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No03 March09

Latino Lifestyle Magazine

Achy Obejas’ Revolutionary Road to Cuba The Plight of Undocumented College Students Dare to Explore Jalisco, México Fashionista vs Recessionista

Not an area to cut costs Saving Money on Cosmetic Surgery May Hurt You

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Latino Lifestyle Magazine

FEATURES risky procedures

Saving money on cosmetic surgery can come at a high price. words Gloria Elena Alicea

unrealizeD POTENTIAL

Many undocumented immigrants finish college, but remain in limbo. words Rafael Romo

this page and cover photo

Photographer Stylist Make-up Artist Model Photo Location


alBerto Treviño Gina Santana Renée Denomme Rocío Servellon Bandito Studio

Café MaRch2009





the guadalajara diaries The winner of our “Dare To Explore” sweepstakes shares her experiences. words Noemi Tejeda

ruins of a revolution

Achy Obejas explores post-Soviet Cuba in her new novel “Ruins.” words Benjamin Ortiz


7 Editor’s Note Contributors 10 Dear Café

Alejandro Riera Reader feedback

Café Espresso

12 Somos 14 sabias quÉ? 16 The Buzz

18 Ojo

20 la plaza

2 2 VOICES 24 comunidad 26 MI GENTE 28 spotlight

Pierre Colorado Cultural factoids Hot events around town Curious images Anita Alvarez’s many challenges Viva la Revolución - NOT! War against hunger An artist among the stars Teatro Vista returns

Café Filter


48 fashion 50 Grooming

Cesar Russ’ picture perfect home Hard drive maintenance Get your financial house in order Digging up your ancestral roots Internships: paid or unpaid? Recessionista style Hair therapy for men

Café Grande

65 retrospective CafÉ Blend


Chicago Cubans share their hopes Luna Negra Latina Choreography

70 TO DO TO Sí Calendar of events 72 DINING Guide to Sunday Brunches 74 Restaurant Guide A list of Latino eateries 76 Scene at Latino social scene 80 A mí Me enseñaron A saludar

Beatriz Ronzero, assistant to and wife of César Russ, taking “behind the scenes” pictures at their West Loop loft. | photo anthony tahlier |

Dahriana Mateo Born in the Dominican Republic and raised on Chicago’s West Side, Dahriana worked as a reporter for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY where she helped shape the often untold stories of their fast-growing immigrant and refugee communities. Currently, she is an associate editor for a BtoB magazine publisher and freelances for local publications. She earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from UIUC.

Alejandro Riera

editor’s note No one could have imagined, 50 years ago, the deep, profound mark that the actions of a ragtag group of Cuban revolutionaries (plus one Argentinean) would leave among Cubans. A deep wound that has yet to heal. Family and friends alike were separated. That separation has been at times rancorous, even violent. I was born in Puerto Rico, the eldest son of a Cuban couple. In 1963, my parents both settled in Puerto Rico, where my siblings and I were born. Growing up, Fidel and Cuban exile politics were rarely discussed. My parents wanted us to be proud of our birthplace. They also wanted us to be open-minded and not caught up in the quagmire of exile politics. That is why, today, I can listen to both sides of the political spectrum with a certain degree of objectivity. This month Café explores the Cuban Revolution. Benjamin Ortiz interviewed novelist and poet Achy Obejas to learn about her life, Cuba and her career. You will always find a piece of Achy’s soul in each of her works. Her new novel, “Ruins”, comes out this month. In keeping with the subject matter, Michael Puente interviewed two high-profile Cuban exiles in Chicago about their experiences and the future of the Revolution. And, in Voices, V.F. Zamora, a young first-generation Cuban-American writer, shares his indignation over the Cuban Revolution’s symbols, Ché included. About Voices: the intent of this page is to provide a space for writers to express a wide range of opinions and perspectives. They do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Café. With this issue Café goes monthly, thanks to your support. We will cover controversial topics, such as the challenges undocumented students face once they graduate and, in our cover story, the perils of cosmetic surgery on the cheap. We also introduce a new section, Ojo, where we invite you to share your photographs. As usual, your comments and suggestions are welcome. They are essential to our continued commitment to developing content that inspires, educates and entertains.

The CONTRIBUTORS Benjamin Ortiz A South Texas native, Benjamin attended Loyola University Chicago, where he earned an honors degree in English Literature and Philosophy. After graduate study at Stanford University, he worked as a journalist, performance poet and non-profit arts organizer in San Antonio and Chicago. Benjamin currently teaches full-time at Truman College and has written for the Chicago Tribune and the Reader. Bridget C. Johnson Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Bridget moved to the NY/NJ area with her family at a young age. Bridget has worked in Lifestyle Design for over 16 years first as a visual display manager for Nordstrom and then as an event producer for a boutique event design house in NYC. For the past six years, she has held the positon of Creative Director for Kehoe Designs, an event décor company in Chicago. Marla Seidell Marla Seidell is a lifestlye journalist and arts critic. Her features, reviews and profiles have appeared in The Daily Herald, Timeout Chicago, The Onion A.V. Club, UR Chicago Magazine, Newcity, Today’s Chicago Woman and other outlets. For her Café piece on Recessionista Fashion, Marla interviewed designer Orlando Expinoza at his Pilsen showroom.


Publisher Julián G. Posada Café media Advisors


Editor-in-Chief Alejandro Riera Managing Editor marilia t. gutiérrez Managing Editor Gina Santana Copy Editors Marie Joyce Garcia


DarHiana Mateo


Editorial Assistant


Art Director Graphic Designer

alberto treviÑo LOURDES ALMAZán

wendy melgar

Web Intern Photo Intern



Sales Director Sales Associates

david murga Denise Carrasco

Anthony Pérez

Martin Castro, George De Lama, STEVEN GROYA, Pete kingwill, IAN LARKIN, Mike Malee EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Cruz Registered Investors & Advisors LLC Angel Cruz Executive Title Martha Tovias Gomez Consulting Angel Gomez Grainger katie porter HACE Andrea Saenz Harris Bank Lilia Alvarado Home State Bank Magdalena Rivera The LDI Group Brian SOrge Loyola University Chicago regina treviño Merrill Lynch Juan Carlos Avila Mesirow Financial Olga Camargo National City Bank Bruce Lines National Louis University Ana Maria Soto The Resurrection Project Raul Raymundo UIC LARES Program Leonard Ramírez


Marketing Director Marketing Analyst

Norma Magaña, Francisco Menchaca

melissa m. martínez Special Thanks

Rodrigo SaUza


Office Manager IT Manager

Henry Kingwill, Pete kingwill, Ian Larkin, William Mckenna

JANET PéREZ Acknowledgements

Jorge Jiménez

contributing writers

Gloria Elena Alicea, ANNETTE GONZALEZ,


RAFAEL ROMO, Marla Seidell, IRENE TOSTADO, v. f. zamora


Interior Design Stylist Hair and Make-Up Artist

Bridget Johnson Joyce Taft at artists

by timothy priano

Make-Up Artist

Renée Denomme

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Café MARCH2009

Please Recycle This Magazine. Remove inserts before recycling.


Dear Café ...

Thank you once again for your comments and suggestions — the good, the bad and the ugly. The more we hear from you, the more we’ll improve your Café experience. 09 | WINTER LIDAY08 No 02 HO

ine Magaz tyLe o Lifes Latin

posted on

Finally! A magazine that shows the wonderful side of the Latino community in Chicago! I’m a letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office and that’s how I found out about your mag. I honestly delivered about 150 of them that day! I couldn’t wait to become a subscriber! -Nadia Garcia I truly think this magazine is great. I’ve lived in Humboldt Park my entire life and to this very day I love it. There’s no other neighborhood [where] I’d rather live. I think this magazine will keep the community in touch [with its roots] and [help it] grow stronger. -Melissa Camacho

y g Econom e Shrinkin or Incredibl liday Déc pired Ho shion Fa Latino Ins ive st Fe n Elegant, umptio ous Cons Conspicu

I enjoyed the first issue from front to back. Great magazine, great articles. It’s awesome to see Latinos who embrace their culture. Kudos to everyone working behind the scenes of this publication. -Myrna Agosto Send your comments to, go to

bring Latinos to life cracker’ ‘The Nut

Y HOLIDsAiC Clas 12/5/08

Café Magazine, 660 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60654. Include your full name, age, address and daytime phone number. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity.

AM 11:42:39

dd 1

Cafe02_A and click on Comments or write to Letters to the Editor,

First-Time Ballet-Goer

The Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” was great. The profiles of Mauro Villanueva and Raúl Casasola were especially encouraging, since, at first, I thought it would be a little embarrassing to go see the ballet. When invited to come to the show, my brother gave [me] a weird look. However, putting names and a personal story to the faces of a trio of dancers was all I needed. Becoming a little more cultured was worth taking any playful ribbing. -Orlando Salinas, Romeoville

especially enjoy the balanced articles that hit just about everything I am interested in: food, culture, music, fashion and fun things to do as an active, busy Latino professional. May I suggest a career-oriented article in the future that emphasizes the importance of networking during these economic times, when a lot of folks are actively seeking employment? I think some of the Latino professional associations and networking-oriented events in the Chicago area can serve as great tools for your readers. -César A. Lostaunau, Chicago

Sharing A Cafecito

Bilingual Upbringing

I read your Holiday08/Winter09 edition from cover to cover, and found it enjoyable and informative. It was nice to read a localarea magazine written in English for Latinos. I enjoyed the overall layout, with some pages covering many short articles. I especially enjoyed the articles with some Spanish descriptions such as chiles rellenos, etc. It made me feel like I was traveling around the Spanish-speaking countries without leaving my house. It was nice to read a magazine that has a mixture of English and Spanish because I’m tired of receiving unsolicited magazines written solely in Spanish. Just because someone’s surname is a Spanish derivative does not mean we all read Spanish or read it well. I told my wife about your great magazine and that she would enjoy reading it. She said she’d already read it — which surprised me because she is African-American. She was equally pleased with your magazine. Keep writing the great articles. -Richard Rodriguez, Waukegan

I love, love, love your magazine! I read it cover to cover and couldn’t put it down. I passed out copies at our Christmas Eve dinner. Being born and raised in Chicago, I’m always looking for Latino-inspired places to support. Also, being an early childhood educator and having my child in a dual-language school (InterAmerican Magnet School, in Lakeview) and as a mother of three, bringing up bilingual/bicultural children in this city drives me to expose them to all things diverse, but especially Latino. -Edna-Navarro Vidarre, Chicago

More For The Career-Minded

I want you to know how much I’m enjoying Café magazine. I proudly keep an issue on my living room table at home and at my desk at work, so all my guests can browse through the articles. I

Passing It On

N o01 OCTO BER2008

I was given the October issue by a co-worker and I must admit it took me a couple of weeks to read it, but once I started I couldn’t put it LO vE ett er down. I love the magazine and actually saw a toChLiC agO few of my friends featured in it, which was a trip. Since then, I’ve tried to tell as many of my friends as possible about this great magazine that caters to us not only because of our age group but as Chicagoans and Latinos. -Cynthia Zamora, Chicago Freddy to his hoRodriguez pa ys metow n in his tribute new film

Will the Vote M latino atter ? anna F Flair Foong: r Fas hion aztecs t ake o the F Ver ield M useuM day oF in styl the dead e


10 Café MARCH2009

No01 OCT OBER20 08

Latin o Lifes tyLe Maga zine









13 Café MARCH2009


Christina E. Rodríguez photo Akin Girav

Fashion Designer Blake Standard

Pierre Colorado, 39

Is that your real name? My grandfather’s name was Pedro. My Colombian parents lived in Montreal. They set their hearts on Pierre, the French version of Pedro.

What’s your fashion inspiration? I grew up with very fashionable South American women and in the U.S., where there’s a practicality to fashion. I wanted to merge both and create a versatile, comfortable, trendy and chic line.

Does your Latinidad play a factor in your fashion? I definitely have a sensibility that translates into a certain sensuality in my clothing. It’s definitely very cultural.

What is your most treasured piece in your wardrobe? Since I moved to Chicago, I have this super heavy, wool cable knit sweater that is my best friend from September to April. 13

For the complete interview visit

What’s your biggest fashion pet peeve? Those people who think that dressing down is dressing slouchy.


¿Sabiasque? Zorro, an Irishman?

William Lamport, an adventurous Irishman who had been charged with high treason on his 15th birthday, was sent to Mexico (or Nueva España) as a spy following a scandalous affair with a Spanish noblewoman. Once in Mexico, he became sympathetic to the natives’ plight. Lamport, who had adopted the name of Guillén de Lombardo, was arrested in October 1642 for plotting a rebellion against the Spanish government. He broke out of prison in 1650, but was immediately recaptured and in 1659 was burnt at the stake by the Inquisition. An Italian academic recently established a clear link between Lamport’s adventures and the creation of the fictional character known as Zorro. Mexico’s fighting Irish

In 1846, Irish immigrants joined the U.S. military to help invade Mexico. Tired of being mistreated by the Protestants officers and questioning the reasons behind the invasion, hundreds of Irish Catholics defected the U.S. military and joined the Mexican forces, calling themselves the St. Patrick’s Battalion or Los San Patricios. ‘Bloody O’Reilly’

In 1765, Alejandro O’Reilly, a Spanish general of Irish descent, was sent by King Carlos III of Spain to Puerto Rico to reform that country’s defense forces. There he also laid the groundwork for a system of land distribution, and through his efforts new schools and towns were built. He was appointed governor of Louisiana in 1769 and earned the nickname of “Bloody O’Reilly” after he ordered the execution of five Frenchmen involved in an uprising against the Spanish government. As governor he abolished the enslavement of Native Americans.

14 Café MARCH2009

Media pioneer

Jovita Idar was one woman who knew her pen was mightier than the sword. Born in Laredo, Texas, in 1885, Idar used her writings in her father’s paper, La Crónica, to dispel racial prejudice against Mexican natives. She cared for the wounded on both sides of the border during the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and worked in favor of free education for Tejano children. Idar later became the first president of the League of Mexican Women. Pérez

Pérez was first used as a surname by Sephardic Jews (who settled in Spain and Portugal) who converted to Christianity. Pérez means in Hebrew to “burst forth,” and in Spanish it is used to mean “descendant of Pedro.” It can also be traced back to the Bible, where it is spelled Peres or Perez. Island or state?

California an island? No, it’s not an eerie premonition of things to come. The official name of the Golden State comes from the 1510 Spanish chivalry novel “Las Sergas de Esplandián” (The Exploits of Esplandian) by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. In the novel, California was a fictional island near the Indies, inhabited by women who lived like the Amazons.

SOURCES: “Everything You Need To Know About Latino History,” by Himilce Novas (Plume, Nov. 2007); “History of New Orleans,” by Steve Zaun ( GroupAndMinority/New_Orleans/Demographics/history. htm);;; University of Texas; House of Names; Houston Institute for Culture


Toni Johnson MBA on-site at Children’s Memorial Hospital

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See what our MBA students and graduates are saying about their NLU experiences at


“I’m getting my MBA in a Latino community—that establishes a network with all of our classmates ...we’re like a movement. We’re graduating 47 Latino MBAs in less than two years. That’s a group that can affect change.”

National-Louis University 15



Watching The Watchmen

It has been called the “Citizen Kane” of comic books. But can the movie version of “Watchmen,” Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel, equal Orson Welles’ classic? “Watchmen” tells the story of a group of super heroes who are forced out of retirement after one of their own is murdered in a United States where Nixon has been president for five consecutive terms. You be the judge when the movie opens March 6. Feast On Films

The European Union Film Festival kicks off March 6 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., Chicago. More than 60 films from over 25 countries (including Spain and Portugal) will premiere during this month-long event. We wish we could share the highlights, but at the close of the edition the Film Center had yet to finalize the schedule. Visit www. for more information. A Fabulous Return

If The Police and Soda Stereo set their differences aside and made a comeback, why not Los Fabulosos Cadillacs? The creators of “Matador” are back after a seven-year hiatus to release “La Luz Del Ritmo” through Nacional Records March 10. They kick off their U.S. tour in Chicago at the Congress Theater April 3rd. Listen to select tracks at

16 Café MARCH2009

Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum


07.26 09

Who will win Chicago’s newest fashion design competition? Visit to learn more and buy tickets to the finale event on 04.17.09.

Clark Street at North Avenue 312.642.4600 PA RT N E R S



| photo wendy melgar |

| photo carlos baldizón-martini |

2 | photo alberto treviño |




1. Big Rig Jig [ photo a. treviño ] Art was erected at Burning Man 2007. The oil tankers are a metaphor for non-sustainability, according to artist Mike Ross.

