Category Archives: Uncategorized

Covidnor Abbott

For Real, Now!

I have no reason to wish the Covidnor well. I’m not running for office, so I don’t have to dole out faux compassion for public consumption. Abbott failed miserably at “personal responsibility.”

Honestly, my initial response was probably, “¡Andale, por pendejo!” after seeing him fiddlin’ around unmasked with fellow bigots at various campaign stops.

That said, Greg Abbott is just another “rare” breakthrough case of the virus. His press release says he’s in good health, fully vaccinated (and other sources say boosted?), and asymptomatic. So, how did he qualify for monoclonal antibodies?

You may be eligible for this treatment if you have tested positive for COVID-19, are 12 years of age or older (and at least 88 pounds), and are at a greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. In May 2021, the list of high-risk* characteristics has expanded to include many more people.

*High risk includes any of the following characteristics:

65 years of age or older

Overweight (body mass index over 25)

Pregnancy

Chronic kidney disease

Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)

Weakened immune system

Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment

Cardiovascular disease/hypertension

Chronic lung disease

Sickle cell disease

Neurodevelopmental disorders

Medical-related technological dependence

Of course, it is also specified that one can start the treatment early, even if one doesn’t feel too sick.

Like with most illnesses, a patient must be in charge of their treatment and advocate for themselves to ensure everything possible is being done for them. That doesn’t happen often, especially in communities of color who may not be too trusting of medical facilities until they are really needed, or just don’t know how to advocate for themselves. And if one is uninsured with even less access to medical care, well, they me be out of luck.

So, when Dr. Vin Gupta posted this on Twitter, I completely agreed with him.

So, yes, while the Covidnor of Texas is a privileged prick, he knows how to use that privilege for himself, while politicizing every aspect of the pandemic to keep right-wing nut-jobs happy. So, I won’t wish him anything as he and his fellow Trump followers have downplayed COVID-19 from the start and continue policies designed to make people sick, like no mask mandates and “volunteer” vaccinations.

That said, get vaccinated. And Mask-Up! Don’t be like the Covidnor.

And if you get a breakthrough case, even though people downplay it by saying only “.0009 percent” out of the 150 million vaccinated get it, advocate for yourselves and your sickened family members. Tell the docs you want what Abbott is having.

And if those who downplay breakthrough cases want to see how a good leader doles out inclusive stats about ones community, watch the Mayor of San Antonio. He doesn’t hide from the reality that 11% of hospitalizations in San Antonio are breakthrough cases. We need that kind of information nationally.

Houston Needs A Reformer at HPD

George Floyd

Art Acevedo is going to beachier pastures. Miami hired him because of the “national profile” he created for himself by hugging on BLM protesters on camera while his underlings arrested various protesters for no particular reason. Unfortunately, those that prefer symbolism to action ate it up and only helped Acevedo’s popularity. As Texas Monthly reported, the hero myth is real.

While the murder of George Floyd gave a national profile to the need for police reform and improved police-race relations for which Houston could have been an example, Acevedo took the opportunity to attack judges and activists who supported and worked toward police and bail reform. His tough talk laced with crocodile tears made for great centrism and avoidance of the problems faced in our communities. He’s perfect for Florida.

Frankly, with Acevedo gone, Houston has an opportunity to hire a police chief who will have the guts to take on the cops union and join forces with leaders who support police and bail reform. Police and bail reform should be a national priority that requires more action, and a lot less hugs and weightless platitudes for the cameras.

That’s really all that needs to be said. Also, he probably decided he couldn’t beat Matthew McConaughey.

I Conquered Menudo!

Early on in this pandemic, I wrote about how much cooking I had been doing since I committed to staying at home, other than for essential tasks (work, groceries, family errands). It’s safe to say that, other than a couple of hamburger pick-ups at Jack in the Box, my kitchen skills continue to get honed during these days.

This weekend, I decided to conquer that Chicano (and Mexican) delicacy–Menudo! Some non-brown folks will automatically respond with, “Isn’t that for hangovers?” Kind of annoying, actually.

While its medicinal value after a night of drinking has been documented by various drunk uncles (me, included), the fact is that it is something that many of us actually enjoy eating every now and then. And while the thought of eating the stomach lining of a cow may gross some people out, it is actually pretty good when made right. For the most part, unless it was made by our mothers, actually ordering at restaurants was something that required research (mostly word of mouth) about how good a particular restaurant’s menudo was. Not all menudos are equal; in fact, some really suck. One local place that has some pretty good menudo is Andy’s Home Cafe in the Houston Heights. And the Ruchi’s on Richmond/Sage has been known to have some good stuff. And Balderas’ Tamales in Cypress, too. But, as is always said, homemade is best.

