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.
Just a few years ago, globalization was in full swing, and the world seemed to be bursting with an infinite supply of business. All this bounty lulled us into taking our customers for granted, maintains Andrew Sobel—until the economy tanked and shattered the illusion of endless prosperity. Suddenly, the old-fashioned “trusted relationship” started to look good again.
“In this post-Madoff era of unpredictability and suspicion, people are looking for deeper, more intimate, and more engaged relationships—the kind that reduce risk,” says Sobel, author (along with coauthor, Jerold Panas) of Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others (Wiley, February 2012, ISBN: 978-11181196-3-1, $22.95) and three other books on long-term business relationships.
“This is true of customers but also vendors, employees, and other business partners,” he adds. “The days of getting in, making money, and moving on to the next guy are over. When times are tough and the future is uncertain, people want to put down roots and partner with people they truly like and trust.”
Bottom line: In today’s markets, the most valuable commodity is the ability to connect with others and rapidly build trust. And that begins by asking the right questions.
“Asking questions and letting people come up with their own answers is far more effective than spouting facts or trying to talk someone into something,” Sobel explains. “Telling creates resistance. Asking creates relationships.”
In his book Sobel explores dozens of questions that light fires under people, challenge their assumptions, help them see problems in productive new ways, and inspire them to bare their souls (which, of course, strengthens the bonds in the relationship).
Here are nine ways questions can transform professional and personal relationships:
• Questions turn one-dimensional, arms-length business relationships into personal relationships that endure for years. “When a relationship is all business and there is no real personal connection, it lacks heart and soul,” says Sobel. “And therefore you are a commodity—a kind of fungible expert-for-hire. A client—or your boss—can trade you out for a new model with no remorse or emotion. But when you’ve connected personally, the situation is transformed because clients stick with people they like. Bosses hold on to team members they feel passionately about. Your expertise and competence get you in the door, but it’s the personal connection that then builds deep loyalty.”Sobel tells the story of a senior partner in a top consulting firm who had to meet with the CEO of a major client. Other consultants were nipping at their heels to get more business from this company. This powerful, confident CEO, who was in his 60s and near retirement, had seen hundreds of consulting reports. At the end of a routine briefing, the senior partner paused and asked the CEO, “Before we break up, can I ask you a question?” The CEO nodded. The partner said, “You’ve had an extraordinary career. You have accomplished so much, starting at the very first rung of the ladder, on the manufacturing floor. As you look ahead—is there something else you’d like to accomplish? Is there a dream you’ve yet to fulfill?”The CEO was nearly stunned. He thought for a moment and replied, “No one has ever asked me that question. No one.” And then he began talking about a deeply held dream he had for his retirement. That question was the turning point in building a long-term, deeply personal relationship with an influential business leader.
• They make the conversation about the other person—not about them. Most of us don’t care what other people think—we want to know first if they care about us. The need to be heard is one of the most powerful motivating forces in human nature. That’s why one of Sobel’s power questions is, What do you think? Another is, Can you tell me more? “There’s an anecdote I love about a woman who has dinner, in the same month, with two great rival British statesmen of the 19th century, Gladstone and Disraeli,” says Sobel. “When asked to compare the two men she says, ‘After my dinner with Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in the world.’ And then she adds, ‘After my dinner with Mr. Disraeli, I felt as though I were the cleverest woman in all of England!’ “When you make the conversation all about you, others may think you are clever,” he adds. “But you will not build their trust. You will not learn about them. You will squander the opportunity to build the foundations for a rich, long-term relationship.”
• They cut through the “blah, blah, blah” and create more authentic conversations. No doubt you can relate to this scenario. A person says, “I want to bounce something off you.” Then, he proceeds to spend ten minutes telling you every detail of a very convoluted situation he is enmeshed in. You do yourself and the other person a favor by getting him to focus on the true kernel of his issue. Simply ask: What is your question? “This is a tough-love question,” admits Sobel. “People will resist it—often strenuously. But you must ask it. It forces them to take the first step toward clarifying what the issue is and what advice they really need from you. You’ll reduce the amount of posturing people do and will move faster toward an authentic conversation.”
• They help people clarify their thinking and “get out of the cave.” The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said that we perceive reality as if we are chained inside a dark cave. In that cave, we see only the blurred shadows of life outside the cave as they are projected on a dark wall at the back. Our understanding of reality is filtered and distorted. By asking a series of questions, Socrates would engage his students’ minds in the learning process. In this way he uncovered assumptions and slowly but surely got to the heart of the issue. The “Socratic Method” is still used at Harvard Business School—and it can enable you to help others see the true reality instead of shadowy representations of it. Instead of saying, “We need to improve our customer service!” Sobel suggests asking: “How would you assess our customer service levels today?” Or, “How is our service impacting our customer retention?” If someone at work says, “We need more innovation,” ask, “Can you describe what innovation means to you? How would we know if we had more of it?” Or if there is a call for more teamwork, ask, “What do you mean when you say ‘teamwork’?”
