I was at Gemini Ink earlier this week for my novel writing group. Because, least you forget, National Novel Writing Month is more than half over.
My first 12 pages of The Cucuy Club were open for feedback. Unlike many of these writing groups where everyone kisses one another's posterior parts, I think I got some useful comments. Gregg Barrios, who's leading our group, had some keen insight on restructuring the opening. I think I'll take him up on it. We also discussed the works of two other writers in our group whose work impressed me very much.
On my short drive to Gemini Ink, I saw my friend Alston walking into Tito's Tacos. I had to pull over and go in and say hi. She was meeting someone there for dinner — a friend who had not yet seen her paintings displayed on the walls. Check it out. I really love her art. Great use of light and shadow, and whenever I see her stuff I'm stuck by how they remind me of two favorites of mine, de Chirico and Guston — I'm amazed by her use of perspective, as well as the forceful gravity everything in her paintings seem to possess. Her show is on the walls of Tito's for the rest of the month. And don't forget to grab a bite. The Enchiladas Tejanas kick ass!
After my meeting at Gemini Ink, I headed to the HEB closest to me. And there was Catherine Cisneros doing her Thanksgiving shopping. She said she was going to cook shrimp. “Who makes turkey anymore?” she mused rhetorically as she placed a few bottles of wine in her cart.
You never know who you're going to meet in this neighborhood.
For the last few days I've been working for Urban-15 for their upcoming Holiday Laser Show. It's one of there big yearly events. They will be having it at the Aztec Theater. December 6th and 7th (a Thursday and Friday), and again on the 10th and 11th (Monday and Tuesday) are the days for the local school districts. I believe we're expecting over five thousand students. (There have been some budget cutbacks, and we're trying to make sure that all the schools can afford buses.) On each of these four days there will be three shows between nine am and two p.m..
If anyone who reads this blog is interested in volunteering as ushers for that time-slot on one of those dates (or, even better, multiple dates), please let me know and we'll make it happen!
There will be additional shows Friday night, and Saturday and Sunday matinees for the public. The Aztec will have their own staff, so I can't offer any volunteer gigs on those performances. But it's only 12 bucks, or 8 for kids.
Last Friday night was the final film slam put on by NALIP for 2007. Because of some restructuring of key personal within the local chapter, we only had three slams this year.
I was considering blowing it off. You see, when Dora called me up and asked if I had a good idea of a venue for this slam, I mentioned a few places. She said she might follow up on one or two. But she was leaning toward the Blue Star Brewing Company. I said it might be good to go with a place she'd worked with before. And we left it at that.
Somehow I had forgotten all about the incident back in September, which, in the San Antonio art world is Foto Septembre, an entire month devoted to celebrating local photographers. But unfortunately a certain individual was hired to curate a photography show at a swanky local watering hole (ooooh, it's so fun writing like a bitchy and vague gossip columnist!), only to be rebuffed by the owner, once all said art had been hung upon the walls, that it was too nelly for his establishment and may well bring in drag queens and fellow travelers. He was having none of that. Well, one of the other establishments owned by this gay-unfriendly entrepreneur, is, of course, the Blue Star Brewing Company.
(Use your Google-skills to learn more. There was an editorial written in the San Antonio Current by, I believe, Elaine Wolff. That particular piece isn't nearly as interesting as the massive under-crawl of comments by on-line readers, some of whom were present during the exchange.)
(And, here, as an additional parenthetical, it should be obvious to anyone who runs a bar in an artsy area of a major city that you are already catering to the gay crowd.)
While on the phone with Dora, I'd forgotten I was supposed to be boycotting the place in solidarity with San Antonio's Nancy Boys, Diesel Dykes, Switch Hitters, Glam Trannies, and the whole raft of offended members of our town's GLBT constituency. One of the reasons I hadn't given this too much thought was because I'd already, in effect, been boycotting the Blue Star Brewing Company for some years as a yuppie haven, clogged with soulless sots. Besides, it was too pricey for me. Yeah, yeah, I know. That's not true boycottery.
However, if Dora hadn't called me Friday afternoon, asking if I could help out at the slam later that night, I'd likely have stayed home.
Okay. So I headed over — hell, it's just six blocks away.
It was a night a great films. And I wish it hadn't been. What I have loved most about past NALIP video slams in the past is that you never knew who would show up or what they would bring. And some of the rough and downright crude works are often as fun and memorable as those with polish.
The first one I went to, maybe three years ago, was a wonderful mishmash. Katsy Joiner was there to workshop a short film of hers in an early edit. I thought that was so cool. And there was also a technical experiment that AJ Garces had put together. He had been working with a Military recreation group in Fredericksburg. He'd shot loads of footage on his XL1 and, in post, he'd processed the video to look like period black and white 16mm film. He'd gone so far as to insert fake muzzle flashes whenever a “recreator” would pretend to shoot his gun. Pretty cool stuff.
But last Friday it was all good and polished work. Just another dreary showcase. Most films I had seen around town in other venues over the last few months. There was AJ's Crush, Chadd's Dating Danielle, Ranferi's Roses and Graves, a couple of great shorts by Prime Eights Mark Walley & Angela Guerra, Brant's great Heinz spec commercial as well as one of his excellent videos for psycho billy locals Boxcar Satan, Bryan Ortiz's very impressive Last Chance, a film titled Reflections by a young local filmmaker new to me whose name I can't recall, and a piece called El Ride also by a young local filmmaker new to me whose name I can't recall either.
I really wanted some edgy and challenging and absolutely uncategorizable works. We had nothing of the sort. Just polite polish.
I was conscripted to be one of the judges. The other two judges were Hank (who helped out taking tickets), and our MC, Jessica Hernandez, who works for the local Fox News affiliate. We took maybe five minutes to chose El Ride. It's very good. Cute, smart, flows well, and it delivers exactly what it promises.
According to Dora, the piece had screened at the San Antonio Underground Film Festival.
We were also treated to a short snippet of Dora's feature, Dream Healer, which is still in post production. It looks great. Bravo, Dora Pena!
I only wish I could heap praise on the folks at the venue. Anecdotal accusations of intolerance aside, we had next to no one to help with AV issues. Manuel was there, as always, to run the tech for the slam. But the venue was almost useless. I can't really shit on the two guys who were on hand to help us out. They did their best. But they were also expected to be running the bar and waiting tables. It soon became apparent that, even though the management knew we would be in their event room, using their audio visual equipment, the soundboard hadn't been hooked up. Also, there was no remote to the DVD player, so people who provided us DVDs with menus were shit out of luck. It took us fifteen fucking minutes to find someone who knew how to turn off four spot lights aimed at a stage to the side of the room. As for all these stories I hear about the Blue Star Brewing Company double-booking their back room for events, I'm still not sure if it's because they're looking for the best deal, or they're just inept. Or both.
If you're in the King William area and you have a hankering for beer and burgers, you might wanna give La Tuna a try. It's just across the street.