February’s Final Week in Southtown

Whew! The other day I finally merged four rambling blog entries I had been accumulating for about a week and a half. They are crammed into a massive and droning twelve page skim-fest. Sorry for those folks who are looking for their names. I dropped in only a few. Although I was pleased to see that Amanda Silva replied with a happy birthday wish to a previous blog of mine. Amanda’s a beautiful young woman whose uncanny intelligence, memory, and impeccable sense of timing has allowed her shine as an actress in quite a few locally produced films. I have had the great pleasure to work with her on several projects. Amanda’s completing her undergraduate studies this May from Texas State University in San Marcos. I wish her the best. I know her as a competent and strong actress, as well as a smart and sensitive filmmaker. But I know that her interest range much broader than theater and film. Let’s all keep an eye on where she might be headed. I mean, damn, this is the woman, who, as a teenager, invited me as a local filmmaker to her cable access talk show. You have to admit that’s just cool!

Monday was a moribund and sluggish day. I admit it–I checked out over the weekend. Just withdrew, shut down. Were it not for a bike ride on Sunday when it got up into the upper 70s (!!) I might as well been stuffed into some Yukon cabin with a team of underfed huskies huddled outside, casting their baleful and ravenous eyes at the only door.

I managed to come out for a gulp of fresh air on Monday, only to be hit with a barrage of demands from phone, email, texting, snail mail, FaceBook, Twitter, and directly to my face. Missing were the messenger pigeon, telegraph, and fax (the dead languages of the modern information community).

Now that I’ve found myself pulled back into helping promote the Josiah Youth Media Festival (the screenings will be at URBAN-15 Studios, of course, this July 8-10), I’ve a new batch of responsibilities. Add the constant chatter of Luminaria demands to the hopper, and things get a bit harried. I’m also working on four video / art projects with deadlines in the next four weeks. It’s a good thing I don’t have, like you know, a real job, or I’d be fucked.

I actually stoked the engine well enough on Monday so that I was able to end the day feeling quite productive.

Tuesday, however, was just weird. I got maybe four hours of sleep–which is strange because I almost never have insomnia–but even though I was up at seven, I didn’t get out of the house until a bit after noon. The fact is, it was cold, and it was sleeting. But I finally warmed myself up in front of my stove sucking on a hot cup of thick black coffee and butched it up headed out to face the day.

My first stop was KLRN. They submitted a proposal to the Luminaria Film Committee. Their “Fresh Cuts” program of local student work. KLRN is our local PBS affiliate. A very warm and charming woman by the name of Malinda was willing to have the DVD delivered to me, but, really, the KLRN studios are only a few short minutes away from me, on the northern cusp of downtown. So I drove over to pick up the disk.

Once I made the pick up, I was driving back south through downtown on St. Mary’s. The sleet was picking up. I watched my wiper blades shoving aside a decent accumulation with each pulse.

I was heading to C4 Workspace, to get some work done. I crossed Durango, and turned right on King William. I made a u-turn, so I could park on the other side of the street. At that moment it began to snow. As I came to a stop at the curb in front of C4, I saw my friend Venus Prado, who has a part-time desk at C4, bolt out the door. She was shooting video with her little digital point-and-shoot camera. Even with my windows rolled up, I could hear her shouting. “It’s snowing in San Antonio! It’s really really snowing in San Antonio!!!”

As I opened the door to my truck she came up, accosting me.

“It’s Erik!” she shouted. “He can confirm this! Is it really snowing in San Antonio?”

I had to give my confirmation. Indeed. It was snowing. In San Antonio.

Venus was shouting, dancing in the street, and, even gave me her camera so I could record her…well, her dancing in the street with snow-joy, as she pointed to the Tower of the Americas, so that no one would doubt that, yes, it was snowing in San Antonio.

Three minutes later, it stopped snowing. We went inside. Well, I probably went inside sooner. I’m not such a fan of snow. But then I didn’t grow up in San Antonio, where it almost never snows. It might hit Fredericksburg, maybe even Sanderson, but hardly ever San Antonio.

