Monthly Archives: August 2009

Juanita Banana — A Very Special Cuban Bar — in Spain

Tomas Taure, owner of the bar Juanita Banana in San Feliu de Guixols, Spain

Tomas Taure, owner of the bar Juanita Banana in San Feliu de Guixols, Spain

“IT’S A REAL COOL bar, this Cuban bar” said the young American, talking on his cell phone with a friend on the northern Spanish beach called Conca in S’Agar? “It’s just about a hundred yards from the Rambla Vidal in San Feliu on Calle Penit?cia.” He mentioned something about “Cubana Banana” – and fabulous Mojitos. Well, it sounded interesting enough for us to try to find this special Cuban bar. One recent evening we went around the narrow streets in this so charming and also elegant town in Catalunya, on the northeastern Spanish coast, which is called Costa Brava. The street was fairly dark, and there were no apparent signs telling us about the location of this establishment. As we proceeded down the street, we met a young woman and asked about directions. She just turned around, and said: “There it is.” And there it was — we could see a little sign, reading “Juanita Cubana,” and below “Barcito Indiano.”

“Juanita Cubana” – a Cuban bar in the Spanish town of San Feliu de Guixols, on the Catalan coast Costa Brava

INSIDE WE found a very interesting place, it felt like being moved to Cuba in the ’50s. The owner, Tomas Taure, was there, but no customers. We learned that his brother is also an owner and is married to a woman from Cuba, thus the Cuban connection. It was 7 p.m., and far too early to see a boisterous crowd at a bar in this town. It is Spain, and people show up very late. “Well, around 11 p.m. people show up, and we are open until 2.30 a.m.,” Taure told us. Taure, who is also a painter and is showcasing some of his art in the establishment, told us that he was born in Barcelona and spent 20 plus years in Madrid, but that he is very happy to be in San Feliu now. “I like the sea,” he said.


Bar “Juanita Cubana” in San Feliu de Guixols


Bar “Juanita Cubana”



Swedish Film ‘You, The Living’ at the Facets in Chicago

CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL Film Festival Award Winning Film “You, The Living” by Swedish director Roy Andersson is now being shown at the Facets Cin?ath?ue in Chicago through September 3.

ANDERSSON CAPTURES the daily banalities of life with precision and wit, and the film is a surreal manual on how to behave around others. “You, The Living” consists of numerous vignettes shot in single long takes depicting a handful of sad sack neighbors entrenched in dingy despair while buoyed by absurdist deadpan humor. Propelled by musical interludes, Andersson’s film affirms its characters, and thus our own human existence with simple beauty and a devilish grin.

A.O. SCOTT WROTE in The New York Times that the film is “extremely funny” and “works in the comic tradition of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati.”

FOR INFORMATION, visit or call 773.281.9075. Show times are Mondays-Fridays, 7 & 9 p.m., Saturdays -Sundays, 3, 5, 7 & 9 p.m. through September 3. Tickets are $9 for general admission, and free for Facets members. Facets is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave.

No Maryland bid for Volvo Ocean Race in 2012

BECAUSE OF THE uncertainty about how long the recession economy will continue, Maryland has decided not to make a bid to bring back the Volvo Ocean Race to the area in 2012. State officials and sailing enthusiasts and advocates did not feel confident enough to being able to raise more than $3 million to host the race. Last time the Volvo Ocean Race came to the area was in 2006, when more than a quarter million people filled the Baltimore and Annapolis waterfronts to watch the international race’s two-week stopover.

Ann Dunham’s Collection of Indonesian Batik showcased at the Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.

Indonesian batik from Dr. Ann Dunham's collection

Kain panjang (long cloth used as a lower body wrapper), Java, Yogyakarta — Indonesian batik from President Obama’s mother’s, Dr. Ann Dunham’s, collection, which is being showcased at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. until August 23.

