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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Black-White and Banda Cochino Come Out for Halloween


  A few years ago during Halloween of '07, a friend invited me out to the bars with her and one of her girlfriends. One was dressed as a baseball player (not a sexy baseball player, just a baseball player), the other was dressed like she'd stepped off the set of Moulin Rouge. A read bustier, fishnet stockings, 5 inch hooker heels, and loads of make-up on an already cute face pre-makeup; yep she went all out.  Guess which one I couldn't stop looking at? 
  
  Regardless, we went out to a local bar in Xico, that I can't remember the name of at this point, but it's actually been a popular drinking spot for the over 21 college masses. Being that it was Halloween in Xico of course it was packed and as you walked in, there were sexy demons, sexy Hooters girls, sexy baseball players, just about any girl you saw was dressed in some type of sexy interpretation of whatever person or thing she chose to dress up as. Queen Elizabeth? Sexy. A plumber? Sexy, but with a plunger. You get my point, I was in sexy Halloween heaven around so many women dressed in sexy iterations of so many vocations and people.

The real Rob and Big  
  But what really caught my attention was Rob and Big Black! No, not the real reality stars, but a couple of guys dressed up as them. One guy was short enough to be Rob Dyrdek, and you could tell it was him because he was wearing Rob Dyrdek clothing, everything, his baseball cap, t-shirt and even sweater-jacket had Dyrdeks logo stamped on it. But what really convinced me this guy and his pal were impersonating the reality show stars, was that his pal wasn't much taller, maybe a few inches, but he was wearing Dyrdek regalia as well, along with the Big Black logo, but the crowning moment that convinced me that this guy was trying to portray Big Black, was that this was an overweight white kid, wearing face black.

Blackface (from Wikipedia) 
  If you don't know what face black is, it's not what the football players use to put under their eyes, well at least that's what it's intended for, but what this guy had, was essentially blackface-"a theatrical make up used in minstrels." Minstrels were shows where a white actor would usually paint his face black and impersonate black people (there's more to it than that, but google it and then/or wikipedia it). Yep, this was Big Black-White. Or this white kid's version of Big Black. I saw him and at first I was annoyed, but then I noticed that he was actually looking uncomfortable in that bar. You see this is one of the more multicultural bars in town, so you had a decent mix of Anglos and African-Americans, the Latinos and Xicanos were a little more difficult to spot. So anyhow being surrounded by more African-American people than I think he expected to see, probably made him uncomfortable, his midget friend, staying his own skin color had nothing to worry about since he was just being Rob, and he was white, so he was a white guy, impersonating Rob-white. I didn't see any of the African-Americans in the bar approach Big Black-White about his costume, but I did see some of them looking at him probably like me, annoyed, and more than anything a little bit more agitated. Needless to say I'm pretty sure Big Black-White walked out of there unharmed, but I'm sure he had second thoughts about his costume. I don't want to think that his intentions were to offend. It is possible he did it because he just loved that show, he and his friend got the bright idea to be them on Halloween, and its probably shits and giggles over some beers at the thought of being the reality stars on Halloween night. I also want to give the benefit of the doubt and say, hey, maybe he didn't stop to think about it as he walked out the door, he seriously thought it would be okay. But then the question becomes, if he thought it was okay, doesn't that basically make him an accomplice of the apathy and ignorance that continues to proliferate that town?     

 Anyhow moving on from Big Black-White, as the Halloween festivities continued in the bar I moved from the main bar area, to a patio area in the back, where I just continued to observe all the sexy walking past me, as I realized I was holding an empty bottle of Pale Ale in my hand. So in order to continue quenching my thirst and to try to forget Big Black-White, I walked toward the line in front of the patio bar to get another bottle of ale. As I stood I just looked around not really paying attention to anything in particular other than a couple of short Middle-Eastern girls to my left that looked cute for a couple of girls that didn't really wear a costume, they just decided to dress up as sexy. It seemed like they basically said "Fuck the costumes, lets just be sexy for Halloween!"

