by Laura E. Alvarez
Just another Morrissey loving Mexican here, and his concert is tonight here in Los Angeles. But we all have our story of how we got here, don’t we? I’d love to hear more stories. There could be a series. “How the Mexican got to Morrissey: A Collection of Short Stories from Across the Globe”. Yes, across the globe. You heard me. Mexicans are everywhere now. I heard they even have good Mexican food in London these days.
Santa Cruz, 1987. Orange County girl meets Venice local boy. She’s 100% Mex. He’s 100% Euro mix. So, naturally he introduces her to two life changing artists, Frida Khalo and Morrissey. Now, before this the girl only appreciated Renoir and Bananarama. That’s not true, she also liked Nagel and Spandau Ballet. It wasn’t instant, her appreciation of The Smiths and their front man, but by June of that freshman year of college, she went home with some Smiths tapes that she would listen to all summer on her Walkman. How was this passion ignited, exactly? The Venice boy was very persuasive. He courted her using Morrissey lyrics sung to her so sweetly. Did I mention that he was extremely, extremely handsome in an English romantic hero kind of way… and spoke perfect Spanish? Ah, she was smitten, you see.
Frida and Morrissey. Yes, let’s discuss. Everyone knows that Mexicans love Morrissey because of the whole love of dark humor, dark romance, dark everything. Mexicans invented Day of the Dead. They have magazines that specialize in just showing car accidents. They might have started the whole roadside memorials to car accidents. Noticed we have those here now. Interesting. They also invented Mariachis who sound like they are wailing at times over some heartbreak. And the telenovelas I grew up on? Those are full of tragedy… to the point of being funny. By the way, Frida would have loved Morriessey. Absolutely. Girlfriend in a Coma? It was her favorite song.
Yorkshire, 1990. The two aforementioned Americans attend art school in Leeds for a year. Leeds is in the north of England . Manchester is in the north of England. Morriessey is from Manchester. Morrissey comes out with his second solo album while they live there. All of their Brit friends make fun of it. The two Americans secretly love it. Her art stops looking like English landscape paintings (the reason she wanted to go study art there) and starts looking very… Chicana. Interesting. I think it’s all Morrissey’s fault, don’t you?
This scan of poster from this great random Moz stuff site. The show above? On March 5th? I was there and was a crazy maniac.
Los Angeles, 1992. Let’s stop writing in third person. Up until October of 1992, I was completely unaware of the Latin love for Morrissey. I was unaware as I worked at a pretty Chicano arts non-profit just out of college, in an art scene full of Chicanos, and living in a city that is second only to Mexico City in it’s Mexican population. I was unaware as I purchased our tickets to go to Morrissey’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Unaware walking in and then… Bam! It was like we were at a concert in Mexico City. It was packed. And not just packed with young people, but packed with three year olds and grandmothers. Mexican grandmothers! I’m sure some are laughing at me as they read this. “Oh, Laura. I grew up in Boyle Heights and that Morrissey obsession was so old by 1992. My Moz tattoo was already fading by then. 1992! Where had you been before that?” Uh, I don’t know. Manchester? Weird. Anyway, our favorite quote from that night was when we ran into Leti, the sister of an artist I worked with and we asked, “You’re a Morrissey fan? Where did this come from? And your mom is here? And your three year old?” I’ll never forget her face as she held her daughter’s hand. “It’s MORRISSEY!” she squealed. That’s all she had to say.
Los Angeles, present day. Since then it’s been oh, twenty years. I married the Venice boy at the church near where my mom grew up in Tamaulipas, Mexico. The d.j. played cumbias at the reception at my grandmother’s ranch. No Smiths unfortunately. I think most of the Morrissey, Depeche Mode, etc. fans are in larger cities. We’ve been to a few more Morrissey concerts thanks to our partners in our appreciation of all things Moz, David and Chloë. I think I listen to The Smiths or Morrissey at least once a week. My teenage sons put it on in the car in the morning when they sense I am stressed. That kind of says it all.