English 57, Latin American Literature - Blog 5 - Uruguay:
Watch the film Los Modernos written and directed by Mauro Sarser & Marcela Matta.
Observe characterization, plot, and narrational devices (Point of view, cinematic tropes such as metaphor, context, and meaning created by cinematography). I also expect that you pay attention to the incidental music (or lack thereof in many scenes), describe how it connects or creates the mood (tone), and during dialogues and scenes, to carry the narrative and plot. Listen to the music in the film, like Carlos Gardel’s tango in the intro, the music in the discotheque, etc.
I met Mauro in 2019, when he came to screen his film for the Uruguayan community in Los Angeles. Mauro was invited by Consejo Consultivo de Los Angeles organized by Andrea Lafitte and the MRREE of Uruguay to present “Los Modernos” and be part of the Q & A during the 2nd screening season of Uruguayan Cinema. It was a great success. As I watched the movie, I was very moved because I recognized all the places in the film from Montevideo, my city of birth, with takes on one of the streets where I lived (when Fausto walks to Clara's house). I hope that you observe the setting and see how important it is to contextualize a story. I can state in surety that this film represents many of the Uruguayan costumes and cultural idiosyncrasies.
Photo 1: Gustavo Alvarez, Uruguayan Consul in Santa Monica, Mauro Sarser, Federico Ramos, Yours Truly, and Andrea Lafitte.
P.S. I share these “postcards” from Uruguay, with you, and a few stories of surprising, connecting musical flights.
Two very interesting links about Murga and Candombe from Travel Blogs - Music unique to Uruguay. Check them out!
I must include this video created by my dearest friend Jaime about the corner of Convención Street and Durazno Street in Montevideo, where he lived when he was a teenager. I lived two blocks from where Jaime lived, and la Calle Durazno was the crossing street where I lived on a street named after one of the poets you are reading this week: Julio Herrera y Reissig. ("Tertulia Lunática").
"I hope that you don't get bored.
I went to Puro Verso walking the streets of Ciudad Vieja, with my friend (Jaime Roos' former manager), Ricardo Dandraya. I was going to meet my friend and renowned political journalist, poet and essayist Gerardo Bleir, with whom I had worked at La República Newspaper when I was in my early twenties and wrote about music and culture. Gerardo had written the foreword for my first chapbook Muecas de Fósforo, in 1986. But Gerardo is also one of the characters in Sarser & Matta's Los Modernos. I was in Uruguay as a manager of Alphonso Johnson Quartet for the Río de la Plata Love Supreme tour, in July-August 2016. My band was playing the first concert at the impressive landmark Teatro Solís. I met with Ricardo on the stage during the soundcheck. Then, we walked to Puro Verso, and the next day, we went to Barrio Sur.
Ricardo Dandraya & Gerardo Bleier at café y librería Puro Verso, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo.
The Love Supreme Tour - Alphonso Johnson on bass, Federico Ramos on guitar, Gary Fukushima on keys, Chester Thompson on drums. Me, the manager of my musical idols.
In April, 28, 2019, the Uruguayan community in Los Angeles participated in an event honoring and celebrating Candombe and the decade since the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed candombe in its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This event was also organized by Consejo Consultivo de Los Angeles and Andrea Lafitte.
My friend, old neighbor, and fellow Aquarius, Fernando "Lobo" Nuñez, is a drum maker. He still lives right around the corner from where I lived--another of my homes en la calle Río Branco, between la calle Carlos Gardel and la calle Durazno, in the heart of Barrio Sur. His workshop is called Taller El Power, and my husband owns three of his Candombe drums--they are here in my home in Santa Monica. In the late eighties, I went to his home, and he said that I had just missed Federico "Freddy" Ramos. He had gone to Lobo's home to buy those drums. I never met Fede, the man who was to become my husband and father to our daughter, singer/songwriter Magaluna, in Uruguay, but many of my friends told me stories about him typically after concerts, during the wee hours in the cafés in Montevideo. Jaime showed me a picture of Federico when he recorded for an album that Jaime was producing. I found the very same picture of Roos and Ramos eleven years later, among my husband's photo albums. What is really mind-blowing is that Lobo threw a party in his house in 1991 to celebrate my wedding with my first husband, a professional American basketball player, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who then played in Montevideo for the basketball team of my childhood, Club Tabaré. (We flew to Córdoba, Argentina for our honeymoon, and then I came to the US, through New Orleans, Mardi Grass, Cajun and Creole food, and life in the hood).
Lobito y yo at the famous graffiti wall that reads "Keep Walking - they're looking at ya" - Carlos Gardel Street - Barrio Sur, Montevideo. Photo by Ricardo Dandraya.
