Alerta Antifascista: The Anarcho-Punk Sounds of Sin Dios

Sin Dios was a hardcore-punk band from Madrid, Spain that existed from 1988 – 2006. The group released eight original lp’s plus a handful of ep’s during those years that outlined their anti-fascist, anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist anarchist beliefs.

The band wore its politics on its sleeve much the same way Morrissey wears his emotions as a badge of honor. The album titles say it all: Sin Dios…Ni Amo (No God or Masters), Ruido Anticapitalista (Anticapitalist Noise), Alerta Antifascista (Be Alert Antifascist), Guerra A La Guerra (Wage War On War), Solidaridad (Solidarity), Ingobernables (Ungovernable), Odio Al Imperio (Hatred Against the Empire), and Recortes De Libertad (Snippets of Liberty). The albums were packaged with booklets filled with commentary that explained the topics and themes behind the songs.

They followed the autogestion/worker self-management model were no one member held authority over the group and decisions were made and agreed upon democratically. As such, they operated without the aid of managers or agents. They self-produced and distributed all their works through their own label, Difusión Libertaria La Idea, or with the assistance of other independent anti-commercial labels such as PHC and Queimata. The band sold their albums at popular, rather than competitive, prices.

Sin Dios maintained dedicated groups of fans in Spain, Europe and Latin America despite its underground status (I’m talking pre-internet days). They also worked with a number of anarchist groups in other countries, most notably Mexico’s Juventud Antiautoritaria Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Antiauthoritarian Youth), who assisted the band in its tour of Mexico in 1999 as well as helped publish/distribute its albums in Mexico, and Brazil’s União Libertária da Baixada Santista – U.L.B.S. (Libertarian Union of Baixada Santista – libertarian in the original meaning of the word, anarchist liberty, not the modern Ron Paul/Mises redefinition), who the band supported via a benefit album.

No reason was given for the split in 2006 but the members announced they would continue their political activities via other means. It’s believed two of the members were, and possibly still are, also members of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (National Confederation of Workers).

The group’s library is also available as a free download/stream on its website. Click on an album then right-click a song title and select “save link as.”

Bigott’s a Funny, Elusive Guy With a Huge Mustache

As I mentioned last week, Spanish folk/pop artist Bigott made his L.A. debut last week following his trip to SXSW. I was able to meet with him and his impressive facial hair (hence the name Bigott after “bigote” [mustache]) afterwards for a brief interview. He didn’t divulge much (something he’s famous for) but there were plenty of laughs to be had.

Did you swing by L.A. because you were in SXSW a few days ago?

That’s it. We were close by and thought we’d swing by Los Angeles or Charlie or St. Raphael or whatever.

When did you arrive? Saturday?

Yes, Saturday. Well, I’m a little confused as to exactly when but I think it was Saturday.

And what have you done so far here in L.A.? Did you go to the beach?

Yeah, we rented some bikes here in the Venice of L.A.! Venice is the name of the beach. We were all over the place. Continue reading “Bigott’s a Funny, Elusive Guy With a Huge Mustache”

The Trials of Baltasar Garzón

Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón continues to sit on the opposite side of the bench inside  Spain’s supreme court. Garzón, lauded globally as a defender of human rights, is currently defending himself in his second trial where he is accused of breaking an amnesty law passed in 1977, two years after dictator Francisco Franco’s death, that prevents any probe into Franco-era crimes via a general pardon.

Baltasar Garzón. Photographer unknown.

Judge Garzón launched a probe in 2008 into the disappearances of over 100,000 persons while Franco was in power. Family members of the victims have spent years, some even decades, trying to discover where their loved ones were buried.

From The Telegraph UK:

The first witness, Maria Martin, recalled how in 1936 when she was just six, her mother was one of three women and 27 men shot dead and their corpses dumped into a mass grave on the side of a road.

Supported by a Zimmer-frame and speaking in a voice cracked with emotion, the 81-year-old said her family had fought to recover the remains of her mother for a proper burial ever since.

“Until the day he died in 1977 my father wrote to the local authorities to try to recover the body. They told him: ‘Go away, leave us in peace or we will do to you what we did to her’,” she told the Supreme Court.

