Raul Velasco died yesterday. For those of us raised by Mexican parents, this means a lot. The guy was the host of a weekly, three-hour-long variety program named “Siempre en Domingo.”
As its name suggests, the show was on every Sunday night and we watched it (some of us were forced to), every Sunday night. We made fun of it, calling it “Siempre en lo Mismo” or “Siempre es lo Mismo” because many of the musicians who appeared, appeared week, after week, after week. We also made fun of that little hand sign, that now looks like a gang sign, he made that signaled “aun hay mas” or “there’s more to come.” We hated the show when Raul got ill and his daughter tried to fill in.
Despite the mockery aimed at the show for its longevity, it has a special place in my heart because it was aired during pre-cable tv times when we all watched the same thing, on the same television set, in the same room. Our families in Mexico watched it, too. Months later, when we visited them, we shared common experiences through this variety show.
We all watched the show featuring Menudo, before it became a popular boy band (and again when Ricky Martin joined).
We all watched the episodes featuring Luis Miguel, Lucerito, and Pedrito Fernandez just as they entered their teenage years. They later appeared when they dropped the diminutive -itos from their name and tried to outgrow our thoughts of them as child stars.
We all watched when Maria Conchita Alonso first came on as the beauty queen/singer. Then as she tried a punk rock silver wig, and then as she, mysteriously, vanished from the stable of people who were on the show every couple of weeks.
We all also learned from the show as Raul Velasco traveled to Mexico’s different states, and demonstrated the differences in cultures of Veracruz and Guerrero and Chihuahua, and all those Mexican states where our parents had never gone (or at least my mother had never been).
Like I said, in its later years the show became a joke featured on SNL-type skits on the kiddie show Chiquilladas, but it was a common thread, shared across generations, and that earns it a special place in my heart.
© Laura Genao 2006