Friday, December 19, 2008

American Boy




Riding my bike home from work, Estelle's American Boy streaming into my brain via my Iphone, I get a sense of peace and serenity in the knowing that it's all gonna be alright. The Golden bomb of light setting before me over Biscayne Bay helps the zen moment encompass my being completely. I'm living proof that the recession is here. I may be suffering but I'm not doing too shabby. My credit is still intact, I haven't foreclosed on my investment properties or my main residence in Midtown condos. I have had to give up some luxuries and for the first time since i was 15 i am making do without a car. This is no big deal to anyone from any other country in the world or even someone from Manhattan but in Miami a car is a necessity since it is a city with a very spread out layout. Being an "American Boy" I realize how tied we are to our toys, our blackberry's, Iphone's, cars, the latest trend in clothing, etc. I always try to take the good out of the bad and it seems that there is a new dawn upon us, one where we are pushed to find a new way of living, of thinking, of consuming. A more conscious way, more awake, more in tuned to the earth and it's limited resources. A consciousness that at any moment, oil can run out or get too expensive and the shit can hit the fan, affecting all of us in every country, in the millions.

We are living a global recession. With that, comes a new, worldwide awareness that hate us or not, America is a keystone in the world economy, without us the rest of the bridge falls. To maintain that keystone's strength we must now think of alternate ways to consume, to put it simply, consume less and more wisely. Recycle more, trim our local and federal governments, trim the fat from our corporations and homes.

I am a victim of this recession. I am a gay, latino son of Cuban immigrants, a college graduate, a professional with a solid career. I am America. I produce and consume for America, paying my taxes along the way. I give to charities and help my fellow man whenever I can. I am the American Dream come true, what my parents risked all for leaving their homeland, just so I could get a piece of this "pie". Im not a victim in the way my Republican friends like to describe it as if I got in over my head with a bad loan because I was greedy. No, I invested in a condominium after 10 years of schrewd investment decisions and flipping properties. I didn't plan for the bubble to burst so quickly. Stuck with a duplex that won't sell, I now have my property taxes choking me to almost foreclosure until I can cash out on my duplex. I've had to take on a roommate to offset this added cost. No twice a month maid, no dining out except for special occasions, worst of all, no more 4 door, electric green, 2007 Jeep. The wonderfully unorganized City of Miami conveniently denied my property tax transfer relief because i left my move in date box empty. They, as a result can charge me the full tax value for my condo until the appeal date is set. That could take over 10 months to resolve. Government inefficiency at it's worst. The fact that I could lose my hard earned investment as a result of an empty box and now forced to pay $400 extra per month in the meantime, is as contrary to the purpose of government as it gets.

Giving up my Jeep forced me on to a scooter to get to work. That was a good plan until I got hit by a car and got a free ambulance ride to Jackson Trauma center with a concussion, scraped face and broken nose. The important thing is I survived and now ride my bike 5 miles each way to work. Since then i've healed from my accident, finally have my short term memory back, no more migraines and have lost a good 7 pounds, making me trimmer than I've ever been. The abs I've always wanted have finally arrived!

American's have "moxie". We will get through this. We just have to get off our comfortable asses and work together to find more creative, earth friendly solutions to survive a world with ever limited resources. Who knows maybe a new wave of Americans riding bike to work can cure our nation's obesity epidemic? It'd be nice to trim that fat. I was given a second chance at life and now for the first time since junior high school, I can ride my bike without handlebars and I feel lighter and freer than I have felt in a very long time. Cue music here:


Article on new wave of American's commuting via bicycle:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28235890/







Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Come Out Come Out Wherever you Are! Letter to Ricky Martin & other closeted celebrities





Would you ever see a Jewish person get up on stage and dance the Hora with a Skin head? Would you ever see a black person paint themselves white and dance on stage with KKK leader David Duke? No you wouldn't. So why then would Ricky Martin, the biggest and most obviously gay celebrity since Liberace get on stage and shake his "bon-bon" with the gay community's biggest enemy, George Bush at his inaugural concert? Because he can hide his "gay-ness" and he somehow believes that selling out to the highest degree is absolutely correct and appropriate. To dance on stage with the leader that tried his hardest to change our constitution to deny us gays rights to equality in this country. Why do I single out Ricky Martin, you ask? Many reasons, he is latino like I am, he lives in Miami and I am completely over hearing stories about his sexcapades all over Miami with guys I am friends with and last but not least because gay youth in America are more likely to commit suicide 4 to 9 times more than their heterosexual counterparts- http://www.thetrevorproject.org/info.aspx. Although Ricky Martin has done good work in protecting children with his charities, http://www.looktothestars.org/charity/390-ricky-martin-foundation, these are the children that Ricky Martin forgot to help. His fellow gays.

On the other end of the gay spectrum, we have Harvey Milk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Milk) who was our "Martin Luther King", the first openly gay politician elected to office in the United States in the 70's. He was our champion, our leader, our reason for pride. He was such a visionary that we are still fighting the fight he lead a full 3o years later, he even envisioned his own death by assasination 10 years after the assasination of Martin Luther King. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U_owSvbn00

They both died for exactly the same fight, a fight for a disenfranchised minority to gain equality and protection in the United States. So why did Martin Luther King's battle succeed and ours still a full-on civil rights battle? Well my theory is simple, it's because BLACK people CAN'T HIDE their difference to the rest of the world and we CAN. The Catholic Church a few years ago released an official statement to the world stating that to be homoseuxal is not a sin but to practice is. The Don't Ask Don't Tell policy enforced by the US military is more of the same. If you hide your "gayness" it is acceptable and you will not be discharged but if we find out you are you are out. By hiding in the closet these "traitor gays" are tacitly allowing for this mentality to go unchallenged. In the avoidance of the truth they have inherently allowed for this crime to go unchecked. Just like the law in New York city that holds you in violation if you see a crime in progress and do not report it, the same principal is applicable here.

Imagine if every gay person in the world woke up tomorrow somehow genetically altered to have purple skin. Yes, purple skin. As purple as a teletubby. There would be a worldwide upheaval causing every country's citizens to reanalyze their beliefs on what it means to be gay and the rights that are associated or denied with being that way. When they realize how large a portion of every society that we really are, that we include every sector of society from servants to blue collar workers to corporate leaders to even royalty. They would be forced to accept us because it would be too large a reality to theologize away with any known religion. You wouldn't be able to block the instantly huge worldwide population of gays finally united and out'ed by their beautifully purple color. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would have to admit that indeed his islamic country has thousands of gays. The Mark Foley's, Ted Haggard's and Larry Craig's that fight so hard to prove they are not in the closet by promoting laws aimed at pushing us further into the closet would be instantly outed for the hippocrites they truly are. It would be the end of our civil rights war. Yes folks, it is a war. A social and legislative war. We still cannot adopt, marry, inherit our deceased partner's social security benefits or legalize through marriage our partners who are living undocumented in the US. It is still illegal in some states to have sex in the way that we please (anti-sodomy laws still in effect in 40 countries- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy_law ). The military's Don't ask don't Tell policy is still enforced. The war is ongoing and we have a way to go.