2. Crane [ photo wendy melgar ] Construction site at Portage Park, Chicago 2007.

3. procession [ photo carlos baldizón-martini ] “Baile De Los Moros” (Dance of the Conquistadores) commemorated in San Pedro Atitlán, Guatemala. 4. Via Masaccio [ photo jillian sipkins ] The graffiti-lined avenues of Florence provide great tension between past and present.

| photo jillian sipkins |

18 Café MARCH2009

Send us your best photographs and the story behind them. Only original, unmodified high-resolution images (300dpi) please. We will publish or post online the best shots. Images will be subject to editorial review. Send images to


Cleaning Up the County Anita Alvarez takes on Cook County’s ills as not only the first female, but also the first Latino State’s Attorney


Puente photoalBerto Treviño

TOP: The recently elected Cook County’s State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez campaigned in 2008 with billboards like this one near Division Ave. and Nobel St., on Chicago’s West Side.

20 Café MARCH2009

In the days leading up to Christmas, Chicago received a gift it didn’t want: Its 500th homicide for 2008. In the early evening of Dec. 22, a 21-yearold was shot multiple times in the 200 block of West 91st Street, according to press reports. Just a couple of hours later, 15-yearold Esteban Martinez became the city’s 501st homicide victim when he was found shot in the head in the 3000 block of South Avers Avenue on the city’s West Side. There’s no reason to believe that the 21-year-old victim and Martinez were related since their neighborhoods are miles apart. But there is one element that links their deaths — and that of nearly half of the people who died in homicides in Chicago in 2008. Their deaths are said to be “gang related,” that catchy code phrase used by reporters to infer that, “This death doesn’t really affect you. Don’t worry too much. Go back to your daily life.” A few more homicides helped to inch up Chicago’s grand total by the year’s end. In many of these, guns are the preferred method by which to take a human life. So there you have it: Guns and gangs. Another catchy phrase. But if you’re Anita Alvarez, those are precisely the two issues that she plans to tackle as Cook County’s new State’s Attorney. “I will work tirelessly to develop new legal strategies and initiatives to tackle the gang and gun violence that is destroying so many of our communities,” Alvarez said during her

Election night victory over Republican Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica. Alvarez is now Cook County’s first female and first Latino to lead the State’s Attorney’s Office. “I will lobby for legislation that will help law enforcement go after those people who are supplying the illegal guns and are killing innocent children,” she added But, how do you do that in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas? How do you even begin to confront the issues of gang violence in the city of Chicago, let alone the dozens of communities that dot Cook County from Calumet City to Evanston and Harvey to Palatine? If you’re Alvarez, you plan to do it by reaching out to communities and building trust. Born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, Alvarez understands that in order for the community to trust her office, they must trust the first responders: the police officers on the beat and the detectives who investigate crimes. She’s got a long history of trying to keep police officers on the straight and narrow during her 22 years working in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. In 1996, Alvarez was promoted to Supervisor of the Public Integrity Unit in the State’s Attorney’s Office. There, she prosecuted police officers on corruption charges.


Take Quote What challenges will Anita Alvarez face? Christina E. Rodríguez Jillian Sipkins

interviews photos

David DeSantiago,

33, Pilsen:

“She has to go after those guys that screw people with sub-prime loans. A lot of these folks that work with loan companies take advantage of the Latino community. In Pilsen, it’s a big problem. Going after the gangs is one thing, but go after the guys that are screwing people over.”

Efrain Cuevas,

31, Pilsen:

“We have to do our job in the State’s Attorney’s Office to rebuild that trust,” she said in November. SUBURBAN FOCUS

Alvarez plans to “reach out to all communities in Cook County to help improve the services that we offer to citizens and to build bridges to help restore some of the trust that has been lost in law enforcement.” Continuing the fight against guns and gangs is good news to suburban law enforcement agencies that often fight the same battles as their big city counterparts. In south suburban Alsip, Chief Robert Troy says his village doesn’t have a big problem with gangs, but since the community borders Chicago’s South Side, there is some spill over. “We deal with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Fifth Municipal District. We have a very good relationship with them,” Troy says. But like in any relationship, there can be some improvement. “I think it would be helpful if the State’s Attorney’s Office established a liaison between the office and the municipalities,” Troy says. Commander Tom Guenther of the Evanston Police Department says Alvarez’s former boss, Richard Devine, went a long way to work with suburban police departments. Guenther welcomes Alvarez’s insistence on making the battle against gangs and guns top on her list of things to tackle.

“Drugs, gangs and guns are always top priority for any police department,” Guenther says. “They are quality of life issues, they are real safety issues for those who work here, who live here and come to visit.” Guenther rated his department’s relationship with the State’s Attorney’s Office as good. “They’ve always assisted us whenever we need it. I think the cooperation has been good and I expect the same under Anita Alvarez.”

“She has to educate the community in English and Spanish. In Pilsen, a lot of people that commit crimes don’t speak English, so they don’t know the trouble they’re causing or the consequences. We need more police presence in key neighborhoods. She has to make it known that we’re doing something.”


Diana Sancen,

Alvarez will also begin “renewing” the fight against domestic violence by “improving the services that we offer to victims and speaking out to encourage those who suffer from crime and silence.” She also plans to battle consumer crimes such as identity theft and mortgage fraud. As far as her historic victory, Alvarez is moving forward. “I’ve got to tell you that it does feel very good to break the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ here in Cook County…I am certainly cognizant of the historic nature of my victory and I celebrate that,” Alvarez said on the night of her election victory. “But I also understand that making history carries a certain level of responsibility. I will be representing the important views and ideas of many different segments of our county and I will honor that responsibility in the work that I do every day.”

30, Lincoln Square:

“Her biggest challenge is dealing with the politics of Chicago [and] the crime, things like racketeering. Her challenge is going to be to bring that down.”

Kevin Welsh,

32, Albany Park:

“I think her biggest challenge is going to be eliminating or bringing down a lot of gang violence because it’s definitely become more prevalent, at least where I live and the [surrounding] neighborhoods.” 21

caféESpresso | Voices

VIVA la revoluciÓN —NOT!

V. L. Zamora

“America’s lack of knowledge of Cuba’s history is unacceptable.”

Despite their ham-fisted and populist efforts, leftists throughout the world are coping with the reality that communism is dead without hope of resuscitation. I harbor hostility for revolutionaries and their apologist groupies without regret or deliberation. (Note to Sean Penn: Drop dead.) I am a child of the Cuban Revolution. Though born outside of its devastating influence, I have been educated first-hand in the sorrow inflicted by its ideology and repressive agenda. I am a firstgeneration Cuban-American, born to immigrants who fled the Revolution in 1965, severing my connection to our island paradise before I was born. Their grudge against the Revolution is mine. What we teach in the U.S. about the Revolution can only be summed up as sad, simplistic and mindless. The events in Cuba from 1959 to 1962 draw blank stares from Americans, even many of those alive back then. Cuba repelled and flatly rejected the forced imposition of American capital, culture and values. The intolerable trifecta and ultimate slap in the face that no American government has or will ever allow from any nation-state. America’s lack of knowledge of Cuba’s history is unacceptable. Young, mush-filled heads display their ignorance of the so-called iconic warrior of justice by donning Ché Guevara apparel: shirts, hats, wallets (what a joke!) and belt buckles. This is further evidence that Americans are clueless when it comes to Cuba. Embracing an ideology which attacks the “imperialistic and materialistic” country in which they themselves are born, raised and spoiled lacks rational basis. To imitate or propagate that which despises you and calls for your destruction is the highest form of ignorance, and these trendy, fashion-boutique romantics should get a clue. I am not offended by their choice to wear the image or exploit it. You have the right to believe what you like —a right, I would care to point out, that Cubans are not entitled to. If you wish to engage in the intellectual laziness of propaganda dissemination, that is your choice. The denial, ignorance and disregard for the fact that Che was a member of the cabal that has terrorized my people and ruined our homeland, however, is offensive. He and Fidel Castro added insult to our injuries when they labeled Cubans who fled the dictatorial regime gusanos (worms) for being disloyal to their homeland. This has

fomented turbulent rifts within the Cuban-American community. The revolutionary government of Cuba exploits this division, as do U.S. politicians (from both parties). Since President John F. Kennedy, politicians have used our organizations as political piggy banks, where they draw capital from which the only interest being paid is lip service. This relationship between Cuban-Americans and U.S. politicians shows how desperate Cuban immigrants and their U.S.-born children are when it comes to matters related to their loved ones back home. In our anxiousness, we have overlooked the blatant cowardice of U.S. politicians for the illusion that one day they will help us liberate our kin. Now that is loyalty. The impunity of the revolutionary government and its kangaroo courts are responsible for the torture of dissidents, the imprisonment of homosexuals, the forced labor camps and the acquisition of wealth that has made Castro one of the wealthiest men in the world (Forbes puts his net worth at about $550 million). These are the yet-unanswered-to realities that all too often are written off by apologists as being part of the implied sacrifices of the revolutionary process. My advice to Ché-daphiles is that, if you want to know the Cuba that Ché inspired and feel the true impact of the Revolution on our people, go there just as Cubans must come here: with nothing but the shirt on your back. Leave your American passport and money behind. You might then come to understand the insult of seeing people wearing Ché’s image. Cuban-Americans are victims of a totalitarian government and do not appreciate support for their victimizers. I would never walk around with a Bin Laden or Hitler shirt. Yes, in our view it is the same thing! Then, perhaps you will come to agree with this quote from a prisoner at the infamous Isla de Pinos prison —which became the Revolution’s “model prison” for political dissenters, including members of my family— who in 1953 wrote: “I despise the kind of existence that clings to the miserly trifles of comfort and self-interest. I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.” That prisoner was Fidel Castro and, at least on this one thing, I couldn’t agree with him more.

V. Lazaro Zamora is a Chicagoan living in exile in Los Angeles. He is currently working on an MFA at the University of California at Riverside. He lives with his wife, a man-child and two silly animals.

22 Café MARCH2009



Angel La Luz works to provide food relief to thousands of hungry people in the city and the suburbs

words photos

Gloria Elena Alicea Ken Carl

TOP: Angel La Luz, director of agency programs and services of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, at the organization’s 268,000 sq. ft. warehouse on the South Side.

24 Café MARCH2009

Although he still keeps his hair crew-cut short, Angel La Luz has not worn an Army uniform in 16 years. But as the ex-soldier whose Spanish name means “Angel of Light” surveys the line of nearly 700 men, women and children waiting outside a Chicago food pantry, he looks like a commander ready to carry out a vital mission. La Luz, a physically fit man with a quick smile, stands in a military posture — legs shoulder width apart — as he watches dozens of volunteers unload boxes of food and produce from the green and white refrigerated trucks that bear the logo of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. La Luz, 40, is the director of agency programs and services for the depository, Illinois’ largest food bank, which — with 130 staff members and the help of 14,000 volunteers — feeds 500,000 people in Cook County every year. From its mammoth 268,000-square-foot ware-

house on Chicago’s South Side, the depository supplied more than 46 million pounds of food to 600 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters last year — the equivalent of 95,000 meals a day. His job is to work with agencies to help feed the growing numbers of hungry people in Cook County. He also oversees Chicago’s Community Kitchens, a program that trains unemployed and underemployed adults to work in the restaurant industry. The food pantry La Luz is visiting, during this interview, in the Little Village neighborhood is operated by Lutheran Child and Family Services


“we try to help folks understand that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.” — angel la luz

of Illinois. His visit takes place as photos of Depression-era bread lines are on newspaper front pages as reminders of the potential consequences of mounting job losses in a severely ailing economy. “The most wonderful thing after God is the Greater Chicago Food Depository,” proclaims Cristina Quintana, the food pantry’s director. Quintana estimates that about a quarter of the people who come to the pantry receive food stamps, which amount to $25 a week for one person. “Many of these people were working 40-hour weeks. Not anymore,” she says. “They cannot find work.” “I am very concerned for the children,” she says, catching sight of two small boys peering into boxes of food. Once a week the pantry gives out “about enough to feed a family of four for three

days,” says Quintana. “Without the Chicago Food Depository, we would have to turn so many hungry families away.” In a maternal gesture, she turns to La Luz, squeezes his arm and says, “I don’t think his mother made a mistake by calling him Angel.” “It’s a hard name to live up to,” he replies. It’s a name he shares with his father, Angel La Luz Sr., the man he credits with teaching him the values of discipline and sacrifice. “When I was in high school, my father lost his job,” he says. “Our income was cut significantly. As many people [today], we were living a paycheck away from being without.” The military provided him the opportunity to get a college education. He earned an associate’s degree in liberal arts through an Army extension program while stationed in Germany, and a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems at DeVry Institute. He later received a certificate in nonprofit management from North Park University. La Luz was hired in 1992 by Michael Mulqueen, an ex-Marine who had been his commanding general at Great Lakes Naval Base. After retiring from the military, Mulqueen served as executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository for 15 years. He has been credited with turning the depository into “a model of efficiency” and making it one of the best-run food banks in the U.S. While working his way up to his current position, La Luz spent a lot of time talking to people in food lines all across Cook County. “I’ve learned that everybody has a story,” he says. Typically, people find out about a pantry from a sign, a church or a social service organization, La Luz explains. At the Little Village pantry, 40-yearold Juan Sanchez slowly moves through the line on a walker. Sanchez, a welder for seven years, was assigned one day to help lift 180-pound reinforced concrete slabs. He injured his back, leaving him unable to work and provide for his wife and his three children, all under the age of 8. “When my daughter says, ‘I’m hungry, Dad,’ it’s hard not to cry,” he says, his eyes welling up. Hispanic households with children are twice as likely as white households with children to experience hunger, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Cook County, about 14 percent of the people served by the Chicago Food Deposi-

MORE PEOPLE HUNGRY Across the country, the number of hungry people turning to food pantries rose by about 20 percent in 2008, says Bob Dolgan, director of communications for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. In Cook County, the numbers are even greater. “We served 35 percent more people in July of 2008 than in July of 2007,” he says. “One of our pantries in Oak Park saw an increase of 95 percent.” Driving this increase is the growing number of working people unable to keep up with the rising costs of food, health care and energy. A 2005 study on hunger in Cook County shows at least one adult was employed in 39 percent of the households that received food from the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Many have to choose between buying food or medicine. Another trend: More people are turning to food pantries in higher-income suburbs, Dolgan says. Last year, a pantry in Hoffman Estates saw a 50 percent increase in the number of people at its doors. “Now we’re getting new types of clients who are being displaced from professional jobs,” says Angel La Luz, director of agency programs and services for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “They are looking us up on the Internet and contacting us by e-mail.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO If you would like to become a volunteer, organize a food drive or make a donation, contact the Greater Chicago Food Depository at (773) 247-3636 or visit

tory are Hispanic. La Luz blames the low number of Hispanics being served on lack of awareness and orgullo (pride). “We try to help folks understand that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” he says. La Luz says that in the Army he learned discipline and the ideas of “being part of a team” and “taking care of your fellow man.” The onetime serviceman can be seen any day following in the steps of his former commander, serving his country in a civilian mission of national importance: America’s war against hunger. 25


a n a r t i st a m o ng

the stars Astronomer Jose Francisco Salgado brings the universe closer to the public through his multimedia shows words

26 Café MARCH2009

Annette Gonzalez and Christina E. Rodríguez


alBerto Treviño


The screen hangs above the musicians. Subtle yet threatening drums roll slowly leading to a brass epiphany. A moving blossom of trumpets marches through the beginning of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” On the screen, astronomical images burst forward, moving with the music. A back-and-forth conversation between strings and horns ensues in this 2006 performance of the Chicago Sinfonietta. This, “Mars, The Bringer of War,” is the first planet in Holst’s seven-movement orchestral suite. The images on the screen were produced by astronomer Jose Francisco Salgado of the Adler Planetarium. When Salgado began working on this presentation of “The Planets” in 2005, he realized this was what he always wanted to do: to intertwine his love for the arts and the skies in multimedia presentations that combine images, sound and science. The Adler asked Salgado to create a backdrop for this Chicago Sinfonietta performance. The presentation turned into much more than what the planetarium staff was expecting. Instead of the still images of stars and galaxies they were envisioning, Salgado delivered three-dimensional videos and animations of the universe that were nothing short of mind-blowing. Salgado is an astronomer and science visualizer at the planetarium, though technical terms don’t quite catch the essence of what he is. “During the last few years, I’ve realized [that] from an early age I was an artist,” Salgado says, “but I was looking for a way to express myself.” This month, Salgado will present his second audiovisual show for the Adler: “Astronomical Pictures at an Exhibition,” a suite of high-definition videos featuring artlike images and scientific visualizations of the cosmos, as well as Salgado’s own artwork. Salgado, 40, is a researcher who gives public lectures and uses scientific data to create stunning 3-D visualizations that allow viewers to virtually travel the galaxy. “It’s a scientific tool as well as a communications tool, and an engaging way of showing scientific data to the public,” Salgado says. The Puerto Rico native discovered his interest in astronomy when, as a third-grader, he found a book of his father’s about the first man on the moon. The human experience, and the science and technology behind the mission, instantly hooked him. “From then on, though I considered other careers, my main interest was astronomy,” Salgado says. “Back then I didn’t even know the word ‘astronomy’ [existed];

