New Books on Mexican American Culture

The LA Times has an interesting review of two new books on Mexican American culture.Mexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935-1968 (Refiguring American Music)
as the title says is about music in LA during the middle of the century and The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identity about the Mexican form of wrestling. The review also includes a quick overview of some of the literature on Music and Mexican American culture that is quite useful and I wish more reviews did this.

Yet after digesting this book, I still felt something lacking. Though “Mexican American Mojo” does a great job of proving its point, Macías ends at 1968, just when the Chicano movement took hold and a new generation emerged along with its music. He clips his thesis just as it’s about to truly take off. (For a better accounting of what followed, I recommend “Barrio Rhythm: Mexican American Music in Los Angeles,” “Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock ‘n’ Roll from Southern California” and “An Oral History of DJ Culture from East Los Angeles.”) As it is, “Mexican American Mojo” can very well be Los Angeles’ version of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” — a volume everyone should own but few will ever read.

And about Lucha Libre

Heather Levi’s entertaining “The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations and Mexican National Identity” assumes the role of engaged anthropologist. Levi takes the novice into the world of lucha libre, veering between explaining the basics (moves, traditions, the difference between rudos and técnicos — bad and good guys, respectively) and recounting a thorough history of the sport, touching on major fighters, developments and its frequent intersections with Mexican politics and identity.