KRAMPUS SANTAâ€™S NOT SO FRIENDLY LITTLE HELPER
ORGANIC MAN COFFEE A NEW LAREDO STAPLE FOR CAFFINE
SKATEBOARD LAREDO KICKING ASS ON FOUR WHEELS
TEX-MEX FOOD HISTORY ON SOME TASTIES STUFF
TEMEZCAL ADVENTURES SWEAT LODGES AND GOOD VIBES
LAREDO DRAG SHOWS THE QUEENS, NOT THE CARS
MEXICAN CURIOS LAREDO SUPERSTITIONS AND CHARMS
COMEDY OPEN MIC - BANNED BOOKS: LOLITA - MARTIN VS. NIXON FOOTBALL WRESTLING AND MUSIC - TAMALES - BEDROOM MESSIAH - LAREDO HARDCORE 1
cold BREW coffee
s' mores cupcakes
219 E. Del Mar Blvd. Laredo, Texas - Open 11AM-9PM - (956)516-7651 2
Letter From The Editor
OUR SECOND ISSUE!
e almost made it! We actually managed to get past the first issue shakes, but were just bit short! We couldnâ€™t print this month, and thatâ€™s fine. Thank you for all the support and kind words as well. This is pretty much all for you. This issue is another holiday issue, full of holiday cheer, and weirdness, and we hope we can keep up with all of you guys reading.
Father, Artist, Tattooer, Co-Owner of Por Vida Tattoos, host of Por Vida International Tattoo & Art Fesitval, and now a writer and editor.
Growing up, I loved weird tales. Old Creepy Comics, ghost stories, Time Life books, anything out of the ordinary. So if you see a strange tale in any issue, that will be me, fufilling my dreams as a kid, writing about mosnters and UFO's. December also brings Santa and his sack full of tamales for all you good kids, and pumpkin spice everything. Then we remember to swear that this new year will be different. But hey! We believe in you. Next month is the ART issue, so we hope if our x-mas wishes come true, to get some advertising revenue to print it out for you! So I hope youre ready to learn some alternative christmas traditions while munching on those conchas and left overs. Enjoy. Gabriel Rodriguez
Do-er of a lot of stuff
Email us your questions and comments firstname.lastname@example.org 3
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956 . 606 . 1354
The holiday issue 6 ORGANIC MAN COFFEE TRIKE This historic building is finding a new life.
8 SKATEBOARD LAREDO Skateboarding is not a crime!
10 TEX-MEX FOOD IS AWESOME! True stories of how amazing Tex-Mex food is.
14 KRAMPUS The Alt- Christmas legend that is making a comback.
16 MORE ART! We love local art just as much as you do!
22 WE LIME YOU SO MUCH Honestly, who knew Limes had this much history?
24 THE TEMAZCAL ADVENTURE Hugo went to a sweatlodge and came back a changed man.
28 WRASSLING IS REAL! Jerry spins a tall tale of wresting and music.
32 WHAT A DRAG We go out to a drag queen show , and it didnâ€™t dissapoint.
36 MEXICAN CURIOS Candles, Charms, and other wild mexican curios.
38 TAMALES, TAMALES, TAMALES! La Fe seriously has some legit tamales.
39 TO LAREDO, WITH LOVE Mariana went all the way to Rome to find Laredo.
40 JAMS!!! Andy brings you two more albums that rock and rule!
42 BEDROOM MESSIAH Weirdo electronic jams for the new generation.
44 LAREDO HARDCORE Mosh your way see how the scene has developed over the years.
KEVIN LOREDO TALKS ABOUT THE COFFEE BUSINESS WITH THE ORGANIC MAN OF LAREDO Photos by Lab 451
There are many places where this story can start but one obvious place would be, “where and when did Julio Venegas get the love for making and serving coffee?” Well, Julio lived in New York City where he was working in a coffee shop. It was there where he realized his love for coffee and the service that comes with it. Coming back from New York, he began working in the fracking business; however, as the demand for the business began to decrease, as it usually does when it fluctuates. This is why he decided to be careful with his money when it came to these moments. He noticed how most of those who work in the fracking business tend to earn a lot of money but don’t really invest in something bigger. However, for Julio, he had other things in mind. Ever since he invested in his first espresso machine, he understood the parts of it. Being the DIY type of person he is, he fixed and restored the machine to it’s full and running capability once more. In doing so, he became more invested into the coffee business; he took business classes and studied a couple of culinary courses specifically on coffee. Fun Fact: the trike people saw at their old location (downtown) was handmade by Julio himself. He built it in his spare time while he was working in the oil field.
It was not until in 2015 when Organic Man Coffee Trike started small at the Farmer’s Market of Laredo. They sold their signature coffee (everything being organic). The people of Laredo welcomed Organic Man with open arms for the new coffee provider, even if it was a pop-up shop at the time. On their first Saturday in the Farmer’s Market, they sold out in a matter of few hours: preparing drinks since nine in the morning until noon! He was next to that espresso machine making sure that every cup was made with the utmost perfection to provide the best product to those who approached him. A few minutes after noticing they have run out of coffee, he knew that this was definitely something Laredo wanted without a doubt. Since then, every Farmer’s Market event, they were ready to serve those Laredoans who were coffee fanatics. Early in the morning, they were already looking for the infamous coffee maker on his trike: The Organic Man. The next step was for Organic Man to find a location to settle down and park his coffee-making machine for the convenience of the people of Laredo. Again, this was a risky step for an upcoming business (like many who start one). The had the location, the equipment, the coffee, and of course, el apoyo de la gente. Why did he start this business? Was it for the love of the
coffee or was it because was it something people wanted. Most of the people and customers that come to Organic Man now are very good friends with both of the owners. And with good reason--both of these people are amazing human beings with a goal in mind: serve freshly brewed coffee to those who love it in Laredo. This is something they asked themselves before moving to their new location on McPherson. Which again, was another risk they had to take: move and kind of start again in a new location. Despite how they felt, they took the leap of faith and went to the new location. Where ever they moved, the coffee lovers followed.
BEHIND THE NAME:
Julio Venegas’s father was really into healthy living: simple sugars and complex sugars—all that good stuff. Julio was raised with that way of living and for a good reason. With the death of his mother due to heart problems, it encouraged Julio on learning about the benefits of using organic products. This was especially important because no one ever focused on the whole “organic” movement, unlike today. He was really dedicated with that and always talked to his friends about organic products to the point that his friends gave him the name “organic man” as an inside joke and a term of endearment. And since then, the name got stuck and the rest in history.
at the Pan American food truck park 3301 San Bernardo Ave. find us on facebook or call (956) 740-4464 7
JAY RAM HEADS DOWNTOWN TO SEE WHAT THESE LOCAL SKATERS ARE DOING TO TRY TO CHANGE LAREDO
Phots: Lab 451
here are many hobbies to choose from these days. For example, Laredo has a huge community for bird watching. Also very popular in the South Texas area is big buck hunting. Others take the more artistic approach and create things with their hands. All of these are hobbies we can relate to.
they want change. The group asked for a meeting with City Council. They brought up relevant points to city officials such as how a skating community can benefit a growing city. Other points included the potential economic impact, as well as how the current skate parks do not fit the needs of local skaters.
However, there is one hobby the Laredo community might brush off- skateboarding.
Currently, the City of Laredo is using metal ramps that do not last nearly as long as concrete ramps. The group cited how the City is wasting money on designs they need to maintain and how they are losing money in the process. The list goes on and on and the fight continues.
A few months back, the Laredo Center for the Arts hosted the “Plan Viva Laredo Pachanga.” At this event we gathered as a community to see how the revitalization of Laredo has progressed. The crowd featured a vibrant bunch of lads that called themselves SKATEBOARDLaredo. They turned heads and got the attention of people around them with their custom skateboards. One of them in particular had a custom El Metro logo, similar to the ones on our local public transportation, with the lettering, “Chapter 4.” It was an homage to the downtown skate shop, Chapter 4. SKATEBOARDLaredo was there to fight for their passion to skate. The group of guys put on their big boy pants and organized the way citizens need to when 8
What surprised me the most, as a tech guy, was their
ability to wear many hats. (And I don’t mean snapbacks.) Skaters like Wayo Garcia and Raul Mata have a vast amount of knowledge on shooting videos with their DSLRs and gimbal mounts. For those who don’t know the lingo, these two pieces of equipment can easily run close to $2,000. After the Garcia and Mata shoot video and photos, the process of editing begins. Mata has a keen eye for editing photos, using tricks like layering while using burst mode on the camera to give an amazing effect. They are a great bunch of guys who are passionate about their hobby. SKATEBOARDLaredo is heading in the right direction. We need more citizens like them willing to muster up the courage and talk to the City about ideas they have. Following in their footsteps can encourage one to show the benefits of your craft and how it would improve Laredo. SKATEBOARDLaredo is still honing their skills in skateboarding, photo, video editing and still reaching out to the City of Laredo. So the next time you see a skater by a retail store trying out a frontside flip or an “impossible,” know that they are bright lads trying to change Laredo.
MASA 100% NIXTAMAL TORTILLAS TOSTADAS TAMALES REGULARES Y VERACRUZANAS and we have
MENUDO Y BARBACOA
every Saturday and Sunday
220 GARFIELD ST LAREDO, TEXAS, TX 78040
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WHERE DOES THE TEX
BEGIN AND THE MEX END?
