Search This Blog

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Top Record Sellers At My Dinner Table

By Silvia Uribe

Conversations with my family at the dinner table are among the things I enjoy the most. Even though there's no escape from the overly repeated, but very cute stories that grandma shares, my family treasures those moments because there's always the possibility for a great topic to emerge.

Recently, the engaging topic was music, singers, and groups that we liked - especially interesting since we have three different generations at home.

Music, regardless of genre, has not only provided great entertainment, but historically, it has also been the most common way to express our feelings, our state of mind, and our desires, no matter our age. With music, we have fallen in love and out of love, we've dreamed of better times, and we've tried saving the world. Through music we can safely express our praise, and at times, even our hate.

That particular night, our conversation evolved into a guessing game. After someone asked: Which are the artists who have sold most records? Names of singers and groups poured out of our mouths. A general argument ensued. Everyone spoke at the same time. One of us started making a list. The competition was on.

After our guesses were tracked, we had to determine who the winner was (I have a competitive family, you know). We were in for a few surprises. Allow me to share the artists and groups that have sold the greatest numbers of records. Maybe you could play this guessing game with family and/or friends too. (source: Wikipedia - all figures are claimed or estimated)

1) The Beatles - Rock / Pop (600 million - 1 billion)
2) Elvis Presley - Rock / Pop / Country (600 million - 1 billion)
3) Michael Jackson - Pop / Rock / Soul (350 million - 750 million)
4) ABBA - Pop (300 million - 370 million)
5) Queen - Rock (150 million - 300 million)

If you didn't get it right, maybe the ones you thought about are in the second category of artists who sold between 200 to 299 million:

- Elton John - Pop / Rock (250 million)
- Bee Gees - Pop / Disco (220 million)
- AC/DC - Hard Rock (200 million)
- Celine Dion - Pop (200 million)
- Julio Iglesias - Latin (200 million)
- Madonna - Pop / Dance (200 million
- Led Zeppelin - Hard Rock (200 million)
- Pink Floyd - Progressive Rock (200 million)
- The Rolling Stones - Rock / Blues Rock (200 million)
- Nana Mouskouri - Pop Folk (200 million)

A few other names that might come to your mind but didn't make it to either of the previous categories:

- Tina Turner (180 million)
- Mariah Carey (175 million)
- Whitney Houston (170 million)
- Frank Sinatra (150 million)
- Stevie Wonder (150 million)
- Genesis (150 million)
- U2 (150 million)
- Barbara Streisand (140 million)
- David Bowie (140 million)
- Garth Brooks (128 million)
- Chicago (122 million)
- Bon Jovi (120 million)
- Eagles (120 million)
- Neil Diamond (115 million)

As far as genres go, Pop and Rock are, without a doubt, the unarguable winners.

As you might be, we were surprised to see that some of the artists that we thought about were not in the top lists, and others that we didn't, were. But, even if we didn't guess correctly, the fact is that music connects us with each other, and that it gave birth to dancing - one of my favorite activities.

As for my family, I know we will continue with different points of view, arguments and permanent disagreements. As with most other Latino families, we will still talk over each other, and we will still raise our voices not necessarily from being upset, but just to be able to have our voices be heard.

There's one other thing I am also sure about my family. We're always looking forward to our perennial seeking of good topics at the dinner table.

Silvia is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hablando de Raza

Por Silvia Uribe

Ya van varias personas que me preguntan cómo se debe responder a la pregunta # 9 del Censo, en donde se nos pide que indiquemos cuál es nuestra raza, pero se nos aclara que Latino o Hispano no es considerada una raza.

Si no somos blancos, ni Afroamericanos, ni Asiáticos, ni de las islas del Pacífico, ni Indio Americano, entonces qué raza somos?

El Censo tiene razón. Cuando decimos que somos Latinos o Hispanos, nos estamos refiriendo al grupo étnico al que pertenecemos, es decir, al grupo de personas que tenemos poco más o menos la misma cultura, tradiciones, o costumbres. Si queremos hablar de raza, podemos decir que por lo regular, la raza de los Latinos es la Mestiza. La palabra Mestiza(o), viene de una palabra en Latín que quiere decir mezclado.

