Busy Weekend for a Misanthropic Malcontentious Social Butterfly

(A rather stale post I need to toss on the pile so as to move on to the next.)

Friday night I headed over to Jesse and James Borrego’s CineStudio on S. Presa, across from the Wiggle Room. They were having one of their periodic parties. The theme was low-rider movies. In the gravel parking area in back they set up a rear projection screen and showed two films. “A Lowrider Spring Break En San Quilmas,” and “Boulevard Nights.” Both films star Danny de la Paz, and he was there in attendance, signing photos and meeting fans. Gabe Vasquez was set up as DJ. Adan Hernandez had some of his art displayed on the walls.

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Mostly the party-goers were schmoozing and networking. Very few people watched the films all the way through. When I arrived, “Lowrider Spring Break” was almost over. I did watch most of “Boulevard Nights.” It was produced in 1979. Clearly a low budget film, but well shot and filled with some great acting. Danny’s was the most stand-out performance.

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Greg Barrios was at the party. I hadn’t seen him in months. I walked up and congratulated him on all his recent successes. It seems like his plays are being staged all over the country. He told me that he was there to greet Danny, who was in San Antonio visiting. I believe Danny was recently in one of Greg’s plays.

Gordon Delgado (of “Jesus in a String Bikini” fame) came up and talked to me for a while about some film projects he has in development, Sounds like he has possible funders on a string. Let’s hope so.

Drew Mayer-Oakes, director of the San Antonio Film Commission, showed up. He was dressed perfectly for a southside lowrider film festival. Guayabera shirt and Panama hat. He fit right in.

Antonio Cisneros has come down from film school in NYC to work on a film project in his hometown during spring break. He was working the crowd.

And of course, Jesse Borrego was also working the crowd. It’s been a good three or four years for Jesse. Other than the endless stream of feature films he appears in, he has also been very busy with TV projects. I’ve not watched ER in ages, but he plays (or played) a recurring character. And even though I have no desire to watch 24, I kind of wish someone would get me all the episodes staring Jesse. I believe he plays some scene-stealing villain. And then there’s Dexter. I’ve seen several episodes of this show. I really enjoy it. But because I don’t have cable, I’ve not been able to keep up. I understand that Jesse played a serial killer in a multi-episode (full season?) story arc. I was standing with Dora Pena when Jesse was telling her how he and the other actors worked with the writers on just how the protagonist, Dexter, manages to kill Jesse’s character. So I guess that meal ticket’s all used up … barring an identical twin plot point.

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As the big day of Luminaria approaches (March 14), I suspect that I’ll find myself scrambling to get all the A/V equipment to work correctly and to keep all the film artists happy. Me and Veronica are still gathering the media from the artists.

In fact, I got a call from Scott Greenberg Saturday. He could deliver his piece to me later in the afternoon. As I was waiting, Russ Ansley dropped by. I hadn’t seen Russ in several months. I’d asked if he could provide some work of his animation students for Luminaria. Me and Veronica have set aside about 90 minutes for work from some of the local high school video / media programs.

Me and Russ headed over to the Blue Star Brewing Company for a very late lunch. While we were enjoying stouts and sandwiches on the patio, Scott called up. He offered to drive out and drop off his Luminaria film. When he arrived, we all hung out for a while.

But eventually Russ said he needed to head out. He was planning to go see a play over at San Pedro Playhouse.

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I was also planning on seeing a play. Actually, a double feature at the Jump-Start Performance Company. Saturday night was the premiere of the two week run of “m(dot)e(dot): a life experiment,” by Monessa M. Esquivel; and, “Ranch Home In Manhattan,” by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez.

I’d seen mention on MySpace (or was it via Twitter??) that Jump-Start would be offering something they called Rush Tickets. Here, from an email: “Patrons may purchase up to two Rush Tickets per person, subject to availability, 5 minutes before the show. $5 Rush Tickets may be purchased in person only at the Jump-Start Box Office. Cash only! You must have exact change to purchase your Rush Tickets.”

Apparently they do this in New York?

Anyway, the tickets were about 15 bucks for a plain vanilla punter such as myself. Steep. But cheaper than most local theater. However, five bucks is even better. Right?

Five minutes until show time I walked up to the box office. Max was standing behind the counter off to the side — I believe he was selling refreshments. We talked for a bit about last night’s party at CineStudio, but then I became afraid they might run out of these cheapo rush tickets. I turned away from Max and asked the woman working the box office, “You have any Rush tickets left?”

