Final Entry, Final Questions

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A list of questions that we might think about for tomorrow's iChat, starting with the meta methods and tech issue and then moving into the topical questions. However, I am more interested in your questions and ideas.

1) Which of the methods seemed to work best and in what combination?
2) If you were to do this, what methods and tech would you use?
3) Is this practical for traveling researchers and conference goers? Could one really do research and communicate with classes at the same time, or is the traditional model of simply missing a few classes more realistic?
4) Would there be a place for purposely traveling to internationalize the campus-based class in this manner? Does the work I have done regarding the topics in 3745, for example, add value?
5) Might this be a potential method for not only faculty to communicate with their classes, but perhaps even more so for students to communicate with classes (that is already done in terms of students communicating with other students informally)?
6) What level of tech and knowledge is it reasonable to expect of the traveling teacher?

Topic

Note: I recognize that the answers to almost all of these questions is "yes and no." In fact, the more questions I ask the more that I have about this issue.

1) Are youth more or less political than earlier generations?
2) Are youth politics different, and if so how?
3) Is youth too grand a generalization, or are there generational modes?
4) Can old people really understand youth movements?
5) Do youth have the depth of perspective to understand the historical and cultural processes that formed their movements? Do older people?
6) What roles do class, gender, major, profession, ethnicity, and other factors play in political formation and movements?
7) Is the internet a supplement or replacement for other types of democratic action?
8) Is the internet a distraction, excuse, or effective tool?
9) How does the Mexican context compare to the USA context?
10) Is experiencing popular culture from throughout the world really creating a more cosmopolitan world culture, or just a pastiche-inspired belief that we are more "worldly" than before?
11) What role does style play in politics?
12) How important is popular culture to politics and vice versa?
13) What place does institutional, demographic, and geographic scale play in determining political cultures and political strategies?
14) Is our belief that we are qualitatively new with each generation simply buying into the big sell of consumer capitalism? New and improved, the new ensemble of goods is "it" and the old ones are now disposable?
15) Is it useful to separate our models of and models for the world?
16) Is it OK to maintain a human sense of humor amidst serious problems? Is it essential?

Looking forward to our live discussion tomorrow, even if it is isn't IRL. Best abbreviation ever.

Carlos Monsivais and the End of All Life as We Know It

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Carlos Monsivais starts his new book, Apocalipstick, with the following (my quick translation):

The inhabitants of planet Earth are to be informed of the following: due to global climate change, very soon the countdown will begin and humans will enter into their terminal phase. Fortunately, because of the difficulties of burning a territory this large and overpopulated there is time remaining to take advantage of the current offers of the season. It is never too late to make a smart purchase. Keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen, bargain basement prices can buy you this new aerodynamic lipstick that modifies its color according to the time of day; and, of course, it transforms those who use it. Do not lose out of this final offer for this and all times!

You get a sense of Monsivais' writing style and perspective. It also shows that Podalski's use of Monsivais as the traditional Left critic of youth films and (lack of) movements might be somewhat misplaced. Monsivais has been the continual joker of the '68 generation. He ran a college radio show during that movement that, even then, managed to maintain a sense of humor. Here is a photo of Monsivais then and now, from the '68 Memorial:

Carlos Monsivais, in 1968 and Now

Apocalipstick shows both a skeptical eye at current politics as well as past, and a healthy respect for history. Monsivais recognizes that life is what happens while we are making other plans, including the grand designs of political movements. However, he has not used that to stop him from doing good work. He is a good example of Gramsci's "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will."

