Archive of posts tagged with "mexico"

May 14th, 2010

¡Postopolis DF!

Readers of this blog should know my love for Mexico City by now, so it’s with great pleasure that I announce my participation in Postopolis DF! A 5-day conference-conversation on urbanism in one of the world’s most amazing cities… In other words, if you were thinking of coming to DF this summer, now’s a great time… And don’t worry gringos, vamos a tener realtime Spanish-English translation for y’all. It’s going down the second week of June, June 8-12, at El Eco…

Oh wait, I didn’t write that (though I share the sentiment). DJ Rupture did. Which is yet another reason that I’m totally thrilled to be a part of

I didn’t write this either:

From 8-12 June 2010, Storefront for Art and Architecture, in partnership with Museo
Experimental El Eco
, Tomo and Domus Magazine, will host the third edition of Postopolis!, a
public five-day session of near-continuous conversation curated by some of the world?s most
prominent bloggers from the fields of architecture, art, urbanism, landscape, music and design.
10 world-renowned bloggers from Los Angeles, New York, Turin, Barcelona, London and
elsewhere will convene in one location in Mexico City to host a series of discussions, interviews,
slideshows, presentations, films and panels fusing the informal and interdisciplinary approach of
the architecture blogosphere with rare face-to-face interaction.

Each day, the 10 participating bloggers will meet in the magnificent courtyard of Museo
Experimental El Eco, designed by Matthias Goeritz, to conduct back-to-back interviews of some
of Mexico City?s most influential thinkers and practitioners – including architects, city planners,
artists and urban theorists but also military historians, filmmakers, photographers, activists and
musicians. The talks will be conducted in either Spanish or English, and translations will be
available. Each day of talks will end with an after-party hosted by some of Mexico City?s most
influential music blogs.

But I’ll be writing a lot while there, no doubt. (They’re turbo-charging the internettings at El Eco for the occasion.) And I’m really excited about how my slate of invites is coming along.

Not surprising to readers here, I’ll be staging a conversation (or two) around hip-hop in DF. Minding that the conference is concerned, in a rather capacious way, with questions of space and design, I’m aiming to focus on what we might consider hip-hop’s institutional embeddedness in Mexico City. Mil gracias to my man on the ground, Camilo Smith, a former writer for the Source and the LA Times (and smokingsection!), who’s been grinding in DF for the past year, looking hard into the local hip-hop scene(s). Check out this post on transnational “cholo rap” for a taste (or see the comments here).

With Camilo’s help, I’m plotting to bring in an assortment of MCs, DJs, and other practitioners as well as people who are directly involved in manufacturing, distributing, and, in a variety of ways, producing hip-hop there (in the form of shows, CDs, magazines, etc.). I’d like to ask questions about what it entails to run an independent label in DF, how the spaces where shows are held and music is exchanged fit into the larger music/media topography of the city, what’s the character of the interplay between locally and foreign produced stuff, not to mention, at the more symbolic level, how questions of race and place come into this. We’ll see how much of that we can jam in / tease out over a couple 15 minute blocks!

Camilo also turned me on to some striking visual artists working in the city and making stuff that really resonates with other longstanding curiosities of mine. One such, who I’m thrilled to announce is confirmed for Postopolis, is Said Dokins, whose work is very much in the vein of contemporary subversive street art which finds deep inspiration in graffiti style and practice. Take for example the recent piece, “Avionazo en la Plazuela,” a project pasting paper planes in the Plaza del Aguilita in Mexico City which the artist describes as “a satirical reflection on the mechanisms of threat and power in which we are engaged, the political farces and scenarios created at the expense of the suffering and disruption of others”:

click through for more images

…whereas “Re-Birth” a work of video art produced w/ Mauricio Rodriguez takes flight from graffiti culture in a totally different way —

Another artist who Camilo pointed me to, and who I’ve confirmed for Postopolis, Trinidadian ex-pat Wendell McShine, also works in mixed media, including video, like this evocative short:

EL PEQUEĂ‘O LIBRO NEGRO from wendell mc shine on Vimeo.

The video above is apparently a sketch of some sort for an ongoing series called “La Puerta Abierta.” It’s clearly inspired by a lot of classic Mexican iconography, and yet it takes some wonderful departures too, drawing on some shared cosmological ground between Mexico and the Caribbean. McShine recently had a showing of another part of the series, “Behind the Blue Door,” at Gallery FIFTY24MX | Upper Playground in Mexico City. The following video account of the opening drew me in with the Slum Village intro; the evidently enthusiastic response his art is getting in Mexico City is impressive —

OPENING NIGHT- BEHIND THE BLUE DOOR from wendell mc shine on Vimeo.

