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!!!

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:

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

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


see the creepy video here:

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.

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 ( 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) 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.

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.
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.

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'

one more- for awesome spanish tapas and mad-good Cuban food:

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!, 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)
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 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!,1,4794853.story

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