The "outing" movement of the 90's was a direct result of the massive die-off of so many of our own. It was hatched by activist groups Act Up and Queer Nation, fighting the good fight in the most effective, grass roots way they could think of. They believed the worst enemy of the gay community was not the religious folks, but the self-hating, closeted gays that will stop at nothing to prove to the world they aren't gay. Closet cases live with a constant angst that affects their relationships with partners, friends, co-workers and the rest of the world. It's basically a self-inflicted barrier against feeling complete happiness and like the saying goes, "you can't love others until you can love yourself". When someone like Ricky Martin whom is a celebrity refuses to admit that he is gay, even though every one knows he is, it is a silent approval promoting the notion that we should keep ourselves hidden. It doesn't matter that gay mecca's have arisen throughout the U.S., (Atlanta, South Beach, Chelsea NYC), these migratory gay birds carry their fears and their closets with them. They come to South Beach to be free from discrimination but fear, unfortunately is part perception and part reality. Even though they are no longer in the backwoods of Ohio, they still carry the same fears with them. We have to think out of our gay safe zones and be conscious of all the other cities and countries that are still extremely hostile and violent to gay people. It is far from rosy in these places. Even though "outing" was a terror tactic, it worked. It pushed many hiding in the shadows to come out and start behaving like self-respecting gays and start joining in the fight for our equality. Is it now time for us to return to the extreme tactic of outing our fellow gays that hate themselves so much that they become our enemy and our worst PR nightmare? (ex: George Michael) I vote "yes we should". Will the next Harvey Milk please stand up?

So to you celebrities out there, take note of the words in the song Superstar by Lupe Fiasco; "If you are what you say you are, a superstar then have no fear, the camera is here and the microphones and they wanna know oh oh oh oh. If you are what you say you are, a superstar Then have no fear, the crowd is here."

The crowd is us, thousands, probably millions worldwide who are waiting for a superstar to come out and stand up for us to feel pride to reach higher to stand up to the contradictions and weak religious justifications. Come out Ricky Martin, you sure aren't selling any records but you can be our superstar. For real, this time. Think of all the children's lives in Latin America that you would change by saying two words; "I'm gay". You would save hundreds from suicidal thoughts or actions. They would have a role model to believe it is possible to be out, proud, happy and successful in the latino world. You too Tyler Perry, you have your millions, your shiny new studios in Atlanta. Think of how many young African Americans would be rescued from a life on the DL by saying two words; "I'm gay". The African-American and Latino communities need their gay icons too.






Here are the closeted celebrities im writing about today (allegedly, so I don't get sued)
Ricky Martin (the most obvious closet of them all), Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Anderson Cooper, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto (Evil Sylar from Heroes and soon to be the next Spock), Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Ryan Seacrest, Cristina Aguilera, Michelle Rodriguez, McCauley Culken, Hayden Christensen http://gaygoss.blogspot.com/2008/06/hayden-christensen-gay.html, Sean Hayes from Will & Grace (I know I can't believe he isn't out yet either), Latin heart throb Eduardo Verastegui, and yes, Barry Manilow (no surprise there).

Black Celeb's in the closet;
Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah http://www.theinsider.com/news/505561_Queen_Latifah_Coming_Out_Of_The_Closet_And_Getting_Engaged, Eddie Murphy,Will Smith, Alicia Keys, Toni Braxton, Prince, Tyler Perry

Some kinda black celebs still in the closet;
Vin Diesel, The Rock

Celeb who has "kinda" come out;
Jodie Foster- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-501256/Jodie-Foster-comes-emotional-tribute-girlfriend-14-years.html

Some dead ones:
James Dean, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro, Michelangelo, Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, King William III of England, Alexander the Great

Some that don't need to come out, we just know they are and kind of wish they would go back in the closet:
Clay Aiken, Richard Simmons, George Michael

Wanda Sykes, who is known for her feisty and blunt style, said the passage of California's Proposition 8 made her feel like she was "attacked." This led to her publicly coming out.
"Now, I gotta get in their face," she said. "I'm proud to be a woman. I'm proud to be a black woman, and I'm proud to be gay."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/16/wanda-sykes-im-proud-to-b_n_144130.html

Drew Barrymore- our new ally, for the moment:
http://www.towleroad.com/2008/11/drew-barrymore.html

Actor James Franco kisses david letterman after Letterman hounded him about his on-screen kiss with Sean Penn in Milk:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nbR4JOwl4Y

George Clooney's wimpy, half-witted remark against the passage of prop 8:
http://socialitelife.celebuzz.com/archive/2008/11/12/george_clooney_on_the_civil_rights_of_gay_people.php
Kevin Spacey semi-outed with a male stripper:
http://www.towleroad.com/2008/11/kevin-spacey-sp.html

Sarcastic blog about Ricky Martin dodging Barbara Walters' outing attempt:
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.bettybowers.com/graphics/martinbush.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.bettybowers.com/bashmartin.html&usg=__gGjAv1tB1AQpI2yQkLivx0CuIwU=&h=158&w=216&sz=29&hl=en&start=143&um=1&tbnid=j1yBpzPKHWkhWM:&tbnh=78&tbnw=107&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dricky%2Bmartin%2Bwith%2Bbush%26start%3D126%26ndsp%3D18%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN

Blog about Will & Grace's Sean Hayes and his closeted position:
http://www.planetout.com/news/feature.html?sernum=266

One of Harvey Milk's most famous speeches:







Slideshow of hope highlighting our past and present victories/failures
http://www.newsweek.com/id/42363?tid=relatedcl

Article on "outing" politicians as discussed in movie Outrage:
http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/popvox/archive/2009/10/05/outrage-the-case-against-outing-gay-politicians.aspx?CommentPosted=true#commentmessage

Excellent book covering the history of outing in America:
http://books.google.com/books?id=-lZ903C-dkMC&pg=PA117&lpg=PA117&dq=outing+movement&source=bl&ots=ISTCKwoeiF&sig=c7RcznJJzqrc1RehBA3EwI5zPmw&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PPA117,M1

Friday, December 5, 2008

Art Miami-Art Basel baby!




