Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spanish filmmaker Mariano Barroso to visit Watkins Friday

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film will welcome Spanish filmmaker Mariano Barroso to campus tomorrow, Friday, August 26, for a screening of his 1996 thriller Extasis, starring Academy Award winner Javier Bardem, and a Q&A session led by Associate Professor Charles Kanganis, head of the directing concentration at the Watkins Film School. The screening begins in the Watkins Theater at 1:00 p.m., with the discussion to follow at 3:00 p.m. Admission is free and the public is invited.

An internationally-feted producer, writer, director and editor, Mr. Barroso is currently head of directing at el Centro de Estudios Ciudad de la Luz film school in Alicante, Spain. His numerous writing and directing credits include series episodic television, documentaries and feature films, most notably In the Time of the Butterflies, starring Salma Hayek, Hormigas En La Boca, and three collaborations with Mr. Bardem.

Mentored by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mr. Barroso is a graduate of the American Film Institute and the Sundance Film Institute, and has taught film in Los Angeles, Madrid and Cuba.

Tonight, Thursday, August 25, one of Mr. Barroso's other works will screen at Watkins in 608 - either "In the Time of the Butterflies" with Selma Hayak or "Hormigas En La Boca". The screening tonight is also free of charge.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

September 2 deadline for Conexion Americas' awards for Unsung Heroes and Young Latin@ Writers

Conexion Americas' annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration is coming up.

They'll be kicking off HHM with a performance of their band RUMBA at Live on the Green downtown at Public Square downtown (opening for Los Lonely Boys) on September 15, and the big HHM celebration will take place at the Cannery on September 16.

Before Conexion's Cannery celebration, there is always an awards ceremony. Submissions for the two awards is open until September 2.

One of the awards is for high school students, and another is for unsung Latino heroes. The students submit essays, and the friends of the unsung heroes submit nominations.

It's always an amazing ceremony, recognizing the top three honorees for each award. Their stories are uplifting.

More details on submission guidelines below. Pay attention to that September 2 deadline!

'My Latino Roots, My American Dream' Essay Contest
Deadline to Submit Entry: September 2

Conexión Américas invites high school students in Middle Tennessee to participate in the Fourth Annual Young Latin@ Writers' Essay Contest. First place wins a laptop!
For more details, click here.

Conexión Américas invita a jóvenes Latin@s del centro de Tennessee a participar en el Cuarto Concurso Anual De Ensayo para Escritores Jóvenes.  L@s participantes deben escribir sobre el tema “Mis Raíces Hispanas, Mi Sueño Americano.”  El primer lugar se gana una computadora portátil!
Para más detalles, haz click aquí.

Orgullo Hispano Award Recognizing Unsung Heroes
Deadline to Submit Nominations: September 2

Help us find three Latin@ adults or young people who have been persistently but quietly working to better their immediate community –neighborhood, school, workplace, nonprofit or civic organization.
For more details, click here.

Ayúdanos a encontrar a tres adultos o jóvenes Latin@s  que han trabajado con tenacidad,  pero sigilosamente, para mejorar su comunidad, barrio, escuela, lugar de trabajo, organización sin fines de lucro o grupo cívico.
Para más detalles, haz click aquí.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Santana tribute in Franklin on Sunday, first-ever Latin night at The Bluebird on Monday

Two interesting musical events are coming up in the next few days.

On Sunday, August 28, the Bicho Brothers Band featuring Keith Landry, with special guest Billy Ramirez along with The South Street Horns, will present Soul Sacrifice: A Tribute to Santana at the Carnton Plantation in Franklin. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., and the show starts at 6:00 p.m.

On Monday, August 29, Nashville's landmark Bluebird Cafe will host its first-ever Latino Songwriters Night. Hosted by San Rafael and Rick Rodriguez with Johnny Vasquez, Juan Calderon, Rachel Rodriguez, Rafael Vazquez with guests Johnny Garcia and Rony J Dorian, there will be no cover, and the show starts at 9:30 p.m.

