Category Archives: Cultura

Early Voting Has Begun – Oct 18 – 29, 2021

Early Voting around Harris County has begun and will run through October 29, 2021. You can vote early at any location in Harris County. You can find your sample ballot by clicking here.

On the ballot are eight (8) state propositions and you may also have local school and college board trustee races on your ballot, so, your sample ballot is the best way to find out what’s up.

My ballot will look like this:

State Propositions (Ballotpedia Explains The Propositions)

Prop 1 – Adds pro rodeo foundations to list authorized to hold raffles. (FOR)

Prop 2 – Allows counties to issue bonds to finance redevelopment of towns and cities. (FOR)

Prop 3 – Forbids local government from prohibiting or limiting religious services (when something like COVID-19 or some sort of disaster occurs and the decision is made for the protection of residents). (AGAINST) (Explanation)

Prop 4 – Changes the eligibility requirements for judges to run for office. (FOR)

Prop 5 – Extends State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s power over judicial candidates. (FOR)

Prop 6 – Allows group home residents to name an essential caregiver with visiting rights. (FOR)

Prop 7 – Allows surviving spouses, 55 or older, of disabled persons a limit on school district property taxes. (FOR)

Prop 8 – Allows surviving spouse of military member killed in action to a property tax exemption. (FOR)

ALIEF ISD

Position 4 – Debby Pepper (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 5 – Randal Stewart

Position 6 – Ronald Franklin (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 7 – Damon Barone (Endorsed by TSTA)

Bond Prop A – FOR (Bond Descriptions)

Bond Prop B – FOR

Bond Prop C – FOR

Bond Prop D – FOR


While I do not reside in Houston ISD, I do have some favorites.

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Deigaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

And, while I await the outcome of whatever is going on with my own HCC trustee, my favorites for whom I am not able to vote are:

HCC District 3 – Adriana Tamez

HCC District 8 – Eva Loredo

Get your voting done early. Otherwise, you can vote on November 2.

Tomas Q. Morin’s Machete

While I am awaiting the arrival of my copy of Tomas Q. Morin’s latest book of poetry, Machete, the Texas Standard provides us an interview with the accomplished poet, Rice U professor, and personal friend of mine from our days at Southwest Texas State University.

In his new collection, “Machete,” Mórin questions how to prepare his son for life in modern America. He explores the country’s legacy of racism and the importance of joy as a survival tool.

Texas Standard

Morin is currently on a virtual tour giving readings of his latest work and will be in Houston on November 2 at the Houston Public Library in conversation with recent Houston Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz. More details soon.

Click here for interview. Purchase book here. And read the first poem in the book at Poetry Society, I Sing the Body Aquatic, as well as a few words about it.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Time to load up that playlist, again. There are some new singles that will soon be inching up the charts in the Tejano genre. Here are a few.

Jay Perez – Para Volvernos Amar – This tune is a soon-to-be Joe Revelez penned classic. Perez’s soaring vocals, particularly during the chorus, are exceptional. His musicians provide a fat bass line and a classic sound that Perez has stuck with throughout his solo career. Give it a listen. The R&B harmonies are amazing, too.

Chente Barrera – Senorita Cantinera – As previously posted, Chente recently released an homenaje to the legendary Primo, Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos. All those Pulido classics some of enjoyed on our sister’s 8-track player are on this release. And Senorita Cantinera is still a classic as Chente powers through through highs, much like Pulido did in the 70s.

La Fiebre – Cuidala – I had previously added this one to the playlist, but now, it has an on official video from Freddie Records. With it’s tough horns, melodic acordeon, and that sweet rhythm guitar, it’s a tune worthy of a Latin Grammy nom. And the whole album was nominated. Check out the vid.

The 2021 Alief ISD Bond

Along with a few races for school trustee, we Alief ISD voters get to decide on over $500 million in bonds to address aging facilities and buses, athletics upgrades, modernization of the stadium, and more technology. With a small tax increase and no tax increase for 65 and older, this kind of investment is needed for this growing district. Sounds good enough, so, let’s dive a little into it.

