What happened to Rock?

I guess the question could even be broader than that and ask what happened to music in general. Maybe I am getting old now that I am closer to 40 than 30. I just can’t seem to find good rock anymore. The most exciting thing that has happened recently is Corey Taylor rendition of Rainbow in the dark. How sad is that? No new music has really made me go, wow this is good rock. When J-pop seems to have better guitar than actual rock I think we are either getting old or everything that is produced now is crap.

I am not a fan of the Foo Fighters. The more I get to know Dave Grohl the more I like him, but I still find their sound just ok. Not something that I can listen to over and over like I did with Guns and Roses, Velvet Revolver, The Offspring and Metallica(before Living in Michigan and Mandatory Metallica killed that for me.) Bands like Aerosmith simply don’t exist anymore. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy Disturbed and can listen to some of the pop rock and enjoy it, but it does not evoke emotion the way the rock of my youth used to.

I used to think it was simply age, but it seems that even kids today don’t have a Nirvana.

So is anyone out there listening to something that I should listen to? Or is the simple answer that rock is just dead?

The F@ck You Face

H has been trying to talk me into going into what I consider the ultimate redneck church (Bass Pro Shop) for a while. Mostly because they have 2 big fish tanks and I am a big fish geek, but also because there are a lot of things to see there. The number of taxidermy-ed animals in there was my what first repulsed me. I encountered the practice very early on through some family friends back in Colombia… the dude also collected butterflies and other insects, and that part was cool… the mothball odor was not… I can almost taste it right now. So yea, back to the unreal amount of stuffed animals in one place. This took the place of the previous most numerous stuffed animal display which was impressively held all these years by a friends’ parent’s house that I visited back in college. Don’t get me wrong, you kill it, you eat it and you stuff it is not something I am against, it is just a little shocking when people keep carcasses as trophies, makes me think of predator.

The place is actually fun once you get over the fact that the place is probably hunted by the thousand animals souls separated from their flesh (if you believe in that sort of thing, not sure what the native american stance on that would be.) They have a shooting range… wait, actually they have like 3, real guns, lazer guns and even bows. You can buy more camouflage stuff in there than I though existed. It is a hunters paradise. I did not get to eat at the restaurant but I can only imagine the menu. I wonder if they have a vegan option.

This post is about something else though. The most shocking thing I saw there was the f@ck you face that almost every male that was there with a female sported. It was kind of unnerving to see so many people that looked so angry.

I’ve hung out in the west side of Chicago with some black friends at a park. The people there were not those you take lightly, people just out jail with more muscle than I thought was natural. I was not nervous until I saw a dude fumbling with a gun that did not seem to really know how to use it. We left shortly after. None of the people there made direct eye contact event thought they did look my way, I was a couple of shades lighter than I should have been but I did not feel like there would be trouble. I was not scared there, but I was alert to what was going on around me. That was probably the only place where I was so many people so alert.

I never thought that I would see something similar at a camouflage mall, but there I was around grown man practically dragging their woman by holding their hand tightly while wearing that f@ck you mask. All the guys there that I saw with what I assume was their wife had similar expressions and just wanted to display their machismo I guess. I am seriously not using my usual blank statements either. It was almost as if they were handing plates with feces before you entered the parking lot because I can only assume that is the face you make after you eat a plate full of it.

Then I thought about a conversation I had recently with a friend. I was wondering from an American perspective why is it that higher education or intellectuals are almost looked down upon by so many in this country. My friends theory is that intellect is though of as a feminine or weak trait. That this country is about guns and beer, and that reading a book is for weak effeminate types. Sure, it seems like an extreme view, but there might be something to that.

I am not really faced by the f@ck you face, it does not make me fear you. I live in America… not sure how long the whole ‘MURRICA trend I see getting bigger lately will go, but I hope it goes away… I mean, even the benign flower power of the 60%s went away… right?

Those People – Esa Gente

I realized long ago (but quite early when moving here to the US) that I had become one of “those people.” I was given my label and not just by some people, but everyone seemed to have a label for me that was supposed to identify me. I work with people from all over the world, and not just because the US is full of immigrants, but actual international clients that are based all over the globe. Recently I’ve been working a lot with Latin America and the funny thing is that even though I am Colombian by birth and very proud of it, I still got a label… I am now the “Colombian Gringo.”

The labels don’t bother me, while I know that everything that people say and think about you does affect you to a certain degree that is not the issue. Some labels are about inclusion, most of them are about belonging. Immigrants here in the US is immediately attached to Mexican people crossing the border, by association (skin tone I guess) I am a Mexican as well. I have felt the discrimination and exclusion. Infiltrators is what some Israelis call African immigrants, same issue, same label… again skin color?

The hard part starts when people think you are not like the others. Like when people hear me speak English in a professional setting and they don’t notice my accent… then they start with the, well you are not like those people that don’t learn English… inside my head I am thinking, like my parents that speak broken English because they came here as adults and have done nothing but work hard in this country? or like my Grandma that had no interest in learning more than just the basics because there was no point to learn any more than that.

