My Chamorro Anime Ska Band

Gi este na mes dos biahi esta na hinatme yu’ ni sen atdet na malinek ulu. Fihu ti nahong i maigo’-hu put i meggai na che’cho’-hu gi kumunidat yan gi UOG. Gi i tiningo’-hu put este Fino’ Chamoru taya’ gof maolek na palabra para “stressed.” Guaha palabra siha para atdet pat ti na’magof na siniente, lao buente put i diferentes na klasin lina’la’ yan hinasso put tiempo gi antes, taigue ayu na ideha gi kuttura-ta. Hekkua’.

I’m slowly realizing the reason why for all this stressing. Everytime I am stressed out and think I can’t handle it ya siempre matai yu’, instead of saying, “next month I’ll do less, I’ll start setting some time aside,” I start actively planning for more crap that I’ll have to do later on. I have articles due for journals. Events to plan for next week. Medical Marijuana advisory board commitments. Classes to teach. A program at UOG to run. Lana, hafa i prublema-hu? Kao ga’masapet yu’?

I guess the key is that when I’m stressed as hell, I don’t pine for a time when I’m not busy, but rather pine for some different sort of busy, at some almost mythic later date. What eventually happens with this though is that these obligations which in the distance appeared to be cool and exciting, accumulate and collapse together in weeks like this and become too much. So what do I do to help myself? I start to plan even more things.

Instead of academic things today however, I’m fantasizing about cool commitments. I’ve been working with i estaba na padawan-hu estudiante Si Ken Gofigan Kuper on several fun nerd gi fino’ Chamoru projects. Working on comics and novels with my siblings and i nobia-hu is always fun. But in the back of my mind there is always certain particular random things that I feel are calling to me, even though I know I would probably never actually do them. One strange life craving that I’ve always felt and never been able to totally quell is the desire to join some sort of band, perhaps a cover band, a rock band or maybe even, for some reason, a Chamorro Anime Ska Band?

I lahoben na che’lu-hu Si Jeremy is a big music fan and his interests always spill over to me. I remember he went through a period where he liked what I would call Bard’s Tale music. These were epic, heavy metal songs that you imagine fantasy fanatics click on whenever the D & D players enter a dungeon or darkened woods. The names of these bands which apparently are mostly found in Europe, are hyper harsh, masculine and fantasy inspired such as Dragonforce, Iron Maiden, and probably something like “The Dreaded Black Fire Mage,” or “Wizard, being the jerk that he is, shot the food.”

One of the tastes that I can indulge however is his love of anime soundtrack music, in particular the work of Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts! Kuri often discusses forming a tribute band around the mutual love of anime music, playing such hits as Zankoku na Tenshi no TE-ZE, The Real Folk Blues, Love Seeker Can’t Stop It, and of course the immortal Fu Mo Fu Mo Fu Mo Fu, from Full Meta Panic (I have never actually heard this song except when my younger sister Alina used to sing it endlessly, and would then proceed to march around the room to the beat.)

For those familiar with my work over the years this shouldn’t seem to kaduku, the idea of a Chamorro Anime Ska Band. I’ve spent years taking various songs from English, Japanese and even German and translating them into Chamorro. Through my blog No Rest for the Awake – Minagahet Chamorro, I’ve posted a great deal of these. Here’s just a few

Sa’ Hafa Ti Guahu? (Why Not Me?) from “Cochise” by Audioslave
Buena (Weakpoint) from “Politics” by Coldplay
Mapula’ (Unravel) from “Undone” by Imperial Teen
Novocaine is naturally from “Novocaine” by Green Day
Lina’ala Esta Ma’pos (Life is Gone) from “Zindagi Es Tarah” from Murder
Na’hasson Hagu (Reminders of You) from “Nothing Compares to You” by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Maolek na Chinagi (Nice Try) from “Hey Man Nice Shot” by Fliter
Agang, Agang (Call, Call) from “Call Me, Call Me” by The Seatbelts

The interesting thing though is that I don’t even like Ska, save for a few songs here and there that my brothers made me listen to, but for some reason I love translating those songs into Chamorro and just love the idea of singing them in Chamorro.One thing I’ve witnessed over the years is the continuing disconnect between young Chamorros and Chamorro music. Chamorro music is very much a part of young peoples’ lives, but it is in the background. Something attached to parties and events, there is a rich nostalgia there, but it isn’t what they are passionate about or really seem to care about.  They just don’t connect to Chamorro music and their language today because of its dated character. In some sense this is true, Chamorro language does remain fixed to certain forms, just like it remains fixed to certain spaces and certain bodies, all of which are unfortunate and make my life a living hell. But at the same time, this does become a way of copping out, over learning the language and ensuring its survival. The fact of the matter is, there are several artists out there who are using Chamorro more and more, albeit in small ways. Such as The Castro Boyz and DUB who are bringing Chamorro language into the pan-island musical movements bolstered primarily by Reggae and Hawaiian music. Also Tinapu’s album was an incredible mix of the beautiful guitar playing that we know Chamorros are capable of, as well as the language.

If it ever happened, then my Chamorro Anime Ska Band would be my intervention into this issue. I refuse to accept the limits that have been placed down upon Chamorro language, and which Chamorros even while lamenting the limits, continue to reproduce them, through their very lamentations of how what I am drawing attention to is the “sad reality.” A poor critique because it draws attention to the “way things are” while at the same time ensuring that the way things are remains beyond our ability or responsibility to change them.


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