Celebrate Your Pride By Taking a Look and Listen to Music from a Couple of New Artists from Down South, Like Way Down South (America)

It’s June.  That’s Pride Month.  Not to mention the U.S. Supreme Court is merely days away from making a momentous decision on same-sex marriage.  Here in Houston LGBT Pride activities are in full swing, culminating with the daytime festival and evening (into night) parade this Saturday, June 27th.  For the first time, these two events will be held in downtown Houston instead of the Montrose area, where the first Houston Gay Pride Parade took place in 1979.  (Find all the details about Houston Pride here.)

To celebrate LGBT pride here on the blog, I decided to introduce a couple of talented artists who have no fear of showing their true selves in their videos.  I found out about these two young Latin American performers thanks to remezcla.com and since my first listen to one video each, their tunes have been stuck in my head.  They are from neighboring South American countries.  Namuel, from Chile, has just put out this catchy single “Babycakes,” and the accompanying video can only be described as “cute and sweet.”  The video here from Jaloo, out of Brazil, also with an LGBT theme, goes with his “Bai Bai.”  This is a cover from a very popular song of a couple of years ago.  I’ll keep you guessing and not spoil it so you’ll listen.  I don’t understand much Portuguese, so I can’t say if the lyrics are the same, but the music in what I’d say is brega-style (I’m just learning about this genre of music, but I might compare it in a way to reggaeton. No matter the style, this tune keeps playing in my head much more than the original, which I really like.

Check out more great work from Namuel and Jaloo on YouTube and SoundCloud, where you’ll find a lot more by these terrific artists.

Happy Pride, y’all!

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New Chilean Singer Neven Jogs a Mind Trip Back to the Land of “Tren al Sur”

There was a day when the few things I knew about Chile came from 80s-90s band Los Prisioneros, and their hit Tren al Sur and its accompanying video were perhaps the spark that drew me to travel to that  South American country for the first time only a few years after the dictator Pinochet was out of power.  Meeting Chilean friends via the internet really made it all happen in 1995, and then again 5 years later.  Once there, I was intrigued by the beauty of the Pacific coastline paralleled by the snaking range of the Andes mountains and volcanos, which runs the length of the country, and even more so by the kind, soft-spoken people (though I was, and still am, perplexed by the obvious political riff among these same people).

In Chile, I made it as far south to the city of Puerto Montt and the nearby gaelic-feeling island of Chiloe.  I took the bus, not the tren al sur, but it was very much one of the best tourist adventures of my life.  In more ways than one, this video and music still take me there.

I have such a place in my heart for Chile that I’m still ready to have a visit with anyone from there whom I might meet who has made his way up here to Houston.  Likewise, I keep myself informed about what’s happening there, at least that of significant importance.  I don’t hear much music out of Chile these days, maybe because most of my music listening time comes via  SiriusXM radio during my daily commutes.  Somehow, though, by clicking here and there on Twitter, I came across Neven (@Nevenilic).  His style of music might not be exactly the type I hear on my radio most of the time–it’s sort of Justin Timberlake-esque.  What’s more he’s not bad on the eyes.  There’s a brand new video of his most recent outing After Party, but I like even better una que salio´ last year called Bad.  Neven, not to mention the videos, is still a little raw, but he’s got the voice and talent.  Maybe we’ll be hearing more of him here in the U.S.

Take a look and listen. First, comes Bad: 

And now After Party: 

Saturday Morning Musings: Earthquakes and Kidney Stones

I’ve just taken Annie out for her early morning break and cranked up the computer to see what’s going on.

It seems like this earth has an earthquake season, when one hits in one part of the world, we soon hear about another somewhere else.  In January it was Haiti; now the morning news says there was an 8.8 earthquake in the early morning hours that hit the central part of  Chile.  According to Chilean sources, the center was some 70 miles northeast of Concepcion, which is the second largest city in Chile and is on the coast about 200 miles south of Santiago, the capital.

I visited Chile twice, after meeting some great people from there online.  It’s a beautiful country because of its location, lying along the Andes Mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west.  The landscape is amazing everywhere, and the people are very hospitable and decent.  I hope everyone that I met down there is OK.

Here is a link to a video of a fallen bridge (which I believe is in the Santiago area) that I scooped up from latercera.cl (an online newspaper out of Santiago, which I read).  There are also quite a number of images here.  Live broadcast from TVChile here.

