LISTENING

WITCH, the Zamrock band from the 1970s. I love Spotify and I know Spotify has hurt artists (because it’s a streaming service that doesn’t pay artists a lot), but I love it so much. I’ve discovered so much music I probably never would’ve heard. Like WITCH, the Zamrock band from the 1970s. Zamrock is Zambian rock, which I didn’t even know existed (obviously I knew Zambian’s made rock music, but I didn’t know there was a name to it besides rock).  When I first heard the track “Like a Chicken” I assumed it was a modern garage-rock band from SoCal comprised of white boys. It sounds old, but a lot of bands today are emulating the effects of older rock music. Then when I tried to find more of their music, I learned that WITCH is a Zamrock band from the 1970s. WITCH stands for “WE INTEND TO CAUSE HAVOC,” which is the best f**king name, in my opinion.

Last week happened to be unseasonably warm so it felt good to blast their Best Of compilation album with the windows down. Would recommend for people into vintage rock and bits of that soukous guitar.

 

WATCHING

I watched Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th and you should too. It’s about the racial history of prisons, the criminal justice system, and incarceration in the United States. There’s so much in this film worth knowing, no one should not watch it. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about American history and there were things that I had no idea happened in the past. Those interviewed are mostly historians and activists, but there are also some politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) and there’s a whole lot of criticism of both Republicans and Democrats (like Bill Clinton. Lots of shade thrown on Bill Clinton).

I also watched Juana Inés, the Mexican miniseries about nun/poet/feminist Juana Inés de la Cruz who rose to prominence en la gran ciudad de México in the mid- to late-1600s. There are only seven episodes, so I binged it in one day. It’s funny because the previous night I had a dream that I was writing a poem in Spanish. Then I woke up and began watching a TV show about a Mexican poet. Also one of her most wellknown poems is called “The Dream” so… those are a bunch of meaningless coincidences I just mentioned. Regardless, the miniseries is pretty well done. It is, as most historical fiction about women tend to be, frustrating watching Juana Inés struggle against oppression as a woman in society and also as a nun within the church. Does she succeed in her lifelong battle against those chains of oppression? You’ll have to watch to find out (or maybe just read her Wikipedia page). What is certain is that if 300+ years later people are making TV shows about you, you’re probably important enough to have succeeded at something. And her poems are awesome.

Anyway, I think it’s worth the seven hours to watch this miniseries and learn a little bit more about Mexican colonialism, the Spanish Inquisition, and an early feminist icon.

 

READING

Since I watched a miniseries about the poet Juana Inés, I decided to read some of her work and I think it’s so good. Obviously, some things are lost in translation; many of the poems don’t retain their rhyme in English as they had in Spanish. Regardless, they still retain a beauty to them. And the content. Holy moly. 1600s and she’s writing poems like “You Men” with verses that resonate TO THIS VERY DAY. Everyone should read this poem; here’s an excerpt, describing men who demand that women be chaste but then that also want women to have sex with them:

You batter her resistance down
and then, all righteousness, proclaim
that feminine frivolity,
not your persistence, is to blame.

It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t world for most women and Juana Inez knew this in the 1600s and she wrote it down and yet NO ONE LISTENED and women are still plagued by this today. The poem goes on:

It’s your persistent entreaties
that change her from timid to bold.
Having made her thereby naughty,
you would have her good as gold.

So where does the greater guilt lie
for a passion that should not be:
with the man who pleads out of baseness
or the woman debased by his plea?

Or which is more to be blamed–
though both will have cause for chagrin:
the woman who sins for money
or the man who pays money to sin?

Juana Ines spittin’ fire! Seriously, get on it and check out her poems. She also has some really romantic ones (“My Divine Lysis”), and also this one, about death (“On The Death Of That Most Excellent Lady”)

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