“The Vatos That Time Forgot!”

While I was enjoying SOLEDADENMASA‘s last post, I was inspired to this pendejada.

For some time, I’ve noticed a weird Chicano Phenomenon. Through my explorations of media like Lowrider Magazine, Myspace, Music Videos, Chicano Cable Shows, etc., I’ve discovered that in regions outside of So. Cal, like say, up Norte (Fresno, Sacramento) and particularly in other states (Texas, Arizona) it’s like:
The Vatos That Time Forgot”. I mean, image wise, the Chicano homies & hainas appear to be about 20 yrs. behind the current SoCal look. It appears that the Vato look has evolved here in L.A. over the years, but outside of here it’s still predominantly the Pendletons-khakis and bandanasRetro-Homie” look for the guys & girls in that scene. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed this?
Also, It almost seems that socially & politically they are only recently going through the growing pains we did here in the 70s-80’s. Could it be that the demographic is finally reaching critical mass in other places and is only now mirroring the SoCal Chicano (r)evolution of previous generations? That would mean that we here were, to some great degree, the pioneers & prototypes for the American Chicano model in this country, even going back to the Pachuco days. That’s Cool!

tangent/addendum-I give those older Chicano generations all the respect they deserve. They had to forge a hard fought path in establishing an identity within a society that wasn’t near as accommodating or sympathetic as we have today, and they did it on Huevos alone. Here’s to you! Salúd Carnales!

This entry was posted in Analysis, Greater Los Angeles, history, Media, Pendejadas, Personal, Politica, Rant, Uncategorized by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: alguerrero@earthlink.net Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697 www.alguerrero.com Myspace.com/thepuppetsfromhell

44 thoughts on ““The Vatos That Time Forgot!”

  1. I’ve never seen any of the young cholos (up to about 30 years of age right now) wear Pendletons or any of the other “classic” cholo clothing (example of it: http://www.greenspans.com/). The few times I have seen that style of clothing/hairstyle would be on older veteranos or some of the younger cholos at parties. Almost all the young cholos I know are of the bald/really short hair throughout their whole head with either blue (preferably Dodgers), black or white T-shirts two sizes too big with baggy shorts (sometimes pants) in the obligatory darker shade of blue. Rarely do I see khaki’s, plaid shirts, or any other colors/patters used by the younger cholos.

    I think part of this may be due to changing standards at schools. LAUSD has cracked down on specific types of clothing (like caps with logos, jerseys, other attire that has been deemed “gang-specific”). Seeing as how public schools seems to be one of the places where cholos publicly meet, in order to continue to be allowed to meet here (and not get into any more “trouble”) they conform to these standards and their clothing, both inside and outside, has changed as a reflection of these regulations.

    The one thing I don’t understand, however, is what you mean by “growing pains.” Care to explain a bit more?

  2. The new generation (Hispanic) Gangsters in my area flipped the script to be low pro..most of them grew their hair long and wear it in a braid pulled back with sports hats. The attire is usually white baggy tees(Pro Club),basketball jerseys, the pants are baggy still but usually jeans or Dickie shorts.Shoes usually a brand of Nike but not Cortes…
    There still are some bald ones but not many most have hair
    It was funny because the other day I seen this OG like in his 50s maybe walking down the st he was rocking out G style with a fitted white crisp tee, brown dickies, the mustache and fedora hat.
    as for the peneltons and all that I have not seen that in a long long time in this town at least…But yes i have noticed like in Desert towns or in Texas the Cholos still dress like back in the day

  3. Some of the “social” growing pains I refer to of those days were, for example, the very open & blatant discrimination faced simply because you were brown. You were put down everywhere, and by many, career counselors, employers, cops, etc., sometimes to the point that you started thinking that you belonged “down”. It seemed like the atmosphere was safer for haters to exist openly and we always felt like we had to prove ourselves and show that we deserved to be treated fairly and with equal respect. When a phrase like “Chicano Power” came around, at that period in history, it became extremely significant in defining how we’d feel about ourselves and manifest a new, improved identity for ourselves and it helped us in establishing the social/political paths we’d follow for years to come.
    By the way, I’m no social studies expert, but I know what it was like to have lived it.

