tirado/thrown


28 Days of Sonido Americano
February 22, 2010, 3:53 pm
Filed under: Chicano, Latin America, Latinos, Music | Tags: , ,

Over at Super Sonido, nuestro carnal aural Joseph Franko is indulging his visitors with digitized cuts from his massive collection of forgotten, though tenderly curated, Latin American and Latino music.  Franko’s latest blog project, 28 days of 45s, has him and guests such as DJ Lengua posting–among other things–yeh-yehs, Chicano beats, cumbias, metal riffs, rebajadas, psych freak-outs, and Tejano Soul throughout February.  What proceeds is an intensive course on the sounds of Our America(s).

Image: Pedro Lasch, Latino/a America, 2003/ongoing [Pedro Lasch, con gracias al Profesor Mignolo]

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On Behalf of the Defense
December 14, 2009, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Chicano, L.A., Latinos, Los Angeles, Photos | Tags: , , , ,

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, news came of Alice McGrath’s passing.  Luis Valdez dramatized her work as an activist in the Sleepy Lagoon defense in his play Zoot Suit. Her L.A. Times obiturary is here.

Information on the photo from Calisphere below:

Title: Alice Greenfield McGrath, portrait, Alice Greenfield McGrath, back in the Bradbury building, where her work on Sleepy Lagoon defense began

Creator/Contributor: Los Angeles Times (Firm), Publisher; Barnard, Tony, Photographer

Date: May 2, 1978

Contributing Institution: Dept of Special Collections/UCLA Library, A1713 Charles E. Young Research Library, 405 Hilgard Ave, Box 951575, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575



Dispatches from Alla: Gary Garay
October 18, 2009, 3:35 pm
Filed under: art, Chicano, Los Angeles, Video | Tags: , , , ,

Gary Garay, The Last Buffalo, 2004

Gary Garay, The Last Buffalo, 2004

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.

Eddie Martinez, Val Kilmer's James Brown, 2008

Eddie Martinez, Val Kilmer's James Brown, 2008

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.

Image sources: Gary Garay, ZeiherSmith



Philosophy for (S)Lowriders

lowrider-1

One of Infinite Thought’s recent posts on walking/stomping mentions some reflections of Alain Badiou’s that seem to channel Paul Virilio’s dromological musings:

 ‘To an epoch such as ours, nothing circulates as fast as capital, its merchandise and its communications, it exists as a particular oppression bearing time which is translated as the normal speed to which the subject must bend. I speak purposefully here of a structural speed. It is very different from the capacity for a sudden decision as is necessary for the subject exposed to an event. To this imposed rapidity, I oppose this maxim: ‘go slow/be slow/slowness’. A maxim which, remember, was already explicitly to the fore in certain workers struggles of the 1970s. ‘Go slow down the imposed speed of production needed for it to work its proper rhythm’.

In the same post, the friend who passed on this excerpt from a lecture on Plato to Infinite Thought recalled an anecdote about freedom and the pace of walking from an encounter with Badiou.

‘When Badiou was down here J Clemens and I were walking with him down the street. We had to keep stopping and turning to wait. He made a joke of us and he told us that for the Greeks to walk slowly was the privilege of free men.’

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On the one hand, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about the lowrider, that cybernetic Chicano contribution to car culture that is more signifier than tool.  In light of Badiou’s commens, the lowrider’s calling to cruise “low and slow” is more than a sign of resistance against a dominant culture consuming vehicles for commerce-oriented transport and circulation, i.e., for participation in the political economy.  The lowrider can also operate as a sign of freedom, using the car outside of the circuits of transport and work.   The lowrider’s not built for speed, but for show.  They are cars that precisely don’t work, revealing a leisure unavailable to capital’s rapid circulation.  I defy you to speed along in a bouncing or tilted car.   This, in spite of non-emancipatory tendencies within lowrider culture.  

One could only imagine Badiou at a lowrider show.

(For an example of “low and slow” see 0:24, 2:20, and 3:35 in the video below.)

On the other hand, thoughts return to walking.  Being harried, walking fast-really fast-is the mark of a typical commute.  Mercilessly, I slash through the spaces opened up between people on sidewalks or subway passage to at least think that I’m either dampering my habitual tardiness or even approaching punctuality.  It is a mark of my servitude to the wage, a monstrous Hyde-like tendency that gives way to a relaxed dawdle during the weekend, when I would like to not be hurried, entertaining the (not-so) decent Dr. Jekyll in me.  Captialism and schizophrenia?  Why yes, me thinks so.

so-fucking-lonely

The decisive matter in all of this, as mentioned by IT’s friend in the post, is the mastery of temporality, a concern that has dogged me since first hearing about the ‘moment’ in Kierkegaard as an undergraduate.  More on that later, perhaps.

