Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Corrido of Chalino Sanchez: by Alejandra Espasande Bouza

Today marks 23 years since the murder of Chalino Sanchez, a Mexican immigrant, turned L.A. icon, who composed and sang "corridos," a musical genre dominant in the rural areas that was looked down upon by Angelinos in a time when mariachi music was the preference. I was lucky to meet his widow Marisela last year. The tragedies this woman has surmounted make her one of the strongest persons I've ever met, and the opportunity to visit her house a great honor. Here is an article I wrote about why I consider Chalino's story, and that of his son Adan, important to Los Angeles history.
 — with Chalino Sanchez (1960 - 1992)Chalino SanchezChalino Sanchez el REY del Corrido,Chalino Sánchez Es El Rey and Adan Chalino Sanchez.

The Corrido of Chalino Sánchez:

Twenty years in the making, a concert in homage of the legendary singer and songwriter, May 18

By Alejandra Espasande Bouza
Published on LatinoLA: May 16, 2012
The <i>Corrido</i> of Chalino Sánchez:
The night of Tuesday, April 30, 2004, Angelenos were paralyzed in front of their TV sets with breaking news; aerial shots presented images of thousands of young men and women of Hispanic descent quickly assembling into the streets of Norwalk.

Due to the geographical location, and the racial profile of the crowd, the English-language TV Channels concluded that the event had to be some gang-related riot. In contrast, the Spanish-language channels reported something very different; the tumult was but the spontaneous expression of pain from part of the young Hispanic community toward the passing of a nineteen year old Mexican-American singer namedAdán Sánchez, whose body was being honored inside the "San Juan De Dios Church."

Eventually the English media took hold of the story as Joel Connable, reporter for KCAL-TV Ch. 9, explained that the presence of thousands was due to their desire to pay their last respects to a teen-idol. Connable went on to state that the deceased was the son of singerChalino Sánchez, who had been murdered in Sinaloa, a placed he described as known for the growth of marijuana and its drug cartels.

In previous months, the passing in California of President Ronald Reagan and actor Bob Hope had not caused such a stir. And thus the question: Who was this nineteen year old kid to cause this commotion? To understand what happened that night, it is imperative to understand the story of his father.


Rosalino Sánchez Félix was born in the state of Sinaloa on August 30 of 1960 from the union of Senorina Félix and Santos Sánchez; his first years were spent in the tranquility of the ranch Los Vasitos, in Culiacán, where he grew up in the company of seven brothers.

In 1965, Santos passed away leaving Senorina the sole head of the family. Four years later, Juanita, her only daughter, was allegedly raped by a neighbor from the area. The dishonor weighed on the family for some time, until 1975, when it is believed that Rosalino, the youngest brother, restored his sister's honor by killing her rapist. It is considered that this event was the reason that brought Rosalino to Los Angeles.

In the US Rosalino, who eventually went on to be called Chalino, began working in a series of jobs that ranged from the harvest of vegetables, the sale of cars, and the smuggling of illegal immigrants, a business he established with his brother Armando, who was later murdered in the "Hotel Rita" of Tijuana in 1984.

This tragedy inspires one of his earlier, if not the earliest, composition:

"En la ciudad de Tijuana, señores esto pasó,
murió un hombre de valor, un cobarde lo mató.
Sin darle tiempo de nada, siete balazos le dio.
Armando Sánchez tu nombre, pa siempre queda presente.
Tus amigos recordamos, que fuiste un hombre valiente."[/i]

Another corrido goes into more detail about the possible execution of a vengeance:

[i]"Al poco tiempo del crimen aquel cobarde cayó,
siendo una .45 la cual venganza cobró."

Also in 1984, Chalino married Marisela Vallejo, and had a son named Adán. During the following years his career as composer prospered with the patronage of a series of clients who wanted to be immortalized, or who wanted to immortalize those they loved, in the lyric of a corrido.