As for his take on contemporary youth culture, popular culture, and politics. One place to look is his current exhibit at the Museo del Estanquillo (Museum of the Corner Store).
It is a history of Mexican movements, starting with the movement for independence. Part of the message seems to be that there is a constant dialectic between power and various types of resistance that coalesce at certain times to create new societies and, eventually, new regimes of power (that become the new problem). It is partly a story of human advance, the Western trope, but more so the recognition that the struggle for better collective lives, institutions, and structures is constant, that outcomes are never completely satisfying, and that with positive advances often come a number of new problems as well. And so, we have more starving people on Earth than ever, but at least in some contexts there is more freedom of individual and collective expression (often paid for by others, such as the women of color who assemble most of our products in Export Processing Zones). However, even that would be too simplistic for Monsivais.

His description of recent movements is extremely germane. Rather than denigrate them in the exhibit as one might expect from the quote in Podalsky, he emphasizes the recent successes of the feminist movement, environmental movements, and something that is very germane to contemporary Mexico City: the rights of "sexual minorities" (quote from the exhibit). Mexico City just became one of the first major cities to legalize gay marriage. It might be added that in a poll by Reuters taken for the International Day of Women (March 8), only 9% of Mexican respondents agreed with the statement: "A woman's place is in the home." That is compared to 25% of USA respondents. In other words, these movements have had an incredible impact. Often when people consider post-60's generations "apathetic," they are ignoring those incredible movements and gains.

Monsivais was particularly taken by a massive artwork project by USA photographer Spencer Tunick. Tunick had thousands of people pose naked in the Zocalo:

Spencer Tunick's Photographic "Exhibition"

Monsivais sees such creative acts as equally or more important than the traditional protest rituals. On pages 406-408 of Acocalipstick he applauds a creative silent march that he argues is one of the "more rational" public demonstrations from the Left in many year. His analysis parallels Cintia's in the sense that many of the old methods seem "exhausted" (her quote). Yet, his exhibit might indicate that in circular fashion, large coalitional protest politics will come around again in some new form. There is certainly a bit of the conservative "end of history" ideology (a la George Bush Senior) in the argument that all of that is now over.

On one hand Monsivais' exhibit celebrates the movements for greater "diversity and tolerance" (quote), but on the other hand, in placing them in this historical context, one wonders what the next, future exhibit room would hold.

Placing new movements in that context can reduce new movements to part of a grand narrative. In other words, such context and comparison can both illuminate the new, but can also cause us to fail to see what is truly new and promising.

Regardless, it is fair to say that Monsivais' point of view probably resonates with Cintia's more than one might imagine from the quote in Podalsky. However, like Cintia's when she discussed the current limits of the internet, he has a strong dash of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death thesis. His last clause of a paragraph-long sentence lauding and lambasting recent changes in Mexico City (p.30): "The street, the spectacle that competes gloriously, but in vane, against television."

Later he asks, "Who leads a demographic explosion?" (p.405) explaining apparent apathy and disillusion as a response to the chaos of out-of-control growth.

But, of course, even the amusing ourselves to death thesis is incorporated. Telehit, an MTV style music video channel in Mexico (although this one actually plays videos) shows short segue promos that include a machine harvesting eyeballs from a tree for an animated TV and another with the slogan: "Telehit is your entertainment prison." Once again, a nod and a wink to we "critical viewers," a recognition that we are all supposedly in on the joke. Of course, if everyone is in on it, then no one is effectively outside of it. Kashmir's music video for "Surfing the Warm Industry" comes to mind.

I'll end it there, with a recommendation to read Apocalipstick and past work by Carlos Monsivais.

Kashmir and Mexican Middle (Upper) Class Angst

The Danish group Kashmir presented a concert at 10 PM on Tuesday, March 9, at the Lunario of the National Auditorium in Mexico City. The event was sold out, as are the next two concerts Kashmir is putting on this week.

A Danish group sang songs in English to a Mexican audience that had shoveled out $40 per ticket. The average daily wage for Mexican workers, including professionals, is about $20. The average for non-professionals is around $5 a day. In other words, the audience was comprised of college-age fans from fairly well-off families as well as young professionals. This might explain their enthusiasm for "Surfing the Warm Industry." Warning, the animated video is sexually explicit and somewhat disturbing, especially the end.

