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)

Stromae
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.

Third Culture Children and their soundtrack

Third Culture Kids is one of my favorite topics.  A friend was sharing with me (a TCK herself) about a conference she recently went to where a woman was researching on the differences in identity within third culture siblings.  Same parents but depending on age, stage of development, geography and experiences, had skewed their own third culture identity and views although they had grown-up in the same “household” as their siblings.

I’ve most definitely felt this with my own siblings.  The three of us are, in age sequence, one year apart, and we fall under many of the stereotypes of third culture children.  We take longer to finish university, tend to have more formal education than the general public—in our case the 3 of us were in our mid-late twenties when we finished our bachelors, we marry later — in our case none of us are married, multilingual — check, travel more—yup, tend to be leaders within roles we do take — yup.  However, our own views as third culture children and our identities within that are extremely different.

If you were to ask my siblings who was the “most Mexican” of the three of us, they would agree it was me.  As the oldest, I got to travel back to Mexico more with my mother.  I got to go on my own and develop friendships during adolescence that I maintain to this day.  The two of them may visit Mexico but their experience is different from mine as I return to stay with friends, go to my friends weddings, baptisms, graduations.  They return and only stay with family, who culturally they have little in common with–they feel even more out-of-place than me.  However, there are other places they “fit in” better than I do.  Even the views on the economics of the household we grew-up in is quite varied.   Oddly, enough if we were to ask who was the most “American” of the three of us, I am not sure we would agree…in my case I would argue that it is my brother.

My brother was effected by gender and economics (as we all are) and I felt bad for him when he told me his Mandarin was better than his Spanish, and that it was possible that so was his Japanese.  My mother spoke of talking to him on the phone, he exhausted and barely awake with a 12 hour time difference from my mother, she said he kept slipping into this hybrid English-Mandarin-Spanish and that it made no sense and that he fell asleep mid sentence.   My mother it seems with age has slipped back into Spanish, and my brother the longer he lives in Asia the rustier his Spanish becomes.  I worry that one day they will not be able to communicate as effectively as the both desire.

Our experiences are different, our opportunities are different. I remember when I first started to learn Mandarin (which I don’t actually know) I kept dreaming in German, a language I have never been conversational in, but my brain was scattered and nothing seemed to fit right.  Sometimes thoughts fit easily within language without pensiveness other times expressing these thoughts or feelings are a struggle.  There is a struggle to know a concept exists in one language or culture and not another.  That struggle is frustrating when I am dating a monolingual non-TKC, how to explain an emotion or a sentiment when they have no concept of it?  Which may explain the smile across my face when I think of the relationships some of these TKC musicians have.

As of late I’ve been really into the music, art, activism of  the following third culture children, Jarina de Marco, Stromae, and power couple Maya Jupiter and her partner Aloe Blacc.  Jarina de Marco was born to parents from the Dominican Republic and exiled to Brasil then later to Canada. Stromae was born to a Belgium mother, a Rawandan father, in Beligum and from what I’ve gathered in reading, raised in a French community in Brussels but attended a Dutch speaking university.  Maya Jupiter born to a Mexican father, a Turkish mother and spent much of her childhood and adolescence in Australia. Aloe Blaac*** born in the white suburbs of Orange County California to Black Panamanian parents (I say this because I think skin color play a deep role in third culture identity in this country).

***(I’m not actually sure I would identify Aloe Blacc as a TKC rather than more of a child of immigrants but I’ve personally found that black men raised in white communities have much in common with TKC.  To grow-up in America as not white, but within a white community allows you to have an ability to identify with TKCs.  Although, now that I think of it, I had a black-American boyfriend who grew up in a Mexican-American community and he had the ability to identify with TKC identity issues in a way I think most men, within the accepted standard of norm do not have—perhaps just growing-up outside the “norm” allows empathy—this is to say, more simply, what the hell do I know?)

All are political engaged, and globally aware, as tends to happen with third culture children.   It made me smile when I saw that Aloe was active in the Day Laborers Movement (if you recall my sister Cristina Tzintzún is Executive Director of The Workers Defense Project — an organization for Day Laborers in Texas)  I couldn’t help but think, yes, of course he would be supportive.

