Feature Story

¡Pa gozar! Your inside scoop on Miami’s Latin music clubs

Hoy Como Ayer 1_reduced

Photo courtesy: Hoy Como Ayer

 

By, Daisy Cabrera

Ahh, glorious South Beach. Tourists flock here to bronze under the blazing sun, break waves on rented jet-skis, throw back some fruity cocktails, “watch me naenae” in mega clubs and relish under tall palm trees swaying to the ocean breeze. It’s a year-round chancleta paradise!

Miami is also an explosion of Latino culture, and the 305’s live music scene is no joke. But, here’s the thing mi gente – you’ll have to get off the Beach (yep, you read that right) and do it up local style. Dust off those dancing shoes, and get ready for some sabrosura.

In the heart of Little Havana lies an iconic, bohemian little gem called Hoy Como Ayer where you can groove to everything from salsa and Latin pop, to rock en español and flamenco. Named after Benny Moré’s hit song, Hoy Como Ayer has been entertaining folks with live music for the last 15 years. You’ll be bumping hips up in here ‘cause it’s a standing room only affair. Don’t miss the happening Thursday night ¡Fuacata! party, a Latin funk percussive soirée courtesy of Spam AllStars’ weekly residency. ¡Tremenda descarga! Famous talent who’ve graced their stage include Willy Chirino, Diego el Cigala, Albita, Pavel Nuñez, Los 3 de La Habana, Isabel Iñigo, Ana Maria Perera, Aymeé Nuviola and many more. Hoy Como Ayer is located at 2212 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135. http://www.hoycomoayer.us

Ball & Chain 2

Photo courtesy: Ball & Chain

 

Don’t put away the guayabera just yet! A favorite haunt for many is the historic Ball & Chain (circa 1935), a gorgeous venue also located on Calle Ocho. The Friday festivities begin early with a live salsa music/lunch hour set at noon, followed by the quite popular happy hour at 4pm. At 6pm, behold the tunes of live jazz and stay for the icing on the tres leches cake – the “Miami Boheme” party – when a full band hits the outdoor Pineapple Stage at 10pm for a serious Latin music jam session. Tito Puente Jr., Nil Lara, Conjunto Progreso, Calle Sol, Tony Succar, Edwin Bonilla, Locos Por Juana, BARRIOACTIVO and countless others have performed here. Ball & Chain’s address is 1513 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135. http://www.ballandchainmiami.com

La Covacha 1

Photo courtesy: La Covacha

 

On to Saturday night, where the place to be is La Covacha. Head over to Doral for this major nightclub that is all about dancing. Think big. Think jam-packed. Think major sound system. Think crazy fun! Since 1988, this has been the go-to joint to hear an array of music: rumba, merengue, cubatón, samba, vallenato – de todo, un poco. Party hard inside, or take it on back to the patio area where national musical bands move the masses ‘til the wee hours. Prominent musicians from across the globe who’ve rocked this house include Calle 13, Frankie Negron, Los Amigos Invisibles, Diva Gash, La Oreja de Van Gogh, Kinky, Hombres G, and Osmani Garcia. Visit La Covacha at 10730 NW 25th St, Doral, FL 33172. http://www.lacovacha.com

Next time you’re in the MIA, you know what spots to hit up! El que sabe, sabe.

Latino Population Rising in the South

latino flags

America is becoming more Latino these days, but no area is getting more of the Latino settlers than the good ole South.

 

According to data released last week by the Pew Hispanic Trends Project, Alabama was at the very top of the list out of a listing of 10 States with the fastest growing Hispanic Populations from 2000 to 2011.

 

Also, the gathered data showed that not one state amongst the list or research showed a significant decline of their Latino population. However, the data is not up-to-date regarding the time in-between 2011 and to the present.

 

While Alabama may be at the top having the most Latinos living in the state, the state just passed one of its strictest laws some are calling Draconian (Harsh). Aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, the law follows in the footsteps of Arizona’s SB 1070 bill which permitted law enforcement to “question” any “suspected” illegal citizens.

 

According to the New York Times, the introduction of the law caused an exodus of Latinos residing in the state which may require a re-research on the findings.

 

Despite the immigration laws being passed that is upsetting the livelihood of Latinos, there is a booming growth in the south. The U.S. southwest remains the leading region of Latinos residing with states like New Mexico holding the highest population of 46.7% Latinos. Following after New Mexico is Texas, California, and Arizona.