I just knew I wanted to study space.” It also helped that “Star Wars” was a box-office hit in 1977. Carl Sagan’s legendary PBS series “Cosmos” and the astronomy books of Isaac Asimov also inspired him. Salgado earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Puerto Rico, where he will be recognized for his achievements this year. After a year of teaching high school physics and chemistry, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Michigan, where he spoke recently as a guest for the Distinguished Visitors Series. For two years, Salgado produced the “Nuestra Galaxia” segment for the newscast at Univision’s Chicago affiliate, WGBO-TV, during which he explained “our galaxy.” “The best thing I learned from the segments was how to explain an astronomical concept in a short amount of time without confusing [the audience],” he says. He found it rewarding to know that Latino children were watching the news for his segment and hoped that one of those young viewers would be inspired to learn more. “It’s a scientist’s duty to share the knowledge we are acquiring with the public,” Salgado says. “In this country we have a science literacy problem, so we have to make science [more] accessible.” For Salgado, education is key, and because of his fascination with multiple disciplines, he plans to reach as many people as he can. “My motivation is to motivate people to learn more about what I’m presenting,” he says. “The more people learn about other places, the more they will respect other people’s cultures as well as our planet.” This year has been designated the International Year of Astronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Astronomical Union. As part of an effort to bring astronomy to people around the world, “The Planets” are on a world tour that started in Paris on January during ceremonies launching the astronomy year. The exhibit has visited Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and Taiwan. It is scheduled to return to the United States this month. In the last few years, Salgado has realized that the order in which things happened in his life was the way it was supposed to happen. In order for him to have all that he has now, “I had to be an astronomer first,” he says. Then, he had to wait for the technology to be developed and proven in order to combine all the disciplines that he works on and enjoys. “One of my most important interests

GETTING PERSONAL Do you believe in UFOs? I think the probability of extraterrestrial life is extremely high, but I don’t think that aliens are visiting our planet. What’s your sign? Pisces. What is your favorite celestial body? The Orion Nebula. Who is your favorite science fiction writer? I prefer non-fiction, mostly biographies, but I enjoyed reading “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Favorite science fiction movie? “Star Wars.” Favorite artist? Duran Duran. How do you take your café? With milk and sugar.

FIVE KEYS TO SUCCESS Read and become an autodidact. Enjoy your job, or get another one. Be as multidisciplinary as possible— combining disciplines that you enjoy, of course. Don’t lose control over the quality of your projects. Always be grateful to God and others around you. It will pay off!

at this point, professionally and artistically, is to communicate science and make people interested in science through art,” Salgado says. One thing he learned at the University of Puerto Rico — and still preaches when he talks to students — is the idea of multidisciplinary work. “Instead of being narrow-minded, I love bringing disciplines together,” he says. He tells students that they should find a career that combines and executes all those things they enjoy. Salgado sees himself only getting better at what he’s doing. “Now I know what I want to do when I grow up,” he says, “and it’s exactly what I’m doing now.” 27


Enter Stage Left With the debut of a promising new play, Teatro Vista is poised for a much awaited comeback

Teatro Vista Director Sandra Marquez and actress Llana Faust rehearse for their upcoming production, “Our Lady of the Underpass.”

28 Café MARCH2009



Darhiana Mateo photo Mauricio Rubio

Chicago theatergoers: rejoice. For the first time in its 18-year history, Teatro Vista, the city’s premier Latino theater company, is shining a spotlight on sweet home Chicago — and reminding audiences that it is here to stay. Written by local playwright Tanya Saracho, of Teatro Luna fame, and set in Chicago, “Our Lady of the Underpass” marks Teatro Vista’s first major production since 2007.  The play, which explores the community’s reaction to the alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary at an underpass of the Kennedy Expressway on Chicago’s Northwest side in April 2005, signals a comeback for the company, which, though noted for its powerhouse Latino playwrights and talented ensemble, has lacked a consistent presence in the local theater scene. “Some people, obviously, haven’t seen us for a while. We’ve been out there to some extent, but we haven’t been as prevalent as we always were. We want to have a consistent season of quality productions that you see every year and that people begin to recognize us for,” says managing director Laura Wurz. “[‘Our Lady of the Underpass’] has a lot of potential for us. We’re very excited to produce such a strong piece about Chicago.” The play consists of six powerful monologues inspired by quirky, colorful characters that Mexican-American playwright Tanya Saracho, 33, interviewed at the Fullerton Avenue viaduct, the site of the alleged Virgin Mary apparition. Saracho recalls buying a video camera and heading to the site after hearing about the phenomenon on the evening news. She admits to initial skepticism, but she quickly had a change of heart. “The hum of the prayers, the candles…it was — dare I say — beautiful  and my chest got all tight,” says Saracho, co-founder of nine-year-old Teatro Luna, an all-female Chicago theater company founded with the mission of sharing the often untold stories that matter to and define Latinas. “I thought, ‘Who am I to mock faith?’ I said, ‘Something is here. Some kind of community is happening. This is a point of interaction…’ I just kept going back there.” Later that year, Saracho, who’s lauded for her unique voice as a “hyphenate” who literally grew up on the Texas/ Mexico border, was commissioned by the Goodman Theatre to write a play — and “Our Lady of the Underpass” was born. “It’s such a Chicago story. It happened to us,” says Saracho, who persuaded Teatro Vista to produce its first play about Chicago as well as its first work by a local playwright in years. “I think it’s overdue. Audiences want to see stories about themselves.” Director Sandra Marquez says the play is unique in that it captures the vulnerability of faith. “They were vulnerable enough to have the nerve to ask, to wish, to desire something,” she says. “There’s something very human

If you go... What: “Our Lady of the Underpass” When: Through March 29 Where: The Greenhouse Theater Center (formerly Victory Gardens), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago Info: (312) 666-4659 or

about that. I hope the audience leaves asking themselves, ‘What is it I ask for in my darkest moment?’” With dynamic and diverse characters, ranging from an undocumented worker to a “huppie” (a Hispanic yuppie), an unpatriotic Polish girl and a barren Jewish woman who prays for children, the play is at once poignant and whacky. “It’s going to be just much fun as it is moving,” says Marquez. FRIENDLY COMPETITORS

With similar missions —  to share the Latino experience, increase opportunities for Latino actors, playwrights and directors, and to shatter stereotypes —  it might be easy to misconstrue Teatro Vista and Teatro Luna as competitors. But the two theater companies see themselves more as sister companies, uniquely different yet sharing common roots. In fact, Saracho has acted in three Teatro Vista plays in the past. As Saracho describes, “there’s a really cool vibe between all the Latino theaters here. We’re family. We do different things.” “We feed each other. We see it as a symbiotic relationship. We’re important to the community,” says Marquez. “We offer different things; both are necessary.” In recent years, opportunities for Latinos in theater have slowly expanded beyond stereotypical, one-dimensional characters. But, “it’s not where it needs to be,” says Marquez, who remembers fighting to be considered for roles beyond that of the voiceless maid or spicy sexpot. Teatro Vista, which has grappled with the same challenges that plague any small business — monetary, fundraising and organization woes — is currently reassessing its mission and exploring what direction it wants to take in the future. Although the company doesn’t plan on shifting its signature focus on national Latino playwrights, it is showing new interest in nurturing local talent. “When the company first started, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for Latino actors or playwrights in the Midwest,” says Wurz. “As the [Latino] community grows, as the theater community grows, we find ourselves in a place where we have a larger voice and we’re able to look at Chicago Latino playwrights instead of having to look outside of our area.” The company is busy lining up solid, quality seasons to solidify its presence in the Chicago theater community as well as the national stage, she asserts . 29


Special Advertising feature

TOast to the future


There’s a dishwasher at your favorite restaurant who has hopes of becoming a chef — washing dishes seemed to him like a step in the right direction. The employee who keeps inventory of the liquor at your favorite watering hole would like someday to own her own bar — this job gave her a taste of her dream.

Hard-working hospitality employees deserve the chance to achieve their goals. But no matter how much and how hard they work, sometimes those dreams seem almost unattainable. Luckily for them, Diageo and Café Media are about to do something that will change their lives. Both companies have partnered to create a program called Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund that will provide scholarships for those who want to break into the world of hospitality management.

Nancy Nuñez, owner of Mi Tierra restaurant (2528 S. Kedzie, Chicago) | photo mauricio rubio |

30 Café MARCH2009

Six scholarships of up to $5,000 each will go toward individuals who are enrolled in college or graduate school, and additional scholarships of up to $1,000 each will be given to those who choose to enroll in vocational school. Café Media will be receiving the nominations for the lucky students. (See sidebar for details.)

Special Advertising feature

“This came from years of thinking about the right thing to do,” said Luis Rosado, manager of multi-cultural marketing for Diageo. Diageo is the world’s leading spirits, wine and beer company, with a wide collection of beverage alcohol brands that include Cuervo, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan and Baileys. The idea for the scholarship program grew from Diageo’s goal for corporate responsibility. Along with promoting responsible drinking practices, the company decided to go beyond its immediate operations to launch Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund as a way to make a meaningful contribution to the community. Nancy Nuñez, owner of Mi Tierra restaurant (2528 S. Kedzie, Chicago) has agreed to take part in Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund. Nuñez’s father started his own little taquería in 1977 with three tables when Nuñez was 15. Through their ups and downs, her father fell and picked himself up again. As his only daughter, it was only right for her to take over the business. “In my adult life, all I’ve done is work with him,” she says.

How to apply

Luis Rosado, Diageo

Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund happens to fall exactly into Café Media’s aim. Café will use its multiple platforms to communicate the message of the scholarship program to the Latino community. “Café is a great platform,” says Rosado. “It’s a new venture, and with [their] contacts and passion for the community, we think it will be a good thing to do.”

“My dad never gave up,” she adds. “When times were tough, we went with it.” Nuñez attended DePaul University and graduated with a degree in Marketing in 1985. Now, as the owner of a large restaurant, she knows that Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund will help those looking to find their path to success.

The program will allow Café to go beyond its mission to inspire, educate and entertain, and give back to the community and its readers, explains Melissa Martinez, marketing director of Café Media. “By offering the opportunity for an education, Café hopes to encourage people to live the richest life possible,” Martinez says.

“Do your best and success will follow,” she says. “I think it’s wonderful that [Diageo and Café] are putting this effort together.” Nuñez has had many students work at her restaurant, so she knows the efforts that they must make to get through school.

Each month, Diageo will designate a certain liquor that, when served, will add proceeds to the scholarship fund. According to Rosado, the funds are already in place, but the extra money will help to increase the amount.

As a fairly large retailer, Nuñez understands the benefit of helping the community. She has given to scholarship funds and has donated time to students and children who need it most.

More details will appear monthly in Café magazine and Web site until September, when all the winners will be announced.

Employers, fellow employees, friends, relatives, patrons and customers can enter nominations for the scholarships. For retailers, flyers will be posted on all of the participating locations. Diageo’s sales staff will train retailers on how to the process works, as well as how to spread the word.

So, if you or someone you know would like to pursue a career in the food-service or hospitality industry, apply or nominate that person for a Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund  scholarship. Your favorite bartender, cook, waiter or inventory clerk could have their goals of finishing school or improving their skills met this year.

Would you like to become a professional in the food-service or hospitality industry? Do you know someone who is over the age of 21 and wants to pursue a career in hotel, restaurant or bar management, work in a catering or culinary business, or own or manage a liquor store? If you do, Diageo and Café Media would like to help you [or your nominee] fulfill those dreams.   Here’s what you can do:  • You can nominate yourself or someone you know. (Only one entry per person is allowed.)  • Make sure you read the Participating Rules and meet the criteria for participation. • Fill out a nomination form available at participating locations or online at www. • Include information (up to 500 words) about how the scholarship will help you or the nominee advance in the hospitality industry.   Send it to Diageo Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund  c/o Café Media, 660 West Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60654 before Aug. 15, 2009.

Café Media will contact applicants to verify the information and request references. Award decisions will be based on demonstrated need and dedication to getting ahead.  Finalists will be chosen by a review committee. Winners will be anounced in September 2009. 31

Cele a br

ip fun d

Education is the foundation —for everything te h the rs future schola

With that in mind, Diageo and CafĂŠ Media have partnered to create the Diageo Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund, encouraging continued education in the hospitality industry. Your participation starts with a sip! A portion of the proceeds from your Johnnie Walker brands purchase will be donated to the fund. Learn how you can partake in the program; visit Please enjoy our brands responsibly


artdepartment MiCasa


Darhiana Mateo stylist Bridget Johnson photos Anthony Tahlier

Picture Perfect A snapshot of Spanish photographer Cesar Russ’ arresting abode The heart and soul of the space is the middle room: a large, luminous area that functions as both a studio/office and personal space.

At first glance, the single-story brick building nestled in the heart of the West Loop appears unremarkable. But looks can be deceiving. 33

caféFilter | MiCasa

Step through the glass door into the building, originally a small factory that specialized in painting and finishing small parts for automobiles, and you’ll know you’re in for a treat. The space triples as a contemporary gallery, studio and home for Spanish photographer Cesar Russ and his wife and creative partner, Beatriz Ronzero, founders of Realviews Photography, 1530 W. Adams St. Like his work, the allure of the space lies in the unexpected details. The front doors lead immediately into a cozy, square-shaped gallery, where blowups of Russ’ photographs are juxtaposed against white and exposed brick walls. Many of the photographs reflect Russ’ view of Chicago, a city that the thin, elegant, silver-haired man has fallen in love with. “[Chicago’s] astounding. I never imagined that I would live in Chicago and now I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” says Russ, 57, who was born in Madrid, Spain and lived in Paris, Miami, New York and Los Angeles before settling in the Windy City in 2006.

34 Café MARCH2009

artdepartment A TRANSFORMATION

The 2,400-square-foot space, which Russ rents but hopes to own one day, was “tailor-made” for him, he says. Russ stumbled upon a posting for the renovated loft online when he was looking to move to Chicago from Pasadena, Calif. “It had my name on the door,” he says. Even the layout of the building — originally constructed as three structures, each separated by sliding fire doors — suited Russ’ need for a space that would house his gallery, studio and home. David Chase, owner of Emerging Interests, a real estate investment and development company, bought and renovated the property with his wife in 2002. He says they left intact many of the building’s original architectural elements, such as the gray metal fire doors and a “phenomenal” skylight, and designed around them. In six months, the building, which dates back to the 1930s, was transformed into a picture of modernity — think hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and sweeping ceilings — with a dash of industrial nostalgia. Russ and Ronzero were so enchanted with their new home that they haven’t felt the need to change much. They were pleasantly surprised with the industrial touches scattered throughout. “This is genius,” says Russ, motioning toward an old wooden and metal door in the studio, painted red and imprinted with the words “Flammable Keep Fire Away,” which used to lead to a large oven for heating enamel. The door now leads to a closet.


Without a doubt, the heart and soul of the space is the middle room: a large, luminous area that functions as both a studio/office and personal space. A striking skylight/dormer, spanning the long, rectangular studio, bathes the studio in natural light. “It’s the personality of this place,” Russ says. “It allows you to think, to imagine, to be creative … all this light,” says Ronzero, gesturing toward the skylight. Against the exposed brick of the studio’s west walls, Russ has used black magnets to hang some of his most stunning photographs. A stateof-the-art kitchen, complete with a granite-top counter, commands the room’s eastern half.


OPPOSITE PAGE: Blowup images of Spanish photographer Cesar Russ are on display on his West Loop loft. THIS PAGE: (Top) Russ and wife Beatriz Ronzero love the natural light that bathes their long, rectangular studio. (Right) Russ moved to Chicago in 2006.

Recently named “Artist of the Year” for fiscal year 2008 by the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, his signature photographs of the city, capturing everything from the vibrant lakeshore to the bustling downtown streets, are already attracting a local following. “He has a fresh vision of the city, a way of helping people rediscover Chicago,” says Beatriz Ronzero. And in this age of digital prowess, Russ’ practice of not altering his photographs stands out. With an eye for those special moments where lights, shadow and movement coincide, Russ hopes his work inspires people to recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary. “There’s no need to add anything more to the reality,” he says. “It’s spectacular as is.” 35

caféFilter | MiCasa


Another set of fire doors separates the light-filled studio from the blackness of the darkroom, which Ronzero laughingly calls her husband’s “digital cave.” Here, technology is king: Three computers, a super-size printer and two medium-size ones occupy most of the space. Today’s digital darkrooms might look drastically different from their non-digital counterparts of the past, Russ says. But that sense of magic that first drew him to photography, as an image appears to materialize out of thin air, remains.

