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Texas's Glasstire takes top Nat'l Summit on Arts Journalism Prize

Congrats to Texas's homegrown Glasstire, and founder Rainey Knudson -- National Arts Journalism Program members and alumni of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Arts Journalism Institutes awarded it the top, $7,500 prize in a national survey of initiatives. Finalists were featured at the summit earlier this month. Interactive digital magazine FLYP took second, and San Francisco Classical Voice takes home $2,500 for third. Glasstire is powered primarily by artists and curators, including SA's own Ben Judson (an occasional Current contributor and a co-founder of emvergeoning.com) and video collective The Prime Eights.
Go Glasstire!

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 10/30/2009 6:43:21 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Live & Local preview: Necurat

Tonight, we're heading out to see local death metal thrashers Necurat (Romanian for "dirty soul" according to the always reliable urbandictionary.com) play White Rabbit's Night of Horror. The last time we saw them, lead guitarist Jesse Molov displayed some pretty impressive soloing skills (bonus points for vocalist Matt the Impaler's windmilling his hair so expertly; see the video above). Admission is $8 (all ages), and the doors open at 7p.m. Check out the flyer below:

Posted by snuff_film on 10/29/2009 2:09:43 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Suggested Listening: The Misfits — Walk Among Us

Everyone, meet lala, if you haven't already. Sign up is free, and you can listen to any of their vast collection of albums once. I thought we'd use lala as a way to share and discuss some of our favorite albums, and since it's nearly Halloween, what better way to start than with the Misfits? Actually, I really wanted to start with Nick Cave's incredible and creepy Murder Ballads, but lala doesn't have it. Instead, we're going with Walk Among Us, technically the Misfits full-length debut, though they recorded a couple of other albums that would be released later first. For introduction purposes, it might be more appropriate to post Collection 2 because it includes their two essential "Halloween" songs and more songs from throughout their early, real career (they continue to tour without lead singer Glenn Danzig) but I like the songs on this album better. Also, if you're new to the Misfits, and not a pouty-faced teenager, 20 songs of their blend of proto-speed-metal and comic-book gore is probably a little much for one sitting.
But don't let the fear of turning into a goth kid stop you from  checking out how insectoid nightmare "20 Eyes" plays like Kafka's Metamorphosis on an amphetamine rush. "I Turned Into a Martian" is a less successful exploration of the alienation themes from "Teenagers From Mars" (found on their first Collection), but the (pretty obvious) metaphor doesn't matter as much as the anger in Danzig's voice. "Hatebreeders," on the other hand ponders the handed-down legacy of intolerance over a beat encouraging you to jump around punching strangers in the face.

"Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?" isn't so much creepy as it is an indicator that no matter how unhinged they sounded in the studio, the Misfits must've been a lot rougher live. "Night of the Living Dead," "Skulls," and "Astro Zombies" are great examples of the Misfits' most memorable trick — disguising death and dismemberment in a catchy golden-age rock 'n' roll beat. Somehow the Buddy Holly through a blown speaker bounce of "Zombies" softens the blow of Danzig's vow to "exterminate the whole human race." You've got the Misfits, to blame for a million shitty psychobilly bands, but it's amazing to me how well the originals still hold up.

It's also interesting to note that despite the Misfits reputation for violent and Satanic lyrics (other songs on other albums, JFK attack "Bullet" for example, are more gruesome) only two songs —  "Mommy," with its oedipal strangeness, and "Skulls," from the point of view of a murderer collecting children's heads — feature violence that's anything but cartoonishly exaggerated. Decide for yourself below though, and let me know what other albums you'd like to talk about.    

Posted by snuff_film on 10/29/2009 12:58:14 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Download Lil Wayne's new mix tape

You don't have to like him. You don't have to respect him. But you really can't argue with the price. Download Weezy F. Baby's newest mixtape, No Ceilings, for free at Nah Right, and let us know what you think in the comments section below. I'm a definite fan of Drought 3 but I haven't heard this and won't vouch for it. No Ceilings features Wayne rapping over the beat of Dallas's Dorrough Music's "Ice Cream Paint Job"  and a Lady Gaga riff called "Poke Her Face," so this wil probably either be really weird and awesome or completely godawful. Let's find out together, shall we?

Posted by snuff_film on 10/29/2009 12:34:35 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Show & Prove: Opening Night

The reloaded Spurs took the court last night with a familiar starting lineup that included All-Stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Michael Finley, along with sharpshooter Matt Bonner and newcomer Richard Jefferson. Facing Chris Paul and his upstart Hornets, San Antonio seized control of the game at the end of the first quarter thanks in large part to its formidable bench who outscored their New Orleans counterparts 30-0 in the first half. There were many highlights in the Spurs 113-96 victory, including RJ running the floor, DeJuan Blair debuting with a double-double, and Manu rocking the floppy gray socks with black shoes combo.

 The curious presence of Bonner and Finley in the starting five, however, took me back to a conversation I had during last season’s playoffs with Graydon Gordian, who along with Timothy Varner runs 48 Minutes of Hell, easily the most on-point Spurs blog on the net. Prior to the Spurs-Mavs series, I asked Graydon if he thought a team with Bonner and Finley in the starting five could ever win a championship. After some shared laughter this is how he replied.

 “I don’t think that this is the start of another championship run,” said Graydon. “Maybe I’m wrong. But no there never will be a team, and not because Michael Finley and Matt Bonner aren’t up to snuff but because Michael Finley will be gone in the next couple of years. Matt Bonner’s a hard player to talk about because in some ways you look at the guy and you feel that he seems so limited in so many ways. I see why Pop has gained more trust in him. He is making his shots and has continued to do it all season. On the defensive end of the ball he’s making stronger rotations. He’s not a great defender by any means but he’s certainly improved in that area. Pop has always been a guy who likes to go with balance, who likes to have not necessarily his five best players as starters. He likes to mix and match so that they play well for a full 48 minutes so in some ways that’s why Matt Bonner is out there.”

