Inicio Autores Publicado por Mimi Pollack

Mimi Pollack

94 Publicaciones 0 Comentarios
Miriam [Mimi] Pollack was born in Chicago, but moved to Mexico City when she was five years old. She lived and worked in Mexico for over 20 years. She currently resides in San Diego and worked as an ESL instructor at Grossmont College and San Diego Community College Continuing Education until June 2018. She writes for various local publications.

Programas que Conduce

Inglés como Segunda Lengua

Aprende o mejora tu inglés... Fácil, rápido y divertido. Entérate como.

Nuestro programa tiene como objetivo ofrecer información para el aprendizaje de inglés como segunda lengua y otros servicios gratuitos o de bajo costo que ofrecen en San Diego.

Este programa ha sido visto 67,082 veces.

Artículos Publicados

Dr. Gary Weitzman- Noah Would Be Proud!


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word, humane, as “being marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals”. This is a good description of Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the Humane Society and SPCA. Giving back to society and helping animals in need has been Dr. Gary Weitzman stated mission in life. He is also following the Jewish law of treating animals humanely.  As stated in Judaism 101, “Judaism places great stress on the proper treatment of animals. There is a link between the way one treats animals and one treats humans beings” Like Noah, who rescued animals in the bible, Weitzman's mission is to rescue animals in San Diego County and ensure they receive compassionate treatment.

Weitzman came to San Diego in May 2012.  In the six years he has been here, he has brought his energy and vision to unify and strengthen all of San Diego County's animal shelters. On July 1st, 2014, The SDHS and SPCA merged with the Escondido Humane Society and today the SDHS serves the cities of Vista, San Marcos, Oceanside, Poway, and Imperial Beach. As of July 1st, 2018, they will provide services to Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Santee. In addition, they work closely with the East County Animal Rescue as well as the Chula Vista Animal Care Facility which also serves National City and Lemon Grove.

Weitzman has spearheaded what he calls «The Treatable Pet Initiative». The goal is to save the life of every adoptable animal in the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition (SDAWC).  The final goal, «Getting to Zero», was met in 2015, five years earlier than projected. Since then, no healthy or treatable animal has been euthanized. Weitzman stated proudly that San Diego County is the largest region in the country to have met that goal.

He is also proud that the SDHS merged with PAWS, an organization that provides essential pet services and support to low-income pet families all over San Diego County, including seniors and the disabled. Two of his future goals are to provide services to the homeless people who live in their cars by working with Jewish Family Service and Dreams for Change, and collaborate closely with the new shelter in Tijuana and other animal rescue groups in Baja .

Weitzman, 58, grew up in Boston in an observant, conservative Jewish household. From the time he was a child, he knew he wanted to be a vet and assist others. His family attended a temple led by Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of «When Bad Things Happen to Good People». Aaron Kushner, the son of Rabbi Kushner, was a friend growing up and it saddened Weitzman to see Aaron's deterioration and eventual early death from Progeria.

Although he loved animals, he could not convince his parents to get a dog until he was 16, but he had many gerbils and hamsters as pets. Ironically, the dog they acquired, a chow mix, became his mother's faithful companion, a testament to the bond between dog and man.

Weitzman received a B.A. in Biology and English from Colby College, an M.A. in Public Health from Boston University's School of Public Health, and completed his formal education with a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University.   While in Veterinarian school, at age 25, he adopted his second pet dog, a greyhound.  Not only did he love the breed, he wanted to give back after having worked on 80 greyhound cadavers while in training.

He joined the Air Force in 1993 where he put his Public Health degree to use as he was in charge of food safety, workplace safety, and nuclear safety. He was stationed in both and Washington, D.C.  After being relocated to Wyoming for duty, he began to moonlight at an emergency vet clinic in Boulder, Colorado, to which he would drive on weekends. This allowed him to combine both of his passions. He then was «loaned» to the army where he managed a breast cancer research program. He served very actively for four years, and spent another five years in the Air Force reserve.

In 1997, he moved to northern California, taking over the practice of a companion animal hospital in Burlingame. He stayed there until 2003 when he was hired as the president and CEO of The Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, DC.

After selling his practice and before moving to Washington, he briefly considered studying to become a rabbi. However, a discussion with the head rabbi at a rabbinical school convinced him that was not to be his subsequent path in life.

