January 21, 2007

Video: Lima, 1944 Documentary

I first read about these historical videos made of a film of Lima in the 1940s as a brief mention by David Sasaki on Global Voices Online, who noted they had appeared on the Peruvian blog, pospost, by the Lima-based poet and journalist, Fernando Obregón Rossi. The videos are originally posted on You Tube by poetafer.

I give some background information about the film; if you prefer, go straight to the videos to watch them.

This film, called simply Lima, was funded by US Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, a government agency from 1940 to 1946 aimed at promoting increased commercial and economic cooperation among the US and other Western Hemisphere countries.

As part of this initiative, producer Julien Bryan was hired by President Franklin Roosvelt to make a series of films to be shown to students about Latin American and its customs. Clearly, the video attempts to portray Lima as a modern city, rooted in history, with an emerging middle-class and industrial base. The photography and script are by documentarians Jules and Miriam Bucher. Special mention should be made about the music; although no credit is given, it is used dramatically to underscore the film in a very 1950s fashion.

As this video begins, severe music and graphics lead us to the credits. We see where Lima is located in South America, as we listen to a superficial history of Lima's history.

The first city shots are from what looks like the Hotel Bolivar on Plaza San Martin, followed by some nice shots of central Lima streets, transportation, and pedestrians.

We see the 'city on top of the city', the life being led on Lima's rooftops.

A quick cutaway take us to the Plaza de Armas where the camera lingers on the statue of Pizarro.

The narrator is concerned, even as we see historic colonial churches, we understand 'the new Lima is much like other modern cities the world over'.

We then see an interesting cross-section of people displaying devotion to an image of a Virgen outside a Lima church.

Suddenly, we're at the Lima racetrack and viewing 'the leisure class', who are described as 'the present-day representative of the immensely rich aristocracy'.

Middle-class people are also shown at the racetrack, and we hear about how the middle class is small but growing. We see so much of the horsetrack, it makes me wonder if the filmmaker wasn't a betting man himself.

Finally, we're back in central Lima, viewing the colonnaded passages along the Plaza San Martín. We see the old Lima streetcars, while the narrator launches into a long explanation of the tradition of closing down for two hours daily for a long lunch.

Lima Part 1:
Running Time: 5:15

This second part of the film shows Lima waking up from its siesta, with some good shots of random streets and businesses in the center. Then, as the narrator discusses the fact Lima is in an earthquake zone, we see earthquake damaged buildings. There is a plan to 'rebuild the city to withstand the ravages' of earthquakes.

Construction, with 'uncommon enthusiasm', is going on in Lima as see workers raising a multistory building, albeit the old-fashioned way. We see some of the new suburbs, which look like they may be in the Rimac area, close to the hills of eastern Lima.

There is a long segment of a shaved ice vendor with strange musical accompaniment.

We see a restaurant and hear about 'the hearty food of the country: rice, fish, meat, and bread' for about 'five cents in North American money'.

Next, we are whisked to the Hospital Obrero, touted as 'one of the finest in South America'; yet, outside patients buy old bottles to fill in the pharmacy. Inside the hospital we see the 'workers --cabdrivers, construction laborers, waiters, clerks, all these-- and their families' getting care with modern-looking machines.

This segment ends with the narrator discussing changing attitudes to the nursing profession.

Lima Part 2:
Running Time: 5:26

The final part of the film begins by focusing on folk art and the Christmas nacimiento, the traditional Nativity scenes displayed in churches. Then, artist Julia Codesido and her indigenista style paintings are briefly featured.

We ovbserve students taking their oral examinations at San Marcos University, the oldest in South America. The narrator makes it a point to say studying there had been, 'a peregotive of the rich' but now 'young men and women from the less-priviliged areas' go there; in particular, to study engineering and medicine'.

The narrator waxes on Peruvian young people, calling them, 'serious young people; they feel, more than most students, responsibility in the working out of their country's destiny'.

The film ends with another set of graphics detailing Lima's growth from 1750 to 1944. In 1750, Lima was described as, 'A tiny triangle of narrow streets'.

Finally, there are streetscapes of modern Lima (possibly, Paseo de Colón and Parque de la Exposición). The final shot of the film is of the new industry in the still agricultural Rimac Valley.

Lima Part 3:
Running Time:4:32


January 15, 2007

I Have A Dream: Celebrating The Life Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Despite the troubled times in which we live, there are still heros in the world.

One of mine is Martin Luther King, Jr. Crusader for civil rights, practitioner of non-violence, the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, brutally assasinated.
Here in the United States, the third Monday of every January, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day.

In honor of Dr. King, here is a video of the full version of his famous I Have A Dream speech.

Running time: 17:47


January 13, 2007


I've flown LAX to LIM many times, and here's what I can tell you.

The cheap AeroMéxico flight is very tiring. You leave LAX at about 7:30 am (so you have to be at the airport around 4:30 a.m.); fly 3.5 hours to Mexico City, where you HAVE to go through Mexican immigration (even though you are just in transit). Then, you have to wait about 5 or 6 hours until you board the plane to Lima, where you arrive around 11:30 p.m. A very long day, indeed.

LACSA and TACA, part of the same company, also have long stopovers; they leave LAX around midnight, and you don't get to Lima until the late in the evening of the following day.

Most US companies take you to one of their hubs (like Houston, or worse Miami) which also makes for a long trip. Those flights always arrive late at night.

LAN, the Chilean carrier, flies directs, is usually the most expensive, and can have one or two flights a day depending on the season; but, it usually arrives in Lima in the middle of the night as well.

My personal preference is with the Panamanian airline, Copa. Those flights leave LAX around midnight and fly six hours to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. Upon arrival at PTY, you DON'T go through immigration; you just have a one hour turnaround to get the next flight to Lima, arriving in Peru around 2:30 p.m., just in time for lunch and a couple of pisco sours.

In Spanish there is a saying, Lo barato sale caro; meaning, sometimes the cheapest things end up costing the most.

I prefer to pay a little more to fly Copa (and it's not as expensive as LAN) and arrive in Peru without having to wait in transit for a long time. Plus, I prefer to arrive in Lima in the daytime. The Panamanian flight attendants are friendly and do their best to make you comfortable. They also ply you with free drinks. The return flight with Copa leaves Lima around 3 p.m., and arrives at LAX by midnight of the same day, with a change of planes at PTY.


January 10, 2007

Peruvian Bloggers Raising Social Consciousness

Peruvian bloggers are raising social consciousness.

I recently became aware of two projects worthy of note. One has to do with housing for the poorest Peruvians, and the other with discrimination of workers by elite employers.

At Slayer_X, I read about the Un Techo Para Mi País project, which is very similar to the American Habitat For Humanity, in which volunteers build houses for needy people. This project began in Chile a few years back, and has now expanded to various Latin American countries. It not only seeks to assist the poorest residents; but, also to create relationships and networks between them and the volunteers.

The wording of the poster for the Peru project is powerful:

You're lucky. This is not your house.
52% of Peruvians don't have the same luck.

Un Techo Para Mi País Perú is calling for 450 volunteers between the ages of 17 and 26 to come together in solidarity to build homes for residents in three very poor areas in Greater Lima. The recipients of the new homes do not get them for free; they contribute either a small monetary contribution or in-kind labor. Construction dates will be from January 17 to 20.

Meanwhile, la página de milanta, brings us news of the Operativo Empleada Audaz, or Operation Audacious Employee.

In the elite seaside resort of Asia, south of Lima, local citizens and the municipality have passed a series of stringent measures meant to curtail the behavior of the nannies, maids, and other servants who work in the exclusive resorts and homes of the areas. One of the most egregious laws passed was that servants could only go to the beach after 7 p.m. This goes against Peruvian laws that state that Peruvian beaches cannot be privatized and must be open and accessible for all.

The Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, National Human Rights Coordination, an umbrella organization of various human rights, anti-racism, and anti-discrimination groups in Peru, is calling for a protest on January 28. It is asking as many people as possible to come to Asia on that day dressed in the uniforms of nannies, maids, and other household servants, and mount en masse protest at the beach there in solidarity with the household workers at the resort. Ironic that those Peruvians who have the most resources are among the most lacking in compassion.


January 8, 2007

El Tema Del Verano: A Commercial Creates Furor This Summer In Argentina

As promised, I am trying to add to this blog as one of my New Year's resolutions.

