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Hartford Puerto Rican Set for June 1


HARTFORD — Get ready for the 2014 Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The annual event will begin at noon on June 1, starting on Warwarme Avenue in Hartford and continues with a festival that is scheduled to end at 8 p.m. at the Bushnell Pavilion.

Festival attendees will have  a wide variety of food, music and entertainment, including performers such as Frankie Negron. Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is expected to attend.

For more information, please call 860-978-7412 andwww.hartfordprparade.com.

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Finch: City’s Festivities Free and Open to All


BRIDGEPORT — Mayor Bill Finch and Bridgeport’s Downtown Special Services District on Wednesday announced the musical lineup for the fifth installment of the city’s Free Concert Series on Thursdays.

This announcement comes with a new format for the concert series, which includes at least two musical performances that will extend each event from 5:30-9:00 p.m.

 “Bridgeport is becoming an arts and culture powerhouse in the Northeastern U.S.,” Finch said. “And, that’s happening because of events like Downtown Thursdays. I’m looking forward to seeing large crowds gathering for live music in our revitalized downtown, which is home to many great restaurants and bars for concert goers to enjoy.”

 The first event will take place on June 19 at 5:30 p.m. at McLevy Green, which is just a few short blocks away from the Bridgeport Metro Rail Station and Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority.

These events are open to people of all, and the festivities are free to the public.

Downtown Thursdays Schedule:

Ø  Thursday, June 19Vinny and Ray Afro-Cuban Latin JazzOrquesta Afinke

Ø  Thursday, June 26Funky Dawgz Brass BandJen Durkin and the Business

Ø  Thursday, July 3: N/A – Break for Independence Day weekend

Ø  Thursday, July 10: The Elements of Hip Hop with DJ Billy Busch, DJ Grand Wizard Stevie, DJ Kool Keith, DJ White Flash

Ø  Thursday, July 17Alpaca GnomesBeach AvenueLiza Colby Sound

Ø  Thursday, July 24Mikata, Son 7

Ø  Thursday, July 31SoulshotMystic Bowie

Ø  Thursday, August 7Girls on Bikes (opening for CT Free Shakespeare, 8pm performances August 6-10)

Ø  Thursday, August 14Pocket Hotties, karaoke talent night

Ø  Thursday, August 21The ZambonisMates of States

Ø  Thursday, August 28SuperheroThat ‘80s Band, Soul Synergy

“We’re thrilled about this year’s line-up and new format,” said Kim Morque, Chairman of the Bridgeport DSSD. “With genres spanning from Latin to indie, rock to reggae, and funk & soul to old school hip-hop, our Downtown Thursdays have you covered, regardless of your musical preference.”

Sponsors for Downtown Thursdays include: City of Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch; Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District; Bridgeport Bluefish; Webster Bank Arena; Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment; Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, LLC; Forstone Capital Holdings; Main State Ventures; Bridgeport Regional Business Council; The United Illuminating Company; Aquarion Water Company; Barnum Publick House; Bistro B; Carlson Corporation; Fairfield University; Ginsburg Development Corporation; POKO Partners LLC; ServPro; Cohen and Wolf; Narragansett Brewing Company; Greater Bridgeport Transit; Connoisseur Media, Star 99.9, 99.1 PLR, 95.9 FOX and CTBoom.com; BOMBA 97.1 FM; Radio Cumbre 1450 AM; and WPKN 89.5 FM.

For more information, and to follow the Downtown Thursdays summer line-up, please visit: www.downtownthursdays.com.

 

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Greater Hartford Chabad to Host Sassy Reuven


HARTFORD – This May Chabad of Greater Hartford will be hosting Sassy Reuvena veteran of the Israel Defense Special Operation Forces.

During the terror-filled years of 1973-1976 Sassy served in the IDF’s elite “Red Beret” paratrooper unit. He participated in several covert operations in Israel’s mighty struggle against Arab terrorism.

In July of 1976, Sassy participated in the famed Entebbe counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission code named “Operation Thunderbolt”, flying thousands of miles over enemy territory to rescue Jewish hostages being held by terrorists in Uganda.

A week earlier, on 27 June, an Air France plane was hijacked, by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Revolutionary Cells, and flown to Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. More than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers remained as hostages and were threatened with death.

