Friday, June 26, 2009

Mickey Ears

Hey mi gente! I will be unplugging for two weeks. That's right, I'm going to Disney... it is going down. I plan on going on lots of rides and maybe drinking around children.

Until then.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Today is pretty much the worst day ever...




I am so saddened by the death of these two influential pop culture icons. May their souls find peace.

R.I.P. Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson (who will ALWAYS be the King of Pop).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

7 GLBT Latino Bloggers to Watch

What up mi gente! This week has been really amazing, first Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo was featured on a list of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation's "100 Best LGBT Blogs" and now MiApogeo.com has named me one of the "7 GLBT Latino Bloggers to Watch!" Thanks to everyone who follows this blog and thanks to all those who have steady been sending support my way since day one. Mil gracias!


7 GLBT Latino Bloggers to Watch
Written by Antonio Gonzalez (with help from Andrés Duque)

Image

With so much noise in the blogosphere, whose voice stands apart? Here are 7 bloggers to watch.

1. Andrés Duque
Blabbeando

Andrés Duque is one of the leading Latino LGBT rights advocates in the United States. As moderator of Latino LGBT News, Duque currently maintains the most comprehensive and up-to-date e-mail network on news related to the Latino LGBT community and has often been quoted as an expert on the topic on venues such as the New York Times, The Village Voice, El Diario La Prensa, La Opinión and Univisión.

2. Brandon Lacy Campos
My Feet Only Walk Forward

A man of many talents, Brandon Lacy Campos is a 31 year old, queer, mixed, poz, poet, journalist, organizer, policy wonk, Tweeter, blogger, life commentator, and actor. His writing can be found in the anthologies: Under What Bandera by Calaca Press, Queer Codex: Chile Love by Evelyn Street Press, Mariposas by Floricanto Press, and in various online and offline journals and magazines.

3. Marisol Lebron
Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo

Marisol LeBron is Nuyorican queer activist and academic. Marisol is an honors graduate from Oberlin College (Comparative American Studies and Latin American Studies 2007), and is currently a PhD student in the Program in American Studies, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University. Marisol's research interests include citizenship studies, Latin@ cultural production, pop culture analysis, and queer of color critique. Marisol is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx.

4. Oriol Gutierrez, Jr.
Oriol's POZ Blog

Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. is the executive director of the DiversityInc Foundation and president of the New York chapter of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. He was the managing editor of DiversityInc Media. (See 25 Most Influential GLBT Latinos.)

5. Phil Velez
Velez's View

Velez is a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent (Nuyorican) with a Master of Arts in Corporate Communication from Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is a writer (and blogger since 2006) as well as his fraternity historian. He also heads up Fraternity Communication -- a blog that aims to promote a positive image of fraternities and sororities.

6. Charlie Vázquez
Charlie Vasquez: Queer Latino Musings on Literature

Charlie Vázquez is a radical Bronx-bred, Brooklyn-based writer of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. His fiction and essays have been published in various anthologies, such as the iconoclastic volumes, Queer and Catholic (Taylor & Francis) and Best Gay Love Stories: NYC (Alyson).

7. Gloria Nieto
City Brights: Social justice activist looking for a job

Gloria is the only Latina Lesbian to have ever spoken at the Democratic Presidential Convention. When working as a lobbyist in New Mexico she got both a hate crimes and non-discrimination law passed that were transgender inclusive. She was chair for seven years of the City of Santa Fe's Immigrations Task Force and served on a Congressional Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in the California 17th Congressional District.



Photo: Elliott Powell speaking with Marisol LeBron at opening reception of the 2009 Pop Conference, Experience Music Project, Seattle, Washington. Both are currently in Ph.D. programs at New York University (NYU). In the background, literary agent Sarah Lazin talks with John Rockwell of the New York Times. Photo by Joe Mabel

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reggaeton's White Hope and the "Reggaeton Crash"



I have a lot of feelings watching this video, but not quite any thoughts yet. I have had some thoughts on Calle 13 in general recently though.

While I like Calle 13, there is something as of late that makes me completely uncomfortable with how Residente's blanquito flow and his "art school/class clown attitude," as Wayne Marshall aptly terms it, are being heralded by reggaeton supporters and detractors alike as shining example of where the genre should go. Calle 13 is being positioned by many as the great white hope that is going to resuscitate reggaeton from its supposed "death." (pero no con mas gasolina, that's for sure).

