food

The Cerveza Chronicle – How America Found Its Beach

The sensual allure of alcohol is tangled deep within us. For many Chicano and South and Central Americans, the first tastes of these forbidden beverages were taken from the likes of Corona, Modelo, and Tecate bottles. These brands not only represent a staple of the Mexican experience, but also a step in acceptance and integration by the American population of their southern neighbors.

Expert marketing, Mexico’s proximity and America’s prolific cultural appropriation have made Corona the number one imported beer in the US. In fact, 6 of the top 10 imported beers are of Mexican origin – including Modelo Especial, Tecate, Dos Equis, and Pacifico. The United States imports roughly 2.9 billion dollars’ worth of these beers a year, but it was not always this way. In fact, Mexico’s adoption of beer was a slow and stalled process.

Before the introduction of barley-based beer by the Spanish in the 1500s, Mexico’s primary alcoholic beverage was a form of fermented sap derived from the same plants used to make Mescal or Tequila – maguey and agave. The fermented sap, called pulque, is a raw, undistilled, thick and viscous drink with a pungent smell. Described by Anthony Bourdain as “Mexican Viagra”, pulque is still available, albeit rarely, throughout Mexico, and has even gathered a small following throughout the US.

Ancient Aztec goddess of the maguey plant and fertility.

As with other forces of nature that ancient pre-Columbian Mexicans feared and revered, the Aztec personified the agave plant: Mayahuel, the agave goddess, is frequently portrayed with 400 breasts, from which pour aguamiel. Drinking at her breasts are 400 tipsy rabbits, the gods of drunkenness.

After Spanish settlement and the introduction of their beer brewing techniques, Mexican adoption of the drink was slow. Heavy regulation, taxation, and lack of ingredients would ultimately stall the popularity of beer in Mexico until it gained its independence in the 1820s.

Alfonso De Herrero owned and operated the first brewery in Mexico sometime between 1543 and 1544. Due to heavy regulation and taxation by the Spanish (who were trying to protect the viability of their own imported beer), the brewery closed down shortly after it began. (Note that the image is just a representation of what this could have looked like and not the actual brewery whose exact whereabouts are unknown.)

The industry did not truly begin to flourish until German immigrants began to pour into Mexico during the 19th century’s Second Mexican Empire. Headed by Austro-Germanic emperor, Maximilian I, and his brewers, beer’s popularity began to grow. The influence of Maximilian’s brewer and his Vienna-style dark beers can still be seen in the popular brands, Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Ambar.

Maximilian I executed

Though Maximilian’s rule contributed heavily to the influx of Germans and German Culture – Mexican culture is still rife with Germanic musical and beer-related influences – his empire was dissolved and he was executed by a firing squad.

With the rise of prohibition in the United States and the influx of European immigrants, the beer industry saw a boom in 1920s Mexico, though most of the native population still held a strong preference for pulque. Around this time, European immigrant beer brewers began to campaign against native drinks such as pulque. These campaigns made claims of unsanitary production methods such as the use of feces as a fermenting agent in pulque and promoted beer as a “hygienic and modern” alternative. By the end of the 1920s, pulque was generally looked-down-upon and imbibed by relatively few people, with Mexican-brewed beer ubiquitous and extremely popular.

cerbeza

By the end of the denigrative campaign against native Mexican alcoholic beverages, drinking beer was seen as aristocratic, a sign of higher class.

Throughout the rest of the 20th century, larger brewing companies began buying out smaller ones, assuming their brands, until only two major producers were left, Grupo Modelo (owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev as of 2012) and Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma (now a subsidiary of Heineken International). Grupo Modelo’s brands include Corona, Modelo Especial, Victoria, Estrella, Léon, Montejo, and Pacifico. Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma’s brands include Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Superior, Indio, Bohemia, and Noche Buena. Together these brands make up the flagship beers of Mexico and are a subtle nod by American culture to its strong ties with its southern neighbor.

Mexican Beer Brands

The brands pictured represent the flagship beers of Mexico.

The popularity in Mexican beers is evident in the rise of consumption of imported beers from Mexico to the US.  From 2009 to 2016, there was an average 8 percent growth in Mexican beer imports every year. Some observers point to a growing Mexican population in the US, but this can’t be the only thing in play.