According to the district, it has been six years since the last bond and that bond came in on time, on target, and under budget. I must say, it’s nice to see the new buildings that have gone and are going up at the moment that address student career needs, staff development needs, and transportation needs. Currently, the average age of school buildings is 35 years, so, it is time to continue upgrading to ensure equity around the district.

The bond has been broken up into four parts (state law, I’ve been told by a committee member).

Prop A is for $482.6 million to pay for safety and security upgrades for school entrance and more funds for ISD police; two replacement schools; a new agri-center on the site of the Alief Community Garden; all sorts of renovations; for Fine Arts, new instruments, sound-proof practice rooms, dance flooring, and theater lighting.; new equipment for Career and Tech Education programs; and new buses to transport students.

I like Prop A and will vote for it.

Prop B is for $9.1 million in athletic upgrades to include tennis court resurfacing; dugouts at Hastings HS baseball field; gym scoreboards; resurfacing baseball/softball fields; replacement of football turf; and replacement of outdoor scoreboards.

The wealth seems to be spread around the various sports, so, I’m thinking YES on this one. Better turf means increased safety for athletes and less maintenance needs.

Prop C calls for $19.4 million to modernize Crump Stadium. According to the district, the stadium is almost 50 years old and has not had much in investment in improvement. The stadium was also built when enrollment was less than 20% of what it has become. So, they are asking for this cash to build a new press box, new turf, new track, new locker rooms, and one of those fancy video scoreboards.

When I cruised around the district, the first thing I noticed was how modern the stadium was, considering it was 50 years old. It seems they were ahead of the game when it was built. New track and new turf not only ensures safety, but it also makes the stadium attractive for playoff and other community events. It is stuff that is needed, but it is also pricey. The first time I voted against a bond, I lived in Humble ISD because it was too football-centric, but the total package here seems to be about the students. I’m trending toward supporting Prop C because why should the “fancy” school districts get all the nice stuff? Also, at least they didn’t ask for some $200 million monstrosity.

Prop D calls for $30.6 million for technology upgrades. A reminder that there are now over 50,000 students and staff at Alief ISD and they are deserving of the best. The bond ensures the district keeps a tech replacement schedule for the next three years. The bond includes classroom instructional technology; campus iPads and desktops.

Yes, I’m for it. I wish it would have been twice as much!

Anyway, that’s my take on the Alief ISD bond. Early voting begins October 18 and runs through October 29. Election Day is November 2. I’m still trying to find more information about candidates for school trustee. There are a few of those races on the ballot, which makes up a good chunk of the board being chosen, so, this is important.

Thanks to all those neighbors who participated in the bond committee–89 strong, working for 6 months, and over 2000 hours. It is said that if passed, Alief ISD will save over 65 million bucks in escalating construction costs and inflation. I know I have that in mind, especially as the pandemic continues.

For more information, visit the bond website!

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

I just added some great tunes to my playlist for all those drives around Houston. Add them to yours for your listening pleasure.

Chente Barrera – Amor Ingrato – Chente just released a tribute album dedicated to the legendary Roberto Pulido. The special thing about it is that Chente and his band Taconazo stayed true to Pulido’s Clasicos sound. The acordeon, the saxes, and the higher octave vocals are just mind-blowing. Of course, I’ve always been a fan of Barrera’s. Amor Ingrato is one of Pulido’s hits from the late 80s and Barrera sings it with the legend himself.

Little Joe y La Familia – Hernandez Brothers – Little Joe dropped a pretty good album of redone classics featuring himself and his brothers Rocky and Gilbert. Especially in the studio, La Familia is a precision-based horn band and they do not disappoint. For this playlist, I’ll post this tune featuring Rocky and Gilbert, Ingratos Ojos Mios. Recorded long ago by Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, this is one of my faves on the album, as well as Pajarillo Barranqueño, with Rocky on lead vocals.

Latin Grammy Tejano Noms Are Out

On page 19 of 36 of the press release, one will find the nominees for Best Tejano Album for 22nd Annual Latin Grammys. Some of the nominees I have heard of, others not so much. I had to test out the music to see if they fit the definition of Tejano. Here are the noms:

El Plan – Pa’ La Pista y Pal Pisto. El Plan appears to be a Monterrey-based band which gives its own sabor to la music Tejana. In fact, Monterrey loves Tejano and brings the best bands to perform at some of their major clubs. A sample of El Plan’s abilities include a medley collab with Bobby Pulido of hits La Rosa and Flecha Envenenanda. Good job.

