Mockstrosity Tour 2017

On March 29th, I had the opportunity to attend The Mockstrosity concert, at Le Poisson Rouge, in NYC. I got to experience Okilly Dokilly, Metalachi, and Mac Sabbath live. Each of these bands possesses the one thing Weirdo Brigade is all about; they are weird!  I had never heard of any of these bands before this concert, but I had the feeling I was in for something good. So it was a pleasant surprise to find that they are actually really good.

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The Mockstrosity concert opened with the world’s first and only “Nedal” band, Okilly Dokilly from Phoenix, Arizona. “Nedal” music is a sub-genre of metal themed around Ned Flanders, an animated character from The Simpsons. The band members perform dressed as Ned Flanders and their songs are centered around quotes said on the animated series. The band is comprised of five members: Head Ned (clean/unclean vocals), Bled Ned (drummer), Red Ned (synth, clean vocals), Thread Ned (bassist), and Stead Ned (lead guitarist).

Their first single, White Wine Spritzer was released in 2015. Many believed the Ned Flanders gag was going to be a one-time joke. To everybody’s surprise they released their first album, Howdilly Doodilly, on November 11, 2016.

As a person who has been to countless metal concerts, I found Okilly Dokilly’s polite attitude to be hilarious. From what I’ve seen, bands tend to be loud, obnoxious, and fouled mouth (don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff). This band, however, was the opposite. They reminded me of that one good-nature, jolly, polite next-door neighbor (Ned Flanders). Their music, on the other hand, was far from the nice next-door-neighbor variety and instead was loud and rhythmic (it was a metal concert after all), the kind that you can’t help but jump and head-bang all over the place.

Their performance was only describable as “class A” with amazing audible sound (They definitely practice a lot). They also had props; A big inflatable doughnut was tossed around in the crowd as they performed the song “Donut Hell.” They closed the set with “Nothing At All” with Head Ned wearing Flanders’s ski suit, as seen in the Simpsons episode, “Little Big Mom.

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The Show continued with my favorite musicians of the night, the world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band, Metalachi, from Hollywood, California. They are a five piece band that creatively combines metal music with Mariachi. The members go by the names, Veca De La Rockha (vocalist), El Cucuy (trumpet), Nacho Picante (guitarron), Paco (guitar), and Queen Kyla Vera (violin).

In 2015, Metalachi appeared on the show America’s Got Talent, where they performed Twisted Sister’s “We’re not Gonna Take It.” Although we’re not here to talk about that, you should definitely check it out.

When I first heard of Metalachi, I was intrigued and excited to experience this combination of music live. I wasn’t sure what it would sound like. However, as they took on the stage with their dark, yet colorful persona, I was blown out of my mind. I couldn’t help but sing and dance along to all of their songs.

While the stage was simple, it did emanate metal, with a bra hanging on the mic stand and Metalachi’s logo, a skull, sitting on stage. The members themselves screamed Rock stars! everyone dramatically wearing tight pants, vests, and bandanas, with faces heavily painted, and long hair falling over their eyes as they performed.

Their set was jammed packed with classic metal songs like “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne, “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, and many more. The songs were paired with the wailing of the guitar, violin, Guitarron, and the Trumpet that gave it the Mariachi flair. A dozen balloons were tossed at the audience and as they flew and bounced everywhere, people danced and sang along.

At The end of each song the members would make jokes about strippers and cholas. At one point, they even mentioned my favorite Spanish singer, Selena Quintanilla. Veca De la Rockha yelled, “Anything for Selena” and the band commenced to play a part of her song, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” (this absolutely made my night).

At the Mockstrosity concert, Metalachi put on an amazing, fun, and hilarious performance. This is a “must-watch-before-you-die” kind of band.

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Last but not least, the headliners of the Mockstrosity concert, Mac Sabbath, a band from L.A. California, known for their “Drive Thru Metal,” ended the night. They are a Black Sabbath parody band, whose lyrics and imagery are centered around Fast Food. Their set was the most theatrical of the bunch.

