March 10, 2006

Point of View:

Jessie James is puro Chicano

By Al Carlos Hernandez

I have to admit that my sons and I are huge fans of the Discovery Channel TV series Motorcycle Mania and Monster Garage, featuring motorcycle builder and primetime outlaw Jessie James representing the LBC. The show airs on cable, if you don’t have basic cable use your rotary phone and ask somebody who does.

What is great about the show or Jessie in specific is that most blue collar, motor head homeboys can relate to the fact that Jessie keeps it real. His love of what is considered boulevard chic, is authenticated by those who live and die by bikes, low riders, hot rods and hot cars that floss up and down the mean streets.

Weather folks know it or acknowledge it or not, Jessie in my opinion, although genetically gringo, (his Grandfather being a cousin to the real Cowboy horse pilot outlaw Jessie James). Monster Garage’s Jessie is culturally Chicano.

If you view him with a “Barrio eye for the Latino guy”, there are several clues that give him away. He tends to wear flannel shirts always buttoned to the top. His pants include Dickies and Ben Davis. His hair is slicked back, and if you get a close up and read his sleeve tattoos, you will soon realize that this TV icon is anything but cute or domesticated.

James was a college football player and trained to be a professional security guard and even toured with such bands as Slayer, protecting rock stars from the metal heads. No doubt Jessie can throw down. He started his business broke and now has over 50 employees, and sells bikes for $60,000-$150,000. Because of smart merchandising you see his West Coast Choppers logo on all sorts of things.

What give Jessie away more than anything are his speech patterns. If you listen to the way he forms his sentences, the way he turns a phrase, the pregnant pauses in-between paragraphs, he could easily be talking Cholo Spanish.

In uptown urban circles there is a new label for some men termed “Metro-sexual”. A metro sexual is a straight man that spends a significant time getting manicures, facials, highlights in their hair, pedicures, eyebrow waxing, teeth bleaching, and hundred dollar hair cuts.

If and since this is true, then accordingly, a non Latino, who wears button up flannel shirts, baggy Ben Davis pants, various headwear pulled way down to the arch of the eyebrows, hair plastered straight back, full sleeve, and full back tattoos can be referred to as a “Mexi-Sexual”.

No disrespect to Jessie, being a Mexi-sexual is a good thing he married Sandra Bullock, and for many Anglos who grew up Chicano, this persona can act as a major lady attraction device for those feminine who have a Latin lover, Casanova, Don Juan susceptibility. I am told by those who world travel that they have seen homeboys in Hiroshima, hairnets in Hamburg, and have heard “orales” in Amsterdam.

What is encouraging about this whole Jessie James chopped bike, flip car thing is that prime time media is realizing that we are living in a post ethnic society. Real people can relate to people who are talented yet don’t fit into any preconceived mold.

Art is in the eye of the beholder, the goal of the artist is to provoke or inspire an emotional reaction in the viewer. Jessie and his motley crew by blending form and function are at the razors edge of this motor republic.

Folks respect Jessie because his no nonsense non dramatic approach to art without the bourgeois pretense of aesthetic symbolism. He lays his art and masterful technical ability down on the street and lights it up with an uproarious Y QUE!

Sabes que,…James is the new paradigm for post modern American media, Homes.

What works as an underlying theme of each show, is that master mechanics and fabricators from around the county have to audition. The stipulation being, Jessie is the undisputed boss. Often times you can tell when a straight laced dork gear head, is pained to have to acquiesce to Jessie’s vision.

Nobody wants to do tricks for an underclassman, herein lies the beauty, they have to in order to be on TV and get their 15 minutes, and win their tools.

That is what affirmative action was supposed to do.

Watch Monster Garage, Monday evenings on the Discovery channel.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood

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