Photo of Bluebird Cafe by Brent Moore. Licensed via Creative Commons.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Taste Chilean wines today at Vinea

Today, during its weekly wine tasting, 12th South wineseller Vinea will feature Chilean wines Oveja Negra and Chilensis (lineup subject to change):

  • Oveja Negra Chardonnay Viognier- $11
  • Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carmenere - $11
  • Chilensis Pinot Noir Reserva - $11
  • Chilensis Carmenere Reserva - $11
  • Oveja Negra Cabernet Franc Carmenere - $11

All of the tasting items will be discounted further off the above prices today. Guests can drop in anytime from 3pm to 5pm for the tasting. Vinea is at 2410 12th Ave. S., in Nashville.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

$200,000 for Juana Villegas in federal jury award

Juana Villegas and her husband outside federal court in Nashville, after the jury came back on damages

A federal jury has awarded Juana Villegas $200,000 in damages for her unconstitutional, illegal treatment at the hands of the Davidson County's Sheriff's office, according to Renata Soto, Executive Director of Conexion Americas.

Read here for the history of this case.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Opening reception this Friday for "Nueva Vida Nuevo Trabajo" featuring 19 local artists including Prado, Cunza, and Negri

"A Job to Do" by Gil Veda
(click to enlarge)

Remember that call for Hispanic artists to participate in a show at the Metro Arts Gallery? They got quite a response, and the opening reception is this Friday. After that, the show runs through October 7.

Among the nineteen names listed, I knew Veda and Prado were local artists, but I was pleasantly surprised to see other names such as Cunza (NAHCC), Gonzalez-Nylander (works in video production), Griffin (I thought this was Mary's John Griffin at first), and Negri (Tom's wife).

Here is the official invite:
In partnership with the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to promote and feature the work of local Hispanic visual artists the Metro Arts Gallery presents “Nueva Vida, Nuevo Trabajo” (translated as new life, new work) which highlights the work of professional and non-professional artists from Nashville’s growing and diverse Hispanic population. Work will be featured by professional and emerging artists including, Orlando García Camacho, Antonieta Capdevila, Aida Costner, Yuri Cunza, Adolfo Dávila, Gladys Escobar, Gil Veda, Alba Gonzalez-Nylander, John D. Griffin, Megan Kelley, Zolita Mojica, Mario Moreno, Inés Negri, Jairo Prado, Mike Quiñones Gonzalez, Sandra Rivera, Kathryn García Smith, Liliana Vélez and Yenny Walker. 

August 19, 2011 - October 7, 2011
800 2nd Avenue South, 4th Floor
Nashville, TN 37210

Opening Reception
Friday, August 19, 2011
3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Light refreshments provided

Monday, August 15, 2011

Miss Tennessee Latina Pageant is back

(L-R) Reigning Miss Tennessee Lilibeth Leon (2008), former Miss Tennessee Latina Mariela Flores (2007), and former Miss Tennessee Latina Janet Abeja (2006)

After a hiatus through 2009 and 2010, the Miss Tennessee Latina Pageant will be back in 2011.

Organizacion Miss America Latina, Inc. has announced Mildred Veron and Vicky Shuler of Clarksville as the exclusive state licensees to conduct the 2011 Miss Tennessee Latina Pageant, the official state preliminary to the national Miss Latina US Pageant. Veron and Shuler will also run the sister state pageant, Miss Teen Tennessee Latina.

Mildred ("Milly") Veron is a former professional dancer with more than 20 years experience in Panamanian Folkloric Ballet. She created the “Viva Panama” dance company in Clarksville. Vicky Shuler is the troupe’s coordinator and manager.

