Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Los Tigres Del Norte

Los Tigres Del Norte are a multi-Grammy winning norteño music ensemble which usually includes an accordion and the bajo sexto, sounding a great deal like polka music, and is immensely popular with Mexican folk, as well as Chicano people. One of Los Tigres' most popular tracks, entitled "Contrabando y Traicion" (Contraband and Treason), is a narcocorrido. Whereas corridos have been a music tradition that carried news and "augmented" accounts of national events in Mexico (the form is native to Spain), narcocorridos are pieces that extol the feats of drug runners and dealers as they cross borders and fight police to make large sums of money. Below is the video for "Contrabando y Traicion."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Capitalism's Reserve Armies

So in my extended but sometimes surface level stint of reading Marx's Capital Vol. 1 the reading group and I encountered the concept that capitalism maintains reserve armies of labor which remain unemployed, not only in order to manage production in different ways, but more importantly to keep wages down and extract additional surplus from laborers. I incorrectly suggested that this didn't completely make sense because I have always thought that capitalism has an interest in the death of unemployed/underutilized (not surplus) populations (this may have something to do with biopolitics, but that is a subject I am so underread on that I don't want to venture anything). But after some discussion and a little poking around on the internet I am a little more convinced of this phenomenon.

I've been thinking about this because the United States, to some extent, maintains reserve armies abroad, particularly in Mexico and Central America. These armies are constantly struggling to enter the imperial center legally or illegally at much cost and danger to their lives. The video below, Why Braceros? from 1959, is an argument for the "bracero" program which was one of the earliest instantiation of importing labor to the United States.

The dangers faced by most of these reserve armies is now unprecedented as the militarized borders of the United States move further south, in terms of its enforcement of the war on terrorism. Apparently the Mexican government and former paramilitaries from the wars in Nicaragua, now mobilized as brutal gangs, are both involved in the violent control and murder of migrating workers, documented here in Wetback: the Undocumented Documentary by Arturo Perez Torres. I may have found a useful object for my dissertation.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Second Cardinal Sin of Facial Hairdom -- Dyed Hair with Sideburns

This is another aberration of the 90s that continues to wreak havoc on the faces of those who were teenagers and twenty-somethings in the period when hair dye and sideburns were definitive markers of some sort of subcultural or "alternative" affiliation. At the time, I think, it communicated a general disaffection with normativity without a clear affiliation to anything in particular, excepting enjoyment of the recorded music of Nirvana.

The hideousness of this combination reaches an apex when dudes with dark facial hair choose to maintain their chin-strap or sideburns despite lightning their non-beard hair. Don't do this it makes you look like you have mange! Don't grow facial hair if you plan on bleaching or dying your hair in a shade that is significantly different from the color of your facial hair!

Qualifying Exams List, 1st draft (U.S. Latino Literature)

I am posting this rough draft to aid anyone searching the internet for help constructing exam lists. My advisor has suggested an altogether different trajectory in searching for relevant works which involves finding secondary sources (usually literary criticism) that tries to synthesize various works into an argument about the tradition or moment in which these works are engaged. I've also included a list of "gringo" works which I hope can give an account of the overlapping concerns and contradictions between U.S. Latino literature and that of the "gringos."

My advisor's response knocked the wind out of my sails given the fact that I've been spending the last few months reading historical accounts of the practices of the literature and anthologies that laid the pieces out in schematic detail. He also knocked the pre-1945 works off my list--it is a post-WWII through the present list anyway. Nonetheless, here they are in a rough draft:

