Tag Archives: music

Cell phones across borders



    Screen shot from YouTube site that has video of Los Pikadientes de Caborca

I’ve been doing a masters program at USC that specializes in online social networks, so I’m always thrilled when that topic merges with my long-standing interest in border subjects.

Vozmob, or Mobile Voices, is a project that provides a platform for low-wage immigrants in Los Angeles to publish stories and photos about their lives and communities through cell phones. The idea is that “marginalized populations lack access to digital technology yet aspire to participate meaningfully in the digital public sphere,” according to a project summary.

Here is an interview with USC professor Francois Bar, who explains the project in more depth.

Meanwhile USC professor Josh Kun recently wrote in The New York Times about how cell phones are creating new conduits for Mexican regional bands. The songs are uploaded to the phones or are used as ring tones. Then they spread virally through communities, underscoring how the regional Mexican industry is utilizing the cell phone as a “one-stop music source and symbol of working-class immigrant identity,” according to Kun’s story.

Kun, an expert in border culture topics, profiles the success of one of these bands, Los Pikadientes de Caborca, one of whose members readily admits that “we wouldn’t exist without cell phones and ring tones.”


* I work for USC’s media relations department but haven’t worked directly with these two professors * 

Mexican ‘rockero’ Javier Batiz performs in Tijuana March 29

Javier Batiz is one of Tijuana’s musical legends, and he is frequently referred to as someone who taught Carlos Santana how to play guitar. In Batiz’s web page, and in other sources, he is identified as a major figure in the development of Mexican rock. I heard him play once at the Tijuana brewery and he regularly re-appears around the city. This Sunday, March 29, he will perform at the CECUT at 4 p.m. as part of the 5th Annual Tijuana History Fair. The fair, which starts at 9 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m., is free and it will feature conferences, videos, art expositions, historical documents and old cars. For more information on the fair  (in Spanish), go here. 

The CECUT  – Tijuana’s cultural center –  is just a few minutes from the San Ysidro border. For directions to the CECUT, go here.

*Don’t forget the time difference is still in effect. 4 p.m. in Tijuana is 5 p.m. in the United States*

YouTube video originally posted by rockandroll1968.

What to do in Tijuana this weekend (Oct. 4-5)

Tijuana tourism officials have got their work cut out for them. Close to thirty bodies were dumped this week in the city’s streets (as of Thursday night), presumably the work of major drug cartel groups. While the body counts may be sobering, life goes on for the city’s law-abiding residents. Here are some places where you may find them:


Entijuanarte art festival: More than 155 artists, most of them from Mexico, will participate in the fourth annual Entijuanarte art festival. The event will take place at the city’s border-adjacent cultural center (CECUT – for directions go here). In addition to showcasing sculptures and paintings, the event will include conferences, performances, videos, theatre, contemporary dance and music. The event takes place from noon to 9 p.m. both days, and it’s free.

Visit El Cubo: While you are at the CECUT, check out the cultural center’s newest addition, El Cubo.

If you can stomach it: Tijuana’s Fiesta Brava Gastronomica continues this Saturday ( as well as Oct. 11, and Oct. 18-19). The event, which starts at 4 p.m., includes bullfights and top dishes from local restaurants. It’s located in a space near the La Diferencia and Villa Saverios restaurants in the Zona Rio. For a general idea of where it is, go here and then start asking around. General admission is about $30 per person.

*Across the border does its best to verify this information but suggests visitors do their own additional research because venues change, errors can be made, and events cancelled.*

Screenshot from Entijuanarte web page.

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What to do in Tijuana this weekend (Aug. 29-31)

Tired of the two-for-one drink specials on Avenida Revolucion? Throw yourself into the Tijuana scene by meeting some tattoo artists, doing some yoga and then watching some bulls get gored. Tijuana’s got those interesting options, as well as musical and artistic events, going on this weekend:

Friday, Aug. 29: A group of Baja California photographers celebrates the inauguration of their photo exhibit – Photo Sintesis –  at 7 p.m. at the CECUT (that giant ball-like building just across the border on Paseo de los Heroes). The photographers are part of Lumina and Clickaphoto collectives. Free. 

