Category Archives: Cultura Chicana

Arts Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol

by Fidencio Leija-Chavez, Jr.

TODAY is “Art Advocacy Day at the Capitol.” Why is this important to Texans? The arts produce over $4.5 billion in revenue and shape our states landscape. Last legislative session, our leaders decide to cut funding for the arts by 50%.

The majority of arts funds from the state are allocated to the Texas Commission on the Arts, which are distributed to non-profits, community centers and art centers throughout our state.

In comparison to other states, Texas only funds 11 cents per person – while other states like New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma provide over 60 cents per person. Oklahoma leads the way with $1.06 per citizen.

The next time you drive by a community mural or Talento Bilingüe de Houston, you’ll remember if you made a phone call today to let your legislators know that increasing funding per person is important to you and your community.

It only takes 3 minutes to call your representative and inform them that Latinos are also part of the arts. Don’t wait! Call today!

Find the contact information for your State Representative here.

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Chip In and Support Los Angeles del Desierto

We’ve all heard the stories of migrants who cross deserts and treacherous waterways as they attempt to find a better life. Along with those stories are those in which migrants lose their lives in desolate, desert areas. And that includes Texas.

Los Angeles del Desierto is an all-volunteer search and rescue operation of lost migrants on the US/Mexico Border founded in 1997 by Rafael Hernandez.

For the last 15 years, Hernandez has dedicated his time, resources and financial stability to save lives, lay the dead to rest and ease the pain of countless families looking for their loved ones. Using his skills and training as a paramedic, Hernandez has conducted numerous searches/rescues of migrants reported missing or left behind in mountains, deserts and other isolated border areas in California, Arizona and Texas.

Hernandez and his volunteers, whom he recruits and trains, have evacuated an estimated 90 migrants in mortal danger when lost, physically ill, and suffering the consequences of extreme weather during border crossings.

As reported by the Chron, they were in Houston a few days ago to speak about their work. With three vehicles and 10 volunteers, they have now set off to South Texas, and, according to representatives are currently in Encinal, TX–about 70 miles south of my hometown of Crystal City and just north of Laredo.

Two of the largest ranches in South Texas have given permission to Los Angeles Del Desierto to look for missing migrants.Until now, our local coalition Houston United and individuals were able to cover the expenses needed to assist Los Angeles Del Desierto with their mission. On this occasion, we find that we do not have sufficient funds to get them beyond our city. We need your help now.

Over 127 bodies of migrants were found in 2012 around the Falfurrias checkpoint, double the previous year. The work done by Los Angeles del Desierto provides those families with lost loved ones some closure, and at the very least the security in mind that their loved ones were treated with dignity. But they need our help–whatever donation you can give is greatly appreciated.

You may click here to make your contribution. Share this post or “like” them on Facebook and share them.

 

3rd Centavo ~ Acuña: Politics is the Art of Compromise?

by Dr. Rodolfo Acuña

The most overused saying among liberals is that politics is the art of compromise, and it gripes me to no end. Liberals repeat it with such smugness as if they were sages. I find it so pretentious — to the point that I consider it a bunch of toro dung.

It is like saying that politics is the art of the possible, an equally absurd, pretentious and irritating notion. What happened to the impossible dream? Shouldn’t we always strive for something better?

If we have to have a standard wouldn’t a better saying be that politics is the art of principle after all politics is not a game. It involves people, and consequences.

In my own little world, I have seen too many Chicana/o studies programs compromised out of existence with administrators convincing Chicana/o negotiators that it was impossible to give them what they wanted, not enough money. At the same time the president of the institution draws down $300,000 a year, and gets perks such as housing, a per diem, and an automobile. One recently retired university president that I know sits on two corporate boards of directors, and draws down an extra $300,000.

This is academe’s version of one potato two potatoes three potatoes, more.

The game gets ridiculous. Faculties at institutions of higher learning supposedly have shared governance. In fact, every committee is merely advisory to the president who can accept or reject the recommendations.