• They help you zero in on what matters most to the other person. The next time you’re talking to someone and realize you’ve “lost” her—she’s fidgeting, she’s stopped asking questions, maybe she’s sneaking glances at the clock—ask this question: What is the most important thing we should be discussing today? You will instantly connect with what really matters to her—and the conversation that ensues will help her see you as relevant and valuable. “Even if your agenda doesn’t get met, hers will,” asserts Sobel. “And then she will want to enthusiastically reciprocate. In business it’s critical to be seen as advancing the other person’s agenda of essential priorities and goals. When time is spent together on issues that are truly important to both parties, the relationship deepens and grows.”
• They help others tap into their essential passion for their work. One of the highest-impact power questions you can ask is, Why do you do what you do? It grabs people by the heart and motivates them. When they seriously consider and answer this question, the room will light up with passion. Dull meetings will transform into sessions that pop with energy and generate ideas that vault over bureaucratic hurdles and create real impact. “We do things for many reasons,” writes Sobel. “But when you put ‘should’ in front of those reasons, you can be certain all the pleasure and excitement will soon be drained away. No one gets excited about should. In contrast, when you unveil the true why of someone’s work and actions—when you get them to start sentences with ‘I love to’ or ‘I get excited when’—you will find passion, energy, and motivation.”
• They inspire people to work at a higher level. The late Steve Jobs was notorious for pushing employees. He asked people constantly, Is this the best you can do? It’s a question that infused Apple’s corporate culture from the beginning. It’s one that helped revolutionize the desktop computing, music, and cellular phone industries. And it’s one that you can use too—sparingly and carefully—when you need someone to stretch their limits and do their very best work. “Often, we settle for mediocrity when we need to do our best,” reflects Sobel. “Mediocrity is the enemy of greatness. Asking, Is this the best you can do? helps others achieve things they did not believe possible.”
• They can save you from making a fool of yourself. Before responding to a request or answering someone’s question to you, it’s often wise to get more information about what the other person really wants. When a potential employer says, “Tell me about yourself,” you can bore them to tears by rambling on and on about your life—or you could respond by asking, “What would you like to know about me?” When a prospect asks, “Can you tell me about your firm?” the same dynamic applies. Most people go on and on about their company, but the client is usually interested in one particular aspect of your business, not how many offices you have in Europe. Ever seen someone answer the wrong question? It’s painful to watch. Asking a clarifying question can save you huge embarrassment. “A potential client asked me for the names of three references to call,” Sobel tells us. “Instead of running around and drumming up the names, I pushed back, and asked, ‘What particular information are you seeking? Any references I give you are only going to rave about me!’ It turned out the prospect had no interest in actual references. And in fact, had she called my past clients under that pretense, it could have been potentially embarrassing to me for them to make such a big deal about a small speaking engagement. What she really wanted to understand was how other clients of mine had tackled the organizational resistance she was expecting. This question—and the subsequent conversation—turned a small lead for a keynote speech into a major, year-long project.”
• They can salvage a disastrous conversation. Sobel’s coauthor, Jerry Panas, recalls the time he asked a man named Allan for a million-dollar donation to his alma mater’s College of Engineering. Though he knew better, the author failed to gain rapport and explore Allan’s true motivations before jumping in with the big request. When Allan rebuked him for his presumptuousness, Panas realized he had made a serious error. He apologized, left the room, and twenty seconds later knocked on the door and asked the power question, Do you mind if we start over? Start over they did, and Panas ultimately discovered that Allan might indeed be interested in making a gift—but to the University’s theater program, not its engineering program!
“Things like this happen all the time in business—and at home,” reflects Sobel. “Interactions get off on the wrong foot, and someone gets angry or offended or just shuts down. But people are forgiving. They want to have a great conversation with you. Asking, Do you mind if we start over? will disarm the other person and make him smile. That smile will ease the way to a new beginning.”
One of the greatest benefits of becoming a master questioner is that it takes a lot of pressure off us, notes Sobel. It’s a huge relief to know that you don’t have to be quick, clever, or witty—that you don’t have to have all the answers.
“All business interactions are human interactions,” he says. “And part of being human is acknowledging that you don’t know everything about everything—and that you certainly don’t know everything about the other person and her needs. Questions help you understand these things more deeply.
“The right questions unleash a cascade of innermost feelings and vibrant conversations,” he adds. “They help you bypass what’s irrelevant and get straight to what’s truly meaningful. They make people like you, trust you, and want to work with you—and once you’ve achieved that, the battle is already won.”
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.
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.