This article about McShine’s work led me to an interview with the folks who run Upper Playground Mexico. Some of their comments at the end of that interview, where McShine’s art is described as combining “animation, illustration and fine art with a mixed Caribbean-Mexican feeling” made me really wonder about how we can talk (concretely?) about making contemporary art inspired by national folklore (whether it’s one’s “own” nation or not) without, as the Upper Playground people put it with regard to another artist, “falling to clichĂ©.”

But let me back up a bit, the artist in question is Saner (glossed as a “graffiti artist” in the video above) and what they specifically say about him is that he’s “one of the few Mexican artists that explore our countries [sic] folklore without falling to clichĂ©.” I couldn’t resist looking into Saner’s work of course, and it’s hot like fire (sometimes literally).

So I’m psyched to round out my invited speakers with the trio of Wendell McShine, Saner, and Lili Carpinteyro, one of the head honchos at Upper Playground Mexico. I haven’t quite figured out, as with the hip-hop invites, how best to parse all of these fascinating intersections, but I’m looking forward to the challenge — and to the privilege of enjoying such (humbling) power of invitation!

Finally, it should go without saying that I can hardly contain myself in anticipation of the other 50 or so fascinating folks who’ll be coming through and sharing some aspect of what they do. Click through my esteemed blogger colleagues’ sites for their own announcements in the coming days and weeks —

Urban Omnibus (Cassim Shepard)
Intersections (Daniel Hernandez)
DPR Barcelona (Ethel Barona Pohl)
Toxico Cultura (Gabriella Gomez-Mont):
Tomo (Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa)
Mudd Up! (Jace Clayton aka DJ /rupture)
Edible Geography (Nicola Twilley)
We Make Money Not Art (Regine Debatty)
Strangeharvest (Sam Jacob)

Oh and did I mention there’ll be evening events organized by local music bloggers, Blog Non Stop, and that I’ll be playing some 3-5 parties alongside DJ /Rupture and N-RON? (More on those later.)

Suffice to say, if you’re in Mexico City, or have some way to get there, you should definitely join us for this. Seems like it might even rise to the level of amazingness that makes DF one of my favorite places in the world. This’ll be my third time there in three years. ¡Que suerte!

Ok, back to that odd mezcla of rusty Spanish brain and Google Translate as we continue making plans…

Postopolis! DF is organised by Storefront for Art and Architecture, and presented in partnership with El Eco, Tomo, and Domus. Additional sponsors include Mexicana, the British Embassy, Urbi VidaResidencial, UNAM, Difusión Cultural UNAM, Cityexpress, and XXLager. Special thanks to the organizers: Joseph Grima, Daniel Perlin, César Cotta, José Esparza, and Blog Non Stop.

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April 13th, 2010

Paper Like Skin

Dr. Lakra in his studio — photo by Daniel Hernandez

I’ll be playing some music tonight at the Good Life, from 9-11, as part of the afterparty of the opening of a new exhibition at the Boston ICA, the first US solo show of the work of Dr. Lakra. A tattoo artist who goes well beyond the canvas of skin, recently extending to vintage pin-ups among other pregnant texts, Lakra’s work is really interesting and provocative, gathering influences and styles from all over, and I’ll be doing my bestest to offer something in the way of sonic counterpoint. (Smearing guacharacas on unlikely audio partners seems one possible route, but I’ll take less obvious paths too.)

To learn more about Lakra, check out this profile of the artist by the prolific Daniel Hernandez. Here’s a quick pull:

“It is particularly fascinating that Dr. Lakra began his career as a tattooist and treats paper like skin,” says Friedhelm HĂĽtte, the [Deutsche] bank’s Global Head of Art. “He makes use of images from popular culture in a very unique way, combining Appropration Art with folk elements. By ‘tattooing’ and overpainting 1950s glamour photos and nostalgic postcards, Dr. Lakra transforms them into bizarre studies of beauty, Eros, and transience.”

Indeed, at the core of his output lies the concept that any surface-literally, any at all-can be tattooed. Which is precisely what he does: on dolls, on coffee cups, on vintage magazines and posters that he digs up at flea markets, on any “skin” of his choosing. The result is what Mexican art theorist and longtime friend of Dr. Lakra, Mariana Botey, calls “displacing meaning in the chain of industrial cultural production.”