The next chapter in his life, as president of the Washington Animal Rescue League, was a successful one. During his tenure there, he guided the organization into becoming a national resource for disaster and puppy mill rescues as well as leading a large, urban, homeless animal rehabilitation and adoption center through a period of unprecedented growth. Weitzman stated that he felt satisfied with all that he accomplished during the years he spent there, but he had a longing to return to California, and in May 2012, he accepted when the position of CEO at the San Diego Humane Society was offered to him.

Weitzman enjoys his new life in San Diego. He feels that this is one of the best cities in terms of lifestyle. He lives here with his husband, Randy Loewenstein, and his two beloved rescue dogs, Jake, a three legged, very expressive 13 year old German shepherd, and Betty, a calm and sweet 10 year old pit bull mix. On weekends, Weitzman enjoys cooking up his own version of matzo brei.

Finally, he believes that as the president of one of the largest shelters in the nation, they have the tools be a role model for others and lead the way in making a difference. He confided that he had never seen a shelter of this caliber and size. There are over 300 employees – most shelters have around 30- and 150 new positions have opened up.  The SDHS is hiring!

Reprinted with permission of L'Chaim Magazine

‘Mountain’ bespeaks our love of summits

Mountain is a tribute to the power and fascination mountains have had over us mere mortals since the beginning of time. It is a Screen Australia production, produced and directed by Jennifer Peedom.  The film provides gorgeous visuals of mountains in twenty-two countries throughout the world.  The music which accompanies the film is provided by the Australian Chamber Orchestra.  The music is both beautiful and at times other worldly.

Narrator Willem Dafoe explains that three hundred years ago no one climbed mountains.  It would have been considered an act of lunacy.  Mountains were considered holy or hostile.  Slowly, but surely, fascination replaced trepidation.  There are photos and films of old expeditions and people taking trolleys up to the top of mountains.  We see fast action films showing modification made to mountains, so ski resorts could be created.

In present day the film shows us just how crazy and insanely dangerous mountain climbing can be.  We see a dark speck in the distance against a craggy, white expanse.  As we get closer we realize it is a human being clinging to the side of a very dangerous looking mountain.  We see a crazy person skiing down a ribbon of snow between jagged cliffs, and people para-glide off cliffs riding motorcycles and bikes.  Humans engage in all sorts of outrageous, insanely dangerous behavior while on mountains, and this movie captures it all.

This movie also captures the amazing volcanic forces that create mountains and the snowy beauty of mountain terrain.  Both the music and photography are exceptional.  I am an urban creature who prefers to admire nature from a safe indoor perspective.  I think this movie will satisfy people like me and also inspire the adventurous.

Opens  Friday,  June 1st  at  Landmark Ken Cinema.

Pollack-Fremd, a retired ESL instructor, is a freelance writer specializing in cinema.

Reprinted with permission of Jewish World

The Quiet Revolutionary

RBG, the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, directed and produced by Betsy West and Julie Cohen exposes a quiet, ladylike, and very persistent revolutionary.  She was a strong advocate for gender equality and women's rights, meaning she would represent men who were discriminated against as well as women.  Besides being a professor at Rutgers School of law and Columbia University, she became a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and in 1970 co founded the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a Russian Jew, was also a wife and mother before she even entered law school.  Her husband Marty Ginsberg was a successful tax lawyer.  However, first and foremost, he always was an advocate for his wife: encouraging, supporting and feeding his wife and family.  Apparently Justice Ginsberg is a really bad cook.  However, Marty was really good at cooking.  One of the reasons that this woman is able to accomplish so much is because she is able to survive on very little sleep.

This documentary is an interesting and informative exploration of the «Rights» movement in the United States.  Justice Ginsberg describes the 1950's, when she entered college, as a bad time for rights.  For example there was the «red» scare, McCarthyism, and many legal barriers to equality for women and people of color in general.  She said that she became a lawyer to fight for people's rights.  When Jimmy Carter became president he looked at the federal judicial bench and saw no women and no men of color.  He decided to work to change that.  In 1980 he appointed Ginsberg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  She served there until 1993 when President Clinton nominated her to be appointed to the Supreme Court.  Whether as part of the majority or in dissent, she has continued to advocate for equality for everyone.