At the start, the stage was concealed with a yellow sheet. A recording of news clips blared loudly over the speakers about a demonic clown on the loose. The clip warned us to be careful, ending with “you need to run the other way.” Soon after, the sheet fell to the ground, revealing Slayer McCheese (Guitarist), Grimalice (Bassist), and the Catburglar (drummer), playing “More Ribs” (“War Pigs”). Seconds later, Ronald Obscure (vocalist) got on stage in a straight jacket, and looked extremely creepy, as he tried to free himself. He then started singing about McDonald’s food over Black Sabbath songs, finally freeing himself.

The stage was filled with crazy props: Creepy clown dolls, a giant straw, a flaming pan, a burger bat (which Ronald Obscure bit the head off, remind you of anyone?), two giant inflatable burgers (tossed around in the audience), and ketchup and mustard bottles filled with water (which were squirted at the crowd). A Red bucket sat in the middle of the stage. At one point Ronald Obscure spilled the bucket’s content over the crowd. I braced myself because I thought I was going to get wet, except instead of water, shredded paper fluttered all over. The band also had a man dressed in fast food employee attire, who was referred to as the “help.” When he occasionally got on stage to help Ronald Obscure with a prop, he was treated almost like a slave (which was kind of strange).

The performance was full of talk in British accents, corny jokes (centered around fast food and other bands, ex: Mac Flag), and random weird moments. I lost myself into the loud heavy music: Closing my eyes, I let the music flow into me as mosh pits were forming in the middle of the room. After they performed their encore, the band disappeared behind the yellow sheet, once more, calling it an amazing night.          

As I was leaving the Mockstrosity concert, I looked around and saw on the faces of people the kind of things I too was feeling: a drunken feeling of pure bliss among each other. We were brought together by the power of music. Like one big happy bunch of kooks, we danced and sang together. I looked around and saw a crowd of weirdos finally at home, surrounded by great music, booze, and amuse. That night, for a couple of hours freedom was mine. I was home. With all that said, you guys should definitely check these bands out when they roll into town.     

Written by Solansh Moya

Edited by Farmer Marx

Ana Espinal: “Flor de Mujer”

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Ana Espinal is a photographer who resides in the Bronx. Born in the Dominican Republic, she moved to the United States at the age of 13. She received an A.A degree in Photography at LaGuardia Community College and now attends the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She’s passionate about the arts and since she was a little girl has been in love  with Photography. Photography is the way she can fully express herself.

Espinal’s debut was a very successful photography exhibit on March 1st at SVA, where she showcased 21 photographs. Surrounded by friends and family who came to share her achievement, she was showered with praise and flowers. Espinal was positively the talk of the night. Her vibrant and beautiful photographs left people literally speechless.

Her first show is titled, “Flor de Mujer” (Flower of Woman) and it is centered around the “Faceless Doll,” a popular cultural and artistic tradition that has become a symbol of  the Dominican Republic.

The “Faceless Doll” was originally created by sculptress Liliana Mera in 1981. Mera molded small dolls made of terracotta, each fashioned to look different and unique from their hair to their clothes. With this, Mera wanted to capture every individual ethnicity of the Dominican culture giving the doll just one face, but she found the task impossible. Dominicans are extremely varied physically and culturally, so she left the dolls faces featureless, unfinished, and with a smooth surface, so as to represent all Dominicans, from indigenous to immigrants to the millions who left the island and are now spread all over the world. Today, these dolls are produced by many artisans across the Dominican Republic.

In “Flor de Mujer,” Ana Espinal took Mera’s original concept and its evolution and turned it into its opposite, giving the doll not just “a face,” but “all the faces.” In her series of photographs she explores the ethnicity of Dominican women, through their physical characteristics. She successfully captures these women in their most raw and natural state. The women represented in these pictures all look very different with distinctive features and unique skin tone. Ana says:

“My work focuses on the ethnicity and physical characteristics of Dominican women from ages 18 to 30 years old. I worked closely with my female relatives and friends from the Dominican community living in New York and New Jersey. My inspiration came from traditional faceless dolls. They are unique dolls that reflect the mixture of the Dominican ethnicity. I decided to use crepe paper to create the clothes and flowers as a representation of the nature of my country.”

