Nice Days in San Antonio

Friday.

A nice San Antonio day. I started things off with a late breakfast at Los Sarapes, one of my local eateries. Their chicken chilaquiles in a tomatillo sauce is sweet ambrosia. I lounged in my booth, sipping coffee and reading the paper. I hadn’t read the Express-News in months. It’s become a piss poor excuse for a newspaper. Or so I’d thought. This issue was heady with conflict, San Anto-style. All sorts of shit about the Alamo. The 175 anniversary of the battle is underway. There was a story about the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (a seething and disfunction snake pit of bigoted harridans), and how charges have been aimed their way that they have mismanaged resources. There was also an article as well as an editorial about the goddamn tourist traps in Alamo Plaza, like the Ripley’s Museum. And then there was a piece about how the Alamo narrative taught in schools ignores the importance of the Tejanos, those people here for generations before the fight at the Alamo–people who, in fact, built the Alamo, and the missions, and this city.

Next I stopped by URBAN-15 to drop off my video projector. They want to use it for their event Saturday night. A big party where the ensemble members watch a live feed from the Carnival parades in Brazil. George Cisneros wasn’t around. He’s in Savannah. David Rubin’s Psychedelic Show, which originated at the SanAntonio Museum of Art, is now on the road. And George has a room-sized installation. So I guess he was traveling to set it up in Georgia.

There are a couple of things which have happened concerning URBAN-15 and George Cisneros having to do with Luminaria–actions I find fairly disturbing. I hope these over-sights and poor behavior seemingly originating from Luminaria can be resolved. I don’t want to see something with such great potential as Luminaria becoming a battlefield because of petty and ill-advised behavior.

Time will tell.

I then had to motor up to the outer cracker belt where Seme Jatib is teaching at some suburban dance studio. She wanted to show me what she’s been working on with her three dancers. She has a work in progress which she will be presenting at Luminaria. I like it a lot. Very energetic.

She also showed me a few parts of a long work she will be presenting in April and May, work which she wants me to help with video work for the final multi-media performance. And I’m already coming up with greet ideas. It’s gong to be two extraordinary performances!

I drove back home and began gathering video and audio equipment. I’d been asked to video tape the First Friday show at Jump-Start.

The show, titled “Fish Tale,” was part of Jump-Start’s window series. These are free shows which seem to happen during First Friday events. They’re short and innovative, and utilize the large window which looks out from the theater’s lobby. Sometimes that action also happens outside, in front of the window. “Fish Tale” was created by Billy Munoz and ST Shimi, with Shimi performing the solo performance art piece.

I showed up with my 7D. I love this camera, but the limitation of each clip (about 12 minutes, and you need to start again), while doesn’t bother me when shooting production style, is a bitch when you’re shooting a real world event which unfolds for more than those measly 12 minutes. But, I knew I had two performances to shoot. I’d have material with which to cut back and forth to.

Once I checked out the layout of the performance space, I left my stuff inside Jump-Start and checked out some of the galleries and studios. Now that Annette Laundry and her husband (both excellent photographers) have moved into a space upstairs from Jump-Start, I now have another studio where I can drop in and visit with a talented artist who I enjoy talking with.

I made it back to “Fish Tale” and set up my tripod for the first performance. I had almost no idea how the piece would unfold. But I knew I would have a second chance to shoot. So, suddenly, show time!

It was a great piece.We open on a beach. This is a region of pavement in front of the Jump-Start window. A woman who is visiting the beach as a tourist is having a nice relaxing time in her lounge chair as she slathers on the suntan lotion and then begins to read a magazine. But then things go wrong. She begins to explore. Discovers tar balls all over the place. The damn stuff is on her skin. She can’t get it off. Not with rubbing, not with sea water. She panics. And then she finds herself turning into a fish … well, sort of a Lady Gaga sexy mermaid. This takes us to the second and final act. She appears inside, fully fishyfied. The tableau is a lovely art-designed underwater set with seaweed and shit. Fans mounted on the floor of the stage (the seafloor) are blowing Shimi-fish-Gaga’s blond wig all over the place, and it looks damn well like she’s swimming around. All is wonderful as this sexy fish-woman is cavorting under the sea … until the music turns terse. And a curtain slowly rises, from the bottom of the window, to the top–it’s the rising of crude oil mucking up the ocean. Shimi-fish is struggling, panicking. It dons’t end on a good note. (A smart mom adroitly escorted her toddler son off when she saw how the narrative would play out … she left the boy with a sweet memory of “that pretty mermaid girl.”)

The second show was just as good. I switched angles. And I think I cut together both performances.

