Monday, March 30, 2015

Violent Reaction Interview

So Revelation Records has just released Violent Reaction's new LP, "Marching On". Unless you've been living under a rock these past years, you know the UK has made a blistering "comeback" of sorts onto the world hardcore stage. With bands like The Flex, Obstruct, Crown Court, Arms Race, True Vision, and a slew of others, this New Wave of British Hardcore (dubbed NWOBHC) doesn't look like it's gonna stop any time soon.

The Staycool Fanzine Crew (basically me and my sister, XX Tonantzin) interviewed Violent Reaction on May 3rd, 2014 outside of the East 7th before their show with The Flex, Stoic Violence, Constant Fear, and Forced Order. The Boys talked about their 2014 US tour, the socio-political context of England, gentrification, and other hardcore stuff. They kept it real.

Go to to buy "Marching On", it's a rager!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Esperanza Demo (2000): Southern California Hardcore Retrospectives of the late 90's and early 2000's.

Let’s Dig Deeper

In the last 5 years or so I’ve tried my best to keep my ear to conversations being held in a number of circles deemed as “critical” or “radical”. When you live in a small town, and you want to stay connected to whatever is happening it’s important to maintain some kind of link to these “critical”, “radical”, and “creative” circles, whether it be through social media, art, culture, scholarship, music, or activism, I’ve tried my best to find some kind of commonality between these circles. Some of these commonalities revolve around this basic need for marginalized people to tell their own stories, to document their own histories and realities, and to do so by using a broader lens that incorporates history, society, politics, economics, race, class, gender, age, environment, and location. I’m not sure to what degree we’ve done this in recent conversations on the hardcore/punk subculture, but I’ll do my best to dish out my own version of this.

Through social media, through zine fests, through documentaries, through collectives, and organizations, through art shows, through articles, through a ton of other mediums, I’ve gotten hints of something that happens in sparks: the counter narratives by people of color that seek to contextualize subcultures and social expressions and cultural production within bigger often oppressive social and historical systems.  Alice Bag’s publishing of Violence Girl, Beyond the Screams Documentary, AfroPunk Documentary, Ovarian Pyschos Documentary (not sure where they are with that, I know they had a Kickstarter campaign), Martin Sorrondeguy’s Art Exhibits, and other events around the state of California, the US, and the rest of the world. I perceive these to be sparks, because I wish they happened more often, I wish they had a bigger platform, I wish there was an authentically receptive community that acknowledged the revolutionary aspects of all subcultures. Those examples I listed above relate specifically to hardcore/punk, I know many other subcultures that have embarked on this journey to tell their own story, whether it be in Hip Hop, Jazz, Corridos (narco corridos I guess), Salsa, Graffiti, or any other subculture. Within Hip Hop specifically I’ve noticed that lines have been blurred between subculture and the narratives devised to contextualize and explain the significance of this subculture. This has come largely from some circles in academia, where “hip hop” scholars have emerged. By dissecting the racial and political climate under which hip hop was born, and by using critical theories on race, gender, whiteness, blackness, anti-blackness, African American history, criminal justice system, incarceration, history, capitalism, the Drug War, education, reproductive health, environmental racism, and everything in between, they have managed to create a truly comprehensive framework from which we can analyze, deconstruct, and talk about hip hop. It’s through this realization that I attempt to turn the focus on other subcultures, in this case our hardcore/punk subculture.

If we claim to have an interest in revolutionary subcultures or in revolutionary and radical forms of expression we must push ourselves beyond our own personal subcultures of interest and see the beauty of struggle across our communities and the world. So I challenge you. Even those who are not into hardcore/punk, I challenge you to appreciate a moment in time, I challenge you to respect a moment of cultural and racial resistance. I challenge you to acknowledge an era in Los Angeles and Southern California that saw youth of color create their own responses to the challenges of the “global city” where “flows of capital, labor, goods, raw materials, tourists” oppression, racism, inequality and a host of other phenomena create a social stew that is always at its boiling point. I suggest you check out sociologist Saskia Sassen’s work. She does a great job at dissecting what cities across the world have become. Going back to our main point. I challenge you to learn the history of Southern California's hardcore punk scene of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  If we are to talk about the importance of community, autonomy, of youth of color using art, expression, and cultural production to read, deconstruct, and challenge the injustices of their world, then we must know this history. Regardless of your opinion of hardcore/punk as a form of musical expression, I challenge you to learn this critical history, one demo, one 7” EP, or one LP at a time. In our first installment, we bring you Esperanza’s self-titled demo recorded in the year 2000. Enjoy!