I am one of the Dominican women in Ana’s show. It was almost like an out-of-body experience to have the chance to be part of this exhibit: for one night I felt like a star and at the same time it felt like I was part of something bigger than me. For one night, Ana made me really look at myself and understand in a deeper and more direct way who I am and where I come from. I felt proud to be from such a diverse culture. I am proud to be a Dominican woman! Thanks, Ana.

I had a chance to informally chat with the very shy Ana Espinal during the exhibit:

SM: Do you usually want people to get a message from your photographs?

AE: Of course! I think all of my photographs have meanings behind them. And it’s not just about my photographs. In general all pictures have something to say, for the past or present, whatever that may be. Always.

SM: What kind of work do you like doing or what kind of pictures do you like to take?

AE: I like portraits. I like to photograph models in the studio. That’s my thing, I love the studio work. It’s like creating something new out of a simple thing and using light fixtures. I enjoy doing that. I like to photograph people and I also do self-portraits as well.

SM: That’s really cool. So, what is “Flor de Mujer”?

AE: “Flor de Mujer” is a project that I’ve been working on for a few months. It’s about the identity of the Dominican women. I wanted to show where we come from, because we are all mixed and different. That’s what I wanted to portray.

SM: Where did this idea come from?

AE: My inspiration came from this doll, the “faceless doll” from the Dominican Republic and the story behind that is, because we are a mixed culture we don’t have a specific look. So, the doll doesn’t have a face. I really wanted to give the doll a face. I wanted to see the variation of women from the Dominican Republic.

SM: Do you have one of those dolls at home?

AE: Yes!

SM: The one on display over there is yours?

AE: Yes, I told my sister, “like you need to bring one!” and she was like, “Ok” (Ana Laughs)

SM: What do you hope people get out of this photo exhibit?

AE: I just want people to understand that we are different. It doesn’t matter how we look, we are all different.

SM: So, I know that this is a project for your school, for SVA. Are you planning on taking it elsewhere, like showing it in another gallery?

AE: The project is not just about SVA. This is a project that I want to keep for myself, for my career. This, I think, is the beginning of something good. So, I will try to put it out there and see how it goes.

We wish Ana Espinal the best of luck. She’s very shy and soft-spoken, but she shines in her work, bringing out her creative and fierce side. She’s a talented photographer with something to say! Keep a look out for her.

Written by Solansh Moya

Edited by Farmer Marx

Photos are part of the “Flor de Mujer” series by Ana Espinal

 

 

 

Film Review:

Little Sister

By Solansh Moya on February 08, 2017

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Clark’s tale about an ex-Goth nun facing her dysfunctional family.

Little Sister is a 2016 American dark comedy film written and directed by Zach Clark. The movie stars Addison Timlin as an ex-goth turned nun visiting her childhood home after the return of her brother from Iraq.

Colleen Lunsford (Timlin) ran away from her dysfunctional family three years ago, and found comfort among Brooklyn’s Sister of Mercy. She’s close to taking her final vows. However, Mother Superior (Barbara Crampton) has her doubts. She wonders if she’s ready, since Colleen has been spending her nights hanging around hipster performance artists. Then Colleen receives an e-mail from her manic-depressive mother, Joani (Ally Sheedy), in North Carolina; her brother, Jacob (Keith Poulson), has returned home from the Iraq war, with his face terribly disfigured from a landmine explosion. So, for the first time in three years, Colleen visits home, mainly to see her brother. Per Mother Superiors order, she has five days to figure things out.

