Category Archives: Historia

Re-Living History

I noticed some Tejano music nighclubs are getting ready to re-open. It’s too damn soon! I even read that Grupo Intocable, one of my favorites, is going to have a “drive-in” concert out in the boonies in Poteet, TX on my birthday. They all say CDC guidelines will be followed, but do you trust people to follow? And what can these places do to enforce them? The federal and state government won’t even enforce it. No, thanks! Stay home.

I saw the lifted tweet-turned-meme below and decided to rewrite it in modern day Vato. Enjoy!


Lots of raza in the club waiting for the Hometown Boys to take the stage. I’m out here in my car watching the scene like I look at the marranitos being made at the panaderia, but chale, I ain’t going in. I can drink a six pack at home and not get the ‘rona. ~ 2020 Rewrite in Vato speak.

COVID19 in a Small South Texas Town

Here is your daily reminder that Greg Abbott and the Republicans are awful, evil people.

I just saw a Facebook live press conference of the leaders of my hometown/county reporting 4 COVID19 cases. The school district has shut down its food distribution program because of a positive test result. As they try to get ahead of it with contact tracing, medical care, quarantine, and providing the people with the latest information, they are basically fighting against Greg Abbott’s lack of concern for poor and struggling communities.

These elected leaders are urging people to stay home, use masks, stop traveling out of the town (which is difficult for those with medical appointments in Laredo or San Antonio), keep out-of-town relatives from visiting (some cases were apparently traced back to a traveler), and continue to follow CDC guidelines. The worry in their voices was palpable.

Good people are reporting get-togethers of 10 or more people out of concern for themselves and others. The townspeople, my friends and relatives, are worried and they are doing what they can, which is commendable considering that Texas leadership is purposely failing Texans.

My community has a lot of health issues and an aging population that is at risk. It doesn’t help when local leaders are trying to protect their communities, yet, Greg Abbott just shirks his responsibilities and shows us he just doesn’t care and offers up conflicting rants and misinformation on Fox News, while being lauded by the Trump administration.

My little town and county have around 7,000 and 12,000 people, respectively. I live in a metro area of 7 million and our local leaders struggle with bad Texas leadership, too. And the fear and worry are strong here, too.

My hometown and county is among the poorest in the nation and heavily uninsured. If one can’t afford to travel 10 miles to the next town’s hospital for COVID19 testing, they must wait for a monthly mobile testing unit that opens for eight hours for one day. The fear is only compounded by the wait.

Although I write about this because I worry, I can also say that I am not surprised by what Trump and Abbott are doing. I’m more pissed off at those who made an electoral choice to keep Abbott by either voting for him or “not voting” for the Latina Democrat because she didn’t “sound” like the leader they wanted (“sounds” like coded language, there) and they guessed Abbott wasn’t that bad. One can argue about not voting period. Hey, I get it. After decades of fighting for candidates, I can say that I’m pretty cynical about most that I simply do not identify with.

But in times like these, how our elected officials respond has everything to do with politics. It’s the difference between one State Representative who uses his contacts to gain access to masks and PPE to distribute to those in need versus a US Senator from Texas who just wants a haircut and makes a show of it. It’s the difference between small town leaders going on Facebook Live to practically beg people to put the people’s safety first versus a Governor who uses TV to whine about leaders who put the people’s safety first. And it’s the difference between a County Judge and a District Judge who make decisions based on facts versus Republicans who make decisions based on profit and hate. Voting matters!

Give Us The Tortilla Recipe!

Well, I received a few requests for the flour tortilla recipe that I use. I’m sure you can find a recipe anywhere on the internet, and some may look familiar to this one, yet, folks tell me they didn’t come out right or they were in the shape of a football or Texas. Well, it can happen.

The key to tortilla making is confidence! And the ability to laugh at mistakes and salvage what you can. (And a heated tortilla press!) In other words, funny-shaped tortillas are still edible! Just get a pat of butter and go to town on them.

Anyway, the recipe passed down to me and the siblings by Flora Medellin and put on paper by my sister, Toni, is this:

Homemade Flour Tortillas

2 c. flour; 1/2 tbsp baking powder; 1 tbsp salt (to taste); 1/2 c. shortening (to taste); 3/4 c. hot water.

