Busy weekends in Laredo

Who said there was nothing to do in Laredo?  Granted, it might not all be your taste but hijo’e’su this has been a busy weekend.

ImageI was really hoping to catch the Laredo Theater Guild’s Cinderella yesterday but… these 12 hour days get in the way.  I hear it is great so be sure to catch it tonight at 8pm or the Sunday show at 3pm at TAMIU!

Instead, I spent my Friday cleaning my refrigerator because the aforementioned 12 hour work days got in the way of my bill paying juggling act.  Ugh.  Turns out I paid my store’s electric bill twice and did not pay my house bill so even though I said “but I have a confirmation number,” electric company still left me in the dark with a water mess under my fridge, sigh.  I was sad and stressed, pero ya paso.

That also meant no Laredo International Sister Cities Festival on Friday for me.  I keep watching all the photos of the Sister Cities’ event on Facebook and I so want to be there so if not Friday, not Saturday, I still have hope for Sunday – the last day these vendors from Laredo’s sister cities (majority being from the interior of Mexico) from 10am to 5pm.

My Saturday morning started early by catching the Laredo Farmers Market at Jarvis Plaza.  I got a chance to see part of the cooking demonstration put on by Caffe Dolce and chit chatted with loads of people before heading out to… you guessed it… go to work for a few hours.  My break is short as I write this because I am preparing for another Laredo event – the OIL Muzik Festival in downtown Laredo by the beautiful Center for the Arts.  The description and line-up goes something like this:

1st Annual Oil Muzik Festival! Express yourself July 21st, 2012 in Downtown Laredo. The streets of downtown will close to bring you the best in Hip-Hop, Rock, Trance, Electro, Dub-Step…. Get ready to PARTY! 


Line Up:
Kirko Bangz
Play n Skillz
Booth Pimps (8 Djs)
Chingo Bling
Automatic Weekend
Randy Tate
Pretty Visitors
and much more…

Don’t ask what a viejita like me is doing there.  All I can tell you is that I do like Somewhere in Between but have no clue who the other performers are.  

ImageNormally, I would have been ringside at the Laredo Wrestling Alliance event but… duty calls for the OIL Muzik Festival.  But if you are up for some slamming professional wrestling, check out LWA at the American Legion at 6:30pm.  Tickets are only $5 and you get a chance to see the incomparable legend Luke of The Bushwhackers.  I’ll be meeting up with him at a later time for a Q&A – woot woot!

This writing a blog post on my phone is – excuse the ancient expression – is for the birds.  I will add links or photos later since I cannot do it cleanly from my phone and… I’m running late for my volunteer duties!

Laredo is safe… from reality

Laredo is safe. Laredo is safe. Laredo is safe.

So… are you believing it yet?

Now if I were to say: I am not a serial killer. I am not a serial killer. I am not a serial killer. At some point, aren’t you going to wonder, “Is she is serial killer?”

Serial killing might not be my thing but if you say it to people you don’t know, they are going to wonder why you are saying it. ¿Que no? It isn’t much of a stretch for those in cities North of Laredo who are exposed to the ridiculous Laredoissafe billboard campaign to ignore the “myths and facts” and just wonder why Laredo is so adamant about being perceived as “safe”?

Today, I saw one of these billboards as I drove back from the Valley. Yes, one of the scary yellow and black Laredoissafe.com billboards glared at us as we drove through Zapata, Texas. Did no one at any point consider the color choice?? Did no one consider how this particular message of alarm kinda, somewhat, maybe erases the positive promotion of Laredo that ALREADY EXISTS?? I just don’t understand why the Mayor’s Office would purposely interfere with the messages that are put out by other city offices promoting what few attractions are actually in Laredo. Then there is the website, built on free WordPress theme (eso dejaselo a blogueros) with stats after stats. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good information but the delivery is way way off… ¡Nos debe dar vergüenza!

So… Laredo is safe? Safe from what? Definitely not safe from unprofessional, condescending PIOs who hail consumerism as a mark of success in a city whose poverty rate and voter involvement is dismal. Ching… other bloggers have already put in their two cents over the recent comments made by a certain someone who is not a blogger favorite. A certain someone who’s been written about before. The responses were on a story about McAllen’s new library and were positive, positive, positive and then… You know we all took screenshots:

Facebook screenshot in response to a story about the new McAllen library

Guess what?? That McAllen Public Library really is AWESOME! I went to McAllen in my “fan” role to watch the Wrestling Revolution host the Laredo Wrestling Alliance. I figured since fans from the Valley come to every LWA show (and stay in Laredo hotels and eat at Laredo restaurants), I may as well return the favor; but, it gave me a chance to check out the library:

