Filed under: art, Chicano, Los Angeles, Video | Tags: Alla, Eddie Martinez, Gary Garay, Josh Kun, Oscar Zeta Acosta
About a month ago, a discussion on the Art and Music of Post-Mexico by Josh Kun at Boston’s ICA got our juices flowing. More than that, it gave us some considerable material to reflect upon, which we hope to share sooner or later on our pages here at tirado/thrown. We hope to do so once we have a some more developed reflections ready to go.
Among the trove of exquisite finds Kun shared with those in attendance was the work of Gary Garay, whose evocative work retrieves and re-imagines some of the basic elements of Mexican-American life: paletas, Nike Cortez shoes, “Grandes Exitos” collections, sheepskin seat covers, brick cell phones, cinder blocks, pagers and so on. He’s got a wealth of images to offer from the sources he draws upon. A favorite of ours is The Last Buffalo (above), an ink drawing that almost immediately calls to mind the original Brown Buffalo, Oscar Zeta Acosta, and a painting by Eddie Martinez, Val Kilmer’s James Brown. One part celebration and another part lament, it appears to melancholically announce the loss and disappearance of the Chicano as a robust cultural figure in American life.
As a part of LACMA’s Phantom Sightings show–which we hope to check out when it arrives at New York’s Museo del Barrio in March 2010– the county museum has an interview with Garay that goes into how he treats his source material. More to come in time.
We here at tirado/thrown stand roundly accused of falling for the faddish, which we will attempt to neither defend nor justify. Posting this video for Girls “Hellhole Ratrace”, we suppose, only advances the imaginary prosecution’s case.
Be that as it may, there’s something about the above clip that, aside from evoking loads of nostalgia,* temporarily forgives the hints of Ryan McGinley-esque aesthetics permeating it. It’s our affinity for the kind of subdued, almost depressed disposition struggling to overcome isolation, despair, and misery that we’re quite familiar with.
The song begins with a folky sincerity that’s almost tongue-in-cheek because the lyrics are tough to pull off with a straight face. Almost as if suddenly realizing that the lyrics had bordered on bad-faith bromides by the end of the song’s first minute, Girls changes tack altogether. They decide to move in the direction of a slow-burning, slow-motion escalator ascent from the basement.
From that point, the song takes on a life of its own and gives us a hazy headiness that tries to keep a lurking, ham-fisted aggression at bay. By the end, we’ve been carried to a sunrise view of San Francisco by way of the least-jarring freak-out we’ve come across in a while. ”Hellhole Ratrace” wants a gentle, eased access to happiness and community. Although these days, it’s difficult to gauge the feasibility of such a possibility.
More posts to come, we hope. We’re working on some notes regarding Josh Kun’s discussion “The Ranch and the Network” at Boston’s ICA last Thursday, which we’d like to post within the next week. There’s also a bundle of posts in various stages on the back end of this page, which we may slowly, though occasionally get to. So thanks, and be sure to keep visiting.
* For California and for keeping odd hours to hang out and fuck around, no less.
Filed under: Latinos, Music, Rock, Video | Tags: Adan Jodorowsky, Echeck, Estoy Mal, Music, Recent Find
From Adan Jodorowsky, son of auteur and tarot authority Alejandro, is Echek, a tiny portrayal of love’s enchantment. The short’s compact format calls to mind the description of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” as a ‘pocket symphony’. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call this a piece of pocket film.
Noting the intersection of film and music in this post, it’s perhaps worth noting that Adan Jodorowsky is a musician and actor in his own right. According to very preliminary research, he’s released records with the band Hellboy and some more under the solo moniker Adanowsky. His film debut was in his father’s 1989 film Santa Sangre, which despite the obvious nepostism, is still not too shabby to claim. And yes, that was him discussing the demerits of a certain female pubic hair style with Adam Goldberg in 2 Days in Paris. (0:55 in the linked clip)
As usual, posts to the blog will continue to be sporadic, but thanks for sticking around. We’re contemplating some possible changes, but nothing certain yet. There’s still the matter of getting out of the grad school application weeds. Stay tuned for updates.
In the meantime, tirado/thrown will be paying attention to Adan’s work. Here’s another short tidbit of Jodorowsky, singing his track “Estoy Mal” (I’m Ill) in the midst of the swine flu outbreak, respirator and all.
Filed under: Anthropology, Cultural Studies, L.A., Politics, Video | Tags: Anthropological Materialism, Crips and Bloods, Death and Life of American Cities, Documentary, Film, Gangs, Los Angeles, Marginal Affinities, Race, Stacy Peralta, Tribes
While caught onto relatively late here at tirado/thrown, we were moved by Baron Davis’s and Stacy Peralta’s astounding documentary Crips and Bloods: Made in America. What we first thought to be a historical reappraisal of urban unrest in Los Angeles unfolded into as comprehensive a survey of L.A. gang violence in South Central that a two-hour documentary could offer.
