A chopper-riding Jessie James is a paradigm for post-modern American media
Al Carlos Hernandez
I have to admit that my sons and I are huge fans of the Discovery Channel TV series Motorcycle Mania and Monster Garage featuring motorcycle builder and primetime outlaw Jessie James representing the LBC. The show airs on cable. If you don?t have basic cable use your rotary phone and call somebody who does.
Published on LatinoLA: February 25, 2004
What is great about the show or Jessie in specific is that most blue collar, motor head homeboys can relate to the fact that Jessie keeps it real. His love of what is considered boulevard chic is authenticated by those who live and die by bikes, low riders, hot rods and hot cars that floss up and down the mean streets.
Whether folks know it, and acknowledge it or not, in my opinion, although genetically gringo -- his Grandfather being a cousin to the real Cowboy horse pilot outlaw Jessie James -- Monster Garage?s Jessie is culturally Chicano.
If you view him with a ?Barrio Eye for the Latino Guy,? there are several clues that give him away. He tends to wear flannel shirts always buttoned to the top. His pants include Dickie and Ben Davis. His hair is slicked back, and if you get a close up and read his sleeve tattoos, you will soon realize that this TV icon is anything but cute or domesticated.
James was a college football player and trained to be a professional security guard and even toured with such bands as Slayer, protecting rock stars from the metal heads. No doubt Jessie can throw down. He started his business broke and now has 50 employees, and sells bikes for $60,000 to $150,000. Because of smart merchandising, you see his West Coast Choppers logo on all sorts of things.
What give Jessie away more than anything are his speech patterns. If you listen to the way he forms his sentences, the way he turns a phrase, the pregnant pauses in-between paragraphs, he could easily be talking Cholo Spanish.
In uptown urban circles there is a new label for some men termed ?Metro sexual?. A metro sexual is a straight man that spends a significant time getting manicures, facials, highlights in their hair, pedicures, eyebrow waxing, teeth bleaching, and hundred dollar hair cuts.
If and since this is true, then accordingly a non-Latino who wears button up flannel shirts, baggy Ben Davis pants, various headwear pulled way down to the arch of the eyebrows, hair plastered straight back, full sleeve and full back tattoos can be referred to as a ?Mexi-Sexual?.
No disrespect to Jessie! Being a Mexi-sexual is a good thing and for many this persona can act as a major attraction device for those ladies who have a Latin lover, Casanova, Don Juan susceptibility. I am told by those who world travel that they have seen homeboys in Hiroshima, hairnets in Hamburg, and have heard ?orales? in Amsterdam.
What is encouraging about this whole Jessie James-chopped-bike-flip-car thing is that prime time media is realizing that we are living in a post-ethnic society. Real people can relate to people who are talented yet don?t fit into any preconceived mold.
Art is in the eye of the beholder. The goal of the artist is to provoke or inspire an emotional reaction in the viewer. Jessie and his motley crew, by blending form and function, are at the razor's edge of this motor republic.
Folks respect Jessie because his no-nonsense, non-dramatic approach to art without the bourgeois pretense of aesthetic symbolism. He lays his art and masterful technical ability down on the street and lights it up with an uproarious ?Y que?
?Sabes que? James is the new paradigm for post-modern American media, Homes.
What works as an underlying theme of each show is that master mechanics and fabricators from around the county have to audition. The stipulation being, Jessie is the undisputed boss. Often times. you can tell when a straight-laced-dork gear head is pained to have to acquiesce to Jessie?s vision.
Nobody wants to do tricks for an underclassman, so herein lies the beauty. They HAVE to down in order to be on TV and get their 15 minutes. And win their tools.
That is what affirmative action was supposed to do!
Watch Monster Garage, Monday evenings on the Discovery channel.
Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.