The Living Room: Santa Barbara Bound

The Esperanza demo was recorded by Santa Barbara legend John Lyons at the Living Room on June 4, 2000. The Living Room was this awesome venue in Isla Vista. Isla Vista is an unincorporated neighborhood in Santa Barbara where UCSB is located. The Living Room was in this neighborhood. And to be more precise, this location where the demo was recorded was The Living Room’s second location, the first being in another part of Santa Barbara, not sure exactly where.

Moving on, I first saw Esperanza sometime later that year, after the demo was recorded. I want to say it was like in December or something. I was already 17 at this point and was itching to start my own hardcore band, which would happen two years later (VYO Oxnard Straight Edge). As a 17 year old hardcore kid, I was also a bit of a loser, I guess being low income didn’t help, but the point is I didn’t have a car. I could drive, but no car. So that week my dad gave me and my homie Mike Doane a ride to SB. My dad had a lot of connects in SB since he lived and worked there in Carpinteria’s (an agricultural community in SB) flower nurseries. It was a school night and he was cool with it too. I got a ride out of it, and he got to kick it with his homie in Santa Barbara—everyone came out winning. This particular show featured a pretty cool line up, the headliner being this band put out by Martin Sorrondeguy’s Lengua Armada Discos, they were called Hog. They came out all the way from Mexico City if I’m not mistaken. That was the key selling point for me. They kind of gave me a power violence vibe. Back then, the internet hadn’t really exhibited its full force on hardcore, so we still found out about most shows through flyers and word of mouth. I recall seeing a bad ass flyer for a show Hog would end up doing at the legendary PCH Club in Wilmington that was kind of a rip on one of Larm’s record/t-shirt designs. The one where Larm are riding the cow, haha! That show seemed kind of far so I figured I’d go to this one in Isla Vista.

We got there pretty early and were hanging out in the parking lot. It was already dark but we managed. They show eventually started and I only really recall three bands playing, one I believed was called Bread & Water from Wisconsin, Esperanza, and Hog. I remember the band Bread & Water (although Ray from Esperanza remembers another band) having a vocalist with dreads. As far as the sound? I’m just gonna go and say a crust type vibe? Haha! I mean, when you have dreads and you play hardcore, unless you’re Bobby Sullivan, you’re probably gonna play crust. Haha!

Now, as I type this I have this doubt in my mind and with the benefit of the internet I have just checked and damn! It seems like Bread & Water is an anarcho punk band from Dallas, Texas. Female fronted too. The band I thought was Bread & Water had a male vocalist with dreads. Unless I find the flyer I will not know who the hell that band was. Damn it. Regardless, the band I saw with the dreaded white vocalist was anarcho punk/crust sounding as well. They were pretty cool and seemed really nice. That night however, the stand out for me was Esperanza. Not sure if they opened or at what point they played, but I just recall being blown away by the DC style hardcore that graced us that night.

Southern California Hardcore: One Big Happy Family and Steve Aoki’s Punk Roots

There weren’t that many people present since the show was during the weekday. That didn’t matter, as it never matters when you have world class hardcore. Esperanza sounded like they were some lost Dischord Records band and it was topped off by vocalist Rich Booher’s distinctive style. I had heard Rich before from another band he once fronted called Dirty Dirt & The Dirts.  I’d heard them on this awesome compilation put out by this kid from Ojai (a rural community where many wealthy folks live in northern Ventura County, CA). Guitarist Graham Clise of Annihilation Time and Lecherous Gaze, who also recently appeared playing guitar with J. Mascis is from Ojai as well, so you know Ventura County was legit back then too! The compilation was called As The Sun Sets: A Southern California Hardcore Compilation.