GABE RODRIGUEZ TAKES US THROUGH TIME TO THE FOODS THAT CONTINUE TO DEFINE A REGION Courtesy Photo
ne of the best things to do on a Sunday afternoon in Laredo is to drive down Meadow Ave, going towards El Chacon. You’ll notice that the air gets a little hazy on Sundays, just a little murky, as small billows of smoke rise to the sky. You lower your window for a second, knowing full well what to expect. The smell hits you- subtle hints of lighter fluid behind the flutters of thick mesquite smoke. It’s Carne time, and your body knows it. This isn’t just a Chacon phenomenon either. It’s usually citywide. Sundays are a great day for everyone to cook out, from doctors and attorneys to single moms and families welcoming back cousin Beto from his nine month “vacation.” Almost everyone likes to throw down some carne, and a lot of the time it’s fajita. When someone thinks fajita, you think of it as a time-honored Mexican, if not Laredo, tradition. It might just be for our family, but many people never care to think about about fajita being a Tex-Mex creation. Texas was a Spanish colony from 1690 until 1821, part of New Spain. Lots of interesting historical things happened around that time, like the establishment of San Antonio as the first civilian settlement in 1718. Texas cuisine incorporated distinct food styles from Spain, Mexico and Spanish Texas. Texas was its own republic for a whole for 15 years after leaving Spain and then Mexico after the battle of Gonzales in 1835. Back in the 1940s, vaqueros would tend cattle and other livestock all over, from the Rio Grande Valley to West Texas. Most of these cowboys were paid in tough cuts of meats called skirt steaks. These were usually throwaway pieces of meat that most butchers thought of as gristly and inedible, but these rugged cowboys disagreed.
IT’S BEEN SAID THAT THEY WOULD PACK THE FAJITA UNDER THEIR SADDLES WHILE THEY WORKED, HELPING TO TENDERIZE THE STEAKS AS THEY RODE THROUGHOUT THE DAY. The vaqueros called these thin pieces of tough meats fajitas or “Little Belts.” It’s been said that they would pack the fajita under their saddles while they worked, helping to tenderize the steaks as they rode throughout the day. Fajita is a Tejano staple, just as much as chili con carne or enchiladas are, and has thankfully stood the test of time. These Mexican cowhands brought us amazing things such as barbacoa de cabeza, chili gravy, and carne asada, and we are forever grateful. The melding of these Mexican, Tejano, and Spanish flavors gave way to something really special, a new distinct flavor in this part of the world. The Spanish introduced wheat flour, which would later serve as the base for flour tortillas. There is still some debate on who actually brought flour tortillas into existence, but that’s a conversation for a different time. The Spanish also brought workers (or slaves?) from the Canary Islands, who brought cumin from Morocco into Spanish Texas, and man did we take advantage of that spice. It’s a staple all into itself within Tex-Mex dishes, from chili con carne to carne guisada. The actual word Tex-Mex wasn’t officially used until 1973, when the Oxford English Dictionary printed it in a food description. Diana Kennedy, who wrote The Cuisines of Mexico in 1972, laid
out in scathing detail how different authentic Mexican food was to the substandard Americanized versions she called “mixed plates.” Chale! Most Texans have a special place in their hearts for Tex-Mex, fighting over chips and queso and puffy tacos, although Laredo is sometimes split on the issue. IT’S SAID THAT WE COOK WITH A SABOR THAT OUR PARENTS TAUGHT US THAT THEY LEARNED FROM THEIR GRANDPARENTS AND SO ON.
It’s said that we cook with a sabor that our parents taught us that
they learned from their grandparents and so on. A beautiful chain of recipes and secrets that we usually hold close, waiting to be able to teach our children and grandchildren one day.
up beautiful tables filled with pots of steaming chili, tamales, and coffee, lighted by lanterns and decorated with papier-mâché. Author Stephen Crane, who penned The Red Badge of Courage, wrote in 1895, “Upon one of the plazas, Mexican vendors with open air stands sell food that tastes exactly like pounded fire-brick from Hades — chili con carne, tamales, enchiladas, chili verde, frijoles.” And that is the heart of what Tex-Mex was and still is to this day. The Chili Queens are long gone, pushed out of San Antonio in the late 30s by World War II and stricter health codes. Their legacy
But does one think of the historical origins of dishes like choriqueso, burritos, and barbacoa when eating that Danny’s enchilada smothered in that spicy bright red tomato sauce and yellow cheese? Does the first bite of that 3 a.m. pirata from Taco P not make us wonder how yellow cheese and refried beans were put together in the first place? I know I never gave it much thought until now. Learning that nachos were made by a guy named Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya in Piedras Negras for some late comers to his restaurant in 1943 was pretty great. Later in the 1920s, many Mexicans who were born in Texas while it was still called Coahuila y Tejas were referred to as “Tex-Mex.” This was many years after Texas became a state in 1850. It was around this time that the Chili Queens of San Antonio came about. For over 100 years, women of all ages would travel up from the border to San Antonio and set up makeshift restaurants and sell everything from chili con carne to tamales in the plazas facing the Alamo. These plazas were usually filled with different kinds of people with one thing in common- they were hungry. From soldiers to cattlemen taking a break from the range, tourists seeking the sights of the Alamo, and troubadours singing their way across town, everyone stopped at the Chili Queens’ makeshift tables. They were the cooking superstars of their time, with people from all walks of life coming from far and wide to taste the authentic Tex-Mex flavor these women brought to the table. They would set
lives on every time someone looks at the album insert of Tre Hombres by ZZ Top. Seriously, look at it! Nowadays, Tex-Mex is a Texan tradition, where we fight about who has the best breakfast taco. We pretend it’s a close tie between Laredo and the Valley, but we all know it’s Laredo. We wake up on Sunday mornings to hit up Raul’s BBQ to grab a few pounds of cachete and an aguacate. We appreciate a good crispy taco or an awesome enchilada with salsa roja and yellow cheese in our tampiqueña plate, never really knowing just why that enchilada isn’t covered in queso fresco like our grandparents used to make. Every day we get to taste a little bit of history, just a small taste of the grand, and long story that is Tex-Mex. Every time you take a bite from that huge burrito from Cantu’s or get down on that choriqueso, we taste a little piece of antiquity, and it’s delicious.
KEVIN LOREDO CHECKS OUT THE OPEN MIC NIGHT AT SECOND CHANCE RECORDS AND LEARNS A FEW THINGS ABOUT BEING FUNNY
y first night in one of the comedy open mics was something that I haven’t felt in a while since I went to go see Tone Bell at Cap City Comedy Club. I, like many, enjoy a raunchy joke or two every once in awhile, but I appreciate how bits are created and morphed into these complex jokes that ultimately become ab crunching laughter. There were a couple of newcomers to the open mic that night that brought a few chuckles, as well as a couple of awkward giggles. But like the host of the open mic says, “comedy’s a bitch, man.” I sat beside one of my close friends and current local comedian of Laredo, Francisco Flores. He’s one of the funniest guys I have met in my life with stories about being the class clown as well as the very embarrassing coming of age moments that are just hilarious.
we’re doing it is to help people have a good time, but also I feel like Laredo has been going through this amazing, artistic and cultural boom, what with the expanding music scene and the poetry slams, that we just wanted to be a part of that, you know?
Who are you? And how long have you been doing comedy? My name is Francisco Flores, and I’ve doing comedy, I don’t know, probably five or six months now? I started around mid-May and been doing it ever since.
What are your hopes for the future of the comedy scene in Laredo? I mean, of course, the main goal is to see it continue to grow. I want new faces, both in the crowd and onstage, you know? Also just expand a little bit, we’re talking about setting up a comedy/storytelling show called, “True Story, Wei!” which should be a lot a fun, it’s just a show for people or comics to go up and tell some funny or wild stories that they have to share. That should be pretty dope.
What would you do before standup? Before stand-up, I was actually in a band. We never really got past the “growing pains” phase, though, so we called it quits after a while. I’m still down to work on music, but right now this comedy thing is going pretty well, so I’m focusing on it a little more. Why do you feel like bringing comedy to Laredo? I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m the one who brought comedy to Laredo, but I definitely feel like now is a GREAT time to showcase it. Of course, the main reason
How did you discover the open mics and other comedy events like the ones at the Happy Hour? I discovered the Open Mics from a friend. At the time, they were having them at Organic Man, back when they were on Iturbide Street, and a friend of mine let me know that she had stumbled onto an Open mic there, and I immediately jumped on the opportunity to sign up for the next one. And well, the Happy Hour showcases, I found out about from just going to Open Mics and being invited to them.
What are you doing or plan to do with your comedy? Do you plan to pursue it more? Honestly, I’ve wanted to do comedy since I was a kid. It’s pretty much been my lifelong dream. So, now that I have my foot in the door, I’m definitely gonna keep it going. I got my first out of town gigs coming up. So I must be doing something right, right?
Photo Lab 451
Can’t stop now that it’s getting good. Given the fact that you’re one of the comedians Laredo has, what does that say about your image of what Laredo is to you and to those who visit these Open Mics? Well, first off, Laredo is home. Laredo is such an underrated and beautiful city, and I think it has such a unique culture, and that’s great for comedy. Like, there’s such contrast from the traditional, Chicano way of thinking, and this new generation of generally more liberal-minded hipsters, and that really reflects in the comedy shows, you know? Like, you can have a veteran comedian making jokes about how his ex-wife being a bitch or going to strip clubs or carne asada or something, then I’ll go up and do a whole set about crying to The Smiths or exploring the reasons I’m terrified of having casual sex, and BOTH those jokes can land, It’s pretty cool, and very “Laredo” that we can understand both ways of thinking. What do you want people to think of Laredo when they come to experience the comedy scene? For real, I want people to think that Laredo is a fucking lively town. I’m one of those people who’s tired of hearing that same, “uh, there’s nothing to do in Laredo” bullshit. True to our culture, we make our own fun. But as far as the comedy goes, I want people to see that Laredo can be very diverse, and very accepting. It’s my favorite thing to see someone trying comedy for the first time, and see them succeed. Or even if they’re bombing, just seeing the crowd rally around them is fucking beautiful. Comedy’s fucking beautiful, man.
SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER, GIVING BAD CHILDREN THEIR COMEUPPANCE
magine an alternative universe, kind of like Stranger Thing’s upside down. Where instead of Santa Claus bringing you presents, and everything is nice and shiny, you get a snarling goat demon beast that punishes you for being naughty. This snarling beast is the Krampus, and his legend is less alternate reality and more rooted in pre-Christian folklore. Krampus has been a part of European Christmas festivities since the early 17th century. Christmas cards featuring the rosy red cheeks of Saint Nick were usually shown side by side by to the grinning face of Krampus with his long tongue forking around a child’s face. Scary, but pretty awesome.
wrought iron pen he carries on his back. Parents warn disobedient children that Krampus will drag them into the underworld if they don’t behave during the year. Kind of like El Cucuy, he’s a way for parents to get children to stop throwing tantrums in the middle of dinner.