In a deep bowl, mix dry ingredients. Cut in vegetable shortening, with pastry blender, butter knives, or fingers, until mixture resembles medium/coarse cracker crumbs. (I have also used 1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil instead of shortening). Add hot water slowly to form soft dough.

Knead the dough until well blended and pliable. Form dough into 12 small rounds. Roll out each round with a rolling pin, or flatten with a heated tortilla press, to desired thickness (1/16 to 1/8 inch).

Cook on nonstick griddle on medium/high heat until done, flipping occasionally. If tortilla puffs up while cooking, do not attempt to flatten (it might cause a steam burn), just keep flipping until done. Serve immediately or allow to cool on flat service covered with a tea towel before storing.

So, Friday is your shopping day to buy the ingredients. Wear a mask and gloves, and avoid people. Get to it. Then, Saturday morning, it’s time to make the tortillas. You have a weekend project for DIY Tex-Mex!

Tortilla-Making In The Time of COVID19

Hey, all. Apologies for not posting much lately. I’ve been living the stay-at-home, physical distancing life for more than a few weeks to the point where I haven’t even cared to write about politics, or anything, much. Our federal and state leaders are failures, but we’ve known this about republinuts forever. Our local leaders are doing the best they can while dealing with failed leaders above them who only want to appease their wealthy buddies and nutjob supporters.  Still, I know the local leaders are trying despite those who attack and whine in order to score political points, rather than save lives. Kudos to County Judge Lina Hidalgo, especially, for leading instead of showboating.

Still, being at home means worrying about tasks that must get done–for work and for home. We need to stay healthy and survive by flattening the curve. It’s especially scary for folks I know who are immune-compromised, elderly, or uninsured. The fact that Republican leaders like Trump, Abbott, and Dan Patrick are hell-bent on putting these groups at risk is disturbing. And it’s also risky for everyone else. A few “no death” days are not enough to re-open the economy, but if the curve is starting to flatten, it means stay-at-home and mask orders actually work. 

I know we’ve been told to support our restaurants and their new “to-go” business model, but, other than to pick up a few things at Kroger or Aldi’s, I’ve stayed home. The future for restaurants is dim as reports about closings and future closings increase.  That said I can’t say I’ve done my part to help the restaurant situation, but things are uncertain all over, including my own livelihood and small business. So, I’ve been cooking a lot more than usual.

Yes, there have been lunches comprised of frozen pizzas and some processed meats during these last few weeks, but I’ve taken to making good meals right here at home, too. Why? Because it’s a money saver! (Sorry restaurants!) I don’t know how long this disaster will last, and Trump and his ilk have been complete assholes when it comes to saving peoples lives and even beginning simple mitigation early on. Their continued corporate giveaways continue to prop up the wealthy who aren’t going to do anything to create or save jobs. So, I’m staying home and I’m making my own meals for the foreseeable future.

I swear, it’s the spirit of my mother, Flora, that seems to overtake me every now and then. I was always good at cooking breakfasts. Whether it’s papas con huevo or chorizo con huevo, I’ve fed my siblings good breakfasts whenever called to do so, so cooking for myself isn’t anything new. But it’s happening on a daily basis, now.

There’s a good chorizo (the Cacique brand in a tube that costs $1) that Kroger sells that is hardly greasy (by Chicano household standards) and with fewer fillers than most. Or, get a big Russet potato for 68 cents, chop it up or even slice it up and then fry it in a little bit of canola oil (even better with bacon grease and Tony Chachere’s to spice it up) and the papas con huevo come out pretty damn good, too. For all those who say their first trips post-lockdown will be to Tex-Mex restaurants, why wait when you can DIY at home today! Add a pack of HEB flour tortillas or La Banderita corn tortillas and you’re set! (Salsa made from serrano peppers, tomatoes, and a bit of garlic and onion and you’re really set!). It’s great with coffee on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

During the first days of this disaster, I couldn’t find any bags of pinto beans to make at home on one of my excursions. My last trip to the HEB on North Gessner (Spring Branch) had me buying up some cans of HEB branded refried beans with jalapeño. They’re actually pretty good and they are made with lard (HEB really does know their stuff!). Kroger has the cans of Ranch Style pintos, too. Here’s a tip: Fry up some bacon and then throw the refried beans in there to make some tasty frijoles refritos with the grease and bits of bacon. Great side dish! Add some cheese in it and make some amazing bean and cheese tacos. It won’t replace making the beans yourself in an olla, like Flora did all her life, but at least you won’t go hungry for Tex-Mex.

For a few days, there seemed to be a bread shortage, too. Even the $3 per loaf kind! The Kroger’s sugar free one which I prefer was also missing, although, it’s there, now. So, I walked around looking for some flour–nothing! But there were two bags of wheat flour and packets of yeast, so, I brought them home. I was proud of myself for baking a simple, easy to make sugar-free wheat bread. It reminded me of my mom and dad making a pan loco in our fireplace (because the oven didn’t work) during those cold, winter days. Panic buying be damned, I thought! I can do this!! I did find some regular flour a couple of weeks later, too.

During Week 2, I was hit with the cooking bug again and thought about my Mom’s Mexican arroz. Fry up some white rice on a thin coating of canola oil until it browns. Add some chopped onion so it gets toasted, too. Add some salt and a can of tomato sauce, chicken broth and a bit of water and let the stuff boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or so. Then you fluff it up so it doesn’t stick and add some filler (meat!) to it. It is no longer just a side dish, but a meal! I had never tried to make it because I try to avoid complex carbs and knowing that I can make it could lead to a bodily disaster again; still, it came out pretty damn good. All those years of watching Flo in the kitchen paid off on this one.

On a Sunday, my newsfeed alerted me to a Catholic mass being livestreamed from my hometown of Crystal City. Sacred Heart Church was the one that I avoided as a kid–at least the indoctrination (Catechism) classes and all the sacraments. Still, I had a Mom who I joked prayed more than the monjitas (nuns), so, I still feel some weird connection to the church. Anyway, Sacred Heart’s priest, Father Silos, provided some extremely comforting and hopeful words at my mom’s memorial service in 2016. I knew he had something good for this Lockdown Sunday homily and so I watched it, listened, and even felt it. That dude is good!

I felt pretty good afterwards, which for someone who avoids religion (and church) religiously was a bit shocking. Suddenly, I felt the spirit of Flo envelop me. I took out the flour, the baking powder, some salt, and canola oil (sorry, no lard) and mixed up the dough and came up with a dozen homemade flour tortillas. Yes, memories of Flo and Pop did appear as I sifted the ingredients, added the hot water, kneaded the dough, and made the testales (dough balls) before rolling them out.

I hadn’t made tortillas in years. And recently, I’ve begun making corn tortillas using the Maseca Nixtamasa since they’re healthier and even better when they’re homemade. These flour ones, though, they complemented the baked chicken and frijoles refritos I made for lunch. I saved up a few tortillas to have with melted butter as a snack, too. When I made them back in the day, I’d get my Mom’s goat by telling her that mine were as good as hers only to make her begrudgingly agree as she added, “Ya te puedes casar.” (“Now, you can get married.” In other words, “Get outta my house!”)

Honestly, this current disaster we’re experiencing has revived all sorts of memories for me. Experiencing an overtaxed supply chain today is no different than growing up poor in South Texas in the 1980s. Back then, there was plenty of supply, but not enough money to buy it. But we survived it all–as a family. And I can’t forget those who are going through this today–those who have suddenly lost jobs and income. Those who work the gig economy. The musicians and fellow DJs who are suddenly livestreaming on social media with their Venmo links in full display. It’s painful and brings up memories of struggle that are both sad and happy.

When Pop’s disability check would arrive, we would stock up on flour, beans, rice, eggs, fresh bacon from the Benavides family’s store so we could save the bacon grease, lard, and ingredients to make salsa. Every now and then, we’d get a good cut of round steak to cut up and to mix into the Mexican rice or fideo my mom would make. All the stuff we bought, Flo would make it last. And one cooking session would amount to two meals, sometimes. This was especially helpful at the end of the month. I think I learned well from my Mom and Dad, except, instead of surviving poverty today, it’s about staying home to avoid crowds and avoiding COVID19. But I can’t forget those who are with nothing, and therefore, give a few bucks that I can to the Houston Food Bank. Either way, it’s about survival. And it’s still about making sure my family stays fed and healthy by physically distancing from the world as much as possible. A month in, we’re not out of the woods, no matter how much Trump and Abbott want to pretend it is from their well-secured, taxpayer-stocked cocoons. We must stay home, and if we go to the store, wear a mask and gloves.

