I had a productive day yesterday. I met with Guatemalan writer/performer Maya Chinchilla to craft a plan of collaborative world domination. I’ve been a big fan of Maya’s writings and performances about online culture and Central American identity politics. We sat at Mission Kitchen on 23rd & Mission and plotted a good number of collaborations that I’m really excited about.
First up, I’m really looking forward to creating graphics and illustrations to accompany some of her writings. We’re going to get the ball rolling really soon and I can’t wait to see what we come up with together. Stay tuned!
I often describe profound moments in my life as having a Wonder Years narration to them. In looking back on these moments I can hear my inner-Kevin Arnold narrating them in a nostalgic tone full of longing. This inner-Kevin Arnold was left speechless as my childhood flashed before my eyes upon viewing this recent picture of Danica Mckellar (Winnie Cooper).
The two biggest icons of my childhood were Godzilla and Winnie Cooper. One was my hero and the other my first crush. Godzilla’s fantasy violence and Winnie’s unconditional friendship with Kevin on The Wonder Years were comforts and provided an escape from the very real violence of the Mission District in my youth. The universes and mythologies of Godzilla and Winnie Cooper have stuck with me after all these years. My support of Danica Mckellar’s post-Wonder Years career has been well documented. I’ve also been writing a blog about my lifelong interest in Godzilla for the last week and will publish it soon. I wasn’t planning on writing about Winnie Cooper but stumbling across the above image (via twitter of course) struck me with inspiration. Danica Mckellar was my first crush and still reigns as my #1 crush to this day. *Le Sigh*
Something that has always vexed me is the act of laying claim to Chicano identity without bearing any political responsibilities or consciousness. To me, Chicanos don’t always have to be Mexican-Americans but the line in the sand is that calling yourself Chicano is identifying with a leftist political ideology. That’s why it burns my ass to no end that there is a genre of Hip-Hop known as Chicano Rap that is all but devoid of politics. The only references to identity in most Chicano Rap albums has to do with identifying as a Norteño or Sureño aside from vague references to “Brown Pride.” At this point in our political culture the idea of “Brown Pride” has been exhausted of its political meaning and we’ve now progressed way beyond it.
Pop in almost any mainstream Chicano Rap album and you’re more than likely to hear stories of popping caps, being king of the block, representing a clicka, slanging ‘caine, getting respect, and other acts of depoliticized patriarchal bullshit. Despite all of these Chicano rappers trying to out-badass each other there’s one person that’s got them all beat. That person is one Ms. Lily Allen.
This weekend I was cycling through Lily Allen songs on my ipod while riding on a train to San Jose and came across Nan, You’re a Window Shopper. The song is Lily Allen’s version of 50 Cent’s Window Shopper. It’s a cheeky diss track against Allen’s own grandmother. What’s so revolutionary about it is that the song covers territory that’s essentially forbidden to Chicano Rappers. Think about it, Chicano Rap songs are filled with predictable tropes of violence and nostalgia but even the most baddest of cholos still hold some things sacred. Lily Allen was brave enough to break one of our most basic social conventions and for that she is more dangerous than any Chicano Rapper.
Question: Despite all the hyper-masculine posturing, can you ever picture any of these supposedly hardcore Chicano Rappers cutting a track against their own dear abuelitas?
The bar has been set by Lily Allen. I dare any of you calling themselves Chicano Rappers to reach for it. Put up or shut the fuck up.
I just wanted to let everyone know I have a post up at SOMArts’ new blog. It’s about the time I interviewed one of my heroes while on the job, Bay Area writer Beth Lisick. I still love her work and meeting her was an exciting experience for me.
While I was hanging out with my dad today he showed me a video that we pop up in. It’s about the Andy Warhol events that we’ve been producing at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. It nicely encapsulates the first night we did, check out our Warhol performers.
I’ve been twittering for about a week now at http://twitter.com/rioyanez.I signed up as a way to contact Amber Rose after she started writing and posting about the portrait I created of her. I have to say, the most exciting aspect of twitter is the way people distribute images. The short urls for twitpics that often pop up on tweets evoke a sense of curiosity in me; more so than the many thumbnails that can be found on facebook. I think the lack of a thumbnail is more alluring and it forces you to chose to see the image or not, there’s no middle ground of a provided preview.
I recently awoke one morning to discover this image tweeted by Snoop Dogg. In it he’s posing with a wax Tupac at Madame Tussauds wax museum. It blew my mind. To see the forever youthful Tupac next to a mature Snoop Dogg was a profound reminder of just how long ago his death was. Even though he still makes music today, I’ve often thought of Snoop Dogg as a living piece of history. With all the intense violence of the 90’s scene I often wonder how he survived his G-Funk glory days. Say what you may about Snoop, it’s incredible that one artist could work side-by-side with a (now) historical figure like Tupac and still be relevant today. Nonetheless, seeing him casually posing next to a likeness of his dead friend brought up a whole range of emotions.
My favorite twitpic has thus far been this hilarious photo of Kim Kardashian with a jacked up sunburn that she herself tweeted. It gave me a good laugh and was a clever way for her to diffuse the power of an embarrassing image. By putting it out there herself, she’s made the whole thing a non-story for online tabloids.
The accompanying caption to the image reads: PLEASE HELP ME! I am so sunburned! I fell asleep with huge glasses on yesterday! This tan line is not ok!!!
More documentation of this hilarious sunburn can be found here and here.
Wear your sunblock y’all,
Ps. I’ve currently set my tweets to automatically update on facebook. I’m starting to have second thoughts about this though and am considering making them seperate. What do most people do? Any advice?
Part of maintaining credibility amongst Chicano peers is striking a delicate balance between identifying with our indigenous roots and acknowledging our European influences. Cindylu wrote a great blog on the occasionally laughable difficulties of doing this. Performing race and culture (or the implication that someone is doing it only to show that they down with brown) can be a sensitive subject for us.
I say this because I always give my Chicano friends a lot of shit whenever they pay deference to anything from Spain, mostly to give them a hard time in jest. My confession today is that I’m super excited to receive the new art book by Spanish artist Dadanoias (A.K.A. Kahlo, real name Marta Castro Suarez). As a present to myself for filing my taxes on my own for the first time I pre-ordered the book from Amazon.
Dadanoias’ artwork has been circulating throughout a handful of Chicano blogs recently. When I first stumbled across her work on flickr I have to admit that I thought she was Chicana. The digital collage aesthetic and color combinations screamed Chicano art to me.
The interventions in her images are exciting and alluring. In each piece she inserts herself as a part of the medium of the image and layers on original and borrowed images. Dadanoias doesn’t caption her pieces so there’s a lot of meaning left open for interpretation. Visually peeling back layers and meaning in her images does indeed make a good challenge.
Dadanoias gets extra nerd points for co-opting Urusei Yatsura illustrations for her work. I wonder what Rumiko Takahashi would think of her images?
I’m officially declaring my love of Holly Valentine from Hyper Crush. I’m bummed that I missed their show last night in San Francisco. This video illustrates the difficulty of being a Latina hipster. No matter how much of an ironic hipster you are, being bilingual and code-switching is still a novelty that will get you mocked. You can see the look of inner-turmoil on Holly’s face as Preston and Donny clown her, it’s burning with angst and conflict.
Seriously though, I love Hyper Crush. I can’t front either, I mess with Mariela all the time when she speaks Spanish on the phone (especially with her mom). She and Holly both can code-switch like seasoned pros; I am merely a humble pocho.
Hyper Crush are also leading the charge in reclaiming the animated gif. Someone on their team has amazing gif making skills, the second one will give you a seizure: