Category Archives: Las Mujeres

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!

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40th Annual Tejano Music Awards Winners

Song of the Year – Ahora Sigo Yo – Stevie D

Male Vocalist – Jay Perez

Female Vocalist – Shelly Lares

Album – Jay Perez – 25th Anniversary Contigo

Conjunto Album – Los Desperadoz – Calm Before The Storm

Collaboration – Shelly Lares and Ernestine Romero – Estupida

Best New Male Artist – J.R. Gomez

Best New Female Artist – Monica Saldivar

Best New Group – J.R. Gomez & The Conjunto Bandits

Video – Stevie D – El Primer Tonto

The TMAs are usually a fancy affair with red carpet arrivals, live performances, interviews, and all that, but 2020s pandemic forced the usual crowd of Tejano Music fans to watch it from their couches at home. Thanks to the Texas Talent Musicians Association and FIERRO HD Radio, the TMAs went on virtually with live nom and winner announcements from radio personalities Johnny Ramirez, Bo Leo Gonzalez, and Bo Corona, along with pre-recorded performances from performers like Gary Hobbs, Jay Perez, Shelly Lares, Isabel Marie, Monica Saldivar and others.

Along with the celebratory awards, fans were offered a Selena tribute video of one of her Astrodome performances, an amazing rendition of America the Beautiful by various artists, and a heart-wrenching In Memorium to remind us of all those industry greats lost this last year.

All in all, I enjoyed the festivities. I didn’t have to rent a tux, I drank hot cocoa in my jammies, and connected my laptop to the big TV. I’m all for virtual concerts right now and I am in no hurry to run into an unmasked crowd at a club. Kudos to Bino Gaona of TMAs for reminding us to Mask Up, wash hands, and to distance so that we can head back toward some sort of normal.

Congrats to all involved and congrats to all the winners and nominees.

Also, just want to say that I picked Jay, Shelly, JR, and Los Desperadoz in my TMA nominee post. So, I guess I still know my Tejano talent.

Tejano Nation has a more comprehensive look at the event.

Tacho’s Pandemic Tamales

The last time I participated in a tamalada was in 2013. It was also the last time our Flo (Mom) was able to participate in one as age and arthritis were taking their toll. So, while Flo supervised, my sisters, brother-in-law, and I went through the process of preparing the meat, the masa, and the hojas, before becoming an assembly line which smeared the masa on the hoja, filled it with meat, and closed the hoja before setting up several dozen of them in a big olla (steamer) for cooking. It was a fun family experience that I’ll always remember because Flo was just so happy.

These last seven years, though, it’s been all about experiencing community, listening to others’ chisme, and seeing other things one sees in the North Side of Houston by standing in line at Alamo Tamales. Sometimes, it was about ordering a few dozen for the season and other times, we’d get into the double digits so we could give out to friends and neighbors. Alamo’s are my favorites–the homestyle ones that are made by an assembly line of ladies in the back and not the machine made ones.

This year, although a lot of businesses are hurting because of the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot more time in my tiny kitchen making my own meals and experimenting. Not trusting COVID-19 protocols (or their customers) at restaurants, I’ve found myself remaining careful and avoiding them. And this year, that includes avoiding standing in line for tamales. Although I do hear Alamo has some sort of protocol to make things safer, I decided a few weeks ago to make my own tamales for my family.

Unfortunately (very), the family-style assembly line would not be possible as distancing and staying quiet while making them is impossible. Too much chisme and politics of which to speak and too many arms crossing to grab spoons and hojas. So, it was up to me and my sister, Sylvia, to get the job done.

The night before, I chopped up a pork loin, along with an onion, a few garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and some low-sodium chicken broth to cook in the crock pot overnight. By 4AM, the aromas emanating from the kitchen were waking me up. After six hours in the pot, I removed the meat and set it aside to shred. Also, the night before, I took a bag of corn husks (hojas) and set them in a huge pot of water so they could soften overnight.

Since I prefer Tamales rojos, I made a red chile paste made of dried guajillo, ancho, and pasilla chiles. I boiled them with garlic, onion, and a little salt, then pureed them in the blender. I kept a third of it to add to the masa, and the rest for the meat. Later, I needed more for the second batch of masa, so, I made some more paste.

