Rajbhog Streetz

This is a class project for our Latino-Desi Studies final. Write us: rajbhogstreetz [at] gmail.com

Apr 18

Por Gabo

It was never magical realism to me
It was my history
The surreal way banana plantations swallowed the best land
The absurdity of low wages and hunger
The uncanny accuracy of bullets cutting down labor leaders
The bizarre stacking of corpses in boxcars
The fantastic sight of three thousand bodies
Tumbling into a starving ocean. 
"Always remember that they were more than three thousand
"And that they were thrown into the sea." 
This is the heart of my Cien años
The massacre that Macondo chooses to forget
Eyewitnesses swear there were no strikers
Only old, obsessed José Arcadio
Repeats the gnarled rosary of exhausting memories: 
Pirates stole the gold and killed the Liberator
Pirates sold our coffee and sold us woolen suits
Roosevelt stirred up civil war and stole The Canal
We left behind a trunk full of gold coins
The siblings died, one lone aunt raised the children
A blond-haired assassin fired a CIA handgun
Blood-crazed neighbors pulled out tongues through slit throats
Steaming gore and bodies clogged the whole river
A million died. No, two million. And three million fled.
This is my Macondo. I remember the three thousand
Mowed down on the picket line, dumped in the sea.
These yellow butterflies, the drizzle of teeny flowers, 
Not even the shock of stinging hands on ice
Could convince me this realism is only magic.
~ Wheelz
Gabriel García Márquez 1927-2014
Que en paz descanse.

Dec 15

"Brave" — Fake Das Racist feat. Fake Big Babay Gandhi

Rajbhog Streetz pays homage to some great performers. Happy Holidays & enjoy a laugh!

~ Wheelz


Nov 19

Eulogy

i’m pretty confident that
Paris would never tear down the Louvre
That the Sistine Chapel will always be with us
And that Nashville treasures the Grand Ole Opry

but New York
in my lifetime
i’ve seen CBGB’s close
and 5 Pointz painted over

-rv


Aug 16

The Kal Penn Diss Track

Editors Note:

http://theaerogram.com/kal-penn-tweets-in-support-of-stop-and-frisk-and-we-become-really-sad/


The Kal Penn Diss Track

I know cats who knew you
Back in Jersey, Blood
And all you ever cared about
Was the drama club
Twinkletoes danced your way
Into Obama’s club
And now you started some shit
#HellaDrama, Cuz
But don’t think we forgot
Your shuck and jive show
The fuck was ‘Van Wilder’?
Did Peter Sellers give you notes?
More like Peter Sell-out
Money can’t buy back your soul
When did losing your own fam
Become your goal?
So a cop never threw you
Up against the car?
Went in your pockets?
You think you a star?
You even know what happens
To real life Brown people?
While you tryna just get
A mention in “People”
Queens, Jersey, the Bay
Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus
Man, fuck your whole game
And fuck Bobby Jindal
We don’t need you my Brother
We are not Nikki Haley
Learn your Roots, motherfucker
Step up your Alex Haley
The Bellingham Riots
Dotbusters when we were babies
Oak Creek, Wisconsin
you just a Hollywood Desi
And we do not need you
Motherfucker, we balling
With some light skinned girls
And some Mindy Kalings
Aziz Ansari
At the VMAs
Zayn Malik, Kevin G
the OG M.I.A.
Utkarsh from B’More
The boss Dev Patel
Hari Kondabolu
Writing with W. Kamau Bell
Punk, you best find a Mandir
Your career is White Kurtha
And it was your own Bhais
Who committed the murder
Your wife they call showbiz
Just jumped in the funeral fire
You’re the Sepia Mutiny
Version of Mark McGwire
Get used to life being
Someone no one admires
Your Lushlife is over
And your BS is tired

-rv


Jul 14

Blended America

"[Zimmerman] was frequently referred to as a “white Hispanic,” a term that, for some, reflected a newly blended America and, for others, felt like an uncomfortable middle ground.”  - Washington Post

Reality was never
black and white
bad and good

You can be racist
and not wear a hood

your victim could

~ Wheelz


Jul 4

Triple Threat

She speaks three languages
Her Haitian and Dominican parents
Raised her in America
Raised her tri-lingual

And America
You don’t even try
To understand her.

Listen up,

You live in a country

Where you believe intelligence comes down to a magical number from a
test you made up

Where you think ivy growing on some wall
Means the piece of paper you got in exchange for your hard earned paper
Means something

Where you believe a person’s worth comes from the names on the clothes they wear, the speed of their metabolism, their eye shape, their skin.

And the way they speak a language that has nonsensical words like
‘language’ in it.

You’re mean, America.
Nah Mean?

