Please Explain: Latin Music

This week’s American Idol just might have been the most dismal episode the show has ever had. While I don’t think there is one breakout talent this year, what made this week even worse was the its theme: Latin Music. The only thing fun was getting to watch Jennifer Lopez offer up suggestions. Considering she is the Paula Abdul of her musical generation, Melinda and LaKisha must have been thinking, "you are not even in my league, so watch what you say."

My Please Explain this week goes a lot farther than Jennifer Lopez, as I can’t name you one authentic Latin musical artist that I would want to hear. Gloria Estefan quite possibly is my least favorite, big selling artist of all-time. Sorry but the rhythm isn’t going to get me….tonight (or ever). Her attitude and her singing tone always came off abrasive to me. While I don’t think Shakira is that great either, at least she has a hypnotic shake to her rumba. Whenever I see Estefan perform, it reminds me of some second-rate show on a cruise ship. During the Elian Gonzalez fiasco, Estefan was out front in the cause of separating the young boy from his father. At the time, I wrote that I was okay with Gonzalez staying in America, as long as Estefan was sent in exchange to Cuba.

I’m not an elitist in my musical tastes, as I can still listen to classic rock radio and enjoy what is playing. Do I want to hear a Boston block party or double shot of REO Speedwagon? Not particularly, but even these groups have a few songs I can put up with. Now here’s my confession. I have never liked one Santana tune. Ever. I will hear some people put him in the category with guitar heroes like Hendrix, Clapton, and Beck. Don’t even try to explain that one to me.

I’ve dated a Black Magic Woman during my past, which was pretty exciting, but Santana’s biggest hit of the same title doesn’t capture the vibe of it for me. I understood the basic charm of Santana’s solo album monster hit, Smooth. The guitar hook had a sexy groove to it, but what made it a smash was the vocals of Rob Thomas. After being overplayed more than any song I can think of over the past 10 years, it creates a violent reaction in me to turn the dial when it comes on, but I guess I’m in the minority considering how it still gets airplay.

While Carlos Santana could be a Please Explain category all by himself, I want to tackle the bigger issue which is that I believe most Latin Music es mierda. I’ve been to most Latin countries and love almost everything about the culture. I can remember spending a couple weeks in Panama and having the best time taking in the scenery and the sites. The one thing that made it easier for me to go back home to the cold was that I wouldn’t have to hear the cha-cha-cha of the music that was constantly blaring in the restaurants and nightclubs.

I tried to rack my brain to come up with Latin musicians that I could say I’ve enjoyed. Julio or Enrique Iglesias? Ha! Gypsy Kings? Sorry, I tried. You can go all the way back to Sergio Mendes or more recently, the plague that was the Macarena and I will consistently tell you it was lame. The perpetual suckitude of Latin Music just proves how great Los Lobos were during the first few albums of their career, as they were able to use some Latin Musical tenets and make really good music. I would argue that like Richie Valens, Los Lobos always let the rock overtake the Latin influence during their peak years. This was their winning formula.

So you can keep your Rico Suave. Personally I don’t need a Selena tribute act. Menudo? I say Menu-NO!

Please Explain Latin Music.


65 thoughts on “Please Explain: Latin Music

  1. 2.  My only suggestion might be Seu Jorge, who did a lot of the music for the Life Aquatic soundtrack. Though I don’t know if that counts, considering those were just Bowie covers in Portugese, albeit damn good ones. His original stuff is alright as well, though I’m not sure you’d dig that either…

  2. 3.  the artist you mentioned Scott truly do suck, personally i’m a spanish rock guy like ZOE, LA LEY, LUCYBELL, ETC. to many to mention. I’m sure you’ve met hispanic girls that like spanish rock no?

  3. 5.  Scott, sounds like your issue isn’t with “Latin Music,” but with attempts by Latino-American artists to cross over to an English-speaking audience in the United States. Latin America has generated a great deal of genuinely fantastic music, from classical pieces down to contemporary artists, but most of the truly good stuff couldn’t care less about selling records to gringos who listen to REO Speedwagon, or Santana for that matter.

    Meanwhile, lumping all these artists together simply because they have Latin American backgrounds and attempting to paint an entire culture into a corner as a single musical genre strikes me as borderline racist. I mean, c’mon, the Macarena and Menudo? Makes me wonder if somewhere in Argentina there’s a blogger dissing “Anglo American” music based on the fact that he doesn’t like New Kids On The Block and the Electric Slide.

  4. 6.  This is one of the dumber “Please Explain”s. You’re just listening to the wrong stuff. Listen to an album by Silvio Rodriguez, or Ibrahim Ferrer, or Los Super Seven, or Los Van Van, or ferchrissakes get your hands on the new Los Lobos album, which any self-respecting person should do anyway.

