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Ask a Mexican

05 Aug 2015
Dear Mexican: Some time back, you discussed the Chivas soccer team. This reminded me of my time in San Francisco’s Mission District, when the traficantes would whisper, “Chiva … chiva,” (pronounced “chee-ba”), as I walked down 16th Street. At least that’s what it sounded like. When I asked someone what it meant, they said, “stuff,” which seemed plausible enough. Now it’s baby goats? I know slang etymology is often hard to pin down, but why is heroin referred to as chiva, if that’s the right word? My Only Animal is a Chihuahua Dear Gabacho: Don’t ask me; ask my pal Sam Quinones, the greatest-ever reporter on Mexican immigration to the U.S. and its effects on both countries, and author of the magnificent new book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. His response: “Oooh estimado, that’s no goat they’re offering for sale. That’s black-tar heroin. Chivas are indeed a…
29 Jul 2015
Dear Mexican: I wasn’t born in this country, but I got here as quickly as I could at the age of 10. I was born in Mexico and live in Houston, a city that is bursting at the seams with Mexicans and Latinos from every country south of the border. I think I have the solution to this immigration debate. The light bulb went on recently when I was attending a breakfast put on by big-time real estate developers at a five-star hotel. They were pitching new communities being built in resort cities starting at a mere half-million dollars. So why not just annex Mexico? We’d make it easier for rich gabachos to go south with their money and create lots of jobs. El Coco Dear Coconut: Isn’t that what NAFTA did? All my Mexican friends are second- or third-generation Americans, and relate to Mexico in a generic way, but…
22 Jul 2015
Dear Mexican: Why is it so easy to escape from Mexican prisons, and why is it always accomplished the day before execution? And why haven’t the proper authorities figured it out yet? See Madero, Pancho Villa, Luis Terrazas Jr., etc. Fuga Frank Dear Jailbreak Fred: Don’t forget El Chapo! The answer is obvious: Mexican law enforcement and government officials are more easily bought than a piratería copy of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at your local Mexican supermarket parking lot. As for Chapo’s already legendary escape, all I can add is that I still can’t decide whether Dig Dug or Super Mario Bros. is the more hilarious meme for the situation. Oh, and fuck Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, that pinche prieto cagaleche. Dear Mexican: I’m Mexican. I don’t mind when my friends ask me questions about Mexicans. But my Jew-wop friend asked me a question about Mexicans that I…
15 Jul 2015
Dear Mexican: I’ve been on sex-offender registry websites a couple of times, and it seems there are a lot of names ending with -ez. Is there an elevated rate of sexual deviancy amongst Mexicans? If so, why? El Güero Guapisimo Dear Readers: This is the first time in ¡Ask a Mexican! history I’ve ever changed an answer—only because the Mexicans-are-rapists idea is the new black right now. I answered the above pregunta in 2007 this way: Methinks you doth look for brownies too much. But I don’t blame you. Turn on the television and radio, and you’re likely to hear anti-immigrant pendejos screeching about how Mexicans will rape you while stealing your job and playing banda music really loud. You’ll probably hear them invoke the work of Dr. Deborah Schurman-Kauflin. Her 2006 paper “The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One Million Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants in the…
08 Jul 2015
Dear Mexican: I live in New York, where taco trucks are a fairly recent addition to the urban landscape. I’ve noticed they always serve their tacos with double tortillas. Why? I’m a long-time lover of Mexican food (the REAL stuff), and own several Mexican cookbooks, but the recipes never call for this. Also, what is the “right” way to eat a double-tortilla taco? I generally split the filling between the two tortillas, since there is so much of it, but I have no idea whether I’m making a fool out of myself. Gourmet Gringa Dear Gabacha: “Actually, double tortillas are common in Mexico!” says Lesley Téllez, author of the awesome nuevo book Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City’s Streets, Markets and Fondas, and a Puebla York resident herself. “Lots of Mexico City street vendors serve their tacos on two tortillas, or they’ll ask if clients want one or two, in…