Alberto “Alpo” Martinez is a name that most will not know, however if you happen to be a New York City resident or are a history enthusiast with a preference on the War on Drugs plight within the United States of America then you may have heard of his name as the legend, the myth, as one of the Drug Kingpins of Harlem.
However, like all popular Drug Kingpins–like El Chapo–who earn themselves a recognizable legacy the empire they’ve built tends to fall as does the legend who sits upon it.
But whatever became of Alpo?
For the last 25 years, Alpo has been believed to have been a resident of ADX Florence which is a federal supermax prison located in Fremont County, Colorado serving a 35-year sentence for 14 counts of homicide. However, according to those who are connected to Alpo that is no longer the case.
It is rumored that for the past few years Alpo has been out of prison, but the last place you may ever see him is back in New York City.
Back in the mid-1980s, during the early days of when the USA began its quest to combat drug-trafficking into the country in what has become known as the War on Drugs a 13-year-old Puerto Rican boy named Alberto Martinez—Alpo to those on the streets—rose in prominence within Harlem as a Drug Kingpin.
With a drug trade that consisted of transporting hundreds of kilos of crack-cocaine through various parts of New York City, other Northeast cities, and most noticeably Washington D.C.—where he lived during the last few days of his drug empire—Alpo became somewhat a street legend due to his dangerous lifestyle. Alpo’s life was eventually adapted into a 2002 movie entitled Paid in Fullthat starred rapper Cam’ron as Alpo.
“He brought attention to himself. He was charismatic and outgoing. He had a party always going on around him and people gravitated to him,” remembers Kevin Chiles, a former Harlem drug dealer who knew Alpo, in a recent interview with Vice magazine back in 2015 where he disclosed that Alpo is no longer in prison.
While he was a legend for flashing his millionaire wealth with expensive cars, clothes, and jewelry, Alpo was also widely known for committing several murders during his drug kingpin reign.
In the 1990s, Alpo was involved in several murders that made him notorious. However, there was one murder that would begin the dismantling of both his drug empire and his legacy.
On January 3, 1990, Alpo and an accomplice murdered Rich Porter who was Alpo’s one time friend and actually sold drugs with when teenagers. It was Alpo murdering Porter that led those who once revered him to turn their backs on him.
“Rich’s death had a huge impact on Harlem. The timing couldn’t have been worse,” said Chiles, “Richard was in the middle of negotiating the release of his 12-year-old brother, Donnell, who had been kidnapped and was being held for $500,000 ransom. Rich was killed, and then a few days later the body of his little brother was found in the same vicinity.”
While the death of Porter dented Alpo’s reputation, the silver bullet that would destroy his legacy would come after Alpo choose to testify against his former enforcer. Before an open court, Alpo turned on his former Washington D.C. enforcer in order to avoid serving a life sentence for the murders he had been arrested for committing.
After breaking the street law of snitching, Alpo was to serve as reduce sentence of 35 years for 14 counts of murder. However back in September of 2015, according to Don Diva magazine—a magazine developed by Chiles in prison that is devoted to the drug underworld and New York City street life—Alpo has been out of prison for the last few years.
Despite being rumored to being out of prison, the chances of Alpo returning to New York City is very slim.
“ I am most certain that Alpo won’t come back to New York. He knows he has a bullseye on him. That situation with Rich left Harlem scarred and people have strong feelings about it,” said Chiles, talking about the possibility of Alpo returning to NYC. “I could see a younger dude, on the come-up, try to make a name for themselves by taking Alpo out. They would be instantly infamous. I’m sure these are things he should be considering.”
So, where is Alpo Martinez? That is a question that may not be answered.
What do Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Colombians, and Peruvians all have in common?
The answer is simple: they are all Latino. The only thing that truly makes anyone from the above group different from each other is the cultural background associated to each group. For those who aren’t Latino may not think we are different and few Latinos as being a united group.
However, that idea is not exactly true.
While there is a strong sense of Latino pride for many Latinos, when it comes to being or feeling a sense of unity to others who are not of the same national background it seems non-existent. It is this sense of division among Latinos which has some Latino stars are suggesting that if we remove, Latinos could only benefit and progress forward as a united people.
Since becoming a superstar in her own right, Eva Longoria has used her fame earned by her stint as a Housewife on ABC’s Desperate Housewives into becoming a philanthropist to aid the Latino community within the country. And one way that Longoria has aided Latinos is through her very own foundation.
Since its establishment back in 2010, the intention of the Eva Longoria Foundation is to encourage and help Latinas across the country succeed through either educational and/or entrepreneurial pursuits. According to Longoria, the foundations mostly focuses on Latinas because she sees the growing demographic of Latinos in this country and believes that women in the community need more of a push because they “make the world go round.”
