Girl in a Coma – Swoons and Shirts

It’s been a few days since I saw Girl in a Coma at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco but my head is still spinning from that crazy night. After getting out of my design class I raced to meet up with my homegirls Katynka and Robynn and we headed to Bottom of the Hill. This was my third time seeing Girl in a Coma and I was as starstruck as ever with being able to hang out with them after their show.

Um, *Swoon* Nina was super nice as always.

Jenn Alva continues to grow as an amazing artist. I already have a Girl in a Coma shirt designed by her but this one takes the cake. Jenn’s drawing of herself as a vampire, Phanie lifting off her own head, and Nina as their screaming victim made me smile from ear to ear. Katynka saved me by loaning me the $2.00 I needed to buy the shirt. Everyone in the band signed it for me and now I just have to find a way to frame it.

I was also super excited to run into Meligrosa and the Calitexican. I’ve followed their blogs and flickr pages for years and it was a thrill to experience the concert with them. These two awesome, energetic ladies made my night. We hopped up and down at the show like old friends. We have a purikura date planned for this weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

I was also a nerd and busted out my flip cam during the show and shot some video of Girl in a Coma doing their thing. Below are some highlights.

That’s it for now. I was so happy to see Girl in a Coma with old friends and new ones. The very first time I saw them was in 2008 at MACLA in San Jose. There were just a handful of people (including Guillermo Gomez-Pena) at that show so it felt good to finally see them play to sweaty throngs of people.

Peace,

Rio

Brandon Walsh State of Mind

Every now and then I think that I’m living the life of Beverly Hills 90210’s Brandon Walsh. I always envied Brandon’s job at the Peach Pit where it seemed like every week a famous music act would show up and hold an impromptu concert. This past weekend I had another Brandon Walsh moment when Thao Nguyen and Mirah came to SomArts and held a small intimate concert kicking off their tour together.

Both Thao and Mirah were super nice and casually hung out at SomArts before and after the show. I was able to shoot a handful of photos of them as they walked around the building. Above are my two favorites.

I also shot a quick video of Thao and Mirah playing When We Swam, my favorite song by Thao. Watch as once again another Brandon Walsh moment unfolds for me at SomArts. Where is Nat and my Peach Pit Megaburger?

In a Brandon Walsh State of Mind,

Rio

My Life, My Swag

All day I’ve been pondering turning 30 in January. I wanted to take some sort of proactive action to put my mind at ease and today I finally locked in a date for my 30th birthday party at SOMArts. There are so many streams of thought still flowing through my mind but I am excited and inspired to celebrate 30 years of my life on this planet.

One of my inspirations and reasons that I am looking forward to turning 30 is my favorite Chicana artist Zulma Aguiar (AKA Chicana Feliz). Homegirl has brought Chican@ thought and art to Hawaii and is making headway for those of us still struggling to find our voice in the mainland. Yesterday was her 34th birthday and she’s shown me that my 30’s can be a time of travel, adventure, positive change, and making challenging art all the while feeling good and looking good. My utmost gratitude to her for showing me how it’s done right. Happy Birthday Zulma.

These days I’ve been steady rocking Swedish music makers jj and their song My Life, My Swag. It’s helped me, in my head, lay out the adventure that lies before me. The title makes it sounds like some sort of grimy hip-hop joint but it’s really a dreamy pop song in the vein of The Tough Alliance. I hope you can dig it.

My Life, My Swag by jj

Peace,

Rio

Automaton love, your caress is pneumatic

extremis05

Alright, time to score some nerd points on this throwback!

After writing recently about Emerald Transmission’s Witness I began to think about other obscure 90’s songs that I adore. One of my guiltiest pleasures was Extremis by Hal featuring Gillian Anderson. That’s right, Agent Scully cut a breathy electronica track in the mid-90’s. I was totally oblivious to this song when it first came out in ’96 because no local radio stations played it and I didn’t have cable (and thusly couldn’t watch when the video played for about a week on MTV). Word quickly spread through my high school’s nerd population about the Erotic-era Madonna inspired video that featured Gillian Anderson voyeuristically watching two gold-plated robots put the mack hand down.  Being totally obsessed with the X-Files and its minutiae, not to mention totally enamored of Scully, I had to see it.

I went to the now extinct Tower Records in the Castro and bought the “limited edition” package that included the CD single and a VHS tape of the music video. Even after purging my VHS collection a couple of years ago I still couldn’t bring myself to toss my Extremis tape. It’s an old sentimental favorite that I keep on my shelf of remaining VHS cassettes.

Without further ado here is the dated, sexy, and occasionally ridiculous video of Extremis.

The Truth is Out There,

Rio

Emerald Transmission – Witness

Photo 35Have you ever loved a song that was so obscure that you though you were the only one who has ever heard it and appreciated it?

The hidden gem that I’ve been passionate about since I first listened to it is Witness by Emerald Transmission. For more than a decade I thought I was the only person on the planet to have an appreciation for this song. That illusion was thankfully shattered when I came across this posting on The Color Awesome about Witness.

