Speedy Gonzales 420

Rain, rain, rain. To balance the pleasant weekends we’ve had in April, the last one was cold and very wet. On Saturday the water came down practically all day, pausing in the wee hours of Sunday and early in the day, and then starting again.

I looked at a national temperature map on Sunday night and a weird blue gash of a cold front extended southwest from the Great Lakes as far south as western Oklahoma, signifying temps in the 40s and 50s. Thus Chicago was colder (at 43 degrees F) than either Billings, Mont. (61) or Fargo (57), both of which are west of the gash. And it was 65 degrees in Indianapolis, 71 in St. Louis. But those places had the cold front to look forward to.

One thing to do during such days is to stay home and watch cartoons. We happened to have a disk around the house featuring an assortment of ’40s and ’50s Termite Terrace shorts. One was “Gonzales’ Tamales” (1957). Been a long while since I’d seen a Speedy Gonzales cartoon, maybe 40+ years since I’d seen this particular one, and I’m not sure Ann had ever seen one.

The closed caption titles happened to be on. Things were moving along: Speedy was being speedy, outwitting the gringo Sylvester, and so on, when Speedy sings a version of “La cucaracha.” Then I had a Did he say what I thought he said? moment. I rewound a bit, and sure enough, he did.

The imdb describes the scene: “Around 4:42, Speedy is heard singing a spoof of the Mexican folk song ‘La cucaracha’ with nonsense words in odd Spanish which could be transcribed as: ‘La cucaracha, la cucaracha, ya no puede caminar. ¿Por qué no Fanta? ¿Por qué no tiene marijuana par fumar?’

“This would seem to mean: ‘The cockroach, the cockroach, she can’t walk any more. Why not Fanta? Why doesn’t she have marijuana to smoke?’ The Fanta reference is the most puzzling part of the verse. But the mention of marijuana is clear, and how the artists got it past the censors would probably be a good story in itself.”

Heh-heh. I’d guess that there wasn’t much of a story in getting it past the censors. Probably Friz Freleng and Warren Foster (the writer) put it in to see whether the censors would notice. No one did. That’s entirely plausible. I’m sure I didn’t notice all those of years ago, and I might not have noticed this time had the titles not been on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *