Their Charming Man

Dispatches from the Latino Morrissey love-in

Ben was of no help; all he did throughout the journey was sing every lyric, mimic Johnny Marr's chiming guitars, and blurt from track to track "This song, only real Morrissey fans understand" or "This song is for Morrissey poseurs."

It didn't matter. I'm immediately enthralled by everything that is Morrissey—the gentle yet intensely morose instrumentation; the velvety voice that spoke to me, only me and no one else; his (and my) sad tales of getting picked on in school, despising your environment; the nagging aspiration to be something much more—and in another place.

At the concert, it's more of the same; the man wins me over, his words come to life and his acknowledgement of my culture is so beautiful. How could I not love Morrissey?

Morrissey sings to the disaffected, and God knows alienation is part of the assimilation tradition—the equal and opposite reaction of the immigrants drive to blend in. We ache; Morrissey soothes.

 

MALDONADO

Morrissey fans pack LA's Knitting Factory and mouth every word that José Maldonado sings. He's the leader of the Sweet and Tender Hooligans, a Morrissey/Smiths cover band with its own cult following in Southern California. Perhaps it's because Maldonado sounds just like Moz, looks like him down to the pompadour and whipping of the mic wire. Or perhaps it's because Maldonado is Mexican.

There are non-Latinos in the audience. But the overwhelming majority cheers wildly when Maldonado introduces his new bass player by revealing, "Tonight, the band is 20 percent browner!"

I tell Ben this story, and he smiles. He can. I had returned his CDs, and now I was a believer, too. We stage an impromptu sing-along to "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side."

"I knew you were going to like Moz," he beams. "All Latinos end up liking him."

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23 comments
JV Joaquin Vazquez Jr.
JV Joaquin Vazquez Jr.

I've been a fan of the Smiths and Moz since the 80s. I also like Juan Gabriels music. Does that make me a 'Fruit Loop'? Absolutely not. I just recognize talent and give credit where it's due. I also dig the old rock and metal. Ever heard of that classic 'US Festival'? I was there for metal day in 83. A mind is like a parachute...you have to open it to be effective.

Tracy Gutierrez
Tracy Gutierrez

Hey hey hey there's nothing wrong with being a "Fruit Loop."

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

Ooops! My sincere apology. I thought you were a male... Yeah he sure can arouse the females I guess. Is that what his style of music is supposed to do?. That's what I thought back when I first heard of him... And, no. I am not naked in my pic. I just woke up. hahaha

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

BOTOM LINE: If you're a dude and like Morrisey, then You're a Fruit Loop... Its' bad enough that us Mexicans are struggling in society and being a Fruit Loop doesn't make it any easier for us.

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

BOTTOM LINE: If you're a dude and like Morrisey, then you're a Fruit Loop.... So many of us Mexicans are struggling in society and being a Fruit Loop doesn't make it any easier for us.

Coco Farias
Coco Farias

bone-o-phone? really? lol ok. and quotes around "arouse" ? really? sexual innuendos don't really scare me... o wait- are you naked in your picture?

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

Yeah I bet he does "Arouse" your passion all right. But not mine. He likes to sing into the Bone-o-Phone.

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

And if us Mexicans want acknowledgement, then maybe we should pick better role models to look up to other than Morrisey and get better taste in music.

Tracy Gutierrez
Tracy Gutierrez

I'm baffled by the same thing, I have a brother and sister that love Morrissey, seen him countless times, and love everything he's done and I just can't grasp the concept.

Jim Bodden
Jim Bodden

I read this article long ago, was not aware Gustavo wrote it. Interesting phenomenon.

Gil Martinez
Gil Martinez

Smiths / Morrissey cover band @ Santa Fe Swap meet on Fri night.

Gil Martinez
Gil Martinez

Smith's/Morrissey cover band @ Santa Fe Swap meet on Fri. Night

Steve Lukasiewicz
Steve Lukasiewicz

I rember seeing the Morrisey phenom with specifically SGV KROQ listening Mexicans before I saw it grow to other parts of LA and beyond.

Coco Farias
Coco Farias

Oldschool rocker is obviously to old to appreciate nuestro señor de los corridos británicos .. Morrisey arouses our passions.. That's what makes him delicious & that's what Spanish music does ... I don't get you! It's a win win.

Chris Carey
Chris Carey

" It's as if people must discover Morrissey on their own terms."

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

Why do so many Mexicans like him so much? I'm Mexican and I think he sucks! And anyone who thinks he's a saint among countless Latinos has got to be smokin' on something. The guy is a Fruit Loop. And Mexicans who thinks he's a saint is just making the rest of us look stupid. And why would the crowd chant, "Me-xi-co" just to get him to acknowledge where they're from? Yeah. So. And?... I don't get it.

Ruben Alvarez
Ruben Alvarez

I remember this article... good one for sure!!!

 
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