Now that the 103854th Grammy Awards are over, I’m loving all the annual outrage that shows up on my social media feed.
It’s the same tune every year: “My favorite artist was robbed of his or her long overdue recognition by olds, racists, or misogynists (the Grammy voters), so RAGE.” And if you’re Latino, there’s the extra I-can’t-believe-these-people-don’t-get-my-culture rant.
But why would they? Especially if the people who supposedly get Latino culture are just as clueless and embarrassing.
Yesterday I saw a column or two lamenting the tragic losses of “Despacito,” a song that was stupidly popular during 2017, but is also watered down, expertly sanitized reggaeton meant for mass consumption.
The fact that some journalists still believe the Grammys are a true barometer of creativity is so laughable that it’s almost endearing.
To remind everyone that the show exists for entertainment purposes only — and not to recognize true talent — Rob Sheffield wrote a great piece about how the Recording Academy historically gets everything wrong:
“Grammy voters are old. There’s no possible way this couldn’t be the case, since Academy Members are people with long careers in the music biz. Lifers. Fans who cherish their memories of Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra, but can’t recall their Netflix password. If you want the Grammys to reflect a younger demo, it’d be easier to start a whole new award than to magically change all the Academy members’ birth certificates.
The Grammys have never not been this way. The biggest-selling album of 1968 was Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced. Jimi not only failed to win Album of the Year (it went to Glen Campbell), he didn’t get Best New Artist, which that year went to José Feliciano. Jimi didn’t get a single Grammy nomination in his lifetime. He had more commercial success than Glen or José.”
You good and sober now? Because there’s plenty of examples of how the Grammys have always been out of touch, in case your “Despacito” beef stew is still simmering:
“Flash back even earlier to 1966, the year rock albums exploded as an art form, with classics like Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and Otis Redding’s Dictionary of Soul and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and the Beatles’ Revolver. So who won Album of the Year? Frank Sinatra, for A Man and His Music.”
So even if “Despacito” didn’t win shit — and, frankly, I’m alright with that, because it’s a song that veers into Latino coonery — others did.
There’s Calle 13’s René Pérez, for example, who won a Grammy for Residente, his solo debut. Mr. Sandwich de Salchicha told the audience the same thing he told Bad Bunny and other reggaetoneros: People’s obsession with views, plays, streams, etc, is making music worse.
I don’t always agree with René, but he’s absolutely right: Faced with the pressure to only write music that will produce billions of streams/views/likes, artists are confining their creativity within a very limited scope of sound.
Yes, Luis Fonsi’s megahit is a masterclass in catchiness, but any song off Residente is conceptually more challenging and inventive than “Despacito.”
Being pissed at a bunch of old, probably white and conservative people — the same ones who wouldn’t give Jimi Hendrix the time of the day — for not liking what you like is silly. It’s their damn show. But if you’re still mad about no-Grammy-cito, be happy that at least one genuinely creative Latino recording was recognized by these clueless people in 2018. (Shakira also won Grammy for El Dorado, but she’s another topic altogether.)
Also, stop seeking cultural validation through bullshit award ceremonies. If you need others to validate your opinion, then you’re the problem, not them.
Andrés Cantor, the most important sportscaster of a generation, liked my Tweet
This past Sunday I logged on to Twitter to see what 45 was up to, and a friend had tweeted a video clip of Andrés Cantor, the Argentine sportscaster, belting an elongated “gooooooool” after Colombia had scored against Poland. I immediately replied with a simple innocuous response acknowledging I grew up listening to him, and his emotion never gets old.
Monday morning I woke up with a notification on my phone: “ANDRES CANTOR liked your reply.” Having worked around celebrities in a previous life, something like this wouldn’t make me giddy, but this was different. I remember Andrés, along with Norberto Longo, announcing the Italia 1990 World Cup matches on Univision.
At the time, Univision was the only broadcaster airing all the matches, so non-Spanish speakers also got to experience Cantor’s signature phrase. He made watching the matches so much more exciting. It wasn’t just his particular enunciation, but his narration, which adds nail-biting suspense, and has a way of scrambling one’s feelings.
He knows his audience very well; just this week, during Mexico vs. Sweden, in the last minute of the match, he began to narrate the results of the match, which allowed Mexico to advance to the next stage. His energy matched those of the stadium, as he announced in Spanish: “Korea takes out the champion (Germany), Korea advances Mexico!”
OH. MY. GOD. How can you not get caught up in the drama?