 

While the data may not include 2012 and 2013, the surveys regarding the Latino population rising in the country since the result of the 2012 election showed Latinos being the powerhouse for votes is steadily coming true.

 

Kim Kardashian look-alike leads a cartel killing squad

claudia-ochoa-felix1

When you look at Claudia Ochoa Felix you may think ‘wow, she kinda looks like the Latina version of Kim Kardashian’ and you wouldn’t be alone in that thought. However, when you look at Ochoa Fox would you ever think that she could be the leader of an elite murdering squad used regularly by a Mexican drug cartel?

If you said no, well you’re not alone in that thought either.

With long sleek brown hair, intense eyes, and a curvy body, Ochoa Fox has become somewhat of a media sensation. Apart from being described as the doppelganger of Kim Kardashian, Ochoa Fox recent popularity stems from allegations that she is the new ruler of a known Mexican killing squad known as, Los Ántrax .

Reports have been circulating that Ochoa Fox, aged 27 and mother of three, is now the leader of Los Ántrax which has been reported as being under the employ of the Sinaloa Cartel, a coldblooded drug cartel, in Mexico to do their murderous bidding.

Listed as one of Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking organizations in the world, by the U.S. authorities, The Sinaloa Cartel has protected and have hired members of the killer squad Los Ántrax to carry out their assignments and to ensure their reign remains.

Allegedly, Ochoa Fox—also known as La Emperatriz—acquired the leadership of Los Ántrax after her well-known hit-man boyfriend, Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa was arrested and taken to prison. After Gamboa’s arrest, Ochoa Fox is said to have taken over Los Ántrax despite the Latina vehement denial that she has any affiliation to the cartel.

Photo of Claudia Ochoa Felix, or La Emperatriz, the alleged new leader of Los Ántrax surrounded by armed men.

Photo of Claudia Ochoa Felix, or La Emperatriz, the alleged new leader of Los Ántrax surrounded by armed men.

Despite making claims that she and Gamboa are nothing more than friends, Ochoa Fox’s word has been questioned due to an incident and photos of the Latina.

On her social media accounts, particularly Instagram, Ochoa Fox there are photos of Ochoa Fox posed in ways similar to Kardashian while wielding AKA-47 that has been personalized colored pink. Also, on such sites Ochoa Fox has posted updates discussing her luxurious yet reportedly dangerous lifestyle.

But sites like Facebook and apps like Instagram aren’t the only things linking Ochoa Fox to being the new leader of Los Ántrax. Another reason as to why Ochoa Fox may be connected to Los Ántrax is due to a murder-gone-wrong incident.

Recently, there was an alleged hit made on Ochoa Fox’s life when gunmen grabbed a young woman who looked similar to Ochoa Fox. The young woman hooded gunmen snatched was named, Yuriana Castillo.The woman’s body was later found behind a school body; she had been tortured before her death.

But for Ochoa Fox the claims regarding her link to Gamboa and reports that she is the new leader of Los Ántrax is simply false.

According to Ríodoce, a Mexican newspaper that focuses on the Drug War in Sinaloa, Mexico and based in Sinola’s city of Culiacán, a press conference was held by Ochoa Fox and her attorney in response to the recent attention she has received in the media.

During the press conference, Ochoa Fox and her lawyer stated that Ochoa Fox’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts had been cloned and were being used to defame her.

According to Ochoa Fox, the photos in questions are a discredit to her life since she does not live a life of luxury and does not have armed men surrounding her; the latter statement refers to a photo of Ochoa Fox posed in a chair surrounded by hooded men wearing bulletproof vests. Also, Ochoa Fox has stated that many photos on the cloned accounts are not photos of hers at all.

Since the released statement at the press conference the social media accounts where these photos were once posted have been deleted. Ochoa Fox’s lawyer has also stated in the press conference that Ochoa Fox will be working with Mexican authorities to uncover the true culprit who created the accounts and published the false photos.

Now, in the matter of Yuriana Castillo there are reports that Castillo, much like Ochoa Fox, was a close associate of Gamboa. But the true nature of their relationship is yet unknown.

Whether Ochoa Fox is the new leader of Los Ántrax or merely an innocent Instagram users who likes talking selfies with guns, time will tell since it seems like Ochoa Fox will not be going anywhere any time soon much like her overnight sensation counterpart Kim Kardashian.

Meet Tito Puente Jr.: Heavy Metal Lover. Timbales Master. Grateful Son.

