Taking photos and consent

I didn’t want to write this. In fact, even though I felt the need to write this I kept putting it off every time I had a minute to think about writing it. But today that I’m stuck in traffic on the bus I feel like I might as well do it. When the #metoo movement blew up in social media I stayed silent because I had no urge to relive past experiences. But this is something that happened a month ago. And for many, it may not seem like a huge deal and even for me as it happened, I questioned whether it was actually happening on purpose or if it was just an accident.

I went to Comic Con Revolution Ontario with my daughter. She dressed up as Valkyrie and I dressed up as Black Widow. When we walked on the hallway I saw someone dressed as “The Bat that laughs” and I thought his costume looked really cool so I asked him to take a picture with me. He said yes and to “give him a minute.” I turned around and looked at my daughter who was going to take the picture with my phone. As I waited I felt his hand getting close to my neck and I froze, but I raised my hands up as if to try to block him. You can see it in the picture. He put his hand close to my neck, like he was choking me. He didn’t actually place his hand on my neck and I realized he was trying to make it seem like he was choking me. I understand there’s cosplay and many people act like the character they are dressed as but I still felt really uncomfortable. Also, as his hand got close to my neck he very subtly and slowly brushed his fingers against my breast. Now, I am very endowed and it could have been a mistake, I wanted to think that and as it happened and later after I saw the photo I saw that his costume is blocking his eyes so maybe he couldn’t see very well. But he still should have asked if it was okay to get that close to me. I know that I asked for the picture but that didn’t mean I gave him implicit permission to get that close to me. The point is, he didn’t ask and I didn’t give consent. And I’m angry with myself because I froze and didn’t say anything, especially in front of my daughter. How am I so supposed to set an example for her if I didn’t do or say anything?

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So I knew that at the very least, I needed to write something. But it is still hard, even this little unconformable moment is hard to write about, more than a month later, and people still ask why did Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wait so long to speak out against Brett Kavanaugh?

Logical questions always come to mind:

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Why didn’t you do anything?”

Maybe it’s because we’ve been taught for so long that our experiences mean nothing. “Oh it was nothing, just get over it.”

Maybe it’s because it’s incredibly hard to speak up. Maybe it’s because we’ve been silent for so long.

I’ve always hated the saying in Spanish “El hombre llega hasta donde la mujer quiere,” “Man will go as far as the woman wants him to.” Because all the burden is on us, like we have to be responsible for mens’ behavior. I shouldn’t have to say no, he is the one who should ask first. The assumption that men have a right to our bodies unless we verbally or physically refuse needs to be considered part of the past.

I told my husband what happened and he also wondered if perhaps the costume was blocking his view but I had to remind him that he didn’t even ask if he could get that close in the first place.

Later that evening we went to a free H20 concert and I guess my husband was thinking about my experience when he took a photo with punk rock youtuber Erin Micklow. He didn’t hug her and had his hands in front. He later saw it and said he looked too “innocent.” Once again I had to remind him that all he had to do was ask.

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Why is that so hard to grasp? I guess that as a society we’re just not used to that, which makes me think we have to do a lot of work in promoting consent.

Tony Kanal from No Doubt played one song with H20 and then passed by us quickly. I didn’t ask to take a picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh and for another clue as to how to take a picture with someone with less chance of making them uncomfortable, here’s Keanu Reeves with some examples:

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Why the MCU did Black Widow dirty

If you haven’t watched “Endgame,” (Or “Age of Ultron”) don’t read this.
Black widow aka Natasha Romanoff held the MCU together in a carefully constructed web, yet they killed her off in “Endgame” like a spider in their pantry.
She gave so much to Iron Man and Captain America and she met her end without so much as a wake or burial. A couple of tears from Steve Rogers and Hulk throwing a bench. That was it.Here are a few reasons why the MCU did Black Widow wrong:

Romance with Hulk
You’re gonna tell me that just because she was able to calm him down that’s enough for her to feel something for him? Women, please raise your hand if you’ve ever had to calm a man down? Did that make you fall in love? No? Thank you. I saw no chemistry between them. Zero.

