Dec 26, 2007

Christmas In LaLaLandddia

Living in Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY, it's easy to corner yourself into one of the polar cultural extremes of the neighborhood. On the one hand, there are people "native" to the neighborhood--often Dominicans, Puerto Ricans or Hasidic. To a certain extent, Polish people given the proximity to Greenpoint, Mexicans, Chinese. Whatever the statistics, however, these cultural groups represent the working class of Williamsburg. And whether or not they are "native" to the neighborhood--in fact, many are probably new immigrants--they are certainly being pushed out (with the exception perhaps of the Hasidic Orthodox Jews) by the more affluent nouveau riche, the artsy college kid, graphic designers, real estate brokers, business men/women, etc. In short, the working class are being pushed out by gentrifiers who raise the cost of living in a neighborhood beyond the means of a working class person or family.

It's nothing new at this point, especially to those who have lived in New York City for a few years. The socio-economic class of people living in Manhattan has seemingly become less and less diverse over the 5 years I've been here; the rent is preposterous, and more than likely for a space of about 400sq ft. The same is now true to parts of Brooklyn--i.e., Williamsburg, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights. In Bedstuy the new condos stick out like walled in fortresses while a silent battle is waged on renters of older property because their replacements can simply pay more money.

We take this gap for granted in some respects. Walking the streets of Williamsburg, it's easy to find oneself with loathing for the folks on their iPhones, and to a certain extent self-loathing when you reach into your own pocket to dial a friend for drinks at SuperCore, and of course a complete inability to bridge a gap between yourself and the construction worker. I call Williamsburg and the rest of Manhattan LaLaLandddia: the proximity of people does not prevent them from living in their own la-la-lands. The middle to upper middle classes have their money, their drugs, their stuff, while the poor have their language, their debt, their often confusing plights.

On Chrsitmas Eve I walk into my corner bodega to get some beers for dinner. I recognize most of the guys by now, but sometimes I see men I've never seen before working in the back stacking boxes, refilling the fridges. A guy with rasta hair and a boricua accent once sold me an old 8mm film camera next to the beer fridges; he had two boxes full of them, $5 each. A part of me on this night wants to be part of their ever-expanding world, to greet the old men, to call out Feliz Navidad! but instead I go to the back to select my beers. Shortly after a bald man with construction boots and a green toned flannel walks in and greets everyone in front of the TV and behind the counter in Spanish. One of the older men by the TV responds, to which he laughs and says--"There's nothing but silence outside! Back home people would be out, there would be music, people would be dancing. And here...?" Someone reiterates the silence.

Back home must be the Dominican Republic; the store has a little flag here and there, fotos of vacations taken in their home country. I wonder about the silence outside as I leave the bodega. It's true that in Mexico Christmas Eve wouldn't be the near deathly silence that we have on Bedford Ave. Christmas day is even worse. People stay inside playing with their new gadgets, their toys, their crap. Walks on Christmas day are certainly peaceful, but hardly joyous. I wonder about Christmas in LaLaLanddia, what money does to the spirit. I wish I was somewhere else.

Dec 14, 2007


Cyber Encuentro Aztlan-AmericanMastersP

Still tired from shooting/interviewing people of Gridley about el Dia de la Virgen Guadalupe, messages from cyberspace gifted to May 1st, 2006 fotos. Poetry + Politics + MysteryFlickrComments.

americanmastersp: ¡Quiubo Raza!


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Now playing: Aphex Twin - jynweythek
via FoxyTunes

Dec 11, 2007

¡Que Viva El Campo!

The Mysterious Finding of DJ Daniel Torres

DJ Daniel Torres had been in hiding—lost in a forest, he tells me. Take us with you, I say. It’s a one-man journey, he responds. Maybe we’ll cross paths. Daniel laughed loudly.

Jem Farms

5pm Mass

As I'm researching the Dia de la Virgen Guadalupe, these things stick out at me:

"...the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery"-Octavio Paz -quote from Wikipedia

---and that as we document this mass, in Gridley, CA, with Mexicanos who have been here in varying amounts of time--from newcomers to many families who have been here for years--it is certain that the influence of central americans, latinos, and whatever other label we can come up with, is imminent, inevitable. In fact, it's happening now; we are in transition. The United States is being changed by Latinos, Hispanos, Latin Americans [your substitution here].

-tony in Gridley

Dec 5, 2007

Luiseno+Moda Musica

Being Multi-Faceted:

Ricquardo has just uploaded some tracks of his to lastFM. Indeed, they are original illbient-minimal-nuevo-progressive-for-the-Nu-Generation type tracks. I was there more in spirit when he was putting them together, so it's only right for me to try to bring some light to them.

