Saturday, June 2, 2012

At La Casa Azul Bookstore, Opening night.

Don't let the picture fool you.  The opening day crowd at La Casa Azul Bookstore was much bigger than the 200 RSVP's they received.  (You know how the gente do.)  I snapped this picture at 5:45, when the media and the guest speakers started arriving, and shortly before my phone died.

After a short ceremony, and a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring representatives of the City Councilperson's office and the Boro President, owner Aurora Anaya Cerda, her mother, and a whole bunch of tears, the guests began to stream into the place.  When's the last time you've been to a bookstore that needed crowd control?  See the dude in the white t-shirt out front?  He told me, point blank, that if I tried to rush past him and cop Luis Valdez's ZOOT SUIT without waiting my turn, he'd pop me dead in the jaw.  True facts!

I do believe that every person Aurora knows was in the store this evening, and she has a lot of friends (which you would know if you've ever seen her on Facebook).  And I do believe that every Latino writer in the country has dreamed of a space like this.  I know I have.  Over the years, my partners and I at Acentos have daydreamed about and worked toward spaces with the name on it.  Acentos Cafe.  Bookstore.  Or, ahem, The Acentos Review.

If anything, looking at Aurora's house come together reminds me that Acentos has many lives to lead still.  I'm hoping to bring the Acentos workshops to La Casa Azul come fall, and a new Acentos series will appear at the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe this summer.  (Details on all these to come.)

This bookstore is a mecca.  It is a home for Latino writers and readers of all ages (and the programming reflects it) and will be for decades to come.  Aurora and the staff and La Casa Azul Bookstore are already an inspiration, and they've only been open since Friday.

So, what did I buy? 

ZOOT SUIT, by Luis Valdez.  Groundbreaking work of Chicano theater.
THE BURIED SEA: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, by Rane Arroyo.  A stunning collection by the late Boricua poet from Chicago.  Heartbreaking and wonderful.

Go.  Buy some books.  Support this institution, and say what's up to these trailblazers.  I'll be back Monday.

1 comment:

Chuck Cuyjet said...

Not for nothing Rich, but you could take the T-shirt dude easy...(And I love that the book store is THERE representing the culture of a strong but vastly underrepresented people of the Americas. One a side note, I had a dream last night that woke me up in tears as there was a moment where me and some stranger connected over our admiration of Roberto Clemente...)