Her death
I’m not saying her death came out of left field or that it didn’t make sense. Yes, hawkeye has a family and of course their friendship made either of them willing to sacrifice themselves for each other and for the world. Not to mention she would do it because she is ultimately a hero, an avenger. But let’s be real, Black Widow is more important to the MCU timeline than Hawkeye could ever hope to be.
I get it, Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow were the main three and they are all now gone, it makes sense. But both male heroes each got at least two movies (“Captain America: Civil War” could be considered more than just a Captain America movie but I digress). Black Widow is still set to get one, (they have a writer and director) but either way it’s like giving her scraps. An origin story when she’s already dead? Thanks, you shouldn’t have gone to all the trouble! (Unless somehow they bring her back but I doubt that)

That scene with all the women heroes… without her
That is in my opinion the worst offense that Endgame did. Black Widow walked so Valkyrie, Okoye and Captain Marvel could run. And she doesn’t get to be in it!?!?!?!

I’m not the only one that feels this way. Someone else had even more issues with “Endgame” and its storytelling of women.

Yes NYT there were Latinos doing punk in L.A. before you “discovered them”

A couple of months ago the New York Times published an article about the “new L.A. Latino punk scene,” as if they had just discovered that Latinos didn’t just go to salsa dancing clubs. Of course, Latinos have been part of the scene since punk came to town, Alice Bag being the perfect example.

What follows is an article I worked on for my writing magazine non fiction class, which is was an elective for my journalism major. It is about the punk and ska scenes in South East Los Angeles in the early 2000s. I never published it before, but I turned it in to my professor on October 2001. I may have published a version of it in Spanish for Al Borde but I don’t recall with accuracy. I have edited it to incorporate two versions of it which Rock Archivo L.A. (aka Jorge Leal) found on his virtual attic and sent it back to me.

Full disclosure: A lot of the people I talked to became my friends and even relatives (some of the members of the band called Teenage Wasteland are cousins of my husband, who I met through Schizm singer and show promoter Baltazar Rodriguez, but that’s another story).

South gate to punk

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Douglass Castaneda, drummer of Teenage Wasteland

A loud and jarring strum of the guitar crashes into the four walls as the lights go off and the few in the audience turn their heads to the stage. It’s the first act and only a few friends will whistle or scream, the rest of the crowd are the ones who got an early ride and clap with little amusement. The band starts to play and soon the four amplifiers  emit the harmony or lack of it. The volume is hardly ever loud enough but the room is small and the people are more interested in pushing their bodies against each other as they lift their feet and their elbows going round and round in a circle or what is most commonly known as mosh pit.

Drive around South Gate or Lynwood and in between streets named Kansas and Missouri you might find backyard gigs, halls full of moshing kids, friends in a band and songs in Spanish and English, two languages in the same world where punk is the sound that unites them.

It’s a Saturday night like any other at club Our House, the usual crowd and the usual bands, although Balthazar Rodriguez who books the shows says he tries to bring in new acts from time to time. The small club could have very well been a house before it became the local hang out for punk rockers less than a year ago. Set on a street corner with a backyard that serves as the parking lot (although only bands usually park there since there are only six spots) with its back entrance as the main entrance, the club has no bar but the desk beside the entrance where they charge the five dollars cover usually offers some sodas for 50 cents. Inside a brown couch and an orange chair are the only seats, both of which could have been picked up from the street given their wear and tear.

The black lights make the small stars around the room vibrate and shine, the kind children and teens use on their rooms. Some posters in white also illuminate but the stage has no special lights, only the glare of the lights across the hall which leads to the bathrooms shines on the band.

Among the darkness it is hard to discern the young faces, on and off stage. Mostly dressed in black, with Left Alone and Dead Kennedys shirts as well as other local and famous bands. It’s a typical punk show in a small place with the usual mohawks and bright hair colors, the patches, pins and rips on the jackets, the metal bracelets and belts. The only difference is the color of their skin and their height, brown and not as tall as other punk rockers on average American suburban towns. Their last names are Ramirez, Lopez or Martinez and they attend high school or work on local factories and stores just like their parents. They live in South Gate, Compton, East Los Angeles or Lynwood where Our House is located.

South Gate for example, used to be predominately white twenty years ago, but is now filled with Mexican Americans, signs in Spanish and street vendors selling chicharrones, or fried pork. It is still a blue collar town, most families rent houses that rarely have big lawns or backyard pools. Instead, the backyards are used for carne asada –BBQs with thin beef steaks instead of burgers and hot dogs, coronas instead of budweiser- and occasional gigs where kids attend for 3 bucks.

Even though carne asada and punk seem distant to each other, the cultures intertwine in a feeling of alienation. Strangely as it may sound, the words Chicano and punk may have more to do with each other because, as Rodriguez puts it, “it has always been music for the oppressed and the frustrated. And if you look at the social environment that we live in, the reality is that a lot of us, including our parents, they wake everyday to jobs that they fucking hate just to make it.”

The socio-economic landscape of South Gate and surrounding cities is composed of working class Latino families who are employed on factories and car dealerships. Previously, this southern part of L.A. County was populated with white working class, but as bigger factories starting shutting down and Latinos started moving in, the faces changed.

In an article for the Los Angeles Times, Sam Quinones wrote the city was founded in 1923 “and for its first 60 years was a white, working-class suburb.” For a time, Latino families couldn’t live there. “It also was home to race discrimination; Latinos couldn’t buy homes in the better areas of the city.”

The South Gate punk scene started on backyard gigs, but as cops started to shut them down more frequently and neighbors became less tolerant, opening a club was the only answer. For now, Our House is the only open place. “All the punk rock shows were in backyards and that was it,” Rodriguez states, “Then the Bullocks opened up on Alameda and 41st St. and it was a cool club where punk rock bands played, anybody could play there.” After the club closed due to management problems, kids started promoting shows at halls and youth centers. Rodriguez followed and so did Alex from Warning Productions who established the American Legion but soon closed and then Our House opened on July of last year, promoted by One Shot Records, a small label from South Gate which Rodriguez collaborates in.

“At first people were like, Our House? Whose house? It’s a backyard? No it’s a club,” Rodriguez says. The name carries a possessive pronoun, a claim to what belongs to the kids. The club makes little money, but it exists because people show up every weekend. “These kids barely have enough money to come in, they pay with quarters, whatever they have we’ll take it cause it’s about the music. And every month when the bills are due, we’re always end up being short or whatever but as long as we have enough to keep going and I think that’s the way it should be.”

Our House is like a second home for many, they go there when they’re bored, when they have to release negative energy. “I just came cause I was bored,” said Oscar, an 18-year-old who just graduated from South Gate High and now works at K-Mart. Oscar said he didn’t like the bands that particular night because he’s more into punk, “and people dance weird with ska.”

One of the main functions that Our House and backyard gigs fulfill for this disenchanted youth is to serve as an outlet. “People that come to the shows, they’re frustrated, they’re just like me. They work hard; sometimes they feel like if they’re not getting anywhere in life and they come over here and for the two hours that they’re in the pit, that they’re dancing, they release all these negative energy. So next Monday they can go back to their fucked up jobs.”

Alienation and futile emotions are present in songs too. Viernes (Friday) 13, one of South Gate’s most popular band and main generator of record sales for One Shot, has a song called “No sirves para nada” or “You’re Useless,” a song with few lyrics but emphasizing the title and its meaning. Another even more popular song by Viernes 13 called “Bailando con la muerte” or “Dancing with death” makes people enter the mosh pit filling it up to capacity, as much as it may try to expand through the walls.

Perhaps all these feelings create a union, a social scene within Our House, and perhaps the music has something to do with it as well. Even when the music is presented elsewhere, the kids will follow, if they can find a ride. Rodriguez recalls the day when they had  show at the Chain Reaction in Orange County, miles away from South Gate and Lynwood. “We passed out flyers and said whoever doesn’t have a ride come down to Our House and we’ll give you a ride over there. So we rented those two 15 seaters and we packed them and we got there with all these kids. I think it is a social scene but I think these kids are also starting to love the music.”

