Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy May Day

Teacher's Contract 1923

How very fitting that a brilliant Pagan (he knows who he is and I love him) friend from Madrid who finds the most amazing things in archives sent me this 1923 contract intended for a female teacher in Spain. Among the rules she must abide by are: 

must wear at least two slips 
must not fraternize with men
must not go into town and loiter in the ice cream shop
must remain single
must not smoke or drink
must not wear bright colors
must not dye one's hair
must scrub and mop the floors in the classroom

And much more!

On my way home on the revoltingly crowded and stifling subway, I was wondering, have I priced myself out of the dating (let alone marriage market)? I'm looking for an extremely smart, educated, cosmopolitan, and well-read man with a sharp sense of humor but I rarely meet such men. It does give me hope that women friends of mine do have fabulous boyfriends or husbands, who are also friends of mine! 

In the past few months I have met guys who seem fascinating - smart, well-educated, well-traveled, with a perverse sense of humor. They seem to find me interesting but nothing comes of it. So I am starting to wonder, should I pretend to be dumb? Should I relax my incredibly high standards? I definitely won't do the latter. My quality of life is so high that I'd rather not date at all if I have to go out with someone that bores me (or disrespects me, of course). Will I find someone who is up for discussing genocide as well as trash reality TV, politics, or travel? Someone who likes to dance, go to the beach or to the Fairway, try exotic foods, who also reads books and can discuss them intelligently. Someone who will watch grim documentaries as well as Miss Marple episodes on PBS, and maybe even fix my computer or things around the house? (just kidding about the last ones) Someone whose sense of humor is not politically correct? Someone who does not hate cats and isn't afraid of a woman with a very strong personality? No, I am dreaming. 

At least I should be grateful that my current teaching job doesn't entail my scrubbing floors or wearing two slips under my dresses, even if it does seem to destine me for spinsterhood (albeit, in my case, an extremely fabulous and glamorous spinsterhood)!!!!

Opera Chic!

The marvelous paragraph below, taken from a blog called Opera chic ( made my day:

Opera Chic tackled the high-drama night, Daniela Dessì's first Norma, decked out in the girl equivalent of a bulletproof vest -- a vintage Chanel black cashmere shell, Diane von Furstenberg black puff skirt (with pockets...omg how we <3>hat skirt!!). With classic Valentino black Mary Janes and the trusty midollino vintage Gucci bag. A shiny black Fay windbreaker to protect us from the naughty, chilly weather (it's still mild, fall-like weather around here, no summer for Italy yet)."

Thanks to my erudite and hilarious SuizoRican friend for sharing. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Carmen Miranda

She is one my fashion icons. Her music is absolutely gorgeous. I have not yet seen her movies, sadly. There is a documentary about her called "Carmen Miranda: Bananas Are My Business" and here's an impressive piece of trivia, she practically died on stage, she was found dead of a heart attack in her dressing room, where she had been removing her make-up. 

Priceless quote:

"Look at me and tell me if I don't have Brazil in every curve of my body."

If you want to know more......

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Sins of the Fathers.....

The sins of the fathers are vested on the children, or, in this case, the mothers. This takes my running category - Bad 1980s' Fashion Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome to a whole new Meta-level. Madonna, the originator of so much iconic 1980s fashion, who unleashed hundreds of ridiculously unflattering looks emulated by awkward teen-agers as best they could drawing from slim pickings at their local malls (as I can attest, it was quite challenging to emulate her "Like a Virgin" or "Desperately Seeking Susan" looks drawing solely on the Limited at the mall in a small town in SW FL in the 1980s), is now witnessing her own daughter's fashion shandeh. (note: to my horror, I have been spelling one of my favorite Yiddish words, shandeh, incorrectly!!!) Yes, no amount of Kabbalah water or Yogic meditation can negate little Lourdes' over-sized Elvis Costello Ray-Bans worn as seeing glasses (been there, done that), or the over-sized t-shirt, or the all-black attire, and of course the sullen expression and stringy hair. Although something a bit more asymmetrical or multi-hued might be better- it does seem to be veering, God help us, towards a Mullet?

Mass Cabaret

Non-violence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means the pitting of one's whole should against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration.

Source: The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi - SEE

Day of Desperation 1991 NYC

Today, the Reverend Al Sharpton called for a series of non-violent mass actions to shut NYC down in protest of the Sean Bell verdict, to denounce the prison-industrial complex and the structural racism that leads to injustices in the economic and criminal systems. I have been asking myself: Why is it that so many of us seem to have given up on non-violent civil disobedience as a tactic? Are we stymied by the police state instituted under the Bush regime and especially following 9/11? Or are we simply complacent?

