83 year old Chicano author John Rechy (City Of Night, The Sexual Outlaw, Rushes) talks to Lambda Literary about gay assimilation, being mistaken for white, melding truth and fiction, the post-Stonewall peroid, and hating the word 'queer.'
American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music is a currently traveling Smithsonian exhibition exploring the wide range of Latino artists and influences which have shaped American pop music genres since WWII, from Alice Bag to Flaco Jimenez to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Joan Baez. The website is rich with maps, interviews, videos, and music samples.
It's not so often that a US Top 40 chart hit is a song whose origins can be traced back 300 years, and even less often that such a song would be sung in Spanish. So when Ritchie Valens went into a studio and recorded La Bamba 50 years ago this month, he carved himself what would become a special place in American pop music history. It was one of those cases of the B side becoming the hit, though: the A side was Oh Donna, which showcased a sweeter, croonier side of Valens (singing in English), but was a somewhat unremarkable tune on its own. Here's a live recording of La Bamba by Valens, who, of course, along with rock'n'roll legend Buddy Holly, lost his life in an airplane crash just as his career was blossoming. Almost 30 years after La Bamba's original release, a version by Valens' natural heirs Los Lobos became a hit once again. And, admittedly, I didn't make it through the entire clip, but it's perhaps worth noting, for the record, that a Barack Obama-related version is available for your listening and viewing, er, pleasure? [more inside]
Is Cinco De Mayo For Sale By the Alcohol Industry? In the 1960s, Chicano activists in Colorado promoted a boycott of Coors beer in response to employment discrimination against Latinos at Coors breweries. Coors had two problems. They had to fix their image with Latino consumers, and they had to figure out some way to get college students to drink more beer in May. The solution: start sponsoring Cinco de Mayo! Thus, even though Mexicans in Mexico celebrate their independence day on September 15th and 16th, Mexican-Americans are more likely to celebrate the May 5th anniversary of the Battle of the Puebla, which is not even commemorated with a national holiday in Mexico. In fact, the Battle of the Puebla was a skirmish in the Pastry War, a French intervention in Mexico that began because a French chef demanded several thousand pesos to compensate him for Mexican military officers looting his pastry supply.
¡Ask a Mexican! is a recurring feature in the Orange County (CA) Weekly (archives) in which columnist Gustavo Arellano tackles questions from pochos and gabachos alike, about politics, cultural differences, and stereotypes. What started as a one-off joke has become one of the alt weekly's more popular columns (LA Times), complete with crude, foul-mouthed, politically incorrect ruminations on the origins of "the dirty Sanchez" and random slaps at Guatemalans. Why do Mexican men always wear cowboy hats? Because "[w]earing a sombrero here screams "POR FAVOR DEPORT ME." Why won't Mexicans tip? Actually they tip better, and "leave a little extra for a job well done—which includes how caliente the chica is."