“Lakra has a very sophisticated understanding of popular culture,” Botey says. “In particular with certain kinds of low culture, where issues of taste are marking an interesting class subaltern structure. So there is a kind of logic in his work that makes him one of the best in the genre.”

In other words, as Lakra himself puts it, “low” vintage pin-ups and advertisements become altered time warps under his tattoo gun and border on the “high.”

“It’s the transformation of the object,” the artist says. “It is something that someone for whatever reasons considered valuable, or wanted to save. So the person saves it, archives it, and it acquires this other value.”

The ICA show runs from April 14 to September 6. The Good Life jam tonight is open to the public. Come on out & tattoo the floors with your feet.

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December 3rd, 2009

Unos Flicks de Aventuras en Mexico

Como les prometí. Muchísimas gracias otra vez a nuestro anfitrión generoso, Ricardo. ¡Ya quiero volver!

smoggy sunset
tacos al pastor
cholula street art
CDs de la calle
cholula tag
puerta concreta cerrada
pyramids on pyramids
larisa snaps back
mole en puebla!
sombrero sticker hero
el desayuno final


November 18th, 2009

Two Gigs This Week, en Mexico!

I’ve been dying to get back to Mexico City since I first went there a couple years ago. I’m headed there today (primarily to attend the SEM conf) and will be staying through the weekend, and I’m excited to report that in addition to #sem09 I’ll be playing a couple gigs!

Big thx to my colleague in matters ethnomusicological and DJ-wise, the mighty Ripley, for working with Ricardo/Nimbo to put these together. I’d have been psyched to simply attend some interesting music clubs/parties in MX, so actually playing a couple takes the cake. Go, go, great bass coaster!

Anyway, I’ve got a plane to catch shortly, so gotta make this quick. Here’s the deets for any of you who might happen to be in DF or Puebla this week. (I’m amazed and honored to say that I actually do have some readers there! Hope to link up with y’all.)

First, in Mexico City, tomorrow (Thursday) night — a free event @ Salon Calavera (Tacuba 64):

Followed, Friday night, by some sort of house party, out in San Pedro, Cholula (Puebla), a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while, at least since discovering some TCK MEX there

I’ve got to admit that I’m remarkably proud in these cases, odd as it sounds, to represent — according to the flyers/websites — “el vecino del norte” as well as “Massachusetts”!

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June 29th, 2009

Pop Goes the World

There’s little I can add to all the tributes and reflections gumming up the web these days, but like so many others I feel compelled to say something. Inspired even. I found Andrew Sullivan’s and Jeff Chang’s posts pretty resonant, Jason King’s too, among others, and I’ve been particularly struck by all the MJ music I’ve been hearing in the street and on the radio — and especially all the callers explaining to DJs how his passing feels like losing a family member.

Of course (of course?!), my experience of sharing the loss and the joyous, deeply-embodied memories of his music has probably been most strongly textured by Twitter, where I hardly needed a hashtag to hear from dozens of friends and “friends” about the man we all knew and loved (despite his serious problems). Many have made mention of the Twitter effect on MJ’s death — not to mention MJ’s effect on Twitter. Sasha Frere-Jones noted the irony in turning the radio off and letting the TV sit dormant while he and James Murphy’s people received and tapped out tweets on their phones and laptops. Ethan Zuckerman, who wrote a script to track Twitter activity (post-Moldova and the like), announced on Thursday night that 15% of all tweets were about Michael Jackson, a remarkable statistic given that he’d never seen Iran or swine flu top 5% (others have placed MJ’s footprint at 30%, though Ethan offers some important qualifications here).

I admit that it was pretty surreal “watching” MJ die via Twitter. One tweet it was cardiac arrest maybe, a few more speculated wildly, the stuff of rumor: a coma? stopped breathing? There were a couple dreadful say-it-aint-so’s, and then, before long, the news was pouring in, confirmed, unbelievable but not surprising.

Weird as it was initially, though, it quickly turned cathartic — in a beautiful way — as disbelief morphed into something more like eulogy and second-line at the same time and the “digital bouquets” began piling up. What was especially mindboggling, as I settled into a several hour face-to-face listening session with some friends, was the knowledge, repeatedly suggested by my phone, that millions of us (a wild extrapolation, I know) were listening to Michael Jackson’s music at the same time. A realization that made me wonder aloud whether anything like it had ever happened before in the history of world culture.