Besides booking shows for the club, Rodriguez is also the singer  and bassist of Schizm (a band on the label),  and full time student of East L.A. College. For his day job he assists researchers and teachers at a day care center for special children, contrasting with his shaved head and a long bright red beard.

schizm

Schizm playing at the Aztlan Fest, 2001

Rodriguez along with Oscar Chavez  and two others started the label after meeting at another label that’s now extinct, Limp Shrimp Records. The label has seven bands signed, five of them have released their debut albums, but record sales and profits can’t give anyone a living wage. All four owners of the label have day jobs as well as most members of the bands. “Everybody thinks Oscar and I have a lot of money and we don’t, we’re just like everybody else,” Rodriguez says, sitting down on the carpet of the Our House office, a room down the hall next to the bathrooms, plastered with stickers and colorful posters, an incomplete drum set, a desk, an old computer and instrument cases from bands that have already played or will play that night.

The first and second band have finished playing. For now the crowd goes back outside into the backyard. There are no windows in the club and ventilation is limited. After their sweaty and tired bodies cool down, and the third band gets set up, another circle with various kids of both genders will be created, and someone will pull a girl who is unsure into the mosh pit, someone will fall and get picked up.

Jason and Douglas Castaneda, lead singer and drummer of Teenage Wasteland respectively, were born in Compton but their parents are from Guatemala. “I think Spanish is our language, it’s what brought us here. We as a band think that people like to hear Spanish and English and I like to sing bilingual,” says Jason before he asks whether the interview will be in English or Spanish, and it’s the same question Rodriguez and several other members of bands from around here ask.

The third band is now on stage, it’s La Resistencia. A ska band from South Gate with most of its members from Mexico. All of their songs are in Spanish. “It’s the only language we know,” says Luis Torres the lead singer.

Suspect 7, the band to follow has songs in English and Spanish . Their singer and guitarist Jesse Gallegos is from East L.A. “We just like it, we speak Spanish so why shouldn’t we use it,” Gallegos says just after their set is done and is about to disarm the drum set.

Once the fourth band finishes the lights are off for the last time. Rodriguez cleans up the drops of blood splattered in the floor after someone got hit in the nose while moshing. It’s rare to see blood at Our House but this night was a bit more violent. The McDonald’s parking lot on the other side of Agnes St. where everyone parks will soon be empty again, waiting for the next weekend.

Spoiler review of Suicide Squad

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If you haven’t seen Suicide Squad, be warned, this is my review of the film completely full of spoilers.

First of all I really enjoyed it, it was a really fun popcorn film, and I had a good time.

Was it perfect? Far from it, if you start looking in, there are many issues with the film, particularly the story and the villain, who in the beginning Enchantress is quite scary and you wonder how they’re going to eliminate her and then all of a sudden Rick Flag just crushes her heart and she disappears.

Really? That’s all he had to do and she would die? Why didn’t Amanda Waller do that when she realized it was Enchantress trying to destroy the world? She didn’t know it was her? I don’t know, I feel like that was the movie’s weakest moment.

Mark Ellis from Collider said she looked like Axl Rose in the 80s dancing around in her sexy outfit and I couldn’t agree more. It was a very lame third act.

Except of course, for Diablo, him turning into an Aztec fire warrior was so bad a++ I really enjoyed it, then when he tells Enchantress’ brother “Ya te chingaste” it was like a cherry on a sundae.

I thought Margot Robbie was amazing as Harley Quinn. She was the personification of Harley, she did right by me. There is no mistake in her acting, I am very very grateful for her performance, I am very pleased with every scene she had. I believe the devotion she has to the Joker. My heart is happy and singing.

