There’s another controversy on the border and it has nothing to do with immigration, cartels, or national politics. For 39 years, BorderFest—the huge, annual community gathering with food, live music, arts and crafts, carnival rides, and a little lucha libre—has taken place in Hidalgo, a roughly 10,000-person town that swells to somewhere around 80,000 during the event. This year, preceding the fortieth celebration of the fest, there has been a movement to relocate the event to McAllen. A lot of people are ticked off about this, as multiple Rio Grande Valley news sources have reported. Some in Hidalgo have accused McAllen of trying to usurp BorderFest, partially pointing the finger at Joe Vera, the former Hidalgo city manager who is now McAllen’s assistant city manager. At the same time, McAllen contends that the BorderFest Association, the non-profit that manages BorderFest and that Vera was head of when he made his transition, approached McAllen about moving the festival there—or, more specifically, giving McAllen the rights to the trademarked BorderFest name. Hidalgo wasn’t going to let someone take its hard-earned brand so it took legal action and on February 4 State District Judge Aida Salinas Flores issued a temporary injunction, ruling that BorderFest belonged would stay in Hidalgo.
So for those who are confused—as of this week, people were posting questions to the BorderFest Facebook page about the status of this year’s event—the deal is simple. The new McAllen event will not happen this year and BorderFest in Hidalgo will resume as planned. But after the festivities, discussion about relocation will likely resume. That means this could be the last BorderFest in Hidalgo—the end an era.
Until then, there will be camaraderie between two other border towns: As a kickoff to BorderFest, on March 3 Martin Cepeda, mayor of Hidalgo, and José Elías Leal, mayor of Reynosa, Mexico, will meet on the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge at 9:45 a.m. for an abrazo, or embrace, followed immediately by the signing of a formal agreement to become sister cities.
State Farm Arena, March 3-6, hidalgoborderfest.com
Happy Badu to You
The Dallas hip-hop singer Erykah Badu has a backing band called the Cannabinoids, a clear reference to Tetrahydrocannabinol ,or THC, the stuff in marijuana that gets you high. The comedian Dave Chappelle catapulted his film career with Half Baked, the cult classic where weed is as central a character as Chappelle himself. So when Badu and Chappelle come together this Friday for “Still Booming,” Badu’s forty-fifth birthday bash, it’s safe to say it’ll be smoking. (The gig is officially sold out but there are tickets available on Craigslist.) Chappelle will emcee the musical set headlined by Badu, an unpredictable, empowered musician who is well suited for the stage, where her improvisation and dance skills can shine.
She will no doubt be eager to sing her new songs for the hometown crowd. At the end of last year, Badu released her first album in five years, But You Caint Use My Phone, a well-received mixtape of other people’s songs, all centered around that precious device humans can’t stop staring at and tapping. Zach Witness, fellow alum of Badu’s alma mater Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, produced the album with Badu, in Dallas, over a two-week span. Inspiration for the album came from the rapper Drake’s song “Hotline Bling.” Badu tweaked the hit and titled hers “Cel U Lar Device.” Other phone songs on the album include the opening track “Caint Use My Phone (Suite),” a riff on her classic song “Tyrone”; “Medley: What’s Yo Phone Number / Telephone,” the latter cut a tribute to the deceased rapper J Dilla, and “Hello,” a cover of the Isley Brothers’ version of Todd Rundgren’s song “Hello It’s Me,” which Badu sings with Andre 3000, the actor and Outkast rapper, who is father to her eldest son. Good thing cell phones are encouraged because at this show there will be reason to text updates to friends who couldn’t get in.
Bomb Factory, February 26, 8 p.m., thebombfactory.com
With more and more East and West Coast transplants moving to Austin, there’s been an increased demand for oysters, whether on the half-shell, grilled, or roasted. (We hear you Houston and Gulf Coasters—you’ve got your time-honored scene, but in Austin, oysters are a relatively new thing.) In recent years new oyster bars have cropped up in the city, including Clark’s, Perla’s, and Monger’s. Other new places, like Foreign & Domestic, Hillside Farmacy, and even Lucy’s Fried Chicken, are also now making oysters a staple menu item.
For the uninitiated, the first oyster is usually the toughest to go down. A good place to slurp yours is at the Austin Oyster Festival, the fourth iteration of this annual event. There will be East Coast and, yes, Gulf Coast offerings, selected by Chris Bauer, executive chef of Eddie V’s, the dean of Austin oyster happy hours. A raw bar, grill bar, and fry bar will each serve four to five types of oysters, plus other oyster-centric dishes, like fried oyster po’ boys and oyster gumbo. Wash it all down with a bloody Mary while you sway to the live bluegrass and Cajun music.
French Legation Museum, February 27, 12 p.m., austinoysterfestival
El Paso isn’t far from White Sands, New Mexico, an area seeing a resurgence as a testing stage for space ventures. The exhibit “Territory of the Imagination,” on view through Saturday at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Rubin Center, plays off that with four far out displays that examine the great beyond in novel ways. In Imaginario Inverso, by the Mexico City artist collective Astrovandalistsas, venture into a cave bearing messages transmitted by lasers. In Matters of Gravity, experience weightlessness as interpreted by nine artists and one scientist who experienced the real thing at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia. In Arte en Órbita, watch films created by seven artist groups from Africa and Central and South America, in which new, postcolonial space programs are conceived. And in Becoming Aerosolar, the Argentinean artist Tomás Saraceno makes the case for giant balloons over rockets as a way to enter space without burning hydrocarbons and in turn accelerating climate change.
Rubin Center, February 26-27, rubin.utep.edu
The Sound of a String Snapping
It sounds like the set-up for a joke—what do you get when you pair Beethoven and Quasimodo for a talk about music?—but for the Chicago playwright Mickle Maher it’s actually the premise for a critique on collaboration and creative differences, as can be seen in the final two shows of “The Hunchback Variations” at the University of Houston, wherein these strange bedfellows explore the meaning of the mysterious sound cue mentioned at the end of Anton Chekhov’s classic play The Cherry Orchard: “the sound of a string snapping, slowly and sadly dying away.”
University of Houston Engineering Lecture Hall, February 26 & 27, 8 p.m., catastrophictheatre.com
There are only two more days of the nine-day CineFestival, considered the longest-running Latino film festival in the U.S., but in that limited span one can see a lot of variety, from Cantinflas, a Spanish-language biopic on the legendary comedic actor from Mexico, to Los Punks: We Are All We Have, a documentary on the Latino punk scene in Los Angeles, to episodes of Bordertown, the new Fox animated series satirizing Mexican culture.
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, February 26-27, 2016cine.guadalupeculturalarts.org