Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In Spain legally, you cannot be fired for calling your boss a son of a bitch.

Thanks to Guanabee - one of my top favorite blogs ever - for linking up to this story from Spain about a ruling that an employee should not be fired for calling his boss an hijo de puta. Don't miss the video linked to the news story, a profane collage of futbolistas, government ministers, TV characters, and everyday people using the insult/term of endearment.

This reminds me of another charming particularity of Spanish as it's spoken in Spain, the recurrent use of the words vale and venga in conversation. Vale meaning literally worth but also colloquially OK and venga from the verb venir to come. The latter of course as in English has varied meanings. But in casual conversation it also means OK or let's go as in let's do it. So when I was living in Madrid and a US-born friend visited me, I demonstrated the ways in which one could carry on an entire conversation with a Spaniard, particularly a madrileño, using just these two words.

Me Hola.

Friend Hola. Te apetece quedar? (Do you want to meet up?)

Me Venga.

Friend En el Circulo? (At the Circle of Fine Arts Cafe Bar?)

Me Vale.

Friend Vale. Quedamos alli.

Me Venga.

Friend Venga. Vale.

Me Venga.

Friend Hasta luego. (pronounced talowgo)

Me Venga.

Friend Venga.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lubna Hussein - My Fashion Icon

While we are here wasting our time talking about what Megan Fox wore to award shows or speculating on what designer Anna Wintour will anoint after New York Fashion Week, Lubna Husein, a Sudanese woman who works in the UN's press office in Khartoum, was arrested for indecency because she was out in public wearing pants.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Charo on the MDA Telethon 2009

What would this world be without Charo??? She was my childhood idol, and she still my idol now. I remember vividly one of her appearances on the Jerry Lewis Telethon in the late 1970s in which her tube top slid down (think Janet's wardrobe malfunction) mid cuchi-cuchi. But she gracefully pulled it up and kept moving. OLE. Don't miss the Iris Chacon Dancers-worthy choreography behind her, the Gong Show quality set, and the poor woman trying to keep up with her at minute 4.22. It's as if the 1970s never ended. Ailobit!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More Fun With Names

As I have been many times before, I am outraged by news of press censorship, in this case, in Venezuela. I read this morning in Spain's EL PAIS that Hugo Chavez is closing down another group of radio stations. I hesitate to find humor here and don't mean to disrespect Venezuelans suffering under his repression, but I could not help but notice the name of the Bolivarian Revolutionary functionary that announced the latest closings, DIOSDADO CABELLO. In the annals of unusual names (and in an earlier post I cited an article about how Chavez himself had been trying to limit the Dada poetry of creative nomenclature in the country), this one is pretty rich. If you translate it into English it is even more divine - GODGIVEN HAIR.

Naming practices in Venezuela:

On the one hand this could be a great slogan for Mirta de Perales' latest product or a fantastic line on a press-release issued by the Miss Venezuela organization to try to draw attention away from the fact that their Delegates usually have cosmetic surgery on every alterable area of their bodies.

The Miss Venezuela organization

Although I would like to believe that it's those of similar ethnicity to mine - Latinos/Caribbean/Latin American/Spanish people who have such originality in selecting names, lately I'm noticing Anglos can also choose pretty creative and unusual ones.

Those Mazda Gonzalez's out there are not alone. Levi Johnston said in an interview that his son Tripp's middle name, Easton, was after a brand of hockey equipment he favors. But then a few of the Palin's kids have unusual names too. And the WASP Anglos have some naming practices that fascinate me. One of them is the last name as first name, as in great-grandmama's Scottish clan and things of that nature. I have heard of Southern WASP young ladies called Hamilton. And in the New York Times STYLES section, which features those with over-six-figure incomes at garden parties in the Hamptons, and this week, a get together of those with Vanderbilt ancestry. Here, I saw the following first names: Wharton (after his daddy's Business school?), Tucker, Coralie, Dorrance, and my favorite ever, Muffet!!!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Christian Poveda

Yesterday I was shocked and saddened to read about the murder of photojournalist and documentary film maker Christian Poveda. While in Chiapas for a conference last March, he presented his documentary about gangs in El Salvador "Mi Vida Loca" as part of a festival. I met him and we spoke briefly after the Q & A. I was quite struck by his idealism and good intentions. I also had questions about his immersion in their lives, which meant that he shot them committing crimes, and simultaneously, the access that the police also gave him. The documentary was shot and edited in a very reality TV style and it made you feel like a witness which I found deeply disturbing, since we saw crimes committed. The way he presented himself was simultaneously: a journalist and an anthropologist participant-observer, a person that got involved with the subjects' lives beyond the reportage.