I am so happy they at least showed them in the classic Harley Quinn outfit and the Joker in a suit dancing together [update: this is from the cover by Alex Ross of “Batman: Harley Quinn” from 1999]. I did not like her outfit very much. Some of it was fine, it was a little too revealing, maybe unnecessarily so but I get it at the same time.

I thought they showed her bottom one time too many. I thought the first two times were fine, appropriate. I’m not saying it’s wrong to admire Robbie’s body, but I think the third time when she’s stepping out of the elevator was already too much, at that point it was exploitation and not a sexy moment. That was one moment that bothered me.

The other moment that bothered me and it bothered me the most was when Slipknot gets out of the car and one of the female agents tells him something and he punches her. That would have been fine but then he says “she’s got a mouth.” That’s what really bothered me. If it had been a man who told him something and he punched him and he said that, would that comment have made sense? Or was it the fact that it was a woman that was apparently “funny”?

Jared Leto as the Joker was ok. I was a little disappointed to be honest because I guess since I’d heard about how much time he had dedicated to the role. But I will wait on my judgement of his performance when David Ayer’s cut comes out and also hopefully when they produce Harley’s own film. I know a lot of his scenes ended up in the cutting floor and even scenes which remained were not edited correctly in my opinion. Some of them felt like in the middle of a scene, like there’s parts missing.

He did however look creepy and he did disturb me, which I guess is what t

I thought the fact that he electrocutes Harley was actually very interesting, it is one of the few scenes where it shows him being obviously evil and violent towards her and it defines their relationship. I always have trouble thinking how could someone possibly be in love with The Joker and that scene helps explain a little bit although before she was already flirting with him, so the attraction was there already. Plus I think she was already a little crazy to begin with, so the Joker pushing her to the edge makes sense. Their whole relationship makes perfect sense in their crazy world and in this film.

Harley’s interaction with Deadshot was also great. In “Batman: Assault on Arkham” (Spoiler on that animated film coming up, skip to next paragraph if you haven’t seen it—————————————————————————–) they have a little affair going on and even though in this one they’re really just friends, you can see the bond they have with each other which is nice.

Him “missing” his shot despite Waller saying she will let him go (which let’s be real, no one bought it) was a nice human moment to the story.

Viola Davis is a really good actress and I think she did the best she could, but I don’t feel she really brought Amanda Waller to life for me. I just didn’t see her evilness, yes even after her shooting her employees/interns. Maybe it was her script but I just did not buy her performance, sorry.

They tried and somewhat achieved the point that these people are bad guys but at the same time, they are also human beings who simply made mistakes. Again, the script could have been better at driving that point.

David Ayer’s direction was good, his writing not so much, which is surprising considering End of Watch was such an awesome film, but I will also wait on his own cut to make my final judgement.

All in all I think it was a great film, I really enjoyed it, probably because I just really like the characters, I really like how they fit Harley and Joker’s story in there and yes the villain was weak and the story was weak but it was still really fun to watch.

 

 

Photo Project: My daughter as five Important Latinas

When I read about the project that photographer Jaime Moore did with her daughter when she turned five, I just knew I wanted to do something similar with my daughter when she turned five but my twist was choosing five important Latinas who have transformed the world. Janine Harper and her husband Marc Bushelle who is a photographer also made their own version with their daughter to highlight African American heroines.

I am not a photographer and I didn’t really have a budget to come up with better outfits so I do apologize for the photos not being a exact copy but we did the best we could. I contacted Melinda Torres of Creating an Image who is a professional photographer and this is the result of the project:

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

SOR JUANA INES DE LA CRUZ. Sor_Juana1

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz learned to read and write Latin at just three years old, in a time when it was forbidden for women to read. But she didn’t care and kept on reading and learning in secret. Knowing that the only way she could continue her studies was by becoming a nun, she entered the monastery of the Hieronymite nuns in 1669 and kept writing and studying science, music, history and everything in between. Of course she faced critics within the church who insisted she stop learning and devote herself to religion, and though in some ways she complied to avoid censure, she stands today as one of the bravest women in the “New Spain” or what is now known as Mexico who fought for her right to education for herself and other women.

