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Wake Up & Runoff by Will Vent

It’s Runoff time voters, and by voters I mean the less than 10% of the district’s population that could be bothered to fight the big, bad rainstorm and actually show up to take part in the sacred electoral process. 21,000 Democrats turned out March 6th, against 43,000 Republicans. That is not going to cut it Corpus Christinos. I was glad to see that The Vent’s pick for House Representative, Eric Houlgin, came in second and made it into the Runoff election this May. Yes, we will be taking credit for that. But, as I said, this is not enough momentum to make a dent in November. I will say that given the current gerrymandered condition of US Congressional District 27 it’s nice to see even a little bit of movement. Also, any Republican running for Blake

Farenthold’s spot should feel ashamed that they are essentially playing dirty, since courts have already ruled that the redrawing of the 27th was done illegally and specifically to dilute Hispanic (mostly Democrat) votes. Any republican with integrity should decline to run until the lines are redrawn constitutionally. A funny thing happened to me this week, the old, used minivan I recently bought literally only has one working station – 1440 KEYS. Because I don’t own any cassette tapes, I have been stuck listening to conservative radio every morning as I take my daughter to school. That means Monday through Friday at 8 AM I end up right smack in the middle of a sloppy 4-hour Bob Jones pulledpork sandwich, and folks “he is everything he says he is”. (that seems to be one of the catchphrases he uses on his commercial spots) To get an idea of the type of listeners tuned into 1440 KEYS during morning drive-time I have to reference one of this weeks callers who was describing a lady having some issues with the voting machines. Bob asked

the caller if she was an older woman, and the caller replied, “Oh no, she was about 60”. If the majority of baby-boomers are going to continue to vote selfishly and try to hold on to days past, then Millennials need to step it up. As young people (yes I realize I am saying that as an old AF 37-year-old) we need to take care of business. Millennials now outnumber boomers, so there is no excuse. All that said, it really is quite difficult for a realist like myself to get giddy and hopeful about a district full of old folks who buy into the type of rhetoric that Bob Jones spews on local radio. So maybe I should call this Primary Election what it really was… just an excuse to publish this issue a week late. V

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By William Henneberger



With advocates for stricter gun control making more progress over the last month than in recent history, the National Rifle Association is up in arms. The NRA has doubled down on their hardline policy for no more laws governing the buying or selling of guns to anyone, anywhere, and for any reason, including premeditated murder. This is in reaction to recent decisions by multiple businesses to deny the purchase of guns to customers under the age of 21 and also to the loss of other NRA corporate partners. In the midst of backlash NRA officials have decided to forego compromise and move directly to belligerence. “You want schools to be gun-free, then our position is to arm teachers,” bellowed Dana Loesch at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference, “You don’t like the idea of teachers carrying guns… then we say; arm the students! We will do whatever it takes to keep America safe as long as that means

She then went into a strange rant about how she likes to refer to her guns as death dildos for reasons we cannot print in this publication. The NRA’s position has changed several times over the past month. They have gone from insisting on armed school adjacent neighbors to armed school guards to armed coaches to armed substitute teachers to armed school nurses to armed mercenaries to armed teachers to armed class pets, to armed students. When asked to explain this progression, Wayne LaPierre smugly admitted that they were literally shooting AR-15’s at random pages of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yearbook to decide who should be armed. V

By William Henneberger In order to make up for Trump’s widely hated steel tariff debacle, the president has decided to bring down taxes on any monies used to make payoffs to women involved in sexual scandals of any kind. “Your first three sex scandals are tax free, people,” Trump gloated at a White House press conference. “This is going to save congress tons of taxpayer dollars.” A particular provision in this executive order even makes it clear that this tax exemption is ‘per scandal’ not per payoff, meaning that a congressman could theoretically have three separate orgies resulting in numerous payoffs without having

to pay any taxes. Blake Farenthold, disgraced Congressman for the 27th District in Texas, released a statement saying he was; “very dismayed by this executive order and plans to filibuster congress until he is granted a Tax Credit for every scandal in which he was required to payoff a victim of his disgusting advances. We can do more for initiators of sexual harassment.” This seemed to garner some approval from both sides of the aisle. Trump later tweeted that he wanted to make sure everyone knew that that this order; “…does not include any homo stuff!” V

selling more guns.”

