CODA IX: humanity

I’m spent. I’m signing off until after the New Year. Year 2018 has been my busiest year yet. The beginning of the year was still about the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria. A lot of pieces to pick up. From taking care of mother and aunt to then working with displaced families in the City, to publishing View For Death, 2018 has been about caring for people’s dignity, including my own. And, I’m still working on getting Wilbur and Julio their bikes. So let me know if you want to join that collection.

There are some dark and sinister things going on in this country, and the world really. But here, this thing at the border vomits on dignity and humanity. Some of the best reporting I’ve read lately, and I read a bit, is coming from Paola Mendoza for Families Belong Together. She has been documenting the Caravan and the hurt with such love, so beautifully written, it brings tears to my eyes. She has been searingly capturing the stories of these refugees like no one out there. Go check it out if you haven’t already. Refugees all across the globe deserve better. They deserve for their humanity and dignity to be held like when you hold a bird with broken wings in your hand. 

Connect to humanity. Not only because ’tis the season, but because we are all we’ve got, the earth is the only land we’ve got, and it belongs to all of us. We all have red blood.

Be good. With love,


Episode 118 | Oscar Rivera, photographer, artistic director EnFoco

Leadership succession in the Bronx arts and culture sphere is a thing to look at, write about, and discuss. The future does matter. This is a subject I’ll delve into in 2019. I’m pre-preparing my year. For now.

Oscar J. Rivera is an example of that tomorrow for EnFoco. Since 1974 EnFoco has supported visual and photographic artists of color in underserved communities. But, the borough is changing, leaders are aging, and the promise of these imperative spaces and projects need us and younger minds to carry out the next 40-years.

This was the undercurrent feeling I was left with after my convo with Oscar. Young, purposeful, real, he’s a man with a caring eye and heart. He travels from Brooklyn to the Bronx to make it to the office and is quickly becoming an inter-borough creative connector. Love him for it. December’s Nueva Luz photo journal is The Queer Issue with Oscar’s touch from beginning to end. To purchase or check it all out visit EnFoco’s website, and listen to us with perfect sound, here.

With gratitude for the Lenape Indians, original holders of Manhattan.


Episode 117 | Bernardo Ruiz, documentary director and producer


Alexa Rivera @ the Bronx Music Heritage Center 11-11

Trina Bardusco has a new blog!

View for Death on sale.

Episode 117 | Harvest Season |  Screening @ DOC NYC 11-13 and 11-15 IFC Center

“Harvest Season” is about caregivers. I said I would dedicate these weeks to caregivers and their stories. This is a short story about the storyteller of California wine country, as seen and told through the ones that care for the harvest year-in-year-out. Arduous work. Dedicated focus with knowledge of respect for the seasons. Out in the wine country, anything can happen. A crop is never assured, as is nothing in life really, but gusto, bravado, and the need and will to carry on.

In his latest documentary feature “Harvest Season,” Bernardo again unfolds a multilayered story that points at U.S. immigration laws, labor history, and American history. The nuances come out of the stories as if they were made to boil only they surface naturally because knowledge is passed down from generation; sacrifice is what it takes to make it in the land business, and an entire industry would not be able to subsist without immigrant labor.

In Bernardo’s stories, there is always a moral compass appearing without effort. It comes one second at a time. As the scenes pass, fractions of a seconds end up as large lapses of beats, reasons, and purpose. Such is “Harvest Season.”

Bernardo reaps what he has sowed, which is a lot of humanity, dignity, and history to makes us proud.


Episode 116 | Minerva Urrutia, clinical psychologist, artist, activist, mentor
Picture taken from an article in  Latino Sports  by Nicole Perez.

Picture taken from an article in Latino Sports by Nicole Perez.

In this episode, Minerva Urrutia shares about what it means to be a caregiver, as it relates to the Puerto Rican immigrant experience, being married, having children, and giving up almost everything to provide for an aging parent. Her tale is straightforward, poised, tempered, and loving. She is history in the talking.