For me it was a watershed compilation, since it kind of nudged me away from the Profane Existence/crust stuff I was into and led me to finally start embracing the beautiful hardcore scene that we had strewn through Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Orange County. Esperanza also featured two other members I had heard of/known about, one was Steve Aoki, who also had a band featured on the As The Sun Sets compilation. He also ran a venue in Isla Vista called the Pickle Patch, played in other bands, and was a frequent contributor to HeartAttack Fanzine. I don’t think much needs to be said about where Steve Aoki is now. Dude’s huge. Like HUGE!!! Haha! The other dude I had heard about was Miguel Amezcua, who ran El Grito Records (which at the time was putting out a lot of diverse hardcore stuff) and who was also another contributor to HeartAttack Fanzine. At the time I hadn’t known Scott Deitz (drummer) and Raymon Ruiz (guitars). Raymon Ruiz, would go on to be in two bad ass bands throughout the mid 2000’s, one being Mugre and the other Descarados (along with Mike/Miguel Amezcua).

From the moment Esperanza played the first chord I was hooked. The Dischord riffage was beyond evident and the deal was sealed with Rich’s vocals. After the show I talked to them and they were all the coolest dudes. I’m not gonna lie, at 17 I was still kind of star struck when I would meet older dudes that either ran fanzines (Kent McClard), played in bands, or had some heavier involvement in hardcore than myself. Now whether we like it or not, all subcultures whether consciously or not reproduce hierarchies. Hardcore was and is no exception. Some folks I had met in the past did come off as a little bit more…how should I say? Less approachable. These dudes were the complete opposite.  After the show I remember buying the demo from Miguel (Mike) and going back to Oxnard. I would go on to see Esperanza again one more time. In Downtown LA’s Lafayette Community Center. I believe that show was with E-150 from Spain and What Happens Next? Or it may have been with Life’s Halt and Tragatelo. I’m not sure. But they shredded once again. This time I had learned the lyrics and sang along. Rich passed the mic in that traditional youth crew hardcore fashion. Esperanza’s lyrics were poetic, political, and encapsulated the rage of social, racial, gendered, and political injustice. I mean, the insert had an excerpt from Mexico’s revolutionary indigenous army, the EZLN (Zapatistas) as well as a quote from revolutionary activist and scholar Angela Davis. What else needs to be said?

You Act Like Everything Is Just Fine…Well, Not To Me!!!

During the late 90’s and early 2000’s Southern California, and the US hardcore scene in general was in one of its renaissances. Or at least it seemed to me. Maybe this perception is a result of this being the hardcore era I was involved in during my “youth”, during the formative years of my adolescence. So I guess whichever scene you are a part of during those crucial years in your life will forever leave an indelible mark on your soul. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that every cultural era is different and defined by its own challenges and opportunities. From my perspective there are notable differences between the present state of hardcore/punk and the one existent in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. To be brief, there were more venues back then, at least in my part of California, Santa Barbara/Ventura/Oxnard. There was a notable hardcore presence in Santa Barbara that circulated around HeartAttack Fanzine, which was based there. Ebullition Records, the legendary 90’s hardcore punk label noted for its more political and DC/Revolution Summer inspired hardcore vibe was also based in Santa Barbara and was made up of the same folks who ran HeartAttack. Both Ebulltion and HeartAttack exerted a significant influence on the Santa Barbara scene, one marked heavily by politics. To me, that was awesome.

Because there were more venues it seemed as if there were also more shows, a bigger scene, more fanzines, more networks between the different scenes, and an overall more politicized voice within hardcore. Today most of this seems to be lost, or at least minimized. Santa Barbara was important in the respect that it is a smaller city, non-urban, and was a big hub for subcultural expression and the subsequent cultural production. Oxnard and Ventura County (where I am from) felt this. Sandwiched between the LA scene and the SB scenes at the time, it was only natural for Oxnard to have its own scene flourishing. After all, Oxnard has a strong subcultural pedigree. Oxnard challenged the traditional notions of cultural production we usually hold on to (thank you to Mike Amezcua for helping me articulate it like this), where the urban centers are seen as the sole producers of all things cultural, artistic, and musical. During the 1980’s Oxnard produced such legendary hardcore punk bands as Dr. Know, Stalag 13, Agression, and Ill Repute as well as legendary Xicano artists like Jaime and Gilberto Hernandez who would go on to create Love & Rockets (which helped usher in alternative comics). When you add this dynamic past, with the renaissance going on in LA and Santa Barbara during the late 90’s and early 2000’s it should go without saying that Oxnard established its own presence on the Southern California hardcore map of that era. During the era of the mid 90’s to the late 90’s Oxnard had a bunch of bands, some of the ones I remember more clearly were Burning Dog, The Whereabouts, Voice of Defiance, No Motiv, and at the time, our biggest hardcore exponent: Stand Your Ground (some of the members would go on to form Oxnard giants In Control). That said, like any other Oxnard kid of the time it was almost mandatory to like all the old Nardcore bands and to prove yourself by going to shows to see the contemporary bands. Pretty standard right? Supporting your scene. However, it took me some time to fully embrace this. For a number of reasons.

