Proyecto Locos Redux

This morning I met with Deborah and Ramon at Pepe's Cafe. We want to get our short edit of the Locos documentary mailed off to some of our friends down in San Miguel. We all have too many commitments to make it down for the Locos Parade this year. It's later this month. But we don't want the people who were so kind and helpful to us last year to think we've forgotten them.

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We also talked some about an idea Ramon has for a new visit to San Miguel to chronicle the Dia de los Muertos celebration down there. When he would speak of this before, I would find myself wondering what new angle could be added to a subject already heavily analyzed. An added problematic layer was the fact that most of the lavish celebrations are further down in Mexico: Oaxaca and Michoacán. But Ramon has fallen in love with San Miguel. And so have Deborah and I. So, we do have a selfish agenda — we want to be able to return. One of the positive notes is that we have forged some good contacts with many people in that city. And the more I thought about it all, the more plausible it seemed. Ramon was somewhat instrumental in bringing this holiday into San Antonio. In 1978 he was commissioned to create a painting to commemorate the Dia de los Muertos. At the time there was scant evidence of people celebrating the Day of the Dead. Ramon began staging Dia de los Muertos shows at his gallery, as did other galleries. I suggested that we focus on the artistic side to the celebration. Ramon has already talked about creating San Antonio and San Miguel as “sister cities in the arts.” Both cities are famous for their active art communities. In fact, there is quite a bit of travel back and forth by the artists of San Antonio and San Miguel. We could interview artists from both cities who make works which feature and acknowledge the Day of the Dead. Also, we could investigate the ways in which the American interpretation of the holiday has made it's way back to Mexico and influenced how they celebrate the day.

I'm looking for a fresh angle on things. A good hook. We'll see. The three of us are still in that thinking out-loud phase. Trying to give vague ideas shape … shape enough to generate the sweet rhetoric that puffs up the corpus of a good grant proposal.

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Early afternoon I dropped by Urban-15 to work some on the Josiah Festival.

Urban-15 is housed in an old church building on S. Presa. The basement space is always in flux. I believe George once intended it to become some sort of occasional coffee house artsy hangout.

But because he has several projects going on, the space is becoming this sort of ad hoc creative space. This is where he created his Somos video mural for the Alameda Museo. Herman helped out quite a bit on the editing of that piece. And now Herman's editing a Katrina documentary in the space. I've a little work station for the Josiah project. Amanda (who is always involved in several projects) has moved her computer down from another part of the building. George was refurbishing a hundred year old snare drum down there last week. Something always seems to be playing on one of the two rear projection screens.

It's a chaotic, but very pleasant place.

I told George that we needed some sort of image to send out with the press release for the Josiah Festival. He suggested that we have one of the submitted films projected, and some of the Urban-15 folks can be watching it. After George wandered off to attend to some other project, I arranged a couple of chairs in front of one of the screens. I placed a table between them piled with all our DVD submissions. I was thinking a low shot up at the screen with maybe George and Amanda in the foreground, watching and commenting — a mountain of DVDs between them.

George returned and set up a digital SLR on a tripod. He was having some problems with it. It seems he'd dropped it the other day. Actually, he said he was carrying a bunch of stuff, and the camera and a portable hard drive fell. He could only grab one of them. True to a technophilic multi-media artist, he automatically grabbed the device holding the most complicated digital files — the camera's just a tool, replaceable, but the drive holds information, and probably the result of a lot of hard work.

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He had me and Amanda posed in the shot. A bad idea, there. I'm talking about me. Amanda's a beautiful girl and should be in the shot. So as George was fiddling with the rubberband holding his Olympus camera together, I suggested I use my little point and shoot digital Nikon. And he could switch places with me. He's much more photogenic than myself.

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But because the light in the basement is a bit dim, I has having a hard time getting a good exposure. I couldn't use the flash or it'd wash out the image on the screen. I pulled in some ancient Smith Victor scoop light on a stand which was parked in a far corner. It helped a bit. I think I have a usable photo. I need to desaturate it and see how it looks in black and white. But it might suffice for the newspapers.

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Tomorrow and Sunday I'm meeting up with Russ to watch Christy and her dancers rehearse for the impending video we'll be shooting around Canyon Lake this month.

I sure am busy. When can I return to work on my newest short story, “Joachim Phelps' Demitasse Nightmare”? I haven't even got to that crucial scene where he must choose his biscotti — macadamia nut or double dutch chocolate.

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What an ordeal my life has become.

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