Tagged: Culture

Send In The Clowns

August 15th, 2010 Permalink

  If French surrealist theorist Andre Breton’s assertion is to be believed, that “Mexico is the most surrealist country in the world,” Tijuana most certainly would register as the surrealist of its cities. One doesn’t need to dig deeper than the newspaper headlines of city’s two respectable dailies to find real news stories dripping with […]

Los Chicharrines Tijuana
 

If French surrealist theorist Andre Breton’s assertion is to be believed, that “Mexico is the most surrealist country in the world,” Tijuana most certainly would register as the surrealist of its cities. One doesn’t need to dig deeper than the newspaper headlines of city’s two respectable dailies to find real news stories dripping with the absurdity that makes them better suited for tabloids like the Weekly World News. But in Tijuana, truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Take for instance the story dominating this week’s news cycle. It all started last Sunday, when Mexico’s famous sibling clown duo, Los Chicharrines, abruptly cancelled their Tijuana performance at Parque Morelos mid-show, after allegedly received death threats. Offering the audience no explanation, Los Chicharrines bid farewell to 12,000 paying fans after just 50 minutes.

By all accounts, the day was a disaster in the making long before Los Chicharrines took to the stage. Long queues to get in, security issues, a crumby sound system, and poor sight lines that left a majority of audience unable to view the performance and well out of ear shot, spoiled the fun for show-goers. Unaware of the alleged threats, the crowd’s frustration gave way to anger when the program was cut short. Shouts of “fraud, fraud, fraud” escalated into a unruly mob, who directed a fusillade of bottles at the clowns’ passing motorcade, according to one report.

As surreal as that sounds, it’s the rated PG version of story. Event promoter Manolo Zae gave an even more colorful, Hollywoodized recounting to the local media, claiming that shortly after the Los Chicharrines left the park, they came under fire and were chased through the streets of Tijuana by a car full of armed men.

While never out of the realm of possibility in a town like Tijuana, Zae’s version of the story has been vehemently disputed by Tijuana’s mayor Jorge Ramos Hernández, who maintains that clowns were never in any danger, and the fictional account of the day’s events that dominated Monday’s headlines is yet another black eye for the city. “There was no threat of death against the comics, there was no car chase, no shots, no other such incidents,” Ramos said.

Tijuana’s corpse-slapping, tough-as-nails Secretary of Public Security, Julian Leyzaola, also denied claims of an attack, noting the absence of a bullet riddled car or casings at the scene. Los Chicharrines’ manager Joel Cano Jr., sticking to the official Ramos/Leyzaola line that no such attack occurred, listed negligence on the part of the promoter and a problem plagued event as the reasons for the performers’ swift exit.

While the clowns-getting-lit-up-in-broad-daylight-on-the-streets-of-TJ report that initially ran in Monday’s paper has proven to be fictitious, the truth is, Tijuana has never been kind to Los Chicharrnes. On their last tour of city in 2008, Tijuana’s most violent year, one of the Ramírez brothers was allegedly kidnapped and freed shortly thereafter, when a hefty ransom was paid.

Despite a string of bad luck here, Los Chicharrines still show the city love. In response to the fiasco, the clowns intend to make it up to Tijuana with a soon-to-be-planned free performance.

While Los Chicharrines’ next performance will be free, their offstage shows in Tijuana alone are worthy of a 100-peso price of admission. Luckily, the entertainment only requires a subscription. As the saga played out in the papers this week, it proved two simple truths. It’s always a spectacle when Los Chicharrines come to town, and it’s never a dull day in Tijuana, hands down the “most surrealist” city in the world.

Wrestling With Traffic

June 28th, 2010 Permalink

Tijuana Traffic

The Evening Commute

June 6th, 2010 Permalink

  Moco Yoyo, Sergio Pueblo’s clown moniker, and guitarist Jesus Arroyo, entertain Tijuana’s transit riding public on a short bus ride from the border to downtown. On most afternoons, the duo can be found performing a routine that includes singing, guitar playing, and jokes on the city’s buses for spare change.