November is Caregiving month and View For Death | Paisaje Para La Muerte is set for Thursday, 1 November 2018, with a presentation reception and talkback with Professor Eunice Flemister at the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos. See attached flyer in png format. The book was translated from English into Spanish by Marlène Ramírez-Cancio.

Grateful for Minerva’s time, consideration, and friendship.

Respect your elders.


Ebook on Amazon | Print copies on

Donate to 80grados, Prensasinprisa funding campaign.

Episode 115 | Carmen Matos, aka Bx Queen and caregiver
Carmen Matos - aka Bx Queen

Carmen Matos - aka Bx Queen

I met Carmen very recently at the Mott Haven Bar and Grill and almost instantly we got into a heart-to-heart talk about the experiences that have made us grow up and mature. We quickly realized we had both had the experience of being caregivers.

On she went to share her tale. A sad one, but also uplifting. Sometimes the darkest moments have splendor and therein stood our common ground. Her last line in this conversation is, “sometimes we have to fall to realize how strong we are when we get back up.” Word.

Unfortunately, falling seems to be a must in life and the hardest part is getting back on the road to forward. It is that journey of getting back up that I hold as the crux of the matter and feel compelled to help. The book I wrote is about just that, falling. Falling deep into grief, or as Professor Eunice Flemister told me in a recent talk, “the power of grief.” We so seldom expose it and talk about it; I feel we cheat ourselves out of a chance to connect with one another’s humanity.

It makes sense that Carmen is aka as the Bx Queen. She is stunning, tall, with piercing blue/green eyes, and warm. When you’re with her, you feel like she’s got you. I thank her for her candidness and tears, which are my own.

For the next few weeks, as lead up to share with the world a personal tale, I brace myself with bravery. Unveiling myself is a bit nutty, I haven’t always succeeded in the past when I have, but it is the only way to catch sincerity. And I won’t back down from that way of being. I want to help women caregivers in dire straights, and the only way I had to do that was to open myself for the purpose.

Carmen and the rest of the women voices I’ll be sharing with you all have that, grief, bravery, solid oak dignity, and heart.

Always from the heart.


check it out

Episode 114 | Julio Pabón, on amending The Jones Act
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“Puerto Rico Flag Fingerprint country pride” by Pixabay is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Words and reasonings flow out of Julio Pabón with rhythm and feeling. He’s a natural storyteller. Here he delves into the history and particulars of The Jones Act. The long-standing maritime law creates a lockdown in the ports that has and continues to place an unjust economic burden on the people of Puerto Rico. He wants to go to Jacksonville for a National Day of Respect & Justice for Puerto Rico on October 26, 27, and 28, 2018. This is a non-partisan issue for Julio and his comrades, this is a human rights issue.

The central events will take place in Orlando on October 26 with a film showing; a rally in Kissimmee on October 27; closing with a symposium on The Jones Act in Jacksonville, Florida on October 28. We want Puerto Ricans, allies, and friends to do some kind of event wherever they live in the United States on The Jones Act and its impact on the island. Julio says that actions large and small count: share art, news, hold vigils, calls, and letters to local Congressional and Federal Senators #amendthejonesact, “please put the issue of Puerto Rico and The Jones Act on your agendas. Puerto Ricans in the island don't have a vote in our Federal elections, BUT WE DO!”


Episode 113 | Linda Hirsch, professor +++
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Episode 113 | Episode 113 | Bringing in some oral history from Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College.

Here is an educator - real and true. Linda Hirsch. Dust of inspiration for the times & #OurPowerNYCpr | Community gathering one-year after Hurricane Maria | Union Square | 20 September - 6:00 p.m.

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Episode 112 | Nejma Nefertiti, MC
Nejma Nefertiti, MC

Nejma Nefertiti, MC

I really enjoyed editing and piecing this conversation together. It took me almost an entire day and I couldn’t get to the sound correction. So. The audio is raw.