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By, Daisy Cabrera

¡Ran kan kan kan, kan kan! ¡Pero suenan, suenan los timbales!

Whether getting down in a nightclub, enjoying a cookout with the familia, or jamming to your playlist – the secret to getting the party started is a lively Tito Puente mambo.

We can’t celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month without celebrating the legendary virtuoso and Latin music genius – Tito Puente. The prolific musician, bandleader, composer and arranger recorded over 100 albums, winning many awards during an illustrious 50-year career. He mastered mambo, son, salsa, bossa nova, merengue and cha-cha-chá styles. He played the timbales, piano, percussion, drum set, saxophone and vibraphone. He performed 200-300 dates yearly, and was known as the ‘King of Latin Music.’ Tito was to timbales what Miles was to the trumpet, Hendrix to the electric guitar, Coltrane to the sax. ICONIC.

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His award-winning musician son, Tito Puente Jr., carries the maestro’s name, infectious smile, larger than life spirit, bravura showmanship and passion for sharing Latin jazz with the world. He keeps his father’s legacy alive, while leaving his own mark on the world of music.

“Growing up, I watched this incredible man playing the timbales for thousands of fans, hearing the boisterous sounds of mambo coming from the stage,” Tito Jr. shared. “It was an incredible experience to witness his magic as a kid.”

But, heavy metal was Tito Jr.’s first true love. And, his iPod is proof of this.  “In the 80s, I was listening to Bon Jovi, Metallica and the likes. That was my thing – playing the drums and rocking out.” In his late teens, he hit the road with his father. Working as a drum tech, he learned how to travel with a band, conduct an orchestra, and present an extraordinary performance. He was militant in perfecting his craft, he explains. “My dad was a powerful entity, performing the high standard of bandleaders from the 1950s. If you couldn’t play in the Tito Puente Orchestra, then you weren’t a good musician.

While on the road, Tito Jr. also gained a deep respect for the Latin rhythmic pattern – clave. This peaked his interest in mambo, much to his dad’s support. “He encouraged me to formally study music, get an education and pay my dues like he did.” The eager, young musician attended Five Towns College, learning the technicalities of reading and writing music. “Pops wanted to make sure his music was presented in the correct way, and I try to do the same with my music today,” he recalls. “I also learned how to be a good father from him. When my children are older, I’d love to bring them on the road just like my dad did with me.

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On a personal level, Tito Jr. shares fond memories of the man behind the music. “My dad loved making a mess, especially when he was cooking. From pasta sauce to arroz con habichuela – a lot of food all over the place, even on him!” He stops to chuckle, then continues the endearing story. “If you look at some of the old black and white photos of him, you might see a stain on his shirt or tie. He had to tuck a napkin – or several napkins – in his collar, and my mom was always cleaning up after him.

Not only was his father music royalty, but so was his godmother – Celia Cruz. “My dad and Celia were very close, and she became my madrina,” he continues. “She used to call me ‘Titico’ and I remember her fondly.” One of his most unforgettable concerts was playing alongside his dad, Celia and La India at Toronto’s Skydome.

His determination to continue his dad’s momentum is a beautiful thing. “Today’s youth didn’t experience Tito Puente, and wouldn’t know his energy. I teach them about him, and the essence of Latin music so they know how it started and where that big band mambo sound comes from,” he said, recalling his father’s humble beginnings in the barrio to becoming a worldwide superstar. When introducing youth to his dad’s music, he starts off with the 1957 recorded ‘Dance Mania’ Vol. 1 and 2, with the much-celebrated ‘Ran Kan Kan’ song. “It’s an essential album that was recorded live, in one take, and is really something special.

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My father had stardom, power and spirit – the staple of Latin music and American music for that matter.” Having access to Tito Puente’s enviable vault of over 10,000 arrangements is not lost on his son. When selecting music from the collection, his mom joins in on the process. “She gives me a timeline of when a particular tune came out, and tells me the back story of the song,” he goes on, “For example, she’ll tell me Pops was in a freezing basement in the barrio when he wrote that song in the winter of 1968.

Tito Jr. continues to record and perform his father’s repertoire, adding his own flavor to the music. With his latest album, Got Mambo? (www.cdbaby.com), the classics meet new music. “For this special album, I went through hundreds of my dad’s arrangements to handpick songs, included my own music and featured several great artists,” he said.

