Wassup Rockers

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Peru category.

Avión al Sur.

I went on a short trip to Lima, Perú. Got some cool stuff:

El rey siempre está por encima del pueblo by Daniel Alarcón.
Salon de belleza and Damas chinas by Mario Bellatin (bound in one volume).
Don Quijote, the Ediciones Cátedra version that has books I and II in separate volumes.
Paradiso by José Lizama Lima.
Un lugar llamado Oreja de Perro by Iván Thays.
Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho by Miguel de Unamuno.

I also bought my brother a copy of El diario de el Chavo del Ocho, by Roberto Gómez Bolaños. We used to have a copy when I was a kid, but when we moved to the US I took it to school one day to show my classmates and by the end of the day the book had fucking disappeared! Goddamnit. I still feel bad about it. I’m sure you find it quite sad that I’ve been feeling guilty about this for 14 years, especially since it wasn’t my fault that some dickwad decided to steal it.

I failed to buy plenty of stuff. First, I wanted to get the current Etiqueta Negra. I finally saw a copy at the airport on my way home, but I didn’t even stop to look at it because I thought I was running out of time. I also wanted some Ortega y Gasset, Dorfman and Mattelart, some Luisa Valenzuela… I also saw a copy of Apuntes Autistas and I wish I’d grabbed that as well. Bah!

I also bought some CDs:

Jessico by Babasónicos.
Solo ellos… by Los Destellos (they have a song called “Elizabeth”!).
Hu Hu Hu by Natalia Lafourcade.
El ritmo de Los Shain’s by Los Shain’s. Never heard of them but I wanted to know more about Peruvian music, plus they looked totally right on on the cover, haha.
Reptilectric by Zoé.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun and I’d love to return!


Lost in Translation.

The Oscar nominations were announced. You can see the entire list ici.

Way back when every country was submitting their official entries for Best Foreign Language, there was a huge hullabaloo when Chile decided that they’d be submitting Dawson, isla 10 (Dawson, Island 10) rather than La nana (The Maid). La nana is a small movie, but got distribution, was well received (Golden Globe nomination!), and surprisingly, it had a fairly good run in NYC. In the US, I haven’t heard anything about Dawson, and I don’t think it’s had a run in the city. A lot of people, myself included, thought the Chilean committee made a bad strategic move.

And so, today, we see not one but two Latin American countries get nominations. This is a huge deal because historically (and understandably) the nominations for this category have been Eurocentric. Well, both of the nominees are neighbors to Chile: Argentina and Perú. So imagine how utterly disappointed I am that Chile had a good chance, and basically they blew it. Obviously this isn’t a dis to the Argentinean and Peruvian movies nominated, El secreto de sus ojos and La teta asustada. I’m really excited for them!

I’m not even dissing the Chilean committee for their submission, either. You want your best chances, and I guess for some reason they thought Dawson, isla 10 was that chance.

No, I’m mad about the submissions policy. This is just further proof of how weird and fucked up the rules are. I mean what the fuck is this “1 country 1 rule” business! AUGHHH!

On a side note for more outrage: Lee Daniels, nominated for Precious, is only the second black nominee for Best Director, and Kathryn Bigelow, nominated for The Hurt Locker, is only the fourth female nominee for Best Director. (See here.) And this is in the 80+ year history of the Oscars! Cripes.

Fresh Stuff.

(1) Oh, god! Guilty as charged. Seriously, I just sent an email to someone just this week. Obviously I’d like an answer but I’m not gonna slit my wrists if I don’t.

(2) I watched some videos with Daniel Alarcón being interviewed–or rather, being entrevistado–and I totally felt ashamed that my speaking Spanish is not as good as his. (You can watch a really good one ici.) No seriously, his accent is like nonexistent. Damn. But then I watched una entrevista with Junot Díaz and I felt much better. Junot speaks Spanish the way I speak Korean–it’s just sad. Haha. Though in my defense, I’m barely coherent in English as well.

(3) I’ve been pretty synth-happy with my music. Lotta Lisa Lisa avec Cult Jam, and Tears for Fears.

Dude, I can’t wait to get my library science degree.