Here's one of the tracks

Luiseno ModaNostrand Ave

I played the tracks at a party...and the transition to Luseño Moda Musica was smooth like flags in a gentile, seafaring breeze.

Music! Spirit! Luiseño! Away


Sep 11, 2007

In Argentina, a Museum Unveils a Long-Frozen Maiden

All I know is that I've gotta get down to Peru/Chile/Argentina, to Latin America in general. Check out this article on the unveiling of the long frozen maiden, the boy and the girl of lightning.

Sep 1, 2007

Radio Luiseño at KZFR hosted by Frankenstein

We’re sitting at 90.1 KZFR in Chico, CA, about to go on the air with one of our mixes.
A quick checklist:

Turntables (3): Check (thanks to KZFR, plus one that we brought).
Mixer, check.
Laptops (2): Check.
Cables (after 2 trips to Wal-Mart), check.
Youtube Samples: Check.
Myspace bulletin: Check!! *

DJ Danny T has hella experience in front of crowds, but I believe this is his first time on the air. He’s all giddy. I’ve got a crazy head-ache. It’s been 104 all day!—and I didn’t drink enough water. How the hell am I supposed to make it to Aztlan with a melting brain?

Danny and Ricardo have it under control though, I’m going to chill with our host Frankenstein, who is being kind enough to be supervise our little session.

Frankenstein, every Friday night, from mid-nite to 2am or so, is always serving his people here at community radio station KZFR 90.1. His show is called Mid-Nite Melody, check out the myspace.

Frankenstein comes on right after DJ Smiley’s Cultural Roots of Aztlan starting at 10pm. This block, from 10pm to 2am—is the only place to hear the baddest mix of real old school jams, Mexican hip-hop, and of course music of our cultural roots, the people of Aztlan.

*just kidding. I didn’t have the wherewithal to post one.

Aug 25, 2007

Memories of a Newspaper Article I Read Earlier Today

A woman hurriedly leaves her trailer-park home at midnight. She had been playing cards with friends. She speeds off in her old Ford Thunderbird. Good night, Irene, says her neighbor. Not a good man, a knife couldn’t cut him. He stays behind while she wires money to her daughter.

She made a phone call. She sent the money--or did she--to her daughter.

The turn at the bend in the road sent her Falcon into the telephone pole. Now there is no mother to send money to the family, even though she was playing cards.

Aug 18, 2007

Revenge Dream

-Myself and a Friend—Not specified.
-Another Couple—a man and woman, both about my age, in a relationship. In the dream, we know them both, though for whatever reason we have more of an affinity to the girl.
-A Young Boy
-Leftist Rebel "Terrorists"

The dream opens in a forest. Beautiful, idyllic. Near a lake. Large trees, with space allowing sunlight. We are in an alcove. The man has hung his partner, the woman; she's hanging from a tree with a noose around her neck. He is telling us, with gusto, that he hung her recently. He smiles and chuckles as he tells us. My friend and I look at each other. We imagine her hanging from a high branch, she is wearing a long skirt, her feet are at least 6 feet above our heads. We liked the girl, she was a good person that did not deserve this type of death.

Time passes. A couple of days. We return to the alcove knowing the man will be there. We murder him. We tie him up and hang him. It is quick. There is little struggle. We do it without hesitation. He hangs in the same way she did, the way we imagined her in our minds.

Time passes. A young boy is telling us about the body, describing its leathery disintegration. My friend and I look at each other, and begin to wonder if we should have killed him. We ask the boy to lead us to the body, pretending we do not know where it is. It is bluish and leathery, emaciated. We experience no regret.

I leave the site. I am more concerned about being caught than anything else. I am in a restaurant that is situated on a boat. It’s a fancy restaurant, somehow I enter through the back, as if I never boarded the ship. I get poor service, I am alone.

A group dressed in dark military gear threaten to over-run the ship. I feel that they’re looking for me the first time they try to get in, but then I realize they are terrorists, and they are taking over the ship.

Aug 7, 2007

Meta(l) Thrash

The Village Voice is presently running an article on the "comeback" of metal thrash led by Latino bands from California and Central/South America. It's a mildly interesting article, but it doesn't really pick up on a much more interesting topic, namely the political bent of many of these bands. Instead, the article idealizes the "original" thrash metal scene, led by bands like Megadeth and Slayer (recognizing, of course, that while Slayer's lead members are Cuban and Chilean, it is historically the mainstream white audiences that popularized them). In idealizing this original, American-based scene, it relegates the Latino Thrash/Punk/Metal scene to a regurgitation of mainstream, "white" culture, while anyone who has heard some of these bands knows they are also hell-bent on different agendas.

