San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, (SMA), is a gorgeous hamlet of a city beautifully perched in the hills of central Mexico, a few hours north of Ciudad de Mexico. Views reigning as vast as one's imagination with a cityscape and countryside that has grown into a tourist travelin', vacation/weekend home havin', expat livin', city capital. As a youngster and native of SMA, Maestro Abelardo Gil, witnessed his beloved home grow into the bustling town it is now. Some sections of this pueblo remain as if time stood still., frozen in the 13th to 15th centuries which is a huge part of the charming energy SMA brings to one's door. Another part is the Rose Quartz crystal the town is known to sit upon. Bringing the energy of love, unconditionally, unexpectedly, but love transmuted none the less.
Our maestro, who we affectionately call Abé, is as I observe, a charismatic young man in body, housing an old soul in spirit. As a boy he wanted to work and earn money he says he needed to do the many things he desired. Particularly at the age of 18 years old he was highly motivated to make more money as he now had a girlfriend. He says he wanted to take her out and show her a good time. (Hey, I second that emotion). During that same time his cousin witnessed, which most of us now know, Abé's unwavering determination to not just work, but to do what was necessary to reach any goal, so he invited Abé to work with him.
While working alongside his cousin he learned the basics of jewelry making. However, his curiosity would never be satisfied with just the basics. Abé wanted to learn more. So he began to do his research and found there was a lack of books providing information on advancing the craft. Abé decided to teach himself. Of course he did! Because that's Abé. He would study a piece of jewelry to see if he could make it, then try again and again until he successfully learned the techniques necessary to make that particular piece. He would then begin the process all over. He conceptualized, designed and made whatever he'd imagined. He told me that he loves the actual construction process in making a piece and that he likes the feel of whatever chosen metal he's working with. And, I too have learned that you really can feel the difference of each metal whether it's by the weight of it, its texture, the quality, how it files, bends or melts. They all have their own characteristics, like each one of us.
When asked why he teaches this art he said, "I teach because I want people to experience the love of jewelry making like me." And, after 21 years in business he has never been interested in the mass production of jewelry. He wants to feel good and proud about what he produces and offers the world. This carries over with the creation of his own family's jewelry business where traditional handmade pieces are produced and coveted internationally. He started the company to make sure everyone in his family was taken care of. One apprentice nephew, Fernando, has become quite the craftsman under his uncle's influence.
Abé is his only competition, comprised of a nature that knows no limits. Having had a professional career as a 5k runner, who has won titles to boot, he does not care what any other jeweler, studio or shop is doing. He's confident in knowing he offers knowledge and a skillset that can't be matched. Abé also knows that the end result will show what he's capable of, what his students are capable of and does not need to shout it from the top of La Parroquia. He truly desires to see everyone do well and is a huge supporter of current and former students owning and being successful in their own businesses.
One of the best reasons I was attracted to this instruction and this energy, is the can-do spirit. Finding a way to make it happen! Once I was working on a piece that seemed to take forever and ever to complete. At one point I was near the finish line, then I messed up. I'm sure I said, out loud, "Oh shit!" , like everyone does in studio at one time or another. When we hear that or any cousin to that, there are many, there's a collective sigh and sympathetic vibe in the air because we all know what it means. I was pissed at myself, as any beginner or intermediate jeweler knows the feeling of burning up a decorative bezel under a flame that's too hot or collapsing a jump ring in the same manner. I was in tears, so in the 'Abé way', he gave me "the look". "The look" that me and my compadres have all experienced when this happens. He then gave me a hug, turned me around by my shoulders pointing me in the direction of my station while shrugging his own shoulders he said, "Let's start over, you have to start over". Thank goodness that particular piece turned out much better than the original design.