For the past several years California State University professors have been playing footsies with the administration or better still the chancellor’s office over the budget and pay raises. This is a Catch-22, however. Faculty members also say that they are concerned about the escalating tuition; note that students pay as much as 80 percent of instructional costs. So where is the additional revenue going to come from? Professors love students, but not enough to forgo raises or out of principle go on strike to trim back the number of administrators and the presidents’ salaries.

It really gets ridiculous at times. At Northridge, Chicana/o studies was threatened that if it exceeded its target enrollment that the department would be penalized and its budget cut. Our former chancellor wanted to pressure the state legislature to cough up more money by turning back students. The administration minions at the disparate campuses justified this by repeating the party line that numbers do not count. In fact they laid a guilt trip on us saying that Chicana/o studies professors we were not team players because we were admitting too many students.

As a result, this semester we have a crisis. The institution did not admit enough students; the rationale was if we had fewer students, then we would spend less. But it does not work that way. At state universities even the allocation for paper clips depends on how many students you are taking in. That is why most departments are now being told to beef up their enrollment or lose a portion of their department budget.

Good old compromise got us there as well as the illusion that faculty has power. In fact there were other possibilities. Compromise was not necessarily one of them.

The word compromise is insidious. President Barack Obama has been trying to play Henry Clay and show that he is a great compromiser – forgetting that he is not bargaining for a used car.

President Obama compromised and got his Obama care package. A half a loaf is better than none my Democrat friends repeated, smiled, and nodded. But, according to the New York Times, “Americans continue to spend more on health care than patients anywhere else. In 2009, we spent $7,960 per person, twice as much as France, which is known for providing very good health services.” An appendectomy in Germany costs a quarter of what it costs in the United States; an M.R.I. scan less than a third as much in Canada.

The U.S. devotes far more of its economy to health care than other industrialized countries. It spends two and a half times more than the other countries do for health care; most of it is funneled through giant health corporations. Why do we pay more? Could it be because Obama compromised on the single payer?

I have been to France, Spain and Germany; I can testify that the quality of care is on a par and often better than in the U.S. and the earnings and prestige of doctors is equivalent or better.

Why is this? Could it be that they don’t have giant medical corporations making tremendous profits? Just Blue Cross of California has annual revenue of $9.7 billion. This not for profit corporation made $180 million in excess profits in 2010.

The only conclusion that I can reach is that Obama was suckered into believing compromise was necessary and that politics was the art of the possible instead of sticking to principle.

Let’s be honest for a moment, immigration was put on the back burner until the Democratic party realized that in order to win that Latinos better be invited to the dance.

However, Mexican Americans, Latinos or, whatever we call them, play the same ridiculous game as white people do.

Go to the neighborhoods, ask Central Americans if they are Mexican, and they get insulted. Ask Cuban Americans if they are Mexican, and they get insulted. Many resent the fact or want to ignore that Mexican Americans make up two-thirds to 70 percent of the Latino total.

So, let’s not rock the boat, Mexicans will call any politician with a tenth Mexican blood a Latino and call them compadre. They are happy to be called anything but Mexican.

I don’t know how we are going to get out of this bind when we have to vote for people without principles. Are we going to support a Marco Rubio or a Ted Cruz because they have Spanish surnames, or George Prescott Bush because his mother was Mexican, and forget that he was once called ”the little brown one.”

It gets ridiculous — like that game played in the Huffington Post’s Latino Voices that features articles asking, do you know that this actor or actress has Latino blood? It is as stupid as the game of compromise or the art of the possible.

It reminds me of my grandfather and uncles who worked on the railroad (Southern Pacific) for fifty years who would say that a certain foreman was simpatico, they just knew he liked Mexicans. Why shouldn’t he? Mexican workers bought his lottery tickets and junk jewelry.

Support should be based on principle. I support Central and Latin Americans not because their numbers swell opportunities for politicos, but because they have suffered European and Euro-American colonialism, and come to this country for a better life. They deserve what every other human being should have.

We are not going to get a thing through compromise. Every time I look at John Boehner, Eric Cantor and their buddy in the Senate who reminds me of the bloodhound Trusty in “Lady and the Tramp”; I am reminded that a fair deal is based on integrity. I would not want any of these jokers to come to dinner – not in my house!