Frida Kahlo

Frida-Kahlo Frida

She was a Mexican surrealist painter who learned how to use both her physical and internal pain to make beautiful art. Many of her paintings are self-portraits, and represent elements of her life that she struggled with.

When she was 18 she had an accident that marked her life and her work. The bus she was riding crashed with a trolley and she broke her spinal column, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, and really most of her body was crushed. She was able to walk again but had to go through 35 surgeries and had to deal with debilitating pain for the rest of her life. One of her famous quotes is: “Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly.” A true warrior.

Dolores Huerta

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My daughter had the hardest time trying to look angry for this photo. Funny, because she has no trouble getting angry when I refuse candy… anyway I think she was having a lot of fun.

Co-Founder and first vice president emeritus of the United Farm Workers union, she is a labor leader and civil rights activist. She helped farm workers organize with Cesar Chavez and has earned recognition for her work in the labor movement and women’s rights movement.

Digna Ochoa

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Digna Ochoa was a human rights lawyer from Veracruz, Mexico. She defended activists in Mexico from Guerrero and others who were presumed to be members of the Zapatista movement from Chiapas. She was kidnapped numerous times and even left to Washington D.C. for some time but returned to Mexico City to continue her work. Ochoa died in 2001. Her body was found in her office where she worked with a note warning the other members of the Human Rights Center that the same thing could happen to them. Mexico City Officials ruled a suicide although many senators and public opinion disputed the claim, given that initial reports and evidence points to her being shot from the back and from the left to right, while she was right handed.

Rigoberta Menchú

frase-paz-rigoberta-menchuRigoberta

I apologize for not having a more suitable shirt. I think I might redo this one later on because I don’t think is a good enough homage to this beautiful lady. She is an amazing inspiration, and I hope my daughter and I learn more and more about her. My daughter has Guatemalan ancestry from her father’s side so it’s very important for me that she knows where she comes from.

Menchú has fought for the rights of indigenous people. She is a member of the K’iche’ ethnic group. She became a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1992. The quote on the above image says “Peace is not just the absence of war; as long as there is poverty, racism, discrimination and exclusion we will hardly be able to reach a world of peace.”

The Body Positive Movement and how it has changed me

I have been insecure about my body since I was 11 years old and started noticing boys. Yes, my body image was linked to the interest that the opposite sex had on me. It has been a struggle not to feel inadequate with my belly, my thighs, my face and my entire body.

I’ve noticed lately that the body positive movement is saying goodbye to body shaming and I find it enlightening. Suddenly I found myself today at the grocery looking at other women’s bodies and instead of thinking “oh she really should lose some weight” or “oh she should wear something less revealing” I just thought, you know something? All these women are beautiful, no matter what, they are a reflection of beauty no matter what they wear or how much they weigh or how their bodies sag or hang or glisten. Every single woman in this grocery has a story inside and I have no right to judge any more.

Now for my own body it is still hard. I still have to admit that I see myself in the mirror and wish “if only I was 10 pounds lighter, I would be happy with my body.”

It’s a struggle, but I’ll get there. I will get to love my body the way it is now and I will love it unconditionally, and I will take care of my body because I know it’s the body I have in this life but I will not starve myself or hurt myself anymore, ever again, because it’s just not worth it.

Of course I believe in eating healthy and working out but I just don’t need it to define me. I am me, all me, love handles or not.

International Women’s Day March in LA

It was a hot day in Downtown LA as the International Women’s Day Rally and March organized by Af3irm and Ovarian Psycos got started. I intended to attend the whole march but since I wanted my daughter to be present it became painfully obvious that her allergies and possible cold were taking over her body so I only stayed for the initial rally in front of City Hall and took a few pictures of the event:

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Songs of 2014

songs0f2014This year was filled with more electro pop and post-hip-hop beats and sounds than I’m usually accostumed to but sometimes I have to work with what I have. I still love alternative rock but there just wasn’t that much out there that has really grabbed my attention. There was just a lot more disco infused music and much more compelling hip hop which I’m still not that into but I have given some interesting proposals a try.

