juan luis guerra Archives - The Jose Vilson

juan luis guerra

Short Notes: La Travesia (The Crossing)

by Jose Vilson on July 27, 2008

in Short Notes

Juan Luis Guerra

A few notes:

I hope the Juan Luis Guerra series convinced 1/2 of you to expand your horizons and download a couple of dudes’ tracks. If not, I need to do another series.

5 projects in the queue, none down.

August 15 re-release of the jlv? Excellent.

Wall-E is a must-see movie. Great date movie. Overall, good story.

My cousin Erick’s movie kicked ass at the NY Latino Film Festival. Well received. El Cazador de Venganza’s trailer is here. I’m sure there’ll be more information posted soon about it.

John Kruk and Steve Phillips remind me of the degeneration of baseball. Peter Gammons and Buster Olney remind me why I loved baseball to begin with.

Hill Harper’s following me on Twitter and Nezua of The Unapologetic Mexican added me on his blogroll. Have I arrived? Maybe so.

I love meeting new people in my social networks and even developing older ones, too.

I’m rescinding any inclinations to truly endorse Barack Obama until I actually hear his educational platform. His actions (i.e. appointments to committees) scream louder than any speech he could make.

I hate when people make calls to educate oneself and act like they’re high and mighty, but immediately contradict themselves. Case in point. Also, shout-out to Sassy for linking me.

People say they care about educators, but it’s all lip service. I’m pro-union; take it how you want to.

This has been the best two weeks I’ve had in years. Too bad my lady is leaving to an even more distant country (her mother’s country of origin) for 16 days. She looked wonderful tonight. I’ll miss her.

jose, who wants to do a virtual vernissage for the august 15th release, at the behest of one tracy rosen

{ 1 comment }

Me Sube La Bilirrubina (It Raises My Bilirubin)

by Jose Vilson on July 25, 2008

in Jose

I’m honestly not that arrogant. I just like to call madness out for what it is. Eddie Griffin might be right: I’m insane, and that’s something to be congratulated.

Watching Black in America over the last 2 days, at the encouragement ad nauseum of practically everyone in my Facebook, Twitter, etc., I’ve been somewhat reintroduced to the idea of Blackness and how applicable my own experience is to the ideas brought on by the segments of the show. For one, if we work under the presumption that I’m strictly Black (and not a Black-Latino, or ethnically, a Dominican-Haitian-American), then people who talk to me usually lay a foundation out for my discourse, my actions, and my dress code out of ill-wrought stereotypes. Statistically and upon first review, I’m already a victim of the same discrimination that keeps a million Black men in prison, a million more from attaining the jobs or the promotion that they want, and everyone else from achieving first-class citizenry with those who consider themselves White. We are not a monolith yes, but even in our own dialogues, we tend to indicate otherwise.

The experiences I’ve had, negative and positive in this country, have led me to understand my position as a Black man. Then there are times when my skin textures, color, and facial features are not enough to validate my authenticity as a Black person. That comes from the second level of recognition of a person i.e. my culture. Everything in my exterior might suggest one thing, but the way I speak, the languages I use, the area I decided to teach at, and even my name have always come into contention. On the one end, I can’t be mad; I love gauging the reactions of everyone when I tell them what I’m called, who I date, and my usual dinner (rice and beans, if you must know). On the other hand, it’s a little unnerving to know that, no matter how the dominant culture perceives me, I neither have absolute residence in either camp.

Not that I haven’t written about this before, but someone added a new dimension to that when they asked me the following:

Are you happy with the amount of attention your blog receives?

My response: This isn’t my full time job, so yes, I’m pretty happy with my blog’s successes thus far. Could I use a little more readership? Sure. But I won’t sacrifice why I write for that.

Well, why do you think you may not receive as much attention as some of the more mainstream bloggers?

That’s hard to say, but it could be multiple reasons. It could be because of the aforementioned limits in time, having a job and such. It could be because I discuss education and not always politics or popular culture. Oftentimes, the topic of education becomes marginalized even when I believe it should be at the forefront of our discussions. Most of my commenters are educators on some level themselves. But a small part of me, the same part of me that wonders why I won’t get nominated for certain blog awards because I’m either too Black / Latino or not Black / Latino enough, thinks that it’s because of the identity I’ve undertaken and the way I’ve chosen to express that i.e. I’m Black / Latino, I’m proud, and I’m not going to pigeonhole anyone else strictly based on one part of their being, even if we stand at opposing ends of a topic’s spectrum. Thus, even in cyberspace, we mirror the real world.