Seeing Jesusa Rodriguez speak about Mass Cabaret in Mexico at Columbia University a few weeks ago inspired me and depressed me at the same time -- in Mexico millions of people have refused to accept a stolen election (sound familiar?) and are actively resisting economic policies that favor multinational corporations at the expense of Mexican citizens. Artists like Rodriguez have joined the effort, orchestrating performative, carnivalesque, and free-form manifestations as a way to recruit and empower participants and divert energy away from violence. This particular aspect of her talk impressed me - she said that once you get millions of people somewhere and tension rises, you have to be able to avoid any eruption of violence. She added that women tend to lead affinity groups and the heads of marches which makes it harder for the police to attack the group as a whole. 

She described the movement as comprised of smaller groups that then gather to make interventions - for example a group will show up at a Wal-Mart, appear to be shopping and then suddenly erupt into a protest of the chain's corporate policies in Mexico, effectively paralyzing the store for several minutes. Or, small affinity groups orchestrate actions and travel together to meet other small groups - adding up to hundreds of thousands or millions depending on the event. 

When I talk to younger people about what it was like to participate in ACT-UP many have no idea what it is, and it  seems to me like they see me as as a pitiful older person going down memory lane, discussing a palpably unrealistic situation. But I have friends that were shutting down Ivy Leagues with SDS, marching in the South in the 1960s, Quakers blocking off nuclear power plants in the 1980s (does anyone remember that?), or going on hunger strikes in Vieques a few years ago. 

And I participated in a number of protests led by ACT-UP and other groups in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so I know that it is possible to organize non-violent civil disobedience actions that will raise consciousness and make an impact on political and economic elites that leads to change. ACT-UP infiltrated the mass media and health care industry like a virus - and participants such as the late artist and one of my heroes, Felix Gonzalez-Torres referred to the term "viral strategy" of infiltration as relevant to both art and politics. ACT-UP continue to create change to educate about the disease and make drugs accessible to more people. 

For example, on January 23, 1991, I was one of hundreds of people that walked into Grand Central Station a few minutes before rush hour. Each of us was part of a small group, lawyers took our names, in order to assist us in case of arrest. Leaders within the crowd choreographed the action, and we knew that if a whistle blew, we had to lie on the floor, and if it blew again, we had to rise. Like a virus we infiltrated the public space, as in a ballet, we lay down and got up, again and again. Others handed out flyers to startled commuters explaining that we were shutting down mass transit for 8 minutes, one AIDS death every 8 minutes was the message of this action, part of several that took place to mark a Day of Desperation. ACT-UP linked the debts incurred by the US Government to pursue the (first) Gulf War, and its neglect of domestic issues, among them the AIDS crisis. 

When the 8 minutes passed, a banner was draped over the board with the slogan, as you see in the photo above. At some point, groups of us then moved to the entrances and exits and linked arms, preventing anyone from going to their trains or exiting the space. We held our ground for what seemed like an eternity but could have been minutes, I remember being knocked to the ground by a big White guy carrying a briefcase. He tackled me but when I hit the ground, my arm was still linked to my friend's. God forbid that he should be inconvenienced, his progress to Stamford fucking Connecticut interrupted by thoughts of a few faggots dying. Then we moved outside and sat on the street, paralyzing traffic. At this point, the police paddy wagons pulled up and I got up and walked away. We always had a choice to be arrested, or not. Over 200 people were arrested that day.

Now we're in the middle (?) of the Second Gulf War and things have changed:
After 9/11 NYC became a militarized zone. Emulating London, surveillance cameras were placed in most public and private spaces. (I have such a system in my own apartment building, a channel on my TV allows me to see movement in several areas, my own little panopticon) The day before yesterday, they announced that military type police units with "rifles, submachine guns, body armor and bomb-sniffing dogs" (source: Alison Gendar, "Doomsday police units to patrol city subways," Daily News, 4/24/08, p.5) will occupy certain subway stops in the city. I had noticed the bomb-sniffing dogs lately but these groups, which almost out-numbered passengers on Thursday at mid-morning when I exited at Union Square, sending me into a momentary panic. Why? Because I grew up living in and visiting Spain under Franco's dictatorship, when paramilitary forces patrolled with machine guns in tow. 

After 9/11, the city was patrolled by National Guard and police and my neighborhood was part of the "Frozen Zone" for a week and later shut down on and off to check for bombs (or to rehearse for such a possibility, one never knew but the fear factor was the same). In the past few years we have seen how the Bloomberg administration has eroded the notion of "public space" and "freedom of speech" when for example bicyclists riding on city roads calling for environmental awareness are arrested for doing so, or when during the Republican Convention open spaces and subway stations leading to them were literally barricaded by phalanxes of armed police (I had to cross such a phalanx to participate in a non-violent candle-light anti-war vigil in Union Square!) and of course when activists were held in improvised holding cells for days until the convention ended, a clear violation of their civil rights. And commuters are subject to bag searches as they enter city subways. In some places in the USA, people are sometimes asked to show ID as a way to persecute undocumented immigrants. (in Spain under the Aznar administration- a successor to Franco under a "democratic" veneer, police carried out searches in public spaces and racially profiled people whom they interrogated and ask for ID; under Franco, all people had to carry their ID at all times and were subject to searches).

