El capitolio

In 1956, Nat King Cole traveled to Cuba to perform at Tropicana, but he couldn’t stay at el Hotel Nacional because of the color of his skin. That same year, 1956, the iconic Capitol Records building was completed. A thirteen-story, earthquake-resistant tower that was the world’s first circular office building. And its nickname became “The House That Nat Built,” because… More El capitolio

Isla de la juventud

As the boat slowed on its approach toward the dock, I couldn’t help but hear El Beny sing, “Cuando a Varadero llegué, conocí la felicidad…” Only it wasn’t Varadero, it was Catalina and she was glistening. There’s nothing like leaving the crowd and noise of the city behind. Although its only 22 miles off of the coast,… More Isla de la juventud

Today in Cuban Music: Afro-Cuban Jazz Project

Every Saturday at 5 p.m. at Hancock Park, you can enjoy incredible performances  as part of the LACMA’s Latin Sounds series.  Last weekend, tumbao and salsa enthusiasts were treated to a performance of the L.A.-based Afro-Cuban Jazz Project. The band is a who’s who of some of Cuba’s greatest jazz and dance bands. Founded by its former leader, the late, great… More Today in Cuban Music: Afro-Cuban Jazz Project

Arroz sin pollo

“Are you vegan?” “No.” “Are you vegetarian?” “No.” “You just like to eat?” “Yes.” That was a little bit of my conversation with Caro Lafaurie, who became a vegetarian at the young age of 13. Today she is the owner of Equelecuá Cuban Café in Inglewood, a vegan restaurant that takes our traditional Cuban dishes and… More Arroz sin pollo

El primo

I often tell people that Pitbull is my cousin. This isn’t true, of course. But I have a gift for bullshitting people with my dead-pan delivery and expressionless cara de mierda. It’s not entirely too far fetched that Armandito and I could be cousins, both being Cuban-Americans that grew up in Miami, both randomly screaming dale and both with an… More El primo

Los Dodgers

By birthright, I was told to pledge allegiance to Los Almendares – never the Habana baseball club. Later in my youth I was instructed to support our Cuban prince, José Canseco, and cheer on the Oakland A’s (even though he didn’t show up to his own street naming). Then, when Florida got a team it was all Marlins, all the time.… More Los Dodgers

Dos mojitos

Cubans get to have two of everything. Uno aquí y otro allá.  La heladeria Coppelia en el Vedado, Coppelia ice cream in Miami Havana Club hecho en Cuba, Havana Club produced by Bacardí Tabacos Cohiba cosechados en Pinar del Río, Cohiba cigars rolled in the D.R. El Floridita Bar en Obispo, El Floridita Restaurant in Los Angeles El Floridita de allá: Ernest Hemingway… More Dos mojitos

Today in Cuban music: Yo Quiero Guarachar

¡A guarahcar se ha dicho!  Afro-Cuban Funk band PALO! released their third album, Yo Quiero Guarachar  and features standout guest performances by Descemer Bueno, Aymee Nuviola, Pedrito Martinez and Roman Diaz. PALO! is comprised of Latin Grammy-nominated vocalist Leslie Cartaya, Latin Grammy-winning saxophonist Dr. Ed Calle; leader/pianist Steve Roitstein, and virtuoso Cuban percussionists Philbert Armenteros and Raymer… More Today in Cuban music: Yo Quiero Guarachar