I first heard about El Tema Del Verano, a commercial for Argentine cellular phone company Cti Móvil, at Just MU It, in which the author discusses the very clever ad campaign for the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere. In the past week, I've been seeing more and more posts about this commercial phenomenon taking place in Argentina, at blogs such as Marquitos, Maskus Planet, and leading Buenos Aires daily, La Nación.

If you use Google Argentina, to search for tema del verano you will get about three million hits for a commercial that is about a month old in a country of only 36 million people.

But I still didn't understand the full impact of this one commercial until I read a detailed account by deambulante@SSC, from whom I'm quoting heavily in this post.

In mid-December, mobile or cellular phone company Cti Móvil, launched this new commercial to kick off the summer season in Argentina.

The commercial is based on the fact that every summer in Argentina there is always one musical hit, el tema del verano, that gets played over and over on the radio and in the discos. Usually, it's not a great song, but has a catchy beat, and is just right for hanging out at the beach.

The commercial is a complete spoof on this type of song, as the lyrics attest:

Este es el tema del verano,
Que vas a cantar y bailar en todos lados,
Te habla del sol, de la arena y de las olas,
Y que tiene un estribillo que se te pega,
Que se te pega y nunca despega.


Clavo que te clavo la sombrilla,
Clavo que te clavo la sombrilla,
Pero claro que te clavo que te clavo la sombrilla,
Ajá, que te clavo la sombrilla.

Este es el tema, el hitazo del verano,
El que vas a cantar y bailar en todos lados,
Que siempre dice abajo, arriba, abajo,
Y tiene un estribillo que se pega,
Que se pega y nunca despega.


Este es el tema, el hitazo del verano,
Que vas a cantar y bailar en todos lados,
Y que siempre en una parte tiene un
Que se te pega,
Que se te pega y nunca despega.

Este es el tema, el hitazo del verano,
Que vas a cantar y bailar en todos lados,
Porque siempre en una parte pide,
Y que siempre tiene un meneo sensual, SENSUAL!!!!!!!


A rough translation in English would be:

This is the summer hit,
That you're going to sing and dance everywhere,
That talks about the sun, the sand, and the waves,
And has a catchy chorus,
That sticks in your head and you never forget.


I'm going to stick, stick, stick that umbrella in for you,
I'm going to stick that umbrella in for you,
Of course I'm going to stick that umbrella in for you,
Oh yeah, I'm going to stick that umbrella in for you.

This is the hit, the big hit of the summer,
The one you're going to sing and dance everywhere,
The one that always says, up and down, and up and down,
And has a catchy chorus,
That sticks in your head and you never forget.


This is the hit, the big hit of the summer,
The one you're going to sing and dance everywhere,
And has a part that always says,
That sticks in your head,
That sticks in your head and you never forget.

This is the hit, the big hit of the summer,
The one you're going to sing and dance everywhere,
Because one part always asks people to
And has a sensual move, so SENSUAL!!!!!!!


Anyone can tell the song is a parody, and a very clever marketing tool. At the onset of the commercial, a voice says: "Every summer people flee the noise of the city, but they can't escape the Summer Hit, el tema del verano.

And, at the end of the commercial, the same voice declares: The Summer Hit, more dangerous than the sun. Protect yourself with your Cti with MP3, and play your own music this summer.

What the advertisers could never have forseen, and has never happened before in Argentina, was that the song making fun of those temas del verano of years past has in fact become the TEMA DEL VERANO of Summer 2007 in Argentina.

The jingle is receiving constant airplay on the radio and clubs throughout the entire country, more so than any other recent summer hit, if ever. In fact, it has become more popular than any of the songs it was spoofing.

An umbrella dance is being danced at discos and parties all over Argentina.

And, Argentines of all types are making home videos of themselves singing and dancing to the song and uploading them to video hosting sites, such as You Tube. There are teens, entire families, robots, and even a puppet cow singing and dancing to the catchy melody on the Internet.

I don't know if commercials win awards in Argentina but this would win best marketing tool of Summer 2007.

Here is the video:


January 6, 2007

Ouch! Has it been almost a year?

If you've landed on this page, allow me to apologize that it's been almost a year since I've posted anything on this blog. I've been working on my Peru Food blog, and I've learned that keeping up with a blog is a full-time occupation! But, one of my New Year's resolutions is that I will attempt to post at least a couple of items on this blog during 2007. Please bear with me.