Favorite Song of the Day: Italo Disco

Garçons – “French Boy (Part 1)” (1979)

Philips Records, 1979 Produced by Michael Zilkha & Michel Esteban Written by Patrick Vidal, Erik Fitoussi, & Jean-Pierre Charriau

Disco was much derided during it’s heyday and with good reason. The popular stuff was pretty crappy. Yet, with all genres of music there are the tunes that you don’t hear on the radio. They are being played in clubs, shared among friends, found by unlikely listeners in the record store. These two songs probably belonged to this more obscure genre. I’ve never heard these songs before and found them randomly on Youtube. Thanks to allanrk for making them available to new ears!

Bagarre – “Lemonsweet (Disco Version)” (1982)

Moving into the 80s, the music gets a bit arty-er, likely influenced by new wave. The lyrics and vocals on this song are awesome, the beginning bit about “Uncle Frankie” kills it. I hear echoes of future music as well, The Knife perhaps got some inspiration from this tune.

Hobbs Battery

(please click to enlarge)

It’s rare to have photographs of people at work, that’s why I was quite excited when I came upon this photograph of my Grandfather Atanasio in work mode at Hobbs Battery Company. He is the first worker on the left. I don’t know too much about his work at the battery shop. I know he also worked at a company called Smallcomb Electric.

What I love about this photograph is it seems to have captured the various personalities of these men, they look to be so different from each other. It’s almost as if the photo was staged. Who is the mysterious Zoot Suiter in the hat? Most striking to me is the fellow with the upturned collar. He looks to be a heartbreaker or the workplace snake. There is the double-headed ghost man and the White guy stuck in the shop full of Mexicans, perhaps he was the boss? The curly-headed worker filling the batteries with toxic goo looks to be the clown, the payaso quick with the jokes and biting comments. My grandfather is so fresh faced here, slightly dazed as if he slept in a little too much. He was probably the one who’d tsk Mexican style while waving his hand away in a sharp motion and saying “Ay, estas chingaderas!” But in the next minute would crack a smile and think about the beer he’d be having at quitting time.


My uncle has been cleaning out the last of my grandmother’s things and recently handed me a big Danish cookie tin containing forty years worth accumulation of my grandmother’s junk drawer. In the jumble of rusted paper clips, plastic stirrers and other flotsam was this badge from the Hobbs Battery Company. What a find! I pleaded with my family to never throw any of my grandmother’s things until I have gone through them for this very reason. I imagine this badge was long forgotten.

Favorite Video of the Week: Jerkin

Not too long ago the LA Weekly did a cover piece on the phenomenon of Jerkin, a locally created hip-hop influenced music and dance style. Jerkin has influenced young folks all over Los Angeles and is spreading across the country. It’s also started a skinny pants trend among young urban youth who are NOT Emo.

I’ve included two awesome clips of the number one Jerkin dance crew, The Go-Go Power Ranger$. Besides the incredible moves, I was struck by the way the dancers have incorporated their environment into their dance performances. It’s a really organic way of re-purposing the neighborhood around them into a mobile interactive theater. From their high school’s front steps, to the basketball court asphalt and to street intersections, these everyday places become their stage and influence their choreography. Note the faux car driving moves and the way they claim a street for dancing, at times not allowing traffic to pass. It’s a fascinating way of pushing the boundaries of city space and engaging with the geography of their neighborhood. Social space for communal dance!

The Book of Lists


Lately, my reading has been limited to short time chunks. No long leisurely afternoons of lounging these days. I recently came across The New Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information by David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace and it’s perfect reading for my five minute “input” intervals.
The book is filled with all kinds of random information and facts, some lists I passed over like 12 Men Who Cried in Public or Unnamed Women of the Bible. I think I can live without knowing these facts.
Some of the most entertaining lists so far have been 13 Art Riots, Names of Things You Never Knew Had Names, 17 Untranslatable Words and New Neuroses. I found the terms for New Neuroses to be the most enjoyable.  I look forward every year to those dictionary introductions of new words for new situations. In fact, I think there needs to be more words to describe a number of unnamed situations that happen in life whether they are considered neuroses or not.
For instance, a co-worker and myself were trying to describe the feeling one gets when away from the job and being unable to imagine yourself back in the workplace. In this state, it can seem almost impossible to think your daily life revolves around the workplace. You start to think “That life could not possibly be mine.” Of course, one often gets this feeling while away on holiday or in some foreign city but it can easily happen over a long weekend. So this is my new goal, to come up with a word or phrase to describe this phenomenon.

