A couple weekends ago, I ran into some friends standing outside a club against a backdrop of Downtown cruisers in near-deadlock. “What's up?” I asked. “Nothing,” one replied, nodding at the barely moving cars, “just watching some people who are obviously more bored than we are.”
Lowriders emerged in the Chicano communities of Southern California during the late ’40s and spread throughout the Southwest. Outsiders sometimes make the unfair assumption that lowriders and cruising represent antisocial behavior, associating them with drugs, violence, gangs and other wayward societal misfortunes. But those who've tracked the history of lowriders see it as an art form with important societal implications: There are parallels between cruising lowriders and the paseo which was a practice in Mexican villages wherein unmarried men and women walked in opposite directions, checking each other out. The elaborately decorated lowrider is also seen as a 20th century translation of the elaborately decorated Moorish horse in Spain.
“When I see a place, it's a parking lot. It's a building. It's steps. I see the steps as seating capacity. I see the walkways. I can see gold and chrome and paint,” says Squirrel Montoya, producer of some of the biggest lowrider shows Albuquerque has seen since the mid ’80s.
Alex Montaño can remember when these parking lots along west Central would fill with lowriders, banter and impromptu hydraulics competitions. The Sonic under the neon Route 66 overhang would be jammed with nothing but lowriders, and you'd drive through to holler at your friends, show off your car and, of course, pick up girls, he says.
Two-year-old Alexandria is suffering from Sticklers Syndrome, which causes blindness and hearing loss. Route 66 Promotions will be raffling off a lowrider bike at the car show, and all proceeds of the raffle will go toward aiding Alex's family with medical expenses. $1 off every ticket to the show will also go toward helping Alex. Anyone wishing to donate additional money can send it to: Bank of America c/o Alexandria Rodriguez, Cindy Rodriguez, Account #00430460770.
Fantasizing about cars is one of my favorite daydreams (and it’s a damn good thing my dreams don't come true because if they did, I’d have a volume of Plymouths, Volvos and dune buggies on my hands). So when asked to dream up a lowrider for myself, with no consideration for the logistics, difficulty, time and coin that actually goes into creating any work of art, it was a no-brainer. I immediately decided on a Polynesian theme: a pineapple exterior and a luau interior. Pineapples taste good to me, their shape is hilarious and their golden ratio proportions are enticing. They also summon thoughts of tropical beaches, drinks, sunsets and the aloha lifestyle. The same can be said for the luau that would take place on the interior of my lowrider.
He has a tattoo of a squirrel running up one leg and coming back down the other with two nuts in its mouth. That's what he says, anyway. You'll have to ask someone else if it's true—although the word “Martha” with a red “Void” stamped over it is displayed prominently on his upper arm.
A rare 1963 Impala. A gold-plated engine. An anaconda-skin ragtop. Twelve painters. One-hundred and fifty master craftsmen. $170,000 in materials. Nearly 10 years of work. What do you get when you combine all these things? Anaconda, the most famous lowrider in the world.
The northern New Mexico town of Española is located not far north of Santa Fe, between Los Alamos and Taos. Approximately 10,000 people live in the town that was originally established in 1598 by Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate. Being surrounded by an amalgam of attractions and having its own arts community, Española is a tourist stop. However, the town is best known as the lowrider capital of the world; it supposedly has more lowriders per capita than any other place on Earth. While there isn’t necessarily any solid evidence that would confirm the town's claim to fame, there isn’t any evidence to refute it.
Sunday, May 28
Sandia Motor Speedway
100 Speedway SW
Doors open at noon
Includes: cars, trucks, bicycles and a special appearance by the Anaconda and a car-hopping exhibition
Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door
Get them in advance at:
Record Roundup 2529 San Mateo NE
Gotcha Covered 3004 Second Street
Alberto's Tire Shop at 2500 Isleta SW
El Segunda 1810 Central SW
Call 203-9807, 242-4800, 452-9205