The Middle-Aged Mouseketeer Dangerously Dogpiled

I had a nice weekend, if you include Friday.

I woke up on Friday around nine, had some coffee to wash down a sweet potato empanada left over from the day before. Did an hours worth of editing on a little video for hire project. Around eleven I walked to a friend’s house a couple blocks away. She’s an artist who is placing one of her video works into the lobby of a local governmental agency. Her background is primarily in painting and photography, but she’s been slowly moving into video work. I’ve provided some tutoring for her in regards to editing video. Today, we worked on the piece she’ll soon be delivering. I’m not sure if the format we arrived at will best be served by the machine which will be installed. If there is some problem in getting the flat screen monitor / DVD player to switch over into anamorphic mode, we might have to do a quick reconfiguration of the DVD. The piece is very nice, languid and flowing–shifting patterns of reflected light creating lovely abstract movement. I always like to see successes come to my artists friends who are, not only accomplished in their fields, but wonderful human beings as well.

The next step in my day was to meet with Seme Jatib at C4 Workspace. She’s still relatively new to San Antonio, and we were going to visit URBAN-15. I was afraid if I didn’t drive her, she might get lost.

Seme has an idea for a series of dance film screenings. I’m all for it. In fact, we’re working on this together. I thought URBAN-15 might be a good fit, as they are deeply involved in dance, film, multi-media, as well as multidisciplinary performances. And even if URBAN-15 might not be the best venue for Seme and me to try this screening series, I thought it was important for Seme to meet two important members of the San Antonio art and cultural community, George and Catherine Cisneros. You see, sometimes there are people who you know have to be brought together. George and Catherine both have an extraordinarily deep knowledge of all the important players in the entire spectrum of artistic disciplines from the last five decades, and beyond. Seme has studied intensely in the history of dance, music, film, and art, and I wanted her to see that were people here in San Antonio who could speak her language (and I’m not just talking Spanish). One of the the things I respect about George and Catherine is that they are cosmopolitans. This is a hard thing for an American to pull off. And to be quite candid, this is why educated Mexicans find Americans so provincial and backwards. We just don’t know what’s going on in the world of the arts outside of our own country. This is true even of the majority of our academics.

I hope Seme and I can find a home for our four part dance-in-film screening program.

My next stop was the San Antonio Neighborhood Film Project. This is a great collaboration between the Office of Cultural Affairs and the San Antonio Film Commission. They asked local filmmakers to submit pieces–none more than 8 minutes–which highlight any of three particular neighborhood self-guided art tours.

The contest was open to professionals and amateurs alike. There was also a category for students. There were three neighborhoods, and two categories–students and otherwise. Six prizes in all. The three student winners would receive $1,000 each; the three non-students would receive $3,000 each. This is fucking awesome!

A juried San Antonio film contest was created to give out $12,000 in cash prizes! This is just crazy–San Antonio filmmakers are used to PAYING money to get recognition (such as the 48 Hour Film Project). Finally San Antonio Filmmakers are being recognized with hard cash. This neighborhood film project, along with Luminaria, understands that to respect the artists means to pay the artists.

@@@@@

Saturday.

I found myself wrestling with technology again. Simple shit, really. My iPhone cable has been so abused that it’s got little shorts on each end. It used to be, I’d just jiggle it a bit, and that’d be fine. But no more. I had to beg use of someone else’s cord today.

And now my little usb card reader I use to transfer images off my Panasonic Lumix has self-terminated. I could use the camera to computer cord that came with the camera, but hell if I know where it is. I’m awash in various cables–firewire, usb, vga, s-video, bnc, rca, xlr, half-inch, quarter inch, mini, micro, blah, blah, and blah.

I have loads of photos from today. I guess I’ll go buy a new card reader. Maybe I’ll even clean up this apartment…’cause I know that cable’s here, hiding amide the unspeakable clutter.

After a quick breakfast of ice coffee and ramen noodle soup, I rode to C4 Workspace. My main reason was to use Todd’s iPhone power cord and juice up my phone (in retrospect, of dubious purpose, because no one called me). I answered a few emails and tweaked a video edit a bit.

