Tale of the Tape and other Adventures

In the last two weeks I’ve enjoyed making a couple of impromptu videos with my good friend and Chicano filmmaker Tokoztli. Our most recent adventure was a hunt to find cassette tapes in San Francisco. Tokoztli is the foremost Chicano scholar on the life and recordings of Tupac Shakur and he’s been on a quest to collect his albums on tape. Myself, I was looking for Freestyle tapes in a nostalgic nod to my childhood.

We played the SF Spanish Fly tape all the way back to my place in the Mission. Sadly, I haven’t been able to listen to it since because I don’t actually own something that plays tapes. It’s found a nice home on the shelf above my computer.

Our other recent adventure was a small tour of Banksy artworks around the city. There’s no footage of the Mission District Banksy piece because a pimp was about to regulate on someone just around the corner and we high-tailed it out of there. Here is the actual piece (which can be found at Mission and Sycamore ) below:

Peace,

Rio

The Inevitable

For the longest time I was stuck at a crossroads. Any video I created would go up on my facebook page but the privacy settings of facebook would prevent me from embedding them in my WordPress blog. I was able to embed videos from flickr but they limit their videos to 90 seconds in length.

I’ve always disliked the aesthetics of youtube and was all ready to sign up for Vimeo but then I read that I had to pay to upload multiple HD videos AND pay for every play of an embedded HD Video. Fuck that noise! I broke down and finally signed up for a youtube account. You can find me at http://www.youtube.com/user/rioyanez. I’m finally able to share some of my videos that run longer than 90 seconds like this one of artist Melanie Cervantes sharing her thoughts on Post-Chicano art. Check it out!

Peace,

Rio

Oakland’s Gettin’ Hot

I spent this past Sunday hanging out with my good friends Manny Martinez and Sandra Garcia Rivera. Both Manny and Sandra are singers, writers, and poets whom I met last year while taking photos and doing graphics for their band Benito Cereno. I woke up Sunday morning and while I drank my morning coffee checked my facebook page. I came across a posting by Manny titled Oakland’s Gettin’ Hot, a written piece in reaction to the murder of four Oakland police officers the day before. I left a comment on the note, talking about the profundity of his words, and Sandra responded inviting me to a reading/performance they were both having that day at Rebecca’s Books in Oakland.

I knew I wanted to get Manny’s performance of the piece on video so I grabbed my flip minoHD camera and got on the BART to Oakland. There was a nervous energy in the air when I got out at the Ashby station in Oakland. Walking down the three blocks to the bookstore I felt the nervousness in the air, it was intense.

After the bookstore event I proposed to Manny and Sandra that we travel somewhere so that I could shoot some footage of them performing their recent works. They agreed and Manny picked Lake Merritt in Oakland as the backdrop for the shoot. I spent about an hour filming Manny and Sandra and interviewing them about their relationship and how they relate to the Bay Area as two Puerto Ricans. Below is the pair doing their thing with Oakland’s Gettin’ Hot and Manny’s original text.

Oakland’s getting hot-March 22, 2009
the day after four Oakland police officers were gunned down

Oakland’s getting hot
Four cops shot
bystanders applaud
Oh-lordy lord
Media machine is hummin’
Schwarzenegger’s comin’
To talk to Mayor Dellums
Wonder what he’ll tell ‘em

Four cops shot
Oakland’s gettin’ hot
Crowd starts to chant
“this is for Oscar Grant”
Last cop to die
Was back in ‘99
But how many brothers
Have died within that time

Four cops shot
Oakland’s gettin’ hot
When bodies start to stack
Most of them are black
The man who pulled the trigger
Just another Black man
It’s kind of strange
There was Love in his name

Now Oakland’s gettin’ hot
Four cops shot
To some it means nothin’
To some it means a lot
If you live in Oakland
Please watch your back
Things are getting’ wack
Be careful if your Black.

-

At the end of the shoot Manny brought things to a close with a freestyle.

My original work with Manny is the portrait below that I completed almost a year ago. It’s one of my personal favorites from my portrait series.

Peace,

Rio

Ps. I’ve made no secret of my mad love for the Chica’s Project on Mun2 and as it turns out Sandra was featured in an episode of the show. Check out Sandra schoolin’ Crash and Yasmin in Nuyorican Poetry and performing an original piece.

[Note: For more videos of Manny and Sandra, please check out my facebook page. I can’t seem to embed facebook videos in wordpress and flickr limits videos to only 90 seconds each.]

Post-Latino images in Kid Cudi’s Day n’ Nite

This video for Kid Cudi’s song Day n’ Nite was pointed out to me by a recent blog post from my favorite cousin Cat in San Diego. I know we’re family because we both have mad love for Kid Cudi. I had no idea a video had actually been produced for Day n’ Nite (I was under the impression that Heaven at Night was going to be his first video).

As Latinos and Chicanos we have enough drama defining ourselves under those names without further complicating things with terms like “Post” added to the mix. It’s yet to be seen if the idea of Post-Race Art will make it out of its infancy or simply come and go as a fashion trend but the dialogue over its validity has kept me transfixed for the last couple of years.

What makes the images of Raza in Day n’ Nite Post-Latino is that they present images of Latinos that aren’t dependent on any performance of race. This is an almost impossible dynamic to pull off in the mainstream media, Latinos that are semiotically apparent (their appearance, signs in Spanish, the aesthetics of the murals and store interiors) but without the usual tropes, stereotypes, and actions. Compare the images of Brown people in the Day n’ Nite video to recent videos by Beck and Gwen Stefani. Nobody is beating you over the head saying “These are Latinos!” There’s nary a mariachi band, Quinceañera, or cholo in Day n’ Nite. It’s the difference between “Being” and “Portraying”; the difference between an interesting setting and cultural tourism.

Kid Cudi is from Cleveland and the Director, So Me, is based in France so I’m more than a little curious as to where the inspiration for the video’s setting came from. Were the depictions of race by design or unintentional? Is Day n’ Nite a sign of things to come or the result of a unique vision? We shall see in the future.

I think this is the third blog in the last couple of months where I’ve mentioned Kid Cudi. I truly believe he is the next big thing and a creative visionary in mainstream music. As I’ve said before Kid Cudi’s free mixtape Plain Pat + Emile presents: “a KID named CUDI” was my favorite album of 2008 and you can download it at http://www.zshare.net/download/1549107772aa93ea/

Cudi and Pan Dulce!

Cudi and Pan Dulce!

What does everyone think? I’m calling out all my usual conversation partners on post-race art and identity: Rocky, Mariela, Cindylu, and Richard. Is this the real deal or am I just overly excited to see images of Latinos that simply aren’t embarrassing minstrel shows?

Peace,

Rio

My art featured in Ask a Chola’s latest video

I should be sleeping right now. In about six hours I’m boarding a flight for Los Angeles to attend this event at UCLA for my mom , Yolanda Lopez. Before I sleep for a quick second I wanted to share this latest video from Ask a Chola featuring my recent portrait of her.

I hope y’all tune into Chola’s show tonight. She’s hands down  my favorite performance artist and I’ve tried to support her work with my own art on many occasions. I thought I’d share my contributions to her presidential campaign of 2008.

If anyone I know is going to be around UCLA this Wednesday and Thursday give me a call and we can hang out.

Peace,

Rio