Ram Herrera – Back on Track. Ram Herrera’s newest project has had quite a few singles, including Te Traicione and Tu Eres. Also included is a remake of his David Lee Garza-era hit, Especialmente Para Ti. It’s a pretty good album that keeps one on their toes. Produced under an indy label, Ram stays committed to an ever-evolving style that put him on the map in the 80s.

La Fiebre – Historico. Based at Freddie Records, the Pride of Pasadena, TX, La Fiebre, is one of the 90s hey-day Tejano hair bands that can still rock a joint. Seriously, some of their tunes can put a rock band to shame with their tough sound. Historico is a well-produced album that experiments with different sounds–rock, Tejano, conjunto, cumbia–all with a big horn-based sound. Two hit singles include Cuidala and Mendigo.

Solido – Incomparable. I would have expected Solido to be in the Regional Mexican category because of their accordian-based music. But, whatever. They are here and they have a strong sound that is reproduced live quite well. Hits on this album include Todavia No Sabe and Si Fuera Facil. The album is produced under the Good I Record label, owned by the good folks at Grupo Intocable.

Vilax – Un Beso Es Suficiente. Now, Vilax I had never heard of, but with a combo of keyboard, bajo sexto, and acordeon, as well as a female vocalist, they may have gotten into the genre under the radar. The title track is a standard cumbia, but a recent ranchera single, a collab of a tune of music’s past, with Alicia Sifuentes, Cosas Del Amor, has a Norteño sound and not even close to Tejano. But I don’t work at the Latin Grammys, and the debate about what constitutes Tejano has a mind of its own.

Click on the links for the songs on youtube.

At this point, I’m rooting for La Fiebre and Ram, with El Plan as honorable mention for a good effort by a Monterrey-based band attempting Tejano-stylings. La Fiebre’s is a full-fledged and professional production that seems to have pulled out all the stops in the studio. Ram Herrera’s is a truly Tejano production that gives one that vibe one feels dancing vueltas at a local ballroom where Tejano music has its roots.

For true Tejano fans, the debates will continue. Perhaps the Grammy folks need to listen before they kill the genre.

We shall see how the academy votes.

There Is A Human Rights Crisis On The Border

While bigoted republicans call it an “invasion,” and others call it a humanitarian crisis, the next phase of a media-exploited “crisis” on the border went to full-on human rights crisis as a Border Patrol with lax regulations and bigoted members rode horses and whipped Haitian refugees as they rounded them up for President Biden’s Title 42 immediate deportations.

Honestly, though, it’s always been a human rights crisis. The Border Patrol and border-area law enforcement has a deeply rooted history of violently mistreating humans escaping violence and poverty–all for political purposes, no matter who is in power. And no matter who is power, the government does a great job of blaming “the other” for the crises it has caused in the countries people are fleeing. Whether it is Mexico, Central America, or Haiti, US foreign policy of befriending and funding right-wing zealots and their elections as a means of keeping indigenous and poor people in control is why these crises exist.

The problem is that the US thrives on people’s ignorance regarding foreign policy–no matter which party is in charge. The narrative of “the other” being the problem works as long as they use fear-based terminology. And people eat it up because they are ignorant and it’s not like candidates and office holders are doing much to combat the narrative.

As depressing as the stories are of migrants and refugees, it’s the stories of fighting back that have given me hope. Whether it is those who have crossed back into Mexico to find food and water for themselves, or the Haitians who revolted on a Biden deportation bus. Sure, they are met with violence by Biden’s Border Patrol, but they are willing to fight. They are that desperate for a better life and the US response of human warehousing, whipping, and horse-led round-ups is a global embarrassment, especially when our President attempts to lecture other countries, or he attempts to show how much better he is than Trump on global affairs.