“Growth in the Hispanic population can’t be the only driver,” says the Beer Institute chief economist Michael Uhrich. “Imports very clearly skew toward Millennials and Gen X, and obviously those generations’ share of the drinking-age population has been growing … so those two generations are more than half of all drinking-age Americans. As that continues, more and more people who drink beer are more and more likely to be people who drink Mexican imports.”

Gen X-ers and Millenials are adopting Mexican beer

GenXers and Millenials are quickly adopting Mexican imports as their drinks of choice.

According to the results of a fall 2016 study conducted by Simmons Research 34 percent of non-Hispanic beer drinkers say they drink Mexican beer regularly. Compared to those in the study that say they drink craft or micro-brewed beer (43.4 percent) regularly, it’s clear that the US has an affinity for this piece of the Mexican experience.

So, while tensions rise between US conservatives and Mexican immigrants, some Americans are beginning to embrace this small facet of Mexican culture. As small adoptions such as this one grow larger, perhaps we can find hope in one day amicably quelling our hostilities over a Corona con limon.

 

SOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_in_Mexico#cite_note-artesh-1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-369260C_Kc
https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/02/mexican-beer-history-victoria-bohemia-modelo-corona-brands.html
https://www.mexperience.com/mexican-beers/
https://acapulcos.net/the-history-of-mexican-beer/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayahuel
https://draftmag.com/mexican-beer-import-growth/
http://www.austrianinformation.org/march-april-2007/2007/4/23/maximilian-i-of-mexico.html
http://mundoejecutivo.com.mx/management/2014/08/28/pulque-cerveza-guerra-campanas-publicitarias
https://mxcity.mx/2015/12/historia-de-la-cerveza-el-dia-que-reemplazo-al-pulque/
https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/modelo-beer-hipsters-explained#

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Fashion

Chicano Chic

A person’s fashion sense is often rooted in the desire to be part of a certain culture. Generally, we boil these cultures down into select pieces that become iconic to that class of people – black leather jackets are associated with punks, riding boots are emblematic of cowboy culture, polo shirts under wool-knit sweaters are symbols of preppiness, and so on. But what happens when we identify with multiple cultures – with clashing groups? This is an eternal struggle for Chicanos. We’re constantly in the process of hybridizing Latin ideas to fit an American context. Fashion is no different.

Latino Americans have a history of using fashion as a way of identifying with their subculture. From the militaristic wardrobes of the 60’s to the cholo style of the 80s and 90s, Chicanos have had distinct landmarks in their fashion sensibilities within each decade.
When these styles first emerged, they clashed with the cultures around them and announced the wearers heritage to those who paid witness. Now it would seem that Latin Americans are trying a lighter approach. The modern Chicano look takes American style and quietly embeds pieces rooted in Latin culture within it.

Serape was first produced by the Chichimec people in the North-Eastern region of Mexico and has evolved to become a staple of Mexican iconography. Today, modern serape fabrics feature rich colors woven into a darker base.

Casually adding a splash of serape fabric to various pieces of clothing or even using serape fabric as a shawl is a popular theme in summer fashion.

In native Mexican culture, weaving was considered a sacred gift from the gods to women. Baby girls were given weaving tools at birth and when a woman passed, they would bury her with fabrics she’d made as well as the tools she’d been given at birth.

Quechquemitl, seen above, were an indigenous garment popularized by women of high-social ranking in Mexico’s precolonial period.

Charro culture is a fascinating subset of the Mexican cowboy. After the Spanish colonization, native Mexicans were not allowed to ride horseback save for a few members of nobility. After the Mexican War of Independence, horse riding was decriminalized and began to grow in popularity. Many indigenous Mexicans became mounted mercenaries, messengers and plantation workers. These horse riders came to be known as Chinacos and later Charros and often dawned distinctive clothing and horse harnesses to display their status in the community.

Taking hints of style from Charro style and embedding them into modern suits.

Chicanos have a rich history of fashion to rely on should they want to embed pieces of their heritage into their wardrobe. For those struggling to incorporate their Mexican heritage into the way they dress, I’ve added some Latin motifs to popular trends below. Please feel free to steal these ideas or even generate your own.

