Thirteen Years without my Mami: The Funniest Mexican I’ve Ever Known ❤️

Cuquita & yours truly in “Little Italy,” the two words I couldn’t pronounce without my mother cracking up at my “sophisticated, unintelligible gringo accent.”

Thirteen years ago today, my mother, my best friend –and the funniest Mexican I’ve ever met– quietly passed away in a small hospital room in Mexico City.

While her (sudden and premature) death was the worst thing me and my siblings have had to endure, she left us the one thing no one will ever take away from us: A sense of humor that –she assured us– was the only way to go through life, no matter how tough the shit got going.

Cuquita told the dorkiest jokes and made the funniest remarks about being divorced, poor, underemployed, uneducated, hungover, drunk, uninsured, etc. etc. (“I have saved enough money to last me until the day I die … as long as I die tomorrow,” she used to say often –while cracking up….or  “If I didn’t know this was a hangover… I’d rush to the nearest emergency room.” har har har.)

And then there’s my personal favorite. Once, during a heated discussion with us (her kids) giving her a hard time over something, she stops and yells at us: “DO YOU GUYS EVEN KNOW WHY I NEVER WENT TO HARVARD?” … Silence ensued, I mean, fuuuuuuck, we don’t know about that thing…  Why? my sister asks almost embarrassed for not knowing.

“Because I didn’t finish elementary school! JA JA JA,” goes my mother….

Ok, you get the picture. I don’t exaggerate when I say Cuquita contributed to at least half all the Spanish slang and idiomatic expressions I used in Think Dirty Spanish. She would often call in the middle of the night with the great news that she had found –yet– another expression she’d love to see in the book. “¡Mosquita muerta!.. a ver ¿cómo dicen eso los gringos?”

She hated Walt Disney, but she wore the sweatshirt all the same, because… America!

We traveled the world together.

We went to shady tango joints in Buenos Aires; gigantic farmer markets in Los Angeles and colorful tavernas in Valparaíso, Chile. Once, on a trip between Santiago and Buenos Aires, right in the middle of the Andes, our plane had an engine failure and for a few, terrifying moments, we thought we would die right there. But then, as I hyperventilated and yelled in panic for a Valium or something, my mother started laughing out loud at our poor Argentine pilot, who was so distressed, he couldn’t even speak properly. Favor de no formor, he asked us, instead of Favor de no fumar.

BUAHAHAHAHAHA, my mom and I had a fit of hysterical, uncontrollable laughter.

Damn you, Cuquita! ¡Qué divertido era viajar juntas!

My favorite were her months-long visits to New York, when we’d roam the city in search of “real genuine stuff” to cook authentic Mexican things, but more often than not ended up in some fancy steakhouse drinking wine, cubas libres and eating meat like there was no tomorrow. (Oh, and did I mention the marathonic poker sessions?)

Cuquita spoke NO ENGLISH whatsoever, but none of that mattered, because in Nueva York, everyone knew her and spoke Spanish to her. My friends, my colleagues, my neighbors, the super, the bodega guy… todos.

To this day, no matter if I’m in CDMX or not, I know Cuquita will always have an altar in her home for Día de Muertos featuring some of her favorites: chocolates, pan de muerto, cigarettes and cubas libres (with flat Coke, which she seemed to favor –for some reason.) ¡Gracias, Catus!

I’m not sure where she is right now. But if there’s anything going on UP THERE, in the so-called afterlife, I’m sure she’s serving the cubas libres, setting up the poker table, telling the jokes –and having a blast.

Te quiero, mami. ❤❤

Tortillas, Toilet Paper and the Importance of the Simple Things

My local deli recently ran out of toilet paper, but it stocks plenty of these. So, we’re good…

I spent a good part of Tuesday, March 17 looking for toilet paper in my neighborhood –to no avail. Somehow, the coronavirus crisis has turned people in some sort of toilet paper-hoarding zombies, emptying the shelves at supermarkets, bodegas and pharmacies.

The craziness is not limited to New York City or even the US: My brother sent me a photo (below) from a Mexico City supermarket, showing people doing exactly the same thing: Hoarding toilet-paper –except supplies seem to be abundant down there (at least for now.)

What’s with toilet paper?

I tried again one day later and this time my local bodega (PapaSito) proudly advertised that toilet paper was back, so I went in (naturally). Several rolls of toilet paper wrapped individually sat at the top of a very tall counter, one I couldn’t reach, so I asked a fellow Mexican who works there for help. Our conversation went something like this:

–Can you please pass me four of those? –I asked.

-Four? Only four? –said the man almost incredulous. –Why don’t you take more? People are coming in and getting 15-30 rolls at once…

-Because… I’m not deranged? –I replied.

My paisano cracked up upon hearing that, and then noticed I had also bought a few packs of corn tortillas.

–Well, I’d be damned if we were to run out of those! –He said pointing at my packs of Poblanitas.

I walked away thinking he was absolutely right and was happy to get back to my quarantine (not before I stopped for some other basic goods.)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tours a Bodega, Eats Burritos and Drinks Jarritos de Piñac

AOC joins Desus & Mero on Bronx tour.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has a way to respond to haters.

As part of the premiere episode of Showtime’s Desus & Mero, the New York City native decided to show her critics that she’s not only a kick-ass politician but knows her way around a bodega and a taquería. Oh, and she will also mix you a margarita. And just so we have it clear: These people in Washington D.C. are “not smarter than a bartender.”

Watch Ocasio-Cortez as she joins her fellow Bronx natives, show hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, on a tour of their home borough that includes bodegas, happy faces, burritos, margaritas, Bohemia beer and even Jarritos de piña.