“I grew up with a family of strong, accomplished, and educated women. I believe, as they say, that you can’t be what you don’t see, and since I saw a lot of smart women in my life, education being at the center, I just mimicked that behavior. There was never a question that I’d go to college. In fact, I was the last person in my family to get a master’s degree, so that tells you I’m actually the underachiever!”
Although her foundation may be devoted to aiding the growth of Latinas, Longoria strongly feels that both women and men could both benefit in progressing upward if only we as a community come together to help one another out.
“We have to support and lift each other up. Latinos have not historically been a culture that unites easily. We’re very factioned—you have your Mexican Americans, your Puerto Ricans, your Cuban Americans, your Central Americans—and sometimes we focus on the differences more than the commonalities.”
And Longoria is not alone in this ideology. At the recent PaleyFest held this weekend, Gina Rodriguez the star of Jane The Virgin took part of a panel that discussed Latinos on Television and the actress gave advice to other Latino actors.
“We need to unite,” said Rodriguez, suggesting one way to do so is by Latino actors opting to portray characters of different Latino nationalities beside their own to show this unity. “They see us as one community—we need to be one community. Let’s do that, use our power as Latinos, whatever culture you identify with and celebrate.”
Being of Latino origin I have experienced, and seen, that there are fractions that exist within the Latino community. There are some Latinos, mostly Latinos of South America, who are being stereotyped or persecuted for being immigrants due to the country’s heated debate regarding how immigration—for some—harms the country or—for others—betters it. With this issue and others that are race-related and plagues the Latino community, the unifying of Latinos could aid in eliminating this issue.
I have recently begun a new job at a fashion house that is pretty recognizable. It’s a European fashion corporation and I am one of the VERY few Latinas here. I am a natural woman with curly hair, makeup limited to mascara and lip-gloss, and a curvy figure. I feel confident in my abilities but I would like to connect with my co-workers.
The problem is that we have nothing in common. I grew up in “the hood” and they grew up in cozy cul de sacs. I am proud of my curves and they eat edamame for lunch. I just don’t have anything in common with these Barbie doll co-workers.
What can I do to connect? I feel like failing to connect will hinder my progress in the company and I don’t want to seem antisocial.
Sola en este cubicle,
Congratulations on your new job!! You go, girl! Believe it or not, I know how you feel..I too am a natural woman with curly hair, and I always say I may be chunky, but I’m funky! I read your letter today, and shortly after, I went to a zumba class, where I found myself the only Latina there as well. I looked around: Caucasian, African-American, Indian and Asian…what a mixture!! I could tell all the ladies were regulars, but it was my first time there. So, I decided to do all the things I suggest you do.
Instead of feeling uncomfortable that I was the only Latina, I was happy. In my mind, I told myself, “I’m going to show these women how much fun I can be!” So there I was, shaking my booty, and yelling out, “Wepaaaa!” And in a few minutes some of the ladies were hooting and hollering with me. Some looked at me as if I was a strange alien, but I didn’t care. And that’s what you need to do.
Yolanda, you were hired because you are obviously very talented and the right person for the job. Perhaps your company felt it was time to bring in someone new, someone Latina. This is your chance to show them…to represent us. Be yourself. If you try to be anything else so you can “fit in,” you are going to find yourself disliked. People can see through fakeness.
I bet as time passes, they will appreciate your uniqueness. And remember if you don’t love yourself first, no one else will love you. So flaunt that curly hair and curvy figure!! I can tell already you are absolutely beautiful! Wepaaaa!!!
Hey! Want to grab a bite to eat at the original 2nd Avenue Deli in the East Village?
How about we grab some lunch at Manatus restaurant on Bleecker Street?
Then maybe grab something from Ralph’s Discount City up in TriBeca?
And why not stop by the great home of punk rock CBGB in the East Village, yeah?
Well, you kind of can’t anymore since these notable New York City landmarks are no longer around.
Considered local fixtures in the neighborhoods, familiar and popular mom-and-pop stores, diners, restaurants, and shops are slowly becoming extinct in the evolving city due to staggering rent hikes and a lackluster economy. Unable to withstand the hardship, many of these familiar shops are being replaced by big name corporations like Subway or Dunkin Donunts or banks like Chase and Capital One.
In their photo book Store Front – The Disappearing Face of New York, photographers James T. and Karla L. Murray take readers on a visual tour of some of the familiar and irreplaceable store fronts that line street after street of New York City.
Choosing places that “look like they’ve been around forever” the duo has in a way allowed such locales to exist forever in photographic form. Organized by borough and then subdivided into neighborhoods, the photographic book poses as an encyclopedia of sorts that manages to preserves the now extinct shops that have become replaced by commercial businesses.
“The purpose of the photos in the before and after project is to clearly spell out and provide documentation of not only what storefronts have been lost but also what is often lacking in what replaces them,” said the photographers.
