You have arroz con pollo y amarillos at the beach!
This is my second post of the week. Why another one, you would ask. Tuesday night at the MLB’s All Star Game, singer and actor Marc Anthony performed the song God Bless America in front of thousands of people in attendance in the stadium and millions watching on FOX. Even though I’m not a fan of the song, I understand his performance was good (as usual). After the performance, Twitter was full of people or haters if we may, complaining about the fact of a non-american singing such an important song in such an important sport.
I need to get something out of my chest before I give you a little bit of history about the songs and the performances through the years. Not every baseball fan believes in God, so for them the “God Bless Anything” is stupid. What about people whose god is not named God (hope this makes sense)? Also, the “America” part is intended for the United States, and if you attended your history classes, you know America is a huge continent from Alaska all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. Let’s say you believe in God and like MLB’s baseball (sport full of people from around the world) it would be awesome to include in the term America the whole continent. With that said, history class is about to start. So to you people who don’t know where Mark Anthony is from and who performed in previous years, this is for you.
Marc Anthony was born Marco Antonio Muñiz in NYC back in 1968. His parents are Boricuas who moved to NYC when they were younger. But Marc was born and raised in the USA, American citizen, in East Harlem, same place as Tupac Shakur, Al Pacino and Burt Lancaster (some mediocre and unknown people). His first album was released in 1988 and in 1992 he moved to sing salsa. After that he was on his way to the top. He started acting in 1995 and was in movies with Salma Hayek and some dude named Denzel Washington. He was also a cast member of the TNT network series Hawthorne, with the main character Jada Pinket-Smith, some other skinny chick married to a big-eared unknown rapper/actor, Will Smith or something.
Also he married Dayanara Torres, Miss Universe 1993, and has two sons on that side. They got divorced and he, the Amercan-born singer, married another nobody named Jennifer López. He got divorced (apparently he likes divorces) and is now dating another pretty lady (You’re my boy Marc!!!!!). He has performed pretty much everywhere, including in the White House (and I mean the president of the USA White House, for those of you who missed the point that he was born in the United States).
In 2013, since nobody knew him, he decided and got paid to perform the song God Bless America in the MLB All Star Game. Apparently there were people who did not know who he was or the fact that he was born in NYC (a place not full of people from different descent and where the Statue of Liberty is there only to block the view). And all hell broke loose. “How is it possible that a Mexican, Spanish, Puerto Rican, non-american performs the song that represents a nation of people who appeared here from the heavens? How could the MLB, sport that only allows people whose family was born and raised in United States, allow that thing to perform such an amazing song?”
I bet that people who filled twitter with comments and made such non racist comments were thinking the same thing in 2008 when Josh Groban performed the song. Groban, born in Los Angeles, from all American parents (his father, Russian and Polish descent, and his mother from German descent) performed perfectly. Or in 2007, when Ashanti, whose parents are from Dominican and Chinesse descent, made a wonderful performance (with all her sexiness). I know people where happy to hear Anthony Dominick Benedetto perform the song in 2010 in the World Series. That is Tony Bennett, son of Italian parents who moved to New York back when TV had no color. I also bet they get all happy when in many games at Yankee Stadium, Mr. Roman Tynan, who was BORN in Dublin, Ireland, performs the song and also the National Anthem. About the Anthem, some of the all-american performers in other sports are:
• Christina Aguilera – Ecuadorian father and mother from Irish descent. Super Bowl XLV
• Florence Henderson “Mom Brady” – English descent. Indi 500
• Whitney Houston – African-American, Native American and Dutch descent.
• Mariah Carey – Francisco Núñez, father, is from Venezuela and mother from Irish descent.
• Celine Dion – Canadian who performed God Bless America after the 9-11 terrorists attacks in NYC and The Pentagon.
And I also bet that they are happy that Mr. Zimmerman was found not guilty of shooting some 17-year old kid, who happened to be black and wearing a hoodie (something suspicious only if you are a black, latino, Chinese or alien).