  5. 7.  …Alejandro Escovedo (or any of the Escovedos), Tito Larriva, and Calexico does some nifty work with their Latin influences….

    What’s next? Please Explain 70’s music because you don’t like disco?

  6. 8.  First, that was the worst Idol episode ever, period.

    Second, while Scott may be over-generalizing Latin music as a whole when he declares it to be “es mierda”, to begin to characterize that opinion as racist or even ‘borderline’ racist is a bit reactionary don’t you think? We’re talking crappy dance music for the most part, not the ability of peoples south of the border to govern themselves or to live productive lives.

    Third, to my knowledge Scott is not an expert on music in general and like most of us is an enthusiastic amateur on the subject. That being said, please continue to nominate artists that don’t suck as I think that adds to the discussion. I saw Calexico a few years ago and I wouldn’t have characterized them as “Latin”, but that brings up a point that maybe we should clear up before the conversation goes any further:

    Please [Define] Latin Music?

  7. 9.  6 Cliff is right on…there is so many categories under “Latin Music” that your please explain needs an explanation of its own. Would you lump Rock, Metal and Pop under one umbrella and call it “Anglo Music”.

    Listen to Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and India for a mix of classic and modern salsa (which many argue itself is too broad a classification). Then try some merengue from Milly Quezada. Also, mix in some boleros. There is a lot of great music that could broadly be classified as Latin.

    In addition, I think you are selling Gloria Estefan short as well. While here “Sound Machine” material is more pop/cross over novelty, her later work is very good (Cuts both Ways and Destiny are probably her two best CDs). You need to put your politics aside on this one. Estefan’s talent dwarfs the “pop divas” that our country shamefully spits out.

    There are so many excellent Latin artists, both past and present…too many to mention. Try listening to Jose Feliciano, Luis Miguel, Olga Tanon and Shakira before you started releasing music in the U.S. Then, you should be able to explain for yourself.

  8. 10.  Also, Scott, I think you’re confusing “Ï don’t get it” with “I don’t like it”.

  9. 11.  Good lord – let latin music be more like rock because then it would be empirically better? And THOSE are your examples of latin music? This one is worse than I thought.

  10. 12.  Please Explain: French
    Please Explain: Carrots
    Please Explain: Why Johnny’s House Smells Funny
    Please Explain: Why Everything Outside Of Your Own Personal Worldview is a Problem.

  11. 13.  You should really give it a chance, at least really good Latin Rock/Pop. If you were to listen to bands like:

    Jarabe De Palo
    Enanitos Verdes

    Then I think your opinion would change or it might remain the same for you not understanding the lyrics. There’s a lot of good guitar work and it is mostly driven by what many would consider “that” Latin sound.

    Some solo artist are also really good:
    Julietta Venegas

    Then you’ll see it’s not much different than some of the more mainstream pop music. It’s about taste, but I do find they are better than American pop music.

    You also have the growing popularity of Reggaeton – Spanish style rap/reggae, if you ever came to Spanish neighborhood and saw some of the girls at the local club/bar dancing Reggaeton then your opinion would change immediately. If you aren’t really into looking at people dance and moving very sexy then Reggaeton isn’t for you. The more mundane and bop your head up-and-down (like Beavis and Butthead) rock music is just your style, so Spanish music doesn’t need any explanation because that is just not your style. The same way the Polka isn’t my style.

    Now, I love all music but I don’t like J-Lo or Gloria Estefan (she did have one good solo album though), and J-Lo is hardly a true representative of Spanish music.

    As far as Santana, there are few albums that are better than his Abrixas album and his ‘Samba Pa Ti’ song is one of my all-time favorites. I love Hendrix too, and I also think that Santana is in his class. You can differ, but that’s what makes our musical tastes relative.

  12. 14.  Ha, I think Scott wanted to throw a grenade out there and see what happened. I will say this, I flat out don’t get Mexican television culture. It seems like it is 15 years behind the U.S., all the pop bands look like New Kids On the Block, and cheese is always the order of the day. I can’t say it is bad, since I don’t even know what they are talking about, but it sure is trippy.

  13. 15.  14 agreed…although I thought I detected an anti-slavic comment in 13‘s post, why do you to be a hater?? ;).

  14. 16.  Writing off latin music because Gloria Estefan sucks is like writing off rock and roll because Nickelback sucks.