 So don’t fret Spurs fans. Another thing about Pop is that he values “corporate knowledge” of the team’s system above all, so other players will crack the starting lineup in due time. He’s also won a few NBA championships along the way.

Posted by M. Solis on 10/29/2009 12:28:37 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

We really love you, Backbeat Magazine

Hey guys,

It's recently been called to my attention that maybe some of you would like to rip me a new asshole over my calendar pick this week, and haven't been able to. Our website isn't designed to accept comments in the Calendar section (honest, check it our for yourself), and I'm pretty sure it has never really come up before. But you can't taunt someone and not give them the chance to talk shit of their own. We're schoolyard bullies but we like to think we're, like, fair-minded (also good-looking but still approachable) bullies, so I'm reposting this week's pick here. Comment away:

Welcome, Backbeat Magazine, to San Antonio’s high-stakes local-music-coverage game. Folks will call us competitors, but we say you’re really more like our brother in this unforgiving wilderness of cover bands, too-loud sound mixes, and hurtful, hurtful internet comments. You’re a brother we feel a strong sense of rivalry with, perhaps, but still a brother, and when it really counts, a brother we will not hesitate to tear apart with our big scary teeth the second we catch you so much as looking like you might be thinking about encroaching on San Antonio. You hear that splashing sound, Backbeat? That’s us, marking our territory. Our hair is hackled; now back away slowly before we rip your face off. All those local bands, the ones you’ve got playing your release party across three venues for the low, low cost of $6 per person — Hyperbubble (above), Viet-Ruse, Education, not to mention the newly reunited Kylie Factor, Losing Streak, and the Martyrs? Those bands are our bands. Find your own city or WE WILL CRUSH YOU. Good luck and godspeed, fellow music scribes! If you need us, we’ll be at Limelight, peeing on Buttercup. $6, 8:30pm Sat, Oct 31, Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar, 1033 Ave. B; The Ten Eleven, 1011 Ave. B; and SWC Lounge, 1210 E. Elmira, myspace.com/backbeatzine. — Jeremy Martin

Posted by snuff_film on 10/29/2009 11:41:17 AM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

The speeches of Peaches

  The Queen of Electrocrap responds to the Current


Bryan Rindfuss: First of all, the coolest kids in town are thrilled that San Antonio is on your tour schedule, any particular feelings about Texas?

Peaches: It’s big, real big. I’m waiting for the Bush daughters to show up at my show all drunk and horny!

BR: The video for your somewhat serious song “Lose You,” has a comical intro. Is the song about an actual love triangle?

P: No, it’s more of a hope to keep something you love last.

BR: I first heard your music when a friend brought The Teaches of Peaches back from Europe after “Fuck the Pain Away” was featured on the Prada runway, sending everyone into a tizzy before the album was released in the U.S. Was this planned in any way?

P: Not planned at all, and I never ever was contacted by Prada...

BR: “Fuck the Pain Away,” went major without the help of radio or MTV, were there ever plans to create radio-friendly versions of your songs?

P: No need to. It makes it even cooler that way, and you can hear it on South Park, Season 13, Episode 9.

BR: I’m fascinated that you love Joni Mitchell, do you write folk songs when no one is watching?

P: I started in folk with a band called Mermaid Cafe named after a Joni Mitchell lyric.

BR: Being a gay icon must be exhausting. I’m curious how you would prioritize the following “club-members” for a girls’ night out or a quiet evening at home:  Sandra Bernhard, Donna Summer, Madonna, Grace Jones, Ellen DeGeneres, Barbara Streisand, Rachel Maddow.

P: Everyone would be invited for demonstration on how to female ejaculate and we will see who sticks around. I have a feeling the night would end up with just me, Grace, and Sandra.

BR: After working with Iggy Pop, where do you go from there? Who’s on your dream list of collaboration partners?

P: I still want to collaborate with Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

BR: When I saw you at the Knitting Factory in New York around 2002, you did a cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” Any similar surprises for this tour?

P: So many surprises!!!

BR: Have you ever run into one of your former drama students at a Peaches show?

P: Yes, they love it.

BR: May I please take you and your band out for tacos after your Nov. 1 show in San Antonio? It’s just down the street, it’s delicious, and it's on me.

P: We love to eat after the show and we can’t get tacos in Berlin, so I would love that.

Posted by brindfuss on 10/28/2009 12:35:24 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Remembering Rhonda

Rhonda Kuhlman, wizardess of recycled finery and indie-arts booster nonpareil, has a short write-up in our main Día de los Muertos article, here.

But in soliciting quotes from her friends, I got some lovely ones that, unfortunately, we didn't have time or space for, but that I'd like to be out where folks can read them.

Rhonda has been an inspiration to Noah and I and we will never forget her contagious laugh, her generous nature, and exuberant energy. She and Chris are very special to us and we feel so lucky to have been in their lives for so long. We know what a great sister, aunt and daughter she was to her whole family and what a wonderful friend she was to so many around the world. We will miss her enormously.

With Love,
Trish & Noah Sternthal

And from somebody who'd like to remain anonymous, there's this gorgeous memory:

Her laugh-it was never something she did, but something that happened to her. A spontaneous eruption of happiness and life, so memorable and distinct, that I am certain her friends, upon reading this, will hear it echoing through their hearts.

As for me, I met Rhonda when she was new to SA, having moved here with her husband Chris from Austin in the mid-nineties. She was waiting tables part-time at what was then Wong's Art Bar, at 1203 Commerce, and I was working as the assistant to the building's owner/proprietor, Jefferson Erck. I used to go down to the cafe and eat lunch with her and chat, and she was about the coolest woman imaginable. Beautiful, sharp, smart, funny, encouraging, take-no-shit, but extremely warm and approachable. I'll never forget her.

