Sunday, July 6, 2008


Hi Ib, I finally remembered where I saw that take off on David's 'Death of Marat'. It's by the brilliant Sandow Birk. I have all three volumes of Dante's Divine Comedy as illustrated by Birk and translated by Marcus Sanders. I consider them the definitive modern translation. Don't forget, Dante was writing in the colloquial Italian of his time. The original language, though reportedly beautiful, was not refined. That's why I was genuinely thrilled when Sander's Dante turns to Virgil after contemplating the horrors of hell and says, "Dude, this totally sucks." I'm not being ironic. I've never felt closer to hell than I felt while looking at Birk and Sander's inferno, a place that looks a lot like Los Angeles.

Yessir, the American west is a wonderland of cross cultural pollination. In celebration of that, here's a massive sample of Texican and Mexifornian music. Baille dudes and dudesses.
Viva La Guantanamera - Hip Hop Hoodios - Various Artists - Nacional RecordsLos Fabulosos Thunderbirds * - The Fabulous Thunderbirds
Down Whittier Blvd. (Godfrey vocal) - Thee Midniters - Thee Midnighters
Bailando el Rock & Roll - Freddy Fender
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights - Doug Sahm
Funky Butt - Joe King Carrasco And El Molino
Los Chucos Suaves - Ry Cooder


ib said...

Ah ha! Now you put it up, I'm fairly certain I've seen it before myself, but I'm unfamiliar with Sandow Birk. I'll need to remedy this, of course.

On another note, I finally worked out why the IMEEM widget wasn't working for me: I could click on the play icon directly on your page to get a short several second long sample, but when I clicked on the link my browser was blocking the pop-up, and I see now you have to fill in a form before you can access the file!

Well, at least I know now what gives, and I'll be checking out all those TexMex tunes you've posted!

ib said...

Classic Doug Sahm and Ry Cooder, of course, but I liked Hip Hop Hoodios version of Guantanamera immensely.

I'm not sure if I've seen the Birk painting in exhibition somewhere, but it just struck me looking at the web link quickly how much the his group paintings resemble those of Glasgow artist, Ken Currie who is widely regarded in his own right. Several of his similarly politically themed huge paintings are permanently housed in Glasgow's People's Palace, very near where I stay.

I'll look into it further, but you'll certainly find a lot on the web with regard to his work if you're interested. One was quite obviously a major influence on the other...

Jon said...

I think the hidden gem of this batch is the vocal version of Down Whittier Blvd. It's a little bit of a proto rap and a great self portrait of Latin teen culture in the mid sixties. I really, really like Thee Midnighters. I'm sure I'll post more by them.

The vocalist of the Ry Cooder cut is Lil Willie G, who was the vocalist for Thee Midnighters. Ry Cooder has really immersed himself in LA Mexican culture. He is fluent in Spanish and he went to a lot of trouble to recruit historically important chicano musicians to play on Chavez Ravine.

Chavez Ravine is an amazing piece of work. It's the first rock opera since Tommy that doesn't make me want to barf. It tells the story of an old Mexican barrio that was destroyed to make way for The LA Dodgers baseball stadium. It was a brutal piece of real estate development, California style. I remember hearing baseball announcers saying, "It's a beautiful day here at Chavez Ravine" and having no idea what they were talking about.

Imeem is bug ridden. Sometimes I get the sample, sometimes I get the full song. As you noted, the play count doesn't seem to reflect the number of times a song has been played. If a song is played here the count doesn't reflect it, if it is played off site it does.

The good news about imeem is that they claim to have reached an agreement with all of the major labels and distributors allowing them to post songs by represented artists. When I posted Lady Sovereign, I got a message on the page encouraging me to go to imeem's Lady Sovereign page for more downloads.

I'm to old to run from the web sheriff. My running days are over. Once you start running the running never stops. I'm gonna sit here and wait for the cops.

I'm sure Sandow Birk is friends with similar artists. I'm going to google Ken Currie right now.

ib said...

Yeah, I liked the "Whittier Blvd" song too. The shared vocals by Willi G. on that and the Ry Cooder song explains a lot... Imeem is really buggy, by the way. The Sheriff dude really had me more rattled than I cared to admit, not least because I was so pissed off he'd obviously hung around to see if I was sneaky and foolish enough to reinstate the links.

Another thing, how often have I seen Van posted on the web ? And we're not just talking one off tracks... Ah, fuck it. Life's too short to moan so much...

Anyway, speaking of Ry Cooder, that immediately reminds me I haven't posted any Beefheart yet!

ib said...

Speaking of art, yet again, my son just won an unprecedented three gold medals in a Glasgow Museum sponsored Young People's Art competition. Last year he won a silver in a separate Greater Glasgow Schools' competition too. I'm very proud. Especially since he likes to act as if it's no great shakes. Ha!

I know parents are prone to either nagging or bragging, but what the fuck!

Jon said...

Congratulations. I'm an untalented undisciplined artist, so I'm not sure how I feel about art competitions. I always end up thinking about Marcel Duchamp's fountain. If I had any talent, or my kid had talent, I might think differently. This gets him a shot at scholarships and that sort of thing, right? I like that a lot.

ib said...

Who knows regarding scholarships, etc, this country doesn't really run along the same lines as in the U.S.

I am definitely not a fan of competitions myself. But neither is he. He's only nine-years-old. Whatever he wants to do, I'll support him in the long run. He's more interested in whether or not the 'gold' has any intrinsic value; can it be melted down or not ?!

ib said...

Fuck! I just realised that last comment of mine sounded inanely like something out of "I Love Lucy" or some other horrendous sit-com. The laughter track is running in my head!

ib said...

Incidentally, I noticed you checked out the "Silliman" site. What did you think ? Honestly ?

I know very little about this guy, frankly.

Jon said...

I do really really badly with academic poetry people. I love poetry, but when professors get ahold of it they usually try to kill it dead.

The poetry scene, for the most part, is hard to handle. You know, those open mike readings where they show up with their poems inside protective sleeves in loose leaf binders. One of the better of those events occurs around here, The Sonoma Poetry fest. One thing that I like about it, is that it doesn't occur every year. It takes place occasionally, when the organizers get around to it. I went with some friends, poets, who went to one of the open mikes and stunned, yes stunned, the crowd when they pulled their poems out of their shirt pockets and unfolded them to read.

Anyhow, about silliman, I don't think I have patience for the guy. Sorry.

ib said...

You know what, Jon ? I think I agree with you. It wasn't a trick question.

That's why I said earlier, "I think Bukowski would be spinning in his grave."

Like I said, I only put the link in there 'cause I liked the pictures of Marlyn. I'm very impulsive, but equally, I take the time to reflect.

You know what ? This is the Night of the Long Knives... fuck 'im. FUCK 'EM. It feels kind of good, like having a shit in the morning.

And. One more thing. Don't apologise.

ib said...

By the way, motherfucker, Beer's back in town!

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