  4. On road trips to Oakland or SF, I’ve noticed that radio stations in the Central Valley seem to be behind the times too.

    Oh! The last time I heard Art Laboe’s show, most of the callers making dedications were from outside the LA-area.

  5. Coincidentally, I was thinking about this very subject just today. A few years ago I did a small road trip through Arizona and New Mexico, I happened to be in Santa Fe for their big annual parade. I was able to people watch quite a bit. My jaw dropped when I saw a young Chicano couple straight out of the 70s with wide bandana headbands, those brown/tan stripped sweaters and the feathered hair on the girl. Another young guy was walking around all hard in a Homies button up shirt, it had large animated prints of the characters and “homies” text along the back. My friend and I could not keep from smiling.
    Anyways, I used to think my cousins from San Jose were way behind the times. They seemed so infatuated with celebrity sightings and the idea of Hollywood. I eventually figured out there’s A LOT of people like that!
    Los Angeles has so many Chicanos and Latinos that it seems our ethnicity isn’t as defining as it might be in other places where the population is more segregated. We have more freedom to create our own culture based on the variety and diversity of choices in the city around us. When I was growing up, our identity was usually defined by the kind of music scene we belonged to: punk, mod, rockabilly, goth, metal, disco etc.
    I know I’m biased, but I’ve always believed Los Angeles Latinos were on the cutting edge of culture.

  6. I think so too chimatli. I remember once, in 2000, visiting cousins in Kansas City and they were wearing fashions from years ago and music too. It seems as though Latinos here are almost constantly going through fashion changes.

    Going to backyard punk shows in East LA, we were defined by the mini subcultures too: punk, rockabilly, mozheads, goth, metalhead, skater. Now we have the emos! (or EH-moes, as they’re reported in México)

  7. Very astute observation Diego. I noticed this too. Looks like those vatos just got out of the pinta and haven’t had a chance to go to the Pico Indoor Swap Meet or Greenspans to do buy some new “ese” gear.

    Seems like to me that your prototypical cholo still sports baggy jeans, white tennis shoes, baggy t-shirt or jersey and is pelon. However, there are many gangstas that take a different approach. Especially with the explosion of “urban wear” designers. Many vatos now sport that hip-hip hop fashion that they can get at the Denim Exchange or Hipnotik (Those who can afford it)

    And you can’t forget all the gansters that went Chalino. Especailly in Southeast L.A. where all the Cholos hooked up with the Narcos and started sporting 100X hats, cintos piteados, ostrich skin boots and puto tight jeans.

  8. Not that gangstas would give a crap about my opinion, but I think the worst trend among cholos was to go pelon. I remember it started as a way to look hard, I guess they shave your head when you go to jail or something? Anyways, a lot of people don’t have a nice head shape and the bald style can be very unattractive (The Chalino look is much better). Ha, it would be cool to see some retro cholo fashion coming back into style! You know, when cholos took two hours to groom and every piece of clothing was perfectly pressed.

  9. Some of you have touched on the notion that Cholo fashion reflects a look inspired from inside the “Pinta”. I remember seeing the cut-off pants at mid-calf, the tall white socks, the Winos shoes and the plain white T’s as being part of the “Pinta” or “Juvie” look back in the day, and those remain homeboy fashion standards today. Is the
    “Pelon” look something that also started in the Joint?