The band they feature, Fuled By Fire, is non-political if you check out their myspace. They don't seem too concerned with the borders, Indigenous Rights, or the Zapatistas. In theory, they're participating in some larger Thrash scene that doesn't pay attention to your skin color, or what you're thrashing about. It's the re-emergence of a "pure" Thrash. The article goes on to quote Latino band-members saying things like "'...But to tell you the truth, we don't really know why thrash is so popular with Latinos. We never really think about race when it comes to thrash, but we have noticed that there are a lot of Latinos in the thrash scene.'" And later: "'I don't think that race/ethnicity have something to do with this...Don't matter what is your race, [but] how much metal you have in your blood.'" In this mode, Thrash/Metal/Punk music is oblivious to where you are born, and thrashing has nothing to do with anything except, well, thrashing. Thrash becomes an elevated, universal concept, which people of any culture can take part in.

This may be true. Thrash Metal rocks!!!, afterall. But let's not overlook the fact that there is a Latino Thrash/Metal/Punk scene, and that there may be very concrete reasons for its existence. The article hints at these reasons, quoting Luis Jorge Saldarriaga of Bogota, Colombia's Death Hunter--"I think the interest comes from feelings of rage, and also unhappiness about certain things occurring in our countries that lead us to look for an aggressive type of music that we can identify ourselves with, and expresses something similar to what we feel..." The article doesn't follow up on this, however, and instead focuses on Latino bands' attempts to "revive" the good old days of the scene, making sure the entity of Thrash doesn't die out.

But there are reasons that Latinos identify with and re-create the Thrash/Metal/Punk scene.
Check for instance these bands-- MasAcrE, La Grita, and Eskapo, three Northern California bands not only doing their part in keeping the scene alive, but continuing another very important historical thread of political music. Connect to any of them and you'll see that they connect to other bands equally as political, many or most of them Latino Thrash/Metal/Punk bands. And let's not forget to look at their politics: Leftist, Anarchist, all for extreme change, expressing deep rage at the world. We listen to them not only because they rock, but because their music is driven by purpose.

The Latinos quoted in the Village Voice article may be interested in keeping the old "scene" alive, and may not have political lyrics. But their rage remains, their metal blood still boils. Thrash is inherently about expressing rage. Whether they realize it or not, they too are political.

-Juan Cicada

news flash:

.................. HBO FILMS to begin filming in Gridley this October. ! According to C. Barajas an old friend since back in the El Campo days tells Luiseño this morning that his brother Jesse, Gridley High School Counselor and local soccer Coach was contacted from New York about the issue facing a lot of the soccer players in the leagues. Apparently the teams from Gridley, Orland and Yuba City have been doing very well for the last few years, yet no college scouts have come to visit or at least are reluctant to visit because of the fact that a high percentage of the players are undocumented.

More to follow.

Another documentary project being filmed around Gridleyland. HBO, exciting. !

Aug 6, 2007

Assimilation, Branding, Lynx

Since our inception, I haven't been able to "wrap my head around," or "put my finger" on one of our many "raisons d'etres" as an artist collective, until we recently put together an artist statement for EnFoco. We struggle to give context to many issues, and one of them is a term i learned way back in high school, when I spent a summer at UC Berkeley (at an Upward Bound Math/Science summer-session): assimilation.

Sometimes I question my own voice, my own relevance in this project. Shouldn't some "newly arrived" kid from Puebla be fighting for for our culture? Shouldn't he/she Belwether? At least he/she could do it in Spanish! Me, I have to revert to cliches of the English language!! (see quoted expressions above).

But in the end, I figure that Cultural Resistance has no formula. We stay true to ourselves, and the just fight continues.

Article in Today's NYTimes Magazine.

-Don Quezada

Now playing: tim hecker - shipyards of la ceiba
via FoxyTunes

Aug 5, 2007

Our Town

An interesting article from NYTimes Mag profiling the effects of anti-immigrant business policies in a small town.

