Monday, November 30, 2009

An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

This is one of the most interesting and smart approaches to web 2.0 and YouTube culture I have seen thus far.  Fantastic primer to digital ethnography! Enjoy!

*Thanks to Daniel Nieves (CUNY) for sharing this video with me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Message from Myriam Mercado, mother of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado

Thanks to Blabbeando's Andrés Duque for posting and translating this video.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gay Puerto Rican Teen's Body Found Brutalized in Hate Crime

The body of Jorge Steven López Mercado, age 19, was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially burned on Friday, November 13, 2009 in Cayey, Puerto Rico.  López, a resident of Caguas, was reportedly a well known member of Puerto Rico's gay community.

LGBT activists are calling for López's murder to be classified as a hate crime.  This would be the first crime of its kind to be designated as such, if authorities reclassify the case.  Pedro Julio Serrano, executive director of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s notes that although the Puerto Rican government added sexual orientation to its hate crimes laws in 2002, local authorities have not used it to prosecute those accused of anti-gay violence. The FBI has announced it will take jurisdiction over the case if local investigators conclude López’s killer or killers murdered him because of his sexual orientation

LGBT activists are also speaking out against homophobic remarks made by Investigator Angel Rodriguez’s that implied that López deserved what he got because of his “lifestyle.”  During a televised press conference Rodriguez said, “este tipo de personas, cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle, saben que esto les puede pasar” [When these type of people get into this and go out into the streets like this, they know this can happen to them].  These comments sparked outrage and activist are calling for the Puerto Rico Police Department to take disciplinary action against Rodriguez.  Rodriguez has been removed from the case, but is yet to be sanctioned for his remarks.  A vigil will be held later this week for López, in addition to a protest calling for disciplinary action to be taken against Rodriguez.

López’s killer or killers remain at large.

For more info:

Monday, November 16, 2009


It's TOO much!  TWO Beyonce and Lady Gaga duets?  Insanity! The gay clubs are going to combust from so much excitement. 

Telephone appears on Gaga's The Fame Monster and Video Phone, appears on Beyonce's I Am… Sasha Fierce (Deluxe).

*tip of the fitted to Mun2

Friday, November 13, 2009

Looking Backward at Reggaeton’s Futurity

What up mi gente! As promised here are my comments from Princeton's "Reggaeton: Critical Perspectives" roundtable.  Feel free to hit me up with any thoughts...

Looking Backward at Reggaeton’s Futurity

I want to thank Alex[andra Vazquez] for organizing this panel and inviting me to participate.  She asked that I say a few words about the future of reggaeton, and where I think the genre is going both socially and sonically.  I found this to be a surprisingly difficult assignment, mainly because it is a challenging task to speculate about the futurity of a genre that has already been declared dead on multiple occasions.  Like Mark Twain, however, the reports of reggaeton’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, but it nonetheless remains important to consider why critics and others have been so quick to write obituaries for a genre that seems to be alive and kicking. 

This discourse is not new, instead it is something that tends to (re)appear at moments of increased visibility and growth.  Back before reggaeton was reggaeton, when it was simply known as underground, the genre was at the center of a moral panic in Puerto Rico that resulted in efforts to ban it from the airwaves and the confiscation of hundreds of cassettes due to allegations that the music violated local obscenity laws.  Dismissed as porquería, or trash, detractors assumed that the genre would die a swift death at the hands of Puerto Rican authorities who sought to contain its social impact because it was too black, too poor, too American, too sexual, and too crass.  And Raquel [Z. Rivera] does a great job of breaking this down in her chapter “Policing Morality, Mano Dura Stylee,” for those of you who are interested.  Despite efforts to contain and even eradicate the genre, reggaeton was able to break into the market and achieve international success and recognition.  It is at this moment that the pronouncements of reggaeton’s death were once again being sounded.  So, I’m interested in why at a time when reggaeton was becoming increasingly successful in commercial terms and cultivating a wider fan base, would critics, and even reggaetoneros themselves, say that reggaeton is dead?

Like similar pronouncements in salsa and hip-hop, the death of reggaeton comes at a moment when the genre perceived as moving away from, or beyond, its original audience and social milieu.  The death of reggaeton encapsulates competing and often conflicting notions of what the genre was, what it is, and where it is going, both sonically and socially.  Similar to Nas’s 2005 assertion that “Hip Hop is Dead,” some reggaetoneros seems to be looking backwards in order to construct a more authentic future for reggaeton. 

Here I am thinking of Las Guanabanas’ recent mixtape called Regreso al Underground [Return to the Underground] which calls for a return to reggaeton’s “roots.”  This past is reduced to the genre’s early emphasis on themes of smoking weed, drinking, screwing and partying.  

This turn, or I should say nostalgic return, to underground aesthetics is no doubt in response to the increasing popularity of the reggaeton romantic ballad known as Romantiqueo, or ReggaePop.  Artists such as Ñejo & Dalmata, Guelo Star, J-King & Maximan, and Jamsha have all dismissed romantiqueo as inauthentic and as an affront to reggaeton’s masculinity.  On the track “Sendo Cabron,” Guelo Star announces, “Somos los reyes del underground.  Reggaeton for Life!  Fuck ReggaePop!  Pop Lollipop-ers.”  

Guelo Star attempts to reassert a certain mode of reggaeton masculinity, by questioning and challenging the heterosexuality of artists who perform romantiqueo.  I see this move by Guelo Star, and other artists like the ones I previously mentioned, as attempting to negotiate shifting understandings of class, race, nation, sexuality, and masculinity within reggaeton after its explosion in the international music scene. 