The Krampus itself is an oozy soup of different pre-Christian cultures mixed into a vat of folklore and Paganism. The name is derived from the German word for claw, and he is said to be the son of Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld who is also Loki’s daughter. She presides over the realm of the dead also called Hel, where she receives a portion of the dead. But that’s a whole other TRADITION SAYS THAT THE BIRCH STICKS ARE USED TO story. BEAT SPOILED CHILDREN AS A PUNISHMENT BEYOND THE MORE TRADITIONAL LUMP OF COAL. IT’S A PRETTY With his long forked tongue, horns, glowing eyes, one human foot, SURREAL IMAGE WHEN YOU REALLY LOOK AT IT. one hairy hoof, black fur, and large teeth, Krampus more closely resembles the fawns and satyrs from the Greek myths of old more Krampus has featured alongside St. Nicholas in European folklore than the Christian idea of the devil. since at least the 16th century. Parents used his specter to warn children away from bad behavior by threatening them with his The Catholic Church tried to ban Krampus in the 12th century lumps of coal and birch sticks. Tradition says that the birch sticks because of his similarities to the Devil, and did well to stifle the are used to beat spoiled children as a punishment beyond the more festivities after the Inquisition. But like all good parties, this one traditional lump of coal. It’s a pretty surreal image when you really would not fade away, and the traditions ran so deep within Europe look at it. that no one cared and continued on with the festivities and parades. Think about Krampus, the huge and hairy beast, usually wearing bells and chains and even locking up severely bad children in a Krampusnacht, the annual parade, (aka the wildest X-mas
THE PARADE IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DRESS UP AS THE MYTHICAL BEAST AND PARADE THROUGH THE STREETS RIDDING THE TOWN OF THE UNWANTED PHANTOMS OF WINTER. celebration ever), takes place on December 5, the day before the feast of St. Nicholas. The parade is an opportunity to dress up as the mythical beast and parade through the streets ridding the town of the unwanted phantoms of winter. There is a whole field dedicated to beautiful handmade masks and costumes that people don during the parade. Many people even keep a decorative mask at home, as a stern warning to children who misbehave during the year. The devilish Christmas monster is prominent in more recent pop culture, where he’s been featured in comic books and major movies such as A Christmas Horror Story (2015), Krampus (2015), and Krampus: The Christmas Devil (2013), He has rightfully earned his place in America. There are even Krampuslauf festivals in Philadelphia, Boston, Bloomington, and Portland. Ol’ Krampus has been placed in just about every facet of pop culture by appearing in shows like The Venture Brothers, Supernatural, and American Dad, to name a few. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without him. -Gabe Rodriguez
Ezanette Villarreal ezanettev.wordpress.com
Kevin Philippe IG@ixnivek
Anthony Valdez @anthonyvart
Mauro Martinez @ztm_oruam
Erika OrdoĂąez @erikaordonezart 20
by Mariana P. Gonzalez to Mexico when the conquistadores forcibly colonized Latin America.
Yet, when it comes to the little, green lime, finding a direct Spanish translation for this word isn’t as easy as it seems. Depending on who you ask, in Mexico you can find this fruit if you ask for a lima, un limón, or better yet, “un limón verde, porfavor.”
The Mexican climate proved to be an excellent home for the lime to grow, and as a result, it became an integral part of the country’s cuisine. Although this means the origin of Mexican limes started around the 1500s, there still isn’t an exact Spanish word for limes used in all Latin American countries because the various citrus varieties were not always available in the same place simultaneously.
Translating a lime to lima is technically just a literal translation from English to Spanish. In some countries like Ecuador and Venezuela, this English to Spanish translation is completely different than other South American countries because if you ask for a lima, you’ll receive the bigger, yellow lemon, and if you ask for un limón you’ll be given a lime.
The confusion surrounding the struggle for an exact Spanish word for limes and lemons is a recent phenomenon merely because Latin American food markets now carry more citrus options. Whereas before in Mexico if you asked for un limón, you always got the same little, green limón, now if you ask for un limón, chances are you might be asked, “Cual de los dos?”
Other countries like Chile choose not to bother with this translational headache and simply don’t have a Spanish word for lime. So, how did this juicy, sour fruit stir up so much confusion in the Spanish speaking world? The answer lies in its origin.
Latin America represents a wide swathe of Spanish speaking countries, and because of this, many Spanish words tend to have different meanings depending on the country. The Spanish translation for lime is no exception to this. This sour, green fruit became a staple in Mexican cuisine only after its cross-country journey, but aren’t you glad it did? Just imagine how different your tacos, caldos, and salsas would be without it! I think we can all agree that whether you call it limón verde or just limón, the best translation you want to use will always be whatever your grandma calls it. Remember, when life gives you lemons…you better give those back and ask for some limes, in Spanish of course!
rguably, the backbone of every Mexican meal is a wonderful, little fruit called the lime. Whether it’s adding lime and chile to your favorite fruit cocktail or adding lime and salsa to your tacos, no Mexican meal is complete without it.
This variation between Spanish words for the lime results from the fact that lemons and limes are not native to any Spanish-speaking country! Before the lime found a loving home in Mexico, it was born in Southeast Asia, particularly in China and northern India. From there, it began its transnational journey when crusaders introduced it into Spain, where it made its way
IN THE PAN AMERICAN FOOD TRUCK PARK 3301 SAN BERNARDO AVE. LAREDO, TEXAS - CALL (956) 701-7161 - FB/IG @ELPUESTOTX 22
ADVENTURES IN TEMAZCAL SITTING: SEEKING NEW PERSPECTIVES THROUGH SWEAT HEALING
f you’re anything like me, you find conversations about life and spirituality to be hilarious, but there’s always something to learn from it. Spirituality, or the absence of it, is a concept we believe we have a clear grasp; however, debating spirituality to achieve a victory is a failure in the long run. So why aren’t we open to trying new things in the name of spiritual research? Life, in my opinion, is a continuous Water Temple level from Ocarina of Time--it’s grueling, tedious, and tragic, but the reward from obtaining a treasure to overcome obstacles is the real gift. We just need the right hook shot. While seeking new perspectives, I stumbled upon Joe Diaz, who performed a blessing ritual during the Phantasmagoria II event and became my guide during this unprecedented adventure. If you’re over 25, you probably know him or know of him. Joe is that one LISD substitute we saw growing up: Long hair, always calm, bandana, displaying a wide-smiled, positive disposition. Rumors of him circled about being able to predict your future and identifying the significance of your dreams. All true. Joe is of Chichimecan descent, holding different titles under his thirty-year circle such as Warrior, Visionary, Elder Council member, and recognized for his practices as a healer and Temazcalero. We discussed spirituality, the symbolism behind his blessing, and experiences as a healer. Furthermore, he invited me to stay overnight to a ranch out on Peñitas, keep watch over a 2,000-year-old fire, build a Temazcal from scratch, and experience a traditional Native American sweat lodge cleansing ritual. Outside of its benefits in skin care, de-stressor, and blessings from Temazcal cleansings, it is worth noting that people tend to hallucinate while inside of one. Stories I heard ranged from seeing a dancing woman in the vapor, visions from astral projections, while others claim a more natural experience, getting closer to the Earth and their ancestors’ spirits. I was a bit skeptical, but there was no way I could deny a chance to trip out naturally. My Spidey-sense was tingling like crazy, though: Go out to a ranch out in the middle of sepa la madre Peñitas, stay overnight, possibly not have signal, see random shit inside a hot ass sweat lodge, and wait
a while for ambulances to arrive if I were to die of dehydration or a heat stroke? Que se amarre el pedo. Upon arriving at the ranch, Joe performed a cleansing with copal incense to release any negative energy. My skepticism remained, but I felt a sense of purity and calm take over me. I couldn’t explain it. And it was weird too because I had felt so stressed from work earlier that day and it all left an instant. The copal had an incredibly robust, herby and woody scent, almost like pine. Then, I grew thrilled to be there--a sudden excitement like a child waiting for Christmas morning. “Tonight’s a special night,” Joe said. “Tonight is the night of the October harvest moon. It appears only every four years.” Maybe because I am hardly at ranches, I never paid close attention to the moon before, and I have to say, it was remarkable. It indeed looked like the ones you see in book images where the moon is so close to the Earth you can observe all its little details. Its light illuminated every square inch of the ranch, and though I crash out at a reasonable hour, I remained awake just to capture every single aspect of it. Zero pictures. That moment was mine only. We remained around the fire throughout the night, and tossed tobacco to lift our prayers to the Creator. It was the calmest I had been in a while. Next day, we rose early in the morning to get started building the Temazcal. Traditional Temazcales range from bricks to branches. We used the latter. Though Joe proposed that we begin making the Temazcal by seven sharp, I learned that Indian and Laredo time aren’t that far apart. It’s not rude either, and people just need to calm down and know that shit will get done soon. The 2,000-year-old fire laid outside with the lava stones, or grandfather stones, were set in the shape of a snail, ready to be placed in the pit inside the Temazcal. Everything from the fire and building the Temazcal took its process, having its specific purpose which left no symbolic stone unturned. From the branches used, to the rope, setting up the entrances to face north and south, the lava rocks, the
ceremonial conch, drum, and maracas, all had its meaning to greet Quetzalcoatl and commence the tradition. Once we were ready, Joe grabbed the ceremonial conch, and blew it towards each of the Cardinal directions, instructing us to signal our fists up in the air. We informed our ancestors and the Creator that we were ready to embark on this journey. “Bienvenido Abuelo!” Guests have to welcome a grandfather stone every time it made it inside the Temazcal. The rocks outside were picked up using a shovel, but they were never to touch the floor until it reached the Temazcal. I had the pleasure of being the dude who pulls them out from the fire for a portion of the ritual, and that, I kid you not, was the most challenging part. I never realized how massive these stones would be even though they’ve touched fire. Add that to the heat from the hot ass sun outside and the heat within the Temazcal. Soon after the first stones made it in, the entrance was finally closed, and claustrophobia from the small hut quickly faded away. Joe began the ceremony singing traditional Indigenous and Mexican songs, such as that classic Spanish song “De Colores.” The Earthy aroma and steam from the stones floated in the darkness, stirring a sensation of vast scents down your windpipes, as the sounds resembled water on a hot pan. After a while, the heat, though excruciating, began to have somewhat of a cooling effect, as I began allowing the steam to hit me right in the face, sweating all that darkness, all that anger, all that anxiety--gone--in an instant. The ceremony followed that similar process: Shovel seven grandfather stones, welcome them to the lodge, close the entrance to the Temazcal, pour water on the rocks to release the steam, sing and play on our instruments, and wait for the next part. We laughed, we shared stories, we remained covered in sweat from top to bottom, and we continued for the next couple hours. Seems simple, right? Dude, no. Not at all. There are no words that do any justice for how surreal it was other than the fact that it’s something otherworldly and exciting. Exiting the Temazcal was like a rebirth. Though I went with the expectations of hallucinating, I left the ranch with a sense of power--a confidence which ignited my No Fucks Given fire to new levels. A natural high. A mild Peter Gibbons feeling in Office Space, if you will. I have been more verbal. I have felt more confident. I have been more assertive. I have been more focused on the self, and how I can improve day by day. I feel like I’ve been a better person since. I would like to thank Joe Diaz once more for allowing me to take part in this little adventure, and I would like to thank the Creator for helping me chill out a little. - Hugo Rivera.
