Erikina's Blog

Much Ado about Nothing: The Times’ Non-Story about Eduardo Galeano’s Non-Apology

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galeano open veins of latin america cover

Last Friday TheNew York Times published an article claiming that Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano now “disavows” his seminal work, Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America). The book, originally published in 1971, “argued that the riches that first attracted European colonizers, like gold and sugar, gave rise to a system of exploitation that led inexorably to ‘the contemporary structure of plunder’ that he held responsible for Latin America’s chronic poverty and underdevelopment.” For generations of Latin American leftists and students of Latin America Las venas abiertas has been “the canonical anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and anti-American text.” It has been widely used in university classes, “has been translated into more than a dozen languages and has sold more than a million copies,” according to the Times. And now, its author—one of the most important living writers and thinkers on the Latin American left—has supposedly changed his…

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Tango Art show in Pilsen, Chicago, IL

Tango Art show in Pilsen, Chicago, IL

You are all cordially invited to my tango art show, where I will be displaying new paintings created during the past Chiberian season, inspired by my recent trip to my home country, where the tango theme, Argentinean culture and melancholy wrapped me up again.

This will be an evening of sharing in the experience of my country’s culture through the delicious argentine cuisine at Chimichurri Restaurant & Pizza which is BYOB, poetry by members of Café y Literatura entre Nosotros and music by Argentinean artists TBA. Stay tuned for more details to come.

Visit my art pages below:


La uña se avecina en la esquina entrando al boliche
y la garúa, tu única compañía, te aniquila con ira
cuando aquel Gato Negro de reojo te encara

La uña espolvoreada te brinda galopes y miradas
que reunís en la pista de baile, mientras meneas tu corona por el aire
Y tu escabio no es saciado pero seguís a mil
sin guía o sin fin

La taquicardia amenaza con cada up-beat de tu talón
y el rocío de tu epidermis supura tu goce interior
Te perdes por ahí, entre las luces de neón
Sin guía y sin fin, duro seguís

Art Show: New Works by Erika

Art Show: New Works by Erika

I will be presenting some of my paintings next Saturday, November 9th, 2013 at Chimichurri Argentine restaurant in Pilsen, 1454 W. 18th street in Chicago, IL. 60608. The restaurant is BYOB with excellent, authentic Argentine pizza, empanadas and gelato. The show is from 6pm – Midnight.  There will be live music performed by Maria Blues, Agustin Alvarez, George Carson, and John Doyle (celebrating his birthday) and poetry readings by members of Cafe y Literatura Entre Nosotras  Hope to see you there!

Convocatoria Abierta para Mujeres Latinoamericanas en Chicago

Misión del proyecto preliminar: se convoca a mujeres con interés en la lectura y escritura en diferentes géneros narrativos.

Se busca consolidar un grupo de mujeres oriundas de Latinoamérica que hayan llegado a EE. UU., aproximadamente una década atrás con deseo de expresarse.

La misión seria formar una especie de sociedad literaria-artística con la idea de fomentar la lectura, la escritura y nuestras experiencias fusionadas con EE.UU. y nuestro país de procedencia.

Nuestro plan incluye: (1) reunirnos a tomar vino y/o café para conectarnos, (2) cuando nos reunimos, producir material escrito durante la sesión, (3) En la sesión procedente, revisar ese material producido y trabajado, (4) Invitar a expertos (voluntarios en lo posible) en diversos géneros literarios para que nos guíen y nos instruyan aún más, (5) se discutirán más detalles una vez que formemos el grupo y nos reunamos a debatir lo que cada una quiera aportar y lograr a través de este proyecto.

Si estás interesada en esta aventura, escribí a los siguientes correos electrónicos:

Erika Doyle:

Jazmin Medrano:

Vignette Three: Andy’s Jazz Club and the EL

Mr. Shepard mentioned in one of his classes that the best place to buy Jazz records in Chicago was at the world renowned Jazz Record Mart, located downtown, so, one day, I decided to pay the Mart a visit.  While wandering around the store, as I sifted through the Pat Metheny vinyl, I overheard the owner having a conversation with a regular customer about how Paul Wertico, a drummer of in a band that I had always followed was performing just around the corner, at the touristy Andy’s Jazz Club on Hubbard St.

“Yeah man, you should check him out; he is only in town for this season. He will play this week at Andy’s Jazz Club. After that, he goes on tour for the rest of the year.” The owner said to the client.

