Monthly Archives: April 2011

ANOTHER COUNTRY

Yesterday was a nasty day for America. This video letter by Baratunde Thurston, from his post With President Obama’s Birth Certificate, Klansman Trump Reminds Blacks They Will Never Be American, explains why.

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-Yo my man, how much would it cost me to get you to turn up the grease on that chicken?

-One white president.

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Shabazz Palaces – Blastit

SIPPIN’ BATHWATER

Last night’s radio show, SIPPIN’ BATHWATER, is now streaming. Over the course of 60 minutes: Lapalux provides a timely antidote for those suffering from the letdown of James Blake’s album, Quechua queen Luzmila Carpio occupies her rightful place as the missing link between Gang Gang Dance and Gang Gang Dance, Bombino’s Sahelian compositions acquire a desert-motorik lean, Lamin Fofana enters the building, Clams Casino gets motivational in a subtractive #based mode, Tim Hecker shimmers anew, and Berber highlights fresh from Casablanca sweeten New York’s reluctant spring air.

WEB WIZARD NEEDED

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My Beyond Digital crew is currently looking to hire a web designer to help us construct the Beyond Digital: Morocco site. Experience with multi-lingual sites and WP-installs that can switch between languages is a plus. We need someone available immediately.

Interested parties, please send your portfolio/resume and an email of introduction to: activate at beyond-digital.org.

LA RADIO HOY: DANIEL HERNANDEZ: DOWN & DELIRIOUS IN MEXICO CITY

In just a few hours, today’s radio show with special guest Daniel Hernandez! Mudd Up Mondays 7pm-8pm EST wfmu.org 91.1 FM NYC.

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[Daniel Hernandez, photo by Hector 'Chucho' Jimenez for http://frente.com.mx/]

I previewed tonight’s show here. The above portrait comes from a recent Spanish-language interview in Frente (warning: it’s one of those horrible flash-based sites whose ‘digital layouts’ ensure that none of the content can ever be linked to). Clearly, Daniel brought the heat to our city today. The radio show kicks off his NYC stint, keep an eye out for the Thursday book party + Columbia U. talk

Right now I’d like to excerpt two sections from his new book, Down and Delirious in Mexico City. Together they hint at its narrative arc as Daniel moves from “a sort of native foreigner” to a sharp-eyed chilango whose self has been rewritten by the city he writes of — from ex-punks tending their aging legacies to the birth of fashion blogging to neo-indigenista sweat lodges– with such lyricism and insight.

from Chapter 2: Points of Arrival

“And this is the house where La Malinche lived,” Victor says, pointing to a plain colonial structure on Calle República de Cuba, in the Centro. The building doesn’t seem like much: pink walls, brown wooden doors that appear indifferent to their age, shuttered windows. On a wall high above the sidewalk, a tile marker with blue cursive script indicates that “according to the tradition” the house once belonged to a woman named Doña Marina. Also known by her Indian name Malinalli Tenepal, Marina served infamously as Hernán Cortés’s translator and mistress during his conquest of the Aztec empire.

Uff,” I respond, and frown. Among some Mexicans in the United States, La Malinche is reviled as a traitor, the Judas Iscariot of the New World. By grunting I think I am doing my duty.

But Victor, an artist with whom I have struck a fast friendship, recoils. “You Chicanos need to get over the conquista,” he says. “La Malinche was amazing. She was incredibly smart and beautiful and knew many languages. She is one of the only women historical figures we have from the period.”

I am strolling with Victor after lunch. It is a warm and drizzly day, mid-July 2002, just a few weeks into my first visit to Mexico City. From the moment I land, nearly every human interaction and every street corner turned offers an eye-widening lession. The onslaught of information and sensations leaves me fatigued. Almost anything I say is analyzed, mocked, or critiqued in relation to my being a sort of native foreigner — a Mexican born in the United States, Mexican but not quite. Victor’s reproach shocks my brain. . .

And then, crescendoing with feverish visions after several years spent in D.F., we get to this section of chapter 15: The Seven Muses of Mexico City:

Everything is thrilling in Mexico City because everything is out of whack. There is a sense of delirious rupture, everywhere. The Cathedral, built over a dead Aztec temple, is sinking. The video game arcades are packed. I’m looking at male stripper clubs for women in Iztapalapa, extremely open public displays of affection on the metro, between men and women, children, and men and men, at political propaganda calling for the death penalty for kidnappers. A man without legs is begging on the sidewalks, just a human stump riding a skateboard. A little indigenous girl is stricken with panic, screaming in an indigenous language, as she gets off a metro car before her mother can reach the closing doors. On the platforms, the blind are walking with blind. Chaos and mutation on every corner. How, I wonder, can we mediate the doom?

