Grassroots Rios Online Radio to promote El Paso music talent

EL PASO — Beer bottles clink in the hands of burly men as ACDC pounds on the speakers. Under the sound of televisions playing football games, a faint chatter can be heard on the second floor of the Pershing Inn bar—“Welcome to Rios Online Radio…”
Since January 2013, Joseph Brooks and Gabriel Acuña, producers for Rios Online Radio, have met every Sunday at the Pershing Inn, 2909 Pershing Dr., to host a podcast aimed at promoting El Paso, its residents and the local music scene. Rios has produced about 40 shows in two seasons, under Chuco Talks, Rio Sports, and Rio Pod Co. “I used to do podcasts with my friends a couple years ago in my garage, using a cell phone in a can hanging in the middle of the room. We just shared it among friends,” Brooks said.

Food truck park growing clientele in Downtown El Paso but still facing challenges

EL PASO — Until recently, Lydia Palacios could not remember the last time she had been downtown. A lifelong El Paso resident, Palacios said downtown was more a childhood memory than a current event. “My father would take us on the bus downtown and take us to Kress to eat lunch,” said Palacios referring to S.H. Kress & Co., the five-and-dime with a lunch counter on the northwest corner of North Oregon Street and Mills Avenue. On her way to a doctor’s appointment on a recent Monday in June, Palacios said she and her husband, Sergio, were doing something they had not done in many years – lunching together downtown. The two sat at an umbrella-covered table waiting for the fish tacos they had ordered from The Reef Mobile Kitchen, a food truck on Mills Street that serves seafood Mexican fare.

Rebeca Moreno’s art expresses the duality of womanhood in a sexist society

EL PASO — The Rubin Center serves as a laboratory for emerging artists and innovative practitioners, providing access for an audience of various diverse communities. The opening of the 2014 Annual Juried UTEP Student Art Exhibition showcased works of art and design created by undergraduate students. An opening reception was held April 10th as a part of the UTEP Centennial Celebration Open Campus Event. Over 300 entries were entered into the contest with only 98 making it for final review by guest judges CC Bursell and Tanya Abril Castro. Artwork in the museum was unique and gratifying to see.

Underground comedy on the border has its own jalapeño flavor

EL PASO – Everyone always enjoys a good laugh and at Coconuts Bar and Grill the staff invites amateur comedians to gather around every Tuesday to perform in the Underground Comedy Show. Comedians from El Paso differ from comics in other places, because the culture here nourishes a different type of humor, merging American and Mexican culture into an authentic border type of humor. Jerry Karnes who is known by his stand up name “El Malkreado” founded the show in April 2005 after a road trip to Austin where he visited a bar on 6th street called the Velveeta room. A comedy show was going on and the comedians were so bad, he said, that he started making fun of them. One of them told Karnes to do a better job if he could.

Independent Burger: young and hip

EL PASO — Wearing blue jeans, a thick black apron and a white t-shirt labeled “Be Independent” on the back, a young man opens the door to greet guests and help them with the menu. From their hip and modern styling on the inside, to their lavish patio featuring an outdoor ping pong table, Independent Burger is original from head to toe. Octavio Gomez, is a co-owner of Independent Burger, along with many other local businesses such as Crave, The Mix, 1914 and The Garden. With a strong head on his shoulders and great ideas for El Paso’s growth, Gomez is planning on opening three new businesses inside an apartment complex called the Venue at Montecillo on June 2. The West side businesses will include a fine dining steakhouse named Stonewood, a beer and coffee shop called Hillside and a cantina taqueria named Malolam, which will have a more relaxed, party scene.

‘Frida Kahlo’ celebrated Mother’s Day at Café Mayapan

EL PASO— With thick, painted-on eyebrows, ribbons entangled in braided hair with brightly colored roses at the crown of their heads, the women came dressed in their best Frida Kahlo outfits to make a strong statement about powerful Mexican women on Mother’s Day. An “Evening of Frida Kahlo” took place Friday May 9th at Café Mayapán located at 2000 Texas Avenue, with games, raffles, a film, food, and fun. The group hosting the event was La Mujer Obrera, a local group of women factory workers that was formed in 1981 by displaced garment workers. “We wanted something to celebrate women, something to celebrate mothers,” said Cemelli De Aztlán, one of the evening’s hosts. Frida Kahlo de Rivera was born July 6, 1907 in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City.

A petition for Justin Bieber’s deportation is ignored by the White House

El PASO — After three months and 273,968 signatures supporting a petition to deport Canadian pop musician, Justin Bieber, the official White House government website called “We the People” has ruled on the matter — Bieber will not be deported. Petitioners had argued that they were being wrongly represented in the world of popular culture by Bieber and would like to see the “dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug-abusing” singer deported and his green card revoked. The petitioners also said that Bieber is not only threatening the safety of our people but “he is also a terrible influence on our nation’s youth.” That’s why “they the people” would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society, the petition says. The White House didn’t make any specific comment about Bieber legal troubles, declaring: “Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t be commenting on this one.”The White House statement continues: “The We the People website terms of participation state that, ‘to avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition.’ So we’ll leave it to others to comment on Mr. Bieber’s case, but we’re glad you care about immigration issues.”
The controversial Bieber, 20, was arrested in earlier this year after he was caught drag racing by police in Miami with his father Jeremy Bieber and friends.

Capoeira displays its Brazilian and African martial arts roots in dance and music

EL PASO — In the Capoeira Quinto Sol studio in Central El Paso, dozens of people recently practiced gingas, aús, and escorpião kicks to the beat of an exotic wooden bow-shaped instrument called berimbaus and a drum called atabaque. The dancers were preparing for the worldwide Brazilian batizado celebration. Capoeira is a type of martial art with roots in Brazil and Africa and was developed by the African slaves that were brought to Brazil in the 16th century to work the sugarcane plantations by the Portuguese. Because Capoeira uses elements of dancing in its execution, the African slaves used the ruse of dance to avoid being punished by their Portuguese masters for practicing self-defense methods. Although Capoeira was, at first, developed for self-defense, it can also be practiced for many different reasons.

UTEP prepares to host Baja Buggy Race

EL PASO — Wearing tight-fitting safety glasses, two engineering students concentrate on turning pieces of metal on a lathe hoping to create the perfect component for an impressive Baja Buggy that they hope will catch the attention of recruiters. The students at work in an engineering workshop on the University of Texas at El Paso campus belong to Mad Pete’s Motorsports, a team of mechanical engineers who are part of the national Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE). Their goal is to construct buggies — modified off-road motor vehicles — to compete in the Big Baja Society of Automotive Engineering event that takes outside the UTEP Student Recreation Center from April 24 – 27. Although UTEP has participated in the Baja Buggy Race for over three decades, it has been 16 years since the school hosted the annual SAE event on campus. This time over 100 teams from around the world will compete here to see which ones have the best engineering skills to build efficient, safe, responsive buggies.

Poet Leslie Ullman to share her Progress on the Subject of Immensity in UTEP reading

EL PASO — In a casita lined with windows looking out over the high desert landscape of Taos, New Mexico, eyes filled with space and light, poet Leslie Ullman’s mind cleared. “I found myself sketching out poems that questioned the sovereignty of the mind, sometimes making fun of it, sometimes sympathizing with its limitations and treadmill existence, and often turning it into a character.”

These verses of clarity found themselves collected in Ullman’s latest book, Progress on the Subject of Immensity, probing inner and outer spaces, questioning conventional notions of “knowledge.”

Ullman is scheduled to read from her new book at UTEP’s Rubin Center Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m.  She is professor emerita of creative writing at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) and currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Ullman says that content with not finding answers, the poems instead linger, with calm alertness, in the realm of speculation. “This spirit of inquiry nudged subsequent poems into larger questions—an exploration of spaces inside us as well as outside us: the rhythms of seasons, the earth suspended in its matrix of space, the life of the body, the limitations of conventional Western religion, the nature of desire, and the pleasures—often the sensuous pleasures—of inquiry itself.”

As she wrote, she considered how “…in our youth we are naturally inclined to drive forward with all the powers of mind and body that we can muster—something that we continue to do as we build lives, families, and careers.” But she recognized that at some point, ambition—that willed effort—ceases to work. Ullman is the author of three poetry collections and her poems, reviews and craft essays have been published in a number of magazines and literary journals.

