Posts in Media
CODA XVII | A Sea of Tears and a Revolution Part One, Citizen
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Dedicated to artists, asylum seekers all across the globe, and to Puerto Rico.

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Part One

I’m a New York based puertorriqueña since 1990. This here little story, in parts, is about being Puerto Rican here since then, a bit about the Bronx and Eugenio María de Hostos Community College (Hostos), another bit about the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York City, Hurricane María, the evacuees, about force, artists, the future, and love. 

I remember September 20, 2017 as the date when all of Puerto Rico shook in terror - Puerto Rico is an 8 million people nation, three million in the island and 5 million across the world. The birds eye perspective of the approaching storm ignited a harrowing anguish deep inside me because I knew it would be a defeat. 

It was a sinking feeling that things had changed forever. Because everything changed after Hurricane María, everything. 

As I write these words a revolution is happening in Puerto Rico over years and centuries of tears. A history so subjugated it almost forgot itself. And alas, a form of poetic justice came to pass. Everything we knew was not right was not right. Signs for moral compass read that all Debauchery is simple truth and proof of criminality.  

synonymous of the noun, debauchery: dissoluteness · degeneracy · corruption · vice · turpitude · depravity · loucheness · rakishness · libertinism · immodesty · indecency · perversion · shamelessness · iniquity · wickedness · sinfulness · sinning · impropriety · lack of morals · lack of principles · immorality · impurity · unchastity · lasciviousness · salaciousness · lechery · lecherousness · lewdness · bawdiness · lust · lustfulness · libidinousness · licentiousness · promiscuity · wantonness · abandonment · abandon · profligacy · decadence · immoderateness · intemperance · lack of restraint · indulgence · self-indulgence · pleasure-seeking · hedonism · sybaritism · voluptuousness · concupiscence · lubricity · salacity

Hollow is the pain of the lonely heart. 

On the afternoon of September 20, 2017, I went home from work to watch the news. After the hurricane my house became a command center for connecting people and dispatching as much information coming my way as I could. My parents were in Puerto Rico and my Dad suffered the shingles through Hurricane Irma and María. To keep it simple, it was dramatic. My mother and aunt traveled to New York City six-weeks after the storm. On their first day in the mainland, mom had to go the hospital. Thus, began a hot hospital run for my sister and I for the next year and half. Culminating with mom’s open heart surgery in March of 2019, she had her martial valve replaced and eased of an aneurysm in her aorta. That alone, knocked us out spiritually, physically, and financially.

That first month after the hurricane was critical. It was taking a lot to get help, and puertorriqueños outside watched in desperation how it quickly disintegrated and it became evident that a rescue effort seemed to be assailed. 

In my eyes, credit to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for her SOS. One of the greatest gestures of courage to come at the right time for a true calamity.

From where I stood, I saw how todos los puertorriqueños up here either became champions or picked up other champions from politicians, to activists, and volunteers. I have never seen such a show of force and love for the homeland. The public denouncement from the Puerto Rican community in the mainland was instant and, it mobilized itself to help not only the island but also the displaced families from Puerto Rico, especially in places like Florida, New York City, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia. For, as the news of the aftermath rescue mission breakdown spread, (that we now know was criminally negligent), the inevitable news of puertorriqueños leaving for the United States began to unfold.

I was very cognizant that what was happening in the New York City was happening all over but, New York City is my doorstep. I know that here, it took local community leadership, elected officials, advocates, activists, foundations, volunteers, and academics to clamor for a justified way to face and manage the crisis of a new wave of Puerto Rican migrants who were destitute. Many families that I later met, came here without any knowledge of where they were coming to and what they would face. It broke my heart. And yet, they decided to stay in a city facing a serious housing crisis. Fueling gentrifying high-rent trends stressing out predominantly disenfranchised communities of color already struggling to stay afloat, are also making it an equal challenge for people with the privilege of language, education, and an honorable job.

Roughly, from October of 2017 to January of 2018 New York City had a slew of organizations and leaders mobilized in supporting and standing up for displaced families from Hurricane María: New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), Catholic Charities, New York Police Department (NYPD) New York Fire Department (NYFD), The Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, The Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Public Advocate and NY Attorney General Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Diaspora x PuertoRico, Union Community Health Center (UCHC), Urban Health Plan (UHP), Department of the Aging, Acacia Network, and so many people came forward for the displaced families. All the leagues understood that the displaced families needed us, “la diaspora.”