Once I shredded the pork meat well, I added the red chile paste to it and cooked it some more in a giant pan, drained any excess fat, and set it aside for the assembly line.

The masa is a whole other experience. After already buying a couple bags of Maseca, I saw that Kroger was actually selling bags of masa. Growing up in Cristal, the only masa we ever used was from El Molino that was behind my childhood barber shop. Since it’s hard to find a molino in West Houston, and after not trusting the masa at the store, I decided that Maseca was the way to go. I unded up using 7 or so cups of Maseca, a 1 lb block of lard, baking powder, salt, and the rest of the chile rojo paste, then added 6 or so cups of warm low sodium chicken broth, making a huge bowl of masa by continuously mixing by hand until it seemed pliable and soft enough to squish out of your hand. If it was soft enough, it would spread easily on the hoja.

By now, you realize that the masa is not only the most important part, but the most challenging part of the process. That’s until you start spreading the masa on the hoja. Memories of my Mom and Pop came up as I tried spreading my first hoja. They made it seem so easy, but it wasn’t. Maybe I just don’t have the talent. So, I went to YouTube and found a Mexicana from the barrio telling me that “it takes years to achieve the talent of spreading masa on an hoja.” Thankfully, this is when my more experienced sister, Sylvia, joined the two-person process. Thankfully, she was faster than me and spread a lot more of the masa than I did.

We like our tamales meaty, so, that’s how we made them. After adding the meat and rolling them up (we didn’t put a hoja ribbon around each–too much work!), it was time for the steamer. I have a huge 24 quart steamer I found at a local market, but I decided to do two different batches (5 dozen total) to allow enough room for the steam to cook the tamales. After adding water to the steamer, to just below the steamer plate, I set up a huge coffee cup wrapped in foil in the middle, then stood up each tamal against the cup and continued placing them around as if forming a teepee of sorts.

We gave each batch two hours to cook. They came out tasty and spicy. Obviously the filling and the chile in the masa are important, but ensuring that the masa is well-cooked is key so that the tamal rolls out of the hoja. After leaving them out to set and cool, we wrapped them up in foil. They were ready to travel, eat, and also to freeze for later.

Sunday morning, I traveled to the ‘burbs to deliver a bunch to my other sister, Toni. We had a good breakfast of tamales and a side of eggs. Brother-in-law made a chile in the molcajete that was hot and that just made you hungrier for more tamales. There seems to be enough for the Christmas weekend and I even kept a dozen in my freezer in case I get the urge.

My first experience making tamales from start to finish was an experience. It’s a process. And if you want them to taste good, you must be meticulous about every part of the process to ensure success. That means it’s time-consuming and work-heavy. Or, as my Pop would say, “es una chinga.” Because after everything is done, you still need to wash everything and put it away for future use. So, don’t complain when someone tries to sell you some expensive tamales!

As my sis and I laughed about some of our mistakes, the lights going out in the middle of the process during the morning storms, and about all the memories with Flo and Pop, we decided that it was all worth it and that it’ll remain a thing we do.

I’m happy with my latest accomplishment en la cocina. And I look forward to a bigger tamalada post-pandemic with the whole family and maybe one-or-two COVID vaccine-inoculated friends, if it is deemed safe. But with Greg Abbott and his followers acting like fools…anyway.

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday. COVID-19 may be at a scary point right now, but if you continue to mask up, distance from those not in your household, and practice good hygiene, your risk will be decreased. And this is worth it, too.

OMG! That Girl Looks Nothing Like JLo!

And that’s how some of the negative “fan” reviews began this weekend about Selena: The Series.

Once you get other little things out of the way, like, there are no mountains in Matamoros and Tejano dancers dance around the dance floor and not in one spot on the floor, well, the rest is an actual attempt at a biography of a struggling, yet short, and ultimately successful career that achieved much in terms of musical quantity and quality.

For folks whose love of Selena started at Amor Prohibido and Carcacha, or worse, for those whose love of Selena started at Dreaming of You, there seems to be disappointment in the series. For those of us who lived in the 80s and enjoyed 80s, big haired, weird outfit wearing Selena, this series has definitely been a treat and even a respite from current realities.