Some highlights from the lists:

Untranslatable Words

Bilita Mpash from Bantu meaning “a legendary blissful state where all is forgiven and forgotten” much like the feeling one gets when waking from a happy dream.

Espirit de L’Escalier (French) when a brilliantly witty response to a public insult comes into your mind only after you have left the party. Literally translates as “the spirit of the staircase.”

New Neuroses

Cell Yell: Loud talking on cell phones in public places by people with the neurotic need to invade their own privacy.

Cyberchondria: Hypochondria resulting from seeing one’s symptoms on a medical Web site.

Art Riots

Most of the art riots listed in the book were the results of controversial performances. One exception was the 1809 “Old Price” Riot at Convent Garden Theatre where the audience interrupted a performance of Macbeth with cries of “old prices! old prices!” The theater had recently raised the rates and redesigned the theater so that only the legs of the performers were viewable from the cheap seats. Soldiers were called in to quell the audience but this only inspired the theater goers to mount greater disruptions. For months they brought in whistles, trumpets and even barnyard animals to cause mayhem. It worked, the ticket prices were finally set back to the “old prices.”

George Antheil, an avant-garde composer and performer who was well acquainted with hostile audiences, provoked a riot in Budapest, 1923 while performing one of his “harsh and unfamiliar sounding” piano compositions. The second night, in order for his music to be heard, he ordered all of the ushers to lock and guard the doors and then in full view placed a revolver on top of his piano. There it remained throughout the whole performance and no disturbances took place. It was said he carried a gun around for this very purpose.

George Antheil – Sonata for Piano and Violin 1 (b)

This was not the composition that caused a riot but it gives an idea of the type of music he composed.

Nowadays, it’s social conventions that will keep you in your seat suffering through drawn-out performances of self-absorbed artists, musicians and poets. I say we return to the good old days of rotten tomatoes, catcalls and barnyard animals. Artists, you need some inspiration? I got yer inspiration right here! All power to the peanut gallery!

Favorite Song of the Day: Kickdrum

Felix Da Housecat – Kickdrum

Watching the evening news has been very depressing this past week. It seems all efforts to create a more efficient (I wouldn’t even say better) world are falling apart. It’s quite frustrating to me but at the same time, I’m not sure how much I’m interested in propping up this dead horse, this zombie of a society that masquerades itself as something viable. Perhaps it’s time for us to start creating our own co-ops, neighborhood groups and mutual aid societies to take care of our everyday needs like health care.
For now I can listen to Felix Da Housecat, he’s not political – far from it, but his music excites me and inspires me and sometimes that just what I need!

Three Melancholy Songs of the 90s

Ah, the 90s! Everyday you move farther and farther away. But with these three songs I can remember you and the sad days you left me with.

Sweet Jane-Cowboy Junkies

I actually prefer this version to The Velvet Underground. I know that’s sacrilegious.

Fade Into You-Mazzy Starr

The singer Hope Sandoval is an Eastside girl. Maybe because of this, I’ve had these recurring one-step connections to her, random stuff like back in the 90s, the guy who once told me “Didn’t I see you at Hope Sandoval’s party last week?” I guess all of us indie Latinas had a similar look?

Dreamtime-The Heart Throbs

“We’re so tired, so tired of everything…”

Aubergine Dreams


It’s been an unfruitful gardening season this year. It’s high summer and I have not one tomato growing, unlike the bounty of years past. This beautiful eggplant makes up for the lack of other vegetables though.
The grasshoppers are feasting on the garden plants, leaving ragged holes in the leaves and spreading little viruses as they move from plant to plant. If only I enjoyed eating grasshoppers, then there might be some equality in this ecology.

Favorite Song of the Day: Air War

Air War by Crystal Castles

Yeah, I’m late to the Crystal Castles bandwagon. I saw them mentioned so much on other blogs, I never paid attention to them. Usually when a band is all hyped up, I’ll take a listen and then I’m inevitably disappointed. However in this case, some of their songs live up to the hype. The Russian dancing is extraordinary in itself!