Anna Lays Down My Hybrid Patois

At the beginning to the week, according to my favorite weather site, it got up to 88 degrees here in San Antonio. What a Monday! I was riding my bike along the river, and, yep, it was a hot one. As much as I carp about my great love of summer and the insanely hot weather which it brings, I must caution that I like to be slowly and romantically lulled into the mercilessly hot days. You don't want to just jump into the deep end. I mean, shit, I was taking a breather under the shade of a salt cedar and I found myself looking around at the deciduous trees surrounding me for signs of early budding. They, however, were not being fooled.

Here's a little impromptu piece of public art anonymously constructed out at the low-water crossing behind Mission Espada.

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I will admit I rotated the glove by about ten degrees to better suit the composition (will, in my opinion, that is). But, otherwise, it is as found. How does that old voice-over intonation go?

“That's the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

And as I stood at that crossroads, I could feel a strong wind coming in hot and fierce from the Southwest, from way out in Del Rio, where I knew that the abandoned dogs milling around the town square would be hunkered under the shade of mailboxes, their dry tongues jerking in a constant pant.

That wind helped on my ride back to town. It was like I was on a motorcycle.

That night, though, the wind shifted. It was so much fiercer. This time from the north. A cold front shambled into town, and as I drove down Broadway Monday night, there were vaguely apocalyptic plumes of dust billowing through the intersections. The traffic lights were all engaged in energetic and lusty dances (that'd be the Lambada, correct?).

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It's now Friday night, and after a few cool days, it's warm again.

Wednesday night me and Russ shot a monologue with Anna Gangai. This is our Luminaria film, entitled The Prometheus Thesis. We still need to shoot three more scenes — but I expect it to go fairly smoothly, as it will be without sound (MOS, being the filmic argot — that stands for “Mit out sound,” or so the story goes, from those heady days of the early Hollywood scene where cartoonish German directors stomped about the backlots and shouted into megaphones in their hybrid patois, their Englersnichel (you like that? 'cause I just made it up — this word's maiden voyage into the turbulent waters of Google searchability).

But I digress.

Um, where was I?

Ah, yes. The Prometheus Thesis.

I wanted something like those new agey quote-unquote documentaries. “The Secret.” “What the Bleep Do We Know?” Right? With equal measures of “Future Shock.” Check out YouTube. Orson Wells did an insanely over-the-top narration to a film version of Alvin Toffler's book by the same name.

With Anna I got all that and so much more. Imagine Shatner as Falstaff. Or, perhaps, Sharon Stone doing Media. Or, even, Kate Bush shot up with crystal meth reading Heisenberg's “The Uncertainty Principle” (the Wheeler translation). We had a row of tiki torches flicking away in the inner courtyard of Urban-15. True, we did have to deal with traffic beyond the wall. And on the other side of a tall picket fence, we had to wait out the neighbor who was dragging trash cans along a gravel path. Apparently it was trash day in the neighborhood.

We got all we needed. Anna is amazing. Very professional, and a joy to work with.

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I'm not sure if it's common knowledge — and I hope I don't cross some line of privileged information — but Anna portrays Myrtle, the waitress/spokeswoman of Jims (this is a chain of diners here in San Antonio). I don't watch TV, listen to the radio, or look at the ads in the newspaper. So, I don't what the ad campaign involves. I expect it's a beehive 'do and a down-home country accent. Maybe I should have tried letting Anna give me that character (I mean, she's already got the fan-base) and feed back to me lines like:

“Ever since James Pillans invented the chalkboard in 1798 we have been breaking the very the stuff of nature on the anvil of Science and Mathematics until the finest detritus we could observe became little more than probabilistic wave-forms that may or may not exist, depending upon the tools of observation.”

I feel like an idiot that I never made it out to the San Pedro Playhouse when she played the lead (leads?) in Victor / Victoria. I bet she was amazing!

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I'm listening to Tom Verlaine crooning away off Marque Moon. I'm reminded of a line from a song by Dave Berman — “All my favorite singers couldn't sing.”