  10. I’ve been noticing the same thing about non-L.A. Chicanos also. To meet/see them is like taking a trip back in time. It makes me wanna stop shaving my head & bust out the pocket comb & tres flores. haha

    I’ve also noticed how much they dig pocos pero locos “cholo rap.” Especially in the Victorville & Hesperia areas. But out here in East Los the music gets virtually no love at all (which I def. don’t blame anyone), I’ve yet to see one of the homies or someone else bumping that joke of a rapper Lil’ Rob or that other jack ass Capon-e. hahaha

  11. I agree with Big Thumps. The last time I saw anyone into Lil’ Rob was in that bogus movie “Quinceanera” a couple of years back. I watched an episode of “Cops” a few weeks ago that was filmed in Kansas City, and they were busting some little Mexican Cholos in an alley who were all dressed like the above photo on this post. They were getting cuffed and yelling out “Chicano Power Ese!”. Another Cholo oddity is, in Hollywood
    there is an Armenian gang called “AP”, Armenian Power. I’ve walked by a few of them now & then and I’ve been astounded to see them not only dress just like the Latino Cholos (sometimes a velour jogging suit thrown into the mix) but actually TALKING IN A LATINO ACCENT and saying words like ORALE, ESE and other Chicano slang! I shit you not!
    I had to do a double-take!

  12. I work with kids and they are free to throw up gang names as a joke. It gets to me because they can and nothing happens in the classroom. I tell them that if they did that in my neighborhood it would not be good and back in my day they would get a serious beating or shot (maybe even today) if in the wrong neighborhood. They take it for granted, I take them outside and lecture them, but I get tired of the posers. Banging with their ipod and cell phone. I can’t take it sometimes. and Whats with The Ask A Chola?

  13. Go to Yaqui pueblo in Tucson and all over the Southwest and you’ll see where the “vato” look originally came from. Time stands still in some places and people in the city come from places like the countryside, like AZ, NM,TX, Sonora, Chihuahua. LA’s not the motherland, it’s kinda the opposite.

  14. Ummm….nah. First off, I’m from Texas, born and raised and I’m in the military stationed in San Diego. Now, my fiance is from Bakersfield and when I came out here I thought I walked back in time. First off whoever, is tellin ya’ll that we have cholo’s in Texas must be goin off of something somebody’s brother’s, cousin’s, bestfriend’s, ex-roommate info cuz tha only time I see cholo’s, they came from LA. Nah, in Texas you’ll see errbody creased up, Air Force 1’s or Jordan’s, Astros hat or Rangers hat. Akademiks jeans or shorts or Girbaud jeans or shorts. Coogi T-shirt or a throwback Astros jersey. Hair, either bald fade, taper fade or some throwed ass braids. Diamond grills in our mouth and big ol’ rocks in our ears. Oh and ya gotta have ya DJ Screw t-shirt! It’s a must. We don’t say “essay” or “vato” unless we makin fun of it’s use and we don’t ride lowrider’s. SLAB baby!!! Slow Loud And Banging. Wit fo’s and vogues or some 22 inch blades. So I don’t know where ya’ll gettin ya’lls information from but I AM from Texas and have been stuck in california for 4 years now and ya’ll are behind the times. Oh, and we don’t wear no knee-high socks like they do in cali either.

  15. Looks like general is one of them cholos. Its funny cuz my dad use to be in gangs when he was younger and he tells me stories from back in the day when he used to kick it on Brooklyn, now Chavez, and those were good times. Cholos back then were not as crazy/stupid, they didnt need guns to get down. plus the cholo “fashion” was cool. I do notice less and less cholos today, the only time i see them is when im E. LA but very few, and they look like they just got here from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador etc.

  16. Nah, nigga it’s Geral not general…and like I said niggas in Texas got ova that cholo shit back in 92 when DJ Screw came out. We Young Country Meskin Niggas ya digg!

