Flamenco Night

Tengo la impresión de que la sangre española que todavía navega por mis venas es la responsable de que sin planearlo me encienda una emoción por dentro cada vez que veo un bailaor o una bailaora zapatear sobre un tablao, o cuando escucho las cuerdas de una guitarra flamenca. Ni hablar de las canciones compuestas por cantaores que aunque sencillas van llenas de pasión y energía. Sí, el flamenco es una de las expresiones musicales que estan muy cerca de mi corazón, de mis palmas y de mi sangre. Así pues no perdí la oportunidad de asistir al evento al aire libre que organizó el West Valley Arts Council en Surprise durante la primavera. El clima todavia estaba bastante fresco en las tardes y sentarnos en la grama para ver la presentación me pareció lo más cercano a una noche inolvidable bajo las estrellas con mi querido Josh. El evento estuvo pleno de interpretaciones y composiciones originales por el guitarrista flameno Chris Burton Jacome quien se acompaño  de otros tres talentosos músicos. El baile estuvo a cargo de Lena Jacome y Martín Gaxiola. Mucho garbo, mucha fuerza, mucha derroche de energía. Terminamos la noche pidiendo otra otra otra y lanzando "olés" al aire. ¡Excelente espectáculo!

Flamenco Jacome BFlamenco Lena AFlamenco Lena BMuriel ChrisBJacomeFlamenco Jacome A

RENT @ Gammage 3/21/09

Adam Pascal (Roger)

Gwen Stewart (the voice of "Seasons of Love")            

Muriel and I went to go see RENT at Gammage on March 21st, 2009, and it was a great show!  What made this show different was that it featured the Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal) characters from the original Broadway Production and Hollywood Film with a blend of performers from the final run at Nederlander Theatre in NYC (which was also videotaped in HD and can currently be found in stores and online.  So in other words, a great mix of new school and old school.  Like on Broadway, it is a tradition to offer front-row seats for $20, allowing everyone the chance to experience RENT. We know of some students that camped out for 10 hours to purchase some of these.  RENT is a great piece of literature, that thrives on many different levels, and truly shows that understanding, patience, the meaning of friends, and love conquers all.  Also a Broadway tradition, a few of the cast members came out to sign autographs and take pictures with their fans.  We got autographs of Adam Pascal (Roger), and Michael McElroy (Collins) before the show in the parking lot as they were walking from their hotel located across the street, which is kind of cool, because they didn't sign after the show. The cast members we got after the show were Lexi Lawson (Mimi), Nicolette Hart (Maureen), and Gwen Stewart (Mrs. Jefferson and Woman with Bags). Gwen Stewart is also an original performer from the Nederlander Theatre. It is really great that we got to see Gwen. It was her first performance for this Tempe leg of the tour due to a cold she was fighting.

I love this production, and never get tired of it.  The background story of Jonathan Larson, RENT's creator, is quite interesting and adds even more to the meaning and importance of RENT.  Google him.

Lou Amundson at Trader Joe's

Lou Amundson signed autographs and bagged groceries at my local Trader Joe's on March 17th for the Hoops for Hunger Charity, part of the NBA Cares Program. He seemed to be a real humble guy in person. I like his game too.  He plays with a lot of intensity and hustle, plays clean, and never backs down from the opposition.  Any fan of basketball can't ask for more than that. (BTW, that is  Muriel standing next to him.)

Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles

I went to Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles in Central Phoenix for the first time with my friend John Corbett before we attended the SUNS vs. Houston Rockets game at the US Airways Center.  It is one of the only authentic soul food restaurants in Phoenix.  They have a wall of signatures from popular stars, sports players, and artists from within the african-american community who have visited the establishment. Steve Francis, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Charles Barkley, just to name a few. It is a small, but really good place. You can even get a Ball canning jar of red Cool-aid to complete your meal.  SWEET!  Thanks to John Corbett, who lives in the central corridor with his sister for the great recommendation.

Hack-a-Shaq on Opening Night

My Friend Chris's Wedding

October 25, 2008

My friend of many years got married on October 25th, 2008. With him just turning thirty,  I joke with him that he was "Hitting the Panic Button", because I too got married right around age thirty. It will be a forever friendly jab at one another.

The wedding itself was very beautiful, as well as the toasts from his friends and family.  He is a good friend to have, and i have known him since around 1995, but I rarely see him anymore.  This happened once before with a girl that he previously dated.  I hadn't seen him or heard from him in eight months, then out of the blue, he calls me up to tell me that he had the feeling that he was getting dumped. It ended out to be a correct guess.  The same thing happened this time around, but instead of getting dumped, he found the girl he always wanted. I am happy about that!  I just wish that he had time like he used to (ie. once or twice a month just to hang out for a couple of hours, play basketball with the guys, or the like.)

Again, the wedding was very nice (especially the silver sparklers). And he is a great friend to have when he has the time.