Plugged in to the "matrix" at work, reading my auto-emailed Daily Om (an inspirational thought for the day kind of email) I realized it was ironically about being in awe of beauty. It was ironic because I was just logging off to go meet friends at this year's Art Basel events in Miami.
It said: "Beauty speaks to us in soft whispers or bold declarations. She calls on us to gaze in awe at her splendor. We are enticed by beauty. We adore her, idolize her, and even court her. Beauty seduces all of our senses. We find beauty in the wonders of nature. Beauty offers us a symphony of colors with every sunrise and sunset and reveals to us her brash power through a storm at sea. Beauty can be cruel, and our pursuit of her can be in vain. We may go to the opera in anticipation of finding beauty there, and she may bore and disappoint us. Beauty will forever inspire works of art, and she will always pose for her portrait, selecting the artist who is most worthy of her catching her likeness." Daily Om http://www.dailyom.com/

As I walked through the halls of Art Miami, mouth open, heart and soul pumping, feeling alive I found myself surrounded by hundreds of amazing, larger than life art pieces, photography, sculpture, etc. I looked around and realized all these fine people are here in Miami from all over the world because like me, they are addicted to the high that art gives you, that they are in "awe of beauty". Just like the email, Art Basel is all about bringing beauty into our world, not by noticing mother nature's sunset but enjoying man's manipulated photograph of that same sunset, replicated, frozen in time for all to enjoy, snap more photos of and even maybe buy (if you can afford it). It was such a "wow" moment to realize I was surrounded by people that have come to be fed by the fantastical images that have come out of some genius moment an artist somewhere picked up from the universal vibrations floating around in other dimensions the rest of us cannot see. In a way the art we see are windows to other dimensions that on some level our spirit needs to see and it feeds that same spirit and calms it in making it aware and confirming again that this mundane life we lead is NOT all there is!

I bought my condo (pre-construction) at the Midtown project for that reason. To be in walking distance of the Design District when Art Basel comes. Each year never ceases to amaze and each time it evolves into a bigger animal, drawing thousands more. All for the sake of sipping the absinthe-high of manmade beauty made solely for beauty's sake. This year Midtown seems to have evolved into an extension of the Design District and hosts enough art to satisfy the most hard core art-addicts out there. There's even an indoor skate park (human art in action) where the Ocean Drive studio will be. The usually desolate streets are now teeming with people walking and talking, just like the developers dreamed it would. It has become a little SOHO down in the tropics, Miami-style baby. I like to call it "MoHo" like "Mojo", the Cuban all-spice with NY attitude mixed in for good measure.
Out of all the tents, the SCOPE miami is the edgiest with the most up and coming artists represented (I spoke to one of the gallery rep's that brought about it's birth). The Art Miami tent exposes more established talent and is just as wonderful. Oh and don't you dare miss the back of the SCOPE tent where the Friends With You genius' http://www.friendswithyou.com/ (Cubans homies representin') have created an adult wonderland with bounce house and a candy colored live DJ to match the walls. Another favorite discovery at Photo Miami was the work of young artist from Paris, Pascal Loubet- very sexy Desperate Living photo series of men inspired by the TV show Desperate Housewives. http://ewgalerie.com/about/Artists/Loubet/Loubet.html
My best advice is to talk to the Gallery reps in the day about the pieces you like. They are all so passionate about their artists that they invariably enrichen your experience by giving back stories of the pieces and how they came to be. **Bonus tip, if you like some pieces, snap a picture with your cell phone camera or digi-cam and enjoy the art any day of the year as your wallpaper or home screen image on your phones. I changed my Blackberry's home image to a naked picture of Naomi Campbell surrounded by bananas and apples- FOR FREE- how cool is that?

Another place you have to experience is the Aqua hotel on 1530 collins, South Beach. A boutique hotel with some amazing hand picked galleries in each of the rooms. If your lucky, you might get to catch the hairy bear guy with a black tanga (his balls were showing) hanging above the hot tub while a tub of honey was poured all over his face and back. It was refreshing and cute to see that. Don't you dare miss the anti-hero series of Stephen Hopwood-Lewis at the http://trustthepublic.com/ room (first one on the left)-Simply Amazing! The Chinese art in the last room on the 2nd floor-doubly Ammazing!

Now get your arse up from your computer, call in sick from work and go feed on the BEAUTY and feel why right here, right now, Miami is the best place in the world to be!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Camping (Slummin' it) in Yeehaw Junction, Florida







So I finally get bamboozled into going on this famous "camping" trip with my dear friend whom I'll call "Lip Gloss", her husband I will call "Taz" and her two young boys. She'd been at me for months to experience this place with her and where she promised an enriching experience for my nephew Diego, now age 7. Jason Mraz's song, "I'm Yours" is playing on Lip Gloss' Ipod and I mention notice of Florida Gator license tags on the cars passing us by. Her husband quickly retorts, "This is gator country boy!" My inner voice was yelling "yeehaw! I can't wait! in an ever-so-sarcastic tone. I get a text from my sister (Diego's mama), "feel fear" and my mind fills with images of the movie Cape Fear. I think to myself what have I gotten my ass into this time and are there any train stations nearby so I can get back to Miami? We exit at Yeehaw Junction, where Lip Gloss explains, "The locals call it a place where people meet and where US 441, State Road 15, State Road 60 and Florida's Turnpike all intersect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeehaw_Junction,_Florida

A quick search later on wikipedia tells me that it used to be called Jackass Junction and that's what I felt like when we pulled in to the Pilot gas station for some grub in the form of subs. I was a little drunk so that didn't help the surreality of this station-situation. There was some strange characters up-in-that-bitch. There were cowboys, a woman that looked like she was either a bull-dyke or a real truck driver, a guy that had a beaver skin hat with two toothpicks sticking out of it's side (i guess it's a trucker fashion statement), a couple of hunter guys with full camouflage gear even their boots were camouflaged (apparently deer check you out from head to toe). Any-yoo-hoo i get my sub and even get real crazy and serve myself a real Coke from the fountain. That's right, no Diet green tea for this brave soldier! Suddenly, I get a full glimpse of my girl friend Lip Gloss in that blinding flourescent light that only gas stations and prison holding cells seem to have. I rush to tell her that her camping fashion statement is going to ruin her marriage and that her husband will never want to have sex with her if she keeps wearing huge, red minnie mouse Croc's, black tights and a purple, oversized, Harry Potter style sweatshirt. Seconds later, the young clerk tells Lip Gloss how much she likes her outfit. I almost burst my lung from holding back my laugh. I guess she was a hit at Jackass Junction.

