It's Hard To Fuck Up a Flan

Dar and Pete lined up a birthday lunch for me Friday.

I had not heard of this tradition.  My first exposure was to Andy's birthday lunch last year at Casbeers for excellent old style Tex-Mex cheese enchiladas that took me straight back to Roscoe White's Corral in Dallas — where my father would take the family to dine at his favorite dive.

For my birthday lunch, I was treated to Jacala, the first restaurant Pete and Lisa took me to when I visited San Antonio four years or more ago.  They do make a damn fine puffy taco.

Other than Pete, and Dar, Andy showed up.  He was wrapping up his first week on the new job.  After at least a year of freelancing, he looked a bit shell-shocked to have found himself no longer able to schedule his own hours.  Alston was there.  Carlos showed up late, toting in Rockie, who was dead asleep, tuckered out from what sounded like an intense night of cartoon viewing.  She perked up after awhile.

Dar gave me, as a little gift, a journal.  And as I was digging on it (wooden squares are sewn on the front cover), I noticed Alston whispering something to Pete.  She was pointing to the back of the menu.

I was expecting the worst.  You know, a crusty sheet cake kept in the meat-locker for just such events, and trotted out with an assault of Mariachis striking it up with patronizing smirks.

I did get a waiter, who obligingly sang “happy birthday” along with the rest of the table.  But the charming part was the single serving of flan, with a little candle stuck in the middle.

As I was finishing off my desert, Alston leaned over.  “How's the flan?”  I looked up.  “It's good.  Flan's always good.”  I dragged a finger across the plate through the puddle of caramelized syrup, and brought it to my tongue.  “It's hard to fuck up a flan.”

Pete glanced over.  “That's going to be the title of Erik's next blog.”

I realized he was right.  Unless I forgot.  So, I opened Dar's journal, and wrote, on its virgin pages: “It's hard to fuck up a flan.”

Dar and Andy had to return to their jobs.  Pete had to go pick up “the boy.”

Me, Alston, Carlos, and Rockie, went to check out the newest show at the McNay Art Museum.  I'd skimmed a couple newspaper pieces about Factory Work: Warhol, Wyeth, Basquiat.  I admit I had little interest in the show.  Warhol has always struck me as a vapid huckster, who just happened to have found himself periodically surrounded by people who intrigue me.  As a cultural catalyst, I admire him; however, as an artist, I have no interest in his work. Basquiat I rather like.  Playful and innocent.  But lacking in depth.  As for Wyeth, I guess I thought they meant Andrew Wyeth.  Don't care for his stuff.  Soulless.  His dad, N. C. Wyeth, I find much more rewarding.  But I keep forgetting about Andrew's son, Jamie.  I've never seen much or his work before.  Mostly, his farm animal paintings.  Like his father, his work is technically flawless, but I find some of the outre subject matter more engaging in the son's work.  You know, pop icons preening, guys with hard-ons, and stuff like that.

So even though I have only meager interest in each of the artists, the context that pulls all together is pretty fascinating.  As a whole, it's a great show.

But more rewarding, at least to me, was another, smaller show, in a room off to the side.  Jacob Lawrence and the Migration Series.  The entire series apparently appeared in Fortune Magazine in 1941.  It's some powerful work, spare, and poignant.  He was just a kid of 24 when he finished these off.

I first became of Jacob Lawrence fairly recently.  It couldn't have been more than five years ago when me and my sister were pricing some art books that came into the family bookstore.  She was very impressed by a Jacob Lawrence art book which was signed by the man.  When I confessed I had no idea who he was, she was surprised.  Like most people, I am constantly discovering holes in my cultural literacy.  But now, not only do I know who one of the most important 20th century African American artists is, I have also allowed myself to be introduced to some amazing art work.

Speaking of art, I went with Alston for coffee following the McNay.  We went to the Starbucks in her neighborhood.  She had promised my a birthday coffee, but I also wanted to see the paintings she had hanging on the walls there.  She's been doing some really exciting stuff recently, exploring space and perspective.  Her studies on buildings and architectural forms are my favorites.  She makes me think of Giorgio de Chirico and Philip Guston, two of my favorite painters.

Chadd and Nikki dropped by Starbucks to hand off some video work to me.  When I mentioned that Alston had painted the work on the walls, Nikki immediately said that a mutual friend, Hector (an actor / architect) would probably like her work.  I'd thought the same thing.  Probably because I know Hector is a de Chirico fan.

But I had to end my meandering day, hanging out with friends.  I had to be up north for my night job with the Company.  I was afraid I was running late, but highway 281 was smooth sailing.  I got to me desk with maybe two minutes to spare.

“Didn't someone call you?” my supervisor asked.

“Call me?”

“The day shift weren't able to scan in enough tests for the night crew to score.”

“You're kidding?  I just pissed away four dollars of gas for nothing?”

“Well, almost everyone has left.  If you want to score until you run out, we can pay you for that time.”

So score I did.  I probably should have taken my time, but I can only work at whatever speed gives me a comfortable rhythm.  Otherwise the job becomes an ordeal.  And I happen to score really fast.  So, an hour later, and it was all done.  I headed home.

Not much money, but the short shift allowed me to get more sleep.  I had to wake up the next morning damn early to make the 6:30am call time in Seguin for what was being promised to be an 18 hour shoot.

And you can't get more foolish up than that.

Unless you're doing it for no money.  Yeah, that's worse.

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