Here’s a plea from C4 Workspace for the half-dozen folks who read this blog. Todd and Debbie are happy with the number of full- and part-time members (though they can certainly handle more!), but they want to see more people coming in on an occasional walk-in basis. They’ve put quite a bit of time, money, and vision into bringing the co-working concept to San Antonio. The idea is that if you are a freelancer or perhaps are employed by a company that lets you work from home, or where ever (I’ve seen the term “digital nomad” used on occasion), then it’s likely that you’re used to working on the fly, in a portable manner. It’s quite amazing what can be done with a wifi enabled laptop, a cell phone, and a light weight streamlined external drive. You see these people all the time at coffee shops. It’s not fair to assume that all the people hunched over laptops at Starbucks are narcissistic tossers updating their social media networks. Many are these increasing bands of freelancers and digital nomads. Coffee houses are great. But there are times when you want to be somewhere with a printer, copy machine, fax, and a quiet room (where you can make a phone call without the noise of the espresso machine cutting you off periodically). C4 Workspace has all this. They also have free coffee. Maybe not up to Starbucks quality, but, again, free. There is also a conference room, if you need to make a pitch to an investor, or impress a client. And there is also the bonus that you can be sure that all the people around you are technologically savvy early adopters, who are doing much more interesting things than simply updating their social media networks. This means, if you have a problem, you can ask anyone around you–this is the human resource of co-working. It’s a gregarious and sharing tribe who have no problem with this sort of ephemeral collaborative exchange of ideas. A sort of open-source HR dept.–also, there is often some free eats out on the counter of the community kitchen area.

If you’re interested, drop me a line. I have a few free day passes so you can check it out.

Learn more on the website: http://www.c4workspace.com/

Or, to understand the thinking behind the pricing structure check out this page:
http://www.c4workspace.com/2010/03/whats-up-with-the-prices/

Also, you get to hang out with me. I have the cluttered corner in the far back. And, of course, everyone is super nice, you know, if you need to borrow something like an iPhone power cord.

So much for my PSA.

My phone’s battery was topped off around 12:15. So I doused myself with sunblock, tied a bandana over my bald head, and rode my bike to the west-side. The ride over to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center from my neighborhood is a fun route. I take S. Alamo towards I-10. As you go under the highway, the street becomes S. Frio. Turn left on Guadalupe. You have to take an elevated hump over the train tracks. And that’s when I realized how out of shape I’ve become. But, of course, the ride back down, was a thrill. Just a few short blocks down Guadalupe, through the light at S. Brazos, and you take a right into the Plaza Guadalupe.

The 14th annual Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice was well into the preliminary assembly and program of speaking. The march itself was slated for 1pm.

I pulled my camera out of my shoulder bag and shot some pictures as I walked through the crowd. I finally saw Veronica with her husband and their two daughters. I marched with them last year.

As the speeches were going on in heavy earnest, Veronica and I caught up on some NALIP-SA business, a film festival she’s working on, a film festival I’m working on, our own projects, and, of course, general San Anto chisme.

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Matthew Mendez, who was in the Creative Tao show with me at the Keller-Rihn Studio, had also ridden his bike to the march. He’s a downtown guy, renting an apartment overlooking Main Plaza. He was out taking pictures and basking in the leftist, progressive, and great labor unionist energy.

I used a couple of safety pins to attach my medium-sized UFW flag to the handle bars of my bike. As the crowds left the plaza to line up for the parade, I walked to a place in the middle with Veronica and her family, rolling my bike beside me. I saw fewer people I knew than last year. But the crowds seemed the same size.

This year Gabriel Velasquez was the March Coordinator. Gab’s training is as an architect. But he’s most know as a DJ, an Chicano activist and community leader, and, most recently, the driving force behind Una Noche de La Gloria, an amazing night of art and culture in the autumn of 2009 at this very place where the Chavez March begins. I do hope La Gloria will become an annual event.

