Contrary to what some of my fellow Arizonans believe, there is a difference between Mexican and Chicano. There’s also a difference between Chicano in California, and Arizona, and other parts of Aztlán. What kinda Spanglish da your familia hablan, ese?
This was something I needed to deal with in writing High Aztech. I couldn’t just do the same Chicano sci-fi that I did in Cortez on Jupiter. I had to get into a Mexico City state of mind, call up memories of my mind-altering visits there, and more: I made a point of reading books, magazines, and newspapers from Mexico -- and yeah, I dusted off mis historietas -- tuned into a lot of TV from Mexico and local Spanish-language radio.
This was back when they were trying to establish an English Only law in Arizona. Did these people realize that in the Metro Phoenix Area radio waves carrying the Spanish language was constantly passing through their bodies, jiggling their DNA? Maybe a religion virus wasn’t necessary . . .
I made a point of tuning into a Spanish station while writing High Aztech. Get the rhythm of la idoma as well as the music dancing in my synapses, absorbing songs lyrics, DJ chatter, news, and occasionally, something truly different.
I forget the station, but now and then there would be an echoing countdown: “Diez . . . nueve . . . ocho . . . siete . . . seis . . . cinco . . . cuatro . . . tres . . . dos . . . uno . . .”
Then I would hear sci-fi blast-off sound effects, and a male announcer would announce that Doctora Luna was on the air. He invited the listeners to call in for advice on heath, spiritual matters, and amor!
The first time I listened carefully, and was shocked buy what I heard, or rather didn’t hear.
Doctora Luna had a radio show, but her voice was never heard. She was only “on the air” in the sense of being available to take calls, off air. I assumed that this was probably because the nature of her advice had less to do with medical science than with a kind of curanderismo.
The FCC probably has regulations against broadcasting such things. Maybe it’s better that I don’t remember that station.
During her program the countdown and solicitation for calls was repeated, then they would alternately play two different Spanish translations of the song Love Potion No. 9: Poción de Amor, and Bola de Cristal.
Repetitious? Sure, but it was weird, just the sort of weirdness that slammed my brain into the world of High Aztech.
Doctora Luna was a big help in writing High Aztech. She also inspired my story “Doctora Xilbalba’s Datura Enema.”
Doctora, I would like to thank you. You probably have good reasons for protecting your identity like Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and the enmascarados de lucha libre. I hope that you are still out there, working that magic.
I also remember that my Spanish got pretty damn good back then. I should do it again. In fact, I wrote this while listening to an Austin TexMex station via iTunes.