Nonetheless, I stand by this heartfelt tale of a Native American-Iranian, urban pixie.

Nejma Nefertiti tells it from deep within ancestral knowledge. Her life has seen Brooklyn the most, but New York City is her home. She’s unapologetically an MC; and also an observer, a solo thinker, a poet, a humanist, and a steel magnolia.

Intermittently, in this episode is the track Coco Chanel Remix by Nejma Nefertiti and La Bruja.



Soldanela Rivera
Episode 111 | Alan Lili, Tulengua band leader

tulengua meaning: 1. Literal translation, your tongue; 2. Other meaning, your language; 3. Hip-hop band from Baja Cali and Tijuana.

Alan Lili lives in between worlds and uses the most crossed border in the world basically on a daily basis. He considers it a privilege, and he does it because he loves Tijuana. Though raised in San Diego, Alan is Jewish, Mexican, American, and a creative spirit who knew he was a musician before he learned to play an instrument.

He reached out from across the land and told me about the album baja funk and about the hip-hop supergroup he has going on tulengua.

baja funk is now available for sale and streaming, and all proceeds from the sales will go to Border Angels. The record is beautiful and their action noble indeed. tulenga is Alan; Amari Jordan (Southern California. Singer, rapper, producer, and guitarist. Aka “La Reyna Negra”); and “jimmy.thevillain” (born in Tijuana and raised in Rosarito. He makes beats. He surfs and studies chemistry).

Here is their thing...

“Tulengua was born as a dream of creating a band with members from both sides of the border. A band that could be more than music: a celebration of the beauty that occurs when humans come together despite their supposed differences. baja funk is our first release and was recorded during a period in which tulengua was figuring itself out, solidifying it’s lineup, and exploring possibilities. It’s our way of bridging the vibrancy & color of Latin American culture with the mellow grit of California hip-hop, all while digesting and commenting on the reality of living with the border running through our DNA.”



Episode 110 | Rita Cidre, entrepreneur, creative artist, founder of Anda Pa'l

Anda Pa’l meaning: (slang) from the root word, anda pa’l carajo. Literal translation: walking to hell, either in first person or the action verb of andar (walking) referring to someone else literally walking to hell. Other translations that depend on context: “holy shit,” “holy moly,” “can’t be.” (pronounced like panda, but without the “p” / pa’l, like the word pal as in buddy).

It’s true what they say, home is where the heart is…my heart has been in Spain, Denmark, Berlin, Los Angeles, Samaná, Panama, Mexico, Whitesburg/ Kentucky, New Orleans, New York, and of course Puerto Rico. We can’t occupy the same space at the same time, it’s against the laws of physics, but the heart, on the other hand, can travel far and wide. Haven’t you felt it?

It’s a mystery to me but the feelings are so real. I cry about these things, missing places, and people. I do. Actually often. I reach out to people and open myself up. It doesn’t always work. I’ve made a fool of myself often enough, but it’s just I believe and feel that little gestures do matter. The effort is all about my heart telling me to do it, actions, poems, gifts, letters, other things. Lately, it’s a bit disheartening but I keep it at, one reason I do this talk show.

And so I come to Rita Cidre, who in a short talk brought me back to remember that little actions matter and the heart can take you places. Anda Pa’l her own business of canvas bags and pouches started out because she missed home. And home for her is Puerto Rico. Rita picked up witty slang sayings and phrases and gave them life. She and I share several things in common all having to do with having our heart split into a lot of pieces, each one for a different person that we love. I love she created something tangible to assuage missing Puerto Rico and Caribbean life. I get it. I’m right there with her and so are thousands and thousands of others. Her business has reached the globe and she’s managed to cultivate a following of people wanting that tangible connection to the island.

Rita brings some interesting points about the diaspora she represents. Why doesn’t she go back? Why don’t I go back? We left for what reasons? How is it different now, post-Hurricane Maria? Everything is different now and a new conversation between island and stateside Puerto Ricans is emerging. Nothing we talk about has definite answers, but some definite feelings of making it possible to be here and there somehow. It’s all about the heart, just like her project, a labor of love, a self-taught artist with feelings so deep she has touched the Puerto Rican heart far and wide.