The ways in which he presented what he witnessed made human beings out of marginalized criminals and called into question the policing organized by the Salvadorean government. During the Q & A he contextualized the background to these horrific events, the violence that emerged out of the civil war and moved with refugees from LA to El Salvador. He wanted to understand why a generation was led to such violence. He wanted to try to find solutions to reintegrate this lost generation back into society. I was moved by his comments that indicated his personal involvement in the gang members' lives. He kept in touch with them and tried to help them, particularly the women and children, although I was not sure of the specifics. He did say that he was speaking to the current President of El Salvador about possible ways in which the youth could be reinserted into society.

If one of his goals was to make people outside of El Salvador aware of the complexities of this situation and its political origins, he succeeded with me. But to what extent does any documentary really change things? I was talking with friends about this last night, and it made me so heartbroken to realize that now that he was murdered, what has in fact happened is that on the one hand the film has been discussed in the thousands of articles published about his death worldwide; but on the other, the focus is on him. The latest government accounts blame 4 mara members and 1 policeman. If he wanted to persuade people that the gang members could be rehabilitated, clearly now events may persuade most that this is not possible.

What I did not know is that his parents were Spanish Republican exiles that fled to France, where he was born, and that this family history motivated him to fight for human rights. (see below)


Sept. 3 Death of a Journalist Who Combined Professionalism with Strong Humanist Convictions

Journalists in Spain, France, Latin America and elsewhere are mourning the death of a colleague who paid for his dedication with his life. Franco-Spanish documentary filmmaker Christian Poveda was shot dead early yesterday in El Salvador, where he had for some time been covering the extremely violent gangs known in Central America as “maras,” which have killed other journalists in the past. His film on the maras, “La Vida Loca,” (Trailer: is to be premiered in France on 30 September.

Fellow journalist Alain Mingam, a member of the Reporters Without Borders board, said this about his close friend today:

“Christian was the son of Spanish Republicans who sought refuge in France. It was from his origins that he derived the strong humanist convictions to which he always remained faithful. He was a reporter in Chile, under the Pinochet dictatorship, in Nicaragua and El Salvador. He was very committed and involved in his subjects without taking sides. His humanistic convictions went hand in hand with a great deal of professional rigour.

“He had an original approach and an incredible ability to penetrate the worlds he was filming, whether AIDS or anti-fascism in France or the Salvadorean maras. For him, the way a film was edited was more important that any comments you made. This was how he restored humanity to people like the ‘mareros’ regardless of how monstrous their actions were. Christian’s personal involvement in his subject even resulted in his being approached by gangs who saw him as a possible mediator.”

Poveda’s name must nonetheless now be added to the long list of victims of violence between the two main mara groups, “Mara 18” and “Mara Salvatrucha,” which is estimated to have cost 3,700 lives last year.

Aged 54, Poveda was found dead near his car on the road from Apopa to Tonacatepeque, in Rosario, a rural area just to the north of the capital, San Salvador. He had been shot in the head. Police said he was on his way from filming in La Campanera, just to the east of the capital.

A life of danger

Christian Gregorio Poveda Ruiz was born in France on 12 January 1955. He established his reputation as a photo-journalist with a report about the Polisario Front’s war in Western Sahara. Many more reports followed, as well as documentaries that were screened in festivals and broadcast by TV stations.

He began going to El Salvador for the first time in the 1980s to cover the 1980-92 civil war, as a photographer for Time magazine as a correspondent for French news media and international news agencies. He returned to El Salvador in the 1990s, this time covering the armed gang phenomenon. He also covered wars in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

La Vida Loca

Poveda spent 16 months with the gangs in the east San Salvador of La Campanera in order to make La Vida Loca, which was broadcast for the first time in 2008 and focuses on “Mara 18.” Its images are crude and disturbing – gang members gunned down in the street, the corpses of teenagers, relatives weeping over coffins, young women with their faces covered with tattoos.