Anyway, go listen to their music, they are brilliant and we are lucky they share their minds via their music with us.  With these artists this is just a taste of their work and their ranges are wide so go find some of their old and new stuff and enjoy discovering them for yourself.
Here is 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 (this video was made by Alex Rivera — I’ve blogged about Alex Rivera before..but can’t seem to find the link, he has also been a big supporter of Cristina’s Workers Defense Project and is the artist who made the very moving documentary The Sixth Section AND he was just here in Ohio too to present his work to students in a new project I’ve taken on —I’ll blog about that later)

Stromae
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.

how dinner and bikes saved my idealism

I first met Joe my senior year of high school, when Joe was making road trips down to Columbus from Cleveland for a summer of amazing punk rock like I never experienced before.  The scene in Columbus was great then, and I am not sure I went a week without going to at least 3-4 shows and at least one music festival a month.  During this time Joe had started his small publishing company which has now grown into Microcosm Publishing.  He was political aware, sweet, calm and hilarious and still is and yet sadly we hadn’t seen each other in more than a decade. I was so happy that I could host Joe and his friends as they made their Great Midwest & Northeast tour.

Their tour, Dinner and Bikes, came through Columbus, Ohio and I got to spend two days being a terrible host to four amazing people who had more influence on me than they probably realized.  The four activists were on tour and crashed at my place, they were author and documentarian Joe Biel. Elly Blue author, and research activists on cycling.  Joshua Ploeg author and vegan chef .  Chicagoan Aaron Cynic  a journalist with chicagoist and Diatribe Media .

The gang arrived at my home after I’d finished an unexpected 12 hour work shift, and had another the following day.  I was burnt out, not just from those two days but with the punk scene and the world as a whole.  I’d thought grown-ups had their shit together, that rational intelligent people were in charge of making decisions deciding everything from war to public transportation to urban planning.  I was frustrated with the idea that maybe it wasn’t possible for punks to have an influence they way I’d imagined when I was younger. Where were the people who understood the realities of the political system and could still be idealists? With this mentality and after the second long day of work, I headed to Dinner and Bikes.

Per my usual, I arrived late and loudly, I made my way past Aaron at the door to the first open seat which happened to be next to my buddy Bob.  Elly was coming to a close on her presentation regarding the Economics of Bikes or as she calls it Bikenomics.  I am embarrassed to say I’d had low expectations for Elly’s presentation expecting that it would be mostly “cars are bad, and use oil, and oil is bad, so bikes are economically better”.  Not that it means a lot but have a degree in economics and have some knowledge of economics–this is to say I wanted substance.  But it wasn’t a dumbing-down or lacking substance, here was Elly using economic terminology and speaking to her audience the same way one of my professors would have in an economics 200 level course—that is to say giving a quick reminder of what a term meant, and then presenting a wide range and source of studies on each point she brought up.   For example to quote from her book (which is written very much like she speaks) Bikenomics: How Bicycling Will Save The Economy (if we let it):

The greatest part of the disparity in cost between bicycling and driving is in the externalities.  An externality is, in economics-speak, a cost or benefit that isn’t reflected in something’s price…Why are these external costs worth so much scrutiny? Because the result of them being externalized is that the price of roads, gas, and parking become artificially cheap when we pay for them directly–so cheap that we have become reliant on them.  If all these costs were internalized, driving would suddenly become something only the wealthy could afford.  In truth, we already pay quite a bit more for these things than we realize, but indirectly through taxes, retail prices, health care costs, lost wages and more.

I looked around the room, the audience seemed engaged and understanding, and I also realized I knew a lot of these faces.  I was still one of the younger people in the room, and yet still very much a grown-up, but those around me had even more years/experience as a grown-up then I had,  and here they were listening to some punx teach them about the economic cost benefits of bikes versus cars on an intellectual level. I sat up straight and thought about how I couldn’t wait to purchase Elly’s book.

Then Joe started his documentary film on Critical Mass and at the same time I got up and served myself to an awesome vegan buffet made by Joshua (who by the way has the best cookbook title ever So Raw It’s Downright Filthy).  The documentary was really well made.  Joe had interviewed police officers, detectives, police chief, mayors, city council members, congressional representatives not just the punx, he let all sides be represented so that the truth could come out that many individuals in an organic grassroots culture shift had helped bring together a community and that even if the “grown-ups” in charge didn’t like it, change was is possible.

I felt re-inspired but I didn’t know that this feeling was only going to increase.  I made my way to their merchandise stand to hopefully purchase the documentary I had just seen. I ended up not buying it—by completely getting side tracked when I picked up If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk: D. un I. t Y. and reading the backside.  The bands listed were This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, Defiance Ohio, Ghost Mice, One Reason, Operation Chief Clavin,  and Sophie Nun Squad.  I’d seen all of these bands and most of them with Joe! I remembered how alive I felt at those shows, how much I love dancing and moshing to punk music and the fact that it has probably been at least three years since I got down at a show.

