Reality diva, Dallas Harrison, came out to play in the sun at a Cinco de Mayo bash put on by Burton. Despite the obvious hipster dilemma of celebrating a Mexican holiday in the United States, there she was. And her fire-when-ready mouth took no prisoners. “You should take my picture. I’m the only one around here who’s famous.” She posed smiling. “My name is Dallas, but I’m from Houston.”
She’s been on a number of reality shows, “Rock of Love,” “Charm School,” “Millionaire Matchmaker,” and “Reality Obsessed.” She said, “I’m supposed to do anything one tomorrow, but I can’t remember what it is. I came here to be an actress, but I will do what I have to to get by.” How true.
And somehow the topic of hipster racism came up. She explained it this way, “It’s when people take something from another culture, like wearing a native American headdress when they don’t even know what it means. It’s rap being done by white people. It’s fringes.” With the passing of Adam Yauch, that’s rough. “Or Mariachi El Bronx singing mariachi in English with a white lead singer.”
She means cultural misappropriation. But is it? Being that it was Cinco de Mayo and Mariachi El Bronx was playing, she needed a little enlightenment. First of all, they started because The Bronx were invited to do MTV Unplugged and since their hardcore punk songs didn’t sound good as acoustic, they took Prince’s “Purple Rain” and made it a mariachi-style cover. Then they were inspired and made an album with some really good songs.
Seriously, why can’t people who grew up listening to a music style adopt it? Mariachi music pumps out of many restaurants in the Los Angeles area. There are several mariachi music festivals in the area complete with dancers. It can’t be ignored. In Mexico, the kids for the most part don’t bother with mariachi music. One person called it “old people’s music.” Even so, it’s a cultural tradition to have mariachis at weddings and family parties and sing along to the old songs.
Most rock bands that start in Mexico sing in English because they want to make it in the U.S. El Bronx write songs in the style of mariachi, but with slightly different instrumentation. Their drummer plays a cocktail drum kit. What El Bronx really did was take a codified and dying folk art form and infused it with new life that attracts people to it. Guitarist Joby Ford said, “We are guests to this genre. We put as much love and respect and caring to this as we do to our punk band,” when he spoke to the L.A. Times.
Under the tutelage of some of the guys in Los Lobos, they have learned additional musical forms. Los Lobos likes the band so much that they asked them to open at the Greek on Cinco de Mayo which the City of Los Angeles declared is Los Lobos Day. David Hidalgo played guitarron on “Mariachi El Bronx 1” and subbed in when the band appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live in Los Angeles. Now his son Vincent Hidalago has taken over that spot. Incidentally, Vincent Hidalgo doesn’t speak any Spanish.
The rest of the band is a multicultural affair. Yes, there are “white guys” of various European backgrounds. But there’s also a Chinese-American, a Japanese-American, and Vincent Hidalgo who is Mexican-American. Lead singer Matt Caughthran is not just White, but Irish. No doubt his family faced great discrimination.
Speaking of hipster racism, what was she doing at a Cinco de Mayo party anyway? “I only date millionaires. I’m just looking for something for tonight. I thought this would be a good place to check.”
Cinco de Mayo isn’t exactly the best understood holiday around, most people just drink margaritas and think they’ve done the apropo thing. The day commemorates the Battle of Puebla in which Mexican troops kicked the French out. It’s a minor holiday celebrated locally in the state of Oaxaca. Americans can at least relate to the idea of kicking imperialist forces out of their affairs.
Enjoy the photos in the slideshow.