The Perfect Playlist: E’s Spanish Jazz 3

Not too long ago my best friend from college sent me a picture of a mix tape that I made for her in 1988 which she remarkably still has. I titled it “Past Tense” after a poem I had written back then. I lost the notebook where I had written that poem, but remembered some of the lines. I also remembered some of the songs on that tape, most notably on all of side a.

vader tape

Social media humor.

The playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right. What I mean by right is that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture; it takes me on a journey and inspires. What I love about digital versus tape is flexibility for experimentation. Though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman.

Interestingly, I made some mix tapes that I thought were so good, that I remembered them and they now exist as playlists on my iPhone / iPod. I thought I would share some of my favorite playlists on my blog. Here is my first one called “E’s Spanish Jazz 3.” It mixes several Spanish language genres. It is also the third and my favorite version of the “Spanish Jazz” playlists. I have included links to YouTube so you can hear the songs for yourself and maybe add it to your own device.

  1. La Pluma by Bloque
  2. La nave del olvido by Buika
  3. Remedios by Gertrudis
  4. Sultanas de Merkaillo by Ojos de Brjuo
  5. Sabor a Mi by Bebo Valdes
  6. Lo Siento Mi Amor by Rocio Jurado
  7. Un Mundo Raro by Lila Downs and Diego El Cigala
  8. Awakeing by The Souljazz Orchestra
  9. Che Che Cole by Antibalas
  10. La Media Vuelta by Falete
  11. Romance de la Luna Tucumana by Diego El Cigala
  12. Tangos De Pepico by Estrella Moraente
  13. Sabor a Mi by El Chicano
  14. Quiereme Mucho by Linda Ronstadt
  15. Querido Emigrante by Milly Quezada
  16. Idiilio by Willie Colon
  17. Bajo La Tormenta by Sergio George’s Salsa Giants
  18. Perfume de Gardenias by Miguel Zenon

P.S. I have about ten versions of “Sabor a Mi”—it is amazing song that many recording artists have covered and I have yet to hear one I have not liked!

P.S. II La nave del olvido by Buika is in my top ten all-time favorite songs!

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Roseanne Conner, Trump Supporter?

The revival of Roseanne, which presented the title character as a Trump supporter was a ratings boon for ABC. Prior to the episode airing, I saw that some liberals on social media were calling for a ban on the show, while conservatives were tripping all over themselves praising the first episode. I understand that Trump himself called Roseanne to congratulate her. I am willing to bet that he didn’t actually view the episode and if he did, was not deft enough to pick up on the interesting nuances—which many conservatives and liberals failed to see!

Roseanne was one of the few shows I viewed from beginning to end during the 1980s and 1990s (I wasn’t the avid television watcher I am today). Even though the show depicted a blue-collar family, it was through a remarkably progressive lens. I remember when I read that it was being revived, I watched some of the original episodes again on Amazon Prime and was astounded by how much more relevant it was in 2017. The show tackled issues like domestic violence, LGBT rights, unemployment and even PMS with notable intelligence and humor. And while much the original run of the show is still relevant today, the world has changed significantly since 1997.

The most prominent change has been the bloody aftermath stemming from the loss of the Fairness Doctrine (a Federal Communications Commission policy that required news broadcasters to provide balanced views on controversial topics). The most polarizing destructive force on the nation has been Fox “news”, which was on its ascent around the time the original run of Roseanne was coming to an end. Interestingly, the Roseanne revival subtlety notes this when Rosanne yells at Jackie, “He was talking jobs. Shaking things up!”

At the moment, I don’t think that Roseanne the person has completely mutated into Charlton Heston (once an active supporter of the civil rights movement who later became an NRA gun nut). Like Trump, Roseanne is a master manipulator of garnering attention from the media (as I was writing this, some pictures surfaced of her baking gingerbread men while dressed like Hitler). I remember during the original run of the series, Roseanne always managed to spark some controversy, usually around sweeps week (like when she and her husband were going to marry their assistant…?) It became predictable and tedious. With the Roseanne revival, as with the actress, there is a disconnect with what she says and what she does or portrays (my standing recommendation with Trump is to watch what he does, and conjecture little on what he says).

