A Crack in the Clouds

Sunday.  I remember Sunday.  Warmish. No rain.  Sunlight.  Clear blue skies.  Beautiful!  An island of respite, which the cold, clammy winter repealed as the work week began anew.  And now that I think about it, I really wish I had a job, no matter how numbing and mundane, because I would at least have a warm  haven to spend some of my hours.  And I sure as hell ain't doing anything with the freedom my unemployment provides, as the interior of my head remains as grey and dreary as the weather.  However, Sunday was a rejuvenation.  I had planned on heading over to the Jump-Start Theater for the Methane Sisters' show.  I had received an email from the girls suggesting that if I whispered the code word “booty” at the ticket booth, I would gain admittance for only 6 bucks.

That afternoon I got a call from Russ.  Was I free to meet him at Tito's Tacos at 6:30?  The Jump Start show was at eight.  Plenty of time.  He was meeting a dancer / choreographer who wanted help putting together a dance film project.

Tito's was closed.  Me and Russ milled about at the bus stop and this lovely young woman walked up.  It was Christy Walsh, our 6:30.

We crossed the street to Madhatters Tea House and Cafe.

Christy pitched the project.  Me and Russ tossed out some ideas, not because her plan needed augmentation, but, I think, we were just refreshed to hear about a film project where the narrative element would be told through physical motion and abstract concepts.  You know, art.

Christy's not been in San Antonio all that long.  But as I fished around to see what art groups she had been affiliated with, I realized I had seen one of her performances.  It was back in 2005.  I was at the Radius art space with my friend Deborah.  Bill Colangelo and a musician from China were providing improvisational music as three women entertained us with modern dance. It was a small, intimate space.  A beautiful evening.  My thoughts that night are still quite clear.  San Antonio needs much more of this.

As we were placing our orders, Russ received some sort of ominous phone call, the details of which he has yet to share with me.  He did his best to keep smilingly on topic.  But I knew something was gnawing at him.  He said it wasn't important, and that he didn't need to rush off.  So I tried to move the conversation towards the nuts and bolts of the project — set-building, camera movements, lighting, et al.  Russ is a problem solver at heart, and I thought this would take his mind off … whatever.  I'm afraid, however, I kept drifting onto side topics.  Christy is that creature so rare to find in this city.  A polymath intellectual.  She'd obviously immersed herself deep in the liberal arts and emerged with her sense of playfulness fully intact.  She referenced, in the same sentence as I recall, Noh theater and the Cremaster cycle without an ounce of pretentiousness.  You gotta dig someone who choreographs a waltz to the music of Tom Waits.

The weird thing is that even though I'm involved in the “arts” (in the looser translation of the word), I find myself so rarely involved in conversation about art.

It might be simple enough to split the film / video world between Art and Media.  But the problem is that there is so much over-lap between the two designations.  I know that the films of Guy Maddin and Matthew Barney are art.  These are movies we usually see in museums.  Movies which often get funding through arts organization.  But for many folks who want to make movies, when you mention artistic filmmakers, they tend to think of Tarantino and Fincher.

But time passed, and after a few polite pokes in the ribs, I realized Russ needed to head out to his next stop of the night.  I looked at my cell phone (the 21st century pocket watch) and realized I'd missed the Methane Sisters.  But I got to meet a wonderful woman who I hope to work with in the future.  And René Guerrero, owner of Madhatters, came up to say hi.  He's looking fit and happy.  Truly the sweetest man to have instigated a draconian rule in his establishment.  No one can use a cell phone on the premises — for talking on, that is (my whole pocket watch thing was okay, I think).  Not that I have anything against a cell phone-free zone.  But you'd expect someone who posts such warning signs on his restaurant doors and windows to be a hard-ass.  Quite the opposite.  I can only assume he's a very complicated man.  What do I know about his motivations?  Perhaps a cell phone killed his grandmother.  I'm not here to judge.  Well, actually I am here to judge.  Hell, I do it all the time.  But selectively.  So, don't cross me!

And for those interested, I'll be heading over to the Jump-Start with a friend this Friday.  8pm.  Come on out.  The Methane Sisters (Monessa Esquivel and Annele Spector) appear in the incendiary weltuntergang of pathos and ecstasy entitled “As Filthy as it Gets.”  Leave your Handy Wipes at home, and come on down to Jump-Start! 


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