A Night in the Twilight Zone of Aztlan
Stepping into foreign music territory on homeground
"...Ladies and Gentlemen...for your kind review...a short trip into today...and into the Twilight Zone... with Frankie Firme".
Published on LatinoLA: September 21, 2007
Can you just see Rod Serling, comfortably holding a lit cigarette, arms crossed, well groomed in his black suit & tie with combed hair, smiling respectfully at you while this story fades in? Watcha...
Orale, mi Gente! Somebody PLEASE e-mail me and tell me I'm wrong after reading this piece.
I feel like I'm losing my grip on the pulse of the Gente sometimes when it comes to music and rhythm of my people, especially at what I think a party is...omigod, I missed the exodus to the moon with my generation! Where did it all go?
End of Summer, 2007... I go to a family gig in the San Fernando Valley recently where a nephew wanted me to see "what a DJ party is" nowadays, so I went looking to possibly pick up some pointers, so as to keep abreast.
I was deeply disappointed, and see an end of my musical journey soon if this is where we're going. Check this out:
"Dressing up" means young guys wearing a dress shirt with a tie worn askew tied halfway, dirty jeans, and the inevitable tapado base ball cap worn sideways stupidly, like the wearer just got raped in jail, with tennis shoes. For the girls (I do not use the term "ladies" deliberately), it's their little sister's tank top, 3 sizes too small, with jeans that humorously need pulling up every 10 seconds, longas hanging out, giving new life to the term "plumber's smile", and a cheap pair of chanclas, or "flip flops". Am I the only one that thinks this so-called "style" looks stupid & laughable? Am I that far out of touch? I'm the only guy who combed his hair tonight?
The "music" was a much too loud, non-ending undulating blast of rap & hip-hop noise that I would be embarrassed to let my mother hear, in any language. A sea of baseball caps, sports jerseys, foot wide hoop earrings, too much eye make-up (a chola would look moderate here), all sticking their hands up flashing an upside down "2" (whatever that means) while holding a beer bottle, and nobody dancing with anybody. Everybody just standing around, dancing by themselves, or young girls sticking and rubbing their rumps in a young man's crotch while keeping her hands on her knees while their friends excitedly and annoyingly yell out "whoooooo!" as the impromptu public foreplay becomes infectious...where did this come from? Who made this "cool"? Why weren't the girl's reputations (and nalgas) being respected here?
The DJ starts yelling "'sup, peeps? wanna give a shout out to ma boy JT3 kickin' it with Mo~T and sista sideway and small, and all the 818 and 626 homies, yeah! Show sum love, y'all!"
...everybody screams at this except me, and I begin to feel I'm on another planet, 'cause I didn't understand a word he said.
A young man comes up to me with an intoxicated girl on each arm, hands me a beer while saying "Yo, pops! Suck this one down, dog! Got 5 mo fo ye, all on chill, bro. Bud's puffing up front too, dog! Party, man! It's all good in da 'hood, dog, no haters in da house, that's fo real, too, pops. Peace out" and walks away...
...what the hell did he just say, I think to myself?
As the majority of party goers become intoxicated, they all begin to dance...actually, they all begin to openly rub & hump each other. My Lady smiles that "Don't even think about it" smile at me, and winks.
My nephew, seeing mine and other older family member's discomfort, asks if we have any music requests...a mercy request, if you will...so I speak up, and he responds...
"Slow song? Why? Dance music? What do you think we're playing? This IS R & B, can't you tell? Rock & Roll? Dude! We don't do that here, Tio! Tex~Mex? Oldies? Disco? Damn, you old folks are party poopers! No wonder you do that club thing...there's not a lot of you left in the 'hood, huh?"
I know he's just speaking in the vernacular of his time, but I still can't help feeling disrespected in that tone.
At this point, I realize my double quarters (plus) age group is just getting in the way in the lines for food, drinks, and the restroom, so I collect my Lady, tell the host family members good bye, lie and say "had a good time, compadre", and start following other "elders" out the door.
Passing through the front room, where many young men have simply forgot all about the party, rudely turned on the host's TV, and now hover around watching the cable sports channel leaving beer cans & bottles on every surface, forgetting that such things as trash cans and respect for somebody's home exists, I feel a sense of disgust.
Not my place to say anything, I feel annoyed & disrespected for the host as I quietly leave the scene.
My Lady asks me "So...what did you think?" during the ride home.
After a pause, I look at her say "About what?"
She pauses, smiles, and after awhile says "You're right...put on some music, babe.".
We cruise in blissful silence amongst ourselves, while the mellow sounds of BARELA play softly on the car stereo. At least somebody still plays real music, I think to myself.
We get home, and I put on the TV. There, on a cable music show, is an over the hill British rock band, long hair, facial wrinkles & makeup, much too tight pants, much too loud metal rock, much too late in life...with an enthusiastic staged audience who look just as silly as them.
What am I missing, here?...where have all the Gente gone? Where's the "cool" sophistication I'm used to? Where's the music? Where am I ?
"Come to bed, babe...we'll laugh in the morning. I'm too tired to watch his crap anyway", My Lady says.
...My night in the "Twilight Zone" of Aztlan...
(Will somebody please pass this on to youngsters who just may comprehend the message?)
Somebody wake me up!
Frankie Firme invites you to hear his "Dinosaur rock" radio shows on www.eastLArevue.com and www.chicanoexpress.com