Who is taking this picture? The faux seductive looks of my great-grandmother, grandmother and great aunts have piqued my interest. Who was this person, capturing their daily activities, asking them to pose on the porch? They had many suitors and I’ve been told many fellas would visit the house and family. But my grandmother swore to me they were chaste and innocent. I believe her.
Spandau Ballet-The Freeze
I come from a family of vinyl junkies, musicians and DJs. On my dad’s side of the family, I’m the only one who hasn’t made money from some kind of music related venture. I did try for awhile to involve myself in the professional Flamenco performance scene but it was shark tank I was not willing to swim in. So yeah, I continue to be an amateur.
These past few months, I’ve been culling my sizable vinyl collection, getting it ready for an upcoming vinyl swap/sale I’m organizing. I’ve come across a number of albums I’ve borrowed and secretly nabbed from my father’s collection. He is a prolific collector, at one time his vinyl collection was more than 5,000 albums and his CD collection is probably close.
As a DJ in the late 70s/early 80s he’d spend the weekends visiting the record shops spread out across Los Angeles with my little brother and I in tow. We were allowed to pick out a set number of records; he’d say to us: “You can pick out this many used records” and with his fingers designate a stack about 3 inches tall. Because I always wanted expensive import vinyl (The Smiths, Depeche Mode etc.), I’d only be allowed to take one or two pieces of vinyl compared to my brother’s armful.
As I got older and my musical tastes expanded, I ended up borrowing a good chunk of my dad’s new wave, reggae, Brazilian samba and flamenco albums. It’s always a small delight when I come across the markings he’s left on the album covers such as the ones on this Spandau Ballet album. My dad would listen to each song and mark those he thought would be good for DJing. He’d make notes of the BPM so that in the midst of the mix, he’d easily know which song would match the other already playing. He’d also leave more detailed notes especially on the salsa or cumbia albums that would say “good for dancing” or “fast.”
Despite my father’s earnest efforts to teach me the family business of mobile DJing, his attempts at passing on his record-spinning, MC-ing legacy was lost on me. Shyness and insecurities plagued me throughout most of my youth, limiting me in my opportunities and explorations. As The Smiths would say: “Shyness is nice. And shyness can stop you, from doing all the things in life you’d like to.”
Nonetheless, I would accompany my dad and my brother to many of his gigs carrying the smaller pieces of gear. I’d then try to stay out of the way, when the set-up began and the dizzying amount of cables begin to wind their way through the various pieces of audio equipment. I was so amazed that they could remember how everything went. Then I would watch as the folks would come alive with certain music my dad played and how he knew how to play just the right song to get different crowds dancing. I often wondered if the folks who hired him for their birthday parties, weddings, quinceñeras, bat mitzvahs and baptisms looked askance at presence of my brother and I. I figure if they did say something, he would say we were helpers. Little did I know at the time, he was teaching us valuable skills.
Often times he’d set up a vinyl mix for me, I’ll I’d have to do was slide the fader over but I was much too shy to even do this. He tried to push me and I resisted. I regret not trying. Glad shyness is something you can outgrow. Our family love for music and vinyl still continues and while I may not have it made it a profession like my brother and dad, I can still share my musical experiences on this little blog. Thanks, Dad!
Egyptians practicing the fine art of rock throwing, January 25, 2011.
It only makes me pine for my faux-Egyptian connections even more. But just this week, I learned an extraordinary fact, one that gives hope to my far-fetched dreams of an Mexican-Egyptian heritage. According to Chicana musician Lysa Flores who recently participated in an Egyptian group art exhibit, Citizen, Participant “Egypt sent 20,000 troops to Mexico in the 1860′s to help Mexico boot out Maximilano and none of those Egyptians returned…” What? Could it be that perhaps, one of those soldiers could’ve been related to the grandfather I never knew and recently tried to find in Guadalajara? Probably not, but I still feel the nostalgia when gazing at the Eye of Horus.
Amr Diab-Omal Eih
All this revolution and uprising needs some musical accompaniment so how about some Arabic Pop/Al Jeel music by one Egypt’s most popular artists, Amr Diab? His sorta dorky style is quite charming, too bad he’s all slick and dolled up now. The 80s was the BEST time for Arab Pop, in my opinion.
Oh, you’ve all been waiting for this Egyptian Lover? Why didn’t you say so?
The Egyptian Lover – Egypt, Egypt
Hang on tight Tony, Jessie will steal your heart.
“People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive about the refusal of constraints – such people have a corpse in their mouth.” -Raoul Vaneigem
My great-grandmother Guadalupe Nuñez Martinez from Pastor Ortiz, Michoacan and founder of Las Guadalupas de San Antonio de Padua Church in Boyle Heights was the queen of buñuelos at the church ferias. Around Christmas time, every countertop in her tiny cottage kitchen would hold stacks of them. They towered over me like skyscrapers made of sugar.
Ruben and the Jets
My father can be heard singing on this song with the band he was part of Ruben and the Jets. I need to upload the songs that feature his vocals like Dedicated to the One I Love. And yes, my parents were friends with Frank Zappa and I went to Moon Unit’s birthday party but I was just a baby and I don’t remember anything.