    Os Mutantes
    Tom Ze
    Caetano Veloso
    Gal Costa
    Gilberto Gil
    Milton Nascimento

    ad infinitum

  15. 17.  A Santana show I attended in 1987 (part of a dual bill with the Dead) ranks as one of the better shows I’ve ever seen, but then again I was out of my mind on Dock Ellis’s “no-hitter helper.”

  16. 18.  16 – I think Scott wanted to do one that was controversial. “Please Explain: Sanjaya” is topical, but everyone will agree. What is the point of explaining things that everyone gets?

  17. 19.  First let me say that I appreciate the people who have offered up artists to brighten up my muscial playlist. I especially thought Dimelo’s post was good, so I will search out some of his suggestions when I get a chance.

    Having said this, I will mention that I doubt any of the artists that he mentioned are played on commercial radio in the US, Mexico, and most other Latin countries. American commercial radio ain’t so good, but at least there is a Christina Aguilera or a Robin Thicke who brings some quality to it.

    William23- If you think anything Estefan has done is good and you recommend me trying more of Shakira, I just don’t think you and I see eye to eye on music. Different tastes.

    Monkeyball- To your comment that anything outside my worldview is a problem misses the point of Please Explain. This series is a dialogue which does feature my worldview, but I do it as much for me to understand what I might be missing. I think the dialogue in these comments have helped open the minds of others, as well. (I know this sounds a bit too self-congratulatory, but I do think the segment is fun for most who read it.)

    When Idol does these theme nights, they are usually filled with crappy songs, but at least a couple every show have some quality. I have never heard a Popular Latin artist who has made music that I’ve liked, except for the mentioned Los Lobos.

    Now to Cliff’s FUCKING thought-police, politically correct BULLSHIT. (I respond here, despite knowing that it’s nice to keep a sense of decorum between fellow Toaster bloggers.)

    I figured someone would try to throw the race card at me for this post. Sure I mentioned some bad latin pop acts, but I will admit that I’ve liked some pop songs before, so I don’t think that automatically makes the idea a poor one. Like it or not, Santana and Gloria Estefan have been the most successful “Latin” acts of my lifetime and they also happen to be 2 of my least favorites.

    I have listened to radio in every Latin American country I’ve been in and it sounds really bad to my ears. Sure I’m lumpiing a diverse list of people and cultures together in this post, but the center focus was American Idol doing a theme show last night on the topic.

    Beniah hits it pretty close to what I was doing. If I’m wrong, tell me why. This is the concept of Please Explain. If I don’t like Chinese food does this make me racist. Come on.

    I had planned on doing a piece on the overreaction to the stupid things that Imus said. What I wrote was just about a type of music. If you think that is borderline racist, that is your opinion, but I will tell you I feel completely comfortable in what I wrote.

  18. 20.  I’m out. I thought Yo La Tengo was my favorite Latin band and then I found out they were Jewish. Or something.

    That said, I do dig me some Ozomatli as well as most of the bands listed above. Give them a shot, Scott, because Gloria Estefan they ain’t.

    I will say that here in L.A., the Latino radio stations play the music that is largely influenced by polka and that I do not get at all.

    About that overreaction to Don Imus? We’ll let that lie for another time…:)

  19. 21.  19 – I would like to see your thoughts on Imus. His comments are idiotic, racist even, though it seems less problematic than the N-word. However, the response and coverage is so idiotic and overblown that it galls me.

    Here is Snoop on Imus:

    “It’s a completely different scenario, “[Rappers] are not talking about collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We’re talking about ho’s that’s in the hood that ain’t doing shit. Kick him off the air forever.”

    This is such and idiotic response, so telling in its simplistic world view. So it is wrong to make a joke about someone being a ho, but to actually call someone a ho and mean it, that is fine. Sigh. Whatever.

  20. 22.  20 Ozomalti is good. That’s another good band, they are like the Spanish version/equivalent of Rebirth Brass Band.

  21. 23.  20 Suffering Bruin said, “I’m out. I thought Yo La Tengo was my favorite Latin band and then I found out they were Jewish. Or something.”

    Though Yo La Tengo is not a band of latinos, their name derives from a certian familiar sport. From wikipedia:

    “Their name comes from a baseball anecdote. During the 1962 season, New York Mets center fielder Richie Ashburn and Venezuelan shortstop Elio Chacón found themselves colliding in the outfield. When Ashburn went for a catch, he would scream, ‘I got it! I got it!’ only to run into the 160-pound Chacón, who spoke only Spanish. Ashburn learned to yell, ‘¡Yo la tengo! ¡Yo la tengo!’ which is ‘I’ve got it’ in Spanish. In a later game, Ashburn happily saw Chacón backing off. He relaxed, positioned himself to catch the ball, and was instead run over by 200-pound left fielder Frank Thomas, who understood no Spanish.”