All this is to say that if we are to speculate about the future of reggaeton we have to take into account the significance of its many deaths and resurrections, in addition to how reggaetoneros reach into the past in order to formulate a reggaeton futurity.  Calling time of death as well as the injunction to return to an idealized and nostalgic past can thus be understood a means for reggaetoneros to reconstitute themselves within reggaeton’s constantly shifting terrain.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Get Some White Friends"

In a twist on the usual racial fetishization formula Duece Poppi trots out his white friends as accessories in the video for "My White Friends."  I'm ambivalent about this video.  Thoughts?

Reggaeton: Critical Perspectives @ Princeton University 11.12.09

Above is the palmcard for a roundtable discussion I'll be participating in at Princeton University this Thursday @ 4:30pm.  The panel will also feature scholars and artists Raquel Z. Rivera, Wayne Marshall, Miguel Luciano, Ines "Deevani" Rooney and DJ El Niño.

I'm very excited to participate in this event, it promises to be off-the-chain.   I am also really excited about the opportunity to meet Ines Rooney-Saldana aka Deevani, the hindi-vocalist on the tracks "Mirame," "Flow Natural," "Dancing," and the new song "Que Buena Tu Ta"  with Fuego of Chosen Few.

Followers of this blog know I have written about Deevani in my work on the reggaeton subgenre of bhangraton, so I'm really looking forward to hearing her take on the (sub)genre and where it is headed.

If you're in the Princeton area check us out.  I'll be posting my remarks from the panel on Friday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"No Maricón"

Lil Wayne get's bilingual on his new mixtape "No Ceilings" and breaks us of with this No Homo gem @ 2:10 into the track:
Versatile as fuck I switch it up, like Dennis Rodman don't
No homo you rock and roll, rest in peace my Styrofoam
Now they won’t know what I be on
Get the fuck off, my dick my cock my bone
Big money my pockets long, New Orleans I got my home
And they got my back, pause, no homo no maricón
The "No Ceilings" mixtape is packed with a lot of interesting performances of masculinity.  I need more time to think on it, but I'm sure after I listen to the mixtape some more on my bus ride down to DC this weekend I'll have more to share.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

"The New Man, Under Construction"

 I recently wrote a review of the classic Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate for Left Turn. The issue is now out, please check out the review and the rest of the issue.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Guanabee's "10 Favorite Latinas On The Web"

Yours truly made the cut!  It's an honor to be in the company of such rad Latinas!  This list also introduced me to "Karla's Closet" -- a fashion blog that is like an awesome Latina version of "The Sartorialist."  I hope to one day be able to properly dress myself and look so effortlessly cool (of course  with more buttondown shirts and less skirts than Karla).   Anyway, thanks to Guanabee and thanks to all of you who check the blog regularlly!

Our 10 Favorite Latinas On The Web

29 October 2009, 10:04 AM. By Alex Alvarez

Pictured: Karla of 'Karla's Closet'
Pictured: Karla of 'Karla's Closet'

We thought we’d take a lil’ time to share with you some of our very favorite Latinas currently representing on the web: Some deal explicitly with Latino issues, some don’t. Some are funny, some are creative, some are activists, all are uniquely amazing, inspiring women who, we think, are some of the best at what they do.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of our 10 Favorite Latinas on the Web. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments:

1. Mariela Rosario (
Mariela is’s editor, and focuses on such a wide range of issues (politics! travel! pop culture!), that we wonder how she’s able to do it all and do it well. Obviously, she’s a smartiepants. Or made of magic. What’s your secret, Mariela?

2. Gloria Shuri Nava (GlowPinkStah)
This Mexican-Filipina comedian makes the most hilarious YouTube videos, often presenting recognizable characters like your typical chola (Baby Smiley) and a rambling Filipina auntie, or makeup tutorials that will leave you looking so hot you can practically “smell” boys getting excited. When she’s finally hired by SNL, we can all look back and say we virtually knew her when.

3. Monica Herrera  (Billboard)
Not only is Monica one of the single nicest people on the internet, as’s Associate Editor, this woman kicks ass when it comes to sharing knowledge about music and the music industry.

4. Maegan “La Mala” Ortiz (VivirLatino)
As a VivirLatino contributer, poet Maegan writes about politics, identity and social issues with insight, passion and wit and without ever talking down to her audience. She takes that same brand of badassery over to her personal blog, Mamita Mala.

5. Karla Derass (Karla’s Closet)
Karla, a student and fashion blogger, is quite possibly the most stylish woman in all of L.A. - the way she finds and combines high and low, vintage and new is nothing short of inspired. And we wish we could rock a vintage blazer like she does.

6. Carrie (Bilingual in the Boonies)
A Cubana living in Tennessee, Carrie shares her thoughts on Latino media and culture while probably trying to hunt down the best medianoche the South has to offer.

7. Kathy Cano-Murillo (Crafty Chica)
Give Kathy some glitter, a bit of string and a pair of scissors and this woman would probably make you an outfit, a set of loteria tickets and a matching coin purse. Yeah, she’s that good.

8. Marisol Lebron (Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo)
PhD student Marisol, when she’s not coming up with excellent blog names, is busy writing about GLBT issues, pop culture and politics.

9. Noemi Martinez (Hermana, Resist)
Noemi’s blog started out as a zine - which automatically earns our respect - and now she uses it as a platform to share her beautifully-penned thoughts about culture and politics.

10. The crew at Vegans of Color (Vegans of Color)
Noemi also happens to be one of the bloggers behind Vegans of Color, where you can not only find recipes and dining option, but well thought-out discussions about the politics, social and identity issues surrounding veganism.