I welcome being in the zone while in studio, experiencing the highs and lows of the process. Then, finally, from frustration to elation, being proud of the end result. There's nothing like it. I love making jewelry because of its process. The layers you uncover during that process and the layers you uncover about yourself within the process can be revealing and intoxicating. So much goes into making a custom piece for someone, so I make sure my energy is cleared before I begin anyone's creation. I dive in and enjoy what unfolds. The studio offers an opportunity to be as creative as we like and if it can be made, whether begining with the rolling of the metal to the final polish of a brilliant shine, it's made! Abé is an artists' instructor and an instructor's instructor and those of us that hangout in studio have been very fortunate to be under his tutelage. Also, after having interviewed him for this brief story, I totally understand his teaching style which is 'do it over until you get it right', then you're shown the shortcut afterwards. I really didn't get it during class, thankfully I get it now. Thank you for creating a space that is now a home away from home. ¡Mucho gracias Abé, mi susurrador de joyas!
I really couldn't think of what to call the the last 18 months...other than...WTF!!! If this didn't blow the so-called spiritual community's membranes, then nobody gets it. Whoa! If you are who you thought you were at the begining of 2020, I'm sure someone else exist in that shell by now. To some degree. Wiser? Hopefully. Aware? Possibly. More defiant than ever? Most undoubtedly!
Most humans just want honest answers, but there seems to be a veil, (anagram much?), over the whole truth. Eh? Did your 20/20 vision kick in and help you to realize that the matrix is yo mama? Just askin'.! Did something in you challenge your every belief and potentially your entire being? If this didn't awaken the superhero you've been told that exist in only you, then you're dead. That's it, put a fork in you, done! My question would be, "Did you find out who you really were during this time of mental, spiritual stillness?" A time during which you no longer had to carve out time to be still and meditate without interruption...and then you realize, damn, there really is no time. It's a construct that has worked well for a while...as you begin to see a crack in the matrix.
Or, did you come to life during this time? Many woke up from their daily slumber, lumbering through what they called a "life", only to realize they've been on auto pilot for most of it. In the words of Morpheus, or should we give credit where credit is due, the one who spoke them first, the cosmic writer, Sophia Stewart, "You have to understand, most peolple aren't ready to be unplugged..."
Yep. I, like everyone else, has a story about all the crazy things I witnessed during this worldwide shake up...(shake down?)
We, the artists and artisans of the world are the ones left to tell the story of what went down, when all is said and done...and, we ain't done. If you're an artist, spiritualist, balanced-being who has experienced madd revelations during the birthing pangs of this new age coming into being, ready or not...please, let's hear from you.
This is a private website so only referrals are sent here. However, do not put any private information in your comments please.
I haven't been on this platform for a minute, but I now share my own transformation, something that is constant, as you know. I'll introduce the things that assisted me with a centered approach to everyday waves and ride dem bitches! Okaaay!
Much love, Wholeness
Leave your comment below...and bienvenidos!
The only way out...is in.
Tragedy to Triumph
My second blog post ever was about the amazing dancer and choreographer Chazz Young. Few people know up-close what Chazz experienced on a fateful Thursday in April 2016 as scheduled routine surgery was performed the day prior.His doctor encouraged an overnight stay for observation only, then home the next day. All appeared well as he joked, flirted with nurses, ate lunch and dinner post-recovery. Having a brief conversation the next morning with his close friend and would-be-caretaker for a week of planned recovery, the friend made their way to the hospital earlier than expected as they planned to work on their laptop in his room until he was discharged. What awaited the friend upon entering the hospital could only be described as a surreal as the ICU medical team worked hard to revive this living legend. He had suffered a pulmonary embolism almost leaving us without his grace, his warmth, his energy or his laughter.
Since April his spirit continues to battle back RELENTLESSLY. Slowly, painfully and at times two steps forward and three steps back, Chazz has persevered. Skeptical doctors did not know who they had in their midst, learning later that this was no typical octogenarian. Those who have had the pleasure of meeting, dancing or communing with Chazz, know that he is not your average senior citizen. Athleticism as a professional dancer and choreographer for 75 years and counting has contributed major health benefits and vitality. He taught swing and tap dance in Cape Town, South Africa and Tokyo, Japan just days prior to this episode
Chazz's eldest son, who can pass as his twin, flew in eight days after this near-tragedy for unwavering support.. Upon his arrival, he immediately granted the friend-in-waiting a much-needed respite from the trauma experienced.. He then too kept a 24/7 vigil, never leaving his dad's side for 82 days straight with breaks from the friend..