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Episode 109 | Alberto Ferreras, writer, director, creator
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Alberto is amazing, loving, bountiful, exemplary, relatable, tantalizing, and original. He is. There’s this something to his creative works that just leave you smiling and wondering about him. From B as in Beauty, his novel about a fat girl who turns call girl at night to help her with self-confidence, to the beloved HBO Latino series HABLA, Alberto is full of truisms and classy creativity.

I could talk with Alberto for hours non-stop. Our conversation here hits almost an hour but we had to cover the subjects in depth. There was no other way with him. We just go fluidly through past and present projects, the process of writing, the state of the world as it relates to the creative fields, and these subjects matter to us both.

He really is a genius. His ideas, his vision of bringing moral tales to life. He has a new film project in series format called, Lessons. We delve into Lessons. Brilliant offerings for self-reflection in less than 5-minutes. With the project, he’s learning about narrative form and presenting short-films / short scenes about issues that matter in life - success, lovers, a mother’s love, bitterness, confidentiality. And he gave me a lesson in Premiere Adobe suite in sound editing. Lessons, lessons, lessons...

Alberto’ The Newyorkster, is an incredible story/podcast. We talked about that too and share on our need to explore the expansiveness of Latino, though I’m leaning towards referencing it as Pan-American. There’s no resolution to this other than, talk, talk.

Alberto darling, thank you.

Always from the heart.


Episode 108 | Modesto Lacén, theater, film, television, and radio actor
Modesto Lacén, hunk

Modesto Lacén, hunk

Modesto Lacén is one of Puerto Rico’s most sought after actors and a native son of the town of Loiza, the island’s Afro-Caribbean soul center. He makes Loiza and Puerto Rico proud for his talent, professionalism and kind demeanor.

Something must have happened in the celestial realm that chased Modesto down when he decided to act for a living, for he’s had nothing but plentiful roles. Roles of men that have passed on and have left a mark on Puerto Rico and Latin history from Clemente to Don Pedro Knight, in multiple performance formats, Modesto keeps at it with eloquence and commitment.

We go at it in this one-on-one in Spanish and sincere Puerto Rican cadence. 

Aun no he conocido a una sola persona que me diga que Modesto no es modesto. Pues sencillamente lo es…

Personalmente solo conozco a un hombre buena gente, profesional, trabajador y que le ha tocado mucha providencia, que siga así. En esta conversación hablamos como dos buenos amigos y colegas de la industria cultural a la que ambos pertenecemos.

Es linda linda. Gracias Modesto.

Insta @modesto_lacen


NFAND CODA VII | Back from rest: Beauty and Lessons from Dominican Republic

When I was a kid I spent, a good decade traveling to Dominican Republic with my parents. We shared time with Dominican songwriter and composer Cheo Zorilla and his family. The kids – Laura, Paul, Cuchi, and Natalia and I were buddies and we made skits and plays and had tons of fun. Fast forward to 2018. Those four kids, now adults like me,  and I, met again last year and when we saw one another after all those years, no time had passed. No time at all. Grace and Love. I saw them again during my recent trip  to D.R. and it was the same loving feeling.

For the past 40 + years Danny/Dad has done hundreds of acts of social work in Dominican Republic. Cuba too, and Puerto Rico of course, but this story is about D.R. He’s a beast like that, his reach, the depth of knowledge of these lands, and his very noble heart and inclination to bring solace to areas and patches of places where suffering and disadvantage reins, no matter the political climate.

 For the past 20 years, Dad has been asking me to visit Dominican Republic so that I could meet his social work. He never imposed or imposes his wish (es) on me, but rather, as he always asks for things, with a casual loving, “hey, why don’t you come down.” After all these years of him asking me to go, for my very needed 2018 break, I finally made it down to the island.