We see an older and slimmer Dan and Roseanne Conner sharing medications because their insurance does not fully cover all that they need for their various ailments (e.g., Trump and his fellow Republicans have essentially killed any affordable healthcare for Americans). Darlene is now the single mother of two children who lost her job in Chicago and had to move back home (e.g., Carrier Air moving jobs south of the border to Mexico, leaving many Trump supporters unemployed). Darlene’s son, Mark, likes to wear girls’ clothes and Roseanne the Trump supporter is okay with it and supports it, while Dan tolerates it without ever being demeaning. DJ has served a tour in the Army and now has an African-American daughter named Mary (DJ’s wife is still serving abroad) whom Dan and Roseanne appear to adore (Trump’s inimical feelings toward African-Americans is well documented and long). Roseanne and Jackie haven’t spoken since the 2016 election (Jackie voted for Jill Stein) although they later reconcile. Jackie wears a “Nasty Woman” t-shirt and a pussy hat while she and Roseanne yell “deplorable” and “snowflake” at each other.

Perhaps the most interesting change is with Becky—who has physically morphed into her mother-in-law, Barbara Healy! Is this some bizarre tribute to her late husband? It reminded me of Trump’s HAIRDOn’t, which is a bizarre, gender bending tribute to his late mother. Anyway, Becky has been financially struggling after Mark’s death and agrees to act as a surrogate mother for a woman named Andrea, who is played by Sarah Chalke the actress who took over the part of Becky when Lecy Goranson left to study at Vassar. In a nod to the two Darrins on Bewitched, the Goranson Becky vs. the Chalke Becky became a running gag on the series’ original run. My favorite moment on the first episode was when Becky noted how much they look alike and Andrea responded with, “Yes, you look exactly like me when I am not wearing make-up.” The shade!

becky-morphed

Is Becky honoring her late husband by morphing into her mother-in-law much like Trump honors his mother with that HAIRDOn’t?

Great comedy often springs from conflict. On Will and Grace, another recently revived series which I think owes part of its success to the way Roseanne first presented Gay and Lesbian characters, the Karen Walker character is a Trump supporter—and it makes great comedy! On a recent episode, Grace actually had to defend Karen’s right to have a bakery create a MAGA cake and the result was brilliant mirror for both liberal and conservative viewpoints. I think that this is what Roseanne is trying to do, hold up a mirror to the country so that we can take a look at and think for ourselves.

Book Review: I Hope You Fall In Love

The well-known quote of not judging a book by its cover unequivocally applies to I Hope You Fall in Love. A collection of poetry and prose written by R YS Pérez, this book is not the lovey-dovey schmaltz that the cover would initially lead you to believe.

Pérez dedicates the book to “those who love hard and those who are afraid to.” In her introduction, she notes that she has a problem when it comes to writing: “I only seem to write when I am falling in love or falling apart.” She then brilliantly notes that, “…writing is all about divergent thinking colliding with a hurricane of emotions.” She makes another analogy to love as weather when she writes, “Love no longer becomes a feeling – it becomes a storm.” Love is as unpredictable and powerful as the weather. We try to make sense of the weather, why not try to make sense of love— and that is what Pérez is doing in I Hope You Fall in Love.

Throughout the book there are brief, but notable, one paragraph diary entries. The most outstanding was dated 6 October 2016 (Pérez writes the date as it would appear in Spanish, where the day is written first and not the month as in American English):

“My sister asked me “Do you love someone all the time?”’ And it was one of those moments when I realized I could say something profound. So, I took a deep breath, thought about it. No, I said, sometimes you’ll want to strangle them more than you love them. But then it passes, and you’ll love them even more.”

Absolute truth! When you truly love someone, they can drive you mad. As Olympia Dukakis’ Rose said to Cher’s Loretta in the classic film, Moonstruck, “When you love ’em, they drive you crazy. ‘Cause they know they can.”

