I had fun today. It’s always a good thing when you can fill your day with wonderful people.
I started off with a shoot for my video piece I’m working on for the up-coming Jump-Start Performance Party. It’ll be next week, Jan. 8th.
This is a short promo for a fake reality TV show along the lines of “So You Think You Can Dance?” This is titled: “So You Think Your Schick Don’t Stink?”
I wanted two people to dance very badly, and one very well. I knew I wanted Mia. A ten year-old Flamenco prodigy. She’s adorable, insanely accomplished, committed to dance, and still has a playful sense of humor. She was definitely game.
And then ST Shimi agreed to do some half-hearted hoop-dancing. I’d mentioned something about how maybe she’d be hooping and so bored she was texting on her phone. She did that and went further, pulling out a magazine and flipping through it as she did her phony dance audition. I really enjoy working with Shimi–she’s brainy, beautiful, and an all-around solid talent in so many fields, such as dance, theater, performance arts, and, I’m certain, others I’m not yet aware of.
And the third of our dancers — in this case a “dancer” — the incredible Marisela Barrera. I have been in awe of Marisela for years. She’s an amazing actor, performance artist, writer, and theater director. She’s also done great work as the head of the Main Plaza Conservancy — he has managed to bring so much music, dance, art, etc. into the heart of downtown San Antonio. And only because I’d shared a stage with her for the Rudos y Tecnicos event did I feel comfortable to ask her to help out on one of my silly projects. I was honored when she said yes. And, really, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she’d come prepared with an entire realized bit. She did this interpretive “dance” performance where she essentially made love to her accordion as Nortec Collective’s Tijuana Sound Machine played. She was perfectly spay, klutzy, and all the while damn sexy. We were all more than a little amazed.
I feel so very lucky that artists such as Shimi and Marisela, whose work I’ve respected for so many years, have found time to work with me.
I’m also indebted to the actors who came to play my panel of dance show judges. Rosalinda is someone I’ve worked with almost since I came to San Antonio. I adore Rosalinda. My personal personal bias of friendship aside, she’s a solid and dependable actor. I have never seen her drop a line. She always understands every character I’ve ever seen her play. And she’s great with improv. It’s great to work with her again.
Gabe the Babe is an interesting guy. He’s a wrestler, professional mascot, DJ, actor, and I’m sure there are a few other things he does. I know him from his wrestling work. And I also know him as an actor–he’s done work in some of Carlos Pina films. Actually, I’d wanted Carlos to be in this project as an actor, but he suddenly found himself with family obligations down in the Rio Grande Valley. I knew that Gabe could give me a lot of what Carlos does so well. Solid physical acting, natural improvisational skills, and no problem looking like a fool. Carlos, as an actor, also brings some other important skills. Quick memorization of lines. And, damn, he’s always in the same place and stance from one take or one camera placement to another. Editing Carlos is a snap. So, though I was sad to see Carlos unavailable, I was glad that Gabe could come and help out. Today he did some wonderful and solid work.
And then we had Veronica. She’s a filmmaker, not an actor. But she’s Mia’s mom, so I knew she’d be on set. And I love her look — she’s a gorgeous woman. So I told her that she would be playing the role of the only sane person on the panel. So it was all reaction shots to the nonsense spouted by the others. And she did great.
It was a good day of shooting.
We were at the Radius Center. And Frank, who over-sees the space was so helpful in letting us do our scenes in the space. (Now I know that Frank does loads of other things, but I mostly know him as the Radius go-to guy. Frank brought me up to speed on some deliciously tasty chisma concerning an individual who we both know. Lawyers are involved, so I won’t go into it here. But I know I will soon bring much of the information — somewhat massaged — into a piece of short fiction. It’s a hell of a story.)
After the shoot, Shimi and I headed over to Luke’s, a new downtown eatery. Marisela had said their happy hour was worth a try. Marisela had left before Shimi arrived. So, Shimi wanted not only some eats and drinks, she also wanted to catch up with Mari.
When Shimi and I were walking towards the restaurant, we saw Marisela walking down the sidewalk. She’d already had some food and drinks, but we talked her into heading back with us to Luke’s.
We sat at the bar. I got the shrimp cup, which had a goodly portion of pan-fried shrimp, which was just slightly crunchy, covered with a delicious sauce of mayonnaise and chili power.
We had a blast. Time just melted away. I blame those tasty Belgium beers. When I finally looked at my watch, I realized I’d better scramble to make it to C4 Workspace for the second and final night of the Luminaria Media Arts proposal vetting. So, I dropped Shimi off at her Southtown home, stopped at my place to pick up my video projector, and made it to C4 ten minutes late. But because this is San Antonio, I was the first person there. I pulled down the screen, hooked up my projector and laptop and speakers, and set some chairs up.
Soon all the folks slated for the evening had shown up. We had a good time exchanging spirited comments about the various proposals. It was much like the other group last night. There were some who were strongly advocating for certain artists, as well as some who were rather dubious that a certain artist or production team could truly produce a piece of art which the film and media arts communities could be proud of.
(Parenthetic rant — feel free to skip to the next paragraph. I often find myself talking to folks in San Antonio who make movies or who want to make movies. And I tell them that movies aren’t art. They rail and bitch and moan that the Office of Cultural Affairs as well as various arts organizations — local and otherwise — aren’t bending knees in a besotted orgy of throwing money at filmmakers. Boo fucking hoo. Yes, there are scads of artists making wonderful films, and other less easily defined time-based visual works, but just because you have an HD camcorder and a horny desire to emulate a sit-com, an action film, or the latest YouTube meme doesn’t make you an artist. No. You just want to get paid chingos of money to make shit. Fine. I’ve met stand-up folks who work in the mainstream entertainment industry. Most know that they are whores. They’re not wanting to be called artists. So, unless you want people to wet themselves or laugh milk out there nostrils, please, give some deep consideration before wrapping yourself in the banner of “Art.”)