For years, I would see Flo (my Mom) make this stuff on special occasions. Or, sometimes, just a regular late Saturday night so that it would be ready for Sunday morning. As a kid, I was grossed out when seeing her washing and cutting the main ingredient–honeycomb beef tripe. The smell wasn’t all that great, either. Usually, one would have to go deep into the local meat markets to find the stuff. Nowadays, you can find it next to the ham hocks at HEB, though, my find was different: Beef scalded tripe–a 5 lb package, though not honeycomb. It’s all they had, so I bought it, since most menudos aren’t 100% honeycomb tripe.

What did scalded mean? It means HEBs butchers will scald (parboil) it in hot water before packing it. So, while the usual directions for honeycomb tripe will have you cutting larger chunks to make up for any shrinkage in the cooking of it, the scalded one seems to have little shrinkage, little fat, and little gaminess. After washing, cutting into bite size rectangles with kitchen shears, and then washing again, I marinated the chunks in lemon juice. This helped to tenderize and also get rid of any gaminess that lingered. After 30 minutes to an hour, it was ready for one more washing before heading for the stock pot.

I placed the chunks of the tripe into the pot and added enough water to cover it. Also, one cannot forget the pig’s feet. After a long while to get the pot to a boil, I covered it. And then began 4 or so hours of boiling the tripe. In between, I added some crushed pepper (for a kick), a couple of bay leaves, a medium onion, and 4 cloves of garlic. I may have thrown in some oregano, though some only use it as a garnish. The smell of goodness started filling the air.

While you wait is a good time to make the red chile paste, as I prefer red menudo to green. After de-seeding, de-stemming, and cutting and washing a couple of packets of dry chiles anchos, I brought them to a boil and let them sit for 30 minutes. After adding some salt and another garlic clove for good measure, I pureed them in the blender throughly.

Once the tripe is cooked and soft, you add the puree to the boil, along with a couple cups of water. I, then, added a couple of 16 oz cans of white hominy. Of course, I forgot that my family loves hominy in their menudo, so an extra 32 oz can was added later. Cook for another 30 or so minutes and it was ready.

I remembered Flo usually skimming whatever grease happened to move to the top of the boil, but, to my surprise, no skimming was needed in mine. Sure, it was there, but nothing to really skim. After tasting a few pancitas (the tripe), the soup, and ensuring the softness of the posoles, I deemed it ready for consumption.

Garnishes like diced jalapeños, diced onion, and oregano go quite well with menudo. Some have corn or flour tortillas with it, while others have bolillos (or my brother-in-law-made sourdough bread) to dip in the soup. When I order it, there’s usually an auxiliary taco or two, but I gave all my time to the menudo-making. It’s all good, as long as the menudo is piping hot.

I think I made my Mama proud with this first attempt at menudo. At least, I think it would be “someone else’s” menudo that she would actually enjoy. It also brought some good memories of seeing my Mom and Pop in the kitchen working together creating whatever we were eating during the holidays.

Coming soon: Tamales! But, first, a bowl of re-heated menudo!

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance has enjoyed all the headlines about Trump losing again (and again and again and again) as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looked at recent Presidential results in the counties around Travis and Bexar County.

SocraticGadfly had two snarky Thanksgiving-related posts to offer. First, he came up with a list of suggestions for new names for the Washington Football Team. Second, he gave a good smackdown to the cult of Whataburger.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Texas Lawbook reviews the appellate court races for the Houston area.

The Great God Pan Is Dead revisits some favorite artworks.

Reform Austin looks ahead to the next elections.

Therese Odell has some fun with Trump’s tiny desk.

Carlos Mendoza mocks Dan Patrick’s affinity for offering dumb rewards.

Performing Artists Take Multiple Hits During COVID-19

Los Texmaniacs at Heights Theater, Christmas 2019

Writing and reading about Grammy-winning performer Max Baca’s fight with COVID-19 had me thinking about the multiple hits (health and financial) artists and performers are taking during the pandemic. An article in the San Antonio Report about Baca and other musician’s struggles really hit me with this reality.

During the pandemic, Baca took care in keeping himself safe–virtual concerts on Wednesdays to make a few bucks via Paypal donations, and mostly living off of his savings. Eight months later, with savings depleted, Baca hit the road again to pay the bills and ventured into danger.

Trump’s promises that the pandemic was a temporary thing that would disappear were outright lies that fed into a disinformation campaign to keep people confused and acting stupidly; but, the reality is that it is long-term, cutting into most performer’s ability to make money and pay their bills. And that included Baca’s band Los Texmaniacs.

After whittling down his life savings trying to stay afloat while the coronavirus pandemic brought his live performances to a grinding halt, Baca knew he needed to look outside of his hometown of San Antonio for gigs to pay the bills.

That desperation took the guitarist and vocalist to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he found a few paying gigs playing with a stripped-down version of his Grammy Award-winning band Los Texmaniacs.