The above link takes you to the band's music video. The video below is from last night's concert. It gives you a sense of the crowd's enthusiasm for the song. They know the lyrics well, which is another indication that they are mainly a middle-to-upper class, highly educated group:

Kashmir - Medium.m4v

[Another apology for doing this with my iPhone. While the goal was to use the most widely available tech, this is lowballing it, especially for an event like this. If I do this again I'll bring a digital video camera and will make that recommendation in the teaching piece that I write up.]

So what do we make of a crowd passionately singing along to lyrics like" "It's up to you, because I am absolutely numb"? Here are starting lyrics, maybe they provide a clue:

I wanna run from the apathy
from the questioning tongues
and eyes that just won't come off
and get a job in a industry
where a smile's not required
and complaints are always the same

Feels like the same mix of resignation and "ironic" rebellion described by Podalsky and, to a certain extent, Cintia. I'm a bit reminded of Elvis Costello's lyric to "All Grown Up":

You haven't earned the weariness
That sounds so jaded on your tongue

(Now I am thinking of the cheerleading coach on Glee: "You think that's hard, try....!")

In other words, it feels a bit like youthful passion wrapped in a veneer of weariness chic, a pastiche of things that feels like world-weary experience, but is fairly contained on site and online. But, now I am sounding like "The Cynic" in another Kashmir song. Like Nirvana, there is self-reflection here, but maybe also another form of getting boxed in, a sort of false nihilism that allows one to play the game, benefit to an extent, but still claim a position outside it all?

Bourdieu's book Distinction comes to mind. There is cultural capital to be gained and demonstrated via these sorts of gestures. One does not see many poor Mexicans or working class Estado Unidenses going around talking about the hopelessness of it all, while "surfing the warm industry."

I am not critiquing the band, the crowd, or the music. It's all fascinating stuff, and really good music. Instead, just trying to raise some questions about what it means in reference to our question about youth culture and politics. It is also a decent segue to the final post about Monsivais.

A clip to end on where the band again expresses their surprise and delight at the unexpected Mexican following. Note how everyone is singing along, "Turn off the television" while videotaping it (including me):

Kashmir The Cynic - Medium.m4v

Image from Kashmir's Music Video, "Surfing the Warm Industry."

Carlos Monsivais and the Interpretations of Aging Activists

You will remember that Podalsky uses a reference to Carlos Monsivais on p.156 as a starting point for laying out the debate concerning the relationship between Mexican youth films and the politics of Mexican youth today. I should note that it has been almost universal among those I chat with here that Mexican youth are indeed less political. However, only Cintia has had such a nuanced perspective on the matter. It was good to talk to someone who has studied the issue, works with it every day, and has thought a lot about it.

Only two people have answered "it depends" (and elaborated) and only one has claimed that youth are more political now than in the past. The rest have simply stated that Mexcian youth are much less political today.

Carlos Monsivais has much more to say on the issue, and has done so in a book that was just released yesterday and a museum exhibit that I took in late this afternoon. I will discuss both tomorrow, perhaps saving some of that for the iChat lecture. Sadly, Dr. Monsivais had to cancel a public appearance today due to illness and asthma, according to La Reforma. The air has been particularly bad the last two days.

I am off to what might be my final event related to this project, a concert by Kashmir.

The concert schedule is really anemic right now. I am not sure why that is. The Mexican group La Castaneda played Saturday night. They are named after a mental hospital and refer to Mexico City as psychotic in one song. One young man I talked to today said he could never leave the "chaos" of Mexico City. He has brother in the USA, but prefers it here. Many Mexico City residents identify very closely with their city, as does Carlos Monsivais, who argues that there is no single city here any more, but a whole bunch of overlapping realities.

