I’m Calling You Out, You Low-Brow Narcissists

W.I.P. stands for Works In Progress. It’s a monthly series presented by the Jump-Start Performance Co. and the San Antonio Dance Umbrella, and held at the Jump-Start space in the Blue Star Arts complex. It’s a great place to see innovative performances. Last night there were maybe 20 people in the audience. This is about average. It’s a chance for the artists to receive feedback from an audience. After the performance, there is a critical response portion where artists and audience members engage in a conversation about the performance. Last night there were three pieces. One by choreographer Jayne King. Another by performance artist/actor Ana de Luna. And the evening ended with a great modern dance piece by Spank Dance Company, from Austin. I’ve only been to three W.I.P.s so far, but it’s just the sort of privileged position of peeking into the creative process before the final polish that I love. As an unabashed voyeur, I appreciate any chance to see art in the raw — pushing my way backstage, paying particular attention to that man behind the curtain, you know, that sweaty dude desperately pulling levers, picking his nose, and hoping that the fog machine will cover up all the mistakes.

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I was out riding my bike late yesterday afternoon. It was just a half-ride out to Mission Espada — meaning I drove with my bike in my truck and parked at Mission Park. This turns a twenty mile bike ride into a mere ten miles. Anyway, as I was pedaling crossing Espada dam, heading back to my truck, I noticed that the sky had turned dark and turbulent. What had minutes earlier been a strong and steady wind on my back from the south, switched to a chilly and blustery assault from the north. I shifted down to those wimpy gears I hardly ever use, to deal with the mammoth resistance of a serious headwind, and I found myself inching along almost at walking speed. All around me grackles were taking to the air in small flocks like packs of seasoned surfers who see that the waves have turned particularly feisty. They were strutting and scratching around all over the levy slope down to the river. And, for no discernable reason, six, seven, or eight would hop into the air and flap with crazed intensity into the brunt of the maelstrom. They’d inch along, just a bit faster than me, climbing higher and higher, and then, with a sickening lurch, the entire group would turn perpendicular to the wind, open their wings, and they’d catch that sweet wave. They’d be heading south now, the wind behind them, climbing or maybe diving, but moving like rockets.

The wind is still blowing out there, even though it’s approaching midnight. Just another autumnal cold front kicking my summer further and further away from me. I do, however, hope it adds to that wind of change which had better blow across this country come November 4th. I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if McCain makes it into office. I still haven’t updated my passport.

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Tonight I was back at Jump-Start. Amber Ortega-Perez was doing a run-through of her new dance piece, “The Willing.” Performances Friday and Saturday nights. She’s hired me to video the piece. And so I flopped down on the floor at the apex of stage left. I went in for tight shots with my DVX. The image-stabilizing setting is pretty impressive. I mean, on a good day I’m fairly jittery (too much coffee today … and too much bad living for the last few decades), but the OIS setting makes a noticeable difference when shooting hand-held and when zooming in tight.

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The piece is very strong, and Amber should be proud of all the hard work she and her dancers have done to bring it to completion. I’d attempt to draw in a crowd through this blog, but because I suspect that most of those reading this are folks involved in the local film community, I’m not expecting much. San Antonio film folks tend to lean towards a low-brow narcissism. Take away their buckets of blood, prop firearms, or anemic forays into sophomoric romantic angst, most would quickly become desperate and snappish, like a junkie forced to drink cold medicine. But, what do I know? Come one, come all. Amber Ortega-Perez has created a new dance presentation, The Willing, this Friday and Saturday at Jump-Start. It’s hip and artsy. You know — it’s the shit, the cat’s pajamas, the Yin to the low-brow narcissist’s Yang.

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Mornings have been chilly these last few days. The seasons are changing. This means I need to head to the hardware store and buy a roll of duct tape so I can weatherize (whoa! my spell-check recognizes “weatherize”) the broken window panels in my front door and my bathroom window. Last year’s tape has lost its stickum and dropped off.

Curious as to what the weather might be bringing my way, I got onto my favorite weather website, http://www.weatherunderground.com (because I love American terrorists from a certain era), and I was shocked to see a forecast for a few days in the future where the maximum temperature will be low 60s, and the night-time low, an insane 38.

That McCain-inspired passport is sounding more necessary. Because, you see, I can’t get to equatorial Africa (where it’s nice and warm, or so I hear) without an updated copy of that little blue book, entitled Erik’s Passport.

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2 thoughts on “I’m Calling You Out, You Low-Brow Narcissists

  1. Narcissists??? Yikes! Long ago I heard the industry referred to this: It’s a business first, a creative outlet second. You start taking it serious when it’s about dinner on the table.
    Wow, if not out of the in crowd yet I am now. !B-]

  2. Well, Todd, I’m not really speaking of people who are doing this sort of thing as a business. And perhaps this is part of the problem. I have nothing against hobbyists (I too would fit in that category), but so many claim to have professional aspirations. Maybe if more filmmakers would approach their work as a business, locally produced projects by aspiring up-and-comers would be more engaging and satisfying to watch. And, I hope it’s generally understood that when I gripe about what “they” are doing, I’m usually taking stock of those same flaws I see in myself.

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