Dark walls prevail in Russ’ digital darkroom.

36 Café MARCH2009


Tucked away in the southern corner of the building are the couple’s private quarters. A large bed draped in colorful orange and red sheets, a black leather sofa, a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall, an overflowing bookcase and a black scooter temporarily put aside in a closet — all create a hip and effortless ambiance. The sweeping 12-foothigh ceiling makes the breezy loft seem even more spacious. Here, as in the rest of the space, Russ is clearly at ease: “It reflects who I am as an artist and individual perfectly.”  

Š2009 Big Shoulders Fund. All rights reserved. The Big Shoulders Fund is a separately incorporated 501(c)3 organization.

The Big Shoulders Fund. Providing financial aid for some of

the nearly 25,000 needy children attending one of the 93 inner-city Catholic schools in the City of Chicago. Give to the Big Shoulders Fund today!



Harddrivecare Maintain your computer and keep it running hassle-free

As if dealing with a customer sales representative, you throw up your hands in protest, mutter a prayer and stare dumbfounded at the computer screen. words

38 CafĂŠ MARCH2009

Irene Tostado


Your office computer is bombarding you with pop-up ads and warnings. But before you can retaliate in the only way you know how — by hitting control-alt-delete — the computer emits a clicking sound, as if gasping for air, and shuts down. Sighs. Exasperation. Unprintable words. Nothing can bring back your computer from the dead. And you wonder: Did it really have to end this way?

“Computers are like cars; they all crash,” explains Johnny Galvan, 32, owner of NerdBots, a company that educates the public on computer maintenance and provides on-site services. “But if you change the oil, cars will usually run like new, and if you reload and reformat your computer every year, it will too.” Carmen Saenz, 23, software developer for Allston Trading, a worldwide financial firm, agrees. “Problems with computers often stem from poor maintenance and lack of regular upkeep,” she says.

In fact, computers communicate with their users through sounds and messages that alert, notify and — some say — aggravate the average user. “Don’t ignore the warning signs by simply clicking OK,” counsels Salvador Ortiz, 27, service analyst for Smart Technology Services, an information technology provider. The desperate cries of a co-worker who verbally tries to subdue a malfunctioning computer are commonplace in our hightech society, where the machines’ capabilities often exceed our knowledge of how to use them appropriately and to their utmost potential. The everyday computer user can fix the majority of nagging, easily avoidable computer glitches by following the advice of our team of experts: How do I avoid running out of hard drive space or memory on my computer?

should delete the browsing history on their computers, along with temporary files, cookies, saved passwords and Web forms information, at least once a month to protect and secure their identity. Salvador Ortiz: Transforming a slow, freezing computer into a high-speed machine requires more than augmenting the hard drive memory. Users should upgrade applications when the programs are no longer supported by the system. But don’t follow the latest trends. Only download programs if your system supports the latest version. How do I avoid accidentally erasing important documents?

C.S.: First, if you’re a Windows user, all your document folders should point to the My Documents folder. Do this by rightclicking on My Documents, clicking on Properties and then the Target tab, where you’ll need to type the path name of the My Documents folder. Second, all computer users should back up valuable files on an external portable drive, on a free file-hosting site, such as or, or on a CD/DVD. J.G.: Don’t clutter the desktop. You should have shortcuts to frequently used programs and folders, such as My Documents and My Computer. If you keep the My Documents folder in sight, you’ll develop a disciplined mind for storing data. S.O.: Profiles should be created for each user on a multi-user computer to keep files organized and facilitate cleanup. How can I keep my computer working efficiently without having to call in the experts?

C.S.: Opening up a computer and physically cleaning out the inside isn’t going to kill it. A clean fan, for example, allows

What s of can I d tware progr ams ownlo ad compu ter run to keep my ning fa C.S.: Fre ster? e tools

such as com rem www o files and ve unused and .cleaner. allow W tempora in ry J.G.: Sp ybot sea dows to run fast rches, eli er. and prev m in en and can ts spyware infec ates be down tions, lo fernetw aded for free at orking.o rg

the processor to remain cool and perform well. With a small screwdriver, open the unplugged computer, vacuum the inside, spray compressed air into the grills, and wipe the fan with a dust cloth or cotton swabs. J.G.: Everyone should have an anti-virus program installed to protect the computer from becoming infected. Free anti-virus and anti-spyware software exists for easy download, such as or S.O.: Checking and defragmenting a hard disk once a month maintains the machine fit. Defragmentation physically organizes the contents of the hard disk to store the pieces of each file close together and free up space. Once a year, users should consider re-installing the entire system. When should I seek professional help?

C.S.: If the hard drive does not load, the Windows program doesn’t start up automatically or the computer doesn’t recognize a hard drive. J.G.: If your computer won’t turn on, the motherboard is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced. Avoid turning your computer on and off repeatedly within short periods of time. S.O.: If you hear a clicking noise coming from the inside of the computer, the hard drive is not functioning properly.

Carmen Saenz: Once a month, delete temporary files stored in the computer’s Temp folder and those saved in the Internet Options folder of your browser. For Windows users, both tasks may be easily done by using the Disk Cleanup Wizard. (To access the wizard, click on the Start button and choose Programs. Then choose Accessories, System Tools and Disk Cleanup.) Johnny Galvan: Fervent online shoppers 39

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Living large is easy. Getting your financial house in order is not. Credit cards. Car payments. Student loans. Mortgages. Uhhhh!! “Certainly, these are very hard and very unprecedented times,” financial adviser and Chicago native Juan Villarreal says. “No other time in history have we seen a spiral effect and a series of issues such as the credit crisis, house prices falling and then high unemployment.” Getting out of debt is never easy. And in these troubling economic conditions, it’s even more difficult, but you can do it, says Villarreal, owner of Financial Guru, a financial consulting firm in Schererville, Ind. One element linking most Americans, Villarreal says, is that they have been living way beyond their means. “My suggestion is to really look at the way you’ve been spending money and the way you invest money,” says Villarreal. “You must cut down on expenses that you really don’t need.” Villarreal says borrowing money to pay off debts puts you in a bigger hole; that’s why cutting expenses immediately is the key. If your income is less than your expenses, then you’re in trouble no matter what you do,” says Villarreal. “You may go off to borrow money. [Since] banks are not lending money, [consumers] may go to relatives but they’re only using a Band-Aid approach.”

42 Café MARCH2009


Michael Puente


Eliminating or reducing your car payment could help offer budget relief. Villarreal says he realizes people love to drive new cars, but if the payment is too high, it needs to go. “Who cares if you’re driving a nice BMW or an expensive car? Downsize it,” says Villareal. “When the economy gets back, upgrade.” Villarreal suggests trading down to a less expensive car even if it means taking a loss on the car. “The loss right now is irrelevant to their financial situation,” he says of consumers feeling the financial pinch. “I’d much rather have them take a loss on a car that was new a year ago and go to a smaller car with a smaller note because the issue now is cash flow.” Villarreal says one of the indicators of how well the economy is doing is how auto parts stores are faring. He says when those stores are doing a brisk business, as they are now, that means people are taking better care of their existing car and not trading it for a new one. “When you go past an auto parts store, [you see] they’re jampacked,” says Villarreal. “People are buying five quarts of oil and a

artdepartment filter to change their own oil for about $10, rather than spending $30 to have it done. That’s what you do when money is tight.” Another area he suggests for cutbacks is entertainment. Hurrying to see the latest feature film may not be the best option for those on a tight budget, he says. With ticket prices at about $10 and refreshments pricey, a night at the movies for a family of four can easily hit $100. But heading to a bookstore is nearly free. Even better if you use your local public library where you can check out books and movies for free. “You can entertain your children for free. Read a book,” Villarreal says. purge the credit cards

A huge factor that drowns most people: high-interest credit cards. Jaime M. Rojkind, who heads Rolei Financial Services Corporation on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, says credit cards should be the first thing to cut when trying to get out of debt. “You have to cut your credit cards in half and forget about them for a while,” Rojkind says. “Keep only one for emergencies.” Rojkind, a native of Argentina, is also president of the Argentine-American Midwest Chamber of Commerce. He says people have to take stock of their expenses and cut out the extras like pricey coffee and dinner at fancy restaurants. He says most Americans are just three paychecks away from being homeless. “That’s a very serious situation. The middle class is becoming the working poor,” Rojkind says. “You need to ask yourself, ‘Do I need these things right now?’ You need to cut your expenses and do the necessary stuff to make sure your mortgage gets paid on time.”

Tips to curb your debt Reduce spending Get rid of credit cards; keep one for emergencies Get a smaller, inexpensive vehicle Find an additional source of income Cut expenses that are not absolutely necessary Find less expensive forms of entertainment 43

caféFILTER | la familia


A little curiosity and lots of patience can yield fascinating details of your ancestral roots words

Christina E. Rodríguez

Melanie Maldonado, a doctoral student at Northwestern University, found herself digging up her ancestral lines to fulfill her greatgrandmother’s dying wish of finding her long-lost brother. She interviewed family members to ask them about their memories in Puerto Rico and sifted through documents she had collected. “[My great-grandmother] met her brother once and all her life she kept looking for him,” she says. Finally, Maldonado found him. She didn’t stop there, though. Maldonado continued to interview family members and ask about those they remembered. She ended up tracing her family back to Northern Spain during the late 1700s. DIGGING UP ROOTS

The trek to finding family blood lines might seem out of this world to some, but many Latinos want to dig and find out where it is they really come from, why they look the way they do, and if by chance they have a certain blood line they always claimed to have, like the uncle that says, “We’re tall because we have German blood!” This just leads to the real question: Where do your raíces actually lie? Dr. Carolyn Ybarra, a California-based genealogist specializing in Latino ancestral lines, said that interviewing older family members is exactly where someone would want to start, for either branching out in a family tree or searching for genealogical roots. “This gives you the basic information on names and places where you need to locate records,” says Ybarra, who holds a doctorate degree in cultural anthropology from Stanford University and teaches genealogy. Carlos N. Olvera, professional genealogist and president of the Dana Point Historical Society in Dana Point, Calif., says that in order to uncover useful information you should start by tracing your family tree back three generations. However, he warns that researching public records from the last 70 years may be challenging because personal information is not available past 1930 due to privacy laws and regulations. In order to find your family members in a genealogical search, it is important to know as many specific details as possible. For example, Maldonado says that while looking for her own family ties, as well as those of other friends, she asked about births, deaths, marriages, ethnic strains, jobs and military history. When it comes to searching for family members, names, dates, gender and location are most important. Although dates and location may be approximate, all those categories help when doing an Internet search. “The key is to obtain enough information on the person so that you can be sure you are locating the correct person in the records,” Ybarra says. “It’s important not to assume you have the right person just because the name matches.”

A lot of times, baptismal certificates, especially for Catholic Latinos, are more reliable than birth certificates. For practical reasons, families found it easier to baptize a child at their local church than to get them to the city hall and register their births. Additionally, baptismal certificates are typically more readily available. According to Olvera, the documentation also serves as clues for your next step. “What is unique to Catholic Church records, like for a baptism or marriage, is that the individual is named, as well as the 44 Café MARCH2009

parents and grandparents,” he says. “As you go back each subsequent generation, you always have two names to compare and to ensure you haven’t started tracing a wrong family. Also, in these records, if an individual is from outside the parish area, it is usually annotated where they are from, which is a very good clue for where to look next.” TRICKS OF THE TRADE

At times, the path to find a Latino surname may look formidable, particularly when that surname is common. But there are still ways to overcome this challenge — especially if you find out what your historical blood lines are. When European explorers came to the New World, Olvera says, they intermarried with citizens of the new land and the same thing happened with the settlers that followed. Furthermore, on their way to the American continent many Europeans stopped at the Caribbean islands, where they first spread their name around. “In Mexico,” says Olvera, “the people were always recognized in a caste system, showing their blood line. So [for Spaniards, the Native population and people of African descent], there was a specific word for each percentage of blood mix. This continued until the late 1800s when Mexico separated itself from the Church.” Terms like castizo, criollo and mestizo were all bloodline classifications. When searching, keep in mind that the people who wrote names down, i.e. census takers, might have done it phonetically. Instead of Olbera, they may have written Olvera or instead of Rodriguez, they may have spelled it as Rodriques. So, the farther back the search goes, the more spelling differences there may be. With time and effort, it is possible to trace back several generations. To ease the strain of keeping all your collected material organized, it might be easier to pick a starting point or an end point. Above all else, when drawing out your family tree, especially in fairly large families, this same little trick can prevent the headache of keeping your ancestors in order. resources

If you want to dig your roots, here are some online resources to spearhead your research: This free Web site is a good starting point. There you will find the locations of the Family History Centers. These libraries are free and the librarians who work there will teach you how to do your online search. A popular subscription Web site that has a 14-day trial option. This Web site serves as an index to the many genealogical Web sites available. Here you can find how-to articles and Web listings from all over the world. These Web sites allow you to post your family tree or allow you to make contact with others searching the same family. Source: Carlos N. Olvera, president of the Dana Point Historical Society in Dana Point, Calif.

Visit us at the ushLi CoLLege Fair: 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM, March 18, 2009 Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers Visit us on Campus: Open Houses - 2/16, 4/18 and 7/17


Where’sthemoney? When it comes to internships, currency comes in many denominations

46 Café MARCH2009



Christina E. Rodríguez

A 9-to-5 job is not something college students want to think about while they work on research papers or cram for mid-terms, particularly if said full-time job doesn’t come with a paycheck. However, internships — many of which are unpaid — can help make the job hunt easier once students graduate and venture out into the professional world. Money vs. experience is the dilemma many college students face, especially Latino students who have put themselves through college. Maria Zamudio, 24, knows a thing or two about this. She refused to accept an unpaid internship when it came to her chosen field, journalism. “I couldn’t afford to take an unpaid internship,” she says. “I paid my own way through college.” Do you go back to working at a retail store for somewhat decent pay or do you find an unpaid or minimally paying internship to fill your résumé? For some, doing both may be the only solution. In order to get herself through college in four years, Zamudio had to hustle. “Oftentimes I took other jobs while doing my internships,” she says. “Taking an unpaid internship is a privilege. I couldn’t think of doing that.” She transferred from Joliet Junior College to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to major in journalism. While attending UIUC, she was offered an unpaid internship at the Joliet Herald, but she declined. Instead, she decided to write for the daily newspaper on a freelance basis because it paid. The following year, when she was offered the same internship, she again refused and decided instead to start working at a weekly publication. “When I started producing stories for the weekly, [the Herald editor] got upset and offered me a paid internship at the Herald,” Zamudio says. It’s true that paid internships are available, but they are very competitive. Besides, many students just don’t know where to look, says Judith Martinez, assistant director at the Career Center at UIUC. In fact, some students just don’t know about those paid internships until it’s too late. “My biggest concern is the lack of information,” says Martinez, who directs the outreach program at the center. “When Latino students get the information, it’s too close to the deadlines or past the deadlines to apply.”