Wanye Marshalll just blogged a fantastic post entitled "Can We Talk About 'Can We Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?'?", responding to, among other things, Willie Colon's assertion that reggaeton has peaked Wayne says,
i think reggaeton’s gonna be around (and popular) for some time to come. we’ll see what it sounds like, though. and whether people still call “it” reggaeton (they did, after all, used to call “it” any number of names).

colon may be right that the “euphoria” has passed, but that doesn’t mean the genre’s days are numbered. plus, this is clearly a bit of self-promotion for his own music, talking bout how people have returned to salsa. they never really turned away.

on another note, isn’t saying “música urbana” basically like saying “música negra”? it is in english — a pretty specious euphemism really. might as well say “race records.” so maybe we’re back where we started, but in a worse place?

I think Wayne makes a good point that “música urbana” basically functions as a (seemingly sexier and less scary euphemism) for reggaeton's old moniker of “música negra.” So it's interesting to me that reggaeton's resident blanquito has appointed himself the gatekeeper of said race music. Check out this clip from Calle 13's NYC concert at the NOKIA Theater from October 2008:

Residente goes on a whole tirade about the contours and future of “música urbana,” placing himself squarely at the center. I'm curious about the work that placing a blanquito at the center of “música urbana” does. For sure it makes the music palatable to the a wider audience, as so many blanquitos have crossed-over "race musics" in the past. But I think the work that Calle 13 very clearly does is "fuel fantasies about reggaetons inherent latinidad," as Wayne points out in his chapter "From Música Negra to Reggaeton Latino" in Reggaeton (Duke UP). There is something appealing to the many music critics who have profiled the group in their brand of Latin World music, something in stark contrast with the repetitive samples and versioning of Black music that is central to many other reggaeton acts.

Is it time to think of sampling practices within reggaeton as an overtly political act? Is sampling consciously hailing an audience and interpolating the performer and audience in a specific genre? (I'm sure Joe Schloss would have an interesting opinion on this).

I think this is what makes it difficult for me to situate the video for "La Perla," it simultaneously dismisses and trafficks in notions of authenticity. Its impossible for me to reconcile all this -- the music says one thing, the lyrics another, the video another, and Residente's public performances and persona yet another -- of course maybe I shouldn't be trying to reconcile any of it.

Anyway, I welcome thoughts on Calle 13 and/or the video for "La Perla," hit me up.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Muslim Cool Airs JUNE 23rd on PBS!


The POV documentary New Muslim Cool, about Puerto Rican Muslim hip hop artist Hamza Pérez, airs tomorrow night on PBS.

From the POV website:
Puerto Rican-American rapper Hamza Pérez pulled himself out of drug dealing and street life 12 years ago and became a Muslim. Now he's moved to Pittsburgh's tough North Side to start a new religious community, rebuild his shattered family and take his message of faith to other young people through hard-hitting hip-hop music. But when the FBI raids his mosque, Hamza must confront the realities of the post-9/11 world, and himself. New Muslim Cool takes viewers on Hamza's ride through streets, slums and jail cells — following his spiritual journey to some surprising places in an America that never stops changing.
I've been eagerly awaiting the airing of this film, and once you see the trailer, I'm sure you too will be be counting down the minutes.



This documentary is especially important in light of the recent conviction of José Padilla, a Puerto Rican convert to Islam, who was sentenced to 17 years and 4 months on conspiracy charges related to his reported involvement with a terrorist plot. Puerto Ricans have always already been seen as "illegal enemy combatants" for resisting the imperialist efforts of the United States, from Lolita Lebron, to Don Pedro, to Filiberto Ojeda-Rios. New Muslim Cool explicitly shows how Puerto Rican converts to Islam are doubly targeted as terrorists, their faith and their Puertorriquenidad supposedly proving their "un-Americanness," making them "necessary" targets in the "War on Terror"

New Muslim Cool also shows the transformative power of music to create what Josh Kun calls audiotopias, or "music's utoptian potential, its ability to show us how to move toward something better and transform the world we find ourselves in."

Please support New Muslim Cool and PBS by tuning in.