Before we start compromising and calling anyone our amigos remember that Boehner called a 2007 bipartisan immigration bill “a piece of shit.” This is what he thinks about us. I use the generic word Latino because I care about my Latin American family – not because I want to be Italian.

Obama is now at a crossroads. He is going to have to make a decision, and that decision does not only encompass immigration and gun control. It is about whether politics is the art of compromise, the art of the possible, or whether it is about principle.

My advice is to tell his three Republican amigos to take a hike and mint the damn trillion dollar coin. It is better to be right and to be respected than to be liked.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair Weekend in March!

I’ll let the good folks from the Texas Talent Musicians Association tell you all about it.

SAN ANONIO, TX (01-15-2013) – Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) presents the Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2013. Set for March 14-17, 2013, thousands of Tejano Music Fans from across the country will travel to Historic Market Square in Downtown San Antonio for the Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2013.

The four-day event will showcase over 125 bands from across the U.S.A to include Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Illinois. The TMA Fan Fair draws over 90,000 die-hard fans each year. The Fan Fair offers an up close and personal atmosphere with live music on five stages featuring emerging acts to top veteran performers.

The family oriented event offers plenty of traditional food, beverage and vendor booths and Tejano Music merchandise. Fans will get exclusive access to their favorite artists participating in the special autograph sessions scheduled during the four days of Fan Fair.

The Tejano Music Awards continues to shine each year by producing one of the largest Tejano Music events in the country. Performing this year Michael Salgado, Gary Hobbs, Ruido Anejo, Jaime y los Chamacos, Los Hermanos Farias, Los Palominos, David Marez, Hometown Boys, Ricardo Castillon Y La Diferenzia , AJ Castillo, Monica Castro, Ricky Valenz, Jessica Sanchez and Tejano Highway 281 more artists to be announced.

San Antonio “Tejano Capital of the World”, will host the 33rd Annual Tejano Music Awards Show for early fall of 2013.

For the latest information on 33rd Tejano Music Awards and TMA Fan Fair 2013 performance schedule and hotel information please visit www.tejanomusicawards.com.

 

Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote professional excellence; a better understanding and greater appreciation for Tejano music; and to provide a public forum for songwriters, performs and musicians in order to recognize their artistic efforts and achievements through the annual Tejano Music Awards and related events. TTMA is based in San Antonio, Texas.

DCs Top Posts of 2012

Music Reviews – Top 3

The Mavericks – Suited Up and Ready

Los Texmaniacs – Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds

Johnny Hernandez – Gracias…Por Los Exitos!

Political Posts – Top 10

Did Ann Just Lose The Other 30% of Latinos? (Romney Mouth)

Dude, This Election Makes No Sense (Post-Primary)

Tacos and Votes – To Protect the Vote (Latino Vote)

Endorsement:  Vote FOR the City of Houston Bonds

RIP – Texas Senator Mario V. Gallegos

Helena is Doing What and With Whom? (City Council)

Tacos and Votes ~ All About Engaging the Community

Fort Bend Dems Open HQ

Finally, Let’s Move Toward November (Post-Primary)

Dos Centavos Endorses in Dem Primary (Post Primary)

Top 3 Posts w/ Staying Power (Pre-2012)

Celebrating 40 Years of La Raza Unida Party (by Carlos Munoz)

DC Reviews ~ Intocable – 2011

2010 Profiles ~ Kathy Cheng for the 209th Court

Top 5 Cultura and Community Posts

Tejano Music Awards Fanfare is Coming

FIEL Announces Deferred Action Assistance Program

RIP – Shaun Chapa

Houston – 33rd Annual Festival Chicano

RIP – Mike Kelley

DC Reviews: Jay Perez ~ New Horizons

The Voice, Jay Perez, is back with a new production, New Horizons. The 12-song release is quite the piece of work, produced by Grammy-winning Gilbert Velasquez and supported by Freddie Records. Perez’s recent works have been on mostly indie labels, but his new label provides a lot of backing in regards to marketing and promotions. The tried-and-true Perez style is not lost as Velasquez has worked with Perez many times before–even being a part of his original band.