Eating outside the Pilot gas station, freezing my fingers off because Taz said it's part of the experience. Little Diego notices the desolation of the gas station and shivering, "I miss Miami-Miami is better than this." Taz quickly replies-"This aint no lala-land, shangrila boy!" I ask Taz "These cabins we're going to, are they like real wood or are they like Lord of the Flies huts made out of coconut palms and straw?" Taz-"No dude, There's 2 cabins and one Airstream trailer. You don't know how difficult it was to build it all out here. It's like building on the moon, there's rivers all over and lake Okeechobee." I spot a Panther Crossing sign and ask if they have ever actually seen a Florida Panther since I've read they are extremely endangered. Taz-"Never but the squirrels out here are mean and rowdy! They are like the squirrels in Manhattan. Everyone knows they aren't afraid of humans anymore. One time these crazy fox-squirrels ran through our camp while we were sleeping and ate our food! They jumped like 6 feet from the ground to a tree with bags of chips in their hands. They're so big they look like beavers" The conversation in my head was like "I can't wait-Yeehaw!" with an even more sarcastic tone than the last time. I looked up this mythical beast and it turns out they do exist.
Taz-"Here we are, you turn left at the triangle sign on the mailbox. River Ranch, for the ultimate country experience-don't put the name in that blog of yours, I don't want people to know about it!" http://rrpoa.net/index.html (how could I resist it?)
Lip Gloss proudly claims-"It's like Disney without the on/off switch and security."

My mind-"Yee-friggin-haw!"

Taz- "Now duck down so we don't have to pay for you to get in."
Lip Gloss-"You gotta get through this gate before you make it in. It's like the troll gate, pay the toll."

My mind-"I smell pigs shit!"

Taz-"Check out the hog pen out here. They raise wild pigs for the kids to chase in a pen after they get bigger" We get out to get Taz's ATV and he let's me ride his. I gotta tell you, riding an ATV for the first time was a unique high like riding a motorcycle and a wild horse at once. Friggin awesome! I finally saw what all this hassle was for. It's all about the ATV riding. There's miles of dirt trails out here, pretty much made for ATV riding.

We go through about half an hour of mud and bumpy road to get to their camp. Lip Gloss tells me, "Small is the new big out here. These shacks and houses are all individual according to the owners income, no building codes and they're all off the grid!" She says it as if it's a good thing. I guess it's a good thing depending on how you look at it but my idea of being "off the grid" is a well-designed, contemporary structure with it's own water recycling system, solar panels and a windmill for auxiliary power.
We light a nice campfire while we unload our stuff into what i can only describe as an aluminum tube with no insulation but what they call their Airstream trailer. It's about 50 degrees and I guess it is better than a tent. At least it has solid walls and a door to keep them marauding, wild squirrels out. We drink some shots of Grey Goose vodka to warm us up. Little Diego is a little freaked out at the darkness of it all and asks for me. I tell him i'll be with him in a bit and to go to sleep with the other boys in the metal tube thingy. The next day we go to the nearest diner to grab some breakfast (thank god there's a bathroom there!) and i bring my toothbrush and face soap. We filled our bellies with some darn tasty and cheap American breakfast and high-tail it to their friend "Papa Bear's" house to spend the day. On the way we see a scene from Mel Gibson's Mad Max movie. There are about 30 ATV's with children and women all geared up, surrounding our jeep. I have to admit it looks like they were having a great time in the great outdoors.



A couple of joints later Papa Bear asks me to go with him to get some fresh deer meat from his neighbor. Papa Bear- "If he asks just say your my cousin from Atlanta." I ask-"Why he'll kill me if he finds out I'm Cuban and gay?" Papa Bear answers- "Just dont talk and play stupid...he just hunted some deer today." We pull up in the ATV to Larry's trailer and there is what I can only describe as a scene from Silence of the Lambs movie. A freshly killed deer hanging from a metal cage, lit from above by a spotlight, wrapped in a green tarp, blood dripping from it's antlers. Larry grabs the deer's lifeless head and proudly exclaims- "It's a 5 pointer! They said it was 3 but it's a 5 alright! I've been killing the fuck out of these deer. I've shot like 8 this week alone." My mind-"Nice real-nice...WTF am I doing here!! Mommy!"


Papa Bear- "Hey larry, thanks so much for the meat, it looks real good. Why don't you come over later and hang out with my wife and I? We've got beers and a barbeque going." Larry- "Well I dont know, I got my little lady coming over and were gonna rub-a-dub-dub you know. I gotta get some mud for my duck..ha-ha-ha." We get back to the camp with the two slabs of rear meat with two white bone knuckles poking out of the mass with some golden Bambi hairs still stuck to the side of it. Papa Bear cleans it up and slams it on the grill-"Hey Taz, wana try some deer meat? It's fresh and it's perfect off the grill here." Taz-"Hell no! I'd rather climb naked up that pine tree than try that shit!" I feel so relieved that he said that. Now I won't be the token pussy that didn't try the deer meat.



All in all, I got to know a part of Florida that I would never have otherwise. A place frozen in time (around 1892), with all that comes with it, unification with nature, living like a settler, lack of modern comforts, racism, homophobia, isolationist mentality, hunting for sport and good old dirty fun. It definitely wasn't my cup of tea but it was worth doing it for my nephew. He got to run around with his buddies in the dirt like a wild puppy and felt what it was to be truly carefree and one with nature. Something so few children in this modern world get to do. Even though I will probably never go back, it was worth feeling like a dad for a couple of days, for the long hug and quarter-second look of "thanks" my nephew flashed me before running off to his comfortably modern, permanent camp he calls home.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Text-ing etiquette 101



















He texted-ed me! My heart pumps and a rush of adrenaline jolts my vein highway. I spring from the table and leave my hot Kobe beef burgers behind, excusing myself from the uber-cool Indigo Hotel restaurant in Newton, Boston. (http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/in/1/en/hotel/BOSNT/welcome). I had been waiting for a response from my previous text-ed date request to a hot Miami Cuban I had located via MySpace after bumbling an attempt to get his number at a Miami club months before. The rush you feel when getting a much anticipated text is equivalent to getting a Playstation 3 on Xmas morning or finding a 20 dollar bill by the bar at a nightclub.-take your pick. This text read a chilly, "Sure i'll go to dinner with you." My friends understood my rude reaction of jumping from the table since I'd already explained to them the "dating-dance" i was doing with this stud. The "stud" turned out to be a "dud" with the date never gel-lin'. This is why I never date Cubans (I am Cuban) they are too much work. Still -I enjoyed the ride either way.

Queue song "Im tired of using tech-no-logy" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na4x2Uwflmg

Texting etiquette is so new a concept there isn't even a class for it and parents don't include it in their "birds and the bees" speech either. So where does a citizen of the modern wired world find out what is polite or inpolite when it comes to communicating via our ever-important devices that keep us connected at all times? There are no texting 101 classes offered at Miami Dade Community College or even online. You learn from dates who get up from the table and leave you with the bill after you keep looking at your phone for an incoming text while they are telling their life story to you. You learn from the rolling-eyes of your fellow elevator riders on your way up to your office as you nervously text on your Blackberry and your latte is leaking on the floor. You learn from the DMV lady that tells you go to the back of the line if you're gonna be on the phone while she helps you. You pick up the "norm" from the people around you and that can change from city to city. One thing that is easy is to pick up are the hundreds of texting acronyms out there and they spread like a computer virus. They free up hundreds of seconds a year in making our sentences shorter and prevent us from crashing our cars or bumping in to parking meters while we text as fast as we can going from point A to B across America. There are literally hundreds out there and even some that get listed into our dictionary of the English language every now and then. My faves are: OMFG (oh my f*&ing god), LMAO (Laugh my ass off), TTYL (talk to you later), TDTM (talk dirty to me).