For those of us who have been fans of the genre for a while, we’ve enjoyed the mention of other artists and events that many of us experienced, such as the importance of the Tejano Music Awards. Whether folks want to accept it or not, there is a lot of history in this genre of music and I really appreciate an attempt to put it out there.

Now, I wasn’t going to be “that fan” who binged it. I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can, so, I only watched the first three episodes, thus far. But some of the criticism has been vicious. Some call it sanitized and white-washed. Others are blaming the patriarchy. Some even blame Netflix. I don’t really see any of what is being criticized in this regard. I’m just trying to enjoy some entertainment that touches on a little history about my culture.

Maybe people don’t want to see Selena’s family’s struggles. The food stamp scene brought out some emotions from me. The scene where the restaurant closes because of the economy tanking hit home with me, too. The scene where Abraham tells his kids that it’s OK to ask for help from the government as he paid his taxes was a speech I heard from my own Pop when we were struggling and I told him about what school kids would say about families on food stamps. It hit home.

The slow ascent to success that Selena went through was also important. Having to find an indie record label to produce, record, and distribute her music without much promotion was tough enough, but the struggle to come up with good songs and dealing with unhelpful songwriters was very telling about what Tejano bands have gone through in their careers. You can’t become a YouTube sensation when Al Gore hadn’t even invented the internets. Hell, just keeping the van and trailer running is something that still occurs in the present-day Tejano business. Showing Selena as appreciative of those that came before her (Laura Canales) was heartfelt, at least as a scene in the show.

The first three episodes provided a good foundation about Selena and the importance of her family in her success. Some of the criticism that the series is all about the dad and brother seems a little whiny. This was a family business. Selena was the main talent, but they all played a part in getting this business started, so, the story needs to be about all of them. I was even appreciative of Suzette’s struggles as a non-musician turned instant drummer for the band and the criticism from within the band as they discovered drum machines and electric drums to get the sound right. Without Abraham’s experiences in his own music career as a What Not To Do List for Selena’s career, and AB’s own struggle to become the family’s musical director, there is no Selena.

Let’s remember that even Beyonce started as a family business and that’s what it is now.

Anyway, I’m enjoying it. The early recordings featured, like Dame Un Beso, or her sped-up version of La Bamba, makes me miss my Tejano cassette collection and the GPX boombox my parents bought me at the Carrizo Springs Wal-Mart.

I’ll keep watching it. Watch it for entertainment or watch it for a little history about a Mexican American icon. But if you are watching it for a different take on the “washing machine” scene from the movie, then it may not be for you.

Selena: The Series Has Captured My Interest

Twenty-five years after the murder of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, her fandom continues to grow, including fans who weren’t even born during her days on the stage. No doubt, Selena, the movie, did a lot to bolster the icon and spread the fact that she existed. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

When I heard of Selena: The Series, I didn’t know what to think. After the movie, what else could be said? Well, for those of us who grew up with her music, watched her in charity softball games, or even stayed around after her early shows, we knew a lot more could be said that hadn’t already been said.

The Selena I remember was thirteen years old, opening for La Mafia at the Crystal Ballroom in Crystal City. My sisters had come to visit from Austin and took me to the dance as the designated bailador for them and their friends. Of course, we knew who La Mafia was. They’d been around for a few years and their innovative, brightly lit, and loud stage shows were already nipping at the heels of bands like Mazz, Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos, and La Movida.

The place was packed, obviously, but the radio ads hadn’t made mention of an opening band. As a thirteen year-old kid myself, I became interested when I saw a fellow teenager getting up on stage wearing some shiny purple outfits, along with a bunch of young musicians. When they started to play, they had the same professionalism as the other Onda Chicana bands I’d seen, except they were young. Then, the vocalist began to sing and that was it for me. A trip to the K-Mart in Uvalde a few weeks later had me buying one of her cassettes recorded on an indy-label. A few weeks later, she was on Johnny Canales.