“I still gotta pay my mortgage because there’s no such thing as a deferred payment” from his lender, Baca said, noting that all his bills were urgently coming due.

It was a decision that has now put his career in jeopardy.

San Antonio Report, 11/22/2020

Baca contracted COVID-19 and has spent almost a couple of weeks in ICU recovering.

Another reality is that federal CARES funds that helped many small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic were quite complicated for musicians and performers to apply for and receive. The competition was fierce for the funds, not to mention that they were limited. And Baca, unfortunately, did not receive any funding. Now, he’s fighting COVID-19, on top of no performances, no health insurance, and the extra $600 in unemployment payments about to end.

For many performers, the gigs are their livelihood, and we have seen a recent uptick in live performances at clubs and event centers around the state. And all of this during the current COVID-19 surge. Are these the next super-spreader events that we are not hearing about in the news?

Because that is the reality: Crowded performances mean more infections if CDC protocols are not followed. And it seems the maskless and easily offended by the CDC always win in Texas, thanks to Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick. Still, venues and performers have a responsibility to enforce CDC protocols, including testing before performances–even requiring it for attendees of these indoor events. There is very little (or none) of this happening.

Houston recently announced a program dedicated to helping musicians and music venues get through the pandemic. Musicians are eligible for up to $5000, while venues are eligible for $50,000 to $100,000 depending on budget size. Unfortunately, we’re only talking about $3,000,000. But it’s something.

Some bands have built a good infrastructure to continue despite COVID-19. Unfortunately, many of them did not have the ability (or maybe confidence) to create a strong virtual presence. Bands like The Mavericks have taken to pay-per-view concerts based on a loyal fan base willing to pay the virtual door fee. Intocable were one popular band that were able to do a mini-tour of outdoor parking lot concerts in various parts of the state to some success.

And there are others in the Tejano industry who have done Facebook Live gigs asking for donations. Unfortunately, virtual gigs don’t give a band the feel of a live show with an energetic crowd. Still, it’s an opportunity that some of these Tejano bands have not fully utilized and that fans have not fully appreciated (through good donations).

There doesn’t seem to be much of a solution and as long as COVID-19 surges, there will be an eventual shutdown–or more limits on attendance. It is easy to tell these bands and venues that they have a responsibility to keep people from attending super-spreader events, but somewhere along the way, musicians were left to fend for themselves with little to no help. Thus, some are back on the road with no CDC compliance and a fan base that feels invincible to the disease (until they find out they aren’t). It’s a vicious circle.

While the HEROES Act passed by the Democratic US House sits in limbo because of a vindictive Republican US Senate and President, at the very least the $600 of extra unemployment benefits must be extended beyond Christmas. A better solution would be for Republicans and Trump to get off their asses and pass/sign a HEROES Act that takes care of gig-to-gig performers and artists whose talents have always been taken for granted.

Wear a mask. Wash hands. Stay home. And if you must work or be out and about, wear a mask, wash hands, and physically distance yourself from people outside of your home circle.

UPDATE: Los Texmaniacs report that Max Baca is now recovering at home. This is great news!

DC Wishes Max Baca of Los Texmaniacs a Speedy Recovery

Max, Me, Josh

After Los Texmaniacs reported that their leader Max Baca had contracted COVID-19, I was really worried. Sure, he’s a Grammy winner and an accomplished bajo sexto player, but he’s also a really nice guy and always willing to have a conversation about his craft so people like me can write about it for posterity. Thankfully, good people like Hector Saldana at the Witliff Center at Texas State University kept us posted on his own FB feed after actually speaking to Max.

Last night, there was a bit of relief when Texas Public Radio posted an interview transcript which described what Baca has gone through over the last couple of weeks. Yes, it was pretty scary.

At this writing, Baca’s been in the ICU for a grueling 10 days. He says when he was admitted, his blood oxygen level was critically low. Healthy lungs keep blood at about 95%.

Max Baca: “I got here and my oxygen level was 70%. And so now due to the breathing exercises that they have me do and then they have the therapy and treatments have been able to breath 95, maybe 97 on my own.”

As a measure of how sick he got, he spent several days on a ventilator.

Max Baca: “I was on for a little bit, for three days. But thank God (now) I’m able to talk and I’m able to breathe. And you know, thank God for the medical facilities and all the doctors and nurses and everybody has some blood transfusions, things that other patients have made it (through COVID-19), was able to help me out with that a little bit.”

“And also, you know, it’s kind of sad here in the E.R. You just hear people coughing and coughing all around you. And then all of a sudden they stop coughing and then they roll them out on the bed with a blanket over the face because they didn’t make it.”

Texas Public Radio, Nov 20, 2020

¡Hijole, que susto!

Here’s hoping the worst is over and that Max heads home soon to fully recover and rest after this ordeal.