  17. Mayne ya’ll folks trip me out on da real. Ya’ll talk about how people should respect ya’lls mexican culture and respect this and that but ya’ll are quick to judge someone that don’t fall into your idea of what a mexican should be. So, I’ma wannabe? Have you lived my life? Do you know what I’ve been through? Then how ya’ll know what it is that I wanna be? You have no idea how I grew up or what I done been through. So gone talk ya shit about mexican pride and all dat cuz ya boy is an American…not mexican ya dig? Oh and da reason I was talkin bout da way we do things in Texas is cuz ya’ll talkin bout mexicans dat ain’t from L.A. are stuck in da past when it’s really da otha way around. Ya’ll can go around talkin bout a nigga confused n all that but I ain’t cuz I’m an American and I act like an American should…however tha hell he wants. If ya don’t like it you can leave my damn country! If ya don’t then enjoy da freedom people like myself defend for ya’ll.

  18. Just so everyone is clear, here is a description of the unfairly chided Ebonics:

    The term Ebonics was originally intended and sometimes used for the language of all people of African ancestry, or for that of Black North American and West African people, emphasizing the African roots of the former; since 1996 it has been largely used to refer to African American Vernacular English (distinctively nonstandard Black United States English), emphasizing the independence of the latter from (standard) English.

    It is similar to the Chicano version of Calo (the term Calo originally comes from the Gitanos of Andalucia.) Ebonics is not slang and is used by academics and others to describe African-American derived English.

    What Geral is using is a form of urban slang that I think is popular all over the U.S. I hear Latino kids from South Central and Mid City talking similarly. It’s really not fair and is even somewhat insulting to say Ebonics is an archaic language as it is still being spoken by many Americans. Calo on the other hand, does seem to be dying out.

    (sorry for not using accents but it’s not so easy on Linux computer)


  20. Hey OlSkool14,
    Thanks for explaining that they’re trying to keep the ‘OL’ SKOOL’ look up in the Norte and do their own thing. I can totally respect that.

  21. Cholos have no pride in the way they look today. It started with that late 80’s generation who began to wear sports gear, jerseys and bald themselves to try and look downer. The ones who drove the cutlass, regals, & late monte carlos, (nice rides). Though most started to wear that oversized look.That classic cholo style has always been a mirrored look of those in jail. Creased pants, clean cut appearance, pride on your style. When you saw eses walking down the street there was no question about it.

  22. Contodo respeto this El Smiley from Boyle Heights L.A. and just wana state that the main reason that we(the younger homboys) have som what droped the classic cholo look is to remain some what in a loprofile when it comes to busting missions and doing jales now a days you get stopped and harrased for anything by the cops and dressing this way brings to much unwanted attension Im not tryna say or take anything away from the older homboys as I am sure they were constanly harrased by the cops in their times for the way that they looked but we have decided to grow and dress in less prolific look, I however have no excuse for the oversized clothing and pants below the ass crack dispensa I mean waist but now a preffered style by my camaradas in my age group includes Levis 501s, nikes,reboks or converse, and proclub attire, hats have greatly aid us in the lowprofile attempt because they conseal bald heads like a concealed weapon, feel free to comment me on this subject “Contodo Respeto”
    -El SMILEY

  23. Smiley,
    thanks for that in depth info on gangster style, it is those insider comments and understanding that is vital to anyone who wants to know eastlos chicano culture today. And it is on point.

    thanks as well for the insider look at why nortenos dress that way, although surenos up north and in outside LA areas also dress in that old school style as well. In fact, my buddy from SanJo noted how the nortenos clown the surreno border brothers for dressing like outdated cholos. I also remember surenos in merced, bakersfield and other central valley towns rocking the older styles as well. I also used to work with kids in gangs in the fruitvale district, keep the whole “that shit aint coo” BS wherever you’re at, because down here we do things a lot harder than you can ever imagine. In LA we have no concept of norteno beef until we hit the pen, because homeboys banging down here drop each other at a rate you guys will never know (hopefully). That’s on the real, from someone who had made love for the fruitvale, east oakland and westside b-town barrios, as well as san pablo and richmond. Just understand and accept that a lot of the things you guys do came from us.

  24. I’m 22 n I live in sacra, I’ve NEVER seen a norteno or even an upstate sureno wear pendletons. you usually see Black Dickies, big white tees, shaved head, nike cortez, and then a red or blue hat n paño. I still wear khakis but i’ll usually wear a t-shirt with it. The pendleton/fedora/stacy adams trend died out a while ago as a trend but some old vatos still dress like that.

