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House Of Tudor 

Tech-Mex, outlaw etiquette, people power and Pandora's Box

Wednesday, Aug 22 2001
The last thing any subversive, forward-thinking young artist wants to do is play music his elders would find appealing -- a toe-tapping grandma is the easily recognized death knell of musical insurgence. However, many successful artists will agree that it's important to start with what you know and then fuck it up. What Tijuana's Nortec Collective knows is the norteño, ranchera, and banda sinaloense -- polkas and waltzes that were brought over by German farmers in the 1800s and turned into Mexican hybrids. That relentless "oompa oompa" found on every street corner of Tijuana finally put Mexico on the electronic music map, and it just took Pepe Mogt stepping outside his front door to do it.

Long feeling that his Kraftwerk-inspired compositions were off-target, Mogt began recording the musicians in his neighborhood and circulating the samples among his DJ friends. When Ramon Amezcua, a shy 38-year-old orthodontist-cum-DJ with classical training in piano and cello, latched onto a honking tuba and a polyrhythmic drumbeat, norteño-techno was born. The sound is an electronic fusion of north and south, where cowbells and push-button accordions twitch and tweak through high-speed beats, and bleating trumpets and big bass drums sidle into downtempo camps with their spurs a-jingling. The Nortec Collective's first musical manifesto, The Tijuana Sessions Vol. 1, offers seven artists from the now-burgeoning scene, but Amezcua (as DJ Bostiche) still shines the brightest -- he seems most comfortable nestling his Macintosh up against the family tree. The Nortec Collective performs on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the DNA Lounge's "Joypad" with DJs Mauricio and Fluid opening at 9 p.m. and DJs Oliver Goss, Capitol A, and Jonah Sharp spinning upstairs. Tickets are $15-20; call 789-7690.

As the fringe becomes more and more mainstream, guidelines for proper decorum become a necessary evil. While it's easy enough to shame the one person in 40 who turns up at a fetish party wearing sweats and a T-shirt, it's decidedly more tricky when there are 40 saggy losers ogling the gals in latex. Thankfully, the fastidious duo of Rob Cohen (founder of alternative art mag Caffeine) and David Wollock (creator of hip hop zine Rap Sheet) has written Etiquette for Outlaws, a field guide to rebelliousness for mannerless yobs who want to walk on the wild side. From this comical but well-researched vade mecum, you might learn the subtle protocols that will help you appear tolerable (even likable) in a strip club, swingers' party, jail cell, homeless shelter, casino, bar, rave, porn set, gang initiation, tattoo shop, motorcycle rally, punk show, brothel, AA meeting, or hip hop club. You might even unlearn some widely held but ridiculous misconceptions, such as that undercover cops have to tell you they're on the job if you ask, and it's better to ignore crazy homeless people than to tell them you won't give them change. Rob Cohen and David Wollock read on Thursday, Aug. 23, at Books Inc. (2275 Market) at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free; call 864-6777.

Ian Brennan, the delightful mind behind such concepts as "Live Nude Bands" (make nutty bands perform naked) and "Live From the Laundromat" (record great musicians between spin cycles), has recently taken to putting on free outdoor concerts (Fugazi and Sleater-Kinney in Dolores Park and Green Day and Victoria Williams at Civic Center). Rumor has it he's still paying off the last show, but he doesn't care because he has a vision: "Power to the People." This latest gratis show includes the lo-fi back-country musings of Bonnie "Prince" Billy (Palace's Will Oldham), the pornographic ruminations of Berlin-based rapper Peaches, the road songs of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, the inspiring gospel of the Holmes Brothers, the Psychedelphia of Bardo Pond, the legendary sounds of Tejano pioneer Santiago Jimenez, the punk-politico rantings of Jello Biafra, and the Malian storytelling of Mamadou Diabate, as well as turntablists Faust and Shortee, the Nels Cline Singers, and more. "Power to the People" will be held on Sunday, Aug. 26, at Crissy Field from noon to 7 p.m.; call 427-4779.

More than 60 years after her career ended, Louise Brooks still looms large over feminine style, what with her huge, fathomless eyes hedged by fierce, sleek bangs, her flagrant sensuality wielded without concern for restrictions or margins, and her troubled, helpless independence. While heartily condemned at the time, Brooks' psychologically complex characters have become nothing short of iconographic, especially that of Lulu from G.W. Pabst's 1928 silent film Pandora's Box. Lulu is a pure libertine, a gorgeous German dancer whose tragic life is choreographed by the moral decadence of the Weimar Republic. When Lulu's wealthy lover refuses to wed, she simply shoots him and moves to London to live with her bisexual "father." There, plagued by her destructive but nearly innocent narcissism and the sexual hypocrisy of the men and women who desire her, Lulu is reduced to walking the streets, stalked by a libertine of a more pathological nature. While the film is certainly sensationalistic, its star and director imbue the scenes with subtle, graceful beauty and multifaceted nuance, making Lulu much more than a wicked trollop who gets what she deserves. For "A Devastating Diva Meets Tin-Pan Alley on Speed," Pandora's Box will be projected under the stars, accompanied by a live score by Austin's wonderful Golden Arm Trio. "Devastating Diva" will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at El Rio with a free omnivore barbecue from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The movie starts at sundown. Tickets are $10; call 282-3325. -- Silke Tudor

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Silke Tudor


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