For more information:
New Muslim Cool Official Film Site
POV-New Muslim Cool

Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo on the list of "100 Best LGBT Blogs"


From the Lesbian and Gay Foundation:

LGF online have scoured the internet to bring you the most informative, entertaining and inspiring blogs from around the world.

The blogs we've chosen cover diverse issues from all sides of the LGBT equation. There's blogs from gay parents, gay conservatives, gay activists, young people coming out, older people coming out, and gay asylum seekers to name but a few.

These blogs take in opinion and experience from all over the world, we visit Iraq, America, the UK...and many other places via these blogs. We see how gay rights are fought from capital cities to rural watering holes.

Some of these blogs exist purely for your pleasure, to entertain and to let us know which clubs the blogger de jour has been falling out of...but in the main, the blogs in this list have a call to arms, they want to inform you about your LGBT rights, and they want you to use them.

So here they are, the 100 best LGBT blogs in our words and their own, in no particular order.

THE BEST 100 BLOGS - check out the list here

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why I Study Reggaeton

As I was getting myself ready to head down to the Puerto Rican Day Parade (or more accurately, its aftermath) I found myself dumbstruck by the profundity of what I was hearing and seeing.

Always the multi-tasker I was getting ready with the TV switched on to the Parade and Las Guanabanas’ new mixtape, “Regreso Al Underground” (Return to the Underground), blasting from the speakers in my bathroom. I stopped scurrying around my apartment long enough to watch the parade for a moment and paso una cosa rara (a queer thing happened). As Fox 5’s cameras cut from (post)reggaetonero Residente of Calle 13 to shots of flag waving boricuas watching the parade, the last song from “Regreso Al Underground” came on and announced to the world: “Yo soy bellaco, pa’ que tu lo sepas!” (I’m horny, just so you know!).

With the same cadence and enthusiasm that the crowds at the Puerto Rican Day Parade shout “Yo so Boricua, pa’ que tu lo sepa,” reggaetoneros Tommy Viera and Chantelly, announced and celebrated their hornyness. The theme of bellaqueo in reggaeton is not particularly surprising, however, this moment caught me completely off guard. Overlaid as they were, it seemed as if the two forces had synced and the crowd on the TV rather than announcing its Puertorriquenidad was announcing its desire to fuck. Right then and there, by pure happenstance, I had witnessed what Puerto Rican cultural nationalist must conjure in their worst fears about reggaeton – the excesses of the body and of sexuality and desire that resist the disciplining technologies of the nationalist project – and on this day of all days!

The management of sexuality – queer sexualities, racialized sexualities, and non-procreative sexualities – has always been at the center of any nationalist project. Yet, this accidental intrusion of bellaqueo into the quintessential spectacle of Puerto Rican cultural nationalism provides an interesting moment of disruption and illuminates the simultaneous absence and ubiquity of sexuality in nationalist discourse and imagery.

So I ask: what would it mean to put bellaqueo at the center of our studies of the Puerto Rican nation?

Of course, not in the way that it is already figured as core in the racist imaginary that sees Puerto Ricans as hot-blooded and always avaiable Latin Lovers, rather I mean central in that it pulls back the curtains on nationalist projects of containment and disavowal that attempt to create knowable and manageable subjects. The moral outrage incited by the repetitious themes of bellaqueo, fumaera, and perreo that appear in many reggaeton songs are by now familiar, but what is important to note is how these moments of outrage expose the various disciplinary technologies that the corporeal and sonic excesses of reggaeton actively resist and challenge.

The accounts of reggaeton’s death have been greatly exaggerated as people eagerly await the demise of the genre. They want to do away with the porquería that reggaeton makes visible, as Frances Negrón-Muntaner argues in her piece “Poetry of Filth.” The thing is, the porquería and mierda and bellaqueo and brutalidad and …well… queerness in the form of cosas raras, that reggaeton regularly serves up to is audiences is, in my very humble estimation, one of the most valuable critiques of the failures and unevenness of the Puerto Rican nationalist project in contemporary Puerto Rican political history. Although reggaeton is increasingly being folded into Puerto Rican nationalist and Latino/a pan-nationalist efforts, spaces of resistance and ambivalence are still available within and through reggaeton.

That’s why I study reggaeton, because on the track the sound you’re hearing is reggaetoneros throwing up all the porquería that’s been shoved down Puerto Rican's throats since E.L.A (Estado Libre Associado, or the incorporation of Puerto Rico into the U.S. as a commonwealth) and even before that.

