Thursday, July 14, 2005

What are all these Mexicans doing here?

Watching a DVD of the new flick A Day Without a Mexican reminded me of a great line from the 3rd Firesign album, Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers. In the album, it's graduation day at Peorgie Tirebiter's Morse Science High. Upon arriving at school with his friend Mudhead, the boys discover their high school has dissappeared, and they are surrounded by people with Spanish accents, telling Peorgie, "You're a white man, you have to help us," as Mudhead says, "What are all these Mexicans doing here?"
The LA I grew up in, in the 50s and 60s had a few Mexican elements (Tacos were a favourite meal when I was in high school) but actual Mexicans were rare in my San Fernando Valley neighbourhood. Going back there recently, the schools I attended now seem to have all their signage in Spanish and the main language I hear in stores, hospitals and restaurants is Spanish. It's as if California has gone back to its former identity as part of Mexico. This is delightful. The Mexican food is MUCH better than it was 40 years ago, and I'd much rather look at Chicana women with their natural skin colour than Caucasian women with temporary tans. Maybe that's just me.
The reason I love Mudhead's line so much is that it duplicates my experience, moving to Japan in the summer of 1971. Suddenly surrounded by an alien culture and a variety of English that was utterly mysterious to me, I felt just like Mudhead surrounded by people who were alien and unexpected for his situation. This is not a cry of dismay. I'm sure Mudhead and Peorgie enjoyed the sudden company of Chicana beauties as much as I would have had they suddenly taken over my high school. There are multitudes of Firesign lines, not to mention lines from songs, flicks and popular culture in general that suddenly capsulize and anthemize a situation you find yourself in.
A Day Without A Mexican takes an ugly city (LA) and makes it visually interesting. The story is political science fiction very reminiscent of Firesign, although the writers probably had a list of all the things they wanted to cover in it and stuck to covering their list more than the story could comfortably sustain. It reminded me of the list Coppola made of all the facets of the Vietnam war he wanted to cover in Appocalypse Now. Occasionally the acting was painful to watch (the TV director) or just tedious (the border guards). Nonetheless, I enjoyed this flick as much as any I've seen for a couple of monthes (maybe a dozen). Unlike most flicks, it is about something Different (ala Being John Malcovitch) and Important (Michal Moore's docs). The glass slowly filling with water was a delight for this apprentice cinematographer. Maybe people who see it will vote differently, surely the intent of its creators. Sure beats the usual Hollywood agitprop glorifying the American military.


At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I am interested in hearing from others


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