Die-hard Breaking Bad fans can still relive the drama in person on the BaD Tour

Almost seven months have passed and many are still mourning the loss of their favorite anti-hero, Breaking Bad’s Walter White. Sometimes re-watching episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix doesn’t help fans get the “fix” they need. Luckily, for El Pasoans, 268 miles away in Albuquerque, fans can join the one and only BaD Tour.  

Breaking Bad, the Emmy award-winning television show that follows a high-school chemistry teacher through his double-life as a meth cook and dealer, is now on wheels in the Land of Enchantment.  


Albuquerque locals and co-owners of ABQ Trolley Co., entrepreneurs Jesse Herron, 32, and Mike Silva, 45, began their tours in 2009 when they created the city’s first trolley tour to give guests a taste of Albuquerque and how much there is to do there.

Los documentales aumentan en el 30.° Festival de Cine Latino de Chicago

CHICAGO — Animación, comedia, documental y drama son sólo algunas de las categorías que se presentarán en la 30.ª edición del Festival de Cine Latino de Chicago (CLFF, por sus siglas en inglés). Alejandro Riera, Director de Relaciones con los Medios de Comunicación del festival, nos dejó saber que este año habrá 78 películas; 31 son de nuevos directores. Habrá también 14 documentales. “Comparado con festivales pasados, hay más documentales este año”, explicó Riera. Riera no puede decir si el público prefiera el género documental sobre los otros géneros.

El bar más antiguo de Ciudad Juárez inventó la margarita y la sigue sirviendo

CD. JUAREZ — En el puente Paso del Norte, cruce internacional entre El Paso y Ciudad Juárez, una marea de personas, vendedores ambulantes y autos se alinean para cruzar al país vecino, mientras los famosos lavadores de carros que no dejan ni un carro limpio siguen frenéticos en su tarea. En el centro de la ciudad queda poco de lo que fue una maravillosa vida nocturna en Ciudad Juárez. Ahora algunos edificios en ruinas son recuerdos de lo que antes eran bares transitados. “La Juárez,” calle conocida por muchos por su gran vida nocturna, ya sea por ir por una copa o una prostituta, esta reviviendo.

Los roles de Muñoz, de directora a prostituta

CHICAGO — El reto de personificar diferentes roles en el teatro ha sido una constante en la vida de Marcela Muñoz. Ella es directora ejecutiva y co-directora artística de Aguijón Theater. Esta temporada protagoniza a Lizzie McKay en la obra “La Fulana Respetuosa”, a estrenarse el 14 de marzo. Al ponerse el sombrero de co-directora artística de Aguijón, discute las piezas que se montarán durante la temporada, dirige montajes, planifica con anticipación las obras y conciertos que van a producir, las clases que van a dictar, asiste a reuniones y trabaja en propuestas para recaudar fondos para estos proyectos. “Como en todos los teatros pequeños, nos toca a todos hacer de todo.

A committee of UTEP faculty and students and the Future Leaders in Public Relations organization produced La Estrella Film Festival. (April Lopez/

La Estrella Film Festival promotes borderland student films

EL PASO – Aspiring filmmakers from across the border region participated in December in the inaugural launch of La Estrella Film Festival, an event created to celebrate and showcase local student talent. “It’s great because maybe as students we just don’t feel we’re prepared to compete in a larger market,” said Arturo Rubio, who won first place in the commercial category. “So this being right at our back door, it gives more motivation to put yourself out there in the future.”

A committee of faculty and students and the Future Leaders in Public Relations organization produced the event, held December 7 at the University of Texas at El Paso Union Cinema. The festival received over 100 film submissions and 22 were screened. Bobby Gutierrez, senior lecturer in the UTEP Department of Communication, conceived the idea for the student film festival and aimed to create a larger platform for local filmmakers to show off their talent.

¡Nos vamos al Mundial!… Casi.