The book depicts the dramatic alteration in the appearance of many familiar local spots in New York City. From 2001 to 2007, the book contains a good decade of how scathing rental prices are forcing out mom-and-pop shops which are being replaced with chain stores belonging to commercial businesses.
“The shop-owners frequently acknowledged that they were at the mercy of their landlords and the ever-increasing rents they charged,” and if the shop-owners could not meet the increasing rent, “big rent hikes meant that many small businesses closed to be replaced by chain stores or banks, which could afford the higher rent.”
According to the book, Max Fish, a bar located on the Lower East Side is an example of being a victim to rising rent costs. The bar opened in 1989 and its rent was a mere $2,000 a month, however after a series of rent increases and being opened for a good 24 years the bar closed with a reported $16,000 rent cost. The rent was due to increase again if the bar remained opened.
“Until you place them side-by-side and really look at the two photos, you cannot get the true sense of loss,” explained the Murrays, discussing how powerful the images taken are when you show what was beside the what is.
The two also add, “the trend we noticed very early on while photographing the original stores was that if the shop-owner did not own the entire building, their business was already in jeopardy.”
Mom-and-pop shops are not the only familiar local spots being replaced by commercial businesses. Late last year, 5 Pointz–5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’ or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center–was an outdoor graffiti haven considered an art cultural center to many was white-washed—the numerous art pieces that were spray-painted on its wall was marked out with white paint—by the builders owners.
While the book can be a bit grim showcasing the demise of familiar shops, shops that are either replaced by corporations or gutted to the group, the book also contains some hope.
Among some of the photos taken, the Murrays have included side-by-side photos of old shops being replaced not by large corporations but fellow and new mom-and-pop shops. These images show some hope that not all is being taken over by large commercial businesses but there are still regular folk with businesses of their own trying to make it in this ever changing world.
Dany Garcia, powerhouse manager to the box-office heavyweight Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and co-founder of their production company, 7 Bucks Productions, gave LatinTRENDS an exclusive look into her life as a business woman, producer, bodybuilder, philanthropist and mother.
The first-generation Cubana is keeping busy with 21 film projects and 10 television projects. I was curious to find out how Garcia manages to balance all these projects with her family life. In March, she tied the knot for the second time to strength and conditioning coach and business owner, Dave Rienzi (her first husband was Johnson) and is raising her teenage daughter Simone. “It comes from a commitment to do what makes me happy. It is much easier to be balanced when you start first with that commitment. Saying, ‘okay, where are the things that make my life happy and make me feel complete? And do I have those things in my life? Am I concentrating in that way?’ Because if you’re unhappy you can’t take the steps toward balance,” she explains.
Photo Credit: John Hawley
Another key to success for the IFBB Pro champ was abandoning the conventional. Managing her ex-husband Dwayne Johnson was one of them. “What appeared as ‘this is the way you’re supposed to do it, it should look like this, you should spend this amount of time, and you should be here, you can’t do this, you cannot divorce your husband and then turn around and manage him and build a 1.6 billion dollar empire, you can’t do that,’ those things luckily I’ve always run away from. And the more I embraced looking and creating rules and processes that worked for me, that’s how I could do this.”
Garcia was born to very traditional Cuban immigrant parents and was raised in New Jersey along with her brother and sister. She shared a comical story about growing up when having to serve her father dinner after his shift at the auto body shop. He would tell his daughters they needed to learn to cook for their husbands. “I said ‘Dad, I’m going to be a millionaire. I don’t need to learn how to cook,” joked Garcia. Who would have known those words would stay true? “On the other hand, I have everything my family taught me which is indicative to my life. It was a blessing growing up being different. I have comfort that I come from a strong family background,” she added, “We grew up with great lessons and values learned – family first, discipline, tradition, music, language – all very powerful.”
And watching what my parents did and accomplished, really instilled going after the American Dream.
Eventually, Garcia left New Jersey to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in International Marketing and Finance from the University of Miami School of Business. She began her career in the world of finance, and was a Vice President at Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, before founding her own private wealth management firm, JDM Partners LLC and most recently a talent and media management firm, The Garcia Companies. When discussing managing multitalented star, “The Rock” I wondered how difficult it must have been after the divorce, especially since they knew each other since they were very young, “Even throughout personal problems, we were always locked in the business because we just had so much fun. It was so easy to talk about him and work in that space because the truth was, he was great. Whether
our marriage was working or not, he was fantastic. That was the easy part.” The difficult parts, as one would imagine, were working through communication issues as well as the disappointments and expectations that weren’t met.