The current President of the United States has had a great track record when it comes to publicly praising and relating to some of the world’s most high profile national leaders. President Duterte of the Philippines, for example, has been praised for his tough stance on drugs in his country. Tough stance meaning he encourages vigilante killings. Then President Trump acknowledged the Chinese President’s newly established rule as President for Life, suggesting our country might give that concept a try! We know President Trump hates the Hollywood Elite, so there’s no way he was watching the Oscars Sunday Night. I’m willing to bet he watches the Walking Dead, perhaps mistaking it for a darker episode of the Planet Earth d o c u m e n t a r y. When he sees the alpha male that is Negan, it’s gotta trigger something in his brain. If he starts carrying a 9-Iron wrapped in barbed wire, we’re outta here.



It is becoming more and more rare these days that you meet someone whom you believe when they say they would turn down an enormous amount of money on principle. I don’t know Mayra Zamora very well, but for some reason, when she said that in this interview, I believed her. In my limited opinion regarding art, I think that may be what it means to be a true artist… just don’t tell that to Norman Rockwell. If you like what you see or what Mayra has to say follow her on Instagram @MiraMayraArt. Also, be sure to come out and support the opening of her show Rosas Para Mi Corazon at Janet F. Harte Public Library in Flour Bluff, Saturday March 10th from 3-6pm, or stop by anytime throughout March to see her heartfelt and enjoyable works. What are some of the pros and cons of being an artist in a smaller market like Corpus Christi?

Which is your favorite piece that you will be showing at the upcoming exhibit?

I love Corpus and its art scene. Since I moved to Corpitos in 2006, I instantly enthralled myself into the art community. I joined K Space Contemporary in the Fall of 2007 and they have become my art family. They have pushed me to be better and have always encouraged my artistic endeavors and out of the box ideas. Because Corpus is small and I am a free-lance artist, it allows me to work as an educator for the Art Museum of South Texas, the Art Center of Corpus Christi, Garcia Arts & Education Center; and a curator for the La Retama Central Library and the Tejano Civil Rights Museum. The saying “starving artist” stems from a place of truth. Though, I work all over the place, I do not have a permanent fulltime job nor benefits, so sometimes certain months can be stressful. But today’s art scene is continuously thriving and I am elated to be a part of it for over ten years. Corpus Christi is ever-evolving and I can visualize a bright and prosperous community, in which artists will be respected and seen as equals to any other profession.

This is always a difficult question for artists, because each piece is special & significant. However, the piece that is most emotional to me is titled “Para mis Abuelos.” Before I started this piece, I had painted two hearts involving internal flames. This made me think of my experience with my apartment catching fire this past summer. I was in the apartment when the fire started and saw it from beginning to end, all because of a cigarette that wasn’t properly put out. Long story short, when I went inside to retrieve my belongings, all the debris and flames had missed major works. It looked like a magical force field protected my works and private collection. This piece is to honor my abuelos who were protecting me on that traumatic day.


Calavera Talavera

You have said that some of your inspiration comes from having a kaleidoscope as a child, what do you think you would be doing today if you had spent all that time with a Slinky instead?

I would be doing the exact

Zamora’s Art Center of Corpus Christi mural ‘Chicano Pop’ Photo by Omar Arellano

same thing! As a kid, I found the slinky fascinating, the way it moved and stretched. I would spend a lot of time in Mexico and would have to find ways to entertain myself. I probably still have my slinky in my toy chest back home. I am one of the few souls that know I was put on this planet to create. What would you say if Trump offered you a million dollars to paint a mural on part of his Wall? I don’t want to entertain this question, because I believe this is only giving power to someone I do not believe in. I am a daughter of Mexican immigrants and proud to be 1st generation American. My parents immigrated to this country for my sister and I to follow our dreams. I do not need his money to be somebody, because I already am somebody. SI SE PUEDE!!!! (emoji fist) If you could sell a piece to any celebrity, who would you like it to be? Cheech Marin because his

Rosas Para Mi Corazon


exhibition “Menudo: Chicano Art from the Cheech Marin Collection” in 2009 at the Art Museum of South Texas changed my life. My late professor Bruno Andrade at TAMUCC encouraged our painting class to attend his artist talk at the museum. Once I stepped inside I was instantly captivated with all the works and felt an instant cultural & personal connection. I went home and began googling all of the artists in his collection because I finally found a place in the art world where I felt I truly belonged and could be myself, a Chicana. A place where I can blend my love for my Mexican heritage and love for my modern American artists. It would be a great honor to be a part of his immense private collection. I also would love to sell a piece to Gina Rodriguez, from the CW’s Jane the Virgin. I admire and respect how openly vocal she is for the Latino community and calling out Hollywood on the continuation of exclusion of Latino actors. I feel I am very much like her but a voice for the Latino arts community in Corpus Christi. ------->

