DEAR MEXICAN: Why do a lot of Mexicans let their toddlers stay on the baby bottle longer than most kiddos? I work at a surgery center that specializes in children's dental surgery, and most of the patients are Mexican kids getting their teeth fixed from just such scenarios. I've also personally known Mexican mothers whose children's mouths were completely blinged out with dental work. Any insight on why the Mexican bambinos stay on the bottle so long?
Wean 'Em Off
DEAR GABACHO: You're right about the problem—multiple studies have documented the Mexican propensity for their chicos to suffer from what's scientifically known as early childhood caries (ECC) and colloquially known as baby-bottle tooth decay. The disease rots baby teeth, leading to so many kids making rapper Riff Raff's dientes seem as pearly white as a Pepsodent model. UCLA student Sally Chu's 2006 paper "Early Childhood Caries: Risk and Prevention in Underserved Populations," published in the Journal of Young Investigators, found that "Hispanics have the highest rate of ECC in both developed and developing countries, with an average prevalence of 13 percent to 29 percent, second only to Native American," citing the seminal 2002 paper "Caries-Risk Factors for Hispanic Children Affected by Early Childhood Caries." All studies cite poverty and lack of education more than culture, so I guess you want me to make a psychosexual joke about how Mexicans overall are still attached to their mami's chichis, leaving us perpetual infants. Well, you ain't going to get it, so I'll make it up with an insight equally as lame: Why do Mexicans like to drive lowriders? So they can cruise and pick strawberries at the same time. . . . HA!
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DEAR MEXICAN: Why do so many cholos like the song "I'm Your Puppet" by James & Bobby Purify? Is there something about this song, or is it all oldies they like?
DEAR GABACHO: It ain't just cholos who are down with oldies but goodies. Mexican-Americans of all social classes have largely kept alive that particular genre—the brown-eyed soul of Thee Midniters and Sonny and the Sunliners, as well as long-forgotten R&B artists such as the Penguins and Billy Stewart, who aren't crazy enough for hipsters to worship à la Esquerita and the Five Du-Tones, but still too threatening to oldies fans whose idea of soul is the Crew Cuts doing "Sh-Boom." Oldies but goodies speak to the softer side of machismo—match up "The Town I Live In" with "Canción Mixteca," and you'll find they're one and the mismo.
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But rather than me trying to explain further to gabachos why Mexicans are so into oldies, let's turn to the man who devoted his life to keeping the genre alive: legendary DJ Art Laboe! "I think it has to do with the lyrics," he said, referring to "I'm Your Puppet." "If you listen to the song, it says, 'I'll do funny things if you want me to/I'm your puppet,' so [that] means . . . I love you so much I'll do whatever you say. . . . I believe that is why [guys] like that song.
"It's actually in the lyrics of the song," Laboe continued. "'I'll do anything/I'm just a puppet, and you hold my string/I'm your puppet.' Guys often have trouble revealing their feelings, and this song lets them do that. Through the years, 'I'm Your Puppet' has been one of our most requested songs on The Art Laboe Connection," which airs Monday through Friday, from 7 p.m. to midnight, as well as Sunday at 6 p.m. Pacific Time, on KOKO94.com and on the Tune In radio app via KDUC. Check ArtLaboe.com for the many radio stations he's on in the Southwest.
WOW . . . Art Laboe in ¡Ask a Mexican! This column has finally hit its zenith—and since it's all downhill from here, Art, I'd like to dedicate "The Agony and the Ecstasy" to my sad girl, journalism.