Believe

Louie Perez

So here's the question on my mind now, Los Lobos, Lysa Flores, and Alice Bag, great East L.A. Chicano rockers or great American rockers?

The question's mostly irrelevant if you've seen any of them live or rocked out to their music. But it's a question worth asking as Mexican Americans can't see the day, to paraphrase Shakespeare, when the clouds of anti-Mexican rhetoric that have lour'd upon this house will be buried deep in the bosom of the ocean. Will increased Mexican American assimilation bring an end to the discontent? It doesn't appear to be close to passing as it has for other ethnic groups. Irving Berlin, great American songwriter or great Jewish songwriter? Scorcese, great American director or great Italian American director?

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The process is happening in fits and starts mostly in the big cities where Mexicans have immigrated generations ago. Los Lobos is contributing to the process. I saw the band last year at UCLA's Royce Hall for a concert to support their album of Disney songs. The entire first set was devoted to songs from that album. The novelty of the pre-eminent Chicano band covering "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and "Heigh-Ho" wore off real fast. I didn't understand what I was watching. In an interview this week Los Lobos guitarist Louie Perez told me the album was an effort to give those iconic American songs a Chicano rock twist. It's interesting given that the band inserted the name and rhythm of a traditional Mexican song "La Bamba" into the American lexicon and songbook.

Now Louie Perez is working with L.A.'s About Productions on a play with music based on the Los Lobos song "Evangeline."

"'Evangeline' in three minutes tells the story of a girl coming of age, has dreams, aspirations, the proverbial young girl who comes out to Hollywood to become a movie star. So we took that loose narrative, that loose story, and created this story of a young girl, young Chicana, growing up in East Los Angeles in the 60s, which we all know is a very transformative decade," Perez told me in an interview this week.

The play is called "Evangeline, The Queen of Make-Believe" and is expected to open, Perez said, in 2013. It explores the tug of war between the teen's traditional culture at home and the mainstream pop scene she searches out by night, Perez said, much like the place his older sister found herself in growing up in East L.A.

"Chicanos, Mexicanos, Mexican Americans, whatever you want to call them this week, we didn't live in a vaccum. We grew up watching Carl Reiner sitcoms, Green Acres, Dick Van Dyke, we watched Dick Cavett, the Joey Bishop Show and all the cool music that was going on. My sister would take the bus all the way to Hollywood to pick up The Beatles monthly that used to be available as an import from the UK at a newsstand on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Quiensabe."

Partial postcard for KPCC's 'Civil Rights and Go Go Boots' Community ForumIt's a story about the push and pull between tradition [Fiddler on the Roof intonation here] and assimilation and the gradual blending and coexistence of the two, all with the backdrop of the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and the groovy music of the time. I'll be talking about the play's ideas with Perez, and academics Victor Viesca, Josh Kun, and Alma Martinez at a staged reading of the play tomorrow night at KPCC in Pasadena.

I asked Louie Perez during our chat what he thought about the current anti-Mexican rhetoric. He didn't lash out at the deadly violence against Mexican immigrants in various corners of the country. He didn't talk about the Dream Act or immigration reform or the substandard education most Mexican American youth are getting these days. He did say that after 9-11, when the terrorist acts prompted candle light vigils across the U.S., including ones where he lived in south Orange County, he saw a group of young guys in a pick up truck near his house waving the American flag. He had an uneasy feeling that the mood of the country could turn very quickly and that racism would walk in the front door with a patriotic mask. He also talked about his father, a car painter in East L.A. who was a decorated veteran of World War Two.

Louie Perez said that after the KPCC forum Los Lobos are packing their bags and heading to Australia and Denmark for a series of concerts. These are places where people probably don't know the first thing about Chicanos. I bet you that to people there Los Lobos are just another great rock and roll band from the United States.

