Celebrating the late Tito Puente's birthday gives us a chance to revel in his mid-1950s RCA years. Backed by major label money, the King of Latin Music was able to realize the sounds he heard in his head on bandstands and in recording studios.
This meant big band dance music, agile soneros whose improvised vocals complimented the bands and small-group percussion experiments.
We asked percussionist Miguel Ramirez of the Grammy-winning band La Santa Cecilia to pick 10 of his favorite tracks from that very fertile time for the bandleader, who was born on this day in 1923 and died in 2000.
For more great Latin music in all styles, head to NPR Music's Alt.Latino radio channel.
Twice Juno Schaser asked for a raise. Twice she was turned down, she says. If her group of female friends is any indication, it's a common experience.
" 'At least they'll respect you for trying,' " a friend told Schaser, a 23-year-old museum publicist.
"I think I'd feel more respected if I was paid at the same level as my male co-workers," Schaser says.
The evolving discussion about women and negotiating has been filled with buzzwords, stats, meet-ups and must-reads. These are useful ways to have a discussion, but what about the in-the-trenches daily experiences of women asking for higher salaries?
We put out a call on Facebook asking for your stories. More than 300 people responded via a Google Form (thank you!). Those who replied were between the ages of 20 and 70, though most were women in their 20s and 30s working in a range of industries, from the medical field to academia to IT to the nonprofit world.
A few common themes emerged: A good number of the respondents cited encouragement — moral support and specific tips — from male mentors, husbands and boyfriends as motivation to ask for more. Also, many of the women who wrote in hadn't negotiated the terms of their first job offers because they didn't know that they could.
A lot of the respondents were motivated by the very knowledge that women tend not to ask for more. Kelly MacNeil, a 32-year-old who works in public relations, had this experience:
"I've negotiated two times. When it became clear I was taking on tons of responsibility at the station where I worked, I asked for a $5,000 [20 percent!] raise to bring me to the salary level of a male colleague who didn't have as much responsibility. I made my case and I got what I asked for. And when I was offered another job with a much higher salary, my instinct was to take it gratefully, but I remembered that women tend not to negotiate, so I asked for 5 percent higher starting salary and got 3 percent more."
Many assumed that a lot of companies expect negotiating to be part of the offer process: They lowball a figure, you highball a number, you meet in the middle. Katie Burggraf, a 25-year-old health researcher, also understood how to phrase her ask:
"I was nervous to try and negotiate but spoke with a career counselor, did my research and practiced what I was going to say. In the end I was successful, and here's why I think that was the case: I researched salary ranges for similar jobs in the area, I quoted a number that was reasonable but also higher than what I was willing to accept, and also phrased it in a cooperative and nondemanding way. ... My approach to it was to say, 'I was wondering if we could bring the salary closer to X amount.' I think that kind of language, the 'we' instead of the 'I,' is a lot more approachable. ... The employer ended up meeting me halfway (as I expected)."
Knowledge can make all the difference, including knowing what your co-workers make. Armed with this information, Louise Nelson, a 51-year-old working in higher education, went to her director:
"In 2004 I was managing an IT group. There were three other managers at the same level with groups the same size. Our salaries are public information. Two of the other managers were more senior than I was, so it was not a surprise to learn they made higher salaries. But the fourth manager was younger than me, less senior both at our institution and in the management position, and male — and he made about 5K more than me. I approached our director and said, 'I noticed G. makes more than I do. Help me understand why, since our responsibilities look the same to me.' The director [a male] investigated and agreed with me and he processed an equity raise within a month or two. I now make at the top of the range for my title."