Please, if you have memories to share about her, or about any of the people we profiled in our main article, we'd love to read them as reader comments, either there or to this blog post.

Happy Día de los Muertos time, y'all. I hope you're celebrating your loved ones, and I'm sorry for all our losses.

Posted by sarah fisch on 10/28/2009 11:50:21 AM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Weird Press Releases, Volume I: Centered on the Knork

I get some mighty strange e-mails. I've decided to start sharing them with y'all.

Here's one. Boldface is emphasis mine, with my comments in parentheses and italics.


The Knork
sender: a PR lady

"I have a product I would love for you to test out.  It’s centered on the Knork (centered?) – which is an improvement to the fork – not out as a gimmick or novelty or replacement to the knife.  We designed the Knork to be a simply better way to eat.   The result of Knork is that you can cut into food with your fork using a simple rocking motion.

(This is what Google Image Search of "knork" turned up. Not sure I get it. So is the end tine is just...really sharp? Hard to tell from the photos. What's to stop a diner from gouging themselves in the oral area whilst eating?)

 If you’re like me, you use your fork to cut a lot already. (Yes, I am like you. I use mine to trim my hair!)  I mean just think about how many times you are eating something and use the edge of your fork to cut it and if notice people eating at restaurants you will be amazed at how many people do this on many types of foods?  (This is a syntactically-confused question bordering on the profound. I almost love it. It's Joycean. Read it out loud to yourself now).

Well the Knork makes that easier.  Knork is not out to replace knives but to adapt flatware for today and the future – creating a fork to work better.  (I like that she repeats twice that Knork is not out to replace, alienate, supersede, or in any way threaten knives...

Simmer down, now, knives!
There's room for everybody. DON'T GET STABBY!
KNORK COMES IN PEACE! That goes for you too, chopsticks. And don't even look at me like that, spife.)

Which is why we offer the full place setting and serving pieces (consisting of, what, knorks of different sizes? Vibrating ones? Knorks that are ACTUALLY KNIVES?)it’s all forged (meaning forged of metal, as in beaten into shape from red-hot iron rods on an anvil by an old-timey blacksmith? Or forged as in forgery, i.e., counterfeited from celebrity signatures on financial documents?) , high quality products and have a signature look and heavy duty feel. 

 Knork Flatware was a sponsor and was used at this year's Wolfgang Puck American Wine and Food Festival in Los Angeles.   And will be a sponsor at the New World Wine Food Fest in San Antonio – November 10-15.  We are finding that many culinary/catering events see Knork as a value to their participating chefs to know ahead of time that they can offer a wider variety of food items not just finger foods.    And former Top Cheftestant Stefan Richter’s new restaurant Stefan’s at LA Farm in Santa Monica is using the full line Knork Flatware.  And former Top Chef-testant Richard Blais is using it as well at FLiP the Burger Boutique in Atlanta.  (Dude! I wouldn't put anything past Stefan, but I'm a little surprised at Richard).

 Flatware hasn’t changed much in the past one thousand years, neither in design nor function. Until now. (What about the bendy straw? ...Not flatware, you say? What about...well, shit. She may have a point, there.)

Knork has been featured (Not "the Knork" or "knorks," but "knork," as though it's a one-word celebrity, like Madonna, or Seal. or Bjork! Bjork, meet Knork.Or would you, Bjork, prefer a spork?) on the Food Network’s Unwrapped, Rachael Ray touted Knork as her new fave thing, been featured in DailyCandy and Thrillist and on the Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. 

 Can I send you a few samples? 

"Dine on the Cutting-Edge" (<--their tagline, apparently. I see no need for that hyphen. Much like I see no need for a dangerous, knife-usurping "fork plus." I may, however, need samples. Who's with me?)


OK, now it's just me, with no italics. Have you guys ever heard of this Knork item before?

To me it sounds suspiciously like a pastry fork, the purpose of which also baffles me somewhat.

Whoa, that's a crappy pic, I'm sorry. Wayyyy too big. Anyway, I remember coming across one of these in a drawer in my grandma's kitchen once and thinking it was a fork with something wrong with it. A defective fork. A Reject Utensil. The Hunchfork of Notre Dame!)

Furthermore: Did you know that Americans get made fun of because of our reluctance to manage two utensils at the same time? That in Europe and in Asia, they see us as shovel-wielding brutes, scooping food into our mouths all one-handed and whatnot like a nation of toddlers? It is true. I am not sure Knork helps with that, any.

However, I am very tempted to ask for samples. I find myself wanting to know how sharp it is.

Posted by sarah fisch on 10/21/2009 6:29:52 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

CD review: Richard Gein — Zombie Vomit

Richard Gein
Zombie Vomit
(Ruler Why Recordings)

Before the beat for “Method Man” kicks in on Enter the Wu-Tang, Raekwon and Method Man trade some cartoonishly violent but NSFW torture threats: 

Chappelle's Show
Hip-Hop News - Wu-Tang Torture

“I’ll fucking tie you to a fucking bedpost with your ass cheeks spread out and shit, right? Put a hanger on a fucking stove, and let that shit sit there for like a half hour,
Take it off and stick it in your ass slow like, ‘Tssssssss!’”

“Yeah? I'll fucking lay your nuts on a fucking dresser — just your nuts laying on a fucking dresser, and bang them shits with a spiked fucking bat: ‘Ooooohhhh, whassup?’ BLAOWWW!!

“I'll fucking pull your fucking tongue out your fucking mouth and stab the shit with a rusty screwdriver, BLAOWWW!”