For one, like many folks who didn’t get into punk during the formative eras, between the late 70’s and I’d dare to say up until the early 90’s, getting into punk became like some weird mish mash. For many of us the punk trajectory was all out of order, many of us getting into it because of the alternative and pop punk explosions of the mid 90’s, thanks to bands like Nirvana, Green Day, Rancid, and Soundgarden, etc. As a result, many of us went from one era to the next, skipping bands and genres all together. I was one of these kids. I got into a lot of the UK 82 stuff, the anarcho punk stuff, then into the crust/Profane Existence stuff as well. During this time a lot of the hardcore scene in Oxnard was very much into the straight edge stuff and the metal hardcore stuff, bands like Ten Yard Fight, Floorpunch, Snapcase, Strife, Earth Crisis, etc. The Victory Records and Revelation stuff. You get the picture. A lot of this stuff wasn’t my cup of tea for the most part, since I perceived it to have a jock/macho vibe. Eventually I’d catch up to speed (with help from the As The Sun Sets Comp) and get into a lot of the bands every kid in Oxnard liked. For a while I was also turned off from the Oxnard bands because they all liked all the stuff that seemed jock/macho. But like I said, I got past it. I ended up liking all the Nardcore stuff too, but despite liking these bands, learning all the In Control lyrics from their demo (which I think came out in 1999) and the first EP, something about the Oxnard bands wasn’t really clicking with me.

By the time I discovered Los Crudos this void became very clear to me: None of the Oxnard bands past or (at the time) present articulated the exact feelings I had. We get into hardcore for a lot of different reasons. For me, one of those reasons was having a voice that articulated things I was feeling and my own reality. While Los Crudos was a landmark/watershed moment for many people of color in hardcore they were not the only ones. Along with Huasipungo in New York, and the scenes that would eventually sprout in places like Los Angeles hardcore after Los Crudos and Huasipungo would experience an explicit rearticulating of its racial politics. While bands like No Motiv, The Whereabouts, Burning Dog, Voice of Defiance, and Stand Your Ground were defining the hardcore scene of the mid to late 90’s in Oxnard, bands like KontraAtaque, Tezacrifico, Subsistencia, Parades End, and Life’s Halt were defining and establishing a politically infused hardcore that sang about issues related to race, immigration, and social injustice. For someone who had seen the ravages of industrial agriculture in my own family, it was a no brainer. The LA hardcore bands singing about these issues would become foundational for me. Hometown pride was overpowered by a deeper political analysis on the realities of capitalism, immigration, race, sexism, etc.

California from the period of the mid 1990’s to the late 2000’s was marked by a series of heavily racialized and xenophobic propositions that were largely targeted at people of color within California. Proposition 187 was a draconian measure aimed at limiting health, education, and social services for undocumented immigrants, this was passed in 1994, California’s Three Strikes sentencing law was also enacted in 1994, this measure required “a defendant convicted of any new felony, having suffered one prior conviction of a serious felony to be sentenced to state prison for twice the term otherwise provided for the crime. If the defendant was convicted of any felony with two or more prior strikes, the law mandated a state prison term of at least 25 years to life”, this law disproportionately affected African American males, see Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow for a deeper analysis of measures such as these. 1996 saw the passage of Proposition 209, which eliminated Affirmative Action in California. 1998 would see the passage of Proposition 227, which severely limited (in many cases eliminated) bilingual education from public schools. And lastly, the year 2000 saw the passage of Proposition 21, which increased a variety of criminal penalties for crimes committed by youth and incorporated many youth offenders into the adult criminal justice system. All, if not most of these propositions disproportionately affected low income folk and communities of color. Along with the Drug War at the national level, legislative action at the state and federal levels reflected a shift that sought to peel back the “gains” made during the civil rights era. Many of these were essentially attempts at racialized social control and were pristine examples of American white supremacist governmental policy. With the exception of Proposition 187, which was later ruled unconstitutional, most of these propositions continue to this day. If we take a critical look at the more recent history of this continent and the world we’ll see that these propositions are a reflection of the legislative mechanisms devised by colonial/settler-state societies established after the periods of exploration and colonialism. Settler-state societies which intend to control the land, bodies, and cultures of the conquered subjects. Imposing their own laws, languages, world-views, religions, and everything else. These propositions are firm representations of the state of white supremacy in the US nation-state. The War in Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan, the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Drug War, the Black Lives Matter movement, all of these are examples of the continued struggles and battles we must engage in today. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, hardcore decried these injustices. I often wonder what is being done today within our subculture?

