My Utility Room Epiphany

I was over at URBAN-15 today processing the DVD submissions for the Josiah Youth Media Festival. Monday was the postmark deadline. So today we received a load of locally mailed pieces. We can expect some from further afield in the state tomorrow. And those from out of state Thursday. As for our international submissions (and I only know of one), well, it’ll arrive when it arrives. Currently we have 59 submissions. We have films from Dallas, Arlington, Austin, and Houston. Represented are, I believe, eight Bexar County youth programs. The youngest filmmaker, is ten. The oldest, twenty-one.

I predict we’ll get at least 80 submissions. And then our brave judges will make the first cut. They will decided what will be screened and what won’t. I guarantee this will be a sober process …. however, I wouldn’t hold it against them if our judges were to close the night out with a few cocktails. The fact is, each artist has to make some less than stellar work before finding his or her strengths, and thus to develop those important skills and and aesthetic sensibilities needed for an artist. Having said this, I have previewed a few submissions, and there are some very strong films this year. The final judging will probably be done the third weekend of this month. And in keeping with the last two years, we expect to screen different films on each of the three nights of the festival. The only films which will be repeated will be our four winners.

On the final night of the festival we will give out the awards as well as announcing which of the four winners wins the additional prize as “best of show.”

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This morning I received a call from the auction house where I do some temp work. The head of the Texana department asked if I could meet with her in a few days to look at a library of Texas books which may be consigned to the auction house. It sounds like some very good books. I’ll get some travel expenses and a bit of money to help me through to the end of Josiah (my major work commitment for this summer). And if the books are brokered for consignment, I’m sure I’ll be asked to come in and help research them and write the copy for the auction catalogue. I love writing copy describing rare and collectable Texas history books. It’s material I’m familiar with,and yet I always learn something new — also, there are so many bibliographies available that it’s almost impossible not to sound like a genius.

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The other day I walked around to the back porch where the communal washer and drier are located. It’s a semi-enclosed screened-in porch. As I’m setting the wash cycle and closing the lid, I find myself straining to better make out what I realize is music I’ve been hearing off in the distance — so faint, it barely registers. I step out into the backyard to get away from the noise of the washing machine. I hear a weird sluggish atonal violin attack, yet it sounds strangely familiar. Who in this neighborhood would be a fan of experimental music? And what is it? Alfred Schnittke, I’m thinking. Or maybe something performed by the Kronos Quartet. It’s frustrating not knowing. But at least I now know that there’s a kindred soul in this neighborhood who enjoys listening to adventurous avant-garde music.

As I turned into the side yard and began walking down the driveway, the music wasn’t receding. This couldn’t be. My next door neighbors? This didn’t sound like what they would listen to. But I had to remind myself I don’t really know them that well. How cool.

And then it hit me. It wasn’t coming from the neighborhood. Well, not in that sense. It was coming from my pocket. The mp3 component of my iPhone. I had to laugh as I fished the phone from my pocket and switched off Elliot Sharp’s “Abstract Repressionism.”

I was struck by two things at once. It’s shocking how infrequently I hang out with people who groove to the likes of Sharp, Xenakis, Meredith Monk, Cecil Taylor, et al. AND … how I’m just so pathetically narcissistic in that I think the hallmark for someone else’s hipness is that he or she enjoys my pretentious musical tastes.

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