Laredo Little Theatre, Chairs and Flamenco

11902444_1114850768545071_4654123207355029908_n(NOTE: Crossposting will occur with until site is fully transitioned.  Thank you for your patience.)

Saturday, August 22nd was a night of passion and tradition at the Laredo Little Theatre.  Illeana Gomez, a native Laredoan, was featured in an annual Flamenco show held at the Laredo Little Theatre.  I was curious when my friend invited me go because I was unfamiliar with the tremendous talent.  I had heard the name as part of a small group of recognized Flamenco dancers originating from our border community.  The opening piece, though, was a treat by local lovers of Flamenco – the Altagracia Azios Garcia Castanet Ensemble, composed of local women who play them for the love of musical art that castanets produce.

All I can say is that it was an extraordinary show – every step was punctuated by another “Bravo!”  Dance is not my forte but this show was awesome! A big congratulations to the talented Kayla Lyall, Manuel Gutierrez, Alejandro Pais Iriart, Carlos Menchaca, Jose Cortes and Laredo’s own Illeana Gomez.

That awesomeness was marred only by one little annoyance: the squeaky seats.

The Laredo Little Theater literally is a small-sized theater so no seat is a bad seat to watch whatever magic may be on stage.  Personally, I found the seats comfortable and the squeakiness was not too distracting but as part of the renovation, new seats will be installed.  What our eyes usually miss, though, is the wear and tear of the years of service the seats have provided.  The fun surprise were the gobs of gum accumulated under seats, on the carpet and even walls after seeing decades of theatre goers – gross but a fact of public seating.  The interior renovations will be a welcomed brightening to one of the few non-profits bringing quality plays and performances to Laredo audiences.  Sponsors ($250 Seat Patron) are still being sought for the new seats and an explanation of what will happen to the ones removed follow in the video:

Or you can connect with the Laredo Little Theater at, 956-723-1342,, or

RioFest on Saturday

Saturday is going to be a busy day for Rio Grande/Bravo events. I put the schedule below from what I could make out on the facebook page and the flyers of the various events of the day. It will be family fun for most of the day on the riverbanks – I’ll see you there!

7:15am – gathering for kayak race at Colombia Bridge

8:00am – start of kayak race at Colombia Bridge

8:30am – Rio Grande Mountain Bike Class by Ciclomania at los dos Laredos Park

9:00am – Kids Fun Run by RunStrong Laredo at Los Dos Laredos Park

11:00am – start of community races at Fr McNaboe Park

2:00pm – Bubble Rally on the River at Los Dos Laredos Park

10am-4pm – Family Outdoor Adventures events at Los Dos Laredos Park

5pm – Rhythms of the Rio at El Portal (live music begins at 7pm)

Portugal meets the USA

Alyssa and the Portugal GSE Team members at the Falcon Lake House. They really dug our welcome poster!
Aside from the codeine treated bronchitis I am trying to kick, I also got a much better treat – to meet the team from the Rotary Group Study Exchange from Portugal! Poor team had a hard time with Customs when getting into the US and they missed their connecting flight so they were a day late into Laredo.

They got their first taste of Laredo personalities at a mixer at the Falcon Lake House (Thank you, Falcon Bank!!). One of the team members will be staying at my home and will have to put up with my middle of the night coughing fits. On Thursday, my club will take them on a kayaking trip down to Rio Grande and hope they see the gorgeous side of Laredo’s nature. Thanks Big River Outfitters for cooperating with us!

Team members took turns signing the poster for Alyssa, the wannabe world traveler 🙂
About Group Study Exchange, aka GSE… long ago, I was just like these guys coming in from Portugal. I actually answered an ad in the Laredo Morning Times about a cultural exchange to another country (didn’t even say what country) for professionals under 40 who were willing to represent South Texas. For some reason or other, I was chosen. I went along with other team members from Victoria, McAllen & Edinburgh. It was a tiring month but I learned so much and stayed with different Rotary families for 3-4 days at a time. The condition for applying was to NOT be a Rotarian – fit me to a “t” because I wasn’t a Rotarian, I was able to take a month off work and I enjoy the road less traveled.

That is exactly what this team will be doing. Their very first stop was Laredo but they will move from city to city and be hosted by Rotarians along the way. At each place, they will do a few presentations about what is life like in Portugal and will be talking to people in their profession.

It’s a simple concept that encourages international understanding and links people together. Maybe next year one of you readers might take a chance and APPLY to be a team member – it takes work and it is definitely not for “beach tourist” personalities but it is worth it for those who enjoy learning.

Too sick to blog except for this one thing…

Portuguese Anthem

I’ll will soon be able to tell you all about the Group Study Exchange Team coming from Portugal!

A team of 5 people from Portugal will be staying in Laredo this week. Why? To share with as many people as they can, talking about life in Portugal. Pretty soon, Laredo will be able to send its team of 5 to Portugal and they will let folks out there know what life is like in South Texas. Pretty neat, huh?

Even neater is that one of the young men will be staying in my humble home. Unfortunately, he probably won’t be able to sleep with all my coughing and whining about my throat. How do I say “sorry” in Portuguese??

WBCA the non-MLK holiday

Check out the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) gathering in Laredo:

It only took one person (Dan Monahan) to want to do it and others followed. Not bad, not bad. Same goes for WBCA, it only took a few to get it going and… well… MLK stood for social equity, WBCA stands for… uh, other things.

Some think Laredo is immune to injustice. However, others know that many Laredoans of years past have experienced discrimination based on race, class, and other reasons.

I was reminded of the local large organizations and how they have evolved and continue to evolve year after year. Many started by exercising discriminatory membership practices. For example, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) started with an assimilation focus, Rotary did not allow women as members, etc. As you know, the Laredo community is kicking off another WBCA season (in Laredo, it IS a season) – starting today with the Commander’s Reception at the LEA spotlighting the month-and-a-half long series of events, celebration and activities.

Many have written about the unique Washington’s Birthday Celebration, particularly how unusual it is for Laredo, a South Texas border town that was once the capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande, to be “party central” for Washington. I’ve read a few papers that chronicle the history and also review the local history at the time – and explore the “why” this particular holiday was chosen.

For example, check this quote out:

Heavens and earth, what are we coming to? When a darkey is permitted to intimate in a crowd of white men that he is their equal or even the equal of a Chinaman and escape a horsewhipping it is time for the Caucasian race to resign and let the nigger run the country.

Did you think it came from a WBCA program? Nope, it was from the Laredo Times, October 4, 1903. This was the climate of Laredo at the time. It was part of the introduction from an Dr. Elliott Young (at the time an assistant professor at Lewis & Clark College) article titled “Red Men, Princess Pocahontas, and George Washington: Harmonizing Race Relations in Laredo at the Turn of the Century.” In this quote, he discusses the Improved Order of Red Men (IORM) and their sponsorship of the 1898 first WBCA.

The IORM thus attempted to forge Anglo American hegemony in the U.S. West by representing the nation at the same time it enforced class and racial hierarchy by reserving manhood for the white middle- and upper-classes. The same men who led the extermination campaigns against Native Americans dressed up as Natives to justify colonial rule. This process of constructing hegemony was particularly crucial in a region like South Texas, which had not yet been culturally incorporated into the U.S., even though it has been militarily and legally annexed for half a century. According to the Times, Laredo’s Anglo elite initiated the commemoration of Washington’s birthday in an effort to “awaken patriotism on the border and make us realize that we live in the United States.”

Ah yes, I am pretty sure we know we live on the US side by now. Dr. Young’s article was a fascinating read and I am attaching it as a PDF – Elliott Young, WBCA History Article. When Dr. Dion Dennis taught at TAMIU, I also remember having discussions with him about the WBCA and it looks like LaSanbe had written a bit about his equally interesting article some time back.

Or Elaine Peña’s “De-politicizing border space” essay found online at e-misférica. A quote from her (and others’) perspective:

Celebration officials’ choice of George Washington and Pocahontas to epitomize American values and border life is representative of Laredo’s selective disavowal of Mexican culture, which is the dominant component of the city’s historical, cultural, political, and linguistic identity. Theoretically, the festival strengthens bi-national dialogue; it aims to build bridges between Mexican customs and American values. But this communication is limited to a few rituals, most notably the abrazo children ceremony.

Another quoted tidbit: “Further, the celebration impels xenophobic attitudes within the Mexican-American community in Laredo by setting the boundaries of self-identification: I am American, not Mexican.”

The celebration was ingrained into the fabric of the Laredo community long before my arrival. I’m not trying to slam it – just repeating my annual “What the… porque??”

Regardless of its inception, it is permanently etched into the culture and provides economic vitality to the City of Laredo despite the economic downturn. Is that not patriotic? Would good ol’ George Washington approve? Better yet, would those who fight for civil rights like MLK approve?

