The Hyper-Machismo of the Three-Way Straddle

Thursday.

Winter is hanging on grimly here on the cusp of South Texas. It's about 35 degrees out tonight and windy as hell. The scraps of low clouds scuttling from north to south with a sort of rushed nervous energy makes for a dynamic show tonight, but, again, it's too damn cold to enjoy it.

At five this afternoon I attended a meeting of all the artists involved in the upcoming Luminaria event (it's almost here — next weekend, in fact). We gathered in the old stables building at the Pearl Brewery complex off Broadway, just a scintilla north of downtown. It's a round stone building. The interior, though heavily renovated, retains the original wooden radial beam system in the ceiling.

We were broken up into groups. Big round tables were scattered about circled by chairs. There was one for the Houston Street Stage, Peacock Alley, Film, etc. I sat at the film table and gathered up some forms and flyers which were fanned out on the table. There were a couple of maps, yet another release form for me to sign, a schedule of all events, and a schedule of just our programing — we, the film folks.

Dora Pena, who's the artistic director for the film component of Luminaria, was absent. She's attending the national NALIP conference in California.

Janet, with the CE Group (the marketing firm running this event), tried to turn things into a big group love fest. I lost count of the number of times we were supposed to applauded for this person or that or, of course, the wretched “give yourselves a rousing round of applause.” True, I know that this is business as usual in the corporate world. And this sort of cheerleading boosterism coming from the public relations sector is to be expected … hell, for many, demanded. Yet some of those over-arching platitudes were just patently incorrect. “This is probably the largest event like this San Antonio has ever seen,” Janet said with a smile, her hand clinching the wireless microphone, “where the artists are the producers of the event.” And I believe we were, yet again, asked to give ourselves a round of applause. The problem is, that statement is not just erroneous, it is a slap in the face to a room full of artists. We are told one moment how special we are because the hoards of punters will descend on the downtown area to experience the arts, and the next moment we all are made to understand that we will have to bust our asses as volunteers to help make this massive project a success. To claim that we, the artists of San Antonio, are the producers of Luminaria, is, to put it bluntly, a load of bullshit.

Bullshit aside, there will be so much great stuff happening on the afternoon and evening of March 15, you'd be a fool not to come down. It's free. FREE, I say!! There will be parking at the Alamodome (free, I hope), with a shuttle in to the action.

It looks like my film will be screened in the back room of the Kress Building at 7:30. It should also be one of the short pieces on a loop throughout the night on one of the store front windows there in the Kress Building, to be viewed from the sidewalk out front.

For those who don't make it, I plan to show my Luminaria film project, “The Prometheus Thesis,” at a group show my friend Alston is putting together on March 14. More on that soon.

@@@@@

After the Luminaria meeting ended at the Pearl Brewery Stables, I headed over to the Centro Cultural Aztlan for the Third Annual Olvidate del Alamo art exhibit and Poetry Reading curated by my friend Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez. It turns out I was wrong on the date. It's tomorrow (Friday).

So, for those people who read this blog, come on out Friday night at the Centro Cultural Aztlan — that's 1800 Fredericksburg Road. Last year was truly great fun. There will probably be tasty eats. Maybe even drink. But come for the art — it will all be irreverent to the sanctimonious iconography of the Alamo.

Anyway, after learning there was no art opening on Fredericksburg Road, I headed over to the monthly film mixer at Ruta Maya. When I walked in, I saw no recognizable faces among the dozen people scattered throughout the place. Three youngish men I didn't recognize were standing at a tall table near the entrance. I heard the term “headshot.” And as I assumed they were neither assassins nor porn industry insiders, I pretended to get a call on my cell, and stepped outside to talk. And I got the hell out of there.

Don't get me wrong. I love actors. Some of my best friends are actors. (And some of them are even good actors.) But the idea of walking up to three strangers and saying, “hey guys, I'm here for the film meet-up, just like you.”

I'm most likely not going to find myself in a conversation about the best High Definition video format. Nor would I expect to explore another person's take on the aesthetic sensibilities of Kurosawa, or lighting in the films of Billy Wilder.

Besides, it was cold, and I realized I was feeling pretty damn anti-sociable.

I headed to my HEB on South Presa, stocked up some fixins for enough split pea soup to get me through the next few days.

Fixins. That's pretty much a southern term. The weird thing about Texas, is that it straddles the west, and mid-west, and the south. (Whoa, can you physically “straddle” three things? That's hyper-machismo, vato! Throw in the Mexicano experience, and we're straddling like a mofo!)

And so here I am. Trying to keep warm and waiting on soup.

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