For me, the highlight of the Democratic National Convention was the appearance by Lil' Rudy Gandara and his band, the Chizmosos.
How did these radical Chicanos wind up playing at the entrance to the Staples Center for the arriving delegates, I will never understand. But I am glad they did it, because they proved the point of what the Democrats have become.
The minute Rudy began to say anything about freedom, the Dems pulled the plug. It's a wonder they didn't hold him down and let Al and Joe and Tipper and Hadassah take turns swatting his behind.
Actually, I know damned well how Rudy and his boys got the gig: The Dems are desperate for the Latino vote. They let Los Lobos play a set. They almost let Rep. Sanchez speak, 'til she proposed a party at the Playboy Mansion. (It was OK for Tipper to play drums with a crew of dope fiends from the Grateful Dead, though. After all, she's a mental health expert.)
Someone connected to the Dems' convention must have heard that Rudy and Chizmosos are great. Their CD, No?, is among the great records of '99, an hilarious blend of Firesign Theatre style skits, Zappa-like satire and tributes to aspects of Chicano culture ranging from low-riding to Cannibal and the Headhunters.
I'm sure the somewhat nostalgic cast of that Chicano sensibility must have warmed the cockles of the yuppier Dems as they filed in to watch Big Woody, as I think of the mannequin at the top of the ticket, swear his oath of fidelity to fundamentalist values and eternal prosperity (for those who are prosperous; the rest have been tossed out on their ear except during years divisible by four).
Then Rudy went into Thank You based on the William Burroughs scabrous anti-homily of the same name, which he'd originally done on a CD benefiting the Zapatistas.
Thank you for Nations with notions
To conquer everything and everyone in sight
go on call it a holiday
"Soon, the promoter was waving her hands, screaming at me to cut it! So I just turned my back to her while wearing my Virgin de Guadalupe gold and green lam? banda dress shirt and UFW headband," Rudy told me. "The delegates stood there in wonder, watching these animated Chicano characters on stage...until she finally had the sound and my mike turned off......"
If they had let him go on, Li'l Rudy could have told the delegates a good bit of what was being buried by the orgy of self-satisfaction as Big Woody took the crown at the side of Smug Smilin' Joe Lieberman.
Thank you for the swell schools and grand opportunities
Like a job at some night club or fancy restaurant passing out mints and toilet paper for tips
No offense pops
Thank you for the grocery carts
The new Homeless Chariots of broken dreams
(To read the full text go to http://chizmosos.com)
Earlier in the week, Li'l Rudy G and his gang played right outside Staples Center, opening for Rage Against the Machine. They got all the way through their set that night. They didn't even get beat up for it. Amazing dreams are still realized in America.
We are all created equal, the politicians tell me, but they don't tell anybody how we get to live that way. That's 'cause they pull the plug on all evidence that we don't. But that still doesn't mean we do.
I thank Li'l Rudy G for making that a little clearer.