Episode 120 | Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Chancellor-designate

I say this past week was a great week for education in New York City and the nation with the announcement that Félix “Felo” V. Matos Rodríguez had been appointed the new Chancellor of The City University of New York. Holy Moly!

The first Hispanic to lead the system. His fan base, which includes me, basically exploded FB with congratulations. My contribution, letting him know he’s now officially a national treasure - a Puerto Rican one I mean...ja! a bit of a joke but not.

But, I’m bringing it back to Hostos Community College because he was the College’s President from 2009 to 2014. And, I am indebted to him for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to work in the field of education. A track I couldn’t have ever foreseen for me when I started out in life. But a track I have come to love and respect deeply in these past 8-years. Throughout the many weeks of these NFAND Sundays, I’ve been on-and-off sharing about my job a bit, presenting voices from the institution that prove how education transforms lives - the beauty of learning in its most sincere and powerful sense.

The time is apropos to share as re-post Chancellor-designate Matos Rodríguez’s talk on Hostos and education. I had the privilege of interviewing him along with the rest of the past Hostos’ presidents for the 50th Anniversary Oral Collective, and it was an amazing experience. One that leaves me with few words, really. Hostos Community College is a very special place with a still under-told story, that shouldn’t be.

You can catch one little bit of that history from the CUNY Chancellor-designate himself right here on Soundcloud.

But, beyond Felo’s Hostos story, his trajectory as an educator and administrator is graced. He delivers with poise, humor, vision, underplayed tenacity, and I can tell you that he does that and more but with humanity. And that is the word.

His appointment is simply an important moment for the field of education.

Amen.

Sol

Hostos Oral Collective on SoundCloud

Soldanela Rivera
Episode 119 | Alex Rodriguez, artist, writer, sound engineer
Alex Rodríguez

Alex Rodríguez

Alex Rodriguez, producer and emcee:

This conversation was recorded between Howard Jordan (professor, activist, journalist, and lawyer) and Alex Rodríguez a couple of years ago. Jordan was and continues to be the Chair of the Behavioral & Social Sciences Department at Hostos Community College and Alex was enrolled in the Sound Engineering program. Today, Alex works at the Hostos Sound Studio and the rhythm of this share is as real as it comes. A South Bronx native, Alex is lyricist, an emcee, producer, and a full artist at heart. 

Jordan asks and each time Alex goes at it with sincere aplomb and a whole hearted explanation. He fills the gaps with context and personal history and makes his surroundings palpable with word. I’ve been thinking of him for several weeks, his cadence, the hoarseness/softness speed of his voice, and the crux of it-the why of the spoken word, its power and confusion, resonance and displacement, history and the story, tales of souls left heartless and beloved by others. The rest is ignorance and here’s a voice.

Sol

CODA XII: Photo gallery | book week in Puerto Rico

Here CODA XII: Gallery of photos | Book week in Puerto Rico.

There’s something about sincere closeness, familial love, and streets you know that simply linger. 

Sit, breathe, and wait a bit. Take your thoughts and imagine yourself abruptly being taken by the ankles as you become a pendulum swinging side-to-side with force. You surrender to the sway. It begins to slow down until the swinging comes to a full soft stop. You drop to a body of water. When you come up for air some of those people and streets, the closeness, are out there and its safe again. That was Puerto Rico last week.

A bounty of grace and love.

CODA XI: The Future
The Future - Daily Wallpaper,  ILTWMT . CC search and license.

The Future - Daily Wallpaper, ILTWMT. CC search and license.

I’ve been thinking about the future — nothing light. But I’ve been thinking...

About the wind when sea levels begin to rise after the artic finishes melting. I’ve been thinking about the whales and asking myself could they truly become extinct. I’ve been thinking about the expensive bombs that are getting built for the next big enemy. That led me to think about how many bombs, old and new, does it take to destroy the world? Perhaps the existing world’s arsenal of arms can already blow up the earth. I’ve been thinking about the lonely, lost, and desperate children detained at the border. I’ve been thinking about the refugees off the coast of Italy risking their lives to reach solid land, opportunity, a second chance. I’ve been thinking about the Puerto Rican families that I have come to know after Hurricane Maria building new lives. I’ve been thinking of the undocumented black and brown students from around the world studying and working in the City preparing for a better tomorrow. I’ve seen their brow, their learning, their smile. I’ve been thinking on how the President of the United States is a white supremacist of authoritarian proclivities. I’ve been thinking about my parent's aging and love and wise life. I’ve been thinking about Wilbur and Julio who got their bikes. I’ve been thinking about the woman caregiver in a desperate situation who I’m going to help through View For Death. I’ve been thinking about the possible and eventual consequences of these threads and other topics and I go down a rabbit hole.