First we see some nice landscaping
Then a gorgeous fountain that provides a misting effect if you are close enough
Some eye-popping paintings with a current events subject matter
Something I can relate to! Help for those with mobility problems 🙂
A cool entrance with a help desk… but it does make me hungry
A pretty large children’s section
Fancy signs that change to let us know of different events taking place
The “Hungry Scholar” cafeteria – oh, and there is also a decent-sized bookstore but I forgot to take a picture
Dual-flush toilets!! Woot woot!
Several study rooms where people were actually studying
Meeting rooms to the right and plenty of space
A huge computer lab, other computers to the right
And… the rest of the libary

Because I totally dig the McAllen Public Library does not mean I am downing the Laredo one. Everything new and shiny and with its own tourist map is going to be an attraction. The unique point about this particular library is its following of a trend to convert unused spaces into something completely different – a repurposing. McAllen isn’t the first and it won’t be the last to do it. I recently read a Indiegogo project that was proposing to turn entire blocks in Detroit into Z World Detroit (Zombie Theme Park). Creative but they aren’t doing all that well with fundraising.

I once asked why we couldn’t use the old Riverdrive Mall to host the monthly Farmer’s Market but was told it was private property, they were not sure how the owners would respond. I asked because of the movement to find alternate uses for empty malls across the U.S. Check out this, and this, and this, or this Canadian contest.

Regardless of the different ways to reuse space, why not be happy for other cities and take on their progressive decisions as an opportunity to challenge Laredoans to also improve. It does give me a little twinge of how often I hear people who live here be happy that another chain store or restaurant is opening up – instead of celebrating the independent spirit of local Laredo businesses. Walmart is a dirty word in some places I have lived but here…

Unfortunately, we don’t really see the unique and independent championed or embracing Laredo the way it really is – warts and all. I have always said I feel relatively safe living in Laredo but that does not mean I am immune to crime or am ignoring the increasing militarization of the border (a whole other blog post unto itself). Any person coming to Laredo for the first time will wonder what gives with all the helicopters and the massive amounts of law enforcement that those who live here sometimes take for granted. And if it is one of my out-of-town guests staying at my house – they are probably to hear the gunfire or explosions. That is just life on the border at this moment, punto.

Pero no… que dejar en paz ni que nada, instead, I wake up to an alert of Laredo in the news because the mayor wrote a looooong “commercial” for the Huffington Post about Laredo… ay, ay, ay. Even in McAllen I am not safe!

A Big Ticket Give Away to See LTGI’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella!

Critters And Crayons is giving away 24 tickets to Laredo Theater Guild International’s (LTGI) Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella!

There are 6 weekday shows and each winner will receive 4 tickets!

Drawings for winners are at noon on July 10th and July 14th and you can enter once per day until the drawings!

This show promises to be fantastic!

Head over to her blog to find out how easy it is to enter!

The Critters And Crayons Family Ticket Give Away to LTGI’s Cinderella

Every 6 years: the Mexican Elections

Today is a big day in our sister city and all across Mexico. LaSanbe reminded us that Ley Seca was already in place in preparation for the Mexican elections. The recent violence in Nuevo Laredo is only predicted to get a little worse – taking the territory war amongst cartels aside, the upcoming election signals changes and with any change, the strategy for how to deal with the cartels differs.

Polls will close soon. Although it is easy for us on the US side to not give the elections much importance, border communities are interlaced with the Mexican economy and our future is also being determined by votes. Today we have the return of a special guest blogger, el güerito mas chulo del norte :), El College Buddy who lived in Mexico and keeps up with its shifts and changes.

Photos from Flickr: Jovenes AMLO & World Economic Forum
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador PRD, Josefina Vazquez Mota PAN & Enrique Peña Nieto PRI

Spoiler Alert. This isn’t a Dewey-beat-Truman moment and I don’t have a crystal ball but some things are as predictable as water being wet, this year’s Mexican electoral farce will see the return of the PRI to Los Pinos. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party) ruled Mexico from the time of the 1910 revolution.

In the year 2000, the PRI lost the presidency to the PAN Partido de Accion Nacional (National Action Party.) Many people in Mexico and around the world saw this as a new beginning for Mexico; there were great celebrations and for a while Mexico seemed to be in process of purging its demons. Unfortunately, having a party in power that didn’t rule with an iron fist created an environment that resulted in a game of brinkmanship among various criminal organizations. After 6 years of escalating violence and terror, it seems Mexicans have become nostalgic for the hidden corruption of days past. The current leading PRI contender, Enrique Pena Nieto, has the good looks and charisma of John F. Kennedy, and the ability to say things that make George W. Bush look smart. Mexican comedians everywhere will have six years of prime material.