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ARE YOU READY TO RUUUUUUMBLE! MUSIC AND WRESTLING GO HAND IN HAND, AND JERRY RAMIREZ IS GOING TO BREAK IT DOWNFOR US.
t’s no secret that I’m a huge pro wrestling fan. My love for this Inuances. unofficial sport has made me appreciate even the slightest I’m also a big rock and metal fan. So when the two fuse, my visual and audio senses have a big orgasm.
During Wrestlemania 8’s main event, Hulk Hogan was getting beaten by Sid Justice and Papa Shango. The situation was not good for Hogan as he was wrapped up in the ropes while Sid and Shango were working on him. With no warning, you hear two crash cymbals and the crunchy guitar. “It’s Ultimate Warrior!” Gorilla Monsoon yells. Warrior runs down the ramp, huffing and puffing, clearing the ring in seconds. You cannot always tell what is going on at a Wrestlemania event because of the massive sea of people in the crowd, but you can bet your ass you know that wrestler’s theme song when it hits and who is coming out. The man behind both Hogan and Warrior’s theme song is Jim Johnston. Other theme songs he’s written are classics like those for Stone Cold Steve Austin, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and even more recently, The Shield. Johnston has been at it for over 30 years. Since 1985, he has created over 10,000 recordings from theme songs to gimmicks. We owe him a great deal of gratitude for giving us memorable entrances and adding to the experience. Entrance music has evolved to keep up with the times and the new kids on the block are the CFO$, John Paul Alicastro and Michael Conrad Lauri. The two have been friends for years. Just like all musical friends they tried to start a band together. They could never settle on a specific genre and scrapped the idea. This would pay off years later as they would start creating songs for different WWE characters that would need a variety of genres. They turned to studio recording. Like any start up producers, this meant working at home, usually on their off time after
tending to their 9 to 5 jobs. At some points they would push themselves to late-night recording sessions only to wake up three hours later and go to work. The duo eventually got their big break when WWE asked them to record a theme song for Raw’s 1,000th episode, later titled “The Night.” Then followed Jack Swagger and Paige’s theme. These two have been around since 2012 and are already making iconic theme songs of their own. One recent significant theme was Bobby Roode’s “Glorious Domination.” A mix of Queen-meets-Muse sound that the crowd opening sings along when the song hits. To be a successful pro wrestler, you need to win the crowd over. If it wasn’t for this song maybe Bobby Roode would not have been as successful as he is in the current WWE roster. Another notable entrance is Shinsuke Nakamura’s “The Rising Sun.” They summoned the inspiration from video games like Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid. They were looking for an epic song similar to those soundtracks. They also wanted to incorporate the blend of electronica and violin similar to Lindsey Stirling. The final result was a smash hit with the fans. Every time Nakamura makes an appearance, the crowd is chanting the lead riff from the violin. And believe me when I say that it is deafening as I have witnessed those chants first hand. So there’s a little history of the old and new composers of WWE. My respect for these three composers for finding a niche that has made our world of professional wrestling a more memorable experience. One can only hope they can find their place in life. Cheers, El Jay Ramster.
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LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN
Photos: Roger Ramirez
Tconservative outlook. While it’s just as diverse and different o some, myself included, Laredo seems to have a
as any other small city out there, we have just as many outsiders and weirdoes that every other city does. Ours just choose to live by a different schedule than everyone else, and that’s where this story picks up.
It’s midnight on Iturbide street, or IT Street as it’s being called nowadays. Downtown is quiet and empty, a total upside down moment as compared to the hustle and bustle of noontime with all its coming and goings. I have to park a street away, as there is never really any parking downtown. As soon as I step out into the street, you hear the faint pulsing of a song, bass lightly pounding against whatever walls are keeping it in. Then I see the lightsdisco lights, flashes of red, purple, green, yellow all spilling out in front of me. The lights are coming from Club Taboo. The first person I see is a very tall, bald drag queen in heels, a pleather skirt, fishnets, and a corset. “Hey!” Her stage name is Omen, and she’s somewhat out of place in the middle of the downtown streets. “I bet you didn’t know I was a queen!” she laughs. I had never given it much thought to be honest. When I tattooed her, she was Aaron, a tall, bald handsome young person getting a Hamsa tattoo. This is how my night began, and it was fun.
GABE RODRIGUEZ GETS TO KNOW THE UNDERGROUND QUEENS OF LAREDO Different, but fun. Costumes, make-up, and dance routines that would make Lady Gaga blush, the night had it all. It was horror themed, and the witches were out in force, dancing and singing while the crowd screamed and wooed. It was honestly a lot of fun, and in the end, very invigorating. Laredo is definitely NOT a boring place, you just have to know where to look. I got to meet up with the promoters of the event, Mario Gonzalez Jr. and Enrique Gloria III, and we talked a little bit about the comeback of the Drag scene. GR: How long ago did it start up here in Laredo? MG: I moved here back in 1995 from McAllen. I started over there with a friend of mine in 1993. Secretly, my brother and I were living parallel lives, just doing the same thing. So when we found out about each other through a mutual friend of ours, it’s like I became more of his promoter. I was the one who would book the shows in San Antonio and in Corpus, and then I moved down here for work. I’m a registered nurse, and it’s afforded me the luxury of being able to sponsor him for a lot of things. It’s an expensive hobby. When I moved down here, I used to go down to the Discovery, down on Farragut, a real seedy part of town. Mario learned to promote from Eduardo Medina, who took over Discovery after his wife’s brother passed away. He promised to carry on the tradition and kept the Discovery club alive. MG: Being a straight man and having his family all involved was,
I admired him so much. I took over the reins around 1996, and he (Eduardo) taught me how to bring talent, how to organize pageants, and I did that for a few years. I had a number of the big names come down here. One of them I used to bring down was Erica Andrews, who passed away a few years ago. She was one of the most beautiful drag queens you’ve ever seen. If you have a chance to look her up online do so.
looked. It got me thinking if anyone recognized them out of character? I wondered if people that didn’t know them outside of the club see them outside and do a double take.
After a while, it started to feel like work, and I had to let it go.
GR: It’s like you’re Batman! That’s kind of awesome.
Enrique started booking shows in 2016, rejuvenating the scene by bringing back drag shows to downtown.
You can check out all of the action downtown at Club Taboo every Wednesday night at midnight.
GR: How did you get involved getting all this back together? Was there a lot of work getting all of this back together? EG: There’s a lot of young people interested in going to the shows, and I never really saw any of the older queens.
EG: They really don’t know it’s me, but then I approach them, they stop and say “Oh it is you!” You’re in a dress, you’re in a wig, your stuff ’s tucked away. When they see you it’s like…
You can check out all of the action downtown at Club Taboo every Wednesday night at midnight.
GR: So it just came together. MG: It was just three of us older queens who started again, and then we noticed off in the crowd, in the dark, there were these three, humongous queens, and every time we would place this certain RuPaul song they would be jamming and moving. Our friend invited them to come participate with us at Taboo, so our cast doubled and got a little more fun. One of the things that I noticed when seeing them out of character was how different and handsome these gentlemen
Wmaternal abuela was cleaning; it always smelled different. hen I was a kid, I always knew when my
Most people reminisce about their childhood as soon as the Fabuloso hits their nose, but for me it’s different. As a child, I always associated this certain smell with the color purple. My abuelita would spray the Money House Blessing Indian Fruit spray after cleaning up each room, and it was intoxicating. Mexicans love their curios, from lighting velitas for protection to using rose-scented holy oils to cleanse bad energy that you might have received when someone gave you ojo. It’s always been that way, whether you believe in it or not. The artwork for these curios is not only amazing but grotesquely beautiful at times. From handdrawn four leaf clovers to classically painted crucifixion scenes, it’s all really amazing. I remember going to the curio shops with a friend’s mom and seeing the rainbow 7 day candles with the good luck charms all over in white print. Candles with words like “Lucky 7-11 Drawing Candle” and signs like horseshoes, dollar signs, cornucopias, and dice were meant to turn your luck around. The Rainbow Money drawing candle was, as you might have guessed, lit to help with tight money situations. I never argued with the logic that, as one of the candles suggests, success through faith was feasible. It is believed that lighting the candles also brings you spiritually closer towards your goals. There are so many meanings behind the colors of specific candles. Yellow candles represent wisdom, blue candles are meant to stir or calm emotions, and red candles are primarily for the powers of the flesh such as for love candles. The Cruz de Caravaca is a lucky amulet that depicts Christ on a double-armed cross, flanked by two winged angels kneeling in prayer. Many people wear this amulet believing that it will strengthen prayers and give the wearer good luck. To this day, many viejitas carry this cross around hoping to get a little boost by the caravaca.
