The Newest in Tejano Music

Obviously, if you need the best day-to-day news about Tejano music and culture, you should visit Tejano Nation. But I have my favorites, too, and some of those faves have been releasing new material. Here are a few that hit my radar (and Spotify playlist):

Jay Perez – The Voice is back with an amazing production, El Maestro. Along with that voice is a team of musicians and songwriters who helped put together something to enjoy from start to finish. The first single, Eres, is a Perez-penned tune that keeps that legacy sound we all expect. Cumbias, like Mi Duena and Aun Te Extrano give Perez a whole new dimension, but it is Norteno-lite tunes like Juan Trevino’s Ya Se Fue and Entiendo that will surely expand his audience into Mexico. My fave, though, is the Joe Revelez-composed Para Volvernos Amar, with Jay’s soaring vocals. It’s a must-have!

La Fiebre – Speaking of legacy sound, The Pride of Pasadena continues to offer up that rock-tinged Tejano sound with Historico. The trumpets are as strong as ever, backed up by strong bass lines, guitar rhythms and powerful drumming. The first single, Mendigo, written by the legend Freddie Martinez, Sr., gives you that Borracho de Besos feel, while their newest single, Cuidala, takes you back to that No Cure era where the sound really took off. Cumbias like Mira, with its rock guitar and soaring trumpets should definitely become a crowd favorite.

Gary Hobbs, David Marez, Joe Posada – Onda Chicana big band, La 45 (produced by Mike Torres, III and John Ontiveros) back up three vocal legends of la Onda Tejana on this Hector Gutierrez-penned tune, Querida. Each voice has its own quality that, when put together, creates something special. The only question: Where’s the rest of the album and tour? And, yes, Posada provides some excellent sax riffs and solos.

Shelly Lares – What is said to be her final album as she heads into retirement, LMD82 celebrates Lares’ 40 years in La Onda Tejana. Little Miss Dynamite explodes with some horn-driven rancheras and cumbias. Salsipuedes spent most of the pandemic earning airplay, as well as Por Amor. Enamorada, though, seems to be my fave. The album offers up multiple samples of her genre-defying versatility, including a duet with David Marez (Mi Persona Favorita) and a quartet, the mariachi-backed, Nada De Ti, featuring Lares and up and coming female vocalists, Sonja de la Paz, Monica Saldivar, and Demmi Garcia. The newest trio-version of Mil Besos is a treat, too. In conclusion, Don’t Retire Shelly!

All of these are available on all platforms, but give a musician a lift and buy the tunes!

Code Orange = Strong Encouragement, Unfortunately

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo elevated the county’s COVID-19 code to ORANGE as hospitals address a significant spike in cases. Orange means “minimize all contacts unless fully vaccinated,” but is that even enough, now?

As I stated previously, I felt uneasy about the Biden/CDC’s unmasking of the vaccinated. Things just looked too comfortable and it certainly didn’t encourage those who needed to mask. Maskholes are still maskholes and I didn’t feel society should be rewarded, yet.

Maybe I preferred the visual of people acting responsibly, rather than the one of unmasked mass (and smaller) events leaving me to wonder what the vaccination rate was in the room. Thankfully, Judge Hidalgo called for masking to return.

Hidalgo said by not wearing masks, even those who are vaccinated are “normalizing” not wearing masks for those who are unvaccinated. She also reminded the vaccinated they can still spread the virus to the unvaccinated, who can get sicker from the virus.

KHOU 7.23.2021

That last line may have been a mild reference to breakthrough cases.

Another unfortunate matter is the fact that all the elevated code does is allow Judge Hidalgo and other leaders to strongly encourage good behavior rather than mandating it, thanks to Greg Abbott’s lack of compassion. Re-opening with little to no precautionary guidance is what has taken us backwards. Schools are reopening soon, and some universities are already open as students get ready to return, and Abbott is allowing bad behavior to exist–no masking, light encouragement of vaccinations if one chooses, etc. These education systems have a responsibility to practice good behavior despite having a crappy leader.