(4) Tried to go see the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMa. It was mostly a bust. Although I expected crowds I didn’t imagine the massiveness of the multitudes. Deserved, obviously. I got to see some stuff, but for the most part I was too hot and too short to be bothered. In the lower levels, where the movie theaters are located, there was more Burton stuff, posters and also some blow-ups of Polaroids he’s taken. Very beautiful and creepy. Much less crowded, too, thank the lord. Also less crowded: the Gabriel Orozco and Bauhaus exhibits. I loved them!

(5) Last week I saw A Single Man, and it was beautiful. Wonderfully acted, poignant and sweet story, and this incredible and subtle use of color that was done very effectively. Some of the music was by Shigeru Umebayashi, always a plus. Really curious to read the novel now, as well as After Many a Summer Dies the Swan. Except I already have such a long queue of books to read for this new year. Sigh.

Some Notes.

Part I

I just read this post on Moleskine Literario (¿otra vez? ¡pos sí!) about Julio Cortázar’s former spouse selling the rights to three unpublished stories. Iván wrote,

Está claro que Cortázar no decidió publicarlos en su momento por considerarlos equívocos, pero no importa, nadie espera demasiado de esos textos, lo interesante es el legado. Eso sí, el libro será de ultra lujo: solo 100 ejemplares a 260 euros cada uno.

That is, “It’s clear that Cortázar decided not to publish the stories at the time because they weren’t right, but that doesn’t matter, no one expects much from those texts, what matters is the legacy. That said, the book will be an ultra luxury: only 100 copies at 260 euros each.” (My emphases. Also: not a literal translation.)

What really annoys the fuck out of me is that it seems ridiculous to charge 260 euros to get your hands on three unpublished stories. Honestly. This woman couldn’t donate (or even sell!) the works to a museum or a library? Turning the stories into a commodity, a very expensive commodity at that, pisses me off so bad. My dearest hope is that the people who get their hands on this ARE establishments such as museums or libraries that will allow the masses to have some sort of access to them for free, rather than having the copies go to private individuals who, for all we know might use the stories to wipe their asses with them (o lo que sea). Argh. 260 euros! And none of it going to the fucking author, cos he’s dead. So why is it so fucking expensive? Supposedly, it’s just how much it’ll cost to bind the stories in a beautiful volume, and that the publisher won’t be making a profit. Pffft. Okay, even if that’s true, for the consumer, it becomes much more of a “haha, I got one and you don’t” situation. I don’t see why Cortázar’s former wife couldn’t just make it available to a wider mass of people so that we could get a better sense of his writing process and the like.

“What matters is the legacy,” right. But why should Cortázar’s legacy touch only a select few who can afford it? I hope at least one of the people lucky enough to buy the stories just scans the fucking thing and leaks it onto the internets.

Musical Interlude A

“Soch na kya,” from Ghayal, which is a reinterpretation of “Llorando se fue,” better known as the song that inspired “Lambada.” Further proof that this song is bangin’ in pretty much every language and arrangement. Just recently I noticed that “Llorando se fue” actually has Japanese lyrics, which I noted from the use of the words “anata” and “watashi.” Yay for rudimentary Japanese language skills. Anyway, as soon as I realized that I thought, “Geez, I never knew were Peruvian.” It’s just that whenever I think of big Japanese populations in Latin America I think of Peru and Brazil. Heh. But Los Kjarkas are actually Bolivian. Regardless of where they’re from, I’m curious as to why they sing in Japanese in the first place. ¡Qué misterio!

Part II

Words Without Borders updated! Its theme for February is “The Graphic World,” and there’s some sweet translations of comics available. It’s also worth checking out their archives for older translations of comics. For example, there’s an excerpt in English of Fuguet’s “Road Story.” Good shit!

Musical Interlude B

I never made a list of favorite albums of 2008, and I’m so glad because I only listened to Utada Hikaru’s Heart Station recently and I’m loving it. I’m kinda dreading her forthcoming English language album, mostly cos I listened to her newest single and it’s dreadfully boring. But Heart Station is undeniably awesome.

