My Anticipated Souvenir Bicuspid

My bank account’s almost depleted. Not a good thing. It’s the beginning of July. I need to pay both apartment rent as well as office rent. I’ve received a letter from my internet provider threatening me with disconnectivity. I have about $1,350 in outstanding invoices. Time to start making a stink, I suppose.

On a positive note, I received a confirmation call today for a little gig I’ll be working later in the month, providing tech support for some sort of extreme cage fighting event. (I think I’ll make a little red velvet-lined box to hold my anticipated souvenir bicuspid.) However, when asked for my day rate, I responded with a figure I thought mid-level for San Antonio. The affirmative response from the event’s promoter followed so fast that I can only assume I priced myself woefully cheap. Oh well, I need money more than I need self-respect (the oft-echoed whore’s tearful lament).

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Back on First Friday (the monthly arts event and ad hoc bacchanalia here in the King William neighborhood on the southern fringe of downtown San Antonio), Deborah Keller-Rihn, Ramon Vasquez y Sanchez, and I decided to have a little fundraiser. The three of us have worked, off and on, under the collective name of Proyecto Locos since late 2005 or early 2006. Our little tag line (which I think I came up with) is: “Proyecto Locos: Promoting Art and Culture in Unique and Unexpected Ways.”

Actually, Friday was our fundraiser for a fundraiser (and when I mentioned this to ST Shimi, she thought it “very meta”…though, sadly, it’s not so much a post-modern bit of self-referential playfulness as it is a reflection of the perennial poverty of the Locos).

The grand 2010 Proyecto Locos event, sponsored by AIT-SCM (The American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions), will happen in late October at the casting pool at Woodlawn Lake. Noche de Recuerdos will feature local artists who will create illuminated floating altars to their loved ones who have passed away.

And one of our fundraisers for Noche de Recuerdos is the August 7th screening of the classic San Antonio-shot comedy, “Viva Max!”

But to provide for the overhead of the “Viva Max!” fundraiser, we realized we needed a fundraiser for the fundraiser. Deborah suggested selling raspas (snow cones for those living north of the 30th parallel). Her art studio at the Blue Start Art Complex always received hoards of visitors during First Friday. Sounded good. A cup of shaved ice and syrup for two bucks. We’d call them Raspas Locas.

Just after noon on Friday I picked Deborah up at her studio (currently I’m the only member of the Locos with a working vehicle). We dropped by Triple A Salvage on South Presa. I was hoping to find some cheap raspa syrup there. They have all sorts of over-stock and close-out items from food suppliers. It’s not as cheap as it used to be. But if you are in desperate need of 500 plastic sporks but refuse to walk into the hoity-toity restaurant supply companies, of which there are at least four in this neighborhood, Triple A is for you. I like it most for people watching. It’s fucking hardcore. I swear people in there who are loading up on ancient seven pound bags of Cool Ranch Bacon off-brand goldfish crackers, along with a 500 count cardboard box of “fancy” catsup packages, are actually shopping for food to feed their families.

We did find some little plastic cups as well as some colorful straws that terminate in those tiny spoons.

Next we headed to get the shaved ice. I knew this would be the easy part. A couple of years back I’d been pricing dry ice for a Halloween display which never happened. The best place was what I keep referring to as a raspa dealership. When I first visited, I saw several people come in and buy huge bags of shaved ice, stacked onto hand trucks.

Luckily I was able to remember where it was. It’s on Colorado, not too far north of Guadalupe. The large plastic cooler on wheels we’d borrowed from URBAN-15 was soon stuffed with shaved ice. And, later, when I had to carry it up to Deborah’s studio, I guessed it was about 60 pounds. It cost 6 bucks. The people working there were very helpful. When we asked about the syrup, we were steered clear of the gallon jugs lining the front wall. They were cheap, but flavors no one wanted. I made an inspection. The best (and by that I mean “worst”) was “spicy pickle.”

We got two jugs of the better brand. Coconut (blue) and strawberry (red). Deborah then selected one of the cheaper ones–pineapple. It was yellow. She, an artist, wanted to have all three primary colors. This would allow our customers to decorate their raspas as artistically as they might be inclined.

We stopped for a late lunch at the Malt House. This is a famous westside eatery, which I have never before visited. It’s a place for basic burgers as well as Mexican food. You can get a damn good burger, with fries and a drink for under three bucks. And add to that the great ambiance of such a great iconic time capsule.

Next we drove to the Primrose Apartments to pick up Ramon. We all were crammed into the cab of my pickup.

Because of hurricane Alex making landfall the other day at some place not far south of Matamoros, we were suffering the occasional thundershowers in San Antonio. But we hoped people would show up and by raspas.

Up in Deborah’s studio, I had my projector plugged into my laptop. I was projecting on the wall the short documentary Proyectos Locos produced back in 2006, about the Dia de los Locos parade in San Miguel de Allende. Ramon had set up his recent satirical painting of the movie “Viva Max!” on an easel. And Deborah was setting up the raspa station.

The night started out slow. It looked like it would just be the three of us eating up the profits. I mean, we were making some mean raspas!

Here’s a shot from Blue Star, looking towards Jump-Start from Deborah’s staircase:

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Also, I had to skip out around seven to watch some of the shows at the Jump-Start Performance Company. It’s basically one flight down and maybe seventy feet from Deborah’s studio. Jump-Start was putting on their second annual Off the Grid show. A free event where the company members stage various experimental works in odd places within the theater. As a big fan and advocate of Jump-Start, I’d have been there anyway. And if I didn’t have raspas locas responsibilities, I’d have stayed for all the shows.

Here are a photo of the Push Pens show:

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Mainly I was there because the great ST Shimi–dancer, performance artist, etc.–had asked if we could reprise our Luminaria collaboration. The piece was titled “River Hoop.” I had made a short film of Shimi dancing with a hula hoop. And for Luminaria it was projected on the “dance stage” as Shimi danced with her LED illuminated hoop. It was great! The film–without Shimi–screened at Main Plaza with different music. The original “music” was composed by me. And so for Off the Grid, Shimi provided me with two pieces of music. She wanted an intro, to set the piece up. And then the main bit. The music for the dance sequence was a bit over seven minutes. This meant I needed to extend the picture edit by about two and a half minutes.

I kind of like the new edit. But it still needs work. What I was most keen on during Friday’s performance was not my fancy new edit, but Shimi’s seamless and sexy live dancing. She is, as always, a mesmerizing presence.

Back upstairs the raspas sales were picking up. Deborah is a great salesperson. She has this amazing knack of connecting very quickly and personally with people. When you’re in her presence you feel so very special. This is, of course, why I’m so besotted by her. But I digress.

By the end of the night we’d recouped our 25 dollar expenses. And we’d made something like 30 bucks. But as we have everything we need (save some more ice–and that’s damn cheap), we’re all set for two more Raspas Locas events before the “Viva Max!” screening.

Speaking of “Viva Max!,” here’s a photo of Ramon’s painting. The work itself will be sold to raise money. But we will also be selling a limited run of prints.

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I love this playful and absurd work.

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