In the 2016 Presidential Election she got into trouble for speaking against then candidate Donald Trump.  She was criticized and apologized for making inappropriate statements as a Supreme Court Justice.  Nevertheless, some people wondered if at 85 she was getting too old for the job.  Was she thinking about retiring?  Her response, «I will do this job as long as I can do it at full steam.»

It appears that Justice Ginsberg has lived her whole life at full steam, and this documentary does a very good job reminding us of all that she has accomplished.

Reprinted with permission of Jewish World

“Fresh Air” Art in Borrego Springs

“Plein Air” means fresh air –think outdoors- in French and many painters feel inspired when working outdoors in natural light surrounded by the splendors of nature. The Borrego Art Institute currently has an exhibit called, “Borrego Art Institute 12th Annual Plein Air Invitational”. This exhibit, which runs from March 5 to April 2, showcases the beauty of the desert. The curator is Shannon O'Dunn who owned an art gallery in downtown La Mesa before moving to Colorado.

The 15 “Plein Air” artists represented excel at capturing scenes of nature's glory, each one in their own distinct way. They paint in watercolors, oil, or pastels. They hail from different places, such as , Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and even South Africa. However, the 147 paintings that are being shown at this exhibit were all done in and around Borrego Springs, from March 4th to March 9th.

As the curator of the exhibit, O'Dunn explains, ”For this exhibit, all the artists painted their own interpretations of scenes in and around Borrego Springs. In the Borrego desert, they each found a personal view they wished to translate into a painting, and the starkness of desert light and shadow, plus the vegetation adapted to dry conditions, told a story the artists then tried to convey”.

On March 10th, the GALA Reception and Awards ceremony was held. South African Margaret Larlham won “Best in Show” for her picture, “Notations: Palo Verde Wash”. Larlham has lived in since 1986 and is a retired professor from San Diego State University. Juror Richard Lindenberg from Novato, Ca did the awards. He is the current marketing manager for Plein Air Magazine. Last year, O'Dunn was the juror. Larlham's winning was a big coup for San Diego and pastel artists because the competition was top notch.

Picture of Shannon O'Dunn, Richard Lindenberg, and Margaret Larlham and her winning picture.  Photo by Lois Carlson.

Colorado artist Jim Wodark, who now lives in Orange County, won second place. He has been an artist for over 20 years, and his love of painting goes back to his childhood. He particularly enjoys “Plein Air”. As he says, “Growing up in Colorado, it is hard not to love the outdoors”.

Picture of Jim with some of his paintings. Photo by Mimi Pollack

Greg La Rock won third place and honorable mentions were Susan Lynn, Cynthia Rosen, and Thomas Kitts. Susan Lynn won the people's choice award, and Aaron Schuerr won the curator's choice.  Rosen, in particular, has done very well selling her paintings at this event. This is her first time participating. My personal favorites were Rosen and Robert Goldman.

Goldman painting in desert. Photo by Shannon O'Dunn

All of the paintings were lovely to look at and some reminded me of the French impressionists. Each artist had a unique way with strokes, light, and their personal expressions of the outdoor scenery of the area.  This exhibit and the art institute are well worth the drive to Borrego Springs. In addition, the new restaurant next door to the institute has delicious food.

Rosen's painting: “Romance in the Desert”.  Photo by Mimi Pollack

12th Plein Air Invitational

Borrego Art Institute     

March 5 to April 2

Sephardic Artist Follows her Dream

Mexican/American actress, Lizet Benrey, will take part in the upcoming Film Week.  Two of her films will be shown on March 3rd and 5th. They are the short film, “NOTICE”, and the feature length film, “Carving a Life”. The San Diego Film Festival runs from March 1st to March 11th, showcasing local talent.

Benrey has performed on both sides of the border and has an unusual background. She is someone who is pursuing a lifelong dream later in life and doing it with youthful enthusiasm and good looks to match.

An artistic streak runs in Lizet Benrey's family. Her late mother, Shirley Chernitsky, was a well known painter in Mexico, and Benrey followed in her footsteps. However, Benrey has since taken her creativity one step further. Not only is she a talented artist, she is also an actress, filmmaker, and a screenplay writer.

