by Raymond R. Beltran
Appropriately, I first discovered Manu Chao among a slew of world travelers on the top of a Mexico City hostel last year. We had just finished an expedition to find a pitcher of pulque around the dark streets of the Zócalo, where earlier in the day populist Mexican presidential candidate Ándres Manuel López Obrador had razzled a crowd of more than 500,000 supporters.
Now staring over the city at midnight, with a view above and behind La Catedral Metropolitana, I sat with a group of new companions around a rooftop bar where the acoustic ‘Clandestino’ sound of Manu Chao (born Jose-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao) set our stage.
These world wanderers were shocked when I asked who was playing. “Es Manu Chao!” they shouted. What did I know? A hip hop head rarely out of San Diego on vacation and with a flight back home only hours away, work. They were on their way to Brazil, Guatemala, Paris and some other countries where my nine-to-five didn’t exist. They’d known no home these days.
Manu Chao, they said, was their soundtrack to the traveling life. Something I didn’t know, but we connected. We don’t like dictators. We spoke favorably of indigenous people’s rights. Surprisingly, they knew a bit more about fútbol americana than I did and when it came to Chao, they had me beat hands down.
But, I swear, I dug it. To me, it was the music of real freedom. Wandering the streets, looking for indigenous spirits and daily demands far off in the distance, a drunken bliss.
How little a world becomes when human nature knows what’s good for the senses, a feeling, a memory, a sound.
I still don’t know much about Manu Chao, except the world beat mezcla of ska, reggae and pop rock that’s on his MySpace. I’ve heard he too doesn’t like dictators and also supports indeginous people’s rights. I heard his French and Spanish lyrics are embedded in that topic. Man, mix that with the sound that’s been playing in my head for the last year, and I’ll pay to see that live.
Manu Chao has broken sales records in his native Paris for his album ‘Clandestino’ and has reached acclaim in the U.S. when his 2001 album ‘Esperanza’ was named best album by Rolling Stone Magazine. He is playing at Plaza Monumental in Playa de Tijuana. $15 cover. Tuesday, June 5, at 8 p.m. For more info, call 619-734-2333 or visit www.produccionesbulldog.com.
This Saturday, June 2, Art Around Adams will join forces with the international group, The Art Miles Mural Project, uniting artists from throughout the world via mural making. The event portion of the Fairy Tale mile will eventually join other panels created internationally to help creat the longest mural in the world. There will also be thirty venues around Normal Heights housing ninety San Diego artists. For more info, call Santos Orellano at 619-813-7733.
Apply for your citizenship at a Free Citizenship Processing Fair, sponsored by non-profit Hermandad Mexicana. Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hermandad offices (75 E. San Ysidro Blvd). For a list of requirements and needed documentation, call 619-428-4306 or 619-428-4385.
The City Heights Community Development Corporation presents the 15th Annual International Village Celebration this Saturday, June 2, in the City Heights community of San Diego. The celebration will be held at City Heights Urban Village Park by Fairmount Ave and Landis St. Free to the public. Three outdoor stages, thirty-plus bands and in a 90,000 population community that speaks over thirty languages. Children’s Fun Zone. Career corner. Health Fair. For more info, call Tayari Howard at 619-584-1535, ext 130.
Saturday, June 2: ‘El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan’ and the ‘Chicano Mexicano Prison Project’ will host a 10th Annual Conference on Raza Prisoners and Colonialism, titled “If You Want Liberation, Fight Against Incarceration.” To be held at San Diego City College (1313 Park Blvd). For more info, call 619-696-9224.
For students and parents shaken by the current immigration debate, there will be an informational Know Your Rights forum on Monday, June 4, at San Marcos High School (1615 San Marcos Blvd) in the Little Theatre. 6 -8 p.m. Present will be an immigration lawyer and the Coalition for Peace, Justice and Dignity. For info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patricia Rincon Dance Collective’s Blurred Borders Dance Festival is an annual cross-cultural dance event created to foster the artistic exhange and pollination of local, national, and international artists. They will be featuring their full length work, “Borderline”, a musical about a man who ventures to find nature but instead discovers a place where reality meets fantasy. June 7 9 at Saville Theatre at City College (C St downtown). Times vary. For info, call Stephen Keyes at 760-632-5340.
Ever consider food as a metaphor for triggering memory? A conduit to your culture? A ritualistic tool? A sustainer? Non-profit publishers, City Works Press, is accepting submissions for their next literary anthology, Food: Hunger and Thirst. They’re looking for fiction and creative nonfiction, poems, art and photography. Deadline is December 17, 2007. For more info, contact City Works Press at email@example.com.
Loud and proud, Bill Caballero touts his horn, literally, every Thursday evening at 7 p.m. on the outskirts of downtown at the intimate arts venue, Voz Alta (1544 Broadway) with his band of loyal Latin Jazz fellow musicians. Join in, kick back and listen, and if possible, drop ‘em a donation. For info, contact Bill at 619-628-8568.
Activist San Diego’s Open Meeting, Computing for Activists and Technical Support discussion. There will be a short presentation and then an open discussion on utilizing computers and the internet to further your activism (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc). Meet others who want to make a positive impact on society. 4246 Wightman in City Heights. Monday, June 11, at 7 p.m. For info, call 619-528-8383.