La raza mestiza se forma al combinar la raza Blanca – regularmente de los Españoles – con la sangre indígena de los distintos grupos Latinoamericanos. En México, por ejemplo, los Españoles conquistaron, pero no exterminaron a los indígenas, como lo hicieron los conquistadores de otros países del sur del continente Americano, sino que procrearon con ellos. Así tenemos que la mezcla de la sangre Española (europea) e Indígena (Americana) dió como fruto una raza nueva en América, la raza Mestiza.

Siguiendo en el ejemplo de México, podemos entonces considerar que la mayor parte de las personas que hemos nacido en ese país somos de raza mestiza. Existen únicamente dos excepciones a esta regla: aquellas personas que pertenecen a un grupo indígena (de cualquier zona) y que su sangre es pura, o en otras palabras, que nunca se ha mezclado con la sangre de un extranjero o con la de un mestizo, o aquellas personas que solo tienen sangre europea, que no se ha mezclado con sangre indígena o mestiza.

Desafortunadamente, las personas que hicieron la encuesta del Censo no incluyeron la Mestiza entre las opciones de raza y somos cada uno de nosotros los que tenemos que escribirla en el espacio en blanco que se ofrece para marcar otra raza.

Asi que ya lo saben amigos, al saber que nuestra raza no está especificada en la encuesta del Censo, como respuesta a la pregunta #9 tenemos que escribir la palabra MESTIZA para que no haya lugar a dudas de cuál es nuestra raza. Es importante recalcar que es precísamente la raza Mestiza a la que celebramos en México el Día de la Raza, o sea el 12 de Octubre.

Ahora que esta cuestión de la raza ha quedado aclarada, les pido que llenen cuanto antes su formulario del Censo, que incluyan a todas las personas que viven en su casa, incluyendo a los bebitos y que pongan dicho formulario inmediatamente en el correo. No lo deje para después porque corre el riesgo que se le olvide por ahí.

Debemos devolverlo tan pronto como nos sea possible, pues dependiendo del número de personas que haya en cada comunidad, será la cantidad de dinero que se le de a dicha comunidad para ofrecer servicios como escuelas, hospitales y muchas otras cosas más.

Les recuerdo también que al llenarlo, no corremos ningun peligro, pues la oficina del Censo, por ley, no puede compartir la información que le damos con ninguna otra agencia del gobierno.

Mucha suerte y que viva la Raza Mestiza!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Springtime for Goleta

Let the Fun Begin!

By Silvia Uribe

During wintertime, and rainy season, we hibernate, like bears, in the depths of our caves.

Don’t get me wrong. I not only enjoy the rain, I also recognize its benefits: It was very much needed to replenish our water reserves and to tame our land’s thirst, particularly after soaring fires ate everything in their paths. Now the rainy season’s blessings are displayed in all the pretty shades of green in our mountains, the young leaves on the trees, the wildflowers, the smells of early spring on the California coast.

Spring also brings warmer weather and lengthening days. The time has come for all of us to leave our cozy nests, and enjoy all that our city has to offer—though after long weeks of going from home to work and straight back home, it feels like two days at the end of each week are not enough to enjoy our good land and relax!

What follows is a comprehensive list of fun activities to pursue in any season.

Family Activities:

  1. Bowling at Zodo's
  2. Horseback riding
  3. Books, music, and story time at Borders Books and the Goleta Library
  4. Watching sports at UCSB and Dos Pueblos HS
  5. Camping at El Capitan and Refugio state beaches
  6. Enjoying an Easter egg hunt at Girsh Park
  7. Attending Summer Concert Series at El Capitan Canyon, Stow House, and Girsh Park
  8. Savoring the Lemon Festival
  9. Shopping at the Farmers Market on Thursdays on Calle Real, or Sundays at Camino Real Marketplace
  10. Having some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or yogurt at Yo-Yo-Yum!
  11. Eating delicious pastries at Anna’s Bakery
  12. Taking an art class at Michael's Arts & Craft
  13. Parents and babies: Catching a movie at 10 a.m. every first Tuesday of the month at the Fairview and Camino Real theaters
  14. Taking small hike at the Ellwood Bluff
  15. Riding the bike path between Goleta and Santa Barbara
  16. Admiring monarch butterflies at Ellwood Reserve
  17. Swimming in the ocean at Goleta Beach
  18. Building castles in the sand
  19. Going to UCSB's Marine Science Institute’s touch tanks
  20. Learning about the history of Goleta at the Goleta Historical Society and the South Coast Railroad Museum
  21. Dining out at restaurants in Old Town Goleta, Fairview Shopping Center, and Camino Real Marketplace
  22. Shopping in those same areas
  23. Taking a day trip by train from Goleta to Carpinteria and spending the day there
  24. Swimming at the Olympic-size pools open to the public at UCSB

