Back to the Pro Bono Grind

A new album by the Windsor-based band London Apartments has recently been released. And it’s available as a free downloadable zip file of mp3s and even the cover art. Double click to unzip, and then just toss all the files into the ol’ iTunes, and you’re set. I’m listening right now. Soothing, even when scratchy and atonal layers float through. I dig it.

http://thelondonapartments.com/

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Monday I thought I’d get some important things done. Mondays are good for paying bills and going to the bank and all those sorts of things I tend to procrastinate from doing the previous week.

But after pissing away the morning drinking a pot of coffee and staring at the walls, I received a phone call reminding me about the Luminaria steering committee meeting. What? In an hour? Shit. Put a spanner in my plans. But on a plus side, the meeting offered some sweet drama. Some mild shouting, probably a couple of tears, and and all followed, of course, by the tedious making up … all that “let’s never fight again.” If they’re not going to pay me anything, at least let there be entertainment. Finally, some action. And even though everyone made nice by the end, I suspect that I now know of a few buttons I can press (sota voce, of course) if things start getting dull in the future.

Also, there was a great gallery opening at Centro Cultural Aztlan. Monday might seem an odd choice for a show to open, but this is an annual thing, always set on February the second, to commemorate the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The theme was Soy Illegal, No Criminal. It was a group show, wonderfully curated by Deborah Keller-Rihn. The usual cool art on the walls, of course, by some of the best established and emerging Chicano artists in the area. But clearly the most striking piece was a chain link fence topped with razor wire which ran through the middle of the space. There was a cut in the links where you could squeeze through to look at the work on the other side.

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Today I felt a need to catch up on some important errands. So, I dragged myself out of bed. Lugged a basket of laundry around to the washing machine on the back porch. And I started up the coffee pot while perched on the edge of my sink directly in front of my open stove. Trying. To warm. The fuck. Up.

Halfway through my first cup of coffee I saw, from the corner of my eye, a blue car moving down my street. It was Catherine on her way to work. I don’t always see her driving by, but most mornings I’ll hear her tap the horn in polite greeting as she motors past. But this time I saw her and waved. She must have seen me in the window, because couple of minutes later, she phoned me up. We chatted a bit as she finished the final mile or two drive to work. We talked about some of the personality clashes involved in the making of the second annual Luminaria festival. I suspect the San Antonio art community behaves much as they do in other cities — as a somewhat dysfunctional family. And as we all commiserate with one another, one on one or in small groups, colorful stories and untoward behavior gets around surely as fast as do those stories of who got this grant or who received that award. I try and explain to people that San Antonio is a small town at heart. And especially if you make waves in the tiny arts community, your actions will be known. As my father once said of his world, the antiquarian book-selling community: “Not a sparrow falls in bookdom that isn’t heard.”

After I moved my clothes from washer to dryer (I usually hang them on the line to dry, but I was behind schedule and, dammit, I was out of clean socks), I returned to my perch on the sink and began my second cup of coffee. That’s when I got a call from Pocha. Her and hubby Payan are running Cine Festival again this year. Pocha wanted to know if I could pick up some DVD screeners from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center this afternoon. I’m one of the judges. I let her know It’d be no problem.

Cine Festival is the oldest Chicano film festival in America. This will be its 31st year. Sandra Pena Sarmiento and her husband Victor Payan (AKA Pocha Pena y Payan) did a kick-ass job running the festival last year. It’s my favorite local film festival. Ooops. I don’t want to offend my good friend Dar, whose SAL (San Antonio Local) Film Festival is also my favorite local film festival. Let me put it thusly: Cine Festival is my favorite San Antonio international film festival. (SAL is my favorite festival for San Antonio filmmakers.)

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My advice: spend the paltry 30 bucks, or whatever, and get a full pass. There will be chingos of movies playing at two different venues at the historical theater near downtown. The Guadalupe is great because there’s lots of free parking. Great cheap Mexican restaurants within walking distance. The best pizza in town — Giovanni’s — is a block away. And two coffee shops across the street from the Guadalupe theater. There’s always something to do when you want to take a breather from all the films.

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After picking up the DVDs, I headed over to the Radius Center to meet with Veronica Hernandez, the prez of our San Antonio chapter of NALIP (National Association of Independent Latino Producers). She’s wrangled NALIP-SA to share an office at Radius with a couple of other non-profits. We can now have office hours, a mailing address, a meeting space, and a swanky conference room that members can use if they need to pitch their project to investors, et al.

Nice space. René Guerrero has opened a second location of his iconic Madhatters Tea House and Cafe in the front part of Radius. There is free WiFi. And it seems like a nice fit. The San Antonio chapter of NALIP has been floating around without a secure home for too many years.

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And it looks like, after working a couple of weeks on a lucrative freelance writing gig in Dallas, I’m back to my pro bono grind of volunteerism and committee work.

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