With their focus and drive leading them to a billion dollar enterprise, Garcia shared some of their upcoming projects. “Wake Up Call,” premiering December 12, 2014 on TNT, follows the success of the TNT action reality show “The Hero” (2013). Garcia serves as an Executive Producer along with Dwayne Johnson, Ben Silverman, Chris Grant, Craig Armstrong, Rick Ringbakk, and Charles Wachter. The show is produced by Electus, 5×5 Media and 7 Bucks Productions.
The Rock will give everyday people a lending hand and empower those who are facing challenges in life. “I wanted to use our influence to make a difference and hopefully have the audience say ‘I can relate to that person, that situation’ and walk away while still being very entertained,” explains Garcia.
In addition, Garcia is working on other television projects such as the Peter Berg-directed “Ballers,” a half-hour series on HBO which centers on a group of former and current football players and will star Dwayne Johnson (Spencer Strasmore), marking his first major foray into TV series acting. Garcia executive produces alongside Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Steve Levinson, and Evan Reilly. Other projects in development include “Rock & a Hard Place,” where Johnson mentors local youths at a one-of-a-kind juvenile detention center in Miami / Dade county and Comeback Kids, (working title), that focuses on anti-bullying. A longtime dream of the athlete was to one day compete on the Olympia stage.
When the opportunity arrived and a new division opened up called Physique, Garcia was enamored. In her first competition she ranked seventh against 48 other competitors. In 2013, Garcia competed again earning a third place win. In the recent 2014 North American Championships, Garcia won first place as well as Overall in the Women’s
Physique Division to earn her IFBB Pro Card. She plans to compete at the Olympia in 2015.
Garcia has served as a trustee for both the University of Miami and FIU. She currently serves as Post-President of the UM Alumni Association and along with Johnson established The Rock Foundation. Garcia wanted to focus on something that would take a long-term investment impact for at-risk youth and in 2008 she founded The Beacon Experience, a foundation that works with at-risk children to empower them to break economic and social barriers and extend their education beyond high school. “We adopted 60 at-risk youth when they were in 2nd grade and my daughter was also in 2nd grade at the time. Now they’re in 8th grade. We have been providing educational support, emotional support, social education and exposing them to cultural opportunities so they can see and do more.” Their commitment to the foundation is to not get in trouble, not do drugs, do the right thing and graduate. When they graduate, The Beacon Experience pays for their tuition and board.
Our goal is to make a huge impact on kids who wouldn’t have this opportunity if not for the The Beacon Experience.
“It’s so, so rewarding to see when they were Simone’s age to where they are now. They’ll be gone in a few years and then we’ll get a second class,” expressed Garcia. “It’s a big part of why I do everything that I do.” It was an inspirational conversation that left me motivated and ready to take on the world. I’m sure it will be for those reading this article as well.
The rising popularity of (modern) Bachata in the US, and the globe for that matter, is understandable when you look at the history and similarities of Bachata and the Blues. They were both born out of pain…from the disenfranchised (slaves in the US and the poor and uneducated in the Dominican Republic). The lyrics are very similar and at times identical…both sang of a depressed mood. US Blues and Dominican Bachata were both rejected by society in their respective countries…yet Blues music is the grandfather and grandmother of what makes up most American music today.
LatinTRENDS brings you an in-depth look at the history and transition of both of these two genres and how this is influencing the growth and popularity of Bachata music in America and the world. Get the Blues – the Blues with a Latin twist – with this article.
By Ray Monell
Bachata and Blues, musical genres wrought by two prongs of the African diaspora in the Western Hemisphere, have outlived the powerful forces fixated on their suppression as soon as they came into existence. Through them was expressed the proverbial plight of the poor, those who would endure ineffable racial and economic discrimination long before reaching comparatively finer pastures.
Origins of Blues and Bachata
The term Blues and Bachata’s original name, amargue (which means “bitter” in Spanish), denote melancholy. Tales of unrequited love, randy encounters and the inhumane conditions beneath which the underprivileged lived and worked were common in both genres. Not coincidentally, Bachata is often referred to as Dominican Blues.
It is widely believed that Bachata first surfaced in the brothels and shantytowns of the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, in the early 20th century. It was virtually banned by dictator Rafael Trujillo, who instead made Merengue the country’s official musical form during the 1930s, according to the National Geographic Society. Trujillo’s three-decade reign (1930-61) was marked by torture, arbitrary imprisonments, the oppression and mass murder of Afro-Dominicans and Haitian immigrants, respectively, and economic policies that favored wealthy landowners over their workers.
Video 1,2 & 3 below shows 3 different kinds of Bachata rhythms
1.Video below shows a more traditional & faster paced Bachata, heavy on the acoustic guitars and drums
2. In the club- classic Bachata
3.Modern Day Bachata
The atmosphere was no kinder to African-Americans in the Deep South, where the institution of slavery was swiftly replaced by a sharecropping/tenant farming-dominated economy, Jim Crow laws (segregation) and the relentless terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan. During the first 3 1/2 decades of post-bellum America (1865-1900), wrote author Debra Devi for the Huffington Post this past January, “Plantation work songs were primarily sung a cappella, but after Emancipation traveling country-blues singers used the guitar and harmonica to earn money playing picnics and dances. Over time, the blues became music that expressed the singer’s struggles and passions, both carnal and spiritual.”