Due to the paramilitary-like occupation of city streets here, constant surveillance, and refusal to issue protest permits, many actions seem impossible to carry out today. My guess is that a small group of people gathering to conduct a non-violent act of civil disobedience will arouse suspicion and be apprehended prior to carrying out their purpose. Under Franco, the secret police known as "los grises" would watch public spaces and move in any time a small group gathered and/or conversation veered towards certain topics. I think this is where we are headed. 

I don't think the ACT-UP Grand Central action could happen now. I always acted in a way that was legal given my understanding that we have freedom of expression and assembly in this country. This is what I admire about the USA and do not take for granted, given my own experience with dictatorship. I believe peaceful action and dialogue are the only means to bring about change. So what do we do? Can we organize in large enough numbers so as to make it impossible to shut down public protests? Can we make small interventions such as the Wal-Mart actions in Mexico described above? Is the only sphere of action virtual - for example, viral strategies to interrupt website operations?  Are economic boycotts the answer? I have bowed out of action, save for a few instances where I march to the UN against the war, or participate in small candle light vigils in my neighborhood, for example. I sign petitions, I write letters. I donate money. Is that enough?

This is the description of the "Day of Desperation" from the ACT UP website:
January 23, 1991: ACT UP declares a "Day of Desperation" in New York City. This action, designed to target every aspect of City life, demands that everyone realize that every day is a day of desperation for those in the AIDS community. Day of Desperation begins when activists invaded PBS and CBS Evening News broadcasts on the night of the 22nd. On the 23rd a morning demo begins on Wall St. and more than 2000 protesters marched with coffins that were delivered to City, State & Federal officials responsible for perpetuating the AIDS epidemic. An action at the State Office building in Harlem demands an end to the City homeless shelter system. The housing Committee joins Stand Up Harlem, Emmaus House and various Harlem religious leaders in protesting the lack of housing and services for people with HIV. The march goes down Martin Luther King Blvd. to the State office Bldg, carrying coffins with a demonstration at the plaza. Several people are arrested. The Latino/a Caucus invaded the Bronx Borough President's office; the Alternative and Holistic Committee videotapes Dr. Emilio Carillos as he promises to add immuno-enhancing nutritional programs and acupuncture to City hospitals. At 5:07 pm, Grand Central Station was the setting for a spectacular and massive act of civil disobedience as ACT UP took over the station. A banner announcing "One AIDS Death Every Eight Minutes" was hung over the arrivals board. 263 people are later arrested as the group attempted to march to the United Nations.



Friday, April 25, 2008

The Given Name "Darling" Creates Legal Debate in Spain

I haven't had occasion lately to comment on some of my favorite things: news stories about unusual names. But Madrid's EL PAIS daily made my day today (and I was very bitter about the Sean Bell verdict, but more on that later) with an article about a Colombian immigrant who succeeded in overturning a bureaucrat's dictate that she had to change her name from "Darling" to one drawn from a list of Catholic Saints or other acceptable monikers. (Under Franco's dictatorship, one had to choose names taken from a list of Catholic saints, since the regime claimed to be defending Spain's traditions and religion.) Apparently this happens frequently in Spain, as more and more immigrants with unusual names attempt to apply for Spanish citizenship.

Darling ya es un nombre de mujer en España
Una mujer colombiana y española gana el pulso a Administración y mantiene su nombre y su "dignidad"
ELPAÍ / AGENCIAS - Madrid - 25/04/2008

Darling Vélez Salazar lleva 33 años siendo Darling Vélez Salazar. Sin embargo, sólo hace 16 meses que es española, ya que nació en Colombia. Esta mujer emigró a España y logró la doble nacionalidad, pero estuvo a punto de perder su nombre por el camino. El Registro Civil de Madrid pretendía que lo cambiara por otro "del santoral" si quería regularizar sus papeles. Sin embargo, Darling se negó, peleó y ganó: tendrán que inscribirla con su verdadero nombre. Esta victoria, en palabras de Darling (cariño, en inglés), le permitirá mantener no sólo su "identidad real", sino también y más importe, su "dignidad". La legislación española, como bien sabe ahora Darling, permite los nombres extranjeros y también de fantasía. Pero al menos otros 12 inmigrantes no lo sabían y han tenido que elegir otro nombre con el que proseguir sus vidas.