I suspect not — for Michael Jackson is a sui generis pop star, unrivaled in popularity (never mind Lennon’s claim to be “bigger than Jesus,” MJ just might), who, beyond his remarkable talents as a singer, dancer, and songwriter, happened to come of age at just the right moment in global media, a moment that may not ever be reproduced. In a piece published last Friday, Jody Rosen hits the nail:

Weeping for Michael, we are also mourning the musical monoculture—the passing of a time when we could imagine that the whole country, the whole planet, was listening to the same song.

Though that era may be over and the mainstream dissolved “into a trillion scattered data-bites,” at least on Thursday night and Friday, and to some extent through the weekend and still today, that’s kinda what it feels like, as if we’re all listening to the same thing. Not one song, but one artist’s oeuvre is suffusing soundscapes the world over in a manner that can only be unprecedented and seems unlikely to happen again. (But go ahead, make me myopic.)

I guess my relationship to MJ and his music is not unlike others of my generation. I know many of his songs by heart. A Victory Tour ’84 poster hung on our bedroom wall. Had a birthday cake with his face emblazoned on it sometime in the mid-80s. Wore a pin with his Thrillery face on it back when I was 8 (a tweeted remembrance that found itself in SFJ’s NYer post).

Michael Jackson was incredibly awesome and deeply flawed, and so was his music. He produced a bewildering number of absolutely flawless songs, don’t get me wrong, but he’s also responsible for some of the schlockiest, heavy-handedest pop ever crafted (as well as plenty of unremarkable clunkers). He practically invented the modern r&b power ballad, complete with gospel/kids choir and gear changes run amok (not a good look, IMO), so much so that soca star Machel Montano, mourning his loss, erroneously included R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” (“I Can’t Believe It’s Not MJ?”) among Jackson’s anthems.

I’ve actually been a little surprised that I haven’t (yet) seen many Michael Jackson remixes and DJ sets making the rounds. Perhaps people have been too busy remembering in real time. So I was glad to see Hank Shocklee ask people to send some his way. I did a little digging and a little on-the-fly warping and I came up with a trio of tracks, one made by me, that offer some new angles on ol’ MJ, transposing him into house, jungle, and reggae —

     * Masters At Work’s remix of “Rock With You” (mp3 | YouTube)
     * DJ C’s remix of Shinehead’s cover of “Billie Jean” (mp3)
     * and my own mix’n’mash of MJ’s “Billie Jean” vox + Sly & Robbie’s “Billie Jean” riddim (mp3)

My own effort is a lot more slapdash than the sophisticated, detailed productions by MAW and DJ C. More mashup than meticulous. What I’ve done is added the acapella from “Billie Jean” to Sly and Robbie’s slinky reggae version of that song’s instrumental (actually, it’s just one of their versions — they also support the Shinehead cover that DJ C remixes, as it happens). I’ve applied a little delay and other bits of digital manipulation to MJ’s voice, hoping to estrange a little so well-worn a performance, and I’ve cut and pasted some chunks of the riddim around to maintain the right harmonic motion at points where they diverged.

While we’re on the subject of remixes and the like — or, of how Michael Jackson’s very public presence inspires waves of activity across public culture — it’s worth noting that there’s also already been a corrido composed in his honor:

MJ’s reign as global pop king is perhaps still ungraspable. Thomas Friedman-esque anecdotes only go so far. We need greater data, quantitative and qualitative, and more local histories of his presence and influence and resonance. Emma Baulch noted on the IASPM listserv that “In Indonesia, Bad and Dangerous were more successful than Thriller, in terms of official sales.” But she pointed out that this fails to account for pirated sales (and, I’d add, other forms of informal / non-commercial circulation).

Of course, there may be no better bizarro embodiment of MJ’s global reach than those memetastic Filipino inmates doing their pitchframe-perfect re-enactment of the “Thriller” video. Then again, we should bear in mind that the Philippines is perhaps something of a special case.

Given all this activity, not to mention the reports of off-the-charts sales in the wake of his death, I do wonder how we would begin to take measure of such a thing as Michael Jackson’s global popularity. How do we get a grasp on the actual immensity of the event? What do we know, for example, about MJ’s YouTube views? — & not only on the thousands of instantiations of his songs and videos that fans have uploaded but even on the handful of tracks that sampled his songs and also have become shrines of sorts?

