Alcohol Drinking and Gambling

by Miguel Balbuena

“Shape of You” took the world by storm in January 2017. It went on to win the title of best selling song worldwide that year and the next one it garnered the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance, just to mention two of the accolades that it has collected.

I attribute the success of this tune, by English artist Ed Sheenan, both to its music and to its lyrics. In short, its music is infused with a Caribbean vibe stemming from a marimba-driven percussion; its lyrics have appealing lines such as: “the bar is where I go / Me and my friends at the table doing shots / Drinking fast and then we talk slow.”

These lines may be construed by some as glamorizing, glorifying, romanticizing and mythologizing the consumption of drinks containing ethyl alcohol, most commonly known as ethanol by chemists. Drinking alcohol has long been the favorite pastime of some people. So has gambling (defined as playing a game of chance for something valuable) with dice. When you integrate both leisure activities you get the ultimate vicious over-the-top game of GORL, which links the likelihood of drinking alcohol to the outcome of tossing a die. GORL is not well known in the United States. It is far more popular in Latin American countries.

GORL is a game of chance in which the letter G means “guzzle,” the letter O means “oblige,” the letter R means “right” and the letter L means “left.” Miguel Rodriguez, a classmate at the Pontifical Catholic University, introduced me to this game back in the day. He went by the moniker of Miguelon. At his favorite bar, called “Life Is Worth Nothing,” he was patient enough to explain GORL’s basic requirements and rules to me.

The requirements are:

1) Having a table and chairs (optional, if sitting on the floor is very uncomfortable);
2) Having a die;
3) Having a dice roller cup (optional);
4) Having an endless supply of beer (preferably ice cold);
5) Having a minimum of three players (or victims, if you will), without any maximum, and;
6) Having a full glass of beer of at least 8 ounces in front for each player at the beginning of the game, glass that would be refilled to the top again every time it is emptied.

The players sit around a table and roll a die. Once thrown, the six options assigned to its numbers are:

∗ If it falls one: The player who tossed the die guzzles his glass of beer to the bottom.
∗ If it falls two: Another player (player obliged), chosen on the whim of the player who tossed the die,
guzzles his glass of beer to the bottom.
∗ If it falls three: The player to the right of the player who tossed the die guzzles his glass of beer to the
bottom.
∗ If it falls four: The player to the left of the player who tossed the die guzzles his glass of beer to the
bottom.
∗ If it falls five: All the players guzzle their glasses of beer to the bottom, excluding the player who tossed
the dice.
∗ If it falls six: All the players guzzle their glasses of beer to the bottom, including the player who tossed
the dice.

Miguelon concluded his GORL master class by indicating that the game winner would be the last player still standing after the rest had been knocked unconscious by the binge-drinking. But before you and your best buddies rush to buy kegs and other beer paraphernalia to engage in GORL, please bear in mind that this could be fatal due to the systemic consequences of having a high blood alcohol content (BAC).

A case in point is that of Timothy Piazza, an engineering student at Pennsylvania State University who last year engaged in another drinking game, called the Gauntlet, which first led to his getting a BAC of approximately 0.40 percent and then to his death. We have to take into account that all 50 states of the union have set a BAC 0.08 percent as their legal limit for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Fraternity brothers required Piazza to participate in the Gauntlet as part of his pledge process to said fraternity.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields
(in the fiction and non-fiction genres).

United by the Music

United by the Music
by Félix Martínez Marrero

What is trova and how did it become part of typical Puerto Rican music? When is it heard? The trova is the poetic composition composed to be sung. It is the typical music of our ancestry. The trova is significant as a cultural expression. It is heard all year, although some relate it mostly to the Christmas season.

Like most Puerto Ricans who emigrate to the United States in search of a prosperous future for their families, 48 years ago, my parents and their 11 children did the same. One of those children was me. Although I came to Rochester as a young man, I have never stopped longing for my beautiful island, our culture and the neighborhood where I was born. That’s how music became my refuge, becoming the consolation of longing for the soil where I was born. From here came my dream of one day to record a CD of typical music. The years went by and I continued to be involved in music with Pedro Núñez, the Maso Rivera of Rochester who may rest in peace and Marcos Santiago, among others. Even if the temperature was below zero, I did not miss a “parranda”.

Six years ago I started trying to make my dream come true, but for one reason or another I could not achieve it. One day, talking with my wife Margarita, I decided to start communicating with friends who are involved in the music to see if I could achieved my purpose. I spoke with my friend Eliú De Jesús in Florida, who put me in touch with Josean Feliberty Colon in Puerto Rico and I from Rochester, NY, how would we achieve this get-together? It was this way that JFC Home Studio in Ciales, PR, Freddygeezstudio in Rochester, NY, and EDR Studios in Groveland, FL, joined by the music and started my long-awaited project. We started to decide which topics we would include: seises, aguinaldos, trullas… The recordings began in three different studios, “UNITED BY THE MUSIC”. Everything was ready with plans to go on the market in October 2017 and Hurricane María hit PR. It was necessary to postpone the release of the CD.

