Friday, October 3, 2014

The State That Birthed The Foul-Mouthed Mexican

I'm back in the state that birthed this foul-mouthed Mexican. I don't really know how to feel about this. It is a bittersweet return for the moment.

It was good to drive through the roads in my hometown and see fields of strawberries and lettuce to the right and left of me. A different kind of green than the bright emerald I saw on the trees and grass in the Midwest. The California green I see now is usually speckled with flecks of red. I can't say that I'm happy to have left the Midwest. There was a serenity in the area I lived in. I would go out for walks around my complex, take in the sunny day, breathe and organize my thoughts during those walks. I also made some good friends in the Midwest. I almost feel out of place back in California, not that I feel like a Midwesterner (I think most Midwesterners would tell me to go fuck myself, because I was like an obese tick that continued increasing its volume by sucking in their clean air and water), never that. But being back on the traffic filled California freeways and highways at first added to my tension. I would think "I didn't have to deal with this shit in the Midwest! Fuck!" Then I'd take a deep breath, and I'd think to myself, "But I'm back in California. My home state. No humidity. Closer to family and friends. Yes in certain areas I'll get that intense heat, but at leasts it's dry and there is no humidity in sight. Fuck yeah!""

I've only been back a few weeks, but it hasn't taken me long to remember the things I missed out here, like Second Street Cafe and it's Mexican Mocha. Or seeing other Mexicans around me. Also the weather in my hometown is usually nice, warm with a breeze, usually in the mid 70's to low 80's. I drove through Gilroy and it's armpit stench which was in reality garlic. I drove into a mountainous region near Oakland where the middle upperclass people and students from Berkley tend to meander safely, at safe distance from Too $hort's hometown. I managed not to gag, and they managed not to stare too long at the goateed Mexican. I wanted to yell out, "I'm one of the safe ones though!" But yelling out my car window probably would have prompted someone to call the cops on me and then I'd end up on the street with my hands up, yelling, "Don't Shoot!!" Then they'd probably shoot me anyway about 6 or 7 times, maybe more, maybe less than more. Not that the cops in the Midwest don't harass you. But I've been harassed there once. Here in California it has been a couple more times. Usually by Latino cops trying to look like good tough cops in front of their Anglo companions. 

Nonetheless, there are things that I appreciated about the Midwest for all the derision I had for the College Town. I enjoyed the seasons there. Let me correct that, fuck the winter and snow in the Midwest. But the Fall, with it's yellow, red, brown and orange leaves brought me tremendous happiness and peace. It was gorgeous. If the Midwest's Fall season were a woman I'd probably pursue her doggedly until she let me sleep with her, and I'd be heartbroken once she went away.

Being back in this state I've been frequenting taco trucks, taco stands, and small Mexican restaurants that only fit about 10 people at a time, and I order, yes, you guessed it, the tacos. De asada, adobada, and carnitas are my usual preference. Of course I prefer paying only a single dollar per taco. But other times I enjoy trying the tacos sold for $1.99. But there's only one place where they warrant that price because the tortilla isn't the midget tortilla, it's the large tortilla you'll find in most Mexican families' homes. And the seasoned protein is stacked on top with a good-sized serving of salsa, cebolla, and cilantro. Not surprisingly this small restaurant is named Aztlán.

There is something be said about a good breakfast burrito, though. If you can find a place that uses homemade flour tortillas, the eggs are seasoned with just the right amount of salt and where the chorizo is nice big chunks, not crumbled.

Other than it is nice to be back in California, the most multicultural state in U.S. Where the multiculturalism is noticed and understood, but never truly really accepted. It's a myth of California.

I'm reminded that I need to shave my facial hair, so that the lady behind the cash register doesn't feel intimidated when I walk in to buy heat lamp taquitos in the morning. She probably has one finger hovering over the red button that alerts the police to come and rescue her when the Chicano element is acting a little too excitable or when they are looking a little too bald or like they have little too much goatee. Walking through a Target in the local town was no different when a young man in his early 20's with down syndrome saw me. He stared at me for some time, grinned, then threw the finger-signed "W" (made famous by the rap group Westside Connection) at me. I smiled, nodded, and said "hi."

Or my personal favorite, is always getting maddogged by other Chicano youth with facial hair who want to stare me down, because of my facial which apparently makes me look like a thug also. Whether they are gang affiliated or not, I have no clue. Maddogging just seems to have become a part of the culture, along with Latinos calling each other the "nigga." It's overwhelming how many Latinos and Latinas I hear saying this to each other. It just seems normal to them. I doubt they would say it around African-American folks. But apparently I don't know anything about Chicano or Latino culture any longer.

Also, has anybody else noticed that rap music, no longer sounds like rap music? It's like this cross between hip-hop and r&b. Very poppish. It's a lot of singing rappers.

I can't believe I'm complaining about music and the vernacular of Chicanos and Latinos. Tonight during a full moon, I'll probably morph into Bill Cosby.

Nonetheless it's good to be back in California, with all the good tacos, maddogging, the cute white girls wearing wearing short-shorts or skirts willing to have a coffee with you, because not only are they not intimidated, but they want to try getting to know a variety of different people, imagine that, chales; and the attendants who give me sideways looks, because I have a goattee and look like I might steal something.

Moments like those, remind me, I am truly back in California.

Fucken California.



  1. The "nigga" thing drives me nuts. It's embarrassing. I do NOT miss the madogging either. Igrew up with it my whole life. That's one of the first things I noticed after leaving the no longer existed. Fuck that shit. What passes for Chicano culture these days (in some circles) is enough to make ya wanna holler...