CVIndependent

Sun12152019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Gene Armstrong

Dear Mexican: I work with mostly young, progressive, educated white folks at an institution of higher education in Southern California. The other day, I mentioned buying a shirt that reads, “Illegal immigration started in 1492.” We had a good laugh, and my co-worker, whom I like a lot, said that it actually began in the Ice Age, suggesting that no one kind of human has a claim over “land” or geography.

While I get her argument, I was stunned. A flippant response like that diminishes the struggles of people trying to make a life here, under adverse conditions and having fled other adverse conditions, as well as the systematic historical exceptionalism mythology, jingoism, xenophobia and racism that has created the current state of affairs.

Can you give me a good comeback for when an otherwise cool gabacho says similar bullshit?

A Chicana in the Hallowed Halls of Learning

Dear Pocha: You can point out the fact that attachment to a vanquished homeland is a fundamental part of the human experience—witness the Garden of Eden, Israel, Palestine, Aztlán, Camelot and even The Sandlot—but did you try, “Check your privilege?” How about: “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us?” Maybe, “Who’s the illegal alien, pilgrim?” Perhaps: “Vete a la chingada, pinche sucia pendeja babosa”? Or the classic: “Chinga tu madre”?

I know you’re looking for an intellectual retort, but even Kant knew that a well-thrown verbal chingazo every once in a while makes the best possible point.

I enjoy your column, and I need advice on how to handle a difficult situation with a very special Mexican in my life.

I am in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and my little sister is a smart, kind, beautiful 12-year-old Mexican girl. Since we became sisters three years ago, she has been telling me all about what she wants for her quince (a beautiful blue dress, a stretch Hummer, a mariachi band, etc.). Although her parents don’t have much money, they try very hard to do special things for their kids and make their lives really happy. Today, her mother told me that they are not going to have the money to throw my little sister a quinceañera party. Instead, they want to take an inexpensive trip to the beach (she LOVES the beach), and save the rest of the money for her education. Her mother wants me to help her discuss the situation. Her parents have decided to tell her now so that she doesn’t spend three years planning a party that isn’t going to happen.

I would like to do something special for my sister which captures the spirit of a quinceañera celebration, but without the traditional party. However, being a white lady, I have no idea what that might be. Can you help me to figure out what a girl needs on her quince to feel special and celebrated? I love her so much, and I want to make her feel happy.

Happy to Be a Güera Hermana

Dear Gabacha: Primeramente, can you throw the chingones parents a party for breaking the chains of quinceañera nonsense? Not spending tens of thousands of dollars on one day of a teenager’s life in order to save for their daughter’s educational future? What a novelty!

That said, a beach party quinceañera is not only feasible, but would be more memorable than any rented VFW hall or community center. Check into reserving a big section of sand; tell the parents to invite her friends and family; and watch how happy your hermanita will be. Just don’t be surprised when all the Mexicans go into the ocean with their clothes on …

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

The time has come again to review some of the most-promising CD boxed sets hitting the shelves.

The cynics among us decry the act of repackaging old music in pretty new boxes, while music buffs drool over rarities, outtakes and remastered classic albums. That said, here is simply a sampling of the best new boxed sets on the market. Whatever your tastes, you're likely to find something out there.

Get ready, get set and shop for the best deals. While some of these collections have hefty price tags, if you search for the right deals online, you might discover some ridiculously low sale prices. Most of the prices shown are taken from Amazon.com as of our press deadline.

Let's dispense with the prosaic intro—and get to the goodies.


Blur

Blur 21

VIRGIN; 18 CDs, 3 DVDs; $175.70

If you're surprised that this '90s Britpop band has enough material for 18 CDs, you're not alone. But just in time for the 21st anniversary of the release of their debut, Leisure, here it is: all seven studio albums, as well as more than five hours of previously unreleased material, three DVDs and a collectible book. There's even a limited-edition, 7-inch vinyl single with a song that the band recorded under its original name, Seymour. It's actually too much to list. Bandleader Damon Albarn has gone on to form such interesting groups as Gorillaz; Mali Music; The Good, the Bad and the Queen; and, most recently, Rocketjuice and the Moon. But here, you can hear his not-too-shabby beginnings.


Johnny Cash

The Complete Columbia Album Collection

LEGACY; 63 CDs; $255.99

This massive boxed set includes the Man in Black's complete recorded output for Columbia Records, from 1958's The Fabulous Johnny Cash, which featured his first No. 1 single, "Don't Take Your Guns to Town," to Highwayman 2 (released in 1990), his second collaboration with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Naturally, there's a big ol' color booklet with meticulous documentation and liner notes, but the emphasis here is on Cash's music: from country and Western, gospel, blues and rockabilly, to folk and traditional ballads. Also included are two new singles compilations: the 28-song album Johnny Cash With His Hot and Blue Guitar, and the 55-track The Singles, Plus. Cash may have recorded some weaker material at certain points in his career, but as a body of work, this is the latest Holy Grail in recorded music.


The English Beat

The Complete Beat

SHOUT! FACTORY; 5 CDs; $35.31

With songs such as "Mirror in the Bathroom," "I Confess," "Hands Off ... She's Mine" and "Twist and Crawl," memories of '80s two-tone ska will come flooding back. A total of 79 tracks are spread across these five discs. Included are remasters and expanded versions of the band's three studio albums, two extras discs full of 12-inch mixes and dubs, some Peel Sessions, and four cuts recorded live in Boston in November 1982.