2016 began with enthusiasm & promise as Chazz was eager to teach extra classes, perform at upcoming events and be there in person to help initiate the first dance organization dedicated to swing in Cape Town, SA, his last visit 20 yrs ago. Chazz dances for the joy of dancing. Never for fame or glory, nor the riches that dance could have possibly provided. If he could have done it all for free, traveling the world on his own dime and on his own time bringing the level of class, sophistication and technique to thousands of dancers worldwide who are as passionate as he is about the art form, he would have.
During his long-term stay in ICU and rehabilitation facilities, his love of music and dance never waned. We know it was the swing music played continually day and night bedside that contributed to his journey. Suddenly life turned upside down and as he continues to progress and heal, in reality many moons will pass before he can teach, perform or even show up to support dance. The truth is Chazz's lifetime commitment to dance is one of the means by which he supported himself financially, now gone. ‘Team Chazz’ launches this campaign to reach out for assistance to help him reach his daily goals to a full recovery.
Chazz thanks all for the beautiful cards, emails & well wishes family, friends, colleagues, students and dance societies have expressed worldwide. These sentiments must have really worked, CHAZZ IS NOW HOME!
Needs include but are not limited to daily 24/7 home health care/aid, unpaid medical bills, medical supplies, physical therapy beyond assisted walking, speech therapy, memory training, etc., services his insurance does not provide. Also, the repair/replacement of several older large appliances in his home of 24 years as they are getting unprecedented use now. Home maintenance/repairs are big on the list as well as automotive maintenance. Unable to drive presently, he still needs the transportation, (especially in Vegas, we also have Uber just in case), and/or a driver for medical appointments, shopping, cabin fever.
Team Chazz is enlisting the kindness of the entire community as his resilience, determination to keep dancing are the inspiration for us to keep this LIVING TREASURE around as long as he wishes. You can help by simply showing your support and following your heart to give Chazz the best chance for healing and dancing once again...PLEASE MAKE THAT HAPPEN NOW! MUCH LOVE & THANKS TO ALL!
Sounding Out in Memphis
Music has morphed into many genres these days. Hip-hop has made it's way to main stream with it's very humble beginnings in Bronx, NY during the late '60's. Soul music or better know as Rhythm & Blues was the launching pad for hip-hop to reign supreme today. However, let us not forget the history makers of our times as we recently lost another legend, BB King. King's career began in Memphis has he worked at local radio station WDIA as a singer and disc jockey. He acquired the "Beale Street Blues Boy" name which was then shortened to "Blues Boy" and eventually abbreviated to B.B. Mr. King will be honored during the scheduled live performances in honor of the greats that began their careers on Memphis' famed Beale Street.
Welcome to the dream of one committed police officer & president of a highly respected organization for those with careers in law enforcement and one community organization determined to give a cultural arts experience to those least likely to afford a night at the theater. Officer Coward, whose name suggest anything but as she's a powerhouse in her right, understood the importance of everyone having access to performance arts and its impact on the community with one of the many benefits being, ..."it establishes a community's cultural heritage and pride...". And, there's Mrs. Austin with first-hand knowledge of the performing arts, its contribution to the education and development of children which holds consistent evidence of this regardless of education level, income, age, presence of children, or frequency of attendance. These two go together like peas and carrots.
The Austin Dancers Academy, (ADA), has already committed 48 years and counting to the health and creative development of children through the performing arts with the last 20 years anchored in Las Vegas from Queens, NY. Las Vegas, a community consistently maligned, even by it's own residential transplants, for not having cultural, except that in the form gambling and debauchery. An unlikely collaboration, these honorable organizations are just the start in building stronger community relations by those committed to the well-being and future of our most valuable resource, our children.
THE EVENT: Touted as a Family Night at the Theater the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada Black Police Association and the Austin Dancers Academy, Presents for One Night Only this Free to the Public Event...