Jose Marti. New York Writings (1898).
Azuela, Mariano. The Underdogs (1915).
Mena, Maria Cristina. The Collected Stories of Maria Cristina Mena (1931).
Perez, Luis. El Coyote: The Rebel (1947).
Octavio Paz. The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950).
Paredes, Americo. “With a Pistol in His Hand:” A Border Ballad and its Hero (1958).
Virreal, Jose Antonio. Pocho (1959).
Jesus Colon. A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches (1961).
Luis Valdez. Early Works. (1960s).
John Rechy. City of Night (1963).
Gonzales, Rodolpho “I Am Joaquín” (1967).
Piri Thomas. Down These Mean Streets (1967).
Rivera, Tomas. ...And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (1971).
Pietri, Pedro. “Puerto Rican Obituary” (1973).
Rodolfo Anaya. Bless Me, Ultima (1973).
Acosta, Oscar Zeta. Revolt of the Cockroach People. (1974).
Piñero, Miguel. Short Eyes (1975).
Acosta, Iván. El Super (1982).
Moraga, Cherrie L. Loving in the War Years (1983).
Hinojosa, Rolando. Klail City (1987).
Anzaldua, Gloria. Boderlands / La Frontera (1987).
Hijuelos, Oscar. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989).
Arturo Islas. The Rain God: A Desert Tale (1991).
Arenas, Reinaldo. Antes Que Anochezca (1992).
Cristina Garcia. Dreaming in Cuban (1993).
Abraham Rodriguez Jr. Spidertown (1993).
Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of Butterflies (1994).
Diaz, Junot. Drown (1996).
Martinez, Demetria. Mother Tongue (1997).
Goldman, Francisco. The Ordinary Seaman (1998).
Murray, Yxta Maya. Locas (1998).
Tobar, Hector. The Tattooed Soldier (2000).
Quiñonez, Ernesto. Bodega Dreams (2000).
Vea, Alfreado. Gods Go Begging (2000).
Cisneros, Sandra. Caramelo (2003).
Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory (2004).

Gringo Lit.
Wilder, Thornton. The Bridge of San Luis Rey. (1927).
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby (1925).
William Carlos Williams. In the American Grain (1925).?
Faulkner, William. Light in August (1932).
Dos Passos, John. The Big Money (1936).
Hemmingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).
Mailer, Norman. The Naked and the Dead (1948).
Burroughs, William. The Yage Letters (1952).
Ellison, Ralph. The Invisible Man (1952).
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. (1953).
Bellow, Saul. The Adventures of Augie March (1953).
Kerouac, Jack. Tristessa (1960).
Burroughs, William. Naked Lunch (1962).
Dos Passos, John. Brazil on the Move (1963).
O’Connor, Flannery. “Everything that Rises Must Converge,”
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” (1965).
Pynchon, Thomas. The Crying of Lot 49 (1966).
Roth, Philip. Portnoy’s Complaint (1969).
Gaddis, William. JR (1975).
Doctorow, E.L. Ragtime (1975).
O’Brien, Tim. Going After Cacciato (1979).
Auster, Paul. In the Country of Last Things (1987).
McCarthy, Cormac. The Crossing (1995).
Updike, John. Rabbit is Rich (1996).
Delillo, Don. Underworld (1998).
McCarthy, Cormac. Cities of the Plain (1999).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"That Punani Better Make That Money"

Many of you know my immersion in graduate school has left me little time to troll the internet looking for new artists and obscure older ones, leaving me to peruse the occasional R&B/hip hop radio offerings and assorted things handed to me by friends and acquaintances, not to mention my guilty pleasure MTV. And even these diversions I have little time for.

This friday I attended one of the best, and I think my first, hip hop shows with some neighborhood lesbians. The show was a mixed crowd of hip hop fans, African-American and non-African-American lesbians, other assorted gays, and some white indie fans. Yo! Majesty played an amazing set, with some interesting house-styled back-up and gay dancers. Shunda K. did an amazing job with killer, rapid-fire delivery even with the incarceration of the other half of her duo. Their sound reaches inside and outside the confines of hip hop, house, crunk, and punk influences are noted both in the music itself and in album imagery.

This is a live performance of "Booty Clap"

"Kryptonite Pussy"

The success of the show overall was tempered by some of the opening acts which were local, white-folks, weirdo rap outfits, that were at time arduous and self-indulgent.