Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bits and Pieces

A Chicano Band That Wasn't Into Chicano

This appeared on Latino LA, a good source of news, opinions, and so forth. The article provides an interesting look at the Los Angeles Mexican-American music scene in the early to mid-1960s, which has become an era fondly remembered and idealized by Chicano music aficionados.

Here are the opening lines of the article.

In the Midnite Hour
Thee Midniters never cared for ethnicity——others did
By Gustavo Arellano
Believe it or not ... there was once a time when the children of Mexican immigrants actually wanted to lose their ethnicity and be plain ol' Americans, when Jorge and Consuelo called themselves George and Connie and weren't ashamed of it. This was the early to mid-1960s, wherever there were segregated brown kids itching to shimmy. And the music? Chicano-written tracks, long ago assimilated into the American rock & roll songbook: Cannibal & the Headhunters' "Land of 1,000 Dances"; Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs' pre-adulterated "Wooly Bully"; the organ tarantella (and greatest song ever) that is "96 Tears," written by a bunch of Mexican kids from Saginaw, Wisconsin, known as ? and the Mysterians.

But towering over all these Mexican-American rockers was the original band from East Los Angeles: Thee Midniters, an untouchable eight-man, suit-wearing, mop-topped powerhouse. Spearheaded by the soulful growl of Willie García, Thee Midniters was mid-1960s rock at its pinnacle - a touch of soul, a lightning bolt of guitars and drums that could pitch over a skyscraper.

Read the rest of the article here:
Also from Latino LA: Seventy-two percent of US Hispanic children, who are 3rd generation or later, speak English exclusively. Source: Study based on 2000 Census by the State University of New York at Albany
Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado has been selected for the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Awards Committee (Colorado). The award will be presented during a program scheduled for January 11, 2005, followed by a free concert performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in honor of Dr. King and the Award recipients. Lalo posthumously was designated as the Poet Laureate of Denver by Mayor John Hickenlooper.

That's all I need to say.
A couple of books to watch for in 2005

Jemez Spring, Rudolfo Anaya, University of New Mexico Press, March, 2005 – Anaya's spiritual private eye, Sonny Baca, returns in a case that starts with the murder of New Mexico's governor.

Music of the Mill, Luis Rodriguez, Rayo/Harper Collins, May 2005 - This book was originally scheduled for 2004 and I've seen it advertised for sale but have not seen the actual book. A publicity blurb says "From the author of Always Running: La Vida Loca comes an epic novel about three generations of an American family who have built their lives around the decaying steel industry of the late 20th Century."

Pluma Fronteriza is a gem of a newsletter put together by Raymundo Eli Rojas, a young cat I've heard described as a renaissance man. Pluma Fronteriza is published and distributed with the help of Chicano Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. The latest issue (Winter 2005 Special Extra) presents a comprehensive list of books about Chicanos and Latinos and Labor. It is an amazing 11 page list that pulls together all kinds of books that help tell the story of raza and work.

Among the more recent entries are:

The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (U of CA Press, 2004), David Bacon, . Bacon "offers a devastating critique of NAFTA in the most pointed and in-depth examination of border workers published to date."

Dreaming on Sunday on the Alameda and Other Plays (U of OK Press, 2004), Carlos Monton, This collection contains Esperanza, the libretto for an opera based on the main female character in the blacklisted 1953 movie Salt of the Earth. Striking miners in a New Mexican mining town need the help of their wives, who ask for something in return. The movie was based on the true story of the strike by Local 890 of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union against the New Jersey Zinc Company in Bayard, New Mexico.

Labor Rights Are Civil Rights: Mexican American Workers in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton U Press, 2004), Zaragosa Vargas. The springboard event is the infamous Republic Steel Mill Strike of 1937, when Mexican workers were among the strikers and supporters beaten, arrested and murdered by Chicago policemen. Vargas "embarks on the first full-scale history of the Chicano labor movement in 20th-century United States."

You can contact Raymundo and find out how to become a subscriber at

Manuel Ramos