Martinez says that in her 17 years at the Career Center she has learned to counter that problem by educating students while they are still seniors in high school or as soon as they enroll as freshmen in college, encouraging them to start looking for internships and jobs early on. “When freshmen come in, I congratulate them for coming in that early,” she says. Those students, she adds, are the ones that will put the time and work into finding those opportunities for themselves. Three hours a semester is all it takes. “If you give three hours a semester, you’ll be in the 49 percent of students that have a job the day of graduation,” Martinez says. Sometimes, students aren’t so lucky to get the paid job they want, but the experience pays off in the end. Selene Arana, 23, a doctoral student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, found her unpaid internships strengthened her résumé and helped her land a job at Boys Town of Chicago as a youth care worker. “I definitely recommend taking those unpaid internships,” she says, “because many times they turn out to be the best thing that can happen to you.” Of course, unpaid internships look really good on the résumé, too. “You can show how you struggled to really learn in the field,” Martinez says. Damian Lay, another assistant director at the UIUC Career Center, says students right now are trying to get any kind of internship, whether it’s paid or not. “Students apply for five, six, 10 internships and are taking the first offer they get,” he says. In the current economic environment, companies have more reasons to offer unpaid internships. Generally, Lay says for-profit businesses are more likely to offer paid internships, whereas nonprofit organizations usually offer unpaid internships. The key to finding the right internship is to have clear goals, like building as broad a skills set as possible. “Students have to make sure they’re looking for jobs that have transferable skills,” he says. “[The internships] don’t have to be in the field that they want, but something that they can build up.” When it comes to Latino students, Martinez understands. “We’re very new in this system,” she says. Because of that, she has a personal philosophy she passes on to her students, especially Latinos: “I will make whatever I want to make of myself.” 47

caféFilter | Fashion


Quality over quantity is key to looking chic in this economic crunch words

Marla Seidell

The economy may be tanking and budgets being squeezed, but more than ever, fashion is taking a front row seat. Michelle Obama touting creations by Maria Pinto and Isabel Toledo exemplifies a celebration not only of American fashion but local, lesser-known designers. According to Erin Creaney, stylist and owner of the Chicago fashion Web site, it’s a matter of “Recessionista Fashion” — buying a few high quality pieces by local designers — winning out over disposable clothing such as H&M or Forever 21. “People are realizing that they do want quality pieces, but they don’t want to sacrifice individuality,” says Creaney. How to save money but look fabulous is solved in a pinch: become a recessionista. The first step is learning how to shop smart. “Think quality, quality, quality!” says Creaney. This means shop for pieces that are going to last, not clothing that will fall apart. The strategy, says Creaney, is to buy from a designer who creates quality items with a unique take on classic looks. Case in point is Chicago designer Orlando Espinoza, who drapes jersey on silhouettes to create a unique look. “I push for a new modern look,” says Espinoza, seated in front of a row of sleeveless spring/ summer 2009 dresses hanging on the wall of his Pilsen showroom. Sleek and streamlined, the dresses are a blend of comfortable rayon matte jersey and silk charmeuse to create a “fitted but forgiving” effect. Like the serene lounge music playing in the background, the dresses are decidedly modern, with an urban yet sophisticated edge. And don’t forget utilitarian. “The dress is very practical for day and evening,” explains Espinoza. “It’s just a matter of accessorizing it differently and you have two different looks.” Precisely what any good recessionista would do. The key is quality over quantity. THINK CLASSIC AND MULTIFUNCTIONAL

The second step is to think classic and multifunctional. “If you have a classic dress or blazer you could wear it to a lot things, it’s a staple,” says Creaney. But remember it needs to be time-honored, not trendy, and made of long-lasting material. These elements make a piece a wardrobe builder that ultimately saves you money down the road. “When price points are lower you buy disposable clothing, which is money down the drain when you could have purchased something that isn’t trend specific so it will last for

48 Café MARCH2009

years,” explains Creaney. Espinoza, an advocate of both quality and classic value, concurs. “I would like to see the concept of disposable women’s clothing come to an end,” says the 42-year-old designer. As he points out, prior to manufacturing being sent overseas, America was based on pride in craftsmanship. Yet with a new President advocating keeping jobs in the United States, pride in local production may be making a comeback. “I hope people will realize that classic styles will always reign,” says Espinoza. A good example of classic staying power is a purple matte jersey raglan sleeve dress with bust ruching from the Espinoza collection. Although it’s a fall 2007 piece, the versatility is abundantly clear in its elegant, feminine style. The lightweight material makes it ideal for all seasons and good for traveling, to boot. Another case in point is an attractive high-waisted pleated skirt that easily could be worn for several seasons to come. “I have clients who tell me about the dress they bought three or four years ago, and they’re still wearing it,” notes Espinoza. Becoming a recessionista means building your wardrobe from the ground up and buying key pieces that can work together to create great looks. “You need at least two to three beautiful dresses in your wardrobe, and work from there,” advises Espinoza. Then buy a basic a-line skirt, a pencil skirt, basic black pants, a classic black heel or boot, and a classic clean jacket and you’ve got the basics covered. A BIT OF PERSONALITY

A finishing touch for the recessionista, says Creaney, is to look for a bit of personality or subtle embellishment or details that make it yours. Mix and match designers, for example. Espinoza suggests adding jewelry by local designer Tracy Mayer, who creates a subtle, yet luxurious product that complements well with the Espinoza collection. Finally, a sophisticated shoe, boot or even handbag complements the piece. For women who wish to reap the benefits of recessionista fashion, a visit to a showroom is a must. “It’s a relaxing atmosphere and you get the service,” says Espinoza. At the Orlando Espinoza showroom, women get the benefit of seeing the entire collection, in addition to the personalized attention of the designer who acts as stylist. “I wish women would understand that coming to a showroom is just shopping at a boutique, only more private,” says Espinoza. Fashion on a budget is apparently much more glamorous than one would imagine.


TOP LEFT: Raglan sleeve jersey top with shoulder pin tucking and high-waisted pleated wool skirt with patch pockets. TOP RIGHT: Scoop neck pleated jersey dress with silk contrast. BOTTOM LEFT: Fitted jersey dress with cap sleeves and ruched collar. BOTTOM RIGHT: Bias-cut silk charmeuse dress with pleated bust. Prices available at

Photographer Designer/Stylist Models Photo Location

Alexa Rubinstein Orlando Espinoza Laura Silva Nina Baprawska Orlando Espinoza Studio and Showroom, 1932 S. Halsted St., Suite 200, Chicago 49

caféFilter Meet The Expert Pilsen native Gil Castro is artistic director at BCS Salon & Spa and a national bilingual educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems. When he’s not cutting hair, he’s at industry shows as a platform artist assistant to Angus Mitchell, son and heir to the late hairstylist Paul Mitchell. Some of Gil’s celebrity clients include Plain White T’s and Panic! At The Disco.

BCS Salon & Spa 2929 S. Archer Ave., Chicago. (773) 254-0650

Hairapy for men There’s no rocket science behind well-styled hair


Gina Santana


Mauricio Rubio

For guys who want to get their hair right with minimum effort, local hairstylist Gil Castro gives advice on new hairstyles and hair styling. NEW STYLES TO LOOK FOR If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest hairstyles, expect to see more polished and groomed styles with addedprecision and less “bed head” looks. Those New Wave Mohawks will start to lose their edge. The next wave is a very graduated, tapered cut with heavy bangs for more of an updated Rockabilly look.

50 Café MARCH2009

HAIR ADVICE FOR EVERY MAN Men should schedule a haircut every 3-4 weeks. In between haircuts, hair products play a key role in keeping the style looking good. Unfortunately, men tend to over-use and waste money on hair products. Instead of buying and going through a bottle of gel every month, Castro recommends buying three good products that can last for up to half a year. The sign of a good hair product is that it gives hair natural shine and styling hold. The products to use depend on the stage of the haircut. Castro recommends using Paul Mitchell products and following this plan:


Tony Macias sports one of the latest men’s hairstyles, the updated Rockabilly look. Stage of haircut



Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Dry Wax

Bed Head After Party

Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Grooming Pomade

Bed Head Manipulator

Week One

Hairstyle is at its optimal length, use a light product.

Week Two

Hair is getting a little longer, natural shine and some style hold become important.

Week Three and Four

Hair is ready for next haircut. Until it gets cut, it needs firmer styling hold. Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Styling Gel

Bed Head Power Trip 51

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Sneak Peek at the Next Issue ...

> The Green Issue // April Showers Latinos Going Green From eating to dressing and housing, we show you how to live a better, environmentally conscious life. Techno-verde A look at consumer electronics that are smart and energy-efficient.

52 Café MARCH2009

+ PLUS + A preview of the Chicago Latino Film Festival’s 25th anniversary. Mango Street A one-on-one with Sandra Cisneros on the 25th anniversary of the publication of her acclaimed novel “The House on Mango Street.”


artdepartment COVERSTORY

Risky Operation words

Ever think how much better you’d look if you had sensually plump lips like Angelina Jolie, flat abs like Shakira, sexy curves like Salma Hayek or an eye-catching derrière

Gloria Elena Alicea


alBerto Treviño

like Jennifer Lopez? That the only thing standing between you and your ideal body shape are the thousands of dollars it costs to get liposuction and breast implants?

More Latinas embrace plastic surgery’s risks and rewards 53


ured by thoughts of saving money on plastic surgery, increasing numbers of women feeling the pressures of a celebrity-enamored culture that places a high value on youth and sex appeal are traveling outside of the United States for surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) — and Latin American countries are among the top destinations. But beware: Many bargain shoppers — like Maria Santiago, a Latina hairstylist who says she was “obsessed with looking good” — are finding that saving money on cosmetic surgery can come at a high price. In the North Side hair salon she once owned, Maria Santiago often heard her customers talk about their cosmetic surgery secrets and wish lists. They’d tell her about “the work they had done, or of wanting to go to Mexico or Colombia to get plastic surgery. They wanted to look like the telenovela actresses and movie stars they saw on TV.” Santiago, 49, says she herself never wanted to be a celebrity look-alike. At age 38, even after having five children, the petite hair stylist was attractive and fit, exercised habitually and weighed only 125 pounds. And she was so proud, she says, of her shapely buttocks that she had no reason to envy J.Lo in that department. “I didn’t feel really bad about my body, but I was obsessed with not having any stomach fat.” That’s all it took for a friend of hers to persuade her to have liposuction done at a “very affordable” price at a clinic in Mexico with a “fabulous” plastic surgeon she knew — and while she was having that done, why not get breast implants too? “I had never even thought about it. But she kept putting it into my head. She told me she’d take care of everything… the travel and living arrangements, everything.”

Survey Says ... According to a 2008 survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the celebrities who patients mention most when describing the look they want from their plastic surgery include Latinas such as Jennifer Lopez for legs and buttocks, Salma Hayek for eyes, Brazilian entertainer Xuxa for breasts, and Shakira and Thalia for abdomen. Among men, Ricky Martin’s buttocks and Antonio Banderas’ chin are very popular.

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THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS She followed her dream and, shortly after the surgery, Santiago found herself laying in a coma for three weeks in a public hospital in Guadalajara, Mexico where, she says, she was “abandoned” by the plastic surgeon after the botched liposuction. “I remembered trying to stand and seeing blood pouring down my legs, my pants soaking in blood…and hearing people running frantically.” The public aid doctors at the hospital who took her in, she says, had to induce the coma to keep her alive and gave her less than a 10 percent chance of survival. Two days before the doctors were scheduled to pull the plug, she recalls, she awoke when she heard the sound of her children’s voices. “I felt tears stream down my face hearing their voices. I fought to stay alive for them,” she said. Weighing less than 80 pounds, the once avid fitness buff had to learn how to breathe on her own and how to walk again. Santiago says that the doctors who volunteered their services persuaded a medical facility to donate the $500-a-day shots and $150-a-day pills she needed during her two-month hospitalization. The plastic surgeon she had paid a “bargain” amount of $4,000 for the two procedures was never heard from again. The botched plastic surgery robbed Santiago of her savings, and she almost lost her business due to her long hospitalization and recovery. Her beautiful, chestnut-colored hair fell out. And the part of her body she was most proud of, her curvy derrière, was now disfigured with lumpy, deep holes where she says the plastic surgeon reinjected the fat he removed from her belly during the liposuction. Once home, she fell into a deep depression. “I cried and would curl up in a corner of my closet at night to sleep,” she says. Her surgery had taken a crushing financial and emotional toll. Once a luxury only the wealthy could afford, the mainstream popularity of plastic surgery is leading to a rapid growth of cosmetic procedures among Latinos. Almost a quarter of the more than 11 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures in 2007 were performed on eth-

nic patients, with Latinos — who make up 10 percent of cosmetic surgery patients — leading all other ethnic groups in the number of procedures, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (AASPS), based in Arlington Heights. Dr. Rigoberto Mendoza, a boardcertified plastic surgeon with offices in Naperville and a member of AASP, performs large numbers of breast augmentations, liposuctions and nose reshaping surgeries, the most popular cosmetic surgeries among Latinos. He estimates that about a third of his patients are Latino, and receives numerous calls from women experiencing complications from surgeries performed in other countries. He says Maria Santiago’s harrowing experience does not surprise him. FIXING WHAT’S WRONG “There are very good doctors in other countries,” he says. “But there are many unqualified doctors here and abroad who are not board certified performing surgical procedures. When something goes seriously wrong, your chances of suing a doctor in another country are slim to none.” “The medical and legal systems are different,” Mendoza continues. “The patient (or the surviving family) has to go back to the country to sue, which can be very costly. And in countries with socialized medicine, if you want to sue a doctor and you lose, you’re responsible for paying all the doctor’s legal fees.” The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), reports that 45 percent of people who travel abroad to undergo facial cosmetic surgery return to their members with requests to correct the complications. AAFPRS past President Dr. Vito Quatela says that, in many cases, “we have no idea what they’re injecting in other countries. You may get fillers that are not approved by the Food and Drug Admistration. You may get a veterinary grade botox or other types of fillers of inferior quality.” Plastic surgery tourism poses a huge problem for U.S. doctors when patients return to this country, says Mendoza. “Doctors that operate out of the country find my name on the Internet because I

have a link in Spanish, and they tell their patients they can just come to me for their post-op care,” he says. When patients come back and try to get proper post-surgical care and corrective surgery, he says, many doctors — including him — will often refuse to accept these patients rather than assume liability for other doctors’ mistakes. Dr. Mendoza offers some basic recommendations to anyone contemplating surgery, especially Latina patients, who, he says, are increasingly victimized by unethical practitioners. • Do the research: “My Caucasian patients will come in having done all this research and interviewed other doctors,” he says. “Hispanic patients tend to come without having done any research, nor do they ask any questions.” • Check credentials: Make sure that the cosmetic surgeon is experienced in the type of surgery you want performed and is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the entity that regulates boards that certify surgeons. • Beware of discount offers or suspicious referrals: “Watch out for anyone who tries to convince you to save money on a cosmetic procedure, here or abroad,” says Mendoza. GOOD NEWS Despite the growing numbers of tragic unintended consequences during plastic surgery, however, the growth of the industry attests to the greater numbers of cosmetic surgery’s success stories. One of Dr. Mendoza’s breast augmentation patients, who prefers to be identified by her first name, Miriam, is one of them. Although she worked as a medical assistant for another plastic surgeon, she says she selected Dr. Mendoza after doing extensive research online and interviewing other doctors. “I’m tremendously happy now” says Miriam, 29. “I come from a family of bigbreasted women. It was a self-esteem issue. My self-confidence has really improved. And my husband is happy too.” 55



potential The plight of undocumented college graduates words

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Rafael Romo


Diana Mora Rashid remembers very little of Morelia, the city in south central Mexico where she was born. The 23-year old only remembers that one day, when she was 5 years old, her parents took her on a trip to a city far, far away, and they never returned. She learned this new city’s name was Chicago and mastered English faster than you can say “South Side.” “I have two brothers who were born here in Chicago, and we grew up here and became American,” Mora says. She enjoyed school at DeWitt Clinton Elementary, where she excelled in all of her classes. At Lane Tech College Prep High School she was an academic star. But life changed when she started high school and realized that her dream of going to college was a long shot because of her undocumented immigration status. Her chances of attaining a higher education were slim at best in spite of her straight A’s. Instead of hiding and being ashamed of her situation, Diana decided to go public with her plight and became outspoken about the struggle of children of undocumented immigrants. Her work as a volunteer with the Organization of the North East (ONE) and later with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) was noticed by the producers of “News Hour,” where she was interviewed by Jim Lehrer about her situation. Her interview turned out to be the break she needed. Linda Howe, a resident of the Quad Cities area, saw her on the program and gave her a personal scholarship. The little girl from Morelia graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a double major in political science and economics. A happy ending to Diana’s story: Two years ago she married Imram Rashid, 27, a United States citizen, and she is now a permanent resident. But her story is really a glimmer of hope in a sea of darkness. According to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., there are about 1.1 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were young: 400,000 of those are between the ages of 18 to 24 (700,000 are between 5 and 17 years of age). They speak English, they were educated in this country, and they are culturally American. Many have gone to college and graduated with degrees. Yet, they live in limbo because the country they call home does not recognize them as legal residents. With no Social Security number, they have no means of getting a legal identification, which means they can’t legally drive, most can’t open a bank account and, worse, can’t even [legally] work and contribute to society. A bill that would have given them legal status in this country failed in the U.S. Senate in 2007. The bill, known as Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (or DREAM Act), would have granted conditional legal status and eventual citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before they turned 16, continuously lived in the country for five years, finished a U.S. high school or obtained a GED, have good moral character with no criminal record, and attend college or enlist in the military. The DREAM Act fell eight votes short of overcoming a filibuster by senators opposed to the bill.