Once the crowd began to move, I saw Jessica Torres on the corner of Guadalupe and Brazos. She was standing on a bench. I think she was texting. On the pavement beside her was Sarai Rodriguez, who I haven’t seen in at least a year. They either didn’t here me shout to them, or maybe just decided to ignore me.

Pablo Veliz was running up and down the crowd as we took Guadalupe from Brazos to the railroad overpass. I don’t know what he was doing (he didn’t have a camera, or anything), but he looked pretty busy.

I had a great time. It’s always a blast to be in a large group of people marching for a cause you believe in.

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The march ended at the Alamo. I decided to forgo the speeches at the stage at the end of the route. I removed the United Farm Workers flag from my handle bars, stowed my camera in my shoulder bag, and I pedaled my way to the east-side to check out the Dignowity Hill Pushcart Derby.

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Sadly I was late for much of the real fun. I missed the Methane Sisters who were doing some MC work early on.

But, still, it was a blast. I was talking with Angela and Rick Martinez of Slab Cinema. They were selling herbs to help fundraise for a neighborhood school. As me and Angela were talking Elaine Wolff came up and bought some dill. She didn’t look over to me. I wanted to thank her for mentioning me on her Twitter feed during Luminaria, but I hate to be a pest to people who I know are always being pestered. It’s always good to see Elaine Wolff, even though I’m not sure she actually knows who I am (yes, we’ve met once (years ago), we’ve exchanged emails, and, I’m not sure about this, but I think we spoke, once, on the phone). She’s awfully cute.

I spent some time talking with Jacinto Guevara. He was perched in the caged interior of artist Oscar Alvarado’s Art Cart, which was one of the highlights of Luminaria (even though it was not an official presentation–I love guerrilla art!!!). Jacinto is very brainy, and I love his irreverent playful sense of humor.

I got pulled into various conversations (George Cisneros bought me a pecan paleta!) and I only got to watch one of the pushcart races, but I did learn that team Calypso won. Filmmaker Sterling Abrigo came up and told me his team had won. He often collaborates in making films with his friend Julian Moreno-Peña (Julian had won a thousand bucks the night before on a film he had done for the SA Neighborhood Film Project (Sterling did the compositing work on the credits)). Pretty impressive. These kids are teaming up and winning film contests as well as pushcart derbies!

Earlier, at the derby, when I was talking with Angela at her herb station, artist Gary Sweeney walked up. He and Angela know each other. I was introduced to him as a “filmmaker.” Gary, so I learned, is getting into video work. (Now I should point out that I know Gary’s work, he’s a very well-known and accomplished local art figure–actually, he kind of knew my work, having seen the Luminaria piece I did with Shimi).

Gary was carrying a HD camcorder.

“Hey,” he said to me, his attention drifting over to the wrestling ring set up over by the restrooms–kids were using it like a bouncy castle. “Can you help me on a film I’m working on?”

It’s Gary Sweeney, I thinking, so, of course, hell yeah!

“Let’s do it,” I said, and I followed him up to the wrestling stage. There were a lot of kids jumping around up on that stage, that wrestling ring. I laid my bike down and took Gary’s camera.

“I want to get into that ring,” Gary said. “If I ask all those kids to jump on top of me, do you think they’ll do it?”

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I gave a little laugh.

“I guarantee it.”

He headed to the ring and I started to roll. He climbed up onto the stage/ring and told all these wild street urchins that he wanted them to jump on top of him. They were wild, just wild for the idea. He dropped down, and they swarmed, with no remorse, like angry ants. I shot something weird and amazing. I think there was a moment where Gary was a bit afraid. I mean there were twenty or so adolescents dog-piling him. I might be wrong, but I think I shot footage of panic on his face. And that’s why I can claim It was all good fun.

And, later, I saw Justin Parr shooting another Gary Sweeney situation, using the man’s camera. I can’t imagine anyone saying no to Gary. He’s a middle-aged mouseketeer.

After things quieted down, I got on my bike and rode back home.

What wonderful day!

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