Especially for Children and Teens:

  1. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts
  2. Girl's Inc. after school
  3. Goleta Valley Community Center classes
  4. United Boys & Girls Clubs
  5. Isla Vista Teen Center
  6. Summer, spring, and winter camps
  7. School campuses for after-school classes including dance, martial arts, sports, music, gymnastics, and swimming
  8. Girsh Park for soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, and volleyball.
  9. Fairview Gardens for fresh produce, gardening, and cooking classes
  10. Stow Grove, Goleta Beach, and the Isla Vista for parks with playgrounds
  11. Lake Los Carneros for ducks to feed

Now, think about it. If anyone were to do one of these activities per month, it’d take them practically three years to do’em all. Not bad at all for a town our size.

Next time your children ask, “What are we doing today?” I’m sure you won’t be at a loss for ideas.

Silvia is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at the

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Potty Dilema

By Silvia Uribe

My friend Gaby was feeling ill. It was a Saturday night. State Street, downtown Santa Barbara, was filled with people enjoying a restful weekend. Some were getting out of the movie theatre, while others were walking off their dinner. Gaby knew she needed to look for a restroom.

"No one likes to see a pregnant woman vomit in Santa Barbara, in the middle of State Street" - hammered her inner voice. Stores were already closed. There was only one question in her mind: Where to go?

It was around 9:30p.m. The nausea was unbearable. She leaned on her husband's arm without saying a word. She was trying very hard to stop an imminent violent explosion. Suddenly, she felt dizzy. Her quest for a restroom came to a halt. Things started to spin around her. Jim's face. A barking dog. A street juggler. The cars.

What came out of her mouth was, at the same time, gross and relieving. In a matter of seconds she went from almost fainting to feeling like she got her life back. Embarrassed from not being able to make it to a restroom, and wishing she were invisible, she walked back to the car with Jim.

Her question persists. Where to go, when you need to go? Particularly, once the stores are closed, the options are limited to coffee shops, restaurants, and bookstores. However, the employees at those places stare at people who use their services without patronizing their business. Understandable, but it makes you feel like you're doing something illegal.

Public restrooms should be our premier option, but in downtown Santa Barbara these are scarce. Locals know that there is one upstairs at the Paseo Nuevo Mall, around the corner from the Art Gallery, in a rather isolated area (poor tourists have no idea). Yet, good judgment and prudence tell us to avoid solitary, out of sight places, especially at night.

Another public restroom, infamous for its cost, is located on State St. between Borders and the parking structure next to it. It is well lit, and very visible. One problem, though. They close it early, at around 9 p.m. This restroom is in the heart of our city, where people hang out until late hours. Is it only me, or is it really stupid that they close the only public restroom on the street so early?

Bars could be a good option... for those of us who are over twenty-one. They really don't know and don't care who uses their restrooms. However, the problem with bars is that most of them are clustered together on one block of State St. When an emergency presents, unless we are on that particular block, it is unlikely that we can get there before an accident happens. Plus children - who are not allowed in bars - also have potty emergencies, you know?

Presently, when I have to choose between disregarding safety issues and courtesy, I painfully confess that I go with the latter. It is uncomfortable to be stared at, or to be the intruder who reads the warning sign at the coffee shop's restroom, "Customers Only." But I prefer this to grossing people out on the street, or to wetting my pants, or even worse, to having an encounter with an outlaw.

For the time being, and with the city budget crisis, it is not possible to build another public restroom on State St. But, would it be possible for the city to collaborate with coffee shops and other businesses in offering potty services? Maybe if the city covers bathroom cleaning materials, or janitorial services, or if it offers a discount on the water bill to participating businesses, they would be more willing to accept the extra nuisance.

Establishing a dialog and improving collaboration with the business community on this matter will only benefit both residents and tourists

It would be great to stop wondering where to go when we need to go.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at