Originally the CD included eight songs. During the wait and hearing about the suffering of our Puerto Rican brothers, we were inspired by the last song which became the number one on the CD “Puerto Rico Rise Up” (Puerto Rico se Levanta in Spanish). Now the CD contains nine songs with five styles of six, three aguinaldos and a trulla. Each one with an original message of nostalgia for the country, a love story, a biblical message, a cultural controversy, a tribute to Don Pedro Núñez, among others. By obtaining this CD, you will join us, through music, to promote our cultural heritage and although far from the Puerto Rican soil, we will always carry it proudly in our hearts.

Artistic Father of the Cuban Musicians

Hubert De Blanck: Artistic Father of the Cuban Musicians
by Ana María Ruimonte, www.ruimonte.us

While I was in Havana in June, the one and only maestro Huberal Herrera invited me to attend a beautiful concert titled “Spanish Cuban Romantic Music from the 19th Century” at the “Palacio de los Matrimonios” (Marriage Palace in English), on Sunday, June 24th at 11 am.

The pianists Lisa María Blanco and Yanner Rascón played delightful compositions by Cecilia Arizti Sobrino and Nicolás Ruíz Espadero, and the actress Natasha Díaz read poems by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and José Martí. But what excited me most was what followed: The performance by the maestro Huberal Herrera who played The Beautiful Cubana by José White and also five great compositions by Hubert de Blanck: “Study in e minor”, “Over the tomb of Ma-ceo”, “Viennese Waltz”, “Toccata in A minor” and “Variations on the Hymn of Bayamés”.

These pieces were characterized by a progression of slow and fast rhythms; ascending and descending arpeggios across the entire eight octaves of the piano; deeply profound, pedal tones reflecting the solemn sections; sweet waltz rhythms; influences of Bach and Wagner, contrapuntal fugues with variations and cannon; agile strumming, staccato, trills and theatrical expressivity. The pieces demonstrated maestro Herrera’s range of expression and facility in this gorgeous collection of pieces by the composer.

The story of Hubert de Blank exhilarates me. When he was young, Belgium’s King Leopold the Second awarded de Blanck a grant to study music wherever he decided. Then de Blank traveled to Colonia in Germany. There he met a Brazilian violinist, Eugene -Maurice Dengremont and they create a duo together. They toured throughout Europe and in the Americas they performed in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and New York. Hubert de Blanck gained a position as professor of piano at the College of Music in New York; where he met the Cuban Ana María García Menocal and they married there in 1881. They went to Havana for Christmas in 1882. Just one year later, the couple moved to live in Havana. They had 5 sons, the oldest named Guillermo. When Ana María died, de Blanck married Pilar Martín and they had 3 more children. Hubert de Blanck incorporated the music and rhythms of Cuban into his musical life. He obtained Cuban citizenship and in 1885 founded Cuba’s first Conservatory of Music, which to this day bears his name and continues to train the best young Cuban musicians. Eventually, de Blanck was forced into exile as a result of his politics, particularly his pro-independence activism. He composed many piano pieces, and also the opera “Patria” (Homeland). He is buried in the Colon cemetery in Havana.

Maestro Huberal Herrera is the most recognized interpreter of the music of Hubert de Blanck. Indeed Maestro Herrera owns an extensive collection of his compositions, some otherwise unavailable, given to him by de Blanck’s son Guillermo Menocal, who was Herrera’s teacher.

Such an exceptional composer and magnificent interpreter!

Ana María Díaz was born in Madrid and obtained her Master of Arts in voice with the specialty of Opera at the Escuela Superior de Canto in Madrid. Presently, she lives in Philadelphia. Opera singer and writer of reviews of opera and other artistic activities, she is President of Owlsong Productions, Inc. Ana María Díaz belongs to the duo Soprano Meets Contrabass with her husband Alan Lewine, performing original arrangements of arias and songs for soprano and jazz contrabass with flamenco influences in the recital “800 years of music in less than 2 hours”. Ana María Díaz is a member of Opera America in New York, UNIMA-USA, Early Music America and Women in the Music.

Ana María Díaz has written and produced a bilingual musical Baroque theatrical performance titled “Burn, Heart, Burn” as a commemoration of the artists from 17th Century Spain and America with puppets using elaborate period costumes, songs and brief stories. The songs are recorded in her CD “Arded, Corazón, Arded”. Ana María been collaborating with “CNY Latino” Newspaper with her column titled “Burn, Heart, Burn” since the beginning of 2015.