According to the local media, Poveda witnessed seven murders in the course of making the film. Three of the seven victims were people who figure prominently in the documentary. Other Mara 18 members who appear in the film were arrested while it was being made.

La Vida Loca also takes a critical look at the strong-arm methods used by the police against the young gang members. While recognising that they sow terror, it portrays gang-members as victims of broken homes who nonetheless fascinate. It also tries to show how young Salvadoreans are pushed into crime by social and economic conditions which, in his view, are too often ignored.

“We must try to understand why a child of 12 or 13 joins a gang and gives his life for it,” Poveda said in an interview for the Salvadorean online daily El Faro. Already broadcast in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Germany and Hungary, La Vida Loca has never been screened in El Salvador.

(Photo of Christian Poveda: AFP)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Puerto Rican Dada Poetry -- Local Naming Practices

My obsession with naming practices in spanish-speaking countries, particularly the caribbean ones, continues. A friend sent me the following article that features two salient features. One, the nickname that has nothing to do with your given name, in this case, it goes so far as to be slightly pejorative - Tripillo (one who has a bit of a paunch). Two, the anglicized invented name, as we see in the name of the presiding prosecutor, judge Lady bono. (which in english translation is even funnier, lady bonus)
04:02 P.M.

Vélez Arocho: La pantera “va a aparecer”

Ex secretario del DRNA dice sentirse reivindicado tras arresto de presunto dueño del felino que atemorizó a vecinos de Caimito

Por Frances Rosario /

Aún no se tienen rastros de la famosa pantera que merodeó el área de Caimito, pero ya el Negociado de Investigaciones Especiales (NIE) logró esta madrugada el arresto de su supuesto dueño por estar ligado a la venta de sustancias controladas en esta área.

Según informó el director de la agencia, Víctor Carbonell Ramírez, el dueño de la pantera es Ángel G. Falero Vázquez.

Éste fue arrestado junto a otras siete personas en un operativo especial para desarticular dos gangas dedicadas al narcotráfico y trasiego ilegal de armas en San Juan, Trujillo Alto y Canóvanas.

Agentes del NIE que se encontraban en la conferencia de prensa en la que se informó de los arrestos especificaron que -mientras estuvieron infiltrados en la ganga- Falero Vázquez, quien es conocido como “Goyo” y “Tripillo”, pudieron ver la exótica mascota.

No obstante, durante el operativo no se encontraron animales exóticos en la casa del individuo. Sí hallaron ocho perros que se creen son raza Pitbull.

Tras el arresto de Falero Velásquez, el ex secretario del Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales y quien siguió por varias semanas el rastro de la pantera, Javier Vélez Arocho, dijo sentirse reinvindicado. Afirmó que se confirma que la busqueda que emprendió no fue para capturar a un mito.

"En muchas ocasiones vimos como el problema de animales exóticos estaba relacionado a este tipo de tráfico de sustancias controladas y los mencionábamos en los medios de comunicación, y ha sido así. Esto nos prueba a nostoros como ciudadanos que el problema persiste y estoy seguro que las agencias federales y estatales están siguiendo el caso y en su momento este animal va a aparecer".

De otra parte, los otros arrestados en el operativo fueron identificados como José Rivera Torres, Christopher Falero González, Luis Cortés Cabán, Omar Vázquez Rivera, José Rosario Figueroa, José Astacio Burns y Yamil Díaz Colón. A éstos se le radicaron de entre dos y 11 cargos por posesión de drogas y armas y por realizar actividades vinculadas a crímenes organizados.

José Laureano Quiñones, otro de los individuos buscados por el NIE, fue ubicado en Texas, aunque no ha sido arrestado.

La jueza Lady Bono, del Tribunal de San Juan, fijó una fianza global de $7,600,000.

