Where’s My Ticker-Tape Parade?

Thursday.

I’m awaiting my ticket-tape parade in recognition of my technological savvy. I successfully up-graded my Power Mac G4 by installing more RAM. Yessiree. Actually the most difficult thing was finding my credit card so I could order the three memory sticks from the fine folks at www.crucial.com. They provide tools to decide just what you need. They also have handy tutorials on how to install your computer’s new innards. I swear, it took me under five minutes. And that included muscling the RAM from the plastic blister packs, as well as shutting down and then restarting my computer.

Hell, if I can do it, anyone can.

Can I notice any improvements? Well, programs that were sluggish to open (like Adobe Acrobat), now start up almost immediately. My web browsers move a bit faster. When I’m running multiple applications, I’m no longer seeing those pesky momentary freeze-ups. But, really, I needed this to edit video. Final Cut opens faster. And it seems like it’s quicker to render some effects. We’ll see. I’ve only done some basic stuff today for a Luminaria multimedia artist who provided me with some QuickTime files I need to merge with those of another artist.

You know, I hadn’t poked around in my computer’s bowels in years. It’s amazing it still works, what with all that dust. I hope that by spritzing it away, I haven’t done more harm than good. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that that patina of grime was the only thing keeping the old gal zipping along.

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I got a call late this morning from Sam Lerma. He said he would be in the neighborhood to drop something off at Jump-Start, and if I hadn’t yet had lunch, we could take in some enchiladas tejanas at Tito’s. Hell, I’d barely finished my first cup of coffee and was trying to figure out breakfast. So, hell yeah.

Sam’s recently completed a short film, working with Ya’Ke Smith and Ralph Lopez. I’m looking forward to seeing it. He also provided the video component (or is it a slideshow?) for Monessa M. Esquivel’s new play / performance piece. Even without Sam’s collaboration, I’ve put this on my calendar. I’ll go see Monessa in anything. She’s one of our great local talents. This is a piece she wrote and will be starring in.

The piece is titled: “m(dot)e(dot): a life experiment,” and it will be staged in a double-billing with “Ranch Home In Manhattan,” by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez.

The pieces run March 7 – 15.

I plan on attending the opening night, Saturday, March 7th. There’s supposed to be something called a “post-show talkback.” I’ll chalk it up to added-value. Maybe Monessa will engage the audience in some sort of Q&A.

If, like myself, you’re a fan of the Methane Sisters, prepare for a kinder, gentler Monessa. I’ve seen a preview of a scene in one of the WIP workshop performances. It’s all very sweet, a bit odd, and maybe somewhat subversive … but I don’t yet know the whole arc of the piece.

And if the chance to see Monessa Esquivel portray a five year-old is something you don’t find intriguing, all I can say is, you have no soul. In short, you are dead to me.

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About an hour ago I got back from a movie at ArtPace. Over the last few months Guillermina “Gisha” Zabala has been presenting a series of curated film screenings at ArtPace. (ArtPace is an incredibly important contemporary art center here in San Antonio … that seems perennially clueless as how to soften it’s snooty image. Though, lord knows they’re trying. In fact, Joe Jack Talcum, of Dead Milkmen fame, will be performing the night before Luminaria. (What, Dead Milkman? Are they still around?Yeah, I remember them. In fact I kinda enjoyed that “Bitchin’ Camaro” song …. from the ’80s, yeah?).)

Um, where was I before the parentheticals took over …?

Oh, um, Gisha’s event. Well, this last film in her three part series was “Soy Cuba.” I saw this film just once, on DVD from the library. I was enthralled. It became one of my all-time favorite movies. Now I had a chance to see it on a bigger screen (though still on DVD — I would love to see this on a clean and remastered 35mm print).

When I first watched “Soy Cuba” I blogged about it. I don’t want to get all redundant. But the basics are that it served as a communist propaganda film made by the best of Soviet filmmakers with the help of Cuban artists. NetFlix this rascal! The best black and white cinematography ever. Every frame is a work of art. 140 minutes is damn long, but not when you’re watching 140 mesmerizing minutes of brilliant composition, lighting, and organic camera movement.

This is what a movie is supposed to me.

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This damn Luminaria Arts Night in San Antonio had better be stellar. As we get closer to the event (eight days and counting), I find myself spending more and more of my time trying to get the film component in order. I wonder how much I’d be making if this were a paid position? Thousands, I dare say.

While I was awaiting UPS to drop off my RAM, George Cisneros stopped by on his way to his studio. He had a DVD he wanted me to watch. He and Catherine are thinking of starting a movie night at URBAN-15, and there’s a company in NYC which licenses films for micro-cinema screenings. This DVD George thought exemplified what they offered. He wanted my opinion.

