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Author of the Month: Julian Segura Camacho

Published: November 15, 2010

Chalino: A Chronicle Play of Fulgor and Death

Julian Segura Camacho, lecturer, Chicano and Latino Studies

Published in 2009 by Floricanto Press, Chalino: A Chronicle Play of Fulgor and Death is Camacho’s fictional treatment of the Mexican corridos composer’s life. Chalino (1960–92) performed in such venues as South Gate’s El Parral Nightclub and El Farallón in Lynwood with his band Los Amables del Norte. He made his breakthrough, in terms of publicity in 1992 when a patron at a Coachella performance pulled a gun and shot Chalino. The musician returned fire and by the end of the evening, the would-be killer was dead, one other person died on the way to a hospital and at least five others were wounded. Chalino died in Mexico that same year under mysterious circumstances. Chalino’s trademark corridos date back to the pre-Columbian era with links to 15th century Spanish romances. In its most known form, they consist of a salutation from the singer and prologue to the story; the story itself; and a moral and farewell. “Most of the book is fiction but a lot is not because Chalino did, for example, buy cassettes in Lennox where my grandfather saw him because these ladies would sell in front of the laundromats where he worked,” recalled Segura, who joined the university in 2006.

“My brother stated he hung out with an uncle because he used to own a cantina where he would have an audience.” Camacho believes the musician’s real strengths were 1950s heartbreak songs. “It was a musical form that had died out in popularity several generations before but which he gave a comeback,” Camacho said. “His work coincided with the rise

Author of the Month

of cowboy outlaws in northern Mexico. His greatest significance is as a cultural bridge. Northern Mexican culture bleeds into the American Southwest. The Tex Mex culture crosses over into Anglo culture. One challenge to corridos in California is the urbanization. Chalino revived the music in urban centers. That’s amazing. No one thought it was possible. I remember having relatives who wore sombreros in Lennox. It was Chalino who argued you can wear a cowboy hat in the city.” His next books will be My Two Californias, detailing Camacho’s Inglewood upbringing on the state’s last rancho near Florence and La Cienega, and If Jesus Couldn’t Save Himself, How Can He Save Me? on his experience in WASP culture. His other work includes Societal Suicide, The Chicano Treatise and Unwanted and Not Included: The Saga of Mexican People in the U.S. The South Bay native earned his A.A. from El Camino College, his B.A. in political science from USC, an M.A. in urban planning and, in 1994, a second M.A. in Latin American Studies from UCLA.