A esta mujer se le había concedido la nacionalidad española pero el juez encargado del Registro Civil Único de Madrid no le permitió registrarse con su nombre "al no ser admisible en la legislación española", por lo que le aconsejó que se lo cambiara por otro "de un listado que le mostró o por los del santoral", según explica su abogado, Gustavo Fajardo. "Otra mujer que estaba conmigo haciendo el mismo trámite se lo cambió, pero yo no quise, porque era como renunciar a mi identidad y a mi dignidad y atentaba contra mi integridad como persona", dice la propia Darling, que hoy ha comparecido para mostrar su satisfacción junto a miembros de la organización AESCO (América, España, Solidaridad y Cooperación) que le han acompañado en este proceso.

Reconoce que alguna vez, durante los 15 meses que ha estado esperando a que se resolviera su caso, cayó en el desánimo, ya que quedó suspendida su inscripción como española, y pensó en que debería ceder a las normas impuestas en el registro. "Pero al final seguí, porque quería que en mi documentación apareciera mi nombre", asegura Darling, quien explica que en Colombia son normales los anglicismos de este tipo. El abogado de esta asociación, que defiende los derechos de los inmigrantes, ha elogiado el arrojo de Darling porque "ha arriesgado la posibilidad de perder su nacionalidad para intentar que primaran sus derechos como mujer y como persona".

Un "antropónimo de fantasía apto"

Ante estas situaciones, "centenares de inmigrantes que tienen urgencia de coger su DNI, de traerse a su familia o de concluir con el via crucis del papeleo aceptan cambiar su identidad", explica el letrado, quien ha señalado que conoce 24 casos similares y que de ellos 12 han elegido cambiarlo, muchos por uno vasco, "porque no ponen problemas para registrar un nombre vasco, pero sí uno que es legal en Colombia". "El caso de Darling es como una bandera de confrontación contra una política de marginación y de exclusión contra la inmigración porque se negaba un elemento esencial: el ser humano sin el nombre no es ser humano, el nombre es el alma del ser humano", ha añadido Fajardo.

Según el abogado, el Estado debería favorecer la formación de nuevos jueces "con los manuales de la democracia y no con los del franquismo" para evitar que se adoptaran decisiones "arbitrarias" como ésta. En el recurso, que presentó en diciembre de 2006, la defensa sostenía que no procedía la exigencia "por no existir motivo ni causa legal". Su abogado alegaba que no es indecoroso ni atenta contra el orden público y que, en cambio, la exigencia de cambiarlo sí que atenta contra un principio internacional de reciprocidad, ya que en Colombia al inscribir a los nacionalizados no les impone esta obligación. Ese nombre, según el abogado -y el sentido común- es un elemento "esencial" de la personalidad de su cliente que no pude cambiarse contra su voluntad por significar un "perjuicio manifiesto, entre otras razones, porque obligaría a la mujer a revisar todos los actos jurídicos en los que ha intervenido a lo largo de su vida y a modificar toda su documentación oficial.

El caso fue resuelto el mes pasado por la Dirección General de los Registros y del Notariado, que estimó el recurso y que estableció que "la contestación ha de ser forzosamente afirmativa, porque Darling ha de ser considerado como un antropónimo de fantasía apto para designar a hombre o mujer y no incurre en ninguna de las prohibiciones" que fija la ley. Así, la Dirección General de los Registros y del Notariado ha revocado el auto del juez encargado del Registro Civil de Madrid, al que ordena que inscriba a Darling con su nombre. La mujer está "muy feliz y contenta porque las cosas habían llegado al punto en el que debían estar", aunque asegura que, en caso de que la Justicia no le hubiese dado la razón, habría llevado el caso "hasta la Corte Suprema de Justicia".

Lo que dice la Ley
El encargado del Registro Civil ha de examinar si el nombre que se solicita es admisible o no conforme a las reglas generales de imposición del nombre y sus limitaciones previstas en los artículos 54 de la Ley de Registro Civil y el 192 del Reglamento del Registro Civil. Estos preceptos determinan, literalmente, lo siguiente:

- Artículo 54 de la Ley de Registro Civil:

En la inscripción se expresará el nombre que se da al nacido, si bien no podrá consignarse más de un nombre compuesto, ni más de dos simples.

Quedan prohibidos los nombres que objetivamente perjudiquen a la persona, así como los diminutivos o variantes familiares y coloquiales que no hayan alcanzado sustantividad, los que hagan confusa la identificación y los que induzcan en su conjunto a error en cuanto al sexo.

No puede imponerse al nacido nombre que ostente uno de sus hermanos, a no ser que hubiera fallecido, así como tampoco su traducción usual a otra lengua.

A petición del interesado o de su representante legal, el encargado del Registro sustituirá el nombre propio de aquél por su equivalente onomástico en cualquiera de las lenguas españolas. (Artículo redactado según Ley 40/1999).