Images: Lowrider from howstuffworks.com; Nicola Villa,“Walking”, 2007, “So f*cking lonely”, 2008.  (More fantastic images of walking at her site…)



Inflicting Wounds Whose Scars are Borders
February 1, 2009, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Chicano, Flaneurie, Ideas, Literature, Philosophy, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , ,

nogalitos-007

From Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera (1987), as quoted by Alfred Arteaga*  in Chicano Poetics: Heterotexts and Hybridities:

“The U.S.-Mexican border es una herida abierta [is an open wound] where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds.  And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country – a border culture.” (3)

When placed next to the image of a border fence in Nogales above, the words in each citation seem to make their meaning all the more truthful.  The graffiti above reads, “Borders: scars upon the earth.”  

These structures are performative signifiers of the State’s violence, a power enacting a logic of exclusion.  The fences, walls, agents, and surveillance equipment are ciphers encoding action, establishing identity, and determining the value of who can cross and who cannot.

On the one hand, the State’s constitution excludes portions of humanity to include a remainder and establish the social bond by an oath, a pledge promising the subject’s personal sacrifice for a teleological end.  The ultimate wages of transgressing against the State include surrendering the claim to membership in the community and becoming party to a non-sacrificial death: to be killed.  

On the other hand, borderlands include the excluded and the excluder alike in a relationship of tense exposure to one another where it becomes possible for language to not be sanctified, where the apparatus of the State is exposed and can be brought to question.

Image Credit: Nogales, as photographed and thoughtfully reflected upon at La Gringa Rusa Mexicana, via Citizen Orange.

*A note of gratitude to Sound Taste for bringing my attention to Alfred Arteaga in a moving tribute to his memory.



Last Week’s Links: January 5-10, 2009
zigzagsmall
What follows is the first shot at what is largely an attempt at offering frequent updates on some of the more interesting links making their way to the tirado/thrown desk.  Any suggestions for good links come to mind?  Please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Image: Screenshot of zigzagphilosophy.com, (2009).  Digital work by Angelo Plessas, found at Rhizome.



How do you say ‘mestizo’ in Russian?

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Above is one of many images of Soviet playing cards bearing Maya-inspired illustrations from a post on EnglishRussia.com, as referred to tirado/thrown through a special informant.  

Aside from being visual delights, you are initially left trying to ask questions about their provenance, much less making the attempt to decipher them.  They merely rest taciturn, sphinx-like, callado, to whatever you attempt to ask yourself, because they are quite fascinating.  Whatever inspired the workers at the Soviet state enterprise responsible for producing these magnificent artifacts, they generated a pretty exquisite group of cards; they’re imaginative and downright noteworthy.   Who knows? Perhaps a bored KGB officer doing slop-work in 1950s Mexico City came across a deck of Aztec playing cards from Baraja Cuauhtemoc and passed over the naipes to an acquaintance at the state playing card factory in an act of camaraderie. 

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The magic of cards like these is that they are portable pictograms giving the the gamepiece something more interesting to look  at and wonder about than a regular stack of casino cards.  Seriously, they beat the Grateful Dead Aztec-Inspired playing cards.  Want to get a sense for Mayan language and culture during a few hours off?  Take your card to the library and check it against a codex and lexicon!  To think that gambling implements could have the potential to be edifying!

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Modernist flourishes on the Soviet cards such as the cats the queens hold in her hands speak of a mixture of ancient imagery and contemporary adaptation.   The distinct configurations of each of the two jokers in the deck speaks to the confluence of Mesoamerican and European at work in the deck.  The blue card seems to be rendered with a more appearance, while the red one seems almost Medieval European in a Mayan style, but I leave that up to experts to decide.

card1

card2

However, the images on the face cards are quite faithful to the drawings in codices: with respect to gestures, facial expressions, postures, decoration, and detail, which makes them all the more interesting to discover.

Still, the cards leave me with more questions than answers.  Is the existence of these cards a trace of a mestizaje in the USSR in the form of a curiously made instruments for everyday entertainment, or is it just a fluke of historical detritus washed ashore?  What do these items say about the way Soviets conceived the work of producing items for everyday life?  Why the odd reaction of being surprised at the discovery that Soviets (of all people-gasp!) produced these cards for everyday use when in the US typically has largely uniform face cards from a number of different companies, and when decorated cards would be only for serious gamers and sold as speciality items?  When will we see Mexican and Central-American takes on the matryoshka doll?  Or perhaps more symmetrically, could we find a Latin-American toy, like a balero, trompo, or loteria game festooned with Russian-style decorations? 

At some point, it would be great to give those Cuauhtemoc cards the kind of critical treatment they, as well as these Soviet ones, rightfully deserve.  For now, I am of mixed emotions.  At once I am unexplainably melancholy at seeing items produced by a now-lost regime bearing images from a destroyed civilization.  At the same time, I’m quietly joyful for their existence.

 

Image Credits- Maya Cards: Picdit, English Russia;Barajas Cuahtemoc: World of Trading Cards; Transcription of the Dresden Codex: FAMSI