"IT'S SATISFACTION GUARANTEED!" A Live-Musical-Dance-Production,
Written & Directed by Debbie Williams, ADA Artistic Director and Chazz Young, ADA Asst. Artistic Director Live Music Arranged and Directed by L.A., ADA Musical Director and bandleader of the L.A. Connection Band
Saturday, November 15th, 6 PM CASHMAN FIELD THEATER (Doors open at 5 PM)
It recently occurred to me that as a jazz lover myself, listening to it exclusively while working and creating, that I can't believe how long it's been since some unsuspecting Las Vegas venue has regularly hosted a jazz brunch. The great Sunday brunch, an institution nationwide, the time when you wind down from the weekend and for some bite-the-hair-of-the-dog that bit them the night before, but also preparing one's mind for the Monday that would come soon enough. The genre itself has always been very popular here in the Valley, evidenced by the millions of dollars locals spend whenever a major jazz event, festival or artist visits the town. Back in the day when we had the jazz-brunch weekend events you would have to arrive early enough to grab a seat or two if you were lucky. or you would just stand and be good with that. I do also remember some really nice spots that had great food and awesome live music. I recollect the Paris' Eiffel Tower Restaurant's Jazz (2009, 2010) brunch on Saturday & Sunday with unobstructed views of the west side of the Strip, nice! And, the food, amazing! The Mandarin's (2012) brief but awesome live jazz Sunday with surprise guests dropping in to sit-in with the band of the day and Mandarin also rocking a panoramic view north to south of the Strip from the 16th floor. These two examples are considered more recent as Vegas has previously hosted, over many years, a variety of venues featuring jazz.
I seem to recall at least seven or eight years ago, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, located on Paradise Road, in the shadow of the Strip, began Sunday brunch with live jazz hosted by none other than our one and only non-profit jazz station, UNLV's 91.5 FM The Source. It seem to however, over the years, morph into something other than a cool jazz scene. More R & B with some pop and a little bit of jazz thrown in for good measure. It seemed like a good move at the time for the establishment as more and more people began to attend. Many were so moved by the thumping rhythmic sounds they didn't seem to mind cutting a rug in a tiny cramped space sandwiched between patron seating and the band that also shared the same cramped quarters. A good time was had by all....but, wait....the grapevine has recently told us that. "allegedly", there has been a systematic push to get rid the Sunday loyalists by instituting new rules, procedures and charges for things that were once was a part of the scene. Losing those church-goers, the fans of the local bands that were booked and the segment of visiting Angelinos that frequent Vegas and look forward to making it their last stop before trekking back to the Golden State, have all been huge supporters of this event for years, now asked pay-up or get lost. Hmmm? There's always two sides to any story...but alas...a sort of warning shot received by recent devotees announced last week by GB that there is an eventual end to the Sunday brunch which will now be moved to Saturdays.
What's up with that Las Vegas?!
Here's what's up and not what's up...ultimately there has not been a consistent flow of an energetic jazz rhythm in the Valley for quite sometime as a desert reveals the drought of many things. Every major city outside of this microcosm has more than one jazz club, venue and/or multitudes of jazz events demonstrating the appreciation of the genre. It gives those with great taste for music the opportunity to congregate with like-minded folk. Is it that Vegas is not sophisticated enough to appreciate one of America's true art forms? i should say not! Whenever jazz hits this town we show up and shelve out! However, we should take the responsibility of accepting the fact that those of us that still buy jazz CD's, download tons music online and attend very expensive jazz concerts should take things into our own hands and do something about it!
One man has done just that. Chef Joe Cooper of A to Z Catering Services decided there was a need to bring jazz back with a Sunday brunch. Beginning Sunday, August 10th, 2014 Chef Joe and his team are gearing up for what hopes to be an answered prayer for many of us, Chef Joe's Jazzy Brunch Sundays to be held on a few designated dates at the Elks Lodge located at 4100 W. Charleston Blvd. just west of Valley View. Chef an Elks Lodge member himself, will be featuring some of his down-home Tallulah, Louisianan specialties as well as brunch favorites. The Elks Lodge #1468 is a beautiful venue boasting a full bar, seating for up to 300 and plenty of accessible parking in the huge lot right on Charleston Blvd. at Hinson Street. Along with Chef Joe's tasty cuisine bandleader and renowned percussionist L.A. will be serving up some smooth sounds with seasoned jazz players, all of which have performed worldwide and will be bringing their A-game to the venue. The music as well as the menu will change weekly bringing different flavors of both elements to the table for a variety of experiences to behold. Join us!