Upon her arrival, she is immediately sucked into the dysfunctional family dynamic she left behind three years ago; Jacob hides in the guesthouse, angrily drumming and ignoring his fiancée, Tricia (Kristin Slaysman), and her parents, Joani and Bill (Peter Hedges) hide their problems behind their recreational drug use. Her room— black painted walls and a cross turned upside down—has been left untouched. Joani remarks, “Dad and I thought you’d become a lesbian Satanist,” disappointed that her daughter decided to become a nun.

Clark sets the film in 2008, during Obama’s first Presidential campaign, when hope and change was filtering the air. However, for the Lunsford family, these feelings were far from their radar. To get her brother out of his distressing funk, Colleen dyes her hair pink, paints her face, dismembers a doll, and lip-syncs to Gwar’s “Have You Seen Me.” How awesome is that?

Little Sister is an emotional film without the sappy sentiment, about many things: family relations, finding faith in a chaotic world, the connection between the personal feelings and the political, and how a war can change someone’s life forever. Overall, the movie is good, has an awesome soundtrack, and the actors did an excellent job. This movie was absolutely made for “the little goth girl in all of us,” as Clark calls it.

Latinx: What Does This Mean?

By Solansh Moya on February 4, 2017

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A person of Latin American origin can be referred to as Hispanic, Latino, or Latina. However, there is a new word to refer to Latin Americans– Latinx (pronounced “La-teen-ex”).

Latinx seeks to move beyond gender binaries and it includes all of Latin American descendants. This word makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, non-binary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.

The Spanish language is gender-based, meaning nouns, adverbs, and some conjugations of verbs express a specific gender. Usually, masculine words end in “-o” and feminine words end in “-a.” This is simple when you are referring to a group entirely composed of one gender. But, this becomes a bit difficult when you are referring to a group of mixed genders. If there are men in the group, even if they are the minority, Spanish grammar rules that the group be referred to as “Latinos.” However, Latinx is a gender-neutral alternative to Latino and Latina.

In an interview with Public Radio International (PRI), Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez, a queer, non-binary, femme writer, said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to assign masculinity as gender neutral when it isn’t…The ‘x,’ in a lot of ways, is a way of rejecting the gendering of words to begin with, especially since Spanish is such a gendered language.”

Latinx came to fruition on the internet in 2004, within the queer community. The word gain popularity in 2014 and in 2015 the search for the word, on google, began to increase. The word has become a widely used identifier on social media platforms. Many people commend the words capability to better incorporate many groups of people while challenging norms and cultural.

What do you guys think of the word Latinx?

Women in The Beat Generation

By Solansh Moya


The Beat Generation is known for a lifestyle that rejected conventionality and instead focused on the individual experience. The Beat writers rebelled against Capitalism and placed themselves on the fringe of society. Today, our understanding of this movement romanticizes the freedom from responsibility. It commemorates sex, drugs and the creativity in the lives of individualistic writers. If asked to list the Beat writers, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg would most likely be the answer. The most memorable Beats happen to be male. This isn’t strange since the Beat Generation was mostly made up of men. Thus, Beat literature speaks mainly through the male voice and their experience. Staring in the 1950s, the Beat writers established a kind of literary brotherhood. However, when thinking of these literary men one might wonder, where are all the women?

There weren’t a lot of women in the Beats and they were less successful than the males of the group. If asked to list the women Beat writers, most people would struggle, mainly because their voices have been overshadowed by the males of this movement. Due to the social norms of the time, these women writers encountered a lot of friction when dared to write about their own experiences.

In the 1950s, men and women followed strict gender roles that complied with the notion of what society deemed acceptable. Men were the sole providers and women the housewives. Men had a significant amount of power in juxtaposition to women, who were only supposed to stay home and run the household. This gender-based view gave the men of the Beat generation more freedom to act as they pleased. Beat women, on the other hand, weren’t as lucky.

