Thursday, August 15, 2019

Chicanonautica: Listening to American Sabor

Things have not been good for la Raza lately. I cringe whenever I check the news. Ese, what's the body count today? I'm tempted to get mad and do a diabolical surrealistic voodoo rant, but I think I'll save that for later.

We’ll probably need it . . . I've got this sickening, sinking feeling that the pendejadas are far from over.

Meanwhile, la Cultura marches on, looming larger and larger every day in the dream that is los Estados Unidos de America.

I recently ran across a book called American Sabor: Latinos and Latinas in U.S. Popular Music by Marisol Berrios-Miranda, Shannon Dudley, and Michelle Habell-Pallan, translated by Angia Berrios-Miranda. It's a big, fat book. At first I mistook it for a cookbook, the title leading me astray, but no, it was about music. Flipping through it, I saw a lot of pictures, with familiar faces as well as ones I hadn't seen before, plus a lot of text. English and Spanish. It’s bilingual.

Later, I discovered that it was shelved in both the English and Spanish nonfiction sections of the library where I work. 

I had to read and review it.

American Sabor is based on a traveling museum exhibit, and surveys “Latin” music in the U.S. from the 1940s to the 2000s. That’s a lot of territory, musically, historically, geographically, and culturally. There’s New York/Carribbean (with the Afro influence), Texas/Tejano, and L.A./San Francisco/California. All three coasts. And a whole lot of identities.

There’s a lot of provincialism is the Global Barrio. Some folks get huffy when it ain’t the same stuff they grew up with in their barro. “That ain’t the Spanglish my nana talked, cabrón!”

But, we are a lot of peoples and cultures. We get around, cross borders, and plug into the latest media. Face it, rasquache/recomboculture are us. And it’s the crossovers that keep it fresh, while opening up new worlds

American Sabor shows how each place and time creates its own Latinoid identity, keeping up with the latest recording and communication technology.

The great things about living in the 21st century (since I’m an old vato, it’ll always seems like the future to me) is that they provide playlists for the songs on iTunes and Spotify. Looking them up on on YouTube works too. No more of the frustration of reading a book about music, writing down names and titles, and going around for years hoping to find and hear it.

Guess where I got the background music that I wrote this review to?

Nostalgia is there, along with the discovery of new things. I do have to work to be an expert on la Cultura, y’know.

What’s really impressive is that it never all blends into a bland, commercial sameness. The mix is too lively. New developments still happen, and we continue to cross borders and tear down walls.

This celebration of la Cultura will come in handy in the impending future.

Get them shaking their colitas, and their hearts and minds will follow.

Maybe we can get them to put down their guns for a while.

Ernest Hogan has been hard at work in the Metro Phoenix area for months. Soon he will be doing some vacationing in Aztlán, seeing what’s happening and what’s still there.

1 comment: said...

Thanks so much for sharing this title...Along the same line, I came across this in a used bookstore, a "first edition" - cover reads "Design Not Final"

Mexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935-1968.
by Anthony Macias
Copyright 2008