Once again they’re in no particular order, just all the songs that impressed me the most this 2014:

Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High)

If you’ve never gone through a terrible breakup and coped through not so healthy ways, kudos to you. I however, was once not that lucky or smart, and it’s nice to know through this catchy electro-pop song that I haven’t been the only one. It’s a perfect companion to those lonely nights. Preferably not doing the things the songs says, but just dancing along to it.

FKA twigs – Two Weeks

I suspect that FKA twigs wrote this song for Robert Pattinson, if you’re familiar with his past love troubles. If not, either way this song is quite a magnificent post-trip-hop composition that evokes a little of that British melancholy reminiscent of Portishead and adds a little more sexy. Did I say a little? I meant a lot, it’s actually quite explicity and very NSFW.

Jack White – Would You Fight For My Love?

Mr. White continues to bring it. The album as a whole is not too impressive but this song is quite pleasant and the video is full of blue imagery so you can’t go wrong there. That’s entirely subjective and I’m ok with that.

Weezer – Back To The Shack

Rivers Cuomo is not done apologizing for “Beverly Hills” but this is a start. Weezer going to back to their glory sound is the least we can ask for this 2014 where rock seems to have gone to studio 54 (Black Keys anyone?).

Sia – Chandelier

I have to admit I was primarily impressed with the choreograpy in the video first before I paid attention to the song, but it’s a good pop composition nonetheless. Following Tove Lo’s confessional party girl diary entries, it makes a strong point about how alcoholism can take over you life, along with other suspect choices. It’s not about judging or morality, it’s about knowing yourself and finding the positive in the millions of negative things the world throws at you.

Lorde – Don’t tell ’em

I heard this version first and then I heard the original and I just didn’t care for it. While the original version makes me feel objectified, Lorde’s version makes me want to dance.

Lorde with Nirvana – All Apologies

Of all the recent pop stars my favorite by far is Lorde. She has a unique voice,  unique performances and she’s a little weird. I like that. But this year, the songs I’ve enjoyed from her the most are the ones she covered, because she was able to give them her own spin. She did right by Kurt Cobain with her version of “All Apologies.”

Joan Jett with Nirvana – Smells like teen spirit

If that line-up went on tour it would be magical. Joan Jett is an amazing artist and she was able to bring the spirit of Kurt Cobain into her rendition. I shed a few tears with this performance. I’m truly grateful for it.

Ana Tijoux – Somos Sur (Feat. Shadia Mansour)

I said I gave hip hop a chance and Ana Tijoux is one of those artists who finally gave me something impressive enough to take notice. She’s socially conscious, having parents who were exiled to France under Pinochet’s regime in Chile. I had the opportunity to see her in concert at LA’s Supersonico and she was one of the strongest acts. (You can read my review of that show for the LA Times here).

Ceci Bastida – Por la Calle (live video)

This is a live video and doesn’t really give justice to this magnificent song from this magnificent artist. I’ve seen her since her days in Tijuana No and I couldn’t be more pleased with her trayectory as a musician and a trailblazer of alt music.

Cartoon Review: “Eliot Kid”

EliotkidlogoThe Good: Eliot is a boy with a very active imagination who thinks everyone is a monster or a superheroe and is always creating stories out of everyday activities. It’s pretty fun!

The Bad: Mimi, one of his close friends, is devoted to Eliot and many episodes show she has a crush on him which he does not seem to reciprocate. That’s not the bad part; the really sad part is that she is constantly portrayed as “not the sharpest crayon in the box.”

My daughter watches this show and though I like how Eliot imagines adventures where they go to the mountains, the pharaos, underwater, outer space, and beyond, I don’t appreciate the girl being mocked constantly and her making self-deprecating comments. Sometimes she is a little funny though.

I think I prefer “Justin Time,” where Justin also imagines going to places around the world but his guide is Olivia, and she is actually the expert every time they visit a new place. I hope Netflix gets more seasons of that show. I looked it up and they have a second season.

