By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Dear Mexican: A group of very young soldiers in the Mexican Army were being chased through the castle by U.S. Marines. At the end of the chase, the Mexicans realized they were trapped on a balcony and, instead of dying on bayonets, they wrapped themselves in Mexican flags and leapt to their deaths off the balcony. Now these boys are revered as the Niños Héroes. What is it about running from a fight and committing suicide that implies bravery and heroism? I bet their commanding officer was calling them Niños Chingones.
—From the Halls of Montezuma
Dear Gabacho: If you're going to make a case for Mexican cowardice, at least get the facts right. Only one of the six Niños Héroes ("Heroic Boys") leaped off Chapultepec Castle in the climactic battle of the Mexican-American War wrapped in the tricolor; the other five (all between the ages of 15 and 19) fought to the death against the gabachos despite orders from their commanders to fall back. Sounds pretty valiant to me, but don't take my palabra for it: When American reporters asked President Harry Truman why he paid his respects to the chavos at their monument when he visited Mexico City in 1947, Give 'Em Hell simply replied, "Brave men don't belong to any one country. I respect bravery wherever I see it."
Why is it that Mexicans (not the pocho/Chicano Mexicans like me, but the border-brother ones) always have those stupid fucking stickers depicting the images of their huge families, with all their names, from big to small, on the back window of their Chevy Astro vans? It's always about seven to 14 images of their families and pets, starting with the big Papi Julio and ending with the little perro Chico. And they always have a kid named Angel or Jesus and a token kid with a gringo name like Matthew or Jeff. This shit has to stop. Between putting those big fucking stickers of cows on their doors, and the name of their state or village in big, humungous letters across their windshields or rear windows, it's getting pretty pathetic. I kind of have a feeling that it's the Big Papi that's behind these family stickers. He feels macho showing everybody how many kids he has; little does he know most of them will become gang bangers, get shot, put in prison or die from drug overdoses.
—Pocho Wanting Wabs to Stop Being So Stupid
Dear Wab: Mijo, were you around during the 1980s? Back then, gabachos used to hang mini-yield signs from their back-seat windows with stupid sayings like "Baby on Board" or "My Child Can Beat Up Your Honor Student." Maybe you saw the Simpsons episode in which Homer wrote a barbershop quartet song addressing the phenomenon, thereby catapulting him to international acclaim and an audience with George Harrison over a brownie? Point is, folks in America have been putting crap on their cars since Henry Ford included a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion with each Model T. Mexicans might seem to suffer more from this malady—you forgot to mention bumper stickers of Tweety Bird and Spanish-language DJ El Piolín, Mexican flag decals and those bizarre Chihuahuas that keep moving their heads—but if you think only wabs do this, then head to your nearest truck stop and see how many good ol' muchachos have mud flaps with Yosemite Sam on them.
¡ASK A MEXICAN CONTEST! Want a free copy of my latest book, Orange County: A Personal History, the finest book published in los Estados Unidos since last year's surprise smash, ¡Ask a Mexican!? First person from each paper I appear in (and the first five fregones from ignorant backwaters that don't carry the Mexican) to send me a picture of themselves standing next to a stop sign with a bag of oranges gets a copy. Make sure to sell those oranges while you're posing! E-mail pictures to the address below!