 

Bodegas are a National Treasure; Just Don’t Ask the Owner for the Bathroom Key

It is no secret that bodegas are a wonder of sorts. No matter the time of day you will surely find all your basics. Late night-condoms? a Guadalupe Virgin candle? Emergency tampons? Terrible coffee? …. The bodeguero has your back.

Oh, but try not asking him to use the bathroom, unless you want to unleash a series of… hilarious musical events.

WATCH Saturday Nights’ Live (March 2, 2019 episode)

Some New York City Lawyers are Genuinely Bilingual…

As seen in multicultural Harlem

… unlike racist New York lawyer Aaron Schlossberg, who once claimed to be “fluent in Spanish” but then went batshit crazy and threatened to call ICE on people speaking the language at his local deli.

Shame on you, Señor Schlossberg. You should learn from the fine lawyers of Spanish Harlem, who I’m sure are much more attuned to the sensibilities of a multicultural, multiethnic city –and the need for [true] bilingual professionals.

Photo: Laura Martínez, NYC 2018

Latinos Threw a Party for Racist Lawyer Aaron Schlossberg in Manhattan. It Was Amazing! 💃🏻

If you ever broke a piñata –and had to sing the accompanying song that goes with it, you’ll see how brilliant this is. Sign by Jessica Solt. Photos: Laura Martínez

Being Hispanic in the U.S. has become a sort of act of resistance for many of us. Not only because we have to deal with a president who launched his candidacy by calling Mexicans a bunch of rapists and criminals, but because that same presidency seems to be enabling all kinds of racist behavior towards “these people” (i.e. Latinos, Hispanics, Beaners or whatever you want to call “my people.”)

In one of the most recent of these episodes, a video went viral this week showing New York attorney Aaron Schlossberg verbally attacking deli employees for –wait for it– speaking Spanish. In Manhattan. At a deli. Imagine that!

In the video (which was first reported by Latino Rebels), we can see Schlossberg complaining aggressively to the deli’s management, saying “your staff is speaking Spanish to clients when they should be speaking English. Every person I listen to: he spoke it, he spoke it, she’s speaking it,” he says, pointing angrily at several people in the place.

The incident spread quickly across social media and made it eventually to the main media outlets, causing hilarious scenes where reporters were trying to interview Schlossberg just to see him running away as if someone had called La Migra on him.

The hero of the afternoon: The dude with the big Bluetooth speaker

Needless to say, Schlossberg’s tirade got Latinos very angry (and many reasonable non-Latinos, of course) but I’m happy to report that “my people” responded in the best way possible: By throwing him a Latin FIESTA right on his block, outside a posh apartment building on West 60th Street, in the heart of Manhattan.

The party, which took place on Friday, May 18, was organized by a group known as Millennials for Revolution on Facebook who invited people to show Schlossberg that speaking Spanish is not a crime and that “we will gladly educate you on our culture and language by throwing a big fiesta.”

And it was goooood!

It was only 5:30 pm but dozens of people were already gathered, listening to music, waving improvised signs and chanting things like Hablamos español!  I don’t know exactly how, but I found myself joining the crowd dancing to some good ol’ Latin favorites: From Celia Cruz’ Quimbara, to Elvis Crespo’s Suavemente and –yes– several versions of Despacito. Ay!

The fiesta reached its peak when a mariachi band, organized through a GoFundMe page that has raised over $1,000, arrived on site and gave us some old time Mexican favorites, including a moving version of Cielito lindo, which had us all singing out loud.

I created the #AaronSchlossbergLatinParty hashtag on Twitter and was happy to see it was used by other users to help spread the love.

Click through this Twitter moment and ¡Que siga la fiesta!

 

UPDATE: On Tuesday May 22, the racist lawyer used social media to apologize. The apology is lame and I don’t believe him, but here it is:

New York City’s New School Chancellor Is a Professional Mariachi. No, Really.

If everything else fails, Richard Carranza can always go back to serenading las muchachas. ¡Ajúa!

From the Archives of I Could Not Make This Thing Up if I Tried comes Richard Carranza, the recently appointed New York City Schools Chancellor, who took a very unsual approach when discussing his new job with Mr. De Blasio and wife: He serenaded them with mariachi song María Elena.

His background is plain awesome. Per the [failing] New York Times:

At Monday’s news conference, Mr. Carranza said he had been a mariachi musician since he was about 6 years old. When he wanted to stay up late with his father and his uncles, they said the only people staying up late were people playing instruments — so he learned to play the guitar. He later worked his way through college at the University of Arizona “gigging,” as he put it on Monday.

Now you know. If running our disastrous public school system turns out to be too much for this fellow Mexican, he can always go back to serenading las muchachas. ¡Ajúa!

Just WATCH:

Via: New York Times

Mexican Independence: Too Many Fiestas, Too Little Time

I don’t know about you, but I do take national holidays very seriously, especially when it comes to drinking and eating like there’s no tomorrow.

So, in celebration of my relatively recent double-citizenship bonanza and the upcoming anniversary of Mexico’s Independence, this blogger will be pulling all her U.S.-based resources to list the very best stuff you can buy/do on THIS SIDE of the border so you feel as if you were on the OTHER side of the border.

Now… I’ll be posting some actual goodies later this week (I’m exhausted, you know?), but for now, I’d like to kick off this year’s festivities with the colorful invite (above) I just received from the Mexican Consulate in New York, which makes it clear our Ángel de la Independencia is as tall as the Empire State Building *and* the Freedom Tower themselves.

So there you go, suckers, ¡Viva México, cabrones!