Women were supposed to comply to their parent’s wishes and follow societal rules. Therefore, they didn’t have a lot of independence. This meant that if a woman wanted a literary career, the gateway was slim and limited, especially if they associated themselves with a controversial counterculture such as the Beats.

While the male Beats were looked down upon, arrested and mocked, the women got it a lot worse. If a woman decided to lead a non-conformist life, this meant mental hospitals, electroshock and being locked up in their homes, getting force fed conservative values. Some women could not stand living in such a repressive world. They were restless and wanted more than the role they were given as women.

Even among the male Beats, women were mostly seen as muses. They were pretty flowers, who sat in the background, while the men indulged in deep intellectual conversations. Joyce Johnson, one of the most memorable women Beat writers, said it best in her memoir, Minor Characters:

“I see the girl Joyce Glassman, twenty-two, with her hair hanging down below her shoulders, all in black like Masha in The Seagull—black stockings, black skirt, black sweater—but, unlike Masha, she’s not in mourning for her life. How could she have been, with her seat at the table in the exact center of the universe, that midnight place where so much is converging, the only place in America that’s alive? As a female, she’s not quite part of this convergence. A fact she ignores, sitting by in her excitement as the voices of the men, always the men, passionately rise and fall and their beer glasses collect and the smoke of their cigarettes rises toward the ceiling and the dead culture is surely being wakened. Merely being there, she tells herself, is enough.” 

This image of herself summarizes the experience of many women writers during this extremely male-centered literary period. It took a lot of courage for them to be there at all in such a conservative and repressive time in history. Their excitement at obtaining a “seat at the table,” exist with the knowledge that women remained apart from their male counterparts; they were seen and heard of less. However, they too loved to drink, smoke, and have sex. They were smart young women, who loved art, books and writing. Unfortunately, they were living in a world where their value was belittled. To a lot of people, the male Beats were being courageous and revolutionary and the women were just being problematic.

Women Beats had to endure being marginalized by society, but they continued to fight against conformity through their own personal experiences and their writing. They struggled and fought like the true writers and artist they were. Today, these women are getting the attention they deserve, for being brave and intelligent. Some have written books and poetry that have influenced many women writers. Fortunately, the literary world has become more inclusive.

Meet Some of the Women of The Beat Generation 

Joyce Johnson (1935-) is a fiction and non-fiction writer and editor. She has written multiple articles for several publications, like The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and many more. She also wrote several books. She is best known for, Minor Characters, a memoir about her experience in the Beat Generation and her relationship with Kerouac. It won National Books Critics Circle Award.

Diane Di Prima (1934-) is a poet, artist, prose writer, memoirist, playwright, activist, and teacher. She has written over 40 books, including Memoirs of a Beatnik, an erotic account of life as a Beat. She co-edited the literary magazine, The Floating Bear. She co-founded the Poets Press, the New York Poets Theater, and founded Eidolon Editions and Poet Institute. She also practices Buddhism and co-founded the San Francisco Institute of Magical and Healing Arts. She’s won several awards, including the National Poetry Association’s Lifetime Service Award.

Hettie Jones (1934-) is a poet and children’s book writer. She co-founded the literary magazine, Yugen. In 1990, she published her memoir, How I Became Hettie Jones, which describes her marriage to Amiri Baraka, and her friendships with several popular Beat Generation figures. She’s written over 20 books.

Elise Cowen (1933-1962) was a poet who suffered from mental health problems and tragically committed suicide. She wrote a lot of poems and kept several journals. However, most of her work was destroyed by her family after her death. Her friend Leo Skir had found 83 of her poems in his apartment and had several published in numerous literary journals. She was also included in Women of the Beat Generation: Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution by Brenda Knight and was prominently featured in Johnson’s memoir, Minor Characters and in her novel, Come and Join the Dance.

There were, of course, a lot of other wonderful women Beats, like Edie Parker, Joan Vollmer, Carolyn Cassady and many more. If you would like to learn more about the women of this generation read, Women of the Beat Generation: Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution by Brenda Knight.

Solansh Moya