About the Author

Adolfo’s been a reporter at NPR affiliate KPCC since 2000. He’s reported on three L.A. mayors, four L.A. Unified superintendents, and covered the LAPD batons and rubber bullets flying at the May, 2007 MacArthur Park immigrant marc...
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Louie and the crew you Vatos disappoint, after cancelling your 2 scheduled 2010 gigs in NAZIrona from pressure created and started by yours truly: todo y nada you go and schedule 2 gigs in AZ as LL in 2011 que onda homies? The boycott aint over. Then David n Cesar are part of the Hendrix tour are doing 2 gis in AZ tambien. Part of being MeXicano is having politics. I know that you do not represent the entire MeXicano/a community. But we need leadership and role models from anywhere and everywhere. I see that on May 2011 you guys will be in Norway with your lil tejano hermanos los lonely boys will both of you march in Norway and acknowledge El Dia de el Trabajo the official LABOR DAY of the world?
The List of ELA Bands and genres is endless
Be honest LL was that Disney record done to fullfill a contractual agreement? Now Papa's dream that was a MeXicana/o master piece
Va Sobrevivir el Lobo de el Este de Los Angeles?.. Will the Wolf from East LA survive?

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Adolfo,

Thank you for taking on this subject and thank you for mentioning me
in the same breath as the super talented Lysa Flores and the legendary Los Lobos. This is a loaded subject and one that I deal with at length in my upcoming book. Coincidentally, the book is entitled Violence Girl but the subtitle "A Chicana Punk Story" was subsequently added to make it clear to readers what they were getting. I find it somewhat ironic since I was never called a Chicana punk back in the 1970's when it all began, but there you have it.

Alice Bag

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I can't wait to read it!

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Nice pool Louie!
Everybody "was" from East l.a, but nobody wants to live there....
Im an original Xicano too ....yes...from East l.a.,the walk outs, veteran father, same back yard parties, before Chicanos were coined from Korean or El Salvador or Costa Rica....or where ever nowadays...
but here in Argentina or in Colombia or Brazil or where ever Im finding myself these days,to these people Im just what my passport says: made in the USA
and after they think I stole the passport, I have to explain what a chicano is or just roll with it....and thats me.
Hey Louie, thank Cesar for my deluxe vip trip to the Mandalay Bay grand opening back in the 90's, I still cant figure out why Dan Akroyd and Bob Dylan thought I was him.....but I kept them partying and entertained til 6am and they never knew the difference.!

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...All this brings back 1969 the dawn of PUNK
being a Chicano in NYC dancing in the mud in a LSD Purple haze of Santana, Hendrix, and the Who in Woodstock August 15-18 hitch hiking cross country to East l.a. in time to march in the Chicano Moratorium August 29 ,1969 and get my fair share of abuse
We fight, we burn , we steal...little David Rodriquez is shot, David Robles is beaten to a pulp covered in blood head to toe.....
Driving in back of a Pick Up truck with 6 loco Rolling Stone Fans from Roosevelt High School to Altamont to watch freak outs, that no vitimin C will heal, death and mayhem December 6th 1969 with flying burrito bros, and Mick and Keith.. you cant always get what you want !
all the ripe old age of 16, .....yes 1969
Two years later I would be on the run, from the FBI and with a National arrest warrant as a Vietnam Era draft dodger.
Welcome the 1970's running Canadas inter-continental hwy child hoping trains, running with the Indian nation the "niggers or the country as they called themselves,running from British Colombia to Montreal, running across the Atlantic to London bubblin with a new energy, a new punk scene, Its Only Rock n Roll but I like it...
Running to Spains Iron hand oppression and Francos broken down dreams the Cuba of the era, no lights, no economy but "los calles de Sevilla cantando" ,
Run to Holland's marijuana canals and sex clubs , Ann Franks Museum identifys Chicanos as an oppressed race, and I smile....Portugal strikes a new revolution that will go nowhere
...France , you arrogant bastards, thank you for your wines and the women...Paris
http://youtu.be/8YGXsw3XK9I
and
then here comes 70's PUNK and Im ready and back in the USA~!

