Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quítate, pinche naco!!!

Mexico City is by far one of the best cities in this continent. You can club till dawn (which is hard to do here in New York), you can shop for jewelry at Tiffany’s, Cartier and Bvlgari (all in the same block on Masaryk Ave), you can get any item from Zara in any size because in Mexico City alone there are more Zara stores than in the US. Education-wise, there are the French, German, Irish, American, British schools…  Just a few years ago the French supermarket chain “Carrefour” was present in Mexico. So you could go to Carrefour for a nice, crisp baguette and cheap French wine, to Wal-Mart for cranberry juice and to Superama for rice and beans. Mexico City gives you a glance at the world in many ways.

Unfortunately, all these pros are shaded by some terrible cons. Insecurity and pollution being the worst, in my opinion… however, there is a terrible “sickness” that affects the capital’s society, which acts as a detrimental force to the cultural and social advancement of the metropolis. It’s feared by every mother -who so lovingly teaches her children to eat with their mouths shut while keeping their backs straight. Understanding fathers are also cautious and strive to afford the best possible education for their kids, hoping they will never be infected by the plague.

A plague much worse than the swine flu, a sickness that attacks you faster than the avian flu: la NAQUEZ. In such an overpopulated city, such as el DF, this terrible illness has spread all over and is now a major aggravation for many, many inhabitants. Interestingly, nacos (people suffering from naquez) from el DF are often –incorrectly- referred to as “chilangos”. This is a clear misuse, for any decent “capitalino” (native of the Mexican capital) knows that a “chilango” is someone who migrated to el DF, or who was born of parents who migrated into el DF. Strictly speaking, I am considered “capitalino” because my family has been established in Mexico City for generations; however, I call myself chilango and don’t give a damn about it [!].

La naquez, however, is not an aggravation exclusive of Mexico City. There are nacos all across the country –and the world, for that matter-, but Mexico City being so horribly overpopulated has a major concentration of people infected with the disease. Let me explain the symptoms. A Mexican naco will most likely:

[!] Be devout of the virgin of Guadalupe and might even have tattoos of her over his/her body. They also have Guadalupe memorabilia in their homes and vehicles, such as stickers, candles, and figurines…

[!] Listen (almost exclusively) and dance (exclusively) to popular musical genders such as cumbia, bachata, salsa and reggaeton.

[!] They speak with a certain intonation and inflection that is very characteristic of the lower classes, who have no access to prestigious private schooling. Naturally their vocabulary and mastery of the Spanish language is very deficient, and they mispronounce words and use others that aren’t even words.

[!]  They lack sophistication and sense of socially accepted fashion, style and manners. Typically unilingual, they have little or no interest for foreign cultures. They might be nacos, but never malinchistas, which is more than I can say (stay tuned for the “Viva la Malinche” post).

All these symptoms could be corrected and the malady could be cured, only, and only, if the most terrible symptom is not present yet, which is:

[!] Lack of interest in a better (or at least more socially accepted) behavior and lifestyle.

No one is responsible for his or her socio-economical status at the moment of birth. If Deyvis is born to a poor couple that already have another four children (Mary Crysty –who was conceived by Lupita at the early age of 16-, Yeyson, Yenny and el Prieto), he can’t be blamed for that. He shouldn’t be blamed either for being raised in la Doctores, Neza, Tultitlán or any other guetto in the Mexican capital. It is definitely not Deyvis’ fault he has to attend public elementary and middle schools. Beto, his dad, is a grease monkey after all, and he can provide only so much money to his household. And that is not Beto’s fault either.

Alas, poor Deyvis was born a naco, and there is little, or nothing he can do about it. He was taken to la Villa at the age of three for his “presentación” (catholic ritual to thank God that the child made it healthy to the age of three). He danced the Sleepy Beauty waltz at his graduation of public elementary school. He was a “chambelán” (accompanying dancer) for his sister and cousins’ quinceañera parties (the most obscene demonstration of naquez). He was raised watching soccer and lucha libre every Sunday. He played la “cascarita” (informal soccer practice on the street or park) con los otros weyes de la colonia (with the other dudes from the quarter). He’s shopped for groceries, clothes, music and auto-parts at the “tianguis” (open air market, somewhat characteristic of the lower classes) since early childhood.

You could say poor Deyvis is a product of his society, a victim of his situation. Yet, when he dares going to Santa Fe, Polanco or la Condesa (highly reputable neighborhoods in el DF), he is glared at, rejected from clubs and bars, suspected of shoplifting at the stores, and yet, when poor Deyvis accidentally hits Ximena with his elbow while walking beside her, he will be very apologetic and say “ay, perdone señorita” (oh, forgive me, miss), to which she will reply “ash, fíjate!! Pinche naco!!” (ugh, just watch it! Damned naco!). Ximena, Regina and Fernanda will just glare at him with a disgusted expression on their faces, wondering what a naco like Deyvis is doing so close to Konditori (my favorite Danish restaurant, but certainly not Deyvis') in Polanco.