“Rush tickets? Um, they’re back there.”

She pointed to a folding table at the far side of the room, back toward the restrooms.

I walked back to the table and asked if any Rush tickets were available. Yes, They had several. As I paid my five dollars, I greeted Kimberly Suta. She is one of the Luminaria film artists. Also, she’s canny, like me, on how to find bargains into the art scenes.

The woman who was running the Rush ticket operation attached to me an orange wrist band. And I never figured out why. She then escorted me and Kimberly and two others (four Rush ticket-holders in all) into the performance space proper. For some reason we were never given programs (although I snagged one at the end of the night). And we were taken to some sub-prime seats. But, really, all seats in Jump-Start are good seats. My problems was the chairs. Metal folding chairs crammed in close together. The other chairs in Jump-Start have padding. And arms, dammit! What’s up with these folding chairs for the cheapo Rush ticket-buyers?

The first piece, “Ranch Home In Manhattan,” is basically a one man show, with the occasional intrusion of two other minor characters. Paul Bonin-Rodriguez wrote the piece, and he plays the main character. It’s a cross between Greater Tuna and David Sedaris. The writing crackles with biting insights, clever twists of phrase, and lovely sardonic bitchery. The problem is that Paul Bonin-Rodriguez had not committed his huge script to memory. Because his character is the owner of a small Texas restaurant who bakes all the pastries, the bound script he was constantly referring to was identified as his “recipe book.” I could never suspend my disbelief, because I was constantly afraid that he would drop the script, and then he’d be lost, scrambling to find his place again.

But I loved the piece. It’s crammed with so much stellar writing.

During intermission we were treated to pies and cakes. I had a slice of kick-ass chess pie, apparently from the recipe mentioned in the performance, with raisins, pecans, and coconut. An unlikely but very toothsome combination.

After intermission I wandered over to another section where I found a more comfortable chair.

Monessa Esquivel’s “m(dot)e(dot): a Life Experiment” is a weird and wonderful experience, and I highly recommend you get out there and see it.

The more I learn about Monessa, the less I know about her. I’ve seen her incredible range as an actor in several plays, not to mention an experimental film in which she starred and on which I crewed. All I know for sure is that she’s a strikingly beautiful young woman in possession of some serious acting chops. And after the show Saturday night I now know that Monessa is a hell of a writer who can move comfortably between such extremes as high existential dilemmas one moment which suddenly and unexpectedly shift to slapstick just long enough for you to catch your breath before dropping down into the hell of profound naturalistic tragedy.

“m(dot)e(dot): a Life Experiment” has a few weak and unfocused moments. But, as a whole, wow!

I was talking with a local filmmaker the other day. The subject of Dallas came up. He praised the city. I damned it. He said that it was a great place because of the arts. He mentioned theater. Now I should point out that I bounce between San Antonio and my home town of Dallas. Dallas once was a hotbed of great experimental theater. But, fuck, that was over 15 years ago. Back when Keith Oncale, Raphael Perry, Matthew Posey, and Octavio Solis were the luminaries of the Dallas theater scene, it was hot, it was crucial. Those days are long gone. And it’s sad.

I would say that the serious theater scene in San Antonio is more robust than what’s happening in Dallas at the present. However, San Antonio theater is still pretty lame.

Perhaps we just need more Monessa.

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Here is a smeary photo off my iPhone of Monessa and Shimi during the post show audience feedback session.

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Sunday night I drove over to the Centro Cultural Aztlan to take in the opening night of their “Ellas” show, a group presentation of some of the great local women artists. The show coincided with International Women’s Day. Wonderful stuff. Some of my favorite local artists. Jane Madrigal, Carolina Flores, Regina Sanders, Deborah Keller-Rihn, Terry Ybanez, Alejandra Gomez, Marilyn Lanfear, Guillermina Zabala, el al.

The huge crowd was treated to food catered by the artists. A potluck spread. All I can say is, whoever made that killer bread pudding, bravo!

I was happy to see some of the important women in the San Antonio art scene. There was Graciela Sanchez, the head honcha of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Marise McDermott, the director of the Witte Museum (and co-chair of the Luminaria steering committee). I also saw Paula Owen, who runs the Southwest School of Arts and Crafts.