EL PASO – Nunca he sido muy fanático del fútbol (soccer) y, por lo tanto, no veo mucho fútbol, salvo partidos ‘importantes y relevantes’ para la selección mexicana, como podría ser un partido definitivo en algún campeonato, un partido en el mundial o algún partido de clasificación al mundial, como el que se llevó a cabo ayer (13 de noviembre de 2013). Por primera vez en trece años, o bien tras cuatro mundiales, México estuvo a punto de no clasificar. La última vez de tal ‘vergüenza nacional’ fue en 1990, cuando, según se cuenta, la selección no llegó al mundial de Italia por culpa de los “cachirules”, aunque al respecto mi curiosidad no es tanta para animarme a indagar lo que verdaderamente sucedió. Lo que sí me causa mucha curiosidad es lo que pasa ahora. El partido que jugó El Tri fue contra la selección de Nueva Zelanda, que generalmente ha sido desestimada como una selección de nivel amateur, conformada por ciudadanos que no son precisamente, ni de lejos, futbolistas profesionales.

Rudy Camacho demonstrating how to use Grindr, a dating app for homosexual men. (Cristina Quinones/

Mobile dating works for landing significant others or just fun fishing, but caveats abound

EL PASO – Everything that was creepy and horrific about online dating is now implanted into your phone, where you can get updates on people possibly stalking you based on your location. For some, that may still be the case, yet, with phone dating apps becoming more popular, especially within the university setting, mobile dating is slowly becoming a “normal” tool for casual dates and even for finding someone to marry. “I actually met my fiancé on OKCupid, although that’s really embarrassing, so I tell people he rescued me from a bear in the woods,” said Rebecca Gomez, a student at El Paso Community College. OKcupid has over 4 million users in the U.S. alone, and utilizes personality tests, personal preferences, sexual orientation, and location to create “matches.” Users can also select what they are expecting to find/like – “find someone to marry, nothing serious, someone to date, or just hook-up.”

A veg-out sandwich from Einstein Brothers. (Velia Quiroz/

If I wouldn’t eat my Schnauzer, why would I eat meat? Trials of a borderland vegetarian

EL PASO – Five years ago I decided to add one more attribute to my repertoire – vegetarian. I decided to make the change and see if I could stick with it, and I haven’t looked back. I gave up red meat and fish first and then, about two years ago, I was able to eliminate chicken too. I began researching vegetarianism after I read a quote somewhere that said something like, “if you wouldn’t eat your dog, why eat a pig?”

I thought about it and researched a little more, considering that I have a Schnauzer named Paris who I wouldn’t eat. I found out that pigs are smarter than dogs and even three-year-old toddlers.

Thalia, a powerful and intimidating (?) Chihuahua. (Jose Luis Hernandez/

The El Paso Chihuahuas – The image of powerful, intimidating winners… really?

EL PASO – It’s been two weeks since I was sitting down at home and watching the live-stream of the announcement of El Paso’s new Triple A Baseball team name at the Plaza Theatre, and I still can’t believe what I heard and saw. After all the suspense and speculation, I let out a loud and horrified “no!” as I saw the name “Chihuahuas” being unveiled. When friends texted me saying how mortifying and ridiculous the name was, I realized I wasn’t the only one who was horrified and embarrassed. How this name was chosen over more intimidating names like Sun Dogs, Desert Gators, or Buckaroos is beyond my comprehension.

Terr'l Mark. (Courtesy of UTEP Athletics)

Overcoming self-doubt and perfecting my skills led me to play college football

EL PASO – At 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing in at 125 pounds the main obstacle to fulfilling my dream of playing football was my own fear that I was just too small, but with the encouragement from family and coaches I focused on technical skills and I made varsity in my senior year in high school. Born in the small town of Lufkin, TX as a young boy one of three kids, I dreamed of playing football as every other child did and I started early. My mom who worked in a hospital and my father, who works as a truck driver, gave me the opportunity to play football at the age of 7. Not knowing what to expect come from this sport. I was pretty excited to go up against kids who had been in this game far longer than I had.

Artist Diego Garcia works on a “Día de los Muertos” mask for an upcoming gallery opening.(Valeria Hernandez/

Mural painter finds an educational mission in graffiti

EL PASO – As Diego Garcia, driven by inspiration and the waves crashing on the shore, was on the very last stroke of his painting on the seawall at Venice Beach, next to mural-master Sano’s famous masterpiece, the beach patrol arrived and ordered him to stop painting and leave. “I found a wall and I started to paint. I took one section that was all messed up,” says Garcia, 21, recalling one of his most memorable pieces from two summers ago when he visited Venice Beach, California. “I remembered Sano’s piece from a movie I had seen on Netflix filmed in 1992. I thought it was insane that I could be painting next to his piece.”