The last two nights were rather enjoyable. True, I wish we had more strong and exciting media art proposals for Luminaria; but I was able to spend time with people who I respect and whose company I enjoy. Victor and I wrangled a good group for our committee.
I was lying in bed late this morning, curled up with my laptop, watching “Exit Through the Gift Shop” off Netflix streaming. I was also trying to figure out how to shape my day. I knew I needed to do laundry. And that was about it.
And then the phone rang. It was Deborah. She wanted to know if I was interested in joining her for breakfast. She called at 11:30. This should say something about the both of us. I said, yes. It was clearly time for breakfast. Besides, I never say no to Deborah. She said she was on the newly opened stretch of the river walk. It passes about two hundred feet from her new apartment. And the extended river walk passes very close to Eva’s Cafe, one of Deborah’s favorite south side eateries.
I paused the movie. Jumped in the shower. And soon I was enjoying a great cup of coffee and Deborah’s company. I must say that the food at Eva’s has never disappointed, but still, it’s nothing too extraordinary; however, today’s chilaquiles plate was fucking sublime.
We caught up on what we’d been doing during the holidays.
Afterwards, I drove her to her studio. Before she got out I asked what she was doing for New Years Eve. Last year we’d gone to watch the fireworks in HemisFair Park. It was so wonderful. And then we went to Ric Ron’s (a 24 hour dive of a cafe where everyone’s quite nice), and we each had our first cheese enchiladas of the new year. It was a warm and wonderful memory. But, no, this year she had her own plans with other people.
We can’t always have what we want.
So I went home and did a load of laundry.
I decided to go downtown for the early part of new years eve. URBAN-15 was opening the festivities — a free night of entertainment. South Alamo Street between Durango and Market Street was closed off. There were, I believe, four stages in the area. There were carny rides, food and drink vendors, and entertainment all over the place.
I drove to C4 to get a closer parking space. I could have walked from hem, but this saved me about 15 minutes. I got to the stage under the HemisFair arch just as URBAN-15 was being announced.
I shot some stills and some video. But with this new 7D, I’m still getting used to what it can do. I was downtown for about three hours shooting stills and some video. But it wasn’t until the final 20 minutes that I realized I had my ISO set at 100. No wonder the low light was pissing me off.
It was a great vibe. Lots of families. There was a family on the South Alamo Street bridge between Market and Commerce. The dad was holding the camera and telling the three little kids, his wife, and what looked like two grandparents to squeeze in. And then he stopped, and peered around his camera. “Could we get rid of the Bud Lite?” The camera guy’s wife turned to the middle-aged man beside her. “Ay, Raul! Hide your beer!”
Oh, and there was another sweet moment which was so San Antonio. An older Mexicano couple (maybe on their young sixties) were near the main stage. The old guy had a nice DSLR camera. He held it up and pointed the lens at two Muslim women. One was maybe in her 50s or 60s. The other was about 30. “Hey,” said the man with the camera. “Smile!” The two women turned around. They both had their heads covered with tightly wrapped scarfs. And they also had the lower portion of their faces covered by another scarf.
So, they saw these two smiling aging Hispanics, one with a camera. What the hell. They posed, arms over shoulders, hugging in tight. I assumed they were mother and daughter.
I heard a click. The guy with the camera took his shot. His wife was thanking the women and reaching for the camera. But, no. Camera man said to the women, “I didn’t see you smile. Let’s do another.” The women were still engaged, laughing. The older woman was not going to expose her mouth. But the younger woman had no problem. She pulled the veil down and gave a big broad smile. She even noticed me, standing off to the side, grinning and laughing, and she laughed along with me. Picture taken. Everyone happy. I love this innocence here in San Antonio. It’s beautiful. When I hear people here being snarky or sarcastic, I just walk away, They are not what San Antonio is about. We’re about inclusiveness. Warm honesty. The real and honest people of San Antonio will ask to take your picture because you don’t look like anyone they’ve ever seen before. And that’s weird and wonderful and exciting. They haven’t started judging you, because they don’t know you yet.
I walked over to the Alamo. Checked out the Arneson River Theater. And I walked over to La Villita and the stage there. There was also a stage at the Convention Center. I stopped at the DJ area where Gabriel Velasquez was spinning discs. Ramon Vasquez was also there. He and Gabe are good friends. And Ramon’s mother, Gloria, was also there. I like Gloria. She’s smart, brave, and has a disarming sense of humor.
Here’s a photo of the Monkey Maze.
After a couple hours I headed back to C4. I realized I needed to hit the grocery store — if it was still open. So I got in my truck and made a run to my La Fiesta on S. Floras. Yep, they were still open. After getting some of life’s staples (corn tortillas, homey, grapefruit juice, yams, onions, chilies, eggs, and a bunch of those huge cans of Foster’s beer) I headed home.
And so now I’m back home. The laundry’s down. I’ve cleaned up the more obvious typos of this blog which was written yesterday. And at this very moment I’m listening to my Blip.FM channel — “John E. Smokes” by the Butthole Surfers. And so, yes, I’m alone, drinking, and feeling sorry for myself.
It is currently 11:41 in the pm.
Actually, I don’t so much feel sorry for myself, as I wish I had one of the shrimp cups from Luke’s.
And then I think, wait, I just came from the grocery store. I haven’t yet stowed away all my purchases. But, the question is, did I buy anything worth eating?
I think I’ll have another beer and give it some thought.
Happy New Year, everyone. See you all on the other side. 2011 is gonna kick ass!