Venus was on a tear. As I made a couple of phone calls, she’d posted the video on FaceBook. The whole three minute micro snow flurry of the King William neighborhood. Hell, there I am, in the video, looking fat, awkward, in my alpaca hat nattering on and on about some nonsense.

Here’s the video (all I have is the FaceBook posting):

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/video/video.php?v=1368184925994

Now Venus also posted her video to the local Fox News outlet. I’m not saying she’s a fan of Fox–I suspect she isn’t–but it was the one local news source whose user-provided video interface was simple and easy to use. I mean, she really wanted to share this.

Share she did.

Here’s a link to a clip on the San Antonio Fox 29 News where they used two quick clips of Venus’ video.

http://www.foxsanantonio.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/vid_1332.shtml

Venus is nuts, and I love her to death. She’s a poet, teacher, writer, theater nerd, artist, and on and on. She has hit the stage on several occasions for local performances of Rocky Horror, so it’s no surprise to find her effusive, extroverted, and just plain wonderfully silly. I’m glad to see that even though she’s recently become a mom, she can still plug directly into that pure joy of playful discovery.

My Tuesday was a burnt out unproductive waste of time. Venus’ Tuesday was a playful, giddy, and clearly unproductive day–but of course, all she did was play in the snow and play on the internet. But, hell, her play day, her snow day, connected her to so many of her friends and family via social media. Also, she managed to get her footage and her name onto the local news. Bravo–Venus rocks!

Here’s a bad photo I took, trying to capture this anemic snow flurry. Try and pretend to see the snow flakes falling.

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Monday I was hanging out at Deborah’s studio. She had company–a a friend was there, painting; also, a student of hers, was there, having a minor emotional crisis.

We were all drinking tea and coffee, listening to music, and talking about this and that. Eventually the other two had to leave. Deborah was grousing about having to put together an invitation for an art show. She belongs to a Tao group, and they are showing their art in her studio for the Blue Star First Friday in March.

I reminded Deborah that she can do this sort of stuff in her sleep. I told her I’d help. I happened to have my camera, so I took a photo of one of the paintings that will be in the show. It’s a playful abstract piece by a guy named Matthew.

After I transferred the imaged into Deborah’s computer, she went to work composing a digital file of the invitation. My part was basically moral support. As she shifted images and text about on her computer, I was lounging on her futon with my laptop and playing around with my GrandVJ software.

“Hey, do you want to be in the Tao Show?”

“What?” I looked up.

“I think your name’s going to look good on this invitation.”

“Um, well, sure.”

“Maybe a video,” Deborah said, turning to me with a smile, “Maybe your Luminaria piece.”

“Um, I don’t see how that can be Tao.”

“Yeah, there’s that,” she said. “Maybe a photograph?”

“Hell, put me down! I’ll come up with something.”

She nodded and typed my name into the invitation.

“You know,” she said softly, “this means you’ll have to start coming to the Tao meetings….” I’m not sure if she was serious, but it doesn’t sound so bad.

It looks like another of the artists from the Tao group wants to show a film. I’ll bring my projector. I was thinking of doing a film myself, but, tonight, while driving home from the grocery store, I hit upon this idea of a digital I Ching.

I use either a computer monitor or my projector to display the image. And using my VJ software, I assign two dozen video clips to be triggered by my little Akia mini keyboard. Anyone can walk up and I’ll do his or her I Ching. The easy coin-flipping method. Not only will I be able to tell the curious visitors the meaning the their randomly generated I Ching hexagrams, but they will also be able to see a projected image of six semi-transparent layers of video which I have shot. Each coin-generated hexagram will also generate a specific video collage. With a bank of 15 clips to chose from (none used more than once per projection) we’re looking at 120 combinations. (Well, I might be way off, my math skills are practically nil).

So, I’m still thinking. I’ll either make a little Tao-related film, or else I’ll play an interactive Tao video game. The bottom line is, I’ll be participating on First Friday this March 5th. I’ll be there, doing something. Deborah’s studio is the second floor in that building where Jump-Start is, Building B, I believe.

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Wednesday, Feb. 25.,

Speaking of Jump-Start, that’s where I was tonight. The monthly W-I-P (works in progress). I’m still amazed at how few people show up for this event. It’s just five fucking bucks, people. Not only do you get to see wonderful performances by dancers and performance artists, but you get to provide feedback during the critical response portion, and who knows, they might even listen to you.