La Virgin De Guadalupe is a symbol of hope and prosperity for many Hispanic Catholics

Patches on a bomber jacket which include El As De Oros from the classic Spanish version of a deck of cards, a Dia De Los Muertos style skull, Mexican rock band El Tri, a Chicano Movement flag, and an Aztec stone sculpture.

Back patches on denim jackets made up of popular icons from the Mexican version of bingo – La Loteria

These are just a few of the symbols I remember from my childhood. Playing varaja with my tios and loteria with my tias. Serape banners and Aztec portraits that clung to the walls of local taquerias. My abuela lighting candles de la Virgin Maria while we’d quietly watch novelas on Univision. These things remind me and take me back to those moments before I realized how rich a culture I was a part of. Now that I’ve grown and can appreciate it, I’m choosing to embrace these things as a part of my identity and hope that other Chicanos follow suit.

 

Special thanks to instagram user @Jeriardo for contributing the first and last images!

If you’d like to buy some of the fabrics or materials listed above, follow these links:
Serape – https://amzn.to/2LSCyVA
Patches – https://amzn.to/2MbHbqE  | https://amzn.to/2MfpZAuhttps://amzn.to/2O4ybnC
Fabric Paint and Markers –  https://amzn.to/2vaRLr8https://amzn.to/2OGAyht

Resources that were used in the making of this article:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/6-decades-of-mexican-and-mexican-american-style-evolution_us_56211041e4b069b4e1fbc1e6
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quechquemitl
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textiles_of_Mexico
http://www.stylemexican.com/mexican-serapes-blankets.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charro
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arts and entertainment, politics

A Brief History of Mexican Rock

Avandaro Onderos

A group of Onderos relaxing at the Avandaro Music Festival, 1971

In September of 1971 300,000 people culminated in a small town in southern Mexico in anticipation of what would come to be known as Mexican Woodstock or Festival de Rock y Ruedas Avandaro. What had started off as a one-day motorcycle show with a 2 band set list, eventually spiraled into a 2 day, 18 act concert with motorcycles left by the wayside. This festival was unlike anything the citizens of Mexico had seen before and ultimately changed the musical landscape across the country.

Towards the end of the 60s, Mexico faced political and civil unrest. The turbulence culminated in the Massacre of Tlaltelolco in 1968 and the Corpus Christi Massacre in 1971, where the government brutally killed over 400 civilian protesters and wounded over 1,300 others. In the wake of these events, a new movement was created called La Onda Chicano.

Massacre of Tlatelolco

Police brutality as witnessed at the height of the Massacre of Tlatelolco, 1968

corpus christi massacre

Protesters at the rally in Corpus Christi moments before government-sponsored “halcones” made the scene erupt into chaos, 1971

La Onda was a “multidisciplinary artistic movement created in Mexico by artists and intellectuals as part of the worldwide waves of the counterculture of the 1960s and the avant-garde.” The goal of this movement was to address social issues at the time, given the tight ruling and oppression from the current administration – the PRI party.

La Onda Student Rally

A rally of student protesters leading a campaign against the government during La Onda, 1968

One of the strong oppositional tools La Onda used was music. With the insurgence of British and American influences, the rock scene slowly began to emerge in pockets throughout Mexico. Bands such as El Ritual, Los Dug Dugs, and El Tri helped spread the messages of La Onda into the minds of the dissatisfied youth, thereby spreading the countercultural movement.

El Ritual

The band El Ritual was one of the prominent voices of La Onda movement

This social revolt reached a crescendo at the event which formally came to be known as Avandaro – a two day long rock festival held in southern Mexico. While many dispute the actual number, organizers and social investigators alike claim that over 300,000 people were in attendance. In this way, the festival escaped its original purpose as a way for local motorcyclists to show off their bikes, and became a full-fledged Mexican Woodstock.

Filled with open drug use, nudity, arts, and the distribution of radical new social ideology, the oppressive government feared for their control over Mexican society and after the first few hours of the festival, ordered for the termination of any live feeds of the concert. Moreover, the government banned concerts, radio broadcasts and recording of rock music, and went so far as to order the media to disparage the culture surrounding rock and roll as “incorrect, grotesque, and immoral”.