I’ve noticed many of my social media connections doing a lot of restaurant pick-up, margaritas to-go, and I think I even saw someone picking up horchata-flavored cold brew to-go. (That’s too damn fancy! And weird!) And that’s great. The restaurants and their workers need help. And if you’re able to afford it, go for it! As for me, I’ll keep on cooking. And I’ll keep on stretching my pantry and my dollar because the future really is uncertain at all levels of society. And if it brings up some cool memories about survival that were made during an equally uncertain period in your life, then you’ve just reminded yourself that you can make it through this period, too!

 

Un Dia Ganaremos: Julian Castro Exits, Endorses Warren

My first and only choice for the Dem nom for POTUS has exited the race. Julian Castro ended his campaign last week after scoring a few points, yet, not being able to build on those points to gain traction against big money and big media.

The reason? Well, that’s up for debate. The DNC set up the primary to help big money candidates in the whitest of states (NH and Iowa). The media virtually ignored Castro, unless he got scrappy and “attacked” Joe Biden. Of course, they’ll point out (because they always point out our failures in defense of theirs) Castro’s Latino numbers weren’t strong, either. With the help of establishment Dems and the media, at some point, the whole self-fulfilling prophesy set in convincing brown folks that it was never to be, so, brown folks went with the others. But enough of that.

Ultimately, I’m pretty sure the giant sucking sound I heard was the establishment unclenching after Castro’s departure because, as his brother Joaquin said:

You said uncomfortable things that needed to be said, spoke up for the forgotten and vulnerable — the people we grew up with. You called on our country to be more just, more humane, more who we’re supposed to be, and gave hope to so many in a dark time.

And I commend Julian Castro for not being the brown candidate that was anything but. Someone had to speak strongly on issues that affect brown folks and the others were not going to sound as sincere as Julian. Or even well-studied on those issues, as always is the case. Julian made history in running and I’m proud of his run. No matter who gets the nom, Castro should be #2 on the ticket as a much needed energizing figure. (We could have used him in 2016.)

All of this said, four days passed and Castro has endorsed Elizabeth Warren, whom he says will “fight like hell” in 2020. I was not surprised. I highly doubt Joe Biden would offer Castro the VP nod, and I have a feeling that Bernie is not Castro’s cup of Chocolate Ibarra. So, Warren is his path to VP (or something in a Dem administration or visibility for a future Texas run), and a lot of Dems are excited about it. Me? Not so much as I think he should have waited.

I’m leaning Bernie based on his platform and the inclusive movement he has created. And since it’s always been about “electability,” I think Bernie is the only one with a shot at creating a big enough movement inclusive of the poor, the vulnerable, and the targeted (those who never get excited by what Dems usually offer) that will oust the Cheeto Jesus. I don’t feel that from Warren at this time; perhaps, Castro will change that. Yet, any Bern I may feel has its limits because of various political realities (DNC, big money, Wall Street, the establishment, neoliberals, a weak media, warmongers, you name it) that will force us to end up with Biden.

How involved will I be during the primary and convention season? At this point, there is a lot about the Dem Primary I’m not enjoying, whether it be the race for Prez, the race for Senate, or the local races. So, I’m not feeling it. But that’s for other blog posts.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

The Quinceañera: DCs Top 10 Posts of 2019

Thanks to DC readers for keeping us going all of these years. 2020 is a big year. It’s DC’s Quinceañera-15 years of DosCentavos.net! During these first 15 years, I’ve made 6,000 posts–some informational, some announcements, but a lot of substantive opinion on the issues of the day.

In 15 years, I’ve made friends, a few enemies, and even some enemies that have become friends because they got over what I wrote. I’ve quit blogging, come back, slowed down, but my general feelings have remained intact. So, this exercise will continue; at the very least, to continue pissing a few people off, at the most, to educate the masses.