Ashley Perry learned too late how government raises are limited:
"Shortly after my college graduation, I spent weeks searching for an entry-level job on Capitol Hill. I finally received an offer from the congressman for whom I had been interning for free. I was happy to get any offer so I could start paying my rent, so I did not think about negotiating. I just wanted to start getting a paycheck! ... Several months into my job, a publication for policymakers published the salary of every Capitol Hill employee on their website. This gave us an opportunity to see how we measured up to our colleagues. ... I earned much less than my colleagues both in my office and in comparable positions in other offices. Yet I chose to not bring it up. I was concerned that I would be perceived as self-serving. Years later, after completing a master's degree program, I applied for and got another job with a state government agency. This time I decided to negotiate my initial offer. During the process, I learned that the state's policy is to allow a government employee to earn only a certain percentage above their previous salary, with a small bump for additional degrees earned. If I had negotiated the initial offer for my first job and/or asked for a raise to bring me up to a level comparable to my colleagues, all of my future earnings would be higher. As long as I remain in government employment my earnings will be suppressed because I did not negotiate."
Bethany Goins, 31, asked for a better salary, as well as a signing bonus and health coverage for the gap in time between her OB-GYN residency and when she would start an academic job — all while something else was also on her mind:
"The contract review was actually everything that I wanted. If I described my dream job, they had it on the table for me. ... I know that women tend to be paid less and they don't get things just because they negotiate up front. ... He happily agreed to all my points, which I was shocked. It was pretty easy. The hardest part was actually initiating the conversation. ... One of the more difficult conversations I had at the time — plus being 35 weeks pregnant!"
A member of the Code Switch team — who shall remain nameless, but whose name rhymes with Tatt Mhompson — was recently winding his way through the recesses of Amazon when he randomly stumbled across an old ad for McDonald's that appeared in Ebony back in 1972. (Don't trouble yourself trying to figure out just what Ma...er, Tatt was searching for to come this result. Your head will hurt.)
Here's what that ad looked like.
McDonald's has long marketed to consumers of color as aggressively as any big corporation. They were one of the first corporate customers of Burrell Communications, the longstanding, highly decorated multicultural advertising agency. While we take for granted that there are lots of people of color in mainstream commercials, the world was much different in those awkward early days of culturally targeted marketing. But a journey through this history offers a (hilarious) reminder of what has and has not changed in the art of selling burgers to brown people.
What we found when we started digging through the archives was that McDonald's was deeply concerned with black folks getting down. (Excuse us: gettin' down.)
Again, with the down-gettin':
Corny, sure. But none of those spots weren't as hilariously egregious as this ad 70s-era print spot from the Golden Arches.
Wow. Just. Wow.
This stuff would never make it off the drawing board today, but back then, it probably looked downright forward-thinking.
When McDonald's wasn't concerned about black folks getting down — sorry, gettin' down — they were deeply concerned about black people getting jobs. There was a whole category of McDonald's ad that trumpeted the idea of the fast-food chain as an engine for black and economic advancement. This one, with its uncamouflaged appeal to solidarity, is my favorite ad that that we came across.
You see that ring? We need to know if there were ever black folks walking around Springfield flashing Golden Arches bling, and whether McDonald's also gifted them the long, chocolate-brown leather duster coat that would be necessary to make that ring even make sense. Thanks in advance.
But at the nexus of these two ideas — McDonald's insistence that they're keeping it 100 and their positioning themselves as dogged proponents of black enterprise — lay Calvin, the ostensibly cool, hard-working teenager who, for folks of a certain age and social location (ahem), became synonymous with the company. Watch as Calvin navigates the raucous Brooklyn streets, dismissing ne'er-do-wells on the block and helping an old lady with her groceries, as he heads to the place that is strongly implied to be the wellspring of his confidence and self-respect: his part-time gig at McDonald's.
This commercial remains amazing. From the creepy, omniscient gossips who are narrating this dude's life to the New Jack Swing-ish music, those bright-ass shirts with the horizontal stripes and the Different World-era preachiness, this spot might just be the apotheosis of 1990. Like that magazine ad with the McDonald's jewelry, the Calvin spot doesn't even pretend to be about food. McDonald's: Get off those streets and get you a damn job!
But Calvin's story didn't end there. He got an entire narrative arc that included a promotion and expansion of his social influence.