Veron's interest in the pageant traces back to the 2008 competition, when she had a daughter in the competition who placed runner-up in the pre-teen "Princesa" group (read coverage of that pageant here). Veron tells
We were so looking forward to her participating in the Teen portion the following year. You could imagine our disappointment when we found out there would not be another Tennessee Latina pageant and that the directorship was up for grabs. Ever since then we had been thinking about taking the directorship for Tennessee.
Addressing the value of having a pageant at all, Veron describes it as a haven and a support system:
I felt that there are just too many little girls losing their dreams to crimes, pregnancies, or worse. Our dedication is to empower our young Tennessee latina ladies to have a dream and strive to achieve them. 
No date or venue has been chosen yet, but entertainment is already being lined up, according to Veron:
We are planning on having local up-and-coming artists the "Gemini Twins" from Clarksville and Nashville in the opening number. They are of Puerto Rican descent who rap and sing reggeaton. Vicky Shuler's "Ballet Folklorico Viva Panama" will also perform during the show. Their dances are the original dances from Panama. There will also be a performance by teens who call themselves "Pink Aces".
The Miss and Teen Tennessee Latina competitions are open to unmarried young women of Latina or Hispanic heritage between the ages of 14-18 and 19-27. Sponsor and contestant information is available by writing to The pageant home page is 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

More government under Arizona model, says "disgruntled" Nashville Republican Rod Williams

Image by Harald Groven. Licensed via Creative Commons.

If you search Tennessee statutes for the words "immigrant" or "immigration" or "alien," you will find 111 hits. Apparently, our Republican lawmakers think that's not enough.

Unsatisfied with the immigrant-related laws on the books, Tennessee's GOP caucus tries to add more sentences, paragraphs, chapters, pages and volumes - every year, without fail - in what I call the "yada yada" strategy.  Yet another deportation approach, followed by yet another deportation approach.

Some of these legislators even went to Arizona to photocopy that state's now-infamous legislation and bring it here. (In doing so, they proudly flew our flag inside another state's borders. The irony escaped them.)

Despite this eagerness on the right to add to the bureaucratic weight of the Tennessee Code, not all Tennessee Republicans agree with them.

Where some see a bigger lawbook, others see a bigger state.

Nashville's own Rod Willams of A Disgruntled Republican was speaking out over a year ago, when the Arizona law was first passed. Williams is a veteran of the Air Force, having served tours in Vietnam and Thailand. He is a graduate of East Tennessee State University, where he wrote a conservative column for the school newspaper and was Chairman of the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. And he served on the Metro Council from 1979 to 1990.  Williams is currently the Director of Housing Services for a Nashville non-profit.

Williams' first reaction to the Arizona law was to resist the creation of a "papers please" society, especially at the behest of a supposedly small-government party. Williams subsequently expressed concern about the law's "transfer of power from the individual to the state", pointing out he's not the only Republican wary of states writing themselves into greater positions of power over the person. Williams linked to conservative pundits and also attracted comments on his blog from other Republicans disapproving the Arizona direction. In that post, Williams concludes:
I am glad that we have conservatives who will think and analyze. I am glad we have conservatives who will stand by their support of the constitution and stand for less government even when it is not the popular position to take.
One would hope that Tennessee's legislators will eventually put down their pens. Until then, we need Williams and other courageous, consistent conservatives to keep their pens in hand.

Read Williams' posts here:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making illegal conduct legal, Tennessee voted to repeal Prohibition 78 years ago today

When Nashville's beloved 30-year-old bookstore Davis-Kidd was in its final hours of operation last December, I took away a box of books, one of which was Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, by Daniel Okrent.

Today, August 11, 2011, is the 78th anniversary of Tennessee's vote to end Prohibition.  Last Call is a history of how we came to Prohibition and how we abandoned it. It is a great book. You really should read it (or in my case, listen to the audio version of it).

In fact, this is my single most important book recommendation of 2011 for those who are passionate about improving federal immigration policy.  The stories of the Anti-Saloon League and its disproportionately large influence are a roadmap to political power in America.  The stories of the general public largely tolerating bootleggers, widely consuming the fruits of illegal labor but disproportionately drawing the attention of enforcement at the lower rungs of society, and being subjected to complaints of rum-runners "invading" our borders who might only be halted by the erection of a wall (mostly along the East Cost) are just as much a parallel to the modern day as the late-19th century whipping-up of the public to believe that immigrants are more prone to vice than Americans:

There are so many times you will whack your forehead at the echoes of Prohibition's history and debate in modern-day immigration politics, that your head might hurt a little when you're done. Since I like to think about communications strategy, I'm actually a little jealous that Prohibition had such an excellent shorthand for its proponents and opponents - the "wet" and the "dry" camps - that I've tried to come up with similarly tangible and abbreviated labels for our immigration debate. (My feeble thought is, if one side is fighting for indivisibility, as in the pledge of allegiance, or "Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds," as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, and if the practical result of the opposite sentiment is to generate outsiders out of those who live among us, the two can be classified as "in" and "out." You can see why this is not my day job.)

