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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Ask a Mexican

25 Dec 2013
Dear Readers: Since it’s the end of the year, and the Mexican is on his 18th tamale (made by the mujeres in his family, of course), here are some letters from angry readers (and one fan), along with my answers. Enjoy your champurrado; gracias for a great 2013; and may your 2014 involve more cousins smuggled into los Estados Unidos than ever before! Dear Phony Mexican: I read and enjoy your column on a regular basis. I, more often than not, respect your perspective on issues as they are presented to you. However, your response to CARROS two weeks ago was disingenuous. You referenced (Federal Highway Administration) statistics as justification for what I believe is passive-aggressive behavior. I divide my time between Denver and Puerto Vallarta. What CARROS was describing is spot-on. I’m a driver and a pedestrian in both cities. The difference: In Mexico, all of the pedestrians cross…
18 Dec 2013
Dear Readers: Behold your favorite Mexican’s annual Christmas gift guide, where I give shout-outs to some of my favorite books that deserve your money this holiday season! And for once, I won’t recommend my books—¡Ask a Mexican!, Orange County: A Personal History, and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America—as gifts … oh, wait, I just did! In all honesty, while I always appreciate ustedes buying my libros and handing them out as regalos, the following items are just as chingones, if not more so. The Perennials: I’ve plugged the following books in the past, and I’ll never stop plugging them, because they’re magnificent: North From Mexico by Carey McWilliams (the first serious history on Mexicans in the United States, by the legendary progressive journalist); Tex(t)-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America by William Nericcio (to quote myself last year, a “scabrous take on Mexicans in the American imagination”);…
11 Dec 2013
Dear Mexican: You mocked and didn’t answer the legitimate questions raised in a letter to you a few weeks ago—from the guy who didn’t see a rosy future for a Mexican-led America. The writer correctly referred to serious problems in the Hispanic community, such as poor academic performance and births out of wedlock. Instead of responding in a way that showed that you, too, see that there are problems that need to be recognized and addressed to reverse the desperate state of Latinos in America, you brushed off the writer by referring to him as “your kind.” How can we solve the problems when people like you won’t even admit to these serious cultural issues—and, in fact, disparage those who bring them up? Not Wearing Bean-Colored Glasses Dear Gabacho: I did answer the question; you just couldn’t handle the answer. We can easily solve the problems that you, I and…
04 Dec 2013
Dear Mexican: I find myself at odds with my peers because I don’t like coffee or coffee drinks. I need to find a substitute beverage that will be tasty yet somehow hip. I’ve heard that Mexicans have magical chocolate drinks called atole, champurrado, and chocolate, but I don’t know what is in them, or what they taste like. Do you have any advice? Thirsty in OC Dear Gabacho: You’re a smart gabacho, you know that? Coffee is among mankind’s most-overrated drinks, and has created a nation of babosos who think it’s perfectly fine to hacer cola at Starbucks every morning to buy some overpriced chingadera. Mexicans, on the other hand, line up for far more flavorful and healthy hot drinks every morning. Atole is a gruel made of masa and usually piloncillo (unrefined brown sugar) and cinnamon; Mexis have imbibed it since the Aztecs were stuck in caves in Aztlán.…
27 Nov 2013
Dear Mexican: My father and mother were able to come to the United States because after the “yellow scare” was over, the U.S. didn’t seem to mind that Chinese were coming over here by the boatloads. Since my parents were given visas and green cards, my father was able to get into school pretty easily. This seems to be prevalent among most of the Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and Indian populace (aka the model minority groups). As a result, immigrants from China, Taiwan, Korea and India have been able to get an education here—and prosper. Additionally, many of these immigrants have pride for their home country (as do Mexicans; unlike what many people in the anti-immigration crowd think, you’re not the only ones who wave your home country’s flag around). This resulted in a lot of newly educated Chinese, Taiwanese, South Koreans and Indians bringing skills and expertise back to their…