The Danish group Kashmir is playing three shows this week. They have a strong following in Mexico City, which took even them by surprise. In todays La Reforma newspaper the lead singer noted his surprise when their Facebook page started getting so many comments from Mexico. Given their cynical view of the world (one of their biggest hits is "The Cynic") and slippery/sideways critiques of society, perhaps they resonate with the people Reguillo referred to, as quote on p. 156 of the Podalsky article. Or, maybe Kashmir just puts on a good show.

La Castaneda

I'll present some more highlights from the interview with Cintia, especially those parts that relate directly to our question of youth culture, popular culture, and politics. Before doing so, however, you might find it interesting that Cintia is a big fan of Bob Dylan. Also, she never watched Y tu mama tambien, but wants to now. She is going to send us her thoughts on the film.

As for her thoughts on the general questions raised at the end of these two articles, she continued to compare the 60's and now. She fears that then and even sometimes now activists can sometimes get boxed in by ideology. As young person who has studied the 60's, she thinks that perhaps people started to connect everything in their lives a bit too tightly to ideology then, including music, and she made the point that perhaps there is something about being young that lends itself to an all-consuming ideology. She explained the "boxed in" point further by arguing that it can cause people to become disconnected from reality, mistaking strict ideological models of the world for reality.

"Things are always more complex than they appear," she noted. Cintia went on to suggest that perhaps this causes some political activists to become unable to meaningfully communicate with others. She also worries that it can alienate other activists that don't fit the strict ideology or model. "Everything gets reduced to struggles between 'good' and 'evil'," she explained, referring to some political beliefs as "Manicean."

By the way, I should note that at no point was Cintia referring to specific movements, people, or moments in the 60's. She was responding to my question regarding comparisons between then and now in general.

Cintia asked some very interesting rhetorical questions, such as, "Who are the Mexican people? The workers? Students? Those who live in rich neighborhoods? The poor?

She then turned to the changing modes of communication and organization, especially internet activism. She noted that relatively few youth organize in the streets, protest, and hold public discussions. She feels that part of the reason is the internet. "The internet brings with it other forms of organization."

She did not leave it at that, however. She noted that while there are non-virtual effects, perhaps even the election of Obama, there are two very big problems with internet activism in Mexico:

1) In most ways the discussion is "circular", virtual and contained purely on the internet.
2) Only a small percentage of Mexicans have meaningful internet access.

For these reasons, "the potential to make a change with the internet is minimal," Cintia believes, leaving her "a little pessimistic" and wondering "what is the third way?"

She went on to explain more why the old political modes don't appear to be viable any more, and argues that those ways of doing politics are "exhausted."

Cintia argues that most Mexican youth are disinterested in politics, yet most who do have that interest seem somewhat disconnected in the ways she explained above. The following example is very interesting:

Cintia 2 - Medium.m4v

Transcript:

"There are young people who put on bandanas with the image of Che Guevara who know nothing more than, 'It's Che!' ...And who is Che? What did he do? How is he pertinent? It's a style, an archetype, a stereotype, and that's it."

Regarding the popular arts, Cintinia feels that they were more connected to politics in the past, with political songs becoming hymns for entire generations of activists. (Side note, there are numerous placards referencing music in the '68 exhibit, including lots of American musicians).

She had these interesting insights about art and politics today:

Cintia 3 - Medium.m4v

Transcript:

"I think that in Mexico the arts, the creative part and politics continue becoming more and more separated. Or (in other cases), dangerously united, where art follows power. There aren't examples where music, a song, or videos, or anything in the creative world has radically impacted the political world. But, perhaps the reverse is true, something political that impacts art, there is that."

Cintia gave the examples of immigration and also the murders of women in Ciudad Juarez. She argues that art has not effected either, but that those issues have been reflected in art.

As for the dangerous links where "art follows power," she talked about government sponsorship of conservative, nationalistic artworks, films, etc. for the purposes of celebrating the upcoming bicentennial (200 years of Mexican independence from Spain) and similar government sponsored art.