As for the condition of the Volunteer State 78 years after the repeal of Prohibition, we still have Blue Laws that prevent alcohol from being sold at certain times on Sunday, and we still don't sell wine in grocery stores. But at least on August 11, 1933 - during the Great Depression - we gave up on the idea that making criminals out of wide swaths of ordinary people was viable public policy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jackie Arredondo: Cuban-born country artist releases EP "Put Some Man on That"

I've been meaning to tell you about Jackie Arredondo for a while now. She's a Cuba-born, Miami-based country music artist who was in town for CMA Fest (yes, it's been a little while).  Jackie's twitter feed is @JackieArredondo, and her web site is, where she has a new EP called "Put Some Man on That" and a free download of her single, "Insane."

Jackie is one of a growing number of country music singers with Hispanic roots, like Lisa Torres, Saints of Havana, Linda Bandry, and Gabe Garcia.  Jackie's grandfather is Cuban comedian Enrique Arredondo – "entertaining is in her blood," says her publicist – and she went into a Nashville studio at the end of May with songwriter/producer Brian White, to record the EP.

Jackie's background is as vocal coach.  She lists among her clients top Latin names like Gloria Estefan, Thalia, Julio Inglesias, Jr, and Paulina Rubio.  She's done demo work for Nashville's own Jaci Velasquez, and she's trained singers for Sean “Puffy” Combs, Tommy Mottola, and Emilio Estefan.  She's also been the vocal coach on nine reality shows.

In June, Music News Nashville wrote about Jackie's transition from vocal coach to recording artist.

I asked Jackie what got her interested in country music, and she responded:
One of my jobs was truck driving, and as soon as I left the state of Florida, I felt the radio turn into an audio book when I began to listen to the country stations. I felt the emotion in the stories and I knew I had found my love for a music genre.
A few days ago, Arredondo gave an interview to Sheyla Hicks's new show Entertainment Circle.  The video is below, and it includes some behind-the-scenes from the recording studio.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Scarlet letter or broken record? Tennessean and Scene use different labels in stories on Mercedes Gonzalez

Defining the person by a label
Photo by Bill H-D. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Mercedes Gonzalez has been in the local news a couple of times recently. Last week, Mercedes was the subject of a story about 287(g) in the weekly alternative paper Nashville Scene.  Today, Mercedes was the subject of a story about the DREAM Act in the daily, Gannett-owned Tennessean.

Despite Mercedes being a common subject in both stories, the vocabulary of the stories was different.

Specifically, the two reporters writing the stories employed law-driven labels differently.  On the one hand, the reporter for the weekly Scene drew from a variety of nouns, adjectives, and phrases (see "Law-driven labels" below).  The reporter for the daily Tennessean, however, exclusively used labels containing one of the following two words: "illegal" and "undocumented."  While I appreciate that the Gannett paper (or its reporter) preferred "undocumented" to "illegal," the idea that it only had two vocabulary words at its disposal for law-driven labels is fairly unheard of in journalism, except, sadly, when it comes to immigration.  In fact, repeated use of any law-driven label, regardless of word choice, is uncommon except on the immigration beat. 

Here's how journalists tend to diverge from common practices when they report about the border or the people on the wrong side of the immigration bureaucracy:

First, in reporting about laws outside the context of immigration, American journalists frequently employ few labels of people at all.  The law-tinged adjectives and nouns in those stories mostly refer to the law itself, or the violation, or the conduct, but not the people.  The Tennessean itself has reported on laws with scant use of law-related people labels - see an example here in regard to business taxes. But when it comes to immigration, law-related labels of people are used heavily, almost exclusively.  Note that both the Scene and the Tennessean use law-driven labels in their stories about Mercedes, even though (as noted above, and this is my main point) the Scene avoids the repetitive and exclusive use of the labels "illegal" and "undocumented".

