Latino USA

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#1416 – Music Lessons With Bill Cosby

It’s a special episode of Latino USA. The legendary Bill Cosby joins host Maria Hinojosa to talk about his love of salsa music and the musicians who made it. We learn about Tito Puente and other musicians who helped shape Latin jazz, and find out why calling the music “Salsa” might be all wrong in the first place. We reflect on how Mr. Cosby’s work welcomed Latinos and other immigrants to the American family. And we hear life lessons from a nearly 100-year-old Rumba player.

 

 

Irving Fields: Lessons In Longevity

Pianist and composer Irving Fields was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1915. When he traveled to Cuba as a young man he fell in love with Latin music, and became one of the foremost interpreters of American-style rumba in the early 20th century. Today he’s still kicking – and performing 6 nights a week in New York City. Fields shares with us his lessons of longevity.

 

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

 

 

 

#1415 – Moms, Drugs, And Rocanrol

Today on Latino USA, it’s all about Moms, Drugs, and Rock & Roll. Maria Hinojosa talks to leading Latina mami bloggers about why they’re ruling the web. Then, we talk to YouTube sensation Jorge Narvaez about his mother, who is in deportation proceedings. In drug-related news, we hear about efforts to stop teen drug smuggling and how prescription drugs are being brought across the Mexico border. We also take a look at the future of pot. And we rock out with the Kumbia Queers before getting a little wisdom from Gabriel García Márquez.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user doryfour.

Latina Mami Bloggers Talk Identity

Why are Latina mom bloggers so successful? Host Maria Hinojosa explores the power of being “ambicultural” with three blogueras who have managed to make names for themselves: Lorraine Ladish of Mamiverse, Melissa Bailey of Hungry Food Love, and Ruby Wright of Growing up Blackxican. They talk about cross-cultural appeal, what drew them to writing on the web, and the complications of corporate sponsorship. It’s an excerpt from Maria Hinojosa’s Hispanicize 2014 panel.

 

 

 

Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Jorge Narvaez: Youtube Star Turned Immigration Activist

One in four Latinos say they personally know someone who has been detained or deported by the federal government in the past year. For Jorge Narvaez, that someone is his mom, who is currently being detained in Arizona. Jorge became Youtube famous when he uploaded a video of him and his 6 year old daughter, Alexa, singing “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.”

 

 

Since then, they’ve been on the Ellen Degeneres Show, America’s Got Talent and have starred in a Hyundai commercial.

 

 

Jorge is using his social media platform to bring attention to his mom’s case, and to talk about the hundreds of thousands of mothers being held in immigration detention, most who have committed minor crimes or no crimes at all.

 

Photo courtesy of Jorge Narvaez

Teens: Don’t Become Drug Mules

Do teens smuggle drugs across the border? It appears so–the Department of Homeland Security is now holding lectures in schools like the one featured in this story from San Ysidro, California. Teens are being warned that drug cartels are looking for couriers, and that being a courier can have fatal consequences.

 

 Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Gawrelli

 

contributors1

es-amlo-mitinErin Siegal McIntyre is a photographer, writer, and a TV and web producer, and radio reporter. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Time magazine, Rolling Stone, O Magazine, Newsweek, and many other magazines and newspapers. She’s currently a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, and a 2012 Soros Media Justice Fellow.

 

 

 

 

Smuggling Prescription Drugs Across The Border

Drug smuggling tends to conjure up images of marijuana, cocaine or other illegal substances. But near the Texas-Mexico border, smuggling has taken a new turn. Ordinary citizens are bringing in legal prescription drugs that are far cheaper to buy in Mexico than the U.S., mostly for Americans who are simply too afraid to travel there. From the Fronteras desk, Lorne Matalon reports.

 Photo courtesy of Flickr user 121 Dilaudid

 

contributors1

matalon-photoLorne Matalon is the Fronteras Desk reporter based in Marfa, Texas at MarfaPublic Radio. He began reporting from Latin America in 2007 where he was based in Mexico City for The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and NPR member station WGBH, Boston.Lorne is a contributor to National Geographic’s online news service, where he has filed from Panama, Mongolia and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. His articles and photographs have appeared in the Boston Globe, the San Diego Union-Tribune, La Recherche (Paris) and The World Today (London) a publication of the international affairs organization Chatham House. He has produced several television documentaries, among them Brazil: Amazon War, Sudan: Freedom for Sale and Guantanamo.

