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.

Sappy Slogans

Poster spotted in Hancock Park

I’ve always been a fan of public art especially stencils and wheat pasted posters. There’s been a long tradition of using these methods of public propaganda to promote subversive political ideas and critiques of culture. Often the graphics and posters are clever and thoughtful and the critiques they make witty and sharp. (See this video for how it’s done.) How could one not want to squat, take to the streets or run to the barricades after being inspired by such expressions of creativity?
It is within this context that I view the current crop of stencil/graff/flyposting artists here in Los Angeles and sad to say, these attempts at public art are hardly worth the mention. (Shepard Fairey? Pffft.) Most of the wheat pasted pieces I’ve seen, especially on the west side of the Los Angeles River are all about self-promotion and lack original and creative qualities.
Take this poster for instance. Einstein holding a sign that says “Love is the answer?” In this day and age of La Crisis and the numerous dire situations this city finds itself in, and the only thing this artist can come up with is this pseudo-hippie slogan? Oh how edgy! And Einstein…really? And when has ‘Love’ solely been the answer to anything? Some people’s ideas of love can be pretty screwed up, so no thank you. Social change comes not from wishful thinking and sappy slogans but from real engagement with the world we live in. Perhaps it’s this engagement that’s lacking from the current crop of west of the River public art.

“ 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 in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth. “– Raoul Vaneigem, 1967

See LA Taco for an amazing gallery of public art from Argentina.

Favorite Video of the Week: Quebradita

Over at LA Eastside there’s been a long discussion on 90s culture in Los Angeles. Commenter Metro Vaquero linked to the awesome video above of a parking lot turned dance floor in the Valley. Quebradita was crazy popular in Los Angeles during the early 90s. It was the first time in my life where listening to your parent’s music was acceptable and dressing like a Mexican was something to be proud of. The tejanas and botas are still in fashion today. And I still dream of one day dancing Quebradita…

Saint Patrick’s Day

San Patricio Battalion Flag

It can be argued that St Patrick’s Day is like a local holiday in my neighborhood, despite the fact there is no sizable Irish community in this area. Here in Lincoln Heights, it’s common to see people wearing shamrock paraphernalia all year round. As was recently pointed out to me, stores in Lincoln Heights will stock green colored clothing more frequently as it tends to sell more quickly than other colors. Shamrocks magically grace the walls after long weekend nights, spreading the luck of the Irish throughout our little hood.
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Just Married

Jessie and Atanasio Garcia, somewhere in Los Angeles, circa 1942

I’ve encountered a few mysteries among the many family photos my maternal grandmother has given me to keep. For instance, I’m curious about these souvenir Los Angeles snapshots. What area is this? My grandmother refuses to answer because she hates this photo and the last time I showed it to her, she insisted I tear it up. That’s her in the photo with our family patriarch, my grandfather Atanasio. They had recently married.
If anyone can identify the area, I would be most appreciative.

Halloween is never over


OK, I know Halloween is gone and passed but if they can start Christmas early, I can make Halloween go longer! Here’s a photo of one of our Halloween yard scenes from a few years ago.
In the next few days, I’ll post more thoughts on my trip to Mexico along with photos and videos.