Advocating a path to legalization

An estimate of 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year, said ICIRR executive director Joshua Hoyt. Hoyt says the only way they can regularize their status is by marrying a U.S. citizen, but only if they were brought to the country by their parents legally (with some type of visa). Diana Mora Rashid and her family entered the United States with a tourist visa. That’s not what happens in most cases. “Most kids entered the country in the back of a car or were crossed by the river or desert, and if they marry an American citizen they cannot become legalized,” Hoyt says. The ICIRR has been advocating this cause for more than a decade. They had some success in Illinois when the state legislature enacted a bill that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities. “It’s criminal to squander the potential of these young people. It’s criminal to not create an incentive [for] children to finish college. And it’s criminal to hold children accountable for the decisions of their parents,” he says. Hoyt and other immigration advocates say the strongest argument for legalization goes beyond compassion. By leaving them in limbo the country doesn’t get any benefits from the money taxpayers invested in their elementary, high school and college education. Since they are not allowed to work, our nation also looses millions in income taxes, not to mention a generation’s pool of talent and creativity that is desperately needed at a time when sectors such as healthcare and computer technology are in dire need of qualified professionals. But there’s also strong opposition to any measure to give permanent residency to children of undocumented aliens. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is among the chief opponents. “In any other situation in which parents break the law and there are negative consequences for the kids, we hold the parents responsible. We don’t ask society to be responsible,” says FAIR spokesperson Ira Mehlman, who argues the cost of a measure such as the DREAM Act would eventually be the taxpayers’ responsibility. Mehlman also says that “the idea of granting not just green cards, but subsidized, in-state tuition to people who are in the country illegally, giving them amnesty, is probably not going to sit well with a lot of struggling American workers who are trying to get their own kids through college.” Diana Mora Rashid now lives in San Francisco where she works with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, a labor and immigrant rights organization. She hopes President Obama’s new administration will tackle the issue faced by children of undocumented immigrants head on. “I hope that he will not just take leadership in supporting the DREAM Act and signing it into law, but also [work on] a really just and humane immigration reform,” says Mora. 57


Guadalajara, Guadalajara! History and fun collide on a trip to the land of tequila and mariachi

The first Café Experience started off on the right track. The Dare to Explore Sweepstakes offered our readers the chance to delve into the world of travel writing on behalf of Café. Noemi Tejeda was selected as the winner of an all-inclusive family trip for four to Guadalajara and two LG Dare activated Verizon Wireless cell phones. The Mexico Tourism Board and the Jalisco Tourism Board and Aeroméxico were invaluable partners that helped make Noemi’s trip memorable and forever cherished. With six days of guided tours and luxury accommodations, it’s no wonder she’s already planning her return trip.

Inset photos taken by Noemi Tejeda on a Verizon LG Dare cell phone.

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With a handy journal and her picture-taking cell phone in hand, Noemi, along with her mother Martha, her brother Fernando, and José, her boyfriend, traveled throughout the state of Jalisco with friendly and knowledgeable tour guides who greeted them from the moment the plane touched Mexican soil. From visiting historical landmarks such as La Plaza de Armas, dining and shopping in quaint colonial cities like Tlaquepaque, and enjoying a Mayan cleansing of the aura in the city of Zapotlanejo, Noemi’s journal exploded with details and personal accounts of the trip. So much so, that we are only giving you the highlights. Go to to read and see more about her travels.


Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico – Dec. 2008 Day 1 As soon as we arrive at the airport we were swept off to the city of Chapala, located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. Along the way, we learned about the plans for the week ahead — definitely more sightseeing than in my previous visits, which I had spent going from one relative’s house to the next. After lunch at the Hotel Real de Chapala and a little shopping, we returned to Guadalajara to check into the luxurious Hotel de Mendoza. We unpacked and headed to the city for dinner. Lucky for us, we found the perfect way to unwind at an outdoor restaurant located across from the Catedral where they serve huge micheladas (a spicy beer cocktail) for only $3 U.S. If the rest of the week is anything like my first day, we’re in for an amazing treat.

| noemi tejeda |

Day 2 We started the day with a tour of downtown where we walked past some of the most wellknown destinations in Guadalajara, including the Plaza de Armas, Palacio Municipal and the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, which honors some of Jalisco’s prominent figures. We ended up taking a walk along a street that lead to the Cabañas Cultural Institute, home to impressive murals by Mexican painter José Clemente Orozco. I instantly became a fan of the large scale art based on optical illusions. One of the best meals of the entire trip was in the nearby town of Tlaquepaque at El Abajeño. Not only was the atmosphere wonderful, but the food was beyond tasty. Afterward, we did some shopping, and I had the hardest time choosing my favorite souvenirs when I wanted to take everything home with me.

| noemi tejeda | OPPOSITE PAGE: Catedral Metropolitana in Guadalajara. THIS PAGE (clockwise from top right): Martha Tejeda standing along the shore of Lake Chapala; Noemi Tejeda taking a break in Tlaquepaque; Instituto Cultural Cabañas; Man of Fire by José Clemente Orozco. | photos courtesy of mexico tourism board | 59


Day 3 I woke up excited that we were going to visit the city of Tequila. Our first stop was the Hacienda La Rojeña, owned by José Cuervo SA. We saw how the agave is cultivated, and Fernando even got to try his hand at harvesting. Afterwards we went to Mundo Cuervo, where we learned how tequila is made. We even got to taste “Reserva de la Familia” tequila straight from the barrel. Next was the town of Teuchitlán, named after the pre-Columbian society that occupied the area and site of the ruins of Los Guachimontones, known for its circular pyramids. Just recently uncovered, the archaeological site is an impressive sight. La Fonda de San Miguel in Guadalajara was our spot for dinner. The restaurant is located in an old haunted convent, and Fernando, José and I were brave enough to venture to the second floor where a lot of ghost sightings have taken place.

| noemi tejeda | THIS PAGE (clockwise from top right): A local Jimador begins the tequila making process; Meteor surrounded by flowers in Zapotlanejo; Martha, Noemi and Fernando Tejeda and José Castrejon enjoy a taste of Reserva de la Familia Tequila

Jalisco, Mexico | noemi tejeda |

Day 4 There are no words to explain what took place at the ecofriendly Hacienda Coyotes. Located in the city of Zapotlanejo, it is more than just a restaurant and camping site. The hacienda is surrounded by meteor rocks that are known to give off energy. Guadalajara 1. Tequila 2. Teuchitlán 3. Zapopán 4. Tlaquepaque 5. Tonalá 6. Zapotlanejo 7. Chapala

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We soon found out that we were having a Mayan steam bath, or temazcal. Led by a shaman, the temazcal is known to be a powerful therapy that treats many illnesses and also helps to lower stress and allow you to experience a time of absolute peace. All I can say is that it is an experience that everyone should go through. You’ll probably shed some tears and get to know yourself a little better.


Day 5 The city of Tonalá is home to the Museum of Archaeology and Folk Art, where we were given a demonstration on how ceramic tiles are produced and got to paint our own tile to take home. Later, we head out to Zapopán, a suburb of Guadalajara, where we learned the history of the arch located at the entrance of the city. For lunch, we enjoyed a delicious feast at Hostería Del Angel before heading to the Basílica de la Virgen de Zapopán.

LEFT: Zapopán Entrance Arch BOTTOM: Charros waiting to perform at the Lienzo Charro Ignacio Zermeno

Noemi’s Travel Tips

• Stay at the Hotel De Mendoza, in Guadalajara. The service, food and accomodations were top notch! • Bring your walking shoes. I’m glad I brought a few pairs. • Go to the Board of Tourism to schedule a guide to take you around downtown Guadalajara. • Hire a museum guide when you go to the Cabañas Cultural Institute. • Take a tequila tour. • Visit the ruins of Los Guachimontones before more people find out about them. • Visit every restaurant I mentioned, especially La Fonda de San Miguel Arcangel to see if you are haunted by the nuns. • Go into the temazcal when you visit Hacienda Coyote, in Zapotlanejo. Plan to stay overnight, if you can.

| noemi tejeda |

Whether you’ve been to Jalisco or not, the places visited throughout this trip are all exciting destinations worth discovering on your next getaway. Keep a look out for the next Café Experience and you could live a new experience just like Noemi. Here are some links that can help you plan your trip. A guide to the city of Chapala, located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. A mere 25 min. from the airport, this hotel is situated on the shore of Lake Chapala. Located close to several sightseeing spots, this colonial hotel is right in the heart of Guadalajara. From tours to weddings, here’s everything José Cuervo wants you to know and do while visiting Tequila, Jalisco. | noemi tejeda |

Day 6 Before we headed to the airport, we went to the Lienzo Charro Ignacio Zermeno arena, where we had the chance to see the charros perform their amazing horse and rope tricks. After that, we left for the airport and since our flight was delayed, we headed to the bar and indulged in our last shot of tequila in Mexico. Upscale restaurant known for its cuisine, architecture and rich history. Ecological camping grounds and restaurant known for their healing temazcal steam baths. What to do, what to see and how to get around the state of Jalisco.

This trip made me fall in love with Mexico and all it has to offer. I can’t wait to tell everyone about it. I will be back soon! 61


THE Marvelous Reality of Achy Obejas On Cuban Exiles and Revolutionary Ruins

words photos

Benjamin Ortiz Kaloian

Chicago-based Cuban writer Achy Obejas in a street of La Habana. Her new novel, “Ruins,” deals with the crisis facing the Cuban Revolution as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

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“The world breaks us all, / throws us up against the wall, / splits our hearts with a vengeance… / Pain is the risk and the measure / not just of how far we’re willing to go, / but of how much we’re willing to feel / later, alone in the dark.” Achy Obejas, “The Habits of the Blind” In poems conjuring afternoons lost in a lover’s embrace, Achy Obejas takes us away from selfdeluding flights of fancy and back down to an earth that has its own pungent delights. Amid lost loves and lives that could have been, Obejas spins verse that has “embraced chaos,” as she puts it in her best-selling poetry chapbook, “This Is What Happened in Our Other

Life” (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2007). In an interview with Café, back from Cuba and fresh from a holiday trip to Iowa, Achy Obejas warmly opens the door to her Kenwood home and offers deep mugs of bold-roasted coffee over a chat about “Ruins,” her upcoming novel release, on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. In a kitchen nook crested with homey

LITERATURE placards blazoned in cartoonish bodega advertising — “HOT BOLLOS / CUBAN SANDWICHES / CAFÉ CON LECHE” — Obejas tells a sardonic joke from the Cuban exile community: “Everybody in that first wave of immigrants was like, ‘Oh, I lost my farm, my business.’ My mom loved to tell this joke about how if you put together all the land that everybody lost you would realize that Cuba is really the size of the Soviet Union, because their sense of everything was way hyperbolic.” “Cubans always have a holy grail,” Obejas continues, “whether it’s the Spanish grandfather who left you millions and you just need to find that birth certificate to get it ... or the person who’s got all this pre-revolutionary money stuffed in their fake ceiling waiting for capitalism to come back. God, they really are the Jews of the Caribbean — there’s always a Messiah they’re waiting for that never arrives.” In the introduction to the anthology “Havana Noir” that she edited for Akashic Books in 2007, Obejas describes the city of her interrupted Cuban childhood as “a city of ironic and often antagonizing contradiction.” Though she takes on subjects so very close to her own skin with brio and sharp wit, Obejas dignifies the sources of her inspiration. Johnny Temple, Akashic publisher and editor of her forthcoming novel, describes her writing as “gorgeous... stylized without being self-conscious.” Her new book, in particular, “explores the crisis that Cuba is facing with unusual sensitivity and honesty,” he says. “Too much writing about Cuba is polarized, reflecting either an anti-Communist perspective or an antiAmerica/imperialist sentiment. Achy deftly avoids these traps in ‘Ruins’ and tells the story with language that is both rich and lucid.” LAUNCHING PAD

Her journey started when mom and dad left Cuba in 1963, when she was six, taking her to Miami and then ending up in northern Indiana. “It wasn’t a decision that I felt even a little bit comfortable second-guessing,” she says. “I don’t know what I would have done in their position.”

But she started imagining other worlds and selves at the same time she pondered another life that could have been in Cuba. “I started writing very early on, making up my own Greek myths and comic strips when I was about six or so. I’ve always wanted to write — I’ve never wanted to do anything else.” She moved to Chicago on her own in 1979, having attended various schools, including Indiana University, eventually earning a Masters of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College. With brief sojourns in Southern California and Hawaii, Obejas made Chicago her home base and launching pad for a career in journalism. Covering the city for the SunTimes, then the Windy City Times and later for the Chicago Tribune as a longtime staffer, she admits to having become politicized by communities that were considerably to the left of her Cuban-American upbringing. When asked about being an activist herself, she responds with knit eyebrows and a slightly annoyed smile. “You know, I’m always amused by this notion of activism. I don’t really think of myself very much that way,” she says. “But when I got here, in the late 70s and early 80s, the activist community was the Puerto Rican community. [It] was in absolute revolt over a lot of things that had been going on, and [they] were working for inclusion in a way that paved the way for a lot of what happened later with Harold Washington and the election of other people of color.” Her journalism led to Peter Lisagor and Studs Terkel awards, plus a team Pulitzer at the Tribune. Obejas reflects specifically on the short-lived SunTimes Spanish-language column “Los Vecinos,” which she shared with Jorge Casuso and Bill Zayas, as an important corrective to Chicago journalism. “We wrote a lot of stories about political engagement that the American reporters couldn’t get into,” she says. “Part of it was language, part of it was culture, part of it was fear. They were scared of going south of Madison, but they were terrified of going west of Western for black and Latino issues.” Former colleague and current Tribune reporter Monica Eng confirms in an e-mail how Obejas pushed cover-

age toward a more inclusive Chicago: “Achy was a real anomaly at this largely white and largely male paper. And she went a looooong way to reel in stories that the typical Tribune staffer would never know about and from worlds they simply did not inhabit, but that Achy did.” The gay community was one of the worlds she inhabited and helped promote beyond the bounds of objective journalism. “[T]hat’s about the only time that I actually have ever really been engaged in activist things,” she points out. “I worked for Windy City Times, which was an activist newspaper,” she says. “I was with the Mayor’s commission on lesbian and gay issues for a little while, and I also participated in the passage of the Human Rights Ordinance. I actually wrote the speech that [Mayor] Eugene Sawyer gave on the passage of the ordinance [in 1988].”


Events and characters in Chicago fed her literary imagination as she wrote, submitted and published short works that were compiled in 1994 by San Francisco’s Cleis Press in her first book, “We Came All the Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?” Cleis followed the short story collection with Obejas’ first novel, “Memory Mambo” (1996), focused on one Cuban family’s urban exile in Chicago. 63


Achy Obejas dedicates “Ruins” to the neighborhood she has cultivated since 1997 in Old Havana.

PREVIOUS PAGE: From left, “Havana Noir” (Akashic Books, 2007), “Ruins” (Akashic Books, 2009), “Days of Awe” (Ballantine, 2001). THIS PAGE: From left, “We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?” (Cleiss, 1994) and “Memory Mambo” (Cleiss, 1996). | photo jillian sipkins |

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Between her first two published works, Obejas embarked on a return from exile that continues to this day. “I wanted very much to reconnect, and the first time I got an invitation was in the early 80s,” she remembers. “But I needed my Cuban passport, which my parents had, and my mom and dad refused. All my Cuban friends were going, but I was sort of living vicariously through them.” Eventually, mom and dad got used to the idea, so Obejas was able to reconnect and establish her current network of friends, relatives and neighbors back in Cuba. From these trips in the late 90s, Obejas would gather material for her 2001 novel, “Days of Awe,” winner of the Lambda Award for Lesbian Fiction. The novel shifts phantasmagorically between memory, dream, history and narrative, as the main character, like Obejas, discovers a hidden Jewish heritage. For Obejas, this was nothing shocking: “[My family had] always lived in Jewish communities and had frequently celebrated Jewish holidays. But I’m neither a normative nor a crypto-Jew. I love the social justice aspects of Judaism, the sense of justice, the emphasis on literacy and the idea of connectiveness, but I pray my own way.” “Days of Awe” seemed also a work of translation and anthologizing — of cultures, languages, faiths, revolutionary rhetoric and reclaimed Caribbean authors. Obejas continues this strategy in “Ruins,” a recasting of Ernest Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” in the midst of the Special Period in Cuba. The main character, “Usnavy” — a reference to American military power branding Cubans — struggles

to keep his family together while remaining true to the revolution. But post-Soviet scarcity ultimately prods him to engage in “bisnes,” the underground economy. Obejas dedicates the book to the neighborhood she’s cultivated since 1997 in Old Havana. “I think [Usnavy] is a dreamer,” she says. “Like most people who believed in the revolution — they were dreamers. They really wanted to find that rainbow at the end, after the storm.” Obejas points out that this book is not about exile: It’s about those currently in Cuba “who really believed in the revolutionary experiment, and who really gave it their all … because of the greater good, and then the greater good never came.” Contrasting Usnavy’s quixotic fantasies, Obejas is nothing but realistic about the coming, eventual re-alignment of Cuba: “I live in Chicago, with an ever-diminishing Cuban-American community and far from the Miami epicenter. I am much more interested in being a part of a post-revolutionary Cuba than the diasporic community, which will most likely follow historical pattern and be absorbed into the U.S. mainstream as another immigrant (no longer exile) community.” Obejas is in a good place to study these changes as DePaul University’s Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz chair in Latin American and Latino Studies. Currently, she’s busy translating into English the poetry of classic Cuban poet Nicolás Guillén. She also delivered a translation in fall 2008 of Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer-winning “The Short Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” In an effusive outburst of e-mail, Díaz describes Obejas as an “aching, scathing artist of the first order, and her vision of an America haunted forever by Cuba and a Cuba forever haunted by itself is fundamental to remembering that there is no American century without a voyage to Cuba, none that is worth a damn.”