Here's the online dictionary for even more fun:


While the concept of texting is fairly new and used by the younger generation and not-so-much for the older folks (McCain doesn't know how to email or text, Obama loves his Blackberry), I believe it is an ancient practice. The Egyptians used symbols (hieroglyphics) with meanings more complex and expressed much more than just looking at the actual symbol. So I guess we are going back to what the ancients knew, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). No one has time these days for full sentences. Thus the beauty of Blogs, they are short, sweet synapses of life. My problem is that I can never keep my blogs down to 400 words or less. I am new at this so wait for it, wait for it, I'll be more brief one day.

Here's some quick shortcuts for the holidays that may come in handy:

Tday- Turkey day (thanksgiving)

NYE -new year's eve

XMAS- do i need to tell u what that means?

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Here's a sample of a text to my fledgling-texter mom and a perfect example of the dangers with texting when someone doesn't understand texting abbreviations:


-----SMS Text-----From: Eric

K will b thr w diego

------SMS Text------From Mom

why aren't you picking me up at the airport? are you mad at me? who is K?

------ SMS Text -----From Eric
Sent: Oct 19, 2008 11:53 AM
Subject: Lmao!!!

Lmao!!! (That means laugh-my-ass-off) kay or K in text language means OK. I have to debrief u on text-speak Its fun and great when u dont feel like talking- And BTW is by the way. BTW- im creating my own blog today- im calling it ERIC IN MIAMI and it will deal with all things related to miami-

love,

ur "wired" son

Monday, November 17, 2008

"GAY" is the new "BLACK"










While I am exhilarated by the election of our shiny, new president Obama, the first presidential candidate that has ever been vocal in his support for the gay community, on the flip side i've been brought down from my "high" at the realization that while we made one large step forward, some small religious extremist groups in this country have succeeded to yet again tarnish the American Dream for all in their efforts to create a faux, holy utopia without us "gays". That envisioned utopia used to be one without any blacks, latinos or anyone that wasn't purely American and white. Since these extremist groups realized long ago that goal was impossible, they have settled on an easier target for their holy war, "By golly. let's get them gays and fix this country."

These groups; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus (http://www.kofc.org/), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Saint Andrews Alms fund, the National Organizaton for marriage http://www.nationformarriage.org/, and the American Family Association http://www.afa.net/, all non-profits and have all collected large sums of money from their followers to write discrimination into the books across our country.

Let's call a spade a spade, these folks are our Taliban or "Ameri-bans", governed by their fear of the modern world as the Taliban in the Middle East. It is their "Jihad" and their satisfaction will only come when they see no homosexuals in the public light by either curing them or pushing them so far into the closet that they are invisible again. The only thing is, who will be their next target for a holy war? Unwed mothers, single mothers, couples living together that don't want to marry? There will always be a target for them. Today the gays are the target who will they attack next?

Now what I find painfully ironic is the groups that have been mostly discriminated against in this country; latinos and blacks were the ones that poll numbers have shown, widely voted for these discriminatory measures which ultimately passed.
Gay is the new black! Although blacks and latinos don't like to call it discrimination, although it is wrapped up in a blanket of religion, it is still a pig in a blanket.
The late wife of Martin Luther King; Coretta Scott King said in a speech at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago in 1998, “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spreads all too easily to victimize the next minority group,” Mrs. King explained. We are currently in a civil rights movement in this country and it will only grow louder until we win our equality and legal protection. In the words of a gay protester in South Florida, "No more Mr. Nice Gay!".

Anti-LGBT marriage bans passed in Florida and Arizona, and in Arkansas voters voted to bar all unmarried people, LGBT or straight, from adopting children or serving as foster parents. California's proposition 8 passed as well, preventing any further marriages of same sex couples to take place, statewide.

But that's enough about "them" let's now focus on us, the positive, forward thinking, non fearful, challenge and adventure-loving Americans. What can we do to win this ideological war against hatred?

I'll take this opportunity to blog about a blogger;

It's about time that another individual rose from the ranks to lead my people (the gays) a la Harvey Milk, to a new level. This new leader is a blogger named Amy Balliett who happens to be a lesbian. She blogs to the world from Seattle and several weeks ago she wrote calling for a national day of protest against the passage of California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8. Her blog spread like a gay virus, soon after, more than one million people read the blog. One blog created history, on November 15th at exactly 1:30 p.m. EST, dozens of cities across this great country staged peaceful protests where thousands attended. Gays, straight allies, politicians, citizens of the US attended in solidarity. This was truly a grassroots campaign in every sense of the word. All started by the greatest invention ever created; the Internet and one person's vision. I've never been so proud to be gay and an IT Help Desk Manager at the same time.

The next big event that you can take part in is a Day Without a Gay on December 10th. http://daywithoutagay.org/ The time has come to really show the nation who we are and how much we contribute to it's growth and add to it's society. I am, we are citizens of the USA who deserve equal protections under the law!

We have a lot of work to do, DOMA (Defense of Marriage act) http://www.domawatch.org/index.php exists in 37 states in the US and it must be overturned just as the laws preventing women from voting and interracial marriages have been overturned in this country. History is on our side, you cannot continue to repress such a large group of human beings and expect them to just go away. We just need to better organize, focus on what is most important right now, maintain positivity (which has always been easy for us) and finally to speak out to everyone we know. Affect all of your circles of influence, instigate conversations on the topic and read up on the topics so you know what you are talking about. We cannot allow these small extremist and soon to be dinosaur groups of Ameri-bans in this country to take us back to the dark ages. We will overcome this! We will KEEP ON RISING! (queue music now)








Gay is the New Black video documentary

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Positive highlights of our recent advances and a message from Joe Solomnese, President of the HRC (Human Rights Campaign).

We increased the ranks of pro-equality lawmakers in both the House and the Senate. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), ringleader of the campaign to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution, was soundly defeated. Jared Polis (D-CO) became the first openly gay man ever to be elected to Congress as a non-incumbent. Democrats took the New York State Senate, giving us our best chance ever to pass a same-sex marriage law in a legislature. We won the right to marry in Conneticut and marriages there have already begun.

With Obama in office we can now pass critical LGBT equality measures like the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and begin unraveling the damage of the last eight years.