Now for the kidney stones:  Overall, I’m pretty healthy and have very few health issues in my life.  Probably, the worst thing has been getting a finger broken by pulling a garage door down the wrong way.  But Thursday morning I was at work and started to have the worst pains in my lower stomach area.  They became so severe, I just could do nothing.  To make a long story short (if I ever can do that), an ambulance was called and I was taken to the emergency room and after several more hours more of miserable pain and several tests, it was discovered that I had a kidney stone that was working it’s way through.  After about 8 hours in the emergency room, I was released with prescriptions for pain and nausea.  I’ve mostly rested since then, but yesterday I started to feel better, but worn out.  This morning, I feel fine.  I know that I will have to change my eating, especially drinking more water and juices, instead of the 4 or 5 Coke Zeroes that I have been accustomed to.

Vicuña, Chile–One of Those “Magical” Places

Valle de Elqui (The Elqui Valley)--if you look closely you can see the tops of some of the buildings of Vicuña.

Valle de Elqui (The Elqui Valley)--if you look closely you can see the tops of some of the buildings of Vicuña. It may not look "magical" but it is.

I was sorting through the box of photos that I have, both tonight and last night, remembering old friendships and re-visiting past trips.

It makes me wonder, in these digital days, whether in the future people will be able to enjoy this kind of collection–either in the hodgepodge of envelopes still from the developer like I have or in nicely arranged albums that others have. I just can’t see much pleasure involved in pulling out DVDs and slipping them into the computer as a way of enjoying photos. And what about all those images that just got deleted? My photo box contains lots of “mistakes” that I can enjoy today and some, not necessarily mistakes, but ones I might like to cut someone out of. But this dilemma is not really my point here. Let me share some of the photos from my box.

Grape vines and the Andes Mountains near Vicuña, Chile.

Grape vines and the Andes Mountains near Vicuña, Chile.

Amongst all the others, I have a couple of full envelopes from trips to Chile. I’ve been there a couple of times, the last in 2000. Chile, that long thin country in South America, has as its border with Argentina the Andes Mountains and its other limit the cold Pacific Ocean. Because of its geography, it’s an absolutely beautiful country, which goes from almost arid desert in the north to cold and wet the further south you go.

Chile is a country with so much unspoiled nature that it’s almost hard to believe. I was fortunate enough to have friends whom I had met through internet chat to welcome me there and show me around.

There is a place there that has to be one of earth’s “magical” places, something like what I’ve heard about Sedona, Arizona.

Vicuña is a town that lies a good day’s bus ride north of Santiago up in one of the many valleys of the Chilean Andes, where the run-off from the snow flows from the mountains in a westerly direction, eventually into the Pacific. A lot of this water is used for irrigation. In the Valle de Elqui, where Vicuña sits, much of the water is used for the grape vineyards, but other fruits and vegetables are also grown in the area. Vicuña is a center for the production of pisco, a brandy-like liquor that is processed in several distilleries in the area. I had a chance to visit the Capel pisco plant there. I still can make a mean Pisco Sour, one of those drinks that tastes so good, but might have your socks knocked off after just a couple.

The church and the old German Bauer Tower sit in the center of Vicuña.

The church and the old German Bauer Tower sit in the center of Vicuña.

But let me get back to the “magic” of this place. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it before. I guess I might attribute this feeling partly to the quaintness of the town itself. It has a unique old tower that was originally built in Germany but was brought in pieces by immigrants and re-constructed in the center of town. But I’ve been to many other quaint towns, so I really don’t think that’s it.

It could be because the sky there is absolutely clear, and the view goes on for miles. In fact, there are at least two observatories that have been located right in the area just because of this clear, clean air.

Maybe it’s the quiet, slow-paced atmosphere of the place, where even the dogs on the street couldn’t be bothered to lift their heads to bark at an intruder trudging down their narrow street.

One of the quiet streets of Vicuña.

One of the quiet streets of Vicuña.

I really can’t say what gives Vicuña this special feeling, but I do know that I felt it when I arrived and felt its absence later. I doubt, too, that I am able in any way to convey this magic through a few photos, but I remember it well and I have the urge to experience Vicuña’s special magic again.