Benrey was born and raised in Mexico City. Her mother was a free spirit and somewhat of a black sheep in the conservative Jewish community, so Benrey grew up surrounded by an artistic/ Bohemian community. The famous Mexican painter, Jose Luis Cuevas [his work has been exhibited at the Tasende gallery in La Jolla], was a good friend of the family.

While she was studying at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, she fell in with a group of fellow students and aspiring filmmakers. Some have since gone on to have successful careers in both Mexico and the United States, including her then boyfriend, Alejandro Gonzalez-Iῇarritu who won an Oscar for the movie “Birdman” in 2015. This was a period in her life that she really enjoyed.

Then, fate intervened, and her father brought her to San Diego to live. She finished up her BA at UCSD in Visual Arts. She also met her future husband, Francis Fuller, an engineer and “nice Jewish boy”. They have two sons together, Jonathan and Alexander. She lived a life of happy domesticity taking care of her husband and raising her two sons.

However, her artistic life wasn't completely on the back burner. She continued to paint and showcase her work on both sides of the border. One of her proudest moments was working on a worldwide exhibition with her mother. Benrey wanted to prove she could make it on her own, and soon began to make a name for herself while still attending to her role as a wife and mother.

While her two sons were finishing up high school, she was feeling restless, wanting to express some stifled creativity. Although she still loved painting, she felt a yearning to go back to her first loves, acting and filmmaking.

When her mother passed away 12 years ago, she worked together with the Mexican director, Lucy Orozco, to make a documentary about her mother's life. She said it was a way to help her process her grief. In 2009, Benrey decided to work on her own, and made a short film about a young, Puerto Rican-American man with Down's syndrome called “Hiram, Life and Rhythm”. In 2011, she started acting and appeared as Camille Claudel in Larry Caveney's film “In Defense of Rodin”. She is proud of a short film she did on the life of the Mexican painter, Leonora Carrington. It is called “Leonora y Gabriel- an Instant”.

A new chapter in her life had begun with her family fully supporting her, especially her two sons. They told her they were happy all her creative juices were flowing again. Her latest goal is to bring her artistic vision into every aspect of filmmaking.

In 2017, she started a production company with Thom Michael Mulligan called “Film Dreams Entertainment”. They produced, “NOTICED”. Their latest project, to be completed soon, is a feature short called, “The Witching Hour”

Benrey is currently writing, producing, and acting in her own films, as well as acting in other people's films. She also recently collaborated with director Luis Mandoki [Message in a Bottle] on three screenplays for possible future projects. She completes every project with pride- she is especially excited about, “The Witching Hour”- and as a way of continuing to fulfill her dreams.

NOTICE will be shown on March 5th at 7:30 PM at the Museum of Photographic Arts as part of “A Woman's Place” shorts program.

“Carving a Life” will be shown on March 3rd at 4:00 PM at the Digital Gym-Media Arts Center.

A Passion Not Forgotten

Some passions are hard to forget. In the case of widower, Rafael [Fallo] Mareyna, he had two first loves or passions which were painting, something he left behind and came back to many years later, and his late wife, Dora Sorokin. Mareyna and Sorokin were married and devoted to each other for 66 years until her untimely death last year. Today, he takes solace in his other passion, and at the age of 87, painting keeps him going every day.

Mareyna, nicknamed Fallo [pronounced FAYO], was born in the state of Veracruz in 1930. His parents were Polish Jews who arrived in Mexico in 1924. They moved to Mexico City a few years later as times were hard and they were struggling immigrants.

As a young boy, he attracted his teacher's attention with his natural ability to draw. He began to paint with oil and continued painting for the next 15 years or so, exhibiting in different galleries in Mexico City, Monterrey and he even had a show in New York City while he was in high school. He studied with Bardasano, a Spanish artist known for his classical paintings. He also studied under the renowned Canadian born, Jewish Mexican painter, Arnold Belkin, who later became a good friend.

However, it is difficult to make a living as an artist and as was the social norm for Jews in Mexico at that time, he decided to follow a more traditional path, especially after he married the love of his life, Dora [Dorita] Sorokin. They had two children, and he needed to provide for his family, so he left art to pursue a more lucrative career, using his degree in accounting.