You have nothing better to do than pick on a nineteen year old who
found herself on national TV only because her close friend was killed?

And SHE is the one who has something to feel bad about?

You spent your entire life swimming in the same stream
You went to a lot of school.
And you learned a lot of words

You never learned how malleable language is

tho.

You know what malleable means, but you don’t know what it means to Code Switch.

You’ve never had to.

Except for that time at karaoke when the Hov song came on.
And then you tuned out again when it was Daddy Yankee.
“What is this?” you asked, more incredulous than curious.

You voted for Obama. Twice.
How do you treat the guy who drives your taxi
tho?

"This guy doesn’t know where he’s going" you say before you vomit in
the backseat and forget to tip.

Who do you mob with in Bushwick, Uptown Oakland, Echo Park?
And do you even like your neighbors that you didn’t go to school with?

Even when you moved in, you didn’t have to Code Switch.
Somehow you expected Them to switch for you.

You respect difference until you are forced to see it.
You embrace diversity until you are forced to live it.

And you only speak
one
very, very specific brand
of English.

She’s speaks three languages.

Friend.
Star Witness.
American.

And maybe, America,
if you’re smart enough
you’ll learn something from her.

-rv


Jun 30

The Times Translated: A Nation of Rich Assholes

Rajbhog Streetz continues its public service by translating the latest op-ed piece from David Brooks: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/28/opinion/brooks-a-nation-of-mutts.html?_r=0

"A Nation of Rich Assholes"
By: David Brooks

Once upon a time, between 1950 to 1985, when all of my favorite TV shows were produced, only 5 to 6 percent of U.S. residents were foreign-born. What I neglect to tell you is that that’s because a previous generation in 1924 passed an immigration law that severely limited the number of immigrants that could come into the United States, and completely blocked immigrants from a large number of countries.

What I don’t want you to do is to look at this link below, which will show you that the percentage of foreign-born people in this country is roughly at the same level as it was in 1920:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/the-state-of-immigration/

There was also a time when 100 percent of people in this country were foreign born — sometime in the late Pleistocene — but I digress.

What’s different about today’s U.S. population, compared to that of 1920, is the vast majority of foreign-born are not from Europe, but they are from (thunderclap) Latin America and Asia! (loud gong sound and beating of drums) “Soon, we will no longer be an outpost of Europe, but a nation of mutts.” With all these Americans coming from all these countries my wife and I would never tour, an important question needs to be asked: “Can we absorb this many immigrants without changing something fundamental?”

When I picture the homelands of where these many immigrants are coming from, I picture a teeming jungle full of squalid huts, where inhabitants wear raffia skirts, sacrifice children and blond virgins, and worship the devil. There’s no way they could have become familiar with U.S. and “Western” culture through increasingly globalized popular entertainment. I also assume they were educated like American children, learning nothing of substance of how other countries run their governments.

On a woeful day I will probably see in my lifetime, European-Americans will become the minority in the United States. And on that day, like a bell going off, we will suddenly lose the desire to have a democratic government like the Iroquois Confederacy, strive to learn higher math like the Mayans and Hindus, or excel in science like the Arabs or medicine like the Chinese. We will also lose all impetus to participate in our country’s greatest cultural outputs, like jazz, rock and roll, and hip-hop. Because all of these traits can only be genetically transmitted from one European to another.

We were so backwards minded in 1924. Back then, your typical pundit (a fun English word derived from Hindi!) representing the dominant society was concerned that the “wrong” type of European — the swarthy Mediterranean type — would overwhelm and obliterate the culture derived from the “right” type of European — the fair, Nordic type.

Well, we learned OUR lesson. Now we know that ANY type of white is better than these weird chimeras who will overrun our country in the future, these “hybrid individuals, biracial or triracial people” with names like “Enrique Cohen-Chan.” God, that makes my SKIN crawl, to think of a sp*c, a k*ke, and a ch*nk FUCKING!

Gone will be the days when white people ran the roost — honest whites, who, when asked about their ethnic background, would chuckle and say, “I’m a mutt,” and then say they’re descended from people from 12 different European countries and a Cherokee princess.

I’m going to miss the days when I could assume someone who did not have white skin would talk with a hilarious accent. “We could soon see people with completely unaccented English joining Chinese-American Federations and Honduran-American Support Networks.” How ridiculous, that these people born in America and speaking English would feel any sort of affinity for their ancestral homeland! Why should they speed up the balkanization of our country, when they could join proper groups for unaccented Americans, like the Sons of Italy, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the Ku Klux Klan?