It was right after lunch, on a weekday and I was a bit thirsty so I thought I’d stop by the club and get something to drink, since one of my favorite drummers was going to be there.  From outside, the bright red and blue neon lights read “Chicago Jazz,” and a sudden pulling sensation made me think of what it would be like to work in a place like this, surrounded by live music.  I decided; why not ask for a job application?

Once inside, I found the place empty and an old guy was tuning his acoustic bass on the tiny stage.  The orange neon lights of the Wall of Fame decorating the whole bar were almost the only source of light in the entire space, with the exception of the big window that faced Hubbard Street.

I sat by the bar, where a bartender served an old lady who was smoking and sipping a coffee.  The smoke and the steam from her coffee blended together, distorting her face.

“Hi Maam.  Are they currently hiring personnel here?” I asked shyly.

“Yes.  Let me getch ya a job application.” She said while chewing gum.

The old guy tuning the bass was in his own little world, humming a tune first, and then starting to play the now well-tuned bass.  He lit a cigarette that smelled of cloves mixed with vanilla, almost like incense, as he played some bluesy tune while retaining the cigarette with his lips.  A cloud of smoke covered him as his eyes shrunk.

The bartender handed me the application and I filled it out as my naked arms resting against the bar, felt sticky with grease from the dirty countertop.  I handed the application back to the bartender as I gave the best of my smiles before leaving the place.  She smiled back at me.

“They’re hiring Darlin’.  Come back soon.” She said and wished me good luck.

As I walked out, the speakers from outside played:

“Fly me to the moon

let me play among the stars

let me see what spring is like

on a-Jupiter and Mars…”

I looked up at the gray skyscrapers that arbitrarily cut the blue sky; a feeling of belonging to the landscape came over me.  As I descended the steps for the subway at Grand Avenue, my eyes read the headlines of a New York Times left abandoned on a bench: “The events that triggered Argentina’s crisis: Unemployment hits 18.3% in October, the highest since mid-1998, and unions call a general strike.” I felt pride seeing my country on the front page of such a prestigious paper.  However, that pride quickly turned to sadness. I knew that I was not going back to Argentina. I was stuck in Chicago for a while.

The lights coming out of the dark tunnel of the subway blinded me and the sound of sharpening knifes from the wheels against the tracks distracted my reading, sending the newspaper flying into the air with its speed. When the doors opened, I jumped on the train humming to myself the melody of that bluesy tune the old man at Andy’s had played. I fell asleep.

Vignette Two: Mr. Shepard, the ESL Instructor

Mr. Shepard was one of the first Americans I had a chance to interact with, since the rest of my classmates were from places outside of the U.S. He was the only American in the class. Because of this, he quickly became my model to follow, so that I could learn English. Shepard was a tiny fellow that wore flip-flops all the time, even during the cold winter. His crooked toes were purple and dry and he wore shorts when it was really cold, something that I still can’t understand. I wish I could see him now, to ask him why he did these things. I would have asked before but my English was not advanced enough to formulate such a question.

Mr. Shepard was the first person to take me on a tour of Chicago, along with the rest of the class. That was when I realized how big a city Chicago is, and all the secrets it has, its subversive history from the meat packing industries back in the days to the architecture, and the many waves of immigrants. He also took us to the Berghoff Café, a German restaurant that is known for being the first place to obtain its liquor license, right after the Prohibition Era. Since then, this place has been serving cold mugs of delicious Berghoff beer.

Throughout the year, Mr. Shepard introduced us to Chicago’s rich offerings, like when we visited the Chicago Cultural Center and he explained the different activities they offer there for free. He always promised to organize more tours around the city visiting the different neighborhoods, but when the end of the school year was upon us, instead, he decided to do a picnic for the last week of class. Since I didn’t own a car, I rode my bike from Granville and Sheridan to Foster Beach.

That day, Foster Beach was more picturesque than ever, as the Mexicans in my class grilled carnitas and passed the tamales around. An Arab lady brought some baklava, my Polish classmates brought some sausages and I brought my famous Argentinean empanadas with chimichurri. Mr. Shepard brought a cooler full of Budweiser’s and Miller Light cans along with the grill. He was so happy; he could not stop saying how much he loved the different dishes.

After most of the class had left, I ended up hanging out with the Mexican classmates. We walked along the lake and stopped at some point along the shore to witness a baptism taking place in the lake! I looked around; hoping to find someone to explain to me what was going on when my eyes fell upon a Latina woman in a white robe.