In his book "La Revolucion Mexicana a traves de los corridos populares," Armando de Maria y Campos stated that the corrido. composers of the revolutionary period were poets whose lyrics exalted "the agrarian, the miner, the worker, the sinarquist, the cristero or the communist." In contrast, in the Los Angeles of the 1980's, the corrido of Chalino reflected a more contemporary reality by narrating the triumphs and tragedies of the heroes and villains of the narco lifestyle.

In 1987, Chalino began to perform in front of audiences. Early videotape of his presentations show a charismatic performer that commanded the stage not through arrogance but a humble demeanor that contrasted with the heavy lyric of his songs. His ragged voice had a marked Sinaloan accent, and his on stage presence made him a true showman. He combined the typical macho-man Sinaloan hat and boots with the elegance of an opulent gold watches and rings.

The Spanish-language radio stations and record labels of the time looked down upon promoting the corrido genre which was considered lacking of commercial value; this circumstance brought about the establishment of independent record labels that included Chalino's "RR - Rosalino Records," Pedro Rivera's "Cintas Acuario," and Abel Orozco "Discos Linda."

In spite of the tumult of a life busy with recording sessions and performances at private parties and night clubs, Chalino had managed to solidify a stable life with Marisela and their now two children, Adán and Cynthia.

By 1990 his songs permeated the interest of young Mexican Americans who began paying attention to lyrics they found similar to those of rap music. Suddenly, those who once had been ashamed of the culture and music of their parents, even avoiding to speak Spanish, embraced the corrido and began wearing Sinaloan style hats and boots. This transformation was known as the "Chalinomania" and was cemented with the adoption of the quebraditadance style.

Chalino's career kept on ascending. He combined performances at the two major night clubs, El Parral and El Farallón, with bookings that took him to other US cities, and Mexico. In January of 1992, Chalino was hired to make a presentation at a club in Coachella; during his performance Eduardo Gallegos, a member of the audience, began shooting at the performer who also defended himself. Gallegos ended up with fifteen years of prison and Chalino, who was wounded, consolidated an image of fearlessness which went in hand with the character of his corrido.

Soon after this incident he was offered to make a presentation in his native Sinaloa for an estimated twenty thousand dollars. Though this had not been the first time he would perform in his native state, his wife asked him not to go, advice Chalino ignored.

A videotape recorded the night of May 15th in the "Salón Las Bugambilias" of Culiacán shows Chalino dressed in a grey suit with white hat and the company of five señoritas Tecate who walk him on stage where he starts to sing the theme that would immortalize him forever in the memory of his public; a composition by Mario Molina Montes titled "Las nieves de enero / The snows of January."

"Ha llegado el momento
chatita del alma de hablar sin mentiras
Espere mucho tiempo pa ver si cambiabas
Y tú ni me miras

Al principio dijiste que ya que vinieran
las nieves de Enero
Ir a ver a la virgen y luego casarnos
Seria lo primero

Ya se fueron las nieves de Enero y
Llegaron las flores de Mayo
ya lo vez me aguantado a lo macho y
mi amargo dolor me lo cayo

Ya se fueron las flores y llego el invierno
Y tú ni me miras
Es por eso te digo que llego el momento
De hablar sin mentiras

Al principio dijiste que ya que vinieran
las nieves de Enero
Ir a ver a la virgen y luego casarnos
Seria lo primero

No soporto ya mas tus mentiras
Esta espera se me esta destrozando
Al mirar que han pasado los años y
No pienso morirme esperando

Ya se fueron las nieves de Enero ya
Llegaron las flores de Mayo
ya lo vez me aguantado a lo macho y
mi amargo dolor me lo cayo."

As the audience sings-along, Chalino gives them a salute, and approaches some of his fans to listen to their requests; in the company of the group "Los amables del norte," under a mix of fog and lights, and the rhythm of his accordionist Nacho Hernández, Chalino exclaims:"Viva Sinaloa!"

The two words carried the emotion and pride of the immigrant that returns to his birthplace in triumph; but in Sinaloa aside from success, Chalino had cultivated enemies and it is believed that the large amount he was offered for his presentation was the hook for the execution of a revenge.

Following his departure from "Las Bugambilias," when on his way through the
Culiacán-Los Mochis roadway, his vehicle was intercepted by men dressed as Federales who took him, leaving behind one of his brothers and two women who accompanied them. Hours later, during the dawn of May 16, 1992, his mutilated body was found next to an irrigation channel with two bullets in the head.

The body of Chalino was buried next to the resting place of his father and brother in a pantheon close to Los Vasitos ranch in Culiacán. In the US, his widow Marisela Vallejo organized a requiem mass on his memory that took place on June 21 at the Iglesia Santa Martha in Huntington Park.

In Los Angeles the news of his murder spread like dynamite, and instantly Chalino turned into a legend. But contrary to the many legends of Mexican culture, the legend of Chalino was born in Los Angeles where his recordings gained him posthumous record sales.

Months later the torch of Chalino was passed on to his son, who at barely eight years old made his musical debut at El Farallón night club. Years later, in an interview produced by Sony Studios, Adán Sánchez stated: "I chose to follow my father's career because I don't like to leave things unfinished. I felt that my Dad left an open road; a career that was not concluded and I wanted to continue through that road."

Adan "Chalino" Sánchez went on to establish what became a solid career with a youthful repertory of romantic themes, some of which served to honor the memory of his father. It is no surprise that he gained the following of young Mexican Americans, but also the endearment of the parents and grandparents who had been fans of his father.

One of his most solicited songs was a composition by Antonio Aguilar titled "Que falta me hace mi padre / How much I need my father."

"Que falta me hace mi padre a cada paso que doy,
Ya mi Dios se lo llevo, cuan solita esta mi madre,
Recorrimos tantas veces, caminos y más caminos.
Éramos inseparables, casi como dos amigos,
Que falta me hace mi padre, ya no lo tengo conmigo.
Ay apa, como me sigues haciendo falta...
¡Y arriba Chalino Sanchez! oiga."

In 2002, Adán graduated from Paramount High School and began to fully focus on his career. In March of 2004, at only nineteen years, he became the first Mexican regional music artist to perform at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

In an interview conducted by journalist and Chalino expert Sam Quiñones, Adán stated, "A lot of people, young and old, come up to me and tell me, 'I liked your dad and I like you now.' I'm just doing my own thing, trying to follow him by doing my own thing. Making sure he'd be proud of me." A month later, on Saturday April 27 of 2004, during a tour in Sinaloa the car that transported Adán had a flat tire, and toppled, causing his instant death. This is the official version given by witnesses that were present inside the car during the accident, including a representative of the singer.

The news consternated the Mexican American community of Los Angeles; those who knew about his story and that of is father were perplexed at the tragedy of it all; those who didn't know him made a stop to understand why the city had come to a halt with the death of this young man.

For the second time Marisela Vallejo organized a funerary mass which took place on Tuesday, April 30. While the inside of the church was full to capacity thousands of fans began pouring into the vicinity. It was then that the media outlets began sending helicopters. The doors of the church were closed and the mass had to come to an early ending by request of the police which had trouble in managing the crowd.

Then the helicopter cameras captured the moment when a vehicle transported the body of Adán outside of the church; surrounded by thousands of fans, between cries and tears, the crowd began throwing flowers in their last goodbye.

The general outcry of such tragedy was mainly manifested through the blasting of their music all over the city. which could be heard emanating from the inside of passing cars, or the many kitchens of L.A. restaurants. It should not be forgotten that in a matter of days theCelaya bakery - with the help of neighbors - turned an exterior wall into a mural that served as a shrine with the painted image of Chalino and Adán.

And then the question, why did the passing of Adán cause such a convulsion?