The story of the cross is just as peculiar as most “unofficial” Catholic stories. A priest who was captured by Moors in what is now southeastern Spain was asked by a Moorish king to explain the celebration of the Last Supper. You know the part in church where the priest holds up the Eucharist and repeats Jesus’s words, “This is my body.” The priest explains to the king that he cannot perform the right without a cross, altar, bread, wine nor candles. The king looks over and reportedly exclaims, “And what is that?” as two angels descend from heaven carrying the Cruz De Caravaca, leave it on the altar and disappear. “La Anima Sola” was always one that was burned into my adolescent brain, especially after seeing it on a Jane’s Addiction t-shirt in the late 90s. A woman with broken chains and shackles, bathed in flames standing in front of bars with her arms outstretched to the sky is said to be in purgatory. Many people use these cards to pray for those souls who are still lingering in purgatory, not quite yet in heaven. “La Mano Poderosa” was also one that was disturbing to me as a kid, an outstretched hand showing the bright red nail wound of Jesus. But wait… there’s more! Each finger is holding up a cloud where saints stand while baby Jesus stands on the thumb, and angels holding tools of the crucifixion are kneeling at the base. Most of these cards and candles have prayers written in both English and Spanish on the opposite side of the art work. La Mano Poderosa’s prayer starts off with ““O Powerful Hand of God! I place my Christian soul before you, and in my despair and anguish, beseech you to aid me with your almighty power.” The amulet mostly seen around a lot of guelita’s necks is the “Devil Chasing Medal” or the Amulet of Saint Benedict. One of the oldest medals in Catholic tradition, it is said to be used to ward away evil, and has been used as such since at least the 15th century. On one side of the medal is the vade retro satana formula for exorcisms, which translates to “step back” or “behind me, satan!” The initials of this formula are usually imprinted
as VRSNSMV SMQLIVB or VRS:NSMV:SMQL:IVB, which is the beginning letter of each word of the prayer for exorcism. “Crux sacra sit mihi lux / Non draco sit mihi dux
Vade retro satana / Numquam suade mihi vana Sunt mala quae libas / Ipse venena bibas” This more or less translates to:
“Let the Holy Cross be my light / Let not the dragon be my guide Step back Satan / Never tempt me with vain things What you offer me is evil / You drink the poison yourself.” If that’s not metal as hell, I don’t know what is. I mean, it could be a Hamerfall song! All of these things, along with the santito cards some people carry around in their wallets or on their speedometers bring together that old school Catholic superstition and modern times. You have the card of Saint Christopher, who is pictured holding a staff with a child up on his shoulder crossing a river. He is said to aid with safe and speedy travels. Then there’s everyones’ favorite, San Judas, or Saint Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of lost causes. Holding a large medallion with the face of Jesus imprinted on it, he wears green robes and has the fire of the Holy Spirit floating above his head. He’s the guy you pray to when you’ve got no one else to turn to. Every single one of these lucky candles, sprays, cards and amulets remind me of being a kid, listening to the prayers of the adults who were going through some sort of drama or tragedy that my childish mind couldn’t yet understand. They are an intentional bridge from the olden days when religion and superstition were so entwined that no one dared to question whether it was going to work or not. -Gabe Rodriguez
EXPLORINEGRSAL CONTROV CLASSICS
By Kevin Loredo
amazing book does. At first glance, we have Humbert Humbert talking to us in such a friendly manner, despite flat out telling us what kind of person he is. Nabokov’s way with words is what makes Humbert such a memorable character, so much so that the reader may not see the pedophile that he truly is. Halfway through the book, the reader doesn’t find the monster they expect. They find a funny, sympathetic, book-smart man with serious problems. With his fancy words, Humbert talks about the everyday things we do in life and gives them a new perspective, to the point we forget who he is and end up focusing on ourselves on a really personal level for judging him. This is why I find it so important to note that Humbert’s mind games more or less trick the reader into thinking the relationship he has with Lolita is consensual the moment he rapes her at least once (it could, of course, be argued that he rapes her each time they meet).
hen my English teacher first introduced me to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, the first thing she said was that it was about a pedophile, that the book was too disturbing to read, and that she really didn’t want to teach it to my class. However, the curriculum included it because it’s a classic, despite the hatred it seems to inspire. I was unsettled at first, but after reading the book, I noticed the way Nabokov presented the topic of child molestation, pedophilia, and the stigma around it in a way that once you read it again (like I did), will mind-fuck you to a new way of thinking.
BY NOW, IF YOU HATE PEDOPHILES AS MUCH AS I DO, YOU’RE PROBABLY THINKING, “YO, FUCK THIS SCUMBAG.” Right off the bat, Nabokov presents the main character with a short thought about his lustful-love for Dolores (Lolita). “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.” By now, if you hate pedophiles as much as I do, you’re probably thinking, “Yo, fuck this scumbag.” However, this is what this
IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THIS BOOK DOES NOT PROMOTE PEDOPHILIA, BUT IT DOES ALLOW US TO ENTER HUMBERT’S PSYCHE TO UNDERSTAND HIS MADNESS. What I liked about this book, like many series that have a similar storytelling dynamic, was that I found myself empathizing with the main character so much. I almost wanted for him to get what he wanted (Lolita), but of course, this led to some very weird inner struggles in my head because I know she’s only 12 and had to keep reminding myself of the fact that he’s a fucking pedophile. It should be noted that this book does not promote pedophilia, but it does allow us to enter Humbert’s psyche to understand his madness. This type of storytelling dynamic is amazing and is still being used up to this day. With shows that have well-known anti-heroes like Pablo Escobar from Narcos, Frank Underwood from House of Cards, Walter White from Breaking Bad, and Dexter from...well, Dexter, leaving you on the edge of your seat as these characters are chased and beaten up by essentially the good guys, ultimately you end up rooting for the bad guy. With a bit of background story to these characters, the writers behind these stories paint a decent person whose actions are questionable at the time, but that we all come to love in the end. Some other honorable mentionable anti-heroes from epic films are Andrew of Chronical, Anakin Skywalker (when transitioning to Darth Vader) of Star Wars Episode III, and Magneto from X-Men: First Class.
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recently came across this quote by L. R. Knost online, “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” Good stuff, right. Growing up in Laredo, the older generations were taught to be polite, respectful, and tough. Respect is a big one around here. As big believers of respect, we are expected to call out the person that cut in line at the Walmart checkout aisle, ask for a manager when the cashier at McDonald’s spoke to us in a certain tone, and scold our kids for giving us attitude in front of our parents. We can’t let anyone disrespect us, we’ve been taught to stand our grounds and defend ourselves at all costs. I’m not saying that Laredoans are mean hot heads, on the contrary, we’ve got some pretty amazing people in our community. Something that has gained lots of popularity lately thanks to the Internet is “la chancla.” Now just to be clear, “la chancla” had the almighty power to take many different forms, be it a sandal, a slipper, a spatula, even a hairbrush. In other words, anything your mom/grandparent had in their hand the very moment you decided to act like an asshole was going to be thrown at you from across the room. I honestly believe it kept my 9 year old self in check. Don’t forget that life threatening stare down you got when you were out in public. That stare that warned you it was waiting for you when you got home. The threat of “la chancla” was not to be trifled with. I cant help but question though if it actually worked. Did those nalgadas do any long term good? I mean yeah, I can take an ass beating and I might even have the potential to beat Peter La Fleur in a round of dodgeball but can I really say that I am a decent person because of it? If Albert Bandura proved to us way back in the 60s that behavior is learned than why do some people swear by strict and aggressive or even physical discipline? Disciplining children has changed drastically in the last couple of decades with all the laws and protocols in the books on child abuse but there are still those people that continue to teach their children to be tough, or crazy competitive, or to “defend themselves”. What if we stop teaching our kids to be little defensive robot soldiers and started teaching them to be patient and kind. All while we’re learning to be better teachers and communicators as people. I know what you’re thinking, calm down Mother Teresa, right? But hey, ’tis the season to be jolly! What better way to get through your tantrum throwing 5 year old this time around than to teach them to be calm and kind because Santa is watching rather than trying to correct their already chaotic behavior with chanclasos? Let’s teach our kids compassion not competition. -B
MARIANA P. GONZALEZ REMINISCES ABOUT HER CHANCE ENCOUNTER IN ITALY, WITH A BRIT WHO LOVED LAREDO
he harps were playing, the angels were singing Bocelli’s rendition of “Ave Maria,” and God’s glory radiated all around me and—okay, okay I’m exaggerating but I remember thinking, Man, this is definitely a million times better than Laredo! Spring of 2016, I traveled to Europe to spend a couple of weeks in Rome, and for the time being, this was the lens I was viewing things through. Across the Atlantic, the last thing I expected was to meet people who knew about Laredo, much less people who spoke of it with admiration. Yet, that’s exactly what happened. One night, my friend and I entered a bar with the intention of discussing intellectual philosophy while drinking responsibly. I’m kidding. We really had the sole goal of consuming as much alcohol as possible because (a) we were in ITALY and (b) we needed cool stories to tell our grandchildren. We were just about to reach our goal when our 100% Laredo-certified, Tex-Mex conversation caught the attention of a lady next to us who asked in her thick British accent, “Where are you ladies from?” Now at this point, I didn’t know whether I should tell her the truth or lie and say the name of a city that has a better chance of being recognized like Austin or San Antonio. I decided to stay true to my roots, “We’re from Laredo, Texas.” “Oh, I love Laredo!” I ran the echo of her words twice in my mind wondering if the alcohol was hitting me stronger than I thought, or I had actually heard her correctly. “You know Laredo?” “Yes, I love it! I visited with my husband last year, and we had some amazing tacos from this restaurant there, something with a P…oh I can’t remember it, but—” “Taco Palenque?” “Yes! That one!” Here I was sitting in a bar in Rome, and some random British lady
was talking to me about eating tacos from Laredo’s very own Taco Palenque. Yet, the tacos weren’t the only thing she remembered. She told me how the main reason for her visit had been to see the various species of birds unique to Laredo. Out of all reasons, a freaking bird-watching hobby had brought a British couple to Laredo. Throughout the entire conversation, she punctuated her speech with wild gesticulation and her eyes lit up as she reminisced about her trip to Laredo. It was then that I thought, if a foreigner from across the Atlantic had such a deep love for my city, why couldn’t I? Why can’t you? Here’s what I eventually realized. You cannot live in a constant Venn diagram of comparing every other city to Laredo because you will fail to see all the beauty and unique things Laredo has to offer. We’ve all heard it time and time again: “Laredo is boring.” Reality is there are many things to enjoy in Laredo. Take part in art and cultural events at Gallery 201. Venture to the music scene at Second Chance Music. Check out your local coffee shop, Organic Man Coffee Trike, or enjoy a Texan craft beer or two (or three, maybe five, who’s counting?) at Cultura Beer Garden. Be proud of the art and music scene created by Laredo natives. Be proud of the finger-licking, lip-smacking amazing tacos we have. Most of all, be proud of your city. If a foreigner can describe their time in our South Texas city with love, how is it that Laredo’s own native people diminish it to a description full of negative adjectives? I’ll be the first to admit Laredo has its faults, but focusing on what this city needs rather than everything it already has is a one-way street to creating a reality out of the illusionary phrase “Laredo is boring.” So now you know, next time you hear somebody claim, “Laredo is boring” do them a favor and shove this article in their face because in the end, it’s not the city that has the problem, it’s the person. Laredo ain’t boring, you are! I’m not saying you shouldn’t love other cities, all I’m saying is give Laredo the chance it deserves. Let yourself enjoy everything this city has to offer. Go out and actually LIVE in Laredo, and maybe, just maybe you’ll finally be able to fall in love with your city.