For almost 30 years, he provided very well for his family. He began working at a family owned business that produced bed frames. Then, in 1963, he teamed up with a German Jewish refugee , Luis Rosenfeld, and together, they opened up one of the first private stock brokerages in Mexico, Bursamex, S.A. Rosenfeld was much older and after his passing, Mareyna  became the sole owner. Bursamex was very successful, especially after the devaluation in 1982, so when Mareyna decided to retire in 1992, he was able to sell it for a handsome profit.

He did not paint for all those years. His art was put on the back burner. However, he still retained his bohemian heart and befriended many of the local artists in Mexico. His daughter, Becky Guttin, recalls many a night when she was growing up where her house was alive with all those artists and bohemians, exchanging ideas and showing off their work. She grew up among those friends that he socialized with and inherited her father's love of art.

Guttin later went on to become a successful international artist as an adult, and in turn, her father delighted in her world.  In fact, she was also the conduit for helping her father rekindle his old passion.

In 1998, Mareyna and his family moved to to begin a new chapter in life. Mareyna began to feel pangs for the passion he had left behind.  In 2005, his daughter invited him to come and work with her in her workshop.  Not only that, unbeknownst to him and much to his surprise and delight, she had kept all of his old art furniture, including his easel, so he was able to dive right back in.

In addition, she later rented the space next door to her workshop on Miramar Rd, and now, they each have their own workshop side by side. Mareyna's workshop is full of his paintings and creations. He has had several exhibits over the last few years and has a new one coming up this spring that he is preparing for.

Finally, along with art and family, he also identifies strongly as a Jew.  He has not forgotten the struggles his parents went through or the anti-Semitism he felt as a child in school in Mexico.  He is a strong supporter of both the ADL and AIPAC and donates to them on a regular basis as well as to the Red Cross, especially when there are natural disasters. One of his proudest moments was in 2017 when he became an American citizen.

Reprinted with permission of La Prensa San Diego

Good Food and Tikkun Olam

In my opinion, there is nothing better than a tasty taco, and if eating that taco also helps you do an act of social justice [Tikkun Olam], even better! I ate that tasty taco at Tacos Libertad which opened up in Hillcrest last May. It is part of the successful Cohn Restaurant Group. The Cohn Restaurant group includes The Prado in Balboa Park, Corvettes Diner in Liberty Station, Coasterra on Harbor Island, several Bo-beaus, and many others. Opening Tacos Libertad, as a not for profit taco shop, is one of David Cohn's ways of giving back to the community as all the proceeds of the restaurant –after operating expenses- go to charity. They choose a different charity each month.

David Cohn had been looking for innovative ways to support and give back to a community that has patronized his many restaurants over the years. He continues a long held family tradition.  His late parents were deeply committed to social action as are his brothers and sister. Cohn and his wife, Lesley, are long time members of Temple Emanu-el as were his parents. Twenty years ago, his father began an annual High Holiday food drive at the temple. Cohn and his siblings have continued this tradition, and they have donated over 40,000 pounds of food to Father Joe's Village.

David and Lesley.

Cohn also wanted to find other ways of giving back responsibly. While on a trip to Portland, Oregon, he discovered The Oregon Public House, a pub that donates its proceeds to charity. He decided the Cohn Restaurant Group should try that model in , and they opened Tacos Libertad.

There was a large property in Hillcrest available, so CRG opened up another BO-beau restaurant with Tacos Libertad taking up a small space next door. Behind, there is also a bar or as they call it, a “speakeasy” called Cache, where one can bring in their tacos to eat while having a drink.

How do they choose which charity to donate to each month? A special committee chooses a different charity every month. There is a link on the restaurant's website, and the committee reviews the applications that are sent in. The chosen charity is guaranteed $3,000 for the month. Restaurants typically take up to a year or more to turn a profit and Tacos Libertad is no different, thus the restaurant group is making up the difference in the meantime. After, they will increase the donations as profits go up.

Fish Taco

The committee tends to choose smaller organizations that are not as well known and may be overlooked. So far, some organizations that have received their help include Mama's Kitchen, Meals on Wheels, San Diego Youth Services, International Relief Teams, and Humble Design which furnishes homes for the homeless. In addition, after hurricane Harvey and all the flooding hit , they had one month that was “Tacos for Texas” and the proceeds went to help the many victims of that devastation. They are also open to donating to animal organizations.