(Reason this is awesome: This commercial was filled with dudes who were That Guy From That Thing in a bunch of '90s-era sitcoms. Not-Quite-Cockroaches, if you will.)
And while you'd think working at a place that employed more black kids than any other corporation would make Calvin's employment unremarkable, it still managed to become the hottest gossip in Calvin's neighborhood. You heard Calvin got a promotion?!?!?!
(Dave Chappelle tried to imagine what became of Calvin in this hilarious but definitely not-safe-for-work clip from his old Comedy Central Show.)
If you wanted to overthink things (which we're always down with, of course), you could probably credibly map the arc of mainstream media representations of black folks over the last 50 years via McDonald's spots. And because culture is a dynamic thing, a spot-on appeal in 1975 might look hopelessly misguided in 1990.
Still, sometimes there's no point in trying to re-invent the wheel.
In the 40 years between "Quality is makin' it..." and "I'm lovin' it," black America has made substantial political and economic progress — that second dude even has two patties. But we still haven't reached the promised land of g's at the end of our gerunds.
Some books have a subject so timeless as to be almost mythic — it's as though these stories are reinvented each time a new book appears, since the subject is right at the heart of what it means to be human. Coming of age books, if they are any good, have this mythic quality. Here are three that are at the top of the scale.
What does it mean to grow up? And why are adults so fascinated by this transition from the innocent to the knowledgeable?
It seems to me that great coming-of-age books allow us to look back at the time in our lives when we discover, almost always the hard way, that some things shouldn't be done — and if they are, they come at an astronomical price. This passage from innocence to knowledge, while sometimes painful, is often so exciting as to be unforgettable. What wouldn't we give to return to that transition, if only for a few imaginary hours?
Craig Nova's most recent novel, The Informer, was named a New Yorker Best Book of 2012. His next novel, All the Dead Yale Men, a sequel to The Good Son, will be published in June 2013.
The grim recovery operation off the South Korean coast continued Sunday, as police boats brought bodies ashore to the deafening cries and screams of family members, said CNN.
The grim work is just beginning: About 250 people are still missing. The death toll now stands at 52, South Korean disaster officials told reporters Sunday. Twenty-three of the dead are students.
Police who carried the bodies on stretchers past grief-stricken survivors were also crying, according to CNN.
Divers are finding various ways inside the ferry, locating bodies in various locations throughout the ship, AP said. None have been found alive, and hopes that anyone survived with the ship are dimming by the hour.
The ferry Sewol sank on Wednesday. In the hours after the accident, 174 were rescued, but none have been found alive since.
Captain Lee Jun-seok spoke to reporters as he was taken to jail Sunday, saying he ordered passengers to stay on the ferry for fear that they might freeze or be swept away in the strong currents, said NPR's Anthony Kuhn. Prosecutors are charging Lee with negligence and abandoning passengers in need, Kuhn tells our Newscast desk.
He had given the helm to the 23-year-old third mate, Park Han-gyeol, who had never navigated through the treacherous waters and unpredictable currents of the Yellow Sea, off the Korean's peninsula's southwest coast, according to the New York Times.
"For ages, the 3.7-mile-long, 2.8-mile-wide Maenggol Waterway has provided a shortcut for ships that try to save fuel or time navigating waters dotted with islets off the southwestern tip of the Korean Peninsula. But the channel also has a reputation for having one of the most rapid and unpredictable currents around the peninsula."
Park was arrested along with the captain and helmsman.
Relatives of passengers furious with the pace of the recovery effort staged an unsuccessful protest Sunday, wrote AP:
"Meanwhile, on an island near the submerged ferry, about 200 police in neon jackets blocked about 100 relatives of missing passengers who'd been walking on a main road in an effort, they said, to travel to the presidential Blue House in Seoul to voice their complaints to the president.
" 'The government is the killer,' they shouted as they pushed against a police barricade."
Divers failed to gain access to the ferry for three days after the accident because of bad weather.