As a Brownsville native who has spent much of his life in the Rio
Grande Valley, I can testify that the region has much to recommend it,
but live music has never ranked near the top of that list (excluding
the Valley's undisputed history with conjunto music). The only notable
rock bands that ever visited the McAllen-Edinburg area (where I grew
up) when I was a teenager were either yet-to-break (AC/DC) or way past
their expiration date (Alice Cooper). If you were at your commercial
peak, this was not a logical tour destination.
But, very quietly, the Valley has begun to assert itself as a market for live music. SA bands such as Girl in a Coma and Bombasta have established fan bases in McAllen and arena-level acts such as Aerosmith and Santana have recently performed in Hidalgo County.
This weekend, however, marks the Valley's biggest leap into the musical big leagues, with the South Padre International Music Festival, a three-day blowout including Robert Randolph & the Family Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jaguares, Plastilina Mosh, Robert Earl Keen, and a host of others.
SPIMF is the brainchild of Tim Hayden, an Austinite with Harlingen roots, who serves as president of GamePlan Marketing and Events. Hayden says the festival-friendly layout of South Padre played a key role in his decision to organize the event. "It's built for people to have multiple experiences in a day," Hayden says. "It's one big amusement park."
Hayden estimates that the festival will draw 10,000-15,000 people, adding that his goal is to reach 30,000-50,000 within three years.
The South Padre International Music Festival runs from Friday, November 2 to Sunday, November 4. Three-day and one-day tickets are still available, and can be purchased by calling GetTix at 1-866-433-8849. For more info, go to www.spimusicfest.com.
“Hey hey! Ho ho! We want clean energy and we want it today!”
It was made-for-TV outside and in CPS Energy’s downtown offices as dozens of protestors from Austin to Kingsville pumped up and down the street chanting, waving signs. They drew many honks of support from passing motorists and guarded stares from commuters at the opposing bus stop. The television cameras divided the turf and devoured the spectacle. But what worked for cameras in the street didn’t do so well indoors after TV crews abandoned the color shot to stake out positions inside the meeting room.
Upon entering the building, the protestors were stopped at the front desk. Though many had already signed up to address the board about their concern over CPS plans to invest in two new nuclear-power plants, the group found themselves instead being directed to a corner of the front hall where they were expected to observe piped-in proceedings on television. The meeting room, they were told, was full. They erupted.
About 30 minutes of bullhorn-enhanced chanting created a buzz in the boardroom, but only after the group rushed the double doors beyond the security stile did it get serious.
The suits had just finished praising years of faithful service and were preparing to talk pollution control devices when a security guard rushed into the chambers and slipped the deadbolt behind. Then came the muffled sound of pounding.
On the other side, CPS security officer Dan Akeroyd braced his leg against the first set of double doors. He joked about his new job description (official doorstop) before signaling to a colleague to phone the San Antonio PD.
“Are those the crazies from Austin?” asks a CPS employee. Another, clutching a minutes-old board award, asks after alternative exits, visibly shaken. “I’m not sure I’d get through there alive,” he says, as he’s escorted down a side hallway.
While a few “Austin crazies” peppered the bunch, the majority of these excluded are from San Anto. Others had driven up from Goliad and Kingsville, where uranium mining has already claimed the drinkability of several water wells.
“Let the CPS employees out, so the people can come in!” comes the repeated request from the other side.
As SAPD and Parks Police arrive, the utility’s deputy general manager appears with an offer: space in the media room adjoining the chambers with a complete view of the meeting, “But y’all have got to promise to behave,” says Steve Bartley.
Then as the nukes are taken up there is a long chain of objections to the utility’s plans (and a couple proud endorsements thrown in by the likes of the local manufacturer’s association) before the board disappears upstairs to, presumably, grant the masses the appearance of deliberations. Two hours and counting…
“Hey hey. Ho ho.”
Update, 7 pm: Board reports unanimous vote in favor of first of what will be many b/millions for the doubling of San Anto's nuke plant.
So, outrage over CPS’s bass-ackward plan (read: CPS Must Die) for new nuke plants in Texas may have been slow to catch on, but it’s starting
scorch a bit — in town and out.
Tomorrow morning Austin City Council member Jennifer Kim is holding a press conference at Austin City Hall urging San Antonio’s leaders to hit the “pause button” on a nuclear decision.
Joining her will be lifetime agitators (I use that term in its finest possible, tho mouth-mumbledy, meaning, as in: devices whose friction makes things clean again) from the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition and the Lone Star Sierra Club.
San Anto’s Southwest Workers’ Union busted the daily's endorsement of nukes in an editorial in today’s Expressionless News.
Problem is, the troops are rallying after Mayor Hardberger came out publicly in favor of nukes last weekend. Irate residents have exactly one work day and a weekend to get heard and change his mind.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call/fax at...
