November 9, 2001

Rafa Saavedra -- writing is like making tacos!

By Pablo De Sainz

I only knew Rafa Saavedra, better known as Rafa Dro, through his writing and a photograph of him I found on the Internet. The picture I saw matched the way I imagined this writer based on his short stories (are they really short stories?): Saavedra is wearing a Kaliman suit, the popular Mexican comic strip super-hero of the `60's.

You could expect to see a writer with his reading glasses on, smoking a cigarette, in front of a bookcase. But never as Kaliman.

Rafa Saavedra is a writer and cultural critic who happened to be born in Tijuana in 1967. He grew up here, he lives here, he writes here. But don't expect his texts to be full of references to the city.

"I write about my own experiences, but what happened to me could've happened to someone living in Bogota, in New York or Barcelona," he says. "I don't see Tijuana as most people see it, with its immigrants and as the classic border city."

Instead, Saavedra says he hardly makes a distinction between San Diego and Tijuana.

"I mean, it really doesn't hit me when I cross the border," he says. "I didn't even realize they were part of two different countries until I was 15. I thought my passport was only like a ticket, just like when you buy a ticket at the movie theatre."

Saavedra has published to books, "Esto no es una salida" (This isn't an Exit), published by La Espina Dorsal in 1996, and "Buten Smileys," published by Editorial Yoremito in 1996, both Tijuana publishing houses.

One could easily say they are short story collections, but most of his texts don't have the traditional beginning, middle and end one expects in a short story. Saavedra describes his texts as hybrids.

"My texts are not necessarily short stories per se," he says. "I grab anything I want from anywhere. I mix music, TV, fiction and journalism."

Music, especially electronic music, plays an important role in his writing.

"Since I'm also a DJ of electronica, I take `samples' from different sources and mix them in my writing. I play with the rhythm, with music, just like a DJ does. I scratch, make loops."

This concept of incorporating electronica in his writing has as an outcome a soon-to-be-published book titled "Lejos del noise" (Far from Noise).

"When I wrote this book, I would sit in front of the computer with the TV on, with music blasting," Saavedra says. "I would listen to the rhythm and write my own lyrics for that song and add them to my text."

But the intimacy of his own house isn't the only place where he wrote parts of his latest short story (again: are they really short stories?) collection. Can you picture a man reading a book or making notes on a legal pad in the middle of a crowded nightclub, where everybody is dancing and drinking and smoking and screaming?

Guillermo Fadanelli, the godfather of Mexican contemporary trash literature, considers Saavedra's writing a "literature to create addiction."

Saavedra, indeed, is addicted to writing. He is also a prolific writer of brief essays, which are published in different Mexican magazines and Internet sites.

"I write like a taquero," he says. "One taco after the other, one taco after the other, very fast."

Some of the web sites where you can find samples of Saavedra's writing are: www.acamonchi.com and www.rafadro.blogspot.com.

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