It doesn’t matter. I can already hear the Banda de Guerra practicing in the evenings in Nuevo Laredo for the big WBCA parade. It is not stopping now.

Even local bloggers and the pigeons flew in to support the MLK rally. See you all at WBCA events!

Getting ready to imbibe

Well, not me personally – I am not much of a drinker – but drinking is exceedingly popular in our fair city, though. Just ask SCAN’s employees.

As we get closer to one of the main stress-inducing holidays (stressful for me since I have to say “thank you but I will be fine relaxing & watching TV” – no Santa visits my house this year.), I keep seeing hangover stuff everywhere! Pos, que fregados piensan?

I went to my local gas station and saw this goofy stuff for sale:

Resurrection, the anti-hangover? Puuuleez, just don't drink like idiots.

Right around the corner on the telephone posts were these curious “all-natural” prevention patches. Uh, does the FDA know anything about this? Anyway, they seemed to have been torn off a couple hours after I took these shots:

A prevention patch? Really?? Uh, I don't care how 'natural' that is, it is not going on my body.

But in case you had other ideas for the stress, if you didn’t go to the Farmers Market this past weekend, you missed a great sale by one of the Rotary Clubs:

I guess a dimebag could be homefarmed. Just kidding Rotarians!! I saw your plant pots, i know what you meant.

It was a joke, Rotarians, don’t beat me up.

Oh, talking about the Farmers Market – these guys didn’t need to have any alcohol in them to create a little scene:

The stand off
The audience settles in and the fighting begins
No, no, hermano. I am the one with the microphone interrupting the carolers, i will fight for us.
It's fine, hermano, we will stop disturbing the peace... for all of 10 minutes before we started to drown out the carolers again!

Maybe they should have tried the patch or the anti-cruda drink?

Google – Laredo is right here, waiting for your ISP services!

In a previous post I mentioned Google’s plan for a faster internet service. It was going to choose a few cities to test it out and, of course, I doubt that our local city or county representatives will take the initiative and nominate this area, I went ahead and did it myself.

Now, I am pretty realistic about how these things work – it is a Google Public Relations push, we have a little to no chance of being chosen, and hundreds or maybe thousands of entries will be submitted. It shouldn’t stop us from submitting anyway, remember what I said about squeaking? To give you a mas-o-menos idea of what i said in the nomination, I copy pasted from the longer paragraphs:

If you are responding on behalf of an organization or community group, please describe it:

I do not speak for any particular organization but I am involved with volunteering at many, including a Rotary Club, the South Texas Food Bank, the Casa de Misericordia Women’s Shelter, the Domestic Violence Coalition, Crimestoppers, Volunteers Serving the Need (Veterans), and Habitat for Humanity of Laredo-Webb. All of these non-profits have a donated or subsidized connection by Time Warner Cable OR are looking for an alternative because the infrastructure does not support a cable connection, only dial-up from SBC. They continue to serve the public but could do a better job with an adequate connection.

Why should Google build a fiber to the home network where you live?

Laredo, Texas has been marginalized in many ways despite its population of 240,000 plus – but this can be a positive for Google. It’s geography allows for an enclosed area to test out new equipment because there are no surrounding suburbs, towns, etc. Because we are a border city with Mexico, it would allow Google to experiment with a bilingual population that is younger than the average and steadily gaining footing in computer usage. Our population has also been growing tremendously and not long ago was the 2nd fastest growing city in the U.S. – what this means for a company like Google is that the infrastructure is still being built, especially in the remaining 9 schools that will be built in response to the growth. Most importantly – Laredo is an economically poor community but rich with talent and curiosity to explore new technology.

Describe the quality of your home Internet service customer support:

A funny coincidence that I write this as I await the Time Warner repair worker for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. The first call was because the pay-per-view was not working, then because of excess static on the cable channels and today because my internet connection keeps stopping and starting. These are only the service problems but when it comes to customer support – that is a sore topic. At every visit, they claim to have been here and that no one answered the door. Today again, I waiting from 8 – noon as scheduled, received a call after noon that I had not been here. I waited outside and even got a light tan from the sun. I can continue with other customer service issues but I had already placed a Better Business Bureau complaint that was never resolved.

Sorry Time Warner but… hijole. Are these the perfect responses? No. Are these the right responses? Who knows. What I do know is that at least one person tried. If you have a chance to and are interested in this project, maybe you can too. Fregada pero con esperanza 🙂