Of course, there are other Board members, too, though CPS only lists one contact for them all. (That’s emailing EAPerez@cpsenergy.com or calling (210) 353-2602.)
Find out who represents you, and if you’re feeling feisty, join the ruckus that is sure to ignite CPS’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday, October 29.
Okay, we sound our guns this week on CPS’s absurd plan for
nuclear expansion to the detriment of sustainable development. I, for
one, would be more encouraged about finding our way forward without CPS
if there had of been more than three of us to greet Greg Pahl when
he came to the San Antonio library earlier this month.
Thankfully, the revolution this former U.S. American Military Intelligence officer came to support had nothing to do with do with Hugo Chavez or South American coca. Instead, Pahl brought invigorating examples of communities across the country creating their own energy solutions, what Pahl has termed “community-supported energy.”
Examples included: Hyper-efficient, “co-housing” community outside Ashville, North Carolina; a middle school solar project that inspired solar across Crested Butte; one co-op’s divestment from nuclear and expansion into the renewables market; and an Alaska resort that has made geothermal even more affordable now one step closer to total self-sufficiency.
While the number of listeners at one point approached a strong dozen (thanks to the library serf who circulated floor by floor to let the page-turners know he was in the house!), some of us have seen exponential growth happen in similar movements before. Get his Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook and join the struggle to protect and strengthen our communities — with or without CPS.
Then again, if we all lean enough (this is supposed to be representative government, after all) perhaps CPS can be righted. Get inspired about what a city-owned utility could be: read Silver in the Mine.
Friday Night Lights
While San Anto High Schools were breaking bones on the gridiron, the other futbol was being played, hidden in full light in the middle of crackertown in an odd enclave of SA municipality known as Olmos Basin. No taco trucks were found though I have seen their cousin there, the raspa/candy truck, but that doesn't do it for me, at least not then.
What follows is something between pornography and a Frederick Wiseman documentary, in other words, very few words and cold, hard documentation...
At the ever popular Beethoven, the bar/organization/singing choir rediscovered its roots for their own Oktoberfest.
And then a call went out.
A challenge was raised. A hero was needed. Like the birth of the Arthurian legend, only one person could possibly fulfull the legacy of drinking the half-gallon stein.
Hope, but then failure.
She broke through the ranks and stole the stein at the last second. The crowd went crazy. But she too failed...
Cries of "tap it off" were heard. The stein was revunated for the next challenger.
The search continued.
But even he couldn't seize history. The energy dropped. Oompah loompahers returned to their instruments.
But out of nowhere...
...an unlikely hero.
And the accordion played on?
Raw chalk porn/observational documentation to follow.
I turned around to notice this monster truck had broken through the barrier, possibly fueled on their own jet fuel. Kids, chalk, high energy performance drinks - the holy trinity.
School kids everywhere totally getting in to the zone. Good times.
After several attempts and forced handshakes, I still wouldn't buy his television.
Robby Muller's cinematography in Paris Texas was based on exactly this dialectical lighting scheme - magic hour sentimentality confronted with harsh phony fluorescence. The film - a primer on early 80s postmodernism.
Moth!fight! At first the band from Revenge of the Nerds, then the Partridge Family on speed-cut acid, then hints of Camper Van Beetoven reunion, then just an amazing band. A revelation. Their controlled chaos was epic.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...
Oh Marfa, Marfa, Marfa...
(Aka The Free Carrot and Wine Chronicles, West Texas Style)
We pulled into town at sunset and followed the mysterious lights to these two intriguing buildings. Luckily for me, I had been indirectly invited to stay for the night. These two homes are built by San Antonio architects Candid Rogers (on the left) and Beto Isunza (on the right.) At some point these two buildings will be featured in Dwell magazine I'm convinced.
Like a captain's cabin of a Danish sea ship. Outside, the vast expanse of nothing. Inside, warmth and tranquility.
(This is the loft space of the building on the left, a cantilevered structure clad in a material I believe called "Cor-10", which rusts to a wonderful red orange.)
Another view of Candid's house. The rusted metal isn't apparent in this foto due to the angle of the sun.
In the distance - the Marfa courthouse, German-tongued art nomads, Upper East Side gallery owners, and quite possibly free carrots and wine.
More mystery lights. A football game between Marfa and Ozona. Amid the invasion, old life went on and kids still hung out by the DQ while trying to bird-dog chicks. It may have been homecoming because I saw a sign in front of a house advertising mums for sale.
"Some time ago a publisher told me that there are four kinds of books that seldom, if ever, lose money in the United States—first, murder stories; secondly, novels in which the heroine is forcibly overcome by the hero; thirdly, volumes on spiritualism, occultism and other such claptrap, and fourthly, books on Lincoln,"
H.L. Mencken (1922)
The train rails in the middle of the gallery arrested my attention. Outside the Judd buildings, this seemed to be one of the larger independent spaces.
