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Why Do Mexicans Like Oldies?
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Dear Mexican: Why do a lot of Mexicans let their toddlers stay on the baby bottle longer than most kiddos? I work at a surgery center that specializes in children’s dental surgery, and most of the patients are Mexican kids getting their teeth fixed from just such scenarios. I’ve also personally known Mexican mothers whose children’s mouths were completely blinged out with dental work. Any insight on why the Mexican bambinos stay on the bottle so long?

Wean ‘Em Off

DEAR GABACHO: You’re right about the problem—multiple studies have documented the Mexican propensity for their chicos to suffer from what’s scientifically known as early childhood caries (ECC) and colloquially known as baby-bottle tooth decay. The disease rots baby teeth, leading to so many kids making rapper Riff Raff’s dientes seem as pearly white as a Pepsodent model. UCLA student Sally Chu’s 2006 paper “Early Childhood Caries: Risk and Prevention in Underserved Populations,” published in the Journal of Young Investigators, found that “Hispanics have the highest rate of ECC in both developed and developing countries with an average prevalence of 13 percent to 29 percent, second only to Native American,” citing the seminal 2002 paper “Caries-Risk Factors for Hispanic Children Affected by Early Childhood Caries.” All studies cite poverty and lack of education more than culture, so I guess you want me to make a psychosexual joke about how Mexicans overall are still attached to their mami‘s chichis, leaving us perpetual infants. Well, you ain’t going to get it, so I’ll make it up with an insight equally as lame: Why do Mexicans like to drive lowriders? So they can cruise and pick strawberries at the same time. . . . HA!


Why do so many cholos like the song “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify? Is there something about this song, or is it all oldies they like?

Aspiring Puppetteer

DEAR GABACHO: It ain’t just cholos who are down with oldies but goodies. Mexican-Americans of all social classes have largely kept alive that particular music genre—the brown-eyed soul of Thee Midniters and Sonny and the Sunliners, as well as long-forgotten R&B; artists such as the Penguins and Billy Stewart who aren’t crazy enough for hipsters to worship à la Esquerita and the Five Du-Tones, but still too threatening to oldies fans whose idea of soul is the Crew Cuts doing “Sh-Boom.” Oldies but goodies 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.

But rather than me trying to explain further to gabachos why Mexicans are so into oldies, 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 told the Mexican, referring to “I’m Your Puppet.” “If you listen to the song, it says, ‘I’ll do funny things if you want me to/I’m your puppet,’ so [that] means . . . I love you so much I’ll do whatever you say. . . . I believe that is why [guys] like that song.

“It’s actually in the lyrics of the song,” Laboe continued. “‘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. Through the years, ‘I’m Your Puppet’ has been one of our most requested songs on The Art Laboe Connection,” which airs Monday through Friday, from 7 p.m. to midnight, as well as Sunday at 6 p.m. Pacific Time, on and on the Tune In radio app via KDUC. Check for the many radio stations in the Southwest.

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.


Ask the Mexican at [email protected], be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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  1. Okay just why do I ( non-Mexican) like oldies, and just why does my sister and brother like oldies, and why did my departed mother like oldies, and why do I like/love Charlie Parker’s “Old” Masterpieces? , and why do I like Chet Bakers old masterpieces?

    And why do I like old DooWop tunes such as by the Del Vikings, and why do I like, believe it or not, Neal Diamonds “Oldies”?

    And why do I love the old Mexican/American tunes such as “You belong to my heart”, and why do I like the marvelous works of Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlen, and Hoagy Carmichael, and Cole Porter, etc, etc.

    And why do I like Mozart’s concerts in G and D for flute and, and why do I like Bach’s and Beethoven’s marvelous creations?

    And why do I adore the original Four Freshman and their magical renditions of “Day by Day” and “Poinciana”

    Questions upon questions.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” society member since 1973, airborne qualified US Army Vet, and pro jazz musician.

    • Replies: @NotBob
    , @Robert Dunn
  2. TheOldOne says:

    This writer is just a waste of your time; Mr. Unz should can him pronto!

    • Replies: @interesting
  3. @TheOldOne

    The whole premise of the article has jumped the shark. So many of us have so many Mexican friends that we just ask them the questions not this race baiting nutcase that likes to insult the Gabacho’s.

    This guy spoke at my kids high school and they both, along with many others, walked out as all he wanted to do was mock, ridicule, and point fingers at those that didn’t look like him as if what he was whining about was THEIR FAULT.

    This is why Hillary lost, she spent 18 month campaigning about evil white people and how we are the soldiers out of step and “have to do more” and half of them are “deplorable”.

    I’ve never in my life seen a candidate insult voters like she did……..AND like this author does…..that must be a “progressive” thing.

  4. NotBob says:

    Seems we share many musical tastes; we’re probably about the same age…

    I made sure my kid could tell the difference between Ray Charles and Little Richard while she was still watching Sesame Street. Her friends think she’s weird.

    Re: Mozart. I always liked the clarinet concerto more. Maybe apocryphal, but Wolfie was supposed to have hated the flute, wrote those concertos on commission, needed the cash. Loved the relatively new clarinet, and wrote that work for his favorite player and the horn (not the B-flat horn!) because he wanted to show off both. Nine of it can be that bad, it’s Mozart after all.

    As a jazz guy, have you checked out Renaissance dance tunes or lute music? The theory is very modal, sometimes with a “nebulous grasp of major and minor”. Odd phrase lengths too. (Just a suggestion. Some people can’t stand the instrumentation.)