Woody Guthrie

Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection

SMITHSONIAN/FOLKWAYS; 3 CDs; $63.98

Maybe you heard about this set from the flood of publicity that heralded its release last summer to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the folk legend's birth. This 57-song set documents the work of one of the most important and influential singer-songwriters of the last century (he died in 1967), touching just the tip of a 3,000-song iceberg. The beautifully bound, 154-page book features art essays. The music includes some of his earliest recordings, some rare radio shows, 21 previously unreleased performances and six never-before-heard original songs. Many kids learn "This Land Is Your Land" in school, but Guthrie was way more than that. Folk music—indeed, all music—would not have been what it is today without him.


Heart

Strange Euphoria

EPIC LEGACY; 4 CDs, 1 DVD; $34.99

Ann and Nancy Wilson, rock 'n' roll's best sister act—who released a brand-new album this year as well—may have experienced ups and downs throughout their 36-year career, but enjoying the highs always has been worth enduring the lows. This boxed set is way more than simply a repackaging of the hits: It's the first multi-label, career-spanning compendium for the band, jam-packed with album and demo versions of familiar hits (so you can compare and contrast), rarities, live tracks and outtakes. The DVD is a 55-minute live performance of the young band in 1976 (around the time I developed a crush on both sisters). There are tracks representing the pre-Heart group Ann Wilson and the Daybreaks, and the Wilsons' late-period side project, the Lovemongers. The fourth CD is an EP compiling Heart's uncanny Led Zeppelin covers.


Various Artists

Philadelphia International Records: The 40th Anniversary Box Set

HARMLESS; 10 CDs; $68.48

This soul compilation covers the glory days of the 1970s label, including nearly 800 minutes of pure, distilled R&B and funk by the likes of M.F.S.B., the O'Jays, Archie Bell and the Drells, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the Three Degrees, Billy Paul, Instant Funk, Teddy Pendergrass, the Jacksons, Lou Rawls and many others. The package includes a 60-page booklet with sleeve notes and track details by archivist Ralph Tee. There's a reason why an entire genre has been called Philly soul, and the music here constitutes Exhibit A. Initial reviews say this boxed set tops previous similar collections for sheer volume.


Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine XX

LEGACY; 2 CDs, 2 DVDs, 1 LP; $95.49

Can any of us really imagine Paul Ryan getting into "Killing in the Name" or "Take the Power Back" from Rage's amazing, incendiary debut album? Released in 1992, this exclamatory album showed Rage to be among the pioneers in blending hip-hop, hard rock and protest music in one package, which, by the way, sounds as dynamic and innovative as it did 20 years ago. It has been preserved in all its "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" glory on this new set, which features a remastered edition of the original, commercial version of the album, a CD with the original demos for the album, two live DVDs, and an audiophile's wet dream of a 180-gram vinyl version of it. If your pocketbook can't handle the price tag, scaled-down versions are available.


Roxy Music

The Complete Studio Recordings 1972-1982

VIRGIN; 10 CDs; $84.37

In one of the best deals out there, you get all eight of the ground-breaking band's studio albums in their original form, from the thorny self-titled debut—an amalgam of art-, glam- and prog-rock—to the final work, the smooth cocktails-and-boudoir record Avalon. Also included are two discs of bonus tracks previously unavailable on CD. Audiophiles will want to know that these versions used flat transfers from the original analog master tapes rather than the 1999 digital re-masters. Sounding as much like the original LPs as possible, this set will allow you to imagine how shockingly new Roxy's music must have sounded in the context of pop music 40 years ago.


Paul Simon

Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition

SONY LEGACY; 1 CD, 1 DVD; $16.08

The unprecedented meeting of Simon's ageless pop and the sounds of South African musicians such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo (not to forget a guest appearance by Tucson homegirl Linda Ronstadt) yielded this Grammy-winning 1986 album. Here is a remastered version of the album, which includes such unforgettable hits as "The Boy in the Bubble," "You Can Call Me Al," "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" and the title track. Also included is a DVD of the documentary Under African Skies, directed by Joe Berlinger, about the making-of and the controversy surrounding the album. You can also buy assorted, more-elaborate editions with more CDs, more DVDs, more booklets and vinyl. This one's a deal, though.


A.R. Kane

Complete Singles Collection

ONE LITTLE INDIAN; 2 CDs; $19.15

This great, now-overlooked shoegaze duo from the late 1980s and early ’90s released only three proper studio albums, but lots of EPs and 12-inch singles fill out their impressive body of work, the depth and breadth of which is demonstrated in this two-disc, 33-track package.

Alex Ayuli and Rudi Tambala comprised A.R. Kane, and their engaging experiments in dream pop, drone rock, jazz funk, avant-garde, electronica, dance music and sonic collages earned them comparisons to such acts as the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and most of the roster at 4AD Records.

Much of A.R. Kane’s attraction derived from their balance of the sacred and profane, the tender and the brutal. Genuinely creepy songs such as “Butterfly Collector,” “Lollita,” “Haunting” and “Baby Milk Snatcher” also are genuinely beautiful, filled with hammering drum machines, feedback loops, dub bass, distorted vocals and gouaches of shimmering white noise.

Even on more heavy-handed tracks, such as “Sado-Masochism is a Must” and “Sperm Travels Like Juggernaut,” the lack of subtlety is mitigated by playful irony. Casual listeners might question the need for multiple versions of some tunes, but when alternate takes and dance remixes are included, each is substantially different from the original version.

These tunes offer glimpses of the soft, white underbelly of desire and need, the most hidden places of the psyche. But listening to A.R. Kane also is deliciously disorienting—it might make you might feel as if you’re in the midst of The Matrix, streams of musical code cascading around you, simultaneously logical and incomprehensible. Did you take the red pill or the blue pill?