Finally, this is perhaps the most interesting of all, a claim that youth are more interested with being part of "the world" than what is happening locally or even nationally:

Cintia 4 - Medium.m4v

Transcript:

"Today youth are fascinated with being part of the world, being in the world. Certainly we have our eyes 'out there' more than on one's immediate surroundings. They have lost interest in what is happening in the corner of their house or what's happening in their country."


Citia Velazquez Marroni works at the University Cultural Center based at Tlatelolco. Among other things, she provides guided visits to "The '68 Memorial" exhibit.

Tlatelolco or "The Plaza of the Three Cultures" is where an unknown number of people died when hundreds of police were sent in to disrupt a protest and arrest the student leaders. The government claims 30 protestors died, while most estimates are between 200-300. As many as 1000 protestors, mostly students, were arrested. For an excellent virtual tour, go to the Cultural Center's website and click on the video above "Recorrido virtual."

Tanks at Tlatelolco

Given her knowledge of the movement of the late 60's and early 70's, plus the fact that she is a university student herself, Cintia is an excellent person to turn to in order to understand comparative changes in youth politics and popular culture. As you'll remember, that is the main question explored near the end of both articles, especially Podalski's. Cintia has keen comparative insights that will add a great deal to our understanding of youth culture in Mexico and the relationship between popular culture and politics.

This will be the first of a few posts based on the interview with Cintia. I will post a short video here where she argues that while there has been some "depoliticization," it is more a matter of how young people enact politics today. Below the video is a quick translation (Remember, I am using an iPhone for video, so be kind):

New Project 1 - Medium.m4v

Transcript:

"I think that, yes, there has been some depoliticization to a certain point, but what has mainly changed is the way of doing politics. The youth of the 60's--I am not sure about other parts of the world, but here in Mexico--I get the impression from today's vantage point and as a young person, that they were very boxed in. They believed in ideologies that were very strict concerning what communism is, what capitalism is. They would read political books like they were Bibles. Suddenly there was a seriousness that was, I would say, sometimes exaggerated. You had to be a revolutionary, you had to listen to protest music. Rock was the music of the capitalists, it was superfluous. You had to sing music that was purely Latin American."

Videos from Days One and Two and Current Thoughts on Method

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Tried to load the videos from the weekend. Even an 11 minute video took way too long to load. I might still split them into smaller videos to share here, but the students in JOUR 8651 can see them already on Vista and students in 3745 will see them distilled into parts of the iChat lecture on Thursday anyway.

However, trying to load the videos further informs my sense of what might work best for professors communicating with students from abroad. Here is a summation of my thoughts on method and tech so far:

1) The Bad

I could not find a reasonable use for Twitter. My Tweets ended this morning. I am pretty sure Twitter is a bad joke, like snipe hunting or the jackalope.

2) The Better

The video method was surprisingly doable. However, in for a penny in for a pound. I would strongly suggest not just going with a cell phone camera. While there is a certain "everyone has one" aspect to that, if one is going to use the video approach to communicate, it is best to have the full functionality of even the least expensive digital cameras. iMovie is very intuitive. However, many researchers would eschew the time it takes to do this, because instead of research, one can start to worry more about the communication itself. If one were doing Media Anthropology fieldwork, for example, there could be subjects that lend themselves to this sort of constant contact "back home" to students on campus. Or, for short trips designed specifically for the purpose of internationalizing the campus classroom, the video method seems to work pretty well. However, that is probably not terribly practical. Few profs will travel specifically for the purpose of internationalizing their campus classrooms, but who knows? Certainly Aaron Doering's (CEHD) polar explorations are inspiring in that regard, as well as many others, The video route is also best for developing an eventual iChat lecture, although that experiment is still to come. The test with Debra and Peter worked well this morning.

3) The Best?