Mick Jagger at Taller El Power and home to "Lobo" Núñez after a full Estadio Centenario for the Rolling Stones' concert. The guy behind Mick is another amazing Uruguayan musician, Francisco Fattoruso, a Brazilian, American, and Uruguayan bass player who lives in Los Angeles and whom I met in Montevideo at a concert with his father (Grammy winner Hugo Fattoruso) when he was five years old. (Behind Lobo is guitarist Matías, son of the greatest of the greats, Ruben Rada).
Teatro de Verano, Montevideo, Concierto de OPA. Urbano Moraes, Maria de Fátima, Pippo Spera, Gabriela Jeffrey, Pelo Deboni, Hugo Fattoruso y yo. (The video is from 1987 when recordings weren't as possible as they are today, but Rada is doing his trademark fun stuff).
Fran just released another magnificent album, entitled Épocas. Here's a youtube video featuring the amazing, renowned Tango "Volver" de Gardel y Lepera. You can stream it from any platform, but here’s is the link to Spotify - Francisco Fattoruso Albums. I will be writing about Fran's music one of these days, and about his father, and that I met Fran when he was five years old in a concert in the famous Teatro de Verano en Montevideo. Fran and his beautiful family moved to LA. My people in this northern American lands.
P.S. Last April 15, I sent Jaime an email asking how he was doing in this upside world of the pandemic and whether he was making music. I am working on my novel, whose title in English was inspired by one of his songs, Lluvia con Sol. So I’d asked him if he’d permit me to include an excerpt from his lyrics as my manuscript’s epigraph and whether he’d approve my translation into English. Last year, a fantastic Uruguayan guitarist, Federico Navarro-Trías, a friend who lives in the US (and who played with Jaime Roos, with Hugo and Fran Fattoruso, and with the greatest of the greats, Ruben "Negro" Rada), made a cover of Roos’ song for a video inspired by a scene in my working manuscript entitled Sunshower [Lluvia con Sol], with the stunning vocals of Sirena Flores. If you want to, check it out! The project is my blogpost, MAP - The Making of Rain with Sun - Brook's Poetic Ecosystems. By the way, Mauro is Fede Navarro's childhood friend, and Mauro also collaborated in Jaime's documentary, Tres Millones. The six degrees of separation, vanish. We are only three million, but we are all connected, even transcontinentally. Montevideo is a creative and inspiring village.
Federico Navarro-Trías, the gorgeous Sirena Flores, and me, at Fran Fattoruso's Birthday party in 2019, Los Angeles.
Here's a spellbinding live version of Lluvia con Sol featuring the maestro Hugo Fattoruso, one of the greatest Uruguayan musicians of all times, and Jaime, and the awesome Nicolás Ibarburu on guitar.
P.S.S. Before I contacted Mauro asking him for the link to Los Modernos, I went on Youtube, looking for a film that Jaime and his son Yamandú produced, entitled Tres Millones about Uruguayan’s passion and obsession with soccer. There are three million people in Uruguay, and we are all fútbol fanatics. We call our hearts Celeste because our soccer t-shirt is blue like the sky (and some of the straps in our flag). I couldn’t find a version with English subtitles. As I was peeking into Jaime and Yamandú’s video, an upper corner notification displayed on my laptop’s screen, announcing an email sent by Jaime Roos responding to my last email from April 15. Serendipity. Though I live in the Northern Hemisphere, mi corazón es Siempre Celeste and I am connected across the Americas to my land and the music, literature, and artistic and cultural expressions created by my people.
Photos from Patricia Schiavonne's window in her apartment in Montevideo. El Cielo de Montevideo en Otoño. The Autumn in Uruguay is in April, and I vividly remember the crisp air of these days in my city. I met Patricia when I traveled as a tour manager of Alphonso Johnson Quartet. She translated the clinics offered by Chester Thompson and wrote impressive reviews of the concert for the Love Supreme Tour. She is now my spiritual coach.
Any Time Is Mate Time In Uruguay - The Uruguayan Obsession by Rosemary - Travel Blog
My niece, Valen Ramos dancer for La Comparsa Los Niches. In the last photo, Valen is next to my brother in law, Leonardo Ramos, who plays the Chico drum.
The one in the center is me at 18, in a murga formed to promote the political coalition called Frente Amplio and encourage people to vote while transitioning from dictatorship to democracy in the eighties. Ciudad de Minas, Departamento de Lavalleja, Uruguay.
Saludos desde Uruguay, con el cariño entrañable de mi corazón celeste,