Category Archives: DC Promo

5/1/15 – Tonite! Tomas Q. Morin and Paul Otremba at Brazos Bookstore

FB Event

Come hear Tomas Q. Morin read from his recently published translation of Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu and Paul Otremba read from his recently released book, Pax Americana.

Today, 5-1-15 at 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 77005

Well, I’m excited about seeing my friend, Tomas. We’re both SWT (Texas State) grads and haven’t seen each other in 17 years. I knew him when he was a student serving as a tutor for Bobcat athletes and I was their academic advisor. Here’s his professional bio:

Tomás Q. Morín’s poetry collection A Larger Country was the winner of the APR/Honickman Prize and runner-up for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award.  He is co-editor with Mari L’Esperance of the anthology, Coming Close: 40 Essays on Philip Levine, and translator of The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda. His poems have appeared in Slate, Threepenny Review, Boulevard, Poetry, New England Review, and Narrative.

Paul Otremba’s Bio:

Paul Otremba is the author of two poetry collections, The Currency (Four Way Books 2009) and Pax Americana (Four Way Books 2015). Born and raised in Minnesota, Paul studied English and Philosophy at the University of Minnesota before receiving his MFA from the University of Maryland and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston.

Paul has published widely in journals, including The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Literary Imagination, Forklift, Witness, and multiple appearances on Poetry Daily. In honor of his poetry, he has received scholarships and a fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a Barthelme Memorial Fellowship, a Krakow Poetry Seminar Fellowship, and a prize from the Academy of American Poets.

His essays, poetry reviews, and food writing have appeared in Tikkun, The Houston Chronicle, Spoon Magazine, and in the anthology American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics. Paul is an Assistant Professor of English at Rice University.

So, come check out these fine poets.

CityVoter Best Charity Contest – Vote Neighborhood Centers

Houston.CityVoter.com has an online contest where visitors to the site pick “Houston’s A-List,” including the category of Best Local Charity.

There are a lot of good ones listed, but one of the most impactful organizations is Neighborhood Centers. So, join me, and vote for Neighborhood Centers!

Note:  You’ll have to sign up to the site, but it’s easy! Voting ends May 31st.

Album Cover Artist Ruben Cubillos on NBCNews.Com

I’ve known Ruben Cubillo’s work for a long time. I’ve been a Tejano music fanatic since the single digits, and even as a kid in the 80s, I was always interested in the behind the scenes stuff about albums. It helped that one of our neighbors, Bobby (Gallo) Gallegos was a musician himself and had a lot of war stories to tell which included some names from bands like The Latin Breed, Tortilla Factory, Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, and countless others.

I may not have known anything about music production, but I always paid attention to the names of producers, sound engineers, studio musicians, and especially the graphic artists for future contemplation and comparison. It was kind of like a hobby which continues today because I really love this music.

One name that seemed to pop up on albums often was Ruben Cubillos and his company A Big Chihuahua. If you love the first EMI Latin Selena album cover, well, it’s Cubillos who was the genius behind it.

Austin writer Juan Castillo offers up an excellent interview with Cubillos on NBCNews.com about his history in the industry. One bit of great news is that Cubillos is the guy that designed Juan Gabriel’s Los Duo album cover, as well as a new project coming from the legendary Ruben Ramos.

Check out the article.

In this world of music downloads and Spotify accounts, let’s not forget about the importance of album covers. For most albums, the art is the selling point. The layouts, the liner notes, etc., tell more of the story of a band and the project they are selling you. Pay attention!

2/7: Congressman Luis Gutierrez Speaking in Houston

Definitely save the date for this important event regarding the President’s Immigration Executive Action:

Immigration Rally on Executive Action

Saturday, February 7, 2015

2:00 p.m. (doors open at 1:15 p.m.)

