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This is Temple City

My hometown is Temple City, CA, a sunny place about 15 miles east of Downtown LA. Temple City is a small, sweet town in which the residents don't always know what to say to each other. Sometimes it's because they truly don't know what to say, and sometimes it's because not everyone speaks the other's languages. Temple City is 60% Asian, and many older Chinese residents only speak Mandarin.

This scene from New Girl basically is Temple City to me. It's the town acting itself out, if it could. With the silence and the laughter and the absurdity and the serendipity. It just is Temple City.

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Punk Rock the Met

Anarchy in the U.K. in the USA

I loved this year´s Met Ball. While all art and fashion are, to a degree, punk rock – what else is the explosive urge to make something out of nothing? – this year´s “From Chaos to Couture” theme gave the event a raison d´etre that worked.

While some folks are sort of preternaturally more punk than others – Madonna has no problem donning a black bob and corset tights – it was fun to see other, more femme stars don their own version of alternative looks.

Sofia Vergara wouldn´t normally wear something this angular, and it´s interesting on her:



Sarah Jessica Parker killed it:  




Jennifer Lopez also killed it: 


Camila Belle did a fun Great Gatsby meets goth look:


And how fun are these ?




The theme gave the  Rashida Jones' dress choice a slightly punk air of “Oh, do these straps look  folksy or floppy? I must not care.” 



And ironically enough, R & B Beyonce´s body language of “I´m here” is somehow punk as it can get. Imagine her re-make of The Ramones song, ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ (now). 


Generation Coca-Cola

Want to a new rock tip? Listen to the music of Legião Urbana.

The new film Somos Tão Jovens (We Are So Young) tells the story of Renato Russo, famed singer  of Brazilian punk/rock band Legião Urbana. Russo's music chronicled the angst of bourgeois Brasilia right before the Brazilian dictatorship fell in the mid 80's. Russo sang about the upper middle class working for the feds, and wrote about conformity, consumerism, and silence.  He wrote songs like Tedio - Com Um T Bem Grande Pra Voce (Tedium - with a Big T for You).

The high-waisted jeans and the wide-framed boho glasses look like something out an American Apparel ad:

Here's the trailer:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa3izIueaE4]
Somos Tao Jovens is generally surprising. For starters, it's been the best-selling movie in Brazil this year, and its subject is a bisexual emo-hero who died, tragically, of AIDS. To top that, the Brazilian government is the film's top financier. Russo is a rock hero, the identity politics curiously notwithstanding. And that's because his music is so incredible. Russo's music has the lush, larger-than-life belts of Queen, Depeche Mode, Los Hombres G, or maybe even Jaguares. That late 80's love letter yell, with a very natively Brazilian, home-spun punk feel.

Check out the lyrics from one of his most famous songs, Generation Coca-Cola:

"Somos os filhos da revolução
We are the sons of the revolution
Somos burgueses sem religião
We are bourgeois without religion
Somos o futuro da nação
We are the future of the nation
Geração Coca-Cola
Generation Coca-Cola"

Great art transcends borders, and Renato's coca-cola generation is also ours. Certo? 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv9lOIHUG4Y]

Regina and Francisca

This is the second post in my series comparing two different musicians of the HispAnglo (Hispanic/Anglo) world. Complete the analogy: Linda Rondstant is to Gal Costa what Regina Spektor is to __________.

(Francisca Valenzuela).

They don't look as alike as Linda and Gal do, but New York-based signer does have the same look and general aesthetic of Chilean hipster crooner Francisca Valenzuela:
 

Regina Spektor

Francisca Valenzuela

These two reigning queens of North American and South American indie pop even have similar sounds.

Here is Francisca Valenzuela's song "Esta Soy Yo" (This Is Me): [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0dKy_Q4FXA]

which has some of the quirky but epic camp elements of Regina Spektor's song "Us":

 [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fczPlmz-Vug]

And Francisca Valenzuela's song "Peces" (Fishes): 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyzGG74VlY8]

                       

has some of the same sentimental overtones as Regina Spektor's "Fidelity":

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM]

Next week's analogy:

If Regina Spektor is to Francisca Valenzuela, then Janis Joplin is to...???

Linda and Gal

Who says the US and Brazil don't have much in common? Besides common histories and geographies, some of our cultural icons look alike.

In the case of 70's music stars Linda Ronstadt and Gal Costa, they look startlingly alike.
Here is a young Linda Ronstadt: 

And her music:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58id5JIzFao]

And here is young Gal Costa: 


And her music:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries?index=42&list=PL1DD83DFEAFCE5ECB&hl=en_US]

Gal has the same soft combed out hair and easy-living breeze that made Linda a star. In their times, these mestiza ladies defined music in their countries and throughout the whole hemisphere. The only difference? (According to Gal Costa), when you sing in Brazil, you don't have to wear a bra.

Dreamtime en la Casa de mi Padre

It’s the old adage: when something is horribly, almost absurdly wrong, do you respond by laughing, or crying? In the new movie Casa de mi Padre, the answer is a (mechanized, very fake-looking white jaguar toy) laughing.

Casa de mi Padre is Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna’s psycho-kitsch rant about Mexican drug war mania. Everything about the film is maniacal: the desperation of the comedy, the plastic gleam of the props, the exaggerated accents of the characters.

At points, the kitsch is overkill, and at other points, it’s magical: Will Farrell’s psychedelic spirit trip, led by said fake jaguar playing the role of a Mayan animal god, is crazy and commercial and expertly edited. It’s a yellow brick road down the mental hallway of a director duo gone (temporarily) mad: Aztec Somebodies walk over bloodied wedding cakes, a black-and-white clad Virgen Maria screams in sheer terror, bursting sound barriers and a bag of dried pinto beans.

This pipe dream about a good-hearted rancher who defeats the drug cartels, Gets the Girl, and wins over the American DEA shakes of the laughing, shivering excess of a kid on the wrong side of a sugar rush. It's the teary-eyed scene change switching 31,000 real deaths in Mexico for a fake bloody cowboy shootout. In the Disneyland deserts of Casa de mi Padre, all’s well that ends (mechanically).