Hearing Zombie Vomit, the latest album from SA hip-hop/horrorcore artist Richard Gein — which not coincidentally features a song called “Rusty Screwdriver” that forms a hook from a short sample of the dialogue above — is sort of like listening to a 45-minute version of that skit. The only real differences are that Gein directs the majority of his violent threats toward “sluts,” “bitches,” and basically anyone else with a vagina (from Gein’s supposed viewpoint, these terms are all interchangeable), and — unlike Raekwon and Meth — Gein never giggles.
“Obviously I don’t go around killing people,” Gein told me in an interview a few weeks ago, “but I live this shit.”

What do you take from that when the shit Gein claims he’s living includes statements like this one from opener “Die World Die”: “Dear Mommy/ I wanna be the biggest killer in history/ I wanna make my sister bleed cause/ She’s a slut, 11 kids with 10 different men/ Beware my raised right hand, bitch”?

If, reading the lyrics above, you have trouble figuring out how all those lines work rhythmically (as opposed to all the other reasons the above lines might bother you) you’ve got the right idea. Gein’s delivery is about as blunt and brutish as his lyrics. While guest MCs throughout the album — Benjamin the Butler, Jus the Destroyer, and even a group called Corpse Circus — deliver their Grand Guignol with playful, humorous flows, Gein mostly lumbers through his lines in a joyless growl, seemingly less concerned with cadence or clever wordplay than simply cramming as much violence and objectionable content as possible into each three-minute track. “Bite your jugular vein like a night creature,” he continues, “Decapitated head frozen in the freezer/ 666, the mark of the beast, tattooed on my knuckles/ Nigga, fuck you.”

And that’s a shame, considering the production on a few of these tracks is absolutely first rate. “Buried in the Woods,” produced by Ruler Why, sounds as angry and twisted as it should and “Evil Lurks Within,” another Ruler beat, succeeds thanks to its psychotic loops, a respectable guest verse from Jus the Destroyer, and an admittedly creative (though stomach-turning and hate-speech-filled) Gein rant. Gein’s self-produced “Watching Brains Splatter,” though, absolutely wastes the killer hook stolen from Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play,” as Gein’s verses completely ignore the haunted-house organ fill frantically spasming in the background.

That’s not to say Gein doesn’t have some decent lines. “Rusty Screwdriver”’s boast “All I wanna do in life is take shits and bust nuts/ The devil gave me two thumbs up” is pretty wicked, and Gein’s claim “I hit the trees like a drunken orangutan” is Facebook status-worthy for sure. Memorable battle lines are also scattered throughout, but, weirdly enough, it’s when he’s describing the violence he supposedly loves that Gein usually sounds the least inspired. Threats of mutilation, rape, and torture fill the album, but nothing Gein spits sounds half as gleefully fucked-up as Benjamin the Butler’s feature spot on “Verses for the Dead”: “I’m Benjamin the Butler/ and yes I am a glutton for/your punishment, you’ll see my grin through the oven door …Premeditating celebrating for a killing so delightful/ Read my book on cooking severed legs, it’s really quite insightful … We buried little Johnny next to my garden gnomes/ If it wasn’t for that nosy dog, nobody would have known.” Compare his lines to Gein’s “I’ll rape a bitch in pink and a bitch in black/ An ice pick and an axe in my burlap sack” and you get the idea.

To be fair, Benjamin’s only on for about a minute while Gein has to stretch his shit  out over an entire album, but that to me is an indication that the Gein character, a serial-killer worshiping, woman-hating, gorehound, isn’t worth basing an entire album — forget about three, and, judging by his refusal to break character in my interview with him, an entire persona — around. Gein winds up drawing from the shock well way too often, and the result is occasionally interesting , surreal, or transgressive, but mostly tired and tossed-off, like the Seussian bathroom-stall poetry of “Eat My Shit II”: “Eat my shit like a beef fajita/ or like pepperoni inside a pizzeria …Eat my shit like an Egg McMuffin/ or turkey with stuffing.”

Now that I think about it, the fact that this song has a Roman numeral indicating it’s a sequel to a previous “Eat My Shit” probably says more about Gein than this entire review.

Maybe I’m just too old for this shit. Growing up as a hip-hop and metal head in a conservative religious household gave me the false impression that I would always be right at music’s cutting edge, never offended by an artist’s free expression. But now, as a (somewhat) grown, happily married, man I have to face the reality that not only do I not agree with what Gein has to say on a track like “Slut Slashing,” I absolutely, 100-percent would not die for his right to say he’s going to slash open a girl's vagina with a razor blade.

All I know is that if you find me dead with my nuts impaled by a rusty screwdriver, I want the crime scene searched for Gein’s body fluids. —Jeremy Martin

Posted by snuff_film on 10/21/2009 4:52:07 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Toby Keith Essay Contest: So many ways to win!

Hey there, y'all. I done got two copies of the new Toby Keith album, American Ride in the mail, and considering even watching the above video for the lead single, which sounds something like a Glenn Beck stand-up routine you can line-dance to, made me simultaneously put a red-white-and-blue shotgun in my mouth and send my sister a racy Facebook message, I sure as tarnation ain't gonna listen to the rest of it.

So once again, you guys get the chance to win shit I don't want. To get your hands on a copy of TK's latest, just submit an essay of any length in the comments section below on one of the following topics:

-Why the Dixie Chicks must never, ever be forgiven.
-Why "putting a boot in your ass" has been "the American way" since the days of Benjamin Franklin.
-How to make three teeth look like six.
-How many beers you have to buy a horse to get it back to your double-wide.
-Charlie Daniels/Sarah Palin slash fiction. (Please do not submit this for the love of God.)
-Why Toby Keith is a pretty talented singer-songwriter who forever alienated liberal music critics with that ridiculous 9/11 song, and has now become a parody of himself by appealing to the worst aspects of his fanbase.

You can also submit an essay on any other topic of your choosing, just to prove to us elitist assholes that TK fans can actually write complete sentences.

The winner will be chosen Friday October 23, in honor of Gummo Marx's birthday.    