Second, another common practice of professional journalists (in law-related stories and otherwise) is, if they're going to label people at all, to label then in ways unrelated to the law.  Here, in the two stories featuring Mercedes, at least both papers followed common practice and employed a fair amount of non-law labels of the people in the story (see "Non-law labels", also below).  In many other immigration stories in modern journalism, however, every time the person in the story is referenced will be with a law-driven label, which is contrary to common journalism practice in other legal contexts.

The broader point is not that problems with immigration status should be covered differently than other legal problems, or reported with kid gloves.  It's that the people and the issues of immigration should be described in the same way as any other legal story is reported.

Below are the people labels used by each paper in these two most recent stories.  The Tennessean's law-driven labels stand out.

Law-driven labels

undocumented Tennesseans
illegal immigrants
undocumented students
undocumented students
undocumented students
undocumented students
undocumented students
undocumented students
undocumented young people
undocumented immigrant
America's illegal children*
undocumented students*
undocumented students*
undocumented students*

*headline, photo caption, or sidebar

Law-driven labels

young people brought into the country without documentation
undocumented immigrants
those in the 287(g) population
arrestees flagged by the sheriff's office for deportation
low-level offenders
dangerous criminals
inmates processed for deportation
those whom officers suspect to be undocumented
those who don't have a driver's license
Non-law labels

Carlos Zazaleta
high school graduates
a census worker in Mexico
a cook
Riccy (pronounced RICK-see) Arita
mother’s and daughter’s
older brother
high-school junior
Overton High graduate Mercedes Gonzalez, 18
Nashville immigrants*
Overton High graduate Mercedes Gonzalez*
Carlos Zazaleta*
Riccy Arita*
Hillwood High graduate*
Nashville students*

Non-law labels

Mercedes Gonzalez
the 18-year-old
the teen
a high school graduate
kids and young adults who graduate from American high schools
kids and young adults
those who came to the U.S. before age 16 and have a high school diploma or its equivalent
the teen
Manolo Lem
a man of Chinese descent
MTSU grad
Mercedes Gonzalez*
*headline, photo caption, or sidebar

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tour of Latino Nashville

Visiting one of Conexion America's constituents in Country Meadows.  He said, "primero Dios" - "God willing" - over and over again when describing his future plans. The man in the khakis is standing at the former level of the floor of the trailer, before the flood.

Earlier this week, I went on Conexion Americas' innovative "Tour of Latino Nashville" - an up-front look at Hispanic people and businesses trying to integrate into the broader Nashville community.  Just for the record, there are plenty of Latinos in Nashville who have fully integrated, but those still in transition are the focus of Conexion's effort - and this tour.

After this week's tour, there was one word that described the main takeaway:


If you've never been on this journey through the lives of some of the most vulnerable Hispanic Nashvillians, here is a sampling of my photos and tweets, taken straight from the my live tweeting (@muybna) and from my camera:

On tour of Latino Nashville w/ @conexion_TN - just visited Country Meadows in Antioch, where 2010 flood wiped out trailers  

About to eat a taco at the window of Carneceria San Luis, on tour of Latino Nashville with @conexion_tn (99 health score spotted)

The 99 health score for the San Luis hot dog cart 

Get the beef tips taco, spicy pork taco, and Mango nectar at Carneceria San Luis, at Linbar and Harding - that was my awesome menu

Cheery host feeds us tacos, chicken in his beautiful home, which he wants to pay off and rent. Tells table, "We are illegal."

About deportation risk: "If something is going to happen, it's going to happen." Son is 21, U.S. citizen, and wouldn't go back to Mexico.

Runs own business, self-sufficient in Nashville. In Mexico, very hard to find work after turning 32. "My dream is to be a U.S. citizen."

After bought house, wondered if right decision - they could lose everything if deported. But "I want to die here. MX really not an option."

After 9/11, lost welding job he had had for 5 years when employer discovered his immigration status. That's when wife started cleaning biz.

Little girl behaves well when mom takes her to house cleaning jobs. Bought 87 Ford Tempo from customer; bartered 3 cleaning jobs for it.