Chicano America Flag II

What is a product or brand that you would like to endorse or represent with your art? What is one that you would never endorse? One of my dreams is to collaborate with Sharpie. I would love to represent the brand because of my personal connection with the products. My dad always had white, red, black, green, & yellow oil based & fine point Sharpies. He would bring them home from work and decorate his hard helmet & lunch boxes. Naturally always being an artistic child, I would use them. As an adult artist, I have continued to use Sharpies for my creations. My most current solo exhibition is primarily contrived using the Sharpie paint marker. Art has no boundaries, so anything is possible! I would welcome any new endorsement and make a decision based of my intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, I will not take on a job opportunity big or small. How do you think the digitization of every flat surface will change the way we view art? On one hand artists are used for marketing, therefore, we see an immense use of billboards and graphics to sell the consumer a product because most of us are receptive to visuals. So in that sense, I do not consider this “art”, but “art” is heavily involved in the creation of the product, the creation of ads, and so on. However, most people do not realize how much art and artist have shaped your lives. On the other hand, fine artists are using

Corazon Sagrado Amor

technology to push our perception on what is art. Art nowadays doesn’t have to be painted on a canvas or paper. I have seen very unique art in Miami Art Basel, where lots of artists were pushing the boundaries of art using the power of technology. However, I will forever be a lover of mural & public art and believe all walls & surfaces should be painted. Art has the power to bring so much joy and happiness to the world, so why don’t we? Tu Sabes?! I have such vision for Corpus Christi, particularly the West Side, and one day that vision will become a reality with lots of hard work and help from my community members. What do you have planned for the short and longterm future? After my solo show, I will be installing over 70 works of art for my Chicas Bonitas: All Female Exhibition at La Retama Central library. I am so excited for the Meet the ARTist reception on April 21 / 3-6pm and see the community support the female artists. The week after Chicas Bonitas, I will be traveling to California to Cultura Fest in San Diego and be a representative for Corpus Christi. I decided to extend my trip in California and go to Los Angeles and meet my Chicano Instagram Family. With the power of social media, I have been building bridges with artists from California to show in CC. Once I return, I will have a solo show popup at Nueces Lofts May 4 / 6:30-8:30 during Marina Arts District’s Artwalk. During June, I will be a lead youth art camp instructor for the Art Center of Corpus Christi and the Garcia Arts & Education Center. In July, I will be one of the lead instructors for K Space Contemporary mural arts camp. This upcoming Fall, I plan to enroll in the MAS(Mexican American Studies) Program at Del Mar College and work on my third degree. My future goals are to keep creating more public art projects with community involvement, to continue inspiring and educating younger and older art generations, pushing Chicano Art to the forefront of American art and eventually the world, to continue my personal education endeavors, and to continue growing as an artist. V






I’m tired. Jaded, really. On Valentine’s Day, I sat in my classroom – I teach high school English – and watched live with my students as another shooter rampaged through an American school. This time it was in Florida. That was the third major mass shooting I’ve ended up discussing with them since the school year began (The church just outside San Antonio and the Las Vegas concert are the other two – 103 people died between the three incidents. Among the dead were multiple children. Let that sink in.) and the 107th mass shooting of any kind since the school year began1. Enough is enough. I shouldn’t need to have these discussions with my students. Or my own children. No parent or teacher should. And yet as long as we live in a culture that values the right to kill over the right to life I will continue to have to have them. And so will you. And your children will talk about it among themselves, too. I know. I’ve watched it happen in my classroom. Two days removed from the Florida shooting I did my best to moderate a heated debate between several of my students. It was impassioned on both sides, full of the hard and fast opinions of youth, not tempered by experience. Or so I first thought. But as I listened, I heard some clarity. They had witnessed all the tragic events unfold thanks to the instant information of the modern news cycle and social media, and they had heard and processed, for better or worse, the opinions of their parents and relatives. Yes, there was the cloud of a lack of research (which affects many adults reading this), but they all made sound arguments with what they knew – which was far more than any kid should have to know. When kids – teenagers and even younger – need to spend time discussing what they would need to do in a school shooting situation, what the firearm policy for the country should be, or if the death penalty is an appropriate punishment, we have failed as leaders. When a lockdown drill is as common 1 Feel free to check my numbers at