 

Remembering David Ortiz Last Game against the Yankees

Image: upi.com

Image: upi.com

Famed baseball player of the Boston Red Sox, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, played his 117th and final game against the New York Yankees in the Bronx on Sept 29th 2016. A pregame ceremony was held to honor the DH (designated hitter) with his family and teammates. Yankee retiree Mariano Rivera, along with the NY team, presented him with a gift of a painting, highlighting the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. Ortiz’s baseball career in the US started in 1998, playing for the Minnesota Twins. His tenure with the Red Sox began in 2003, where just a year later, he helped “break the curse” for Boston, winning their first World Series since 1918. The Red Sox won two more World Championship games since.

Other than baseball, Ortiz is quite the philanthropist. He helped his city heal after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, including his assertive statement as the start of a game, “This is our f***ing city!”, which he said too quick to be censored during the live broadcast.

With a heart for children, he founded the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which is committed to helping children in New England and the Dominican Republic with critical pediatric needs. He also appeared in an episode of the YouTube series “Undercover Lyft”, where celebrities disguise themselves to be a Lyft driver for a day and surprise their passengers! Check it out below:

Ortiz is now officially retired as a major league baseball

Street Art & The Latinos That Influenced The Culture of Writers

By Ottoniel Campos
Originally published in LatinTRENDS Magazine

street art

Before hipsters scattered around urban areas like organic roaches. Before Bansky. Before 3-D images, bubble, boxed and futuristic typography sprayed on subway cars were called street art by mainstream art collectors and gallery curators, the 1970s spurred an army of devoted graffiti artists called “writers” who just wanted to showcase their art, talent and bomb their names all over New York City.

OK, so bomb and New York City is not the thing to say, especially after September 2011. But during the ‘70s and ‘80s the term “bombing” meant that your tag, name or artwork was spray-painted on one of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s subways that traveled all over the concrete jungle of New York City. Along with break dancing, DJing and rapping, writers no older than 19, considered this unlawful, risky and dangerous act as one of the four elements of hiphop.
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One of the pioneers who paved the way in creative expression while using his name as a tool to capture the attention of haters, fanatics and subway riders oblivious to the incoming artistry arriving at their station is Lee Quiñones. The Puerto Rican-born and Lower East Side-raised Quiñones debuted his unsolicited artistry in 1974. His underground fame became mainstream once “Wild Style,” a 1984 film that followed a group of New York graffiti writers and hip-hop artists, hit theaters. By the late ‘80s he was already selling urban style art pieces in galleries all over New York City. The graffiti icon is not only immortalized by films and documentaries but also by the art book “Subway Art,” which is one of the top selling art books to date.

The film “Wild Style” also featured Sandra Fabara, better known as Lady Pink. This Ecuadorian writer, who was raised in Queens and graduated from the High School of Art & Design in New York City, made her mark in the male dominated graffiti world from 1979 to 1985. Like most writers, Lady Pink traveled and entered the darkest and most dangerous subway tunnels to display her artistry. Quickly, the graffiti community recognized her creativity and fearlessness. Now, more than 30 years later, the respected, beloved and admired Lady Pink is still a highly sought-after painter, muralist and graffiti writer with works featured in art galleries, museums and sponsored building walls all over the U.S.

Most associate the history of graffiti with only New York. But Philadelphia, D.C. and Los Angeles also had writers showcasing their talents on billboards and vacant buildings. During the early ‘70s Mexican-American Chaz Bojórquez brought his style of Asian calligraphy and the Chicano graffiti style of the ‘50s to the streets of East Los Angeles. Bojórquez is now considered the godfather of The “Cholo”-style letters seen on the hoods of pimped-out rides, motorcycle jackets and tattoos that usually goes along with an image of a skull or a red rose placed next to them.

Using Technology to Earn Money While Getting Fit!

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Many of us are probably done with our typical New Year’s resolution: to lose excess weight and get healthy…most likely we did not follow through. Many lose more momentum instead of weight by the time Día de los Reyes rolls around. Emerging technologies, such as various diet-tracking apps and Fitbit, have helped; sometimes more motivation is needed – how about earning money for every pound lost?!

HealthyWage, for example, provides cash incentives to address our nation’s obesity epidemic and improve America’s collective health. The company was founded in response to academic research that proves even small cash rewards triple the effectiveness of weight-loss programs, finding that people are more effective at losing weight when their own money is at risk. Since social networks play a large role in many lives, this will likely play a large role in reversing obesity. The company couples its popular individual and team-based weight loss contests and challenges that proffer substantial cash prizes (upwards of $10,000) with social and expert-based support, tools and resources, and goal-setting and tracking technologies to further bolster the success rate of its participants. On the HealthyWage website, a potential user just has to enter the amount of weight they wish to lose to get started and a “wager” estimate will appear. Social and expert-based support is also offered.