Esperanza was at the forefront of the struggles that called out white privilege and white supremacy within hardcore. Their stance has been largely ignored and forgotten. This is surprising and simultaneously disappointing since there has been a growing number of alternative media sources that attempt to give voice to stories that have often gone untold. During their brief existence Esperanza challenged white privilege within the high contested racial spaces of the Southern California hardcore scene. They went as far as printing t-shirts that said "Fuck Your Privilege". This went on to cause controversy and disrupt a perceived "harmony" and "unity" that pervaded the entire Southern California Hardcore scene. Message boards (popular at the time, predating Facebook) were ravaged by debate, and to put it lightly, "argument" and defamation, songs were written, the scene was "separated". This is what happens when you take radical ideals and call out things for what they are. I will dedicate a post that goes more in depth on this forgotten conflict of Southern California History, not because I want to open old wounds, but because I want to retell a story, a counter narrative that displays the delicate racial string by which hardcore hangs.  

By the year 2000 it was clear to me that while I was from Oxnard, and appreciated and loved all the hardcore that came from here, what really spoke to me was what was going on in Los Angeles. The bands from LA actually sang about these issues. As the son of Mexican immigrants who broke their bodies to benefit the agricultural industrial complex and the sweatshops of the US, I needed something, I needed someone who could articulate the anger and alienation I felt at the things I had seen and experienced in Oxnard. One look out the window and I could see the state of bondage people in Oxnard were subjected to—as they broke their bodies over the strawberry fields, exposed to back breaking labor and record levels of pesticides. A state of bondage existent since the early 1900’s. Hardcore from Oxnard, while angry, did not sing about my realities.

I had gotten into Los Crudos right as they broke up, missing their show at the legendary PCH Club. By 1999/2000 LA continued to have a handful of critical hardcore bands, one of these being Esperanza. When I got home and read the lyrics I was floored. Lyrics talking shit about Pete Wilson, who was the Republican governor of California from 1993 to 1999, and one of the main architects behind all the propositions I mentioned. This is where I felt a deeper connection to the hardcore coming out of LA. Bands like Esperanza explicitly articulated the anger many people were feeling in California. Through songs like the 21st Reason to Kill Pete Wilson they called out the injustice behind Proposition 21. These were lyrics talking about real things that were affecting communities across California! Their excerpt by one of the Zapatista declarations was another thing that connected deeply with me. Here, a hardcore band from Los Angeles was using the indigenous world view of people that looked like my grandmothers, that worked the land like my father, here they were including the revolutionary world view that challenged white supremacy, not in the traditional way most hardcore punks envision white supremacy, but in the deeper way, White Supremacy that rewards whiteness, through institutions such as education, labor, capital, economics, the legal system, etc. Esperanza were embracing revolutionary voices from the global south, Esperanza stood against “the international of terror representing neoliberalism…” Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish, “Hope, above borders, languages, colors, cultures, sexes, strategies, and thoughts, of all those who prefer humanity alive”. (from the Zapatista Encuentro, Seven Stories Press 1998, printed in Esperanza insert). This band was teaching me. Now at the time, the Zapatista uprising in Mexico was still making waves. And the Zapatista Uprising was still relatively fresh, having taken place in 1994, where even bands like Rage Against The Machine (who also came from the hardcore scene) were singing about it. Some would say that this era had more reasons to be pissed. But I kind of debate that. By 2000, the Zapatista Uprising had already been 6 years passed and folks in critical/radical circles across the board fully embraced it. Many hardcore punks were not the exception. What does seem to be the exception is the receptiveness of hardcore punk kids back then in comparison to now. I mean, we still have a whole lot to be angry about, and events in Mexico, the US, and the rest of the world are still on fire. The Black Lives Matter movement, the 43 slain students in Mexico, the wars raging overseas, etc. I ask, where is the receptiveness within hardcore to these movements?