Enjoyng the band Defiance, Ohio

Enjoying the band Defiance, Ohio picture by Jimmy Buttons

I ended up purchasing the documentaries Cycling Shorts: Short Documentaries About Bicycles, If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk: D. un I. t Y., and Elly’s book Bikenomics.   I left exhausted from work but re-energized that change was possible.  That night back at home I tried to explain how I was feeling to Aaron but not sure I did a good job.  I also didn’t know that I was about to be even more impressed by Joshua.
The next morning at breakfast, I think I made some comment to Elly about a dish not being vegan or something like that, so that I didn’t think Joshua would be able to eat it. I had made an assumption and you know what happens when I do that.  I made an assumption that because Joshua was a vegan chef he was vegan.  Elly calmly explained “Joshua isn’t a vegan but he does believe vegan cuisine should be available for all people”.  I’m not sure how to articulate how great that statement was. It was non-judgmental and not just accepting but an embracing of others.  I now tried to explain to Joe as they piled into their car how I was feeling about their visit, and again I thought I’d failed at sufficiently expressing myself.   I gave them hugs, wished them luck on the rest of their tour and they were off and I was alone.

I cleaned up the dining room and then headed to my bedroom and next to my bike (Yes, I keep Keni Styles in my bedroom) I found the following book BEYOND the MUSIC: How Punks are Saving the World with DIY Ethics, Skills, & Values by Joe Biel.  I can’t explain to you how big a grinned and the absurdity of my high pitched squeal.  I immediately texted Joe and asked him if he had put that book in my room? Had he meant to do it? To which he responded “Haha! Sounded like you needed it.”  He was right I did.   To you my non-touring friends, I ask you to go see their show which ends June 4th in Chicago at Heritage Bikes.

blurry picture of punk media thanks to Dinner and Bikes

blurry picture of punk media thanks to Dinner and Bikes

 

Knowledge through Music

Going through old emails and found this exchange with a friend.  I asked him first if I could post it here and he agreed.  For a bit of background, my friend is a pretty well known underground (isn’t that an oxymoron?) hip hop artist and dedicated father.  He helped me put together a nice compilation of music for Olga after her accident, and via that still claims Nina Simone as one of her favorite artists.  Also, as an aside,  to the exchange below I let the students in the after school program curse.    I explained to them that my goal was to help them be as eloquent as possible and that sometimes curse words are necessary and powerful but we have to know why we use them.  I showed them the following Saul Williams clip where he explains what he means by “mother fuckers” and I told them, that if they were to curse, I wanted them to defend their word choice as eloquently as Saul Williams, if not, there was no point in using that word (skip to 1:14).

Hi,
im running an after school program.  all the kids live in the same apartment complex (subsidized housing)  all are on food stamps and only two families have dads.   some of my kids also, don’t go to school because they have been suspended (yes i know it is called an afterschool program).  Not one of my students is white.

anyway been trying to get them to learn about the history of hip hop.  tired to watch “Fresh” with them, tried to assign each of them a hip hop artist like KRS-One and K’Naan.  Aksed them to research how spoken word is related to hip hop, same with graffiti and break dancing.  Tried to get them to listen to some Saul Williams.  Today I am going to do MURS with them and his song “The Science”.

I just don’t know how to get them interested. I am really struggeling.  They’ve talked through the documentaries.  Called Saul Williams a fag and blew him off.  Don’t understand why we can’t do mainstream “artists”.

any suggestions?
elena mary

 

and his response:

if the names you picked where what I was exposed to I wouldn’t have fallen in love with hip hop the way I did. Now I’m from a different time and its hard to get a young kid today to get into some shit that came out before they were born because they are programmed to like what they hear all day.

Judging by there responses here are some concious but not soft suggestions.

Eric b and rakim – start with juice (know the ledge) and then give them the paid in full album.
Public enemy – it takes a nation of millions
Kool g rap – the streets of new york
What krs did you give em? Try by all means necessary. My philosophy specifically.
Dead prez – its bigger than hiphop and I’m an african
Nas is a good bridge. Genius. Conscious. Positive but street level at the same time.

Its tough because I listened to a lot of ignorant shit but I was balanced by positive and educating parents so I knew the ignorant shit was just entertainment. These kids don’t.

Without any interest fresh would bore them. Have them watch “the show” but screen it first alone since I haven’t seen it in a while and might not be appropriate.

Start there and let me know how it goes

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this email exchange and that program.  I didn’t realize how fulfilling it was, and how good I was at it.  It has taken years.  You know, my attendance quadrupled (yeah quadrupled) compared to all previous teachers and I took back students that had been suspended (the administrators made it my call).  I had a soft spot in my heart for those kids that had been suspended, although I am not sure they ever fully trusted me.  All of my students increased their grades and attendance not just for my program but for their schools too.  It was awesome.  I wonder if this is what people like Gustavo, and Cesar EMC, and Cindylu feel all the time.