This is just a reminder that COVID-19 is real. I’ve seen a lot of musician friends head back on the road for shows, since the work provides for their families. Some practice safety protocols, others not so much. The crowds at these shows don’t seem to care much about masks, though. As much as I love live music, I’m fine watching a livestream from home and I’m even happier to give a donation through their paypals, venmos, etc.

Whether you’re a musician or a fan: Wear a multi-ply mask! Wash hands! Stay home! And if you really need to be out and about (or working) practice safety protocols to take away any opportunity to get infected.

UPDATE 11/23/2020 – Los Texmaniacs report that Max Baca is now recovering at home. Great news!

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges you to vote if you haven’t already as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff summarized the record breaking early voting in Harris County.

SocraticGadfly provided some updates on coronavirus-related boycotts and semi-boycotts of stores.

DosCentavos posts Dr. Varon’s answer as to why COVID numbers are increasing: Stupidity.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Therese Odell fortifies herself in advance of Election Day.

Steve Salyer had his faith in humanity restored by working at a drive-through voting location.

John Coby calls out the Harris County GOP for hosting a super-spreader event.

Paradise in Hell does a little time traveling.

Lew Moorman worries about the cost side of inequality.

Peter Holley meets a few of the people who voted after midnight in Harris County.

Grim Reminder That COVID-19 Is Still Out There

Like a few other folks from Houston (it seems), I was ecstatic after watching Culiacan, Sinaloa’s own Julio Urias strike out the last batter as the LA Dodgers won the 2020 World Series this week. But my own celebration was tamped down by the revelation that Justin Turner had tested positive for COVID-19 and was taken out of the game in the 8th inning.

How do you get COVID-19 when you’re enveloped by the professional sports bubble? And why, after Turner’s first test was inconclusive (or positive?) was he even allowed on the field, anyway? And, why, after being taken out, was he allowed on the field for the celebration and team photo? The story is he forced himself out there despite efforts to stop him.

Turner’s comment that while he tested positive, yet, that he had no symptoms and felt fine, shows the ignorance that is still rampant in America about COVID-19. You can still spread the disease when you feel fine. Feeling fine isn’t enough. You must quarantine and not get back to your daily duties until you have finally tested negative.

No doubt, most COVID-19 infections have happened because of either carelessness or irresponsible behavior. So, it shouldn’t surprise any of us that a scene of maskless (or masks pulled down) fans celebrating in LA is now making the rounds in the media. In the latest COVID Hunter vid, Dr. Joseph Varon gives us the best reason the numbers are climbing: We are stupid and not following simple steps–wearing masks, distance, wash hands.

Meanwhile, in the real world, COVID-19 is still rampant and on the rise again, especially here in Texas. Yet, schools are open, restaurants are filling up, and people continue to shirk their responsibilities by not wearing masks (or not wearing them correctly) at small and large gatherings.

But, that’s OK. We have a dismal presidential and Texas gubernatorial administration who have set the example by forcing open school, bars, businesses, and encouraging the nonchalant attitude that endangers us all.

Anyway, here’s the latest COVID Hunter video. It’s quite informative regarding mask use, the latest attempts at vaccines and therapeutics.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges you to vote if you haven’t already as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff tries to make sense of some recent polls that show Joe Biden with a slight lead in Texas.

DosCentavos is worried about COVID-19, so, he posted a good Q&A with COVID hunter, Dr. Varon from UMMC.

Doing his Weird Al Yankovic schtick, SocraticGadfly taps his inner Blue Öyster Cult and offers up the lyrics for “Don’t Fear the Virus.” After all, “Donaldine and Melania ARE together in COVIDity.”

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs. Reform Texas is amused by John Cornyn’s delicate ears.

The Texas Signal notes that we’re still a state that does its damnedest to make it hard to vote.

Paradise in Hell sampled reactions to the last debate.

Jim Henson and Joshua Blank look at how independent voters have shifted away from Republicans in recent Texas elections.

The Texas Living Waters Project tries to imagine what our state would be like without water.

Matt Mohn marvels at the extreme variance in polling preferences of Texas Latinos in this election.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance urges you to get out there and vote as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff interviewed Rep. Lizzie Fletcher about her action-packed first term in office.

SocraticGadfly says that at least in his personal experience, Gov. Strangeabbott’s coronavirus safety protocols for events to be held are basically Kabuki theater.

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Michael Arceneaux explores the visceral loathing that older Black folks have for Donald Trump.

Jen Rice categorizes Harris County drive-through voting locations by their fast food counterpart.

Schaefer Edwards looks at a Houston plan to fight flooding and climate change by planting a ton of trees.

Paradise in Hell once again channels Donald Trump.

Ed Espinoza shows how Texas added nearly two million registered voters since 2016.