Culture

After Walking Into The Wrong House Party, This Latino Show Promoter Fell In Love With Punk Rock

Underground indie music has a problem: inclusivity.

Indie rock has always felt like a scene dominated by those have the capital to make it — not necessarily wealthy people, but those who have enough income to pursue music seriously. It’s the same with punk: Some of the people you who first come to mind when you hear the four-letter word grew up in affluent neighborhoods (Black Flag’s Henry Rollins and Minor Threat’s Ian Mackaye, to name a few.)

CREDIT: Credit: Wayne Ballard

There’s a reason for it: it’s expensive. It’s expensive to acquire instruments, and if you want success outside of your given location, touring is expensive, recording is expensive, meeting the people who can further your career can be expensive (this is an issue of access.) Even in underground circles, where a do-it-yourself mentality dominates who can access what, issues of privilege come into play — if you have financial support from a family member or what have you, you can make a lot of things happen. Lots of poor Latinos don’t have that privilege.

“I remember being scared because I had never seen a punk before.”

Rogelio “Rogie” Hernandez is making great strides lessening the socioeconomic and racial divide in his music community. The 25-year-old Mexican-American is from Los Angeles, a Latino town where the majority of the indie rock musicians are white. For those involved in the L.A. underground music scene, Hernandez books concerts dedicated to celebrating the diversity and culture he loves so much, with a special focus on punk — from his hometown of Boyle Heights, to all over East L.A. and beyond.

And it almost didn’t happen.

“It was kind of an accident. I was only really listening to rap music, stuff you would listen to in my neighborhood, which is mostly gangster rap, West Coast, G-funk,” he says when asked how he learned about punk in the first place.

CREDIT: Wax Witches @ Backyard in Boyle Heights Photo: Yuki Kikuchi

When Hernandez was 13, a friend invited him to a hip hop show at someone’s house — a regular event in his neighborhood. They heard music in the distance and entered the wrong home to discover a punk show. But this wrong turn became Rogie’s first experience with the abrasive style of punk music. “I remember being scared because I had never seen a punk before. My friends kept trying to calm me down; I remember being so scared and not wanting to be there,” he recalls.

The music had an immediate effect on him. “I thought, ‘What is this? It’s still scary, but I fucking like it.’ I remember moshing for the first time and staying for the whole show. The next day I went home, got rid of my [Air] Jordan’s and decided ‘I’m a punk now.’ After that I was hooked.”

That show, unlike the mostly white shows that dominate Los Angeles (and beyond) now, was “all Latino punks,” Hernandez qualifies, which became a culture shock when he started exploring other realms of local music, namely, the indie/punk stuff he spends most of his time with nowadays. He thought Boyle Heights was the epicenter of underground LA music making until he branched out to neighborhoods like Echo Park to discover similiar music was being played by, in his words, “affluent white kids.” He says, “I remember walking into random shows downtown and the crowd was 90% white. I’d be the only brown kid there, and they’d make me notice it: they’d come up to me and ask ‘You’re into this kind of music?’ Maybe they were just curious but it makes a person of color uncomfortable.”

CREDIT: Show Me The Body @ International Java Co. Photo by: Bella Vallero

But he kept going — mostly out of necessity. Hernandez felt the need to leave his Boyle Heights/East L.A. scene because the violence in his neighborhood began to overshadow the sense of community being built during local shows. And the Los Angeles Police Department wasn’t helping. “When we were kids, going to Latino punk shows in backyards, our neighborhood wasn’t the safest. There were lots of gangs, sketchy people we had to worry about. We’d go to shows and walk home and cholos would stop us, call us ‘faggots’ and beat the shit out of us. The punks started getting tired of being beaten up so they started rolling in little crews to stay safe. Those little crews became almost like punk gangs. You couldn’t go to a show in East L.A. without worrying about maybe getting stabbed or shot and I’ve seen it all happen,” he explains. “Some of those things have happened to me. You’d go to a show and within a few songs there’d be a giant fight and it would be over. LAPD started catching on that this thing was becoming hyper-violent. When you’re 14, 15, you don’t need a criminal record.”

