Writing from the Bueno Side of the Tracks
Dear Gabacho: Is that the best you can do? Fault Mexicans for crime-ridden neighborhoods, despite a recent study by Harvard sociologists that found lower rates of violence among Mexicans than gabachos or blacks? Claim no community solidarity exists among us even though Mexican immigrants maintain an extraordinary fraternal society network that sends back billions of dollars in remittances to Mexico? Then end with a lame tattoo joke? Where's the wab jab? Of course Mexican's aren't perfect, but the rough ethnic enclave is as American as Uncle Sam. The forlorn, decrepit immigrants squatting in tenement slums that Jacob Riis memorably captured in his 1890 photojournalism exposé How the Other Half Lives were the same Jews, Asians, Italians and Slavs you and so many others now celebrate as "good" immigrants different from the Mexicans of today. Give Mexicans time, let them move from barrio to suburb, and they'll join the descendants of previous waves of immigrants in forgetting history and bashing the new guys in the slums. Really, the only exception to this immigrant trajectory are wealthy refugee communities such as Persians and Cubans who arrived on our golden shores with money in their pockets and government hand-outs to help them adjust.
Dear Mexican: About a year ago, you said Mexicans favored Calvin-pissing-on-stuff car decals over Tweety Bird. The explanation for Pissing Calvin worship was much appreciated, and makes total sense, but Tweety Bird shows up on just as many cars, trucks and tattoos as Pissing Calvin. There is nothing macho at all I can see in Tweety Bird, or anything that a Hispanic youth would admire. So what's the deal?
Half Gabacho, Half Japones
Dear Mexican: What is it with Mexicans and Looney Toons stickers on their cars? Specifically, Tweety Bird. Mexicans act tough, but Tweety is a total pussy. What's the connection?
El Diablo Blanco
Dear Readers: The chino who asked the first question refers to a May 26, 2005, column where I claimed Mexicans preferred to decorate their cars with decals of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes pissing on various logos instead of Tweety Bird. Tweety, along with Bugs Bunny and Speedy Gonzalez, always maintained a large following among Mexicans because they personify the Trickster, the universal archetype who uses mayhem and wits to wile his way through tough situations. Nowadays, however, slapping a Tweety sticker on your truck or carro also signifies allegiance to El Piólin ("Tweety Bird" in Spanish). He's the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language DJ who used his nationally syndicated show to help organize the immigrant-rights marches that gripped the United States this spring. Born Eduardo Sotelo, El Piolín's nickname (which came from his Tweety-like frame and big lips) is appropriate. Contrary to what Diablo Blanco and the chino state, Tweety is muy macho and definitely not a pussy. Consider Tweety's constant escape from Sylvester the Cat's jaws a metaphor for the Mexican immigrant experience, with Mexicans assuming the trickster Tweety role and gabachos personifying the clueless, fat cat who fails to stop his short, colored antagonist again and again.
Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at [email protected]. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you!