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!

 

edwinroman.com

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.

 

edwinroman.com

 

 

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

 

 

edwinroman.com

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.

 

edwinroman.com

 

No.

Edwin Roman: The Year In Pictures 2017

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.

edwinroman.com

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

 

 

edwinroman.com

Halloween Movie Picks 2017

I love Halloween. One of my favorite things to do is to load up on the horror and thriller films. Below are my 2017 recommendations currently available on various streaming services. Let me know if you have seen any of these. Let me know if see any based on my recommendations. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Netflix

Train to Busan: If you only see one film for Halloween, this should be it. Train to Busan shines in the Zombie genre. Superbly acted, directed and produced, the film tells the story of a father and daughter’s harrowing train journey to reach the only city that has not been affected by a massive zombie outbreak. A real nail biter.

Korean with English subtitles.

What Happened to Monday: This is my second must-see after Train to Busan. What Happened to Monday is a dystopian thriller where overpopulation and famine have forced governments to undertake a draconian one child policy. The film follows the story of seven identical sisters living a hide-and-seek existence. Brilliantly directed and produced, Noomi Rapace is superb playing the part of seven distinct sisters. I feel this film is a severely overlooked gem.

Hush: If you loved Wait Until Dark, then you are going to love this one. Hush tells the story of a deaf woman who lives a near solitary life in the woods and fights for her life when a masked killer suddenly appears. Supremely suspenseful.

The Void: If you loved John Carpenter’s The Thing, then this one is for you. After a police officer rushes an injured man to an understaffed hospital, mysterious figures surround the building’s exterior as strange things begin to happen inside. The plot can be confusing at times, but this film made my list for its texture, visuals and throwback feel.

Death Note: Many did not like this American, live-action remake of the popular Japanese manga series because it deviated from the original. I liked it for that very reason. Why re-enact the original? I think this version has excellent texture and tone. Death Note follows Light, a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook from a demon named Ryuk (played brilliantly by Willem Dafoe) that grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose name and face he knows. Both the American live-action remake and the animated original are available on Netflix.

The Windmill: A young woman on the run attempts to evade authorities by joining a tour of Holland’s windmills. When the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, she and the other tourists, who, like her, have a dark secret, are forced to seek shelter in a windmill where a legendary Devil-worshiping miller once grounded the bones of locals. They start dropping one by one in rather gruesome ways. Definitely the goriest film on this list.

Notable classics on Netflix: Children of the Corn, The Legend of Hell House, Hellraiser, Sleepy Hollow and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

 

Amazon Prime

Sleep Tight: A concierge who believes he was born without the ability to be happy decides to make everyone in his building miserable. While most of his tenants are easy to upset, one young and very cheerful woman proves herself to be a challenge in his quest to spread misery. He goes to the extremes to make this woman lose it.

Spanish with English subtitles.

Pan’s Labyrinth: Set a few years after the end of the Spanish Civil War and during World War II, Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of young girl named Ophelia and her mother who arrive at the post of her mother’s new husband, a merciless military captain (played by Sergi López, who brilliantly embodies Franco’s fascism) who is working to suppress a revolt in the area. In the middle of this, Ophelia explores an ancient maze where she encounters a faun named Pan (based on the ancient Greek deity of shepherds and flocks) who tells her that she must complete three tasks in order to become immortal. This film is beautiful, dark and seems apposite to what is currently going on in Spain and Catalan.

Spanish with English subtitles.

Notable classics on Amazon Prime: The Oblong Box, The Blob and Pumpkinhead.

 

Hulu

The Babadook: A child’s recurrent tantrums become ominous when a creepy children’s book mysteriously appears in his room and he asks his widowed mother, “Do you want to die?” The Babadook is a snaggletoothed, black-hatted monster with the ability to inflict harm and just scare the hell out of you!

Room 237: Okay, this is technically not a horror film, but a documentary about the horror classic, The Shining (a favorite film of mine). It is so good that I had to include it on this list. Interestingly, Hulu has placed it in the “Stephen King” category, which is kind of funny because the film notes how much Stephen King disliked the film version of his novel.

Click here to read last year’s picks.

 

edwinroman.com

Wonder Woman, The Movie

If you loved Superman, The Movie (1978), then you are going to love Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman focuses on the horrors of war, the value of friendship and comic book heroism. The film tells Wonder Woman’s story before she was Wonder Woman — when she was Diana, Amazonian princess and warrior in training. One day, after a fierce training session, a handsome pilot named Steve Trevor crashes off the shores of her hidden homeland of Themyscira and tells of a conflict in the outside world.  Diana leaves to fight a “war to end all wars” (then known as The Great War or to us, World War I), discovering her full powers and ultimately her destiny.