Sometimes it's the quotidian things, like being horny, that make all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bronx Pride 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Romantiqueo is going under

That's right I said it...Flex is wack and I'm sick of listening to nothing but Romantiqueo (which is, lets face it, saccharine, but barely even romantic).

Lets go back to the underground with Las Guanabanas.

This forreal sounds like some pre-2003 reggaeton. Its nasty and it knowns it. Its all perreo, fumando, tragos, discos, and bellaqueo.

Its damn near a breath of fresh air. Bien brutal!

Download it here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guatemala’s 'Twitter Revolution'

Originally Published at the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) Online

The political crisis currently unfolding in Guatemala reads like the script of a Hollywood summer blockbuster. The Economist even quipped that it was like something out of Gabriel García Márquez’s novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold. But this is far from magical realism; in fact, it was the virtual reality of interactive networking websites – collectively labeled by some "Web 2.0" – that may have brought a presidency to its knees.


Rosenberg's posthumous video announcing his death.

Guatemala has been in turmoil since a posthumously released video of murdered attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg surfaced in which he implicates President Álvaro Colom and other high-ranking government officials in his eventual assassination. Rosenberg was gunned down while riding his bike on a busy avenue in Guatemala City on May 10. At Rosenberg’s funeral the following day, at least 150 copies of the 18-minute video were distributed to those in attendance. Recorded four days before his murder, the video shows Rosenberg calmly speaking into a microphone stating, “If you are hearing this message, it is because I, Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano, was assassinated by the president’s private secretary, Gustavo Alejos, and his partner Gregorio Valdez, with the approval of Álvaro Colom and Sandra de Colom [i.e. the First Lady].”

In the video Rosenberg exposes corruption in Banrural, a state-owned development bank. He implicates Colom and a number of associates in the murder of whistleblower Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie. Rosenberg, who had been investigating Musa’s murder, claims that he is going to be killed because of his ties to Musa.

Khalil Musa was the owner of the textiles company Lacetex and a former board member of the national coffee producers association (Anacafe). According to Rosenberg, Musa had been offered a position as director of Banrural – the state development bank – which he turned down because of widespread corruption. In the video Rosenberg maintained that Musa was killed over his refusal of the position and fear that he might publicize Banrural’s role in money laundering, embezzlement, and financing shadow companies set up by drug traffickers.


Colom's critics: "I am Rodrigo. We want justice." (By James Rodríguez/mimundo.org

After being released to the media, Rosenberg's video spread virally on YouTube, inciting widespread protests online and in the streets. On May 17, some 40,000 Guatemalans took part in protests in the capital city; the crowds were divided between Colom supporters and those calling for his resignation. As a Flickr website hosting photos of the marches reported, “Guatemala marched and protested against all the corruption and injustice our country seems to be plagued with. We don't want anything else but to apply justice fairly to whoever breaks the law, no matter if it's a citizen or a President.” The next day, a group of lawyers presented congress with a petition signed by 35,000 Guatemalans calling for Colom and his private secretary to be stripped of immunity and investigated.

Technology has played a central role in the current political crisis, from Rosenberg’s so-called “pre-death tape” to the use of social networking sites to organize protests and disseminate information about Rosenberg and government corruption. President Colom has been harshly curtailing freedom of speech and cracking down on the spread of the Rosenberg tape in an attempt to gain control over the way that technology is being used as a tool for mobilization against his administration. After the Rosenberg video went viral on the Internet, street vendors in Guatemala City began selling the “pre-death tape.” Guatevision, a TV channel, recently reported that at least one vendor – and possibly more – have been arrested by police for selling the video and charged with “sedition” and “inciting panic.”

Microblogging network Twitter has also been central in organizing people, making it a target for government surveillance and suppression. On May 14, three days before the national protests, police raided the home of Jean Anleu, known as “@jeanfer” on Twitter, for tweeting about the Banrural scandal. Anleu was accused of “inciting financial panic” related to a tweet he posted two days earlier that read: “The first action people should take is to remove cash from Banrural, and make the corrupt people's bank go broke #escandalogt.” (Escandalogt is a tag used to reference the murder of Rosenberg and the Banrural scandal.)