Moving forward, HRC will:
Continue our efforts to win incremental victories for relationship recognition, so that legally married lesbian and gay couples in Massachusetts and Connecticut have full standing under federal law; the same holds true for civil unions and domestic partnerships in places like New Hampshire, Vermont and Oregon.

As Obama said last night, “That's the true genius of America – that America can change.”

Yesterday, an unfortunate majority of voters stood with the most extreme and negative elements of society to deny the rights of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. But it’s not the first time that has happened to us, and it won’t be the last.

"It doesn’t change the fact that we are married. It doesn’t change the fact that we have families. Make no mistake. We are bowed, but not discouraged. We are sad, but not disheartened. We grieve, but not as those who are without hope. "

Joe Solmonese President http://www.hrc.org/
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Here's a couple of easy ways you can help with a click: sign the Anger into Action Declaration here: http://www.kintera.org/c.qkIWKaMZIxF/b.4746361/k.29E1/Anger_Into_Action_Declaration/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx
Over 200,000 people have already signed the pledge—and thousands more are signing every day. Even non-Californians are signing the pledge in solidarity. If you'd like to sign, click here:
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51024&id=15119-6248121-aS9KyPx&t=2


After you've signed, be sure to share with your friends and family, post to your Facebook page, and get the word out.
Sign a petition to overturn ammendment 2 in Florida:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/amendment2/

Keith Olbermann's passionate plea to the religious right in this country:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVUecPhQPqY

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Obama Factor


Barak Obama's rally, October 2008, Miami's Bicentennial Park


Standing amidst the ocean of people, squeezed a breath away from each other, inching slowly towards the metal detectors at Bicentennial Park on Miami's Biscayne Bay, i realized i was surrounded by a truly multi-ethnic crowd and oddly enough, that there was absolutely no tension, no pushing, no people complaining of how slow the line was going. This was the beginning of my coining the phrase, the "Obama Factor". Whenever you get this many impatient Americans together and make them wait to get in to any event, you are bound to see a scuffle or some pushing and people keeping to themselves with an awkward, uncomfortable tension. However today, there were people smiling, looking up, having conversations with people of other ethnicities not their own, truly mixing it up. There were Haitians talking to old Jewish ladies, Americans talking to Latinos, even a young Canadian man named "John John" who said he was named after John F. Kennedy and his brother was named after Robert Kennedy and that he was at the rally to support what he called, "the next Kennedy" for America. As we moved closer towards the metal detectors, the crowd increasingly got positive and excited as if we were going to a rock concert. People started chanting, "Obama, Obama" and I joined in loudly. I noticed a group of 3 young Haitian girls smiling, taking the scene in with complete awe and absorbing in disbelief that this many people of all races were chanting and believing in a man of their own color. A look of positive validation washed over their faces and a chill ran up my spine as well. This is the "Obama factor", that comes from his ability to connect with the people and for the people of America to finally feel that someone "gets them". That a politician can take a stand for them and attempt to try to change our country for the better and think of a better way to run things that aren't running anymore. To think out of the box instead of constantly trying to sell us the same old machine with a different wrapper. This is why Colin Powell endorsed him and so many Republicans have gone rogue to support him. It's because Obama has the ability to inspire hope and instill confidence that has been so lost in this country. For the first time in a year, i was feeling good about being an American and i actually had hope that we were finally moving forward as a country and not stuck in the same old muddy rut we have been for the last 8 years. It's basically boils down to this, the Republicans sell "fear" and the democrats sell "hope" between the two, I buy hope anyday. Why not believe in something positive when you are inundated by so much bad news, day to day for so many months? I believe in the "Pendulum Theory", when it swings one way and goes to an extreme direction, eventually the pendulum will swing back. I hope and pray that the pendulum will finally swing back on November 4th and that Obama will keep it swinging in the middle for years to come.


Now get off the internet and go out and VOTE!!!



video


Here's a link of a poll done worldwide on which candidate would win if the countries of the world could vote in our election: http://www.iftheworldcouldvote.com/results


Gallup poll done shows 3 to 1 of the world's citizen's favor Obama:


http://www.gallup.com/poll/111253/World-Citizens-Prefer-Obama-McCain-More-Than-3to1.aspx





Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Please inform yourself about Amendment 2 in Florida!


Please folks inform yourself on this heinous, hateful and divisive bill that the "Ameriban's" (the religious extremists in this country- the American equivalent of the Taliban) have put on our ballot for this year. No matter that gay marriage and adoption is already illegal in the state. No siree, that won't stop this holy war against your gay friends, cousins, brothers, parents, etc. Their crusade will never end until all gays are either cured or shipped off to Amsterdam or somewhere crazy and liberal far far away. Please read below the factual information regarding the bill. Then see the creepy video that is trying to trick citizens into believing that it's a good thing for our state.


Florida is voting right now on an Amendment to the Constitution that will set the clock back 20 years on fairness in Florida and affect thousands of lives. If passed, Amendment 2 would do far more than ban same-sex marriage, already illegal under four separate Florida laws. It would ban:

civil unions, invalidate common-law marriages, and could wipe out domestic partner registries and benefits now offered by entities across the state such as:

University of Miami

Miami-Dade County employees

Miami-Dade County Public School employees

Broward County employees

Palm Beach County employees

City of Miami Beach

City of North Miami
Similarly worded Amendments in Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio have led to lawsuits to remove health insurance benefits and created confusion in law enforcement and hospital visitation rights. .
Amendment 2 is wrong, and there are several ways you can help defeat it:1) Vote NO on Amendment 2.2) Educate your friends and relatives about Amendment 2 and urge them to vote NO. Because of the deceptive wording, there are many people who do not understand the need to vote NO. WE MUST DEFEAT THIS DISCRIMINATORY AMENDMENT. Spread the word and lets get out the vote.
Thanks for your love and support. See you at the polls! (VOTE AT ONE OF THE EARLY VOTING SITES AND AVOID THE CROWD. THE LINES HAVE GOTTEN SHORTER)

PS. Here is the wording of the ammendment: Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman ashusband and wife, NO OTHER LEGAL UNION THAT IS TREATED AS MARRIAGE OR THE SUBSTANTIAL EQUIVALENT THEREOF SHALL BE VALID OR RECOGNIZED

VOTE NO

see the creepy video here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgOt_s87nXg

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Night riding in Miami's Upper East Side











This is my first time in being an online "blog-ite" but here goes. I wanted to start my blog to write about the world through the eyes of a Miami-an, which is wholly who i am and wholly enjoy living here since my birth in Coral Gables, 39 years ago. My fellow blogger and best friend, Grettel who I consider a fellow fabulous Miamian and one more reason that Miami is such a wonderful place to live, recommended me to just write what i experienced last night, keep it simple, stupid -basically. So here goes.....

