Pipsquawk Lost in the Big City

As I was getting out of my truck this evening, I dropped the grocery bag holding a bottle of primo Hernandez Salsa. The red fluid oozed across the concrete like blood pooling in front of the Biograph Theater back in '34. But, sadly, my jar of festive condiment was not the public's enemy numero uno. I guess whatever I decide to make for dinner will be bland and grey.d.

Mini tragedies like this have been plaguing me of late. The more irritating one has been the disappearance of my jump-drive. It's a red sporty quarter gig fellow. Catherine Cisneros (who gives all the hard-drives at Urban-15 dance-related names (Tango, Minuet, Merengue, etc.)) decided to christen mine while it was attached to her computer. “It says Unnamed,” she said, perplexed. I shrugged. “Everything must have a name,” she told me. After a second of furrowed brows, she opened up the drive and typed in the name. I looked over her shoulder at the monitor screen. “Pipsquawk?” She looked up at me and said something about a typo. But before she could correct it to Pipsqueak, we both smiled. Pipsquawk was much better, and so it remaineBut my little Pipsquawk is gone! If you see the critter, let me know. I don't think there is anything crucial on it that I don't have on another drive. Nor to I believe there is anything incriminating or embarrassing (like my luddite manifesto or my spanking videos). But I hope it turns up. I already checked the usual places. Refrigerator, ashtray in the truck, laundry basket. And when I checked under the seats of my sofa, I discovered an unopened package of candy called Sour Punch Straws. (I've narrowed my culprits down to either Cooper Barnstrom or Rockie Pina. So, Pete or Carlos, come pick up your young'un's treats before, in a moment of weakness, I scarf it all down — and they look really awful.)

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This week has been a strange and compressed series of days.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday,m that is. Monday I mostly dicked around. Well, I did eventually head to the Gemini Ink free monthly writer workshop. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the final Monday of each month. I hadn't a chance to write anything new, so I polished up a piece I'd written a few months back. Russ, who'd expressed interest, came along with a work in progress. Sadly, two of the stronger writers who usually show up, were no-shows this Monday. I guess the reason I try and make the group (though I'd missed out the previous two months because of scheduling conflicts) is because I like having a deadline to poke me to write something new. Motivation. I need it. So I feel I failed myself, dragging out something I had sitting around. But, when Jim, the gentleman who hosts the event, explained that he'd be in New Mexico during the final Monday in July, he asked if I would like to run the workshop next month. I told him I'd check my schedule. He sent me an email yesterday, and, well, it looks like I'll be hopping in as a guest host. So, if you're reading this blog, fancy yourself a writer, and want me to rip you a fresh one, come on down. Gemini Ink, 513 S. Presa. Show up with no more than 4 pages, doubled spaced. At least ten copies. And if you're a poet, keep the page count about the same. Multiple poems are fine, but because the critique can last for awhile, rarely more than two poems are allowed because of time constraints … though it always depends on how many folks show up. So, come on down!

But back to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Me and Herman have been canvassing the city with postcards and posters for the Josiah Festival. It's a blast, really. Tooling around town, hitting the arty, cultural, or kid-friendly places. Everyone has been receptive. Well, everyone except HEB. Again, for those blog-readers outside of San Antonio, HEB is the local supermarket chains which has a virtual monopoly on this city. They also own Central Market, a fru fru supermarket for “foodies” where one can find Chilean sea bass, TVP (textured vegetable protein) in bulk, exotic cream sodas, shade grown coffee beans, and organic tamarindo pods. We here in the Alamo City call the Central Market on Broadway the Gucci HEB. It seems all new-agey, touchy-feely, socially responsible … but try and place a poster about a cultural event, and you get: “I'm sorry, but we only post HEB-related information. However, we do allow this sort of stuff on the employee bulletin board in the break-room.” I flashed a fake thanks-but-no-thanks smile and walked away. I was almost out the door, but Gloria Vasquez spied me and shouted out my name. She was there shopping. She's looking great. Retirement seems to be treating her well. When I explained what me and Herman were doing, she immediately asked for a flyer. When I handed her one, I think I noticed the woman at the information desk stiffen. We'd just handed one of our non-HEB statements to one of her HEB customers. But me and Herman managed to move on out before that crabby woman got around to alerting security.

We got a lesser amount of run-around at Borders, but it was far from the red-carpet treatment. The woman at the info desk looked over her bifocals at the poster we held out to her. She made a point not to touch it.

“We have a bulletin board back towards the restrooms,” she said, waving her hand in some vague direction. Before I could thank her, she wandered away through a swinging door to the back of the store. Damn, and I never got a chance to ask when her hopes and dreams finally perished. Me and Herman found the restrooms. They were up on the second floor. (Behind a door with a sign that read “Beware of leopard.”) We put up a poster and a few postcards. I wish we had brought along some aerosol dry-mount adhesive spray. I'd sure like to have glued some posters to the underside of the toilet seats. And that will be the next stage of policy at Borders. “Why, yes. We'd love to help you promote the event. If you head upstairs you'll find the men's room. Feel free to tape your flyers to the backboards of the urinals — oh, I do hope the ink is waterproof and color-fast.”

But otherwise we had nothing but enthusiastic people more than happy to help us out. I also found some great places I'd never visited before. Allow me to promote two coffee houses.

Jupiter Java and Jazz at 726 S Alamo has damn good coffee at decent prices. It's a small place with several tables, a cozy sofa area, a couple of tables on the sidewalk, and some very tempting gelato (I intend to try some on my next visit).

Olmos Perk. You can find it at 5223 McCullough in Olmos Park, north of the traffic circle. My friend Alston told me that they had the best coffee in town. Me and Herman both ordered cappuccinos. And, yeah, it might be the best coffee in town. Not convenient for me, but if you live in Olmos Park or Alamo Heights, it's the place to go. The funny thing is that as Herman and I were walking across the parking-lot, this kid on a bicycle, who was leaving the coffee house, circled around and stopped in front of us. “You're with the student film festival, right?” he asked me. I nodded, approving of the lad's psychic abilities. “Oh,” he said, slightly embarrassed. “I'm a film student at NESA — you came to our class.” We spoke to him, and he seemed excited about attending the event. And once inside, we discovered that the young man making our cappuccinos is involved with a local film. He's a theater student at UIW (University of the Incarnate Word), and he's part of the art department on Bryan Ortiz's feature film which is currently in production.

What I discovered is that a shit-load of folks in this city are working on film and video projects. More than I would have guessed.

All part of the digital revolution, I guess.

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Time to get back to work on that luddite manifesto.


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