Word quickly spread about Anleu’s arrest and supporters created a blog with information about his case. The site has also been asking for donations via PayPal to help Anleu pay his $6,000-fine and legal fees. Although Anleu was released and is now on house arrest, his detainment was the catalyst for what some are calling Guatemala’s “Twitter-Revolution.”

Guatemalan Twitter users have been retweeting Anleu’s original message and using the tag #escandalogt to make the information about the Rosenberg case and the Banrural scandal “a trending topic,” or one of the most-tweeted about topics on the site. At the May 17 protests, some participants wore white, taped their mouths shut, and carried signs scrawled with “I don't talk, I Twitter” and “We are all @jeanfer” in support of Anleu.

Some Twitter uses have been posting slogans such as “Twitteros! Unidos! Jamas serán vencidos!" (Twitterers! United! Will never be defeated!) and “Twitteo por Gaute” (Tweet for Guatemala). Someone has even created a phony Banrural Twitter account, which utilizes the #escandalogt tag, and post tweets like the following: “Understand, we are superior to you, you are only slaves to our power” Others have even suggested "Google-bombing" the Banrural website in order to make its ties to corruption explicit. A Google bomb takes advantage of the search engine’s algorithm to influence the outcome and ranking of retrieved search results. Political activists have used Google bombs to express discontent with politicians in the past; for example, prior to 2007 a search for "liar" would yield results for Tony Blair and "miserable failure" would lead with the White House's biography of George W. Bush.


Political turmoil has continued since the May 17 protests. (By James Rodríguez/mimundo.org

While Twitter has been essential in organizing people and disseminating information, some are cautioning fellow Twitteros in Guatemala to be careful about what they tweet since the police are clearly monitoring social networking sites. Caution has turned to rumor as users are tweeting that the military and police are hunting down Twitteros, or that arrests are ongoing.

Although events are still unfolding, the current technology-based protest movement gives us much to consider about the future of Latin American social movements, how they are enacted and what they look like. The current mobilization of wide cross-sections of Guatemalan society through sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook shows the organizing potential for sites commonly thought of as “time wasters.” These sites have allowed for the rapid transmission of information and created vital forums to express concern about the current political situation in which Guatemalans are enmeshed. And they have also allowed for the virtual – yet still significant and active – participation of Guatemalans in the diaspora.

“Twitter-Revolution” was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek observation about the large role that an unlikely source was playing in the current political upheaval. And yet, it has proved to actually be an apt term for what is occurring not just in Guatemala, but also around the globe.

The youth protests that rocked Greece in December similarly utilized technology. Evgeny Morozov on news site openDemocracy wrote that the Greek protestors use of the Internet gave "rise to a new global phenomenon – the 'networked protest.' " Guatemalan events can be viewed in this light. Morozov then added, “While it was not for the first time that the Internet has made the planning and the execution of the protest actions more effective, it was probably the first time that an issue of mostly local importance has triggered solidarity protests across the whole continent, some of them led by the Greek diaspora, but many of them led by disaffected youth who were sympathetic of the movement's causes.” The use of social networking technologies has been instrumental in spreading the word about protests and has kept them in the news at home and abroad.

In a recent interview with ColorLines Magazine Brandan “B-Mike” Odums of 2-Cent Entertainment, a group of young Black media makers in New Orleans that create activist videos, said: “Other generations marched, and we march too. But in this age we have a whole new range of weapons." He continued, "I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would want to be on YouTube, to have his speeches distributed that way. Malcolm X would love to make mixtapes.”

Although youths are consistently depicted as apathetic and wasting time on the Internet, they are in fact building rich social networks and creating affinities that can easily be mobilized into social action. Guatemala’s Twitteros are one more example of what a youth led, post-civil rights, twenty-first century social movement looks like.

¡Que viva la twitter revolución!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Dark Side of Plan Colombia

Grants for biofuel crop production from the US Agency for International Development (USAID)—paid for through Plan Colombia, the multibillion-dollar US aid package aimed at fighting the drug trade—appears to have put drug-war dollars into the hands of a confessed paramilitary and two accused narco-traffickers, in possible violation of federal law. USAID internal documents, corporate filings and press reports raise questions about the agency’s vetting of applicants, in particular its ability to detect their links to narco-paramilitaries, violent crimes and illegal land seizures.

continue reading "The Dark Side of Plan Colombia" by Teo Ballvé