Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


To our readers in the United States, as they celebrate Thanksgiving today, we wish the happiest day in the company of family and friends. We give thanks for your encouragement and support throughout the year.

Ivette and Lisa

Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 27, 2014

Broadway Finds a New Stage in an Old Venue: Cuba

Director Andy Senor Jr. takes part in a rehearsal for the musical "rent" in Havana

In Bob Nederlander Jr.’s mission to export Broadway to new markets around the world, he found an old one where the American art form lay dormant for a least 50 years – communist Cuba, The Daily Herald reports.
After testing the Cuban appetite with a 2011 concert of Broadway show tunes, Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment decided to stage a three-month run of “Rent,” the first Broadway musical exported to Cuba in decades.
“We were all blown away by the reaction,” Nederlander said of the 2011 show. “Standing ovations. People cheering, on their feet dancing.”
Based on that and interest from Cuba’s Culture Ministry, “we then suggested we bring authentic Broadway here to Cuba; that we do it in Spanish with Cuban actors and musicians,” Nederlander told Reuters from Havana’s 350-seat Bertolt Brecht Theater on the second day of rehearsals.
“Rent” will premiere on Dec. 24, just two months after casting. The Americans will direct and provide set design, sound, lights, choreography and the wardrobe.
Nederlander is part of the third generation of his family business, the entertainment empire behind hits such as “Chicago,” “La Cage aux Folles” and “West Side Story”. The Cuban production is a total financial loss meant as a cultural exchange, Nederlander said, declining to reveal any details. Cuba’s National Council for Performing Arts is sharing expenses.
Broadway shows were popular in Cuba before the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, but what happened after that is unclear, an official from the National Council for Peforming Arts said. The United States imposed a trade embargo, and Cuba banned some capitalist influences from the Caribbean island.
Whatever the reason, the curtain came down on Broadway in Cuba. Nederlander, who has a license from the U.S. government for this show, said “Rent” was chosen because it was contemporary, youthful and had a relatively simple set. The show debuted on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre in 1996, winning the Tony for Best Musical, and ran for 12 years.
Andy Señor Jr., a Cuban-American who will direct “Rent” in Cuba, also hoped the play’s gay story lines would resonate in a country where homosexuality was not decriminalized until 1979.
“‘Rent’ is such a celebration of who you choose to be in your life,” Señor said. “I’m hoping the gay community knows about the show and comes to see it, and that they’re able to see themselves on stage.”

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 27, 2014

Death wears bling: the glory of London’s Caribbean funerals


Ian Thomson applauds the grand rituals of West Indian funerals in his review of Charlie Phillips’s How Great Thou Art.

How Great Thou Art: Fifty Years of African Caribbean Funerals in London Charlie Phillips. King/Otchere Productions.

Death is big business in parts of the Caribbean. In the Jamaican capital of Kingston, funeral homes with their plastic white Doric columns and gold-encrusted ‘caskets’ are like a poor man’s dream of heaven. The dwindling belief in an afterlife — the consolation that we might ever join our loved ones — has taken much of the old-time religion out of the West Indian funeral. Wealthier Jamaicans may lavish up to US $30,000 on a Cadillac hearse. Now even death wears bling.

Fortunately, mortuary tradition survives in the Neo-African ‘Nine Night’ ceremony, where for nine nights the body remains in the deceased person’s home or ‘dead yard’ and hymn-singing mourners see to its safe departure to the next world. Charlie Phillips, a Jamaican-born photographer, has spent over half a century shooting Nine Night and other African Caribbean rites in his adopted London. How Great Thou Art, a socially important document, reveals the British West Indian experience of death in all its pathos, occasional comedy and life-affirming sense of the funeral as essentially a fun-for-all. As these photographs show, a person is not considered to be fully dead until his or her spirit (duppy) has been appeased through offerings of drink, food, dance and song, and successful entombment taken place. As they say in Jamaica: ‘No call a man dead til you bury him.’

In Phillips’s moving and often beautiful images, dating from 1962 to the present, the bereaved are seen to face the mystery of the end of life in stush black suits, spidery hat veils, Rastafari head-ties, spiffy trilbies and strictly-come-dancehall white socks. From Brixton to Kensal Rise, Tooting and beyond, death is celebrated as a release from earthly cares as well as an occasion for social display.