Friday, Aug. 29: Las Pulgas, which is on Avenida Revolucion, celebrates its 20th anniversary with a lineup of norteno and banda groups, according to guiadetijuana.com. Cover should be about $10, according to the web site. To hear what norteno sounds like, click here; for banda, click here.

Saturday, Aug. 30: A free yoga class for women will be in Playas de Tijuana (about 10 minutes west of the San Ysidro port of entry). The 9 a.m. event is sponsored by the city of Tijuana’s sports institute, which anticipates as many as 200 people may participate, according to El Sol de Tijuana. Bring your own mat to the malecon, which is the walkway near the beach (I would try driving by the border fence and the arches to see where the group is at). Note: This doesn’t appear to be a cross-border event such as the one held in June by the Border Meetup Group, (see video above).

Saturday and Sunday, Aug 30-31: Tijuana has a Tattoo Expo with contests, seminars, and invited artists from around the world. It should cost about $6 per day from noon to 10 p.m. at the Grand Hotel Tijuana.  Learn more at www.tijattooexpo.com.

Sunday, Aug. 31: A poster has been spotted around town announcing a bullfight, according to bullfights.org.  I did a little Internet searching and it looks like the event will take place at the Plaza de Toros Monumental (Bullring by the Sea) in Playas de Tijuana at 4 p.m. Ticket information at http://www.plazamonumental.com/boletos.

Video from June Yoga (binational) event at the border by BorderMeetup

* Across the border does its best to verify this information but suggests visitors do their own research as well because venues change, errors can be made, and events cancelled.

Tijuana canal cleaned for concert tonight

Escudo de TijuanaImage via Wikipedia

The large concrete canal that cuts through Tijuana’s core is usually embedded in weeds and foul smells. Last weekend, I noticed that it had undergone a major makeover. The freshly-scrubbed looked, I have since learned from KPBS-San Diego, is in preparation for the visit of famous Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez. Fernandez will be singing here tonight, July 31. The concert is free, though paid spaces were also being sold as part of a city fundraiser. For more information, go here.

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A Tijuana talent plays in a taco shop


Live music is a constant backdrop in Tijuana eateries. These impromptu mini-concerts by guitarists and other street musicians are often inconsequential to the task at hand of scarfing down tacos and socializing. So when I heard someone strumming mid-taco at a Tacos Junior restaurant last weekend all I could think of was whether or not I had some change in my pocket for the inevitable.

And then she started to sing. That was the first surprise – that the musician was female. Within seconds, she had taken command of that room with an incredibly strong and soulful voice. I don’t know what she was playing but it was a moody song that felt like it came from the gut. When she finished, the place erupted in applause for the young musician. I asked her what her name was and she said it was Alejandra Loaiza. She looked familiar and afterwards I realized that she sometimes sells candy in Tijuana’s streets. The concert left such an impression on me that I looked her up on the Internet and found that someone has posted a YouTube video of her (posted above). I also read an article in Zeta that mentions her as an aspiring actress.

I would like to think that many years from now when Alejandra is famous I will be able to say I first heard her sing in a Tijuana taco place.

Tijuana makes me happy, too

herb alpert & the tijuana brassImage by m g a via Flickr

I’ve been thinking that Tijuana needs a new anthem. A whole generation of ’60s music fans came to associate Tijuana with Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’  Tijuana Taxi, the campy song that has no words. But that wasn’t really homegrown and people just don’t dress like that anymore. See the video here.

Now a whole new generation is tapping their feet to a catchy song by Tijuana’s Nortec collective called “Tijuana Makes Me Happy.” I’ll let you read this post on SignOnSanDiego to learn more about how the collective creates its music. The song doesn’t try to cover up the city’s flaws – there’s a refrain that sounds to me like “bang, bang” – and yet it’s got an incredibly upbeat vibe.

Digging up more information about the song, I learned that it accompanies a movie with the same title directed by Dylan Verrechia. The independent (2007) movie, with a limited release, has attracted some indie-type awards for its Tijuana story about a 14-year-old boy, a prostitute, drugs and the border. Not exactly the kind of themes that make Tijuana’s tourism officials happy, yet the movie’s got more than 3,000 fans on its MySpace page. See the music video for yourself here.

Any other suggestions for Tijuana theme songs? I would personally like to hear Tijuanense Julieta Venegas take a crack at it, if she hasn’t already.

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