Oye Como Va

(Dont know what that means, but I like it)


You've waited too long, you've got no bread, and you want gifts that tell people you're still thecoolest kid in the barrio. Normally, I'd just point at you and laugh, but this year, you've got a whole new ball game: the newest Chicano gallery on the block, Calacas. It's open till 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and while we're too poor for our favorite museum gift shops this Navidad (is everybody poor this year, or is it just us?), Calacas has nifty, artsy items with just about everything under $20. It's not as cheap as doing your shopping in TJ (which we did last year), but you also don't have to walk a mile back to the border lugging a 50-pound recycled-petroleum-product striped sack you just paid $12 for before you saw it somewhere else for $4.

There are great kitschy hipster items—"Jesus Hates It When You Smoke" ashtrays with crowns of thorns and crying eyes, your standard Dia de los Muertos mini-calaveras in evening gowns or Mohawks, Lucha Libre wrestling masks. Those are $18, which isn't too much more than you'd pay for them south of the border.

The shop isn't overly stuffed. There's a spare wall of T-shirts, like "Stay Brown Chicano" in the style of the Starbucks logo, but with a kid in a Subcomandante Marcos ski mask, and some little girls' pink tanks in the awful style of those "princess," "rock star" and "porn star" logos, but with "LOCO" emblazoned across them instead.

There's your typical folk art—the bottle-cap crosses, the butterfly skulls and bubbled glass saints. There are all your favorite Diego and Frida prints, plus some canvas copies. There was a poster of Emiliano Zapata, but I bought that for my mom for just $6.99, including the frame. Right on, hermana. Right on.

Calacas could include a bit more in the way of original fine art. A couple of pieces by Gabriel Cordova only whet the appetite. One is a large-scale canvas of migrant workers through the century, borrowing heavily from Les Glaneuses. The second, Debating at the DNC, shows a girl on her knees, her hands cuffed behind her, with jackboots—I mean motorcycle cop boots—surrounding her face. I was with the delegates at the Democratic National Convention in LA when the cops barricaded us inside Staples Center and then took to shooting all the kids who were there for the Rage concert. Good times. I got a little fuzzy feeling just looking at Debating. Cordova sells his work cheap, by the way. Feliz yourself on over there and get on it.

CALACAS, 3374 S. BRISTOL ST. (IN THE TARGET SHOPPING CENTER), SANTA ANA, (714) 662-2002. OPEN MON.-FRI., 10 A.M.-8:30 P.M.; SAT.-SUN., 8 A.M.-6 P.M. CLOSED HOLIDAYS.

 
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