These are the types of things bands like KontraAtaque, Esperanza, Tragatelo, Life’s Halt, and Former Members of Alfonsin were singing about. These were voices that were prominent in the hardcore scene of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Whether or not you were listening was on you. Emblazoned above the lyrics sheet for Esperanza was an Angela Davis quote that fiercely denounced the racism that was represented by the police state, “We Must Learn to Rejoice When Pigs’ Blood Is Spilled”. Wow. It doesn’t get more radical then that. The demo ends with a song titled “Today’s Lesson Plan”, denouncing the indoctrinating and racist public education system (which has been HEAVILY RESEARCHED and yes people, the public education system of the US has a sordid legacy, like most public education systems in every nation state), the lyrics reading:

 “…a story once told, about the brave and the bold, so many stories left untold, of people taking what isn’t sold, we got genocide, we got unwanted signs, we cover the truth with lies, cause we’ve got so much to hide”.

This demo was a representation of critical pedagogy. Of revolutionary education that counteracts the dominant narratives of the US nation-state. For a 17 year old who was enrolled in a public education institution (with everything that implies) this was part of a different education process, a critical/decolonial education process that was authentically pushing me to question everything, but this time from a more well articulated perspective. Not some abstract lyricism written by kids that were living in a suburb, rather a well-articulated lyricism made up of a multiracial hardcore outfit. Made up of members from different cities of California, from Victorville, Glendora, South Central/Downtown LA, and Santa Barbara. This was a lyricism by people in different locations of California experiencing these social forces, deconstructing them using critical scholarship and literature, analysis, and conversation. All the while, I was having fun listening to fierce power chords paying homage to the Teen Idles, Government Issue, Minor Threat, State of Alert, Void, and other DC greats. It was the best of both worlds. If you want to teach youth, you have to do it in a language, in a form they understand. The Esperanza demo helped me understand and articulate things I was feeling in a way that couldn’t have happened if someone had handed me a book and just told me to read it.

So Many Stories Left Untold

In the end I’m not sure about how many shows Esperanza played. Because the members were littered throughout SoCal I know that for sure it wasn’t always the easiest project to get off its feet. I know they played a pretty bad ass show with Total Fury and The Oath around 2002 (I think it was 2002), they played one of the Chicago Fests (I think it’s safe to say that this was the fest that ushered in the era of the fests within hardcore, around the same time you had the Positive Numbers fest, and shortly thereafter the Chaos en Tejas fests, the Chicago Fests definitely helped set this off), and possibly a tour up to the Bay Area as well as the occasional shows around SoCal. I think by around 2003 Esperanza called it quits.

To this day I look back fondly on this demo as one of those life changing moments, that nudge you in a direction that nurtures the better elements of the human spirit, the better manifestations of humanity, the sense of wanting to help others, the sense that cries for social justice, the sense that pushes you to challenge yourself. At 31, I am still involved in hardcore punk (after a brief period of questioning in my mid 20’s), and I’m currently an educator. I like to think of myself as a social justice educator. I’m heavily involved in my community, currently part of on organization named the Association of Mexican American Educators, which is Ventura County’s only social justice oriented education advocacy organization. The Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) is one of the remnants of the myriad social justice organizations that started in the 1960’s, the ones all those propositions sought to dismantle. Unlike LA or the Bay Area we don’t have as many autonomous/radical organizations. We make do with what we have in smaller towns. 

