Thursday, February 11, 2021

Chicanonautica: La Pocha Nostra Anthologized

by Ernest Hogan

Not even COVID-19 can keep La Cultura del Continuum Latinoid down. Didn’t have anything planned for the next Chicanonautica, but I didn’t worry. These are active times. Things are happening. Something will come. And it did.

I was fooling around, scanning through Facebook when I came across and announcement for San Francisco Living Archives’ La Pocha Nostra: An Experimental Anthology. It was a film, the sort of thing I would like to see being a fan of Guillermo Gómez-Peña (he does in performance art what I do in science fiction—we should probably collaborate someday . . .), his wife Balitronica, and the whole Pocha Nostra troupe in all its manifestations. I was going to file it under be on the lookout for, but noticed that the premiere was going to be special a weekend event online.

And there was a trailer:

I dropped everything and watched it.


More than thirty years of video, cleverly assembled, makes for one helluva movie. It’s as much avantgarde sci-fi as art retrospective documentary. Science fictional conceptualization and characterization mix with out there aesthetics, bleeding into snippets from various pop cultures, creating new worlds—which is what we need with the world in the sorry shape that it is.

It’s the sort of thing I’d show in the drive-in theater/all-nite cable movie marathons I host in my dreams, snuck in between ancient monster movies, bizarre cult classics, and other cinematic outrages, demonstrating that performance art has become what science fiction convention hallway culture showed a promise for, before cosplay became devoted to worshiping corporate franchises.

We need more non-corporate culture.

I’m pretty sure this film will be popping in venues of various kinds, some the likes of which we have never seen before, soon.

Gómez-Peña, being a creature driven by social and audience interactions, was frustrated in the early days of the quarantine, but he’s bounced back, heroically adapting to the new virtual, cultural environment. He, Balitronica, and La Pocha have been doing so much, I can’t keep up with it, which is a good thing. 

When it comes to La Cultura, you can’t have too much.

Ernest Hogan, the author of High Aztech, Cortez on Jupiter, and Smoking Mirror Blues is surviving through these troubled times, working a novel, other writings, and other art forms.

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