The menu at Tacos Libertad is small, but has something for everyone. It is divided into vegetarian, seafood and meat tacos, plus sides. The vegetarian tacos are either grilled or tempura avocado and Portobello mushroom. The seafood tacos are octopus, grilled fish and shrimp tacos. The meat tacos are chicken, steak, two types of pork, and even a duck confit taco.

My group tried the chicken, steak, grilled fish, and shrimp tacos and they were all delicious. If you like spicy, only the shrimp tacos had a bite. The others would need some hot sauce.  We also ordered black beans and rice. I found the rice to be very flavorful. They choose the type of tortilla- flour or corn- for you, depending on the taco, but you can also tell them your preference.

Tacos Libertad Crew

Unlike other fancier Cohn restaurants, this is a low key operation where you order at the counter and they bring the food to you. Service was fast and friendly, with AJ Skojec and Joan Villanueva leading the crew.

For drinks, they offer Jarritos Mexican sodas and Blue Sky sodas, as well as various beers, wines, and “micheladas”. Seating is limited and not very comfortable, so the option of taking the tacos back to the beautifully decorated Cache is nice.

Except for Sundays when they open at 2:00 PM, Tacos Libertad does not open until 4:00 PM, so this is not a place to grab a fast lunch. They do stay open late- until 2:30 AM- so it is a good spot for late night munchies. It is nice to have a food establishment in San Diego where you know you can go and enjoy a good meal while giving back to others.

They are providing a positive footprint for other restaurants to follow.

Coco- A Movie for Both Children and Adults to Enjoy

The / Companies have redeemed themselves after the 2013 debacle of requesting to trademark, “Dia de los Muertos”, with their new movie, . In this movie, they finally get it right by hiring a mostly Latino cast and working with Latino consultants.

Coco works on many levels. First, it is a delightful children's movie with beautiful and colorful animation, lively music, and sight gags to please little tykes. It is also an educational film, introducing audiences who don't know, to the meaning and traditions of of Dia de Los Muertos, a cultural, sometimes religious, spiritual, and familial holiday in Mexico and Latin America. November 1st and 2nd are days that many families visit cemeteries and/or build altars in their homes, decorating them with pictures of the deceased, flowers, candles, food, etc. The movie can bring about a discussion between Anglos and Latinos who tend to have very different views of death and the afterlife.

Thus, it is also a movie for adults as it touches upon themes of abandonment, the pain of vindictiveness and how not forgiving can affect generations to come, and how cutthroat people can be to achieve fame, even supposed beloved celebrities. It also references and gently makes fun of Latino icons, such as Frida Kahlo.  I thought the revered singer in the movie [Ernesto de La Cruz] bore a striking resemblance to the late, great Jorge Negrete, a Mexican singer/actor during the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.

Finally, who knew Benjamin Bratt and Gael Garcia Bernal could sing? Their voices and duets were a pleasant surprise as were the music and key song, “Remember Me”.

The movie is about a twelve year old boy Miguel, voiced by talented newcomer, Anthony Gonzalez, whose family are shoemakers, and because of an incident that happened long ago, forbid music in their home. However, music is in Miguel's genes and his idol is the late and revered singer, the fictional Ernesto de la Cruz.

Miguel finds an old family photo and because of the guitar in the picture, thinks that de la Cruz is his great-great Grandfather. Coco is actually the name of Miguel's great grandmother who sits quietly in a world of her own, while his grandmother fiercely rules the roost, denying all music in the household.

There is a surprise ending which I won't spoil for you here. By the time Miguel finds out the truth, he has had many adventures in both the living world and accidentally crossing over to the dead or spirit world where he meets many of his ancestors and their spirit guides. He also meets his great-great grandfather and finds out why music has been prohibited in his house. He has a very touching scene with Coco when he comes back to the living world.

It is also a pleasure to see how many well-known Latino “showpeople” participated in the movie. Besides Bratt and Garcia Bernal, 's own Herbert Siguenza plays the dual roles of Miguel's dead Uncles Tio Oscar and Tio Felipe as well as being a cultural consultant on the film. Other people of note include Luis Valdez, Cheech Marin, Alfonso Arau, Renne Victor, Jaime Camil, Gabriel Iglesias, and Edward James Olmos to name a few, giving Coco quite a pedigree.