Even when the color of the skin does not give me away, I am not black… that does not mean that one of my closest friends that feels like a brother to me isn’t. Or the fact that I am not Mexican, yet my niece and nephew share half of that heritage in their blood. I am not trying to make you walk on eggshells around me either, I am just challenging you to think about your perception about what “those people” are.

Poverty is something that has had an effect on my better half growing up. While color might not be something she has dealt with as much as I have she has dealt with the poor thing before. Poor people are also looked down upon by others, “those people” that can’t afford this or that. Unless you have lived it in some way it is hard to relate to it, I understand. Just try to think about it before you generalize a group of people that you know nothing about. Try to find common ground and understand them rather than slap a label on them and call it a day.

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Secular

I like how the world sounds, it rolls off the tongue almost like popular. What is not very popular is discussing religion in this country of ours. While I do have many friends that are very open about their atheism and others very open about their faith, I find it very difficult to have an intelligent conversation about the subject in public. There is a category in my blog about the bible. I like the bible, I like bible study. I like discussion about the topic of faith… however, I hate religion.

I first became more aware of the weight of the world secular while attending an evangelical church. The indoctrination consisted of separating yourself from things of “the world” as if it was not something we were a part of. As a nerd, the concept of alternate realities is a common one and one that is fun to play with; but to constantly try to feel myself separate than the reality that I lived in was kind of weird to me. Eventually there was a breakdown on the whole facade. People that were “higher up” would constantly listen to the music that they told others to cast away. That whole duality did not sit well with me. The concept did stick with me though, if you don’t do things in the name of “insert imaginary friend” you are of the world.

I like dancing quite a bit, I grew up dancing salsa and giving that up is like giving up something that brings many wonderful memories I have with my Mom. One of my favorite moments that will stick with me forever is when she got remarried and I had the chance to dance with her. As we danced together I could see so many emotions in her teary eyes and I could see how happy she was. Some religions call that “of the world” and dancing is a bad thing that leads to sin. Stuff like that makes me take Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris a lot more seriously.

But is the universe really random? Is there no force that unite us all? Are we all alone?

So many constructs out there are meant to make us feel better, secure, happy and fall in line with society. Religion, god could be some of them. I find myself constantly wondering if a prayer is really not as powerful as it feels. Or also how it feels weird to just send positive thoughts to someone. Am I even as spiritual as I profess to be?

I wish I had more answers than questions. I do know that I don’t need religion as a moral compass, but dam this new pope is pretty awesome. I also go back and think about the conversation I had with a devout catholic and his very firm belief that Muslims were multiplying and we needed to keep up. I don’t understand the whole world, I don’t think anyone does. Not sure if I am becoming more secular as I get older but I do know I live in the world.

Ex·cep·tion·al

/ikˈsepSHənəl/
adjective
1.unusual; not typical.
“crimes of exceptional callousness and cruelty”
synonyms: unusual, uncommon, abnormal, atypical, extraordinary, out of the ordinary, rare, unprecedented, unexpected, surprising; strange, odd, freakish, anomalous, peculiar, weird;
“the drought was exceptional”

I have a huge chip on my shoulder. Every time someone that has never been outside of the U.S. of A. and they call ‘Murrica the best country in the world, it irks me. Not because I think that Colombia is the best country in the world (even though I think it is a happier nation.) but because I think to call something the best you at least have to have something to compare it to. I also discount military that have been “off base” during their duties because like tourists they probably never “lived” in those countries. For a country so set on assimilation and propagating democracy, this country does little to get to know anyone else. So again, unless you have lived in another country and has actually tried to learn a little about their culture you have no business calling America the best country in the world.

That said, America is great and exceptional. Careful though, exceptional does not mean necessarily better. If you did have the chance to read what Putin addressed to us “A Plea for Caution” it is quite a well crafted piece. I’ve had some time to digest it now and while I don’t dismiss it as propaganda I do see it as somewhat of a slap in the face. Not of America, not even of Obama, but it is a slap on the “World Police” mentality. The UN is or was supposed to be that… but are they?

What Putin wrote bothers me. It bothers me not because some of what he says is correct, heck most of what he says is correct… but how can a piece that ends up being somewhat arrogant calls the US arrogant. The part that bothers me the most is the “exceptional” comment. The US is exceptional in many ways, it is not a perfect country and I am quite critical of it and its society at times, but it is the land of opportunity. It is the land of inequality, just hidden a little better than in other places.

You have to understand that even though I was born in another country and sometimes feel more part of the “Fifth Estate” than anything else, I am American. I finished my schooling here, I have worked most of my life here, I continue to shape who I am as a human being here. I am an American. While I do dream of retiring somewhere else, I will always be grateful for the opportunities this exceptional country gave me and still gives me.

So to Mr. Putin (I almost called you “Pootie Poot” which is what we call him in our household) while I am not against the notion that we are all created equal under God, this country houses a lot of different people, and yes different does things out of the ordinary. This is an exceptional nation, and while maybe not the best or better than any other country in many respects This is still America and we will continue trucking on.

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