Emerald Transmission was a Berkeley group that consisted of producer Derek Gee and singer Dora Nicopoulos. They put out two albums although only the second one has Nicopoulos (who sang Witness). Their CDs are pretty rare, it took years of used music store and ebay scouring to get both albums.

I first heard Witness as a track on Live 105’s second Noisy Neighbors Compilation of local bands (this was 1995, circa pre-Clear Channel Live 105 and they were a lot more locally oriented). I instantly loved it. I was 15 at the time and it just seemed so epic and perfectly tuned to my sentimental state of mind. I had a nightly ritual before sleep where I would listen to albums on my Discman (remember those?) as I lied in bed & read comics and the song was often placed on infinite loop.

I put the song on every high school mixtape I made and carried the Noisy Neighbors CD with me anytime I went out with my Discman. It wasn’t until my first year of college that I actually found a used copy of Emerald Transmission’s 1994 album Neptune (used at the now vanished Warehouse on Van Ness). I really liked the whole album but Witness was still my favorite. When Mariela and I first started dating I bought another copy of Neptune and gave it to her as a gift. Even though it wasn’t her musical taste she always humored me whenever I wanted to put it on. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I scored their first album on ebay. I was disappointed with the production and the fact that it featured another singer that wasn’t as good.

Photo 37

I’m in disbelief that this song is over 15 years old. Was 1994 really that long ago? Fuuuuuuuck! I still love Witness with every bone in my body to this very day. If I could ever attribute its influence on another song I would definitely say Swimming Pool by Freezepop. I have no idea where Emerald Transmission, Derek Gee, and Dora Nicopoulos or what they are up to these days but they’ll always have a kid in the Mission District keeping the flame alive.

Here is the song, courtesy of The Color Awesome.

Witness by Emerald Tranmission

Peace,

Rio

Sometimes Dreams Come True

It’s 4:15 am and I’m still recovering from what was the best day of work at SOMArts EVER. Having your favorite band appear and perform at your job is usually a contrived plot device for sitcoms and teen soap operas but sho’ nuff, Girl in a Coma rocked SOMArts tonight. I’m still trying to process everything but it was an unbelievable night of magic.

Girl in a Coma performed as part of Homo A Go Go, a festival or Queer music, art, and performances. My homegirl Shizu Saldamando came into town to check out the festival and see the band perform. Shizu has been in both exhibits that I’ve curated at SOMArts and she’s also the artist of Girl in a Coma’s most recent album cover.

Today, I wore both GIAC shirts that I have. I surprised Shizu with my shirt featuring her artwork and we had to take a photo together.

When the band took the stage at SOMArts, Mariela and I were pressed against the stage and ready to take it all in. The energy of the crowd surged as they came on and they put on a show that I’ll never forget. My favorite song of the night that they played was El Monte. I was hella cupcakin’ during that one with Mariela. I was able to get them playing Vino with my mino below.

Brandon Walsh and the cast of 90210 had Color Me Badd at the Peach Pit, I got Girl in a Coma at SOMArts.

Sometimes dreams really do come true.

Peace,

Rio

Ps. Shouts to Devon Devine and BrownDownCrown. Devon has been fun to work & chat with at SOMArts alongside the great Homo a Go Go crew.

State of Affairs

MOVIES

It’s a sad state of affairs for Raza in film these days. Shit is bleak y’all. I went to the Blockbuster on 16th street after work to rent some Blu-Rays but instead was tempted by two movies on DVD starring my people. I’ve got a soft spot for films in the probably fucked up direct to DVD movies starring Latinos genre. It took all the willpower I had not to rent the copy of Hoodrats 2 staring at me.

Hoochie Mamma Drama
The first movie up is Hoochie Mamma Drama. The story centers around Guera, a sharpied chola who tries to maintain her relationship with two-timin’ Lazy, the local cholo drug dealer. Of all the things done wrong in the movie the scenario is pretty realistic: two homegirls battling it out with each other for the same man without even questioning his responsibility in sleeping with both of them. If there’s anything to really be offended about  it’s that it actually reinforces this logic instead of subverting it.  One of the last lines of dialogue spoken by one of the cholas is “This is stupid, we’re not getting anywhere” and that sums Hoochie Mamma Drama up perfectly.

The most ridiculous part of Hoochie Mamma Drama is gay rapper turned actor Deadlee. I know it’s hard out there for LGBT performers but this is the worst straight-for-pay acting job I’ve ever seen. The only time I actually laughed during Hoochie Mamma Drama was when he busted out with gay porno moves during the first sex scene. Even worse, despite the fact that one of the lead actors is gay the film is stacked with homophobic caricatures and language.

There’s no doubt that Hoochie Mamma Drama is a chola coon show but there’s something almost endearing about its reckless hyperbole. My hat goes off to actress Monique La Barr who stars as Guera. Her performance is so over the top and energetic she’s like a Latina Bruce Campbell (circa the Evil Dead films).

