Some will say America is better than this — it’s not

Photo of an adult’s hand holding a baby’s hand.
Photo of an adult’s hand holding a baby’s hand.
Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

For the longest time, whenever my mother dreamed of a baby, she’d call me to talk about my future children. She’d describe in vivid detail the child’s mix of features, curly hair, and fat cheeks. If she saw a blonde baby, she’d ask if I was dating una rubia, or someone possessing whatever other characteristics she knew didn’t exist in me. The answer was always a resounding no. No, I wasn’t dating una rubia. No, I wasn’t even thinking about kids.

My mother still dreams of grandchildren, but their features have changed. Dirty blonde hair has become the darkest shade…

Read everything from Miguel Machado — and more.

Upgrade to Medium membership to directly support independent writers and get unlimited access to everything on Medium.

Become a member

Already a member?Sign In

Members of the Cepeda family engaged in a “juego”

The island of Puerto Rico is an island of many rhythms. Whether it’s the salsa that cascades from the open windows of pastel-colored houses or the cars that pass with their trunks open and speakers reverberating the heavy bass of dembow, the streets are alive with music. But there is another rhythm, an older rhythm, one birthed in rebellion and practiced in secret. It is the rhythm of kokobale, the Puerto Rican art of machete and stick fencing.

Among the African diaspora of the Caribbean, machete fencing has a rich history. Martial arts like the Haitian Tire Machet or the…


An wide shot of Puerto Rico’s protected forests as clouds billow overhead and the sea sprawls out in the distance.
An wide shot of Puerto Rico’s protected forests as clouds billow overhead and the sea sprawls out in the distance.
Photo Credit: Beau Horyza

A few weeks back, I was casually scrolling through my instagram feed, when I stumbled across the thumbnail of a woman crying. That woman was Bianca Graulau, a Puerto Rican reporter who has received much acclaim recently for her coverage of important issues across the island. She’s covered issues such as the paper extinction of the native Taino peoples as well as the island’s loss of food food sovereignty. Yet this latest issue hit particularly close to home. …


Photo Credit: Andrew Stephenson

I understand the appeal of trap music. Drill too. Really. The combination of heavy bass, minimalist lyrics. It reverberates in such a way that it becomes easy to lose oneself, become one with the vibes. It’s automatic, effortless, difficult to separate where the beat starts and the body begins. Lyrics. Flow. Little by little they are broken down, until they melt into the beat rather than stand apart. The goal is fusion, the music creating a space where a vibe can exist. And to partake in the vibe is to be the vibe.

I get it.


The ‘Bad Trip’ duo talk chemistry, almost dying on set, and the magic of Tiffany Haddish

“Bad Trip.” Photo: Netflix

“First of all, are you safe? It looks like somebody kidnapped you.”

Lil Rel Howery has just beaten me to the punch. Not to be outdone, Eric Andre quickly follows up with, “Blink twice if you’re in a hostage situation.”

We’re about 20 seconds into our conversation and we’re already laughing. I’ve forgotten the questions I’d prepared, let alone their sequence. But the laid-back air and laughter also confirm a suspicion I’ve had since watching the duo’s new film: These two have genuine chemistry.

That chemistry is the driving force behind Bad Trip, which lands on Netflix on March 26…


For the longest time, whenever my mother would dream of a baby, she’d call me to talk about my future children. She’d describe in vivid details the child’s mix of features, curly hair, fat cheeks. If she saw a blonde baby she’d ask if I was dating una rubia, or someone possessing whatever other characteristics she knew didn’t exist in me. The answer was a resounding no. No, I wasn’t dating una rubia. No, I wasn’t even thinking about kids.

My mother still dreams of grandchildren. But the features have changed. Dirty blonde hair has become the darkest shade of…


Let me tell you about my most faithful friend, Georgia May

Georgia May, my ash blonde pitbull sitting at the edge of the river, the green mountains of Puerto Rico looming in the background.
Georgia May, my ash blonde pitbull sitting at the edge of the river, the green mountains of Puerto Rico looming in the background.
Photos courtesy of the author.

March is here on the island of Puerto Rico; the sun hangs a little higher in the sky as trade-wind breezes stir the ocean swell. Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and with it, Georgia May’s birthday. She is seven now, with a soft tide of gray hairs encroaching her whiskers, but her pit bull eyes still shine with youth. A mixture of hope and sadness has defined her longing gaze ever since I brought her home six years ago. …


Transforming a landfill into an oceanside oasis isn’t easy, but it’s necessary

Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.
Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.
Photos courtesy of the author

As you drive down Puerto Rico’s Route 466, the Spanish-style houses and roadside panaderías start to peel away. The road buckles and plunges toward a white-capped Atlantic. Seaside cliffs rise, and trees stretch gnarled limbs into a semi-canopy.

Driving farther still, you reach the remnants of a dune sea tracing the asphalt. Beyond the sandy, mangrove-dotted hills, the sound of the ocean rises as it hammers the shore. This is the Mabodamaca Community Natural Reserve in Isabela, Puerto Rico. …


It’s not harmless banter — it’s immature and offensive

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

In high school, the talk around the lunchroom table was peppered with some now-questionable phrases.

It was almost impossible to get through a conversation without a chorus of interruptions — “Ayo!” and “Whoa” the usual two — indicating that you’d fucked up. And when that happened, the only appropriate response back then was to “pause” yourself:

“I could never be vegetarian; I like meat too much. Pause.”

“Yo, can I get another sausage? Pause.”

Any unintentional double entendre, any sentence that could be viewed as vaguely homoerotic, required us to pause the conversation and reclaim our manhood that was now…


I’ll always long for the alleyways and boulevards of my youth

A snow covered street in midtown during a winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City.
A snow covered street in midtown during a winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City.
The winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

As I write these words, it’s snowing in New York.

It doesn’t snow here where I am, at the tail end of the West Indies. In Puerto Rico, the place where the Caribbean sea sidles up to a pounding Atlantic, my winters can barely be called winters at all.

Instead of bitter chill, I awake most mornings to zephyr-like breezes. The trade winds at play off the coast. Palms dance beneath the fat yellow sun, less relentless than in summer but still bringing sweat to my brow. …

Miguel Machado

Miguel is based out of Puerto Rico. When not on an adventure you can find him typing away. https://miguelanthonymachado.wixsite.com/wordsbymiguel

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store