Egyptian Lover

Latcho Drom Egypt

When I was eight, I read a children’s bible book that I found in my grandmother’s small library. It had all the usual stories: Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath and the one that shocked me the most, Lot and his pillar-of salt wife. It seemed god was having daily chats with these folks, telling them what to do, where to go, intervening in their mundane lives. I asked my grandmother why god no longer spoke to us the way he did to random people in the old testament. She was unsure as how to reply, finally she said “things were different then.” I found that answer unsatisfactory.

Around the same time, I ordered a book from school on the ancient Egyptians. The symbolism, the artifacts in the picture book called to me in a strange nostalgic way, in a familiar way. Also in my grandmother’s library was an adult mystery revolving around Egyptian mythology, on the cover was a blond woman running from a giant Ra, her head turned to view the threat behind her. While my eight year old brain found the plot confusing and abstract, the passages involving Egyptian gods and mythology resonated in a way the bible book didn’t. I was ready to leave my old silent bible god behind. At eight years old I wanted to worship at the altar of Isis.

I eventually gave up all gods but I’m still drawn to Egypt in an inexplicable way. The iconography always catches my eye and when I look through some of those picture books, I still feel the same pangs of nostalgia and knowing. But mostly, it’s the music from Egypt that I love.

The above video is from the brilliant movie Latcho Drom. The rhythm of this Egyptian Romani* music hums into my bones and pulses in my marrow. It reverberates down at the DNA level.

More on Gypsies in Egypt here. Egyptian Romani dancing is called Ghawazee.

The word “Gypsy” comes from the mistaken European belief that Gypsies originated in Egypt. Gypsies or Romani, as is the preferred term are originally from Northern India. See the film Latcho Drom for a musical tour of the Roma diaspora.

Cumbias Tristes

Hoja en Blanco (not sure of the artist)

Los Caminos de la Vida · Los Diablitos

Los Angeles Azules – Como Te Voy A Olvidar

Cumbias heard in the streets of Mexico and in the cars of Los Angeles reminding listeners it’s possible to dance to your own heartache.

Book Quotes: 2666

Chinatown, 2010

From a passage about Russia in 1939 from the book 2666 by Roberto Bolaño:

He mentions names Reiter has never heard before. Then, a few pages on, he mentions them again. As if he were afraid of forgetting them. Names, names, names. Those who made revolution and those who were devoured by that same revolution, though it wasn’t the same but another, not the dream but the nightmare that hides behind the eyelids of the dream.

Kid Sister

Kid Sister – Big N Bad

Never disregard dance music that comes outta Chicago and that includes Juke the up-tempo, electro-hop style of dance music that spawned one of my favorite female rhymers Kid Sister. (She got her name cause she was kid sister to her popular DJ brother, Flosstradamus founder, Josh Young.)
Not everyone is so hot on her music and imagine hip-hop purists probably grumble at stuff like this but I like her response:

I hate to be cheesy, but cheesy is kind of my thing. I’m not ashamed of it.

Recognize the sample in this song? It’s “Don’t Go” by Yaz

Kid Sister-Switchboard

B-side of her breakout hit, Pro-Nails which was released on Kanye West’s record label. Produced by Chi-town juke house hero DJ Gant Man.

The Count and Sinden feat. Kid Sister – Beeper

Another favorite from Kid Sister!

Book Quote: 2666

Today’s quote from 2666 by Roberto Bolaño

“I get the idea perfectly, Mickey,” said Archimboldi, thinking all the while that this man was not only irritating but ridiculous, with the particular ridiculousness of self-dramatizers and poor fools convinced they’ve been present at a decisive moment in history, when it’s common knowledge, thought Archimboldi, that history, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness.


My grandparents circa early 1950s

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


Eaten in Queretaro, QTO. Mexico

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.

A Donkey Christmas

I have nothing prepared for Christmas this year, so here’s an old post I did on LA Eastside a few years back.

Recipe for an excellent Christmas video:

1. Start with the best Christmas song ever, El Burrito de Belen – a festive cumbia tune sung by a chorus of kids backed by nalga-shaking rhythmic accompaniment.

2. Give a group of Peruvians in the Andes access to a video camera and editing software.

3. Dress one of the Peruvians in a donkey suit and futbol gear.

4. Add one fed-up burrito.

5. Voila! You got the above video, bizarre and silly, my kinda Christmas entertainment.

It’s so donkey! 😉

Favorite Video(s) of the Week: Choli Ke Peeche

From the film Khal Nayak- Choli Ke Peeche (1993)

Plot summary of the film Khal Nayak:
An female undercover cop fronts as a prostitute to catch a bad guy but finds out the bad guy is really a good guy and only became a bad guy because of his poverty and a case of mistaken identity. Out of the goodness of her heart, she attempts to rehabilitate him while they are both on the lam from the authorities. One of the authorities happens to be her cop boyfriend. The good bad guy doesn’t know this and falls in love with her. It’s unrequited. A scandal breaks out and the female undercover cop’s name is smeared for cavorting with bad guys and being a prostitute but the good bad guy comes in to save the day at a dramatic trial and her reputation is restored. We all still wonder though, Choli Ke Peeche? Translation: What’s behind the blouse?

Azis – Choli Ke Peeche (Anti geroi) (Churulyke)

I first heard this song through Bulgarian Chalga star Azis. One of the most famous gay, cross-dressing Gypsies in the world! And a favorite of artist of this here blog. Read this previous Chimatli post for more on Azis.

Quote from Youtube:

Azis sings Hindi songs because the Gypsy/ Roma people which he is are Indian people living in Europe. Gypsies/ Roma understand a lot of our Hindi & Punjabi language because it is very similar to his Romany language. Their dancing & singing style is also reminiscent of our own Indian songs which they continue to uphold in Europe.