As I was packing up my equipment, I took this still image. Troy Wise was snapping some of his brilliant photos after the show, and I surreptitiously snapped a few shots of my own from the wings. Here’s a nice shot of Shimi, in her under-the-sea environment. And even though the photo is from behind, I think most people will agree that ST Shimi is sexy and compelling and outrageously fit from any point of view.

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Saturday.

Another nice San Antonio day.

I caught up on my RSS feeds. Had a sumptuous double cappuccino from the espresso machine. And eventually I made my way downtown. I had a meeting with ST Shimi. And because I had squandered away so much time making dirty love to dark roast coffee and foamed milk whilst browsing Reddit, I realized I didn’t have time to walk or take the trolly downtown. So I hopped in my truck and drove to my favorite and super-secret parking space which is always available. Because I was lugging my camera with me, I took a couple of photos around the corner where I park. Check them out. Maybe you will recognize the block and crack my code.

I met Shimi at Luke. And as much as I want to add an apostrophe and “S,” I’ll respect the signage and website. It’s a Louisiana-style eatery on the River Walk. I’d been there once before with Shimi and Marisela. Good fishy fare with nice happy hour prices.

The bottom line is, this place is too damn fancy for me. But one of the things which endears me towards Shimi is her love of mildly sophisticated comforts. She’s not a snob, but she loves good food, good drink, and generally being treated special. I can dig it. And though it isn’t my personal custom, I do enjoy this world on occasion.

I got there about five minutes before Shimi. I took a seat at the bar and ordered a pricy and tasty brown ale on tap. When Shimi showed up, we decided to sit outside. We ordered the craw-fish boil, because Shimi had been thinking about craw-fish all day. And little did I know, Shimi wanted us to sit outside because she’d learned a Mardi-Gras-esque river parade was scheduled at a bit after we arrived.

It was pretty cool. We were looking over a stone wall down at the river as boats filled with costumed dancers threw beaded necklaces up to us. It was a lot of fun.

Our meeting involved several projects. First there is our Luminaria project. It’s a film and live performance collaboration. We still need one more night of shooting. And then there is a performance coming up at Jump-Start. There is a need for some video, and I’ve been asked to help out. Of course I said yes. Once things are put into place, I’ll mention in this blog the particulars. And then there was a lager matter. Jump-Start wants to bring me on as their official video person. The pay might not be so great, but I will know in advance what work is coming my way. Also, I will be working with people I respect and care about. But most important, I will be in a position to expand my relationships with some of the most interesting and accomplished creative individuals working in the performance arts of San Antonio.

I feel incredibly honored to be asked to be part of what I have called on several occasions the only truly experimental theater in San Antonio. Also, Jump-Start is the venue where some of the most interesting dance performances are held. There are easily ten individuals who are either Jump-Start company members, or folks who often perform at Jump-Start, who I hold in rock star status–well, local rock star status. It’s very satisfying to find myself on friendly terms with people like Shimi, Lisa, Monessa, Steve, Billy, Dino, Laurie, Marisela, Ana, Doyle, and on and on.

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Back home I took a nap. And then I headed out to pay my rent check … a bit late, but I’ve been distracted recently. True, not an excuse I would ever articulate, but, well, whatever ….

As I was leaving the house to drive to my landlady’s place I noticed Doyle Avant riding his bike down my street. I had been talking to Doyle the previous night at the Jump-Start window show. Doyle does, on occasion, these massively brilliant performance art monologues at the W-I-P (Works in Progress) program at Jump-Start. He’s a very good performer, but what always amazes me is the writing he does for his monologues. He’s probably the best writer currently working in San Antonio. And, yes, I know what I’m saying. He’s even better than me.

I dropped my rent check off to my landlady. I then made a stop at my grocery store (the La Fiesta on S. Flores). The lovely young Latina working the register was new to me. I read her name tag. Disney. I really wanted to ask her how she felt about her name, but because I have little respect for the Disney industry I was afraid I might come across dickish. Actually, it could be a pretty name, were it not tainted by, well, you know, Disney.

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Around 9:45 tonight I decided to head over to URBAN-15. I was invited to their private viewing party. They were watching the Carnival events from Brazil televised on satellite TV. I’ve been to a couple of these parties before. The feed from Brazil is insane. This stuff is pure psychedelia. You need no drugs. But it’s exhausting to watch this sort of stuff. The imagery is so dense and varied that the brain, at a certain point, no longer cares to try and make sense of all this vibrantly colored madness.

And so, tonight at URBAN-15, I had a great deal of fun, for a short period of time.

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