Friday, September 19, 2008

The On Going Saga of Cho & Lo

George Lopez For President

Lo: Hey, Cho what do you think about Sara Palin?
Cho: Never heard of the Ruca, who is she?
Lo: Who is she!? She is running for Vice President with that vato McCain!
Cho: Running for what? Who the hell is McCain? She probably running alright,
running from the law! (cracks up)
Lo: Este vato (sarcastically). McCain is running for President!!
Cho: (annoyed) I dunno why they keep running these gente who are unknown.
They should go back to running famous Hollywood people, like movie stars.
Lo: Movie stars? Get serious, homes.
Cho: Simon, like those vatos Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Americans like famous people. Just look at Arnold's muscles, ese.
Lo: Yeah, but muscles don't make you a good Governor, vato. Who do you think
should run for President?
Cho: They oughta run the Lopez'. Now they would win for sure.
Lo: What Lopez'?
Cho Yeah dude, George and Jennifer Lopez.
Lo: Orale, Jennifer... now I'd vote for her! She has a nice set of...
Cho: Eyes. (Both laugh) Yeah, and George Lopez could make us all laugh!
Lo: Seriously, Vato who you gonna vote for? I bet you ain't even registered!
Cho: Registered? Simon loco, I ain't no illegal alien, if that's what you mean!
Lo: Este vato (distressed). Are you Democrat or Republican?
Cho: Chale homes, I'm a registered... Vato Loco, y que?
Lo: You'e a loco, alright. Mucho loco en la cabeza!! (cracks up)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cho & Lo: Two Vatos From The Barrio

Sometime in the mid-1980's one of my students
came to me with an idea for creating a couple
of barrio characters named "Cho and Lo" (Cholo),
for a Chicano radio program we were airing out of
The University of the Pacific, KUOP-FM. The
weekly program consisted of mostly music: Oldies,
Rancheras, Latin Jazz, and of course, dedications:
"for mi Ruca from tu Vato, Spider".

However, I began to include poetry, dramatic
readings and original skits, so the idea of a weekly
series of two locos from the barrio was perfect.
Little did we know that Cho & Lo would grow to
tremendous popularity in the community and that
what started out as 30 second skits, mostly locuras
and pendejadas, would become a sophisticated venue
with episodes "to be continued next week", for advocating
anti-gang, anti-drug messages and the importance of education.
We would in time add extras, music, and sound effects.

The next step was to produce episodes live for audiences,
so we would don some khakis, a pendelton, beanie or headband
and take it to the local jails, prisons and schools. People I meet
from this area still can recall our opening: "As the barrio turns
and the Menudo burns, we meet Cho & Lo", over the lyrics
of the song, "The Cisco Kid" by the group"WAR".

Some years later, a drunk driver would claim the life of
my partner "Cho" (Richard Zapata). Locals, and old-timers
often run into me and ask about Cho & Lo, whether I have any
recordings (I do), and stress how there is still a need for the messages
of the espisodes out in our community, for a new generation.

So I write this new episode kind of in Memoriam of my
pal, Richard and the good times we had writing and performing
the adventures of "Cho & Lo":

"Always Read The Label First"

Cho: Hey, Lo what do you call yourself anyway?
Lo: A vato, what else?
Cho: Na, I mean when people ask "what are you?"
Lo: Well, it depends.
Cho: Depends on what?
Lo: On what day it is, ese.
Cho: That don't make no sense, loco. Estas chiflas.
Lo: No, I have a different label, depending on what day it is. For example,
I call myself "Latino" on Mondays cuz' it's the first day of the week
and people have more respect for Hispanics.
Cho: Orale, so what do you call yourself on Tuesdays?
Lo: On Tuesdays I am a "Hispanic", still getting some respect from people
but not as much.
Cho: Ok, on Wednesdays what?
Lo: On Wednesday I call myself "Mexican-American", and that one is pretty
clean sounding too, and it sounds a little more "Mexican", you know? After
all my Jefitos came from Chihuahua.
Cho: Can't wait to hear what you call yourself on Thursdays.
Lo: Thursdays is my "American" day, but all my Anglo buddies call me a Mexican.
Fridays I call myself "Mexican", but my Mexican buddies say I am "American."
Cho: You can't win, ese. What do you do on Saturdays?
Lo: On Saturdays I let it all hang out and call myself a Chicano! Orale, I can do my
"radical" thing then and wear my khakis, my pendelton, and my headband.
Cho: Orale, but there's only one day left, what do you do on Sunday?
Lo: On Sundays I take a day of rest.
Cho: You ain't telling me you go to Mass?
Lo: Na. I'm just "human" on Sundays. But you know what day is the hardest for
me? Fridays, when I call myself "Mexican."
Cho: Why's that, homes?
Lo: Cuz' I can't speak no spanish vato, tu sabes?
Cho: Orale, but you can't speak "no English" either!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Soy Artista/I Am Artist

Soy un Senior Citizen, retired after 33
years of teaching, viejito, picante pero sabroso. Hold 2 Master's Degrees, one from California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in Fine Art, and a 2nd in English from Stanislaus State University . Taught the gamut of Chicano courses for some 15 years : Chicano Literature, Chicano History, Mexican History and Art, and Chicano Teatro. Taught the gamut of English courses the last 15 years: English, literature and Critical Thinking. Was co-cordinator of the Puente Program at Delta College for the last 4 years.
I was inducted into Stockton's Mexican American Hall of Fame in 1993, was one of 5 honorees at KVIE's Channel 6,
Hispanic Cultural Celebration in September 2008, and will receive Stockton Arts Commision S.T.A.R. Award (Stockton'sTop Artist Recognition) on Octber 17, 2008. New to Blogging, sounds like a dirty word. I do a littlle of many things: paint, draw, play guitar & sing bi-lingual of course, and write poetry. I epecially love to sing corridos and rancheras but I do American folk and folk-rock stuff too. I paint and draw, but have found a special place in my corazon for clay and many of my latest works are ceramic masks and figurines. I am often invited to perform, to sing and read my poetry and I love it. Nothing like an audience that reacts to poetry and music with joy. Orale. Soon as I learn more, hope to post poems, videos y photos etc. For now it is baby steps, poquito a poquito, like a child learning to walk, to talk. Chicanismo is a way of seeing the world, of living in the middle of things taking the best from two sides, frijoles con steak, tu sabes, hamburger con salsa, jalapenos con pickles.