Lindale Assembly of God

503 Reid

Houston, Texas 77022

What to expect: 

Information about Executive Action

Guests:  Bishop JR Rodriguez, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero

For more information:  www.nalec.org

DC Reviews: Intocable ~ XX ~ 20 Aniversario

I intocableremember it was 1995 at one of the big Tejano clubs in San Antonio. I took a night off from studying and made the trek from San Marcos to check out a young band that was gaining popularity. I had become an instant fan of Intocable when they released Fuego Eterno. Now, I got my chance to see them live and, man, did they tear the place up. It was like a rock show–lights, smoke, and yes, music.

Lead vocalist Ricky Muñoz gave the band his own voice and acordeón stylings and his band had their own sound. Norteño, yet with hard-driving drumming by Rene Martinez, tough bass lines, and a rock-tinged bajo sexto by Johnny Lee Rosas, it surely wasn’t your parents Ramon Ayala or norteño music. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a twenty year career has earned them millions of albums sold, sold out tours, seven Latin Grammys, and two Gringo Grammys, among other awards.

Twenty years later, the formula hasn’t changed, but they have pushed the envelope, whether through crossover anthems or through back-to-roots albums, or pop-flavored ballads. Twenty years later, they still sell-out huge venues in Mexico and the US–even taking their music to Colombia and Central America, and even The Greek in LA. And twenty years later, Intocable has given us the gift of a live album to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

Seldom do live albums take us from day 1 to today, but XX does. Starting with hits like Vete Ya, Parece Que No, and Coqueta, and on through Nos Falto Hablar and Culpable Fui, Intocable takes us through a career filled with memories and music–for the band and the listeners. Twenty live hits and an hour later it feels like one has gone through a powerful set.

The guys even add one de pilón; a cumbia titled Cajita de Carton.

Musically, the band is as tight as ever, even adding a second bajo sexto years ago to strengthen the sound. Listening to the old hits played by today’s Intocable standards is a treat that all will enjoy.

Anyway, it’s a must buy for the collection.

2015 will be a huge year for Intocable as they hit the road all over the country, but a few tour stops caught my eye:  2/13- Minneapolis; 2/27 – South Bend, IN; 2/28 – Detroit; March 1 – Queens, NY; March 21 – Bolivia. Hope the guys say hello to Evo Morales for me.

Intocable is:  Ricardo Muñoz, Rene Martinez, Sergio Serna, Johnny Lee Rosas, Juan Hernandez, and guest bajo, Alejandro Gulmar.

Track List:

1. Vete Ya
2. Parece Que No
3. Coqueta
4. Y Todo Para Que?
5. Llevame Contigo
6. Eres Mi Droga
7. Donde Estas?
8. Amor Maldito
9. Fuerte No Soy
10. Estas Que Te Pelas
11. Ensename A Olvidar
12. Suena
13. Eso Duele
14. Aire
15. Alguien Te Va A Hacer Llorar
16. Por Ella
17. Tu Adios No Mata
18. Robarte Un Beso
19. Nos Falto Hablar
20. Culpable Fui (Culpable Soy)
21. Cajita De Carton

Enter the Tejano Conjunto Festival Poster Contest

From Juan Tejeda:

Attention visual artists and graphic designers. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center wants you to submit a poster for the 34th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival Poster Contest 2015. The Overall Winner receives a $1,000 cash award and the winning selection becomes the official poster for the 34th Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio 2015 to be held from May 13-17. A Top Selection and Honorable Mention poster will also be selected in the middle school, high school, college level, and open categories. Deadline for submission is February 7, 2015. For the complete rules & guidelines, click here. FEBRUARY 7, 2015 DEADLINE! 

Chris Bell to Announce for Mayor on Sunday

Chris Bell, former Congressman and Houston City Council Member, is set to announce his candidacy for Houston Mayor on Sunday afternoon. This will be Bell’s second run for the post (last run was 15 years ago) and he’ll become the second progressive-leaning candidate to announce a run in what will likely be a crowded field.

This is a serious election. Folks should get to know their candidates, so, here’s an opportunity to learn about one of them.

Funeral Arrangements for Reies Lopez Tijerina

kingtiger

Save the Date: 02/09/2015 – Americans United ~ The Bible in Texas Schools? Why Not?