  22. 24.  I had heard a version of that story, Josh. Great stuff.

    Wanted to mention that Cypress Hill is one of my favorite rap groups of all-time, but just like I don’t consider System of a Down playing Armenian Music….

    I have to mention this almost every week, so here we go again. Please Explain is set up to ruffle a few feathers. It can’t be Dave Matthews every week.

  23. 25.  Even though I am hispanic, I haven’t really gotten into that latin pop sound. I liked some of Estefan’s songs, Selena had a few good one’s, but in general not my thing. Even current “popular” acts like Mana and Juanez haven’t really done it for me outside of one or two songs.

    However, If you include salsa music or Latin Jazz/ Afro-Cuban Jazz, ooh baby.

    If you can handle music from, you know, instruments, here is a primer:

    Buena Vista Social Club
    Tito Puente
    Adalberto Alvarez
    Frankie Ruiz
    One of my favorites…Poncho Sanchez

  24. 26.  I’ve been to most Latin countries and love almost everything about the culture. I can remember spending a couple weeks in Panama and having the best time taking in the scenery and the sites. The one thing that made it easier for me to go back home to the cold was that I wouldn’t have to hear the cha-cha-cha of the music that was constantly blaring in the restaurants and nightclubs.

    I’ve heard too much musical diversity in restaurants and nightclubs of the Latin American countries I’ve been lucky enough to visit (Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Peru) to lump it all into a “cha-cha-cha”. Please explain this edition of please explain. Howbout a rewrite of the Kirsten Dunst entry where her name’s replaced by “blonde girls who act”?

  25. 27.  Oh wait, this is a “Please explain”

    Current Latin Music doesn’t work for most americans quite simply because it is usually a few years behind the curve. I’ve found it sounds like bubblegum pop but in spanish.

    But Latin Jazz and Salsa music is easy to explain why it does work. That same feel that you get when you rap along with Eminem is the same feeling that gets you for salsa music, but its strong enough to actually make you dance. Im biased, since I grew up playing Jazz music, but as a former musician there was nothing funner for me than finishing our jazz set with high energy Latin bit. And there was nothing that got the audience to go “whoa…” than that.

  26. 28.  Shakira before you started releasing music in the U.S. Then

    Shakira’s early spanish stuff was absolutely brilliant IMO.

  27. 29.  19 Actually, what I suggested you do is listen to Estefan’s and Shakira’s music before/after their requisite cross over sellouts to appeal to the mass U.S. pop audience. Instead of dismissing their work based on lesser examples (i.e., judging Willie Mays on the 1973 World Series), why not try their better efforts first?

  28. 30.  When the whole Buena Vista Social Club thing came out, I tried to embrace it. It just didn’t happen for me. Not behind Tito Puente, either. Sorry.

    I will check out Poncho Sanchez.

    One group that mixed latin influences that I love is the Mavericks. Truly, one of the great bands of the nineties. Raul Malo needs no Please Explain from me.

  29. 31.  Shakira’s early stuff I have listened to and it was okay. Brilliant? Maybe the videos.

    Gloria Estefan could sing the Beatles catalogue and I would think they couldn’t write a song.

  30. 32.  19 Geez Scott…if that’s your reaction to a critique, why do you even bother soliciting a response? The blogger doth protest too much mee thinks?

    By lumping a small segment of crossover pop into a rant about Latin Music does seem to imply a certain cultural insensitivity. Your vulgar response does little to lessen that impression. Instead of flaming others, I suggest you broaden your horizons.

  31. 34.  32I’m Dominican and I wasn’t offended by what Scott said. I didn’t think he was insensitive. He just wants to know more and doesn’t get Spanish music.

    Honestly, I don’t think he ever will “get it” but that hardly makes him insensitive to Spanish people, their music or culture.

    People think of Spanish music as “La Cucaracha” and that’s fine, there are certain stereotypes that people develop because that’s all they really know and they never gave it (Spanish music) a chance.

    If Scott really is reaching out to learn more and he puts it bluntly that might rub some the wrong way, then he’s done his job. I’m no shrink, but he’s probably frustrated that he doesn’t get most of the music and wants to know what big deal is and if there is something better that he might get.

    People love 24, I watch it and I just don’t get what the big deal is about that dumb ass show. Does that make me insensitive to the people who love 24 and get it?

    That’s kind of the way I took it.

  32. 35.  From how I read my response to your post, it basically was that you and I have different tastes, if you like any Estefan. I hated her way before I knew she was trying to keep Elian in the US. Most of the other offerings you put out there I don’t know much about, but I will get around to checking out. I thank you for spending the time to offer them up. If I end up liking them or not, maybe you will turn someone else on to them.