In the early 80s, there weren’t many female vocalists that drew big crowds, except for Laura Canales. Stories abound about how badly Laura was treated by promoters and managers and other musicians as she was growing into her career. Selena’s story also tells of her struggles with the pendejos who didn’t take her seriously. Because of my sister’s love of music, I was quite the fan of Laura Canales, too.

There was one guy who was the best promoter of La Onda Chicana at the time and that was Johnny Canales. Canales put bands like Mazz, Laura Canales, Roberto Pulido and so many others on the map through his TV show, El Show de Johnny Canales. And when younger bands like La Mafia, La Sombra, Los Chamacos, and Selena came around with bigger and brighter stage shows, Johnny was at the forefront of promotions–even taking the bands on tours to cities in the Mid- and Northwest where his syndicated show was popular.

So, when I hear the stories that the new Selena netflix series was going to include scenes with actors int he roles of Laura Canales and Johnny Canales, I thought, “Finally!” More of the history of the music and culture is being told, rather than the sensationalized and Univisionized versions put forth through bad chisme talk shows, and yes, even the movie.

So, I’m happy that the show is happening. On top of that, it’s great to see more brown folks on screen, too. I’ll start watching this weekend.

Tejano Nation has more.

QEPD – Maria Jimenez, Leader and Activist

Maria Jimenez, 3/15/2011 – Texans Day of Outrage Rally

I was saddened by the news that local civil and human rights activist, Maria Jimenez, had passed away after a battle with cancer.

This bio on Chicana Por Mi Raza points to some of the history Maria made. No doubt, it was her stories about the Houston side of La Raza Unida Party that put a lot of the history in perspective. It wasn’t just about the local Cristal stories that I grew up hearing from my parents, but about something bigger. The best advice she ever gave me, based on my political campaign work at the time, was to never forget that the work is about addressing the issues and keeping the personalities involved accountable.

Throughout my twenty-two years in Houston, I’ve known many young activists and leaders of all walks of life who proudly point to Maria Jimenez as having been their mentor, shero, and supporter. It is the work of these newer organizers today that proves the impact Maria had at so many levels.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Carlos, Stalina, and Maria’s family–actual and causa-related. May we all gain strength from the memory and results of her good works.

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!

 

Get Your Tejano Music Gifts

Well, we are deep into the Christmas holidays, but you can still order or download the latest releases from the top Tejano and other influential acts. It’s been a good year for music and the live acts that play it. I’m looking forward to a fruitful 2020.

Here are a few albums I recommend:

  • Intocable – Percepción. The Zapata-based Intocable just won a Latin Grammy for their latest release and are nominated for a Grammy for it. Already enjoying much success with singles, such as No Van A Entender, Me Dueles, and Quedate Conmigo, the album is sure to score more hits as the band hits the road in 2020 for the next leg of the Percepcion tour.
  • Gary Hobbs – Lo Que Amo. The long awaited release from el borrado de Eagle Pass is enjoying some airplay of its title track single. With tunes, such as Perdoname and Quizas Yo, Hobbs has a strong set of tunes to complement his decades of popular hits. And he still puts on a great live show.
  • Jay Perez – 25th Anniversary. The Voice is back with hard-driving tunes like Contigo, Invitame, Tu (featuring DLG), and the cumbia, Recordare, just to name a few. It’s a well-produced album that will keep your toes tapping. And one is reminded why they call him The Voice!
  • La Santa Cecilia. LSC’s self-titled album isn’t Tejano, but it should be on your list. The LA-based band offers a mix of pop, rock, disco, and raza influenced tunes, such as Always Together, A Thousand Times, and Winning, while one also gets a dose of 20s styled music with Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out. It’s an EP that is worth being in the collection.
  • Los Palominos – Con La Fuerza De Un Huracan. Known for their South Texas conjunto stylings and vocal harmonies, Los Palominos keep their formula intact. Already enjoying success with the title track, they recently released a video for ranchera, Corazon Aventurero. My fave is the country-influenced Mas de Ti. It’s a must-have for the collection.
  • The Mavericks – Play The Hits. The latest by Nashville-based Americana band is a tribute to various hits. Kickin’ it off with John Anderson’s Swingin’, they move through various points in history with Blame It On Your Heart, Before The Next Teardrop Falls, and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. The closer, Leaving It Up To You, leaves one wanting more. It’s got horns, accordion, a tough rhythm section, and Raul Malo’s voice.
  • Los Desperadoz – Calm Before The Storm. Los Desperadoz are back after a long wait with their signature conjunto sound. Featuring rancheras and cumbias, the album offers Mi Vida Sin Ti, Dame Tu Amor, Otra Vez En Mi Sueño, and other danceable tunes. Make it yours, and find a venue where Los Desperadoz play this stuff live. You will not be disappointed.