  While I stood in line though, I noticed in front of me a group of about 4 guys that were wearing basically the same costume. They were all dressed up as Mariachi's or a Mariachi group. The back of the black jackets had the name "Banda Cochino" bejazzled across the top. Aside from that, they had little plastic trumpets in a variety of colors (pink, yellow, etc.), and they had also glued big ass mustaches to their face. I'm not too sure but it's possible one of them had actually painted on a goatee with a marker. What bothered me wasn't that it was a bunch of white kids dressed up as a Mariachi; what bothered me is that they were trying to ridicule Mexicans. First off, those sexy girls off to my left looked over and saw these guys and apparently were impressed by their costumes telling one of the guys, and I quote (insert valley girl tone, but with a Middle-Eastern edge here) - "Oh my god! Those are cute costumes!" The guy closest to her smiled, nudged one of his buddies and they busted out their plastic instruments ready to play her a tune, but they cut their performance short. Why? Because one of the members of "Banda Cochino" caught a Mexican standing behind him from the corner of his eye. Mexican=Me. The other "Banda Cochino" members noticed their band mate stop dead in his tracks then also noticed the Me-xican standing behind them. They promptly put their plastic trumpets away and stopped trying to impress the sexy girls and diverted their attention to the front of the bar hoping that a faster line and an alcoholic beverage would be their saving grace. The sexy girl that was impressed by their costumes noticed them get uncomfortable and then realized it was because of the Me-xican. She kinda rolled her eyes at me and just looked forward as well, probably thinking I was a killjoy.

  I have a hard time seeing myself as a killjoy though, because it's not like I threatened the guys. I didn't even give them a dirty look. It wasn't like I was going to bust out my filero and stab them, but in their eyes I probably looked like a Mexican cholo who just chose to not wear a costume, which I know I didn't but maybe the goatee [mine is grown naturally, not painted on] made me look meaner than I really am. When they noticed me I just kept trying to look forward, past them, trying not to bother with their ignorance.

  Here's the thing though, I don't think it was me that made them uncomfortable, I think it was their own conscious. They knew that they purposely dressed up as a Mariachi band calling itself "Banda Cochino" in order to poke fun, or insult Mexicans. They didn't do it with the intent of portraying a real Mariachi band, but then again, on Halloween, who would? It's all in the fake 'staches and in the name though. Why the oversized mustaches? Not only that but why choose the name "Banda Cochino"? First of all as far as I know, any real Mariachi doesn't call itself a "banda." So they should have just called themselves "Mariachi Cochino." Secondlly the word "cochino" means dirty. So in other words they intended to not just portray Mariachi's or Mexcian bandas as dirty, but just really Mexicans in general, because after all, you need to remember that we Mexicans have for so long been known to be dirty and greasy. It was their conscious that made them turn away, and eventually walk out of the line and to the bar in the main room, because they knew that they were making a mockery of people like me. 

  The night wasn't a total loss or disappointment though. Eventually a guy walked up to me, he was dressed as a doctor, and he excitedly asked me - "Are you Mexican?!" I nodded my head and said yes, expecting him to make some type of drunk fuck comment, but he said - "Cool! So am I! Man it's good to see another Mexican around here, man! I was feeling out of place!" We shook hands, "Why didn't you dress up?" I replied that I kinda got called by a friend last minute so I didn't have a costume handy. "Oh, that's cool, man. I dressed up as doctor, because you know that's some thing that Mexicans aren't expected to be." Since it was years ago, I vaguely remember that as his words, he also might have said, "because thats something we'll never be." It kinda made me chuckle, but what he said, wasn't too far off from "Banda Cochino." Was he trying to say that Mexicans could never hope to be doctors, therefore Halloween was the perfect time to be something you couldn't hope to be? The Mexican doctor walked off to find his buddies, and eventually me, the baseball player (not a sexy one), and the sexy ass Moulin Rouge girl left.

  A few days later a student came to my office to discuss something about the class lecture we had that day. We got into this discussion about well, what the majority of this blog has been about so far, ignorant portrayals of Mexicans and/or other races. I told him about Big Black-White and Halloween, and I mentioned maybe it's just me, because again I didn't see any African-American people try to confront the guy, maybe I'm just being too sensitive about that kinda stuff. But the student made a good point, he said that technically Halloween or at least its evolution was based off of people masquerading more as ghouls or other mystical things, but since it has evolved so much, it has become a day where people can be whatever they like, but it doesn't necessarily make it right, especially if their costume has undertones of intentional malice within it.

He was right, it was okay to be upset, especially when being in the situation and realizing that there were intentions to ridicule, even if it was Halloween. Because if nothing else this tells me and other Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, Xican@s, Latin@s, or Hispanics that Halloween is one of the few designated days when racist minded fucks like "Banda Cochino," and possibly Big Black-White can get away with taking bigoted shots at us. 

Not "Banda Cochino"

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