Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cumbia Article So Glossy and Fly

Two weeks in LA in the sun is never a bad thing and I'm back in the winter less pale and excited about the dope article that's in the current issue of Urb in The States. It was massive to write and fun to get to see some more of this city where I live and to get inside a fresh music movement I'm liking from the dance floor.

The article lives online too, Synths of Resistance: Argentina's Digital Cumbia, but it's so good in actual print! Real-life zine reading is more literary, less cursory or something. Just you and the pulp from the tree, getting down.

My head is full of visuals and audio from driving around Lost Angeles, getting to meet new progeny and seeing adjustments in the landscape. Best part of the trip for me, homies in the hometown, of course. Max's favorite moment was recording with Dr. Oop and Nucleus in the Victorian neighborhood of USC. There was some kind of ill connection between the four of us, for his first West Coast jam. There were cardboard boxes and finger snapping for beats, the acoustic guitar we'd bought to bring back to Gustavo, and Nucleus' storytelling that included tales from Fairfax High. We had a Fairfax moment, punctuated by a question.

Nucleus: "You went to Fairfax too, oh, what year did you graduate?
Eve: "'91" (chant-style, represent)
Nucleus: "That's the year I was born!"

Yes, I was celebrating a distinguished birthday that week, with stylie girlfriends in glorious LA backdrops. But my presents were toys, our pasta included pumpkin, wine-soaked strawberries and mascarpone stood in for cake, and there was a squabble between the girls and the security guard on the hotel roof. Toothy grinning, middle thirty came in alright. Thing is, every bday needs to be appreciated for the moment of exactly where you are at, never to repeat. For the age-haters, there's the fact that next year will be older, so this year is youthful in comparison with what's coming, right? I'm feeling lucky for the past year's fun, appreciate the hard knocks for sensibility earned, looking forward to what's headed my way, wide-eyed, anticipating the best possible scenario because why jinx yourself, boludo?

One foot here and one still in NYC, I ran through LA enjoying the weather, KCRW, and old friends and family who remain Angelenos and proud. Pick up that homespun Urb then, Hollyhood, and soak up something from South of Mexico. Argentine Cumbia's Zizek is in LA with shows this weekend, Saturday at the Echo and at the Getty Sunday.

I keep meeting people who live between Buenos Aires and the US or Europe and I'm thinking about why we do it. Right now I choose this city over the glowing American West Coast or fabulous Sexo in the City NYC and over any other foreign address. Like the rest of the expats I meet, I live here for the onda.

I checked in at the gate at LAX with the Chilean airline LAN, always LAN, never Delta, and was reminded why the crumbling streets of BA come in first choice. The continent is one big cooperative and this city likewise. Maybe I was around too many hippies as a kid, the people and lifestyle fit me. Every stranger is almost your friend, no phony smiles, no tense, overworked undercurrent. People live the good life in BA, without multiple trips to the mall. People treat each other right, have time and peace of mind to think. People know who they are and generally what they want and act like they know. When a CIA-induced coup murdered President Allende in the 70s, Argentina had just voted in socialism, so you get me. If the coup hadn't been successful, the nation never would have been taken over by the military dictatorship that swiftly annihilated 30,000 Argentines under its rule. Thanks to imperialist intervention, politics have remained in the hands of greed. But the society at large is still a co-op.

In 2008 as a foreigner, it's an amazing place to set yourself up for success, even if the economy is a poo butt. They're living what is our American heartbreak, they're back when it didn't matter how much money you have access to, when people were polite and walked the little old ladies across the street, when we spoke to neighbors.

The pace and style here explain why retro is nostalgic rather than moldy. For me, here and now is the good old days. Here, you can go to the hospital without approval from bad guys in insurance. Groceries are getting more expensive but they're still within budget, all organic and fresh from the local farm. People pat the heads of stray dogs and random passing toddlers and no one is scared to touch each other. It could inspire us Yanks. It's always a shock jumping between worlds, but I'm glad to get back to the underdeveloped and go raw like Ol Dirty.