Back in 1984 and 1985 I was hanging out in San Francisco, sharing the second floor of an old house on Fillmore, three blocks uphill from Haight Street. I had a warehouse job for awhile at Rough Trade Records. I distinctly recall hearing, over some college radio station, the song “Out For a Walk” off of the Flaming Lip’s eponymously titled first album. Well, it was actually a five track EP. With the faux Sergeant Pepper beginning and the wobbly flangy guitars it was all post-punk filthy psychedelic revivalism. The song seemed to fit perfectly as a soundtrack to my long aimless treks through the city at night. And, so, I’ve been buying their work over the years. I’d known that filmmaker Bradley Beesley had been working on a documentary of the band forever. I finally got around to watching it. If you have Netflix view on demand, you can cruise over right now. “Fearless Freaks.” Well worth it. Much more personal than the standard rock and roll documentary. I just wish more time had been spent with brilliant producer Dave Friedman as well as Bradley Beesley himself. I can’t think of any other artists who I’ve followed so closely for 25 years–especially artists who create work I consistently find rewarding, moving, and constantly evolving.
The lenses for my new glasses finally came in. It took a week … jeeze! I’d heard mixed opinions about these progressive bifocals (trifocals?). But when I slipped them on, I was hard-pressed to discern where the different focal zones were on my glasses. Everything seemed fine. It might be because I had my other glasses for maybe as long as a decade, and over the years they have become somewhat scuffed. I suspect that I have become used to moving my head aroud a bit this way, a bit that, to compensate for the scratched portions. But now, what a difference! When I want to, say, update my postings on Facebook while driving, I no longer need to raise my glasses up to the top of my head. That just seemed dangerous to me.
Actually, I almost rear-ended a couple of cars on the drive home. I mean, damn, I can finally SEE. I’d forgotten how many distracting things there are in the big city. Girls to ogle, signs to read, freaky shapes in the clouds to interrupt … wow!
For the last year I’ve been lucky enough to get some well-paying work at a Dallas auction house. It’s sporadic work, and it’s not guaranteed to last. But, because I have a deep-seated inability to plan for the future, I’ve used each gig to procure another piece of video equipment. My newest toy is the Panasonic GH1. This is one of the new breed of DSLRs which shoot HD video in addition to still photos. (Actually, it’s not a true DSLR, but let’s not split hairs.)
It seems that most people in the local production world to whom I mention this camera, well, they just shrug, dismissively, and change the subject. They don’t seem to understand that for under two grand you can shoot 1080 high definition video at 24p with fully manual settings while utilizing SLR lenses to provide that filmic look of a shallow depth of field. Sure, I’d love a Panasonic HVX-200 with a 35mm mini adapter. But that’d spec out at over seven thousand. No doubt there are many people I know (a few who I may even respect) who would sneer at the AVCHD compression codec, but I’ve been working with some of these files and have been very pleased with the picture quality.
Also, I finally have a real camera for taking stills. I was out the other night taking long exposure photos in my neighborhood. I love the freaky false colors that come out. My neighbor’s black metal fence came out looking like polished brass under the sodium vapor street lamp.
Late Wednesday afternoon I tossed my new camera into a shoulder bag and biked down the Mission Trail. I made several stops, shooting only in the highest resolution AVCHD. When I got back home I captured it all to my computer with a USB card reader (the GH1 records media to an SD card). I bought two 8 gig cards. With my laptop, the file transfer speed comes to about one minute to aquire one minute of the HD video. An 8 gig card can handle just over an hour of AVCHD video. A bit of a pain for documentary work, I suppose. However larger cards are available, or you can carry around multiple cards.
Here I am (self-shot) with my new specs.
And here are some miscellaneous photos I’ve shot with the camera. Video to come later.
(Fuck! I just spelled miscellaneous correctly! Those who know what a notoriously bad speller I am will understand my little thrill at this accomplishment.)
The Third Annual SAL Film Fest happens tomorrow. SAL is one of the great San Antonio success stories. No slow build-up for SAL. It started strong with year one, and just keeps growing in scope and amount of prize monies. Now if I can just shake this bleak funk I’m in and haul my posterior to the Alamo Drafthouse for the 1pm start time, I will be able to see the current crop of San Antonio’s best short narrative films. Thank you, Dar Miller, for the only true San Antonio film festival.
Later in the day is Un Noche de La Gloria. This is the first year of what I hope will become an annual tradition. It’s a night of art and performances in and around the Avenida Plaza Guadalupe. 6pm until midnight. Gabriel Velasquez is the driving force behind the sponsoring agency, CALO (Contemporary Art and Literature Organization). Gabe has wrangled an incredible line-up of artists. Be there or be square.
