Egyptian Lover, Part 2

Egyptians practicing the fine art of rock throwing, January 25, 2011.

I’m been enthralled by Al Jazeera’s live feed of the uprising in Egypt. Riot cops running from protesters, folks celebrating on top of army tanks, lots of burning stuff and fires in Cairo!

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.

One of his most popular songs, was previously featured on the blog here. And of course, EVERYONE knows this song, Nour El Ain.

Oh, you’ve all been waiting for this Egyptian Lover? Why didn’t you say so?

The Egyptian Lover – Egypt, Egypt


Egyptian Lover, Part One



Jacno-Triangle (1979)

A friend was asking me tonight about the band Rita Mitsouko, a longtime favorite of this blog. And then a few minutes later, I got notice that the one and only Jean Claude Vannier will be hosting a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg at the Hollywood Bowl this August. Gasp! This Hollywood Bowl concert might even surpass seeing Dead Can Dance and Nouvelle Vague a few years ago. As you might’ve noticed, I have a special fondness for all kinds of French music but my tastes these days tend towards French Cold and New Wave. Recently, a friend made me a copy of So Young but So Cold, an excellent compilation of 80s synth-pop and cold wave from France and that’s where I came across this excellent tune by Jacno. I loved his work in Stinky Toys and his collaborations with Elli Medeiros known appropriately as “Elli et Jacno.” Sadly, Jacno died of cancer on November 6, 2009 (excellent tribute here). Coincidentally, almost exactly two years earlier Fred Chichin of Rita Mitsouko also passed away from cancer.

Bonus! Bonus!

Stinky Toys-Birthday Party (1979)

I somehow overlooked featuring this video and song on the blog, which is quite strange because it’s a favorite (cringe, trying not to use THAT word). Stinky Toys are considered to be one of the first punk bands in France.

Chinese chinese birthday party
Give me chinese birthday cake
Chinese chinese birthday party
Give me chinese birthday drink
Getting younger every day
Getting younger getting younger
Younger every day
Gonna be a baby soon!

Maja and Vintage Cards

Cards purchased in the 2000s from McMonkman Pharmacy in Lincoln Heights

Not too long ago, at the corner of Daly and North Broadway in Lincoln Heights was a pharmacy untouched by time. It seems the good folks of Lincoln Heights had no reason to buy anything from this store except medication from the pharmacy. This resulted in a drugstore that masqueraded as a museum of products from the 1970s. The store never cleared it’s shelves and items stood dusty on display patiently waiting for an uninformed shopper to carry them home.

As you can imagine, a store like this piqued the interest of a curious person like myself. I would wind through the purposely created maze like shelves – shoplifting deterrents – purveying cosmetic items from decades past. La Maja, the dusting powder my mother and grandmother used featured a vampy raven haired Spanish dancer on the front of the box, and as a little girl, I thought she was the epitome of beauty.

The pharmacy carried a full line of La Maja products, at least twenty years old as evidenced by the same packaging I remembered from my childhood. Under glass was the well preserved display of the little soaps, the big round powder box with duster and a small box of perfume all red, black and gilded with gold. The price was still too high for me, all were well over $20. On my occasional trips down to Broadway and Daly I would duck into the pharmacy just to check to see if they were still there. Someday I thought, I will have a spare twenty in my pocket and in a tribute to my eight year old self, will purchase one of these fancy boxes. On one such day, with a bit of money burning in my pocket, I went in to peruse the Maja products only to discover they had replaced the vintage Maja line with new updated versions. The design was cheap and generic, lacking glamor. You can still buy Maja in places like Rite Aid but why would you? All the magic is gone.

As alluring as those old Maja products were, my favorite relic in the store was a display of greeting cards from the early 1970s sitting dusty on an old brittle and faded plastic revolving rack. Tucked away in a dark corner, the cards were overlooked and rarely browsed. My friend and I would read through them snickering at the old school jokes while the clerks watched us suspiciously. Eventually the pharmacy went out of business to make way for a discount store. Luckily, I snagged a few cards while I had the chance.

A review of Maja perfume and products here.

The history of Myrurgia, the company behind Maja.

While doing a small bit of research on Maja, I found the woman on the box was inspired by the Spanish dancer and model Carmen Tortola Valencia.


Massive Attack – Psyche

Many times on this blog, I’ve written about the relationships I have with certain songs and bands. I’ve written about these things in a very earnest, almost cringe-worthy way, I know. I make no pretense to be anything other than I am, I am not a writer, nor a music critic or any other such highfalutin’ thing. I just like sharing music that means something to me at the time I’m listening to it.

If I could create a song to express how I’ve been feeling lately, it would be Psyche by Massive Attack. The combination of Martina Topley-Bird’s vocals and Van River and Subliminal Kid’s Fever Ray inspired remix of an already almost perfect song sent me to another place. A place I needed to go.

Quench abuse and let love flower
Rip the cage out of your chest
Let the chaos rule the rest
Show without showing
What you know without knowing…

Dissolving who we are
Call out for yesterdays destiny come
We’re on a foreign shore
It was your mark of falling
I was the car still running
And when you call I’ll be your shield for life
And if you feel it you will fly
The sun should have been with me
When I was set to fall in
As I was set to fall in…

I Am Also a Nihilist
– Renzo Novatore

The revolt of the free one against sorrow is only the intimate, passionate desire for a more intense and greater joy. But the greatest joy can only show itself to him in the mirror of the deepest sorrow, merging with it later in a vast barbaric embrace. And from this vast and fruitful embrace the higher smile of the strong one springs, as, in the midst of conflict, he sing the most thundering hymn to life.

A hymn woven from contempt and scorn, from will and might. A hymn that vibrates and throbs in the light of the sun as it shines on tombs, a hymn that revives the nothing and fills it with sound.

Adieu Paris

Les Fils de Joie – Adieu Paris (1982)

How should one say goodbye to Paris? With rope or gas? From the Eiffel Tower or the Montparnasse Tower? These are the questions Les Fils de Joie asks in this beautiful song about ending one’s life: “I bring nothing to humanity, I preferred to slip away…”

De mon vivant
Je n’ai rien produit
Je n’ai rien écrit
Ni fait d’important
Ho ho ho ho hoo c’est bien fini
Howo ho ho
N’importe comment
Je n’y ai jamais pensé vraiment

In my lifetime
I have produced nothing
I’ve written anything
Neither is important

In 1994, Debord committed suicide in Champot, Upper Loire. It was not his first attempt, having tried to asphyxiate himself once before in 1955. His ashes were scattered on the point of Ile de la Cité, Paris. The French press promptly made him a celebrity, never before having acknowledged the significance of the Situationist International or Debord’s work.