Immediately, the film took us back to the Los Angeles that we grew up beside and had a tangential relationship to: Sundays with family at the Slauson Swap Meet, occasional forays into South Central to visit friends, the sensationalized coverage of gang life that frightened the affluent but did not do any justice to the daily tales of suffering, tragedy, and strife in afflicted neighborhoods. The civil disturbances in 1992 in the wake of the Rodney King acquittals were pivotal events that could not escape the attention of any Angeleno living there at the time. Crips and Bloods captured the parts of the southland that at times felt so removed from the San Fernando Valley or even Hollywood.
Part of what makes this film noteworthy was that Peralta, the creator of Dogtown and Z-Boys and the Bones Brigade videos, stepped outside of making lifestyle films about surfing or skating to produce what is probably the most profound treatment on the creation of the most noted street gangs in contemporary American life.
Or is it that much of a stretch? If the 80s and 90s showed us anything, it was that gang bangers in the city and skater kids in the suburbs, beaches, and valleys were near-simultaneous occurrences of group cultures at the margins of institutional life: the family, education, workforce, church, and state. While the stakes of their activities could not be any more disparate, they would each have a profound impact on American cultural expression in late capitalism. **
Peralta’s documentary potently cites racism (institutional and otherwise), post-war demographic shifts, police brutality, economic stagnation, geographic isolation, and outright state repression as the sources of social arrangements that have wrought uncounted amounts of human tragedy.
The film’s most lucid insight grasped the relationship of gang violence to a hegemonic state, one where those who stand to most to lose from oppression perform the work of oppression, acting out and generating an exponentially vacuous cycle. Multiple commentators in the documentary noted how the disruption of community building and self-determination on the part of authorities, the introduction of a cheap and highly addictive narcotic, mass incarceration, and a social climate bereft of economic opportunity generated the perfect environment for a self-destruction that folded very readily with hegemony’s maintenance of social immobility. It performed a task more effectively than state repression was able to perform, since it did not require the National Guard to perform the violence it did in quelling the Watts rebellion. Bloods and Crips shows how these broader lines and vectors intersect in the existence of gang members themselves, their families, and community activists. It deftly demonstrates the human toll exacted by a complex interaction of personal actions, social situations, and psychological exigence.
Among the documentary’s most distressing scenes were aerial shots of the L.A. basin, with its districts, neighborhoods, and development tracts- not so much for the scattering and dispersion of peoples it implied, but for the way that those distributions of space resembled camps organizing life into some form. If anything, the helicopter shots give occasion to reflect on the thesis that the camp is the biopolitical law of modernity. They lead to ask how similar or different are cities than concentration camps? In certain parts of LA, simply responding the question of where one is from can easily be the cipher encoding one’s life or death.
Peralta’s film left us wondering, however: who will tell the stories of the Latino gangs that have developed since the 1930s? Who will tell of how clicks and maras such as 18th Street, White Fence, Florencia, and the Mara Salvatrucha were born and mutated in response to multiple waves of immigration, how they continue to be shaped by the forces of globalization and political upheaval in Mexico, Central America, and the United States? Such a sequel would be worth the wait.
**Strangely enough, The Serach for Animal Chin takes up as leitmotifs the creation narrative of skateboarding, its co-opting by commercial interests, and a marginalized community whose members are bound by their affinity for skateboarding’s originary ethos.
Filed under: art, Music, Rock, Video | Tags: Jamaica Plain, Neptune, Rock, Video, Zea Barker
Neptune is more than just a local favorite at tirado/thrown. Yes, the band’s record, Gong Lake was the subject of one the firsts posts on this blog. But Neptune more than just represent Jamaica Plain, the neighborhood this publication calls home. They are ceaseless laborers and innovators, entirely committed to their craft of making music with the instruments they create: equal parts luthiers, drum makers, metal smiths, sculptors, creators of things from found and unwanted objects, circuit benders, and songwriters. Neptune are heralds of a present time perpetually displaced and deferred, though already here.
Performed and produced by multi-disciplinarian Zea Barker, the video for Neptune’s Grey Shallows is a piece documenting effort, motion, position, and gesture suddenly seized and frustrated within the confines of limited space. An easy visual analogy for an existence trapped inside a cubicle? That would be one way to approach the video, but a little too easy and practical a metaphor.