All sarcasm aside, it is stupid to say all that was said about Marc Anthony and his performance only because he is Boricua. Even if he was born outside of the USA, he was singing a song that represents something important for the country he lives in and has helped. At least he was not Rossanne Barr who sang the National Anthem and disrespected it in from of thousands of people.
That same hate that was sent towards him, and every latino out there, is the same hate that Matin Luther King fough against, the same hate Gandhi peacefully fought against and the same hate gay people are fighting against. I want to make a better future for me and my kids, but I am not alone in this planet. We all have to work together and stop all that hate that people feel when they see something different. We are in this together. So Mr. Anthony, you know you did great, as usual, and you know we back you up in pretty much anything (I say pretty much, because I’m still mad at him for leaving Dayanara!). To all latinos, blacks, Chinese, Italians, gays… let’s continue working to improve our lives and leave something good for our children. Cójanlo suave!
Is that time of the week again: time to see what this Boricua will tells us about the best culture in the world (Boricua, of course). At the end of last week, usually the time when my brainstorming begins, I had different topics for today’s discussion. But it was until Monday when I saw a picture posted by a friend of mine in Facebook that gave me the food to feed your minds (Ohhh, I’m a poet now).
As any culture out there, when Boricuas leave the Island looking for a better future (or running from an ugly present) we miss our family, friends and, today’s topic, our food. Here’s a story for you. I was an intern in Washington, DC back in 2000 (a week or so ago). As a regular Boricua, living and sharing every day with other Boricuas, we tried the best we could to find food in the supermarket that we used back in Puerto Rico. Adobo, for example, is seasoning for meat. We found it hard to believe there was no Adobo in the market in our building complex. How in God’s green earth you season the meat if you have no Adobo? You can use salt, pepper, spices and stuff, but still is no Adobo, c’mon! One day, one of the girls called us from her apartment and gave us the wonderful news that she was able to find Adobo, the real Adobo; the one God intended humans to have. We were happier than a five year old in Christmas. We went to her apartment and we finally had some real seasoned meat.
To continue the story, one day my mother sent me a package with home-cooked food, her food. Needless to say, it was a lot of food and I shared only some with my roommates. But in that same package there was SOFRITO (all in caps because is THAT important to us). It was like a better present in your neighbor’s house in Christmas; one of my roommates almost cried and we were dancing of joy all around the apartment. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but we were happy. What is Sofrito? It is a mix of certain vegetables and stuff that we use mostly to make stews. What is a sancocho without sofrito? It is like El Gran Combo without Salsa, like Little Richard without the “Little”; just boring and tasteless food. Enough comparisons!
Now that we had sofrito, we could make lots of stuff, like rice and salchicha, or vienna sausage. But we had a problem: there were no salchichas Carmela around (that is a brand we have in Puerto Rico). Most likely it would taste the same, but we cannot tell our new non-Boricua friends to have Arroz con Salchichas and use any salchicha, you see. We tried the same place were the Adobo was bought, and we found it. We had a wonderful dinner that day, and even our new friends understood why we were so happy. We made some Mofongo and also had some seasoned meat. And on Thanksgiving, a group of around 18 Boricuas and 10-15 non Boricuas, we had Arroz con Gandules, Turkey, Mofongo, Pasteles and we had an awesome time.
I know that for every culture is basically the same: some make Mole, Salvadoreños eat Pupusas, and Venezolanos have Paloapique, and so on. And when you find yourself out of the country you were born and in which you had many experiences, you want to travel back even if it is with food. The smell of cooked food that it goes all through the house is amazing. And as Boricuas, when a bunch of us sit to eat, we own the place; we reminisce on the times we spent doing anything, about our neighborhood and when we were children. At that time, we travel back home and it does not hurt as bad to be somewhere else. And we try to do it again as much as we can.
Remember to share this post with your friends and family. You can comment in this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, cómanlo suave (since we’re talking about food, you know!).
