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El Pakal is one tough-looking hombre. Not only is he ripped from head to toe, but his face is hidden by a gold wrestling mask and his torso is painted with Aztec symbols. Is he loco? Nah, just a participant in lucha libre (Mexican-style wrestling). Pakal is a member of Gladiadores Unidos, a local group that holds matches every Friday at a converted South Phoenix warehouse, and also a rudo (bad guy) whose main goal in the ring is to beat the crap outta the technicos (good guys). For those who're unfamiliar with lucha, here's a brief primer, wey: Originating in Mexico and similar in most respects to the WWE, lucha features faster, higher-flying action that's a little different from what you see on Monday Night Raw. First of all, many Mexican-style wrestlers wear colorful masks. Also, the action takes place in three-on-three tag-team matches that involve a whirlwind of action that often spills into the audience. Gladiadores Unidos is one of three lucha groups in Phoenix and is, by far, the best. Its characters are more over the top (a wrestler dressed as a cat) and humorous. Don't worry if you're not bilingual, because the action is easy to follow. Just stay outta the first three rows.
A while back, the Mexican government commissioned a comic book covertly instructing illegal aliens how to cross the Mexico/Arizona border. The Guide for the Mexican Migrant depicts "illegal aliens" crossing the Rio Grande and dodging border patrol agents, and spells out crafty ways to hide out among gringos once they're here. Wee-hoo!Despite its cunning claim that the comic is about legally immigrating, it's actually a carefully crafted caveat about how to survive while you're on your way and what your rights are once you get here, regardless of your legal residency status. Printed by Mexico's Foreign Ministry, the Gold Key Comic-like story of a group of "migrants" is told in simple, colorful panels that make baddies of the Border Patrol agents and describes ways for brown people to hide in plain sight among Phoenicians. The comic has been removed from the Mexican government's website, but a copy is still stashed here, and the Internet has been ablaze with commentaries, both pro and con. (An English text-only translation appears here.) We think this super comic deserves a round of applause.