Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Perils of Internet

Twenty years ago I was a college student looking for anything to distract me from having to reading 5 books and 10 scholarly articles by next Tuesday. Back then, the internet was so new. Everything was so interesting. Every page linked to easily to the next.

Since then not much has changed. At this very moment I am supposed to be archiving some blogs posts for work, which means I am fishing around in the blog world, which means, as you can see, I am only half working.

Here are a three of my favorite time-killers. The first two are oldies but goodies, and, sadly, still timely. The third is just plain silly.
(mostly stupidly obscene, but there are some real gems)

Dance parties, ducks and Michael Jackson

I took Nayáhuari to a dance party this weekend. Not a post-church mariachi, sonidero and packs of kids running between the tablecloths kind of party, but a good old urban house party with 1 child (mine), 90 adults, chips, alcohol, and a DJ in the living room. Considering that my toddler’s bedtime is midnight anyway, she fared rather well, athough she was more interested in the snacks and less enthused by the unfamiliar 80’s and 90’s hip-hop/R&B soundtrack that had the crowd of thirty-somethings strutting all over the dance floor.

Not surprisingly, Nayáhuari has also shown indifference to my favorite Pocoyó episode. Now for all you out there with pequeñitas y pequeñitos, if you haven’t already found Pocoyó, you should check him out. He’s a little blue cartoon character who—along with the help of a pink elephant (surely a nod to Dumbo’s drunken dream), a duck, a blue bird, and a neurotically happy yellow worm—helps small children explore real-life challenges, such as saying good-bye to someone you love and fessing up when you’ve broken someone else’s toy. Each episode comes with it’s life lesson, but in an effort to reach out to the parent set, they are also just plain funny.

Here is one of my favorite Pocoyó episodes, with Pato and Pocoyó battling on the dance floor, and Ely, the pink elephant, as DJ.

Pato’s performance of Michael Jackson and Pocoyó’s arena rock number (with an octopus on his head!) has me clicking the replay icon over and over. But after one viewing, Nayáhauri was ready to move on to a different episode. Reminds me of how at the party last Friday, she was not moved to dance to Prince or the Jackson Five but instead shouted to me, “¡No tanto fuerte la música, que los árboles están dormidos!”

P.S You can also find Pocoyó on YouTube in English, and in a Latin American edition, but on this rare occasion I assert that the Spaniards are doing it better.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Loving Lupe (Fiasco)

Spending the holidays with my nephews meant I also got to spend some qt with Lupe.

Here’s a great fan video for “And He Gets the Girl”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Music for the (little) people

Since moving to New York I have been on the hunt for music shows to take my kid too. Carnegie Hall has some wonderful acts, but it’s not exactly an appropriate atmosphere for an active two and a half year old. Then there's the language dilemma. Finding good kids’ music is tough, and finding it in Spanish is even tougher.

One day I picked up a flyer at the public library announcing “Fati & Charles: Enjoy kids music from Latin America.” The design was was simple: all text, no image. With an introduction like that it was going to be pretty hit or miss. However, we didn’t have anything else to do that Friday, so Nayáhuari and I headed out in the rain and arrived a few minutes late only to find our humble neighborhood library transformed something like a kids rock arena. Upstairs in the only open space in the tiny building around 30 Jewish and Chinese kids were jumping and singing at the top of their lungs – in Spanish.

A Fati and Charles show lasts about an hour and consists of the pair teaching movements to accompany their original songs. During the show the kids dance with hats on their heads and with huge animal shaped sponges in their hands. They throw the props up in the air and then pick them up again, singing “equipo chócalo cinco” and giving high-fives all around. They even stage a protest with picket signs expressing their desire to do it "SOLO." This video does not at all do justice to the infectious collective energy of their live shows (and it's missing the picket signs) but it is one of Nayáhuari’s favorite tracks from their album El Baile del Sombrero.

