I’m a film buff. Also a music and book lover. Although I prefer the Spanish-language equivalent for my passion for all three: cinéfilo, melómano and bibliómano. These three words not only evoke an encyclopedic knowledge of film, music and literature but also an obsession. I have more books (including graphic novels and comics) in both English and Spanish than I have time to read, more DVDs than I have time to watch and more CDs than I have time to listen. I find iTunes intimidating: the amount of music available at my fingertips from all around the world is amazing (and could spell trouble to my finances).
I’m also married to a linguist/librarian who not only shares these obsessions but who is also obsessed about language. We have one bookcase alone devoted to textbooks, dictionaries, glossaries, you name it, in Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Russian, Portuguese, Rumanian and even Japanese.
Add the Internet to this obsession: we both watch TV shows, music videos, conferences, movie trailers, etc., on the web. No matter the platform, we are carnivorous consumers of culture in all its forms.
My rather eclectic taste has puzzled marketing experts for a long time, especially those who insist in pigeonholing the Hispanic market into a nice little cubbyhole. I still remember how, a decade and a half ago, we confused the living daylights out of some Nielsen Media researchers. My wife and I were selected to participate in one of their quarterly ratings, back in the day when Nielsen asked households to fill out these little blue notebooks with info on the programming they watched.
Imagine their surprise when they received our notebook: the only Spanish-language program we actually watched was Univision’s nightly local and national news. We actually spent our time watching PBS, HBO and assorted mainstream English-language programs. They even called us to verify that the information we provided was correct. The folks at Nielsen could not believe that we were not watching Univision or Telemundo’s programming on a regular basis.
So, let’s get something straight: Latinos, especially those born in this country and in most major cities in Latin America, do not exclusively consume entertainment and culture in Spanish or Portuguese. Yes, we do listen to salsa, bachata, mariachi, cumbias and sambas, but we also listen to rock, rap, hip-hop, r&b and electronica. We admire the works of Guillermo Del Toro and Gael García Bernal, but we are also massive consumers of Hollywood films as well as foreign and independent ones. We read Neil Gaiman and García Márquez, Rosario Ferré and Margaret Atwood. Latinos are by nature, and history, multicultural beings.
I see this blog as a continuation of the work I did as an arts and entertainment reporter and features editor at Hoy and Exito and editor in chief for Café Media. It will be highly personal, highly opinionated and very diverse. I will share my likes and dislikes, I might even interview those artists that are doing work that is worth your attention. Do not expect me to write about Thalía, Maná or Daddy Yankee. There are plenty of other venues for that.
Like any good corner bodega, I hope to stock my Culture Bodega with content of all sizes, shapes and flavors. And like any good bodega, I encourage you to join me in vigorous and robust discussions (as long as they don’t get out of hand; I am very good at kicking people out of my bodega). Come on in, walk around. I hope you can, in the end, take something with you from my Culture Bodega.