Although right-wing misinformation clearly exists on the airwaves, I found it encouraging to suddenly see more people in my area of town masking and acting responsibly, at stores and even while walking outdoors. Although it was just a tiny moment and area, I hope it continues all over.

As Kuff mentions in his post about the color code change, COVID-19 testing may become an issue as testing has been scaled down. It became pretty obvious to me when I saw an actual line of walk-up clients at a tiny testing temporary building (think 8×8 converted container) in front of the Aldi on Westheimer.

Anyway, mask-up, wash hands, stay vigilant. And tell your unvax’d people to get vax’d or you’re cutting them off.

Now, It’s About Personal Responsibility

“We’re past the time of government mandates, we’re into the time for personal responsibility, and that’s exactly what we will do,” said, Greg Abbott, the governor who didn’t mandate much of anything during the pandemic and helped cause over 50,000 COVID-19 deaths in Texas

Or, as Kuff starkly reminds everyone, “You’re on your own.”

Greg Abbott will not be mandating mask-wearing, not even for the least vaccinate–school kids.

“Everyone has had more than a year to master all the safe strategies that they can choose what’s best for them and their family members,” said the governor who has seldom encouraged safe strategies, particularly at all his campaign-like press conferences.

Meanwhile, the medical experts are predicting a fourth COVID-19 surge. More than half the state is unvaccinated because Greg Abbott reminds everyone that it’s their right to not get it. And it seems personal responsibility is the last thing on people’s minds as they are everywhere unmasked and in mass gatherings.

That’s today’s update on Texas government ineptitude.

Greg Abbott’s Gitmo Begins Housing Migrants for Trespassing

As I posted recently, part of Greg Abbott’s border boondoggle is to arrest immigrants who cross into private property along the border, while escaping violence and poverty in their own countries with no other place to go, and charge them with trespassing. Yes, state charges so that they may be kept in his very own state-run immigrant warehouse in Dilley, TX. And it has begun–Greg Abbott’s very own Guantanamo. [In the process, they lose the possibility of other benefits, like a green card or any future citizenship because of the way they are railroaded through the criminal court system.]

The Val Verde County sheriff’s office said the Briscoe detainees had been arrested on accusations of criminal trespassing. County officials previously said state police would begin arresting immigrants crossing the border, largely on trespassing and criminal mischief charges — both misdemeanors that could result in up to a year in jail. It’s a novel approach ordered by Abbott to allow state and local law enforcement officers to arrest immigrants for state crimes, since they have no jurisdictional power to arrest someone accused of the federal crime of crossing the border illegally.

“If you cross the river, and almost everyone down there has posted ‘no trespassing’ signs, so once you cross and get on the property, you will be picked up and taken to jail for trespassing,” Val Verde County Judge Lewis Owens said last week.

The judge, a Democrat, said Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 149,000 immigrants in the Del Rio sector alone this fiscal year, the second most after the Rio Grande Valley, according to federal statistics. Hundreds of others evade detection by crossing further away from major entry points, often traversing private land, frightening landowners not used to such levels of migration, Owens said.

Texas Tribune 7/21/2021

And are Democrats going to roll over for Abbott on this? Obviously, Democratic Sheriffs and Judges seem to be salivating over this easy work as they get some prize money, This is a disgusting waste of resources that is all for show. Imprisoning people in need of help for political purposes is as close to violating ones human rights as it gets.

Aside from meeting housing standards at Briscoe, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez said this week that space and resources under Abbott’s directive will be a problem. His office has two prosecutors, with a third coming in two weeks, and the local jail was full in early July, the sheriff told county commissioners.

Martinez said arrested immigrants would be taken to a tent-like structure outside the jail in Del Rio for processing before heading to Briscoe within 24 hours. He said he would offer most arrested on misdemeanor charges a sentence of time served once they get through the criminal justice system, which he estimated would take about 10 days, and then they would be handed off to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where many would likely be quickly deported. ​​

“This is going to be very grating on everyone in the process,” he said. “If we start seeing numbers of 50-plus a day of arrests, we could easily be consumed by it.”