Solace. My heart is mostly always with artists. No one like them/us to express quagmire.

Leonard Cohen’s The Future says it best right now, it is imminent.

Here The Future by Teddy Thompson. His belt feels like my heart right now.

And like the song says, “Repent.”

Sol


CODA X: Happy New Year & Three Kings Day +++
Wilbur & Julio con bikes 2.jpg

Good day, fair people:

My sincerest best wishes to all of you for this New Year. Thank you again for reading, listening, and the many kind notes.

CODA X is a hosh-posh of things so ...


A- The first NFAND share of the year happens to fall on Three Kings Day. It has been years since I celebrated the date and remembered being a child the day before the Three Kings arrived, I would go to the patio to get grass for the camels. That was the magic...and yesterday on the eve I celebrated with beloved families from Puerto Rico, most of them displaced by Hurricane Maria, who are building new lives are officially new residents of New York City. My job was to open pasteles and help with the cleanup. Full credit and gratitude to Diaspora X Puerto Rico, Comité Noviembre, PRParadeNYC, and We Stay/Nos Quedamos for making it happen.


B- Update on Wilbur and Julio. The Tinkerbell boys are getting their bikes thanks to Babette Audant, Lauren Gretina, Tina Hazelo Breitbach, Ileana Infante, Dolly Martínez, Raul Martínez, and Lisa Oropeza. The drop-off will happen next weekend when my dad holds his yearly Three Kings gift giveaway in the mountain of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. Pictures will follow.


C- Pregones Theater, my beloved theater family, is seeking a Development Director. This place is special. You or someone you know could work with talented, smart, caring, lovers of words, writers, dramaturges, musicians, actors, and some of the classiest arts leaders I have ever met. And that, as many of you know is a huge statement for me. Let me know if you know of anyone who wants to learn about this opportunity. I will circulate the job notice via targeted emails, but I wanted to send out a shout-out here this morning.


D- Another job notice came my way and the cause is dear to my heart. Caregivers. R.A.I.N is looking for a Program Manager/Community Outreach Worker. The goal of the job is to “To improve the well-being and quality of life of caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and related Dementia. To decrease Caregiver stress and increase information and awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and related Dementia.” This job notice will also get circulated via targeted emails, but just in case you know of anyone, let me know so I can share the full breakdown.


E- Gente, I’m super happy to announce that View For Death | Paisaje Para la Muerte is having a book launch party date in Puerto Rico on 30 January 2019 at Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín (7:00 p.m.). A formal invitation is forthcoming.


F- Thanks to Joseph Petrucelli from the Jazz Foundation of America I was given the opportunity to write a backstory for pianist, composer, lyricist and bandleader Alexa Rivera for her Baryshnikov Arts Center residency. Once they publish I will share the write-up and the interview we recorded. She is lovely.For now, her new single Jíbaro Anciano has a video.


Lastly, NFAND is getting a tune-up and interviews will begin in February. I’m going to be working with the students in the sound engineering program at Hostos and they're not back until the end of the month. I might share some back conversation as of next week, but for now, I'm back for Sunday mornings shares I and look forward to year three of Notes From A Native Daughter.

Sol


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,

Sol

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.

Sol


Episode 117 | Bernardo Ruiz, documentary director and producer
HARVEST_SEASON_POSTER_2018 (1).jpeg

Announcements:

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.

Sol

www.harvestseasonmovie.com

www.viewfordeath.com


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.

Sol

Ebook on Amazon | Print copies on www.viewfordeath.com

www.nfand.com

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.

Sol

www.viewfordeath.com

check it out

Episode 114 | Julio Pabón, on amending The Jones Act
finger print puerto-rico-654978_960_720.png

“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!”


Sol


Episode 113 | Linda Hirsch, professor +++
Linda Hirsch 2018-09-15 at 21.46.45.png

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.

unnamed copy.jpg


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.

Fierce.

Sol

Soldanela Rivera
Episode 111 | Alan Lili, Tulengua band leader
tulengua.jpg

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.”

Amen.

Sol

Episode 110 | Rita Cidre, entrepreneur, creative artist, founder of Anda Pa'l
RitaC-29.jpg

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.

Screen Shot 2018-08-25 at 12.05.45.png

Sol

Episode 109 | Alberto Ferreras, writer, director, creator
Lesson 2 16.49.07.png

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 exploration...talk, talk, talk.

Alberto darling, thank you.

Always from the heart.

Sol

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.

 

www.modestolacen.com

Insta @modesto_lacen