    I will try this one more time, William. This Please Explain piece was focused on American Idol theme night and what gets played on Latino radio stations and nightclubs. Even if you include the bigger picture of bands like Buena Vista Social Club, I still am not a fan. Maybe some of the other acts that have been mentioned will help me embrace the concept more.

    The only person I went nuclear on was Cliff, as I think his comments were blatantly unfair.

  33. 36.  Dimelo is right on to what I am trying to do.

    Here’s an example. When I was a freshman in college, I took a class in Black music which focused on Blues and Jazz. (The class was called history of Black Music. Racist title? Well, sure there have been influential white artists in both of these musical genres, but I had no problem with the title, as I think it’s fair to consider them created mainly from Black artists.)

    Since I wasn’t very familiar with either art form, I thought I would learn why I should like it.

    What happened from this class is that I became a big fan of blues music. It was like I was on a journey with Alan Lomax.

    Jazz was a lot harder for me to connect with. Most Jazz music didn’t work for me, but as I’ve gotten older, it has connected with me more. I tend to look at something that is popular with a large segment that I don’t have an initial affinity towards and think “what is it that I’m not getting here.”

    Like Dimelo mentions about 24, I feel similarly about Battlestar Gallatica (gasp for many of you here.) When it something that is loved by so many people that I have a lot of respect for, I try extra hard to embrace it. Sometimes it happens for me (Blues music), and sometimes it doesn’t (Indian Food).

    I am a sensualist, as I try to savor everything I can in life, so I truly know what I like and what I don’t. I try not to give a definitive opinion on anything, without at least trying it first. So for those of you that are waiting for my Please Explain on CRANK, I think it will be awhile.

  34. 37.  “Sometimes it happens for me (Blues music), and sometimes it doesn’t (Indian Food).”

    Indian food? You need the homemade stuff. Next time you’re in Los Angeles (it occurs to me I don’t know where the hell you are but I know you travel) you let me know. I hated Indian food before I got married. My wife learned from her mother-in-law who brought recipes from the motherland. You’ve got an open invitation.

  35. 39.  You’ve got a deal, Suffering Bruin. Maybe we can get Weisman and Timmerman to join us. (I owe Bob, as I just met up with Jon last time I was in SoCal.)

  36. 40.  By the way Scott if it wasn’t for you’re thread a while back listing your favorite bands/groups of ’06 I would have never known who Eagles of Death Metal were. I have 2 songs of theres in a C.D I work out too.

  37. 42.  37 – I thought the same thing. I assumed “Mother-in-Law” was either “step-mother” or she had been married before. Still, it was confusing as hell, especially since I was wondering how S.B. could be Indian, but not like Indian food until his wife learned how to cook it from his mother.

  38. 43.  41 And my reputation for being the most careless of commenters when it comes to writing remains intact. God knows if my students are learning anything if my communication skills on the Toaster blogs represent my writing ability but for the record, yes, my wife’s mother is an excellent cook and no, I never hated my mother’s cooking because she’s an excellent cook.

    By the by, Don Imus has been fired by CBS.

  39. 44.  “I’m not an elitist in my musical tastes”

    You knew I’d have a personal love for that line.

  40. 45.  36 –

    Latin Music : shit :: Black Music : Jazz/Blues?

    OK great, thanks. Totally understand now.

  41. 46.  Ok, I haven’t read all this thread…so buyer beware…

    But, not liking Chinese food is OK. Saying all Chinese food is bad is bordering on lunacy, regardless of whether or not it’s racist.

    It’s impossible for me to believe there isn’t something about ‘Latin’ music you wouldn’t like…the point is, how could you know? Why paint it all into one corner. It’s not politically correct to delve a little further into broad generalizations that are based on race or ethnicity. If I say I don’t like ‘Islamic literature’…that’s not racist? Without being a Middle-eastern expert, a statement like that is going to get treated as racist (even though it would still be a dumb thing to say), like it or not.

    There are so many cultural/socioeconomic/political undertones to any ‘latin/swedish/russian/mexican’ kind of generalizations, that making broad stmts are only going to end up intellectually on the short end of the stick.

    Again if you’ve answered OK, just thought I should get on record.

  42. 47.  A 37 year old white guy’s take on Imus (never really listened to his show, however):

    A multitude of rap artists, movie stars and atheletes can call black women “Ho’s” millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of times, but Don Imus deserves to lose his job?

    I wonder two things:

    1) Does CBS own the rights to any recordings that refer to black women as Ho’s


    2) Do any of the Rutgers b-ball players have any CD’s or tracks on their iPods that disparage women??