Hard to Say ‘Good-bye’ Two Chicago Cubanos share their hopes for the country they left behind words

Michael Puente

American 13-year-olds are usually thinking about music, movies, school and sometimes even young love. Hugo Chaviano didn’t have the luxury of such youthful thoughts. At 13 years of age, Chaviano made the painful decision to leave his family, friends and home in Cuba. “Circumstances force people to face their reality and their choices much earlier in life,” Chaviano says. “I knew I wasn’t going to see my family again.” Fifty years after the Cuban Revolution, Chaviano, now a successful attorney in Chicago, reflects on his years in Cuba and his hopes for brighter days for his home country. The year was 1966, seven years after Fidel Castro had taken over power of the island nation, when the desire to flee his country took root. Chaviano was just two years away from being eligible to serve in the Cuban military. Now as it was then, Cuban males ages 15 to 27 can’t leave the country. “As that age nears, you have to fish or cut bait,” he says. Hugo Chaviano Also weighing on Chaviano’s decision to leave was seeing the country he loved changing for the worse: “Castro comes into power in 1959. Fast-forward to 1966 and you see a country that was quickly becoming something else, from the vanishing of material goods from the stores [to the] nationalizing of all property by the government.” In Cuba, Chaviano lived in urban Havana with his family. He recalls how quickly Cubanos living in the rural areas of the country started to migrate into the cities to find goods that were becoming scarce. Many of his friends and neighbors, Chaviano says, started to leave the country. Chaviano’s father worked as a dentist in Cuba, and life was pretty good even under Castro’s rule. Besides having his own successful dental practice, Chaviano’s father was the chair of a dental school in Cuba. His position granted him access to diplomats, entertainers and goods that weren’t available to the average Cuban. But even that wasn’t enough to keep Chaviano in Cuba. “We were not going hungry. We had access to a lot of foreign type clothing, food,” he says. “I guess the fear, from my standpoint, was not being able to one day leave the country.” Although his parents tried to talk him out of leaving, Chaviano’s mind was made up. But because the government kept close tabs on people attempting to flee, Chavia-

no’s plan was to study at a seminary school in Spain. Chaviano left Cuba bound for Madrid on Sept. 11, 1966. But just 30 days later, Chaviano had an opportunity to come to the United States and he took it. Forty years later, Chaviano is a partner in the Chicago law firm of Sanchez, Daniels and Hoffman. A once ardent supporter of the Cuban embargo, Chaviano, whose entire family eventually immigrated to the United States, now questions its effectiveness. “If the goal of the embargo was to bring about change in Cuba and hurt those in power, it’s not working. Change coming from within Cuba just cannot happen,” he says. Marta Miyares, a 67-year-old advertising consultant, is another of the estimated 20,000 Cubanos living in the Chicago area. In 1961, when she was merely 18-years-old, Miyares left Cuba, two years after the victory of Castro’s Revolution over Fulgencio Batista’s forces. “Castro prom- Marta Miyares ised elections, a democratic system. That was a lie,” says Miyares. Miyares agrees the embargo is not doing much to change Cuba: “Cuba has no money to pay for anything. Cuba can trade with any other country, but they have nothing to pay with.” For nearly 40 years, Miyares refused to set foot in Cuba again. But in 2000, she had a change of heart and visited with her daughter. What she saw there saddened her. “Everything is dilapidated, but the people are wonderful,” she says. “They are making do with nothing. They are so completely isolated of foreign news.” But even with Fidel transferring power to his brother, Raúl, Miyares doesn’t believe much will change. “Raúl is like him. They have the same frame of mind,” she says. Miyares hopes that by changing the economic structure in Cuba, Cubans could start to lead a life with more freedom: “Freedom to think and do what you want to do with your life. Freedom to read books and [use] the Internet.” 65


artdepartment MUSTGO

Shining A light Luna Negra Dance Theater celebrates its 10th anniversary by showcasing Latina choreographers words

Christina E. Rodríguez

Eduardo Vilaro stood against the wall-length mirror and watched intently as Elise Drew practiced a dance solo for an upcoming show. The 23-year-old Puerto Rican dancer shimmied her way toward the mirror in a lime green tank top and black spandex pants. Her hair was up and as she moved, the muscles in her back flexed intensely. Vilaro told her in a mixture of English and Spanish what she should add on, even positioning her. “Yes, ma’am. That’s better. Have fun with it,” he says as he stands in front of her, eyeing her every move. “This is the Limburger ballet; major cheese.” The dancers laughed. Vilaro is the artistic director of Luna Negra Dance Theatre, the 10-year-old Chicago Latino dance company that he started after completing a master’s degree in interdisciplinary arts at Columbia College. A Cuban immigrant, Vilaro was a principal dancer for Ballet Hispanico out of New York before taking a break and heading to Chicago. He had always wanted to establish his own dance company, and found the perfect opportunity to create a community that was representative of his struggles and his culture.

| photos courtesy of silverman group | 67


“Luna Negra Dance Theatre is a Latino company. But that doesn’t mean that everyone in the company needs to be Latino.” — Eduardo Vilaro, Creative Director

“It has a lot to do with who I am as an immigrant. I came at a time in the late 60s when [being] Latino wasn’t hip, when you were still struggling to find [an] identity in the media, in the arts,” he says. “I didn’t find any truth or authenticity in what I saw reflected in my community. In fact, in some instances, it’s still going on. There is still unclear representation.”

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Vilaro felt stuck between two cultures. He didn’t feel like he belonged in the United States, yet he couldn’t go back home to Cuba. He felt, as he found other Latinos to feel, lost and with no place to turn. From this dilemma bloomed the inspiration for Luna Negra. He wanted to mimic the sense of a cultural melting pot. “What was happening to me was a fusion of cultures,” he explains. “I wanted to reflect that fusion in art work.” So, unlike other Latino dance companies he had worked for, Luna Negra would display the work of Latino choreographers living in the United States. Instead of an allLatino cast performing non-Latino works, it would be the other way around. “Luna Negra Dance Theatre is a Latino company. But that doesn’t mean that everyone in the company needs to be Latino,” says Vilaro. “The voice, the work has to be Latino work. But we’re living in America, which is a hodge-podge of many different cultures.” March brings about a whole new


Luna Negra’s 2009 spring season kicks off with “Ella,” a celebration of Latina choreographers, featuring Maray Gutierrez, Nancy Turano, Michelle Manzanales and Annabelle Ochoa. aspect to that initiative. The 2009 spring season launches “Ella,” a celebration of Latina choreographers, featuring Maray Gutierrez, Nancy Turano, Michelle Manzanales and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The program aims to challenge stereotypes that exist in the art world. “Most dancers are women, but there are more male leaders and male choreographers than there are women,” says Vilaro. “There are very few Latina choreographers that have hit mainstream, and I want to change that.” Not only are the choreographers Latinas, but those who are lending their financial support are also women. “We started [a] program in which funders who sponsor a Latina choreographer are female,” he explains. “It’s a woman helping a woman.” Manzanales, one of the featured choreographers, is the rehearsal director for Luna Negra. A Houston native, Manzanales has always been a choreographer at heart. “My mom said that when I was three I was teaching my stuffed animals to dance,” she says. Like Vilaro’s inspiration for the company, Manzanales’ piece focuses on personal stories of the struggles from which we all emerge. “Azucar Cruda, Sugar in the Raw” bloomed through writing exercises with her dancers. “We did exercises that had to do with [the dancers] and their struggles,” says Manzanales. “I collected these personal stories about relationships with mothers, with themselves. All these stories created movement, and it became this beautiful collage of all of their true human stories.”



Vilaro personally chose When: March 28, 8 p.m. the choreaographers for this Where: Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, program. 205 E. Randolph Dr. “Michelle had always Chicago been choreographing. Admission: $25-$55 Her movement was just Information: (312) 334-7777 gorgeous,” he explains. “I watched her dancing and I had seen [some of the pieces she had choreographed]. She gave me tapes, and that’s how I decided.” When working with Gutierrez, he recognized her potential. “I saw her choreographic mind,” he says. “I saw that she had something in her that needed to come out.” Word of mouth inspired Vilaro to seek out Ochoa, who was already well on her way to making a name for herself. “I went one day to Philadelphia, and she was working with a ballet company.” After watching her and having dinner together, he decided to include her piece. The program is only a step in a direction that Vilaro is confident won’t stop when the curtains close. The art world is in for an unforgettable treat. For Vilaro, this is the chance to give women the platform that they need in order to expose the ingenuity and power within the Latino community. “We need diversity in the world and equality in that diversity. We can’t just have male voices,” he explains. “We need women’s voices in order to show that diversity, to show the way they’re viewing art; the way they’re viewing the world.”

| photo elia alamillo | 69

caféBLEND < Pistolera When: March 11, 8:30 p.m. What: This four-piece New York-based alternative rock band has its feet firmly planted in its Latino and American roots. Their songs address issues such as immigration and women’s right. Their cumbia-like rhythms will have you strutting your stuff on the dance floor. Where: Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago Admission: Suggested donation, $5 Info: (773) 7286000, and www.

Miradas: Mexican Art from the Bank of America Collection When: Ends August 30 What: Curated by Cesareo Moreno, Director of Visual Arts and Chief Curator for the National Museum of Mexican Art, this exhibit offers a unique survey of one of the most comprehensive corporate collections in the U.S. and Mexico. Artists featured include Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Jose Clemente Orozco and Gunther Gerzso. Where: National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago Admission: Free Hours: Tue. to Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Info: (312) 728-1503, From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci: A Century of Italian Drawings from the Prado When: Ends April 5 What: Get a quick taste of Spain’s Prado Museum’s vast art collection with this exhibit of 70 original drawings by Michelangelo and other 16th-century masters. “From Michelangelo to Annibale Carracci” highlights the variety and technique

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of these legendary artists. Where: Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston Admission: Free Hours: Tue., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wed. to Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 12-5 p.m. Info: (847) 491-4000, S-e-x-OH! When: March 5-29 What: The chicas of Teatro Luna bring their fourth ensemble work back to the stage. “S-e-x-OH!” explores issues of sex and gender among Latinas. Where: 16th Street Theater, Berwyn Cultural Center, 6420 16th St., Berwyn Hours: Thur. and Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 5 and 8 p.m. Info: (708) 795-6704,   High School Musical When: March 10 through May 9 What: There is no avoiding the phenomenon whether it’s on TV or blasting out of your kids’ earpods or even in “South

Park” (where it was mercilessly satirized). Now it’s coming to the stage in the form of an hour-long musical for the whole family. Where: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire Admission: $12 Info: (847) 634-0200;   Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship When: Ends Oct. 25 What: The Whydah sank in a storm in 1717 with bounty from over 50 captured ships. Over 200 artifacts tell the true story of the Whydah, from her transformation from slave ship to pirate ship. Where: Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Hours: Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Info:  

tODOTOSÍ Café Presents Kinky > When: March 14, 8 p.m. What: The acclaimed rock-electronica band from Monterrey will perform tracks from their new album, “Barracuda.” Where: Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago Admission: $15 Info: The Afro-Cuban All Stars When: March 20, 8 p.m. What: Led by Juan de Marcos González, former member of Sierra Maestra and the real genius behind the famous Buena Vista Social Club, this Cuban band spans four generations of ex-patriate Cuban musicians from around the globe. Where: The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park Admission: $35-$55 Info:   Puerto Rican Abolition of Slavery Concert When: March 29, 7 p.m. What: The Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cul-

tural Center will honor female bomba dancers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. with a concert featuring Nandi, the only all-female bomba percussion group from Puerto Rico. Where: Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd., Chicago Info:   Helder Moutinho When: March 25, 8:30 p.m. What: Portuguese fado has been traditionally sung by women. Join Helder Moutinho, a rare male voice in this genre, as he takes listeners on a journey through the history of fado in this musical tour, part of the Old Town School of Folk Music’s “World Music Wednesday” series.

Where: Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago Admission: Suggested donation, $5 Info: (773) 728-6000, html   Hubbard Street Dance Chicago When: March 27 and 28, 8 p.m. What: One of Chicago’s leading contemporary dance troupes will perform some brand new pieces, as well as classics from their 30-year old repertoire. Where: McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, Fawell and Park Blvds., Glen Ellyn Admission: $32, $40 and $42 Info: (630) 942-4000, ArtsCntr/09_hubbardstreet.htm 71


CelebrateBrunch Local restaurants serve up fresh, unique offerings words

Belia Ortega


Mauricio Rubio

The next major holiday is just around the corner. Celebrate Easter, springtime or just a weekend with family and friends at one — or a few — of the following Chicagoland brunch spots. CITY SPOTS

THIS PAGE: Sinhá Elegant Cuisine’s Sunday brunch is served at the home of owner Jorgina A. Pereira. OPPOSITE PAGE (left): Ms. Pereira in front of her Near West Side home in Chicago.

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Andersonville Pauline’s 1754 W. Balmoral Ave. (773) 561-8573 Pauline’s serves up a traditional American breakfast in a cozy corner café. Signature dishes include the country breakfast (biscuits and gravy, with Italian sausage) or the lumberjack special (a marinated 10-ounce skirt steak with three extra

large eggs and Pauline’s grilled potatoes with red and green sweet peppers). There are more than a dozen five-egg omelets to choose from and sides include corned beef hash, ham, sausage, bacon and biscuits. Humboldt Park Treat Restaurant 1616 N. Kedzie Ave. (773) 772-1201 The menu offers an array of

Mediterranean, Asian and Indian influenced dishes. Brunch options include: spicy Indian daal (lentils), paratha (flat bread) and basmati rice, served with eggs; poached eggs served with pan-seared steak, wilted spinach, a baguette and spicy potatoes; pancakes topped with homemade chai (a blend of black tea, honey, spices and milk) syrup; and Treat’s version of Korean pa-jun, a vegetable pancake.


Near West Side Sinhá Elegant Cuisine 2018 W. Adams St. (312) 491-8200 (Limited seating. Reservations recommended.) The Sunday Brazilian brunch is a celebration at the Near West Side home of owner, Jorgina A. Pereira. Brunch begins with refreshments and a samba performance, followed by a family-style meal that includes feijoada, a Brazilian dish of black beans, rice, beef and pork meats, and collard greens; farofa, a popular Brazilian dish made of raw manioc (cassava) flour toasted with butter, salt and bacon; and desserts.