British Jamaicans may say of the dying that they are ‘travelling’ — travelling on to a better world. For a super-lively send off, ska or reggae music reverberates from gigantic speaker boxes while mourners drink from bottles of Dragon Stout beer or Styrofoam cups of ‘mannish water’ soup, made of the entrails, testicles and head of a goat. (The risibly awful Rolling Stones album Goat’s Head Soup was part-recorded in Jamaica.)

This photographic collection, judiciously edited by Lizzy King of Brixton’s Photo-fusion Gallery, opens a window on to a world of natty British Caribbean pallbearers, dead-yard domino players and Afro-haired back-to-Africa Revivalist church ministers. Anyone feeling a bit like death in the run-up to Christmas should invest in a copy of How Great Thou Art — and feel revivified.

An exhibition of How Great Thou Art: Fifty Years of African Caribbean Funerals is at the Photofusion Gallery, Brixton until 5 December.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 27, 2014

Billy Ocean To Perform Exclusive In London And Manchester May 2015


Trinidadian and Tobagonian British recording R&B legend Billy Ocean is to perform two exclusive gigs at The Forum, Kentish Town and the Ritz Manchester.  The performances mark the 30th anniversary of his UK number one album Suddenly, which includes hits Caribbean Queen and Loverboy.
With hits spanning four decades Billy Ocean is perhaps one of the worlds best loved and most respected popular artists.
His hits need no introduction – Caribbean Queen, love really hurts without you,

Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car, Easy Lover and When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going – and still sound as fresh and exciting today.
Billy Ocean also has a string of hits writing for other performers – Stay The Night for LaToya Jackson, Waiting for You  for Boyzone and Love is a Dangerous Game for Mille Jackson.
The best way to enjoy Billy Ocean’s timeless music is to see him live.  Only then do you experience his energy and passion.  His music still has power and emotion and this will be a gig that simply should not be missed.
Tickets are available from 9am on Thursday 27th November.


Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 27, 2014

“Affective Architectures” at Aluna Art Foundation

From "Archeology" by Atelier Morales

From “Archeology” by Atelier Morales


“Affective Architectures” at Aluna Art Foundation

Nov. 29th/20014 to Feb. 28/2015

Curated by Aluna Curatorial Collective

With  Atelier Morales (Juan Luis & Teresa), Carola Bravo, Tania Candiani, Pablo León de la Barra, Juan R. Hoyos, Alberto Lezaca, Ronald Morán, Ernesto Oroza, Gamaliel Rodríguez, Rafael Rodríguez, Leyden Rodríguez-Casanova, Sergio Vega, and Viviana Zargón among others.

Amidst the flood of banal images, what artworks created through an inter-subjective dialogue with the architecture or the spaces inhabited by the artists, have the power to move us and remain in our memory?

This question was the point of departure in Affective Architectures, as a mirror reflecting our biographies within the failure of the grand narratives in Latin American and Caribbean cities, but also as a window into alternative passages.

Address: 172-B West Flagler Street, Miami Florida 33130 USA

Hours of 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, or by send a mail or an email.

Email Address:

Phones: (305) 305-6471 | (786) 587-7214

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 27, 2014

Dragon Fruit (Pitahaya)


On this snowy, snowy day, a photo of a Costa Rican Red Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus costaricensis) caught my eye and rapt attention. Noticing that it is called pitaya or pitahaya (a word I had heard in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, but had never associated with a fruit) I did a little research and discovered—pardon my ignorance—that it is the same as the dragon fruit (once again, a fruit about which I had no information). Let me ask: am I the only Puerto Rican that has never tasted a pitahaya? This is a call to anyone with Caribbean and Central and South American familiarity to add your comments here about your own experience and knowledge of the pitahaya. What is it called in your neck of the woods? What is it used for besides a refreshing snack?

Here is some of the information I found:

The name ‘pitahaya’ or ‘pitaya’ is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, derived from the Spanish rendition of Haitian Creole. [As my co-blogger, indicates, it is also referred to as pitihaya in southern Puerto Rico: petit ____ (still waiting for confirmation from my friends).]


Pitaya (as it is more often called) or dragon fruit is a tropical cactus from Central and Northern South America. There are three varieties: white-fleshed pitaya (pitaya blanca or Hylocereus undatus, which is the most commonly seen “dragon fruit”; red-fleshed pitaya (pitaya roja or Hylocereus costaricensis or Hylocereus polyrhizus; see the photo above), and the yellow pitaya (pitaya amarilla or Hylocereus megalanthus).

