The Balkanization of the Latino/Spanish DVD Section - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 14, 2010 04:07pm | Post a Comment

Just in time for the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, we've divided up the Latino/Spanish DVD section into smaller subsections based on a film's country of origin. Now there are separate sections for Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Cuba, Chile and... the most popular, American Latino films. This follows similar moves in Asian Cinema, Foreign (mostly European) Cinema and African Cinema. Of course, the key objection here is that all the films are in the same language... which isn't true. Within its confines are films in Aranese,  Basque, Castilian, Catalan/Valencian, Caló/Pachuco, Chicano, English, Galician, Llanito, Nuyorican, Occitanian, Silbo Gomero, Spanglish, Tejano and combinations of several.

It also covers a lot of genres that reflect the cultural diversity of the Hispanosphere. In addition, fans of pretentious -- I mean arty -- Mouvement panique movies routinely got all bent out of shape having to sully their hands with lucha libre movies. Likewise, homies looking for cholo movies weren't usually to interested in the works of Pedro Almodovar. Not to mention you, the customers asked us to divide it... so there you go!

The Mexican section obviously scooped up but retained the CantinflasIndia MariaSanto, Tin Tan and Viruta and Capulina sections. The charro movies, the rancheras and the vaquero movies were absorbed into the greater Mexican section. As far as "Los Tres Gallos," Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante still have their own subsections and Javier Solís continues (for whatever reason) to not.

The Spanish section acquired the Pedro Almodovar subsection. Otherwise, no surprises there.

The Argentine, Cuban and Chilean sections are too small to have subsections... and I'll be damned, but why isn't Memorias del Subdesarrollo on DVD yet?!

The most popular films in the former Spanish/Latino section are, with a few exceptions, all American Latino films. That's where you find titles like American MeBlood In, Blood Out, Boulevard Nights, La Bamba, Mi Vida Loca, ScarfaceSelena, Stand and Deliver and more. That section almost never happened. We have Asian-American and African-American sections but something about a Latino section was controversial. There are definitely well-meaning people (almost always white) whose heads are so twisted by PC that they're scared to recognize diversity. I understand their sensitivity but by that logic, a Gay section is homophobic, War and Action sections are pacifist, the Classic and Kids sections are ageist, and the Anime, Sci-Fi and Fantasy sections are nerdphobic! Talk about being through the looking glass!

There was also concern that it wasn't really a genre since it doesn't have a snappy name like Blaxploitation. I liked the ring of Brown Cinema but that didn't happen. But this is LA, carnal! You know, where one out of every two people is Latino, where 40% of the population speaks Spanish as a first language. I mean, I don't got offended that Ritmo Latino has an English section, you know? (I get more offended by Baja Fresh's insistence on blasting annoying Cuban music). So if you like the new set up, let us know! And if you can't find something, as always, holler at the info counter. Al rato, vato!

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Honduran-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 4, 2010 12:10pm | Post a Comment

In the US, the word "Latino" is used often, regardless of accuracy, as shorthand for a region's dominant Latino population. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although it goes without saying that there are many less-recognized groups of Latinos. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America.

This entry is about Hondurans, who at an estimated 527,154 (although possibly as high as 890,317) currently living in the US, make up the eighth (or seventh, depending on figures) largest Latino population in the country.

Upon assuming the office of president in 1981, Ronald Reagan authorized the CIA to have their paramilitary officers from the Special Activities Division begin financing, arming and training rebels to advance right-wing interests in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, the US backed Honduran army and death squads, notably Battalion 316, waged a quieter conflict against the left in Honduras. The bloodshed and economic situation provided the impetus for many Hondurans to pursue work and residency in the US, especially in The Carolinas, New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Florida, Virginia and Los Angeles. In the latter, they often settled in the Midtown neighborhoods of Westlake and Wilshire Center, although many Garifuna, whose blackness trumps their Latino-ness in Los Angeles, settled in predominantly black South LA neighborhoods.

Honduran-Americans's self-identify as 90% Mestizo, 7% Native, 2% Black and 1% white. Most of the indigenous people are Lenca, Xicaques, Miskitos, Payas or the Ch'orti' peoples. The food of the Honduras reflects their particular cultural mix of indigenous, European and West African traditions. Popular foods in Honduran cuisine include avocados, baleada, bananas, beef soup, carneada, catrachitas, chilaquiles, chimol, enchiladas, fried Yojoa fish, montucas, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, plantains, plums, sapotes, seafood soup, sopa de caracol, soap de mondongo, sopa mariner, tacos fritos, tamales, tortilla con quesillo and yucca con chicharrón.

When Hondurans came to the US, they also brought their music. Punta was originally developed by the Garifuna people in the 1700s. Contemporary punta and punta rock developed in Honduras, Belize and Guatemala and is popular in the US where Hondurans and those from neighboring countries have settled. Other forms of dance music popular amongst Hondurans include charikawi, gunchei, matadfgmuerte and sambai. However, I don't know of any Honduran-American musicians.