01 Jul 2015
Dear Mexican: I read your column of a couple of years ago about Chicanos loving the Aztecs, and it left me both cracking up and intellectually fortified. In the last portion of the column, you added: “But, hey: If you want to change your name from José González to Nezahualcoyotl Moctezuma and go to sweat lodges on weekends, even though you’re lighter-skinned than a Southern belle, be my guest! I’m sure your ancestors who fought the Aztecs—both indigenous and Hispanic—would’ve approved!” I really would like to know your opinion about Chican@s appropriating indigenous names. (Well, for me, it’s appropriating.) Every time I go to Facebook and see my friends change their names to things in the Nahuatl language, I cringe. Maybe it’s my own internal struggle, but I see changing your name as a very insignificant. I mean, que ganas con cambiando tu nombre, if you don’t know the language?…
24 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: Where is my America? I’m half-Hispanic and half-Italian. I was born on Coney Island to a drug-addicted father and was raised by my mom, who had to work. We were very poor. I’ve always had to struggle for basic possessions. Spanish was not spoken in my house, so my Spanish is muy malo. I’ve worked since I was 15, barking on the games in Coney Island. I went to culinary school and became a chef. I’ve worked in the industry for 10 years. It is inundated with illegal Mexican workers. Most of these guys are OK, and they are willing to work longer hours, for less pay. Gone is the eight-hour work day. Nobody gets health coverage. It’s rare to get a paid vacation. It’s rare not to work six days a week. I feel the influx of illegal workers has lowered labor standards for all workers in…
17 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: I’m not sure if this is solely an Orange County thing, but: As a high school student in SanTana, I can’t help but realize that the great majority of rockabilly kids are Mexican. Why is this? Weren’t the ’40s and ’50s kind of a bad time for Mexicans? Chicana con Ganas Dear Motivated Chicana: Yes y no. While Mexican-American activists were fighting for civil rights through lawsuits and voter-registration drives, the young people were getting into cars, rock ’n’ roll and R&B, and changing their given names from Consuelo and Jorge to Connie and George—the better to assimilate. The ’40s generations were pachucos, but more than a few Mexis became so-called rebels during the ’50s and continuing into the present day. For years, one of my favorite cinematic nuggets was discovering that there was a Mexican in the Pharaohs car club that kidnapped Richard Dreyfuss’ character in American…
10 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: Why are lowrider artists obsessed with surly clowns? I went to an exhibition of the art of Mister Cartoon in Venice Beach years ago, and the clowns in his art were downright disturbing. I've seen these nasty clowns on T-shirts and a bunch of other places, too. What's up with that? Did the whole culture have a nasty experience at the circus? Cirque Du So Low Dear Gabacho: I’m answering this pregunta not just because it’s a good one, but to teach the value of patience. Gentle readers: This question was sent on the first week of ¡Ask a Mexican!’s existence, which is now more than 10 years ago. I’m finalmente getting to it because it’s about pinche time, you know? So you, too, will get your question you sent hace seven years answered … eventually. For this one, Cirque Du So Low, it’s muy simple: Mexicans like…
03 Jun 2015
Dear Mexican: Do your countrymen still worship Santana? Or is Santana looked at like The Who in England, and Crosby, Stills and Nash in America—old relics from the good ol’ Woodstock days? Abraxas to the Maxas! Dear Gabacho: Mexicans actually never worshipped Carlos Santana, who was born in Jalisco and grew up in Tijuana before moving to San Francisco and becoming the Quetzalcoatl of rock. Oh, we’ve always respected him—after all, Santana is a mexicano who hit it big by fusing Latin rhythms with acid rock—but he long ago left the earthly realm of nationalism to hang out with his guardian angel, Metatron, making him the true manifestation of la raza cósmica. Mexicans respect all of that, but they like their male Mexican musicians the way hombres like their sex: loud, sweaty and done in under four minutes—OK, three. My husband, who is very proud of his Mexican heritage, was…