From drawing Ninja Turtles and Dragonball Z characters when he was a first grader to working on his art education at The University of Texas at El Paso, Garcia’s talent shines.

Ramon Hamilton, director of Smuggled, answers questions about the production of his movie. (Natassia Bonyanpour/

‘Smuggled’ – film depicts the torture and terror suffered by immigrants crossing illegally into the U.S.

EL PASO – With a rosary dangling from her wrist and bible in hand, a mother and her 10-year-old son sit in a concealed compartment under a bus making its route from Mexico to the United States in hopes of being reunited with the child’s father. For days, they endure the strain of possibly being discovered, and the physiological stress of a lack of hygienic, food ration troubles, and the mother’s critical diabetic condition. This is the premise for the film, Smuggled, screened at University of Texas at El Paso by the Social Justice Initiative. The plot gives insight into the dangerous journey that many immigrants undergo despite fatal or legal risks. Director of The Social Justice Initiative, Arvind Singhal, said he brought the film to the campus because of its relevance to the border city.

El Paso Zoo curator Rick LoBello’s mission is to share his love for animals with students

EL PASO – As a child growing up in the northeast part of the country, Rick Louis LoBello fell in love with wild animals when mountain gorillas jumped out at him from the pages of National Geographic. Today as the El Paso Zoo’s education curator, he shares that childhood fascination with new generations. LoBello, 60, grew up two miles from Lake Erie. As a child he spent his days bird watching, searching for salamanders along the creek and reading about nature in Angola, New York. “I could get on my bicycle, go down to the creek and study the animals,” he fondly reminisces his childhood years.

Track athlete Tako-Khady Niare. (Michael P. Reese, courtesy of UTEP Athletics)

UTEP track star leaped the high bar of language and culture to succeed in America

EL PASO – As a track athlete since age 11, Tako-Khady Niare has participated in highly competitive high-jump competitions around the United States and in her native France. But when she moved to El Paso in January 2010 when she was 22 years old to join the UTEP track team she said she confronted one of the biggest obstacles of her life. “The process to be ‘accepted’ was one of the hardest things,” said Niare who spoke little English when she applied for her international student visa to study in the U.S. “I had to fill out lots of papers and pass two tests,” she remembers. She said that a friend connected her to recruiters at UTEP because for the longest time she had wanted to find a good university and an especially good coach in the United States. The UTEP track team needed a high jumper and Niare jumped at the opportunity.

Defensive end #18, James Davidson, in his fifth year with the UTEP Miners. (Germad Reed/

A college football player ponders his options after graduation

EL PASO – James Davidson started playing football and Tae Kwon Do when he was eight years old but his parents always told him that school was more important than anything else. Entering his senior year with a major in criminal justice at the University of Texas at El Paso, Davidson, 23, has an important decision ahead of him – what to do after he walks across the graduation stage. Davidson who is 6’3 and 235 pounds plays defensive end for the UTEP  Miners and is a three-time champ in Tae Kwon Do. He has played every position on defense, starting at safety, linebacker, to defensive end and he even played on special teams returning some kicks and punts. He was regarded as one of the top 20 defensive backs in high school in Huntsville, Texas, and according to Scout, a sports ranking website, he was the No.128 high school safety in the nation. He was also an honorable mention selection on defense in the 2008 Associated Press 4A All-State team.

Danny Avila during his set at SCMF in Ascarate Park during Labor Day weekend. (Valeria Hernández/

Electronic music brings me happiness, but it also has a dark side

EL PASO ­– The beat was big and loud, echoing in my chest, and the flashing lights were like an array of Technicolor feeding the crowd’s hungry eyes. I looked around and I could almost see the pure joy exuding from everyone’s faces. Their ear-to-ear smiles said it all. In that huge sea of people dancing to Tiesto’s “Adagio for Strings,” under the Sun City’s starry sky, I was one with the crowd and it was perfect. Electronic dance music has been around since the mid-1990’s, roughly, but it has been growing in popularity and is perhaps at its peak right now.