 
Moco Yoyo, Sergio Pueblo’s clown moniker, and guitarist Jesus Arroyo, entertain Tijuana’s transit riding public on a short bus ride from the border to downtown. On most afternoons, the duo can be found performing a routine that includes singing, guitar playing, and jokes on the city’s buses for spare change.

The Current Current: Scenes From a Scene

June 1st, 2010 Permalink

  Mexico’s Emerging Sound   With lo-fi laptop compositions constructed from cheap synths, jacked beats, and inflected with the regional rhythms of the Americas, Mexico’s hip, digitally savvy twenty-somethings have created a ‘new tendency’ in digital music that has the caught the ear of influential music blogs, causing the rest of the world to take […]



 
Mexico’s Emerging Sound
 

With lo-fi laptop compositions constructed from cheap synths, jacked beats, and inflected with the regional rhythms of the Americas, Mexico’s hip, digitally savvy twenty-somethings have created a ‘new tendency’ in digital music that has the caught the ear of influential music blogs, causing the rest of the world to take notice.

Tijuana—one of the influential centers of ‘hurache-gaze,’ a Mexican reinvention of shoegaze—is home to the genre’s up-and-comers, Los Macuanos, María y Jóse, Santos, and Unsexy Nerd Ponies, who along with Guadalajara’s Los Amparito, Pepepe, and Aguascalientes’ Capullo, have crafted a sound that has been met with great acclaim from hipster tastemakers.

Diplo’s Mad Decent blog voted María y Jóse runner up in the Major Lazer’s Hold the Line remix contest; Europe’s Generation Bass keeps news of, and remixes by, Unsexy Nerd Ponies, Los Macuanos and María y Jóse in regular rotation on their blog; Panamérika has placed Capullo, María y Jóse and Los Macuanos on their 2010 Bands to Watch list; MTV’s Iggy Blog placed Los Amparito on their ‘Bands We Like’ list, calling them a ‘sunshiny, sample-heavy Mexican Animal Collective’; Australia’s Scatterblog praised Tijuana’s music scene, noting its ‘fresh crop of producers [who] hold back at nothing and are now well and truly beginning to flex their muscles’; The 2010 Indie-O Music Awards recognized Mexico’s most exciting new band, Los Amparito, as this year’s best new artist; and Club Fonograma called Los Macuanos, María y Jóse and Los Amparito their ‘favorite new Mexican acts.’
 
The Tijuana Paradox
 

While Tijuana is home to some of the most exciting new music being produced, there is little audience for cutting edge local bands on an upward arc. This is Tijuana’s paradox – a city home to an avant guarde music scene that goes unnoticed locally, but has the rest of the globe buzzing. Recently, the city recently played host to Guacamole Fest, a two day music festival showcasing bands from both Tijuana, and around Mexico, at the forefront of this scene. [With Colombia/Canada’s Lido Pimienta as a special guest]

Undoubtably, it was the most exciting musical event this city has seen in at least a year. The festival, however, was met with little fanfare in Tijuana, as neither the hometown talent nor the blogosphere’s darlings from elsewhere playing Tijuana for the first time were enough to get more than 40 people to come out. Mid-decade Brooklyn-centric indy and dated Euro-electro still hold sway here and it has proven difficult for Tijuana’s best new acts to emerge from the shadows of Nortec’s fading relevance.

Mexico’s subcultural musical stirrings have created an ascendant new sound and with it, a new scene. Guacamole Fest was its defining moment. Something is happening here, and the rest of the world is starting to pay attention.

The Sounds of the Center-west Highlands

April 2nd, 2010 Permalink

. A family of musicians from Pichátaro, Michoacán, a P’urhépecha indigenous village in the Mexico’s center-west highlands, roam the streets of Tijuana’s La Cacho neighborhood playing folk songs from back home.

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A family of musicians from Pichátaro, Michoacán, a P’urhépecha indigenous village in the Mexico’s center-west highlands, roam the streets of Tijuana’s La Cacho neighborhood playing folk songs from back home.