as a fire drill, we screwed up. We can point at no one but ourselves when our future must dedicate their time to the realities of how to survive getting gunned down before many of them have even been kissed. How, then, do we take charge and change this reality? That path starts with understanding recent history. Over the past few weeks I’ve listened to politicians make promises – you know what? Scratch that. I’ve listened to politicians make promises about this since Columbine. But the promises they’ve made have been promises to talk about gun violence. To discuss what we can do. That’s it. And what have we (yes, we – this is not just on them) done? Talked. And then forgotten that we were having a discussion until the next time a group of people was gunned down so long as those people were in a group at a school. Or an office building. Or a church. Or a night club in Orlando. Or another school 2. The cycle never seems to end. With Vegas, I thought we were about to see change. Bump stocks – never mentioned as a problem before a mad man3 gunned down a crowd at a concert – became the first promise of any real movement on the issue of gun violence. And then, after a few articles in the alwayshungry-for-something-new 24-hour news outlets, silence. A month later, another mad man4 broke into the news cycle when he murdered 26 people, including a toddler and an 8-months-pregnant mother of three, at a church in Texas5. Except even his actions 2 We don’t talk if it was a group of young black men in Chicago; or four people on a corner in Atlanta; or two bystanders hit by stray rounds in Houston. Those people had it coming, I suppose. That I am just now writing this piece means I too have been both complacent toward and complicit in the culture of gun violence. I’m trying to come to terms with that. 3 This is not intended to be a slight against those with mental health issues; I have several. I’ll delve into how mental health plays into the gun debate in this article. I think, though, this man was of the ilk mad describes without any uncertainty.

couldn’t get the issue of gun control back on the table. The news covered the story but the politicians didn’t bring up the issue of bump stocks again. In fact, they didn’t bring up gun control at all outside of the standard lip service. See, that shooter6 didn’t use a bump stock. He just used a good, oldfashioned AR-157 . No modifications or sexy accessories. Just a gun that an estimated 8 million Americans have right now. A gun a high school senior could walk into Academy and buy off the shelf. No, no gun control. But something else entered the discussion. What did get mentioned was the issue of mental health – people control. While mental health had been part of the conversation informally since Columbine, it was addressed after Sandy Hook and came back into the public eye after a kid killed nine people at a church in Charleston. The Las Vegas and Texas church shootings put the issue in the spotlight. President Trump made comments at a press conference in Tokyo ---> has a gun. And a good guy with a gun did show up. A former NRA firearms instructor, in fact. He used his own AR-15 to put two rounds into the shooter – as he was leaving the church. The good guy stopped nothing but a clean getaway. Here’s the rub, though. He did the right thing. Had he arrived any sooner or decided to go in guns blazing (I don’t know if he was there during the active shooting), he might’ve made the situation worse. Firing into a crowd of people is risky. One, you have no idea what a mass of people is going to do. Two, while it may seem easy to identify the shooter, adrenaline does funny things to capability. Soldiers sometimes shoot wild and sometimes freeze on the firing line, and they’re trained for the task. Three, any person in that room now becomes a human shield if the shooter wills it. Four, the typical “good guy with a gun” isn’t an NRA firearms instructor with a precision rifle; he’s a guy that has an 8 hour CHL and a Glock 19 that’s accurate up to about 25 yards on a good day at a shooting range. The potential for carnage amplifies when another gun is introduced. I bring this up because I hear a lot of people discuss what they’d do as if real life was a session of Call of Duty multiplayer. What I find interesting is that people who play Call of Duty should know better than anyone that people have no clue how to coordinate their actions when firearms are involved.

4 See above caveat.

6 If you want these people’s names, look them up. I’m not giving them any notoriety.

5 This case is unique, too, in that it happened in Texas – a place where people often joke that such a thing couldn’t happen because everybody