Posted by snuff_film on 10/16/2009 3:18:02 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Bargain hunting in full drag


For years, I had been hearing about the countless tented fields that make up the Round Top Antiques Fair, but I never seemed to be able to get organized in time to go. On more than one occasion, I felt like I had totally missed the boat when I saw friends returning from “shopping the show” with carloads full of French antiques and jewelry to hoard or resell. This year, my pal Danny Spear, owner of the Land of Was Antiques, made sure I got the memo, telling me, “You have to see what happens in Warrenton on the last Thursday of the show. It’s called Prom. It’s like early Halloween in the middle of nowhere.”

The Round Top Antiques fair (which encompasses the towns of Round Top, Carmine, Shelby, Fayetteville, and Warrenton) is basically the South by Southwest of the antiques world, complete with “No Vacancy” signs, people sleeping three-to-a-bed, dirt roads gridlocked with SUVs, and that priceless combination of muddy shoes, sleep-deprived faces, and a feeling of excited curiosity brought on by the invasion of thousands of fascinating out-of-town characters. In other words, if you sleep too late or turn in too early, you’re sure to miss something of vital importance.

As instructed, I arrived at Marburger Farms just as the tents were closing on the last Thursday of the show. Fortunately, I managed to slip through the fence into Tent G’s “Material Recovery” booth, which had been rented by my friends Clare Watters and Martha Henry (as a design team of sorts, they recover vintage furniture with embroidered Uzbekistani textiles called “Suzanis”). I immediately headed for Tent D to find Danny and make plans for Prom.  We agreed to meet in Warrenton around 9 p.m.

Marburger’s extremely organized tents are famous for power-shopping Houston divas in search of the perfect diamond, and serious conversations about 18th- versus 19th-century antiques. While there, I overheard sound bytes like “He has no idea how much she spends, and they’re his credit cards!” And, “She wants 18th, but she can barely afford 19th!” Fabulosity, Texas-style. Over in Warrenton on the other hand, the word “junk” is treated with love and respect and “dead people’s stuff” is a popular topic of conversation - it’s also the name of a booth. More inevitable eavesdropping provided, “She told me I’m not selling well because my merchandise is stale. And I did have a lot of this junk last season, but someone will die soon — that’s something you can always count on.”

I talked Clare into assisting me in my mission to solve the mystery of Prom. Arriving in the parking lot of Warrenton’s Zapp Hall, which houses more than 100 dealers and a beer garden operated by Royer’s Café (undoubtedly Round Top’s coolest restaurant), we were relieved to see that there were, in fact, a number of people dressed in wacky outfits – folks in angel wings, Venetian Carnevale masks, tutus, and towering wigs were all headed toward the sound of live music.

Once inside the compound of makeshift tents and permanent barn-like structures, we spotted Courtney Fakhreddine and Trista Stallings looking very camera-ready in bustiers, petticoats, and gobs of jewelry, sending text messages from an iron café table. Their look brought to mind Madonna’s early years, only instead of spiked ankle boots, they were wearing the hand-painted cowboy variety.

Denton-based costume designers Phillip Howard and Judy Smith, went for a visually stimulating contrast with their outfits – he channeled a cigar-store Indian, while she looked as if she were headed for a tea party circa 1905. When I asked if they would be selling any of their costumes at the show, Smith answered, “No, we are merely spenders of money.” After about an hour of people-watching and beer-drinking, Danny appeared. “Did I lie?” he asked me with a big grin, “Isn’t it fabulous?” Indeed it was.

We noticed a trio dressed as what Danny described as “saloon girls,” carrying parasols to shield them from the moonlight. Gabrielle Dennis, Gemi Bordelon, and Ginny Gremillion turned out to be the perfect dates for Prom. “Come take our picture in the outhouse!” they demanded. There was a line of characters waiting to pose in the Junk Gypsies’ outhouse, which had been decorated with a disco ball for the evening. Speaking to these darling Louisiana girls, I learned that the Junk Gypsies basically invented the concept of Prom in Warrenton (the full name for the biannual party is “Junk-O-Rama Prom”).

Noticing the large quantity of top-notch party dresses being sold at the antiques fair, the Junk Gypsies (Janie Sikes and her two daughters Amie and Jolie) were inspired, and the trio devised a clever plan to repurpose them. “We just wanted to give them a reason to be worn again,” Jolie said of the frocks. “I mean, they’re beautiful, and most of them were only worn once, it’s such a shame.” I was in awe of her empathy for these gowns, and absolutely love the idea that a costume party was created to stroke the egos of the forgotten prom dresses of Central Texas (and it’s a fabulous example of recycling).

While some partyers were on a whole retro-Vegas-inspired trip (there were seven men dressed as identical Elvises that I didn’t bother approaching), or looked like Mardi-Gras had exploded all over them, the Junk Gypsies seem to have inspired a distinct dress code I can only describe as “Cyndi Lauper makes a guest appearance on Bonanza.”

At 11 o’clock, the party was still raging, with a band playing “Footloose” to a bouncing crowd in costumes that were beginning to unravel. Reviewing the pictures, I felt we had collected enough visual proof of this “only-in-Texas” affair, so we called it a night.

Day two was beautiful, a perfect day for wandering the fields, taking pictures, and talking to people without buying much. I dropped $40 on salvaged carnival ephemera, and $25 on a green Herman Miller chair. I met the “Chandelier Queen” of Atlanta, who (according to her) is “very sought after,” but let me photograph an area of her booth that wouldn’t give away too many of her design secrets.

A booth called “Skip 2 My Lu” that sells cleverly reconfigured vintage jewelry looked like a collision of candy-colored jewels and weathered history books. All the necklaces were elegantly pinned onto mounted vintage photographs.

Jan Orr-Harter, of Hot Tamale Antiques, color-coded poppy paintings, rugs, and textiles, to create an ambience reminiscent of an artist’s barn, complete with hay on the ground.