    On rare occasion, I’d say like 1 or 2 days outta the year, a youngster will dress old school. A vato really sticks out wearin that style so they only do it for a occasion. N i’m just a youngster so I can’t speak for sure but from what I hear, norcal an socal chicanos were on the same page culture wise through the years, I think surenos just got more exposure because they’re from the big city, so most surenos claim chicano culture as their invention.

  25. what is the contemparery cholo ”so.cal” style
    no hay solo un estilo
    have you really looked around, ive seen too on websites and youtube… raza with gigantic ass pants
    the culture does come originaly from los angeles East L.A. and all
    but it gave birth in difrent parts of the u.s. then centro,sur america and even up in certain cities of canada
    gente representing that cholo pride
    you cant expekt everyone to go in the same motion dogg
    what ever the style you want to do, that’ll be on you
    no te freges con el vecino

  26. Heres a little trip for yall. I spent my early childhood in east los and live and reside in south london UK. I grew up during the era when cholos had slick back hair, chispy white t’s some pendletons, bandana’s etc and the vatos were not afraid of browning down in the sun. 80% of brown kids from the uk say people who look like them, same hair,same tone of skin and to a degree behavior in the vanity sense..The current style is to far to close to right wing skin head movement. So much so the white skinned mexican or mixed chicano looks even closer in style to what the whites wore in the uk home of the skin head.Thats a style they will night be sporting as it is to close to the neo nazi fashion of the 70’s and 80’s. Its like being brown has no worth. Chicanas look more like white girls and the pelons look white.

  27. Being brown skinned is now referred to as being dark skin. Most chicanos like george lopez, Cheech Marin and Mr Shadow (rapper from SD) are becoming a dying breed on TV. Its a real shame. I miss the days when browns were browns. Choloism was about your ropa and your hair and Brown pride and Aztlan, brown berets was not about separation within our own. When rap was about politics not about sur/norte , killing each other. I also miss the days when chicanos did not have the angst they have against blacks nowadays. Thats the days when real browns were in control.

  28. I love the “Classic” Cholo look. I go back to 1978 when there were 6-7 of us young cholos in junior high. We had no beef with anyone, we stuck to our group.

    Now it’s tough when your older trying to find good Pendeltons. Unfortunatley on my end I do shave my head bald due from getting thin hair.

    Viva La Raza

  29. i b3 reading this shits abots kloth3s, i dontz w3rz the ol skool cholo styl3 it kosts to much f3ria, to sabes i dont hav3 a jal3 rights now

  30. The concept of the “Chicano Phenomenon” is loosely hinged with the social perceptions created by multimedia, for example the “Chicano Phenomenon,” is perceived by how one looks, talks, and acts, hence its substance has less to do with the truth of “Chicanismo” which is the identity threshold that allow our culture to reflect on every individuals own struggles in this culture of minority hardship.

  31. I can’t speak for LA but in Sacramento it seems the older cholos dress more old school cholo style, while the younger ones tend to be more hip hop. I’d have to ask, have OLDER cholos in LA really moved on from their older styles?

    BTW, has anyone noticed that a lot of cops tend to use gang slang from 20 years ago? Just a lot of the verbage when talking about gangs and mimicking their behavior tends to come off like it was ripped from an old Compton’s Most Wanted track. A lot of, “putting in work”, “ridin'”, “down with”, “know what time it is” (I’m not joking, heard a cop say that on t.v. a few months back, about “OG gang members”), where when you hear a young, modern day gang member talk their slang seems to be more advanced and morphed with modern day hip hip, instead of ’80s Ice T lyrics. Talk about gangsters stuck in the past…