A FESTIVE CELEBRATION with press conference, fashion show, a pre-dinner reception and gala dinner, on Saturday night, Aug. 7, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., marked the introduction of an exhibition of the Indonesian batik collection of President Barack Obama’s mother Ann Dunham at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, titled “A Lady Found a Culture in Its Cloth: Barack Obama’s Mother and Indonesian Batiks,” will last until August 23.

Indonesian batik from Ann Dunham's collection

Sarong (lower body wrapper), Java, north coast — Indonesian batik from Ann Dunham’s collection

THE EVENING’S guest of honor was the president’s 38-year-old sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, who moved to Washington from Hawaii with her professor husband Konrad Ng, who currently is a scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Program. The couple has two young daughters.

THE INDONESIAN AMBASSADOR Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat during the press conference answered questions about the tradition of Indonesian batik, but he also had to respond to a question about Ms. Soetoro-Ng’s absence from the press conference.

HOWEVER, REPORTERS AND photographers got their chance to talk to Ms. Soetoro-Ng when she chatted and responded to reporter’s questions at the pre-gala reception. During the reception selected pieces of Dunham’s collection were on display along with batiks owned by Ani Yudhoyen, the First Lady of Indonesia. There were also other Indonesian textiles provided by Cita Tenun Indonesia (Indonesian Handwoven Textile Association).

THE DINNER PROGRAM featured a fashion show by two top young Indonesian designers, Priyo Octaviano and Sebastian Gunawan, who use handwoven fabrics influenced by traditional Indonesian textiles.

Indonesian batik from Ann Dunham's collection

Kain panjang (long cloth used as a lower body wrapper), Java, Solo – batik from Ann Dunham’s collection

EARLY IN HER LIFE Ann Dunham was interested in weaving, and created wall hangings. After marrying Lolo Soetoro and moving to Indonesia in the 1960s with her son Barack Obama, she was naturally drawn to the exotic textiles of her new home country. She began to collect Javanese batik, a fabric patterned using a wax-resist process. Most of her collection was not rare or expensive pieces, but rather contemporary, mostly from the ’60s and ’70s, expressing a living tradition, with a variation of both classic and contemporary patterns. She also showed a fascination and interest in the batik makers’ lives.

Indonesian ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat

Indonesian ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat speaks at the press conference on Saturday.

IN THE 70′S AND 80′S Ann Dunham earned degrees in anthropology from the University of Hawaii, and she also focused on how to help and support crafts people, like the batik makers in Indonesia. She worked with the Ford Foundation in Jakarta and later with USAID and the World Bank, supporting projects beneficial to poor women with micro and small enterprises, and set up microcredit projects all over Indonesia as well as in Kenya and Pakistan. The collection was passed on to Ann Dunham’s daughter Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Indonesian fashion designs

A fashion show with clothing by Indonesian designers was also included in the program.

THE TEXTILE MUSEUM is located at 2320 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. The museum is open Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5 for non-members. For more information, call (202) 667-0441 or visit

Indonesian batik from Ann Dunham's collection

Kain panjang (long cloth used as a lower body wrapper), Java, Solo — Indonesian batik from Ann Dunham’s collection

ʻSelections from 50 Years, 50 Works’ — Art of Latin America and the Caribbean shown at IDB in Washington

“El velorio” (The Wake), 1956, painting by Alejandro Obregón, Barcelona, Spain 1920 – Cartagena, Colombia 1993

AN EXHIBITION of the art of Latin America and the Caribbean in the 20th Century, titled “50 Years, 50 Works,” is being shown at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Cultural Center, 1300 New York Ave., N.W., in Washington, D.C. until Aug. 22. Among the artists whose works are being showcased are Samy Benmayor, Santiago, Chile; Fernando de Szyszlo, Lima, Peru; Alejandro Obregón, Cartagena, Colombia; Everald Brown, St. Ann, Jamaica; and José Sabogal, Lima, Peru. Previously the exhibition has been shown in Medellín, Colombia, in March-May of this year, on occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Inter-American Development Bank.

THE IDB Cultural Center Gallery is open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (202) 623-1000.