Robin Brown, a Hill Country-based artist, took the idea of temporary space to the next level, with settees for her clients to lounge on and Victoriana elements adorning every inch of her booth. A constant influx of women tried on bohemian outfits from her clothing label, Magnolia Pearl. From a distance, the whole scene looked like a rose-tinted Stevie Nicks album cover.

Day three produced a grey sky that made vendors anxious about the always important last day of the show (most dealers drop their prices and successfully lighten their return loads). No one looked prepared when the torrential rain began around Noon. “Did somebody order hay?” I heard more than once as ranch hands dumped bails of it into rivers of rain that were creeping in from both sides of the tent. Rain also found its way in from overhead, somehow (I watched a crystal vase magically fill).

Danny’s booth was somewhat of a disaster by Saturday evening, so I stuck around to lend a hand, unpinning an ancient tapestry from a temporary wall while teetering on a ladder, which was not so firmly planted in a puddle of water and muddy hay.

“Last year, it was the wind. One of the tents lifted off of its poles and flew into the fields, trapping two people when it landed- they had to be cut out of it.” Danny insisted. “But this feels like the worst.” Just then, we heard a loud “pop” as a soaked power strip killed the lights in a row of antique sconces.

With wine in plastic cups, wet clothes, and sudden fear in everyone’s eyes, I began to feel like we were aboard a sinking sailboat decorated with European antiques. “Get the jewelry and let’s get the Hell out of here,” was our cue that Danny’s most vulnerable treasures were safely wrapped in plastic and it was time to head to “Julie’s Jewels,” a miniature horse farm in Carmine, where I was lucky enough to be invited to wait out the storm.

Driving back to SA the following morning, the sky suffered from an identity crisis. Halfway home, my truck started to look clean again, and the whole South-by-Southwest feeling returned. I was completely exhausted and sad that everything was over, but had new numbers in my phone, new toys to play with, and a whole new list of things to laugh about. I’m definitely going back.

Bryan Rindfuss


Posted by brindfuss on 10/14/2009 4:46:05 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Gene Elder talks to Ansen Seale: The Chartreuse Couch Interview

If you're an at-all regular reader of this blog —or this paper— you've likely read about  Gene Elder: conceptual artist; activist and founder of the Wedding Cake Liberation Front; Director of the HAPPY Foundation; bon vivant; and San Antonio's foremost archivist and historian of the LGBT community.

Gene Elder at the HAPPY Foundation Archive, November 2008. Photo by Justin Parr.

Gene's also an incisive and entertaining interviewer on the art front. This is, I believe, the second of his series of "Chartreuse Couch" interviews I've run on CurBlog--the first one was with Chris Forbrich, Council hopeful and political up-and-comer.

Gene Elder's an institution, y'all. Hell--he's even in this week's QueQue.

I've tried to reproduce his unique e-mail formatting for the title, here, let's see how it pans out.
Oh, and if you'd like to be added to Gene Elder's e-mail list, or if you have something to contribute to the LGBT Archive, you can contact Gene at elder4tomato@yahoo.com

View Of Reality From 
 Chartreuse Couch
(My Own Private Alamo)   by Gene Elde_____________________r
Interview with Ansen Seale

 Ansen! How nice to have you here today. You have just opened an exhibit at the Land Heritage Institute. This requires some explanation. Describe this to us.

Ansen:  My recent project is called the Corn Crib and is located in south Bexar County on a 1200 acre plot of land along the Medina River. It was commissioned by the Land Heritage Institute and FotoSeptiembreUSA. LHI is a living "land museum" and is located where the Applewhite Reservoir was to be dug had it not been for the popular uprising which turned it down in 1991.

Gene: And you put photos in an old rock shed.

The shed in question. Photo by Ansen Seale.

  My only instructions were that the piece had to be about the land and that it had to contain photography. With those wide-open parameters in mind, Penny Boyer, Michael Mehl and I went scouting around looking for a location and a project.

Gene: I came. I saw. It was a long walk to the corn crib.

Ansen: Yes. On this 1200 acres are several human habitation sites that vary in age from 10,000 years old to the mid 1970's, when it ceased operations as a farm. One of the complexes of buildings was constructed in the 1850s using the stacked-stone method of construction. Most of the buildings have fallen to ruin, but the one that remains was a place where corn was stored in the winter to feed animals (and perhaps humans as well). I knew from the minute I saw it that this was the place. The building measures 12 x 13 feet and has a corrugated steel roof, probably replacing the original roof in the 1930s. The ruins of the original stone house can be viewed nearby.

Gene: Unusual site. I expect there won't be that many people that come to see it.

Ansen: Unusual indeed. And that's exactly the point. The viewer must travel and experience the land in order to gain the fullest appreciation of the art. This place was perfect for the installation because it provides protection from the weather. Photography is an inherently fragile medium and until recently, its place in public art installations has been limited. So I was thrilled when I realized that this small structure would protect the photos, and the photos would protect the building, both by keeping people from touching the walls and, in a larger sense, by giving the building a purpose.

Gene: Is this permanent?

Ansen:  Yes, this is a permanent exhibit. The Land Heritage Institute is not fully open to the public yet, but I've been taking interested people to see the Corn Crib every other weekend or so.

Gene: Okay, enough about the site. How about the photos.

Ansen: Taking my cue from the surroundings, I wanted to created a chapel-like environment to honor corn, the sustainer of all the inhabitants on this land for 10,000 years. When you enter the Corn Crib, you see nine transparencies glowing like stained glass windows. They show images of various varieties of corn taken with my digital panoramic camera. Some of the panels show more monochromatic varieties of corn; all red or all blue. Others are covered with multi-colored kernels looking like a carpet of jelly beans.

Photo by Ansen Seale

 They are lit from behind, and I didn't see any electricity.