Poor Deyvis will leave the scene feeling humiliated, ostracized. He will think of Ximena, Regina and Fernanda (those three beautiful, fair-skinned, green-eyed bitches), as “pinches viejas mamonas” (damned snob girls), but he knows, deep down, he knows his opinion of them matters nothing when compared to the opinion they have of him. He is aware of his socio-cultural inferiority. And it is on the bus ride on his way home that Deyvis is presented with the individual, personal opportunity: Should he start paying more attention to his English and Computer-Use (yes, third world countries have such classes in public schools because computers are not available to everyone) professors? Should he start reading books? Should he stop wearing an América (his favorite Mexican soccer team) jersey all the time? Would it be possible to stop being a pinche naco, and be socially accepted in spite of his name, skin color and height?

If Deyvis says “yes”, he is in the right path. His self-commitment to progression not only makes him a better person, but will also lead to better opportunities for him and his family. He is choosing to do more with the resources available to him, regardless how scarce they might be. That is plausible. On the other hand, if he says “no” and decides to remain a pinche naco… then it might be me the next one to mutter “quítate, pinche naco” (move over, you damned naco!) next time Deyvis doesn’t move to let me walk past him on Anatole France street.

There is nothing in this world that I abhor and despise more than self-inflected ignorance. That is the one sin I judge in others. I see true naquez as the personal decision of leading a low lifestyle. Such lack of personal ambition saddens me and disgusts me at the same time. People should never be blamed or judged for their circumstances, but for their choice of not changing them.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I was born and raised in Mexico City. I was never rich, yet never poor... let's just say I had access to certain things. My family could never afford a trip to Russia, but they took me to see the Kirov and the Bolshoi. They didn't have the chance to send me to New York for the summer, but they took me to the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I didn't have the chance to go to France for a year to learn French so I went to the Alliance Française instead. You get the idea.

All of the above-mentioned events took place in my natal Mexico City... city that I love and that I don't intend to inhabit ever again (but you never know, right?). My life in el DF (as us, the natives of the City, prefer to call it) not only exposed me to the obscenity of living in a megalopolis -along with extreme pollution and insecurity- but also gave me a glance of the world.

It was in Mexico City that I tasted Moët & Chandon champagne for the first time and where I had the [un]pleasant introduction to Siberian caviar and YSL cigarettes. It was in that city that I started my childish addiction to Le Petit Ecolier cookies and Bueno bars and Nutella.

My parents didn't exactly intend to create in me a fascination for foreign cultures and tastes. It was rather organic, yet always supported (and paid for) by them. I think they find me quite interesting; as if I'm this bad -yet terribly charming- son of theirs, who left them in good ol' Mexico to take over the world!

Naturally I don't have intentions to take over the world. They simply paid for enough schooling to make me fully trilingual at the age of 18.

What would you have done -or would do- if you were 18 years old in Mexico City and spoke English and French fluently? Wouldn't you just get out of the city to breathe real Parisian air, instead of the one in the Chanel and Louis Vuitton boutiques on Masaryk Ave? Wouldn't you go to Belgium to eat chocolates and waffles chez Wittamer, and not chez Garabatos (on Masaryk, still)? Wouldn't you rather have a walk in Central Park in the fall instead of just watching it in some cheap romantic American film…?

Well, that's just what I did. And you know you would have done it too. [!]


El NeoChilango [!]

Natives of Mexico City are often referred to as "chilangos" by the rest of the country. Legend has it, it's because chilangos have the body of a chili pepper -"chile"- and the face of a monkey -"chango"-, hence, "chilango"*. Usually we are very disliked by the people outside of Mexico City.

Having being raised in the city, I could never understand why my cousins from other states criticized my hometown so much. I just arrived to the conclusion that "everyone hates the best"... until someone from Culiacán, Sinaloa, told me that it was because us, chilangos, when visiting other cities of Mexico, when we go to, say, the park, we do remarks similar to "uh, this is the park? it's so small!", or "this is the mall? there are just like 20 stores in here!", or worst of all: "Ay Dios mío! (Spanish for Oh my God!), Este es el antro?! (this is the cluuub?!) Está chiquitito y lleno de nacos! (It's so tiny and it's full of nacos! (please refer to the "naco" post) ni siquiera sirven martiniiis! (they don't even serve martiniiis!). When I was told this explanation, I completely agreed. We can be obnoxious with our remarks about other cities in Mexico. We are right nonetheless. They are ever so small and blah. (Judge meee) [!].

*About the reasons behind the stereotypical "chilango": 

If there were approximately 30 million inhabitants in your city, just face it, many of them would be ugly. That is the case of Mexico City, where thousands and thousands of other Mexicans come with the hope of making a better life. These Mexicans are usually poor, and usually with a high concentration of native-Mexican blood running through their veins, which is beautifully represented in their traits... traits that are tragically abhorred by Mexicans with fair skin. These immigrants tend to have children, who tend to overpopulate the Mexican capital... alas, more chilangos are born every day. 

Luckily, I don't give a damn when people call me chilango. I'm indeed proud of it. I may be considered ugly by many, but still, I don't give a damn about that either. I am very tasteful and that's what matters. And I'm not ugly anyways... So that's the "Chilango" part of the name of this blog. The "Neo" is just a prefix signaling renewal... to break up with the cliché. Because I don't want to be part of a cliché. Not ever. I'm just a chilango who does not intend to inhabit Chilangolandia -Spanish for Chilangoland- ever again (that's what I say now, but who knows what I'll say tomorrow) [!].