20 Nov 2013
Dear Mexican: Longtime reader, first-time writer. I watched the brown-pride marches of the early 1970s and heard the shouts of La Raza, and heard how it was going to be different now that the “Chicano” had arrived. The Mexicans were going to change things for the greater good. I remember when President Ronald Wilson Reagan gave amnesty to some 3 million illegal Mexican immigrants, and hearing how this was going to change things once and for all, bringing the Mexicans into American society with welcome arms and citizenship. Nothing was going to hold the Mexicans down now. And here we are. Mexico might not be falling, as you say, but the police, the military and the citizens seem unable to stop the killing. Predominantly Latino school districts in Santa Ana and Los Angeles are failing; Latinas are having babies out of wedlock at the rate of Guatemalans; and the young…
13 Nov 2013
Dear Mexican: Is it really possible for a terrorist to sneak into the U.S. through the southern border, or is that just more fear-mongering from the conservatives? Not Crazy About Quds Dear Gabacho: Of course it’s possible, but we’re really not going to know until we find out, right? American officials have gone on the record as stating that drug cartels have established ties with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, yet haven’t offered conclusive proof. (And that rumor you heard about al-Qaida establishing camps in Mexico to train terrorists to look like my Tío Lencho? Pinche false.) But I don’t think the cartels are so pendejo to assist terrorists hell-bent on destroying America from within—after all, they already have that market to themselves. Some years ago, we attended a family reunion in Cuba, New Mexico, where the Mexican branch of the family put on a skit. They used a recording…
06 Nov 2013
Dear Mexican: I’m a pocha immigration attorney. I have so many questions for you that I’m thinking I should just hire you as a consultant. Why do Mexicans seem to want me to lie to them and steal their money, and tell them they can become residents—even when it’s hopeless? Why can’t Mexicans answer “yes” or “no” questions with a “yes” or “no”? Why do they have to give me long narratives that make no sense? If Mexicans claim that part of the reason they don’t want to be in Mexico is because of government corruption, why do they ask me to lie for them, and help them lie? Why are polleros the rudest, most aggressive clients a lawyer could ever have? Why don’t mexicanas want a female attorney, while mexicanos seem to think it’s kind of cool? When I go into fast-food restaurants in my power suits and order…
30 Oct 2013
Dear Mexican: My hometown of El Paso is getting a new Triple-A baseball team. The owning group just announced the name: The El Paso Chihuahuas. The reasons given? The origins of the dog and the city’s location in the Chihuahua desert, and that it was family-friendly. Many in this city are saying the name is offensive, while others (myself included) love the name, as it follows the team-name protocol/trends of minor league baseball. Plus, the logo seems pretty awesome. So, in your most Mexican opinion, who is right? Getting Drunk at Chope’s Dear Wab: Neither. For one, smarty-art Mexicans need to own the Chihuahua as a fine metaphor for our raza instead of something shameful. As I wrote back in 2008, the perritos are “quintessentially Mexican: Napoleonic in complex, usually brown but available in all colors, maligned by gabachos as puny runts, but secretly ferocious and smart, and bearers of…
23 Oct 2013
Dear Mexican: I was surprised on a trip to Mexico earlier this month that I only ever found the holiday referred to as “Dia de Muertos,” whereas in the States, I’ve only ever heard it referred to as “Dia de los Muertos.” I’m really curious as to why there’s a difference north/south of the border. Do Chicanos include the “los” so that it better matches up with the English translation? Do Mexicans use the phrase so often that the “los” has just fallen by the wayside? Is “los muertos” actually more (historically?) correct grammatically? In Spanish, do you actually NEED the “los,” or does the word “muertos” effectively include the article? I’ve asked friends, but no one seems to know the reason for the difference; knowing your love of etymology and history, I was hoping you could give a definitive answer. Sorry for the long letter! La Catrina Dear Gabacha:…