Minutes before members of the state Latino Legislative Caucus recognized ‘Cheech’ Marín on the Assembly floor, the 71-year-old comedian was cracking jokes in one of the state Capitol’s chambers.
Marín took the entire day at the Latino Spirit Awards last Monday (May 7) in stride. He sat relaxing in a spectators’ seats at the Capitol, where moments earlier, journalists figured out how to interview that star of popular movies like 1978’s ‘Up In Smoke’ and 1987’s ‘Born in East L.A.’
“It’s always nice to be honored by a community because it means you’re speaking authentically for and to them,” said Richard Marín, who has accomplished worldwide notoriety as Cheech and Chong alongside Tommy Chong.
“If you live long enough, anything can happen.”
Asking him what he thought of his movies being shown on cable networks and the decades-long following the pair have amassed, he said, “Royalties. Royalties, man. It’s nice that we’re still connecting to our audience among generations. I don’t know very many other movies celebrating their 40th anniversary, ‘Up In Smoke.’”
Marín continued to joke about his invitation to the Latino Spirit Awards, where members of the military, community leaders, authors, actors and such have been recognized in the past.
“Free lunch. No, this is a special one. It really comes from the community. To speak with an authentic voice, it means that you’re doing something well,” he said.
Marín, a collector of Chicano art for decades, partnered with the city of Riverside last year to open a museum featuring the artwork.
“I’m still collecting. We’re in the process of converting it from a library to a museum. It will be the first-ever Chicano museum,” said Marín, also a marijuana activist. “The city of Riverside actually asked me.”
Marín started a business selling marijuana and calls it Cheech’s Private Stash.
Prior to being called to the assembly floor to receive his award, he encouraged people to be active.
“Everybody vote if you want things to change, of you want it to be the way you think the fairest for America, then vote. Get up out of your couch, your La-Z-boy, go down and vote on that day. Our voice will be heard,” he said.