Texas Tribune, 7/21/2021

I await a response from statewide prospective Democrats. Beto? Merritt? Jaworski? The Texas Lege Dems in DC? Anyone?

And Then There Was Lambda

All the COVID-19 numbers in Houston, Texas, and the US are doing more than “trending in the wrong direction.” They are on the verge of…something. And, now, the Lambda variant is in Houston, because the Delta variant and COVID-classic just isn’t enough. And, yes, the vast majority are people who did not get vaccinated. But…

According to a CDC report, there have already been over 5,000 breakthrough cases around the country; meaning, the fully vaccinated. And due credit is given to having taken the vaccine by those who are only experiencing mild symptoms and not dying, but I’m of the opinion that the Biden/CDC should have split the difference on the guidelines by including a strong suggestion (if not mandate) for mask-wearing indoors, even if vaccinated. The suggestion that the vax’d could go anywhere unmasked just seemed too soon and politically motivated, in my opinion.

…the agency reported 5,492 patients nationwide with COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections had been hospitalized or died. According to the CDC, 75% of those patients were 65 or older and 19% of the cases resulted in death.

KHOU

Some will say that this is a tiny fraction of Americans, but that has been the Trumpian response to the entire pandemic. So, let’s just say I don’t get the warm and fuzzies when my side of the aisle says it either.

So, if you’re vaccinated, jump into a big crowd while unmasked, and get infected (with mild symptoms), you may end up infecting other unmasked, yet vaccinated, elderly folks in your family. Just food for thought while you attend unmasked concerts, social club parties, etc. Some may call me alarmist, but I’m just trying my damnest not to get sick of anything. Plus the docs and medical staff on TV are looking pretty worried and that’s always been an indication of things when leaders are avoiding reality.

Others affected and among those who died include those who are immunocompromised because of cancer, transplant, or autoimmune disease. I’ve already mentioned the need for boosters for this particular group of Americans. I wish there was more information on antibody testing to see if the first two (or one) shots took, on how to obtain a booster, and just plain ol’ information to reach this group for their own safety as it is estimated that they make up 3% of the population (probably more). It seems like the CDC is finally beginning to “consider” boosters for this group. For immunocompromised folks who have been informed and proactive, they are way ahead of the CDC and have had to go through hoops to get a booster after finding out the original shots didn’t take. If you’re among them, I’d suggest you get some advice from your specialist.

That’s OK, though, we’re offering prizes to convince the unvaccinated to get a shot. Apologies for the snark, but I’m really bothered by some stat I read that says 2/3 of the unvaccinated are anti-vax maskholes.

The latest Texas numbers show an increase in the weekly average of vaccinations. That’s good. Unfortunately, test positivity is above 10% statewide, and hospitalizations have also increased. While July 4 weekend has been cited as a cause for the latest numbers, one only has to see the nonchalant attitude of workplaces, grocery and big box stores, and entertainment venues to get an idea of what is to come.

At this point, I wish our leaders would add a push for mask wearing to the push for vaccination. “You won’t die” doesn’t help much, even if our Texas Lege heroes who are trying to save our democracy in DC are pushing that narrative after at least five of them contracted COVID-19. As proud of them as I have been, every unmasked selfie and crowded group photo sent a chill down my spine to the point where I am not surprised the infections happened. The last few pics some have posted have included masks, though.

Here’s hoping vaccinations continue to increase as we head toward schools reopening, too. The 12 to adult group is still lagging.

As always, if you’re within a big group of people, mask-up, distance, keep clean, etc. You all know the drill. At least I hope you haven’t forgotten as you have vaccinated, unmasked fun.

Dan Crenshaw Attempted to Register My Late Mom To Vote

It could be voter fraud, or else, it’s just crappy staff work at various levels, but Dan Crenshaw (and his minions) attempted to register my mother to vote. Yes, my mother, Flo, who passed away in 2016.