"We're really lucky to be here, to work here. We have limitations, but you have to do what is available. For us, it's a blessing."

"My father died 10 years ago, but I didn't get the chance to go. Couldn't risk not being able to come back and provide for family."

Wife: my mom has 13 children. I was 2nd oldest and had to help out. I finished middle school only. When my son graduated HS here, it was big

Was volunteer for 3 years in son's high school. Teacher "was like a four-leaf clover" - connected us to so many people.

Son wants to join Marines. Sponsoring his parents' immigration petition now that he turned 21. Attorney says it has a 50% chance of working.

Correction: only Dad has a chance at fixing status, b/c overstayed visa. Mom crossed border w/o visa, has no chance

Dad: immigration filing confirmation is "my favorite paper" (I've been live-blogging my tour of #latinonashville with @conexion_tn) 

"We found @conexion_tn because our job - Jose Gonzalez heard about this couple cleaning houses and pitched Conexion's services

@conexion_tn's new board members say takeaway from today's tour is "uncertainty"

Key hook at our hosts' house

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fabian Bedne wins Metro Council bid

Councilman-Elect Fabian Bedne
Photo by John Lamb
Last night, Fabian Bedne was elected to represent District 31 on the Metro Council, the city's legislative body. (See the election returns here.)

Back in 2009, Tim Ghianni interviewed Bedne for the Nashville City Paper, for a piece about the growing Hispanic political voice in Nashville.  Bedne explained what brought him to seek a Metro Council position when he ran the first time:
He said he drew the courage to run from his participation in community meetings that examined development and zoning proposals for his once-rural neighborhood stretching  almost to Nolensville.  “I was just going to meetings and saying what I thought,” Bedne said. And before he knew it, he was one of the first Latinos to seek elected office in Nashville. 
Earlier this year, in February, the City Paper ran a cover story by William Williams on the politically involved Latinos in town, and Bedne was the focus of the intro and conclusion of the story (he wasn't featured on the cover, because the CP didn't want to imply an endorsement of Bedne's already-declared candidacy). Williams wondered aloud, not about whether Bedne was a viable candidate, but about whether Nashville was ready for a Latino elected official:
If any Hispanic person is to claim victory in a district Metro Council race, it is Bedne. Just don’t mention the “Latino Factor” to him. “It’s not what motivates me,” he said of the thought of serving as the Metro Council’s first Hispanic. He ran for the seat in 2007 and finished second to Parker Toler. “Latinos run for office because they are proud Americans.” But pride for country is one thing. Making Nashville history is a much different proposition. Until the Aug. 4 election date, Bedne — whether he wants to downplay the ramifications or not — will be in the middle of an enticing speculation: Is Nashville ready for a Hispanic Metro Council member? Is District 31?
Yes.  Yes we are.

Earlier this year, we learned that Nashville is 10% Hispanic.  Mere days ago, Ana Escobar became the first Latina to head a department of Metro Government.  Both Escobar and Bedne were born in South America - Escobar in Colombia, and Bedne in Argentina.  I'm reminded of young Ellie in the Disney movie "Up," who at one point declares, "South America: it's like America, but South!"

Fabian Bedne has found the sweet spot of being an American and a Southerner in two different places and in two different contexts.  Now he begins the uniquely democratic job of representing - from within government - his fellow residents of District 31, who are also his fellow Americans and fellow Southerners.

There is no doubt that this election was a big win for Bedne, for Nashville, for Nashville's Latinos, and for the ongoing story of American immigration, opportunity, and democracy.

Congratulations, Councilman-elect Bedne. Congratulations, Nashville. Congratulations, District 31.

To read Bedne's election night speech, visit his web site at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vote today for Renard Francois and Fabian Bedne

Fabian Bedne. Photo by John Lamb.

Today is Election Day for Nashville Metro Council.  I know two of the candidates personally: District 31 candidate Fabian Bedne, and at-large candidate Renard Francois.  Please vote today sometime between 7am and 7pm, and please consider supporting Fabian and Renard.