Sassy will share his personal experience, step-by-step from the moment he was called to duty, including the preparation for the mission, landing in Uganda & completing the mission behind enemy lines.

His story is Israel’s story: of courage, endurance, defiance and a willingness to sacrifice it all for the right to live in your homeland in freedom.

The event will be on Wednesday, May 21, 7:00pm at the Chabad House, 2352 Albany Avenue in West Hartford. To register log on to www.ChabadHartford.com, call 860-232-1116 or email: info@ChabadHartford.com

 

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What Americans Can Learn From Gabriel García Márquez About Immigration


 Raymond L. Williams, New America Media News Analysis

With Congress stalled on immigration reform and the Obama administration reconsidering its priorities, Americans might be surprised to learn that recently deceased global citizen Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) offers some well-informed insights into immigration issues.

The 1982 Nobel Laureate in Literature lived most of his adult life as an immigrant, and was once an undocumented worker — in Venezuela, from late 1957 to early 1959. His first immigration experience was in France, where he lived in the mid-1950s with full documentation, working as a journalist for the liberal Colombian newspaper, El Espectador. Soon after arriving, however, he was left unemployed when Colombian dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla ordered the closing of all liberal media. During the remainder of his stay in France, García Márquez dedicated his time to writing the foundational Macondo stories that would eventually lead him to the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, and literary fame. The remainder of his time in Paris, however, involved basic survival—sometimes even collecting bottles on the streets to earn money for food, and negotiating his residency at a small Parisian hotel, on credit, with promises to pay later.

The next stage of his life took him to Venezuela, where he was employed as a journalist writing articles, mostly on political topics. In the 1950s, Colombia’s relationship with Venezuela was in some ways comparable to the relationship today between Mexico and the United States: many Colombians were fleeing to Venezuela to escape violence and seek employment in a nation enjoying a petroleum boom. The Venezuelan government was systematically inviting gallegos(Spaniards from Galicia) and Italian guest workers in order to avoid the potential unionization of workers from Venezuela and Colombia.  In a magazine article published in 1959 under the title,Adiós, Venezuela, García Márquez questioned the government’s manipulation of the workforce. He argued, among other things, for better wages—the equivalent of a “living wage”—for the visiting workers from Galicia and Italy.

In France, García Márquez lived the experience of the impoverished immigrant, and in Venezuela he lived the life of the undocumented worker whom he attempted to defend with his writing. The presence of gallegos in the latter contributed to his identification with the workers, for some of his own relatives had originally come from Galicia. In Venezuela, then, García Márquez was acutely aware that the story of immigrant workers was indeed his own story. No doubt drawing on his own experience, he proclaimed Latina America to be “a land of second generations” in his 1959 article, later republished in 1971 as a book titled, Cuando era feliz e indocumentado (When I was happy and undocumented).

After Venezuela, García Márquez became a global citizen, spending most of his adult life in Mexico as well as being a frequent visitor to his own personal residences in Spain and France.

As the immigration debate becomes increasingly intense and perhaps excessively polarized in the United States, the lessons we can learn from the most widely read public intellectual in Latin America are twofold: On the one hand, he reminds us that human movement across borders has historically been a regular and healthy occurrence in the Americas, for those nations that have embraced and not rejected their immigrants. In this sense, the current situation in the U.S. might not be as exceptional (or complex) as it may seem. On the other hand, the supposed dichotomy between documented citizens and undocumented residents is not as black-and-white as some political sectors attempt to portray it — the undocumented not only provide a labor force, but they are also the parents of future graduate students, future scientists and future Nobel Laureates in literature, as was the case for that grandchild of gallegos, the once undocumented writer, Gabriel García Márquez.

Raymond L. Williams teaches Latin American literature at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of several books, including two on García Márquez, and holds the titled of Distinguished Professor.

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The Legacy of Gabriel García Márquez


New America Media, Raymond L. Williams

Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, the inventor of the mythical town he called “Macondo,” has passed away at the age of 87.

Journalists loved him for his ability to spontaneously produce catchy one-liners in interviews. The general reading public adored him for his entertaining and engaging stories so related to their own real experience. Academics have been fascinated to speculate on the meaning of such oddities as abundant yellow butterflies, old men with inexplicably long wings, or the very best definition of his trademark “magic realism.” As an academic who decided in the 1970s to launch a career researching the unlikely and then relatively obscure subject called “Colombian literature,” I always benefited from the anchor of at least one accomplished Colombian writer widely recognized beyond that nation’s borders.

