Swapping Chisme at Ric Ron’s

I was posting something on a FaceBook page about post-pop music created by Eric Bosse (my doppelgänger who spells his name with a C). I shared a link to a song by a band called Shock Header Peters. They arose from the dissolution of the Lemon Kittens (mostly known for band member Danielle Dax). Anyway, I mentioned a fond memory of my father. First, let me explain what will be the punchline below. The Shock Headed Peters named themselves from the German children’s book, Der Struwwelpeter, which, in English translations is titled either Shockheaded Peter, or Slovenly Peter. The books are famous for the buzzer and grizzly images to scare your kids shitless and make them behave. For instance, there’s a little story about a little girl who plays with matches. She, of course, burns to death. Anyway, back to my father. I was maybe sixteen and hanging out at the family bookstore. The phone rang. My father answered, “Aldredge Book Store.” He paused while the other person spoke. Then: “I’m sorry, but that’s a very personal question.” He hung up the phone returned to perusing the Weekly World News. “Well,” I finally said. “What was that all about?” “Oh, they wanted to know if I had a Slovenly Peter.”

And then there was the occasion I was doing some minor leather restoration on a set of 18th century bindings. The phone rang. He answered. “Aldredge Book Store.” Pause. Then: “No, but I think I have a book about rats in Tibet. … Hello?” He shrugged and hung up. He returned to pricing a stack of Texana items. “Well?” He looked over at me. Took a sip from his can of Lone Star beer. “Wanted to know if we had anything about Meissen china.”

@@@@@

Today was the deadline for the Neighborhood Film Project. Friday, Feb. 17. 3pm. The date and time had been stamped on my brain since my first day of shooting, back on February 8th.

Here’s a random screen grab. My star, Lisa Suarez, is so damn appealing.

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I can’t remember when I first came up with the story concept. When I decided to enter the contest I was assuming Seme and I would collaborate on a Dance for the Camera piece. Her choreography, my cinematography and editing. But then had the opportunity to take a workshop in Brussels. Pretty cool. I rethought things and decided to do a straight narrative.

My idea was all dependent on Lisa Suarez. Sure she’s shouted out to me on the night of the Jump-Start Performance Party something like, “When are we going to work together.” But was she serious. I decided to write a short script where I could exploit her ability to play an elderly woman. I created the charter of a woman who runs a local theater hitting tough times. She decides to use her theatrical skills to transform herself into an old lady and rob a bar. I was thrilled when Lisa said yes.

There were several things working against me. Lisa is a very busy woman. And I had to accommodate to her schedule. I’m not complaining. I knew this going in. Besides, if I win this film contest, it will be because of her. She’s fucking amazing–clearly the secret weapon giving me an edge. There was also the problem that I needed to shoot some b-roll of dense First Friday crowds. But the one opportunity to shoot was such a cold and miserable night that there were no crowds. And worst, I guess, was the fact that I had no crew. I’ve not shot a narrative in three or four years. I’ve fallen out of touch with my so-called crew base. And I put off the pre-production so long that I wasn’t able to give potential crew a reasonable lead-time to adjust schedules.

My crew consisted of three friends. On one day I had two. On two days I had one. And on one day I had none–just me.

When it came down to me editing the footage, I was dismayed that the audio on some of the days was way too soft. I can’t fault my crew. I established the audio settings. Well, we do what we can do. Hopefully we learn. I think I fixed some of the problems I created for myself shooting the JSPC Performance Party video. I became more conscious of my aperture. I created a solid workflow during the editing process. And I delegated more to my tiny crew.

I wish I had secured a couple of locations I never actively pursued. I wish I had started earlier. And I wish I had had a larger crew. But nonetheless, I had a masterful cast and a small but wonderful crew, I enjoyed every shoot. What a great time!

Here’s a clip from the film:

At around 2:30 I dropped my entry off at the offices of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. Manuel Solis, who runs the GCAC’s CineFestival (and I assume all their media programs) told me they’d already received about 30 entries. Knowing how insanely tightly filmmakers ride a deadline, I was confident that there could still be 30 more entries. As I was chatting with Manny, Pablo Veliz entered to drop off his entry. He told me his was for the westside. Mine, the southside. Good. Who wants to compete against Pablo?

I went home to hang up my laundry. And because I hadn’t eaten all day, I decided to chase down a mid-afternoon breakfast. My choice was Ric Ron’s Cafe. Their food is good but not great. But they are open 24 hours a day. And, really, trying to find a Mexican Cafe open after 3pm in San Antonio isn’t so easy — they’re basically breakfast and lunch. I had a tasty cheese enchilada platter.

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Then I headed home to take a nap.

But Deborah called. She said she was at Ric Ron’s and would I like to join her.

I don’t believe in the supernatural, but in the interest of a narrative device, it’s clear we have a psychic connection.

I rushed right over. I mean it was Deborah. And I don’t say no to Deborah. When I say down at her booth, I pulled out my iPhone and showed her the photo I had taken of my Ric Ron’s cheese enchilada which I had eaten only an hour earlier. And to make it stranger, she was sitting at the same booth I had been sitting at. And the booth we normally sit at was one space away.

We hung out for a couple of hours, drinking bad coffee and swapping chisme. I’d also brought along my laptop and a copy of my film to give her. We watched it on the table, but because the audio on a laptop isn’t so robust, and there were other conversations going on, I did my best to explain the storyline. She seemed to enjoy it. I popped out the disc, gave it to her, and suggested that she watch it somewhere where she could control the volume.

I headed back home to take my laundry off the line.

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