Kicking off with Tu Ultima Cancion, Jay’s fans immediately hear the signature ranchera sound–keys, sax, acordeon and a hard-driving beat, and some great lyrics giving someone the kiss-off. Known for his slowed-down,  acordeon-driven zapateadas, Perez does not disappoint with the first single, Lo Tengo Que Admitir, an ode to the girl who gave him everything.

And the cumbia stylings do not disappoint, either, with their R&B flair. Demuestrame, with it’s catchy chorus, and Vivir Sin Ti, will definitely be live favorites. Especially Vivir, with some awesome percussion providing the rhythm.

Perez brings out a horn section, a-la Latin Breed, to give us a fine ballad, Tu Amor No Me Pertenece. The guitar, horns, and acordeon provide a smooth foundation on which Perez provides a soaring vocal.

Perez offers up plenty more signature rancheras to keep toes tapping and feet on the dance floor. Tengo Miedo and Dos Caras with some powerful lyrics and smooth rhythms are some personal favorites. But Perez also dusts off a couple of songs previously done by the late Laura Canales during her comeback in the 90s. Amor Escondido,with a driving sax solo, and Yo Quiero Que Vivas Conmigo are very welcome by this Laura Canales fan.

Finally, Quien Te Dijo and Tu Partida close out the catalog on rancheras, showing Perez is very committed to keeping La Onda Tejana alive and kicking ass. Partida with an excellent sax/acordeon solo, and Quien Te Dijo with a driving ranchera rhythm. Finally, Perez closes the release with an R&B tune, All of Me, which shows off his vocal abilities.

Providing the power behind all of the tracks was Perez with some of the best vocals I’ve heard from him. The man just knows how to deliver lyrics in a way that makes the listener feel their meaning. Combined with a tight band, he is also able to deliver these songs live like few can.

Get your copy at just about any store that features Latin music, or online at Freddie Records.

You Callin’ Me F’urn?

Well, according to SA Mayor Julian Castro, the Republicans sure as heck think of Latinos as something foreign.

“What they’re not getting is that it’s not just about changing the tone, it’s not just about not talking about electrified fences and not being uncivil. It’s also about fundamentally changing the policies that they embrace. Being more willing to engage in conversations and discussions and actually get comprehensive immigration reform done. Get the Dream Act done. Think about and include the Latino community as a part of the fabric, the family of the Untied States which it clearly is and always has been. When they think about the Latino community you can tell in both in tone and in policy that they think of it as something foreign.”

Well, I’m glad someone with national prominence finally said this. Of course, there are a few Dems that do/have done that, too. And the Democrats have fallen over each other to support right-wing, anti-immigrant Dems here in Texas. I won’t bother rehashing the names, but we all know it’s true.

The GOP still has not begun to learn any lessons from their 2012 thrashing at the hands of Latin@s, but they are attempting to write the lesson plan to their own liking. Obviously, Castro reads them like I do.

Ultimately, when we begin to hear these type of remarks from people who do not look like Castro, then we will begin to see a lot more stirring from the Latino community.

DC Reviews ~ Michael Guerra Band

Some may know accordion ace Michael Guerra from his days with Los Texmaniacs, Ruben Ramos, Rick Trevino, the Tex-Mex Experience, or his session appearances with Los Lobos, the Texas Tornados, Los Lonely Boys, or others. His recent work with Raul Malo and, now, The Mavericks, are what caught my attention in recent years. The guy is just plain good, as he’s been playing accordion since his mid-teens. Beyond that, he can play several other instruments, truly making his stage presence known.

Guerra and his band just released their debut and self-titled CD. Guerra has produced a style all his own, yet, one cannot help but notice the various influences, be it conjunto, rock, blues, mariachi, or country. It’s all in this eclectic production which fuses into something better than most attempts at “latin fusion.” This one has a special vibe to it.

Kicking off with Voodoo Lady, one notices the rock influences, with Robert Ybarra’s haunting guitar blending with Guerra’s accordion. One may think Los Lonely Boys, thus making the tune quite Texican, but it’s all Guerra and his band. The country tune, My Love’s Too Big (To Fail) caught my attention with the title (I’m in politics, sue me!). In this tune, one immediately notices Guerra’s San Anto influence.

