Thursday, July 02, 2020

Chicanonautica: José Torres-Tama, Part Two: Getting on the Taco Truck

Last time, in trying to define “sci-fi Latino noir,” things got audiovisual/multimedia. Latino Lit reaching out into new frontiers. José Torres-Tama has been busy with this kind of stuff. He’s been doing films and video like a proper 21st century artist.
He sent me a link to Hard Living in the Big Easy, a “short film doc (15 mins) that debuted last year at the Orange County Museum for the 10th Annual Latino OC Film Fiesta there.” It serves as a good intro to Torres-Tama in performance makeup and regalia, that includes a NO GUACAMOLE for Immigrant Haters, T-shirt presenting an artistic/political manifesto, history lecture (he studies history, and makes it an essential part of his work), and as well as a editorial on the post-Katrina influx of Latin American immigrants to New Orleans and their struggles since including their disappearance from New Orleans and the World, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ tricenential anthology. Also his artwork, that can be seen in his book New Orleans Free People of Color and Their Legacy, is used to make the point.
This arrival of new people to new territories is an issue that is going ignored. Not only do we have Mexicans and Central Americans in New Orleans, but Guatemalans in Philadelphia, Spanish-speaking communities popping up in Chicago, and other areas. It’s even got traditional vatos and cholas nervous: “These new gente, they don’t do stuff the way my nana taught me.”
There we go, creating new identities, new cultures again. Maybe a new term, Latinx, Latinoid, whatever the chingada, is needed.
He also sent links to what he’s been doing during the Coronavirus lockdown:
VIDEO CORTADITOS & Picante Poems is an audio visual series of spicy YouTube shorts created in collaboration with Bruce France on dynamic video designs, the hallucinatory soundscapes of long-time music collaborator known as BAIII, and the politically charged performance poetry of José Torres-Tama.The stage performance photos are captured by Craig Morse.

These Cortaditos, available on his YouTube channel, “Español is Verboten Here,” “And What If After So Many Words,” “Can I Get aWitness?,” and “Symbolic Opponent Syndrome.” They are performances adapted to video. The texts started as poems that can be found in his book Immigrant Dreams & Alien Nightmares, and his CD Speaking Truth to Perverse Power Vol. 1, and keeps being updated to keep them current. It’s astounding how the struggle against racism doesn’t get dated--all you have to do is change the cast to the current participants. Similar to rap, and poetry readings, with musical visual accompaniment bring the message to a new medium.

Which brings us to This Taco Truck Kills Fascists . . .
Relax, it’s only a movie. And it’s not about concerned citizens in a taco truck, doing drive-bys on gatherings of fascists. Which wouldn’t be a bad idea for a movie . . .
No, This Taco Truck Kills Fascists is a documentary about the Taco Truck Theater / Teatro Sin Fronteraswhere Torres-Tama brings his performance art to the masses: filmed and directed by Rodrigo Dorfman, our brilliant Chilean-American filmmaker who has created this hybrid-genre documentary. We WON best Louisiana Feature at the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival. 
It follows Torres-Tama as he goes about his business with the Taco Truck, and has a lot of behind-the-scenes shots of his life, often showing him being a performance artist, activist and father all at the same time. It also: introduces my sci-fi performance persona “El Obie-JUAN Kenobi” in some outrageous comedic Intervention bits. He’s the Last Latino Jedi fighting for immigrants rights on the Living La Vida Loca pirate planet to escape a GrinGoLandia that has migrated deep into the “Dark Side”. IMDb categorizes it as “Documentary, Comedy, History.” It’s quite a show. And: it's FREE until August 9th! So check it out on Vimeo now!
Whew! All this and before I even got around to talking (texting don’t count) to him. Guess we’ll have to continue this on the next Chicanautica, in two weeks, here at La Bloga . . .

Ernest Hogan is working on projects that he will reporting on soon . . .

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