Monday, December 15, 2008


A while back I wrote about my absolute favorite TV show (Showtime's "Dexter") and how it puts me on a private pedantic hell because of the show's spectacularly lousy dialectic writing about Cuban Spanish.

Michael C. Hall as DexterTo recap, in the series, Michael C. Hall is absolutely brilliant as a serial killer who works as a blood expert for the Miami Metro Police while hiding the fact that he is also a serial killer. Dexter goes after bad guys, but he is still a truly disturbing psychopath pretending to be normal while killing bad guys left and right in a very orchestrated manner.

Because it takes place in Miami, there's a lot of Cuban stuff and characters going on, but whoever the writer(s) for the series is, they seem to believe that Cubans in Miami are indistinguishable from the Hollywood area Mexicans and Mexican-Americans that he or she "knows" as Latinos or Hispanics.

As a result some pretty amazing cultural blunders in the spoken language continue to occur in the show, and I discussed some here.

But now an even more egregious culinary blunder took places in the series finale that revealed to me that the writer or writers for this series have zero understanding of the diversity of cultures in their own continent, and now I am firmly convinced that they have never set foot in Miami.

Last night was the series' season finale, and it was very, very good, with Dexter almost being the victim of another serial killer being hunted by Miami police.

Let me set a different background for you. Imagine that you're watching a TV series and the characters walk into a restaurant in South Carolina and inside a big sign announces that the restaurant has the "Best Soul Food in the South." The characters sit down and then they order Egg Foo Young and a couple of egg rolls.

That would not make sense, right? Lousy script writing?

In the Dexter season-ending episode, actress Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Dexter's annoying and foul-mouthed sister and now Detective Debra Morgan, walks up to a food establishment, where a prominent sign displays that it sells "The Best Cuban Food in Miami."

She then orders a burrito.

A burrito?

There is no such food item in any Cuban restaurant in Miami, or Cuba or the entire planet Earth. Outside of a Mexican restaurant environment, you ask any Cuban what a "burrito" is and he will tell you that it is a small donkey. A "burro" is a donkey or ass, and a "burrito" is a small donkey.

Cuban food does not include any dishes called burrito, but Dexter's Hollywood-based writers, never having set foot in Miami or even a Cuban restaurant in la-la land, assume that Cuban food (and by default all Latin American food) consists of burritos, tamales, refried beans, enchiladas, etc.

We had a small "Dexter watching" party last night, and one of the persons in the group was a very good Puerto Rican friend. When Detective Debra Morgan ordered a burrito at a place selling "Miami's Best Cuban Food," we both burst out laughing.

However, inside: Showtime, you're killing me!

Robert Johnson's black art collection coming to DC

Johnson may be known for the low-budget comedy routines and booty-shaking music videos that drove the success of BET, the cable channel he founded and that turned him into America's first black billionaire in 2001. But in his private moments he is moved by art that documents the struggles and achievements of black people in America. Since the early 1980s Johnson, 62, has assembled some 250 pieces by 19th- and 20th-century African-American artists. Though Johnson's collection is probably worth only a couple of million dollars, it includes some of the most famous names of the genre: cubist-inspired collage artist Romare Bearden (1911--88); modernist Harlem painter Jacob Lawrence (1917--2000); and Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859--1937), who studied under Thomas Eakins in the 1880s and was the first black painter to gain international acclaim.
Read the article here, which also states that "Johnson, who plans to stage a Washington, D.C. exhibition of his art this February, believes the works should be displayed separately from those of white Americans."

The piece doesn't say where the exhibition will be, which is a little odd, since it will be in a couple of months.

But as I object to the segregation of artists by race, as Mr. Johnson apparently believes, or by gender (thus my opposition to the National Museum of Women in the Arts concept) or by ethnicity (thus my opposition to the Latino Museum idea).

Art is art.

Perhaps Mr. Johnson intends to add a specialty focus to his DC exhibition, such as "The Impact of African American Art on Contemporary Art," which would then make sense to have a "black Americans show only."

Otherwise I call upon Mr. Johnson to use his considerable influence to make more museums add deserving black American artists to American art museums. Or perhaps to call upon the Obamas to add more deserving black American artists to the White House collection, which only has three such artists in its entire collection, two of which were added by the Bushes.

Segregation doesn't work for art either.