Durante el operativo se ocuparon cinco armas de fuego, municiones, marihuana y heroína.


this portrait is my personal favorite

As someone of Puerto Rican heritage, I have longed to see that elusive and multifaceted creature, the Chupacabras. Arguably worthy of joining the ubiquitous Coqui tree frog and our vicious fighting cocks as part of a national animal trifecta, this menacing creature has mostly been heard from, but not seen. This does not however mean that inventive islanders have not created a rich iconographic tradition for its depiction, and that marketers have not created a lovely array of products.

Among the (many) things that I love about this creature is that it originated in Puerto Rico, my native island, and then achieved world-wide renown, much like another global item for export, Ricky Martin. What is little-known perhaps is that this mysterious creature is part of a repertoire of alienoid creatures, ET sightings, mysterious flying saucers, legends linking the Island to Atlantis, and the natives to the Ancient Egyptians, regarded as extra-terrestrial beings.

a book I'd love to read about the Garadiavolo

I grew up terrorized by the amphibian hybrid known as the Garadiavolo, sucking innocent beachgoers away from their fritanga and Medalla sixpacks to a sinister underwater grave, and kept awake at night hearing about children wandering off at the tropical rain forest El Yunque, where flying saucers swept down and absconded with the hapless infants.

Newstands at old school pharmacies like Moscoso, and at the ever-present PUEBLO supermarkets featured a wide selection of UFO and paranormal related publications. On my recent visit to the Island I was delighted to find one such magazine at an old school farmacia in Isabela. It was filled with detailed and lavishly illustrated articles demonstrating our apparently constant contacts with Extra-Terrestrials.

Here is a video featuring experts on these paranormal phenomena. Notice the gentleman at the beginning of the tape, clad in camo jacket and a patriotic baseball hat that includes an American Eagle and US Flag. Could he be sending a message warning us: Coño, despierta Boricua! The Chupacabra is Colonialism, gente! Pa'l carajo con los Yankis! The second gentleman is speaking about prior unsolved killings linked to extra-terrestials dating back to the mid-1970s (when I was a kid) and distinguishing these to the chupacabra.

For more see:

Lady Bullfighters

Last night I saw a great documentary on PBS P.O.V. about women who pursue a career in bullfighting in Spain. Setting aside individuals' opinions about this controversial sport, it was fascinating to learn about this history and the struggles they faced to enter the profession. I was mesmerized by one historical figure in particular, a woman called Juanita Cruz (see glamorous photos, above) who worked in the 1920s and 1930s, until forced to leave Spain during the Civil War. She never returned.

For more about the film, see:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why is this blog called PETITE MAOISTE?


The name for the blog comes from a nickname that someone I loved came up with many years ago, it has nothing whatsoever to do with my ethnicity (in fact I am half Puerto Rican and half Spanish) or my politics, but something to do with my fervor & fashion. The topics as I mention in About me, are things that amuse, interest, and sometimes disturb me, some of which have to do with my academentia. They often evolve from conversations with my close friends.

Miss Universe Fixed!?!

Guanabee is on my top list of favorite blogs, but they have outdone themselves today with their big Pageantry scoop, an interview with the choreographer/conceptual genius behind the staging. The big headline, The Donald allegedly sometimes does a pre-selection of the best looking women (wait! you mean looks are the ultimate criteria?) up to around 5 or 6 of the top 15. So THIS explains the proliferation of Eastern European ladies in the final 15 and 10 this year. I feel vindicated.
Below is the link to the article and a juicy quote about why us Latinas do so well in the pageant.

Moving on, obviously we’re all about the Latinas who are competing in the Miss Universe pageant. What do you think, since you have a right up-close visual of it, what is their competitive advantage where they dominate the Universe?

Well, beauty is different in every culture of the world but when I think of “Miss Universe” I don’t typically think of blond hair and blue eyes. I don’t know why, even though that’s a look for Northern Europeans, that’s the look in Australia. When I think Miss Universe I think of a multi-ethnic look or more of an exotic Latin-inspired look. I also find that a lot of the Latin women just have a fire and a heat that you can’t teach, that’s a part of their culture. There’s just something that, I can’t put a name on it, but I find that a lot of the Latin contestants at this event have that extra oomph, that extra something, and they are not little girls. They are women.