- Art. 192 del Reglamento del Registro Civil:

No se podrán imponer más de dos nombres simples, que se unirán por un guión, o de uno compuesto. Se permiten los nombres extranjeros. Si tuvieren traducción usual a cualquiera de las lenguas españolas, se consignarán en la versión que elija quien haya de imponer el nombre.

Son nombres prohibidos por extravagantes los que por sí o en combinación con los apellidos resulten contrarios al decoro de la persona.

Se prohíbe también cualquier nombre que haga confusa la designación o que induzca en su conjunto a error sobre el sexo.

Nombres abstractos o de fantasía
Tras años y años en los que el franquismo impedía a los españoles llamarse Koldo (Luis en euskera), el criterio aperturista se consagró en 1980, cuando se admitieron "nombres de personajes históricos, mitológicos, legendarios o artísticos, nombres geográficos y, en general nombres abstractos o de fantasía, para cuya interpretación debe tenerse en cuenta la realidad social, cultural y política actual de nuestro país".

Se ha admitido como nombres de fantasía como Mariposa, Brisa Chispa-Mercedes, Muaré, Aiane, Luisalba o Loimar. Asimismo y conforme establece el apartado 3 de la Circular de 2 de julio de 1980: "En principio no pueden considerarse extravagantes, impropios de personas ni subversivos, los nombres que se refieran a valores regidos en la Constitución". Parece que están admitidos vocablos como Libertad, Constitución y otros valores consagrados en la Norma Fundamental.

© Diario EL PAÍS S.L. - Miguel Yuste 40 - 28037 Madrid [España] - Tel. 91 337 8200
© Prisacom S.A. - Ribera del Sena, S/N - Edificio APOT - Madrid [España] - Tel. 91 353 7900

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Polygamist Fashion Statements

I know that it's totally un-PC and anti-feminist to joke about the fashion when these women are subjected to masculinist abuse in this creepy polygamist dissident Mormon sect. And reading about them reminds me of that scary dystopian allegory of Reagan-era America that was "The Handmaid's Tale." 

But is it just me, or does their hair not have a certain anatomical resonance? Fetishism at work, I guess. Cover the body to cloak female uncleanliness and temptation, but then displace the Va-jay-jay to the hairstyle. And I loved reading an article that compared their style to that of the sullen, humorless and joylessly nerdish Chloe Sevigny.

Check out this CNN article that breaks down the symbolism behind the fashion.

Fabulous for us ignorant Gentiles

This is a fun way to learn about Passover, thanks to my friend AK who shared it with me! Gracias, mami.
And happy belated Passover to you all.

Terrifying But True

A friend whom I will call "LaShariah" sent this photo of a car she saw while taking her own car in for repairs somewhere in New England. Terrifying.

Monday, April 21, 2008


NETSational Dancers. Seniors dancing Hip Hop for the New Jersey Nets. How can you go wrong?? I am watching a report about a documentary featuring these seniors who stepped up and learned the unfamiliar art of hip hop dance. Awesome.

This will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and it sounds like a must-see!

NY1 News Story Video

Saturday, April 19, 2008

1980s Post-Traumatic Stress Fashion Syndrome and a Sartorial Surprise

Today I visited Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum with some friends. I always mean to document some of the fashion don'ts I see and discuss here (in the posts under Fashion Citation), but most often I notice them either while walking down the street very quickly or in the subway, neither of which are conducive to picture taking. The lines to enter the blockbuster gave me plenty of time to document a fashionista couple - one rocking an homage to Murakami meets 1980s New Wave fashion. This guy's outfit  brought back my recurring Bad 1980s Fashion Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It was completed with a faux-hawk, white Ray-Ban type sunglasses and a red man-purse (in Puerto Rico known as a mariconera). 

He was a very cute boy as was his companion, a Dominican brother rocking a very 1930s British Colonial Army in India Summer Uniform type look but perhaps the shorts are a bit more Lyndsay Lohan than Lord Mountbatten. Topped by a summer weight Kangol-type hat, perhaps a nod to representing the barrio old man look? The piece de resistance to this second ensemble were the au courant gladiator sandals, presented in VOGUE as the sandal for the season. But for men, I think these went out with Julius Ceasar? Still he was a cutie too and both get props for trying to stand out above the herd of baggy jeans, chinos, blah t-shirts and other generic boy garb.  

Walter on "Viva Hollywood"

Below is an article about Walter Mercado's appearance in the upcoming Latino telenovela-themed reality tv show "Viva Hollywood" from Puerto Rico's number one tabloid, EL VOCERO. (the joke on the Island about this paper is that if you shake it, the blood will spill out, so gruesome and lurid is much of its news) It includes an interview with my favorite astrologer. Even I learned something new: Walter starred in 20 telenovelas back in the day. And he had his acting school "Walter Actors Studio." Nice. Wouldn't want to confuse it with the New York operation.

