Posts Tagged ‘Mexican Americans’


Tucson has a supposedly liberal city government — which okayed the brutal crackdown on Occupy Tucson six years ago — and a seemingly genuine good-guy, community-policing chief of police, Christopher Magnus, the gay former chief of police of mostly black Richmond, California.

One of my neighbors just passed her citizenship test. She’s over 50, so the government charged her a mere $1200 to do it, rather than the standard $1700.

Yes, they charge people $1700 to become citizens.  We’re talking about people who are mostly low income and an asset to society. How wrong is that?

Three weekends in a row my neighbor and/or her kids were racially profiled on First Avenue. Stopped in the university district for bullshit reasons. Nothing stuck. They were stopped for Driving
While Mexican. (In contrast, I’m an old long-haired redneck with peeling bumper stickers all over the tailgate of my 20-year-old truck — when I bought it I immediately de-choloed it for fear of racial profiling — and I haven’t been stopped in decades.)

The reasons? Apparent lack of insurance (wrong) on two occasions. On one of them, my neighbor, a 56-year-old woman living here for the last 20 years, who just passed her citizenship test this past week, was cuffed and stuck in the back of a squad car. For total bullshit reasons. They let her go after 15 minutes, but can you imagine the trauma? Can you imagine how she felt and how her 21-year-old son felt seeing his mom cuffed and tossed in the back of a squad car?

Now, my neighbors avoid the university district. They stick to Stone for the north-south corridor. At least there they stand a decent chance of avoiding racist cops.

Can you imagine how you’d feel seeing your mom treated in such a manner. Can you imagine it?

Yeah, imagine it — imagine seeing your mom in cuffs, treated so disrespectfully, and you’ll start to get what it’s like being black or Mexican in Tucson, in America.

And, yeah, as you’ve probably guessed, there’s no way on the Tucson PD site to contact Chief Magnus directly.

I did eventually find a complaint form on the TPD site and did fill it out, essentially setting myself up as a target. I think there might be as much as a 25% or 30% chance that the TPD will do something about the racial profiling rather than just put a bulls eye on my back and fuck me over, but I’m so angry about this that I’ll take my chances.

 


 

Thirty years ago, I was walking home one evening from my job in the Richmond to my rooming house in the Haight. I came to Watusi Records, about a block from where I lived, and decided to kill half an hour riffling through the dollar bins.

About ten minutes in, I pulled out a horribly, crudely designed LP with the title “Pachuco,” by Jonny Chingas, issued by Billionaire Records in L.A. The cover was simply off white with the title, Jonny’s name, and  a picture of an old vehicle from maybe 1910. Then I looked at the type on the license plate (not on the below graphic), saw the words “Se me paro,” and said to myself, “Holy shit! I gotta have this!”

Jonny Chingas Billionaire Records se me paro pachuco

I went home, put it on, and wasn’t disappointed. “Se me paro” was a doo-wop Spanglish tune every bit as explicit as the title suggested (“I have a hard on”). Most of the other tunes (in English, Spanish, and Spanglish) were cool, too. Mostly very funny, and pretty good musically.

I was working as the buyer at The Record Factory, the second biggest record store in SF at the time (after Tower), and the next day immediately went through the catalogs hoping to order more Chingas. But nada. Absolutemente nada.

Ten or twelve years later, right after the Internet came in, I ran a search for Jonny Chingas on Alta Vista, and got one hit, from a little indie record company in East L.A. I sent them a message asking, basically, “Hey man, you got any more Chingas records?” They sent me a one-sentence reply (here reproduced exactly–it’s burned into my memory): “Hey man, I think the vato’s dead.”

And he was. I later heard he was killed in a drive-by. Another victim of the vicious, stupid, pointless war on poor people masquerading as “the war on drugs.”

Fortunately, there are a few videos on youtube of Jonny performing, and also a greatest hits CD, featuring one of the funniest songs ever recorded (“El corrido del bato loco”–it’s even clean, but all in Spanish), “Se me paro,” and  probably the filthiest song ever recorded in any language, “La Dolencia.” (again in Spanish).

Here at Pinche Blues Band, Jonny is still one of our influences.

Several years ago, I wrote to Gustavo Arrellano (“Ask a Mexican”) asking him to do a column on Jonny. He did, and added some significant info–including Jonny’s real name, Raúl Garcia. Check it out when you have a chance. Gustavo and his column are very cool. But, for now, look up Jonny Chingas on youtube and check out the CD. You won’t be disappointed.


by Zeke Teflon

Twenty years ago, when I moved here from San Francisco, I  had a great neighbor–Jesus, a really nice Mexican brick layer with a grade-school education from Nogales. My bro . My friend.

When he married a trailer-trash white chick I was appalled. I really didn’t like her (and it was mutual).

She screwed him in the inevitable divorce–I showed up at court with him, and told him “This is what you have to say.” (She had a lawyer; he didn’t.) But would he listen to me? No.  She got full custody and he got a $700-a-month child-support payment.

Then, a few months after she’d headed back to her native habitat, a trailer north of the Grapevine in the Central Valley, Jesus came over to my patio one night around midnight.

He’d wiped out on his bike a couple of weeks previously, and his right arm was in a cast up to his shoulder. He  knocked on my door, and said “Hey man, I need some help.”

Fine. Whatever.

We walked into his place, and he said, “Go into my closet and reach into my coat pocket.”  I thought that was passably strange, but did it anyway.

I pulled out a baggie  with a half ounce of rock cocaine.

I’d just gone down to Nogales and had brought back a liter bottle of Cuervo (yes, I know, terrible shit, but cheap).

We alternated lines and shots the rest of the night, calling it quits only when the sun came up.

I was hungover for two days. It was the last time I ever did coke or tequila.

Six months later, Jesus’s sister called me to tell me he’d died. His heart had stopped from doing too much cocaine. At age 37.

The moral to this tale? Stay away from coke. Stay away from hard booze.

Part of the royal screwing Jesus got in the divorce was losing his house, which is the only silver lining in this sorry tale. The best neighbors I’ve ever had, the Cárdenas, moved up from Mexico and bought the place. They’re both very good neighbors and very good friends.

* * *

Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia.

Free Radicals front cover