Part III

How do the Kindle fiends do it? How can anyone stare at a screen and just read for extended periods of time? I had a hard enough time wanting to read Colson Whitehead’s “Wow, Fiction Works!” I mean, I opened the page and it loaded in like, five seconds, and then I… proceeded to not read it. Jesus. For like hours and hours I was like, “Oh, let’s put it off for a bit until I’ve finished watching this stupid youtube vid of [insert your favorite pointless youtube time-waster of choice here].” Finally I understood that I wasn’t going to read this essay unless I printed it. Because if I printed it, I wouldn’t be distracted by other open browser pages, not to mention it felt good to have something tangible to read. And it didn’t hurt my eyes to read it! In fact, I was pretty giddy about it. Whitehead is so gleeful in his delivery that it’s infectious.

Todo Sigue Igual.

Since really really good days are rare in my life–they’re rare in everyone’s life, right?–I feel compelled to document it on the internets even though no one really gives a damn. I set out to do several things today and I accomplished all of them, so I’m very content with that.

I found out a couple of days ago that the IFC Center is doing a series on Cuban films, and that this long weekend they’re showing Memorias del subdesarrollo. The screenings for this series are all at 11 am, which is fine and dandy if you live in the area and you just roll out of bed half an hour before the movie starts, but I woke up at like 9 and I barely made it to the theater on time. I’m just glad it wasn’t for a popular movie, which meant that there was no way the movie would sell out. The only physical copy I had access to was at NYU when I was in school and they don’t carry it at the public library. There has been no DVD release for it (the Criterion peeps need to get crackin’ on this shit, argh). There IS a google video version of it (awesome, I know!), but I thought it would be cool to see the movie in a real theater.

I really enjoyed my experience. First off, there were a baker’s dozen of us film geeks who braved the cold and the early start time. Second, the movie itself was on really old film, which meant that the cells were sometimes grainy as fuck, but there was something exciting about, for example, hearing the crackling sound. You know, like with old records you hear crackling when you play them too? Same here.

The movie was pretty great. I realized I’d forgotten a lot of it so it was good to remember that the protagonist is basically a douchebag. I got really distracted by the subtitles. Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention when you hear one thing and understand it one way, and then you read another thing and understand it in another, similar-yet-totally different way. My favorite scene, the one where Daisy Granados is introduced, was as wonderful as I remembered it. Seeing it on a big screen for the first time was thrilling.

After the movie I walked to Staples and bought myself a pack of CD-Rs. I have no need for a 50-pack but I totally bought one because it was the cheapest one. It makes me feel suspicious about the quality of the CDs but what the hey. At least they’ll last me for a while.

I went to lunch at a Chipotle, and after that I trekked down to McNally Jackson to see if they had a new(er) issue of Etiqueta Negra. They did have an issue I hadn’t bought yet, so I got that. When I was at the register this employee saw what I bought and told me that they got a fresh(er) batch of Etiqueta Negra and did I want one. I didn’t want to impose on him but he said it wouldn’t be a problem and he went around to dig for the most recent arrival. I was like, “Right on, bring out that sucka,” which he totally did. So I ended up dropping like twice as much money at the store, but I’m so happy about it. The only sucky things about this situation are that (1) it saved me a trip to the store, which is sad because I love coming to the store and now I gotta think of another excuse to go there which is hard because I already work at a bookstore where I can get all sorts of sweet shit at a discount that aren’t Etiqueta Negra, and (2) as soon as the employee handed me the magazine he disappeared and I didn’t even get a chance to thank him. There’s like a one in a gajillion chance that he will read this, but I still want to give him a shoutout for being awesome.

After this I had multiple plastic bags and a stupid purse in my hands, but I made a trek to the Bronx Museum of the Arts. I’ve been meaning to go with my friends but I finally had the chance to go today so I did it alone. The current exhibit is called “Street Art Street Life” and it’s closing on January 25. It was cool to see how expansive it was, exploring work from the 1950s to the present, as well as from artists located in several continents. Many of the pieces touched on documenting the ephemeral. For example, the exhibit was heavily photography-oriented, capturing specific moments, whether they were of a passerby on the street, or a piece of graffiti scrawled on some wall. There were also a lot of photographs documenting members of the Fluxus movement performing art on the streets, so even if it’s not possible for the museum-goer to experience the art directly, at least we can see the proof that their pieces existed and that average civilians were able to experience these pieces first-hand.

