Cheech Marin On How His Famed Comic Collaboration Was Like Chicano Art

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Cheech Marin describes Wayne Alaniz Healy’s Una Tarde en Meoqui as “Norman Rockwell with jalapenos.” He says it’s his favorite painting in his collection.
Ethan Kaminsky/Courtesy of Hachette Book Group

DAVID GREEN ~ NPR ~~~

Cheech Marin lives up a winding hill in Los Angeles, high above where the ocean meets the mountains. He greets NPR in a Cheech and Chong T-shirt and makes sure to get everyone’s names before inviting us in.

Marin, of course, was half of Cheech and Chong, one of comedy’s most famous duos. The group became popular in the 1970s, and continued making movies into the ’80s.

He lives in a gorgeous house, which he says he bought for its walls — they were perfect for his art collection. “I didn’t even walk out to see the view,” he says. “The view is spectacular.” Throughout the house, Marin has hung canvases and placed sculptures with the eye of a curator. He’s been supporting Chicano art for years, and his collection has toured museums all over the country.

He’s reluctant to pick a favorite artwork, but if you press him hard enough he’ll point to Wayne Alaniz Healy’s Una Tarde en Meoqui, or “An Afternoon in Meoqui.” “It’s like a backyard barbecue,” Marin says, “but it is Norman Rockwell with jalapeños.”

Also on display are copies of Marin’s new book; they’re piled up on the coffee table, waiting for autographs. The cover shows 70-year-old Marin smashing a piñata of his younger self. The book is called Cheech Is Not My Real Name … But Don’t Call Me Chong!

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