Blogs take less tech and time than even the short iPhone/iMovie. I could see doing this at the end of a day of field research. It is a bit like writing up field notes, although one would not want to share those widely and there would be ethical issues in doing so. I need to find ways to use the multi-media capabilities of blogs better. I like the fact that these can be interactive, so if you are reading this, provide some feedback. :)

I think that is finally it for me today. Tomorrow night I hope to have a nice capper to the "cinematically-mediated Mexico" theme before moving on to a climate-comm related event in Cuernavaca on Wednesday and then the iChats on Thursday.

I'm off to watch Temporado de Patos.

Overview of a Slow Monday and Thoughts on Methodology

A whole lot less going on today. Tomorrow the plan is to interview a curator at an exhibit about the student movement in Mexico. She should have good ideas to share in reference to the debates Acevedo-Munoz and Podalsky referenced concerning the current state of youth political culture. For those outside of JOUR 3745 and 8651, the aforementioned are two articles students are reading about youth cinema in Mexico:

Acevedo-Muñoz, Ernesto (2004). Sex, Class, and Mexico in Alfonson Cuaron's Y tu mamá también. Film and History 34(1):39-48.

Podalsky, Laura (2008). The Young, the Damned, and the Restless: Youth in Contemporary Mexican Cinema. Framework 49(1): 144-160.

Additional promising plans, but today the highlights were (1) the impromptu "Torero" concert (see earlier), (2) Mexico en tus Sentidos (just posted), and (3) talking to people about the topic of political and popular culture.

A father of 3, Fernando, said that he does not think that youth are significantly less political (note: a different Fernando than the craftsman on yesterday's video). He thinks that it is partly a matter of their major and career paths and argues that young people are now much more highly educated than in the past. Interesting side not, Fernando's 16 year-old son is about to come visit Minneapolis on an exchange for three weeks. He is a baseball pitcher. Fernando played quarterback in "Futbol Americano" in his day.

Oscar, a guitarist and book vendor, also disagrees with the claim that youth are less political. He argues that it is difficult to draw that kind of generalization and that there is a great deal of political diversity. Oscar played "Sabor a Mi" a bolero by Álvaro Carrillo and then asked me to play a few songs as well. I should have videotaped it, and am thinking about revisiting Oscar for a recording, but it is amazing how much more you connect with people when you don't whip out the iPhone right away. The weekend videotaping made me a bit reticent to do too much of that right away. What I am learning is that, at least for anthropologists, we do communicate with students from the field. It's just that we wait a long time to do it, after the fieldwork is over. We write books or, for some, make ethnographic documentaries. However, these experiments with low-tech electronics and social media seem to have some promise for connecting traveling faculty with students?

As for other discussions, the answers of "depends" and political diversity came up repeatedly. When asked about young rockers in particular, as referenced in Podalsky's discussion of Chavas Banda, a guitar shop owner said that there is still a wide range of political and apolitical musicians in Mexico.

An excellent book on the subject is Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture by Eric Zolov.

A video store employee suggested that one of the best films about Mexican youth culture is Temporada de Patos (Duck Season). I have not seen it, but will watch it tonight to see what he is talking about. If I were doing ethnographic fieldwork it would be good to make this an iterative process, asking people about their favorite films, watching them, going back to see what it is that resonates with them, and so on. As was the case with music, I am particularly interested in the political resonance of popular culture. However, I fear that some of the scholars cited by Acevedo-Muñoz and Podalsky might be overstating the political implications of mainstream and even art films. The same thing happens in music studies. It is one of the reasons why when dealing with the politics of music I prefer to look at music, musicians, and audiences that are more explicitly political, rather than drawing strong interpretations that producers and audiences do not.

One young man did have the sense that college students are much less organized and effective politically right now. He was not saying that is a bad thing, arguing that the strike that shut down the National Autonomous University in 1999 was "divisive." Some credit that movement for keeping higher education affordable in Mexico while some political groups, even on the Left, charged the students with being too hard line. It is still a sore subject on all sides, and even the 60's movements and student massacre in the Tlatelolco is very much living history in contemporary Mexico. Tlatelolco is the subject of tomorrow's interview.