“Queen of Mariachi” Prepares New Album!

by Katherine Glen

If someone enjoys singing ranchero music that is THE QUEEN OF MARIACHI, (“La Reina Del Mariachi” in Spanish) Katherine Glen. The name that her audience baptized her with for many years! An artist born in the United States who interprets Mariachi songs for all Latinos and New Yorkers alike. A singer with a lot of Charisma that fills the audience with sold out shows. La Reina del Mariachi (The Queen of Mariachi) is also a writer, who has published 10 books of poetry, revealed details of the preparation of her musical album.

“There are 6 songs that I wrote with a lot of love for all my fans. I recorded at a studio where celebrities such as Mariah Carey and artists of the Sony Music caliber recorded”, explained. With Colombian parents, La Reina del Mariachi fell in love with Mariachi music since she was little, when her mother bought a record of this genre and decided to change the vallenato and salsa, by the songs of Lola Beltrán, Juan Gabriel and Ana Gabriel.

“The first song that is on my album of the released songs is titled” La Reina Del Mariachi” and then follows, “How Much I Miss You”, “Baby Kisses”, “You Played with My Love”, “I Want to Know” and “Like a Dove”. These are the themes that I wrote many years ago and that tell a story. I have sung many songs in the genre of Mariachi, but for me, these songs have been the hardest to interpret, said the star.

“The first year that I competed in the First Univision Mariachi Festival, next to Mariachi Vargas and in which Ana Bárbara was a judge, was with that theme and I was among the first six finalists”, the only Winner in the state of New York. I have many songs written, since I like to write and every day I get inspired more!.

She thanked all the community and followers for the support they have given her during her career.

“My followers are mostly Mexican, but I have fans from all over the world, although I am especially grateful to the Mexican community because throughout my career they have opened the doors”, she said.

Next week she will perform on a Telemundo Network program and then start her promotional tour.

“I have planned the promotion of the album in California, Miami, Mexico and Colombia; on radio and television, “concluded Glen, who has opened concerts for Juanes, Shakira, Marco Antonio Solís and many more!

Find her on youtube; La Reina Del Mariachi and on google play, iTunes Mazon and all digital platforms or you can go to her website at www.La-Reina-Del-Mariachi.com.

Using select text from Shakespeare

R.Evolución Latina and Pregones/Prtt’s Raul Julia Training Unit Partner in an Interdisciplinary Professional Training workshop

by Katie Rosin

The Beyond Broadway Workshop Series (BWS), an interdisciplinary (acting, dance, music) professional development workshop and outreach program with professional teaching artists from Broadway, Film and TV, was started by Luis Salgado and R.Evolución Latina (RL) an organization that utilizes the arts to empower the Latino community. Now in their tenth year, RL is partnering with Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (PRTT) and their historic Raúl Juliá Training Unit for this year’s BWS, offering excellent, affordable training, combined with rehearsal and performance opportunities, training students to face challenges, building their self-confidence while cultivating the leadership skills necessary to unite and inspire.

Using select text from Shakespeare, integrating music and dance, the BWS will culminate in a devised piece of theatre, developed by the RL creative team supported by PRTT’s Raul Julia Training Unit, and will be performed at the Harlem School for the Arts. In order to constantly grow as artists and activists, those selected to be members of BWS’s Class of 2018 will have performance and outreach events throughout the workshop and throughout the year.

Luis Salgado, RL director, states, “This year’s thematic focus is “language”, “going beyond” and “embracing your tribe” through the words of Shakespeare.” He is excited that “participants will not only move beyond their fears and the realities of society as artists and/or immigrants, but they will also share their truth, their humanity, and their own artistic contributions. We believe that it is opportunities like this one that build a greater community. We seek artists that are dedicated to growing and giving back through their art.”

“Partnering with R.Evolución Latina’s Beyond Workshops Series is a coherent, exciting step for our Training Unit. We have a common goal and commitment to rigorous arts training, and to creating exciting opportunities for growth and impact in our communities,” states Rosalba Rolón, Artistic Director Pregones/PRTT.

RL has provided approximately 30 scholarships between Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and beyond, to continue to inspire young professionals and expose them to an overall artistic experience in NYC.

Press Release provided by Media Representative: Katie Rosin / Kampfire PR. For more information go to
http://revolucionlatina.org/

Science, Tango, Hugs: a Profile of Joaquin Canay

by Maximilian Eyle

Joaquin Canay is a professional tango instructor turned biotech-engineer. He hails from Buenos Aires but has lived in New York State for more than 15 years. He is very tall, with lots of curly brown hair and a bubbly personality. Joaquin sat down with me to discuss what he has learned living in the United States and what he feels the United States could learn from Argentina.