Pérez’s exploration of love is not just limited to romantic love. She explores the love of family (even writing to an unborn, future daughter), connecting with your roots as well as love of country.

“My family is like America; we are blend of melanin and uncertain borders.”

“My family is like America; a country of tolerance, and so many other things all at once. A beautiful mess of so many complexities. My family is like America; or at least the America I would like to be in.”

Pérez also bravely bears out her insecurities in the section of prose titled “The Color Brown.”

“I wanted to embody what I loved about my favorite colors, to be bright and lovely.”

Later in the poem titled, “My Skin: Take Pride in It”, Pérez takes on whitewashing via self-exploration:

“The color of the surface of my skin

tinted like windows,

mocking the sun,

creating artificial nightfall creeping across

my skin.”

“You dread because you want to rid yourself of the ancestral bond…”

Ultimately, in spite of what she detailed in “The Color Brown”, Pérez accepts who she is in “My Skin: Take Pride in It”,

“But I could never find myself

to be ashamed

of my beautiful cinnamon brown

skin.”

I Hope You Fall in Love is Pérez’s first book (she is one to watch). At times, it feels a bit all of the place while concurrently feeling cohesive—and that is its genius! It brilliantly captures the wide-ranging feelings love can provoke in a very personal, but relatable way. I Hope You Fall in Love really stayed with me in that it got me to thinking about past romantic relationships, my relationships with friends, family and deceased loved ones for several days after I completed it.

Going back to my initial feelings on the cover, I was absolutely wrong about its simplicity. Like the book, there is a great deal of complexity in the cover. Love, like the web-like suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, can be confusing, but when properly anchored, can hold you up.

 

Ms. Pérez’s web site is https://www.rebeccaysperez.com/ .

Ms. Pérez can also be found on Good Reads at https://www.goodreads.com/Becks-TheStoryBookGirl

 

I hope you fall in love cover e

Posing with my copy.

 

 

Coney Island Winter: A Photo Essay

Earlier this month, I made a long-overdue pilgrimage back to Coney Island. It was the first time I had visited during the off-season in about twenty years. It was also my first time ever visiting during the off-season with my camera. The ambiance during the off season is, of course, quite different. The amusement parks are empty and there not many people around. My eye was drawn to the beach and the ocean—I forgot how much I love that crisp, winter sea air! I hope this collection of photographs conveys that wonderfully peaceful feeling.

Brooklyn Eiffel Tower

Brooklyn Eiffel Tower

Underneath with the Tides

Underneath with the Tides

Pier Noir

Pier Noir

thunderbolt

Thunderbolt

Tidal Walk

A Tidal Walk

Seashell by the Brooklyn Shore

Brooklyn Seashell

Wavy Wood

Wavy Wood

Friend of the Gulls

Friend of the Gulls

Winter Pier

Winter Pier

Juan

One of the great things about living in New York City is that you get to meet people from all of the world—even on a cold, crisp day in Coney Island. I met Juan, who was a visitor from Argentina who agreed to pose for me.

Juan-scarf

Juan’s Scarf

Juan black and white 2

Juan views the Atlantic

Juan black and white front

One Last Picture

Deconstructing a Conservative Troll

Growing up, I thought that trolls were repugnant fabled creatures that lived under old stone bridges and came out at night to scare children. As an adult, I am surprised to find that variations of the troll actually exist in daily life! You have probably had dealings with them too. Examples include:

  • that annoying colleague who copies everyone in an e-mail in a half-baked attempt to make you look bad;
  • that angry motorist who flashes their bright lights in an effort to get you to move faster when you are already driving at the speed limit;
  • the individual who cannot stay off their phone in a movie theater or at a concert;
  • the man who endlessly harasses the woman after she clearly has shown she has no interest in his overtures; or
  • the Westboro Baptist “church.”