Who was this man whose “Macondo” seems so exotic yet at the same time so close to so many lives?

My first image of the writer dates back to when the then 48-year old emerged from the elevator in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Bogotá, October of 1975. Already rich and famous from the 1967 publication of the best-selling novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, he had just arrived from Barcelona a few months after publishing the novel The Autumn of the Patriarch. A mutual friend (the Colombian critic from Barranquilla Néstor Madrid-Malo) had arranged for me to meet the writer in the hotel lobby, where I was immediately struck by the stark contrast between everyone else in that lobby—wearing elegant dark suits and ties—and the visibly informal García Márquez, who was wearing blue jeans and a colorful shirt. The straight-forward, no-nonsense and absolute clarity of the conversation in his room, centering on this complex novel The Autumn of the Patriarch, left a lifetime impression on me. I’ve met other accomplished creative writers in my career, but few others have approximated García Márquez in the simplicity and clarity of what was his genius: finding the magic in the things of everyday life.

r_williams_marquez_500x279Eventually, as a specialist in what was this still academically dubious field called Colombian literature, I found myself writing a book on the work of García Márquez, starting in early 1982 and then–with a stroke of serendipity—found myself finishing it on a writer now awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in late 1982. Suddenly, my book had far more relevance than might have been the case otherwise. For me, however, reading García Márquez has always been a much more satisfactory experience than writing about his work. With this writer, I tend to resist interpretation for he seems to be so over-interpreted: why not let those yellow butterflies just inhabit Macondo rather than insist on dissecting them? Struggling through that first book on the Colombian writer and reading of his work in the process, however, clarified a lot, including the following: the writing of García Márquez is really about how the common people—the pueblo of the impoverished Caribbean coast of Colombia—not only survive but find ways to live with dignity.

I do not want to simplify this writer’s complex work too much by claiming it was only about survival and dignity. This was, however, a constant theme in much of his work, and this was the feature that made the Colombian so appealing world-wide. That down-to-earth 48-year-old pre-Nobel García Márquez was a man of total integrity: he not only talked-the-talk, but he walked and wrote the talk of the supreme value of common lives and everyday things.

Over the course of an increasingly viable academic career centered on “Colombian literature,” I spoke with the post-Nobel García Márquez at the ages of 58 (in Cartagena) and 60 (in Mexico City). Now even more of a celebrity public intellectual, he was still alarmingly simple in his genius. He was one of the few writers, for example, whose speech patterns are similar to his writing style.

In a dinner conversation among writer friends in Cartagena in 1993 (age 66) he stated that the one book that he wished had written himself was Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo. Years before, he had claimed to a journalist that his best book was No One Writes to the Colonel. What these two brief novels have in common is both their brevity and the simplicity of the language.

In a complex technological, globalized and postmodern 21st century, García Márquez invited all his readers to appreciate the special qualities (or magic) of the commonplace, to revere simplicity, and to celebrate the human spirit. This attitude toward the world placed not only his work on the world map, but the entirety of a nation and its literature in the consciousness of the world community. His attitude, as well as his spoken and written words, represented a life and a writing practice of admirable integrity.

Raymond L. Williams has published books and articles on Colombian and Latin American literature.His most recent book is A Companion to Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Tamesis, 2010). He holds the title of Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Riverside. 

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Connecticut River Watershed Council to Host Earth Day Celebration


 Old Saybrook, CT  – Wondering what to do on Earth Day? The Connecticut River Watershed Council will host two easy ways to support the Connecticut River basin this Earth Day.

A three-show concert series this weekend in Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut will benefit CRWC’s annual Source to Sea River Cleanup.

Well-known musicians Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group will play three shows throughout the Connecticut River valley April 25-27 to benefit CRWC’s annual Source to Sea Cleanup. Robin and Linda’s blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country music is known from NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion and many other shows.

You can see Robin and Linda Williams perform live on Friday, April 25, 7:30pm at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls, MA; Saturday, April 26, 7:30pm at the Pentangle Town Hall Theater in Woodstock, VT; or Sunday, April 27, 3pm at The Kate in Old Saybrook, CT.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, online at www.ctriver.org/concert or by calling800-838-3006 in NH, VT or MA or 877-503-1286 in CT. Memorial Hall tickets can also be purchased at World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield, MA, Mocha Maya’s and Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls, MA. Limited VIP tickets are available, which include refreshments with the artists before the show and premium seats.