The Cell 2

Next up is The Cell 2. The sequel to the Jennifer Lopez film, The Cell 2 follows psychic investigator Maya Casteneda (Tessie Santiago) as she tracks a serial killer named the Cusp. The killer is infamous for killing his victims and resurrecting them until they can’t stand it any more and beg for a final death. There’s nothing scary or suspenseful about The Cell 2, just the horror of the Cusp’s victims being tortured with misogynistic glee. Watching The Cell 2 is torture in and of itself, you’ll be asking for a mercy killing after a few minutes it. As  Bruce Campbell once said, “You didn’t just commit a crime against me, which was pretty frickin’ huge, you committed a crime against art itself.”

The only real connection this bullshit flick has to the original Cell is that they star Latinas who are tracking down serial killers. The film tries to establish continuity with the first film by starting out with footage from it. This is the biggest mistake The Cell 2 makes, the contrast between the movies is so huge that it sticks with you the whole time you watch it. Being reminded of how slick the first one looks while watching the broke-ass second just makes you want to see Jennifer Lopez do her thing.

There’s just no imagination in the design of The Cell 2. Even on a small budget the visuals are just terrible. Check out this comparison of what it looks like inside the mind of the killer in the first and second films. The backgrounds used in The Cell 2 look like they’re almost all static Photoshop compositions so there’s no excuse for not making it more engaging.

The saddest part of The Cell 2 is that it’s a star vehicle for Tessie Santiago. During the turn of the century Santiago was one of my favorite actresses. She was the star of Queen of Swords, a syndicated television show that was in the spirit of Xena: Warrior Princess. She played, essentially, a female version of Zorro. I always thought it was subversive that a Latina was playing a Spaniard and not the other way around. Alas when the show was canceled her career stalled, The Cell 2 is her first starring roll since Queen of Swords. Sadly she’s not even imitating J-Lo here, Santiago acts and is made to look  like a bootleg Eva Longoria. I just felt sorry for her, she goes through the whole film looking tired and bored. Heartbreaking.

MUSIC

On her twitter feed Julieta Venegas posted a photo of herself with Mala Rodriguez and Nelly Furtado in a studio. According to her tweets, this holy trifecta is making a song for Furtado’s forthcoming Spanish language album.

14156008

This better be one of the best songs of all time or I’m going to be hella disappointed.

On the free download tip is the latest and greatest mixtape from electro hip-hop band Hyper Crush. I’ve written about Hyper Crush and their Latin American singer Holly Valentine before . This new mixtape is a free download so check it out! Click on the image below and “save link as”.

TOYS

Culture Clash’s Herbert Siguenza recently sent me an image of a toy with his likeness that will be coming out to coincide with the movie Ben 10: Alien Swarm. I can’t think of another Latino who’s had an action figure created in their likeness and even though he’s a sneering villain I think it’s a huge step forward. Orale Herbert!

herbert

You can see Herbert in Ben 10: Alien Swarm airing on the Cartoon Network in November of 2009.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My favorite performance artist Ask a Chola has posted a series of photographs from a recent trip to Disneyland. Check out her subversive shenanigans here.

Peace,

Rio

In Shock

I’m stunned an speechless. Michael Jackson was one of my childhood icons and this is a profound loss. Do you remember the time? is my favorite Michael Jackson song but Wanna be startin’ something was my favorite as a kid.

captain eo

While most people point to Michael in his Beat It jacket or Thriller as their favorite incarnation of him, I always loved Captain Eo. My Captain Eo 3D comic book is a childhood treasure of mine. The first time I watched Captain Eo it was with Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya, the show was so magical to me but Richard got motion sickness and threw up afterwards.

There are so many images and sounds that he has left us with and it’s going to take some time to process all of them. I’m still just floored by all of this. Rest in peace, Michael.

Rio

Chic et Artistic and Dan Black: Symphonies

I just discovered this mind blowing song by Dan Black about 20 minutes ago I’m super excited to be writing about it. This joint is going to be my song for the summer. I ran across it on Big Stereo and wanted to chime in about it. The video is directed by french art team Artistic et Chic and does a great job of capturing the aesthetics of so many films, posters, and album covers. Seeing the Blade Runner bit might finally convince me to go in drag as Pris this Halloween.

Symphonies isn’t available for download yet and Black’s album will be out later this month. Until then there is a free official download of Passion Pit’s remix of Symphonies HERE.

The song is actually an extrapolation of Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize. Dan Black originally produced Symphonies as a cover of Hypnotize entitled Hypntz. To download Hypntz follow this link. I prefer Symphonies, it’s strong enough to stand on its own but Hypntz transforms Biggie’s original song into a grand sorrowful epic. Check it out!

Chic et Artistic also produced a handful of animated gifs for Dan Black that are doing their part to reclaim the animated gif. Check out their clever work below:

Peace,

Rio