Daily Archives: July 31, 2008

Tijuana canal cleaned for concert tonight

Escudo de TijuanaImage via Wikipedia

The large concrete canal that cuts through Tijuana’s core is usually embedded in weeds and foul smells. Last weekend, I noticed that it had undergone a major makeover. The freshly-scrubbed looked, I have since learned from KPBS-San Diego, is in preparation for the visit of famous Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez. Fernandez will be singing here tonight, July 31. The concert is free, though paid spaces were also being sold as part of a city fundraiser. For more information, go here.

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Is Tijuana getting tired of the narco corrido?

Explosion Nortena video posting from YouTube

This year’s drug-related violence along the border has brought another round of public attacks against “narco corridos,” those peppy accordion tunes about the exploits of drug traffickers.

In an article today, The Los Angeles Times detects declining interest in “narco corridos,” perhaps as people view the songs as trivializing the bad behavior of thugs with drugs. In the case of some of these groups, as the story notes, art and life is also getting entangled in messy ways.

I once interviewed Alberto Cervantes Nieto, the lead singer of Explosion Nortena, for a story on these groups. Nieto wrote songs about the region’s Arellano Felix drug cartel members. He used code names and references to events that the average person wouldn’t understand, and he told me he got his inspiration from newspaper articles about the cartel. A year later, he was detained by Mexican federal officers when he was found at a Tijuana seafood restaurant with suspected Arellano Felix members.

I often wonder how and why people end up in the company of the cartel and I think the answers are as complex as human nature. The crazy thing is that I actually got hooked on Explosion Nortena’s songs – they kept on buzzing in my head for months after I wrote about the group.