Tonight was Jayne King, NRGMix, and PACDance (Palo Alto College).

Jayne’s piece suffered from an tech glitch. She was performing in accompaniment to a video projected off a DVD. Because of some sort of compatibility issue, the DVD kept freezing. As a Luddite who uses technology every damn day, I know that horror oh too well. If video formats and compression codecs and physical media and hardware and software and blah blah blah did what they claimed to do, I’d be a huge technophile. But they don’t, and so I’m not.

Each time the video froze, whether it was one second or four, I seized up myself. I’ve been there with pieces I’ve screened. But, poor Jayne, it must have been so much more intense, she was on stage, performing, and that DVD wasn’t just providing picture, but it had the audio track as well.

Oh, well. It was a nice piece. And Jayne kept here cool admirably. I liked the domesticity, where she used props from her own life. A rocking chair and a bicycle. I’ve seen Jayne riding around on her bike–we live just a few blocks from one another. And I’ve visited her house before, and seen the rocking chair. The cool thing about Jayne’s place is that she has this huge room–maybe a wall was knocked out–that’s basically empty with mirrors all around. Yeah, she’s created here own dance studio in her house. I don’t know how often she practices and works out, but she has an amazingly toned body. And so, it comes as no surprise when I see her perform a dance piece where she uses, as props, furniture usually found in the home.

The next piece was by NRGMix. There were four dancers who performed a high-energy nouveau salsa routine, dancing as two couples. They were young, beautiful, and spot-on on their moves.

A wonderful performance.

The closing piece was by some dancers from Palo Alto College. The choreographer was also one of the dancers. All I remember was that his name was Erik (or, maybe, Eric). Three woman, two men. They wore matching masks. I loved their energy and moves. Absolutely sexy, but in that weird abstract sort of way you get from modern dance…well, when it’s done well.

The best part of the W-I-P was when a guy sitting in the row in front of me looked around and said: “Hey, weren’t you here last month? Yeah, the guy who did the video.” I admitted that, yes, I was. He climbed over his seat and sat on my row. “Well, I want to sit closer and enjoy your quirky comments.”

What a nice stroke to my minuscule ego. I assume I’m basically a very forgettable person, but someone seemed to have remembered me.

Thanks!

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Thursday. Feb. 25.

I frittered away the day doing less than I should have but more than I could have.

There are maybe five people who I’ve let messages with and who I expect to get back with me, such as a certain someone with the CE Group, the marketing firm handling Luminaria. Three of them responded in one fashion or another. But not this certain someone from CE nor this certain other person who often insists that I respond “ASAP” to any email.

The bottom line is that I ask so little. And the truth is, I get even less than so little. It’s time to ask–nay!–DEMAND so fucking much.

But, really, I don’t know if I’d be comfortable making that major change in my personality. And as much as I resist becoming Erik Bosse, Asshole, I also find myself becoming exhausted in my role as Erik Bosse, doormat. Perhaps I could aim for some sort of middle ground. Yes, but it’s hard for me to dismiss this crazed hunger for vengeance.

Well, goodness, it looks like I have to set aside some time for a bit of introspection.

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The one productive activity today was my meeting at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico en San Antonio. This is where a major part of the film component of Luminaria will happen. I met with my fellow Luminaria co-chair Adam Rocha, and the director of the Instituto, Gabriela Franco Palafox (Ms. Franco is the blond in the linked photo).

It was a great meeting. Gabriela saved my ass. The Instituto is an artistic and cultural center placed here, in San Antonio, by the Mexican government to facilitate a cultural exchange. The Instituto has amazing programs and events. And Gabriela Franco Palafox is a perfect ambassador. She’s well-informed and well-connected, a perfect product of a Mexican liberal arts education. Add to that, a gracious host with a playful sense of humor, and, well, surly, we have one of my very favorite leaders within the San Antonio art community.

Gabriela saved my ass because I discovered that three of the artists I had slated to have their films projected on the outer wall of the Instituto were providing pieces with audio. Yes, I had known that, but I thought we could hook up a sound system and take it from there. But, no, the production committee wouldn’t have it. I can see their concern, but again, I ask for so little…..

Gabriela gave me a way out. She allowed Luminaria to project video in another one of her galleries.

She is currently my best friend.

Those of you who live locally and who have never been to the Instituto, check it out. Great art can be found here. Also, it’s located in one of the coolest parts of San Antonio, the HemisFair, a place where so many of the locals seem to think exists mostly for the tourists.

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Friday.

Personally I think planning outdoor events during March in San Antonio is just plain dumb. It’s still, strictly speaking, winder. And even though San Antonio is on the outer edge of balmy South Texas, it’s still a crap shoot, weather-wise. It’s just as likely to me cold and damp as pleasant. And why in god’s name did Contemporary Arts Month (CAM), a San Antonio tradition for 25 years, has decided to switch their month from July (when the weather is wonderful) to March? In the past, many CAM events happened outside.

The unpredictability and general yuckiness of March is why I prefer not to shoot exterior scenes at this time of year.

There’s this film Deborah has been wanting to shoot with a dancer on the banks of the San Antonio River. We got our dancer, a lovely young prodigy who’s been training in classical Indian dance. She’s from, I believe, Greece. She’s 12 or 13, and I’m sure was game for whatever was requested. But her father seemed a bit over-protective…though I can’t find fault there, as I believe that’s rather the very definition of fatherhood.

We were ahead of schedule, so Deborah suggested that we do a late afternoon shoot, to catch the low southern light. I was hoping for some extreme angular lighting, hitting both our dancer as well as slashing across the river in the background. We had a 1K Mole-Richardson, a 500w Lowell, and my bulky 500w ellipsoidal. Add to that a shitload of groovy gels in all the colors of the Rosco rainbow.

Oh, well. You have to be flexible and think fast on your feet. Actually, I was short on the run of extension cords. We’d planned to pull power from the home of our friend Barbara, but even with all the “stingers” (to use industry argot), I was still 35 feet short. I gave Phil a call. He’s my neighbor two doors down.

“Hey, mon, what’s up?” came his quick and chirpy Brit accent.

“Look, I’m over at Barbara’s place. We’re shooting a film. I’m in need of a really long extension cord, or, maybe, an inverter adapter to put into my truck’s cigarette lighter.”

I’d realized that as the only thing we needed power for (now that we were shooting with existing sunlight) was the CD player the girl would be dancing to; so a simple inverter would be another, valid option.

Phil, who was just two blocks away, came straight over, armed with both options. The inverter worked a charm.

A photographer friend of Deborah’s, who lives a couple of blocks away, was out walking with her little girl. She hung out for awhile. At some point she disappeared, only to show up later, on her bike (with a toddler-trailer). She now had her camera. And Barbara came out from her house, to see if she could help out. As there now was no need to move lights around, all I could do was ask her if she’d like to shoot some still images. Barbara is a very accomplished professional artist, whose work in painting, photography, and, recently, video, has been well received. She was happy to fetch her camera. On a side note, Barbara’s involved with SARA (San Antonio River Authority), on the board on on a committee, something. And this area where we were shooting has been designated as a new park, and the grand opening celebration will be tomorrow.

Other people who showed up by happenstance were my next door neighbors Dina and Bradley with their two kids. They were out enjoying the beautiful afternoon. Also, Hope came by. She lives across the street from me. Her husband, the artist Carlos Cortez, created the two faux bois benches recently installed in this little pocket park, just in time for the grand opening.

Here’s a photo I shot from the new park while sitting on one of Carlos’ benches:

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I don’t usually enjoy working with gawkers, but these were friends and neighbors, the people who make living in King William such a blast.

Here’s a quick raw screen grab from this afternoon’s shoot.

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I’ll share some of Barbara’s images when she gets them to me.

I still want to shoot down along the river at night with a brace of decently robust lights. Hell, I’d even brought my 3000 lumen projector as yet another light source. I was prepared…in a half-assed manner. I need to invest in a heavy duty gas generator which can manage 25 to 30 amps at 120 volts–this should handle somewhere in the 4 to 5 thousand watt needs for what I’d like to play with.

It’s only a question of money, right?

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