I received a text message on my cell phone from Dan Crenshaw whining to my mom, Florencia, about the border under Joe Biden and asking for my mom’s help. Then, he says the Texas Secretary of State’s records show she isn’t registered to vote and offered to register her, even mentioning the street where she lived. Creepy!

Here are some facts about Flo:

  1. Flo passed away five years ago, which is the ONLY reason she is not registered to vote.
  2. Flo was a staunch Democrat all of her life, voting in all of the primaries, except that time in the 70s when she was a member of La Raza Unida Party.
  3. Flo was a Pro-Choice Chicana, mother of two daughters and a son, who enjoyed sipping champagne at the Planned Parenthood Luncheon VIP suite, while raising money to provide low-income women and men with health care and reproductive health services. She also supported pro-choice candidates and helped raise money for many by making tortillas for fundraisers.
  4. Flo and my Pop owned a business across the street from a major railroad route in which many undocumented folks would walk toward San Antonio and beyond, while escaping poverty and violence in their own countries. My parents would offer food and water and even clothing to them, which is something republicans have threatened to jail Americans for recently.
  5. Flo and my Pop were proud voters who would show up early in the morning to have their voice heard at the ballot box and would vote for anyone who didn’t have Dan Crenshaw’s bigoted views toward immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, etc. They wouldn’t appreciate Crenshaw’s lies about voting rights, either.
  6. Flo resided in Congressional District 7 and not 2.

It is quite insulting that anyone would assume that Florencia Serna Medellin would ever be unregistered to vote while alive; vote republican (based on her primary record); or ever be an anti-immigrant zealot, given her love of humanity, papers or not. To think that a Greg Abbott-run state agency might still be selling her information (or making it available) for voter registration purposes is just plain alarming, considering the GOPs daily whine of voter fraud. Five years later, one would figure that her name would not even be on any databases for this purpose.

Needless to say, Crenshaw and fellow right-wingers had no clue whatsoever about Flo, the South Texas-born, former migrant farmworker, small-town-mom turned suburban Abuela who advocated for all. It would seem Crenshaw just wants any random bigots he can find–even dead ones–and texts random unregistered people whining about immigrants to capture their support. So republican.

Flo would have been pretty upset to think that she might be on the call/text list of any right-wing, bigoted, republican campaign or organization. Dan Crenshaw is full of BS, misinformation, and lies. And Flo was an informed voter who would have known about Crenshaw, and would have done what I did: Replied STOP. And then would have told the world how she feels about Dan Crenshaw and bigoted republicans.

We miss you, Flo! ¡La Lucha Sigue! And, #FloTheVote

Note: After Mom passed away in 2016, we did our due diligence and cancelled her registration. I received confirmation from the local elections office today of this fact. Why Texas SOS still has her info (according to Crenshaw) is beyond me.

Note #2: I received a message from a fellow Dem activist who also received the text about being unregistered. But he’s actually registered. Damn, Crenshaw! Get with the program or else you’ll actually commit voter fraud!

.

The DACA Decision Is Still Joe Manchin’s Fault

Salon.com

Back in 2010, President Obama and Democrats held a majority in both the House and Senate. The DREAM Act, which had bipartisan support at one time, sailed through the House. When it arrived in the Senate, Democrats had enough of a majority (60) to pass it and it would likely be signed by Obama. Unfortunately, Joe Manchin and four other Dem Senators voted against it, as did all of the Republicans and the bill only achieved 55 of the 60 needed votes. Note: Manchin couldn’t even be bothered to show up, but was on record against it.

You can blame republicans all you want, but some of us have known their bigoted tendencies for a long time and haven’t been in denial about them.

They were quite evident in 2006 when the Sensenbrenner Act was being pushed by Republicans, along with REAL ID. And this challenge to DACA was brought on by Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott because they are just that hateful.

