history music news

Behind the music: Editing the WBC anthems


By now, everyone knows that Japan won the first ever World Baseball Classic. What no one knows, is that the music that graced San Diego’s Petco Park sound system as the players entered the field was being played from a CD; the San Diego Symphony Orchestra was on the field performing, but the amplified audio was pre-recorded (and edited by yours truly).


The day before the final game, the orchestra was recording the national anthems for Cuba and Japan (not knowing who would win), the host country (USA) as well as the entrance music for the parade of flags. After recording several takes of each theme, classical music guru Doug Dillon brought the recordings to me and we started editing at about 9pm Sunday night. He layed out the music scores and worked off his notes from the recording session. Taking a few bars from one take, a section from another, we weaved together the best pieces to create the final versions. We finished six hours later, at 3am Monday morning. Only a few hours after that, the sold-out stadium was listening to the CD I burned that morning.

You can hear the Parade of Flags theme in this video montage from the World Baseball Classic website. I’ve worked on a lot of freelance projects in recent years, but this one had by far the widest circulation yet.

culture crit download history news radio

StoryCorps in San Diego

StoryCorps MobileBooth
StoryCorps is an oral history project that sends their MobileBooth around the country, allowing two people to interview each other about their lives. The participants receive a copy of the 40-minute interview; another copy goes to the Library of Congress to permanently archive the voices of our time. At KPBS, I’m producing excerpted stories from the booth for broadcast. We started airing the pieces this week, and will continue into March. Check out this hilarious story:


Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez is a musician who played an active role in the Barrio Logan protests that led to the creation of Chicano park. His parents were farm workers, and when he first started public school he spoke only Spanish. Here, Chunky Sanchez talks with his friend Jose “Pepe” Villarino about what it was like for Mexican-American students in the 1950s.

borders culture crit history tijuana

Border Crossing 101

As Rosario and I came back across the border in Otay this weekend, I took the truck through the Sentri lane and she walked across (she doesn’t have a Sentri pass yet). I waited a few minutes in line but passed through quickly. “Do you have anything to declare?” asked the agent. As soon as I said “no” he waved me through.

I parked by the Carls Jr. and walked down to join Rosario as she crossed on foot. I stopped by the Sentri office to pick up an application for her, and as I came out she had just crossed. She told me that there was an older woman in line in front of her who stepped into the line for bicycles to rest her leg (there is a dedicated lane for cyclists that goes much faster). An agent approached and asked loudly, “Qué haces aquí?” (what are you doing here) “Me duele mi pierna” (my leg hurts) she said showing him her leg. “Ese no es mi problema, vayase a la otra línea” (that’s not my problem, get back in line) he ordered pointing to the back of the line. The agent immediately walked over to a tall man who wasn’t in line but was watching the cars cross outside. “What are you looking at?” he asked this time in English. “Nada” replied the man. “You can’t be here, get back in line.” At that moment, Rosario looked up and saw a large border patrol banner that read “We are the face of our nation.”

Earlier that same morning, I heard a story on Weekend Edition about the Bath Riots.

Contract Mexican laborers being fumigated with the pesticide DDT in Hidalgo, Texas, in 1956.

For decades, U.S. health authorities used noxious, often toxic chemicals to delouse Mexicans seeking to cross the border into the United States . . . Before being allowed to cross, Mexicans had to bathe, strip nude for an inspection, undergo the lice treatment, and have their clothes treated in a steam dryer.

The treatment included gasoline baths and toxic fumigations (including DDT). The Bath Riots began when 17-year-old Carmelita Torres rallied 30 others in 1917 to refuse. This “ethnic cleansing” continued for decades. In Ringside Seat to a Revolution, author David Dorado Romo reveals some of his findings from the National Archives in Washington DC:

I discovered an article written in a German scientific journal written in 1938, which specifically praised the El Paso method of fumigating Mexican immigrants with Zyklon B. At the start of WWII, the Nazis adopted Zyklon B as a fumigation agent at German border crossings and concentration camps. Later, when the Final Solution was put into effect, the Germans found more sinister uses for this extremely lethal pesticide. They used Zyklon B pellets in their own gas chambers not just to kill lice but to exterminate millions of human beings.

The lice treatments in Texas are an extreme example, but still a hauntingly nostalgic picture of what many Mexicans still encounter today. Abuse stories by “la migra” (officially U.S. Customs and Border Protection or CBP) no doubt sparked this promotional video to improve public opinion. And even as you cross today, take note of the laminate signs stating the CBP Core Values:

  • Vigilance is how we ensure the safety of all Americans. We are continuously watchful and alert to deter, detect and prevent threats to our Nation. We demonstrate courage and valor in the protection of our Nation.
  • Service to Country is embodied in the work we do. We are dedicated to defending and upholding the Constitution of the United States. The American people have entrusted us to protect the homeland and defend liberty.
  • Integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles. Our actions bring honor to ourselves and our agency.
culture crit history

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Feast

“The year was 1637 . . . 700 men, women, and children of the Pequot Tribe gathered for their Annual Green Corn Dance in the area that is now known as Groton, Connecticut. While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building. The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” – From the Documents of Holland, 13 Volume Colonial Documentary History, letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the King in England and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian Agent for the New York colony for 30 years.