Monday, September 27, 2010

Jose Canseco playing for the Laredo Broncos

What an insane life this guy has had. He has gone from one of the most famous world class athletes in the world to becoming an incredibly controversial figure due to performance enhancing drugs to him getting destroyed by a giant in the middle of Japan in the Mixed Martial Arts company DREAM...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cumbia del Zoologico - Moreno's Feed & Pet Store (Pharr, TX)

When I was a young lad, I loved visiting Moreno's Feed & Pet Store in Pharr, TX. I was filled with so much joy when I looked over the ducks and all the various animals there. But the back of the store, that was a different albeit more Fellini-esque story. To enter the back area you had to pay an admission fee, as it was a genuine state of the art "freak zoo". This sideshow was heaven if you wanted to see gigantic snakes, 3 or 4 legged chickens, weird memorabilia, cows with two heads, and tiny adult animals. You have no idea how much I loved these incredibly bizzare and unusual animals when I was a kid. Seriously, as a Pharr kid, I would have done anything to be able to own one of these awesome animals as a pet. Lately, I've started thinking of this forgotten place, and I was wondering if I could find any information about this wonderful sideshow attraction. So when I found out some informartion, I was surprised that the information I found was on corridos and accordion icon Ramon Ayala's wikipedia:
In 1990, Ramon Ayala wrote and recorded "Cumbia del Zoologico" (15 Cumbias Legendarias Album), a song about Danny Moreno's mini zoo and museum in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, which sold over 1 million copies. "Doctor" Danny (his show name) exhibited over 75 freak-mutant animals including "two pigs with human-like heads," hundreds of hard-hitting collectibles and memorabilia including: two Elvis Presley jackets, Mother Teresa hair locks, and meteorites from the moon. Autographs include: Pope Paul II, M. L. King Jr., etc., all with certificates of authenticity. On major TV shows, Danny wrestled seven giant snakes exhibited in the mini zoo. (his "Cage of Death" dare devil stunt act). Ayala mentored Danny for years about promotion, networking and show business. The young student and apprentice "Doctor," Danny and Ayala were featured on Good Morning America, Ripley's "Believe It Or Not," Ocurio Asi, Hola America, tabloids, La Alarma, in over 300 newspapers, radio shows, etc. Ayala had the vision to promote the museum to international status which turned into a total "media frenzy" and "media circus" that converted the museum into the most jaw-dropping "phenomena" and "legend" to ever hit the Valley. "Doctor" Danny operated a five-star feed and pet store next to the museum, and was the original "exotic animal health care consultant" for Ayala's private famous ranch, "Rinconcito En El Cielo." Tejano Superstar Selena initially consulted Danny with fashion ideas for his "freaked out" wardrobe. Over 550,000 visitors toured the museum in the nine years it was open, Due To Ayala's Cumbia About The Museum.
Now I'm flabbergasted, how could no one have told me that Ramon Ayala had created a song about Pharr's Moreno's Feed & Pet Store?!?!? Also, yes, this song is fantastic! Ramon Ayala captures the true essence of what it was like to be at the sideshow freak zoo inside Moreno's Feed & Pet Store. Ayala does have some really over the top exaggerations, but he could pull it off because he's the grand Rey del Acordeon. Also, I never knew Danny Moreno wrestled the gigantic snake, that must have been so epic. Here's the amusing song for all of you to enjoy:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Freddy Fender on The Johnny Canales Show

Pretty cool Fender performance on The Johnny Canales Show. Johnny's so smooth and comfortable on the microphone when interviewing Freddy Fender.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Werner Herzog in McAllen and Reynosa

I'm a sucker for Werner Herzog stories, and I thought I would share one of his silly stories from Herzog on Herzog that involves his time in McAllen, Reynosa, and Mexico:

Interviewer - And that's where you learned Spanish?

Werner Herzog - And where I also developed this real fascination and love I have for Latin America. Of course, while I was there I had to make a living and discovered that there was a weak spot on the border between the twin cities of Reynosa in Mexico and McAllen in Texas. There was a lot of daily commuting between these towns, Mexicans working in McAllen during the day and returning at night. Tens of thousands each morning who all had special stickers on their windshields that would allow them to pass virtually free through the border. I stole one of those stickers and bought some television sets for people who wanted them down in Mexico where they were very expensive. One time a rich ranchero asked me to buy him a silver colt pistol which he was not able to find in Mexico, so I bought one and took it down there for him. I made fairly good money on all these things. From this came the legend that I was a gun runner.