To review, we have narrowed the topic from the cinematic mediation of Mexico (video from Day One), to the relationship between film and popular/political culture (video from Day Two), and now to the specific issues raised about youth politics and film in the two articles. Hopefully these snapshots from ground level will provide some useful context, or at least questions, to add to the discussion.

amoresperros.jpg

y-tu-mama-tambien.jpg

temporada_patos1.jpg

WIlly Sousa and Cinematic Mexico

On the subject of cinematic mediation of Mexico, there is a multi-million dollar temporary exhibit in the middle of the Zocalo (central public square of the city) right now. It displays the work of Willy Sousa, a photographer and videographer that creates touristic images and films for the Mexican government. Tens of thousands of people have visited it so far. 53737.jpg. It is incredible, from the mirrors and photos of eyes that first meet you, to the rooms full of photos and videos, some up to 20x25 feet, and finally on to the sense-a-round film at the end. The floor is an extension of the sound system and the effect is to bring you inside the beautifully staged video images from around Mexico. It appears to be aimed more at Mexicans than tourists, to encourage nationalistic pride (thus the governmental sponsorship) and, perhaps, PR for people to buy-in to tourism as an economic necessity for Mexico. Today an editorial in La Reforma newspaper noted that tourism is really hurting in Mexico due to external impression caused by the narcotraffic issue. Frankly, I have never seen less tourists in Mexico City.

Not a big stretch to say the exhibit also promotes neoliberal policies. Knowling about corporate sponsorship of 3M and others, plus PAN sponsorship is not necessary to draw that conclusion. The images are colorful images of living traditions, unapologetically nostalgic (hardly a machine in site, and certainly no complications like poverty or the fact that the number of people in Mexico who have intermitent water supplies has now reached nearly 50%). However, it is almost impossible to be cynical when inside the exhibit. It is awe inspiring and everyone applauds vigorously at the end. Frankly, from a technical and visual standpoint, it is incredibly well done. Willy Sousa is an amazing artist. Hopefully the exhibit will make it to the USA. Regardless, check out the following promo video Sousa did for Mexico City to get an idea of his work.

A couple of local reporters and bloggers have critiqued the exhibit for being too expensive in a bad economy. In fact, there are claims that the Federal Government (PAN) paid the local government (PRD) a great deal of money to host it. Mexico City Mayor Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has already been criticized for expensive public entertainments, including a 1.5 million dollar skating rink in the Zocalo over Christmas. It will be interesting to see how people interpret not only the exhibit, but also its political context.

Kids Singing Anti-Bullfighting Song

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Even before setting out today I ran into a group of students from throughout Mexico whose work is relevant to the project. They are in Mexico City for a UNESCO-sponsored contest designed to have kids promote healthy lifestyles, combat drugs, etc. They were singing nice pop songs, but then I asked them if I could videotape a song on my iPhone. The guitarist started playing a more political song, Called Torero. It is interesting that he chose that song to feature in the video. Here is a quick translation and then the last part of the iPhone video (to keep it short):

Verguenza (Shame)

Between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea is a land of sea and sun
Since ancient times a filthy, dirty tradition has been seen
A person dressed as a clown tortures and martyrs an animal
And the bleachers burst with madness when the steel announces its final stab

Banderillos with a thirst for violence torture without compassion
The stabbing continues, accentuating the massacre
Mistreated, forced to bravely experience the cold steel that breaks inside
Agonizing in a pool of blood, the function is completed by the puntillero

A criminal celebration of shame

Torero, you are the shame of a nation
Torero, you are violence on television
Torero, you are a muderer by vocation
Torero, your profession makes me sick

Call culture organized sadism, violence, death or pain
It is an insult to our intelligence itself, our evolutionary development
Your indifference makes them powerful, demonstrate against their criminal events
Do no cooperate with madmen, subject them to the penal code

medium.m4v