The Los Lobos’ musical influence pops out with La Prietita Loca, with its cumbia rhythm. Of course, the hook, “La Prietita baila muy suave…pero cuando se junta con las chicas se pone muy loca,” is quite catchy. Dreams Gone Blue has a country-mariachi-trio feel to it with some excellent lyrics–and it sounds like it could have been picked up off the cutting-room floor of a Raul Malo CD and given its own flavor.

Let’s Try seems to have a style all its own with a slow rock groove, and is a good introducer to The Who’s Mama’s Got a Squeezebox. The Who could have used a Michael Guerra back then, who really shows off his technique on this tune, as done Ybarra on the guitar solo. On the next tune, Guerra returns to a country-esque/mariachi style with Break Away. The old-style music with modern lyrics make this a favorite.

Guerra does not forget the music that put him on the map–conjunto. And Que Viva Mi San Antonio provides a nice tune with quite the visual of partying in San Anto. Showing his partiality to trio/mariachi stylings, Guerra belts out the classic La Barca backed up by his acordeon, guitars and requinto, showing off his vocal abilities.

The bluesy-rock tune You Set Me Free shows off Ybarra’s guitar again, while telling the story of being set free by a woman who seems to have made the wrong choice.  Ain’t it always the way?

Guerra’s biggest influence and the reason for his music career is his dad Elias. Mike began toiling on various instruments before picking up the instrument that set the path for his career–the acordeon. That said, Mike brings in his dad for the final tune, Dame Un Nuevo Corazon, a gospel song with an acordeon-heavy bolero feel.

It is safe to say that this production is a venture through Guerra’s various influences, yet, it is his signature accordion which sets it apart. This is a great first full production for Guerra. Of course, he’ll have a hard time touring to support it since he’s working hard with The Mavericks at the moment. No doubt, he is going through some career-building experiences.

A DC First: DC Reviewed 4 of 5 Latin Grammy Nominees

The Latin Grammys announced their nominees today, including my favorite category, Best Tejano Album. In a Dos Centavos first, I’m proud to announce that I reviewed 4 of the 5 nominated albums. Either my reviews are being read by some important people, or my ear for music is pretty good. Here they are:

Best Tejano Album (Linked to DC Review)

Algo Esta Pasando – Joe Posada [Baby Dude Records]

The Voice Of Authority – Jay Pérez [Tejas Records]

Back On Track – Los Hermanos Farias [Ro Records]

Sunset Run – Los Desperadoz [Tejas Records]

Mas Amigos – Avizo [Powerhouse Records]

Big congrats to the nominees. They are all among my favorite artists.

Houston – 33rd Annual Festival Chicano in October

That’s right! The best three-day Tejano/Chicano music fest in Houston, the 33rd Festival Chicanois back on October 4, 5, and 6 at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Thanks to Daniel Bustamante, the 33rd year of this Festival will be just as awesome as the 32 before it.

The line-up this year is pretty stellar:

THURSDAY, October 4th – Jaime y Los Chamacos, Ruben Ramos & The Mexican Revolution, Avizo
FRIDAY, October 5th – Little Joe y La Familia, Gary Hobbs, AJ Ybarra y Los Bandoleros
SATURDAY, October 6th – Emilio Navaira, Hermanos Farias, Marquel

As always, all shows are FREE, curtains up at 7pm! — at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Obviously, the return of Emilio Navaira is something that is awaited, but since I’ve recently reviewed the new release of Los Hermanos Farias, they deserve a plug. Of course, I’m also interested in checking out former Musicales vocalist, Marqell, who has a pretty good single, Esperate.

Little Joe is back, and he has played at almost every single one of these fests. El Borrado de Eagle Pass, Gary Hobbs, never fails to put on a strong live performance, as well as Los Chamacos. The legendary Ruben Ramos and the Mexican Revolution will surely blow everyone away with their horn section, as will local boys, The Powerhouse – Avizo.

Most in attendance are, well, Chicanos. It would do politicos well to go press the flesh as each night will attract around 15,000 people.