Then I spent a couple of weekends as a rodeo rider in charreiadas. The way it worked was that they would have three cowboys or charros in the ring who would catch the bulls, usually very fast animals. They would use lassos to bring the bull to the ground and then tie a rope around its chest. You have to squat on the animal and grab the rope while he is on the ground. They release him and immediately he explodes in rage. I have seen bulls jumping clear over a six-foot wall. Every single week I was injured and one time had to fix up my bad ankle one time with two rulers I got from some school kids. I could not even ride a horse, something that soon became patently clear to the spectators, so I appeared under the name El Alamein, which after Stalingrad was the biggest defeat of the German forces in the Second World War. They all just loved to cheer the idiot on!

One time I was in the ring with a bull who got on his feet and just stood there staring at me. I scream, 'Burro! You donkey!' I can still hear the cheers of the young women in the crowd. Of course, it was pretty angry at me and tried to pin me to the stone wall. I caught my leg between the animal and the wall, and sustained an injury that was so bad I quit the job there and then. Today it all sounds quite funny and I do see it with a certain humour, but my time down there was quite banal and partially miserable too. It was 'pura vida' as the Mexicans say, 'pure life'. But I thank God on my knees that after America I did not go straight back to Germany.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Freddy Fender and Valerio Longoria on The Johnny Canales Show.

A gentleman with the username videostejano uploaded some really wonderful videos on his YouTube account. These videos have such a unique place in South Texas history, he's doing a great service to us all by providing these videos of major acts on the classic Johnny Canales show. I've only watched a few videos so far, but I've looked over his uploads library, and I'm so excited to go over each one. I found his account by stumbling upon this video of San Benito's own Freddy Fender and the legendary Valerio Longoria.

Valerio Longoria is an incredibly influential musician, he first picked up the accordion at the age of 7 years old here in the Rio Grande Valley. Valerio often gets credited for being the first musician that combined lyrics to Conjunto and accordion music. When he was a teenager, Longoria was known for playing his unique sound at weddings in the Valley, specifically in Harlingen, TX. Little Joe Hernandez remarked in the great documentary "Songs of the Homeland" (which airs on PBS every once in a while) how one of the noteworthy things Valerio did was to incorporate a drum set into Conjunto music in late 1940s. So enjoy seeing a couple of South Texas legends on The Johnny Canales Show.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MMA in McAllen

Way before we had South Texas Fighting Championship putting on very entertaining Mixed Martial Arts events, the Valley was host to a couple of shows put on by ES - Extreme Shootout. The shows had a few names that would be familiar to longtime fans like Shannon Ritch and Aaron Riley, but I thought I should bring attention to the most accomplished fighter that fought for this promotion here in the Valley. Yves Edwards was at one point a world class fighter, who is revered for unleashing some of the most spectacular KO's in both the UFC and EliteXC. Also, unique circumstances led Edwards to being hailed as the uncrowned UFC world lightweight champion.

At UFC 41 (2/28/03), we had BJ Penn vs Caol Uno in the finals to a lightweight tournament that was set to crown the new UFC lightweight champion. But since the fight was ruled a draw, the title continued to be vacant and the idea of crowning a champion was scrapped for a few years. During this title-less time period, Penn moved up to welterweight, and after winning the title there in a shocking upset over Hughes, he left the promotion for K-1. Uno, after getting KO'd by Hermes Franca at UFC 44, left the promotion to compete in Shooto and K-1. So when all this was going on, Yves Edwards bounced back from his first two UFC loses (Serra and Uno), and started building an impressive string of victories in the octagon. Yves scored strong wins over Nick Agallar, Hermes Franca (who was fresh off knocking out Uno), and Josh Thomson. At the end of 2004, Edwards' was the #1 lightweight in the UFC and the uncrowned UFC lightweight champion.