What a big little phrase, la diaspora. For how long has it been a diaspora? Where does it come from? Who becomes it? How do we become it? Who decides? How does it live outside of Puerto Rico? Can it be unraveled? These are important questions. 

Immersed in news these past few weeks here are some of the voices I love:

Bonita Radio - Carmen Enid goes on early in the a.m., check website for streaming details.

Walt HD - Streams after work hours, 6ish time.

Jay Fonseca - Post various times throughout the day-usually early morning, noon, and at night.

Anibal Acevedo Vilá - everyday from 8 to 10 a.m. Radio Isla 1320.

David Begnaud - Posts throughout the day or breaking news.

 Now…I am no historian, but I have read, seen, and been told a bit. I’ll tell and share in my order. The following are some voice of la diaspora. 

Read here (SOS), listen here (Elba Cabrera part I of II), and listen here (Pete Miranda Part I of II).

Sol

CODA VX: A curveball and "After Maria" (from March 31, 2019)
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(First published Sunday, March 31, 2019) My schedule and usual rhythm and flow are off since the year began pretty much because my mother has been struggling with her health. I don’t want to get into the details of it all but it’s serious enough and things are different. The curveball has thrown me off a bit, though I appreciate that it’s giving me time to reflect. And, I thought back to mom’s in-and-out of hospital track since Hurricane María and it’s been about 10 times, a couple of stays for over a month each. I wonder...that brings me to, “After Maria.”

“After Maria” is a short doc by the amazing Nadia Hallgren that will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival on April 28. Here her IG post: Excited to announce my new documentary short @tribecafilmfestival 🇵🇷After Maria 🇵🇷 world premiere on 4/28! Watch what happens when 3 Puerto Rican mothers who are forced to leave the island after hurricane Maria meet in a FEMA hotel in the Bronx. They bond like family and seek stability in their new life as forces try to pull them apart. Produced by @lacioffi Executive producer @rogerrosswilliams edited by @helekearns @jarthster consulting editor @jeantsien @salacuse

I can’t succinctly explain it all, but 2018 was an adventure and the making of this documentary was very much a part of it. So much happened after Maria it’s hard to capture it all, but this work is a tiny peek into what happened after the hurricane to displaced families in New York. Many of them still displaced and living under the NYC Department of Homeless Services temporary shelter housing. Stay tuned for more, because more is coming for “After Maria.”

My last share, CODA XIV the fallen men, was dark and about the future of the University of Puerto Rico. One of the articles I shared was a fiction piece meant to be a worst-case-scenario essay. The worst case scenario is that if the Middle States Commission on Higher Education “flunks” the UPR, then things can turn. I read more and more and see this whole UPR debacle as one of those institutions that could or just might eventually erode. Being that the UPR is an integral part of the livelihood of the island, it is worth any one’s time to read about what is going on. But, the fact remains that between La Junta’s draconian cuts, political pundits, and poor administration, the future of the university is indeed uncertain, and that is a terribly sad thing.

The world as a whole is drowning because of so much ignorance. There’s money for war but not much else…and it shows.

Free Chelsea Manning

Free Papa Renty

Be good to people,
Sol

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!”


Sol


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 exploration...talk, talk, talk.

Alberto darling, thank you.

Always from the heart.

Sol

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

 

Episode 102 | Julio Pabón, business man and activist/advocate
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Episode 102 | In my heart and mind I owe this to Julio.

Julio Pabón is incredible. History. Really. Listen to him.

Dad sometimes stays at his house when he visits New York City, and Dad is not a man to stay at people’s houses, but it’s Julio.

He is jovial, kind, noble, a badass, funny as hell, what a way to tell a story. A natural storyteller. And, he always stands for respect and justice for Puerto Rico. 

This is a chronicle of Puerto Rican migration, New York City, the South Bronx, and earning a life of dignity.

That's all I have. Sometimes, less is more.

May the force be with you,

Sol

Episode 100 | View For Death, my first book, Trina Bardusco talks with me
View from Herlev Hospital, Denmark 2015. Photo by Soldanela Rivera

View from Herlev Hospital, Denmark 2015. Photo by Soldanela Rivera

For episode 100 I asked my dear friend Trina Bardusco, writer, director, producer, entrepreneur, and duende to speak with me about the book project I’ve been working on for the past three years, View For Death, in memory of my late husband, Dan Larsen.