Ansen: The Corn Crib is way off the electrical power grid, so by necessity I had to make a very green project. To light my photographs, I constructed back-lit LEDs panels and powered them with solar panels. Other than the glowing photos, the interior of the space is dark.

Installation view. Photo by Ansen Seale

Gene: Well, we need more of this in the inner city as well. Maybe you can think of other places that need to be illuminated.

Ansen: Wow, I just noticed, this couch really IS chartreuse!

Gene: HAHAHA, yes, you artists notice everything. Well, that explains the corn crib. Now you get to ask me a question. I always let the guest ask the last question.

Ansen: Don't you think it's true that San Antonio has one of the most vibrant, active and well supported arts communities in the country? I mean, it's easy to complain about a lot of things in SA, but really, there's something going on here all the time in the arts. I've only lived in SA since 1979, so I don't have a lot of perspective about what goes on in other places. I do travel a lot, but that's not the same as being plugged in to a local community. From what visitors have told me, I get the sense that for its size, SA is very special in this regard. What do you think?
Gene: San Antonio is a strange bird and that is why we all like it. I have been here since 1971 and the art scene has certainly gotten more interesting. But we still don't have major dance companies coming here. I want to see the Joffrey Ballet and other dance companies that Margaret Stanley always brought to town. There may be a lot of stuff to do and a lot of brilliant talent but we don't have an arts leader like Margaret Stanley. And that is what we really need now. Margaret had national and international respect and knew how to get the wealth in San Antonio behind her fundraisers and projects, and she could still sit around with the artists and be right at home in both worlds. The loss of Margaret's San Antonio Performing Arts Association ended a very unique time in our art history and education. I need to invite Margaret to the Chartreuse Couch. I'm going to get her on the phone right now.
Gene Elder is the Archives Director for the HAPPY Foundation.

Editor's Note: The LHI is sponsoring a field trip this weekend to see the "living museum!" You can check here for more info and to register, it's an amazing event with great speakers, transport provided from Blue Star, and it's TOTALLY FREE:


Also, here's a review of the LHI/Ansen Seale's installation at emvergeoning, written by Ben Judson.

A couple more beautiful Seale corn images, with thanks to him for letting me use them here:

Posted by sarah fisch on 10/14/2009 11:19:18 AM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Os Mutantes. Austin. October 18. Period.

By Enrique Lopetegui

If you don’t know Os Mutantes (oz-moo-TOHN-cheese), do me a favor: go to Austin’s La Zona Rosa on Sunday, October 18, at 9 pm. Buy the ticket now, going to gettix.com. Trust me. I know, it's in Austin. But go.

If you know Os Mutantes, you don’t need me to tell you who they are.

“For years, it was the only thing I listened to,” said Beck, who dedicated a song (‘Tropicália’) and named an album (Mutations) after them. Kurt Cobain reportedly (and unsuccessfully) begged them to open for Nirvana in Brazil, and David Byrne (another big fan) released the first-ever Mutantes compilation in 1999 (Everything Is Possible! The Best of Os Mutantes, in Luaka Bop). That compilation was followed by Tecnicolor, a an all-English album recorded in 1970, lost, found in 1994, and finally released in 2000 by Universal.

The influential band (which mixes psychedelia, rock, bossa, forró and whatever else happens to be in their heads) has just released Haih or Amortecedor (co-written with the great Tom Zé), their first studio album in 35 years, and are kicking ass nationwide (last I checked, the old farts were number one in the CMJ charts, but who cares).

Sergio Dias (vocals, guitar) is the only founding member to be in Austin, and Dinho Leme (who joined in 1971) will be at the drums. Most of the others joined in 2006, the year the band revived (Os Mutantes had a first run in 1968-78): Bia Mendes (vocals), Henrique Peters (keyboards), Fabio Recco (keyboards), Vinicius Junqueira (bass), and Vitor Trida (flute, guitar).

On September 17, the Current spoke on the phone to founder Dias, who was in Henderson, Nevada.

Sergio Dias (bottom left) with Os Mutantes 2009.

Haih... or Amortecedor... Their first album in 35 years.

Why did it take you guys 35 years for a new album?
It’s life… It’s a life thing, you know? I could never imagine I could be here with Mutantes again, playing. I’ve never foreseen this thing coming. It was planned by life. I don’t have an explanation for it. What I saw is, basically, that our music outlasted us and somehow it became necessary for us to be alive and playing again, so we had to come out of hibernation to come back and start making new music.

Os Mutantes is one of the few non-English bands that enjoy a cult following in the US. Did it start with the Luaka Bop compilation or with Tecnicolor?
I don’t know, I have no idea. When David Byrne called me [for Luaka Bop’s 1999 Everything Is Possible! The Best of Os Mutantes], saying that he wanted to make a compilation, I suggested a few songs, and that was it. And even when Tecnicolor came out in America, I had no idea, and I didn’t know it had reached people [in America]. I thought it was just a thing of re-releasing the Mutantes albums on CD in Brazil.

Americans were the last to embrace the Beatles, it took them forever… But with Os Mutantes, it all seems like instant love.
Yeah! It’s amazing. And this new album [unlike Tecnicolor] is all in Portuguese. We could have tried to “aim to the American market,” but we wanted to be true to ourselves and the music came out in Portuguese. I was writing with Tom Zé and all this stuff, so it’s so rich in terms of lyrics. But it is great because people are listening to these songs in Portuguese and they’re joining the party! It’s beautiful to see this. Even the bossa nova [in the ’60] had to be translated, and now it is amazing, because Portuguese… There’s not too many people who speak the language, but it is such a musical language and so pretty… And people at our shows don’t get tired, they drink it, it’s a beautiful thing to see.