What a painful lesson to have taken so long. But, I did make it. I’ll sum that up as follows: 1) Perhaps or arguably, Latin America’s greatest songwriter and composer, Rafael Hernández said it best with his song Linda Quisqueya, for Linda it is. 2) I fell in love with Samaná. Look it up. 3) His advocacy and social work in Jarabacoa is something for the books of history. And here goes my micro point. I met these two little Tinkerbell men of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, Wilbur and Julio and they stole my heart.

The Tinker Bell boys, Wilbur and Julio

The Tinker Bell boys, Wilbur and Julio

They took my sister and me on a country tour for a day. They showed us plants, showed us and plucked fruits from the trees for us, told us to “hammock” as an action - “vamos hamacar,” and walked us through a long and winding path to a full running river. They got to the river first and when Sabina and I caught up with them, they were naked and bathing and jumping in the water with joy. They asked us why we wouldn’t bathe in the river with them. I smiled and explained that I would watch them making sure they would be safe. They were happy about not having to bathe again at night. I was cracking up hearing them tell each other this fact. Their purity and freedom brought tears to eyes. I was impressed by their physical skill, most notably their cycling skills. They have a little pink bike and they ride it up and down those hills like mini-amateur pros of BMX.

I cycled fiercely for over 10 years. I was a New York City bike messenger in 1997 and consider it to this day one of the best and most liberating professional experiences of my life. Riding down 5th Avenue on rush hour without stopping for red lights, is both stupidly dangerous but THE thing to strive to do, and boy did I do it. Seeing them cycle made me recall the freedom I had then, the simplicity of my life in my early 20s when I was a dancer, an athlete, actress, choreographer, touring artists and a young girl making an honest living and making this concrete jungle my home. Here’s the one picture I have of those bike messenger days with my friend Breed…

Breed and I, summer of 1997, New York City

Breed and I, summer of 1997, New York City

This trip was all about connections. Childhood. What stays inside you. Things that make you remember your purest self. Growing up. Creating yourself from child to adult. Making something of it. One of the lessons from this trip came from seeing these two little men be free despite having close to nothing. Yet, they had something crucial. Their forest, their river, the fruit of the land, and a little bike that can prove to anyone that their stamina and physical skill is all they need to make something out of the day. Such was my experience during my cycling time, and the messaging days specifically. Freedom and skill can go hand in hand.

I am my father's daughter and try to do the right thing whenever I can, so I want to get Wilbur and Julio a bona fide bicycle. Help me. Send me word. I’m starting an off-the-grid crowdfunding to get them one. They need it so they know, in time, that perhaps, their cycling skills can turn into something, maybe messengers, and protectors of their mountain home, if the world goes bust.

Thank you, father. Thank you to the Fernández Family, Nancy, Marta, Jasmin, Diego, Doña Mayra, Natalia, Cuchi, Amalia, Paul, Nati, José, Fide, Esther, Dariana, and to Wilbur and Julio…I think a part of me always stayed there and I got it back and it's made me feel so much better.

Be grateful and listen to your parents.


NFAND CODA VI | Vacation Announcement

Dear ones...

I'm taking a month hiatus from Notes From A Native Daughter. 

I believe this is week 110 of uninterrupted Sunday dispatches.

I have loved talking, listening, and making this one-on-one raw style format show more than words can say, for now. The idea for the podcast was originally intentioned to give me purpose, at a time when I was lost. The hunch was to record conversations with the amazing artists and humanists I know because arts and culture are the cornerstones of our humanity. Coming from that place I found purpose and strength and resolve.

And, just like that, one show at a time, NFAND became a necessity, a lifeline, really. I can not, not do this show, but I do want a rest break and catch up time to do things that got sidetracked these past couples of months. The 2018 spring/summer season brought unexpected winds that I simply could not ignore. 

Thank you, everyone, for accepting my emails first and foremost. And, thank you for, reading, listening, and sharing whenever you've been able to. 