Like the film that launched the superhero blockbuster nearly forty years ago, Wonder Woman sets a new standard, most notably with regards to how timely it is. When Wonder Woman is challenged with propaganda about war, her eyes see the truth in the faces of the wounded soldiers and civilian casualties. She’s horrified by the generals who simply stand back with no consideration for the loss of life. Echoes of Syria can be felt in this film where helping people in need should be placed above religion, race or politics—something Wonder Woman conveys several times in the film. The humanity this fictional character demonstrates stands in complete contrast to the draft dodging, xenophobic “reality” show tangerine Mussolini currently in the White House. As Arris Quinones of Variant Comics noted, “…it is just really an inspiring movie. It actually made me want to go out and do good in the world.” Not surprisingly, the snowflakes at Fox “News” and the New York Post belly-ached at how Wonder Woman’s costume no longer looked “patriotic.” It should be noted that the costume still has many of the recognizable symbols, but largely draws inspiration from the mythical armor that the Amazons have been wearing for centuries (which, like democracy, has roots in Greco-Roman culture). Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth is a breath of fresh air in this time of alternative facts and fake news.

Director Patty Jenkins does a remarkable job bringing the world of Wonder Woman to life. Most notable is the depiction of the Amazons: it was truly page to screen! If you look closely, some of the Amazons were wearing elements seen in different versions of Wonder Woman’s costume.

 

Gal Gadot, as I noted last year in my review for Batman v. Superman, is nothing short of wonderful. The supporting characters all stand out with kudos to Chris Pine’s portrayal of Steve Trevor. I am looking forward to seeing the Amazons in action in the forthcoming Justice League film.

Wonder Woman should have been made a long time ago, but this film is one that was worth waiting for. It is truly worth seeing, not only because it was directed by a woman and stars a woman, but because it is the best superhero film DC has produced since the Dark Knight trilogy. Like Superman, The Movie and the Dark Knight films, this one will age really well and become a metric for superhero films.

Wonder Woman, 2017.

Directed by Patty Jenkins.

Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Ewan Bremner, Lucy Davis, Eugene Brave Rock, Emily Carey, Lilly Aspell, and Saïd Taghmaoui.

RECOMMENDED VIDEOS

The History of Wonder Woman

 

Wonder Woman’s Strongest Moments

 

The Origin of Ares

 

READING RECOMMENDATIONS

 

DC has a miniseries about the Amazons, years before the birth of Diana (Wonder Woman), titled The Odyssey of the Amazons. It is the story of a group of Amazons who are traveling the ancient world to find others like them, encountering legendary creatures and beings along the way. An excellent companion would be Wonder Woman Rebirth #8. It is a year one interlude where a young Barbara Ann Minerva (before she was Cheetah and before Wonder Woman arrives) is on an exhibition to prove that the Amazons did indeed exist (an excellent story).

 

What I wore to see the film.

What I wore to see the film.

 

edwinroman.com

The Soldiers You Never Learned About in School

Seven years ago, the Texas Board of Education approved a social studies curriculum that fosters inflexible and close minded conservative political viewpoints. Five years later, the New York Times published a story of a Texas high school student and his mother calling attention to a line in a textbook that described the Atlantic slave trade as bringing “millions of workers” to plantations in the South. Millions of workers? Not Slaves?

Regarding school textbooks, what happens in Texas unfortunately doesn’t stay in Texas. Because they are so big, the state is very influential as a market and publishers tend to angle books toward whatever they want (including matters of science). Reading about Texas got me to thinking about the things I didn’t learn in school. While I thankfully had quite a few progressive teachers (in the sixth grade, one noted how African Americans and Puerto Ricans were put on the front lines during the Vietnam conflict), I also had those who still conveyed imperialistic, manifest destiny points of view (in the eighth grade one described Native Americans as awed by Europeans because “their hair was the color of gold.”) Noteworthy people of color were generally not part of my education growing up.

Media literacy has been on my mind a lot lately, most notably with regards to how minority groups are portrayed. The negative images are ubiquitous and have mythic power. You don’t need much education to comprehend an image. Visibility fosters understanding and unity. Writing this on the eve of Memorial Day 2017, I got to thinking about soldiers of color. If military service to the country is a metric for outstanding citizenship, and seen as a noteworthy contribution, then why didn’t I learn about soldiers of color growing up? Their contributions were significant. I would like to honor three groups of soldiers of color whose histories may be even further buried by the direction this country is going.

The Borinqueneers

The 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Borinqueneers, was created in 1899 by Congress as a segregated unit composed of Puerto Ricans. The regiment served in the two World Wars as well as the Korean Conflict. The unit was named after the word given to Puerto Rico by its native Tainos that means, “land of the brave lord.” When the Borinqueneers were sent to the front lines in Korea, the men of the 65th performed exceptionally, earning praise from General MacArthur.

The 65th Infantry Regiment were awarded with a United States Congressional Gold Medal in June 2014, 60 years later, after a passionate two-years of activism by a nationwide alliance of volunteers, organizations and lawmakers in Congress. Puerto Ricans inhabit an exacting place in U.S. history because of the island’s commonwealth status: they don’t have the right to vote in U.S. elections, but serve in the military and can be drafted (Puerto Ricans can vote if they live in the United States).

