I headed over to Urban-15 this morning to meet with George and Cat. They are always in the middle of half a dozen real projects, and the same number of potential schemes. It's breathtaking to watch the dynamic of the two. Very often these products of brain-storming sessions morph into actual events.
While talking, we stapled 60 three-page packets of paperwork for the Josiah Youth Media Festival.
I had a 11:45 appointment with Konise Millender over at Robert E. Lee high school. She teaches film at NESA (the North East School of the Arts), the school within the school.
George and Cat gave me what they swore was a shortcut to NESA. Sounded bogus to me. But I made it there in plenty of time, even after missing my exit onto 281. The campus is huge. A couple of hulking modern buildings face the street. The architect should be driven out of the profession. They look like a cross between an upscale retirement community and one of those vile mega churches so common in far far north Dallas. But after I parked and began to wander around the center of the campus, looking for the administrative building, it became clear that the core of the school had been built back in the '50s.
When I found the main building, a woman in the admissions office took my drivers license, pressed it against a little label-making machine. It printed out a black and white visitor's pass with my photo on it. As I peeled off the slick plastic backing and stuck the “pass” on my shirt, I gushed, “how cool.” The office girl looked at me blankly with a hint of what she tried to make into a professional smile. With thumb and forefinger she pulled a string of gum from the mother wad clenched between incisors. I watched as she retracted the string by coiling it around the tip of her finger.
“So, um,” I began, gently prompting her, “where can I find the film department?”
“Oh…. Well, I really don't know.” I saw a hint of embarrassment. She looked over her shoulder.
An older woman at a desk in the back never looked up from her computer nor did she pause in her frantic typing.
“Out that door you came in. Straight through a set of glass doors. Turn right. You'll see the auditorium building. Up the steps and….” She trailed off, muttered under her breath, and I heard the clatter of a backspace key being worked like a teletype.
The girl with gum on her finger nodded encouragingly. She pointed out the doors I came in.
The auditorium was easy enough to find. But it took a few false turns to find the NESA classrooms. They are in the basement. Kind of sad when you think about it.
Konise was as kind and gracious as always. When I entered her room, she waved me up. The place is painted black like a darkroom. There are banks of editing stations. Each suit has a monitor, a Casablanca editing deck, and a Behringer mix board. At the far reach or the room was a U of three tables with about ten kids seated. Konise introduced me. And I pitched the festival for them.
Earlier in the week the school had a screening at the Woodlawn Theater. I really wanted to go, but I had to earn some money working at the Company. I asked who in the class had screened a piece Tuesday night. Most raised their hands. I reminded them that Josiah (the name-sake of the festival) had been a student in this same school, same program.
There was another class to speak to after lunch. So I took a break and drove to the Camera Exchange. I needed a new one of their lens cloths. And because one of the film events I'm helping to put together has paid me some up front money, I was feeling fairly flush. (A nice feeling. Just gotta remember to make it to the bank. The check's not doing me much good sitting tucked under my computer's keyboard.) I splurged and bought a roll of gaff tape. And I also found myself drooling over a Manfrotto tripod dolly. It's one of those spreaders on casters which you lock onto your the tripod's feet. It was nowhere as pricey as I thought they were. I rolled it around the place some, scribbled some notes, and decided to mull it over for a few days.
I returned to speak to the second class. Chatted some with Konise (which is always a pleasant and rewarding experience). And I headed out.
It was pushing two, and I been running all day with nothing to eat. Not even coffee. I headed straight to Pepe's Cafe. Inside I waved to Carlos, the waiter. “Cafe, por favor.”
It's good strong diner coffee and compliments whatever their daily special might be.
My phone had been off while at the high school. I noticed that I had a message from Carlos. As In Carlos Pina. He's working on a trilogy of shorts. Like all his work, it's redolent with that Rio Grande Valley sensibility. I read the scripts yesterday. The dialogue, I decided, has a distinctive Damon Runyon quality. And that's good. I love Runyon. And I suspect he would have been quite at home in the Valley.
Carlos explained that he was having a production meeting at South Park Mall. In the food court. It sounded kind of perfect.
But at that moment I got a call from Christy. She wanted to know if we could look at the bathtub she wants to use for an art film piece she plans to direct and choreograph in June.
Well, I only had so much time before I had to head up north for my night job. And I hope Carlos will appreciate that Christy is considerably cuter than he. I made a decision, and I'm sticking with it.
Christy and her friend Jim met me at my place. They were at Blue Star getting the final approval for the Dada Dinner Party Christy is putting on Saturday. (And, again, come one, come all. 5:30 pm in the parking lot of the Blue Star Arts Complex. We'll be near the river, some ways away from Alamo Street. The Dada Dinner Party is a performance art piece featuring half a dozen “performers,” one being myself. We'll be reading a post-modern adaption of a Noh play. I don't believe I've had my part assigned yet. As the cast reads the play, we will be served five courses of questionable, absurd foods. I'm quite looking forward to the premier of my impromptu creation, Kasimir Malevich's White on White Seven Layer Casserole (I'm hoping to convince some swank, intrepid San Antonio beanery to lay this on their menu). So, dammit, come on out. I guarantee I will be making an ass of myself, though, likely not on purpose.)
When Christy and Jim showed up, we walked over to the weed-choked cottage where Crofton Ave. bends into Constance St. The homeowners are only periodically in town, so we had to peer over the fence at the old iron clawfoot bathtub stowed away in the distance. Phil had spoken to the folks on my behalf. They were cool with the idea of the tub borrowed for a performance piece. This is something more serious than the Dada Dinner Party that Christy is doing. Me and Russ will be helping her with camera work, art design, etc.
Christy seemed to think the tub would work. I let her know I'd give her a call as soon as I contacted the owners.
Next, me, Christy and Jim went in search of sporks. It really shouldn't be this difficult to find one of the most forward-thinking eating utensils since the genius who married the chop with the stick. But they're proving quite elusive. (Actually, I'm convinced I saw a box of them at the craft service table on the set of Leftovers.) However, I was convinced we could find some in my neighborhood. The stretch of South St. Mary's between Alamo St. and Brackenridge high school has become the restaurant supply district. We've got Mission Restaurant Supplies, Ace Mart, and (for the low-enders), AAA Food Salvage.
Three promising retailers. Zero sporks. I'm speechless. The spork is right up there with Velcro and the Nicotine Patch. I'm pretty fucking sure that the astronauts ate their lasagna paste and desiccated split pea soup with sporks fashioned from a non-magnetic alloy of silicon manganese. Well, that's NASA — very specialized and high-tech. All I wanted was five white plastic sporks, so that the diners in Saturday's event could enjoy their white on white delicacy transported mouthward on the proper utensil.
I've a couple of places I'll try tomorrow.