But FIVE (5) Democrats voted against the DREAM Act in 2010. They blamed their “tough to win” seats and the Democratic rank-and-file went along with it and defended their vote. Thus, by 2012, with no more majority and republicans dead-set against anything President Obama supported, the only thing that could happen was DACA–an executive order for which immigration activists lobbied and practically forced Obama’s hand after he continually denied he had the power to sign it.

DACA has provided over 600,000 DREAMers the benefit of prosecutorial discretion and deferred action, thus barring them from deportation. And for nine years, now, it has been challenged by republicans, in the courts and by Trump. They finally found a federal judge who would call it “illegal,” thus sending it back to Homeland Security to somehow make it right. In the process, all new applications are cancelled, but the 600,000 or so are safe, for now.

I don’t know how many more still need to apply or haven’t for a host of reasons (financial, etc.), but since the legality is now in question, it is worrisome and emotionally tiresome for many. Furthermore, all DACA has ever been is a loose band-aid that leaves young people in limbo, while continuing to expose their parents to deportation and politically-driven harrassment by ICE and similar agencies.

As some Democrats in the Senate have stated, it is high-time to pass the DREAM Act and/or comprehensive immigration reform. But we are in the same predicament as 2010: Hateful republicans and a slight Democratic majority in which a few (Joe Manchin and Kristen Synema) seem to be holding immigrants hostage. They will not make it easy to pass anything; if anything, I expect opposition to citizenship and DREAM-type bills from these two.

Filibuster reform would be great, if Manchin and Synema could be trusted to support immigration reform. With Manchin attending a fundraiser in Texas given by high-dollar republicans, I can’t say I’m hopeful of much; other than being hopeful that la lucha sigue (the struggle continues). Hopefully, Joe Biden will learn to wield power within his own party; which was something in which Obama failed miserably regarding immigration policy.

Finally, I would have hoped that over the last ten years, Democrats would have learned a lesson about using their power when they have it. The myth that is bipartisanship only seems to work when the issue is money in individual members of Congress districts for their own pet projects. If it’s about helping the least among us, it becomes a hot potato worthy of political exploitation. And both parties do it well, as Manchin has exhibited on a host of Biden goals.

Anyway, just food for thought as folks try to find someone to blame.

ICE Hearing: Disappointing, But Expected

Ed Gonzalez testified before a Senate committee considering his appointment to lead the broken agency, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he did exactly what he needed to do: Support bad policies while giving it a “compassionate” narrative. Disappointing, but expected.

For those who are sycophants, the clueless, or those who refuse to understand the reality of ICE and immigration policies, the ACLU response from their Senior Policy Counsel Naureen Shah was spot on:

“Today, Americans got a glimpse into the leadership Sheriff Ed Gonzalez would bring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should he be confirmed as director, and it was deeply disappointing. Gonzalez seemed more interested in placating anti-immigrant politicians on the committee than laying out a vision for reform. This was a huge missed opportunity to make it clear to immigrant families and communities that the Biden administration is truly committed to making a decisive break from the Trump administration’s racist and anti-immigrant policies.

“Gonzalez stated he does not intend to end the 287(g) program, an ICE program that taps local law enforcement to assist in deportations and that has a history of encouraging racial profiling and civil rights violations. This lack of commitment comes despite Gonzalez ending the program in Harris County, Texas during his time as sheriff and despite President Biden pledging on the campaign trail to end 287(g) agreements that were entered into under the Trump administration.

“When ICE taps local law enforcement to do federal immigration enforcement, public safety suffers because immigrants and their families cannot seek police protection or assist in investigations of serious crimes, for fear that it could lead to deportation of themselves or a loved one. Gonzalez understood this as sheriff of Harris County and, should he be confirmed, we will hold him accountable to President Biden’s promises to end dozens of these agreements.

“Additionally, Gonzalez did not lay out any plans for addressing systemic abuses by ICE, including the unnecessary and inhumane detention of thousands of people and ICE’s practice of using violence and masquerading as local police when conducting street arrests, which has led to Fourth Amendment violations.”