And then there is that troll who unfortunately has an outsized presence in the modern world: The internet troll. You know who they are, that sub-human who uses cyberspace, often anonymously, to aggravate and defame others. Social media has been a boon to this obnoxious individual, most notably for those who support conservative viewpoints. I avoid contact with these creatures of vitriol who sustain an intra-cerebral mythos of greatness and domination. I recently fell into a trap with one and wanted share my experience and suggestions for dealing with these little punks.

It started back in December 2017 when he replied to a retweet I posted from Senator Dianne Feinstein.

troll one

Shortly after he started following me. When I noticed it in my notifications, I remembered thinking, “Okay, I am being followed by a long-dead silent film actor.” His profile picture and name is that of actor John Gilbert, who died in 1936. This is a red flag that you are likely dealing with a troll: they don’t use their own pictures and/or their own names. Now John Gilbert could be his name, but that is definitely not his picture. You have to wonder what and why is he hiding? All of my social media accounts use my name and picture and are connected to my website.

After following me, La Gilbert would swoop in on to my Twitter feed and comment and every now and then. And I always ignored it—which is exactly what you should do with trolls: don’t respond!

troll two

Then one day I retweeted something from Black Lives Matter and he replied with an utter lie. I replied with this simple statement:

troll three

No response. Instead, he oddly chose to retweet a retweet of mine from Neil deGrasse Tyson. Classic deflection—very tRump-esque!

troll five

Then the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre happened and I became very engaged in social media conversations on it. Then La Gilbert replied to this retweet:

trollsix

I responded by providing several viable sources. He then replied with the following and you can see my reply, which was a mistake. I did exactly what he had been waiting for months for me to do.

troll seven

He then replied with this.

troll 8

How did he even know I have cats, unless he was indeed following me? Or even more creepy, has he stalked me beyond Twitter? And what is with that Metrosexual dig? Interestingly, a friend was following the discussion and hilariously noted, “Wow, he really has a hard-on for you!” I replied with:

troll 9

He then must have had a mental nuclear meltdown, because the first thing he did was un-follow me and reply with the following:

troll 11

Anyway, he would to on the post on his wall how he took me down. Chest thumbing at its worst. He then oddly pinned his own response to his remark on that earlier retweet I posted from Black Lives Matter.

troll thirteen

On to the postmortem denouement.

In order to attack others, trolls need one or more victims and a public forum because they need an audience. While you can’t control whether you will become a troll’s target, you can decide if you will make yourself a troll’s victim. Knowing that the troll’s goal is to demean, you have a choice regarding how you are going to react. Understand that where there’s one troll, there may be many more waiting to follow up on what the first troll started.  This just means there may be more than one troll that needs ignoring. And ultimately, that is my recommendation: ignore them. Don’t feed the troll. Don’t try to be clever, just ignore them. They can not be reasoned with—especially if they support conservative viewpoints.

A fair question regarding this blog entry would be if I am indeed feeding the troll. Not exactly. First and foremost, this is on my blog and I am not responding directly to anything he posted. Second, I am not going to let La Gilbert know that I have written it. I also did not hyperlink his account to this entry. If he stumbles on to it, it is because he is indeed following me. If he retweets it, then this publicly debunks his own assertions that he was not following me. This blog entry presents quite the conundrum for the attention hungry La Gilbert.  He probably will be unable to stay silent. We will see.

I don’t know about you but I have had more than my fill of trolling liars.

 

No.

Edwin Roman: The Year In Pictures

The featured image of this blog entry was taken on the eve of Trump’s inauguration during the New York City protest around Columbus Circle. I had gone there to participate and document. I didn’t stay as long as I had intended because in the midst of it, I got a call from my sister telling me that my uncle had passed away. Until I started working on this entry, I had never looked at the photographs from that day.