  32. AD- Yes, there’s nothing like the classic look I remember from the 60’s and 70’s!! Start off with a nice short hair cut, well trimmed, not faded, or baldy. Top it with a nice tango, A jc penny’s towncraft t-shirt, creased down the center and sleeves, khakis in our days were from jc penny’s, or Al’s Army & Navy, I don’t remember anyone wearing Dickie’s in those days!! Some nice Stacy Adams shoes,(Romeos?) or the classic black suede shoes that were so popular in the 70’s!! A nice creased headband adds a nice touch. Some guys wore this with different accesories,or not.
    Chuco’s look in “Boulevard Nights” is very classic, the strut, and the hand in the pocket are classic!! If we got a little more dressed up we got our clothes at “Kurley’s For Men”. On a different note AD, i was wondering if you were still going to do more posts on Whittier Blvd, including… What’s Left etc..?

  33. when i was growing up it was the 80’s. i remember all the older homeboys wearing all the khakies and plad shirts mostly cause of my pops. me personally i still were the clothes on ocassion when iget the chance to go home back to S.F valley. im 32 and in the army. but when i get the chance out here ill pull out my black slacks my dress shirts, stacy adams, and fedoras.and i were the clothes with pride i dont forget where i came from or[where im from] due to the fact that me and my ol lady are brown and proud “CHICANOS”

  34. I Used To Love How Gangsters Back Then Used To Dressed…After The Zootzooters!.,
    Everyone Would Wear Ben davis*Gorilla Cut* With There Nike CORTEZ’s And Their Charlie Browns!. With Their Hair Conned Back & Hair Net.,, I Was A Little Kid Watching These gangsters Around Me.,, Now In Days “Gangsters” Dont Dressesd Like Back then…,Chicano Pride. Brown & Proud.

  35. Orale, I’m from San Anto and we still wear the khakis, tangerine Stacy’s and fedora. It’s just a way of life. I’m just a regular vato who grew up in the barrio and have always taken pride in my appearance and my culture. When my wife and I go out, I always wear pleated slacks that are pressed just right, a nice guayabera and my Stacy’s , then I top it off with a classic stetson fedora. I can’t tell you how many looks I get from old timers who appreciate the classic look that defines all of us who are from the barrio. I’m in my mid forties now; not quite an old timer but I am old enough to know who I am and where I came from. I wish the younger Chicanos would just appreciate the rich culture that is ours and theirs, embrace it, be proud of it but at the same time be respectful. Con todo respeto carnales, lets keep it classic.

  36. Orrale homez I’m a 36yr old vato from North Texas. Back in my high school days I remember wearing baggy dickies and starched them up hard the night before after doing my homework of course 😉 The homies and I also wore oversized flannels, white or black t’s with our hood or last name in old English lettering on the back. Also Ben Davis shirts with the zipper collar, Cortez, converse. I remember we were really proud to be Mexican in those days we would rep it to the fullest for instinct in school I remember a necklace I made myself that consisted in a leather string, with green, white, red bids that made that Mexican flag, those bright colors looked so sick over my white tee by next week all my homies were hitting me for one 💵
    I pay homage to the big homies in Califas who created this cholo style. Me, I was born in Coahuila, Mexico and was brought to Texas at the age of 8. As a kid I was influenced by Gangsta Rap! Movies like Menace to society, Boyz n da hood, Blood in blood out, American me. The California Gang culture took over me, I started talking like them, dressing like them, and it just turned me into a different person. I had lowrider bicycles and graduated to a 84 cutlass, then a juiced 83 coupe deville, and now a beautiful 65 Impala SS. This cholo lifestyle of mine everyone thought it was a phase when I was 13. Now I’m 38 and the only thing that changed is I’m bald headed now and have a lot more tats! I don’t wear dickies much no more but I do wear my 501’s bien planchados. Cortez, a fresh white t or a cozy hoodie. Sometimes I wear a nice Ben Davis shirt or a Charlie Brown depends on my mood. The Dayton’s on my 65 Impala stay clean and the old school funk bumpin in my speakers 😎

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