We hung out for about an hour on my porch because he knew that once he got to his studio, he’d find a mountain of emails concerning Luminaria. George is on the logistics subcommittee, and were he not, we’d all be screwed. He’s working his ass off, and like me, for no pay.

After he received a couple of Luminaria phone calls, he decided he should head to his studio, check his email, and face the music.

I went inside, and was pleasantly surprised to see I only had one Luminaria-related voice mail.

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I’m ripping my favorite Caspar Brötzmann album to my iPhone. This is his power trio, Massaker. It’s the CD titled Home. It’s playing as it goes through all the digitizing. Leave it to the Germans to make such brutal and neo-primitive music so beautiful, psychedelic, even.

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Late last week Deborah asked to meet with me 9am on Sunday morning at the Blue Star Arts Complex. A mutual friend, Jane, a dancer and choreographer, would also meet us. Other than the ungodly hour and the fact that it was fucking freezing, it was certainly convenient. The three of us all live within eight blocks of Blue Star.

I arrived before anyone else and shivered on a park bench.

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I walked, Jane biked, Deborah drove … and, were it not so cold, Deborah might have felt a little bit ashamed being such a wimp for taking her car.

Deborah wants to do a multidisciplinary arts piece, following here current interest in the mandala shapes and traditions, chiefly from India and Tibet.

Jane would choreograph the dance part and provide the dancers. I would bring in the video element. And Deborah would design the overall piece as well as making the mandala images.

We looked at a few sites to stage the dances along the San Antonio River, there at Blue Star. After some brain-storming and thoughts as to possible funding, we set a date to meet again. Jane hopped on her bike and headed home.

Deborah and her boyfriend, Ramin, both have their own art studios in the Blue Star complex. We headed up to Ramin’s studio for coffee. Ramin was there with coffee, pastries, and my friend, Rose.

I hadn’t seen Rose in two years.

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Rose had returned some weeks back from her stint with the Peace Corps in Morocco. She used to be a curator over at the San Antonio Museum of Art. She and Deborah worked together. It was maybe five years ago that I made a video with them for the museum. It was a fun assignment, shot and edited in a quick and hectic manner. I was given absolute creative control. Even got some money out of the deal. And a nomination to a prestigious design award.

But Rose wanted more. Some years prior to SAMA, she’d spent time in Turkey. I forget if she was a student or there on some sort of work visa. So, really, we weren’t surprised that she wanted travel, adventure, and more meaning in her life. It was sad to see her leave, but I was excited for her.

She’s as beautiful as I remember. But she seems more more confident, more secure with herself. More authentic.

The four of us talked and drank coffee. Eventually Ramin wanted a cigarette. We all headed to the outside staircase and huddled in a knot as the sun warmed us. It looked like it was shaping up into a beautiful day.

We all brought Rose back up speed on the local scene — gossip and politics. She politely and patiently listened to us. But I couldn’t help but notice that Rose wasn’t back with us yet. Maybe she never would be. I was jealous of her disconnect. You see, Rose was still back in North Africa.

Ramin had some work to do, so the three of us walked to Tito’s for a late breakfast. We hung out for about two half hours catching up. Rose graciously pulled from me and Deborah what we we currently working on. But finally me and Deborah got Rose to open up and talk about Morocco.

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She did. And it was wonderful. I am so envious of her time in Morocco.

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Later Sunday night I drove up to the northwest region. Marti, a staunch supporter of the film community, had invited me to a home-cooked meal. She’s worked as a PA for several projects shot here in town. But, most importantly for me, she was a volunteer for the San Antonio 48 Hour Film Project. Dependable and great fun to work with. Add to that, someone who wanted to cook me a meal. Wow.

Thanks, Marti!

When I showed up, her friend Joe Jimenez was also there. Joe was another 48 volunteer from last year. And, during the previous year, he produced one of the films in competition.

I know I haven’t seen all the work that Joe has been involved with, but I can’t praise enough one particular short film he produced: “Meat.” It’s just about perfect.

I arrived at 8pm (Marti had just left a shoot where she was working as an actress — Maid #2, I believe she said), and I didn’t leave until 1:30. It was a nice night of great food and good conversation. It was nice to see the both of you guys.

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Monday. Ah, if it’s Monday, it must be a Luminaria steering committee meeting. But not just that, the steering committee was followed by a mandatory meeting for the Luminaria artists. This would give the co-chairs of the committees and and the marketing teams and the logistic people a chance to get together and smooth everything out. But, ah, hubris. Mandatory has become, in this day, merely a suggestion.

What’s that you say? Artists might be too busy to attend?

Look, mate. Me and the rest of the two dozen or so members of the steering committee are meeting every fucking week and busting our collective asses trying to make this huge event happen. We’re volunteers. And by that I mean, chumps. Right? I can only assume that this is how the artists who didn’t bother to show up must think of us.

