It's a Brown Thing, Baby!
Chicanos for Chicanos - including Thee Mr. Duran ? in deep rhythm
Aztlan...so many changes, so many places to go, such talent..the music...the dancing... and of course, beautiful BROWN people all making it happen. I feel truly blessed to live in the Land of 1,000 dances, Southern Califas.
Published on LatinoLA: October 6, 2004
For Chicanos, making it in the entertainment world has not always been an easy door to go through, let alone open. Years ago, there were the accusations and cries of "sellout", "coconut", "gabachero" , "mayatera" or "forgetting where you came from" whenever Chicano talent made it, and because of whatever excuse you suscribe to, they somehow became Latino, Mexican, Mexican-American, Latin, "south of the border" or worse, Hispanic (I'm sorry, but I hate that word!), much to the chagrin of the grass roots Chicano support that gave them their initial support & encouragement.
Not all cases apply here, so don't let your chonies chap you! I'm talking puro Chicano right here, right now. Kick back for a minute...maybe you'll get it. If you don't, 'spensa mensa!
I have met so many talented veterans that have bemoaned how hard things were in the "old days". Big bucks, corporate support & sponsorship, "giving up the muffin", serious ass kissing and back stabbing being the keys out of the 'hood and stereotyping, while on the road to stardom. The bitterness imbued upon them somehow "earned", I can't hang with the attitude that I must also suffer stupidly to be considered somebody of substance...Shit!...I got a job, bubba!!
Add to that our almost natural tribal mistrusts & envy, and our small minded brethren who have somehow conjured up the idea that "Chicano" is a dirty word not worthy of being claimed if we're to qualify to share a pillow with those of the naturally blonde persuasion, and you see why this is a road traveled by the rowdy & stout at heart. I'm not promoting racism here, dude! Is just that I used to think for years: "When do we become them. When is it OUR turn?".
Ahhh...but things have indeed taken a change for the better. Chicanos like myself have begun to take things into their own hands, and screw what the gabachos think! (No offense to all of you! I got some pretty cool gabacho friends, homie.) Through the magic of the internet, and with the support of Mi Gente, I have created a Chicano-flavored radio show in English that has garnered world wide attention. It ain't making me rich, but it makes me & a lot of Gente happy! I'm having a good time, too!
Through this website, Abelardo de la Pena Jr. has put Chicanos & Chicano issues on the forefront of the American media's playing ground, helping to keep it from getting into the control & influence of an elite few, who hitherto were almost dedicated to keeping issues that may threaten their perceived position of power by somebody of color muzzled and minimized. We've talked, and I know he has a job, so this ain't making him rich either. But homie has one of the most respected websites for Latino Arts, Culture & Entertainment in the Country, and soon....the World! Orale, Abelardo! You da man, ese!
Homeboy turned author, Mr. Ruben Molina, through his own efforts (and dollars) has single-handedly published a book that has brought English language Chicano flavored music, and a uniquely Chicano inspired lifestyle, Oldies but Goodies & Lowriding, to the world's attention. The book has swept the Country, and recently has been "discovered" by Europe. In his success, Ruben remains one of my best Chicano friends, and is having a good time not being under a corporate thumb. Homie has a job, too!
Not enough can be said about George Lopez and his struggle & success to make it on national, major channel TV. Go head on, George! I'm with you, ese! (Don't flake 'cause I called you ese, please!). Or what about Steven & Janie Chavez' endeavor to bring back Chicano Rock n Roll, when others simply thought Los Lobos, Rock n Espanol and Salsa were the only worthy Latino-American music markets north of the border. Now EVERYBODY wants to do Oldies, Reunion and All star concerts! Steven is also one of my better Chicano friends who has a substantial job outside of the music business, despite his success.
And now, another Chicano pioneer hits the next frontier, Internet TV. That's right, TV that can be seen all over the World outside of the sphere of influence of CBS (Caucasian Broadcasting Stations), NBC (Nothin' But Caucasians) or ABC (Anglo Broadcasting Corporation). With some exceptions, tu sabes, you know what I mean.
The Chicano in question, is of course, Richard Duran aka "THEE MR. DURAN" of the "THEE MR. DURAN SHOW". A full blooded, West Coast, straight-outta-East L.A. Chicano from the 'hood con ganas y corazon, Richard has been spotlighting Chicano talent on his show for almost 5 years, with no corporate support or major sponsorship. Like myself, one of his goals is to connect Chicano talent with the Chicano audience & community, while making our existence known outside of the Hispanic inspired stereotype, to the WORLD!.
Broadcast out of Los Angeles based Adelphia cable and on the World Wide Web, THEE MR. DURAN SHOW is making Chicano entertainment available to the World, while helping Chicano artists & talent gain the exposure they would otherwise have been denied through traditional entertainment channels. I was recently honored to have been a guest, and the response I received nationally made me want to celebrate. I'm sure other Chicanos have felt the same, because in support of THEE MR. DURAN SHOW, many of us gave back the love via our own capabilities at a recent fundraiser held at the Puente Hills Hop in the City of Industry, Califas, which was easily sold out & standing room only. (And on a week day, too! That's love, baby! It's a BROWN thing!)
The talent list read like a who's-who of West Coast Chicano music: Rudy Salas, Billy Mondragon and other members of TIERRA, Eric Mondragon of Down with 3, Rocky Padilla, Sal Rodriguez of WAR, Lil' Willie G of Midniters fame, Art Hernandez of the East L.A. Revue, the Jumpin' Jack Benny Blues Band, Mercy road, Milestone and members of Nation of Aztlan, Issac Avila of the Pirates, and many others I'm sorry I'm not mentioning. All of them volunteering their time in support of Mr. Duran and a grateful audience.
It was a straight out Rock n Roll, Blues, Oldies, Latin Jazz, Funk, Tejano-Norteno, Salsa jam session/party that I definitely am glad I went to. Mr. Duran & his staff appeared overwhelmed at the support and love that was being heaped upon them by the Gente, and I think Rey Garza summed it up for all of them when I ran into him a couple of times and asked him what he thought of the party: "....wow!...this is beautiful, man!...."
And so it was, that on a Thursday night, after my show, that I was privvy to dance my ass off, hang with my Gente, and party for a good cause...tuff job, but somebody's gotta do it!! Ha! Have Dick Clark top that!!
And so, my musical odyssey continues through the corridors of Aztlan, seeking out Mi Gente in musical action, especially the Chicano hot spots with the hot Chicanos y Chicanas that keep my Brown world turning, bringing you the full report, here, only on LatinoLA.com
...who knows where Frankie Firme will show up next?.....
Note: Info on the World Wide Broadcast of THEE MR. DURAN SHOW can be found at www.mrduran.com....and tell him you heard it from Frankie Firme!
Frankie Firme spins the finest Chicano style Oldies but Goodies on the World Wide Web every Thursday, West Coast time, only on www.KCLAFM.com