Installation? Reference to the film Giant? A remnant from the obliterated past?
At Tillery Gallery down the street towards the Thunderbird and the tracks. I thought of the rumored missile silos in nearby Alpine. Tall tales abounded over the weekend.
More military surrealism.
On a table in front of the previous two paintings was this journal full of dinosaurs getting it on. I can't remember the connection.
Still Friday night. This was still at a place called Tillery. DJs and video projections but no carrots nor wine...
We then biked over to Teatro something or other. It was an annex to Marfa Ballroom. There were posters of various rock shows all over the walls.
The notorious rabbit rouser laid claim to a hutch at a gallery at the river's edge.
Hours later the sun came up. Perhaps my most dramatic awakening yet.
In the chronology of events this is where the foto of Candid's house actually was taken.
Mobile food vending follows me everywhere. I heard they sell hummus and falafel. But by the time I came back the line was already around the block and I had already committed to a fixed price breakfast at the Brown Recluse. A total gouge. $15 for eggs, coffee, and beans. Yes, it was good but they could have had many more customers with a less ridiculous pricing scheme. Rumors of a change in ownership also abounded.
Patrolling the cosmos.
Art and immigration living in wonderful disharmony. Sounds like the tale of two Marfas as we know it.
At first I thought this might refer to anti-Mexican immigration or even anti-artist immigration. Instead, it's against the building of a highway to push Mexican trucks and commerce through here.
Soon I would be burnt and dehydrated.
Infrastructure begins. Probably a great place for 5 year olds to network.
From the name of a character out of a Dostoevsky novel, supposedly. Proto-existentialist from the beginning.
The road towards Fort Davis. I rode by bike out this far but then turned back.
A wall where I sat exactly 3 years and one day before. I was passing through from LA not knowing about Open House. With a friend we boiled water and ate dehydrated split pea soup and then got out of town. I believe jazz bassist William Parker was performing that night at the Ballroom.
Deer blinds become minimalist cubes, or is it the other way around?
The front window to a Upper East Side style corner store called Get Go. Lots of quality items inside. Too much to fathom.
Here, a view inside Beto's house. Minutes earlier the poster on the wall went up.
A signature bike I found outside the Judd Compound.
A reference to the German prisoners of war from WWII? Another tall tale was that due to the Geneva Conventions German prisoners captured in North Africa in the Rommel campaign had to be held in a similar climate so Marfa was chosen.
There were thousands of John Ford-esque moments.
The lines were blurred in this building. Though it could have been a faux finisher's masterpiece, the walls seemed original but the artwork not. These whimsical paintings were a welcomed counterpoint.
A ship on the horizon. At first I thought it was Lajitas or Big Bend but that was naive.
The barracks and buildings on the Judd Compoud stretched on and on. Europeans were everywhere. There's a wiff of a fairy tale in this image.
Next door some dudes from Lubbuck pulled up with a truckoad of art.
The infamous Camp Marfa compound, a former officer's quarters and home to German prisoners. Also a few U.S. Presidents slept with various prostitutes here, supposedly. What happens in Marfa, stays in Marfa...
A military leader that lent his name to the former compound.
Perhaps the best part of the Camp Marfa show.
Back downtown at Gallery Urbane, I believe.
San Antonio's Peter Zubiate set up shop in Marfa in a wonderful old adobe building on the west side of town.
The Judd home. Supposedly, a real open house to his home but not quite. I'll be honest, I felt a bit cheated. I wanted to get a sense of life beyond boxes but that wasn't to be.
Was this a bedroom? I wanted to go in the kitchen and library but it was closed off.
The courtyard of the Judd residence. Thoughts of Paul Bowles began to surface.
Saturday night was a free bbq dinner on the main street. Excitement was in the air.
As was rain. Panic, chaos...
Various ways to stay dry were employed.
These two women must have been locals. The rain emboldened them.
As it waned, brave pioneers ventured out for 15 minutes of fame. Sadly, no streakers.
Food was served.
Mariachis and cherry pickers worked in harmony.
Looking west along the tracks. The Amtrak Sunset Limited travels these same tracks.
A gallery by the post office I hit on the way back from the free dinner.
A tall bike outside the Sonic Youth show. NYC style. Various people would get nicknames, at least I assumed. There was the dude on the tall bike. The bald guy on the bike that looked like Moby, or at least his cousin Toby. The dude wearing a kilt. The dude will tall socks and a mesh shirt. It goes on and on...
It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be but enough for me not to get close.
The side offered a view glimpses.
And then it ended, with more mysterious lights. A fitting way to be sent back to the magnetic pull of the big city.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio Marfa. As always, to be continued...