Fati & Charles wrote a grant to do a series of shows in the public libraries. None of this capitalizing on the wealthy New Yorker market and offering music in Spanish for tots at $300 per semester in rich white neighborhoods. No. Fati & Charles play in the festivals & library circuit—open, public spaces. And as long as they are doing that, their music remains accessible to the little people, which is exactly how music should be.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Amor y Música

Mothering with songs of protest

Ever since I had a child, my daughter has become the calibrator for my interaction with music. Not only have I become a homebody, missing show after fabulous show (Bunbury, Calamaro, Enanitos + Hombres G! Ouch!), I would rather give in to listening to the music she wants than contend with her toddler stubbornness/potential tantrums just to listen to HDS Would Tour 2007 for the three millionth time, let alone listen to a new recording that I may or may not even like.

Before she could talk, Nayáhuari indicated if she wanted more of something with an inflected “Mmm?” She used it for everything – tortillas, games, and of course music. She could nominate songs for our “Rolas Favoritas de la Chunk” playlist by simply giving the “Mmm?” seal of approval when a song ended. However, if she said this in the middle of a song, it was her cue that track didn’t make the cut, and I had to hit the fwd button to keep her from going into an “Mmm? Mmm? MMMMM!” rampage.

Early on I was looking for songs in Spanish she might like. De Colores seemed to be a hit when I sang it to her, so I dug up the old Joan Baez recording of it that another hippie Chicana—my mom—used to listen to on her Gracias a La Vida LP. Baez’s arrangement got an instant “Mmm?” seal of approval from Nayáhuari and was soon transferred to our “Favoritas” playlist. One day, in an attempt to expand my child’s repertoire, I let the Gracias a La Vida album play in its entirety. Most songs were met with an instant “Mmm?”, indicating that my toddler was not interested in letting the particular track finish. But towards the end of the album, my then one and half year old child let this song go on uninterrupted.

It seems appropriate that my child would bring me back to the songs of my own childhood. This album, which preceded Linda Ronstadt’s Canciones de Mi Padre by ten years, was Baez’s tribute to her Latino roots and among my earliest exposure to the protest music of the era. Joan Baez recorded this album for the people of Chile, then living under Pinochet’s ruthless dictatorship, and I remember the distinct feelings of hope and freedom it inspired in me, even at the tender ages of 3, 4, 5, and 6 years old, which were the years when we still had an LP player in our living room, and the scratchy note songs like Gracias a La Vida, Cucurúcucu Paloma, Te Recuerdo Amanda, and De Colores left their stamp in my mind and my imagination. Maybe it was the image of Joan raising a hand towards the heavens framed by the bright purple of album’ cover. Whatever the inspiration, the seeds to my future activism were there, in the music that moved me even before I could understand the words (I grew up speaking English and didn’t become bilingual until much later in life).

These days, Nayáhuari knows the words to De Colores. She has a blast imitating Magaby’s Pequeños Gigantes performance of Cucurúcucu Paloma, and she still wants to hear Las Madres Cansadas twenty times in a row. My hope is that these songs will also make a place for themselves in her heart and in her mind and that their presence in her life will guide her—on whatever path she chooses—to walk with a passion for justice, with optimism, and with hope.

For lyrics to the English version Las Madres Cansadas, see:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

naco es chido : psa

oh my god, you guys, i didn't know mexicans have mockumentaries too! ja!

naco es chido : sergio arau

see it next month at artist television access in sf on wednesday, august 31 @ 7pm :) i have just watched the trailer 3 times.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

facundo cabral

i was so sorry to wake up to this news today, and can still hardly believe this happened to one of our most beloved viejito folk singers...

facundo cabral was assassinated in guatemala city early this morning.

everything is too quiet now.

no soy de aquí, ni soy de allá : facundo cabral


yo bailo con mi canción
y no con la que me tocan,
yo no soy la libertad,
pero si el que la provoca.

si ya conozco el camino
para que voy a andar acostado,
si la libertad me gusta
para que voy a vivir de esclavo


i dance to my own song
not the one they play for me
i am not freedom
but i am he who incites her

if i know the way
why would i go lying down?
if i love freedom
why would i live as a slave?


:( que descanses en paz, facundo cabral...