Although there are two other candidates on the ballot, a majority of Mexicans polled are determined that their next president be someone charismatic, someone well-connected, someone who will eventually deplete the Mexican National Treasury of its funds. Talk to any Mexican national about poverty, politics, or even pollos, and you’ll soon realize that Mexico doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t. This is especially true with politics.

The nationalistic pride of the Mexican people is always underscored with a heavy disdain for its politicians. Self-depreciation is as big a national pastime as soccer, and presidential elections are usually executed (no pun intended) with a national prohibition on alcohol sales. That temporary is somewhat curious as marking an election ballot would be a great sobriety test, the resulting lime shortage and millions of inebriated Mexicanos simultaneously singing “El Rey” as they lament their station in life might be somewhat of a distraction from the seriousness of pretending to elect their next national leader.

Reading Mexico’s news papers, watching interviews on Mexican TV and radio, Mexicanos admit, some with proud defiance and others sheepish chagrin, that the PAN doesn’t really know how to rule Mexico, while the PRI is an expert at ruling Mexicans. Under the PRI the only threat of serious violence on the ranchos were occasional Indian uprisings and teacher strikes. Cartels and other organized criminal elements existed in the shadows, away from the masses. Whatever the real relationship was with the government was, one thing is certain, the cartels of the north didn’t dare provoke their benefactors in Los Pinos and as long as the cartels remained in the shadows, leadership in Los Pinos returned the favor. Afterall, as PRI power-broker Carlos Hank González famously said, “Un político pobre es un pobre político” (A politician who is poor, is a poor politician.) The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But anonymous college buddy friend, if the tween one-hit wonder Rebecca Black supports Peña Nieto who doesn’t even know the minimum wage, why shouldn’t we?? I kid. Let’s hope for the best, the results should be in today since everyone is supposed to be stone-cold sober:

Roswell, New Mexico here we go!

I’m including myself in spirit on the trip the Laredo Paranormal Research Society is taking on as I write. I had signed up to go but… I decided to be an entrepreneur and now I have to live with the ball and chain. Darn it!

The LPRS mobile is almost packed and ready to go to Roswell without me 🙁

The LPRS team is heading off to Roswell for the annual UFO Conference. Why? Because they are gaining and gaining in positive exposure for their long and I mean VERY long hours of work. Their reputation as a serious group with powerful equipment is spreading along with the fact that is is an almost 100% Latino researchers. So much so that in the future, the hope is to possibly put together their own gathering of like-minded researchers in Laredo.

My role with LPRS is administrative, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hoping to sneak on board and skip town! ¡Yo quiero ir!

Since I can’t go, I went to see them off instead. This is a snippet of what Rick, Joe and Christy had to say:

As we were standing by the 15 passenger van, a light was spotted in the rural sky. It wasn’t a plane and it was pretty steady but then suddenly faded. The investigators were not ready with equipment but they excitedly talked about the possibilities if they had all their equipment out and what it could have been.

I did hint to them that investigating the night skies will change in a couple weeks – they had already heard the rumors. We will just wait for the official notice if one does come. For now, it is presenting on what is actually captured on video through telescopes and equipment using infrared lighting and other specialty tools.

Good luck to the Laredo Paranormal team at this weekend’s conference where they will represent Laredo in more ways than presenting. They promised loads of pictures so this won’t be the last we hear of their trip.

To try or not to try…

Burger King on I-35 made me smile with their new menu item:

Oh really, BK? I’ll take a tall, dark and handsome one. Just not the King, please!

Their newest special was a big temptation but… I already wake up with the King… er… with El Partner :).

And talking about photos… I forgot to let you know that local art teacher, Erika Ordoñez, was selected on the Cesar Millan Cesar’s Way Bring-your-dog-to-work photo contest. Way to go, Erika!

Make sure you read her comments on the link above. This was her beautiful winning entry – I love it!

My Laredo Likes

With all the loads of cool things going on, I figured I would sacrifice a little sleep to tell you the things that piqued my interest:

Big ups to the Laredo Borderslammers!! This intrepid group traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, paying their own way to represent Laredo in the Southwest Shootout Regional Poetry Slam. And guess what? I know you are going to guess. If you have been to one of the border slam slams, I know you know what I am going to write…

The team that went to Tulsa, OK to compete – Crystal Ortiz, Julia Orduña, Beatriz Ceja and Armando X. Lopez. (not pictured, M. Robert “Chibbi” Orduña)

For their first time out, they got 3rd Place!!! YAY! The above photos was taken the day before they left as they prepared to have a poetry slam at Gallery 201 in downtown Laredo. This weekend really pushed Laredo Border Slam into a new category. I love when people follow their passion and explore their talents.