I also publish this fanzine (very close to being done with issue two), Staycool Fanzine. One final reflection that I stay with is the necessity for explicitly politically charged hardcore. At least within the US, it seems that punk (in all of its manifestations and scenes, regardless of race, gender, class, etc.) has gone through a serious depoliticizing. We continue to suffer from the same problems, if anything you could even say we’ve suffered a regression, and yet I don’t see any consistent and well-established response from the various hardcore communities. I know there may be different perspectives on why this may have happened. But man, it can be very discouraging. I certainly hope we can work to remedy this. I, for one, am willing to take part in any project that seeks to use creativity, art, and culture, to challenge the multiple forces of oppression that assault our communities. While hardcore means different things to different people, for me it is one of the many subcultures existent in the world that embraced revolutionary change and critical thinking. Maybe sometimes we romanticize our subcultures too much. But we have to be willing to “dig deeper”, as Esperanza taught us.

“This is part of my life, not an escape from it” (Esperanza, 2000). 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sordo Interview (Cultural Wealth in the Hood #2): Oxnard Powerviolence...Cultural Responses by Youth of Color

Greetings fam, 

Haven't spoken with y'all since August!!! Again, my apologies...Still in the process of learning how to balance varying responsibilities and reflecting on how I should of done more of this "punk stuff" when I was younger, haha! But who cares, we're doing it now and that's what matters right? This is an interview with Oxnard/El Rio, California's Sordo. Sordo are a powerviolence band. Powerviolence is a more extreme and spastic manifestation of hardcore punk. As explained in the DIY Noise interview below, "powerviolence" emerged as a subculture within punk in the late 80's and early 90's and has continued well into the present day. 
Before I forget anything here is the link to the Sordo 7" EP. It is AMAZING!!!!

The involvement of youth of color in subcultures is very deep and needs to be further unpacked, situated, and contextualized vis a vis other mechanisms of marginalization, oppression, racialized social control, inadequate schooling etc.

What healthy, creative, and culturally affirming responses can our youth generate to a world that seems to be forgetting them and neglecting them???

Anyhow,  here is the Sordo interview we did a while back (I believe it was late Summer last year), it's audio with images of the band. We still haven't completed Staycool Fanzine #2, but we promise that it will be JAM PACKED and well worth the wait...topics include the Post Morrissey Xican@ essay, Imaginary Chola Complex essay, band pics, interviews, a demo release of our sister label for a new band named Sendero (Revolution Summer meets indigenismo/indigeneity/decolonial hardcore) and a t-shirt. Keep your eyes peeled.

Staycool Fanzine #1.5 Cultural Wealth in the Hood #2

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cultural Wealth in the Hood - Interview with Oxnard, CA's first powerviolence label DIY Noise

Well it's been a while since the last post. Like about 7 months or so? Sheesh!!! My apologies!!! Chalk it up to an inability to effectively manage time, being stressed about about teaching, not asking others for help, busting a (I guess it's 'masculine') lone wolf approach to life, etc. That said, the print edition of Staycool (aka STC) Fanzine is about 70% done. Yes, despite all of the challenges to producing an 'old-school' style fanzine I will remain true to the DIY Hardcore Punk fanzine aesthetic of cut and paste. At least until it becomes too much of a headache and my creative pursuits clash with some of my 'professional' responsibilities. The ultimate goal is to intertwine both of these interests/responsibilities and create a curriculum by which youth can express themselves through writing, critical media, and art.

That said, in our first installment of DIY Noise we look at the hardcore punk phenomenon of "powerviolence". Powerviolence is a more extreme, abrasive, and spastic incarnation of punk. It's pretty much the personification (to an extent) of punk rock/hardcore parodies, where folks are just playing fast while screaming lyrics in a spastic and unrestrained manner. Critical/radical deconstructions of the punk subculture (see White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race) tend to look at the way in which whiteness and the varying manifestations of racism (overt, colorblind, casual, etc.) interact and intersect within a self-proclaimed radically progressive and revolutionary subculture, one in which whiteness itself is an identity that can be traded in for a 'punk' identity. Some critiques of punk focus solely on punk as a 'white' counter-cultural expression and negate the tremendous influence and role people of color have had on this subculture since its inception. In fact, Punks of Color continue to exert a revolutionary role, truly embodying the universal ideals of rebellion.

