Back in the ’90s, when I was a 13-year-old a teenager living in a small town in near Sacramento, California, a friend made a promise to me: “next Monday, after you get out of school, I’ll pick you up from your grandmother’s house and drive you to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.” In the infamous district, she said, I’d be able to buy the kinds of records, clothing, and books that were impossible find elsewhere — “all that counterculture shit.” It was a Saturday night and that same friend, a Sac State student in her early 20s, made the pledge in her apartment and among other friends.
At her place, everyone but myself was chewing ecstasy “hits” and watching a brand-new show called South Park. An eavesdropper chimed in on our conversation: “you guy’s going to the Haight? That’s where all the goths, punks, hippies, and ravers hang out.” At that point I couldn’t tell the difference between a goth or punk, but I was fascinated by the mere existence of the terms. It’s a bit sad, really, because the closest thing we had to a subculture in the cow town where I lived was the Future Farmers of America, and I passed on the membership because I could never pull off the American cowboy look (Wrangler jeans make my pancake ass look like even worse).
Still, I tried not to get too exited about the trip since, in addition to being forgetful, my friend was literally tripping when she promised to introduce me to the mythical intersection. That night we attended a clandestine rave in the outskirts of Sacramento, which was broken up by the cops immediately after we got there. Before calling it a night, we stopped by 24-hour Del Taco to enjoy some soggy tex-mex food.
I loved crashing at my grandmother’s place because it was near my high school, but also because she had cable. That perk came with a price: since Mamá Luisa was a strict Catholic, I wasn’t allowed to go to bed until I prayed away my sins with a rosary on one hand, and a book of hymns on the other. But once grandma hit the hay (usually around 9pm), I would stay up to watch Mexican telenovelas, Daria, and Amp:
As planned, on Monday afternoon I walked over to my grandmother’s house after school. I hung out in the living room while grandma watered her plants in the front yard. Eventually she hollered at me: “Hey, mijo, your weird friend is here!” Surprisingly, Pills McTrippy, my ecstasy-loving buddy, made good on her promise, and after I convinced Mamá Luisa she was not just my “weird friend” but “a college-enrolled tutor who’s taking me to a library,” I jumped inside the Bay Area-bound Honda Civic.
Once on Haight, walking around the grimy neighborhood filled my mind with wonder. In addition to all the stylish youngsters, bums and junkies were scattered all around the street, and tech bros were nonexistent. One store, which specialized in bondage and S&M trinkets, offered an impressive selection of creepers and winklepickers — both shoes were impossible to find elsewhere. One bookstore sold imported magazines of people with bizarre fetishes, and also copies of The Family Jams, an album by the Manson family. Certain vintage clothing shops arranged their merchandise according to an era or specific style: rockabilly, pinup, mod. As far as I could tell, the Haight was holding up its legend.
This was 1997, the same year Amoeba Music, the “world’s largest independent store,” opened its doors across from the Golden Gate Park. I walked around the mammoth record store in complete awe of its enormous selection and, of course, wished I had money to buy almost everything. But I could only afford one record, so I picked up a copy of Reproduction, the Human League’s first LP.
More so than the eccentric people roaming the neighborhood, I became interested in the various flyers found in all the shops. Some, like the ones promoting electronic music events, were incredibly intricate and colorful. Others, like the ones peddling punk and metal shows, were comically vulgar or fantastically grotesque. It’s not that I planned to go to any of them, but I still stashed copies of the intriguing propaganda in my messenger bag as souvenirs.
At Amoeba my friend bought a copy of Homework, some French band’s debut LP, and we listened to it on our way home. While going over the Bay Bridge, I thought about all the progressive music, art, and fashion I had just been in contact with. Knowing such things were less two hours away my parents’ home made me feel anxious — especially because I still had 3 years to go before I could legally drive in California. So not only did the trip alter my perception of American subculture, but it also left me thinking: tomorrow, when I go back to school, seeing if a racist cowboy fights with a cholo over a parking space will be the most stimulating form of entertainment my boring town will be able to offer. How tragic.
And then, I felt it; an internal switch had been flicked, and powerful, bitter teen angst began festering inside me. The worse was yet to come.
María Rubio was so good as Catalina Creel, an iconic telenovela villain, the role ruined her career
According to sources on Twitter, and also TvNotas, the holy bible of Mexican gossip, María Rubio, the legendary actress best known for her role as Catalina Creel de Larios in Cuna de lobos, has passed away. She was 83 years old.
Thanks to her role as Soraya Montenegro in María la del Barrio, Itati Cantoral has been dominating the internet with an insane amount of memes, gifs, and even a House of Cards promo special. Itati blew up in the mid ’90s, when older millennials were still teens, and she’s that generation’s go-to character when it comes to Mexican telenovela villains.
Yes, Cantoral was great as Soraya, but the top dog in the telenovela villain game was — and has always been — María Rubio. The Tijuana-born actress was so good in Cuna de lobos that, according to an interview she did with Cristina Saralegui, the role ruined her career:
“[Catalina Creel] was a difficult, beloved character. I enjoyed playing her, but she also hurt me a lot. People completely forgot about María Rubio and now it seems that, after 40 years of being an actress, I’ve only done Catalina Creel.”
Catalina, a murderous matriarch, was known for having some of the best one-liners in telenovela history. But in the same interview with Saralegui, which was filmed over 20 years ago, María proved to be just as cunning and smart as her infamous character, but also incredibly funny:
“[Although I played a villain], I’ve received nothing but compliments, love, and admiration. Never aggression. I think viewers do attack the bad ones — bad actresses, that is.”
If you understand Spanish, check out the hilarious interview below. Watch María viciously own everyone in a panel of full of young telenovela villains:
Traumatic advice from aunt Rosa: “Don’t torture your Care Bear, Mijo. Or else.”
I was 6 years old when I yelled at Tugs, my Care Bear. I put him in time-out for not agreeing to the rules of an imaginary game I had just created.
I built a little time-out fortress for him to stay in while I played with my other toys. Coincidentally my tía Rosa was visiting that day. I urged her to see all my toys when she came into the house. I also explained to her that Tugs was in time-out, to which she replied in shock, “Mijo, mira, You have to be nice to your toys.”
I replied, “Tía, I am nice to my toys, but I’m teaching him a lesson.”
She contested nervously, “No, Mijo, you have to be nice to your toys or they might not be nice to you.”
I wasn’t following her logic.
“Mijo, if you’re not nice to your toys, then at night time they might wake up and crawl into your bed to cut your toes with tiny razors,” she said slowly while staring at my imprisoned Care Bear.
“What?!” I whispered to her while looking at Tugs from the corner of my eye.
“Yes, your toys might do very bad things to you if you don’t treat them good.”
I stared at her in disbelief.
She stood up and walked towards the doorway.
“Mijo, I brought you some tortillas. Come in the kitchen and let’s warm them up,” Rosa said casually.
From then on, Tugs sat on a tufted pillow on my dresser while I slept in velcro shoes for the next year. Growing up in my Mexican-American family meant that everything was possibly alive and watching you.