a film noir fan or would like to learn more the class is still open. Click here for the link.)

While looking through tweets of fellow classmates she saw that the Museum of Modern Art is also celebrating film noir this summer by hosting a series of Mexican film noir films in July. (Click here for the link to that event.)

So Antonia will guide us through a short history of both the hispanic contributions to U.S. film noir and Mexican film noir.

Here are some clips:

 

Gilda (1936)

Rita Hayworth was actually born Margarita Carmen Cansino. She was the daughter of a Spanish immigrant.

 

Touch of Evil (1958)

Most film noirs are take place in urban settings – since places like cabarets and bars lend themselves to the seedy tone the films embody.

But the U.S./Mexico border was an attractive location too because it also welcomed the possibility of illegal activity and organized crime.

Orson Welle’s “Touch of Evil” is the most famous noir set on the border.

 

Border Incident (1949)

The film Border Incident is a great example of how film noir borrowed a lot from documentaries by giving a more realistic and immediate feeling to the film.

 

Distinto amanecer (1943)

Distinto Amanecer is considered by many the first Mexican film noir. It was directed by Julio Bracho and the entire film can be viewed on YouTube (unfortunately without subtitles)

 

La noche avanza (1951)

La noche avanza and En la palma de tu mano are both directed by Roberto Gavaldón who is considered the Mexican director who most developed film noir.

 

En la palma de tu mano (1950)

Spanish Speaking Students Opt Out of Standardized Tests

Across the country, several hundred thousand students have opted out of taking standardized tests this year. Many students and parents object to high stakes testing for philosophical or political reasons. But in Philadelphia, parents have a more immediate concern: their kids can’t understand them. About one in ten students in Philadelphia public schools is an English Language Learner, yet they’re expected to take the same tests in the same language as their English-speaking peers.

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