Ask a Mexican

How Can You Learn More about Ranchera?

Dear Mexican: I have always liked ranchera music. As of late, I have wanted to get deeper into it as far as the history, the culture and especially the songs and lyrics. I was wondering if you know a good book or two or website that I can check out. Houston Honey

Dear Wabette: Most research on Mexican music concentrates on corridos, our ballad form that celebrates bad men, events and horses, but actual scholarly treatises on ranchera? Few and far between, alas — and nonexistent in English. Your best bet is José Alfredo Jiménez: Cancionero Completo, a songbook that contains all the compositions of the ranchera titan. The libro also contains a great introductory essay by Mexican intellectual Carlos Monsivais that puts Jiménez in his proper context. As great as Cancionero Completo is, however, don't bother buying it: A used copy is currently priced at $54 on, and you can just gather all the lyrics online.

Upon first seeing me, as a 2-week-old baby, my aunt Estrella screamed "¡Ay, que gringo!" But, if you gotta call me a gabacho, so be it. I do have Mexican family (through marriage). I get along well with many Mexicans, legal and illegal, but I hate that they aren't paying "the man" like I have to. I'd be all for Mexicans being awarded citizenship simply for walking over the border ... as long as they paid their dues. I pay taxes that fund shit like keeping white trash from getting jobs, jobs they could get if I wasn't already paying for them to survive on junk food, and some undocumented border-jumping beaner wasn't there working for cheaper. I say assimilate, document, pay taxes and welcome. I'm writing an essay on wetbacks (fuck P.C. terms) and their effect on our country. I'd like to know, what's your opinion on the crossing over and its effect economically? White Sox Winner!

Dear Gabacho: The only opinion I have is on your language. "Beaner"? "Border-jumping"? "Wetback?" All these insults are SO 1950s. Don't you know the current verboten insult toward Mexicans is "illegal" or "illegal immigrant"? As for your concern about the undocumented paying their way, dontcha worry: The recent proposed amnesty bill crafted by a bunch of political pendejos is more punitive than habanero salsa marching through your alimentary canal toward your culo.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano