Category Archives: 2016

DosCentavos’ Top 10 Posts of 2016

It wasn’t a very productive year at DosCentavos.net. In fact, it’s been quite a bad year production-wise. Still, thanks to all my readers for keeping traffic steady despite a lack of content. We’ll still be around in 2017. We need to be.

Here are my Top 10 Posts of 2016 which earned good traffic from you all.

  1. 24 Hours in Cristal
  2. Juliet Stipeche Joins Turner Administration
  3. The Annoyance That Is Democratic Pragmatism
  4. Rest In Peace – Emilio Navaira
  5. Democrats Sweep Harris County
  6. Rest in Peace – Florencia (Flora) Medellin
  7. DC Reviews – Intocable ~ Highway
  8. DC Book Review – Johnny Hernandez ~ The Cottonpicker: An Odyssey
  9. Los Texmaniacs Conquer The Heights Theater
  10. Safety Pins, Obama, and Immigration Realities
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Los Texmaniacs, Flaco, Augie, and Guitar Johnny Conquer The Heights Theater

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Los Texmaniacs brought with them founding Texas Tornados Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyers and guitarist Johnny Nicholas and brought down The Heights Theater on Friday, 12/23/16. With a mix of Tex-Mex Conjunto, Tex-Mex Rock, and a dash of Country music, the sell-out crowd at the recently re-opened theater enjoyed a truly Tex-Mex Holiday concert.

Los Texmaniacs, led by Grammy winner Max Baca, solidified their place as Americana Music stars showing a diverse crowd that their music goes above and beyond what is usually expected from a Tex-Mex outfit.

I arrived early to gauge fan conversations, though. I didn’t know what to expect from the fans. The convos I heard ranged from love for Augie to worshipping of Flaco. And that was from the Anglos in the audience. They did ask:  Who are The Texmaniacs? Some were confused as they recalled Augie and Flaco as being part of The Texas Tornados. Boy, did they learn who The Texmaniacs are.

Truth be told, though, Max Baca was part of The Texas Tornados touring band. Beyond that, he’s considered Flaco Jimenez a musical father, a mentor, and even a teacher, back when Max was a kid. Decades later, Max gets to play mentor and teacher to his 24 year-old nephew Josh Baca who is on track to becoming an accordion legend like Flaco.

And, yes, there was music. The Maniacs’ first set was a short one and totally Tex-Mex. Kicking off with Lucerito and an instrumental of El Paso and San Antonio Rose. The usual Tex-Mex history lesson is always interesting which included an instrumental of Muchachos Alegres. Then came some country with How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly. Emotions ran high with a beautiful rendition of Cancion Mixteca. But there was also a new cumbia about a panadero. Most impressive was Johnny Nicholas providing rhythm guitar to the conjunto tunes, as well as some rockin’ solos.

The second much longer set brought on Augie Meyers to a loud response from the crowd. The talent who gave us Hey Baby Que Paso gifted us with that tune and so many others from his solo and Tornados career. Who Were You Thinking Of was one of my favorites. Of course, tears also “Flo’d” (for me) when Augie took on Mama Came To Visit Me In Texas, with only him and the piano. Little did I know it was about a Mama visiting her son from the afterlife, which hit me pretty hard this holiday season. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Flaco took the stage. He’s had a rough couple of years after a fall and some back and hip surgery, but his 30 minute set was indeed memorable and hard-driving. His accordion playing through Marina and Viva Seguin was impeccable, but it was a couple of tunes that put Flaco on the “mainstream” scene that got a great response. Dwight Yoakum’s Streets of Bakerfield and The Mavericks’ All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down were just amazing. As Flaco ended his part of the show, he thanked the crowd and then broke into a rendition of Feliz Navidad, on which The Texmaniacs easily joined in. And thanks to Flaco’s son who does so much for his daddy.

The rest of the show was rockin’ with a mix of tunes and genres. Danny Martinez on Drums and Noel Hernandez on Bass provided quite the rhythm section, while Augie Meyers stayed on stage with some improv piano accompaniment to conjunto tunes that seemed just right, especially Mexico Americano. (Max didn’t dedicate it to Trump this time, but by that time the beer seemed to be flowing pretty good amongst the crowd.)

All of this earned Los Texmaniacs, Augie, Flaco, and Johnny multiple standing ovations. And deservedly so.

Every time I leave a Texmaniacs gig I ask myself:  Can they get any better? This was my third time seeing them this year and the answer is a resounding YES! Let’s hope promoters keep bringing them back to Houston. Perhaps as an opener for The Mavericks when they come to town again. (One can dream, right?)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, y’all!

Local Leaders Reinforce Houston as Welcoming City

onaic300Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced the creation of the Office of New Americans, an office which will assist immigrants and refugees with services that will help with their integration into their new hometown. By looks of the website, it is more of a clearinghouse of information, and that’s a good thing.

The Mayor reiterated Houston’s commitment to being a Welcoming City, stating that a task force he created on immigrant communities is developing best practices on how to address the needs of the immigrant community. To the community he said he has their backs.

“Many members of our community are living in fear and asking whether they will continue to have a place in our great city,” said Mayor Turner. “I want all of our residents, including immigrants and refugees, and people of all faiths, to feel safe and protected.  The Houston that existed before the November election is the Houston that still exists today.  We will not tolerate violence or criminal activity against anyone.  Houston is going to remain a city where all are welcome, where neighbors look out for one another and where we are proud of our diversity.”

He passed the mic over to new Houston ISD Superintendent Carranza who stated that schools will not be where immigration raids take place. Citing past Supreme Court decisions, he strongly reiterated that all students have a right to a free education.

Carranza went on to list some of the tasks they have worked on to show their commitment:  Distribution of immigrant rights fact sheets; Hosting a DREAM Summit to provide college and financial aid information to parents and students; and utilizing teachers to distribute information to encourage open discussion on political topics; and a January 4 informational phone bank to assist immigrant families.

Finally, Carranza stated that public schools are not in the immigration enforcement business and that they do not track student immigration statuses. “We will see you in school every single day.”

Chief Art Acevedo encouraged the immigrant community to work with HPD in reporting crimes and facts of crimes without fear of deportation or detention. Acevedo stated that HPD is in place to fight crime and their singular goal is to go after those who do wrong. In Spanish, he stated, “No somos agentes de inmigracion,” or, “We are not immigration agents.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and State Senator Sylvia Garcia also addressed the press conference ensuring constituents that they would stay strong in the fight against bad anti-immigrant policies. State Rep. Gene Wu stated that “we will not be divided and that we stand as one.”

Councilmembers Laster and Gallegos also reflected on the diversity of Houston as a source of strength, stating that they will continue to be of service to the immigrant community. Laster’s is the most ethnically diverse council district, while Gallegos’ is a strongly Latino-populated district. “Everyone will be heard and respected,” stated Laster.

I was unable to attend, but thanks to a couple of buddies and KHOU, I was able to watch the live feed. At the tail end of the press conference, there was a bit of back and forth regarding sanctuary cities, but as feeds go, they were sort of going kaput. Needless to say, Sanctuary Cities will be a major issue in Texas in the Legislature. Dan Patrick has committed to passing Senate Bill 4, a bill to ban sanctuary cities. Will Houston utilize its lobbying pros to try to knock that bill down? (At least, that’s what I would have asked.)

[Here’s a cold, hard fact:  While it is easy to commit to protecting children of immigrants from raids and rhetoric, their parents have just as big, if not bigger, target on them and deserve protection, too.]

From the looks of online reactions, many left the press conference feeling good about Houston and what they had just heard. The fact of the matter is that there are real battles ahead which require political leaders at all levels to take a stand against anti-immigrant policies. But as my friend Cesar Espinosa of FIEL called the Mayor’s new initiatives, “it’s an important first step.”

We’ll keep an eye on things. And, thank you, Houston leaders, for stepping up.

Mayor Turner Signs DACA Letter to Trump; Will Announce Welcoming City Effort

turnerThere’s been a soft grumble regarding what some activists call a lack of attention by Mayor Turner and the City of Houston’s commitment to keeping the city’s law enforcement out of the immigration enforcement business in this new era of Trump.

The recent hiring of HPD Chief Art Acevedo and the recent signing of a letter by many big city mayors, including Turner, asking soon-to-be President Trump to protect DACA beneficiaries from deportation, have provided somewhat of a signal of where the Mayor stands. During his stint in Austin, Chief Acevedo spoke out against the use of 287(g), an immigration enforcement tool for local law enforcement agencies.

While speaking out against 287(g) as a law enforcement leader brings a little comfort, the DACA letter only represents the protection of less than 800K young people nationwide from deportation. Of course, with 287(g) still in play, so is the opportunity for racial profiling and immigration round-ups. Activists want to see more from local governments given Trump’s standing on deportations.

Since election day, many city mayors have come out against 287(g) and the federalizing of local law enforcement, including some of Texas’ large cities. Specifically, they have stated they would not cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement. Locally, incoming Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been vocal, as well.

Local government leaders around Texas are now facing the threat of losing state funding if they remain “sanctuary cities.” Greg Abbott has now threatened universities who have committed to providing a sanctuary from immigration enforcement. The threat against Latinos and immigrants in Texas because of Republicans’ threat of legalized racial profiling and funding cuts is very real. The fear, also, is very real.

According to the Mayor’s public schedule, he will be announcing a community effort to reinforce Houston as a “Welcoming City.” Texas Organizing Project is promoting the Monday morning, December 12, event on Facebook to be held at 9AM at NCI Baker-Ripley Chase Opportunity Center, 6500 Rookin, 77074.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Greg Abbott’s War on Latinos Continues

uglyLet’s face it, when it comes to the issue of immigration, Republicans like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Donald Trump have placed a target on Latinos. They’ve gone from supporting a ban on sanctuary cities to wasting billions of tax dollars on a border surge. Now, Abbott wants to target college campuses who protect immigrant college students from immigration raids.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is promising to cut funds to public universities that become what he described as “sanctuary” campuses for immigrant students. The Republican provided no other details.

Abbott tweeted the vow Thursday in response to a story about Texas State University students urging school leaders to declare the campus a “sanctuary” as immigrant students nationwide fear deportation under President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump pledged during his campaign to launch a “deportation force” and end the practice of granting temporary status to students in the U.S. illegally. The University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater, has pledged to block federal agents without a warrant from removing students in the country illegally.

No, there’s nothing specific, but Republicans in the Texas Lege have already filed bills to ban sanctuary cities, cut financial aid and in-state tuition for DREAMers, among other bills. These racist threats against Latinos have only increased since election day, including a new call to cut funding for city governments deemed sanctuary cities.

Abbott, who gained some favor for his campaign by parading around his hispanic mother-in-law is showing what he really thinks about the Latino community–again! While immigrant students may be the target, there’s no doubt that federalizing local law enforcement will increase racial profiling. It affects us all.

And for what? To earn political capital with his right-wing-nuts?

With exit polls showing Trump earned less than 20% of the Latino vote, the Republican Party is showing how little they respect the Latino electorate. They’ve been doing it for a long time, but in kinder, gentler tones. Now, there’s a good chance their racism will turn into public policy.

It looks like it’s another legislative session on the defensive for Latinos.

 

 

12/8/2016: Panel Discussions on US-Mexico Business Environment

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PLEASE RSVP BY CLICKING HERE

Los Texmaniacs at Coffee House Live

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Grammy Award winners Los Texmaniacs made a quick trip into Houston to perform and hour-and-a-half set at Coffee House Live at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in West U. Yes, in West U.

A diverse crowd of around 100 enjoyed an equally diverse show by the Tex-Mex Conjunto outfit, which included rancheras, polkas, boleros, country, blues, and rock selections. Throughout the set, each “Maniac” had several opportunities to show off their chops, especially front-man and Bajo legend Max Baca and accordion hero Josh Baca. Noel Hernandez (Bass) and Daniel Martinez (Drums) provided some solid rhythms, too.

Much of the set came from their latest release, Americano Groove, a mix of genres that can only be called Americana music. Como Te Quiero, Herido, How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly, and Down In The Barrio were performed perfectly, while they also added the reason they earned the Grammy in ’09, Marina, Marina and Cancion Mixteca. Throw in Danzon Juarez, a Chotis, and a Ruben Vela tribute and you’ve got yourself a pretty powerful show.

The musical diversity kept the crowd energized. Personally, I was trying to escape my usual political doings by attending this event, but even Max Baca had to get political with a song dedicated to the orange guy that’s about to move to Washington DC, with the classic, Mexico-Americano. I was proud to throw up a “power to the people” fist as the song was played, even though we Chicanos were outnumbered. Needless to say, it was a great moment after a tough political week.

Max tells me that a new album is set to be released early in 2017, although American Groove continues to grow in popularity as their reach grows. Recently, they’ve toured the coasts, Canana, and the South and will continue to be busy. They’re scheduled to return to Houston on December 23rd for a show that will include Flaco Jimenez and Augie Meyers at the Heights Theater. DosCentavos will be there! Stay tuned for more information.

 

 

Safety Pins, Obama, and Immigration Realities

uglyIn this day and age of Trump, it seems there are a whole bunch of groups in need of allies. Fortunately for some of the other groups, they found an ally in President Obama. When it came to immigration, though, not so much.

2.5 million deportations later, and more action happening against unaccompanied children and families escaping violence from Central America, it seems the Obama administration goes merrily along with its removal policies. If anything, they also go along with Latin American policies which have destabilized governments to the south for decades and have been the reason for much of the migration to the US.

Of course, during the last eight years, our safety pin allies have been all for these policies, since I didn’t see any safety pins during President Obama’s two terms. Sure, there was the usual support for immigration reform with no definition of it. There was support for measures such as executive orders on DACA and DAPA, but it seemed it was only as things got closer to the political season, and only after immigration reform activists (DREAMers) forced President Obama’s hand after he stated he couldn’t do executive orders “legally.” Even so, criticism of President Obama was met with anger from liberals. Even on this issue, it appeared he could do no wrong.

And before an apologist lies and says “millions” got DACAmented, the reality is that it’s only 728,000. Not much of a fair trade between (flimsy and temporary) papers and deportations, right? That’s if you think political human trading is fair.

Yes, it was a roller coaster coaster ride during these two terms. Lost opportunities and priorities between 2009 and 2010 after the President’s “term one, year one” promise. A DREAM Act that went down in flames because of 5 Democrats voting Nay. As a hand-out to Republicans, President Obama offered 2.5 million souls to deport as a means of looking tough on the issue. Private prisons made billions. And anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment remained on a slow boil. Obviously, it didn’t work. Playing politics with human beings just doesn’t work out and it only emboldens the other side. And, the other side won.

Even still, we’re finding that Latino political participation probably increased in 2016. Surely, there were a lot more new voters because of increased voter registration efforts. And despite one exit poll that stated differently, Latinos supported the Democratic candidate with 80% of the vote. Desperation? Going along to survive? For sure, defending against something worse (Trump and his ilk). No doubt, some of us were flying blind trying to stop Trump.

And, now, we’ve got Trump. Needless to say, I’ve seen lots of friends and acquaintances and others who were apologists for President Obama now worried about the immigrants. And that’s fine. We need to worry. But we also need to act. We’ve needed to act for a long time, now.

All the immigration double-talk from Trump since election day, I’m sure, is confusing. We’ve gone from a “yuge” wall to a wall in certain places (Clinton actually voted for this type of “wall” plan as a Senator); we’ve gone from “mass deportation of 11 million” to deportation of 3 million “criminals”–and we still need to define “criminal,” because even the Obama administration has deported people with low-grade non-deportable crimes or no crimes at all because of 287g and Secure Communities. I’m sure it will confuse the best allies.

Will it get worse under Trump? Obviously, many think so given 100,000 already marching in Los Angeles and thousands more around the country. Liberals and other Democrats need to stop their wincing and let the protests happen. It’s the only way to gain momentum to take on what may come after January 20. Unlike President Obama, I’m pretty sure immigration is at the top of Trump’s agenda. And we need to support organizations who will take on this issue head-on–especially those combating legislation at the Capitol or in the courts, and especially in the media.

For all the allies out there, if I sound annoyed or frustrated with you, well, it’s because I am. Yet, I still appreciate you because we’ve united on so much, too. Politically, the Democratic Party and its elected officials will not be successful without full-throated support of the immigrant community, and by extention, the overall Latino community, which has been the biggest target. For decades, we’ve had the largest police force hunting us, and for decades, we’ve been the easiest political target for both political parties. It takes people to change this. So, if you’re really an ally, join the struggle. And stick with it, even if it might offend the establishment on our side of the aisle.

 

 

SATURDAY 10/29: Tacos and Vote!

Early voting has been steady all week. After four days, over 293,000 have already voted in-person, while another 73,000+ have returned their ballots by mail. To put things in perspective, that’s about 47% of the total number of early voters in 2012. In only four days. (Did I get that right?)

Some locations are busier than others, but the bottom line is that during early voting, one may vote at any of the early voting locations. As is usually the case, Saturday will be very busy, but it’s a great day to vote. And there are some good folks that want to make sure you get to vote and enjoy some culture. Nothing says culture like TACOS and MARIACHIS! So, here’s a listing of Tacos and Vote polling locations.

Go get you some! And Vote!

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2 DC Reviewed Albums Earn Latin Grammy Noms

tejanolatingrammynoms2016As my friends at Tejano Nation posted this week, the Latin Grammy noms are out, and in the Tejano Album category, two DosCentavos reviewed albums are nominated. Maybe they read my stuff, maybe it’s because the albums are just that good, but congrats to Ram Herrera (VMB Music Group) and Jay Perez (Freddie Records) on the nomination.

On Ram’s Mucho Mas Que Amor:  I’ve got to admit:  When I read the announcement that Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez and Tejano great Chente Barrera partnered up to form VMB Music Group, I expected them to produce some amazing material, but Ram Herrera’s Mucho Mas Que Amor is one of those productions that has staying power.

On Jay’s Un Amigo Tendras:  Tejano crooner Jay Perez is back with his long-awaited release, Un Amigo Tendras. After riding the radio waves with the title track, a smooth sax-driven cumbia, we get to enjoy the other 11 tunes. That’s right–12 tunes on this Freddie Records release. Produced by Mario Ortiz, this new production really hits the spot.

Both albums get some serious rotation on “Radio DosCentavos,” AKA my car stereo.

Also gaining a Latin Grammy nomination are LA’s La Santa Cecilia for Buenaventura for Best Pop/Rock Album.

Congrats to the nominees. The Latin Grammy telecast will be on November 17.