Composición III, 1990, painting by Samy Benmayor

Composición III, 1990, painting by Samy Benmayor, Santiago, Chile, 1956-

Duino-Nueve Orrantia/92, 1992, painting by Fernando de Szyszlo

Duino-Nueve Orrantia/92, 1992, painting by Fernando de Szyszlo, Lima, Peru, 1925-

Victory Dance, work by Everald Brown

Victory Dance, work by Everald Brown, St. Ann, Jamaica, 1917 – New York 2002

El Señor de la Fortaleza, work by José Sabogal

El Señor de la Fortaleza, work by José Sabogal, Cajabamba, Peru 1888 – Lima, Peru 1956

Green Meetup Launch Party in Washington, D.C.

Jen Corey

Miss District of Columbia Jen Corey, who will be in the Miss America competition in Las Vegas in January 2010.

GREEN MEETUP.COM is a new Washington, D.C., based meeting place for all those green consumers, companies and entrepreneurs out there, and on Wednesday night, Aug. 5, its festive launch party was held in the nation’s capital.

GREEN is certainly a buzz word in these days, and is what they call a “one stop shop” for everything Green, from finding eco-friendly products, to checking and rating Green companies, to finding Green jobs, and investment opportunities, say it is the consumers best resource for taking concrete steps to Living a Green Life!

SPECIAL GUESTS included a representative from the Mayor’s District Department of the Environment’s DC Green Agenda, Miss District of Columbia Jen Corey, and several corporate and NGO sponsors including Habitat for Humanity,, Square One Organic Vodka, MAXSA Innovations, Honest Tea, EcoDiscoveries, Western States Envelope and Label, and others.

Green Meetup has more than Green company members listed on its Web site.

Sandra Marcelino, Andy Freckmann and Tina Aulakh

Sandra Marcelino, Andy Freckmann and Tina Aulakh

Jen Corey and Sophia Davis

Miss District of Columbia Jen Corey and third runner up Sophia Davis

Jennifer Carter, Paul Mufarrij and Alex Simms

Jennifer Carter, Paul Mufarrij and Alex Simms

Aisha Springer and Roberto Massillon

Aisha Springer and Roberto Massillon

Walker Townsend and Devin Elliot

Walker Townsend and Devin Elliot of Honest Tea

Ed Alzona

Ed Alzona

Green launch party

Frenchmen Charles de Vilmorin and Hervé Roussel created Linked Senior Inc., to provide quality activities for seniors

Charles de Vilmorin

Charles de Vilmorin is CEO of Washington-based Linked Senior Inc.

“OUR MISSION is to enhance the lives of residents of senior communities by easing access to entertainment and information,” says the French native Charles de Vilmorin, who together with friend and fellow Frenchman Hervé Roussel in the summer of 2007 created the Washington-based company Linked Senior, Inc. Recently, their work was covered in an article in The Washington Post.

“THE ARTICLE helped us greatly by putting the word out and still brings a lot of credibility and legitimacy to the story of the company. Linked Senior receives many requests from potential customers or partners and support messages for the mission of the company,” notes de Vilmorin.

WITH THEIR TEAM, they have developed a service that revolutionizes how the members of the 60-plus generation spends their time and helps facilities provide quality activities to their residents.

“BY OPENING up their everyday settings to the world and fostering social communities, Linked Senior provides seniors a means to stay active, connected and engaged,” adds de Vilmorin.

THE SERVICE WAS designed in partnership with local communities such as the McLean-based Vinson Hall Retirement Community. Charles de Vilmorin tells how it works:
“Pulled by the needs and requirements of residents and facility staff, the service was designed over the course of two years and is elderly-friendly, simple and fun. Linked Senior allows people to download music, news or audio entertainment from a menu tailored to their interests. It involves three components:
The Player: The Linked Senior Player is the first MP3 player designed for seniors. It is simple and straightforward to operate.
The Kiosk: The Linked Senior Kiosk is designed with ease-of-use for older adults in mind. Its operating system and its peripheral equipment have been carefully tailored to meet the needs of older adults.
The Content: The current selection contains about 63,000 audio pieces and is continuously updated with audio books, talk shows, radio shows, music, audio emails, news, cooking lessons, games and more.