FRANK MARTINEZ GIVES US THE LOWDOWN ON TAMALE SEASON
his time of the year is colloquially known as Tamales Season. That time of the year when tamales are ubiquitous throughout most Laredo homes, whether stashed in the freezer or ready to be quickly warmed when a snack attack hits. I recently spoke with my good friend Kendra Gutierrez about this favorite time of year. To me, Kendra, who has worked for over 10 years in the family business Tortilleria La Fe, is an authority on tamales. She told me that while there are always customers looking to buy tamales year-round, October through February is usually the busy season. Coincidentally, Tamales Season always seems come along when just as the thermostat dips to the lower end of the Fahrenheit scale, a time when many of us warm ourselves with tamales. They’re also a staple in the festivities during this time of the year. In the Martinez Cordova household, it’s always been tradition to have tamales during Thanksgiving. Then there are Las Posadas, a nine-day Mexican religious tradition that extends from December 16 through Christmas Eve. Tamales are usually served to those figuratively seeking asylum. Nowadays, Las Posadas, at least in Laredo, are synonymous with the end-of-the-year company parties where tamales are often guests of honor and your one co-worker always has a few libations too many. After Las Posadas, comes the New Year celebration when tamales are served alongside pozole or menudo and of course, buñuelos. And although everyone resolves to eat healthier, along comes Dia de los Reyes Magos (Epiphany or Three King’s Day) and its Rosca de Reyes and tamales. The tradition in the Rosca de Reyes is that whomever is fortunate enough to get the slice of rosca with the “monito” (little figurine typically representing baby Jesus) that person must host a tamalada (dinner where tamales are served) on Dia De La Candelaria on February 2. While there are many diverse types of tamales such as the tamal veracruzano or the tamal sinaloense, the most common tamal in Laredo is the tamal norteño. As Kendra put it, “the tamal that practically every mom or abuelita prepares.” The tamal norteño has three components, the corn husk, the masa and the filling. While there is a myriad of fillings that you can use in your tamal, the masa is what makes a good tamal norteño standout. Kendra prepares the masa from scratch, from getting the corn, cooking it down and grinding it to form the nixtamal that will be the base for the masa. Kendra adds that at Tortilleria La Fe they can even customize the masa to add extra salt, use shortening instead of lard and even how finely ground the corn gets. “Back in the day, to make tamales ladies would ask for masa quebradita, this means you could still see and feel the tiny pieces of corn. This was typically “masa para tamal.” Traditionally masa molida (finely grinded) was for gorditas, tortillas, and champurrado, making it “masa para tortillas.” Nowadays people ask for the finely grinded masa because it is easier to work with when you are spreading it on the corn husk. The clients tells us how they want it,” she said. Who knew that there were all these ways to prepare just the masa for the tamal? I’m glad that during tamal season the only thing I’m responsible for is eating it. Just don’t give me any of those sugar ones with raisins in them. Tortilleria La Fe is located just south of Memorial Middle School 220 Garfield St, Laredo, TX 78040. 956-725-0190 and during the three days leading to Christmas Eve are open 24 hours to serve all your masa needs.
ANGEL DU$T - ROCK THE FUCK ON FOREVER Released in May 2016 off Popwig Records STRAIGHT OUTTA BALTIMOOOOORE! Angel Du$t is a sweet semi-super group featuring members of two well known Hardcore bands “Turnstile” and “Trapped Under Ice.” Formed somewhere in the middle of 2013, where honestly every band out was doing more or less the same old thing, Angel Du$t came out with their first full length “Xtra Raw” and they immediately caught my attention. As a big Bad Brains fan myself I fell in love with the energy that the band puts out. It was such a refreshing feeling to hear a band break the mold that had been around the hardcore scene for a while. What’s funny enough is that the fucking band has been noted in interviews to compare
four years later and RTFOF is their third full length album and it’s packed with 13 in-your-mother-fuckin-face songs that’ll have you wanting to instantly learn the lyrics so you can sing along and vibe out to these awesome tunes. It was really hard to pick out a few stand out songs from RTFOF that really had me moving more than others because it’s one of those albums that from start to finish it’s just tons of fun and you don’t wanna skip a single song. If I did have to pick stand outs though; I’d have to go with “Stay” and “Headstone” “Stay” is such a great song it’s so upbeat but of course it’s a song about that one thing that’ll cut deep like nothing else...a break up. DUDE if it isn’t pulling at your heart strings check yo self. In one minute and forty one seconds singer Justice Tripp sings perfectly how we feel after a doozy of a break up while being paired to such great upbeat music. “Headstone” should be the most depressing song you’ll hear in a while but dammit once again Angel Du$t hits you with that upbeat in your face tempo that makes you forget you’re singing along to lyrics basically saying life’s kinda well...pointless. Death is inevitable and it comes for everyone and no matter how much you run really-really all you can ask yourself is “what’s it gonna say on my Headstone?!” (Funny enough I actually did a tattoo on my girlfriend as a tribute to this song.) Well there ya go. An album that’s not super old but definitely has made waves since it’s release onto the hardcore punk scene by a band that’s done exactly the same. It’s definitely worth the listen if you choose to do so. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I have. You can find Angel Du$t and their releases on Spotify, Bandcamp, and iTune for purchasing and streaming. TIM ARMSTRONG - A POET’S LIFE Released in May 2007 off Hellcat Records. (Tim’s Hardcore Punk Record Label)
themselves as the offspring of Bad Brains and the Lemonheads. Mainly because their speed and energy is punk as fuck but in quite a few of their songs they’re writing sappy love songs (sappy good not sappy cheesy). That’s honestly about the most solid comparison out there for Angel Du$t’s sound. SO! Here we are
You ever wanna sit back and get really emotional to a mix sound of punk, reggae, and vocals that have almost this hint of pain in them? ME TOO YO! There’s a chance you’ve heard Tim Armstrong before from his work with bands like Operation Ivy, Rancid, and the Transplants. Well this album was his first ever solo release and man is it great. It really hit close to home with everything I was hearing at the time. I was a 13-14 year old kid who was so preoccupied with skating and play-
ing video games with my friends all while jamming some great tunes. I was delving pretty heavily into Punk and Ska with a bit of Reggae thrown in the mix but really only stuff like Bob and Damian Marley. Punk though! Man Rancid was my shit Matt Freeman is one of the most untouchable Punk Bassists ever in my opinion. Anyway to get back on track I was in the summer between eighth and ninth grade where I first heard this album and damn it was so cool to me. For starters Tim recorded the album with the Aggrolites, a band that was already on repeat in my little MP3 player, so the album just has such a cool mix of literally everything I was hearing at the time because that’s exactly what the Aggrolites were haha. I personally think most bands have that one thing that makes them stand out from the rest and for me Rancid always had Tim’s nasally voice that had almost a bit of pain behind it with the combination of skipping some syllables in his lyrics haha. So combining his voice with the writing style of the Aggrolites just made for a great record in my eyes. I can’t really put my finger of a select genre for it though; songs like the opening track “Wake Up” are so mellow and wavy that you could probably rock a new born to sleep to while singing along to Tims softer vocals and then you run into this ball of poppy energy with “Into Action” and it makes you want to hop on a skateboard and go do some shenanigans with your friends. All and all this record had a big impact on me because I started to really appreciate the growth musicians take with their music instead of staying stagnant and putting out records that are all more or less the same sound. GROWTH IS GOOD. It’s not selling out it’s finding yourself and finding your sound. I didn’t understand that until I heard this album. I hope y’all check this album out and if you’re on the fence I’d at least check out the two tracks I mentioned “Wake Up” and “Into Action.” You can find the whole album on Spotify, iTunes, and Youtube. A little fun fact is that Tim actually made music videos for every song on the album. Pretty damn cool considering that is hardly ever done. (I honestly don’t know of any other artist or band that’s ever done that before.) Love, peace, and chicken grease! - Andy
STARTING A SCENE FROM THE BOTTOM UP
When I think of live music, I always go back to my first experience
attending a show, feeling I found something for me. That’s the essence of every show: Helping some kid find a connection through music. Those same people we saw play became inspirations for others to pursue their passion. November 25th marked the start of monthly Electronic showcases titled “The Bedroom Messiah,” hosted by local artist, Miyavé (Mikey Martinez), and featured locals Matamoros, Rizu-X, and Pilgrimess from Austin. Mikey first established himself playing in bands for the local Hardcore scene, and found a passion for writing and performing, taking Miyavé outside Laredo. Though not performing for his own shows, Mikey wants to have a spotlight for local artists. “Bedroom Messiah glorifies the idea that music comes from the bedroom,” he said. “Everyone who makes music is technically a bedroom messiah. It’s not meant to preach, instead demonstrate respect for the art. People make fun of what an Electronic artist does saying shit like, ‘you guys are just pushing buttons,’ and I’ve said it too, but we do more than that. Music can change perspectives and influence others to pursue a passion. I want the artist to have a platform to play what they want, and for the artists to network with each other. These shows aren’t for me, but for the artist and for the people who look at this