I just finished my Creative Capital paperwork. This is a weekend workshop that's coming up in, I believe, May. The submission deadline is tomorrow. It's an organization out of NYC, and San Antonio's Office of Cultural Affairs hosts them here for an intensive weekend. It's a multi-disciplinary sort of thing, targeting the entire spectrum of visual artists, performing artists, writers, et al. Last year there was a solid contingency from the filmmaking community. Pete Barnstrom, Dora Pena, Ya'Ke Smith, and Anne Wallace.

I'm hoping I can get in this year.

And I guess I'll be making a visit to Felix Pardon's office (OCA) to hand-deliver the packet … and I know I won't be the only one. That's what deadlines are for — you know, so we can all scramble.

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Deborah had sent me an email. She was going to be in front of the Alamo around noon today to look at her assigned area on Alamo Street where she'll be presenting her Luminaria piece. She wants to create a mandala on the pavement and then a friend, a physician and practitioner of yoga, Dr. Sreedhara, will dance within the mandela.

And so I walked to the trolly stand and waited. It was a nice day, and I could have walked to the Alamo, but I always like riding the trollies.

As I was standing at the corner of Alamo Street and Wicks, Bryan Ramirez drove by. He waved and honked and pulled into the Citgo station across from me. He offered me a ride.

I crossed the street and got in his car. Amanda was in the back with their new baby. As he headed the mile or two to the Alamo, Bryan explained that he'd found a better office downtown than the one he was first looking at. It sounds like it's in a building on the riverwalk near the Valencia Hotel. I'll have to make a visit when he and Amanda get moved in.

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Because Bryan was nice enough to give me a ride, I was at the Alamo Plaza a bit early. So I wandered around the Alamo grounds. For those who live in this town and don't let yourselves be tourists, what's wrong with you? Downtown San Antonio kicks ass! Also, I found where the StoryCorps trailer is set up. It's in spitting distance from the Alamo. (And, just so you know, don't spit too close to the Alamo, those vile Daughters of the Texas Republic will move heaven and earth to fuck you up. Don't believe me? Give it a shot.)

After a few phone calls on my cell (there's something both sweet and strangely sinister about doing one's business whilst strolling around the grounds of the Alamo), I decided to amble to the other side of Alamo Street.

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There was Deborah, Sreedhara, and Ramon (and I am, of course, speaking of Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez, the man, the myth, the legend). Deborah was not only checking out her Luminaria space, she was also planning to take a photo that she would put into Ramon's Forget the Alamo show. (I show I wanted to do a short video piece for, but a certain someone still hasn't notified me concerning an item of wardrobe I would need — it's looking like my involvement ain't gonna happen….).

Deborah had Ramon hold a large circular mirror. She wanted to shoot a portrait of him, with the Alamo reflected in his hands. It's going to look great!

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The four of us took the trolly back to Blue Star, where Deborah's studio is. We walked over to the Jump Start Theater and talked some with Steve and Max who were lounging outside taking a break and enjoying the early afternoon sunlight.

Eventually, I walked back home. I made some split pea soup for lunch. And while I was waiting for it to reach that perfect state of mush, my new laptop finally arrived.

It's an Asus Eee.

This is a micro notebook. To be honest, until it arrived, I wasn't prepared for just how small it is.

One of the reasons I took the plunge was because I realized that my Amazon gift certificate I won almost two years ago from 15 Minutes of Fame (a very cool corporate team-building video production company) was about to expire. But I also liked the idea of having a tiny, light-weight portable computer I can use anywhere. It's ethernet wifi ready.

We'll have to wait and see if it fulfills my desire for a cheap and portable computer that I can toss in my backpack and take to the bike trail and all the wifi coffee shops around this side of town.

Keep reading to see how it all plays out. This is biggest problem (and I love everything else about it so far): the keyboard is so damn tiny! Here's a photo I took out on the bike trail. I took a break at a picnic table and added a few pages to The Cucuy Club. If you have tiny fingers, this might be the perfect notebook for you. But maybe I'll perfect the typing style needed. It's not like I actually touch type. I'm a confirmed hunter and pecker.
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That didn't come out right.