It is commercially grown in North, Central, and South America—from Mexico and Texas to Peru and Argentina. Vietnam is also a big commercial producer of Pitaya since it was introduced by the French 100 years ago. It is also commercially cultivated in Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Israel, and Sri Lanka. According to Cook Mix Mingle, there are two different species that are available in the U.S.—specifically Florida, from June through November (one with white flesh and another with pink).

As I found out from a study led by Dr. Habil (University of Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica) and Dr. Reinhold Carle (Hohenheim University, Stuttgart, Germany), published as “Pitaya Fruit – A Promising Option for Local Processors in Central-America,” approximately 3000 tons of pitaya are annually produced from northern Costa Rica to Nicaragua. “The red-skinned and red-fleshed genotypes are commonly consumed as fresh fruit or juice. Belonging to the Cactaceae family with their typical Crassulacean acid metabolism, pitaya cultivation is feasible in arid areas including high atmospheric sulphur concentrations. Hence, the crop is grown mostly on the volcanic hillsides of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, areas suffering from very high poverty. Offering a developmental perspective for agriculture and processing industry, this crop has high social importance in these regions.

Since the plant consists of ribbed stems which climb on any natural or artificial support, cultivation is mostly carried out best with dead or living supports. The fruit genotypes are distinguished by scales, shape, size and colour. The latter is caused by betalains, water-soluble nitrogen-containing pigments, divided into two mayor structural groups comprising red-purple betacyanins and yellow betaxanthins.” In other words, besides being consumed as a tasty fruit, the pitaya is also valued as food colorant.

The floor is open to our readers’ enlightening comments!

For general information, see and

See scientific abstract at

Also see

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 27, 2014

Crucian Christmas Starts this Week


In St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, pre-Christmas festivities start today, Thanksgiving Day. Here is more information about Crucian Carnival:

Launching the Christmas season on the big island, St. Croix’s storied carnival troupes will strut their stuff at noon Thanksgiving Day for a “Carnival Meets the Runway Troupe Launching” at D.C. Canegata Recreational Center, according to the St. Croix Carnival website.

On Friday from 3 to 7 p.m., Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged will see its own mini-carnival. This is the fifth year of the Herbert Grigg Home partnering with the Crucian Carnival committee and residents look forward to the festivities.

Local soca bands will go head to head in preliminary competition to see who will be this year’s soca monarch on Dec. 12 on the Christiansted Boardwalk.

For original post, see

Also see

Photo from


In order to encourage the participation of more individuals, especially those from Florida-based institutions, the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Florida Atlantic University has extended the deadline for general CFP submissions until January 9, 2014. The keynote speaker is Carrie N. Baker (Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College). [Also see our previous post 2015 Southeastern Women’s Studies Association: “Trafficking in Gender”.]

Description: The FAU WGSS Center is proud to host SEWSA 2015: “Trafficking in Gender: Feminist Dialogues on Embodiment.” The 2015 Southeastern Women’s Studies Association conference will be held at the Wyndham Hotel in Boca Raton on March 26-29, 2015.

We invite paper abstracts and complete panel, workshop, and roundtable proposals on all aspects of gender and embodiment. Submissions can also address feminism in relation to the themes of (im)mobility, trafficking, and movement. Gayle Rubin’s landmark essay, “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex,” provides a touchstone for SEWSA 2015 conference theme.

Suggested topics/approaches for proposals: theories of sex and gender and “modes of reproduction”; sexual subcultures and sexual minorities; routes of transnational feminist politics; sex and profit (prostitution, domestic labor, etc.); body trafficking, displaced and misplaced bodies; various forms of illicit trafficking (organs, cultural objects, drugs); anti-trafficking movements and activism; kinship systems, gift exchange, the politics of marriage, and the relationship of social systems to political and economic arrangements; engendering health; narratives of activism; pedagogical meditations on teaching gender and embodiment; and circulations of cultural production (music, film, literature, visual arts).

The conference topic is inspired by our Center’s current initiative to raise awareness about sex trafficking, particularly in South Florida. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center found that the state of Florida ranked 3rd in the number of phone calls amassed by their human trafficking hotline in 2011. Our keynote speaker, Carrie N. Baker, an Associate Professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College, has published The Women’s Movement Against Sexual Harassment (Cambridge UP, 2004), and her current research is on sex trafficking.