I really encourage the local film fans to hit SAL for the earlier matinee screenings at 1pm so they can make it to La Gloria (my understanding is that SAL has a second session which begins at 7 in the evening, where all the films will be screened again). And, really, everyone needs to go to SAL to see AJ Garces’ incredible “Death Rattle.” I was pretty much a pest earlier in the year, pushing AJ to screen an early edit at Luminaria. I suspect this version will be more polished, also the screening facility will be somewhat more conducive to appreciate the beautiful photography (not to disparage Rick and Angela of Slab Cinema, who certainly kicked ass running tech during Luminaria). You’ll also get great work by Sam Lerma, Ya’Ke Smith, and the Prime Eights. Toss in a feature film by Pablo Veliz and some student work from HA! (AKA Harlandale Animation … I believe the exclamation point is mandatory), and you’re getting a spectacular show for a paltry 10 clams.
Did I hear right? Obama won the Nobel Prize? For PEACE??? What the fuck are those Norwegians thinking?
Don’t get me wrong. I happily voted for Obama. And he seems like a very nice human being. But I was somewhat squeamish that during his campaign he never said anything to indicate him to be a progressive, or even a liberal…and, sadly, he’s lived up to his moderate, centralist persona. Yes, he appears less hawkish than Bush — at least when you take into account his rhetoric. But, a man of peace? With his stance on Afghanistan? Hardly.
I understand that when the Nobel Committee gave an award to Jimmy Carter some years back it was a political slam against the brutal rapaciousness of Bush and his administration; however, Jimmy Carter, once having left office, threw himself into humanitarian causes. I give Carter’s award two thumbs up.
Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Could it be that the Nobel Committee has thrown down the gauntlet? “Here you go, Mr. President. The Nobel Peace Prize. Think you can live up to it?”
This is beginning to sound like a reality TV show: The Nobel Peace Prize Challenge.
Here’s my advice to making it to the second round, Mr. Prez. Stop killing people.
The other big item in the news today was NASA’s bombing of the moon. For those who have been living in denial about the militarization of NASA, here’s proof to the contrary. We just bombed the mother fucking moon! When the Moonlings retaliate by vaporizing Houston and Cape Canaveral, don’t be so surprised.
Clearly I’ve had my head firmly planted far up my ass for way too long. It seems that Sweet Honey in the Rock is playing tonight in San Antonio over at the Carver Center, and I didn’t even know they were coming to town. Oh, well. I’m not sure I could have afforded the ticket.
Speaking of my poverty, I was expecting to be able to skate through to 2010 even after buying a new camera. The unpredictability of the auction house bite me on the ass. I anticipated another stint which would let me float for a month or more. Also, I was expecting a cash influx from the 2009 Fort Worth Book Show. But the auction gig evaporated. And the book show tanked. I really can’t expect much sympathy. If I really make a big deal about whining, the obvious response would be: “Shut up and get a job, you miserable slacker!” Fair enough. But I really don’t know how to go about getting a job. Gigs, part-time work, or temp positions, well, that’s how I’ve been getting by for the last decade or two. I have to admit that I don’t really know what a career is. I am totally incapable of looking after myself. Shit, how did I get this old and not develop clue number one about how to be an adult? I have zero savings. Hell, I have significant debt. Zip in the way of insurance. Nothing for the most part paid into Social Security. I have no real bankable skills. The most rudimentary education (a liberal arts baccalaureate). Add on clinical depression and a propensity to substance abuse, and, my goodness, I should at least pound myself on the back for making it this far into the 21st Century.
Ah, fuck me Aunt Fritzi! Winter’s coming, the Moonlings are pissed, and Dan Brown dominates the New York Times best seller list! Wasn’t it S. J. Perelman who said: “…is it any wonder Modigliani died at 35?”
This is my second favorite Perleman quote. The first being his idea for a title of a Broadway musical: “You Call These Crab Cakes?”
But I digress.
Um, where was I?
Ah, the Moonlings. Yep. They will rain wrath and indignation down on us like it were a repeat of the shit that went down during the Permian-Triassic event of August 23rd, 249,167, 846 BC. That was the sad, black day the Moonlings stuck it to the Trilobite. So, if it’s not already too late, let’s not have a repeat of that dreadful P-T extinction.
Please, let’s all pretend that the moon-bombing was just an accident.
“Bomb the moon? Perish the notion! We’d never purposely rain death on others…don’t be silly. This is simply a misunderstanding. We’re a peace-loving nation. Yep. What the Norwegians are all nattering about. Pure peace, man. Pure peace.”