On Barrio Time

Strolling the Golden Block when times are tough.

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Dec. 17, 2008

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The rain is fierce. I hurry down the street and take refuge inside Angel's Record Shop.

Here it's salsa central. On impulse I pick up a CD by Hector Lavoe, best known by Anglos as the singer portrayed by Marc Anthony in the movie El Cantante. True, I already bought my embarrassing Juan Luis Guerra, but there's something about Lavoe's story that, on this rainy day in the barrio, seems to fit the mood.

Lavoe was an enormously talented singer--the Sinatra of salsa--who got hooked on heroin and pills and suffered from depression. When he died of AIDS, crowds gathered in the Bronx and sang his songs. Even in sadness over his loss, they poured out their joy, dancing in the streets.

I walk out of Angel's with Lavoe's Historia Musical in my pocket, and wait for the rain to clear. There's a radio on somewhere. After a rumba ends, I hear a DJ say: "Cuando salgas de trabajo, ven a Happy Hour."

"When you leave work ... " How optimistic.

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1. ecortes said... on Dec 18, 2008 at 07:28AM

“This is crazy but unfortunately a reality. I worked at Taller Puertorriqueño for 1 1/2 years and to be honest it was the best of times. I learned so much about that area and how it works. Unfortunately yes it's not to appealing to people but again that's reality. It goes both ways as well, we have the people who don't want to come to El Centro de Oro just because they are scared but then you have the Latinos in El Centro that don't want to leave just because they think that's all there is to do in Philadelphia. Taller (just like everyone else) has the opportunity of a lifetime to move to a brand new location, however it's an $8 million project. What we need to do is get involved in community groups to help them. The best thing universities can do is start collaborating with the local schools. Anyways, I am proud of what Philly Latinos are doing in & out of El Centro do Oro.”

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