    I sure hope neither 1 or 2 is true (but I doubt it).

  43. 48.  What you write is basically the main focus I would have written about in a posting on Imus. I still plan on putting something up on the subject, when I get the chance.

  44. 49.  chris: You know I love ya man, BUT…

    What you’re missing is CONTEXT. Don Imus talks to Barack Obama, Howard Fineman, John McLiar and is on NEWS station three hours every morning. Him saying ‘HO’ and Ludacris so ‘HO’ is completely different.

    Should he be fired? Who knows…but to say he shouldn’t because millions blacks listen to rap with HO in it, is just plain _______ (fill in some two/three/word adjective string I’d call 43.)

    I like Alec Baldwin’s comments on HuffPost myself…fire him because he’s stupid and irrelevant today, not because he’s a racist.

  45. 50.  49 I get the point, but if everyone who ever did something stupid got fired…well, no one would have a job.

    I don’t know much about Imus—he’s not on the radio in Central Illinois—I didn’t know that he had ‘serious’ guests on his show, I assumed that he was an older ‘Stern’ kinda guy. Either way, I’m still unsure of what damage his comments could have possibly had on the Rutgers players. I’m guessing that they’ve heard worse from their opponents.

    The outrage about this is so disproportionate to the actual offense it’s unreal.

    Where is the public outcry about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton helping to railroad three innocent Lacrosse players a year ago?? Those guys almost went to prison and I haven’t heard any apologies; the Rutgers girls got their feelings hurt…whoopee.

    (I’d like everyone to remember that I’m a crazy lefty)

  46. 51.  47 How many times goons spout garbage on a record has little to do with Don Imus’s comments. Are you suggesting that misogynist hip hop artists should be the standard for what’s acceptable behavior in our society? Fuck that shit.

    Whether or not CBS profits from distributing those artists, or whether or not a member of the Rutgers women’s basketball team own and listen to misogynist hip hop artists has little to do with what Don Imus said, either. Corporations can be hypocritcal? People have inconsistent opinions? Old news that’s not blowing my mind. Should it be addressed? Absolutely, but let Don Imus be judged on his own retarded actions, not the actions of others.

    I’m glad Don Imus got canned. He got what was coming to him.

  47. 52.  Vockins, I just have one thing to say to you. As a parent of a child with autism, the most offensive thing anyone can use in my presence is some form of the retard(ed). Having said this, I respect your right to use it, as much as it has hurtful effects to me, as I believe in freedom of expression.

    I think everyone should be careful about playing thought police.

  48. 53.  And just in case anyone thinks I’m using the old trick where someone makes a joke about your mother and you lie that your mother died to make the person feel badly, I’m not. I’m a proud parent of a child with autism.

  49. 54.  51 “retarded”

    Beautiful. The mentally disabled salute your indignation over Imus’s remarks.

    Also, “Are you suggesting that misogynist hip hop artists should be the standard for what’s acceptable behavior in our society? Fuck that shit.”

    Well no, they shouldn’t be the standard, but should they be given a free pass?? 50 cent and Don Imus are entertainers, they are plying their trade on some of the same ground.

    I think there a number of people playing the outraged citizen who couldn’t give two shits about Imus or the Rutgers B-Ball team but are simply using this as an opportunity to further their own causes. I think my Duke Lacrosse analogy is apt (except of course Imus DID do something, I just don’t think ending his career is a just penalty).

  50. 56.  52 I sincerely hope that your child will live a fruitful life, but my use of the the word retarded was in the most literal sense. It is completely appropriate to the situation. Don Imus’s actions are, literally, preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment. It was not meant to be construed as a reference to the behavior of a person with a mental condition.

    I can understand that considering your situation, you would be very sensitive to the use of the word retard. It can be very demeaning for it to be used inappropriately, in the the improper context, like the word colored or bitch.

    On the other hand, “nappy headed hos” has no room for interpretation.

    It seems that you’d empathize with the Rutgers women’s basketball team, or all black women, when you experience the consequences of the distortion of the freedom of speech to the point that the subject of that speech has real, material consequences, or when a person believes that their rights are more important than the rights of another. Apparently not.

  51. 57.  54 If they’re not the standard, then don’t use them as the standard. If their behavior is unacceptable, then fantastic, we are on the same page. I’m not advocating 50 Cent get a pass, and I’m not advocating Don Imus get a pass, either.

  52. 58.  I do empathize with the Rutgers basketball team. Imus’ comments were stupid and hurtful. Having said this, I don’t think a guy who has entertained people for as long as he has should be canned at CBS radio for making a mistake. Especially when he has sincerely apologized and tried to take responsibility for his actions.

