Of Cock Fights and Chardonnay

I have mixed feelings about “Making Hay,” Tom Otterness’ installation of three sculptures in the park across from Mission San Juan. It’s quirky and playful. I like that in art. But it doesn’t seem like a proper fit for the neighborhood. I suspect (though I do not know) that there was insufficient community involvement into this project. I believe it’s slated to remain at this location for a total of two years. The work is on my cycling route. It stood unmolested for a few weeks. The vandalism started small. People began pulling handfuls of hay from the wire stays attaching it to the large humanoid figures. After a month one figure had been completely denuded. The other two looked very shabby.

Last week I was heartened to see that the work had been completely restored. I walked into the field and waved to the workmen who were putting the final touches to Otterness’ work.

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In the back of my mind I was a trifle pissed off that the vandals hadn’t been more creative. I was hoping someone would perform some grand and transformative transgression to “Maying Hay,” giving us something weird and wonderful.

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I think we’ve all enjoyed creative vandalism popping up in unexpected locations. For some reason this crudely depicted devil horn graffiti caught my fancy. It was just so unabashedly adolescent. So, you know, fuckin’ A!

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The other morning I discovered that my hot water heater isn’t working. I’d actually planned to shave. That was out. The shower was a better eye opener than two cups of coffee. And as I sit here typing this up near midnight I realized I never crawled around on the floor to see what the problem is. Hopefully it’s just a case of the pilot going out.

I was up early, having decided to attend the San Antonio PodCamp. This is an annual event which is entering the third year. It’s run along the lines of a “bar camp,” which is a sort of free-flowing ad-hoc conference where the attendees decide on the agenda. Jennifer Navarrete put it more eloquently in her opening remarks. The venue was the El Tropicano Hotel. It began at nine. I decided I’d take the bus. And, what the hell, I’d treat myself to breakfast at Tito’s. A kickass migas plate and coffee.

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I think I got on the wrong bus. I thought I was on the S. Alamo line, which actually goes down Lexington and drops one off right at El Tropicano. But this bus took me down St. Mary. Close enough. I got off at the Radius, and walked two blocks.

Janet Vasquez was there. And Rocket Ron was running to camera for the live pod cast. Kaye Cruz was running around hooking up computers to projectors. Dar Miller eventually showed up and joined me at a table up front. She’d been the one who’d reminded me about this event.

We stayed for several presentations and discussions and left at the lunch break.

Dar offered to give me a ride home. I suggested that we stop at C4 Workspace for a quick visit.

C4 is a venture that Todd O’Neil is putting together. He’s the sort of person you expect to be at events like SA PodCamp. In fact, as I was riding the bus earlier, I had seen, via his Twitter feed, that he wouldn’t be able to attend because he was busy getting his new space together. He gave an open invite for people to stop by and check out the place.

Actually, one of the presentations at the PodCamp was about the phenomena of co-working. Susan Price of Firecat Studio was making the presentation. She mention a couple of local co-working places. Firecat has a monthly co-working day. First Friday. And when she mentioned Todd’s new place, she mentioned that it was at St. Mary and King William. And I lifted up my iPhone and thumbed over to the Twitter app and added: “It’s at 108 King William.”

Little did I know that Todd and his crew — though busy painting the walls — were watching the live feed from the PodCamp.

Anyway, I was getting curious about this place. It’s in my neighborhood. It’s called C4 Workspace. The “4” is in the superscript. C to the fourth power? What? Maybe the C is for carbon. Isotopes are set up with superscript numbers. The problems is the isotopic number proceeds the element abbreviation. Besides, there is no Carbon 4 isotope. Maybe it’s a molecular form of carbon. You know, like fullerene (AKA the buckyball) is carbon 60 … but I believe the 60 is a subscript, not a superscript. I thought it might be a reference to a Scrabble tile. Two problems there. The numbers that follow the Scrabble letters (and that the numbers follow the letters, this is good) are set in subscript (and this isn’t good). The second problem is that a “C” is worth only three Scrabble points, not four. I give up. All that’s left is plastic explosives.

But I digress.

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When Dar and I showed up we were waved in by a woman named Debbie. She and Perla gave us a tour. And there was a guy we were introduced to, but he was busy painting the walls and I didn’t get a chance to talk with him and I can’t recall his name. After a few minutes of looking the place over, Todd returned from an errand.

It looks like they might be able to make the June 1st opening. They have a lot of work still to do. I plan to volunteer starting next week. And I’m giving serious thought to renting a desk space here.

Check them out:

www.c4workspace.com

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Monday Night:

Hey, what do you know? I’m sitting out on my porch typing this blog on a fancy new laptop. And if I want, I can suckle wireless connectivity off my own network. But before you follow my lead and leap into the 21st century, head my warnings. The road to hipdom carries quite a cost … and not just financial. Today I visited three places which, in usual circumstances, I do my best to avoid at all costs. The Apple Store. Wal-Mart. And a protracted phone session with tech help from the subcontinent … which lasted just long enough for the supermarket to close for the night, leaving me with little more in the fridge than three onions, a jar of mustard, and some zucchini which has, quite inexplicable, suffered freezer burn in my lower crisper tray. (Get your head around that potential emergency casserole nightmare.)

