Music for you

A taste of four artists you should know.  With these artists this is just a tiny sample of their work and their ranges are wide so go find some of their old and new stuff and enjoy discovering them for yourself.
A video from each:

Jarina De Marco

At the age of five got kicked out of D.R.
Revolution from the start
Baby girl pack your dolls
Next stop Montreal
Parlez vous Français
Oui monsieur I do….mix race, pretty face, we embody all the nations

Maya Jupiter
It will take about 5 seconds before you realize she is brilliant

Aloe Blacc (video created by Alex Rivera)

I was torn which video clip to put here.  His song Formidable is one of my favorites and I love the sound he produces with his “R”s  (yes the letter R).  However in the video I chose,
he  has a beautiful way of playing with identity including within gender roles, and breaking cultural standards of normativity and so that is what I am going to roll with.


I love the photography of Humans of New York and the perfect pairing of quotes from the subjects.  I would copy the photo but don’t have permission so click here, look at the photo and come back.

The quote with this photo was:

“I love her randomness.”
“Tell me about a time she was random.”
“Three hours ago. I went to pick her up, and I found her double-dutching on the sidewalk with some kids. Then she went inside and came out wearing this.”

I made the stupid mistake of reading the comments with his post.   People began to argue that the man meant spontaneous not random.  I became angry, I think for two reasons;  Men have often given me the compliment that they love me for my “randomness”, and I take pleasure in being random.  It was almost an affront on the compliments I’ve received as if they hadn’t meant to give them—as if they had meant something else. Secondly, I think I view it in somewhat more mathematical terms.

Spontaneous implies an unpredictable reaction within a certain variable of situations.

Randomness implies reaction without logical probability in equally unpredictable unknown situations.

This is to say you are being spontaneous to run off with your friend at a drop of a hat to a new place for lunch, but this isn’t random.  Random is to find you in a situation that would be completely foreign, almost unimaginable if you weren’t actually seeing it, and then reacting (perhaps with spontaneity within that situation).   Spontaneity is saying yes let’s go to lunch when the phone rings.  Random is coming home to find me having lunch while mud wrestling with members from Cirque du Soleil.


I have a friend, who I internet stalked before I actually met him.  You see, he is a photographer, an amazing photographer, and as I began to look for photographs he had taken I discovered he was a bit of an icon in the local photography community.  Photographers here in Columbus collect photos of  KLJ Francis, stealthily taking awesome pictures.  It was while I volunteered helping artists at Via Colori that I first saw KLJ Francis “in real life” .  Overwhelmed with excitement I took a picture of him and posted it to the group’s somewhat stalker-ish page.   Months later, I would spot KLJ Francis again, while I volunteered at yet another arts festival, Independents’ Day.  I walked up to KLJ and squealed “I don’t know you but I have a picture you!”.  Oddly enough, I didn’t frighten him. He nodded and calmly replied “Okay” as if that was how all people greeted him.

KLJ Francis and Elenamary

KLJ Francis and Elenamary ComFest 2011

We became friends and I admire him the way I admire many of my artistic friends.  They see the world in a way I am incapable of, and strongly envy.   They see beauty in ways I cannot, they see color in ways I have cannot imagine, they see points and angles in ways I cannot comprehend.   I told KLJ Francis that I wished I was artistic like him.  He told me that I am artistic in my own right, in that I have this blog.  It was a huge compliment and one I don’t believe.   Nonetheless, he inspired me to view my writing and others differently and I have him to thank for that.

In a much related noted it seems to be that I have now taken on the task of organizing a reading with other Latina bloggeras of the Midwest that have inspired me.   I am looking forward to planning an evening in Chicago, this coming April, where we Latina writers share a piece or two of our writings.  An evening, where I will be intellectually stimulated and granted a view into their world; where I might enjoy their perspective even if it is only for one night.

Sartre and my lack of French

Imagine if you will that you are standing in front of a giant painting.  A painting that extends from wall  to wall, ceiling to floor, of a large decadent baroque auditorium.  However, the painting is obscured by a large heavy wool blanket, and only a slight corner of the painting is exposed.  The corner exposed is only visible because you are using all your strength to lift the cumbersome blanket and are contorting your own body in such a way that you can’t even get a straight on view of the corner you are exposing.  That exposed corner, despite your awkward position, is so amazingly beautiful, so astounding that you are brought to tears and wonder how you ever existed before this, not knowing such magnificence.   That it leads you to suffer from Stendhal syndrome.  Not to be too melodramatic, but this is how I am feeling reading  Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings.