Until 5 August 2018.

Be noble.





NFAND CODA V | The promised land is the earth

CODA V - One day this past week I found a perfect parking spot in a really busy area in the northern Bronx when I realized this Wall on the driverside of the car.

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For some reason, I simply loved it. Like the way, I get hooked on things and want to keep them close to me. It's been profoundly busy these past few months, weeks, days, hours...I'm a bit burnt for good reasons, loving reasons, really because I love and care for people. For now, for today, all I have this:

The Wall

#FreeHumanity #Respect&JusticeForPuertoRico #FamiliesBelongtogether #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForMuslims #FreePalestine #WomenRightsAreHumanRights #LGBTQRightsAreHumanRights #LoveTrumpsHate 

We are all #AsylumSeekers 

The promised land is the earth


Live long and prosper,



Episode 107 | Lourdes Torres, aka Lala, activist, advocate, educator, retiered

Lourdes Torres is a native Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Blond and blue eyed you’d think she was Irish if you passed her by on the street. That’s the thing about Caribbean and Latin American people, they fool the ignorant of history. But back to Lala, her affectionate nickname belies her unapologetic reasons for standing up for her people and a community marginalized and oppressed by a systemic racist system that keeps brown and poor white people down.

This share is one of two others I have with her. We focus here on Hostos Community College and she touches on her experience with the battle against the Fort Apache film, led by Evelina López Antonetty. Lala was a part of that. In fact, watch this YouTube video, of one of the public hearings.

The things that were happening 50-years ago are happening today. Grotesque racism, prejudice, judgment, ignorance, vitriol, some of it invoked in the name of God…

Children in cages, Puerto Rican refugees left out in the cold, Syrian refugees shut out, and all over the world, the poor are escaping strangling conditions only to be punished. I sense a storm forming, a disgusting whirlwind impulsed by white supremacists here and abroad who want a worldwide holocaust. We, the people, have nowhere else to go but here, the promised land is the earth.

Somehow, Lala’s hour-long share addresses all of it. The Bronx in general and the South Bronx specifically can pin itself a speaker who can bring down all the categorical notions and reasoning of sterile people without hearts who refuse to see people different than themselves as equal human beings.

I’ve been working with Puerto Rican families living under FEMA’s TSA program and have found so much beauty and so much nobility, I’ve cried myself to sleep a couple of times thinking how many promises have been broken. I had never experienced the homeless feeding the homeless. The exchange happens with pride and abundance, I’ve eaten their food.

Those small and unseeable good times break my heart for the world. Really does.

Thank you Lala for all you have done and taught many of us.

Be kind, look to give, stand up for injustice, and watch out, for “they” might be going after you next.


NFAND CODA IV - Father’s Day + UTIER President in NYC + Manny Vega Art

I’ve been busy. Really, really, really busy. My interview schedule is off though soon enough I’ll be on track again. Therefore, today’s share is a bit of a bulletin...

  1. Here is to the fathers both present and absent. Mine is very much alive, blessed be his soul and voice. Here is Episode 27, a lovely conversation I had with mom and dad back at the beginning of NFAND. It is a Spanish talk, but it is real.

  2. The President of the Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego de Puerto Rico (UTIER) Juan Figueroa Jaramillo, will be speaking at Hostos Community College on Monday 18 June at 7:00 p.m., 500 Grand Concourse, Room B-501. See Flyer attached. Just like last week’s The Battle for Paradise book launch and forum hosted by The Intercept, this should be a MUST ATTEND talk for those of you interested in Puerto Rico.

  3. Master artist Manny Vega is going to have an art sale next week and you should prepare to buy. I’m holding for the flyer, will circulate when I receive it. Manny spoke deep and penetrating for Episode 59.

  4. Circling back to father’s day, I share the song Huracan. Dad recorded the song over 40 years ago for his seminal album, Alborada. These things have come to pass...

  5. AND, FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER. The overlords are out like wolves. Watch out.