Why do Mexicans Love Oldies But Goodies?

What Part of “Illegal” Don't Mexicans Understand? from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

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?

Aspiring Puppeteer

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 music 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.

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,” Laboe told the Mexican, 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 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.

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DEAR MEXICAN: I was watching your video about why Mexicans hate yellow cheese, and it made me hungry. I found my way to the kitchen and made some burritos out of odds and ends—I wasn't going for anything fancy or authentic, just clearing out some soon-to-be questionable food. So, with beans, rice, jalapeños and (sorry, yellow) cheese as a base, I threw in some chicken and some mushrooms. The mushrooms were crazy-good, but it occurred to me that I never see them in Mexican recipes. Why is that? Are all the Mexican mushroom recipes for “magic” mushrooms?

Seta Medio Oeste

DEAR MIDWESTERN MUSHROOM: Great plug for my semiweekly ¡Ask a Mexican! video series, which I tweet out every Wednesday and put on my Facebook page! As to your pregunta, we do eat mushrooms—they're called hongos, and you can find them in everything from queso fundido to chilango-style quesadillas. But the fungus Mexis like the most is huitlacoche, which you Midwesterners call corn smut and have long thrown in the trash. With huitlacoche now commanding top dinero in higher-end kitchens, it looks as if we're going to save your corn-bred culos once more—if it weren't for Mexis moving to small-town America, Kansas would be emptier than the skull of Mexican president Enrique Pendejo Nieto. . . .

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