I hate reading translations, as they make me feel inadequate.   I remember reading Herman Hesse’s Strange News from Another Planet (oddly enough sometimes translated as Strange News From Another Star) and I was brought to tears.  While sobbing alone in the library, I thought to myself if it is this beautiful in the translation what was it like in the original?  I promised myself I would read more Hesse but not until I could read it in the original German.  As such I’ve never read him again.    This is also one of those things that adduce why I must never date a monolingual.  How to explain to them there are ideas, expressions, feelings one can never fully explain in from one language to another.  It is something that can’t be explained or taught, it is something a monolingual must come to learn, as they come to learn the ethos of a language.

Here I find myself reading Sartre in translation and thinking WTF am I doing only looking at the corner of this painting?  It has taken me a lot of strength to continue reading it.  I don’t like only getting part of the story.  Reading the introduction was dejecting enough:

“…it is Kantian because it shares with the German idealist philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)…The Danish Protestant theologian Søren Kierkegaard (1813-59) and the German atheistic nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)are considered the initiators of existentialism.  Profound dilemmas of human existence are explored in the works of Russian novelist Fydor Dostoievski (1821-81).”

So many great thinkers and I can never read them, hear their own voice, since I will most likely never learn German, Danish, Russian or French well enough to do so.  It reminds of a quote I read in the book In Other Words: A Language Lover’s Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World

Vladimir Nabokov also came up against a great amount of criticism, particularly over his controversial translation of the Russian soul epic by Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1823). In reply to those who question his literal, rather than poetic translation of the great work, he is reputed to have said, ‘It’s impossible to convey the original, so learn Russian!’

Here I am wanting to read, comprehend, to fully grok and yet at the same time I do it knowing I will never be able to do so.  Now any suggestions on how to motivate myself to nonetheless keep on keeping on?

Safe Auto

Safe Auto is a low cost car insurance company—pretty big here in Ohio but evidently they don’t have anyone who is bilingual and literate working for them.  Picture #1 looks like it was put through google translate—it makes no sense. It is almost saying, “The best worst insurance in the state”
Picture #2 they misspelled the word “easy” (should be “fácil”) and the first sentence was probably also put through Google translate—they should have said “Seguro para su carro”.

Tome estas dos fotos aquí en Columbus, Ohio.

Poorly Translated Sign

Naco part two

Although I have friends who have written dictionaries and whom are way more humble than I will ever be, I am still super excited (despite it being years later) over my one little citation in an obscure dictionary.  The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English: A Crunk Omnibus for Thrillionaires and Bampots for the Ecozoic Age  cited me as a source for the use of the word ‘Naco’.

[elenamary] Daily Texican (Dallas, Tex.) (Nov. 23) “Cholo Word of the Day—Naco” (Int.) ! In México the word “Naco” is a racist term for an “indio,” thus not just “indio” but almost like saying “nigger.”….I remember going to see “Y Tu mama tambien” with some Chilango friends of mine. They translated the word “naco” to “White-trash”; my friend brought up and noted that it was actually the opposite of White trash. “Opposite” was the word he used. Opposite because “naco” is someone who is very indigenous and indigenous as if it is a bad thing. My definition could be different in that my Spanish is Southern Mexican Spanish, not cholo Spanish, not Spanglish, and not big-city-pesudo-northern-Mexcio Guadalajara Spanish…. I stand by my comment it is just as bad as the word “nigger,” in my Spanish. I did not grow-up in a chicano community nor in northern Mexico. In the Spanish of Mexico City and to the south of it, “Naco” is a terrible racist term.

I will say this, the definition has evolved in almost the ten years since I made that comment.  I think the key was and is geographical and generational.  I grew up with my Spanish not being influenced by Mexican-Americans as there were few (almost none) around me and when I did speak or hear Spanish it was always with either Southern Mexicans without direct American influence and/or older Mexicans.  It has impacted how I view the word “Naco” and “Pocho” and “Chicano”
Those first two terms still make me cringe, naco less so than Pocho and Chicano even less so.  I’ve come to accept the term Chicano mostly through my writings on this blog and criticisms from blogtitlan, and in conjunction with the Chicano/a studies classes i was able to take.  Perhaps “Pocho” stings the most because maybe it hits a little too close to home?  I find myself saying things like “I am not a Pocha! I know my language, I know my culture. I don’t need to take back a term for something that I am not!”  Anyway here is a great video on what it is to be “Naco” and “Pocho”.  I am posting the Spanish one here but if you click on it, there is an option to watch it with English subtitles.