My Life with Godzilla

I came across this photo of my parents and I while helping my mom sort through some old CDs of digital files. My mom was quick to point out my Godzilla figure which managed to join our family portrait in the lower left hand corner. That Godzilla toy is my most treasured childhood possession. It is my Rosebud sled.

The figure has now found a permanent home in my mom’s kitchen atop her cabinets. It’s surrounded by other Godzilla figures and a giant Virgin of Guadalupe statue. A very telling sight of our cultural influences.

currentmonsters

Godzilla movies have had a huge influence on my life. One of my only memories as a newborn is watching a Godzilla movie on television while being held in my mother’s arms. In the first five years of my life I went to see plenty of movies with my parents in theaters. The very first movie they took me to see because I wanted to see it was Godzilla 1985. It was playing at the Lumiere theater on California street and I’ll never forget the day we went. Sitting there in the cool dark theater watching Godzilla lay waste to Tokyo blew my five year old mind.

It was such an pivotal moment in my life. My childhood obsession with Godzilla heavily influenced the drawings I made at the time. I would draw ultraviolent landscapes with scenes of futuristic artillery battling giant monsters. Those drawings disturbed my mother so much that she made a series of artworks about them entitled Rio’s Room. I wish I had a scan of the drawings to share but the actual movie poster for Godzilla 1985 gives a good sense of what they encompassed.

In my life as an adult, I’ve only manged to incorporate Godzilla once into my artwork. He popped up in a comic strip I did in 2007 entitled True Story. It brings together Godzilla and another icon of my, Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN.

Okay, now that I’ve pretty much forsaken any sex appeal I might have had in talking about my nerd passion for Godzilla I’ll leave you with something I discovered recently that made my day. There hasn’t been a proper Godzilla movie since 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars but a recent comedy film from Toho (the studio that has produced all of the Godzilla films) has him in a cameo appearance. 2008’s Always Sunset on Third Street 2 features an incredible sequence that presents him completely in computer animation.


I have to say, the production values on this short sequence top anything that’s ever been done with Godzilla before. I still like the rubber suits but nothing has been as cinematic or well produced as this clip. There are no new Godzilla films planned on the horizon but this definitely gives a look into what might be to come.

Peace,

Rio

Let us now praise 3LW

Happy holidays everyone! It’s about an hour past midnight and that makes it officially Christmas! I’m giddy with x-mas cheer and the anticipation of presents to come. I can hardly wait for Santa’s sleigh to fly through the Mission District and to me (that is if the 16th street Sureños don’t get him for wearing red first).

My 2007 Christmas Card

My 2007 Christmas Card

I spent Christmas eve with Mariela, it’s hard to believe this is our 8th Christmas together. We began the day with lunch at my place with my mom and dad. It’s such a rare occasion to have the four of us together for a meal and it was our first Christmas all together. Later, we jetted to her family’s house for their Christmas celebration. It’s often an intense experience being at two family gathering in the same day for us because they’re such different experiences. My family is small and laid back while her’s is loud, large, and energetic. Her family has become my family in so many ways. Not growing up with any extended family has made me humbled and appreciative of the love they have given me over the years.

For the record, my favorite holiday album of all time is Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  Not only does it bring a sentimental tear to my eye when I listen to it, I can always perfectly picture the cast of Peanuts dancing to Linus & Lucy in my mind’s eye. I dare say it’s also my favorite piece of Americana. I was a little shocked to find out that Mariela was unfamiliar with the music when I played it over our lunch. Despite growing up in Latino families, three blocks apart from each other, we really did have very different childhoods.

Speaking of Latino families, I found myself wondering if there are any ubiquitous Latino Christmas albums? I’ve heard Jose Feliciano sing Feliz Navidad so many times that I pretty much just roll my eyes and sigh everytime I hear it now. Is there anything else we all collectively gravitate to?

I can tell you one thing, as a Chicano hipster who enjoys holiday music, I was rescued from my solitude and diaspora by Adrienne Bailon. You see, I have to confess that I have a hidden passion for 3LW’s Christmas album Naughty or Nice. Despite its title and cover art Naughty or Nice isn’t all that raunchy or dir-tay, what it is though is the most ghetto-fabulous mainstream Christmas album of all time. As a concept album, it’s more ghetto than purple Kool-Aid mixed with malt liqour. From Xmas in tha Hood to Shady Holiday it’s non-stop jams throughout the album.

Adrienne Bailon is the Latina member of 3LW (Three Little Women) and puts it down for the homegirls in this one. Embarassingly, there were only two members of the group at the time after one of them left following a fried chicken brawl at KFC. Although Ms. Bailon’s name has been scandalized in the news lately over naked pictures of her circulating online I’ll be forever grateful to her for supplying a Christmas album for all of us urban Latinos out there. This album is an obscure gem that I recommend picking up if you ever come across it.

That’s it for now, I’m gonna get some sleep and have starry-eyed dreams of presents, snow, and Santa

Merry Christmas,

Rio