 

 

America’s Addiction to the Drug War

We may very well be living in the age of legal marijuana. Twenty states allow the use of medical marijuana and two states fully legalized it for recreational use. Other states like New York and Oregon seem to be headed in the same direction. But marijuana is still illegal under federal law and is likely to remain so, despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement that he would support Congressional efforts to reform marijuana laws. To help make sense of the conflicting messages, host Maria Hinojosa spoke with drug war historian and author Kathleen Frydl about why marijuana is so vilified. Frydl says legalization efforts are halted by the US’s chronic addiction to the drug war.

 

 

Frydl_KathleenKathleen Frydl is an Assistant Professor of History at UC Berkeley. She received her PhD in history from the University of Chicago. She is the author of “The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973,” which explains how the federal approach to drug policy changed from largely being about regulating doctors and pharmacists and raising revenue to the punitive approach we see today. Her first book, “The GI Bill,” won the 2009 Louis Brownlow book award from the National Academy of Public Administration.

Kumbia Queers: Cumbia Is More Punk Than Punk

Six girl punk rockers got together one day and decided to start a side project, just for fun.

But Ali Gua Gua, the lead vocalist, refused to start another rock band. She believed rock had gotten too fancy, too conservative, and too macho.

So they decided to go form a cumbia cover band and call themselves las Kumbia Queers. Latino USA interviewed vocalists Ali Gua Gua and Juana Chang.

FlikrUserMontecruzFoto2

Kumbia Queers vocalists Ali Gua Gua (left) and Juana Chang (right). Ali and Juana also play the charango and the guiro, typical cumbia instruments. Photo by Flikr user Montecruz.

They released their first album, Kumbia Nena! in 2007, queering up classics like The Smith’s ‘Lovesong’ (‘Kumbia Dark’), Black Sabbath’s Iron Man (‘Chica de Metal’ or ‘Iron Girl’) and even Madonna’s ‘La Isla Bonita’ (“La Isla con Chicas”, or ‘The Island With Chicks’).

The side project became a hit in Latin America, and their interest in cumbia just kept growing. For their second album, La gran estafa del tropi-punk (‘The Great Swindle of Tropi-Punk’), the Kumbia Queers teamed up with Pablo Lescano, the “godfather” of Argentine cumbia villera, an urban style of cumbia born in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires. Lescano produced the album and mentored the Kumbia Queers in the ways of urban cumbia.

For their latest album, Pecados Tropicales (‘Tropical Sins’), they decided to go back to their DIY roots.

Like other queers before them, the Kumbia Queers have been out to disrupt the disruptors. They’ve gotten backlash from the very male-dominated Latin American rock community.

 

Kumbia Queers in concert. Photo by Flikr user Montecruz.

Kumbia Queers in concert. Photo by Flikr user Montecruz.

 

MAKING THEM ANGRY

“All the rockers started getting angry because we touched their precious The Cure or their precious Black Sabbath,” says Ali Gua Gua.  “In that way it’s good to find that playing cumbia is more punk than playing punk.”

They’ve also been booed off the stage with lesbophobic insults when opening for traditional cumbieros. But the Kumbia Queers thrive in the backlash. They’re used to being picked on for being different, queer, and the criticism fuels their punky spirit.

The Kumbia Queers took up the word queer as a rebellion against labels. But it’s not queer theory or queer issues that interest them. Politically, las chicas are very committed to changing the situation of women in Latin America. “I hope we encourage queer Latino women to do whatever they want to do,” says Ali Gua Gua.

In the US, different forms of cumbia play at parties and concert venues organized by queer Latinos. The Kumbia Queers’ message resonates with the queer Latino communities in California, Texas, Chicago and New York, where they visited on their 2014 US tour.

“We know it’s really hard for Latino people, they have to resist a lot,” says Juana Chang, vocalist and charango player. “People were really grateful for us being here because they had a little space of Latin Americanity.

Las Kumbia Queers are Ali Gua Gua and Juana Chang on vocals, Pat Combat-Rocker on the bass, Flor Linyera on the keyboard, Ines Pektor on the drums and Pilar Zombie on the guitar. Ali and Juana also play the charango and the guiro.

Photo courtesy of Kumbia Queers website

 

 

 

Celebrating Gabriel García Márquez

For this week’s sabiduría, or words of wisdom, we celebrate the work, legacy, and life of Gabriel García Márquez, who emerged from a Mexico City hospital earlier this week in delicate health. García Márquez is not only a Nobel-prize winning author and creator of a whole literary genre, but a former journalist. For those who want to learn to write, he is also a valuable teacher. Fuerza Gabo!

 

 

 Photo by Alejandra Vega/AFP/Getty Images

 

 

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