Wait a Minute Man!
There is hate in the air, or so it seems. As each day passes, and with no real immigration reform to speak of, Arizona is quickly becoming a hotbed for fear and loathing of the color brown. People are bolstered in the chaos to show their true colors. The situation is only going to get worse.
And so it’s during these times that I put on my headphones and listen to my beloved Minutemen. No, not the group of so-called border patriots that until recently were led by Chris Simcox, who is now seeking to unseat John McCain in the U.S. Senate.
The Minutemen I’m referring to were a punk rock band in the 80’s and hailed from San Pedro, Califas. More influential than famous, they experimented with funk and jazz and wrote songs about the working man, the Mexican experience and white-boy guilt, and had song titles like “Jesus and Tequila” and “Corona.”
They seemed to love Mexico and its people.
It’s been almost 25 years since Dennes “D” Boon, the band’s large-hearted singer and guitarist, was killed in a car accident near Tucson. He died in the same Arizona desert that claims the life of so many individuals who trek across the barren landscape, trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Both Boon and Simcox named their respective groups in tribute to the fabled minutemen militia of colonial times. But Boon, ironically, also wanted to lampoon a defunct far-right militia outfit from the 60’s that went by the same name. An online article, “Paranoia as Patriotism,” reveals similarities between Simcox and the bygone group’s leader, who faded away after being jailed for firearms violations and other unsavory acts. Hmm.
That Simcox is challenging McCain, who not long ago could have become President of our nation, is alarming and serves as an indicator of where our country is potentially headed… an all-out war on culture with a border as battle ground.
The same border that D. Boon and his band mates regularly crossed not only for fun and excitement, but also for lyrical inspiration. One such example is best illustrated in the aforementioned song “Corona,” that you may have heard if you’ve seen the MTV show “Jackass.” (The opening riff, an ode to Mexican rancheras, is played at the beginning of every episode).
In the song, Boon sings about an encounter he has with a woman on a beach, who is likely peddling trinkets while he sips on a beer. He describes the “dirt, scarcity and emptiness of our South,” yet is confident that she and others like her “will survive in their environment” in spite of the “injustices of our greed.” At song’s end, realizing that he doesn’t have much to offer her, he sings, “I only had a Corona, a five cent deposit.”
I imagine him smiling at her as he bows his head in respect and her walking away just a bit more dignified. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I firmly believe that positive exchanges between human beings are the surest way to resolve even the direst of situations. It’s too bad that the leader of my Minutemen is no longer around to lead by example.
“What rock music has done for me is show me that people could actually not hate each other.” – D. Boon