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Roberto Avant-Mier’s “Rock the Nation Latin/o Identities and the Latin Rock Diaspora” quotes (98) Lester Bangs, ‘Protopunk: The Garage Bands,’ to say that the Kingsmen’s “Louis Louie” has been called “the world’s most famous rock’n’ roll song” (261).  Although the Kingsmen 1960’s version connected “Latino/as to the garage-rock moment,” nevertheless, at the beginning of my freshmen year at Seattle’s Blanchet, my friends and I would feed the jukebox in the cafeteria and listen to our favorite ‘cool’ Black R&B bands that included Richard Berry with Tacoma’s Pharaohs, performing their 1955 original version of “Louie Louie”, who according to Avant-Mier, Berry had an “affinity for Latino musicians such as Tito Puente and Rene Touzet, and he wrote “Louie Louie” based on Touzet’s ‘El Loco Cha Cha.”

As soon as Berry’s song ended we would play Donald Woods and the Vel-Aires, 1955, “Death of An Angel” .

Blanchet in the 1950’s reflected an oppressive culture for girls, black and white. We went to a school where misogyny, sexism and racism were fully operational. We wore uniforms to hide our sexuality from both ourselves and the boys, who were allowed to wear their street cloths. We were placed in gender specific segregated classes, cheerleading was the designated girls sports program, typing and home economics classes were offered instead of physics, and many of us were discouraged from taking higher level math and sciences classes since our assumed and imposed aspirations were limited to Marriage, Nursing, Teaching, and low paying secretarial jobs. North Seattle’s Jim Crow neighborhoods zoned ‘whites only’ left the school racially underrepresented. We had one black girl in our student body. She was the daughter of the school dietician and cook.  By the middle of my sophomore year R&B music was censored and removed from the jukebox by the Principle because of Louie Louie’s supposed obscenity, as well as “Death of An Angle’s” unsubstantiated rumors of teen suicides.  Bored, we would skip school and meet at the Kit Cat Drive-In to drink Cokes, learn to smoke cigarettes, listen to Black R&B, and read out loud Grace Metalious “Peyton Place”, about a white, religious, class divided community that told a story of sexual desire, rape and incest.

Ann Powers transforms her youthful rebellion during the 80’s at Blanchet (“Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America”, 2000) into a confrontation with racism and white privilege in her NPR “Collaborations: Navigating The Grammy Crossover”. 

 

 

 

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