Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance has installed an “Inauguration Day Countdown Clock” app on all its devices as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff has wrapped up his look at recent Presidential results with analyses of East, Central, and West Texas.

SocraticGadfly, noting Biden’s fall-offs vs. Hillary Clinton, and of course vs. Obama, looks at minority voters vs the Democratic reservation, and about minorities looking beyond the two-party box.

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

Dr. Peter Hotez says “goodbye and good riddance” to Scott Atlas.

Sanford Nowlin previews the legislative budget battle.

The Bloggess presents Year Eleven of the James Garfield Miracle.

Jessica Montoya Coggins worries about the next phase of anti-abortion legislation in Texas.

The Dallas Observer chronicles some election reality denial by Tarrant County Republicans.

The San Antonio Report notes the cleanliness of the San Antonio River.

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.

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.

Varon, FLCCC: A COVID-19 Treatment That Must Be Approved Now

Dr. Joseph Varon, of Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center, and a team of researchers/physicians/ICU Specialists who have been working on COVID-19 patients, held a press conference last week regarding the treatment and even prevention of COVID-19 through a protocol developed through their own research.

According to Varon, one medication that has been effective in treating COVID-19 is Ivermectin. This drug has been around for over 40 years to treat parasitic infections and it’s affordable. Varon states that Ivermectin has been used as part of the I-MASK protocol to treat patients who are post-exposure, early stage, and even late stage, with some success and safety. A major find is that the drug is also preventative. The drug is not only anti-viral, but also anti-inflammatory.

The press conference was more of a call to action to request medical authorities at the federal and global level to study and authorize this treatment, and to update protocols of treatment, which has not occurred since August, 2020. In fact, it was in August that the FDA authorized Ivermectin for clinical trials. With the data already collected, they feel it is time to update the treatment protocols.

According to Dr. Pierre Kory of St. Luke’s in Wisconsin, multiple studies have shown decreases in mortality and positive treatment outcomes. As a prophylactic, it has been successful in preventing COVID-19. He states that lives are being saved.

Dr. Varon stated at various points that the group of physicians are in no way affiliated with the drug companies and that they have no conflicts of interest in supporting this method of treating and preventing COVID-19.

Professor of Medicine Dr. Paul Marik offered a global call to action for health authorities to look at the clinical trial data on Ivermectin, validate the data, and push for its use as we reach a critical point in the pandemic in which better treatments are needed. Marik stated quite emotively, “We must act now, we must act with conviction, and we must act with compassion.” Federal leadership has so far ignored the request.

Dr. Marik also pointed to clinical outcomes and benefits of various medications utilized and debated about, including Hydrocloroquine, Remdesivir, and others. They found that only Ivermectin had benefits for pre-exposure, post-exposure, and pulmonary/inflammatory/hospitalization phases of COVID-19.

Dr. Varon added that medical providers are tired of the death and destruction by COVID-19 and they have developed this treatment to not only help patients, but to help medical providers. When asked regarding competition with the billions of dollars already invested in vaccine development, Varon offered a dose of reality: 60% of the world will need to be vaccinated to reach some level of immunity and he has heard from his own patients and others that they are not willing or trusting of the vaccine enough to take it. What FLCCC offers is an alternative, as well as a way proven through their own research, to address COVID-19 now to compliment the vaccination process. As Dr, Marik put it, “It’s not a competition.”

Watch the press conference here, which includes Q&A with media for more information. One can also go to the FLCCC website to read the studies and other pertinent information. Here is the press kit that was also provided.

TMAs Announce Their Top 5

The Texas Talent Musicians Association, which produces the Tejano Music Awards, announced the Top 5 nominees in each category. There were some surprises, at least for me, but I do have my favorites.

I’m of the opinion that Jay Perez’s 25th Anniversary Contigo album, which was a Grammy-worthy (and nominated) production of actual new tunes, is the best of its kind in a long time. Of course, Jay Perez’s vocals are unmatched in the industry. I’ll also give a nod to an excellent collaboration, Ayer, featuring Shelly Lares and J.R. Gomez. Oh, and Los Desperadoz’s Calm Before the Storm was a pretty damn good Conjunto album, too! But, hey, I let them know by voting, along with thousands of other fans.

Anyway, here are the nominees and good luck to all of them. The winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on December 19, 2020. Stay tuned!

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.

Los Blogs de Tejas-TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy, safe, and socially-distant Thanksgiving as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff examined recent Presidential results in the Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth areas.

SocraticGadfly had two pieces related to recent climate change news. First, does a new Norwegian-British study show the James Kunstler alarmist types might be right? Second, it appears we now have the measurement tools to implement a carbon tax PLUS carbon tariff, which must be a part of climate change control.

DosCentavos writes about one of his favorite performers, Max Baca, of the Grammy winning Los Texmaniacs, who has been in a fight against COVID-19.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs. Raffi Melkonian delivers a play-by-play account of Rudy Giuliani’s day in Pennsylvania court.

Robert Moore is very worried about El Paso’s short-term future.

Christian Wallace visits Loving County, the last county in the US to have no reported COVID cases.

Raise Your Hand Texas prepares for the next fight over school finance at the Legislature.

Elise Hu shares a brief pandemic reading list.

Mean Green Cougar Red enjoys a time lapse video of Dutch canals.

Things To Do on Thanksgiving

Stay home!

Seriously, we should all stay home with those that reside within our household and be thankful that we’re still here. Call (or Zoom) those relatives you aren’t able to visit. Be safe.

According to Ready Harris, we’re still at Level 1 – Stay Home.

Level one signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded. At this level, residents take action to minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine.  

Ready Harris

Take it seriously, please.

If you’re in need of a good pie recipe, check out the Karo Corn Syrup recipe. It’s so easy, it’ll mix in 5 minutes. Add a simple 9 inch pie crust from the store and you’re on your way to scarfing down your food plate just to get to dessert. (I add a splash of Maker’s Mark Whiskey to ther recipe just to make things interesting.)

I’m off to make the green bean casserole, cornbread dressing, and a pie. Happy Thanksgiving!

UPDATE on PECAN PIE:

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!