Yes, a lot that needed to be discussed was missing, but I’ve decided that these hearings are to exhibit your show horse, rather than to race it to show us what it’s got.

As ACLU stated, Gonzalez ended the 287(g) program in Harris County, but gave all credit to “budget issues” for ending it, rather than crediting discussions with migrant advocate groups and activists and his own supporters who would lobby him every time they caught his ear. (Me included.) Made one feel that community policing is a myth.

Anyway, the right-wingers found a way to attack and racially profile during the hearings and Gonzalez held his ground while placating their bigoted interests. Again, he did what was expected to get confirmed. Biden is the politician who must be held accountable, ultimately.

LA County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate

I was glad to see LA County (CA) being proactive as the COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization numbers are seeing an increase. LA County has reinstated an indoor mask mandate, no matter what ones vaccination status is.

Given recent news of breakthrough cases among famous people (Fluffy) who have dived into the unmasked/unvax’d masses, I think it’s a good idea. I think strong encouragement by our local leaders would also help, since Gomer Fife, Texas Ranger (The Governor) would stop any real mask mandate.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo posted on FB that things are trending in the wrong direction and that people need to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, there was no sounding of an alarm, yet.

Still considered rare, breakthrough cases have shown the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Comedian Fluffy Iglesias credited the vaccine to his symptoms being mild. Still, some of us don’t want to get COVID-19 or its variants and would rather feel safer than “not as sick as the unvaccinated infected.” Of course, there are also the immunocompromised to think about, but they seem to be the last on the priority list.

Anyway, I implore folks to run their own mask mandate–wear a mask in crowded places and tell those around you to wear one, whether in social gatherings or at work. Don’t allow your bosses and co-workers and those around you to dictate based on their personal feelings, thus, forcing you to feel unsafe. It is happening and there is nothing more annoying than hearing someone tell you, “Oh, I guess you can wear a mask.”

I’m not sure how any more people want to get vaccinated, given the number of unvax’d maskholes in Texas, but those that do not have access need to become a priority. While there are areas in Texas where vaccination rates are dismal (Kuff has more), numbers mean a lot more than percentages here in Harris County and half of the county is still not vaccinated.

If you or anyone needs a vaccine, find a location here.

Texas Dem Primary Season Starts Early

As I notice more FB friend and LIKE requests from prospective candidates, it’s hard to avoid the fact that our Democratic primaries will be more competitive locally and at the state level. I know, we’re still waiting for Beto to announce, but campaigns are launching.

The race for the Dem nomination for Texas Attorney General got a little interesting.

I’ve known Joe Jaworski for a long time and am excited that he is doing all the right things to win a primary and general: Traveling the state of Texas, visiting clubs and activists. On top of him being a top-notch lawyer who fights for his clients, he also has a good track record as an involved Democrat. Jaworski has been attacking current AG Ken Paxton’s indictments and his actions as AG on an almost daily basis.

Now, Civil Rights lawyer Lee Merritt has entered the race. It was hinted and expected, but the grand entrance into the race did not happen until Democrats walked out of the Abbott’s special session. And Merritt used the opportunity to tell some truths about how the current Attorney General is running things in regards to voter rights and criminal justice reform.

Merritt stated in a tweet that he has “seen the generational impact of the prison-industrial complex and the injustice of mass incarceration up close in my own family. I’ve spent my legal career helping families who are unjustly affected by this broken system. Now I’m running for Texas Attorney General to make some real changes.”

No doubt, Merritt will also say all the right things, but with a force that comes with the experience of being directly affected by Republican policies. An experience felt by many in Texas who continually feel ignored. And that’s great! It’s a message that needs to be heard across the state and I hope he takes it South Texas.

On the other hand, Jaworski has already spent time building relationships all over Texas. Very few candidates have been successful in a statewide race while not making South Texas a part of their Primary win strategy. It will be interesting to see how their strategies unfold going forward.