Chinatown

Chinatown

The movie was over and we heard the ghostly howl of a lonely dog.

I walked around the corner into the anachronistic little alley full of cages and cleaning supplies.

Big roaches scurried by. I didn’t see a dog just a lit lamp in the window. People are home and dogs are wailing.

It was all of a sudden silent, no hound to be seen or heard. A guy with a baseball cap walked by me in the dark. I scooted to one side.

I met my friends again. The wine was finished.

The dog once again began it’s deathly howl.

Who is behind the camera?

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.

Future retro electro


Dupont-Burn

Back from vacation and I’ve been making up for lost time by delving into my usual Youtube video surfing. Tonight, after hearing Everlasting Bass on KDAY, I fell into an electro derive mostly focusing on electro hip hop groups from Los Angeles. It was a gorgeous day today and perhaps I was feeling a bit of city pride. And then I came across this song Burn by Dupont. It was created for an obscure breakdance documentary called Breakin and Enterin (1983) and never released.

What an odd song! It’s much faster and more new-wavish than the traditional breakdance fare of the 80s. The beats are really ahead of the their time and the weak vocals give the song an almost future retro feel. It’s as if Ariel Pink were transported back to the 80s to create something funky. It gets all dark with those odd chords during the chorus and then lightens up with detached double beats. It’s bizarre and almost bad, but somehow has this charm that pulls you back for repeated listenings. I don’t know, I really don’t know what to make of this song.


Clip from Breakin and Enterin

Supermoon

Last night, we drove around the peaks of Northeast LA, looking for the perfect view of the supermoon. The clouds teased us by intermittently blocking our view but finally, high up in Elysian Park, the sky cleared and the twinkling valley was illuminated by the perigree moon, lighting up the sad Los Angeles River as it made it’s silvery traverse through the Metrolink yards.

Mexican Names

I was thinking about a friend I had in elementary school named Eduviges. She was from Tijuana. Eduviges means “fighting woman.” We called her “Dube” (in Spanish) for short.

Copied over from a Myspace blog post from 2007:

aztec_idealized2

In a life long ago, I worked in a bank and tried to find numerous ways to entertain and guard myself against the tedium of “Next customer, please!” One way was to collect interesting names in Spanish.
Here are a few:

Atendoro Coyotl
Emeterio
Austreberto
Fructuoso
Pastora
Clorindo
Wenceslao
Fidencia Matlacuatzi
Gumercindo
Agapito

Perhaps these names were popular two centuries ago and managed to survive in sheltered pueblitos or they’re names of unpopular saints, quien sabe? They’re immensely preferable over the much too popular “Juan” and “Jose.”

Speaking of which, I’ve been trying to figure out for years which nicknames go with which proper names. So far I’ve got:

Juan=Paco
Jose=Pepe
Enrique=Kike or Kiki
Socorro=Coco
Luis=Lucho
Lourdes=Lulu
Guillermo=Memo

Can’t think of any others at the moment. Anyone else?

——————————————————–
Frances had these to add:
nicknames…in my family
luis…huicho
sergio…checo
frances/francisca…pancha/pachita
gustavo…tabo
veronica…bero

weird names
Hermila….(people call her Milly for short, weird). my mom
Avigail…(Avi for short) my grandmother”

Thanks Frances!

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I wrote this in 2007 and had hoped to come up with a definitive list which sorta got pushed to the backburner. If you know anymore, please leave your submissions in the comments section and I will try and compile them all for one post. Thanks!

———————

Forgot to add this in from my follow-up post. Ask A Mexican covered this question too!

Dear Mexican:
How do Mexicans get such ridiculous nicknames from seemingly normal names? For instance, Jose becomes Chepe, Eduardo is Lalo, Gabriel becomes Gabi, and Guillermo devolves into Memo.
It’s Marcela, Not Chela

I want to know why Mexicans have such incongruous nicknames. In English, people have nicknames that have some relation to their given names—for example Kenny is the nickname for Kenneth, or Jenny for Jennifer. Granted, there are some nicknames that seem like a stretch of logic, like Jack for John and Peg for Margaret, but there are none so incompatible as Pepe for Jos.., Pancho for Francisco, or Chucho (or Chuy) for Jesus. I have asked many Mexicans about this and they all tell me, “Porque as.. es,” so I finally decided to ask THE Mexican.
La China Curiosa Who’s Really Korean

Dear Wabette and Chinita:
The definitive study on this quirk remains Viola Waterhouse’s “Mexican Spanish Nicknames,” included in the 1981 anthology Linguistics Across Continents: Studies in Honor of Richard S. Pittman. Unfortunately, the ethnolinguist devotes most of her article to including as many seemingly wacky Mexican apodos as possible (some of the better ones mentioned are Goyo for Gregorio, Licha for Alicia, Nacho for Ignacio, and Cuco for Refugio) instead of theorizing why Mexican Spanish is prone to such a mangled morphology. Waterhouse does identify one phenomenon that factors into many of these name changes: palatalization, when speakers pronounce non-palatal consonants as palatals—for example, the transformation of s into a ch sound when Salvador becomes Chava. Other phonetical laws not mentioned by Waterhouse that influence Mexican Spanish nicknames include apocopation (the dropping of a word’s last letters or syllables—Caro for Carolina), apheresis (when a word loses syllables or letters at its beginning—Mando for Armando) and syncopation, when a word contracts by shedding sounds—that’s how Roberto becomes Beto.

But the question remains: Why the dropping of sounds and letters in Mexican Spanish nicknames? This Mexican’s take: most nicknames derived from proper nombres are shortened versions of the original. Mexicans advance this process by employing the above-mentioned tricks. Such trends occur in languages that are evolving into newer, bolder tongues. So enjoy your pussy Billys from William and Cathys from Catherine, gabachos: Mexicans will take the linguistic wonder that is creating Lencho from Lorenzo any day.

Favorite Song of the Day: Fangela


Fangela by Here We Go Magic

There are days when I spend a good chunk of the day driving around the huge expanse of Los Angeles. These trips usually invovle errands: getting my eyebrows threaded in Little India, visiting the Spanish import market in Harbor City, checking out Family Bookstore for titles that pique my interest, heading to the deep corners of the East San Gabriel Valley to search warehouse-like thrift stores for cheap treasures, and on special days, driving leisurely through canyon roads to feel as if I live in the old Los Angeles of my grandparents’ youth.

Like a lot of other folks these days, I listen to music through my IPOD and it’s this musical accompaniment that makes traversing the thick with traffic streets somewhat bearable. Yesterday though I was out of luck, the IPOD connector (or whatever it’s called) was acting all finicky and making a beeping noise and I was forced to do the unthinkable: listen to the radio! I do listen to NPR in the morning but being as I like to drive to music, I decided to give the music on the radio a chance. I’m glad I did!

In between the seven times I heard New Boyz “You’re a Jerk” (now when I hear someone singing that, I won’t take it personally…it’s just a song!) and BEP’s “Boom Boom Pow” (which I have no shame in admitting I like…c’mon, I like Chalga!), I heard this song, Fangela by Here We Go Magic on (yes, I know) KCRW. At first I thought it was some forgotten early track from The Shins way before their music got all glossed over but I waited patiently through two other not-so-great songs to find out the name of the band. I was lucky it was announced when it was because the next song (sung by a woman with a sappy voice) started with the line: “I saw you in a cafe, you were reading Kierkegaard.” Ugh, enough! I tried the IPOD again.