Because G_d forbid you’re told by a group of Blacks that you’re only good enough for them when they need the numbers, and not good enough when you’re trying to run your own organization. Heaven knows some group of Latinos is only good when making other Latinos look good, but not very Latino when he or she’s not out in the club or when they don’t fit a certain mold. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been looked at during high school to rap or, in more recent times, slam and speak in staccato. Yet, I can’t unstrap myself from the identities I’ve chosen either. I love my dance, my food, my language, and my people.

We have a hard time looking at ourselves (and I mean all of us), and saying, “What are our prejudices?” Imagine if we asked ourselves questions like, “Why do I use some of the prejudiced statements I do?,” “How am I holding another man or woman back from succeeding in their own right?,” and “How does my presence in my community benefit how my community does?” Sometimes, the answers to those questions shocked me, and I had no one to answer but to myself. The astounding prejudice we face in this country can only be remedied once we look at ourselves and create cogent and logical arguments for why we feel the way we do. Then, we need to let go of some of our prejudices while developing pro-peace and pro-community dialogue and not develop an ego in the process.

But a series on the world’s news leader won’t reveal that. We can go over the problems and quandaries in the Black community as much as we want to, much the way we shuffle cards on a table. We can lay them all out as many times as we want in a million different combinations. Yet, the cards are still there, and we haven’t done a damn thing to take them off. Does it make us comfortable to know that the cards are still there? Even if we somehow push the card to the brink of the table, does it satiate us to just keep the card out of play than actually taking it off completely? I’m not sure, and CNN doesn’t have the answers. Neither do we just yet.

But who’ll be insane enough to work towards it? Who? I guess that’s up to you and your reflection …

jose, who understands as a math teacher why solutions are important …

p.s. – I would link you to the referring Juan Luis Guerra song, but … OK, no excuse. Here it is (“La Bilirrubina“) …


Visa Para Un Sueno (Visa For A Dream)

by Jose Vilson on July 23, 2008

in Jose

Buscando visa para un sueño
Buscando visa para un sue

My dreams have gotten more macabre lately. Even while my life’s been going great, and it’s gotten better, my dreams have gotten even more insane. Losing more family members, jumping off buildings, and screaming at the top of my lungs for reasons unknown to me are some of the scary images I’ve encountered. I’m assuming it’s a mixture of a range of feelings from mistrust and paranoia to nervousness and preoccupation of the future. It’s cool; it comes with having new and different experiences. I’ve gotten more projects than ever, and different opportunities that I didn’t think would arise. I’m also trying to set and complete goals really, working as hard as I ever have.

But this is all for some dream, I guess. Eventually, I’d like the 2-3 kids (because I couldn’t decide which 1/2 of the kid I’d want), the lady / mother in their lives, a successful career, and a very very very fine apartment / house. I’d also like to say that I’ve explored every avenue that my creativity will allow, from the blogs to the poetry. I want a book with my name published and my name alone. I’d like to do a couple more speaking engagements. I’d also like to see my first class of students graduate from college, and them tell me what it feels like. I’d like to pick up an instrument, and watch a few more of my top 10 music artists in concert. I want to touch every continent other than Antarctica.

I just need a visa to my dreams. I’m not sure where it’ll take me …

jose, whose dreams become more lucid in lightning and thunder …


Ojala Que Llueva Cafe En El Campo (Hope That It Rains Coffee In The Field)

July 22, 2008 Jose
Kids In Front of School In Rain

Juan Luis Guerra’s quintessential song is “Ojala Que Llueva Cafe En El Campo,” a song that comes across more as a incantation that the poor and hopefully at the least have coffee somehow fall from the sky to bless them, as if to say that G_d might bless them with their basic necessities to relieve […]

Read more →

El Costo De La Vida (The Cost Of Life)

July 21, 2008 Jose
Cost of Living

In “El Costo De La Vida (The Cost Of Life)”, Juan Luis Guerra starts off the song like he and his friends are reading straight from a stack of newspapers he’s got on his desk. Check the flow: El costo de la vida sube otra vez el peso que baja ya ni se ve y […]

Read more →

Short Notes: Vale La Pena (It’s Worth The Sorrow)

July 20, 2008 Short Notes
Juan Luis Guerra

1. I just love writing. I really do. No, no long reflections or juxtapositions. Just needed to get that out there. Lately, I’ve thought about what how happy writing makes me, even when my own writing here has become a subject of contention in different areas. My musings about life, love, and the pursuit of […]

Read more →