    In regards to the use of retarded, the meaning of the word has shifted much like the word Oriental or Colored. Any use of the word retard is troubling to many politically correct. I can promise you that whenever my wife hears any form of the word, it stings her greatly. As I wrote, I don’t like hearing it, but I defend your right to use it. No it’s not the same as what Imus said, but the point was that killing a person’s career over a comment is a really slippery slope.

    I’m working on a longer post on the Imus situation, as we speak that will hopefully illuminate my thoughts more effectively.

  53. 59.  By the way, I don’t hold any kind of grudge against you for using the word, Vockins. I realize that you weren’t using it with any type of malice and I do think it’s a bit unfair to you that what you wrote would get you compared to something dismal like what Imus said.

    It’s just that your stridency on the issue lends itself to holding a magnifying glass to what you offer up. This is the danger that I fear with the public flogging of Imus.

  54. 60.  I think some of you are missing the point with the Imus vs. Rappers thing…

    Imus was allowed to perpetuate his garbage because of the money that it brought in.

    “Rappers” (and that means a certain commercialized segment of them) are allowed to perpetuate their garbage because of the money they bring in.

    Both are equally cognizant and ignorant of the cause and effect of utilizing this hateful imagery of women and minorities. They sell/sold mass quantities of nihilism and bullshit, and their corporate parents reaped the lion’s share of the reward. But…

    You have to realize who identifies with these people, and who’s buying their crap. Record companies are selling to people who have the money to buy, and sorry, but that money’s not coming from the ghetto. It comes from the suburbs, where a majority of the concert-goers and album purchasers and merchandise hoarders are young white men and boys. What is Snoop reporting his version of reality to? Me? I don’t have any money to buy his crap, and even if I did, by his definition I’m not seeing anything I already haven’t seen. It’s the “curious” folk who swallow the legends and stereotypes because they’ve never seen or heard anything like it in their ordinary lives. Rappers are heralded for things that essentially aren’t real.

    Imus, on the other hand, is reaching out to grown men who have strong-set opinions about certain issues that agree with what he’s pandering to, as well as the unknowing immigrant from ANY country who wouldn’t know better because again, it’s something out of their ordinary lives. What Imus says is not so much different than what Snoop says. It’s a matter of who he says it too. He says it to people who are the movers and shakers of society, who have the influence to shape policy and public opinion. If you don’t believe me, check out what Rudy Guiliani said before Imus was fired (and he’s likely to be the next president; the current administration wasn’t self-centered enough).

    This issue with Imus is deeper than what he alone said, and comparing it to what rappers say diminishes the efforts and achievements of what the Rutgers team has done and is truly about as individuals. NONE of these things should be acceptable. The fact that it exists clearly states that there are really serious problems that people ignore about our country. Justifying ignorance by pointing fingers at other ignorance is lunacy. If you only show outrage about certain issues when it directly or vicariously effects you, then you are part of the overall problem. You don’t like what the rappers say? Stop buying their shyt. March down to the record company and protest. Protest the rappers at their concert stops. By the way, that’s happening and has been happening for more than a while, which is why Snoop feels compelled to justify what he says and does. He could be next for all he knows.

    Imus was fired for quite a few reasons; the sponsors abandoning him and the networks was probably the biggest reason, but understand that their are deeper issues than what Imus said at stake here. If you want to make a difference in this argument, then put your money where your mouth is. Put your foot down. Identify who it is and what bothers you. Do not generalize, be specific; that way you can get not only better answers, but a clearer path to a solution. And don’t hate someone for doing something you don’t have the courage or inclination to do, like speak up on behalf of outraged people who need a voice that can be heard and listened to.

    It’s our own fault that we let it go this far, with Imus and with the rappers, but it’s not too late to turn it around. And the next time it happens, nip it in the bud quickly. Stop pointing fingers at each other and make the solutions happen.

  55. 61.  59 Clarence Thomas referred to the line of questioning he endured by the Judiciary Review Committee that was overseeing his candidacy for the US Supreme Court as a “high-tech lynching.” Yet, there were legitimate concerns about his character and judgment in light of what Anita Hill testified about concerning her interaction with him. He was immediately deified by the conservatives who, in my opinion, sincerely wanted to prove they were not racist by appointing another Black person to replace the revered Hon. Thurgood Marshall. Marshall himself protested against Thomas’ appointment because of his political views, knowing that Thomas’ convictions were nearly the polar opposite of his own and would undermined all of the work he had done to uplift the Black community as citizens.

