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Ask a Mexican: Why Do Mexican-Americans Like Oldies?

Dear Mexican: Why do cholos like the song “I’m Your Puppet,” by James & Bobby Purify? Is it this song, or is it all oldies they like?
Aspiring Puppeteer

Dear Gabacho: It ain’t just cholos who are down with oldies. Mexican-Americans of all social classes have kept that music genre alive in the brown-eyed soul of Thee Midniters and Sonny and the Sunliners, and in long-forgotten R&B artists like the Penguins and Billy Stewart — not acts crazy enough for hipsters to worship, like Esquerita and the Five Du-Tones, but still too threatening to fans whose idea of soul is the Crew Cuts doing “Sh-Boom.” Oldies also 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.

For further explanation, 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 says about “I’m Your Puppet.” “If you listen, it says, ‘I’ll do funny things if you want me to, I’m your puppet,’ so [that] means I’ll do whatever you want me to do; I love you so much I’ll do whatever you say…. I believe that’s why [guys] like that song.

“It’s actually in the lyrics of the song,” he continues. “‘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. ‘I’m Your Puppet’ has been one of our most-requested songs on The Art Laboe Connection.”

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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.

Dear Mexican: I was watching your video about why Mexicans hate yellow cheese, and it made me hungry. I made some burritos out of odds and ends, and 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?
Seta Medio Oeste

Dear Midwestern Mushroom: Great plug for my ¡Ask a Mexican! video series, which I tweet out every Wednesday and put on Facebook! As for your pregunta, we do eat mushrooms. They’re called hongos and are used in everything from queso fundido to chilango-style quesadillas. But the fungus we like most is huitlacoche, which gabachos call corn smut and have long thrown out. It’s now commanding top dinero in high-end kitchens, though, so it looks like we’re going to save your corn-bred culos once more. If it wasn’t for Mexis moving to small-town America, Kansas would be emptier than Mexican president Enrique Pendejo Nieto’s skull.

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