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Radio Chon: The Bay Area's Los Otros headline Pochopallooza.

Bridging Cultures

Teatro Campesino's Pochopallooza is a Latin explosion beyond the mainstream

By David Espinoza

IMAGINE A FESTIVAL of music, art and poetry dedicated to first-, second- and third-generation Mexican-American culture, and you have something close to a "pochopallooza." Set to take place at El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista--the stomping grounds of definitive Chicano playwright Luis Valdez--the event promises a variety of talents, ranging from the Bay Area's Los Otros to spoken-word-ensemble Grito Serpentino.

For those unfamiliar with the word "pocho," be forewarned that using it to describe anyone of Latin descent is not a wise idea. Basically the Mexican equivalent of the African American term "oreo" (black on the outside, white on the inside)--pocho refers to Latinos who have been whitewashed or Americanized. For some it is an insult; for others, it is a way of acknowledging the difficulties of being raised in two competing cultures. In the past 10 years, the word "pocho" has been reclaimed by a younger generation of artists like La Cucaracha cartoonist Lalo Alcarez, who publishes the satirical Pocho Magazine, and the theater group Latins Anonymous. There are also bands, like the East L.A. quartet Los Pochos, which play traditional Mexican corridos; the hardcore punk/ska outfit Voodoo Glow Skulls takes "pochochismo" to another level.

To be sure, the "P" word isn't something that has a chance of appearing on census forms or job applications, unlike the word "Chicano." For the Mexican-Americans who admit to some degree of pochochismo (getting a C- in high school Spanish, enjoying Taco Bell burritos more than their parents' own cooking), the word is often with a sense of humor. How else would you get a festival called Pochopallooza?

In a major contrast to the mainstream Latin Explosion (Enrique, Jennifer and Ricky), Pochopalooza features acts that are more about creativity than good looks. Chances are, there will be discussions about issues confronting Latin Americans today through various media. Aside from music, there will be film and theater from Generation Ñ's Aztlan Barrio, as well as spoken-word poetry. Headlining the show will be Los Otros, a band that has received much critical acclaim after the release of its debut CD, Radio Chon.

Pochopallooza, with Los Otros and Grito Serpentino takes place Friday (Feb. 25) at 8pm at El Teatro Campesino, 705 Fourth St., San Juan Bautistia. Tickets are $12 doors/$8 adv; 831.623.2444.

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From the February 24-March 1, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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