It’s not the same, but there have been some improvements with soccer matches called in English. Fox’s F1 has the English language rights for the world cup. They had two Latinos with thick accents announce Mexico vs. Sweden, and they added their own flair with dramatic cadences in English. But it’s Andrés Cantor who has laid the foundation for dramatic futbol game calling.
I remember during the 1998 World Cup, when Mexico played Germany in the round of 16, the match was tied 1-1. Pavel Pardo tried to do some fancy footwork against a German player, and Cantor quickly commented to stop it and not to do this against Germany. I was thinking the SAME thing — what an idiot! That match had me on the edge of my seat, and Cantor read my mind. Mexico ended up losing the match and getting eliminated.
I heard Andrés for the first time during the 1990 World Cup, but it was in 1987 that he was hired at Univision to call the matches for the Liga MX. For most, it wasn’t until the 1994 World Cup that Cantor came into the limelight. He was recognized with several awards, including a regional Emmy and a National Career Achievement Emmy, for his work during the tournament. He even made an appearance on the David Letterman show.
From a 1994 interview in the LA TIMES:
He said his ‘Gooooooaalllll!’ call isn’t really a trademark, and not even unique. That’s the style of the announcers he listened to as a youngster in Argentina.
Andrés Cantor is very much the voice of soccer in the USA. He came up a time when there was only one network broadcasting the World Cup, and he called the matches like the announcers from his childhood. Ultimately he’s written the announcers playbook, and many who’ve come after him have been influenced by his style. Yes, Cantor’s booming voice has become an unmistakable trademark, but for me his observations are just as important. He’s always saying what I’m shouting at the screen, and, apparently, liking my tweets.
Tizoc Schwartz co-wrote a short film on the word ‘Chingar’ and has written other stuff you’ve never heard of. He’s a carb enthusiast, and dislikes social media.
Drunkards in the night: A hallway, two keys, and one lasting memory
Last night I met a student from upstate New York. She was drunk and locked out from the apartment across from mine, which she leased through Airbnb. She was given two keys; one unlocked the front door of the building, the other one unlocked her anxiety, frustration, and some other door elsewhere, but not the front door of her leased apartment.
I asked her if she was okay and she said “yes” with plenty of confidence. I entered my apartment only to be distracted by her weeping a few minutes later. I don’t know my neighbor — I mean, I’ve seen him, we wave at each other. But I don’t know his name and definitely don’t have his number because, well, it’s New York. Not having to speak to your neighbors about pleasantries — or at all — is one of the perks of the city.
I walked back to the hallway and asked the woman, who was in her early twenties, at most, if she had my neighbor’s number. In her state, my question barely registered, so instead I asked for her name, and to unlock her cell phone, which she was fumbling with. “Nawn…cie. Here.” She handed me her phone where, coincidentally, a group text was blowing up on the screen.
I got in on that: “This isn’t Nancy, but a stranger who found your drunk friend in a hallway in the LES. Someone should come get her. She’s locked out.” I offered her a glass of water, but instead she bolted inside my apartment, ran directly towards the toilet, and threw up. She figured out the layout of my place almost instantly, which was very surprising considering her altered state.
After handing her a wad of napkins and the glass of water, Nancy crawled towards the living room. “Sorry. You’re so kind, and decent, I think. I’m from Ithaca. That’s not relevant to this situation, but yeah, I’m from Ithaca,” she explained while climbing on top of an office chair (I don’t have real living room furniture).
Her friend, Rachel, texted back: “OMG. I’ll be there in 20 minutes! Please take care of her.” I relayed the information to my sudden guest. “Well, Nancy. I guess Ithaca rolls pretty hard on Monday nights,” I quipped. “Naw. Just me,” she replied, before adding that she’s a “computer science student.” “Is that relevant to this situation?” I asked. “Yes. There’s nothing wrong with computer science, actually, but my dad forced me to study that. I’m not good at it, so I’m always getting wasted.”
Nancy’s struggle was all kinds of endearing, but it wasn’t my place to dish out advice because 1) she didn’t ask for it, and 2) she already knew shit was wrong, but simply decided to deal with it in an unhealthy, self-destructive way, just like most young people. It’s actually an important stepping stone in youth, the kind that simply needs to play out.
Rachel finally showed up, adding: “Thanks for taking care of her. We didn’t think she was this drunk when she left the bar.” Still woozy, Nancy looked in my general direction before she left, and mentioned a parting gift. “It’s next to your toothbrush. Thanks, dude.”
She left a memory — yeah, figuratively, but also literally. A 4 gigabyte Samsung DDR3 RAM laptop memory module.
Nancy’s funny. Nancy’s gonna be alright.