But this was years before he could claim to be the top lightweight in the top mixed martial arts organization in the world. This is at the Villareal Convention Center in McAllen, TX, and he's fighting Anthony Holiday, a fighter whose only two professional fights took place in McAllen. It's not much of a fight, it's Yves Edwards displaying his beautifully violent knees from the clinch and destroying Holiday in bloody fashion. This is also interesting to see just to witness how much MMA has grown from what it was in the 1990s to now. These two guys were fighting with no gloves on AND after the fight, the ring announcer is asking if there is a medic in the house to take care of some of the injuries the fighters had sustained. Also, keep a sharp look out to see who happens to be the referee for this fight. Here's a clue, he's a Hall of Fame-level fighter that ruled the light-heavyweight division from 2000-2003...

Yves Edwards vs Anthony Holiday (ES - 6/25/99)

This guys whole YouTube account is worth checking out, but I'm still puzzled as to how this France native got a hold of McAllen MMA? Also it's worth noting that tomorrow night in Austin, TX, Yves Edwards is finally making his return back to the UFC after a lengthy four year absence.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's out of this world!!!

It must have been a really, really, really slow news day. No offense to whoever wrote the narration, but it's so corny it seems like it's coming out of a Christopher Guest parody. "To many, it may sound like a scene from a movie, but to Gonzales, it's a reality! And something that can land Weslaco on the map." Well, let's say for hypothetical purposes, that UFO's exist. Why would they want to come to Weslaco of all places? Man, people from outside Earth would probably be more fascinated by Alamo's Pulga or by Las Milpas than Weslaco. Oh wait, I forgot...

Con Mi Gente - PSJA Memorial (Pharr)

On Rick Diaz's Con Mi Gente segment this week, he did a nice little report on the PSJA Memorial School that is located here in Pharr. In a previous entry, I uploaded a pic of the historical marker that is on this school. I grew up a few blocks away from this school so it's great to see some old photographs of it from back in the day.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Over at The Monitor, they have a nice article on the co-writer of Machete, Alvaro Rodriguez. Talks about his relationship with his cousin Robert, about the film Escape From New York, the previous work the two have done together, and the Rio Grande Valley. Also, Alvaro puts over Los Comales in Edinburg as his favorite place to eat in the Valley (I'm a guy that really loves restaurant recommendations). Good article, and congrats to Alvaro Rodriguez on the success of this film!

Edinburg native co-wrote new film 'Machete' with cousin Robert Rodriguez.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Vintage TV Footage - Entry # 2 : Valley worried that Ted Nugent concert might get out of control!

This video makes me want to ask a lot of questions. What exactly were the major problems that happened in previous concerts? Did the people of the Valley have a terrible reputation in regards to how they acted during concerts? What were the massive arrests from years past? Probably drug related. I do love how the radio show host Denny Christensen has to beg the audience to behave responsibly so that we could be trusted to have more concerts in the Valley. Apparently, some undercover cops were there to check for minors using drugs, but it's a shame Will Ripley wasn't around back then. He surely would have caught them all in charismatic and dramatic fashion, and I would have been so pumped up.

Also, a little side note, that reporter Peter Torgerson ended up winning a $37 million Texas Lottery jackpot! Since he bought that ticket with a friend, he ended up splitting it and keeping a healthy sum of $19.4 million. Obviously, he retired soon after hitting the jackpot but I wonder what he's been up to.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vintage TV Footage - Entry # 1 : Big Toad

I love everything about this. Even the reporters name, Darrell Davis, sounds like the name of a man you would instantly trust. He's got this great voice, a casual sounding respectable voice that dryly informs us about a toad that's 14 inches long and about how the toad would scare lovely ladies in their gardens. Also, that toad is ridiculously huge! Seriously, I got so much enjoyment out of this video.

I want to know more about this Golden Jersey creamery, it seems like it would be tasty!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Freddy Fender Water Tower Dedication

Awww Freddy Fender, San Benito's favorite son. When no one is around, I sing along to "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and "Before the Next Teardrop Falls". This reminds me, Mission needs a Tom Landry water tower asap!

A Couple of Pharr Historical Markers

I just thought I would share these two photographs of two historical plaques that deal with Pharr school history.

Frank B. Alexander crashes a plane into the Church of the Shrine of the Virgin of San Juan (10-24-70)

At GenDisasters, they posted an original newspaper article of the famous plane crash in San Juan. I remember hearing about this famous story as a kid from my mom, who remembers the day and has talked about the sight of the flames emanating from San Juan. This is a story I've been curious about for ages now, so thanks to GenDisasters for posting this information online and making this famous Valley story available to the masses.