What kind of social pecking order will accompany this future racial imbroglio? Maybe an interracial, better-educated upper class will have a larger share of quality jobs and housing. But one thing that will never happen is that an upper class of rich assholes would deny an vast majority of working-class Americans a decent education, satisfying employment, and quality health care. That’s because our glorious nation derived solely from (Christian) European culture was never, ever run that way.

- Wheelz


Jun 29

Heart Sellers

RV:
First of all
I wanna thank Hart-Celler
The most important reason
I’m an American dweller
Indian bringing more heat
Than Bob Feller
Cuz we’re still fighting Gunga Din,
Outsourced and Peter Sellers
I will slay all you bloodsuckers
I’m Sarah Michelle Gellar
And your girl be like: “I’ll be there for you
Call me Monica Geller”
Rajbhog fly like an illusion
We be the new Penn and Teller
More soul than Stevie Wonder
More heart than Helen Keller

WHEELZ:
Thank you Alliance for Progress, you raised the quotas
Our first Bell Telephone, our first Motorola
Crayola box people, but only one crayon’s Flesh
Afraid we gwon blow up, David Koresh,
Waco, we come in peace-o, aliens land ships
Sorry, few migrantes parecen a Miles Standish
Dish it up, look Ma, Paula Deen’s servin’ me!
Todos dicen sorry, but we’re still scarred by history,
Majesty, mira este princess de Lon Gisland
Light-skinned, good hair, spent his life wildin’
Wilder than Wonka for a sugar rush hour,
My insulin rhymes turn sweetness into power!

RV:
Wheelz you pack more punch
Than some Blue Magic heroin
Rajbhog all up on your shores
Bumpin’ the Beach Boys theremin
New Wave, I’m Debbie Hari
And I’m sensitive and feminine
But that just means I feel it more
When I’m mobbin’ with my heroines
Rajbhog got history in our veins
Revolutionary Estrellas
Then we shot DOMA in the head
Like something out of Goodfellas
Shouts to Wise Latina
And shouts to Betty La Fea
America made us devious
But New York made us playas

WHEELZ:
Major League, RV drives it home, what a run
Wheelz turns out another, now it’s 2-none
We clean house, fluff pillows, turn down sheets
We got it maid service sector economic deets
Great teats of Mammon I’m privileged to suckle
I rhyme on commuter trains, oye mi hustle
Catch my wife and me tired, sippin’ zinfandel
We can’t retire until we rot in hell
Naw, wifey got religion, I’m the infidel
Workin’ 12 hours, chasin’ down that sulfur smell
Kiss and tell the help, transference, sex, power
Can real therapy charge you by the hour?
That’s a prostitute. The pursuit of sappiness
Finds me in strip malls, buying bridal gifts
Handing over bread and cheese to taste a myth
Royal feasting for a day, cop a sniff-and-whiff
Food spoils, riches drain, people turn to dust
RV keeps me on track, amigo maximus
We look back at our abuelos and they teach us
They were doctors for the poor — how’s that for Yeezus?


Jun 9

Rajbhog Streetz Presents: The Times Translated

Hola Amigos! If you’re like me, when your not riding your CitiBike to the Park Slope Food Co-Op, you’re tucking and crinkling a copy of the paper of record, the New York Times. But sometimes the Times is so brilliant and ‘fit to print’ that you may need some help understanding what they’re trying to say. That’s why your friendly neighborhood Rajbhogger is here to help! First read their post by clicking on the link below (if you can get past their border fence pay wall) and then see below for the TimesTranslated !

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/09/nyregion/new-york-citys-newest-immigrant-enclaves.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y&_r=1&

Translation:

Your understanding of immigration in New York City is frozen in the 19th Century and you need Eurocentric context to establish your footing. But New York City is filled with exotic and far flung places so long as you are adventurous enough to discover them.

Food Bloggers are not neo-colonialists but rather the most venturesome explorers of our time. CecilRhodes.Tumblr.Com is not a good name for a food blog. Food Bloggers deserve credit for braving such fringe terrain. Why its amazing any of them even made it back alive after mapping obscure and unknown entities like Staten Island.

The ‘people’ who live in these amazing places are charming and adorable but certainly not sophisticated enough to read and comprehend a newspaper as sophisticated as the Times. Upon seeing a broadsheet, they generally try to make it into a hat or skirt.

-rv


Feb 27

Walt Disney’s Chinese Laundry

imageI don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the park. I want to feel they’re in another world." - Walt Disney

When I was in Disney World last weekend, I noticed a little storefront in Frontierland, next to the Town Hall, labeled “Chinese Laundry.” I had visited New York’s Museum of Chinese in America only a few days before, and found it interesting that Disney was acknowledging the Chinese presence in the Old West. 