The individual in the featured photograph had the absolute gall to show up wearing a (made in China) maga hat (someone had asked him to remove it so they could inspect the label). I can’t begin to convey the vitriol he encountered, which was absolutely deserved. I watched him for a while and my favorite exchange was with a woman who conveyed that based solely on his appearance, he would be thrown over Trump’s border wall. She noted that most of his supporters would only ever see him as a terrorist or criminal. She completely shut him down and I managed to capture that moment. Ultimately, I thought he did this as a stunt; a way to garner attention and trend online to get his fifteen minutes. He was recording all of this exchanges on his phone.

It has been a long year and I have done my best to do things that counter the limited mindset of Trump and his supporters. I continue to volunteer, engage in activism and create art. With regards to photography, I largely engage in it during the warm months. I consider myself to be a street photographer and hate working with my camera while wearing gloves. This year, I found myself inspired to try and capture the beautiful diversity of New York City.

It is with great pride that I present to you my favorite pictures of 2017.

A Human Right

A Human Right. Edwin Roman 2017. As seen at Bronx Community College during the 60th anniversary celebration.

Devious Smiles

Devious Smiles. Edwin Roman, 2017. People watching at the Coney Island Art Walls.

Wepa!

Wepa! Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at the “Salsa Under The Sun” concert.

Fuga Aqua

Fuga Aqua. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

Dreaming in Red.

Dreaming in Red. Edwin Roman 2017. Actors from the off-Broadway, cabaret show, I Dream of Jackie, featuring the wonderful Jackie Cox. As seen at Flame Con 2017.

Rockland Cliff

Rockland Cliff. Edwin Roman, 2017. This was my first ever visit to Rockland Lake State Park during the fall or any time other than summer.

Sharing a Laugh.

Sharing a Laugh. Edwin Roman, 2017. This was the first time I was ever hired to photograph a wedding. This couple was just great and so laid back; they were in sync with my style of photography.

Boarding Squared

Boarding Squared. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Brooklyn, The Statue

Brooklyn, The Statue. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen outside of the Brooklyn Museum.

Goose Goose

Goose Goose. Edwin Roman, 2017. A rare winter picture in Flushing Meadow Park.

Kente Color Splash

Kente Color Splash. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen in The Bronx.

Two Cameras

Two Cameras. Edwin Roman, 2017. A fellow photographer at work in Central Park.

Sépia Fille

Sépia Fille. Edwin Roman, 2017. This lovely young woman posed for me at Coney Island Beach.

The View Finder

The View Finder. Edwin Roman, 2017. The George Washington Bridge as seen from Fort Lee Historic Park.

Picturing Robin Lord Taylor

Picturing Robin Lord Taylor. Edwin Roman, 2017. This was during the actor’s panel at Flame Con. I actually got to ask the first question, which was: “If Gotham City were a real place would you want to live there?”

Boardwalk Fútbol.

Boardwalk Fútbol. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Sara the Turtle

Sara the Turtle. Edwin Roman, 2017. One summer weekday at Rockland Lake State Park I actually witnessed this beautiful little turtle burying her eggs.

Touring The Hall of Fame

Touring The Hall of Fame. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at Bronx Community College.

Speed Walking The Boardwalk

Speed Walking The Boardwalk. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Sinewy Skirt and Sloppy Star

Sinewy Skirt and Sloppy Star. Edwin Roman, 2017. Whenever I am in a tediously long workplace meeting, I will go into survival mode and let my imagination take over. I often create made up superheroes and villains. This duo is a pair of superheroes.

Exuberance

Exuberance. Edwin Roman, 2017. As seen at “Salsa Under the Sun.”

As seen from the Wonder Wheel.

As seen from the Wonder Wheel. Edwin Roman, 2017. Picturing the world famous Cyclone from the equally famous Wonder Wheel.

The Batwoman on my Shelf.

The Batwoman on my Shelf. Edwin Roman, 2017. An action figure of one of my favorite comic book characters, Batwoman.

Classic Rose.

Classic Rose. Edwin Roman, 2017.

A Middle-Aged Fanboy Reviews Justice League

justice-league-review

My own re-enactment of a scene.