Bonus points: The intro song on Eliot Kid is by Didier Julia and it’s a pretty cool jam. Considering moms and dads have to endure cartoon intro songs, it’s a welcome moment of groovy tunes.

Not much to celebrate but

Ceci Bastida - Sept. 14 @ Grand Performances

Ceci Bastida – Sept. 14 @ Grand Performances

Minutes before her first song started, Ceci Bastida hid behind a speaker on the California Plaza stage, moving her hands up and down trying to call the attention of her daughter being carried a few feet apart. Bastida put her thumbs next to each cheek and extended her hands like a fan on each side of her face, sticking out her tongue to make her laugh.

Bastida’s presentation was organized by Grand Performances and Mexican authorities, to highlight Mexican artists to celebrate Indepence day, September 16. There’s not really much to celebrate since the war against drug trafficking in Mexico has given few positive results and instead has submerged many citizens in a world of insecurity they must deal with on a daily basis.

But that doesn’t mean that people don’t continue to live in Mexico nor that artists have stopped playing. In fact, neight Bastida nor Descartes a Kant, the two presentations I had the opportunity to see yesterday have let the violence affect their work.

They haven’t ignored the issue either, they actually face the violence and insecurity with their own interpretation.

During Descartes a Kant’s act, there was a moment when Sandrushka Petrova and Dafne dressed as thieves with black and white stripes, carrying white sacks with the money sign and silver guns, pointed at the audience and acted out an assault. The stage is separated from the public by a shallow pool, acting as a buffer zone for the assault though clearly fake, it did cause a flashback to the day I was assaulted while I worked at a store. It was a strange sensation, I knew it wasn’t real but their act still carried a strong emotion and I think that was the intention. Descartes a Kant includes performance art in their shows and it’s an impotant element that doesn’t take away from the music, it complements it.

Descartes a Kant - Sept 14, 2014 @ Grand Performances

Descartes a Kant – Sept 14, 2014 @ Grand Performances

Most of their songs are in English and their sound is far from being defined by their hometown of Guadalajara. It’s easier to say that they are fearless when it comes to exploring genres. A single song can go from jazz to punk, driving by garage and arriving on big band sound. Petrova’s, Dafne’s and Charlkovski’s piruettes help to follow the racous and sublime changes of their instruments. From what I have seen from pictures of ther presentations, their perfomance in the plaza yesterday was demure. “We are not going to hurt you, don’t be scared,” Petrove assured the audience at the beginning of their show.

Descartes a Kant with red umbrellas during their rendition of "Perfect Day" by Lou Reed

Descartes a Kant with red umbrellas during their rendition of “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed

When it came time for Bastida, her microphone didn’t have the optimal volume as she was singing her first song, drowning her voice between the drums and the horn section of “Una vez más.” After the second verse the audience was finally able to heard her voice.

“Thank you for having the energy to come,” Bastida said, mentioning the 104°F that was lashing the afternoon. Fortunately the high rises surrounding the plaza gave ample shade and a light breeze was keeping the heat afloat.

The catchy nature of her songs are a sharp contrast to the rawness of her lyrics. In “Por la calle” the words describe the fear of going out into the

streets and facing possible danger, ‘I want to live in peace, tranquility,’ she sings in the first verse. It’s a song that makes you want to dance, but maybe only at home, where it’s safe. Her latest album, titled Edad de la violencia (Age of violence) has a cover with flowers in vases, a feminine touch to an aggressive title. She produced most of her songs while she was pregnant and that contrast between the harmony of creating a new life and the death that surrounds Mexico was finely captured in her songs. It’s a happy electro pop and it carries the esence of rock from a past era when she was a singer for Tijuana No, one of the boldest mexican rock bands from the border city. But this is a different era, her voice is not overtly melodic, more so direct, but she knows how to build choruses that stick.

There is nothing to celebrate on Mexico’s national day, but Bastida and Descartes were able to express joy in the midst of chaos that their home lives in and brought some of their music, dance and theatre to Los Angeles.