We are not asking it enough. We are watching out for ourselves, like true urban rats, wondering, What is it that I want? I fall into the same mind-frame, thinking lecherously, I want it all. I want clothes. I want the Hustle. I’m a Mexico City mutant eating sidewalk hamburgers for dinner under a pounding brown rain. I want cactus juice to flow through my veins. I want to dance upon the pyramids. I want to sweat droplets of jade. I want acid.

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Bogota’s Frente Cumbiero has a year-old mixtape of originals and edits, which makes for a fine soundtrack to our displaced Mexico City memories on this warm Nueva Jork / Puebla York / Neza York day:

- ROMPETRINCHE – MIXTAPE by FRENTECUMBIERO

MILAN: DOMUS URBAN FUTURES

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This week is Design Week/International Furniture Fair in Milan, and I’ll be eating delicious #food then giving a special performance as part of Domus magazine’s week-long event series Urban Futures.

On Wednesday April, 13th, starting at 9pm, you can catch musician Giuseppe Ielasi (whose work may be familiar to listeners of my radio show), followed by DJ N-Ron and myself, bringing the party with video-projection accompaniment across a 28-meter long wall courtesy of dotdotdot‘s ‘architectural video mapping’. At the Salone 2011 (Opificio 31, Via Tortona 31).

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[dotdotdot's rendering of their wild video wall]

Domus’s week of events looks fascinating. Includes talks on the Post-Oil City and The Open-Source City, bringing in heavyweights from OMA, MoMA, Fritz Haeg, and more. For the Twitter-view: @DomusWeb.

The Harlem Is Nowhere mix that I did with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts early this year is part of Domus’s City Mixtape series. After Milan I return to Casablanca, where we’ll base the Beyond Digital project (instead of Marrakesh) this summer.

Casablanca is north Africa’s largest city. It’s big and gritty, center to Morocco’s music industry and art scenes… As well as an incredible vinyl spot, Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques (26 ave. Lalla Yacout). Here’s a nice writeup on CMDD: pt 1|pt2 and some photos. One of the world’s great record shops!

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[Le Comptoir Marocain de Distribution de Disques, photo from Tales from Bradistan blog]

TO REPEL GHOSTS

a quick reminder that tomorrow is the Nettle concert / tea ceremony event in Brooklyn, with Korean experimentalists Cha Jun Sim & Lamin Fofana. Nettle is my band project, we’re releasing an album later this year and this is our last show until late summer… so if you’re curious, now’s the time!nttl-vp-flyer

more info here. then there’s Nettle’s low-info site. Lastly, there are those in the band who believe that we should have a facebook page.

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This was originally going to be a post about Houcine Slaoui, but I have to go to band practice. . .

LITURGY + DOWN AND DELIRIOUS IN MEXICO CITY

[Guillaume de Machaut depicted in 14th ct. French miniature]

You can stream last night’s radio show for deep, consistently fascinating discussion from Liturgy! Topics include: tremelo strumming, 19th ct. Romanticism, encore vs apocalypse, the value of effort, and my esoteric theories regarding Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s esoteric theories. Liturgy’s musical selection began with 14th ct Frenchman Guillaume de Machaut and ended with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In between you’ll hear weighty black metal, including previews from their upcoming album on Thrill Jockey.

How to follow up such a rich show? With another equally rich show.

Next Monday, April 11th, I’ll be joined by Daniel Hernandez, author of new book Down and Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century. I read an advance copy late last year, it floored me. SO GOOD. Honest, searching, implicated. Lovely to experience Daniel in longform (he’s a great blogger, too). Most alive non-fiction I’ve read in ages, and the prose communicates D.F.s insane energy, which is major. For the past two years I’ve been devouring all I can about Mexico City, from Spanish-language contemporary noir novels to John Ross’s epic history El Monstruo, and Daniel’s work shines out – can’t wait to take the conversation to the airwaves.

TRIBAL GUARACHERO BIRTHS A POINTY BOOT CRAZE

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In the opening sentence of my Fader feature on the young Mexican music of tribal guarachero, I wrote that teen prodigy Erick Rincon ‘radiates preternatural calm.’ You can now witness that for yourself, as he appears on-location in Matehuala in this new VBS video — totally unfazed by the fact that his music, along with that of friends Sheeqo Beat and Otto has directly inspired a pointy boot (& skinny jean) craze with rodeo cowboy-ravers from north Mexico into the U.S. Incredible!

Video below. Check this post for some tribal MP3s and reflections on ancient Mayan subwoofers.

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FATH ALLAH LAMGHARI فتح الله المغاري

A special shukran goes to Jared, who is translating song info! With his help we learn that this gorgeous tune by Moroccan singer فتح الله المغاري Fath Allah Lamghari is called رجال الله “Men of God”. This classic (’70s?) version can be found on an album of the same name. Below, a video clip demonstrates what happens when the trusty melody and his toupee get a teevee glitz overhaul.

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فتح الله المغاري Fath Alah Lamghari – رجال الله Men of God