Of course, at the same time, the PORTICO Street Festival was going on. Despite being on the organizing side and being in the heat, I had a BLAST! Again we have another instance where people (in this case, neighbors) do something because they WANT to, not because it is their job, not because they will get paid, not because of ulterior motive other than to celebrate creativity and that which we already have and love.

In the ring with LWA and the leaders of St. Peter’s Historic Neighborhood Association

I only had the chance to snap a photo of the Laredo Wrestling Alliance (who also follow their wrestling passion, not because they have to or are making big bucks but because they want to!) while Cindy Liendo Espinoza and Jaime Canales were being recognized for having smoothed some of the wheels to help this group of neighbors put on a festival. Judge H. Liendo also assisted by providing the portable toilets, the Webb County Sheriff’s Reserve who were so helpful in providing security, Laredo Crime Stoppers who provided printing and chairs, Laredo Main Street who let us borrow their tables and chairs, Olivia Cotton who lent us her tremendous art talent, Cory la Payasita who let us borrow her Duck Train, Dr. Ike’s provided a great banner, not to mention all the other folks who displayed their talents in arts and crafts.

The big highlights were the volunteers with the professional wrestlers of the Laredo Wrestling Alliance, the Laredo Paranormal Research Society, the Ramos Family, Jesus Najar’s wildly popular architectural tours, the great singers organized by SIFE, Buitron Academy‘s Capoeira and Kenpo demonstration and Victor Mendoza who had everything go wrong with his screen-printing demonstration so he decided to sing instead!

A promising surprise is that the clean-out of the Beckelhymer Home has begun… or at least Parks & Leisure dedicated an initial first hour to it:

Beckelhymer Home on Chihuahua as the clean-up begins and the city takes responsibility for its repair.

We’ll be watching the progress from a distance. Of course, we will be watching a different kind of progress from further up close as PBS (KLRN in this area) hones in on South Texas culture with the documentary about to premiere, Mariachi High. Way to go Zapata, Texas!! The PBS website give this snippet:

MARIACHI HIGH documents a year in the life of “Mariachi Halcon,” a top-ranked competitive high-school mariachi band in the rural ranching town of Zapata, Texas. The program premieres June 29, 2012, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) as part of the PBS ARTS SUMMER FESTIVAL, a seven-part event anchored by films that highlight art, artists and performances from around the world.

I’ll be watching! I am excited to see so many pursue their hobbies with passion. Let’s see what other Laredoans have in store.

For you “lunch eating” watchers

I don’t keep tally of what city has this or doesn’t have that but when Armani Exchange opened up at Mall del Norte this morning, something curious was observed.

It’s the store furthest South in Texas. Not bad, not bad for those keeping lunch eating tallies. Of course… I might not ever set foot there because I am not quite in their desired demographic. As most other stores in Laredo, they won’t need me to quickly become one of the A|X high sellers. Many retail stores in Laredo hold on to top seller status year after year.

screenshot of the A|X website

Nothing like a street festival to lift my spirits

Weren’t you getting tired of hearing the candidates and about them and their every move? I know it is not over over for some but, hijole, so glad the major hump is over.

Some of you may have heard the story about the bride whose reception was supposedly ruined by a candidate – sorry, but the blame was going to the wrong person. I could go on about an email I got about this incident but I won’t. Even the opponent’s camp (because I did talk to them to see if it was a cheap attempt to discredit her) said they had nothing to do with it. So the moral of the story is that you make yourself look bad when you try to make others look bad especially when it is an emotional, non-logical personal story.

Then there were the sites like Not Galo 2012. Meh. I read it, though. The Laredo Lizard was by far the most entertaining and with more effort and not focused on only one race. Again, I read them but… who I vote for is my business. Negative campaigning, I order you to BE GONE! (my magic :P)

I’ve really gotten off track. I didn’t even share how frustrating it was to actually vote! I almost walked away without voting. Mixing technology with non-technologically inclined volunteers – not good. Let me end this here and tell you about a pretty neat street festival being planned this Summer.

The vecinos of St. Peter’s along with TAMIU’s SIFE organization are planning a street festival in the downtown residential area. It’s focused on arts & crafts. It’s in June but they are looking for area exhibitors, specifically arts and crafts. Because it is about what people can make on their own, they have scheduled a few demonstrations and activities like historic walking tours by Laredo Main Street, thermal photography by the Laredo Paranormal Research Society, a pre-show by the Laredo Wrestling Alliance, a highlight of antique cars by the Outsiders Car Club, a screen-printing demonstration by Victor Mendoza, and so on. The vecinos will be blocking off three blocks of their residential neighborhood for you to share the spaces they live in and love.

So if you have a specific talent that you want to share or are crafty and have pieces to show and/or sell, check out their request for exhibitors:

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