FURTHERMORE, Charles de Vilmorin says that Linked Senior will soon offer image, video, audio emails and other features pertaining to the needs of residents in senior communities. He continues: “We are growing geographically based on requests, and are now focusing in the U.S., and have plans for selected European countries for mid 2010.”

BOTH DE VILMORIN AND ROUSSEL had prior American business experience, having worked here for more than ten years combined. Nonetheless they learned what it is to launch a company in a foreign country, and the long standing idea was found to be true: the process is fairly simple. The entity was created in 15 minutes online, and a lot of the administrative steps were simple and easy.

THEY FOUND THAT the main disadvantage of creating a business far away from home was to recreate a whole new professional network, even though they already had one in France. “However, our experience in dealing with cultural differences proved to be easier than we expected,” says de Vilmorin. He adds that “generally speaking, doing business in the U.S. is fun and a lot easier than expected. People tend to be open minded, and always take the time to listen, which is very important for entrepreneurs.”

Charles de Vilmorin

MR. DE VILMORIN, 29, attended American University in Washington, D.C. as part of a program with Dauphine University in Paris six years ago. While working as a consultant, he began a master’s degree at Georgetown University in the field of communication culture and technology. Influenced by French philosopher Michel Foucault’s critical studies of closed communities, de Vilmorin became interested in retirement communities, especially after his grandmother entered one outside Paris.

HE NOW HOLDS a Master’s Degree in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University, a Master’s Degree in International Management from Dauphine University, Paris and a BBA Hon’s in European Management from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.

MR. ROUSSEL arrived in the U.S. as a student to study computer science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He has since then lived and worked in San Francisco and Philadelphia. He graduated in 2005 with a Masters of Computer Science from Cornell University. Roussel has worked for several companies, developing intuitive and user-friendly software. Most notably at Siemens Medical Solutions, he was part of the team that developed applications for doctors and hospital staff who need to access critical decisions and make critical decisions within a few seconds.
In his last experience before starting Linked Senior, he was project manager for a large consumer base project on one of the Computer Associates security teams.

“WE MET HERE in Washington over a discussion about entrepreneurship and decided to team up quickly after in April 2007,” says Charles de Vilmorin.

Sen. John Kerry Talked about Global Climate Change at the National Press Club

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) talks climate at the National Press Club.

“FORTY PERCENT of emissions belong to two countries – the United States and China – and that means we have a special responsibility,” noted Senator John Kerry D-Mass. at a National Press Club luncheon, in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday.

THE ELOQUENT, tall, snazzy-looking senator in dark suit and pinkish tie had come to talk about the consequences of global climate change. He also pointed out the importance of U.S. – China relations and reminded the audience about President Nixon’s breakthrough diplomacy with China in the 1970s.

“BUT CHINA also deserves credit,” stated the senator, who recently met with a Chinese delegation. China is now the second largest source of wind energy capacity. It also has a pilot program to reduce emissions from steel plants that has been expanded to companies that produce one-third of China’s energy consumption.

THE UNITED NATIONS Climate Change Conference planned in Copenhagen in December, where 192 nations will come together to work on climate issues, will be “tough diplomacy and hard work,” he added.

“WE DON’T HAVE ten years to work on this,” he admonished, adding “Wake up Americans. This is a winning proposition for American businesses.”

UNFORTUNATELY, while Sen. Kerry certainly looked good at the luncheon, his presentation brought to mind one of the major reasons he did not emerge victorious in the 2004 presidential elections. The Massachusetts senator simply doesn’t have the charisma that has made Presidents Obama and Clinton big winners. But maybe it’s tough to make climate change dramatic.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) talks climate at the National Press Club.