‘The vato’s dead’
In 1983 or 1984, I was walking home from work down Haight Street in San Francisco one evening and stopped into Watusi Records to look through the dollar cutout bin. I flipped through it for a bit and then stopped dead when I saw the Jonny Chingas Pachuco LP. I looked closer, saw what was written in small print on the license plate of the car on the cover (“se me paro”), and went, “Holy shit! I’ve gotta have this!”
The record (especially the title cut and “Corrido del Bato Loco”) was funnier than shit (and musically not too bad). A dozen years later, just after the Internet came in, I ran a search on Alta Vista and got a single result, for a little indie record company in East Los Angeles. I wrote to ask them if they had any more Jonny Chingas recordings and received a single-sentence reply: “Hey man, I think the vato’s dead.” Running a Google search now, there seems to be no info whatsoever on who the dude was, other than his name, Raúl Garcia, which matches the credits on the original Billionaire LP: “R. Garcia.” In 200 words or less (to match your column length), who was this incredibly funny, talented guy, and what in hell happened to him?
—Ye Olde Gabacho
“Se Me Paro”! Literally translating as “It Stood Up,” but Mexican Spanish for “I Got Hard”—as in, “my chorizo is ready to get into your pink taco” hard! By the legendary Jonny Chingas, the blowfly of Chicano rap! Man, I hadn’t heard that song—a raunchy doo-wop Spanglish retelling of a homeboy getting it on with his heina, complete with moans and mecos—in years. And I urge everyone to give it a spin, as it was a rite of passage for all Mexican men who came of age during the 1990s to listen to this rola off their cholo cousin’s Lowrider Magazine Volume 1 CD. Chingas’ other songs are similarly hilarious—“Corrido del Bato Loco” (“ballad of a crazy vato”), “Yo Quiero Tirar Chingasos” (“I want to fuck someone up”) and “La Dolencia” (“the longing”), the most romantic song about blue balls ever. But who was he? Real name Raul Garza, recorded mainstream Chicano tracks with a bunch of East L.A. Chicano rock bands during the 1960s and 1970s under the names Raúl Garcia and Ruly Garcia, but achieving immortality with the Jonny Chingas persona. J-vibe of Dragon Mob Records produced some of Chingas’ last recordings—and, yep, Chingas is now cruising alongside Jesus in that dropped ’64 Chevy Impala in the sky. Finally, sorry for crossing your 200-word border, but you know how we Mexicans are with imaginary boundaries.
In what state and city are the cintos piteados made?
—Una Metiche que Quiere Saber si Sabes Tú Información del Piteado
Dear Nosy Wabette Who Wants to Know If I Know Information About the Piteado Technique:
You’re referring to, of course, the belts featuring arabesque designs that are a staple of hombres from central Mexico. The most famous city for production is Colotlán, Jalisco, but the best ones come from Jerez, Zacatecas—not that I’m biased or anything.