Currently, the Chicano/Latino punk scenes, the Afro-Punk scene (, the Pakistani punk scene, the Indian punk scene, the Central American/Caribbean and South American punk scenes, the multiple Asian and Pacific punk scenes, and the African punk scenes all push the parameters of musical expressions to its limits (it is also crucial to mention the role of queer folk and wombyn in all of these scenes, they ultimately go above and beyond punk). Relying on an anti-corporate and sometimes de-colonial aesthetic punk scenes established by folks of color remind us of the tremendously vibrant and dynamic nature of communities of color throughout the world. They remind us of the tenacity of these communities in the face of social and institutional hurdles, reminding us of the Mos Def lyric from Mathematics, where "hip hop passed all your tall social hurdles like the nationwide projects, prison-industry projects, working class poor better keep your alarm set, streets to loud to ever hear freedom ring". The lyric rings solemnly true.Youth of color in the United States, and worldwide, continue to face perilous realities, the school to prison pipeline, racist criminal justice system, unequal schools, historic deportation rates, racialized War on Terror, Islamophobia, under-served communities, disproportionate unemployment and underemployment, failed Drug War etc. At least in the United States we are living in the age of what legal scholar Michelle Alexander refers to as the New Jim Crow where our African American communities are subjected to punitive and degenerated systems of law. We are living in an era where African Americans and Latinos continuously become incarcerated or die because of an unjust and ineffective Drug War, one in which banks (HSBC, Wells Fargo) play a direct morbid role. With the weight of history, poverty and internalized hate makes our people do heartbreaking things.

Despite this, our communities remain as places of resilience. We create art, culture, and beauty from struggle, inequality, and pain. I suppose this can be healing in some instances.

We only hope we were able to situate the importance of subculture produced by folks of color, specifically Punks of Color. Under this context, we present to you our series, Situating Subculture - Cultural Wealth in the Hood

¡Viva Juchari Uinapikua!

Cultural Wealth in the Hood: Interview with Oxnard, CA's first powerviolence label DIY Noise

Friday, January 6, 2012

Insociable Reflections - Marginalization and Mexican Partying

Yo, been a sweet minute since the last update. It's funny how we try to run away from things but they always end up catching up with us right? I guess some of us are just better at pretending everything is okay and we just go through the motions...whatever...Gangstarr said we all must meet our moment of truth...In the mean time here is a little reflection we came up with. Nothing new...I was just tying to fool around with iMovie, haha!

The video is a simplistic and possibly over simplified analysis of the Botas Picudas phenomenon (Mexican pointy boots and Mexican electro music) juxtaposed with the racism and marginalization suffered by indigenous communities in Chihuahua, Mexico. Kinda was just thinking about how cultural imperialism is manifesting itself in Mexico, via the transposable hedonistic American party/club culture (getting fucked up, one night stands, live to party, bullshit we do to numb ourselves and not face certain uncomfortable realities, right?).

To put it in colloquial Chicano English..."Anywayyyyzzzz..." Since the last blog update I started work/teaching and that has always kicked my ass, in addition to taking up a significant portion of my time. That said, I was unable to work on issue number 2 until Winter Break (which just flew by) and so far it looks pretty cool. This issue is gonna deal with "Facing the Pain"...sometimes we just gotta pull up our pants, roll up our sleeves, and say "fuck it" right?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Staycool Fanzine #1 in Top 10 Fanzines of September for MRR!!!

Yo folks!!! Hope all is well. Finally decided to update the blog after a couple of months of inactivity! Gotta let you all know that Staycool Fanzine #1 was selected as one of the Top 10 Fanzines for the September issue of Maximum Rocknroll! Gotta start hustling on Staycool #2 I suppose!

Here's the proof!!! HAHA!

We got a good review in MRR #340. Hopefully we'll be able to do the print version ASAP and be more consistent with updating the blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Staycool Fanzine #1 Available Now

Interviews with long defunct Los Angeles hardcore giants Life's Halt (which started out as an all Latino/Chicano ensemble), Nevada's Dag Nastesque hardcore stalwarts Faded Grey (I believe a Latino bassist), and Oxnard's Slap-A-Ham revivalists El Mariachi (Multiracial powerviolence kids). Plus articles on race and identity, recipes, and band pics!!! Issue #2 in the works and should be out in a month or so! Let's keep the DIY aesthetic alive!!! If you want a copy just send me an email.


Here's one of the bands we interviewed:

Life's Halt - Vidas (Youngblood Records, 2000)