(I need to give a shout out to my correspondent from the Island who kindly shared this with me!)

Walter Mercado y la magia de la renovación

Por: Mariam M. Echevarría Báez

En la capacidad de renovación radica el secreto del éxito para Walter Mercado, quien a sus 76 años continúa abriendo caminos y estableciendo pautas.

"Si siguiera haciendo y diciendo lo mismo que hacía en los 70, ya sería historia hace tiempo", estableció el astrólogo puertorriqueño en entrevista telefónica con EL VOCERO, quien integra el elenco del programa "Viva Hollywood", que VH1 transmite los domingos.

"Lo importante es la renovación", continuó quien incursiona al género del "reality show" con esta propuesta, que cuenta con Carlos Ponce y María Conchita Alonso como animadores.

"Nunca había hecho un 'reality' y me gusta probarlo todo", dijo quien será "esa luz que guía a los jóvenes actores que están compitiendo por un papel en una telenovela".

Mercado quien en Puerto Rico, a principios de su carrera artística, realizó radio, doblaje, películas y hasta cerca de 20 novelas, aprovechó además su visión de histrión para aconsejar a los 12 participantes.

"En Puerto Rico tenía mi academia, Walter Actors Studio y cualquier gesto exagerado me parecía un pecado capital, aquí les pido con comicidad que cometan esos pecados; el de la pasión, la seducción exagerada. Pido lo que antes no aceptaba".

En "Viva Hollywood", dirigido a una comunidad bilingüe, se verá al astrólogo boricua aconsejando en inglés, idioma que no le es del todo ajeno a quien se "defiende" además en francés e italiano.

Mercado ha logrado trascender idiomas, fronteras y generaciones, llegando desde Egipto y Francia, hasta España y Argentina, sin olvidar Estados Unidos y Latinoamérica.

Como "no planifico nada", Walter no vislumbra, aunque tampoco descarta, realizar una participación histriónica en algún proyecto, como la que realizó hace algunos años en "Chasing Papi".

"No me gusta forzar nada", añadió al tiempo que reveló que en la constancia está la clave. "Nunca he dejado de estudiar. El actor que está frente a las cámaras nunca debe dejar de estudiar y yo siempre me he mantenido cogiendo seminarios", expresó quien ofrece sus consejos astrológicos a través de la cadena Univisión.

En otros temas, Mercado se expresó en torno a la situación que vive Puerto Rico. "Después de siete años de estancamiento y oscuridad, vendrá una luz que podrá iluminarnos y enderezar el barco que está a la deriva. Han sido siete años muy amargos, donde el que más o el que menos ha vivido su vía crucis y tengo fe que alguien nuevo, diferente, traerá algo distinto para Puerto Rico", dijo reservándose para sí el nombre de esa "luz".

Friday, April 18, 2008

TMZ Discovers Walter!

From TMZ - fabulous!

Do You Know Who This Person Is?
Posted Apr 17th 2008 10:16PM by TMZ Staff

It's not Barbara Walters, designer Carolina Herrera or some Park Avenue society matron, but Spanish language television's resident flamboyant astrologer -- Walter Mercado! That's right, es un hombre! What's your, er, sign?!

The 76-year-old Puerto Rican sensation -- who is loved by every Hispanic grandmother from New York to L.A. for his horoscopes & flawless makeup -- is currently appearing on VH1's camptastic telenovela reality show, "¡Viva Hollywood!" Oh my stars!

Bobby Trendy, meet your long lost, lip-glossed Latin abuelita!

And courtesy of VH1, here is a teaser video:

Frida, Diego's Just Not That Into You

The ultimate fashion accessory, in a clever visual pun, The Broken Column rhymes with the elongated profile of a man's tie.

The Frida Kahlo show currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-see. We all seem to forget that she was actually a great artist. The show doesn't do much to undo the recent cult status "Frida" has attained. In fact, it hews to the line that her biographer (who, I have to say, did remarkable amounts of research that shed light on her life) Hayden Herrera has established as canonical, focus on the tragic and fascinating biography at the expense of her artistic, intellectual and political project. In fact, as I tell my students, her justly renowned biography should be titled "Frida, Diego's Just Not That Into You." Transformed into a LIFETIME television for women narrative, co-opted by every identity-based discourse prevalent in the USA, transformed into an absent icon for consumer fetishization, the paintings disappear from consideration. 