and say ‘I can do this too!’ because I know there’s a kid out there who has probably written good shit but has no outlet to show it.” That’s pretty cool. When you think about it, Laredo doesn’t have an Electronic scene, but Bedroom Messiah is the platform trying to turn that around. I look at the history of the local Hardcore scene and how it was just a couple guys like Gabe Por Vida (then Texas) and Boogie Capone who wanted something different, showcasing local acts and bringing the best in Hardcore, Punk, and Metal the world had to offer. Everyone wanted a taste of the Laredo Hardcore reality. That tradition kept plenty of kids like Mikey and I entertained on Fridays and Saturdays for years to come, with Ponce running the ball with Hardcore shows. In that same essence, Mikey is using the proactive ethos of DIY Hardcore to promote his shows with direct interaction, passing and posting flyers, using social media, and investing from his pocket. From a personal point, every local Electronic show I’ve attended felt more like a party than an actual show. Not with this one, though. Yes, the party vibe was still present, but the way everything set, and even Mikey himself introducing all the artists, directed the audience’s attention towards the performance. Everyone and I mean everyone, was having a blast. There were the people at the front who liked the artists and then you had the people in the
back chilling, but as I was walking around hearing everyone’s conversations like a total fucking creeper, no one expressed anything negative, and the vibe felt utterly new to Club Boogaloo regulars. Though mostly everyone was stunned by the visuals, I was in a daze with everything. This wasn’t the first time I saw Matamoros play, but it was the first time I saw him perform with visuals, which reminisced a depiction of lucid dreaming. Not sure if I’m correct by comparing this, but his music established a sense of nostalgia for video games from the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 era. If you think back, that was the rise of video game soundtracks sold to the public, and Matamoros’ sound fits right in there along with that list. It was cool, weird, and catchy as fuck. Rizu-X was also pretty fucking trippy in music, performance, and outfit. She performed from an electric podium that had red lights flow from different directions to form an X while donning a gold mask of some sorts--not sure what the face was. Her music had darker sensibilities and her excellent visuals added to the dark aesthetics. As I stood there, I instantly thought of music from water levels in video games, but at one point, she shifted to dancy stuff, and I immediately thought of that scene from the Batman Beyond intro with everyone dancing to different lights. She could have that kind of crowd and kill with glowsticks and fist bumps. Pilgrimess was something else too. Like
Rizu, Pilgrimess donned a weird costume that suited her set which varied uses of different bright lights all dancing around like leaves in the wind. Her music also reflected the aesthetics: Very trippy, but also lighthearted, innocent, and fun. The crowd started to move around here, but did not go all out dancing, though they should have. In essence, her set was an unadulterated form of psychedelia at its finest, but at the very core, that was the entire showcase. Electronic shows are still new to me, but I’m not new to music and shows. Previous Electronic “shows” I’ve attended felt more like a party than an actual exposition for the artists. That’s fucked up. Promoters should focus the spotlight on the artist, and they often fail; however, Mikey busted his ass up and down, working hard to have attendants pay attention to the artist. As he said, the shows are not for him to make himself be this superstar. He just wants to have that venue for Electronic artists to be respected. When asked about the respect for the artist, he replied, “it comes from my experience as a performer where shows want to cater to everybody. These shows have dudes doing backflips, some art exhibit, a band in the back, and the Electronic artist gets lost in the shuffle people thinking that’s just a Dj playing other people’s music. That’s disrespectful. You’re not booking a poet in your show and have them deliver their poetry while some Death Metal band is playing in the other room. Show some respect to the artist for the time and effort they took to create their shit.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone put on an incredible effort for this to work and create a legit Electronic scene. I only have two criticisms, but these are my opinions of injustices I saw towards the possibility of making this a legit scene. First, venue owner. If you’re allowing people to come in for free, make sure you inform the promoter that you’re doing this in advance so the person at the door isn’t confused. Also, make sure your “VIP” does not bring in twenty other people expecting they’re all granted the privilege. That’s just rude. Not only do you have to pay for the performers, but you’re also running a business, not a party place. Last, and this is for the attendants: No one cares who you know, and no one wants you there with your attitude. You’re not broke. Pay the cover charge. Though I’d love to put this particular dude on blast, he’d probably gloat about it like a trophy. You are an ignorant ass who thinks too highly of himself on Facebook, sharing your “support the scene” posts while never attending an event and expect to go in for free. Stick to your karaoke’s and keep jerking yourself off. Laredo has a lot to offer, and it should not reduce itself to assholes, but still, the negatives shouldn’t detract from the positives of the experience. For more shows, you should follow Bedroom Messiah on Facebook. The idea is cool, the music is pretty legit, the logo is awesome, and the dedication is admirable. I would like to take this time to thank Mikey for taking the time to do this, and I would also like to say to check out Miyavé, Pilgrimess, and Rizu-X on Soundcloud, and always go check out Matamoros if you ever see his name on a flyer. Mikey would like to give a shout out to the Exploded Drawing guys in Austin for motivating him to start these shows, as well as a big thank you to Rizu-X and Matamoros who helped him tremendously with the show, but most of all, he’d like to thank his wife for supporting him throughout it all and putting up with his shit. #todossomosBedroomMessiahs
“Hugo Rivera is boring and doesn’t really do anything, but when he does, he talks and writes about shit he finds interesting and hopes you do too. He also really likes everything by Glenn Danzig and Morrissey”
KEVIN LORAEDO TALKS TO JORGE PONCE ABOUT THE LAREDO SCENE AND HOW FAR IT HAS COME
ince I was in high school, I’ve always wanted to be part of the bands that play at the local bars and venues, and I did that for a while (for a short while). But then I picked up the camera and decided to document the bands that struggle so much to get their name out there. And what better way to get to know the bands (besides approaching them) than to talk to the one who hosts the shows themselves? I approached Jorge Ponce and asked him how long he’s been part of the Hardcore scene in Laredo. He recently started to host shows on his own around December of 2016 but has been helping out since 2014 when shows started being hosted again at The Dugout. Before any of that, he would just attend shows whenever he could since 2003. Despite things being a little slow, he has been trying to upgrade the equipment, but as of right now he only had a show on November of this year with Lonely Bones from Denver CO and with local help from Earth Again and Scorn. We chatted a bit more about why he hosts these shows for Laredo, and the obvious answer is to support the bands and give Laredoans something else to do. Plus it also shows bands that there are other places in Texas to play other than Austin, San Antonio, the DFW area, and Houston. Ponce grew up going to shows at Sal’s and The Homerun Derby and anywhere people booked shows, so in some way he already wanted to keep it alive and have people come out and see bands play their original material and support local, out of town, and touring talent. And honestly, that’s something I hope Laredo gets known for: a nice spot in the south where bands can get rowdy and have actual tacos. Another thing we both agreed on was that we both hope for more and more people to come out and for more local bands to pop up. We’re both into all types of music, but we’d be great to see more local hardcore, punk, and metal bands rise in Laredo. Another thing we talked about the hardcore scene was the obvious presence of veganism in the music scene itself. As we all know, Hardcore music is heavy and hits hard on some political as well as controversial topics. That is why I asked Ponce, a vegan himself, how he thinks veganism and the Hardcore scene go hand in hand. “Veganism has been in Hardcore for a long time now. Mainly it was the straight edge movement that adopted that type of lifestyle. They wanted to live a clean life and also support animal liberation.
There are many vegan straight edge bands on the scene which is really cool to see,” he said. “What is something you want to say to those who are thinking of transitioning to veganism, whether or not they’re in the scene?” I asked. “I’d say do it. Coming from someone that grew up eating meat and dairy for 30 years, I love that I finally decided to try it out. I feel significantly better and happier, too. It’s really not that hard, especially with so many options and tons of online sources for recipes and info on what is or isn’t vegan.” Halfway through the sets of the show, I started becoming more curious about Ponce and his contribution to the music scene in Laredo. Given the fact that he hosts these shows, it made me wonder what that said about his image of Laredo, especially when people out of town visit. “It’s really awesome to hear and see the response people give. Bands and out-of-towners tell me that they love coming to Laredo and how welcoming everyone is in the scene. The Laredo Hardcore scene has always been so hospitable, even before I started throwing shows, so I like that we carry out that image to people. Plus, people freak out [in a good way] when we start to play cumbias and dance after the shows are over.” He added with a chuckle, “They can be themselves and enjoy some good tunes. The hardcore scene can be really cliquey and have ‘cool’ kids, but here in Laredo we have diversity and people that come down here notice that and like it.” The hardcore scene in Laredo is first and foremost hospitality from my experience. Most of the bands travel hours just to play a show here at the Dugout and regardless of the turnout, I hope that we as a community want them to see this as a home away from home. That’s a thought I had when suddenly Ponce added, “I’d like to think that we here in Laredo are appreciative of anyone wanting to come play this far down South, so I just want bands to know they can always come down and play here and hang out afterwards, go get some food, and have a place to stay if need be.” I couldn’t say it better myself.