Another way to consider the video is through the use of the scenery’s limited space, which conditions and binds Barker’s movements and frames her exertions. Her movements are alternately manic and elegant, frenetic and graceful, energetic and exhausted. All the while, Neptune’s track moves along, suddenly setting itself at a humming idle to seek out the next direction to carry its sound. From there the verse acts as a means for the song to measure where it stands in the field of sound. The chorus offers a temporary resolution by propelling the song out of boredom and stasis.
What seems to matter most is the dynamism dwelling between the opposite poles of activity and manner represented in vision and sound. With Grey Shallows, Barker and Neptune summon a thoroughly tactile, and at times uneasy, relationship with the environments they dwell in, making something out of what is otherwise seen as nothing or useless, with marvelous results.
Filed under: Music, Uncategorized, Video | Tags: 2008, Anavan, Baltimoroder, Chico Sonido, Crystal Castles, El Guincho, Gael Garcia Bernal, Las Malas Amistades, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Music, nobody, Rock, Roots of Chicha, School of Seven Bells, TV on the Radio
With the year quickly coming to a close, here’s tirado/thrown’s list of albums/songs/tracks that made their way into regular listening rotation over the last year. While most of the titles below were released in 2008, your dear author/editor cannot pretend to scoop up new records and love them as quickly as a number of people picking up records and writing about them. At times, he wishes he were so adventurous. Be that as it may, the list follows:
- Crystal Castles, Self-Titled, Last Gang Records: A record of 8-bit-inspired madness teetering at the point where self-control and its loss become difficult to distinguish. It is music to the tune of neurons alternately seizing up and firing at various intensities, making shards and blobs of circuitry-toned noise for your pleasure.
- Anavan, Self-Titled, GSL: Manic, tight, post-punk. Danceable and disciplined, this record will mercilessly cut you right down the middle.
- TV on the Radio, Dear Science, Interscope: As close to a perfect album as you can get. Just. Go. Listen.
- El Guincho, Alegranza, Young Turks/XL Recordings: Dense, infectious, rhythmic loops of joy.
- Las Malas Amistades, Jardin Interior, Psychopath Records: The record (and band) I’ve been waiting for to offer Latin America’s response to Sebadoh’s Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock. Not quite new, but it was a 2008 discovery here at tirado/thrown.
- Nobody, Presents Blank Blue: Western Water Music, Vol. 3, Ubiquity Records: Lush, slow burning, deep grooves from L.A. Oftentimes Nobody’s psychedelic arrangements move the music along like fog moving at the boundary between air and water, smoother and cooler than an iced bong hit.
- Chico Sonido, Various Mixes, available at www.chicosonido.com: Outstanding mixes of vintage Latino tracks that just teem with soul. He’s an outstanding selector, and part 2 of a set he recorded for dublab in 2006 is proof. Finding records under pyramids indeed.
- Various Artists, The Roots of Chicha, Barbes Records: Irresistible late 60′s cumbia drenched in reverb-laced guitars. Inspired by the wave of psychedelic cumbia rocking South America (esp. Zizek) as of late, I somehow managed to come across this ancestral document.
- School of Seven Bells, Alpinisms, Ghostly Records: Most of what I read about them invokes the term shoegaze or dreampop, which I find a pretty lazy analogy. Said genres don’t carry a groove or run vocals the way SVIIB’s Alpinisms does deftly mixing the sonic landscapes of Spiritualized and rhythms of late 80s freestyle to entirely original results: earnest, serious, groove-laden, and striving for a level of feeling in songwriting that treads perilous musical territory and comes away glowing.
- Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Daytrotter Sessions, Available here. There’s a fragility and vulnerability in Robinson’s voice and songwriting that is just arresting. The four songs featured on the Daytrotter sessions are rather magnificent in themselves as well-performed pieces of rock.
- Baltimoroder/Die Young, Cat/Back Around, Dopamine Records: A slick but downright grimy track coming from Boston’s finest DJ, Baltimoroder. It’s much like something you’ll hear him spinning during peak dancing time at one of the many nights he’s a part of.
A few more records from this year were in the running, but in the name of a measure of integrity, they’re excluded them from the list since said author/editor hasn’t listened to them. They are worth mentioning as records that are eagerly awaiting listening:
- Flying Lotus, Los Angeles, Reset, 1983, Warp Records/Plug Research
- Abe Vigoda, Skeleton, Post-Present Medium
- Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Self-Titled, Say Hey Records
I’ll leave with a little piece of pre-holiday cheer that came my way from tirado/thrown favorite Caro at Sound Taste. It’s Gael Garcia Bernal getting his norteño on in with a rendition of, well, you’ll recognize it, by you know who, as part of an upcoming film, Rudo y Cursi. Judging from the trailer, the song gets its work in. Were I Bun E. Carlos, I would be impressed.