Sitting here, thinking about something, anything to write that will help me post something good every week (or at least entertaining), I am blocked. I know there is a term for that (writer’s something) but the point is that my mind is BLAH; nothing there to help me write about Boricuas. So, I decided to sit down and watch a little TV. That may not help me at all, but I like it. I hear my son Daniel saying he is bored because he has nothing to play with. “You have nothing to play with? You have a trunk full of toys, you have the PS2, and we have a huge yard here that you can go out and play”. “Yo sé, papi. Pero no quiero hacer eso (I know daddy, but I don’t want to do any of that)!” After giving him the normal parent speech of “Cuando yo era chiquito” (When I was a kid), I found exactly something to write about: my childhood games.
I lived most of my life in a suburb in Cidra, with my parents, brother and sister, and there were a lot of kids around my age. Even though my brother is only one and a half year older than me (yes, you look younger) he did not enjoy playing the same games I did, I was too annoying. I remember all too well the fights we had over anything. “Me esta mirando”, “No me toques”, “Mami, Franco viró el agua y no quiere limpiarlo”, and so on, made my mother really happy and full of joy (get the sarcasm?) During the summer and Christmas vacation, also on the sunny weekends, my mother decided to kick us out to play so she can do her chores, work or not listen to all that fighting all day long. “Mira, váyanse pa la calle a jugar que tengo cosas que hacer y no me dejan (Look, go out and play that I have stuff to do and you won’t let me do them)” It’s like I can still hear her.
We had a wide variety of games to play, also depending of the time of the year. Since we lived next to the basketball court and a big open field, we could do lots of things: riding bikes, playing basketball, skating, among others. But those were the normal ones, games that are played almost anywhere in the world. As Boricuas, and poor ones, we had to pay with what we had. I know my parents have stories where playing baseball with a broom stick would be considered technology, but that for us was fun. We played casquito or clorito (that’s how we called it in my neighborhood). We cut the top side of a small Clorox bottle, we found or begged our mothers for a broom stick and we played. The batter would hit the clorito and if it was not grabbed by the fielding team, a score was made. Simple, easy and fun! We did the same game with bottle caps.
Another game we loved to play, and considered Boricua, was gallito. We took the fruit from the locust tree; we opened it and took the seeds out. The seeds were cleaned with our bare hands (we did not have time to get water and soap, we just wanted to play), we made a whole in the middle, tied a sting to the seed and started playing. The game was easy: there was a circle made in the field, one of us puts the gallito in the middle and the other one tried to break it by hitting it. The first one to brake the opponent’s gallito won. The process to make that happen had a downside: to take the seed out and clean it meant we had stinky hands for quite some time. We called it mierda e’ gato, cause it was really stinky. And we also played in the dirt, kneeling to hit the gallito. So, imagine all the fun my mom had when we got home dirty from head to toes and stinking. “Bendito sea el señor, Franco! Pa jugar no tienes que arrastrarte por el piso! (Same thing I tell my son now. My mom taught me!)
Usually on rainy days we used to play 1-2-3 Pescao! The game was simple, but when played with a lot of kids it was even better. One kid, the fisher, would be facing a wall or a post which was also the finish line. The rest of the kids were behind the fisher in a line or two. The fisher would scream 1-2-3 Pescao! and that’s the time the other kids had to rush to the finish line. When the phrase was finished, the fisher turned around and everyone had to freeze. If any of the kids move the fisher sent him back to the starting line. Pretty easy right? But there were some things that could be done to make the other kid move: jokes, funny faces or just say “you moved”. That would make some kids fight about it, and, of course, move. The first one to touch the fisher will be the new fisher and the game starts over.
Some of the other games we played were trompo, guillotina, and canicas. We all played in the same place. We usually called it a day when one of the kids started screaming “Por ahí viene al aguacero! (Here comes the rain!) We all started running to our houses and many made it before the rain could get us. And there was mom, with the galletas and juice waiting for us. That’s what I called a good day!