Pecan pie is a cozy holiday favorite for everyone to enjoy. With Christmas around the corner, the expectation of bringing something to the table is extremely high. Especially for those of us who don’t partake in roasted ham, let alone that festive turkey plate. What we can bring however, is this amazing pecan pie along with our other delicious plates like our stuffed-butternut squash. This pecan pie makes for a rich and festive desert, but let’s be real. You can and should make this at any point during the year. It makes for a decadent, rich, and warm pie that is sure to please everyone this holiday season. PREP TIME | COOK TIME | TOTAL TIME 10 mins | 1 hour | 1 hour 10 mins INGREDIENTS • ¼ cup White Sugar • ½ cup Brown Sugar • ¼ cup Agave Nectar* • ¼ cup Maple Syrup • 4 tbsp Flour • 4 tbsp Plant Milk (Soy, Almond, Coconut, etc.) • 2 Chia Eggs (2 tbsp Chia Seeds + 5 tbsp Water) • 8 tbsp Vegan Butter** • 1 tsp Vanilla • 1 ¼ cup Pecan Halves/Chopped • 1 14” Pie Crust***
DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. Add all of the ingredients (except the crust, of course) to a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. 3. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 25 minutes. 4. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 35 minutes. Check on it periodically as, depending on your crust, it may cook faster. The pie is cooked once the center is jelly-like. 5. Allow the pie to cool for about 15 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream or on its own. Enjoy! Serves 8. NOTES Recipe adapted from Two City Vegans. *If you don’t have Agave nectar, you can just use ¼ cup of Maple Syrup and 1 tbsp Cornstarch. **Vegan butter can be found at HEBs and Walmarts across Laredo. Vegan brands are Smart balance and Earth Balance. (It will say “Vegan” or “V” on the container). ***I found a graham pie crust by Great Value at Walmart that didn’t have any honey, eggs, or milk. NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION Serving size: 1/8 of the recipe | Calories: 584 | Fat: 44 g | Protein:5g | Carbohydrates: 46g | Sugar: 27g | Fiber: 5g
HUGO RIVERA GOES TAILGATING FOR THE LAREDO HAMMER BOWL AND HANGS OUT WITH SOME ALUMNI WHO KNOW HOW TO PARTY
Tus were born. It’s a tradition true to Laredo. A tradition present
he Martin/Nixon rivalry has been going on since before most of
in feel-good small-town football movies like Friday Night Lights, Varsity Blues, and Remember the Titans. A tradition of youthful nostalgia, one that emulates the Texas A&M and UT rivalry but on a much smaller scale. And yet it still speaks volumes. The rivalry has created a culture full of people who aren’t shy about displaying their lifetime devotion to their school. I never understood school pride during my years at Cigarroa. This isn’t about me, though, nor is it about my generation, or even La Cigarroña (de cariño, you know?). I recently decided to go to the Martin and Nixon tailgates to learn more from people who’ve kept the tradition alive for more than half of their lives. This is for the grandparents whose dream is for their grandchildren to taste a piece of the pie they created. This is for your friend’s mom who met her dad in Algebra class. This is for the roofers and karate instructors. This is for the people who watch Dazed and Confused and remember what they did when America turned 200 years old. This is for you. I made my way to the Martin tailgate first at the Unitrade parking lot. Instantly, Los Ángeles Azules’ “Como Te Voy A Olvidar” and the aroma of carne asada and jalapeño poppers greeted me. Waves of red and white and the bright smiles of the older generations coming together dominated. According to Martha Medina, class of ‘84, the Martin tailgates first began seven years ago when people began to set up individual booths honoring each of their classes. “It gets bigger and bigger every year,” she said. “We started with about 10 classes and more keep coming. As long as they’re 21 and over, they can join.” Each of the tents has something unique to their classes. However, two things instantly catch the eye. In the middle of the tailgates, there were displays of a tiger statue and a tiger’s den. You could tell the den’s safari look appealed to children with its array of colors and decorative tigers and plush monkeys, but the cherry on top was the tiger statue next to it. It was a regular old tiger, but the closer you got to it, you could see it was eating a mustang. Se pasaron, dude. It was fucking hilarious. While the families took photos with the den, lifelong friends gathered to take pictures with the tiger statue and displayed banners with their school year. I also had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people from the class of ‘63 such as Diana Rodriguez, Humberto Torres, Sandra Gale Hastings, and President of the Class Raul Rodriguez. “Back then was the start of the revolution with the hippies and the Beatles. We had beautiful, beautiful fun times with all the classes of the 60s,” Hastings joyfully commented. “Vietnam was going on, and segregation too. At the time, there was only one high school, and that was Martin.” Humberto Torres, a Vietnam veteran, added. “I was so thrilled to see him because I run the veteran’s program. My dad is a World War II veteran, and my nephew was in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Torres was in the Navy. Yesterday was the first time in 38 years that he’s been here and he came to catch the game,” Diana Rodriguez said.
Her story is special. She has been a teacher at Leyendecker Elementary for 38 years. Because of her dedication, they are naming the library in her honor. It was indeed an honor to get to know them, and I thanked them for the excellent conversation. Though it was fun, I headed straight to the Nixon tailgate at the Park and Ride on Hillside. Upon arriving, a group of older men in a pickup truck wearing red windbreakers asked me if that was the Martin tailgate. Wasn’t sure if the green and gold tents inside would give it away, but like teenage caga palos, they screamed “PURO MARTIIIIIIN!” and stormed off. God, that was hilarious. A Nixon attendant flipped them off, and things were off to a good start. There were far more younger people in attendance for the Nixon tailgate, but instead of cumbias, they were playing hits like “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc and “YMCA” by the Village People. It was pretty neat. I met some people from the Class of ‘94 who suggested I speak to the Class of ‘74. I was curious at first, but I soon learned why. Out of all the Nixon tents, and even the Martin ones, the Nixon Class of ‘74 was the liveliest of them all. A lot of them kept coming and going to the dance floor and didn’t miss a beat. There was no energy lost, and they seek to inspire hope for the future generations of Nixon graduates. “I live in Corpus, but I try and come for all the events and meetings with my committee,” Gloria Perez, a retired DPS employee and President of the Class of ’74, said. “We’re the only class that gives out individual scholarships to the seniors. Our goal this year is to help the seniors who can go to college but don’t have the means. We used to give the scholarships to alumni’s kids specifically, but it’s been 43 years since we’ve graduated! Our kids have kids now! It’s hard to give it to only alumni’s kids because there are so many!” Her story was just as extraordinary. Laredo and Nixon genuinely mean something to her heart, enough to travel every month from out of town to meet with her class to discuss serious matters and party like ‘74 was just yesterday. They had a lot of fun with the Static Age team, and I would’ve stayed to party with them had I not had to leave. In short, the tailgates did not disappoint. We forget that the movies we see based on the 60s and 70s were a reality to a group of people, and their celebration and dedication towards their school colors keep them in touch with their youth and simpler times. I will never forget the people I’ve met, and I learned something special about respecting your alma mater. In that sense, to the Nixon and Martin graduates, I say one thing: Puro Cigarroña! Thank you so much to the alumni who made this an incredible experience, and I thank Kevin and Nora for teaching me all about taking professional pictures. Y’all are the real deal.
Don’t you just want it to be okay to dwell on pessimism and release your frustrations? Don’t you just wish you could engage in primitive violence and choke-slam the fuck out of your boss through a table for making you stay an extra hour after your shift? Don’t you just hate the consumerist message that comes with the holiday season? Then celebrate the Festivus for the rest of us! Festivus originated in “The Strike” episode of Seinfeld, and it has been celebrated every December 23 for the last 20 years. Everything about it is anti-holidays, but what makes it unique is that it still holds to the traditional value of coming together. Ultimately, isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Festivus celebrations include the Airing of Grievances, Feats of Strength, and the Festivus Miracles, which if you consider it, the holiday itself is a Festivus Miracle! A Festivus Miracle can be anything you make it: Pizza Hut is open because it doesn’t land on Christmas; no awkward moments; no family member criticized the amount of food you ate--all true Festivus Miracles! Best of all, you don’t even need a Christmas tree. Just get a pole, and you’re good to go! Mr. Costanza never cared for flair and neither should you. It’s that simple! Why waste all that time decorating a fake tree when you can just place a Festivus pole and wait for the magic to happen? It’s a Festivus Miracle! As a Seinfeld fan, I always knew of the celebration, but I never considered celebrating it. I first started four years ago when I graduated from college and began my teaching career. Ugh, if you’re a teacher undergoing your first year, I feel for you. Festivus would be perfect for you. Holiday vacations are a reward for putting up with shit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t air your grievances about your first semester. I still remember my exact grievances: “Why can’t I fucking get two planning periods?!” “Why are we always running out of paper in the department, and what’s so hard about managing a budget to where we can buy damn ink cartridges?!” “Whose uncultured parents buy and pay these kids’ phone bills but can’t give them a fucking pen or pencil?! And why do they only know how to finish their sentences with ‘a la verga’?!” “You want me to submit another referral so you can take disciplinary action? The kid’s an asshole! GET HIM THE FUCK OUT OF MY CLASS!” “I swear to God, Mr. Principal, if you cleaned the wax out your ears, you’d hear that it’s pronounced ‘NuCLEAR,’ not ‘NuCUlar!’ And what grown ass educator has never read To Kill a Mockingbird?!” It was beautiful. Unfortunately, neither my dad nor my brother squared up for the Feats of Strength, but luckily I have nephews. There was no mercy. I got my ass beat and knew not to get back up again. Luckily, the fest comes once a year, so I had plenty of time to practice. Got out with only a fat lip the following year, another Festivus Miracle! I was over the holidays a long time ago, and if you’re like me, you are too. Let Starbucks keep their coffee cups. who cares? It’s a Festivus for the rest of us! -Hugo Rivera
Published on Dec 11, 2017