But why is Frontierland’s “Chinese Laundry” just a plain, empty shell? It could just as easily been labeled “Jewish Pawn Shop” or “Mexican Cantina” (to mention two of the many minority groups present in the Old West but often ignored in a typical Western). Nowadays, Disney mixes a little bit of education into its ethnic fluff. EPCOT’s Fake China lets visitors view Xi’an clay soldiers and ancient vases among the greasy food stands and tchotchke shops. It seemed like “Chinese Laundry” had something to hide. 

Uncle Google confirmed my suspicions, and then some. Disney theme parks have created no less than FIVE Chinese laundries. Disneyland in California has the original Chinese Laundry in its “Main Street USA” section. Disney World has its Frontierland Chinese laundry and another absurd Chinese laundry storefront in Hollywood Studios that houses a Chinese restaurant. A third Disney World Chinese laundry, which was located on its own Main Street USA section, closed when a nearby store expanded.

Disneyland Paris’s Chinese Laundry, created in the 1990s, has a mah-jongg parlor on its upper floor. One online reviewer gushes about the location, "Listening to the Chinese chattering reminds you why Disneyland Paris is just so plain wonderful: there is so much to be discovered."

I have not yet found whether Disney has the gall to put Chinese laundries in its Tokyo or Hong Kong parks. 

Why does Disney have so many Chinese laundries? It probably has to do with founder Walt Disney, who designed the Main Street USA in Disneyland to mirror his Illinois hometown around the 1900s. Today, the Disney parks’ Main Street USAs are revisionist fantasy, pretending our society a century ago was integrated (but with minorities in the minority), without a hint of Jim Crow or Plessy vs. Ferguson. But Walt Disney originally wanted to convey “the way things used to be” …   

image Most launderers at the time of Walt Disney’s childhood were women, mostly black and foreign-born, but a sizable percentage were also Asian men. According to sociologist Peter Li, about 25% of all employed Chinese men in the United States between 1900 to 1930 worked in laundries. So 100 years ago, the Chinese laundryman was a stock character in the popular U.S. imagination. 

This stock Asian stereotype is featured in one of the first movies ever made, Edison Studio’s “Chinese Laundry" (1894), which shows a Chinese man doing acrobatics around his laundry to escape a cop.  When Disney made his own "Silly Symphonies" cartoons, he filled one of them, "The China Plate" (1931), to the brim with horrific Chinese stereotypes. The film stars by suggesting the story takes place within the decorations on a piece of china. Within seconds, a variation on the Oriental riff is heard, followed by eight more minutes of slanty eyes, long fingernails, bound feet, and the like. 

Even as Disney’s work became artistically mature, he still mined anti-Asian racism for laughs. Biographer Michael Barrier says during the writing of “Fantasia,” Disney told his staffers that "a Chinese turtle should dance by moving in a stiff-jointed way and jerking his head back and forth in what a stenographer described as a ‘wooden tempo.’" The evil Siamese cats in "Lady and the Tramp" and an episode of "Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers" bring these racist stereotypes into present times.

Now, Walt Disney was not a complete segregationist. He had talented Asian artists work for him, including Tyrus Wong (still living at age 102!), who was the concept artist for “Bambi.” But within a few years Donald Duck was taking on a Japanese air force base single-handed in “Commando Duck" and Disney turned a blind eye to his former employee, "Snow White" artist Bob Kuwahara, being held in a U.S. internment camp. 

Walt Disney’s racist work was not the product of a lone, diseased mind, but a reflection of a larger, disturbed society. When Disney put a Chinese laundry in his first amusement park, he was also mirroring one of his early rivals, Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park in California. In 1940, Knott’s built a Western ghost town, complete with a crude Chinese laundry operated by a character named Hop Wing Lee. To my surprise, visitors more than 70 years later can still peek into the horrid booth and gape at the carved wooden statue of slanty-eyed Hop Wing Lee, smoking in front of an ironing board and singing a looped song in “Mandarin." Millions of visitors file past the Disney theme parks’ Chinese laundries, but not many are aware that behind the storefronts’ hollow walls lies Hop Wing Lee’s twanging song of cultural belittlement.

A few generations’ worth of nostalgia has kept both the good and the outdated in Disney’s work relevant in our society. The films and theme parks of Disney can entertain us but can also seduce us, leading us to search for ourselves in characters that match our hair color or skin tone, or giving us pat answers for how things can turn out “happily ever after.” It’s up to us to question and subvert the stereotypes, and to not contain our 21st-century souls within 20th-century fantasies.  

image 
African-American runner as Princess Tiana, from promotional material for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

image

Actual African-American runner in the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon, wearing Minnie ears and a shirt reading “Black Girls Run!”

~ Wheelz


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