“¿Qué es esto?” I asked, “What are you all doing here?” I asked the lady in Spanish.

She turned towards me, tears streaming down her cheeks. “El Señor es tu salvación,” she uttered and gave me a tiny New Testament bible. Then she babbled something that I could not really understand with her thick and colorful Colombian accent. She sang and sang as she fell in line with the group of people from the church. They submerged their feet in the Lake Michigan water as they gathered in a circle there, wading deeper into the water and offering their loyalty to God.

The ceremony was accompanied by the metal jingling sounds of tambourines, chanting in Spanish, and lively clapping, as the people seemed to faint, trying to drown themselves with God. I looked at them, slowly glancing up at the Chicago skyline, its blurry horizon of skyscrapers far away, in the distance. I didn’t really know what this was all about, it seemed very bizarre, it seemed like there was life, it seemed like I was in Latin America again.

The last time I ran into Mr. Shepard, I told him that I was dating a Chicagoan, who lived in Beverly and was of Irish descent, to which he replied: “So he must be the son of a policeman and he might play in a Chicago Irish bag pipe band.” And he was right about it, because the Chicagoan I was dating had all these qualities. When I heard these words coming out of his mouth I realized that he was not only the first American I met in the U.S., but he was also the first true Chicagoan I had ever met.

Sujeto Tácito

Estuve pensando y decidí que quiero ser como vos, que sin permiso y hasta soberbio, traspasa cualquier frontera. Sin consultar a nadie, se recorre todos los puntos cardinales, toca las olas, la arena de los desiertos, el poste de luz frente a mi ventana y hasta mis ideas cuando voy cruzando la calle sin percatarme de aquel rojo octagonal.
Así quiero ser, como vos, que hace no sé cuantos kilos de años que levantas y empujas, que te quedas charlando en las esquinas y todas las migas de pan juntas. De repente enloqueces y nos ocultamos. Nos provocas ese frenesí.
Reventar burbujas como vos quisiera y dominar la danza de las cortinas de colores que dan al patio de casa y que en látigos convertís fajando el pavimento. Caprichoso, vas y venís, traes y llevas aromas, suspiros, susurros, bostezos y hasta el canto de la chicharra del baldío de mi infancia.
Como vos quiero, filtrarme sin que mi rostro adviertan, esparcir cenizas, arrasar frenética y sacudir las enredaderas que trepan en el jardín, incrustar las astillas de la hamaca en mi piel mientras toco el azul infinito, enredo mi melena y sucumbo.

Vignette One: ESL classes and feeling like a dog

My first neighborhood in Chicago was Lincoln Square, in a basement on Eastwood St. where I would often hit my head with the pipes that hanged from the roof and smell the paint thinner that fulfilled my nostrils and caused my head throb, even more each time I bumped my head with the pipes. To escape this feeling of claustrophobia, I would find ways to spend the day outside that basement. The perfect excuse was to enroll myself in ESL classes. And that is how I adopted Truman College as my second home. Most of my mornings would be spent there.
I remember clearly when I attended my first English class ever. I just felt like a dog that could hear what the professor was saying in English but not understand a word that he was saying. The only alternative I had was to make expressions with my face by raising my eyebrows and staring at the pages that he would hand out in order to avoid eye contact with him. I was terrified to participate or even to omit any kind of sound that he wanted us to repeat in class.
Truman College is where I learned that I wasn’t the only person going through this experience known as the syndrome of “being an immigrant.” My classmates were from many other countries such as Mexico, Poland, Vietnam, Algeria, and many other ones. It almost felt like I was in a UN meeting. I had classmates that where monks from the Buddhist Temple and would come to class in orange robes and their shaved heads. Others were Muslim. They would show up to class with their headscarf in the middle of the humid hot summer. I had a Polish classmate that would fall asleep most of the time during class. Embarrassed, after taking the nap, he would excuse himself by explaining to me the many long hours he had worked that week. I also had a Mexican classmate, who would bring tamales with hot sauce to class. That was one of the first times in my life I bit a jalapeño and burnt my tongue.

Becoming a ‘Stylish’ Writer Attractive prose will not make you appear any less smart

Becoming a ‘Stylish’ Writer Attractive prose will not make you appear any less smart

Writing frumpy, lumpy prose is the equivalent of showing up on a first date with unwashed hair and dirty clothes, and then talking about yourself in a way that leaves the other person looking at her watch and remembering she has to do laundry.

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