The Windtalkers

Despite gaining the rights to citizenship and voting in 1924 from the federal government, Native Americans in some states could not vote until 1962, in spite of the esteemed contributions made by the Navajo during World War II.

Following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan dominated in the Pacific. Many Japanese soldiers were fluent in English and regularly decoded military messages. The U.S. needed an unbreakable code. In February of 1942, Philip Johnston, an engineer and veteran of World War I, had an idea: What if the military forces were to use the Navajo language as a secret code? Johnston was familiar with the language because he was the son of missionaries who spent a good portion of his life interacting with the Navajo people, and was one of a few non-Navajos who could speak the complicated language.

The Navajo code talker (Windtalkers) program was classified and remained a national secret until 1968. An estimated 375 to 420 Navajos served as Windtalkers. Returning home with no fanfare and sworn to secrecy, the Navajo Windtalkers are finally being acknowledged in mainstream American history. The “Honoring the Code Talkers Act,” introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman from New Mexico in April 2000, and signed into law December 21, 2000, called for the recognition of the Navajo code talkers. During a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on July 26, 2001, the first 29 soldiers received the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee airmen were the first African American servicemen to operate as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, flying with distinction during World War II. Even though they were subject to racism in the U.S. and abroad, the 996 pilots and more than 15,000 ground personnel who served with the all-Black units would be credited with some 15,500 combat maneuvers and earn over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements. The publicized successes of the Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for the eventual integration of the U.S. armed forces under President Harry Truman in 1948.

After the war, the G.I. Bill was designed to help veterans adjust to civilian life by providing them with benefits that included low-cost mortgages and low-interest loans. African Americans did not benefit from the G.I. Bill anywhere near as much as White Americans. Historian Ira Katznelson notes that “the law was deliberately designed to accommodate Jim Crow.” Of the first 67,000 mortgages insured by the G.I. Bill, fewer than 100 were granted to people of color.

One of the great honors of my life was meeting Dr. Roscoe Brown, former Tuskegee Airman and former president of Bronx Community College, where I have worked for the last fourteen years. He was the squadron commander of the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group and flew 68 missions and would eventually be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Dr. Brown often noted that the Airmen’s activism after the war was as important as their wartime service—having risked their lives abroad, the Airmen were determined to make the U.S. a more equitable place. Unfortunately, not only are we still working on that, we seem to be taking large strides backward.

 

edwinroman.com

“Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ― Georgia O'Keeffe

The Earth Laughs in Flowers: A Photo Essay from a Visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Flowers. Seeing them is uplifting. Even when you see them here and there in densely packed urban areas, they still manage to uplift. Now imagine seeing flowers in an urban oasis in great variety and color. This blog entry is devoted to a recent visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with my Mother. It is one of her favorite places in New York City and I always try to bring her here when she visits from Puerto Rico. I wanted to complement my photographs with some favorite quotes on flowers. Enjoy the virtual oasis. And remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, “The earth laughs in flowers.”

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” ― Lady Bird Johnson

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” ― Lady Bird Johnson

“Collaboration has no hierarchy. The Sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth.” ― Amit Ray

“Collaboration has no hierarchy. The Sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth.” ― Amit Ray

“He who does not know how to appreciate flowers will not be able to see the beauty of life” ― Debasish Mridha

“He who does not know how to appreciate flowers will not be able to see the beauty of life” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

“If you are a kind and a peaceful person, you will see yourself when you look at an elegant flower!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“If you are a kind and a peaceful person, you will see yourself when you look at an elegant flower!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

botanical bridge

“Man is hypocrite! He says that he loves flowers but he kills them for his own simple interests and for his own joy! Man is hypocrite!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Man is hypocrite! He says that he loves flowers but he kills them for his own simple interests and for his own joy! Man is hypocrite!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Come, see real flowers of this painful world” ― Bashō Matsuo

“Come, see real flowers of this painful world” ― Bashō Matsuo

“Nature suffers the most but never complains. Flowers never forget to bloom and beautify the world.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Nature suffers the most but never complains. Flowers never forget to bloom and beautify the world.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Flowers are the beautiful hairs of the Mother Spring! Don’t pluck them!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Flowers are the beautiful hairs of the Mother Spring! Don’t pluck them!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ― Georgia O'Keeffe

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ― Georgia O’Keeffe

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” ― Oscar Wilde

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” ― Oscar Wilde

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Little flowers get more attention than the big mountains simply because they emit love around themselves!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Little flowers get more attention than the big mountains simply because they emit love around themselves!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“No flower is happy in a vase, because vase is nothing but an ornate coffin for the flower.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“No flower is happy in a vase, because vase is nothing but an ornate coffin for the flower.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“When you love nature, it always loves you back with the fragrance of flowers.” ― Debasish Mridha

“When you love nature, it always loves you back with the fragrance of flowers.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

 

 

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