After telling this story to my kid, and answering all the questions he had, we decided to play some ball in our yard. And we both called it a great day! Until next time, cójanlo suave!
PS. Here’s a song from Rubén Blades that describes the process from childhood to crazy adulthood. Como nosotros. Click the blue link to listen.
Here I am once again. Another week gone by and a new one just began (depending on when you read this post, of course). Several things happened in the world last week and one of those is the news about Paula Deen been fired from Food Network and loosing many of her sponsors because she used the famous but hated “N” word. What is the impact of that word and Mrs. Deen’s end-of-job for us Boricuas? I will go into detail today, and you will understand how regular Boricua minds work.
Paula Deen is a famous cook and a funny talking person, at least for us Boricuas (any accent that is not ours is funny). She was fired as the entertainment world has gone crazy. Kim Kardashian gave birth and people still talking about Deen’s use of vocabulary. What is the impact for us Boricuas? NONE, nada! It has changed us in absolutely no way. It’s not that Boricuas in the Island don’t care. It is that the regular person doesn’t know who the heck she is or where she came from. Let me give you an example. Picture this old Boricua in the coffee shop, having his tostada de jamón, queso y huevo (ham, cheese and egg toast). He sits in the table, grabs the newspaper and reads: Paula Deen despedida de Food Network (Paula Deen fired from Food Network). I know that that guy’s, and millions of others in the Island, first thought was: Quién carajo es Paula Din? (Who the hell is Paula Deen?) Qué carajo me importa a mi? (What do I care?) And if he said that out loud, the person next to him, or in the kitchen, or even in the line, will either laugh or say: Lo mismo me preguntaba yo (I was asking myself the same thing). And the coffee shop will be full of people talking about the cook, the funny looking cook.
When the person continues reading, he will learn the reason why la señora Din was fired: she used the “N” word. In Puerto Rico’s paper the headline read Out of Food Network for racist comment. The next comment from that person is: Y qué le dijo pa que la botaran como bolsa?(What did she say to be kicked out?) The younger person next to this man will have to explain that Mrs. Deen used the “N” word, which most likely in Boricua Spanish would be used as Negro. Next question from the old guy, right after he takes another sip of his coffee: she was fired for calling a Black person Black? Should she use trigueño (lighter skin color) instead? If he’s black, he’s black! And then, everybody wants in that conversation. “You can’t be calling people Black like that”, “It is not polite to say that”, “She should have said something else”, “It’s the way she said it”, “She got money, she will find something new in no time”.
— Don’t get me wrong people; it is good that she was fired for saying what she said, but I’m giving you the way a regular Boricua would be lost in translation. —
Let’s continue… In the afternoon, after a hard day of work, the coffee shop guy will get home, turn on the TV and watch some news. At 5:35 p.m. the experienced looking old guy and the young dumb looking hot girl will discuss the news about Mrs. Din. Otra vez con la vieja esa? (Again with that old lady?) Up until that time, the guy has only read the information, but never heard Din speak. Once he hears her in the news, he goes: Y qué le pasa a ella que habla así? (What’s wrong with her that she speaks like that?) His wife will get to the couch too and says: Ahhh, ESA es Paula Din? Nunca la habia visto.(Oh, THAT is Paula Deen? I have never seen her before.) They will go on to discuss what they know about her and why she was fired. They will talk about Giovanna Huyke, or Cielito Rosado or Chef Piñero (all Boricua chefs). Then they will speak about el Show de las 12 and when Giovanna used to be there cooking, and Luisito Vigoreaux in el Show del Mediodia cooking. And asking if they think Luisito was drunk while cooking. And Paula Din will be forgotten as easy as she was met earlier in the day.
As I said, it’s not that Boricuas don’t care, but we will not give importance to something we don’t know. Or maybe we don’t care when a rich person is fired from work when we know she will continue to make millions of dollars somewhere else. Remember to share this post and comment if you like. Until next time, cójanlo suave!