I’ve been hitting a wall with certain limitations on my beloved Mac PowerPC G4. What was pushing the sci-fi envelope in the year 2000 is nine years later beginning to feel like navigating the Autobahn in a Morris Minor.

I had some savings to blow (just don’t let the tranny crap out in my truck, or ditto on my prostate) and so I decided to go for a laptop. And because I want to keep with Apple (for reasons of software and familiarity), I only really had two choices. The Apple family of laptops runs about four flavors. Two, for some reason, no longer offer a firewire port. Both of my camcorders prefer to output via their firewire outlets. The obvious choice would be a MacBook Pro. It’s a great machine, with loads of options. But even at the most basic, it’s around two grand. The other choice was the basic MacBook, what is referred to as the MacBook White, because it’s cased in cheap white plastic (notoriously prone to cracking). But in January, Apple upgraded this line with more RAM, a faster processor, and a new and faster video card.

The specs beat my current computer by quite a bit. For a thousand bucks I could get a portable computer that would be able to do significantly more than my current desktop computer. It would have no problem running my video editing software. And I can now work anywhere. Access the internet anywhere there is an open WiFi. I did, however, add a hundred bucks upgrading to 4 gigs of RAM.

I’m sure there are PC laptops that can best the specs of my new Mac, but this is now an extension of my Mac desktop, my iPhone, all all that email and calendar and software cross compatibility. And seeing as how I have no plans to begin working with HD video for at least another year, I feel I’ve made a decent choice.

But I can’t sit out on the porch all night. There’s a cool breeze coming in, which is nice, but it’s not deterring the mosquitoes.

Inside now. Weird in that I have two computers sitting on this one desk. Actually I’m glad I bought that wireless mouse for my little ASUS netbook. It’s also perfect for my new MacBook.

I know I shit on Apple Stores. And they are grim places. The phoniness is so thick that it lingers in ones blood stream hours later. This is expected, and I’ve somewhat learned to adjust. But in San Antonio both of our Apple Stores are in shopping malls. And that’s a double whammy of phony wrapped in phony (my head is still spinning and I suspect that the only adequate cure would be to attend the cock fights in that tin shack behind Jasper’s Pick & Pull outside Ardmore, Oklahoma). But I survived the Apple Store. In fact while they were doing the RAM upgrade, I headed over to the North East School of the Arts to talk to two of Konise Millender’s cinema classes. I like Konise’s kids. And not just because they’re accomplished filmmakers, but also because they always ask lots of questions.

Back home I printed up all the forms for my Humanities Texas mini grant. I’d been making the final touches earlier in the morning — since six, actually. And so now I took the final paperwork to URBAN-15 to get a couple of signatures. Unfortunately, a family emergency kept both Catherine and George from making it in. This is still okay. I think we have time to hit our deadline.

I did some work there for awhile. And then I headed back home with the plan to take a bike ride down to Mission Espada. But back home I couldn’t ignore my new computer. I powered it up and plugged it into the the internet. Nothing. I took that same ethernet cable and put it back into my desktop. Nothing. Well, either my service was shut off, or my cable was the problem (the latter was my assumption — one of the ends had lost it’s plastic snapper lock).

So I headed to the closest place I could think of that might have an ethernet cable. Wal-Mart. Way the hell down on SE Military. But I needed it. I had found myself without internet. Forget a water heater crapping out on you … this is serious stuff!

Wal-Mart. People say love it because it’s so cheap. That is patently wrong. The cheapest ether cable was 15 bucks. And when I decided I needed to get a wireless router, the cheapest one was 45 dollars.

Yes. Like an idiot I bought a wireless router at Wal-Mart. Let me implore you, do not do this. The over-priced piece of shit was a Linksys brand. NEVER by from this miserable company.

At least I was smart enough to hit the bike trail before trying to set up the router.

It was a beautiful day. And I enjoyed an early evening bicycle ride. One of the areas I went by was this sad demolition site. This is the rubble of the first screen to fall at the old Mission Drive-In Theater. I’ve heard they plan to keep one standing. But still, it’s so sad to see one of the few remaining drive-ins to go away.

Back home I began the process of setting up my wireless network. I knew it’s be fairly straightforward. Hell, I’d helped my sister set up hers. But I wasn’t prepared to be Linksys up the ass. I set my password to my network. I’d gone through the entire set-up. But afterwards, I wasn’t able to sign onto my new network. I tried with my new laptop. I tried with my ASUS netbook. I tried with my WiFi-enable iPhone. And after a while one tends to give up. I called tech support. Those assholes charged 10 bucks to my credit card to walk me through the process. The problem? The password I chose by using the Set-Up Wizard doesn’t seem to work for anything at all. In fact I learned that my actual password is unique randomly generated series of letters and numbers. This information never came out during the automated set up.

Ah, the price we pay to check out email and watch old Buster Keaton films via Google video whilst sitting on the front porch sipping chardonnay.

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