We’ll try to bring you more politics, culture, and the intrigue that goes along with it in 2020. I’m pretty sure there will be much to talk about.

Here are our Top 10 of 2019

  1. A Great Opening Night at Festival Chicano
  2. Raj Salhotra Announces Bid for Houston City Council
  3. 2019 Houston Mayor, City Council Races Shaping Up
  4. Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muñiz Released
  5. It Wouldn’t Be a Dem Primary Without a Filing Controversy
  6. A Short Local Nightmare is Over (Judge McCleod Quits)
  7. Executive Interns Aren’t Coffee Go-Fers (Airport Intern BS)
  8. Stace Slate – Explained (2019 Endorsements)
  9. 2019 Elections – November Races
  10. Houston Re-Elects Mayor Sylvester Turner-2019 RunOff Results

The Day 2 Dems: We Need To Thin The Top Tier By 1

If anything has become obvious after two days of Democratic debate, it’s that most of the white dudes want to keep criminalization of border crossings and the candidates of color and women want to do away with it. And the pro-criminalization side has its king in Joe Biden.

Biden’s “back of the line,” “all border crossers are criminals” tirade set him apart from the rest of the crowd. He’s basically the Democrats’ Trump, saying what probably 1/3 of the Democratic Party think or is OK with a candidate saying because they just want to get rid of Trump and think anti-immigrant BS is the key to victory. Pro-Tip:  It’s not!

I can’t say I hate myself or a group of people enough to vote for this kind of Democrat.  Maybe that would change at the voting machine in November 2020, but I’ve been worn thin and will speak freely today. And Democrats refuse to learn from our past, even getting upset when some of us criticize previous Dem administrations. Nothing should be off-limits when we are picking the next leader of this country because we should strive for the best.

Performance-wise, I think Julian Castro did quite well, considering CNN only gave him less than 11 minutes to speak, while Back of the Line Biden got twice as much–most of it debating Kamala Harris.  But Julian proved that we Chicanos can do a lot with a little. Whether it was taking on Biden’s fear-based and gutless immigration pronouncements with a truly comprehensive plan or detailing his thoughts on a health care for all compromise, Julian was focused and coherent.

And while some will whine about Joe Biden being the target of some of the others, I think that’s a good thing. It showed us what he’d sound like in a debate with Trump, and if it didn’t scare you, then you are up in the clouds thinking he can beat Trump.

Cory Booker faired well against Biden after Biden’s attack on the town in which he was Mayor. (Why are white dudes attacking black cities and their leaders lately?) There are a few reasons Booker isn’t my favorite, but he’s quite the debater. Kamala Harris did well, too, on health care, despite attacks from the right in which scary numbers and confusion were thrown around by the mods.  Gabbard, of course, pointed out Harris’ flaws as attorney general of California, but it didn’t earn her points as much as it may have smudged Harris. Gillibrand has made a turnaround on immigration and sounded much more coherent on the issue and other issues than usual. Even DiBlasio and Yang weren’t awful.

Democrats have a decision:  Pick the right person that can take on Trump or settle for mediocrity.

I get lectured by former republicans and Dems who give money and support to “tolerable” republicans that we need to beat Trump with any sack of potatoes with a (D) by their name, but it’s early enough that we can thin the herd of basically bad people in our Party. For all the flaws that are pointed out, I think Castro, Warren, Sanders, and Harris are great candidates. Booker is OK, too.  But this round of debates proved that the mod(erate) squad, led by Biden, do nothing to increase participation of those constantly left behind in the conversation with their “no se puede” attitudes. If they don’t fire up an avid voter such as myself, then they won’t fire up the others we need. So, it’s not a bad thing, 6 months ahead of the first primary/caucus, to have some real conversations about the candidates–even picking them apart to see what they’re made of.

Happy candidate hunting! Go Julian!

 

 

Julian Castro Continues To Impress in Houston

First of all, thanks to the Harris County Democratic Party for inviting presidential candidates to Houston so that Democratic voters can get a closer look at them. In the case of Julian Castro, he impressed from arrival to exit.