The movie is co-directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. It is in wide release in San Diego and some movie theaters are showing it in both English and Spanish versions.

Lakshmi Basile and Dancing Flamenco

What is ? Most experts agree that the creation and history of flamenco was in southern Spain in the region of Andalusia where it still flourishes today. Flamenco was created through the fusion of Jewish, Arab, and Gypsy cultures in this area. All of these cultures share the fact that they were persecuted at different times throughout Spain's history. Flamenco was a way to express their stories and feelings. It expresses love, sensuality, injustice, poverty and death through song and dance, from extreme happiness to sadness.

Flamenco dancer, Lakshmi Basile [La Chimi], is a good representative of this art form. She oozes sensuality, strength, and emotion as she dances, glides and taps on the wooden dance floor. Her expressive face, feet and hands show her graceful passion for flamenco. Sometimes it seems almost like she is in a trance as the music and her body become one. La Chimi, as she is known in the flamenco world, may have been born in , but her soul is pure southern Spain. She wants to bring her love of southern Spain and flamenco to .

Basile's talent in interpreting the many faces of flamenco is on display every Saturday night in November and December at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant in Old Town. Her show is divided into three parts, each showcasing different styles of flamenco. She changes into different outfits as well. She is ably accompanied by her partner, flamenco singer and dancer, Bruno Serrano, and guitarist, Juan Moro [AKA John Moore]. Serrano sings the flamenco “cante” as Basile performs dances known as Guajiras, Alegrias and Tarantos.  When Basile and Serrano sing or dance together, one can see the connection they share. They also talk about the style and the meanings of the songs and dances. For example, Taranto expresses mourning.

The Cosmopolitan Restaurant is offering this show to its diners with no cover charge. It is a good venue for this type of show with its festive and colorful decorations, old Spanish setting, and delicious food.

Basile was born and grew up in San Diego. As she says, “I lived a good part of my life here near Freeway 94. My family lived in Encanto which is where I now reside.” Basile was born to an Argentinean/Paraguayan mother and an American father with Czech roots. Both of her parents are artists. Her mother was a dancer/performer who retired to raise her children. Her father is a multi-talented musician/composer who has performed classical music with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as well as Klezmer/ Gypsy-Roma music with Yale Strom and his band. Her Czech grandfather was known to play Klemzer-Gypsy music in his native country. Her maternal grandmother had a dancing school in Paraguay, so Basile grew up in an artistic and “Gypsy” setting, preparing her for her life's path.

Basile started young as she has been dancing professionally since she was 15. At the age of 20, she moved to Spain and honed her craft there for 15 years, making a name for herself as the flamenco dancer, “La Chimi”. It is hard for a foreigner to break into the world of professional, Spanish flamenco, but she did so successfully and thrived. She has been invited to dance in many places, and recently participated in a flamenco festival in Uruguay.

Despite her success in Spain, Basile made the decision to return to San Diego for personal reasons. Dancing flamenco can take its toll on the body as it is very demanding, so she came back to San Diego to heal and be with her family. Now that she is better, she hopes to expand the tight knit flamenco community in San Diego and share her talent and passion.

Basile's goal is to expand her opportunities with her own theater productions. She would like to bring in national and international talent in order to have more artistic possibilities when presenting flamenco productions. Her idea is to create higher quality live performances in San Diego for both the flamenco and non-flamenco communities alike. She hopes to be a type of Ambassador of Flamenco Art in San Diego. In addition, she sometimes teams up with Flamenco with Roots Performing Arts to work on charitable projects and interact with the children who study there. She participated in the recent benefit for Doctors without Borders.

Basile can be seen every Saturday in November and December at the restaurant inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town. She performs from 6:30 to 9:00. This entertaining and culturally diverse show can be enjoyed by all.

Lakshmi Basile- La Pasión por el Flamenco

Lakshmi Basile [La Chimi] irradia sensualidad, fuerza y emoción al bailar, deslizarse y golpetear el piso de madera. Su expresivo rostro, y sus pies y manos, descubren su agraciada pasión por el . A veces da la impresión de estar en trance conforme su cuerpo y la se convierten en una sola expresión. La Chimi, como es conocida en el mundo del flamenco, pudo haber nacido en , pero su alma es pura España del sur. Ella quiere traer su amor del sur de España a .