    Bach: The sonatas and partitas for solo violin, great in themselves, but the realization on Baroque lute by Hopkinson Smith is mind blowing.

    • Replies: @Authenticjazzman
  5. The Five Du-Tones?? Amazing that Gus would know anything about them.

    Paul Kersey’s favorite St. Louis band.

  6. @NotBob

    ” But Wolfie was supposed to have hated the flute” : His major complaint being it would not play in tune, and this problem, though somewhat improved, exists to this day.

    My interest in his works for flute coincide with the bizarre fact that I lived, decades ago, in an appartment ca one hundred meters away from his residence at the “PfälzerHof” in Mannheim in the year of 1777.
    This being where he actually penned his two marvelous flute concertos in G and D for an amateur dutch flutist.
    I studied classical flute from 1982 to 1986 with an wonderful italian music professor and we did in fact work up these two concertos to performance level, along with various works for flute from JSB, Teleman, Debussey, etc.
    When I would pass daily by the bronze reminder of his, Amadeus’s, time in Mannheim, I simply could not grasp the idea of him having walked the same street, and the thought thereof was overwhelming to say the least.

    And “Odd phrase lengths” are part of what make Jazz so intriguing.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” Society member since 1973, airborne qualified US Army Vet, and pro Jazz musician.

    PS The clarinet concerto is beautiful and I have it on CD. PPS : I’ll turn 77 in Oct.

    • Replies: @NotBob
  7. NotBob says:

    Ah, you got me beat by 10+ years.

    Thanks for the obviously more educated information on Mozart and the flute. Somewhere I got the idea that he disliked the tone. (That almost pure sine wave thing.). I’ll blame the mis-information on my “Mozart specialist” theory teacher. She isn’t here to defend herself.

    My training was in percussion – mostly orchestral – and a long time ago. Never could make a living with it. How many tympani players does the world need? Wound up doing piano work, tuning, restorations, etc.

    I have enjoyed your contributions here regarding the changing face(s) of jazz and the audiences. I was talking with a jazz violinist a few weeks ago, and he told me what for you is probably an old joke: Pop music is three chords and a thousand people in the audience. Jazz is a thousand chords and three people in the audience. Badaboom.

  8. “Bird still lives” Amen bro.

    I shared an apartment with a (black) drummer for twelve years, who had played with several guys who had in fact had played and recorded with Parker.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” qualified since 1973, airborne trained US army vet, and pro Jazz musician.

  9. The Latinos of California and the Southwest have done American culture a major service by keeping soul music alive. A shame that the demographic which invented soul music is no longer interested in it (outside of limited circles mostly in the south)

    • Replies: @Authenticjazzman
  10. @Hare Krishna

    Yeah amazing isn’t it.
    I read an interview in which Trumpet man Wynton Marsalis, a star in the Jazz world, stated that it breaks his heart to look out over and audience and see only white faces.
    What he was saying is that it is terribly sad to realize that the black folks have lost touch with their own music.
    And I sincerely belive that this disconnect from their music heritage played a major role, as remote as it seems, in the breakdown of their society and family cohesion.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” qulaified since 1973, airborne trained US Army vet and pro jazz musician.

  11. @Authenticjazzman

    I would agree with you completely Authenticjazzman.

  12. NotBob says:

    I wonder if those white faces Mr. Marsalis sees more often are also more wrinkled? Not to diminish at all the loss of identification with what Joni Mitchell long ago called “Black classical music”. Just to ask other observers about the age factor.

    Sure, every generation has its ” own music”. But I see fewer and fewer young people aware of previous offerings/styles/genres/whatever term you like as those offerings become more distant. When Pre-hip-hop is considered roots music…

    But at the piano shop yesterday there were two kids (I get to say that-I turned 65 yesterday and they were maybe 15-16 years old) banging out Beethoven, Fly me to the Moon, early Elton John, and also improvising over their own changes. Not great, but at least trying and aware of something before Taylor Swift. White girl, Asian boy. Which I guess sadly reinforces the Marsalis observation, but offers a little hope with generational factor.

  13. @Authenticjazzman

    “played a major role, as remote as it seems, in the breakdown of their society and family cohesion”

    I would disagree and know a few black males that would as well. What happened to the black (and to a certain extent all) community was the democratic party and their policy of generational cradle to grave welfare.

    The black man has been taken out of the family equation since black woman have figured out all they have to do is start poping out kids and uncle sugar will be there with free food, housing and health care……no dad required. This has happened in all poor households actually since I’ve seen the “welfare queen” of all races. But I think the black community has been particularly hard hit by this phenomenon.

    When the government subsidizes something you get more of it and having kids out of wedlock is hugely subsidized……..hell, even encouraged.

  14. ” I would disagree and know a few black males that would as well”

    So what, myself being a Jazz player for over fifty years, my last gig was yesterday evening, I have played in umpteen bands with black musicians, plus I shared an apartment with a fellow black musician, a drummer, for twelve years, and I KNOW what I am talking about.

    You apparently missed the entire point of my statement and that being that the loss/disconnect of blacks from their own music played a major role, NOT THE ONLY ROLE, in the desintegration of
    black family and societal life.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” qualified since 1973, airborne trained US Army vet, and pro Jazz artist.

    • Replies: @interesting
  15. @Authenticjazzman

    okay, you win the point missing pissing contest…..sheesh, it’s like you didn’t even think about what I said…..and I know WTF i’m talking about too.

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