Garzón first appeared in court last week to defend himself from allegations that he’d overstepped his jurisdiction when he authorized police to wiretap conversations between lawyers and their clients in what’s known as the Gürtel case. The case involves charges of corruption against members of the Partido Popular, which currently holds power in Spain.

A date for the third case, which centers around allegations that Garzón dropped an investigation against the president of Banco Santander in exchange for payments for a course sponsored by the bank at New York University, has not been set yet.

El Pais has a detailed analysis of each case.

Garzón became famous worldwide in 1998 when he ordered the arrest of Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity. Pinochet was extradited from London to Santiago, Chile where he lived under house arrest during his trial. The arrest led to “the Garzón effect” throughout Latin America.

That was just the first in a number of high-profile cases he led including:

  • the conviction of former Interior Minister José Barrionuevo Peña for leading state-terrorist group Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL)
  • many cases against members of Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA)
  • an investigation into whether the Bush Six ( Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Douglas Feith, William Haynes II, Jay Bybee, and David Addington) violated international law by justifying the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay

Garzón risks losing his role as Investigative Magistrate for up to 20 years if he is convicted in any of the trials.

Below is a lengthy interview Garzón gave to Democracy Now:

Five Favorite Things From 2011

5) Remezcla

I began freelancing for Remezcla on a regular basis in May. Since then, I:

My work there continues to expose me to many artists I would never hear of otherwise, such as Quiero Club whose song, “Dias Perfectos,” is my favorite of 2011:

My last interview of 2011 (with Rodrigo of Rodrigo y Gabriela) will be my first published interview in 2012. It can only get better from here!

4) Sargent House

Sargent House is an artist management company (don’t call it a record label!) in L.A. that is home to the types of bands larger labels are too timid to promote.

I met SH founder Cathy Pellow and her staff of dedicated musicphiles in October 2010 when I covered the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group/Le Butcherettes concert for LA Weekly. It was immediately obvious that they were the real deal and not some stereotypical Hollywood character archetype.

2011 was a busy year for everyone involved with SH. Every band on the roster toured at some point. Le Butcherettes, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group, And So I Watch You From Afar, Zechs Marquise, Hella, Gypsyblood and others released an album (two in the case of Boris). Big Sir, Fang Island, This Town Needs Guns and others spent the year working on new material.

One of the highlights of the year was the company’s SXSW showcase, which featured the U.S. debut of Adebisi Shank. This leads to point three…

3) SXSW

You always remember your first! I traveled to Austin, TX for my first SXSW experience. My trip there was brief (two days/two nights) but memorable and fun thanks to the new friends and contacts I met and all the great music that surrounded me.

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Just one of many "entrances" to SXSW.

I was really struck by the diversity of genres and styles represented by the performers at the festival. I remember turning a corner and hearing a country band perform in the patio. Two doors down, an indie-rock band had people dancing while, next door, an independent hip-hop artist made some new fans. By the time I hit the other end of the street, I’d heard punk, metal and latin music as well.

2) Spain

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Festival de San Fermin (Running of the Bulls)

This was another “first” for me: my first time in Europe and Spain. I lived/studied in Valladolid for the month of July and visited Pamplona, Salamanca, Segovia, Santander and San Sebastian (mostly north/central Spain). I hope to return and visit the coastal areas.

1) My niece

I returned home from Spain to be greeted by my newborn baby niece:

Adventures in babysitting!

Planking Across Spain

I don’t recall exactly the “how” or even the “why” this began but for some odd yet humorous reason I ended up planking a number of sites during my trip to Spain. What began as a simple one-time joke became a long-running gag funny in its silliness and pointlessness. The photos were taken by various friends who were more than happy to oblige (and egg me on!)

VALLADOLID:

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The wall is one of the original borders of the city of Valladolid still left standing.

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Everyone was upset during our group dinner as it was our last week together…so I cheered them up with a plank!

VITORIA-GASTEIZ:

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PAMPLONA (Iruña):

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Apologies to Ernest Hemingway and family! Continue reading “Planking Across Spain”