There are a handful of Honduran-American actors/entertainers who've made some inroads. They include America Ferrera, Daniel Zacapa, José Zúñiga, Carlos Mencia and Rocsi.

There haven't been a lot of American movies with Honduran characters. There is Sin Nombre, a US/Mexican co-production.

...and some Honduran kids...

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring East Los Angeles

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 20, 2010 06:30pm | Post a Comment


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of East Los Angeles

East Los Angeles is a neighborhood on Los Angeles' EastsidePlease click here to vote for other Los Angeles Neighborhoods to be the subjects of future blog entries. Please also click here to vote for Los Angeles County communities. And lastly, please vote for Orange County neighborhoods by clicking here

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of The Eastside

East Los Angeles is the best known neighborhood on the Eastside and because of the similarity of their designations, some confuse "Eastside" and "East Los Angeles" as synonymous. However, whereas most of the Los Angeles's Eastside is part of the city of Los Angeles (e.g. Boyle Heights, Brooklyn Heights, El Sereno, Happy Valley, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Rose Hill, and University Hills), East Los Angeles (confusingly, given its name) is an unincorporated Eastside community that is part of the County of Los Angeles but not the city. Efforts to incorporate as its own city have occurred several times but thus far been unsuccessful.

East Los Angeles is neighbored by El Sereno to the north, Alhambra to the northeast, Monterey Park to the east, Montebello to the southeast, Commerce to the south, Vernon to the southwest, and Boyle Heights to the west.

East Los Angeles includes within it several smaller neighborhoods including Belvedere Gardens (or just Belvedere), City Terrace, Eastmont, Maravilla Park (or just Maravilla), Palma Heights, Observation Heights, Occidental Heights, the Whittier Shopping District (not to be confused with the city of Whittier), and Wellington Heights.

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Dominican-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 18, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

In the US, what the word "Latino" connotes varies regionally -- often, regardless of accuracy. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although obviously not the only ones. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about the fifth largest Latino population, Dominicans.

At last count, there were approximately 1.3 million people of Dominican descent in the country, the majority of whom are descended from a mixture of Spanish, West African and Taíno (the country's indigenous people). There are also large numbers of Jewish, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese and Syrians in the country, as well as immigrants from throughout the Caribbean.

Genocidal Domincan dictator Rafael "el Jefe" Trujillo was assassinated on May 30th, 1961. Due to fear of retaliation by Trujillo's allies and the ensuing political instability, many Dominicans fled the country for the US, mostly setting in New York and New Jersey. After, the Dominican Republic briefly moved to the left; in April, 1965, Lyndon Johnson sent Marines and the Army's Airborne Corps to the country to make sure they didn't become "another Cuba." Right wing Joaquín Balaguer came to power in the wake of Operation Powerpack, and unleashed twelve years of repression. As a result, more Dominicans fled the county and immigration continued into the 1980s, by then due additionally to high levels of unemployment on the island.

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Hispanic Heritage Month - Documentaries covering Latino & Hispanic experiences in the United States

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 2, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
For Hispanic Heritage Month, if you want to get an interesting and informed look at Latino issues, you could probably do worse than checking out a documentary... Most cover a handful of issues and often from different perspectives. Check the Latino/Spanish Special Interest section at Amoeba for availability.

War - 
There are several documentaries that focus on Latino and Hispanic issues in American wars. From Juan Ponce de León and Hernan de Soto sniffing around the modern day US in search of eternal youth and gold, through aggression between the US, Mexico and Spain, to the disproportionate reliance on Latinos to fight our modern wars, these DVDs cover a lot of territory.


Immigration - It shouldn't come as a surprise that the number one topic regarding Latino issues is the subject of immigration, primarily of the undocumented variety. What may come as more of a surprise is that one in five illegal immigrants to the US isn't Latino... something zero documentaries deal with, to my knowledge.


Gangs - People love them some gang documentaries. Currently, there are suprisingly few about Latino gangs, whilst every week it seems like there's some new one made about the safely-behind-us, romanticized Cosa Nostra.


Artists - Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali account for nearly every documentary about Latino and Hispanic artists. I realize that neither ever became American citizens, but they worked in, interacted with, and affected the US in deeply felt ways. For example, 4 in 5 dorm residents still has some Dali poster or other, usually next to Bob Marley.


Hollywood -
The Latino experience in Hollywood is pretty limited, given the population make-up of the US. Perhaps that's why there are so few documentaries about the subject.

Communities - The US is still a very segregated society and established Latino communities in the US are still often separate, self-contained microcosms.


Cultural Observances -
These documentaries focus on holidays and commemorations... and Walter Mercado, who defies categorization in nearly every way.


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