Muchos expertos concuerdan en que la creación y la historia del flamenco se desarrollaron en el sur de España, en la región de Andalucía, donde continúa prosperando hoy en día. El flamenco fue creado por la fusión de las culturas Judía, Árabe y Gitana en dicha región. Todas estas culturas comparten el hecho de que fueron perseguidos en distintos tiempos de la historia española. El flamenco se desarrolló como una forma de expresar sus historias y sentimientos.

El flamenco expresa amor, injusticia, pobreza y muerte a través de la música y la , desde la felicidad extrema hasta la desolación. Por ejemplo, el estilo del Taranto es lúgubre y habla sobre la muerte.

El talento de Basile al interpretar las diversas caras del flamenco se desvelará cada sábado por la noche durante noviembre y diciembre en el Hotel Restaurante Cosmopolitan en Old Town. Su espectáculo se divide en tres partes, cada una de ellas demuestra un estilo diferente del flamenco y para cada una de ellas se cambia de atuendo.  La acompaña hábilmente su compañero, bailarín y cantante de flamenco Bruno Serrano, así como el guitarrista Juan Moro (alias John Moore). Serrano entona el “cante” del flamenco mientras Basile baila danzas flamencas conocidas como Guajiro, Alegrías y Taranto. Cuando ellos cantan y bailan juntos se aprecia claramente la conexión que comparten. Adicionalmente comentan el estilo y significado de cada baile.

El Restaurante Cosmopolitan ofrece dicho espectáculo a sus comensales sin cargo adicional. Es un lugar agradable con decoraciones festivas, un entorno español antiguo y comida deliciosa.

Basile nació y creció en San Diego. Como ella dice “He vivido la mayor parte de mi vida cerca de la carretera (freeway) 94. Mi familia vivía en Encanto que es donde resido ahora”. Basile nació de una madre originaria de Argentina y Paraguay y un padre norteamericano con raíces checas. Ambos padres son artistas. Su madre fue una bailarina y actriz que se retiró para criar a sus hijos. Su padre es un músico-compositor multi talentoso que ha interpretado música clásica con la Orquesta Sinfónica de San Diego así como música Klezmer/ Gitana-Roma con Yale Storm y su banda musical. Su abuelo checo fue conocido por tocar música Klemzer-Gitana en su país de origen y su abuela materna tenía una escuela de danza en Paraguay. Así que Basile creció en un entorno artístico y gitano que la preparó para el sendero de su vida.

Basile comenzó su trayectoria artística a edad temprana ya que bailaba profesionalmente desde los 15 años de edad. A los 20 años se mudó a España y honró su allá durante 15 años, labrándose un nombre como artista del flamenco. No es fácil para los extranjeros penetrar dicho mundo pero lo hizo de forma exitosa y floreció. Ella ha sido invitada a bailar en múltiples lugares y recientemente participó en un festival de flamenco en Uruguay.

A pesar de su éxito en España, Basile tomó la decisión de regresar a San Diego por cuestiones personales. El baile flamenco es muy demandante y puede provocar afecciones corporales, por lo que regresó a San Diego a recuperarse y a pasar tiempo con su familia. Ahora que ya está mejor, ella espera expandir el círculo cerrado de la comunidad flamenca en San Diego compartiendo su talento y pasión.

Su meta es el ampliar las posibilidades en sus producciones teatrales y atraer talento nacional e internacional para multiplicar las oportunidades al realizar sus presentaciones. Su idea consiste en realizar espectáculos en vivo de mayor calidad en San Diego con producciones para la comunidad flamenca así como para comunidades diversas. Espera convertirse en una embajadora del arte flamenco en San Diego. Adicionalmente, en ocasiones une a grupos de artes escénicas locales a sus producciones para apoyar proyectos caritativos e interactuar con los educandos. Por ejemplo, participó recientemente en una producción para beneficio de Médicos sin Fronteras.

Podrán ver a Basile cada sábado durante noviembre y diciembre en el restaurante del Hotel Cosmopolitan en Old Town de 6:30 pm a 9:00 pm. El espectáculo es entretenido y culturalmente diverso por lo que puede ser entretenido para todos.

Con permiso de La Prensa San Diego

Búsqueda Rápida