I had the monday blues going in to work and after being "plugged in to the matrix" and chewed up and spit out like a typical monday, I decided I needed to decompress my ass in the new uber-luxe-trendy-latest jet-set-place-to-be-seen, the David Barton Gym at the Gansevoort hotel. Being a local means you get the hookup with the corporate discounts before anyplace opens. http://davidbartongym.com/gyms/Miami_Gansevoort_South.html

I hitched a ride from a friend and planted myself on those new, polished wood floors and purposely barren concrete walls to start my first "Steam" cardio class. It was slow going as I was dragging ass from being chewed up and spit out on a typical monday at work. Then in front of me is this 70 year old lady lifting heavier dumb bells, jumping around with more zest than my hungry nephew waiting for me to serve him mac and cheese hot out of the microwave. After an hour of that I still didn't have full-mojo and decided hit yet another, one-hour core strengthening class. I forget the name but I think it was "zoom" or "flash" or some catchy one-word name. Ahh, the corporate world began releasing my psyche from it's clutches. While thanking the trainer, my girl Donna texts me to go on a night ride through our "hood" (Design District) or as realtors like to call it; Miami's Upper East Side. I said "hells-yeah" because the last time I went on a night ride with this blonde babe imported from Missouri (I'm gay so I'm not doing it for a possible lay) we ended up sneaking in to Shark Valley in the Everglades (http://www.southalley.com/sharkvalley.html) on a full moon lit night and rode through the 15 mile trail that was literally lined with 10 foot plus gators, hanging out waiting to find something to eat. It was a pure adrenaline rush! Each time she'd spot the gators, she'd yell "Gators to the left" with her little flash light and I'd pedal fast as hell to avoid getting attacked by the velociraptor-Jurassic Park looking creatures. I was screaming like a little bitch each and every time (i have no shame in letting my feminine side come out every now and then)...so back to my monday night ride. We met at my condo in the heart of Miami- Midtown where i've only lived in 1 year and have never loved where I live so much as there. It's like Miami meets Brooklyn Heights only with water views of Biscayne Bay and much more contemporary. http://midtownmiami.com/

We rode through the Design District and rode past my favorite new restaraunt, Brosia which was created by the ex-chef of Chispa in Coral Gables. They have a fabulous brunch and on friday nights they host a cocktail hour with DJ, etc. http://mangoandlime.net/2008/01/19/first-impressions-brosia/
I hollered to Donna for her to take note of how wickedly beautiful the old Oak trees were and how we should go for their friday night cocktail hour. Next we stopped by my mom's house in historic Morningside, one of Miami's first neighborhoods settled by pioneers from the North. It's the last thing you would expect off of crack-alicious Biscayne Boulevard with it's cheap motels and modern condos. This hive is like Coral Gables and old Havana wrapped into one. Tons of lush, old growth banyan trees (see picture) and royal palms, beautiful views of Biscayne Bay and amazing old mansions from the 20's to the present time. We got off and sat on the sea wall on 59th street and gazed at the moon's reflection on Biscayne Bay and how it illuminated the small mangrove covered islands. The wind was kicking and the temperature was like outdoor AC. October in Miami is hands down the best time to come and stare in awe at it's harvest moons each night. We then shagged-ass to Donna's new apartment in Nirvana, north of Morningside along Biscayne Bay. http://nirvanacondos.net/

I had never really gone into this community since it is security guarded and you have to know someone that lives there but it was just like being in Key West. Again, i felt like went through a dimensional doorway after being on raggedy Biscayne Boulevard. Lush pool area right on the bay, huge gym, 100 year old Banyan trees and a very quiet and private feeling throughout. I was floored...i have been living in Miami 39 years and still make discoveries like this! Her apartment is a studio for only $900- Beat that, New York City! An oasis by anyone's standards even though the fountains in the open-aired atrium lobby were a bit cheap looking, they still made that nice water flowing white noise. As we rode back to Midtown down Biscayne Blvd, I noticed how many new oak and palm trees were finally being planted on the newly widened sidewalks and breathed a sigh of relief that finally Miami's underserved neighborhoods are getting re-invented. But then there's citizens like the fools with too much time on their hands in Morningside that sued to keep Kubik condo development from going up, ultimately destroying the contemporary and innovative condo project that would've gone up right next to Soyka's 58th street station adding another anchor to new development. No, it wasn't good enough for their "vision" and now they are left to enjoy yet another vacant plot of land for the homeless to sleep on. Anyhoo, I digress, we finally made it through the back roads of the Design District and found more classic, old-Florida homes nestled in a jungle of trees. As we passed through the mini-forest and out into the clear sky that is the Midtown community with it's monolithic, illuminated and gracefully designed towers, I felt a high that can only be felt from a moment of pure bliss and relaxation. It worked! I finally conqured my monday blues, Miami-style baby! Donna and I finish it off with a glass of wine in my hot tub gazing at the stars in the clear night sky.

If you're asking why i put so many links in my story, my only intention is to share some of my discoveries and insight as to what makes Miami such a great place for ME! I ain't getting paid a'ight!...

here's a hot tip-have brunch here! its in the Design District, a little out of the way but super small and cool neighborhood cafe' http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/lowUeTkJbhgohqg2aOzVjg?select=b5IbI8GrfOa5piOvMxgavA

one more- for awesome spanish tapas and mad-good Cuban food:
http://www.canelamiami.com/

See ya soon!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My first Children's book makes the criticas list!





My first kid’s book makes the Criticas’ list for recommended books! Category: Writing and Poetry


I put my heart into this, my first children's book. While I graduated from UM with a screenwriting for motion pictures degree, I had the wonderful opportunity to write a children's book with my mother who happens to be the fabulously eloquent and touching, Doctora Isabel Gomez-Bassols. Since she had the fame and I had the creativity, she pushed me to write this story so she could speak to her young audience (she has a national radio show on Univision Radio moving soon to FM). We got together and brainstormed on what we should write to her audience and at the time there was a horrible mud slide in Guatemala where thousands lost their homes and hundreds were buried under the mud. Hurricane Katrina had just hit New Orleans, so needless to say a lot of my mother's callers were asking how do i speak to my children about "natural disasters"? I came up with the idea of empowering children instead of reinforcing the terrifying possibilities of any natural disaster. I wanted to give these children a tool to use whenever they were afraid of anything (natural disasters, emigrating to the US, being afraid of first day of school, etc.) I created a song for Gabriela to sing, a sort of buddhist mantra but without any religion tied to it so it would have universal appeal and functionality. I used to pray the Hail Mary over and over whenever i was scared in my bed at night, until it calmed or wore me out enough to fall asleep. I wanted to give that same tool to children of any religious or non-religious belief. I think I was succesful. At several book signings I've had kids come up to me and tell me that they liked the story. That means more to me than whether or not the publisher believes my numbers are profitable enough. To have at least been able to touch some young souls out there and influence them in a positive, enriching way.