In My Dress, a collaged fragment recalls Hannah Hoch's critiques of gender and racial roles and references to international contests. A rarely shown fresco fragment is graffitied with a legend referring to her own self-portrayal "ugly." Her constant references to the act of painting, to artifice, to almost photographic precision mixed with dream-like juxtapositions and inventions, anthropomorphic figures, disruptions of scale demonstrate this experimentation. Flowers and animals alongside searing portraits remind me of Christian Schad's riveting images of people cast out by society or those who purposely performed roles that fell outside the rules. In his portraits, flowers, in seeming as artificial as the people underscored the artifice at root in the act of representation and the performance of identity. I think Kahlo did something similar. But now we only think of the portraits as kind of window into her melodramatic life.

Two rooms present works not by Kahlo - ex-votos and pre-Columbian objects from the PMA collection. In the latter case, this display sheds light on objects Kahlo collected and that she depicted in her work, in the former case, Kahlo's appropriation and fundamental transformation of ex-voto picturial and devotional conventions are obscured. Instead, her works and the ex-votos are conflated, distorting their historical contexts of production. Given that there are not photomontages by Heartfield, prints by the Estridentistas, photos by Cartier-Bresson, Cubist pictures by Diego Rivera, Surrealist paintings by Lam, to cite just a few examples, the perspective on who her contemporaries were and what debates she might have been participating in artistically are omitted and a primitivist discourse furthered where Kahlo is looking backwards at traditions, and her works are seen as seamless translations of them.  

Now let's move on to the tchochkes. One is spit out onto the massive gift shop. I would say it's about 3/4 of the size of the show. A wall of catalogues is juxtaposed with large reproductions of some of her self-portraits rendered like those cheesy postcards that change images or appear to move when you view them from different angles. The wall of catalogues looks like an Andy Warhol portrait. A perfect combination as if they had met, surely Warhol would have found her the ideal sitter. 

There were the usual items reproducing works: postcards, t-shirts and the like, and also items that allow one to mimic her distinctive style of dress. (I got an embroidered Mexican blouse) Other more lovely objects included the gorgeous necklace above, taken from a detail of one of her paintings. Now, just because I examine the commodification does not mean that I am too PC not to partake and indeed enjoy it:  I got the mug bel0w. One bizarre item was a pre-packaged bag with the legend "make your own Kahlo shrine." The fact that such a thing is mass-produced (probably in China) could be the subject of a doctoral dissertation. Years ago (in the early to mid 1990s) there was a fabulous show in NY called "Pasion por Frida" - I think today one would have to a several volume catalogue of a sequel.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama and the Puerto Rican Primary - A telling t-shirt

Miguel Luciano, who is a great artist, shared with me a jpeg of a t-shirt he made to be sold down on PR recently. (I hope they didn't sell out!) The shirt really says it all. Everyone here is engrossed by the media-generated spectacle of talking heads parsing every single "issue" that arises (Bittergate anyone?) as a way to fill up hours and hours of news coverage while studiously avoiding discussion of ACTUAL issues related to class, race, gender, the war, the economy, health insurance, global warming, infant mortality, AIDS, and many many more....

It's thus deeply ironic to those in the know to see how Puerto Rico, the US's forgotten or perhaps most accurately: unknown colony, has become a bit of a running joke or recurring footnote in the mainstream media, as I have said here before. Of course the crux of this, as Miguel's fabulous t-shirt summarizes, is that those living on the Island may vote in the primary but NOT in the US Presidential Election. A farcical pantomime of democracy similar to the so-called "Resident Commissioner" post in Congress. (A Puerto Rican is elected by Island residents to go "represent" them in DC, but he or she has no vote!) This colonial dynamic has the added "benefit" of fostering the classic divide and conquer strategy as it allows those of us living on the so-called "Mainland" to vote in the presidential election, but not our brethren who live down on the Island. Likewise, those of us up here can't vote in the (non-binding) referendums called again and gain to settle our status vis a vis the USA (a Quixotic quest if there ever was one) nor may we vote for the Island's Governor, but rather for the Governor of whatever state we happen to live in. (even if he turns out to be a sex-addicted hypocrite later....)

For more info on Miguel Luciano:

Alleged Soon-To-Be Monegasque Consort Unleashes Fashion Enigma

I have been meaning to blog about this photo, shared by one of my lovely friends, whom we will call " Fellaysheeah" a week or two ago. For those of you who don't read HOLA! regularly (and I pity you for it) pictured here are the recently-retired South African Olympic swimming champ Charlene Wittstock and her beau, the eternal bachelor Prince Albert of Monaco. His Serene Highness recently turned 50 but has yet to get engaged. A bevy of female walkers have served as arm-candy over the years. But let's not go any further. What concerns me here is a matter of State. WTF is up with that DRESS???? Here are a few hypotheses:

1. for those of you who read this blog, go to my earlier entry "Panda Porn?" under Real News, perhaps she is trying to entice the allegedly queer "fauxristocrat" (my term) to schtupp her?

2. perhaps she is demonstrating her First Lady qualifications by giving a sartorial shout out to the emerging economic and political superpower that is China?

