King William Parade!
For those who don't think San Antonio is a beautiful place
Last night was a-buzz with neighbors putting the final touches of banners and streamers and the assorted miscellany about the exterior of their homes for the big Fiesta event — the parade that would go down our street this morning. I could tell some had began celebrating already. Playful banter drifted back and forth across the street. The people on my block all get along well with one another. I was sitting at my desk with the windows open as I answered a couple of emails. And then I noticed that the tone of the voices had changed. I stepped out on the porch to investigate. Phil was out walking his dog. (That poor animal gets dragged out for walkies ten times a day, at least — otherwise, how else will Phil be able to know what's going on in the neighborhood?) He saw me and crossed to my sidewalk.
“Have you heard the latest?” he asked.
I lifted my brows and he filled me in. It seems that the group who runs the parade were changing the route. This year it would begin on our street. In fact, the floats would be staged along our block. That meant that we would just be able to watch the last half of the parade. There were also less groups represented. Only 60 groups were allowed to match this year. Last year it was a little over a hundred. And people could no longer throw things to the crowds — like beads, candy, trinkets, et al. They could hand them out. But no throwing! And the biggest pisser to the folks on the street is that because the floats would be set up as early as 7:30 in the morning, cars wouldn't be allowed down the street. Everyone on my block was prepared for a party. They were consolidating their cars where ever they could so some of their guests could park in their drives.
I called Alston to warn her. She was coming with some friends from out of town. I told her to come really early, or just be prepared to spend some time looking for parking. At that point it was too late for me to call anyone else.
Parade day I got up and sat on my porch drinking coffee and watching to see how things developed.
Lee strolled up. He would be joining Nikki to march with the SATCO (San Antonio Theater Coalition) group. Nikki was running late and I had little hope she would make it through the barricades. But I had forgotten how tenacious and charming she and her family can be. She arrived with her grandmother, her mom, and her stepfather. They sweet-talked their way in.
Alston arrived on foot with her friends. Everyone had those portable folding chairs. Very useful things. Finally Gloria showed up. Her sister and brother-in-law decided not to come. But she had her adorable granddaughter, Bella, in tow. I motioned her into my driveway and pulled out a couple of chairs. Gloria told me all the lies she gave to the various police, constables, and state troopers who were working crowd control. “My mother lives at 716 East Guenther. I live at 716 East Guenther. My nephew lives at 716 East Guenther, and he has my insulin.” Gloria looked over at Bella who was petting a neighbor's dog. She leaned in and whispered to me. “Bella kept asking me why I was lying. I need to sit down and explain it.” I shrugged it off and gave her my take. “It's always okay to lie to a man in a uniform.” Gloria didn't disagree.
Gloria and Bella
My neighbor Cara had made the mistake of allowing the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz float to use her restroom. He periodically brought other Oz characters over to also use the facilities. Maybe Cara didn't see it as a mistake. She's very sociable. In fact, I assume that the Ozians were helping themselves to Cara's cooler of beer and her build-your-own cocktail table.
Bradley and Dian had a huge crowd milling on their front porch. Champaign seemed to be the order of the morning. The same across the street from them at Jerry and Becky's place. Marlys and Michael were working on Bloody Marys. And I was drinking coffee.
One of the groups staged in front of my house was the local Sierra Club. For a description of a run-in I had with one of the paranoid assholes from their group, check my blog for the King William Parade of 2006. I don't recall what the woman looked like who thought I, armed with my video camera last year, was with the FBI. And truly I could care less. But I was intrigued. What would these people be like? They set to decorating two hybrid cars. Very green. Very virtuous. Good for them. And then they began assembling some windmills to represent alternative power. I was a bit bemused that they were spread out all across my front yard without even making eye contact, let alone asking permission. One of them was puffing away on a cigarette. I found this mildly ironic. It's more of a vice than it is air pollution. But later I heard Alston: “No way, dude!” I looked over. She told me that the smoking woman had just tossed her cigarette butt onto my side yard. I took a picture of the Sierra Club litterbug, but it came out kind of blurry. Here's Alston pointing at the butt.
They also helped themselves to my trash barrel without asking. Well, one time, one of their members crossed my yard and put a half empty plastic water bottle in the trash. “Gotta keep the planet clean,” she said with a self-satisfied smile. I was laughing. My recycling bin was two feet away from the trash can.
And when they finally left, there was this decorative decal sitting in my yard. A piece of trash. Sure you could say I'm going overboard. But one of the things I've carried with me all my life from those early years of camping with, yes, the Boy Scouts, is that you police your area, and, if possible, leave it cleaner than when you arrived. I don't camp so much anymore, but I try and do the same when I shoot a film on location. You pack it in, and you pack it out.
I respect the Sierra Club for the work they do and most of the causes they support. (Except the anti-immigrant stance taken by the more reactionary of their members — but that stalled out.) But they are not really activists. The Sierra Club is the environmental group that the pussies and yuppies join to keep from going to hell.
Earth First! they ain't.
The word came down the line that it was ON. The floats with music cranked up their PAs, the folks on horseback nudged their beasts, and the Alamo Badminton Club broke out their shuttlecocks.
Even though we just got half a parade, it was still a blast. I saw Amanda Silva. She was with the SAC (San Antonio College) cheerleading squad. She was super cute in her outfit. She reminded me that she was also with the SAC debating club, in case my estimate of her was flagging. No way! I know Amanda will one day put all us wanna be film folks to shame. And then Dago passed on the San Antonio Underground Film Festival float. Nikki and Lee marched by with SATCO. I also recognized Jonathan from the Woodlawn Theater. Gisha, who teaches film at Say Si, was out with her video camera. A woman who I believe is named Sheila came up to say, Hi. She's read my blog, it seems. She's a photographer and was roaming around with her SLR.
Gloria had promised that she would show up with breakfast tacos. But because she didn't have time to pick any up, she felt honor-bound to treat me to lunch. Bella was getting antsy, maybe even a little bit crabby. We dropped her off at her mom's.
We had a nice lunch at Demo's, a Greek place on N. St. Mary's.
Back home things had quieted down. I was thinking of a nap. And then Carlos called. He was in the neighborhood and wanted to know if he could park in my driveway. “Sure,” I said.
He was driving the Camaro and had his daughter Rockie with him. Rockie was in a sort of white taffeta princess dress. The three of us went to the King William Fair a few blocks away. It was crowded, but not as dense with people as the years in the past. After thirty minutes of aimless wandering, I decided to call up Nikki and see if she was still hanging about.
Rockie. In princess mode.
Chadd answered. “Hey, Erik. We're on Johnston Street.”
“I'm on Johnson Street.”
“We're over by the music stage. Nikki's standing up.”
I thanked him and hung up. No mistaking Nikki.
Nikki, Chadd, Lori, and Lee were waiting for Luis Arizpe to begin his set. Nikki commented that Rockie needed a tiara. Carlos promised to pick one up for her the next time he drove past the Dollar Store.
Luis started up, and Nikki took Rockie over to the stage and danced with her for a couple of songs.
Nikki, Rockie, Carlos.
It was a nice day. Aimless and somewhat strange. Cloudy, mostly, though I have a bit of a sunburn. I didn't have a gordita. Nor did I get a good photo of someone eating a turkey leg. But you can't have everything.
Or can you? Just looking at these lovely lasses melts all my cares away.