In the late 1970s, nationally renowned magazine writer Aaron Latham was captivated by a young Texan who mounted a mechanical bull in the Pasadena honky-tonk Gilley's. A few years later, Hollywood transformed Latham's report into the iconic Urban Cowboy, a film tribute to the culture of the "hard hat days and honky-tonk nights" of that era.
When I was at Rice in 1979-1980, I went to Gilley's when it was America's biggest nightclub. It was owned by country singer Mickey Gilley, who was a first cousin of 50s rocker Jerry Lee Lewis and TV preacher Jimmy Swaggart. My main memory is playing pool on the edge of the dance floor. I somehow managed to knock the cueball clear off the table. It started rolling across the world's largest dancefloor, with maybe five hundred couples on it. I scurried for maybe 50 yards after the rolling cueball trying to pick it up before some dancer fell down on it, as it accidentally got kicked around like the Indiana Jones's vial of antidote in the opening nightclub scene of Temple of Doom. I almost got punched by a few oilfield roughnecks for running into their girlfriends during my chase, and I can't say I blame them.
After that, I wasn't in the mood to ride the mechanical bull.
If Latham returned today, however, he'd have to adopt a Latin soundtrack, swap "vaquero" for "cowboy" in the movie's title and maybe even sub Antonio Banderas for John Travolta.
Funny how, after all these years, the reporter can't think of a Mexican-American movie star. (Banderas is a Spaniard.)
According to a San Antonio judicial panel - not to mention demographic studies - the Texas town that once embodied all things redneck is overwhelmingly Hispanic, a fact that no longer can be ignored in voting districts.
Last week, two judges, with a third dissenting, adopted a voting district map that divides the city of Pasadena among several Texas House districts, all now represented by Anglo Republicans. But one district, represented by Republican Ken Legler, lost most of its Republican voters and now will be dominated by Hispanic neighborhoods.
By all analyses, the new House District 144 now can easily be taken by a Democrat, especially if that candidate has a Spanish surname. According to political consultant Robert Jara, the new district backed former Houston Mayor Bill White over Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 gubernatorial election by a margin of 57 percent.
Students in the Pasadena Independent School District, he noted, are more than 80 percent Hispanic.
... "No force in the world is going to stop Houston, Texas, from becoming majority Latino," Klineberg noted. In the Houston area, over 70 percent of Anglos are over age 65 [huh?], while 75 percent of non-Anglos are under age 30. Those numbers, Klineberg says, speak to the "absolute inevitability of this transformation."