3. Prince Albert isn't subsidizing her fashion budget, so she turned in desperation to a Chinese wholesaler's polyester duvet cover provider to get cheap fabric for her ball gown?

Any other suggestions welcome!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

marimekko at H&M!!!!

Yesterday's launch of the marimekko for H&M line was like Christmas in the Spring for me, I set the alarm early and headed to my nearest branch to try everything on. Marimekko is for me - along with Vera, Pucci and  Missoni one of the classics in textile designs of the second half of the 20th century, none of them ever go out of season or style. I was worried that making cheaper versions of the marimekko designs would translate to nasty materials, but over all, most of the garments were cotton. (the fabrication - as the designers call it- of a few was poly or poly blend) They had a nice range of colors for Spring/Summer, not pictured here were a few items in turquoise/greenish hues. The sizing was generous, especially since the clothes had a very retro 1950s/1960s series of cuts - wide flouncy high-waisted skirt (may have to go back to buy that one) in a red, white and black disc pattern, very Twiggy-esque a-line dresses, long tunic-y tops. The latter two were not good for my 1950 pin-up by way of generations of miscegenation body-type (34-25-36?). But other things were great for an hourglass figure. 

I got:
A black and white swirl print wide-brimmed floppy hat. (pictured in pink above)

The little orange and fuschia (also a very Puerto Rican or Spanish neutral color combo for summer, somebody should study the parallels between high WASP color choices and those of us who are CPs and Latins because take a look at Lily Pulitzer.....) sun dress (bottom photo, second from right to left)

The Betty Page style one-piece bathing suit (pictured above)

The round neck, button up, super A-line 3/4 sleeve dress  in a print matching the bathing suit. Now this one I was wondering about because it is awfully wide but I decided I could rock it as a matching cover up for the bathing suit - a schmatta if you will. 

Buying marimekko at H&M prices: fabulous. Having the opportunity to use the word "schmatta": PRICELESS. 

For more see -

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Real Housewives New York

I don't know how I will cope without the view into the relentlessly vulgar, offensive, and arriviste lifestyles of the Real New York Housewives. How will I sleep not knowing what the Countess is up to - has she trained her recalcitrant overbred dog Aston (as in the car)? Has Bethenny managed to trick her sullen bald boyfriend into impregnating her before the biological clock runs its course (I actually found her less repellent for about 2 minutes when she revealed her vulnerability and discussed how she has no regret about putting her career first for several year and that she was hoping that she could "have it all" - see my post below about "The Good Wife")? Will Ramona's child convince her to stop dressing like a hooker? 

My only consolation is that in its stead I will watch the new season of WORK-OUT which follows the lives of a group of shallow body-fascist personal trainers at a swanky LA gym run by a dysfunctional narcissistic lesbian who is a total train wreck. Everything from schtupping her staff to launching a heinous line of lycra work-out gear to hosting sex-toy parties at her home, she does it! 

Here are the things I love right now:

love how her own (stage-managed to an almost Joan Benet degree) daughter states that her mom dresses "too young for her age" 

love how she tells her daughter and little friends before their first dance that "men are more afraid of you than you are of them" ...somehow, I doubt that the second statement is true but I completely agree with the first one

for a clip of Ramona see:

Countess Lesseps:
After the previous episode's slumming on the LES where she went with a young niece to a place called Cakeshop, I was amused to go to the same place myself last Saturday. I am starting to feel stalkerish since after my disastrous date the week before last, my friend and wingman who met me to de-brief afterwards took me to see her crib. Let me say that according to NY high society,  she is trash and not one of the really wealthy since she lives East of Park Avenue.

love the fact that she got break-dancing lessons for her son to give him some "flava" 

love the comment made by her son that if his sister would go to an all-girls' school she would turn into a lesbian, that's because he doesn't know what happens when girls study art history, which amounts to the same thing as being in an all-girls' school......

Alice and Simon:
Anorexic woman, closeted gay man who treats her as his own personal Barbie doll. Famous for her quote: "we don't collect Picassos we collect clothes," in this episode bemoaned that she will no longer be able to don her tacky leopard print one shoulder bias cut gown because she was featured in the NYTimes Style section. Ah, the troubles of the rich....

When NOT to hyphenate your names

copy and paste this to your browser and you will see more hilarious examples

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Los Amigos Invisibles

Last night I saw Los Amigos Invisibles live for the first time at the Bowery Ballroom. They were AMAZING. They played for 2 hours, including an encore that extended to 5 or 6 songs. Every single person there (it was sold out) was dancing for the entire time, including ME! It was one of the most fun concerts I have ever been to, and I have been in good mood all day. This is a clip of them live at El Museo del Barrio and I am hoping they play there this summer to. They are doing one of my favorite songs "Mujer Policia."