Fabian is a building designer who's been in Nashville for over a decade and was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Read about Fabian's history, family, and community service over at his web site  You can also read more about Fabian in the stories I've written about him - and some of the stories he's written himself - here at  As long as I've known Fabian, he's been thoughtful, selfless, professional, and willing to take action to make the world around him a better place.  If you live between Nolensville Road and I-24, you need Fabian as your councilman.  Fabian, in turn, needs you to go out and light up his name in the voting booth.

Renard and I went to high school together here in Nashville.  We were roommates on debate trips.  He was the class Vice President, and later he went on to work for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.  Now we work right down the hall from each other in the same legal department on West End, and I'm thrilled we're connected again.  Renard is already making it clear he'll be a Councilman for the entire city - he's the anti-Crafton, if you ask me.  He already knows Conexion Americas on a first-name basis, and he's the only candidate with a set of palm cards in Spanish.  Anyone and everyone voting in the entire city of Nashville can vote for Renard and know that he will strengthen our city and our bonds to each other.  Look for Renard's name in the list of at-large candidates on your ballot, and make sure his name is one of the five you light up.

Renard Francois. Photo by John Lamb.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Acclaimed "A Better Life" showing now at Hollywood 27

The movie "A Better Life" is showing at the Hollywood 27 theater right now. One sentence in the New York Times review of the film sums up the main characters' bios:
For Luis, who’s all-American from his birth certificate to his accent, Carlos isn’t just his father, he’s also a periodically embarrassing ambassador from a foreign land, a Mexican immigrant as seemingly unassimilated as he is undocumented.
The movie has a 86% critics rating and 82% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which are stratosphere-level numbers.  The movie's director came to the film with an Oscar nomination.  The Washington Post opened its review of "A Better Life" by putting the lead actor's name in 2012 Oscar contention.

Two of Conexion Americas' representatives to the national NCLR conference last week saw a panel that included the director of "A Better Life" - so their recommendation is what made me aware of the film.

Let's go see it - who's with me?

Monday, August 1, 2011

El Movimiento headlines Summer Jazz Dinner Series at Garden Brunch Cafe this Thursday

This concert announcement was in my inbox, from El Movimiento:
El Movimiento is excited to announce that we will be kicking off the Garden Brunch Cafe's 2011 Summer Jazz Dinner Series on Thursday, August 4th!

This NEW concert series will feature an INTIMATE setting to hear some of the BEST MUSIC Nashville's own has to offer, along with AMAZING MOUTH-WATERING cuisine prepared by chef & owner, Jennifer Carpenter. However, there are ONLY 40 seats per show, so you will want to call SOON and make your reservations!

Here are the details:

Seating for the Dinner Show begins at 6pm with music starting at 6:45pm. Your ticket price of $45 INCLUDES a delicious THREE course meal along with a dynamic show by El Movimiento. We'll be performing tunes from our 2010 debut release, The Movement, as well as NEW compositions we've recently written!

Seating for the late show begins at 8pm, with music starting at 8:30pm. Tickets are $20 and only include concert admission. A limited, but likewise EXCELLENT, food menu will be available for this later performance.

The Garden Brunch Cafe is perhaps one of Nashville's BEST KEPT SECRETS, but we are letting the word OUT!!! Don't just take my word for it! Visit their website at! Also, to read the Nashville Scene's review of The Garden Brunch Cafe, go to:

The Garden Brunch Cafe - "Nashville's premier venue for all things brunch," is located at 924 Jefferson Street in Music City, USA. We are definitely expecting this event will sell out early! Call The Garden Brunch Cafe to make your reservations TODAY at 615-891-1217. If no one answers, leave a message with your name and number and your call will be returned. Reservations will only be accepted with payment for tickets.

Garden Brunch event website:

Imer Santiago- trumpet*
Rahsaan Barber-saxophones*
Giovanni Rodriguez- percussion*
Jonathan Estes- upright and electric bass
Joe Davidian- keys
James DaSilva- guitar
Derrek Phillips- drums

*Copies of the record will be sold at the show.
Our record is available on itunes, Amazon, or

Paz, God Bless, & Sinceramente,
Rahsaan, Imer, & Giovanni

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