Ray Bolger’s Hollywood Hug

Shit. I’m pushing to finish a project due tomorrow. Some of the video footage is in a different frame rate. At least I have a new and faster computer which will make the render time less ghastly. I also have this other computer I can use between render sessions.

Last night I walked over to the Jump-Start Performance Company. They work with the San Antonio Dance Umbrella to offer this monthly Works In Progress (W-I-P) program of events. Tonight was the “WIP Creme,” the best of the 2008 – 2009 WIP season. It ran from the wonderfully inspired to that interpretive dance scene in the Big Lebowski by Marty the landlord. Well, not really. Though, I wish! That was one of Hollywood’s great dance moments. Goodbye Ray Bolger and Ginger Rogers, and hello Jack Kehler. But I digress. WIP is always rewarding. Full of surprises.

I had a short chat with Billy Munoz. His multimedia noir piece, the Case of the Neon Twins, will run June 12 – 20 at Jump-Start. He says he’s working with other video-minded folks and has a small studio space where they do their green screen work. All sorts of things percolating in this city.

In fact, when I noticed on FaceBook that Jim Mendiola was in town, I asked out to the Twitter world if he’s back in San Antonio to work on a project. I received a few updates. Jessica Torres told me he’s shooting a music video for Girl in a Coma. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Jessica, but didn’t you work on a Girl in a Coma video a few years back at Say Si? I remember seeing something during First Friday project in that alleyway when Say Si was at it’s old place.) Cosmo Inserra also was in the Mendiola loop, and told me about the music video (I think he said Jim was doing two).

That’s right. Cosmo Inserra.

Yesterday morning I woke up around 9:30. Made some coffee. And I wondered if maybe I hadn’t been too much the asshole the previous night posting my screed against Cosmo. Maybe I should quickly go in and make some modifications — you know tone it down. Anyway, I usually edit blogs the following morning over a cup of coffee. A late night session with spell check doesn’t always catch everything. This is kind of a pain. I post redundantly on MySpace as well as my WordPress blog. When I logged onto WordPress I saw that I had already received a comment on my blog from Cosmo. Too late to make changes. This is what happens when you wake up late. But before I could finish my first cup of coffee, read his comment, and assess the damage, my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Erik?”

“Yep.”

“It’s Cosmo.”

Actually, he’s a very affable and likable guy. He found my frothing rant amusing. We had a long conversation as I fixed my second cup of coffee. The truth is Cosmo wants the same things the rest of us in the film world want. I hope he can make it out to local events, get to know those of us he hasn’t met, and maybe we can all start moving, as a group, in the right direction.

I’m wondering if both me and Cosmo aren’t creating more problems than solutions. I mean, really, my little snide attack was pretty easy to write. Ad hominem attacks are a breeze to hammer out. But I think we in San Antonio with an interest in the film and video and media world need to learn that we’re all in this together. Whenever I get an email from my friends over at the American Indians in Texas nonprofit organization, the emails are addressed: “Attention all Partners, Friends, and Allies.” We need to think this way. Maybe we don’t see all of our colleagues as partners or friends, but if we can’t even recognize another individual in the same business and with the same needs as an ally, well, we’re toast.

How does the San Antonio film world move ahead? It’s a serious question. And it’s on the minds of many people. In fact yesterday I not only received a call from Cosmo. I also talked with our film commissioner (and it’s always tickled me that Drew reads my blog); Veronica Hernandez, director of NALIP-SA; and Dar Miller, who heads the SAL Film Festival. True these are friends I speak with quite often. And they are all involved in the on-going struggle to bring a sustainable film and video industry to San Antonio. I only wish their voices were more often heard in local newspaper stories about San Antonio’s film future. All these three friends of mine were in attendance at the San Antonio Film Summit late last year which was part of the Adelante Film Forum. This is a slow process. It will take years. The proposed cinema program at Northwest Vista will help immensely to offset the vertical education problem this town has suffered in the media education department. Great high school programs. Lame college programs (with the obvious exception of Adam Watkins’ amazing work in digital animation at UIW). And then there’s this possibility of a media center in a decommissioned school in the Edgewood ISD on the West Side … a sort of Austin Studios in miniature. This is still an option which could happen. And it could move fast. I put much more hope in this Edgewood possibility than I do for all the sweet press releases coming from the San Antonio Film Council, the San Antonio Film District, or this Villa Muse thing. I’m tired of the snake oil. It takes a lot of tequila to wash that off the tongue.

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Yesterday and today I’ve been seeing loads of Twitter messages about preview tours of the new River Walk extension. The northern most region of the San Antonio River Walk used to be Lexington Street, right there at El Tropicano hotel. When it officially opens it will continue I believe all the way up to Hildebrand. There will be many quirky and arty areas along the way. Or so I hear. I can’t wait to check it out and see the grotto designed by my neighbor Carlos Cortez.

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The other day the sky was filled with wonderful scalloped cloud patterns. I took a couple of snaps on my way to Jump-Start. And later, while waiting for the show to start, I noticed several people on Twitter commenting on the strange clouds.

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What’s really strange is this weird quasi intimate world of Twitter and FaceBook.