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I hand-delivered my Creative Capital application packet to the Office of Cultural Affairs this afternoon. I beat the deadline by a good 45 minutes. Sarah M. Yates, the Executive Secretary to the Director, took my envelope. She was on the phone, so I sat down. When she had finished giving an artist directions to the offices, she opened my envelope, and “time-stamped” the first page so it would be official that my submission made it in on time. And then she wrote out a receipt for me. At that moment a composer entered, with his own manila envelope containing his Creative Capital application.

“I'll just set it here,” he said woodenly to Ms. Yates.

“One moment, sir. I'm almost done with Mr., um, Bosse.”

“Oh,” he said, “I thought I just handed it to you.”

“Hardly,” I said, looking up at him with a searching scrutiny that quickly trailed off into disinterest. “It's a very orderly process that involves rubber stamps, an initialed receipt, and, if you're very good, a Starlight Mint.” I paused, my fingers hovering inches over the candy dish. “May I?” I asked Ms. Yates.

She nodded perfunctorily. And, perhaps I here crossed a line: I snagged two candies. Ms. Yates smiled and handed me a receipt. I thanked her, stood up, slapped the composer on the back — “Good luck, sport!” — and I made my exit down the stairwell and out into Houston Street.

It was a fair amount of work putting all that shit together (making myself sound important is not my favorite way to pass the time), but once it was out of my hands, I felt a certain buoyancy. Sadly, however, winning this quasi grant will not result in any additional money into my pockets. Maybe something good will come from this.

Speaking of money, I returned home and plucked from my doorknob a termination notice from CPS (that's City Public Service — they provide both electricity as well as gas here in San Antonio). It's not as bad as it sounds. I get these things every two or three months. Because I live hand to mouth, I rarely pay a bill until threatened. It was a possibility that I had enough money in my account (just barely) to pay off those CPS swine. But then I looked in my mailbox. What do you know? I got my 75 dollar check from NESA (North East School of the Arts) for my one day stint as judge for the fresh slate of young supplicants.

Thank you so much Konise Millender!

Later this afternoon I dropped by Urban-15 to talk about the Josiah film fest. I was pleasantly surprised to see Marisela Barrera drop by for a meeting. I know Marisela as an actor (and I assume writer) from a few skits over the years at Jump-Start. She is also involved with La Colectiva, a San Antonio theater collective. (Also, I may well have encountered her in my more youthful years living on the periphery of the Dallas theater scene during the late eighties and early nineties when Octavio Solis was such an important component of the renaissance of Dallas experimental theater.)

Anyway, Marisela (who, even though I have gushingly introduced myself to her several times, never seems to know who I am) has this great gig. She's booking the events that will be presented in the Main Plaza.

For those people who, like myself, have bitched and moaned because they can no longer cruise through downtown along, say Soledad, to get from their home to the downtown public library because some assholes have decided to make the area of the the old Main Plaza — that area in front of the downtown cathedral — into a pedestrian region, well, I now understand the bigger picture.

Marisela spread out a huge architectural map of the construction. I looked to the right side key and saw that it was designed by Lake / Flato, one of the few nationally known companies who claim San Antonio home and who we don't hate (Clear Channel, are you listening?). It's a massive and damn impressive project. I never knew what was really planned behind the construction wall. I just thought it was a bunch of bullshit that was in my way. But, no, it's a well-defined public space that makes no apologies to the fact that the cathedral — a beautiful, striking building — functions as a central backdrop, and is, in fact, incorporated into the entire plan.

The most exciting thing is that this new, renovated plaza, will be going on line, so to speak, pretty damn soon. I wasn't listening to everything Marisela said (it was a lot to take in), but I do know that the plaza will be open by the time Fiesta crashes over our city. That's April 18 – 27.

This new venue for outdoor performances promises to be very impressive. We have Lake / Flato, and that's no slouch. But we also have Marisela Barrera. And from my sources in the theater world, the woman gets things done. So, if you are a non-profit arts organization that engages in public performances, you might want to contact Marisela, and ask which quadrant of her posterior she might like you to smooch.

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