La cancion de Gabriela is on Criticas' list or recommended books for Hispanic Heritage month! http://www.criticasmagazine.com/, follow the link on the left about Hispanic Heritage month.
NONFICTIONLa canción de Gabriela: ¿Cómo me adapto a un lugar nuevo?(Gabriela's Song: How Will I Adjust to a New Place?)Gómez-Bassols, Isabel & Eric Vasallo.illus. by Priscilla Garcia Burris. Rayo: HarperCollins. 2007. unpaged. ISBN 978-0-06-114102-7. $12.99.PreS-Gr 2–Yo no tengo miedo, porque el miedo no me va." ("I am not afraid because fear does not fit me.") The song comes in handy when her family moves from their comfortable home in an unnamed country to her aunt's house in the United States. The youngster is concerned about leaving her friends and moving to a place where people don't speak her language. Her song—and her mother's support—helps her feel brave enough to face school. Her ethnically diverse class helps her feel welcomed. [Críticas, 9/1/2007]















Latinos United (my response to the Jena protests)




LatinosUnited.com
The recent events in Jena, Louisiana have touched my heart in how the internet can be used as a positive tool for great change. As many as 60,000 African-Americans bussed themselves in from all over this great, free country and marched peacefully to protest an injustice to these 6 young men that were grossly over-punished for a crime that for many in Miami are left scratching their heads, it was just a school fight. "I've seen at least 20 in my lifetime and no one ever was arrested for it much lest given years of jail time for it. But in a small town like Jena where racial tensions have been at a boiling point for years, this was a logical result of the judicial system trying to make an example of a few to benefit many. Only problem is the "many" in this case were the white, American majority of this town vastly outnumbered the African-Americans. The problem was simple; the punishment of these boys did not match their crimes. Thanks to the efforts of civil rights leaders such as the reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson this problem was taken on full-force as an injustice that could not be ignored. Too many young African Americans are incarcerated in this country and when comparing apples to apples with their crimes, the statistics support that African Americans get longer sentences than a white citizen committing the same crime.
The protests were a huge statement to where the black civil rights movement has evolved, thus far. It was an extremely well organized, civilized and just affair, so much so that it seemed that America breathed a sigh of relief that no violence of any kind occurred. They were there to make a statement, that they cannot allow this injustice to be inflicted upon their people any longer, that this injustice of unfair handing down of the law and imprisoning of their young cannot continue, even in the most remote of small towns with their age-old cultures of prejudice, barely beginning to shrug off their silent policy of racism. They organized en-masse via the wonderful world of the internet. In these days of Nightline's to catch a Predator and yellow journalists touting the dangers of the internet to prevent our children from becoming victims, isn't it wonderful to see how it can be used as a tool to bring people together to make a change for the better and effect politics in this country.
After admiring this show of support for their brethren from schools, churches and communities across the country, I thought to myself where are my people's leaders' fighting to save Latinos or Hispanics from injustices suffered? Where is our Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson? Where is our champion for Latino rights and justice? Who do we have leading our fight for equal and just treatment in this home of the free? We are the fastest growing minority population in the United States and even larger in population than the Black community. Census counts us as 42.7 million strong versus 39.7 African Americans.

So what's our problem you ask? Well for one, we haven't been as grossly and obviously mistreated as black americans. Also, a lot of us fly under the radar whereby we can meld in the society because a lot of Latinos are light-skinned. With the right clothes and education, we don't really suffer the limitations they have. Another reason is, well we are not united. We don't consider ourselves united under one continent or country. We are Mexican, Caribbean, Central American, South American, Argentinean (because Argentineans don't even consider themselves South Americans) and even Spanish all divided by competition and quiet criticism of each other's faults inherent to each country still struggling for an American style of stability. We can't even agree on what to call ourselves, do we like to be called Hispanics or Latinos? The debate still goes on. At least the African-Americans were able to settle on one name, we still haven't gotten that down yet. So what injustices should we be fighting, you may ask? Well, being a son of a Cuban American family who were lucky enough to be given political asylum without issue, I would say the number one injustice in this country inflicted upon Latinos or Hispanics (take your pick) is that we are allowing our brethren to live as what I call "shadow people", working ridiculous hours, doing labor not even the African Americans are willing to take on anymore, getting robbed of overtime because employers know they are illegal, getting robbed at check cashing establishments because they can't open bank accounts, dying alone because they can't afford to pay for doctor visits or medicine, getting deported after years of working and scraping by only to start all over again to immigrate out of their impossible economies and corrupt governments.
The problem is now 12 million people large. About the only thing lawmakers can agree on is that something must be done what that something is so far has not been defined. Out of all of George Bush's mistakes, I would say his one good idea has been immigration reform. Albeit, I doubt his intentions were purely to help. I'm sure the new added tax revenue plus the $5,000 fee per head from these 12 million new legal residents will come in handy for his wars and healthy penchant for over-spending us into the largest debt the country has ever seen. These 12 million shadow people can actually help the country in the way of paying taxes, injecting the economy with revenue. Most agree that deportation of the 12 million is a logistical impossibility and while all of them are not Latin but a large portion of them are. How wonderful would it be if a group of united Latinos could rise up and help our government define what can be done to resolve one of the greatest problems of our generation? I propose this website and organization to be called LatinosUnited.com and its head should be a moderate, intelligent and ethnically sensitive Latino with a strong motivation to unite our people, a modern day Cesar Chavez, a true American hero. For those who have never heard of Cesar; he was a civil rights, Latino, farm worker, and labor leader; a religious and spiritual figure; a community servant and social entrepreneur; a crusader for nonviolent social change; and an environmentalist and consumer advocate. A second-generation American, Cesar was born on March 31, 1927 and died in 1993. His legacy lives on in his foundation and his wife carries on his efforts to this day. We need a new figurehead to bring us all together with a common cause, inspiring us to forget our slight cultural differences and push us to focus on a single purpose.
Granted, there are many obstacles to overcome in order for these "Latinos" to unite and form a common front. The most obvious being that many have been raised in the colonial system or what I call "caste system" in which the ones that have will always have and the ones that don't will never have because that is their place. I, being of the generation X, believe in the internet and the power of now. It is the year 2007, vamos mi gente vamos a unirnos para mejorarnos todos! Maybe one day our country's can all unite to form the LU or Latino Union? Wouldn't that be something! There I said it! Now someone please start an orderly, civilized revolution!


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-jena_blog_web19,1,4794853.story

Below are some websites of smaller organizations that have started this process. (latinosunited.org has already been taken but .com hasn't, so there's still time)

http://www.chavezfoundation.org/

http://www.madison.com/communities/madisonlucha/

http://www.latinosunited.org/

http://www.nclr.org/content/policy/detail/1331/