San Juan (AP) -- A former schoolteacher crashed a small plane into a Roman Catholic church Friday, destroying it and an adjoining cafeteria. Acquaintances said the pilot deliberately smashed into the structure after issuing a strange radio warning.
About 30 priests at Mass in the church and 200 schoolchildren at their noon lunch fled safely from the Church of the Shrine of the Virgin of San Juan and the cafeteria.
Officers identified the pilot as FRANK B. ALEXANDER, about 50, considered an authority in teaching migrant children. He resigned his school job with the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school system last spring. ALEXANDER also was a flying instructor.
ALEXANDER'S body was recovered from the destroyed structures. It still was strapped in the pilot's seat when found.
Charles Wardroup in the control tower at Miller International Airport at nearby McAllen said an all-point radio call was received from a pilot identified later as ALEXANDER. The call was on an emergency frequency.
The flier ordered fire departments to evacuate all Methodist and Roman Catholic Churches between Hidalgo and Edinburg and Weslaco and McAllen, all in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Asked the reason for his strange order, the pilot replied: "because of a serious plot."
Moments later the four-place plane smashed into the church and fell at the point where the cafeteria and church proper joined, setting both afire.
The church and the cafeteria were destroyed by the fire, with only steel beams remaining.
The Rev. E. A. Ballard, chancellor of the Bownsville diocese of which the church complex is a part, estimated the loss at $1.5 million. He said the church and cafeteria destruction was total.
The church is part of a complex which also contains St. John's Catholic School and a retreat house.
The school is across a street at the rear of the church but the children eat in the cafeteria which forms a wing of the church. The retreat house is also across a street and a parking lot.
The Shrine of the Virgin of San Juan is famous to Roman Catholics in Northern Mexico and in Texas. The Virgin of San Juan is venerated in a centuries-old Mexican belief.
The white church, of stone and brick, was about the height of a two-story building. The steeple towered four or five stories high. It could contain about 800 worshippers.
"We first heard an explosion and we all rushed out," said Rev. Ronald Anderson, vice chancellor of the diocese.
A spokesman for the Upper Valley Aviation Co. in McAllen said Alexander rented the Piper Cherokee 180, a single-engine, four-place plane.
The aviation firm's spokesman said ALEXANDER, about 50, was well known to employes of the company. He was an instructor-pilot and often rented the company's planes.
The spokesman for the aviation company said the crash was no accident -- that it definitely was a deliberate crash. The spokesman said he also heard the radio orders from ALEXANDER.
On the strength of the mysterious radio evacuation directive, orders went out to clear all churches of persons in them, said Capt. Joe Garza of the McAllen Fire Department.
A spokesman for the McAllen police department said, however, there was no time to evacuate anyone. "As we were picking up the phones and dialing the plane crashed," said spokesman, "so the evacuation was not ordered in McAllen."
The aviation company said ALEXANDER rented theplane about 11 a.m. and said he planned to fly in the local area.
Employes of the airplane firm said they noticed nothing unusual about ALEXANDER'S manner.
Sister Margaret, principal of St. Johns' Catholic School, 50 yards from the church, said she saw the plane strike the church.
"I saw the plane coming," Sister Margaret said.
"It was making all sorts of noise and shaking ...
Suddenly it curned and hit the top of the church. I saw the fire burst out and I thought, 'Oh, the children.' I ran to the cafeteria to get them out." Mrs. Romelia de la Rosa, a teacher's aide who was in the cafeteria with about 200 children, said:
"We only heard a noise. A father came in and said the church was on fire and we got the children out of there."
The children left their lunch half-finished. Classes were immediately dismissed for the day and they were sent home.
Mario Reyna, 11, a sixth grader who was in school cafeteria, said:
"We heard the plane, then the explosion. I looked over to the church and saw a lot of smoke."
A huge crowd and traffic jammed the area as fireman from several Valley towns fought the blaze unsuccessfully.
One wing and part of the fuselage lodged between the church itself and the cafeteria.
Sheriff Claudio Castaneda said Department of Public Safety officers searched the still burning wreckage of the plane but did not locate the pilot at once.
Supt. Dean Skiles of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo schools said ALEXANDER, a resident of San Juan, resigned as a teacher April 28 effective at the end of the last school year.
Justice of the Peace Dario Garcia of McAllen said an autopsy had been requested by the Federal Aviation Agency.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times Texas 1970-10-24