Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Concierto Sin Fronteras y Beyond...

On a Father's Day jog around Evergreen Cemetery, the brilliant sound of mariachis serenading beloved jefitos near their final resting grounds floats over the retaining wall as I run along the eastern perimeter. To my left, the smells and colors of El Mercadito bear witness to the touching and tender rites taking place. To my right, David Kipen, a friend who stands slightly more than six-feet tall, can actually jump high enough to see the musicians in their burnished regalia. I am satisfied with his report that, yes, they are indeed real músicos. Kipen is a right fine cuate with a literary bent and an undeniable love for books and words. He has installed himself in the storefront across the street from Corazón del Pueblo and plans to open a small lending library and used book shop called Libros Schmibros there. In light of the fact that libraries across the land are being closed due to budget cuts (while the war machine continues to grow fat from our tax dollars), it is no small feat. Kipen was formerly the director of literary programs at the NEA in Washington DC but was recently downsized and thus encouraged to make his way back to LA. Before the DC gig, he was the book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.

I won't harp on the whole gentrification vs. gente-fication brou-ha-ha anymore because I'm sure my friend Kevin Roderick at LAObserved and many others are done with my soap box rants on Eastside vs. hipsterville Eastside aspirations. Kipen comes recommended by Luís Rodríguez and has known one of my personal mentors--Francisco X. Alarcón--for many years. I for one, was impressed so much by his palabra credentials and his sensitivity to the neighborhood that gave birth to Brooklyn & Boyle, I mistakenly added about 10 years to his real age, a gaff for which I hope to be forgiven someday.

Anybüeys, here we are... learning how best to work and love and struggle in a collective manner that is supportive and encouraging. Kipen gives shout outs to Corazón del Pueblo and Brooklyn & Boyle in a story describing his humble bookstop project this week in Publisher's Weekly. Elsewhere, since we're making an effort here to be a bit more timely, play catch up and further procrastinate on the production of yet another vaunted print edition of Brooklyn & Boyle, it was a beautiful weekend for the 1.8 Million Dreamers fundraiser at Self Help Graphics, which featured performances by La Santa Cecilia and Conjunto Nueva Ola, a rollicking, cumbia-on-high-octane band of black patent leather Mexican Lucha Libre mask-wearing lords, who seem to have taken their fashion cues directly from the Sergio Arau playbook and simply substituted the guacarock thrust with the sonidero and cumbia vibe that has become all the rage among LA's Chicano and Latino cognoscenti since Very Be Careful followed Ozomatli onto the dance floor with the infectious, danceable ritmos del caribe. I had a brief glimpse of Nueva Ola's steaming set at Eastside Love on Friday night and got the low-down from Gabriel Jiménez, a musician himself and a stalwart Plaza de la Raza staffer.

And if that weren't enough, it's safe to say that the success of the SHG fundraiser for the movement to support college bound immigrant students was replicated at Tierra de la Culebra park in Highland Park at the Farce of July (now over a decade old) commemoration presented by Xican@ Records & Film and hosted by Felicia "La Fe" Montes and Olmeca. It was a solidly beautiful Sunday, and I was happy to bask in the late afternoon sun listening to live tunes with little brother Yaxkin Chumacero AKA MC Yoshi, who will be featuring at the Corazón del Pueblo July 14th "Flowers of Fire" open mic. And if you can muster up enough love to support the work CdP is doing, please come down to our "Concierto Sin Fronteras" for a look at el maestro Hugo Martinez Teocatl's amazing mural work and some of the best xicano music, hip-hop and poetry you'll ever witness in LA, including the above mentioned Olmeca, whose latest project, La Contra Cultura, demonstrates both a lyrical and political maturity coupled with a production polish that explains the wide interest in his music both in and outside of the U.S. and as far away as places like Ecuador, where he recently attended a north-south native people's gathering.