Call for Papers: We invite you to submit individual proposals of 250 words in a Word document for this general call for papers and the deadline general conference submissions has been extended to January 9th. (The LGBTQ, People of Color, and Student caucus panels have already selected their presenters.) Submissions should detail requests for specific audiovisual equipment, if needed. We also ask that a proposal for a complete panel, roundtable, or workshop include a short description of the central topic, supplemented by brief abstracts of individual speakers’ contributions. Please e-mail abstracts to:

All presenters, chairs, and respondents must be members of SEWSA. Please visit the SEWSA 2015 Conference Registration site for information about SEWSA Membership Fees and Conference Registration, as well as to access the payment portal.

Hotel rooms have been set aside at the Wyndham Hotel located at 1950 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Visit this link SEWSA Conference 2015 – Wyndham Boca Raton or call 1-888-404-6880 for reservations and mention the SEWSA group rate, which is for a Single Room ($169/night) and Double Room ($179/night). The room rate includes complimentary continental breakfast, WiFi, self-parking, special discounted rate for a Yoga Class at Yoga Journey.  More information about other hotels near the conference site will be forthcoming.

Posted by: ivetteromero | November 27, 2014

Woodstock in Jamaica?


Jamaica says it is moving to host the Woodstock Festival, one of the world’s biggest music festivals.

Junior Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Damion Crawford, says he has already held discussions with promoters of the Festival, and if things go according to plan, the event could be staged in Jamaica soon. “I called the (representatives) at Woodstock and ask them to consider having a reggae Woodstock in Jamaica. A member is coming down shortly to have a meeting,” he said.

Crawford said if the discussions are positive, he will be pushing to get private sector support, instead of having the government being engaged in the planning, promotion and staging of the festival. “Government is not a promoter and entertainment needs people who are willing to take the risk,” he said.

The Woodstock Festival, or simply Woodstock, is a music festival, billed as ‘An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music’. It is held at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in the Catskills, New York, from August 15 to 18 annually. The Festival is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history with groups such as The Rolling Stone among those to have performed at the event.

For original article, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | November 26, 2014

Basquiat and the Bayou is the not-to-miss show at Prospect.3


This article by Dough MacCAsh appeared in The Times-Picayune. We encourage you to click on the link below to see additional images, a video, a reprinted interview with Basquiat and links to other interesting materials.

Prospect.3 New Orleans, the third iteration of the citywide international art exhibition that first wowed the art world in 2008, takes place Oct. 25 through Jan. 25. The big, irregularly scheduled show promises to provide Crescent Cityites and visitors with dozens of individual exhibits in venues across the city.

As reported by | The Times-Picayune in August 2013, the No. 1 stop is sure to be “Basquiat and the Bayou,” a collection of Southern-oriented artworks by the late superstar Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

Basquiat (1960-1988) is certainly the most famous artist of his generation, and his work remains resonant today. He began as a teenage graffiti writer during the late ’70s, early ’80s heyday of tagging. Discovered by the commercial art world, Basquiat’s expressionist painting style soon led to immense popularity and profit. In time, Basquiat became the painterly protégé of Pop art legend Andy Warhol. The 27-year-old artist traveled to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1988. That same year, his meteoric art world rise ended, when he died of a drug overdose. His life story was told in the 1996 film, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child.”

In a written statement, Prospect.3 curator Franklin Sirmans said that “‘Basquiat and the Bayou’ explores a body of work representing Basquiat’s internal fight with the shadows of the American South, shaped by a long history of slavery, colonialism and imperialism. New Orleans is the crossroads where the Mississippi greets the Middle Passage, and shortly before his death, Basquiat visited the city. He knew the importance to his work of the South and New Orleans specifically. The selection of works in the present exhibition explores themes of geography, history, and cultural legacy in Basquiat’s work in a number of ways.”

Art lovers preparing for Prospect.3 will find a brief, vivid primer on Basquiat’s style in the New York Times’ 2013 review “Inner Demons, Exorcised With Paint: ‘Jean-Michel Basquiat’ at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea” by Ken Johnson, which includes the passage:

“At a casual glance Basquiat’s paintings look as if they’d been made by a brilliant, autodidactic schizophrenic driven to download his inner demons, obsessions and fantastical ideas by whatever means possible. He worked rapidly with brushes, oil-stick markers, spray paint and other implements… You can imagine the creative persona Basquiat’s art conjures, muttering and chortling to himself while compulsively improvising his chartlike compositions of cartoon images, glyphic signs and enigmatic word lists.”

For the original report go to

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