I had seen most but not all of the art when I looked up and saw Marilyn Lanfear. I met her last year during the Creative Capital retreat. Marilyn’s an older woman who works in that strange realm where art and craft intersect. She’d recently done a series of intricate pieces with buttons sewn to cloth and contextualized by personal written stories, She seems like some square old broad who’d blush if you said “fuck”; but, in actuality, she’s pulling craft into this convoluted postmodern multidisciplinary art realm. Watch out you young turks and turkettes in the fast-paced PoMo world — Marilyn L is where it’s at. She’s leaving you all in the dust. She just ate your lunch. Yep, that was her.

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The piece she created for the “Ella” show was composed of laundry drier lint, ribbon, and a metal gift box.

Take a look.

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Marilyn, you and your prepared drier lint fucking rock!

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Monday.

Around ten tonight I met filmmaker AJ Garces in the parking lot of a local restaurant. He handed me a DVD of his Luminaria film. It had all the hallmarks of a clandestine dope deal. But, of course, we’re both upstanding citizens.

When I returned home, my neighbor Phil walked up. He was out walking his dog. It’s a beautiful night with a gorgeous full moon.

After a bit of neighborly banter, Phil ask what I thought about First Friday. There has been some talk about shutting it down.

“Yeah,” I said. “I read an article in the paper. There was a neighborhood meeting. I live in the neighborhood. No one invited me to the damn meeting. Were you invited?”

Phil shook his head.

“I was talking to René, who runs Madhatters,” I continued. “And he said he wasn’t invited. So, if the neighbors and the local business owners weren’t included, it wasn’t a neighborhood meeting. Just those rich gentrifying sons of bitches. The King William mafia. Well, it’s not theirs to shut down. Few of them are artists or local business owners. They got no juice. So they’d best just shut the fuck up. Or, better yet, move up north to the Dominion where they belong.”

I suspect I’d lost Phil early in the rant. Once I noticed he was edging away, I bid him a good night and headed inside.

Those nouveau riche King William assholes really bug me. They’re the ones who initiated an admittance charge to the King William Fair during Fiesta. It’s a street fair, people. How dare you charge me to walk down a public street … in my own neighborhood.

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Ah, Luminaria. Monday, well, this usually means a steering committee meeting. But this Monday was doubly special. Sure, the steering committee would be meeting at 3pm. But there was also the press conference at 11am in front of the Alamo.

I hopped on a trolly and made it there twenty minutes early. It was a beautiful day. The CE Group did a great job arranging the event. The co-chairs of our steering committee made opening remarks. And Mayor Hardberger provided some generic chin music. We had performance by two groups who will be entertaining the crowds come March 14, Luminaria Night. First was a dance troupe (don’t know their name), and they did some amazing Filipino dancing. Here’s an iPhone photo.

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We also had a song from a current show at Magik Theater (our preeminent children’s theater), some sort of rock and roll variant of Alice in Wonderland. It was pretty intense.

Afterwards I took the trolly back home.

I went ahead and registered for the NALIP national conference in April. So, I’ll be going to California for a three day weekend, nuzzling cheek to jowl with movie industry folks. This means I need to hammer out some clearly defined treatments of the three major projects I’m wanting to see moved into and beyond development.

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After the steering committee meeting, I rushed home to grab my video equipment. I’m still working on my own Luminaria film. I have been pushing it back because of all the administrative work I’ve been doing.

Next, I headed over to pick Deborah up at her place, a few blocks away. She was my actress / model. We drove down south to the MIssion region. All my locations were near Mission San Juan and Espada Dam.

I had great light. Low and warm late afternoon sunlight. No clouds. (If only I had a matte box and a graduated ND filter to tame the sky — my polarizing filter can only do so much.)

We had five locations. I kept pretty close to my storyboards. Deborah did great. She’s a great model. And as a photographer herself, she is used to telling models what to do. So, she understands the process. Add to that, she’s a beautiful woman. And really you can’t go wrong.

I finally got to shoot in a location I love. There’s a canal branching off the San Antonio river that meanders beside Mission San Juan. When it rejoins the river, it comes out of an over-grown scrubland — the water moves fast and shallow along a cement spillway. I placed the camera on a tripod in the water and shot up-stream at such an angle that it looked like a natural river. Deborah walked in the water towards the camera. I’m not a hundred percent sure. She’s maybe a water sprite. Or, perhaps, a woodland nymph. But what do I know.

Here’s a screen-grab from today’s shoot.

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Oh, yeah, it’ll be titled “Awaiting the Equinox.” Screening during Luminaria night at the Instituto de Mexico. Come on out. I’m hoping it’s not going to be too awful, you know, weather-wise.

See you guys Saturday!

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