One piece I really liked was this video of David Van Tieghem, a percussionist, just banging on all sorts of surfaces on the street, which was captivating to watch because I couldn’t believe how many different sounds he was able to create just by banging his sticks. It wasn’t even a strictly rhythmic thing, it was so musical, too. You can see the video below!

Another piece that stuck out was from the Blank Noise Project, an India-based activist group focused on stopping street sexual harassment. Included in the exhibit was a printed version of this blog that gives props to those who have actively fought against harassers. It just upset me because it’s hard to realize that sexual harassment is an issue everywhere.

When I got home, I was super happy to find a package from Cat and Girl. I think Dorothy Gambrell might have written the addresses on the envelope! I like to think so, anyway. I bought some t-shirts and stickers for cheap and hoped to god they fit me. They do! And I think I got an extra sticker, too. Yay. I’m so happy because my mom ruined and threw out my old Köttur og Stúlka t-shirt, but now I have a new one.

Okay, this post has gone on long enough. Now I’m off to watching Gangs of New York.

Current Jams.

Some stuff I’ve been listening to:

1. The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru

Sit down, my chillun, let me tell y’all a story. So on leap day, my token 90s friend and I went for an early dinner to Yaffa Cafe, which is located on St. Marks next to that odd-smelling but otherwise way cool used bookstore next door. So here we were, having dinner early like two old ladies, not many folks around so that the waiters were all kinda chillin’, hangin’ back. There was this Latin shit playing in the background pero yo no sabía lo que era. And it was hilarious, too, one of the tracks was like this Latinized version of “Für Elise.” Can I get a LOL, anyone? So when my friend and I finished eating our din din, I asked the waiter what the album was. He said he didn’t know but he’d check the iPod for me. He did so, telling me it was this album of chicha jams. Actually, he wrote it down and even specified that I could buy it at Other Music. Well, imagine that. I really appreciate that the waiter took the time to help me out.  Is that great service or what?

My friend and I had nothing to do after dinner, so we just sashayed our way to Other Music and I bought the CD. It’s really fun! If you bum around the website of the label that released the album, you’ll see they are planning to release another chicha-happy album in a few weeks. I’m definitely gonna have to check it out.

I know that for kids who read the more well-known music blogs, “afropop” is probably a buzzword maintenant (god bless Vampire Weekend!). But with the hispanoablantes, I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about a resurgence of cumbia. Por ejemplo, check out this feature from NYRemezcla. This is totally delightful for me, since I think I was born to dance to that shit.

2. Infame, Babasónicos

Well, I’ve been digging this band for a while, but I’ve been obsessing lately. I keep wondering if it’s some morbid fascination with the fact that their bassist died last month, y’know, like having some nostalgia that never belonged to me in the first place. After all, I really have no idea who’s even in the band. They’re just one of those bands where I’m more wrapped up by the music itself than knowing everything about every person in the group.

It’s really shocking how powerful this album can be. Mostly I’ve listened to Jessico, but I was rereading Lechner’s Rock en Español and he was all like, “ZOMG I love Infame,” so on the same evening I bought the chicha album, I somehow drifted into the world music section of the Virgin at Union Square and once I grabbed onto Infame, I couldn’t let go. I know it must sound silly to want an album that I already have and have listened to on my computer, but it’s really not the same. I’ve been listening to Infame on my CD player and it’s been pretty great. On Saturday I was home listening to it alone and during the chorus of “Putita” I just started crying. It wasn’t over Gabo, though I do want to make it clear I think it’s fucked up that he died at such a young age. It’s just that the melody and the lyrics meld beautifully in this song. I wonder if all the band members are proud of all the music they’ve created through the years. I think they should be. ¿No les gustaría haber escrito esa canción? Y cuando oyen canciones como esta, ¿no les parece un honor de ser capaz de oir? This is the kind of song that reminds me to take care of my ears so I won’t go deaf…

3. Multiply, Jamie Liddell

I’m just mentally preparing myself for the release of the new album. He’s playing a couple of shows at the Bowery Ballroom in June. They should be pretty wild.