Clean Your Gutters? Walk Your Dog?

Perhaps my friends know me too well. When Veronica called me at ten-thirty Wednesday morning she apologized for waking me up. And I know my voice didn’t sound sleepy, because I made it a point to answer the phone 110 percent chipper and go-getter. But she knew my game.

She wanted to know if I could fill in for her because of a scheduling conflict. She’d agreed to give a presentation to a group of high schoolers about the San Antonio chapter of NALIP. I’m not sure if the other members of our film group know just how much work Veronica, our president, does to promote NALIP. And seeing how I had no plans other than sleeping, what else could I say but yes? The dog and pony show was scheduled for noon downtown at the Radius Center. This left me plenty of time for a few cups of coffee and reviewing the second half of a short story I hammered out the previous night. Even without sugar, the coffee was much sweeter than Tuesday night’s prose. Got some tightening to do there.

As I was backing my truck out of the drive, my neighbor Ray Santisteban, who was driving by, pulled over to the curb. (For those readers who aren’t plugged into the San Antonio film community, Ray’s one of our greater success stories. He’s a damn fine filmmaker who is guaranteed to win any grant or festival I try for.) He’d just turned in his Luminaria proposal, and wanted to know if I’d had a chance to look it over. I said I’d received it, but hadn’t yet read it. He gave me a quick pitch. It sounds pretty cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished work. But I had kids to talk to downtown, so I got back in my truck and headed down St. Mary’s.

(As an aside, I’ll give a last minute Luminaria plea. All you San Antonio filmmakers who read my blog, get that ass in gear! The submission deadline is Oct. 31. It’s the simplest form, like, ever. Okay? And all I want it that little piece of paperwork. Things like work samples, well, we can wait on that. Get your foot in the damn door. This is a chance to have hundreds, maybe thousands, see your work. This sort of stuff looks great on a resume. Essentially you will be able to say (if accepted) that a film you proposed was accepted into a prestigious city-wide arts event. And here’s a little secret from me to you: we’re hungry for content, and this means you have a high chance of getting your work in. Also, there is the matter of the $200 artist honorarium. A pittance, to be sure, but money for filmmakers is a rare thing in this city. Get cracking, man! And if you have any questions, call me. What’s that you say? You don’t have my number. Damn. If you are a San Antonio film person and you don’t have my number on speed dial then you’re like, um, fuck, you’re like Mark Trail without a snake bite kit. Quick, right now, key this into your phone: my cell is 210-482-0273.)

Frank, who runs the day-to-day operations at the Radius, did a kick-ass job setting the place up for those students. They’re with the Kipp charter school on the upper west side. This was something like a career day for the kids, with an emphasis on technology. They’d already been to Rackspace and KLRN.

AV equipment had been set up. I went into the office which NALIP shares with a couple other arts non-profits and selected about 25 minutes of short films from the archives. When Martin, my contact with Kipp, was ready, I made with the chin music, you know, the balloon juice, and blathered generic platitudes about the wonders and thrills of a life in film and video production (making a point, of course, not to mention myself as an example–don’t want to scare the kids off). And then we watched some movies. Let’s see, we screened Emileigh Potter and Sergio Ramos’ great little documentary on one of this city’s preeminent contemporary artist, “Alex Rubio.” Emileigh and Sergio, high school students, made this at Say Si, an after-school arts program. Next was “El Gran Machin,” directed by Aaron Richmond-Havel. This came out of NESA’s cinema program–NESA is basically San Antonio’s performing arts program. Then we watched Ya’Ke Smith’s feel-good super-short piece, “Change.” This was followed by Eric Fonseca’s “Funeral March for a Marionette,” which I believe won best film at the San Antonio film festival. We closed with Jessica Torres’ pro-education PSA, “Escuela.” Jessica did this through the Jefferson high school media program, and it got her a nomination for a Texas Emmy. The kids–and there were about 45 of them–responded well to all the pieces. I hope we got a few of them hooked to want to make their own movies.

Afterward, while walking to my truck, I realized that I had feed more then enough coins in the meter, and I really should take a stroll down the new Museum Reach of the River Walk. It has been open to the public for months. So, seeing as I was standing on Lexington, the street where the River Walk used to end, I went ahead and took the steps down to the river. Now, I had my camera, so I was stopping pretty often to take photos, so this kept me moving fairly slow. The truth is, I didn’t make it all the way to where it ends…the Witte Museum, I believe.

At least I made it down to the stretch where Carlos Cortés’ wonderfully designed grotto can be found. Not only is the artist Carlos Cortés a great guy who does wonderful work, he’s also my neighbor. It’s been bugging me that this guy lives across the street from me, and I can’t even check out his newest and biggest piece of public art. Now I can hold my head high. I’ve seen it. I’ve loved it. I’ve photographed it.

Here are some photos of my Museum Reach excursion:

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My second Ray Santisteban encounter came mid afternoon. Having hiked along the river, I drove back to my neighborhood and stopped at the Pik-Nik convenience store on S. Presa so a mess of 60 cent tacos. I saw Ray’s SUV parked at the launderette next door. I decided against walking over to say hi. He’d probably think I was stalking him.

Back home I had my tacos and caught up on some TV, via Hulu.com.

And, eventually, I realized it was time for the monthly W-I-P (Works In Progress) at the Jump-Start Performance Company. I hoofed it the two blocks to the San Antonio River. And there he was again. Ray was out walking his dogs. He nodded to me, genially. But now I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m some weirdo monitoring his movements.

I crossed the river at the low-water crossing foot path and made it to the theater just as the doors to the performance space opened.

It was a nice night. Three works. We opened with Doyle Avant. He’s an amazing writer. Maybe the best in town. And he presents his work in monolog fashion. I hesitate to compare him to Spalding Gray, but, hell, why not. I love Spalding Gray. Not only is Doyle clearly an inspired and gifted writer, he is also a hell of a performer. He has an strong voice, an impeccable sense of timing, and incredible recall–I’ve seen him do these sorts of performances maybe four times, and he has never stumbled or stammered. He’s the real deal.

Next was Anna De Luna. Many people have seen her do comedy sketches with Marisela Barrera–and they are absolutely wonderful together–but, Anna, on her own, creates powerful and poignant personal work. I don’t know if she’s yet staged a serious one-woman show, but the work she presents at W-I-P gives us a hint how extraordinary an Anna De Luna one-woman show would be.

The final performance was the Push Pens, a one-off collaboration between Dino Foxx and Cros. This they gave us a melange of poetry, hip-hop, and narrative. The two forays into rapping still need some polish. The music was too loud and microphones were too hot. But these are just technical issues. They piece really shined when each did a heart-wrenching monologue. Great writing, and smart and nuanced acting.

I’m always amazed how few people show up for the monthly W-I-P. It’s only five bucks, and you get to see truly good work.

As I was walking out of the Jump-Start, I saw Deborah walking toward me. Her studio is in the same complex. She had just finished her Luminaria proposal and she assumed I would be at the W-I-P. She handed me the paperwork, and we took a seat on a bench over by the outside staircase and talked about where things were headed with our current projects.

So, I had a nice, perfect San Antonio day, played without a plan and without a clue.

The problem is, I’m flat broke, so I have to find a plan and put an end to this giddy and unfocused drift.

Who’s got a job for me? I’m serious. Clean your gutters? Walk your dog?

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