Avandaro Music Festival

Two youths joyfully share a smoke at the Avandaro Festival, 1971

This tactic of suppression was met with much success, as the sounds of rock music quickly faded under the much less inflammatory tones of rancheras, polka, and other traditional Mexican music. Nonetheless, rock continued on, albeit underground in locations dubbed “hoyos funky” or Funky Holes.

Abandoned factories, farmlands, and even some homes were used to subvert the governments censorship and host rock concerts. These shows featured prominent acts from the time including Toncho Pilatos, La Revolución de Emiliano Zapata, and Javier Batiz and could host up to 20,000 people. Like Avandaro, these venues typically served alcoholic beverages, were open to drug use and informally charged entry.

Hoyo Funky Performer

A performer engages the crowd during a show at an Hoyo Funky, c. 1971-72

Hoyo Funky

Gathering of Onderos at an Hoyo Funky show, c. 1971-72

While some bands continued to play their sound in these Hoyos Funky, the damage had been dealt and many acts at the time moved on to play more commercial and less repressed music or quit outright. The few surviving rock recordings of the counterculture movement in Mexico have gone on to critical acclaim, with many of these records being sought after by collectors.

It is certain that the governments oppression at this pivotal time in Mexican history lead to many other social injustices down the road, but thankfully, variation in Mexican music has been making a recovery and is in full bloom today.

Thank you for reading.

A compilation of some of the artists mentioned in this article can be found here:
https://open.spotify.com/user/silvaros29/playlist/2cE2aZEBMF0PMouxy3LXks?si=ZvTOxj33T6qB7D6rs9yzOw

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/silvaros29/playlist/2cE2aZEBMF0PMouxy3LXks

For more information about Avandaro, La Onda Chicano, and other historical Mexican events, visit these resources:
https://issuu.com/odeenrocha/docs/la-contracultura-en-mexico
http://www.maph49.galeon.com/avandaro/ritual.html
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyo_fonky
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival_Rock_y_Ruedas_de_Avándaro
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Christi_massacre
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tlatelolco_massacre
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Onda
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DVR66NZBHk

Credit for the photos used here-in:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CHJIZqoUkAAZ4Mv.jpg
https://distintaslatitudes.net/los-hoyos-funkies-en-la-ciudad-de-mexico
https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/tlatelolco-massacre-remembered-today/
https://notevenpast.org/plaza-sacrifices-gender-power-and-terror-1968-mexico-2005/

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politics

Trump’s Executive Order to End Family Separation May Be A Guise To Avoid Responsibility

Amid aggressive uproar from Democrats and Republicans alike, President Trump has signed an executive order to end the controversial practice of separating families who enter the US illegally. The “zero-tolerance” policy issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is still in place, though this provision aims to “maintain family unity by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

While the order may temporarily calm the objections of the new policy’s opponents, the US is still begging for a larger resolve, with calls from both parties to the Administration to end the zero-tolerance policy all-together.

The Administration, though, used the executive order to shift responsibility for the current immigration dilemma into the hands of Congress:

“It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

In response, aides in both the House and the Senate have confirmed that they had not reached a suitable judicial compromise. With the House vote on two immigration bills – which was scheduled for yesterday – pushed back to next week, the issue will quite possibly remain in legislative limbo.

As the issue and search for a solution continue, the new executive order could encounter legal challenges. Although the order states that Sessions request a US district court to amend the agreement, advocates could still argue that keeping children in detention centers is in direct violation of the 1997 decision known as the Flores Settlement.

As Flores v Sessions takes place, the 9th Circuit will most likely find a case to side against Trump in favor of a catch and release policy, similar to the one under the Obama Administration. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, Trump may have a battle ahead of him, with Minority Leader Charles Schumer leading the charge.

Though the outcome of the Administrations executive order is yet to be seen, one thing remains certain, asylum seekers have one less thing to worry about as they sleep tonight.

 

Sources:
http://time.com/5317367/trump-executive-order-immigration/
https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/affording-congress-opportunity-address-family-separation/
http://time.com/5317269/family-separation-policy-donald-trump-pause/
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-executive-order-only-protects-against-family-separation-for-20-days/
https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/schumer-theres-no-need-immigration-legislation-republicans-are-feeling-heat
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