photograph from Sal Si Puedes #3
This past day or so, I’ve felt a bit like a negative nelly for my somewhat smug reaction to the demise of Tu Ciudad. When someone recently asked me, “what magazines do you like?” I stammered thinking of a response. Hmmm, the first thing that popped in my head was Readymade but to be honest, that magazine can be much too hipster for my taste. I have a thing for Planet but haven’t got around to getting a subscription. And I admit, I secretly read Vice on the side, but shhh, don’t tell anyone!
Then it came to me (okay, it came to me after I read kualyque’s comment on the Tu Ciudad post), one of my favorite magazines to come out of Los Angeles has been the infrequently published, hard to find zine: Sal Si Puedes. After reading this fine publication, you will no longer feel justified in calling City Terrace by it’s rhyming name (you know which one!) Keep reading for an awesome review by El Chavo that I shamelessly borrowed from another site.
Sal Si Puedes #3
Now this is what I call a fucking readable publication, a collection of writings that are not only interesting and informative but also have the quality of being both serious and humorous, the kind of stuff you’d expect from a conversation with a fellow Chicano. Though it might be considered part of the ‘zine scene’ since it consists mainly of personal stories and thoughts, SSP takes a wide departure from the product that regularly gets shipped out of cities like Portland, that deluge of photocopies designed for the white-middle-class Taste. If you aren’t thinking about building your own composting toilet, this zine is for you. If you don’t run to your room to cry and write poetry cuz someone at work made a comment you thought was offensive, then this is the mag for you!
But there is poetry here, lots of it, it just ain’t of the mopey poor-me variety. What you get here is a dose of the real, an unabashed reflection that is emotionally honest without needing the spoonful of sugar to gulp it down. You get stories that matter, or at least seem like they could have happened to you. There’s pictures of people you either think you’ve seen before or will most likely never see in print. But most important is the tone and attitude you get from CT’s writings , an uncompromising respect for portraying things as they are. Like this snippet:
“CT, what does this say?” I would take the cassette or newspaper or whatever from Ruben and check it out. I was the kid doing well in school. No one knew I was just afraid of being yelled at in front of others. I wasn’t smart, just scared. “It says ‘all rights reserved.’ It means you can’t copy it or they’ll bust you.” “Stupid!” he would say and continue cleaning his ’64 chrome pieces. Ten minutes later, from who knows where: “Like they’re really gonna come and bust us for recording shit. Fuck them!” To my twelve-year old ears, that was cool. But, what was so important was doing two things at once. Talking about the cops and shining hubcaps.
It doesn’t hurt that CT has a leaning towards the anarcho-veggie-punk tendency, not an uncommon interest in chicano circles but you’d be hard pressed trying to find much writings in that sub-sub-genre, not all chicanos are in Mecha, don’t you know. And that’s what makes SSP interesting, the way it blends politics with real life, personal interests, or whatever. Political ideals are not some extra-curricular activity you can join and quit like it was some over-priced health club. It’s good to see someone mixing it up, making it important, but not so overwhelming and singular that you can’t be human.
There’s also music reviews that actually make you think about why you’d want to listen to this music, not just some boring “5 songs on this record, mostly punk with some fast beats blah, blah..”, who cares about that? These reviews are about what the music can offer you, why you might want to waste some time listening to a new band. And they are fun to read as well. Check out this clip from a review of Antologia by Violeta Parra:
how can one commit to humanity a simple and glorious lyric like, “gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto” and then commit suicide? only a wicked world could clip the wings of an angel and push her into the inferno. i forgive her, but not us. how tragic is her story? yo, get sophocles on the phone! yea, i know he’s in greece. bet he’s using some too. how do you spell nambla? i don’t give a shit, wake his ass up. gimme the phone. yea, i’ll hold. man, philosophers are lazy. agamemnon, what a stupid name…oh, hey, soph. CT here. got some papyrus? well, get some. let me outline it for you: violeta parra. celestial voice. technique like apollo. no, i’m not a lyre. homeric verse. yes, sound like quite an odyssey. good one, soph. no, she ain’t from east athens. ¡chile! poeta. pintora. tapicera. what did you say?!? i’ll go over there, bang your mom and then poke your eyes out. i’ll open up pandora’s box, all right. my name ain’t jason but i’ll capture her golden fleece. and i ain’t hercules but she’ll love my golden apples. when do i want the draft? asafp. what’s the ‘f’ for? fuck, i don’t fuckin know.
Yup, it’s that good. If you want to read some homegrown East Los writing that lays it down straight, is real and funny (real funny!), doesn’t whine that some trivial thing is so overwhelmingly impossible to bear (no tales of ‘my bike got a flat, my life is over! boo-hoo!’), and treats the experience of a person living in the invisible part of Los Angeles as if we mattered, then get your copy quick! Otherwise, you’ll be kicking yourself when the last one is sold and yer standing there like a menso listening to everyone talk about SSP and City Terrace and all kinds of things you wish you were in on. But no, you overslept, you lost your chance to get a clue, and now you sit alone at the park wondering where it all went wrong. Ponte pilas guey, jump on it!
Review by EL CHAVO!