“You’re going to be the next FYF Fest.”

Rogelio was faced with a problem: He loved the Latino punk scene but the violence gave it an expiration date. In some ways, it became exclusive — only people who felt a certain level of safety could go and enjoy themselves. On the indie rock side of things, he felt othered by race, and grew unsettled with the continued success of similar projects, driven by white males, that ignored the colorful sounds of his own backyard. The solution? To start booking shows in East L.A., at his house on East Second, where anyone and everyone was welcome.

CREDIT: Show Me The Body @ International Java Co. Photo by: Bella Vallero

Soon, the shows at his house became a phenomenon — it was dubbed “E. Second” — with Hernandez organizing upwards of three shows a month. He had found his niche exploring the rawness of a house show in East L.A. while removing the violence. Moshing was welcome, as was “losing your shit,” but the key was to be courteous. “When I told people [in the indie rock scene] I was from East L.A., they were like ‘Isn’t it so dangerous over there?’ At the time my neighborhood was getting safer, and it’s always been a really warm neighborhood. It kind of killed me that they all think of us as murders and criminals and shit,” he explains. “I wanted to show everyone that we like the same music, we like live bands.” The goal was, and still is, to act as a bridge of different cultures, and it’s reflected in the kind of bills Rogie puts together — on any given night, you can expect to see a Cumbia band play before a hardcore band who opens for a noise goth project. “It’s all about choosing the good in everything and mixing it together,” he says.

“I really want to get to a point where I can help my neighborhood sustain its own cultural identity.” 

Three years later and E. Second has achieved real success — including a write-up in the New York Times. “When that happened, people in the scene were like ‘You’re going to be the next FYF Fest,’” he recalls, but things began to become unsustainable. Neighbors, once tolerant of the loud music, would get upset with its increasing frequency, demanding shows get shut down or end at a certain time. For now, Hernandez has his eyes set on taking his vision to proper venues like Highland Park’s Hi Hat. “I think it’s lost some of the magic of East Second,” Hernandez reveals. “But it’s always been DIY and punk, very informal. I started booking there because I thought it was the next step in doing this and being successful. I’ve never had the punk mentality of being like, ‘Money is bad,’ which I kind of hate about DIY/punk people. They think trying to make money is a terrible thing. For people like me, who are Latino and poor, we have to find some level of success or we can’t keep doing this kind of stuff.”

CREDIT: War of Icaza @ International Java Co. Photo by: Bella Vallero

Hernandez remains optimistic. He’s already managed to diversify his scene and the indie rock one at large, combining sounds and languages on bills that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. When asked about the future, his speech slows, “I have a vision. From the get-go, this has been a learning experience, something that’s constantly evolving.”

He pauses. Hernandez makes it clear he wants to find some personal success — but his definition of success isn’t about wealth. It’s about building respect for the art created in his community: “I want to find some personal success doing this. I don’t have the luxury of falling back on wealth. When you’re a poor Latino person, a lot of people don’t realize how necessary that is, especially in the arts. I really want to get to a point where I can help my neighborhood sustain its own cultural identity. We have a lot of great artists who, if were given a shot, could do really beautiful things for music and the world. The scene, right now, is just overly saturated with old white guys that it gets a little discouraging. You keep ignoring us but we’re here, and we’re not going to go away.”

READ: From Corridos To Punk, Chulita Vinyl Club Spins The Music We’re Dying To Hear

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

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Radical Feminists Have Seized Control of a Federal Building in Mexico in Protest of the Government’s Apathy Towards Rampant Femicide

Last week, Mexican feminist activists took over the National Human Rights Commissions federal building in a move to bring greater awareness to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide that has racked Mexico for decades.

According to the federal Interior Secretariat, the statistics in Mexico have recently taken a turn for the worse.

Domestic violence against women has became an even more acute problem since the pandemic has forced women to stay insider with their abusers. Emergency distress calls reporting domestic violence have risen by 50%.