Harsh realities of the time required early Bachateros in the Dominican Republic, like African-American Blues musicians (known long ago as songsters) in the southern United States, to be as subversive as they were gifted in music.
“Culturally, the role of Bachata musicians in society was similar to the role Blues musicians played,” iASO Records President Benjamin de Menil, 38, told LatinTRENDS in late March. “Bachateros viewed themselves, similar to how Bluesmen viewed themselves, a little bit like outcasts. And sometimes defiant outcasts, like, ‘I’m a crazy drunk and I’m proud of it.‘ There was a flamboyant style to Bachateros and Blues players. There was also the association of Blues with brothels and prostitution back in the old days, and Bachata also had that association.
“Both styles were the popular music of the underclass. These were people that lived in rural areas and worked in farms, people who were manual laborers, and this was their outlet.”
History of Musica Bachata
What came to be known as Bachata—a term that previously denoted Bolero parties in poor, rural or urban communities—blossomed artistically following Trujillo’s assassination in 1961. Bachata’s commercial viability, on the other hand, was stunted by how poorly it was still perceived by the establishment in the 1970s, a decade in which it received little exposure on Dominican radio and television.
By the early 1980s, however, popular demand (specifically among U.S.-based Dominicans) ended Bachata’s censorship, paving the way for the genre’s growth and modernization.
“Many of the Dominicans that emigrated to the U.S. came from a working class background, and they brought with them their taste in music,” de Menil, who has worked with Leonardo Paniagua and Joan Soriano, said. “They came to the U.S., they were able to rise up and get better lives for themselves, and have supported Bachata. That community helped bring the Bachateros that started to perform in the U.S. They also helped to spread Bachata to other [Latinos], and then those people brought it back to the country of their origin. That recognition has helped Bachata’s case in the Dominican Republic. People actually feel more pride for the music when they see foreigners respecting it.”
“You can separate the Bachata that we know about,” he continued, “which is the Bachata that’s been recorded, into two categories: The old fashion style, what was going on from the 1960s through the end of the 1980s, and the modern style, when the electric guitar replaced the acoustic guitar. The 1980s was the transitional period. Anthony Santos and Luis Vargas was the beginning of the 1990s, and they were the first generation of truly modern Bachateros. Blas Duran was a little bit before them, and many people say he was the first one to develop the modern Bachata sound.”
Originating in the Mississippi River Delta area prior to spreading to other parts of the Deep South, Blues was a secular derivation of African-American religious music (i.e., the Negro spirituals). Back then, it was considered sinful to play, often referred to as “the devil’s music.” But much like the nationwide condemnation of gangster rap by politicians and concerned parents in the early 1990s, the indignation targeting Blues music made it a forbidden fruit too tempting to resist.
Thus, the Blues sound transcended racial lines, but initially under race-specific designations introduced by the recording industry in the 1920s: race music (performed by/marketed toward blacks) and hillbilly music (performed by/marketed toward whites).
An estimated 1.6 million southern blacks relocated to northern states between the 1910s and ’30s, greatly expanding the sphere of Afro-American music’s influence. This particular wave of the Great Migration—i.e., the migration of 6 million African-Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West from 1910-70—coincided with the Harlem Renaissance, a time that saw the rise of composer Duke Elington and poet Langston Hughes, among other prominent artists. Blues would serve as a template for rock and roll and experience a resurgence in the late 1960s and early ’70s courtesy of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, both of whom are members of the (dead at) 27 Club.
Any similarity Blues, or any of its myriad relatives, has with Bachata, de Menil believes, can actually be traced as far back as the ’60s, long predating Aventura’s imbuing of the genre with hip hop and contemporary Rhythm and Blues (R&B) elements.
“I think that infusion has been going on for a very long time,” de Menil said. “When you hear the first [Bachata music] that was being recorded in the 1960s, some of them had this sort of doo-wop sound to them. It’s hard to go back now and speak to those artists and ask them what their influences were, but it sounds like they were getting some influence from the music that coming out of the U.S.”
Indeed, by sheer happenstance or design, the chorus of Bachata pioneer José Manuel Calderón’s “Llanto a La Luna” does have, in part, a doo-wop feel to it. That said, the line between both genres was permanently blurred by Aventura’s groundbreaking work, and it is due to that musical innovation—which began in the latter half of the ’90s—that we especially cannot ignore what the “B” in R&B actually stands for.