“Ah, it’ll happen. These fucking chumps will watch our backs.”

Oh, yeah. We’re watching your backs. Please tell me you’re not dumb enough to turn your backs on us.

Mwahahahahaha…!

But I digress.

It was great to see so many wonderful people crammed into the refurbished stables of the old San Antonio Pearl Brewery. It is a warm community of artists, even though some of us hate one another. We put our differences aside and arrived at a collective détente — let the love-fest begin. (There were at least two crabby prima donnas in attendance, and, really, the whole city just wishes they would go away — but we all tried to smile and nod to these individuals, and maybe some magic will descend on the discord and goodness will come streaming out!)

Could happen …..

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Tuesday.

Monday I had received a text message from Pocha (AKA, Sandra Peña Sarmiento). She’s working on a playful activism-in-the-media project. The voice mail on my phone dripped with a bit more obsequiousness than I expect from Pocha. She was wondering if I could help her on a video project. I was thinking, sure. I have equipment. I have a certain level of expertise. And then I heard something about how she wanted me to play the part of a Minuteman. Not one of those Paul Revere guys. Nope. Were talking about those modern-day reactionary white supremacist who don’t believe they’re racists. They’re just patriots, right? Right?

True, I’ve recently shaved my head into a buzz cut. I’m a tall and portly and incredibly pale anglo. This could, I understand, translate into big fat honky motherfucker. The problem is, I can’t act. If Pocha was really serious, she would have contacted Brant Bumpers. He’s as much a sweetheart as myself, a bit taller, ten times more imposing, much better looking, and a damn fine actor, who’s happy to play evil. He’d be the perfect Minuteman.

Well, the damage has been done. I said yes. (I can’t say no to Pocha.)

I arrived at the location near Woodlawn Lake. I held up a sign that said “America for Americans,” and hoped to god no one I knew was out enjoying a placid walk around the lake.

Sandra held up her camera, and our other two actors fell into character.

These other actors were iconic teenage filmmaker Jessica Torres (of whose work I’m a huge fan) and her mom, Sandra. Jessica and Sandra walked alongside of me, and then they saw my sign. Outrageous! These two offended citizens stood in front of me and shouted their displeasure in regards to my fascist views. I tried to keep a straight face as these two tiny chicanas threatening me (and, here I mean no disrespect, but Jessica and Sandra are tiny … I mean, I’m only about 6 feet 2, but I’m like Godzilla next to them). It’s hilarious. I’m holding that large sign, and when Sandra and Jessica happen up me, they get riled, they do. Sandra shouts at me. Jessica is more serious. She attacks, throwing punches and tiabo kicks.

We lost our sun Tuesday, so we finished off Wednesday. It was a lot of fun. These are all people I really like.

Pocha will be presenting this piece over the weekend at some sort of activism in the arts conference up in the Pacific Northwest. She wasn’t video taping. It was a series of still images, actually. A Photo Novella. It will be edited into a tongue in cheek instructional slide show about how to confront the Minutemen without getting punched, or worse.

Whatever I can do for the cause.

Here we have Jessica wielding a bullhorn.

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My DVD of “Elliott Sharp: Doing the Don’t” arrived this week.

Thanks so much for the quick shipping Bert Shapiro!

Filmmaker Shapiro did a great job of explaining and humanizing this pan-genera genius. I own about 21 CDs featuring Elliott Sharp. Over the decades he has been involved in numerous projects spanning all manner of musical stylings.

If I had to narrow it down to four, I would have to claim, as my musical heroes: Elliott Sharp, Cecil Taylor, Iannes Xanakis, and Dave Berman. Tragically Xenakis passed away in 2001. Cecil is unlikely to be with us much longer. Berman has recently announced that he’s moving away from music to pursue other creative endeavors. So, it’s just Sharp. Maybe I need to update my musical heroes to “musical heroes currently producing work.”

When George Cisneros stopped by today, I mentioned that I just received the Elliott Sharp DVD. I knew he’d spent time in NYC, not just as a multi-media artist, but also as a musician. He surprised me by not only knowing who Elliott Sharp was (well, I assumed he would), but explaining that had played with Sharp on several occasions. Keyboards, I believe he said.

George is full of surprises.

That he used to hang out with Philip Glass struck me as interesting. Because, well, Glass is famous. But I just don’t get his music. However, to have played with Elliott Sharp, that, to me, is significant. Sure Elliott Sharp spouts borderline bullshit about injecting his music with mathematical formulae, such as Fibonacci series, but, damned if it doesn’t work. As a semi-educated avant-garde music fan, I have to say Glass leaves me cold, and Sharp, well, he’s where it’s at.

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