If the murder of Chalino had been a painful blow to his audience, the emergence of his son in the music arena had become a consolation, and a symbol of the continuation of his legacy. His accidental death was just too unbearable. A double tragedy of Greek proportions. And then, there is the dynamic of the father and son relationship which linked together multi-generational audiences that found a common interest in their music and story. It is for this reason that their music legacy is preserved in the everyday life of a city that remembers them with pride and respect.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Alvarez Guedes , Radiografia cubana por by Gaton Baquero

  Veo en una relacion reciente de libros mas
vendidos en   Miami , que el " Dia que cayo
Fidel " ,de Guillermo  Alvarez  Guedes esta
en segundo   lugar. Yo preferiria  que  estu-
viese en  el primero , y  para mucho tiempo;
para  todo  el tiempo  que  sea   necesario
hasta    que  tengan   leido y  releido  este
libro todos los cubanos.
Desde  que  hace  meses..
lei  esta  perfecta  radiografia  viva,   palpi -
tante , gracias al envio de Pedro Yanes ,
un hombre que posee la infrecuente vir-
tud de saber leer , me  propuse  comen-
tarlo en estas  paginas . No  lo hice de
inmediato porque con  la edad  me he
vuelto cobardon, y no queria atraerme
los rayos y las centellas de tantos auto-
res ,amigos o desconocidos, cuyos li-
bros no  comente en su momento. Mi
miedo a los literatos despechados o
heridos por lo que pueden tener por in-
diferencia o subestimacion , crece por
dias. Ademas , Alvarez Guedes no esta
en " la elite intelectual",  no pertenece
al Club de Talentos Oficiales, y se supo-
ne que no es lectura para un hombre se-
rio , para un highbrow.
El agil libro de Alvarez Guedes me mara-
villo por varios motivos. Desde los tiem -
pos de los olvidados Felix Soloni, Eladio
Secades. Miguel de Marcos , ya no veia
una radiografia tan lucida , chispeante ,
realista , y certera , de nuestra sicologia
nacional o popular. Pueblo, recuerdese,
somos todos. Sicologia nacional quiere
decir aquel caracter , aquel habla, aque-
llos sentimientos que se encuentran, mas
o menos matizados , en todas las clases ,
razas , niveles de educacion y de medios
de fortuna , de una misma nacion, de un
mismo pueblo. La diferencia entre la mar-
quesa de Cacarajicara , y Cachita la del
solar " del reverbero " es de forma no de
Este libro es un prodigio de captacion del
lenguage, del habla viva del cubano. Es un
libro parlante ; no esta escrito , ni falta que
le hace : esta hablado resonante, tumultuo-
so de palabras, como es en realidad el ha-
bla nuestra. Si la palabra es, como lo creo ,
una idea que suena, por el modo de hablar
se confiesan el ser y el sentir de una comu-
nidad nacional. Nosotros, segun los puris-
tas, hablamos mal. pero decimos exactamen-
te lo que queremos decir. Nuestra prosodia,
mestiza de andaluz y de carabali , vacilante
entre bozalona y cervantina, revela el amor
a la libertad y la tendencia a la indisciplina,
al capricho individualista . Hablamos " como
nos da la gana", porque no obedecemos ni a
la Academia ni a la Corona , ni al rey ni al
Alvares Guedes transcribe con tanta fideli-