    I say this in regard to the “public flogging” that Imus has endured, not much different than Troy Torain (DJ Star) for verbally threatening the child of a rival deejay on the air, or Miss Jones on Hot 97 in NYC for defiantly playing the anti-Asian “Tsunami Song” several times even as listeners complained. Star was fired and arrested for his comments, Miss Jones was suspended and some of her crew were fired. Again, this is deeper than Imus. Imus has a track record of saying offensive things on the air, so it’s not like it was out of character for him to say this. Times have changed and people have gotten enough power and voices to say “enough is enough.” Howard Stern is safely ensconced in non-terrestrial radio, where people can subscribe to listen to him if they wish. What a difference money makes when you have something to say. But to single out Imus and imply that he’s being unfairly published is a tad disingenuous. They’ll all be punished sooner or later for maliciously and constantly crossing lines of entertainment and landing squarely in hate.

    The only “mistake” Imus and Star and others like them made was not knowing anything about their audience, a point the Rutgers team and their coach made as their key issue: “You don’t know anything about me, so why would you say something like that?” They were not prepared for the response, nor the repercussions of those comments. If Imus knew what he was talking about, he would not have been frightened by any of this or gotten defensive in the face of major criticism. Maybe to some, this is vindication, but for the team and in my own opinion, neither he nor Star or any other “entertainer” has the right to freely disparage me to millions of people without knowing me without expecting a show of force in return; intellectually, economically or judicially. And the pain those two felt is a reflection of the pain they inflicted on others. It’s deep.

  56. 62.  And oh, for what it’s worth, I agree with you about the lack of interest in the offerings of Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Lopez, and I’m not a fan of Reggaeton which I find ultra-repetitive, like a skipping house-music record or CD. But I respect anyone who likes reggaeton, just stop blasting it because you think the whole block wants or needs to hear it. I think that’s the problem with popular music in general; it tries too hard to appeal to as many people as possible in regards to selling merchandise, and disregards promoting a person or groups’ talents, inspirations and imagination. With pop music, you could easily replace one figure with another and no one would notice. I put Jennifer and Gloria Estefan’s music squarely in the pop genre, even if they appeal to or shadow Latino culture.

    But there are quite a few Latin music artists (artist with distinction from music celebrities) who you might find palatable given the nature in which you receive it. Lopez and Estefan do not define Latin music by any standard, neither do Shakira or Christina Aguilera. Carlos Santana, partially, but they have aspects that make them distinct about themselves; the real distinction is in the music itself.

    As opposed to listening just to the commercial radio stations, try going to an authentic record store and conferring with the proprietors about the music and what might be appealing to your particular nature. Just a suggestion, that’s all.

  57. 63.  While I have tried the critically-acclaimed Latin artists like Buena Vista Social Club, Gypsy Kings, and Tito Puente, only to not connect, I plan on trying some of the other suggestions. Maybe I will find the next Raul Malo.

  58. 64.  I’ve been to Olive Garden and Panda Express and have come to the conclusion that Italian and Chinese food sucks too…I cringed as I read this as it seemed the writer hadn’t done very much research before putting forth his argument. There are internet radio stations that specialize in Latin Music. One such being There you’ll find crappy pop music, but you’ll also find music that is absolutely sublime. Check out Latin rockers Lucybell, Zoe, Sumo, Soda Stero, Los Bunkers, Libido, Canal Magdalena, Babasonicos, Los Prisoneros, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Los Amigos Invisibles, La Ley, and — the uber hip techno band from Monterrey Mexico Kinky (they’ve played sold out gigs in the US). Also from Monterrey: Plastilina Mosh, Genitallica,and Volovan. Also from Mexico Julieta Venegas, Moenia, Fobia, Cafe Tecuba and Molotov. Latin Rockers from the US Volumen Cero, Los Abandoned, Orixa, Pastilla, Enjambre, Los Burbanks, Ozomatli, The Bentleys, Fitter, Fosoro

    That should be enough to get you started….;0)

  59. 65.  The Writer checking in. Wow, you got me. I postiioned my whole post on listening to the Mexican muzak at a lunch at a Don Pablo’s.

    Your comment validates my point. You use an internet radio site. So the 50 people who listen to this site have good taste. My piece was about commercial radio in Amercia and other Latin countries I’ve visited and how much the music stinks. The main focus came from the abysmal American Idol where they were to do Latin themed music.

    I appreciate the artists you listed, as maybe they are worth hearing. I still haven’t heard anyone list a mainstream artist who has traditional latin music as a part of their music, who is worth a damn. There are at least a few decent pop music stars. I guess Shakira is the closest thing on the Latin Music scene.

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