Hyde Park Orly’s Barbeque Restaurant and Bakery 1660 E. 55th St. (773) 643-5500 Brunch at Orly’s Barbeque and Bakery is practically a feast. The meal begins with a glass of strawberry and orange juice fruit punch and a basket of freshly baked cinnamon-raisin whole wheat muffins and fresh fruit, and ends with a dessert buffet table. Popular entrees include BBQ steak fajitas, shrimp and crab enchiladas, Louisiana catfish, vegetarian huevos rancheros, and sincronizada — layers of flour tortillas, Cuban black beans and citrus salsa made with chicken or grilled vegetables. Noble Square Flo 1434 W. Chicago Ave. (312) 243-0477

Using several longtime family recipes, owners Anita Cano and Rodney Carswell offer an array of southern-style brunch choices. Items on the menu include scrambled eggs ladled with roasted poblano sauce and pico de gallo; Flo’s original burrito, chilaquiles, a chorizo scramble made with Flo’s own chorizo, green chile chicken enchiladas, and huevos verdes (a stacked enchilada layered with cheddar cheese and chorizo and covered with green chile).   Mexique 1529 W. Chicago Ave. (312) 850-0288 The Mexican and French fusion menu offers chorizo-stuffed crepes, huaraches (corn masa stuffed with bacon, thyme, fried black beans, spinach, flank steak and goat cheese fondue), and a variety of sopes and tacos to choose from. Appetizers include mejillones (Prince Edward Island mussels cooked with white wine, dried chorizo and tomato-saffron beurre blanc). River North Karyn’s Cooked 738 N. Wells St. (312) 587-1050 This gourmet vegan hot spot offers a fresh and healthy twist on some traditional Latino dishes by substituting popular meats with seasoned soy and tofu. These include the Rainbow Mexicana, which is made of soy textured vegetable protein, a tofu scramble, onions and a rainbow of peppers; and the Tofu Quesadilla — a very spicy Mexican seasoned tofu, stuffed into a tomato tortilla and dished up with a side of guacamole, oven-baked vegetables, soy cheese and chipotle sauce.   South Loop Yolk

1120 S. Michigan Ave. (312) 789-9655 Eggs every which way: Benedict, Florentine, scrambled, Irish, rancheros, in omelets, as a frittata or joined with a skillet meal, pancakes or French toast. Yolk also serves its signature oatmeal and fresh squeezed juices. Zapatista 1307 S. Wabash Ave. (312) 435-1307 Zapatista’s weekend Mexican brunch doesn’t exclude any staple dishes. Chimichangas, breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, huevos motuleños, chilaquiles, tortas, flautas, and ceviche are all on the menu. Optional additions include chicken, pork and chorizo. Salsas range from a mild tomatillo cruda to the muy, muy caliente fire-roasted tomato habanero. IN THE BURBS Oakbrook Terrace Drury Lane 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace (630) 530-8300 (Reservations recommended.) Sunday and Easter brunches at Drury Lane offer more than 200 food choices in an elegantly decorated venue. Lisle/Naperville Allgauer’s Restaurant Hilton Lisle/Naperville 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle (630) 245-7650 Allgauer’s Sunday champagne brunch has a rotating menu that includes carved prime rib of beef, roast pork loin, poached salmon, omelets made to order, jumbo shrimp, oysters on the half-shell, crab legs, fresh fruit and vegetables, a selection of cheeses and, of course, champagne. 73


let’s eat! For this edition we’ve sprinkled in a few new restaurants: a Cuban sandwich joint in downtown, a restaurant on the Northwest side that combines the best of Ecuador and Japan and a couple of Mexican restaurants in the suburbs. Our growing list of restaurants points the way for you to explore and indulge. Como siempre, ¡buen provecho! Note: This section does not include every Latin American or Spanish restaurant in Chicago or the suburbs. It contains a selection of Café magazine’s favorites. We invite you to submit your favorites to

CENTRAL AMERICAN Irazú 1865 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago (773) 252-5687 Try the chicken casado, served with gallo pinto (rice and beans), sweet plantains, an over-easy egg and a cabbage salad. Big and delicious burritos and sandwiches also served. People swear by the oatmeal shakes. Cash only; ATM inside, wheelchair accessible    Restaurante El Salvador 4125 S. Archer Ave., Chicago (773) 579-0405 Delicious variety of pupusas: cheese and jalapeños, frijoles (beans) and tres leches. Enjoy them with the curtido salad (pickled vegetables), served on top, and hot sauce. Cash only, wheelchair accessible   Tickie’s Belizean Cuisine 7605 N. Paulina St., Chicago (773) 973-3919 For something different try the oxtail with red beans and spicy rice; the dukunuisas (tamales made with fresh corn, filled with pork and steamed in foil); and the panades (tiny fish-filled crescent-shaped pastries). Plenty of chicken, pork and vegetarian options. All major credit cards accepted    CUBAN Cafe 28 1800 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago (773) 528-2883

74 Café MARCH2009 Great mojitos and caipirinhas. Go for the “Taste of Cuba” appetizer. Leave some room for the ropa vieja, the arroz con pollo, the grilled shrimp quesadillas or the chipotle grilled chicken and green tamales in this intimate cafe. Wash it all down with café cubano. Wheelchair accessible, all major credit cards, music   Cafe Marianao 2246 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago (773) 278-4533 Specializes in Cuban sandwiches, including medianoche (pork, turkey, ham, swiss cheese, mustard and pickle in grilled sweet bread). Delicious strong, dark and sweet Cuban coffee. Cash only   Cafecito 26 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago (312) 922-2233 A restaurant for people who work in downtown or are visiting one of its many museums and attractions and suddenly develop an urgent craving for a sandwich cubano. Try the sandwich de palomilla, the choripán (Spanish chorizo with grilled onions and chimichurri) and some rather interesting hybrids of Cuban, Italian and even Middle Eastern sandwiches. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible    MEXICAN Bien Trucha

410 W. State St., Geneva (630) 232-2665 This tiny Mexican restaurant offers such delights like the portobello mushroom cazuelitas (fresh melted Chihuahua cheese, chopped portobellos and garlic) and a wide variety of tacos: al pastor, tilapia, chicken, etc. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible   Estrella Negra 2346 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago (773) 227-5993 Each table carries a Day of the Dead motif  created by local artists. The menu includes traditional entries like tacos and tamales, as well as some unique spins on the same. The homemade chicken pozole is a must. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible, BYOB and Corkage Fee   Fuego Mexican Grill 17 W Campbell St., Arlington Heights (847) 590-1122 Gourmet-style Mexican fare. Menu favorites include rollitos de pollo (spicy chicken rolledup like an egg roll with black beans, corn, onions, peppers and cilantro, melted cheese with an avocado-lemon cream sauce) and huachinango al mojo de ajo (red snapper with olives, capers, cilantro in tomato sauce). Good vegetarian and dessert options. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible, music   La Casa de Isaac 431 Temple Ave., Highland Park (847) 433-5550 Family-owned kosher (but not strictly kosher) Mexican restaurant that serves warm homemade chips and chipotle salsa and delicious guacamole served in a lava-rock bowl. Try Isaac’s mother’s favorite: a large portion of chicken enchiladas

with green sauce and an artful drizzle of sour cream. A flavorful and light flan with a mug of freshly made Mexican coffee end a meal perfectly. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible     Mi Mexico 220 Milwaukee Ave., Buffalo Grove (847) 229-3491 From tacos to burritos, from margaritas to super nachos, this family-owned restaurant leaves no stone unturned when it comes to Mexican food. Try the sopa de albóndigas and the sopa siete mares as starters. The enchiladas divorciadas (meat, cream sauce, chipotle and green salsa) are also a good choice, as well as the spinach quesadillas and the steak Jalisco. All major credit cards accepted.   Pancho Pistolas 700 W. 31st St., Chicago (312) 225-8808 Good place to go before or after a White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field. Go for the chicken flautas and tacos; excellent margaritas. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible   Real Tenochtitlan 2451 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago (773) 227-1050 Along with the three principal moles always on the menu, a different specialty mole is offered daily. Entrees include a duck breast with a guajillo chile and cilantro sauce served with garlic potatoes and green beans and bacon; pork tenderloin with green mole and tamales; and, for the vegetarians, potato cakes with prunes, tangy Mexican greens, grilled red onions, roasted vegetables and queso fresco. All major credit cards accepted; BYOB, corkage fee

RESTAURANTGUIDE Sergio’s Cantina 30 W. State. St., Geneva (630) 845-9200 Enjoy authentic Mexican dishes like enchiladas, fajitas, chile rellenos, camarones a la diabla and pollo con mole, as well as their margaritas and signature mojito in a warm environment. All major credit cards accepted    Xni-Pec 5135 W. 25th, Cicero (708) 652-8680 Enjoy the flavors of the Yucatán peninsula in this restaurant. Besides the traditional cochinita pibil, Xni-Pec’s menu also includes the poc shuc (sliced pork marinated in sour orange juice) and huevos motuleños. All major credit cards accepted, music   NUEVO LATINO/LATIN FUSION Cuatro 2030 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago (312) 842-8856 Serves up the best of Latin American favorites: spicy pinchos de pollo (chicken kabobs); black beans and rice; plátano maduro (sweet fried plantains); mashed yucca; tender, flavorful steaks; interesting desserts, like sweet potato upside-down cake; and good drinks – mojitos, sangria, etc. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible, music   Dorado 2301 W. Foster Ave., Chicago (773) 561-3780 Mexican-French cuisine with interesting pairings: nachos with smoked duck; seafood-stuffed poblano chiles with green rice, vegetable ragout and lobster shrimp sauce; crabmeat-stuffed pan-seared salmon over chipotle mashed potatoes with fresh basil, tomatoes, capers and a citrus beurre blanc. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible, BYOB

La Pinta 25 Calendar Court, La Grange (708) 354-8100 Offers a variety of ceviches: shrimp, tilapia and salmon. Good chile relleno: poblano pepper stuffed with shrimp, scallops and gouda cheese on top of a bed of refried black beans covered in a chipotle coconut sauce. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible Maya Del Sol 144 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park (708) 358-9800 Chef Rubén Beltrán, an alumni of Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill, serves a wide variety of dishes combining flavors from all Latin America. The tender and flavorful cochinita pibil (marinated pork) is a favorite. Also try the serrano lime-cured strip steak. All major credit cards accepted    Vermilion 10 W. Hubbard St. , Chicago (312) 527-4060 A bold melding of Indian and Latin American flavors. Try the tandoori skirtsteak w/plantain chips and garlic sautéed spinach. All major credit cards accepted   PUERTO RICAN La Bomba Restaurant 3221 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago (773) 394-0106 Crispy jibarito sandwiches and tasty mofongo (mashed green plantains with garlic and pork rinds). Weekend specials include verduras con bacalao (assorted root vegetables with cod fish) and soups: sopa de res con arroz o fideos (beef soup with rice or noodles). All major credit cards accepted   Borinquen 1720 N. California Ave., Chicago 773) 227-6038 Home of the original jibarito sandwich (fried green plantains with meat, lettuce and tomato).

Vegetarian options available. Homemade chicken noodle soup. All major credit cards accepted   Tumbao Bar & Grill 3213 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago (773) 772-9800 Enjoy a wide variety of traditional Puerto Rican dishes, local comedians, live music and, some Monday nights, sports event in this large and rustic brick-walled spot on the West Side. Wheelchair accessible   SOUTH AMERICAN Galapagos Cafe 3213 W Irving Park Rd., Chicago (773) 754-8265 The cultures of Ecuador and Japan join forces in this restaurant. Kick things off with their cheese empanadas or the llapingachos (thick fried mashed plaintain or potato cakes filled with chese). Entrees include pescado encocado (fish cooked in coconut sauce) and the Galapagos fried rice, as well as a wide variety of sushis.   El Llano 3941 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago (773) 327-1659 If you’re hungry go for the bandeja paisa: a huge plate of rice, beans, chicharrones, avocado, plátano maduro (sweet plantain), arepa (thick cornmeal tortilla), yucca fries, a fried egg and steak. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible, BYOB   Rosa de Lima 2013-15 N. Western Ave., Chicago (773) 342-4557 Blink and you might miss this spot as you drive up Western Ave. Potato is the signature ingredient in this Peruvian restaurant and you’ll find it in dishes as diverse as the causa de camarones and the papas a la huancaina. Their pollo a la brasa is their key specialty, served with two sides.

All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible   SPANISH Arco de Cuchilleros 3445 N. Halsted St., Chicago (773) 296-6046 Great tapas that arrive at your table with perfect timing. Favorites include bacon-wrapped dates, smoked salmon with capers, fried eggplant with Spanish sausage, and mejillones en salsa verde (mussels in a white wine and cream sauce). Hold on to some bread for dipping! The sangria will help wash it all down. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible   Aroma Tapas Restaurant 3907 W. Algonquin Road, Algonquin (847) 658-5656 Go for the paella valenciana (saffron-seasoned rice with chicken, pork, chorizo and seafood). All major credit cards accepted   Café Iberico 739 N. La Salle St., Chicago (312) 573-1510 Famous for the queso de cabra (baked goat cheese), pulpo a la plancha (grilled octopus), ensalada de pimentos asados (fire-roasted peppers in olive oil) and toasted bread. All major credit cards accepted, wheelchair accessible   Mercat a la Planxa 638 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago (312) 765-0524, Enjoy Spanish tapas Barcelonastyle in this restaurant located within the Loop’s Blackstone Hotel. Try the more traditional fare like gambas al ajillo or a la planxa (items grilled to order) such as the meats. Have a nice leisurely dinner upstairs or relax at their downstairs lounge with a nice glass of Spanish wine. All major credit cards accepted 75


Lizlie Minor, Farissa Alexander, Lerry Knox, Marquis Miller and Pamela Miller

Judy Martinez and Nancy Andrade


FEET photos

alBerto Treviño

Café Media and KattenMuchinRosenman LLP were the proud sponsors of the Joffrey Ballet’s Affinity Night held Dec. 15 at the ballet’s headquarters, 10 E. Randolph St. Café readers participated in a Q&A session with the three Latino cast members of the Joffrey’s “The Nutcracker” featured on the cover of our Holiday/Winter issue — Mauro Villanueva, Suzanne Lopez and Raúl Casasola — and met them at a post-event reception.

Nova Taggart talks with the Joffrey dancers, from left, Raúl Casasola, Mauro Villanueva and Suzanne Lopez.

Nova Lucero, Maria Lopez and Carmen Martinez

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Micaela and her mom, Miriam Gonzales, chat with dancer Mauro Villanueva


Pepe Vargas and Kristen Driscoll present the winning poster.

Isidro Lucas and Myrna Salazar


CHILD photo

Abel Arciniega

The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago unveiled the official poster of this year’s Chicago Latino Film Festival during a reception held Jan. 22 at the Society for Arts and Theater, 1112 N. Milwaukee Ave. Created and designed by Juan Pacheco and Armando Torellini, the poster was inspired by Frida Kahlo, legendary Mexican actress María Félix and the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. The Chicago Latino Film Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The Festival will be held April 17-29.

Jaime Maldonado and Monique Medina

| photo Silvana Tabares |

Julián Posada, Pat Pulido and Manny Sánchez | photo elia alamillo |

Maria Ramos and Yvonne Davila

| photo chino ramos |

Elio Montenegro and Rafael Romo | photo chino ramos | 77

caféblend | sociales

A NEW ERA photo

Jillian Sipkins

It was one of those “you had to be there” moments. And that is why Café Media celebrated the inauguration of our 44th president Barack Obama with a viewing party for its friends and subscribers Jan. 20 at Zócalo Restaurant, 358 W. Ontario St., Chicago.

Adriana Zavala, Irma Ruiz-Nakachi, Bonny Martinez, Jose Melendez

| photos Danny Rico |

Wendy Hernandez Violet Tovar

Maria Cruz, Jennifer Campos Natalie West, Nino Campos, Ronna Campos

PICK up to GO photo

George Malamis

The Cafeteros know how to throw a party and this past Christmas season we had not one but two. We celebrated the publication of our Holiday/Winter issue with a pick-up party Dec. 16 at Tumbao Bar & Grill, 3213 W. Armitage Ave, Chicago. And, on Dec. 20, we celebrated our first Holiday party at Ñ, 2977 N. Elston Ave., Chicago. For our full gallery of images go to and click on Gallery. Christina Villenueva, Lucy Salgado, Christina Garcia

Greg Spero and Andrea Lewis

78 Café MARCH2009

Nina Valentín and Elmi Saldaña

The “It’s Not Like I’m Drunk” Cocktail 2 oz. tequila 1 oz. triple sec 1/2 ounce lime juice Salt 1 too many 1 automobile 1 missed red light 1 false sense of security 1 lowered reaction time

Combine ingredients. Shake. Have another. And another.

Never underestimate ‘just a few.’ Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

caféBLEND | a mí Me enseñaron



| photo alberto treviño |

When I was growing up, my father always demanded that his children greet (“saludar”) everyone when we walked into a room and say good-bye (“despedir”) when we left. It was a pet-peeve of his when children would enter a room and not acknowledge someone’s presence, especially when that someone was an elder. In addition, as a sign of respect, we were forced to look the person we were greeting in the eye and say, “Hello.” I hated being forced to do this, especially in my teenage years. I thought it was embarrassing and uncomfortable. Now, however, as an adult, I am very grateful. It has been to lessons like this one that I attribute part of my success in business. I went through the growing pains of that discomfort then and, as a result, I familiarized myself with that feeling. Now, I can walk into any room — usually with little or no discomfort — hold my head up high, approach a stranger, extend my hand and say “Hola” without hesitation. —Dulce Ramos, Chicago Send us your “A mí me enseñaron” stories to

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Be a hero for kids with cancer. As a vital community partner, National City is pleased to join forces with St. Baldrick’s and Fox Chicago by helping to underwrite this year’s efforts in the fight against childhood cancers. Visit if you would like to register for an event or make a donation. Don’t forget to join “Team National City” when you get there. • National City Bank, Member FDIC • ©2009 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. • CS-32806

CAFE Magazine 03 - March 09