Taking Reservations for all Dates Now
August 10th, 24th & 31st
September 7th, 14th & 28th
The Brazilian Festival was fabulous as it was held on a warm, not hot, believe it or not, summer Vegas Sunday this August. Initially this day that looked as if the sky was falling. However, as if on que for a 2:00 PM start-time and entry of the first guests, a beautiful sun came out and all was well with the Gods. Or at least that all was well with that little geographical area of Summerlin. The atmosphere was charged with super friendly Brazilian expats now Las residents. The flavors of Rio were all around as the beautiful people of Brasil, invited my friends to join them and introduced me to their families and friends.
This was a very packed event, however we were able to get really great seats overlooking the entertainment stage in the center of the action within the Via Brasil Steakhouse who was also the producer of the event. The bar staff was working their patooties off as they hustled drinks non-stop during the entire festival indoors and outside. I found out later no one took breaks during the festivities. One particular barkeep, Amanda, took pretty good care of us as together we created a fresh pressed strawberry, pineapple and lime concoction with Tres Generations añejo tequila. Yeah, I know it's not a traditional cocktail of Brazil like the Caipirinha or Mojito which were flowing quite nicely, but tequila, I can do.
What a great event! Probably the best cultural event I've experienced in Las Vegas in a very long time. The restaurant used their entire building space including the surrounding parking lot area which was fenced off from the non-paying public. The open-air feel was perfection as the warm breeze flowed all day through the patio doors and windows that were wide open for the occasion, so refreshing. The outdoor vendors were friendly and I'm sure they enjoyed the festival as much as the attendees as the stilt walkers, fire eaters, dancers, patrons and music moved all around them as well. Wow, the music and dancing was incredible!!! We had a great time all night and still got home early enough to be in bed by 11:00 P.M. to start the following new week. Via Brasil Steakhouse parabéns para o sucesso!!! http://www.viabrasilsteakhouse.com/
CHECK OUT THIS EVENT http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5by43ka7Mss
Dance Like No One Watching...
Chazz Young - World Renown Dancer & Choreographer
Chazz Young, recognized tap, jazz and swing dancer/instructor has just returned to his Las Vegas home after whirlwind trip around the globe, at least east of the U.S. Starting in London, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Prague, Czech Republic, (with fellow dancer/instructor Swede, Catrine Ljunggren, who is also founder of the Rhythm Hotshots), Toronto, Canada, New York, NY, Herräng, Sweden, St. Petersburg, Russia ending back at his birth place of Harlem, New York.
Being a native New Yorker and having been exposed to Broadway and the performing arts in general as a young man, Chazz became a working entertainer early in life. His mother took him to his first live production and it was his own father's act performing that night at the famed Roxy Theatre in midtown Manhattan. After seeing that presentation he was hooked and dance literally became his life. Chazz's own father was none other than the late, great swing dance innovator Frankie Manning, Ambassador of the Lindy Hop . Growing up Chazz spent a good deal of his time with his dad trying to learn everything he could about the art and expression of dance, well at least during the times Frankie wasn't on the road performing around the world himself.
Chazz formal dance training began at age twelve with the famous Mary Bruce Dance School located on the historic 125th Street in Harlem and he started teaching the students there when he turned fifteen years of age. This would make him one of her notable ‘Starbuds’ as they were called at the time. At age seventeen his father took him to meet the incomparable Norma Miller, known as the ‘Queen of Swing’. Auditions were being held and Chazz was accepted. This was the beginning of Chazz’s dance career as he became one of Norma Miller’s The Four Jazzmen. They debuted at The Apollo Theatre in 1949. Soon thereafter he was performing worldwide.