These fast-moving micro blogs convey little in the way of snarl and bravado and deep yearning heart, but, I have to say, there is something crackling and alive going on here. Simply put, it’s a new form of communication.

Last night, at Jump-Start, S. T. Shimi actually acknowledged me. I think she’s always known me as someone who patronizes Jump-Start, but FaceBook can push a face in the crowd to a face with a name. These sorts of social media sites are pretty good at bringing together local artists and their fans. My fanboy blogs praising the Methane Sisters resulted in that the brilliant Monessa and Annele now know who I am. That’s pretty sweet. And when I posted on the wall of the Attic Rep theater a question if there would be a Sunday matinee this weekend, I received a FaceBook reply from Attic Rep honcho Roberto Prestigiacomo that, yes, they would. I only sorta know Roberto. But with FaceBook, I’m almost there. Roberto replied via Facebook, one human to another, should he save a seat for me? Yes! This was my immediate response. So, we see that business is being done via FaceBook, and, I’m sure, Twitter as well.

Maybe these social media sites are making us all two dimensional and soulless, but thanks to FaceBook I got a little Hollywood hug from Shimi, and a little bit of time spent talking with Billy Munoz.

So, don’t be hating on social media. Good things can come out of it. You bet.

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I do my shopping down S. Flores way at a La Fiesta grocery store. It’s a charmingly funky neighborhood in the Harlandale school district. I love all the hand-painted signs. There’s a pet shop with signs on the wire hurricane fence surrounding their parking-lot advertising baby ball pythons for $8.50. Gerbils only five bucks. Wow. Just five dollars. And then I was struck with the realization that I really have no idea if that’s a good price for a gerbil. Surely, it sound a bit high were you to extrapolate by the pound, but maybe by the individual rodent it’s a tremendous bargain. I mean, you gotta have something to feed that baby ball python, right?

On those rare occasions I encounter a fellow anglo at the La Fiesta, it invariably turns out to be members of a marginally removed tribe, the trailer trash, AKA the there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-etc folks. He wore a stoner’s grin under his International Harvester gimme cap. She seemed quite proud of her skinny figure for a woman in her forties. That’s the sweet gift meth will provide. The down side were the two teeth missing from her smile. Ah, the smile. As I wandered the aisles, out paths crossed at least three times, and always she was angling for eye-contact. And the checkout I found myself behind this couple, my brethren. The woman looked up at the checkout girl. “Anita,” she said (for that was what was written on the girl’s name tag). “Anita, you’re working yourself ragged. Girl, let me buy you a soda. What do you like?” Anita said she liked Big Red. The tightly wound woman with fewer teeth than me squeezed by (giving me a wink — and I think there was a wiggle of her hips), and she soon returned with a bottle of Big Red. “Anita, ring this up on my bill. Enjoy yourself.” Anita did so. I was amused. It was really quite sweet. The speed queen turned to me and said she was sorry for holding up the line. She stuck out her hand. I shook it. And then she winked at me again. Maybe I’m reading too muck into this. Perhaps she was just suffering the onset of pink-eye.

But, really, what the fuck. I just want to buy my Ramen noodle and papaya. And, who knows, maybe check out those gerbils down the street.

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This evening I headed over to Say Si for a meeting of the Creative Capital alumnus from the annual weekend retreats here in San Antonio for 2007 and 2008. I was rather dismayed that only me and six other people showed up. That’s seven out of about 40 people. Not cool. And the seven artists who showed were all from the 2008 session. No one from 2007. What gives, guys? Something better happening on Thursday night?

(Oh, as Pete just pointed out, only the 2008 alums were invited to this. So, maybe the turn-out wasn’t so bad.)

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It was good to see these people again. And there will be another chance to mingle for the current 2009 crop with folks from 2007 and 2008 Saturday night at Joe Lopez’s Gallista Gallery. I hope to see some of you guys there!

Tonight I also had the opportunity to meet new member of the Office of Cultural Affairs team. A wonderful guy with the great name of Sebastian Guajardo. I believe he said he used to work for the San Antonio Parks Department. He strikes me as a great asset to OCA.

I should also point out that when I arrived at Say Si, I heard the familiar refrain of, “E. Boss,” from the ubiquitous Jessica Torres. She is, of course, in the Say Si digital media program, doubtlessly doing brilliant work. I popped into the class room to see what she was up to. And then I spoke some with Ned Meneses, one of the instructors. Ned and Gisha manage to run what maybe well be the best youth video program in town. And yet they both seem to to find time to create excellent art themselves.

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Oh, yeah. Josiah Youth Media Festival. the submission deadline is coming down fast. If you are a filmmaker 21 years of age or younger, or know someone else who is, pop on over to the the URBAN-15 website — http://www.urban15.org — and download the entry forms. It’s free. And you might win some damn $$$! Spread the word. Postmark deadline of June 1st. Get a postal employee to stamp the envelope before midnight this Monday. Send it in. I’m talking to you Alejandro Rodriguez, Rosalva Gonzalez, Remington Dewan, and Raul Flores. I’m talking to a lot of you kids. Send us your work before midnight Monday. We wanna see it!

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