You were born in Buenos Aires, how did you come to live in Buffalo, NY?

When I was 18 years old I moved to New York City. I didn’t speak any English but I spent 3 years there. I taught a little tango, took some English classes, and worked odd jobs as a bouncer and promoter in the music scene. Eventually I found an opportunity to teach tango in Ithaca. I did that for 11 years full time. Back in Argentina I had taken one year of med school, so I decided to get my associated degree at Tompkins County Community College in Biotechnology. The teachers were incredible – some of the best I have ever had. I was then accepted into the biotech program at University of Buffalo where I earned by bachelor’s degree.

What type of work do you do now?

I work now for Thermo-Fisher in the research and development group where I help design new products. Right now we are working on developing mediums for cell growth in the lab. When scientists have to growth cells in a petri dish, they have to put the cells in a substance so they grow. We make that substance for laboratories across the world, it’s very exciting.

What do you miss most about life in Argentina?

I miss my friends and family the most, of course. Argentina is a gorgeous country but people are what you miss the most. They have a different attitude toward life. People are much closer in Argentina, in terms of physical space. They touch, they stand closer. Here, they are not used to such contact. When I came here, people were bothered by how close I would stand when I talked to them. In Argentina, we hug and kiss all the time. Here, people are much more distant.

For example, you can just stop by a friend’s house without warning back home. If they are feeling bad, you can just go and take them out. Here, you need to call first. Friends are an extension of the family. In America, the term doesn’t mean quite the same thing. It is hard for people to form those stronger friendships without feeling comfortable being open and close with each other.

I also miss dancing. I used to dance every day but now it is once every week or two. Tango was always my salvation to help me adapt to this culture much faster. In tango, you have so much personal contact, you are hugging the person for the duration of the dance. It grounded me and made this foreign land seem familiar. It is hard to describe the feeling you get when you dance, but I miss it. Even though I like my job very much, after a year of working there, I haven’t touched any of my coworkers. It is a very strange feeling.

What could Americans learn from Argentineans?

We are all animals, and our lives are short and pointless. For this reason we must enjoy it. The “time is money” philosophy reduces people’s ability to enjoy their lives. They have coffee with a friend for an hour but are in a rush because they have to be somewhere else rather than enjoying the moment. Americans need to learn how to enjoy the small moments better, to live within the community and with less pressure.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.

Tangoing Across Central New York

Every Wednesday night, a group gathers at the Skybarn on Syracuse University campus. It is a mixture of students, community members, men, women, old people, young people, Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners, Latinos, and more. What brings them together is Argentine tango, a dance that has enjoyed a strong following across Upstate New York for decades. In addition to Syracuse – Ithaca, Buffalo, Utica, and Geneva all boast their own tango communities and many dancers travel from city to city to take classes and dance with new people. These tango events include “practicas” where dancers gather informally to practice and learn from one another, and “milongas” – more formal social dances with lots of wine and food.

As I learned more about tango, I began to wonder how an Argentinean dance spread so far and attracted such a diverse array of devotees. The story begins in Buenos Aires during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As a powerful seaport, the city had lots of traffic coming in and out from Europe and other parts of the world. Tango had developed locally but carried strong influences from abroad. Many of its most influential composers have Italian names and the instrument most associated with tango – the bandoneon, is of German extraction. Buenos Aires was plagued by a lack of women compared to the number of men, and tango grew in popularity as a way of allowing men some contact with the opposite sex. Though it started in the brothels, bars, and rougher areas of Buenos Aires, the dance was spread across the world by sailors. It would catch on in Europe and eventually across the world.

At its basic level, Argentine tango is based on walking in unison with your partner in connection to the rhythm of tango music. I call it “walking while hugging”. However, as it develops for the individual dancer, it becomes an incredibly creative dance. Individual movements are strung together in an infinite number of ways in an improvised manner, so that each tango danced is a unique experience. Additionally, you can dance to the melody of the song instead of just the rhythm. Rather than memorizing figures, dancers develop the connection to their partner so that each step is communicated individually. When the connection is strong, the result is magical.

If you are interested in visiting a tango community near you, the local schedules are summarized below:

Syracuse: Wednesdays at the Skybarn on SU Campus (7:30 pm – 10:30 pm)
Ithaca: Thursdays at the Baker Portico on Cornell Campus (7:00 pm – 10:00 pm)
Utica: Sundays 6:15 to 9:15 pm at the Function Better Studio, 5094 Commercial Drive, Yorkville NY Buffalo: Every Wednesday except the last Wednesday of the month. Movement 716 at 3111 Delaware Ave, Buffalo NY (7:00 pm – 10:00 pm)

About the author – Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He has experience working in the drug policy field and writes about it every month for CNY Latino. Maximilian learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.