Jul 27, 2007

latino house djs in outer-space

inspired by the music of casino versus japan, i accidentally click on tabs, open programs, try to ignore myspace, relentlessly log in to flickr, pointing and clicking....

the r. part of luiseño: i find my self inside a barn everyday, mixing music and sharing dreams with people of the west. construction of a new, dare i say second Luiseño Studio begins tonight. within days, our space continues to expand, this time with a mega sound system, five turntables, laptops and 2 million records.

my time is short in this green valley. driving back roads once again, long and drawn out sunsets filter into my afternoons, late at night i think about producing beats and finding more latinos in the mix. both are a struggle, yet a few breakthroughs are made.

Jul 15, 2007

Artist Statement

Artist Statement

"Will we be able to speak when it matters most?"

Luiseño: Cronicas de Comunidad

Adios Gridley, CA
Chapter 1:
Nuevo Ideal, Huejuquilla, MX
Nueva York, Guadalajara

There is, on the on hand, the vision of a Central American man in the desert looking North, toward the green lights: his future. Sweat leaks from his arms and neck. He imagines crossing the border, the dream is in fast-forward: the work, the Church, the family, the racism, the confusion, the assimilation, the loss, the money, the lowriders, the white, the brown, the yellow, the success.

Years into this future, there is, on the other hand, his children, now looking South.

We are his children, his return, his venganza.

* * * * * * * * *

As the progeny of dreamers, we continue a mission, we pick up a legacy. We bear the responsibility to the dreams of our parents, the collective dream of a better life, that mythical land, perhaps of a Nuevo Aztlan.

Or, we can’t help but wonder, are we destined to become Nuevos Ricos?

* * * * * * * * * *

As children, we didn't get to many weddings, we stayed at home and listened to music, watched TV, ignored the future. The few weddings that we did go to were mostly close family--brothers, sisters, they were the best times. We love the extended family, the children always look smooth. Our friends don't really care.

Somewhere along the way, however, well beyond the Western phase of teenage ‘rebellion,’ we began to ask, "What are we doing here? Why are we here? We've got all this stuff, but at what cost?”

* * * * * * * * *

Our souls, fortunately or not, have been educated. We’re bilingual (especially if you count Espanglish). We read books in English that affect our lives. Corridos speak to us too. We are from El Campo, East San Jose, Mexican cities and towns in the USA. Our older brothers and sisters own homes in California and drive large cars. We reach out to our cousins down South, they enlighten us with stumbled conversation. We look at myspace and want iPhones; the slightly younger are excited by Harry Potter.

We notice that some Latinos—the happy box-checkers—just want to be around that monstrous, corporate-consumer culture we call “whiteness.” Other Latinos, however, do not want to enter that world: the rockeros, the skaters, the punks, and we can never forget the gang-bangers, who were once neighbors, and are now warriors against assimilation. Just like the O.G.’s before them, and the Pachucos before them.

Are we allowed to add a category? Forgive us, but the Latino Artist also falls into the latter category, the one with the gangsters, in solidarity in the battle against assimilation. Years later, we hope, there will be a corrido about the People of the Left, who just wanted to share, and who had to fight a war in order to share.

But what does this battle ‘against assimilation’ mean? And aren’t the Mexican skater-rockeros re-enacting a decidedly American creation of culture (albeit with, some would say, much better style)? Aren’t artists also sell-outs? How do we figure it all out? Where is our core?

Luiseño tries to get at the culture jam of Latino experience, attitudes, modes of existence/survival. Luiseño tries to grasp the effects of globalization; one trajectory will certainly lead us to more work within Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, the rest of Latino America—the world? Luiseño is community-based media creation: youth media, community documentation, community work. Luiseño's primary mode of exhibition is the internet: it means deciding what photos are family, friends or public. As artists, we try to explain that we are just as fragile as the cannery worker, the delivery boy. What can he/she be thinking? We have to ask because we think we can feel it.

Jul 12, 2007

Pemex Explosions in Mexico

Gas pipeline explosions today in Mexico. Revolutionaries fighting Pemex. Heavy.

Jul 6, 2007

Jul 2, 2007

Raza Cósmica


I Am Joaquin

by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales

Yo soy Joaquín,

perdido en un mundo de confusión:

I am Joaquín, lost in a world of confusion,
caught up in the whirl of a gringo society,
confused by the rules, scorned by attitudes,
suppressed by manipulation, and destroyed by modern society.
My fathers have lost the economic battle
and won the struggle of cultural survival.
And now! I must choose between the paradox of
victory of the spirit, despite physical hunger,
or to exist in the grasp of American social neurosis,
sterilization of the soul and a full stomach.
Yes, I have come a long way to nowhere,
unwillingly dragged by that monstrous, technical,
industrial giant called Progress and Anglo success....