dad y tanto don de observacion el habla de
nuestro pueblo, el habla libre y verdadera de
nosotros ( no el idioma convencional ), " edu-
cado", que intentamos utilizar ante extraños
o en publico , que leyendole se siente viva y
real el alma de toda una colectividad. Y como
uno de los mejores ingredientes de este libro,
artistica o literariamente considerado, el ping-
pong, el ritmo alterno de los escenarios;:
Miami - Cuba - Cuba - Miami, ocurre que la
colectividad radiografiada no es unicamente
"la comunidad del exilio " ,sino todo el pueblo
cubano en sus dos riberas actuales. Aqui esta
toda la emotividad , toda la mentalidad apasio-
nada, delirante, disparatera y voluntarista del
cubano en general.
Digo voluntarista en su real acepcion de capri-
cho llevado al extremo de confundirlo con la
realidad . Queremos que las cosas sean, no
como son , sino como queremos que sean.
Nuestras ideas o suposiciones van siempre mas
de prisa que la realidad, por evidente y palpable
que sean la diferencia de esta con nuesto capri-
cho. Si se nos ocurre pensar que Fidel se cae den-
tro de un par de meses, ! ay de quien se atreva a
llevarnos la contraria ! El que   no   piense como
nosotros es un traidor , un canalla,   un vendido.
De ahi a la hiperestesia y aun a la histeria no hay
mas que un paso.
De Guilermo Alvarez Guedes se   piensa que un
humorista, un hombre ingenioso y lleno de ocu-
rrencias, con gran poder comunicativo - el es un
comunicador nato - , pero no se advierte que pre-
cisamente en su eficacia para hacer reir radica la
autencidad ,la profundidad   de su    mensaje. El
puede decier con Bernard Shaw. My way of joking
is to tell the truth. Porque los   humoristas   saben
que en materia de comicidad no hay nada que su-
pere a la verdad, a las verdades. Porque la verdad
choca , molesta, irrita a la gente    que no contaba
con ellla y creia que nadie   se la mostraria jamas.
Lo que hace reir es casi siempre lo inesperado , la
sorpresa que acaba por desconcertar. Y es al mismo
tiempo un peldaño en la escala que conduse al pen-
sar doloroso, al encuentro cara a cara con la verdad,
con la realidad como es, no como queriamos que
Los exiliados necesitamos mucho hacer de la reali-
dad nuestra mejor compannia. Hay que desalojar del
pecho la criapacion, la irritacion perpetua, la amargu-
ra. Cuando dije al comenzar que preferiria ver el libro
de Alvarez Guedes en el primer lugar de los mas ven-
didos ( y , se supone , de los mas leidos ) aludia a su
valor de medicina   sicologica., de   tratamiento inteli-
gentisimo para nuestro desequilibrio emocional. Como
quien no quere la cosa, Alvarez Guedes nos hace ver
las dos caras de la moneda simbolo del caracter na-
cional: por un lado la risa, la jacara, la   apariencia de
ser, acomodaticios y despreocupados, amigos del chis-
te y del choteo; pero por el otro lado esta muy vivo en
su libro el hombre capaz de heroismos sin desmayos
que hay en el cubano. Piensese en la tenacidiad de la
resistencia lo mismo entre presos en las carceles que
entre presos en las calles, en mujeres como en hombres,
en jovenes como en viejos. El cubano   sabe dar la vida
por amor a Cuba cuando llega la hora    de darla. En
este libro hay paginas  de   risas y    paginas de dolor.