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Jewish National Fund to Host Negev Reception


WEST HARTFORD –  The Jewish National Fund (JNF) will host a Negev Nights Reception at Beth El Temple on May 13.

The event will feature Jewish National Fund’s Israel Operations Development Officer and Israel expert Ariel Kotler. The complimentary reception, featuring foods and wines of the Middle East, is open to the entire community and will begin at 6:30 pm.

The reception is being chaired by West Hartford resident and Jewish National Fund West Hartford Board member C. Robert Zelinger.

“I am deeply committed to Jewish National Fund,” Zelinger said. “No other organization does more for the land and people of Israel. I truly hope this event will bring greater awareness to the Greater Hartford community of the wonderful work Jewish National Fund does, and inspire others to assist us in realizing Jewish National Fund’s vision for the future of Israel.”

The reception will take place at Beth El Temple at 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford, CT.

Advance registration is required by May 7 at www.jnf.org/whreception.

For sponsorship opportunities or for more information, please contact Deborah Budd, Senior Campaign Executive, at dbudd@jnf.org or 888.JNF.0099 x812.

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Eighth Annual Samba Fest at Hartford Riverfront


HARTFORD – Brazilian and Connecticut artists join forces with Trinity College students at the eighth annual Samba Fest on May 3 at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza.

The event, which will happen rain or shine at 300 Columbus Blvd. is free. 

“The Samba Fest brings together thousands of people from the Greater Hartford region to celebrate many different aspects of Brazilian music and dance,” says Trinity College professor Eric Galm, who conceived and produces Samba Fest. “We have a great mix of artists new to Samba Fest this year, and their music will serve as an introduction to the cultural events surrounding the 2014 World Cup, which will be held in Brazil in June.”

The family-friendly event begins with drum-making and face-painting for children and families. Those who make a drum on-site or bring one from home are invited to participate in the opening parade at noon

Performers include the Hartford Steel Symphony, co-directed by Curtis Greenidge and Kelvin Griffith, the Trinity Steel Band, led by Curtis Greenidge, and the Interdistrict Steel Pan Ensemble.

Samba Fest is free and open to the public. For directions and parking information, visit sambafest.com<http://www.sambafest.com>. For general information, call 860-297-2199.

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John Legend to Perform in Greater Hartford Area


TORRINGTON — Infinity Hall will present An Evening with John Legend on June 10 at the Warner Theatre in Torrington.

The nine-time Grammy Award winning artist will make his Warner Theatre debut with a brand-new live show. The All of Me Tour features Legend in an intimate, acoustic, and stripped-down setting, highlighted by guitar/vocal accompaniment and a string quartet. A singer-songwriter, producer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, John Legend has revealed many personas during his prolific career.

The All of Me Tour features Legend at his best—creating an immersive experience about romance, love, hope, commitment and optimism.

The Warner Theatre box office will handle all ticket sales. Tickets go on sale to the public on March 21st, and range in price from $46.50 – $96.50.

For An Evening with John Legend tickets go to www.WarnerTheatre.org or call 860-489-7180 Tuesday – Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.

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Tessanne Chin to Perform for Tri-State Fans


NEW YORK, NY — Calling all Tessanne Chin fans in Connecticut.

Chin will be giving her first performance in the tri-state area on May 26 at the Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York.

Three months after winning the 5th installment of NBC’s “The Voice” competition, the Jamaican songbird  will get her first opportunity to perform for her many fans in the tri-state area when she headlines the first annual Oracabessa Festival – ‘A Celebration Of Caribbean Culture’ – at Roy Wilkins Park on Memorial Day, Monday. Other announced performers include Beenieman, Konshens and Assassin.

Tessanne’s anticipated performance in New York is expected to attract large support from her Caribbean fan base.

thHer last performance in the USA was on March 6 in Washington D.C., where she was a special guest of U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama at the “White House: Women of Soul” concert where she delivered a scintillating performance of the Donna Summer classic “Last Dance.”

The program, which will be broadcast April 7 on PBS, included performances by Melissa Etheridge, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, Janelle Monáe and Jill Scott.

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