Speaking of shrines, which indubitably contain a range of images of the man (as this post itself does), I have to note that when I think of MJ, I seem to picture him as the blur in between the black and the white, the lean mean singing-and-dancing machine and the media freakshow, the unbelievably awesome and the transmogrified tragic. Having first grown up with his music and later grappled with him as an embodiment of American racial imagination, I still have more questions than answers. And one of the most notorious questions is the one posed over 20 years ago by Greg Tate: What’s Wrong With Michael Jackson?

Upon reading Tate’s piece again, I wonder how much the man (in the mirror) was precisely that: a cipher upon which we read the twisted American story in growing contortion, progressive disfigurement, a grotesque from which we could not, cannot, turn our heads. A sad story, to be sure. But a narrative that, as Michael showed as well as anyone else, leaves plenty room for improvisation and for (occasional) transcendence.

This was my initial, and remains my lingering, impression on the death of Michael Jackson —

And I’ll leave it there for now. Thx for letting us rock with you for so long. So long…

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April 26th, 2009

Muy Adhoc a los Microbuseros

That was quick.

Reflecting on our latest pandemic scare and remembering such topical tropical fare as 2003’s Sars Riddim, I wondered aloud “about 4 hours ago” who would be the first to come up with a swine flu inspired track.

/Jace chatted me up shortly thereafter to say that he had already been sent a cumbia tune about swine flu. !QUE PRONTO! Seems like record time for this sort of thing (if not too surprising for the YouTube era). So when Siddhartha Mitter wondered the same “about 1 hour ago,” noting that “brothers in cĂ´te d’ivoire got to bird flu before m.i.a. did,” I went in search and very quickly found this —

Interestingly, most commenters seem pretty upset by the thing, offended by what they see as an opportunistic show of bad taste at a time of tragedy. (Not sure whether this has anything to do with the song’s bizarre incorporation of the Indiana Jones theme.) This is true of the comments on the vid above as well as on this instantiation (w/ inferior img accmpnmnt).

I did appreciate this perspective, though —

jaja muy adhoc a los microbuseros… totalmente microbusera, jajaja xD xD ;)

I suppose that’s like a subgenre of cumbia, la microbusera. !QUE ADHOC!

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January 6th, 2009

Maid in Mexico

Somebody give this sonidera an artist’s grant ya!



November 10th, 2008


videyoga ::


June 28th, 2008

linkthink #439: Edward James Almost

videyoga ::

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May 29th, 2008

Cumbow Combow Combo

As I linkthunk yesterday, I was gassed to hear (via /rupture) a reggaeton-inflected remix of some Mexican cumbia (video here). I was doubly gassed tho to see it labeled “cumbow,” which I took to mean cumbia + dembow or, perhaps, “with (dem)bow,” as in cum bow, to employ a little Latin, a la the Spanish descendent con. Now maybe that latter interp is a stretch, but this afternoon it was brought to my attn that there’s another, similar remix by the same crew, except that this one is labeled “combow,” which seems to suggest the con/combo meaning. Anywho, check it out —

What’s especially interesting to me about this one is that, whereas the Julieta Venegas version employs dembow-style snares (that ol’ 3+3+2), the remix for Miranda features one of the very same loops / samples used in a great many reggaeton songs. So in this case, remarkably and quite audibly (to me?), it’s not even a matter of bringing in “dembow” / reggaeton rhythms — which is essentially what the Venegas version does with its 3+3+2 snares (not a common characteristic in cumbia) — it’s actually the use of the very same drum samples used in reggaeton. Compare the Fever Pitch / Bam Bam -derived intro from Lady Saw’s “Rich Girl” (a common sample-source for reggaeton producers) to the ticking drum track running through the Miranda song. Rings a bell, no?

If I Was A Rich Girl – Lady Saw

Not only does this show how Sonidero Nacional are able to produce a reggaeton-y sound thru a well-informed production touch, this is a great example of reggaeton’s continued resonance and influence. What perhaps makes it even more remarkable is how subtle the incorporation is. I suspect that neither of these tunes necessarily screams “reggaeton!” to most listeners. A colleague who writes about cumbia didn’t hear reggaeton in them at all.

Do you?

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May 28th, 2008

linkthink #2940: Jihadi Chic Latte

it’s a peace scarf

videyoga ::

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I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com


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