Jun 6, 2007

Media Against the Chinatown Express

A Chinatown bus flips, injuring 34 people on September 5, 2006. An article on the safety of the Chinatown bus lines is subsequently published later that month in the Washington Post. On May 20 of this year, an NYC bound bus crashed, killing two people and injuring 32.

The Washington Post talks about the language barrier. Are drivers competent, the article asks, do they speak English well enough to read signs and help out in an emergency.

Let's imagine a scenario:
A Fung-Wah bus driver tips over a bus. He is relatively unhurt—he is able to call for help, knowing that he may have injured people on his bus. But let's assume that he doesn't know much English, that he speaks Cantonese everyday. Does a person who doesn't know English in the US stand by his bus and wait for people who "understand" to make all the phone calls, the attempts for help? Is he devoid of awareness--there has been an accident, people are hurt--is he devoid of compassion?

The article seems to fall on the side of saying that the man with no understanding of English is incompetent and also does not have the ability--the humanity?--to seek out help.

May 23, 2007

May 22, 2007

blogtime hiatus.

Website redesign.

Hi. Luiseño is now back after a nice sabatical from blogging. However, back-dated posts will begin poping up here and there.

Feb 10, 2007


At the gym in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

A flyer has been put announcing their masseuse is moving to the "Riviera Maya." Someone has hand written a correction, scrawling in pencil, "Mayan Riviera." Book a session with her now before she’s gone! says the flyer.

Below there’s a picture of a fit woman on the beach looking out onto the sea, her back to us. She's not wearing a top; she is ostensibly the masseuse leaving the gym. Another woman, more dressed, plumper, ostensibly Mexican, brushes the sand off her lower body.

Maxim promotes people who pay to have their asses wiped

Jan 13, 2007


Working With the Pearson Foundation, who do i represent?

Have been working with the Pearson Foundation since returning to NY.

One class is taught by a mousy caucasian girl with glasses, soft-spoken. In the class are two boys making a narrative revolving around their coming to the United States from the Caribbean. I recorded one boy’s voiceover, from Antigua which he pronounces An-Ti-Ga. His narrative revolves around the events shortly before his plane leaves. His partner, also from the West Indies, also has a narrative revolving around the day he came to the US. They have the most interesting stories, though it's so hard for them to express themsleves.

The rest of the students are writing personal narratives revolving around what they like to do, what music they like, what clothes they wear. Some students write about their neighborhoods—“we represent Bedstuy to the fullest, even though we moved to Canarsie, so it’s just straight Brooklyn we represent." Many of them are Jamaican or from Caribbean islands in general.

As if universal, the need to represent who you are, where you come from, prevails in the projects we are making.

Jan 5, 2007

flinting w/ sufjan

the factory

Please God, forgive us for not posting to this blog for two months. we promise we have been very busy tending to your flock....

as you can tell, Mexico took over our senses, although we had internet access throughout our, the overall power of the culture gave us little time to collectively look away just for one second to relay the subtle changes in light, the great food, los primos y primas.... tios and tias,. so this piece of internet history will remain silent forever. maybe.

the news is as follows:

* Luiseño Films has mutated into the Luiseño Artists Colllective, the focus remains the same, we just wanted to bring light to any other artists that we meet who share our vision of community expression.

*The Luiseño Artists Collective is now comprised of members from the following communities: Gridley, CA; New York, NY; Huejuquilla el Alto, JAL, MX; Guadalajara, JAL, MX; Zacatecas, ZAC, MX; San Jose, CA; Chico, CA; Oroville, CA; and Biggs, CA.

* The Luiseño Artists Collective, held its first exhibition in the North Valley. December 31st, 2006.

*Luiseño will be working in NYC for the next few months teaching video and filmmaking skills to public school students through the city.

*A film festival is in the works for community radio KZFR in chico, the theme will be building community via the independent media.

*Two mural projects are in the works for the Gridley California community, the first is already underway and has being initiated by Youth First of Gridley, the second will be proposed by the Luiseño Artists Collective in the next few months.


* General Happiness.

Jan 1, 2007

Reflections/Thoughts of Beginnings

Toward future engagements, the day after our “inaugural exhibition” to the Gridley community.

I fiddle with normal things on my computer—the nytimes, Zapatista updates, music, my writing (this very document). I glimpse the photographs from yesterday. Another day documented, the beginning of an engagement with the community.

I think about yesterday’s events, I think about all the people we saw.

I slept from 7pm to 10:30 in the morning! Slept right through the New Year’s countdown.

Youth Group students took pictures of themselves lying on the ground like roadkill, good pictures.

My mom made posole.