Americans United:  The Bible in Texas Schools? Why Not?

Pronin: Selma~A Film of Our Time: A Review

by Art Pronin, Guest Blogger

I saw the much discussed film “Selma.” It is the first big screen motion picture to feature Martin Luther King-you read that right! It is one that will live you. Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Young, both who were part of the Selma march in 1965, provided much on-set input.  FBI recordings and notes are also utilized to provide a full picture. Directed by Ava DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Tom Wilkinson as President Johnson, and many women is small but memorable roles-such as Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper, Lorraine Toussaint as Amelia Boynton and Carmen Ejogo as Corretta Scott King, make for a highly emotional cinematic event.

The film is told through the vision of it’s director DuVernay, who is African American and a woman. She lovingly crafts a movie that focuses a movement that toppled the old order for a better nation, lead by a great man.

“Selma” opens with King accepting the Nobel Peace Prize of 1964.  He returns home to black churches being bombed and the urgent need to let African Americans vote.  MLK and LBJ wrangle over passing a voting rights bill. LBJ who wants blacks to vote, tells King he needs wait on such a bill given the Great Society programs needed more time to lift folks out of poverty. LBJ assures King he will get the voting bill, but not yet.  So MLK takes his SCLC team to Selma, a place which had been organized for years for the fight to vote.

In Selma we meet many Americans whose names we should all know, but do not. Watching Annie Lee Cooper-played by Oprah-trying and trying to be registered to vote is hearbreaking.  We see the risk King took to go down there, for as soon as he arrives he is punched in the face by a white man off the street.

We find MLK had a complex set of internal issues within the movement, such as with SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinated Committee) and John Lewis. Then there is Malcolm X who King’s wife Corretta meets with just weeks before his murder to try and broker a peace.

DuVernay shows us a MLK who is a human being with vices. One vice is his affairs. And the FBI makes sure she is tormented with detailed knowledge of some of these, which is illustrated hauntingly in a brilliant scene.  The director also shows his greatness in oratory and knack for knowing how to push politicians and citizens into acting. We see a MLK who had real fears, a man who stood in horror having to watch his fellow protestors being beaten at the Selma courthouse, and time and again be told of a fellow in the cause being murdered.  It is a moving portrait and a service to the viewer.

The march from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote is done in a sweeping fashion in the movie. Hundreds gather and march across the Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” to do just that and are brutally beaten and some killed- on live national television. A national crisis ensues, with LBJ in the film urging MLK to back off a bit and Governor Wallace refusing to yield one inch. Finally a judge intercedes and orders MLK and marchers to be able have their march.

Once MLK crosses that bridge with thousands from all over America of all races, and the soul of nation is moved, he speaks at the state capitol steps. And, thanks to Oyelowo’s bravado performance, we see a powerhouse speech that rushes through your veins. It is here where we get to see what happened to these many people we got to know for two hours, and yes many are shown to have lost their lives, including MLK.

The film has received I believe unfair criticism over how LBJ is shown.  Some say LBJ is portrayed as a bit too unfeeling toward the cause and dismissive at times. For me I watched and cheered Johnson as he showed disgust with the likes of Hoover and Wallace. The audience applauded when he told Wallace what he was and which side of history to be on.  LBJ deserves his own film from Hollywood showing all he did to move this country forward, but this one is dedicated to MLK and the African Americans in Selma and their brave struggle. Let us recall that this is a movie, not a PBS documentary.

This movie’s timing, as America finds itself with voting rights being stripped and injustices being committed in places like Ferguson and New York, makes it so relevant. The directing by Ava DuVernay is on par with any other great director of cinema. The acting is very memorable, and provides this cast a rare chance to shine in a industry which affords rare spotlight for African Americans.

Selma focuses on the power of non-violent movements and how they can change things for the better. Make sure you, your children, friends and family all see this brilliantly made piece of work. This is our time’s most important film.

Art Pronin is a Houston Democratic activist and avid fan of films.