Coincidence, part two

Barcelona, 2001.

Just moments before this photo was taken, my friend and I remarked that there was so much graffiti on the walls of Barcelona that we might even spot a Chaka tag. Coincidently, a few blocks later and causing a great deal of astonishment, such a tag appeared.

“Coincidence on the other hand, is total freedom, our natural destiny. Coincidence obeys no laws and if it does we don’t know what they are. Coincidence, if you permit me the simile, is like the manifestation of God at every moment on our planet. A senseless God making senseless gestures at his senseless creatures. In that hurricane, in that osseous implosion, we find communion. The communion of coincidence and effect and the communion of effect with us.”

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

Coincidence, part one

Love and Rockets, #13 by Jaime and Beto Hernandez

By coincidence, the creator of the above publication came up to me when I was 14 years old and told me I reminded him of a character named Maggie from a comic book called Love and Rockets. Interestingly, the story of said character eerily mirrored my life for the next six years, love life and all. I related very closely to this fictional world of SoCal Chican@ punks, cholos and weird, spooky unexplained happenings – it brought me a bit of solace during the dark days of my teen years.

Mr. Freeze-Dr. Know

Not knowing there were any connections between the above story and incident, I saw this band one and half years later after reading my first Love and Rockets comic book (which was bought at a store called Y-Que.)


I was in Solvang a couple of years ago and there was this super friendly Chicana janitor that was cleaning the public restrooms. For some ridiculous reason, Solvang management decided to close the public restrooms early but she was covertly letting us use them (she had the key). She adamantly agreed with us that it wasn’t fair to the visitors to close the restrooms at 5pm.
I begin chatting with her and then asked “So did this area have a lot of Dutch Danish people before or something? Is that why they made this town?” She had been so knowledgeable and positive in our conversation, it seemed she could have been hired by the Solvang Chamber of Commerce or something but when she answered me, I was taken aback. A dark look came over her face and she said “Huh? This was once all Mexican land! My ancestors are the ones from this area, not the Danish! How come they didn’t make a town dedicated to my ancestors? My culture? My people that created all this?” And she swept her arm out over the town and towards the hills in the distance. Whoa, I was shocked but I was also like “Right on, hermana!” My friend who was with me was equally impressed.
I’m always surprised when I encounter subversiveness in the most unlikely of places.

Favorite Video of the Week: La India

Ese Hombre by La India

I haven’t done a favorite video of the week for awhile because while I may come across many songs I enjoy listening to, I haven’t been enchanted by any of the clips I’ve been watching…until tonight.
While I admit I’m not a big fan of most current day salsa (my preference is for the 60s/70s era), I’ve always had immense love and respect for the Nuyorican singer La India. Her fierce, raw and powerful singing style blew me away from the first time I heard the song, Ese Hombre. Some of you might be familiar with this tune as it is the theme song of many a heartbroken Latina. The hombre who is the cause of all this pain and anger is berated to basically nothing.

es un gran necio
un estupido engreido
egoista y caprichoso
un payaso vanidoso
inconciente y presumido
falso malo rencoroso
que no tiene corazon

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned especially a woman like La India. Definitely, not the kinda song you want dedicated to yourself.
I love this early clip of her and the way she can barely contain her emotions as she sings, she is so amazingly talented!

Runaway-La India (performed in a moving car!)
I also came across this other clip of her singing in the car and despite the bad sound and low production quality, her voice is able to command full attention.

I Am the Black Gold of the Sun-Nuyorican Soul (4hero remix)

La India does contribute some vocals to this musical collaboration but I mostly added it to this post because it’s one of my favorites. See, the 90s weren’t so bad!

click below for more lyrics
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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.

Found in Lincoln Heights: Prison Love Letters


A series of objects, photographs, letters and other items found on the streets of Lincoln Heights.

Sunday in the park, bittersweet afternoon of the weekend about to end.

This photo and letter were found in an alley near my house. There are many more but I decided to start with this particularly touching letter.



Please click the letters to read in a larger view.

Favorite Song of the Day: In for the Kill

La Roux – In For The Kill (Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Mix)

It’s nice to hear a different kind of voice these days. There’s a unique quality to La Roux’s singing style that really draws me in. The original version of the song is blowing up the charts in the UK but I happen to prefer this remix version. Check out the retro Amen Break that drops in at the end of this mix. Didn’t I just say the revival was coming soon?
Interview with La Roux here.

Se Leen Cartas

Letter dated March 19, 1946, Guadalajara

Among the many insights and discoveries I’ve encountered from the box of long lost letters my father recently shared with me is this letter from my paternal great-grandmother to her daughter-in-law, my Grandmother Teresa. Until I started reading these letters I knew nothing of my great-grandmother, not even her name. I was excited then when I came across the above letter and saw her name, Sara Ramos Ybarra. The V in her beautiful signature script stands for “viuda” my great-grandfather (do not know his name) passed away a few months before this letter was written. Looking forward to uncovering more family mysteries.