My love affair with comic books started in the late 1970s because of the television series Wonder Woman. Every week I tuned in and geeked out. Around that time, I first learned about Greek mythology and purchased my first Wonder Woman comic books. I loved how she said things like “Great Hera” and “Praise Aphrodite.” During the third season of Wonder Woman, Superman, The Movie was released. I was eleven years old and will never forget the awe and excitement I experienced watching that film. From that point on, I was forever hooked on comic books, specifically, DC Comics (I don’t dislike Marvel, but I was never able to find a place in the stories to pick up on the long-term plots). After Superman II, I started thinking about how amazing it would be to have a film based on the superhero team, the Justice League. Back then I imagined Christopher Reeve, Lynda Carter and Adam West (the 1960s television Batman) in their respective roles. It took nearly forty years, but the Justice League film I have been waiting for has finally made it to the big screen.

Picking up where Batman v. Superman left off, we see Bruce Wayne / Batman, inspired by Superman’s selfless act of giving his life to save the world, working with Diana Prince / Wonder Woman to create a team to battle an impending alien invasion led by Steppenwolf (played by Ciarán Hinds, though I didn’t much of him through the CGI).

Casting on the film is superb and all of the actors have exceptional chemistry with one another. It is this chemistry that is a highlight of the film. Ezra Miller is comic gold as an inexperienced Flash. Jason Momoa as Aquaman brilliantly alternates between humor and gravitas and also has some great battle scenes alongside Wonder Woman and Batman. Gal Gadot continues to wonderfully embody the Wonder Woman character, as does Ben Affleck with Batman. Stage actor Ray Fisher does a terrific job portraying Cyborg, sounding exactly way I have imagined for years. Also, the CGI on Cyborg had a lot of great details that can’t be drawn in the comic books because of time. I won’t give away how Superman is restored to the plot (he died at the end of Batman v. Superman), but Henry Cavill does a wonderful job finally channeling a Christopher Reeve quality into the role. I am truly looking forward to seeing him in future films.

The film is not without problems. Before I dive into the problems, I would like to point out what director, Zack Snyder, gets right. Snyder’s DC films were created for the true fans, those that actually read comic books. Marvel films differ in that they are more conventional and you don’t have to read the comic books to understand what is going on, requiring a fundamental to no knowledge of the characters. This can sometimes hurt the DCEU franchise, but I appreciate Snyder’s incorporation of those wonderful details. For example, on Earth 2 (DC employs the concept of a multiverse in their stories), the first superhero to appear is Wonder Woman (Snyder conceived the story for the film); in this film, Flash’s costume looks a lot like the one he wears in the Injustice series, while the dream sequence in Batman v. Superman is taken from that series. Snyder falters with pacing and production. What in Dante’s inferno is his aversion to brighter colors and over reliance on sometimes mediocre CGI? While working on this film, he experienced a personal tragedy and did not complete his work on the film. Josh Whedon came in and finished the film, making significant changes. Did this affect the film? Absolutely. There were details shown in the trailers that did not appear in the final version of the film. I would like to see those details. And there was one big hole in the plot that is not explained. I know the filmmakers were trying to trim time on the film, but this hole in the plot should have been explained!

Overall, I truly enjoyed the film. The audience in the theater where I saw it applauded and the end and many waited for the post credits scenes (there were two). Wonder Woman, for me, still stands as is the best superhero film DC has produced since the Dark Knight trilogy. Still, I geeked out seeing all of my favorite superheroes together in a live action film. I was, for two hours, an eleven-year kid enjoying a film and that is what counts the most.

Justice League

Director Zack Snyder

Writers Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon

Rating PG-13

Running Time 2h 0m

 

Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent / Superman

Amy Adams as Lois Lane

Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman

Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / Flash

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman

Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg

Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth

Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf

Joe Morton as Silas Stone

Amber Heard as Mera

Billy Crudup as Henry Allen

Marc McClure, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve Superman films, has a cameo

 

Recommended Reading

New 52 Justice League (issues 1-6, which was the plot basis for the film)

Justice League 1

New 52 Earth 2

earth2_cv3