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...All this brings back 1969 the dawn of PUNK
being a Chicano in NYC dancing in the mud in a LSD Purple haze of Santana, Hendrix, and the Who in Woodstock August 15-18 hitch hiking cross country to East l.a. in time to march in the Chicano Moratorium August 29 ,1969 and get my fair share of abuse
We fight, we burn , we steal...little David Rodriquez is shot, David Robles is beaten to a pulp covered in blood head to toe.....
Driving in back of a Pick Up truck with 6 loco Rolling Stone Fans from Roosevelt High School to Altamont to watch freak outs, that no vitimin C will heal, death and mayhem December 6th 1969 with flying burrito bros, and Mick and Keith.. you cant always get what you want !
all the ripe old age of 16, .....yes 1969
Two years later I would be on the run, from the FBI and with a National arrest warrant as a Vietnam Era draft dodger.
Welcome the 1970's running Canadas inter-continental hwy child hoping trains, running with the Indian nation the "niggers or the country as they called themselves,running from British Colombia to Montreal, running across the Atlantic to London bubblin with a new energy, a new punk scene, Its Only Rock n Roll but I like it...
Running to Spains Iron hand oppression and Francos broken down dreams the Cuba of the era, no lights, no economy but "los calles de Sevilla cantando" ,
Run to Holland's marijuana canals and sex clubs , Ann Franks Museum identifys Chicanos as an oppressed race, and I smile....Portugal strikes a new revolution that will go nowhere
...France , you arrogant bastards, thank you for your wines and the women...Paris
http://youtu.be/8YGXsw3XK9I
and
then here comes 70's PUNK and Im ready and back in the USA~!

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I would be remiss, if I failed to mention....most importantly, "The Chicano Children of the Revolution"
1969 was kicked off, by joining chicano tribes from across America at the National Chicano Youth conference March 1969. Where we got to meet face to face chicano youth leaders,organize, discuss and plan for a revolution that would put an end, and turn the page on generational discrimination against our communitys.
A dream....a vision was forged amongst men and teenage Chicanos alike.

*In an effort to provide direction to the efforts of Chicano youth, the Crusade for Justice hosted a National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in March, 1969. The Crusade for Justice was founded and headed by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales. Corky Gonzales wrote the epic poem I am Joaquin. It portrayed the quest for "identity and its critique of racism" (Munoz 61). It also provides a critical framework for the developing student movement. The conference, held in Denver, Colorado, brought together for the first time activists from all over the country who were involved in both campus and community politics. During the week-long conference, it was stressed the need for students and youth to play a revolutionary role in the movement.

Out of the conference, a doctrine, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, was written that would become the framework for the movement. El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan drew "its inspiration from Aztec myths and from the vivid expressions of Chicano cultural pride" (Gutierrez 185). Aztlan was the land to the north were the Aztecs originally came from. The word Aztec in Nahuatl means "people of Aztlan" (Anzaldua 4). The notion of Aztlan was to bring Chicanos together and to make a statement to the Anglo community. The message was that Chicanos were not foreigners and/or invaders of their (the Anglo) land but instead, it was the Anglos that were the foreigners. The Chicanos saw " the brutal gringo invasion of our territories" (El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan). There were seven organizational goals: unity, economy, education, institutions, self-defense, cultural, and political liberation.

This all laid the ground work for future protesting, strikes, and Boycotts, Yes even ..."Boycotting Arizona"


user-pic

I would be remiss, if I failed to mention....most importantly, "The Chicano Children of the Revolution"
1969 was kicked off, by joining chicano tribes from across America at the National Chicano Youth conference March 1969. Where we got to meet face to face chicano youth leaders,organize, discuss and plan for a revolution that would put an end, and turn the page on generational discrimination against our communitys.
A dream....a vision was forged amongst men and teenage Chicanos alike.

*In an effort to provide direction to the efforts of Chicano youth, the Crusade for Justice hosted a National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in March, 1969. The Crusade for Justice was founded and headed by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales. Corky Gonzales wrote the epic poem I am Joaquin. It portrayed the quest for "identity and its critique of racism" (Munoz 61). It also provides a critical framework for the developing student movement. The conference, held in Denver, Colorado, brought together for the first time activists from all over the country who were involved in both campus and community politics. During the week-long conference, it was stressed the need for students and youth to play a revolutionary role in the movement.

Out of the conference, a doctrine, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, was written that would become the framework for the movement. El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan drew "its inspiration from Aztec myths and from the vivid expressions of Chicano cultural pride" (Gutierrez 185). Aztlan was the land to the north were the Aztecs originally came from. The word Aztec in Nahuatl means "people of Aztlan" (Anzaldua 4). The notion of Aztlan was to bring Chicanos together and to make a statement to the Anglo community. The message was that Chicanos were not foreigners and/or invaders of their (the Anglo) land but instead, it was the Anglos that were the foreigners. The Chicanos saw " the brutal gringo invasion of our territories" (El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan). There were seven organizational goals: unity, economy, education, institutions, self-defense, cultural, and political liberation.

This all laid the ground work for future protesting, strikes, and Boycotts, Yes even ..."Boycotting Arizona"