“With Aventura, we’re talking about a whole other thing, where [bachata] is really fused with R&B,” de Menil said. “It doesn’t have that traditional sound anymore. It’s a whole different animal.”
The Rise of New Bachata Songs
As Dominican-Americans from The Bronx, Lenny Santos and Anthony “Romeo” Santos (who is also half Puerto Rican) were raised on a steady musical diet of Rap, R&B, Merengue, Bachata and Salsa. Heck, Lenny, looking back on his childhood when I interviewed him and his brother, Max, in the summer of 2009, even mentioned regularly listening to grunge rock’s Pearl Jam on a walkman while rollerblading around his neighborhood.
Via Lenny’s guitar-playing, production and arrangements and Anthony’s songwriting and singing, Bachata has been unmistakably impacted by Blues-derived American popular music. Aventura’s last album—appropriately titled “The Last” (2009)—unequivocally validates said notion.
For instance, one of the album’s singles, “Dile al Amor,” ends with the repeated, reverberated and mellifluously delivered double-negative line, “I don’t need no love … in my life.” That portion of the song, I’m compelled to say, is eerily similar in sound and mood to The Flamingos’ version of “I Only Have Eyes for You” (1959).
Bachata Aventura Breaks Up
The group disbanded in 2011. Lenny and Max (bass) went on to form Bachata supergroup VENA with fellow Bronx native Steve Styles (formerly of Xtreme), leading to their 2012 hit, “Ya No”; singer and supporting vocalist Henry Santos embarked on a solo career and exhibited his famous dancing skills last year on “Mira Quien Baila,” Univision’s answer to ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”; and Anthony, in 2011, featured R&B singer Usher on “Promise,” a single from his solo debut album, “Formula, Vol. 1.” “Promise” has peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Songs, Latin Pop Songs and Tropical Songs charts, and its video has (as of April 10, 2013) nearly 40.2 million views on YouTube.
Aventura’s distinct sound was met with disdain by Bachata’s traditionalists early on, but the group ultimately authored an important chapter of the Dominican narrative in the U.S. Their oeuvre, influenced and enriched as it was by hip hop and R&B music, linked Bachata to Blues through its two aforementioned descendants. Once separated by the vastness of the Atlantic ocean, bachata and Blues—each of which was born out of struggle—now proudly occupy common land.
Originally published in the Jul/Aug 2016 issue of LatinTRENDS Magazine
Photos courtesy of UFC/Getty Images
The Latino Faces of the UFC
Latinos have a long and storied history in the world of combat sports. In boxing, legendary figures such as Julio Cesar Chávez and Oscar De La Hoya proudly touted their Latino heritage while winning championships and glory. At the dawn of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and mixed martial arts, Royce Gracie was its first dominant superstar, more recently followed by Anderson Silva, long considered the best in the world.
Carrying the banner for Latinos in the sport are now two rising stars: Dominick Cruz and Henry Cejudo. Cruz is the reigning UFC Bantamweight Champion while Cejudo is an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler. Both are budding megastars and both are keenly aware of their status as Latino stars in a sport that gains popularity every day.
“The Dominator” Dominick Cruz
Growing up in Tucson, the man they call “The Dominator” was introduced to combat sports quite literally by accident. “I got into wrestling in the seventh grade and I got into [it] because I walked into the wrong room,” he said. “The coach said I wasn’t a soccer player, I was a wrestler. I started practicing that day and haven’t stopped since.”
After an undefeated amateur career, he had a successful career in the now defunct World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion, becoming its last bantamweight champion before it was absorbed by the UFC. It wasn’t long before Cruz achieved glory in the UFC, capturing the bantamweight championship twice.
“I come from Tucson, Arizona, which is 70 percent Hispanic,” Cruz said. “It’s in me, that pride of being Hispanic. I feel it. In the way that the Mexicans always fought, they’re just tough and stubborn. I feel that’s in my bloodline and I’m proud of that.”
“The Messenger” Henry Cejudo
The youngest of six children, the Olympian Henry Cejudo was introduced to the sport of wrestling by his older brothers. “I loved that wrestling was all about one-on-one combat,” he said. “I was always too small to play football, too short to play basketball, but when I saw that wrestling had weight classes, I knew I was home and I fell in love with it from the start.”
Cejudo was an amateur superstar, winning four state wrestling championships. After winning gold at the Pan American Games in 2008, he set his sights firmly on Olympic glory, winning Gold at the 2008 Beijing Games. He retired from the sport in 2012 to compete in mixed martial arts. His pedigree and his impressive skills caught the attention of the UFC. Settling in as a flyweight, Cejudo has amassed a 10-1 record and is now one of the coaches on the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“I want to become the best in the world,” he said. “What else is there to do in sports, but to want to be the best?”