Desde el reino de la risa

Y todo esta dicho en vivo, hablado si se quiere , pensan-
do acaso para la radio o para el juguete escenico que
llamamos sainete , y que tanto sirvio en al Colonia como
en la republica para decir las amargas verdades , denun-
ciar los errores, y ofrecer el remedio de la enmienda. En
apariencia ,e s este un libro de politica- ficcion, hecho
desde el reino de la risa y del desparpajo.
Pero como hay en el un fondo intimo que es la musica de
Mahler venerada por un cubanazo de frivola e inculta
apariencia , entre las paginas de este libro agil como un
acrobata queda iluminada una de las mas serias y certeras
radiografias del alma cubana .

Jueves 25 de octubre 1990
El Nuevo Herald

cortesia de Xonia Bengurria

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Un dia de Las Madres en Luyano Mayo 12 2013

El Dia de Las Madres

El Dia de Las Madres en Cuba , era un dia muy especial.
Un mes antes , en la escuela, la maestra diseñaba algun
trabajo manual. Casi siempre teniamos que hacer una
cartera , un tapete, un lugar donde nuestras madres pu-
dieran guardar sus medias de naylon. A mi la costura no
me gustaba, la sobrevellevaba porque siempre teniamos
que hacer algun bordado. Como me gustaba pintar y
dibujar mi impaciencia era domada a la hora de diseñar
el bordado. El punto que mas gustaba era el de cadeneta,
para mi era el mejor por la facil y porque ocupaba el
espacio rapidamente. Recuerdo todas las labores manua-
les que las monjas diseñaron para nuestras madres. en
aquel tiempo para mi las labores manuales eran activida-
des de personas mayores, Hoy al ver la poca creatividad
en los colegion valoro el esfuerzo de mis maestras. Natu-
ralmente , yo preferia ir con mi padre a escoger el rega-
pero como estaba interna me era imposible hacerlo. Mi
unico consuelo era el regalo que papa escogia. Papa no
le gustaba comprar a ciegas, el preferia comprar al gusto
de mi madre, por lo tanto en aquellos tiempos nunca
pude hacer un regalo Sorpresa. Cuando intervinieron mi
escuela, y me enviaron las monjas para la casa....fue asi
que pude escoger mi primer regalo. No fue facil elegir,
y no tenia muchas opciones.....que compraria ....
una cartera , un perfume, una sortija,,,El unico lugar
que podia ir a buscar el tan añorado regalo eran en los
negocios que habian en mi barrio. Estaba la peleteria
Norma, esta quedaba en Luyano 665, auque los dueños
eran amigos de papa, mi madre usualmente compraba
sus zaparos en la peleteria Lido, esta quedaba muy
lejos . asi que fui a la tienda de Isaac el Polaco, y a otras
tres que habian en Calzada de Concha y Luyano....mien-
tras caminaba me tope con una quincalla que habia en
cerca de la calle Teresa Blanco..Me fascino la variedad
de cosas que tenian.
En la Quincalla habian discos, perfumes, cajas de
talco, pañuelos bordados, medias, crema Pons, polvos
Max Factor corriente , tazas de cafe, bellisimos juegos
de vasos, creyones de labios, coloretes, vanites para
los polvos sueltos, blusas, toallas, y hasta varias sayas
de rock. Compre un juego de tazas de cafe, uno de vasos,
una crema Pons diurna, una caja de jabones Mirurgia,
y una saya de Rock roja cuyo diseño era una chica con
cola de caballo y un chico al lado de un tocadisco ...
Nunca he olvidado aquella Quincalla , tiempo despues
intervenida por el regimen y que tan poquito pude
disfrutar. Mientras caminaba , rumbo al barrio de la
Asuncion a visitar a dos amigas, fui a la farmacia de
los padres de Tony Hurtado....para comprarme un
shampoo Breck...un shampoo de Helen Curtis para mi
madre , cual fue mi sorpresa al ver que vendian Channel
numero 5. Despues de visitar a Merceditas , a Flora la
modista, antiguas vecinas mias y a mis tios Fortunato
y Palmira....regrese a casa. Antes de llegar saque los
regalos para el dia de Las Madres y los deje a Antonio
el carnicero pidiendole me los guardara. Los shampoo
los llevaba conmigo. Llegue silenciosamente,,,mi madre
no noto nada, creo que ese dia me hize adulta .....
A la mañana siguiente fui a comprar un cake helado
con papa, mientras mama dormia...a nuestro regreso
le di un fuerte abrazo...le di el cake...que ella recibio
con mucha alegria, inmagino que pensando que ese
era mi regalo....corri a buscar mis regalos que papa habia
recogido de la carniceria y habia escondido en un lugar
seguro de la casa....Cuando mi madre vio los regalos
mientras los veia...exclamaba que bello, por cada regalo
me daba un beso de premio....el Channel 5 fue un exito
y como toque final papa le regalo un juego de sortijas
de coral con brillanticos .....Al medio dia, le pedi a papa
me diera dinero para comparle a mis cuatro vecinas del
barrio cuatro Channel 5 que en aquella epoca solo costa-
ba cinco pesos....
Feliz Dias de las Madres a todas las madres cubanas en
especial a todas las que se han ido como mama...pero
aun viven en mi memoria....