Phoenix SUNS open practice

Steve Nash


Amare Stoudemire

The Phoenix Suns had an open practice Sunday night down at USAirways Center. It was a chance for us to see the new, and hopefully improved team. Beyond the starters, I was really interested in seeing rookies Goran Dragic, and Robin Lopez.  (Stoudemire didn't practice due to an eye injury, and Barbosa was in Brazil attending to his seriously ill mother.) It really was a rally/light practice. They played two five-minute quarters with everyone in rotation. Their passes wern't that crisp, but maybe it was due to their above average defense. (Whew!)

¡Globalquerque! '08

1)  Vieux Farka Touré 9/19/08

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2)  Lila Downs 9/19/08

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3)  Mor Karbasi 9/20/08

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4) Lo Còr de la Plana 9/20/08

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5) Orchid Ensemble 9/20/08

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We just returned from Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a little R&R (Research  and Relaxation).  We attended the 2-day world music festival called ¡Globalquerque! to witness some amazing musical artists as well as seeing the setup and layout of the grounds. Although tickets are kept low, a portion of the festival is open to the public at no charge, allowing everyone the chance to be included in the experience.  I hope to use it as a model for our own version in Phoenix, AZ.

As far as describing each individual act, it is easier just to let the music speak for itself.  It is all very beautiful and unique, and it allows the listener to discover and learn new things. These are just five examples of the seventeen artists that were featured at this years event.

1) Vieux Farka Touré is from Mali, a country almost the size of Alaska in West Africa, near the Sahara Desert.

2) Lila Downs is from Mexico, and grew up in Minnesota. She has a beautiful versatile voice, and can be heard and seen on the the soundtrack and film "Frida"

3) Mor Karbasi, from Israel, resides in London, and her music and writing reflects her heritage. She is directly descended from both Moroccan and Persian Jews. She has been and indeed is, an avid supporter of Flamenco which provides a strong flavor throughout all her songs. She sings  in Ladino, Spanish, Hebrew, and sometimes in English.

4) Lo Còr de la Plana (pronounced "Loh cor deh la plahn"), from France, matches six male a-cappella voices with foot-stomping, and clapping, as well as hand drums.

5) Orchid Ensemble, from China and Canada, provides music based on the  cultural exchange between Western and Asian cultures.

This festival is a world-class, well thought-out, efficient production, that promotes the  beauty of world cultures by bringing international artists for both local communities as well as the entire southwest to enjoy and discover. 

Radiohead in Chula Vista

Radiohead 8-27-08 @ Chula Vista

.............................................................................8-27-08 "Street Spirit(Fade Out)"- Radiohead in Chula Vista, CA.

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....................................................................................................................8-27-09 "All I Need" - Radiohead in Chula Vista, CA

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I just got back from San Diego with my wife celebrating our third anniversary.  We got stuck in sand, got to see Radiohead, got to see two-and-a half great museums at Balboa Park, and got to eat a $5 large pizza in our car before heading back home through a huge storm around Yuma. It was a very event filled 2.5 days that will be well remembered.

To elaborate, we pulled off an exit because Muriel wanted to get a picture of the sand dunes. We got to a legitimate parking area, but when we noticed that there were no good picture opportunities, we decided to turn around and in doing so, hit a soft shoulder. The more we spun our wheels, the deeper the wheel would get into the sand. In the end, our front tires were 2/3 deep into the sand.  With just 2-wheel drive, we were officially stuck.  With the help of two border patrol officers, with the car in reverse, they pushed us to safety. It was a 10-minute problem that could've easily been a 3-hour derailment of our plans.

After checking in at our hotel, we went to the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista. What a show Radiohead puts on.  You think they would just be a studio band, with the complexity of their albums, but live, they are picture perfect. Simply amazing! Two hours and twenty minutes of pure heaven.  Thank you, Radiohead,  for breaking the mold and being the future of music. Also note that all of their lighting was solar-powered LEDs to reduce their tour's carbon footprint. Pretty amazing.

After a parking exit nightmare and countless detours from the main San Diego Freeway, and a good nights sleep, we proceeded to Balboa Park. We went to the San Diego Museum of Art, and saw a very good exhibit  from Eleanor Antin, called Historical Takes. Which is what they were...a digital exposition of modern/updated tongue-in-cheek, metaphorical takes on Greek and Roman history and mythology presented in the style of 19th-century French and English academic paintings. The second museum we saw was the San Diego Air & Space Museum, which houses many full size planes, from WW1 to today, as well as a Mercury Capsule, and Apollo Capsule. Very interesting. The third and least interesting museum was the Mingei International Museum. It was just your average museum with traditional flatwork as well as sculpture.

By 8pm we were ready to leave. On the way out of the city and after filling our gas tank, we spotted a place call Pizza Xpress. Home of a $5 take-out pizza. We ate ours out of the box in our car. Not bad for an anniversary dinner! 

Proceeding past Yuma, AZ., we drove straight through a monster storm, that had left Phoenix with 90mph winds in some areas. Strong lightning and heavy rains kept us going at about 35 mph for a good  forty-five minutes or so.

An excellent event filled third anniversary.

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