For the last 50 years Chazz has performed live and on film. He has taught tap, jazz and swing dancers around the world. When you watch old footage of Chazz or Frankie dance you know that some of his talent is definitely genetic. When asked what was his most memorable moment in recent history, he tells me that it was 2012 when he celebrated his 80th birthday celebration in three different cities, New York, NY San Francisco, CA and Las Vegas, NV. He was especially blown away by having to dance with 80 women in his hometown of Harlem and in San Francisco during planned events by former student and peers.
So as Chazz continues to dance as if there's no tomorrow, I believe the rest of us should take stock in what we have done in this lifetime and what we still have to do while working like we don't need the money, loving like we've never been hurt like and dancing like no one is watching. ;-)
Margaret Batiuchok and Chazz Young lead the Shim Sham along with Charlie Meade at the end with the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra at Lincoln Center's Midsummer NIght Swing, (MSNS) July 13, 2103 after Margaret taught the dance lesson at the final night of Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing's 25th Anniversary season - tribute to Illinois Jacquet and Franke Manning
Margaret and Frankie Manning did the very first opening dance demonstration at MSNS 25 years ago- also the second one-
and this year to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of MSNS, Frankie's son Chazz Young came in and taught with Margaret and lead the Shim Sham with Margaret, a tradition Margaret thought of doing and Margaret and Frankie began with the members of the New York Swing Dance Society at the NYSDS dances at the Cat CLub in the 1980s. Margaret met Chazz in Norma Millers Jazz Dancers Group of which Chazz was a member and Margaret was an understudy. She then met Frankie when hew came in to watch rehearsal one day and Margaret started dancing and performing with Frankie.
One of my favorite subjects, yay. I may be a little biased as tequila is the only alcoholic beverage I prefer, unless of course there's a chilled tasty bottle of expensive champagne nearby . However, even then, if a great tequila is an option I'm going for the gold, actually I'm going for the extra añejo. 1981 was my first introduction to chain-restaurant Mexican food and this literally intoxicating libation while hanging out with my ex-husband, I fell in love. Since then my taste in men and palate have matured along with my never defining age and I can honestly say that I'm still in love (with my tequila of course).
I consider myself a lay connoisseur of sorts. This being the only alcoholic beverage made from a plant and gluten-free as a pescatarian this really works for me, seems kinda healthy, no? Anywho, the more I've learned about my favorite drink the more I'm excited to try new and upcoming brands and hear the history behind them as well as share what I've learned. And believe me tequila has quite a history... http://www.earthbar.org/magazine/tequilahistory.htm
If you like tequila or even love it, here's a little info that hopefully will give you insight as to how diverse this unique spirit can be. Try one the many different brands and types and you may find one that's just right for you.
TEQUILA TYPE INFO:
Tequila is usually bottled in one of five categories:
Based on your personal preference for the tequila of your choice there are different pairings with complimentary liqueurs fruit, herbs, food, etc. that can make your culinary experience one to remember. Las Vegas boasts many chef inspired restaurants that specialize in regional Mexican and Tex-Mex fare that give you an opportunity to explore the many brands new and vintage along with excellent food. Some of my favorites are; LINDO MICHOACAN http://lindomichoacan.com/laloma.htm (My personal favorite of 16 years and I love the La Loma location nestled in the Black Hills of Henderson overlooking the entire Vegas Valley. Great place to hold an evet, just sayin'.) ; MUNDO http://mundolasvegas.com/ (The owner of this chic Mexican cuisine establishment also has his own brand of ALIEN TEQUILA); NACHO DADDY http://www.nachodaddy.com/ (Tex-Mex with a great tequila bar and awesome mixologists. Try Tequila Tuesdays 2 for 1) ; MESA GRILL http://www.mesagrill.com/las-vegas-restaurant/ (Master chef Bobby Flay's spot does things with chilies that I can't even mention here, friggin' awesome for those that like it hot!)
Do you have a positive tequila experience? We'd love to hear from you.
WARNING: Always respect this spirit as with all spirits and anyone that has ever lived through the dreaded next day tequila-revenge-hangover either never touches it again or has an enormous respect for this world's most unique libation. Also, DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!
August 01st, 2013