And one of my other favorite versions of the Mexican Conquest from Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain:
The theme song from another revolution that has never gone out of style:
“Getting your dad's pickup? Great cover story for investigating the mystery missle!”
That Victor Theremin! What a kidder! Always pitting a paranoid spin on things. Actually, this road trip was planned long before the mystery missile launch. Honest.
So after watching some bullfight and riot videos, I put on my Homeland Security . . . Fighting Terrorism Since 1492 T-shirt, and off we went, down I-10, past the wooden cut-out of a giant baby, where the zombie cacti flexed their gnarlitude. Stephen King provided a literary soundtrack. We ate commercial burritos that stayed together when you ate them in the car – no edible fallout. The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station was either raising steam or kicking up dust into the afternoon air, toward mountains that looks like they belonged to a lost world with pterodactyls nesting at their peaks.
Were the ghosts of Jack Kerouac and Hunter Thompson riding in the back seats? Or was this just what traveling always does to my brain?
The lost world mountains gained a Martian majesty. The car-crushed coyotes made the road into a sacrificial altar that held our civilization together under a sky that was a complex web of expanding, disintegrating con trails -- as it usually is over Arizona. Lots of flying objects in this this sky, even if you can't identify them all -- like that lone blimp, hovering over a small town in the middle of nowhere, as we enter the smoggy haze that meant we were approaching California.
They waved us through the agricultural stop, but the Tejanos before us had their cooler examined. You never know if someone may be trying to smuggle some Madagascar man-eating tree seeds into the Golden State.
We stopped for cool drinks in Chiriaco, next to the General Patton Museum that had a lot of tanks (and a larger-than-life statue of the General and his faithful dog). Next door was a lovely outdoor shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe. That, the post office, motel, convenience store, and gas station made Chiriaco quite the oasis.
As we switched our soundtrack to the music of Raymond Scott, the high desert mountains merged with the clouds in the sun-blasted haze. Spectacular grey storm clouds filled the sky. If there were any unidentified flying objects, they were invisible in a sky transformed into an upside-down ocean of molten gold as we drove into the setting sun. Almost all the windmills of the wind farm along I-10 spun like mad.
At Mom's house, I used the wrong remote and knocked her flatscreen in the living room offline. Or could it have been some sinister agency trying to cut us off from vital information?
The little set in the kitchen worked. I read Spinrad's Mexica while hearing about people trapped on a crippled luxury liner, along with predictions of cold, windy weather and the discovery of still another species of self- cloning reptiles.
The sky was clear and blue. And there was no traffic noise. UFO influence? No, it was Veteran's Day. I had completely forgotten about the holiday. The L.A. Freeway boogie/rumble was called off. Dad was a veteran. I dedicated the quiet to him.
I went from Spinrad's Mexica to Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Moon Maid -- from one adventure in a bizarre world to another. After all, that's what life is? Isn't it?
I drove the pickup all the way pack to Phoenix, playing radio roulette. I let oldies time warp my brain as I drove across the SoCal of my youth into the desert of my current life. A ranchera station played a mix of traditional songs and narcocorridos. When “Cucurrucucu” came on I recalled the funerals of my grandmother and father and cried shamelessly.
The only flying objects were black, had feathers, and somehow could fight against the powerful winds.
Later, a lone helicopter hovered over mountains that were painted beyond psychedelic by the setting sun.
Victor grilled me before I had a chance to decompress:
“Learn anything about the missile?”
“So now that ya got a pickup, what are you going to pick up in it?”
“I don't know.”
For now, I drive my pickup, with my phantom co-pilot, and feel stronger than I have ever been.
Instead of getting depressing with more political stuff, I've decide to to do some fun extras – videos of Lalo Guerrero, the Original Chicano:
First, a parody of the Ballad of Davy Crockett, the irony being that Crockett was an immigrant to Mexico, who refused to obey local laws.
Next a look a the recent past:
And a possible future:
Finally, a blast from the past, hoping for better times in the future:
Here's a special guest blog by my good friend and colleague, Victor Theremin.– Ernesto
It's about time I got a chance to have my say about all this! First, don't believe anything that Ernest Hogan writes about me! The guy's a freaking mythomaniac. Leave him alone for few seconds and he starts confabulating. No need for drugs or anything – it's pure, nonstop brain dysfunction.
Especially right now, what with the election, his selling that story to Analog, and the fact that “Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs” is about to see print -- that twisted gray matter of his is blazing with a firestorm that has him sitting around with a weird smirk on his face as he watches videos of bullfights and riots. It'll probably just get worse when 2020 Visions (edited by Rick Novy) comes out on November 15th. Who know's what vile literary abominations will result from this . . .
They will probably bear a certain resemblance to “Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs,” which is the most outrageous atrocity committed in the name of science fiction that I've ever read. Worse, Ernest wrote me into the story, making me look like an even crazier nutjob than he is! And his depiction of our friend, Edgar Rice Harrison, can only be described as criminal – once people read it, I don't know how Eddie will be able to continue his legitimate research into the possibility that seeds of the man-eating tree of Madagascar have been smuggled into the United States.
Radioactive marijuana, neurotic artificial intelligences, multimedia countercultural art/crime events, and Chicano characters that are the polar opposite of proper role models . . . How does he think he can get away with this? I have spy cam video of camouflaged dacoits with blowguns in the trees around his compound – who knows what those darts are dipped in? And how could he smile like that during these troubled times?
Don't get me wrong. You should buy and read 2020 Visions. It has a wonderful story by Ernest's lovely wife, Emily (why she ever married him, I don't know) ,and other insightful speculations of the near-future by David Lee Summers, Jack Mangan, David Boop, Gareth L. Powell, David Gerrold, and others. It's the sort of science fiction we need, and haven't seen enough of lately.
But you probably shouldn't read “Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs” – as if anybody would want to read anything with a ridiculous title like that anyway. It you do find your eyeballs snagged by that despicable construction of words, don't believe it – especially the stuff about me.
Just keep repeating to yourself: It's only fiction . . . it's only fiction . . . it's only fiction . . .
I would report Ernest to the authorities, if there were any that I recognized or trusted.
Victor Theremin has been compared to Kilgore Trout and Raoul Duke. The world awaits his novel Let 'em Suck Supernovas!, but he keeps running around the world getting into trouble instead of finishing it.
“If Hunter S Thompson and Alfred Bester had a Chicano child, it would be this.” -- Dave Hutchinson
“Sometimes I read it front to back sometimes back to front. Sometimes I just drop down in the middle of it it and read anywhere. It's a great book.” – Misha Nogha
“. . . each of you with a wild mind and a cerveza or two under your belt should immediately buy it and see what truly imaginative, ALIVE, literature can be . . .” -- Arlan Andrews
". . . trailblazing, damn amazing . . . Vintage Gonzo Chicano SF" -- Saladin Ahmed.