7 Technically a Ruger AR-556, which is an AR-15 built by Ruger and chambered in .556.



concerning the need to look at mental issues and guns – which we’ll touch on later. And it was a justifiable reaction. The Texas church shooter had a well-documented history of mental health related offenses, including waterboarding his wife and beating his infant stepson until he fractured the child’s skull. The problem, though, is that the means already existed to stop this gunman from legally buying guns, and they didn’t. Those in charge of policing the system didn’t input the information they should have which included the aforementioned family violence as well as multiple behavioral incarcerations. This man slipped through all the protections in place through the pure ineptitude of those tasked with keeping us safe.8 Still, the call went out to stiffen rules for those with mental health issues. And on the surface, that seems fine. Dig a little deeper, though, and you start to find problems. There is a tendency to demonize mental illness. Look at what I’ve done in this article by using the term mad man. No matter what my intent was or how I explain it away, people equate mad man with mental illness. The same goes for crazy, nuts, insane, psycho, and any number of terms we’ve decided are what mental illness is. And all of those terms are associated with an element of danger. To be sure, some people with mental illness are dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a firearm. Also protections were put in place after the Sandy Hook shooting because that shooter had multiple issues with mental illnesses – protections Donald Trump rolled back. Whether or not they would’ve prevented the church or Florida shooting is debatable, but they were there. The whether or not qualifier in that previous sentence is important because we don’t know if the dangerous part of the illnesses would’ve been caught or what even constitutes the predetermination of danger. The law that was repealed allowed for one agency to transfer data to another about mental health (and other) disqualifiers for purchasing a gun, which would’ve allowed for information about approximately 75,000 individuals to go from one agency to another unfettered, but did nothing to define what mental illness 8 Quite literally. The shooter was former Air Force and committed his illegal acts while in the service. The Army and Air Force both bear responsibility for failing to update the proper databases.


issues would disqualify a potential gun buyer. Does someone with a diagnosis of autism get to buy a gun? Depression? PTSD? How about anxiety or ADHD? The spectrum of mental illness is wide and the ultimate consequences are impossible to see. And that brings us back to Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. The young man that shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida legally purchased the AR-15 he used to do it although his history of mental illness and violent outbursts was well-documented. People had complained about him to the FBI; they did not investigate. The local sheriff ’s department logged 46 calls involving him. The shooter himself called for emotional support in a time of crisis. Every red flag that could be raised was. And still he was able to buy a gun legally, walk into a school, and gun down 17 people. He did not use a bump stock. That’s important. After the shooting, politicians were quick to speak out. Maybe it is because the nation watched the event live on television. Maybe it’s because the students who survived spoke out quickly and demanded change. But their demands were met with refusals and red herrings. Marco Rubio, who for his part did show up at a town hall and engage questions and concerns from victims, their families, and community members, said gun control wouldn’t have stopped the shooting. The call to ban bump stocks came again – remember, the shooter didn’t use one – and as of this writing is maintaining a presence in the media. If that proposed ban goes through remains to be seen, but what does it change? Of the shootings I’ve discussed, only the shooter in Las Vegas used one. Banning bump stocks is a feel-good move, a red herring of appeasement. I would say at least it’s something, but that would put me firmly in the camp that is fooled by ploys like this. And make no mistake, the bump stock ban is a ploy. I’m tired of inaction but I am angered by games. So are the hundreds of thousands of students that face the possibility of a shooting in their school every day. They deserve better. The countless men, women, boys, and girls that live with the reality of daily gun violence in their communities that doesn’t make national news deserve better, too. And I have seen some promise in places I wouldn’t @theventnation

have expected. President Trump called out Republican senators, chiding them for being “afraid of the NRA”. This was in response to resistance to a proposal to raise the age limit to buy a rifle from 18 to 21. If that passes, it’s a bit of positive headway. Any positive is good, but it’s only a start. I mentioned the roughly 8 million AR-15s Americans owned. The vast majority of those will never be used in a shooting. I understand that. I understand that responsible gun ownership is the norm. I was a responsible gun owner for years. But you know what? I sold my guns when my kids were born. They were my priority, and as a responsible gun owner I knew that my guns – my hobby – posed a risk to my children. I made a conscious decision to get rid of them. And I don’t miss them. At all. I took personal responsibility, which so many gun owners are big on touting, and changed my personal gun culture in favor of my children. Other gun owners need to do the same. Stop buying into the culture. Make the decision to stop purchasing and accessorizing toys like you’re in a G.I. Joe cartoon. End the demand for a battlefield weapon; you don’t need one. We can wait on the government for years to change laws to protect us, but at the end of the day it’s on us. This epidemic of violence is our fault. It is up to us to end it so no one else has to talk to a classroom full of students about what to do is a shooting situation occurs. Or worse, a school full of students after 17 of their friends and teachers are dead.


The Vent Daily: March 2018 Issue, Comedy, Culture, News(ish)