Yes, not a light title, but those of you who know me know there is really nothing light about me. I feel, think, express, and give myself from the core of my being.

How it came to be that I get to announce this self-published labor of love nearly on the eve of his of his passing on 17 April 2015 is perhaps the wind from the other realm. I don’t know, but maybe. Three is the triad: the beginning, the middle, and the end; or birth, life, and death; or past, present, and future.

The number three also corresponds to the three generous women who came through almost at the last minute and helped me realize my vision and bring me to the finish line. My Belle du Jour Lara Gallardo, graphic designer extraordinaire. The fantastical lady of words, my Spanish translator and soul-sister, Marlène Ramírez-Cancio. And, last but not least, my little sister’s mother and my friend, Damarys Reyes-Vicente, the Spanish copy editor. Without these three women, I wouldn’t have been able to make it. 

So much happens in the artistic indie journey right? I nearly gave up after Hurricane María, which for all sort of circumstances wiped out my entire budget. I had barely enough to pay Lara something, Marlène and Damarys worked for pro-bono. I sat and meditated on all I had accomplished in the past three years and sought to seek and believe that even though I had no money, there was a way to make the book a reality.

View For Death is a memoir dedicated to caregivers all over the world. The book is not only for caregivers, but for anyone who’s lost someone they love. I also hope the book can serve anyone who wants to find a way to solace during a grieving time.

So long as this book sells 50% of the money from sales are destined for the VFD Fund. To start, I aim to help women caregivers in dire straights in the United States and Puerto Rico. If all goes, the project will evolve to expand and include men caregivers in dire straights and ultimately, move on to other places, but the journey of a thousand steps begins with step one.

So. View For Death will drop on Amazon on 17 May 2018 as an electronic book, there will be print on demand, and print copies will come later in the season. After the exclusive period with Amazon, View For Death will be on digital platforms where books sell. 'Till then I'll be promoting the book. In the meantime, listen to my heart-to-heart with Trina and visit www.viewfordeath.com.

More to come…

With strength and honor

Soldanela

Episode 97 | Arí Maniel Cruz, filmmaker
Coming in April 2018

Coming in April 2018

Ari Maniel Cruz is presently one of Puerto Rico’s most sought-after filmmakers. He spoke to me from Mexico, where he is working on the massive Netflix-Telemundo-Caracol series project inspired by Reggaeton superstar, Nicky Jam. We go at in Spanish and in true Puerto Rican cadence.

Ari Maniel Cruz y yo hablamos sobre Under Your Feet, Antes que cante el gallo, la tribu, ¿Quien eres tu?, Mexico, Nicky Jam, y Puerto Rico.

Actualmente en Mexico, Ari es el show-runner del mega proyecto Netfilx-Telemundo-Caracol e inspirada en la vida de la super-estrella del reggaeton, Nicky Jam. A través de la historia de Nicky Jam, se cuenta una mini-segunda historia, el desarrollo del género.

Muchos personajes del reggaeton envueltos. Ari se llevó un grupo de actores de Puerto Rico a Mexico y no dice nada que no pueda decir sobre el proyecto pero sí comparte lo que considera un gran momento para contar esta historia donde la isla es una pieza clave.

Inspirado también por el trabajo del gran Reverendo Pedro Pietri, una trilogía sobre la diaspora puertorriqueña vendrá de camino.

Su película más reciente, Antes que cante el gallo es bella, y en abril sale, ¿Quien eres tu? Creada por la misma tribu, de la que hablamos en el episodio y que está compuesta por tremendos profesionales de cine y producción. De veras que si.

Live long and propser,

Sol

Episode 95 | Jean-Marc Berne, voice over talent and coach, audio producer, international public speaker +
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Jean-Marc Berne has a mission - The Heart-Voice Connection. His new book is about just that, connecting to our hearts and our voice, and by extension our empathy. His travails are heavy, but his road to self-healing is the stuff of outer-time. But also, art and healing go hand-in-hand.

A working voice over artist and coach, Jean-Marc writes. Poems are coming out of him almost daily, and for it, on a whim, he launched a private Facebook group called, Poetry for the Soul. He composes songs - It’s My Time_Leave the Past Behind, and does a great deal more - Berne Media Enterprises. Woven into his reason is to speak on behalf of sexually abused victims, on vulnerability and men, about disconnection, and communicating from a place of Love.

Lindo. Lindo.

Sol