And then there is that failure of a governor, Greg Abbott, who blames everything on Joe Biden. I don’t know why. Biden is deporting Haitians and other migrants at a rapid pace because of Trump’s Title 42. Biden’s Border Patrol is whipping people. All the republican anti-immigrant porn is available to Greg Abbott, but he wants to be the one calling the shots. The photo ops make it obvious.

And some will defend Biden by reminding us that Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki called the human rights violations “obviously horrific” and the Biden administration is “investigating” and “condemning.” But Biden is the President. He can end this. And he can get rid of people in the Border Patrol. And he can change agency policy with a signature. Who’s in charge? Biden or the bigoted Border Patrol (and their union)?

There is an old photo of Texas Rangers having murdered Mexican men and dragged them by horse from around 1915. Now, we have the Border Patrol trying to repeat history. Yes, only 100 or so years ago and things don’t seem to change.

Tacho’s Playlist

Time to add a few more tunes to your playlist. Here are a few awesome finds.

Los Texmaniacs – El Rancho Grande – Recently, a new compilation paying tribute to the late great Freddy Fender was released. Included in the mix of tunes was Grammy winners, Los Texmaniacs with their rendition of El Rancho Grande. With Josh Baca’s squeezebox and Max Baca’s signature bajo sexto, this tune is fast becoming a favorite. Check it out.

Los Nuevos Dudes – La Luz – One of my favorite duos during the late 80s was Los Dudes, which featured Joe Revelez and Anthony Hernandez sharing vocal and keyboard duties. Their live shows never disappointed as the two-man band made a lot of noise. Revelez, now, teams up with former Gary Hobbs keyboardist Hector Gutierrez on this new tune. Revelez has not lost his touch with his jazzy keyboarding, with the accomplished Gutierrez adding a strong segunda.

The Latin Breed – Ay Mujer – Recently, The Latin Breed released a new album of re-recorded hits featuring their most recent lead vocalist Ben Miranda. Ay Mujer was one of the top hits from Latin Breed’s best seller, Breakin’ the Rules from 1988. Since then, the legendary big band has made several albums, but this is the first time they have re-recorded some of their biggest hits featuring a newer vocalist. Folks will remember that Breakin’ The Rules launched the career of Jay Perez. The Latin Breed does not disappoint with their tight horn and rhythm section, but Ben Miranda also impresses. After 50 years in the business, The Latin Breed continues to tour putting on powerful performances.

And as we begin Raza Heritage Month…

The Tortilla Factory – Mi Gente – A few years ago, The Tortilla Factory recorded this powerful tune, a sequel to Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia’s legendary Las Nubes. El Gato Negro Ruben Ramos, El Charro Negro Bobby Butler, and Alfredo Guerrero provide a 3-part harmony, while Joe Gallardo offers up some trombone licks. Listen to the lyrics. The video features some powerful images, too. One familiar face is our friend, former Senator Gonzalo Barrientos.

A Little Political History for Heritage Month

Here’s a video in 3 parts featuring Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez (Professor Emeritus of History, UT Arlington) on Los Nuevos Americans–The New Americans. Given twelve years ago at Kingwood College, Gutierrez touched on the History of brown people in Texas and the US, political history, and population estimates. Given the new census, this a good foundation on where we’ve been and where we may be. And, given the attack on truth-telling regarding history (Critical Race Theory), it might be better to learn from brown scholars. And it might help you learn why the Trump era happened and why it must be stopped. Enjoy!

Tacho’s Playlist Sabado

Time for some new music to add to the playlist. Enjoy!

La Santa Cecilia – Estrellita – LSC dropped a new tune and video, Estrellita. The video for this cumbia was filmed in Oaxaca and will get one dancing and toe-tapping. Check it out.

Lucky Joe – Me Caiste Del Cielo – From his album, Norteño y Poderoso, filled with classic tunes del pasado, Lucky Joe drops this video of this Cornelio Reyna jewel.

Avizo f/ MarQuell – Te Quiero Te Quiero – Avizo’s latest album, Marching On, highlights the talents of various vocalists. On this Jose Alfredo Jimenez tune, it’s MarQuell’s turn. Of course, we remember him as Mark Ledesma, the former lead vocalist of David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, and now one of the frontpersons of LaDezz. I love what they did with this tune–the horns are amazing.