Entering a packed St. John’s Downtown to Selena’s Baila Esta Cumbia, Castro showed that his campaign is indeed connecting with voters and much of the interest is owed to his debate performance. No, not because he schooled some of his opponents on immigration reform, but because his delivery on a variety of issues was strong and to the point. Castro has brought the issues of policing, housing, and education to the forefront, and he expects to release a plan on climate change soon. And we must keep listening.

Check out the video!

Yet, I would venture to say that if it were not for Castro’s bold immigration reform plan, the campaigns would not be responding to the issue as strongly as they have been. While the current wave of anger toward the Trump administration is because of children in cages, awful prison conditions, and a racist, inhumane Border Patrol, Castro has pointed to a broken system beyond asylum seekers and the easier platform point of DREAMers. Getting to the root cause as to why people are coming to the US is something that hadn’t been spoken of since Bill Richardson ran for President in 2008; in Castro’s case, a proposal for a Marshall Plan to bolster those countries whose citizens are suffering through bad economies, bad right-wing regimes, and government- and gang-led violence.

I hope that we will hear more about Latin America policy from the candidates. Let’s face it, much of the cause of Latin America’s issues is US intervention in democratic elections, including a coup in Honduras during the Obama administration because they didn’t like the progressive-minded guy who won. We’re talking hard truths that Democrats must swallow if they really want to move toward fixing a problem, rather than putting a band-aid on it and ignoring it for two terms.

Check out the video

This said, I’m glad Julian Castro is on the debate stage. He’s brought a Mexican American point of view to American politics that has gone ignored for too long. Castro offers his rich political and family history that America has neglected to embrace and he just happens to show off his abilities to talk domestic and foreign policy in a manner that doesn’t sound like “inside baseball.” So, let’s all of us keep listening. We may just learn something.

 

 

May 15-19, 2019: 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival

It’s that time of year again. The 38th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, the biggest conjunto festival in the world is set to launch in a couple of weeks in San Antonio and the list of performers and activities does not disappoint.

The fest begins on May 15 with a Seniors Dance at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Theater at 1301 Guadalupe featuring Eddie “Lalo” Torres y su Conjunto. The dance is FREE! There will also be a screening of Chulas Fronteras, a documentary film about Texas conjunto music and its history.

On May 16, the newest inductees into the Tejano Conjunto Hall of Fame will be presented at the Guadalupe Theater. This year’s inductees include Norfy Layton, Lorenzo Martinez, and Pepe Maldonado.

But it’s May 17-19 which will have the most activity at SA’s Rosedale Park at 303 Dartmouth. The three-day concert series includes some of the best conjuntos in the business.  Get your tickets here. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, May 17, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
5:30pm-Midnight
$16 daily admission
5:30pm Opening Ceremonies
6:00pm Flavio Longoria Conjunto Kings
7:00pm Los D Boyz
8:00pm Rio Jordan
9:00pm Los Cucuys de Rodney Rodriguez
10:00pm Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers
11:00pm Los Garcia Bros
AFTERPARTY: FAR WEST @ 2502 Pleasanton Rd, San Antonio, TX 78221

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00pm-12:00am
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
3:20pm Cristina y Los Latinos
4:00pm Robert Casillas and Company
5:00pm JR Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits
6:00pm Los Morales Boyz
7:00pm Los Leones de Alberto Solis
8:00pm Los Tremendos V
9:00pm Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz
10:00pm Conjunto Califas
11:00pm Lazaro Perez y su Conjunto
AFTERPARTY: BOSMANS @ 672 Elks Dr, San Antonio, TX 78211

Sunday, May 19, 2019
Rosedale Park, San Antonio, TX
12:00-11:00pm
$16 daily admission
12:00pm Conjunto Student Showcase
2:00pm Los Hermanos Tellez
3:00pm Konjunto Kompaz
4:00pm Tejano RoZe
5:00pm Linda Escobar y Su Tremendo Conjunto
6:00pm Eva Ybarra y su Conjunto
7:00pm Los Texmaniacs featuring Flaco Jimenez
8:00pm Ruben De La Cruz y su Conjunto
9:00pm Tony Tigre y la Rosa de Oro
10:00pm Los Palominos
AFTERPARTY: THE SQUEEZEBOX @ 2806 N. St. Mary’s
San Antonio, Texas 78212

 

4/24/2019: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia To Host ITC Town Hall