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In addition, there are also a number of mobile apps that help to motivate and track your progress while earning rewards! Step-counting apps Pact and Charity Miles help you set up and keep various activity goals. Pact features food goals, as well, where the user also wagers their money in meeting/failing those goals; earn when goals are succeeded and lose when they aren’t. Charity Miles give you the chance to earn money for charity for all those walking and running workouts. Just choose a charity and go for a jog or a hike but not on the treadmill or stationary bike as the app tracks your phone’s GPS to record mileage. An app that can save you some money is Health4Me, which helps users find various health care providers and facilities in their area as well as comparing for common medical services.

With all that is out there to help us get healthy, and stay healthy, for the rest 2017 and beyond,  let’s choose wisely and stick to it!

Buy your Car in a Vending Machine! (FOR REAL)

With all that can be purchase online these days, imagine buying a car online? Never mind sites and apps like True Car and Car Max, but actually purchasing a car of your choice as if you’re ordering something on Target, JC Penney, or Staples, using the “pick up in store” option. The Phoenix-based used car company Carvana has created a very interesting, yet innovative, way for customers who have purchased a car on their site to pick it up: coin-operated vending machine.

There are three of these car vending machines already built and operating in the country: Nashville, Houston and now Austin. Rather than using pocket change, the Carvana customer is given a large coin to insert in a coin slot which activates the “vending machine” by selecting and lowering the purchased car on an elevated platform, within a glass tower, down to ground level for the customer to drive off with. There is a seven-day refund policy.

For those who don’t live in the Austin area but want to have the experience, Carvana supplies up to $200 of mitigated airfare, including transportation from the Austin airport. Carvana also does trade-ins, where the customer can drop off their traded-in car at a car vending machine and has launched a delivery service with no additional fees.

You can also check out how it’s done below.

The LEGO Batman Movie – Everything is Still Awesome

Image: heroichollywood.com

Image: heroichollywood.com

Whether you grew up reading the comics, watching Adam West, The Animated Series, or loved Christopher Nolan’s rendition of the caped crusader, there’s something everyone can love about the LEGO Batman Movie. A spinoff of The LEGO Movie, released in 2014, shows a much lighter side of the lonely and ever abrasive “dark knight” but everything isn’t as awesome as we expect when the movie opens. With Barbara Gordon, voiced by Rosario Dawson, rising up to top cop, chaos ensues in LEGO Gotham even though almost all of Batman’s enemies are incarcerated in Arkham Asylum. What could the Joker be up to this time? But don’t worry, there is a happy ending with a semi-cheesy message of friendship.

As a fan of Batman, I enjoyed the references to the other Batman story arcs, even going back to Adam West. Not only that, there are a lot more nerdy things to pick up on, outside of comics. As a ’90s kid who grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series, I honestly expected the Joker to be voiced by Mark Hamill but he’s probably still in hiding, being The Last Jedi and all.

The LEGO Batman Movie opens in theaters Feb. 10th.

How Effective was #DeleteUber?

Image: joemygod.com

Image: joemygod.com

Now that a week has passed since angry Uber customers committed to deleting their accounts in the wake of Uber driving still working during a taxi strike, it’s interesting to know just how many actually canceled their accounts, not just uninstalling the app. According to the New York Times, more than 200,000 users officially canceled their accounts. Did users keep their promise because of last weekend’s event or because Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick was on President Trump’s economic council, despite the immigration ban? “Was” being the key word here. Kalanick stepped down from the council, something that his employees had urged him to do.
Though Uber was accused of trying to make a profit out of the taxi boycott of John F. Kennedy Airport, the ride-sharing app’s rival, Lyft, actually made it out on top in the long run. According to Mashable, downloads for both Uber and Lyft appear to have switched: Lyft surged while Uber plummeted during the last week of January. This happened with both iPhone and Android users. But as we entered into February, Uber downloads were up again but there’s no telling if those 200,000+ former Uber customers redownloaded the app.
So it’s becoming more and more apparent how today’s political climate affects the technology we’ve become so dependent on in the 21st century – even if it’s something as simple as a taxi from a busy airport.