The word Chicano is sometimes perceived as a controversial word. Some feel that it now has a bit of a derogatory meaning, but it was initially used as a non-confrontational way of referring to Mexican-Americans during the '40s, '50s, and '60s. One band actually embraced the word, and El Chicano was born. A band that originally took the stage name the "VIP's" in the late 1960's, El Chicano would eventually make a name for themselves with their own trademark "brown-eyed soul." They were a Latin R&B/Brown Soul Band from East Los Angeles, whose sound reflected the vibe of what it was like to live in East Los during the early 1970s. Like some sort of a time warp, their music was, and can still be heard from any family den, outdoor patio, or Mexican restaurant with a Juke box inside. Some of their most well known songs include "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Tell Her She's Lovely," and "Viva Tirado," a remake of a jazz song by Gerald Wilson in homage to a bullfighter in Mexico by the name of Jose Ramon Tirado. There is no other song that can better represent our cultural allegiance like "Sabor A Mi," with its aching, verse-by- verse, microphone-don't-lie-vocal stylings of Ersi Arvizu. The Brown Sounds of El Chicano echo culture and traditions of celebration, good times, and of course the laid back Lowrider revolución and experience.
In this issue, we finally get down to South Central L.A.'s notorious Crenshaw Boulevard. Once again, the policemen with the yellow comic books/tickets are out there enjoying themselves a whole lot more than the guys in their lowriders. Things have gotten to the point that I believe the famous cruising spots are for black and whites, and the impound tow trucks who follow them. I remember all too well the days I drove my lowrider right through Nazi Germany, I mean Alhambra, Monterey Park, or even Montebello! The Lowrider I drove had 6-way power seats, but best believe I drove through those parts standing straight up, feeling paranoid while looking in the rear-view mirror at every red light. If the second best time of your life is waxing your car while charging your batteries, then the first best time should be driving it. Nope, can't do that. Because when we drive, we're "moving violations." Apparently we also "destroy government property," as our rides scrape the asphalt ground of the city streets! It seems like we just can't drive in peace these days without John Q. Law writing us a ticky-tack ticket because of some minor technical violation, or otherwise insignificant transgression. "Show down at the 'Shaw" is a story very similar to the history of many other famed cruising spots, where everyone remembers those great times of just cruising and hanging out. Places like Whittier Blvd, Story and King, and Central Ave in Arizona are now ghost towns filled with memories of happier times, a lost era where we escaped the harassment, but were still always on edge, wary of the next black and white that would come rolling up and give us grief about our modified cars. Ask any Lowrider out there right now about the life they lead, and they will have a stack of memories about the good times. I guarantee you, however, that they have a stack just as big of the bad times. Times they missed out on a wonderful day because a few nothing-better-to-do cops ruined their day by asking them to "please step out of their vehicle" and open up their trunks in a vain search for nothing. Long Live Crenshaw! Hopefully not in memory, either.