Monday, April 26, 2010

Adris Hoyos from Harry Pussy

She's a Latina. I hate to do this politics of visibility or recognition crap (which is a significant diversion from more concrete politics) but I appreciate when underground music icons are also Latino. Harry Pussy is a legendary noise-rock band from the mid-1990s and a late find for myself, and one of my favorite bands. Here is a live performance featuring Hoyos flipping out on the drumset:

And also my favorite song by this group:

And an interview that leads me to believe she must be Cuban-American.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Joaquín Murrieta, social bandit

I've written a little bit before about the "corrido" song form for the U.S./Mexico border but in some reading recently I uncovered an interesting argument over the nationality Joaquín Murrieta, a historical figure from Gold Rush era California who ostensibly fought the racism, greed, and violence Anglo prospectors. This figure is lionized here:

in his own corrido. Apparently, Murrieta was eventually caught by Captain Love and his Anglo Rangers, in 1853, who proceeded to decapitate this folk hero only to soak the dismembered head in alcohol for future public display. History attests to the importance of this figure who is taken up during the Chicano Civil rights struggle by Corky Gonzalez in his famous agit-prop poem "I am Joaquín." But Murrieta is also a figure that turns up as the central subject of a play of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, and in a novel by Chilean-American Isabel Allende, both who claim or at least infer that Murrieta was Chilean.

According to scholar Silvio Torres-Saillant (from whose article in a 2007 issue of Latino Studies I poached most of this information), "Ironically, the greater the emphasis on affirming the Mexican ancestry of Joaquin [by the corrido and subsequent cultural returns to his legacy], the more his Chilean origins become plausible" (500). Although Torres-Saillant's point in this article is rather minor, that South and Central American immigrants have a much longer legacy in the United States than scholars have afforded them before, it strikes me as uniquely interesting the repository Pan-Americanism that this figure seems to participate in--a revolutionary anti-imperialist doctrine fostered by important figures in Latin America, including Fidel Castro, Jose Martí, Che Guevarra, Bernardo Vegas, and the list goes on. Or at the very least Murrieta functions as a kind of transnational figure for the liberatory aspirations of Latinos both within and without the United States.

Independent Gay Art Porn

Collaborator on the film Short Bus Travis Matthews is composing an independently funded gay porno, following the success of his earlier film In Their Rooms. I've included a clip of I Want Your Love that is really more erotic than pornographic but I think there is some hotness to be gained by the seemingly genuine intimacy shared by the couple.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Exam Date Update

My committee, like those of almost all graduate students I know, has taken two months to figure out an actual date for the oral defense of my exams, which was originally meant to be in Mid-May. In that time I charted out a reading schedule that essentially presented me with the dilemma of having to read a book a day, potentially feasbile if I didn't also have to finish teaching and take notes on said readings.

Thus, I presented myself in a shamefaced manner to my advisor asking for an end of June or early July date instead (summer exams are usually hard to pull off as your committee is not usually around to preside over it). My worst-case fantasy being that he would say, "You know we took a risk on you letting you into the program, and this is below our expectations." Instead he was very understanding and I did not have to relate any of the painful personal details of the last 6 months.

However, although my advisor will be around in that time frame, none of the other members of my committee will be, moving my exam date to August. This is rather late in the process, but I have to say it's a blessing in disguise as I already felt my body converting itself into work-yourself-to-death-breakdown mode.

In other news this song by Kelis rules, and Lady Gaga blows:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"While nobody is so naïve as to believe that there are any
beliefs that are empirically universal, Žižek and Badiou sensibly affirm
that a truth without a universal vocation is a poor thing—in short, not a
truth at all—and that furthermore, without the notion of truth (a belief
which is addressed to everyone), there can be no ideology (or rather, only
one entirely hegemonic and therefore invisible ideology) and therefore no
politics, only the management of (cultural, linguistic, professional, etc.)

--Nick Brown "{∅,S} ∍ {$} ?, Or, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek,
Waiting for Something to Happen."

Radicalizing the Youth One Footballer at a Time

Over the last 3 years I've been teaching a composition course on the topic of Terrorism and Globalization. The composition course criteria for my university are less oriented toward great books (in the traditional model) but introducing students to standards of academic argumentation by way of a particular controversy.

As an ideologue I have two barely-veiled and interrelated intentions with this course:

a) to emphasize the novelty of terrorism so as to reject its embeddedness as an antedeluvian, knee-jerk cultural reaction (also to emphasize state-terror)

b) to challenge the culturalist assumptions to underpin most of U.S. public discourse about terrorism, mostly that somehow Islam is a monolithic civilization and that fundamentalist politics in the Middle East are commensurate with fascism.

Every semester, for some reason, I have at least 1-2 football players in my class and because they are not here with any prospect of an American football career afterwards (we have a team with which no one is particularly enthusiastic, and not competitive in any way) they are really hard and sincere workers. Although in high school football team members were generally objects of extreme ire and fear for me as well as intensely frustrated desire, now I have a lot of respect for these kids for working so diligently and moreover because of their work becoming radicalized (at least for the duration of the semester, or merely to please me, I have no idea) as a result.

I was confronted with this tendency the other day while conferencing with my current footballer student who indicated that he found the two articles that were most radical in the course (one by Noam Chomsky and the other by Mahmoud Mamdani) to be the most logical and the arguments he most agreed with. Fucking awesome!