The Boy Looked at Johnny, and He Ordered Capirotada

The documentary workshop over the weekend was great. I met some new film people. I only have two complaints. First, not enough San Antonio filmmakers. And, second, there seemed to have been some unwise disconnect between NALIP national, and the San Antonio NALIP chapter. Things could have run smoother. Personally, I never got a sense that we, of the San Antonio NALIP chapter, were given any consideration other than that we might be folks who’d pony up a hundred bucks to attend. I know I would have preferred volunteering at the event as a representative of the local NALIP chapter, instead of being a volunteer working with the venue. I guess I’ll chalk it up to institutional confusion. I certainly hope this sort of disharmony is only a minor hiccup, never to be repeated.

Fernanda Rossi is an extraordinary teacher/speaker. If you have even the slightest interest in learning more about documentary films, keep on top of her website: because she might be coming to your town.


My dear friend Venus Prado is now a part-timer at C4 Workspace. She was camped out at a table in the front corner catching up on work. This is good. She’s a poet, painter, feminist polemicist, photographer, writer, and on and on. Her presence will help balance our membership back a bit towards the arts. I’m not saying I have anything against all the white collar folks who are C4 members, but, the fact is, I don’t have a whole lot to say to them. But the Venuses of the world speak my language.

On a C4-related topic, Todd and Debbie have invited me to a meeting tomorrow with folks who plan to bring TEDx to San Antonio. TED stands for “technology, entertainment, design.” The video archives from past TED conference speakers is one of my favorite stops on my routine promenades about the WWW. TEDx represents a sort of break-out for the TED Conference into other cities and regions. 2010 will be the first time TEDx has expanded into San Antonio. About time, I’m thinking.

I’ve been working on a short list of folks who I think should be invited to speak. My short list currently stands at 33 people. I need to prune it down a bit. Even though the great San Antonio genius Tom Slick (inventor, philanthropist, cryptozoologist extraordinaire) was lifted up to that higher, sublime plane 47 years ago, we still have a parcel and a half of geniuses here in this city. I’d love to bring attention to some of these wonderful folks.


The weather has been great. So far. It can’t last, I know that. I just have to appreciate it while I can. I took the Mission Trail on my bike late this afternoon. A northern wind was at my back, and I was flying all the way out to Mission Espada. There’s this nice hill that dips down under the 410 overpass. Only a dull-witted killjoy would not to want to pick up some serious fucking speed there. I was listening to the song “Horses” by Patti Smith. And that slow beatnik beginning shifted into that great driving 4/4 beat just as I crested the rise and dropped down that straight, smooth, and paved 100 yard incline. I was going maybe 35 when, at the bottom, I zipped past a guy cycling in the other direction.

“Baby mash potato, do the alligator, do the alligator….”

The hill going back up was just as long and just as steep, but I didn’t even bother to downshift until I was three quarters of the way up.

“Got to lose control and then you take control….”

I took the road that circled Mission Espada, and soon caught my breath. And then I headed to the low water crossing behind the mission

“Then he cries, then he screams, saying /
Life is full of pain, I’m cruisin’ through my brain /
And I fill my nose with snow and go Rimbaud /
Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud….”

New York proto-punk might give a good rhythm to ride a bike to, but the lyrics don’t always fit the rural southern reach of Bexar County, Texas.


Later, this evening, I headed out to the La Fiesta supermarket on S. Flores (keeping up my HEB boycott)–the cupboards and fridge were getting thin.

On my drive out, I decided to pull into the Blue Star parking lot. I had my camera with me. And I realized I also had a tripod tucked behind the seats of my pickup.

There’s this scene I’ve been wanting to shoot for a couple of years. On a large tree across the river from the Guenther House dozens of white egrets roosts over-night. The best place to shoot would be in the parking lot of the old Pioneer Flour Mills, but they lock that area up tight. So I set my tripod up on the S. Alamo Street bridge over the San Antonio river. The best shot was at about eight seconds with the iris open all the way. The bitch was the focus. The zoom lens that comes with the Panasonic Lumix GL1 embraces so many automatic settings that it lacks a true focus ring–you can turn that sucker forever. This is one of the reasons I want to get an adapter so I can add REAL lenses. I guessed on some focusing. Here’s a half-assed shot. It’s of the tree and the river (here I count about 30 egrets, and, in the words of Dr. Pamela Gay, “that’s just cool!”).


This other image is of the old mill tower.


I got back in my truck and continued to the store. But, as so usually happens, there was a train blocking my way. The track is next to Joe Lopez’s Gallista Gallery (which is where I hope everyone will be on the 14th for “Second Saturday”). I may one day have a photography show of all the images I’ve shot of trains blocking my movements here in San Antonio. Here’s a couple from tonight.



At La Fiesta the avocados were cheap enough, but each was harder than a frozen caramel. It had been a bad year for produce. Nevertheless, I picked up a medium-sized papaya, and hoped for the best.

Outside, I had to take a shot of this great landmark. A beautiful barbershop. Every time I’d been in this neighborhood before with a camera, there’d been some ugly pickup truck in front of the building. Not tonight. But there was some rummy who’d already tapped my for change camped out in the La Fiesta parking lot. I didn’t want him hovering and pestering, so I just took a single long exposure shot from the door of my truck, balancing the camera on my thigh.


I know I had the focus down, but what appears to be a bad focus is that I clearly I wasn’t able to keep my leg completely still for the quarter second exposure. Someday I’ll do a nice and groovy comprehensive study in long exposure night photography off all my favorite scenes and areas along S. Flores between S. Alamo and Military Drive. It’s a photogenic neighborhood with great restaurants, churches, schools, botanicas, and car repair shops. If something’s fucked up in your life–¡que cosa!–head on down to South Flores, and if you’re patient and discerning, you’ll find some sort of fix. Yeah, it might be an aerosol can labeled Dinero y Amor, or perhaps the best capirotada (Mexican bread pudding) you’ve ever imagined.


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