Look for them online and get your money’s worth.

Isabel Longoria Falls Short After Complete Count

As was reported on Run-Off election night, District H was too close to call as provisional and mail ballots needed to be counted. Karla Cisneros led Isabel Longoria by 12 votes. By the end of the week, it looks like incumbent Council Member Karla Cisneros was re-elected by 16 votes.

The outcome of the runoff had remained in some doubt after the Dec. 14 election, when unofficial results showed Cisneros leading Longoria by 12 votes: 5,283 to 5,271. After the addition of 40 provisional and mail ballots, however, Cisneros’ lead widened to 16.

Longoria announced it on Friday after pushing the County Clerk to ensure a complete and timely count by releasing the names of individuals who needed to cure their provisional ballots.

As a local expert with experience on the ballot board told me, when a race is this close, provisional and mail ballots do not move the needle much in either direction. Usually, the ballots left to be counted end up being split between the two candidates.

Bottom line:  Your vote matters. I mentioned on Facebook on election night that either candidate, or either of us reading this, probably know 20 people who did not vote last Saturday. And that’s just sad, as much as we remind people in various ways to go vote.

Congrats to Council Member Cisneros. And congrats to Isabel Longoria. Let’s hope those that sent a message to the incumbent with their vote experience some change from it.

In District B, a trial date has been set to decide whether a candidate with completed prison sentence should be eligible to run and serve in office. The third-place candidate sued to remove and replace that candidate. Because of this delay and trial, and because of election schedules, it could be that the District B election will not be held until May 2nd. The people spoke in November, yet, Democracy is still delayed.

 

It Wouldn’t Be A Dem Primary Without A Filing Controversy

If you haven’t heard, an incumbent Democratic Criminal District Judge incorrectly filed for re-election and had his candidacy rejected by the Harris County Democratic Party, as reported by Miya Shay at ABC13. Judge George Powell of the 351st District Court filed for re-election as the deadline neared on December 9 and paid the wrong filing fee. Once his paperwork was checked, and the check was short, he was rejected.

Any candidate (and especially incumbent) should know to read the rules for filing for office. You learn this in a Candidate 101 class given by any friendly consultant or blogger. Or, at least on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

The rules are simple. Those filing for Criminal District Judge should file with the County Chair. The candidate has the option of collecting 750 signatures in lieu of the filing fee, or collecting 250 signatures and paying a $2500 filing fee (in large counties, including Harris) as is stated in Sections 172.024(10), (12), of the Texas Election Code.

Powell is stating that he was told it was $1500 by someone at the Party. But this isn’t his first rodeo and the rules have not changed. Also, the Harris County Democratic Party isn’t a grocery store with a checkout counter. They collect the paperwork and the decision is made by the County Chair. And, finally, the SOS Candidate Handbook states all of this stuff quite specifically.

[There’s a reason I tell candidates to file early, and not at the last minute. Just in case.]

There’s no telling what will be decided. A temporary restraining order was granted by a judge and a hearing will be held in early January. My experience in this (having worked on a campaign which challenged sloppy signatures, yet still approved by the County Chair at the time), is that judges aren’t too keen on even deciding these cases, or deciding against a party’s decision. But we have a whole different crop of judges, now. So, ay veremos.

The bigger question is:  Can a judge who interprets the law be taken seriously when he doesn’t read the laws pertaining to his own candidacy?

Anyway, thankfully, a well-qualified attorney had filed to challenge the incumbent. Natalia Cornelio did follow the rules and made it on to the ballot and is currently the only candidate running for the 351st. She champions fairness, civil rights, and criminal justice reform. We need more of that in our courts.