The occupation of the Human Rights building is just another chapter in the saga of the “Ni Una Menos” (Not One More Woman) movement, an anti-femicide collective born in Argentina that has steadily been gaining steam in Mexico since 2019.

In recent years, anti-femicide demonstrations have been sparked by various heinous crimes against women or girls that have been largely overlooked by law enforcement officials. 

Photo by Marcos Brindicci/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the government of Mexico has appeared to be apathetic to the wave of femicide that is overwhelming the women of their country.

Recently, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was asked to address Mexico’s gender violence epidemic, he demurred, stating that he didn’t “want femicide to detract” from the raffle his administration was holding for the sale of the presidential airplane.

As for the feminist activists at the heart of Ni Una Menos and the federal building occupation, the government’s failure to respond to anti-woman violence is the primary fuel for their anger. 

“We’re here so that the whole world will know that in Mexico they kill women and nobody does anything about it,” said Yesenia Zamudio to the LA Times. According to Zamudio, she is still seeking justice for the murder of her 19-year-old daughter four years ago.

The women of Mexico appear to be fed up, grasping at any and all tactics that have the potential to incite change on a grander scale.

Their tactics may seem dramatic to some, but it’s undeniable that they are no longer being ignored. As of now, the radical activists are pulling attention-grabbing stunts like decorating a portrait of Mexican Revolution leader Francisco Madero with lipstick and purple hair.

They’re also making headlines for vandalizing the federal building’s walls and splashing paint on the doors of the presidential palace.

One thing is for sure: something has to change. Otherwise, thousands of innocent women and girls will continue to be raped, abused, and murdered while their perpetrators escape with immunity. 

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

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Joe Biden Speaks Alongside ‘Fearless Fighter’ Kamala Harris In First Appearance And Recalls Her Family’s Immigrant Story

Chip Somodevilla / Gettycc

After weeks of speculation and anticipation, presidential candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he has officially picked his running mate.

In a history-making announcement, Biden revealed that he had tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his VP Pick.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden announced in a tweet.

On Wednesday, Biden held his first campaign event alongside running mate Kamala Harris in Delaware.

During their speeches, the two candidates wore masks and kept their distance in keeping with COVID-19 standards.

Speaking about his VP pick, Biden described Harris as coming from an “America’s story.” Biden described Harris as “a child of immigrants” who “knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up Black and Indian-American in the United States of America,” he explained. “And this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and brown girls that feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today — today just maybe they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way as president and vice presidents.”

In a speech of her own, Harris emphasized the importance of family and urged citizens to vote.  “We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be,” she said. “Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true,” she explained. “I’ve had a lot of titles over my career and certainly vice president will be great. But ‘Momala’ will always be the one that means the most.”

Harris’s nomination makes her the first Black and first Indian-American woman on either major party’s presidential ticket.

Harris is a former prosecutor from California who challenged Biden in her own presidential bid last year. Her nomination makes her the fourth woman to appear on a major presidential ballot. Before her, Geraldine Ferraro ran as a Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984. In 2008, Republican Sarah Palin ran as a vice presidential nominee, later in 2016, Hillary Clinton became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Biden’s choice was one that has long been in the works. In March of this year, he revealed that he would make a point to have a woman as his running mate and in July he announced that he had narrowed his picks down to four Black women.

Kamala Harris was elected to Congress in 2016.

This has been Harris’ first term as a senator. Before, she served as the California attorney general. During her time as AG, Harris formed a lasting friendship with Biden’s late son Beau who was attorney general at the time in Delaware. Writing about Beau’s death, in her memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris recalled that “there were periods when I was taking the heat when Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” she wrote in her memoir. “We had each other’s backs.”

Biden’s son Beau died in 2015 from brain cancer. Harris attended his funeral.

During his announcement, Biden mentioned Harris’ friendship with his son.

“I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse,” Biden tweeted. “I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

So far, it seems there are quite a bit of Harris x Biden supporters.

Fans were quick to give their support and applaud her candidacy.

In a tweet acknowledging her nomination, Harris wrote “@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.”

Here’s to 2020 y’all. Get ready to make history.

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