With all due respect to your different lineups throughout the years, I feel the trio format with Rita Lee is the most representative one. When I think of Os Mutantes, I see Rita Lee in it. Is that ok?
That was the beginning, for sure, and [that lineup] was the most representative thing. I stopped Mutantes in ’78 or ’79 because the people that was in the band had no idea anymore what the band was about. I felt I wouldn’t be able to keep on going under that name, and it would’ve felt hypocritical continuing like that.

Does that include you? You had no idea either? Or you knew but couldn’t find the right partners?
I had a complete idea, I knew what it was all about. But the guys who entered the band had no idea anymore what it really meant to be a Mutante.

What is it, then? Explain it to me.
First of all, it’s freedom from the system. We’re not status quo, we never, like, sold a million records, we don’t have a golden album… We’re underground. And some of the cats there were trying to be a star and silly things like that. And that has nothing to do with being in Os Mutantes. Popularity and money has to be a consequence, never an aim.

Do you keep in touch with Rita? What did you think when she became a great pop star on her own after Mutantes? I loved her, but did you vomit or you also liked her? Her change was so radical...
No, no, no,  no way! Many times she asked me to do things with her and I always did. She’s my sister and I love her dearly, she’s part of my life. After we decided to put the band together for the Barbicon [Theatre, London, 2006], I sent her an email immediately. She declined it, but the doors are wide open to any of the early guys from Os Mutantes. It was her decision to pursue another kind of career. Actually, I should say “to pursue a career,” because Os Mutantes is not a career, but a state of mind.

The first half of the new album is probably Os Mutantes at its craziest and smells Tom Zé all over it. Tell me exactly what was Zé’s participation.
Well… It was amazing. When we finally came to Brazil a year after the reunion, we played in São Paulo in an immense show for free for 90,000 people. Tom Zé was there and came up and sang two songs that he did with us before, ‘2001’ [‘Dois Mil e Um’] and ‘Qualquer Bobagem.’ We had totally parallel lives. I met Tom when I was 16, 17 years-old, so I could never even speak to the guy; the age gap was immense at that time. When we got together this time, we spoke. He’s such a genius. I told him, ‘Let’s do music together,’ and he immediately said “Yes!” He became probably the best partner I ever had in terms of writing. The things that we did together were so easy, as if we were part of each other. It was a beautiful thing to do and he became a major part in terms of writing now.

Let’s talk about some of the songs in the album. Where did ‘Gopal Krishna Om’ come from? I’m a big fan of Indian devotional music, but this is like a kirtan from hell!
[loud laugh] I studied a while with Ravi Shankar, during the ’70s…

Indian music in general or sitar?
Sitar. He came to Brazil and I went to meet him. I told him I wanted to learn. I think he saw in my eyes that I was not kidding, so he asked me to come to his hotel, and I arrived there and there was a bunch of journalists, and he sent everybody away. “I have an appointment now with this gentleman,” he said. I was a kid! We started speaking music. I brought my acoustic guitar, and he saw I was serious. So he started to give me classes, and he sent me a sitar as a gift. That was a very important thing in my life. The first sitar-playing there is in Brazil is in ‘Balada do louco,’ that we did in Mutantes. All the Indian music was always a constant in myself, especially the mystical side of it. The thread of life that made it possible for Mutantes to come back, it is a weird thing. That triggered somehow this more mystical part of myself. The lyrics are in Portuguese, Sanskrit and English. I have a book that has the Sanskrit and the English, so I used it to translate and make a collage with the lyrics. It’s a very pretty song, but it is also very dense. It’s part of us.

‘Samba do Fidel’ has so much stuff in it. You make fun of los argentinos
[laughs] , , of course…!

And Fidel [Castro], Hugo Chávez, México… It’s endless.
We were in Miami when Fidel fell ill. We didn’t know what was going on, because everybody was using firecrackers, everybody was screaming on the streets, we didn’t know what was happening. So we started playing around and saying “Me encantaría saber cómo está Fidel…” (I’d like to see how Fidel is), because everybody was saying Fidel was killed… “Por qué el hermano no me dice nada?…(Why his brother doesn’t tell me anything?) “Dígame Fidelito Cuba libre ya (Tell me, Little Fidel, Cuba libre now)… [keeps on laughing]

Caipirinha-fueled stream-of-consciousness cha-cha… It makes no sense but it’s perfect!
We make a joke about how the Spanish language sounds to Brazilian years. Like the "cueca cuela…" Which is all wrong, and the Argentineans… “Seremos todos argentinos/seremos entonces sin amor/siempre serán las Malvinas.. mandingas de amor…”

Maradona! “Adiós a los tangos de Maradona…” (Goodbye to the tangos of Maradona) “Estoy emborrachado en tequila” (I’m drunk on tequila)

Do you play it live?

You have one foot in rock and another one in Tropicalía. Where do you fit in the big picture of Brazilian pop music?
I have no idea [laughs]. Our thing is a kaleidoscope, a bit of everything. That’s the beautiful thing of Brazil: such a mix of people and everything. This is reflected in our music a lot.

But is Os Mutantes Sergio Dias, or are you a band?
We’re a band, for sure. I would not be able to do this album by myself. If you listen to my solo albums, they’re completely different. This is a total collaboration. It it wasn’t like this I wouldn’t even contemplate the possibility of being a part of this band. My solo music is completely different. There’s jazz albums, one in South Africa after I fell in love with the music there, a rock album I did for Brazil… Another one with Phil Manzanera, another one is very pop… I have many faces, always mutating, even in my solo career.

The world has changed a lot since the late ’60s, when you started your recording career with Os Mutantes. You’ve seen it all, musically and politically. What do you see now?
There’s a new beautiful political and social party that’s taking over, and it’s the internet. It’s pure anarchy, pure freedom, and it’s fantastic to see. We’re so happy to see this new idea of communication. Somehow is what we dreamed of before, when we were kids: that science fiction-like idea of one government, no countries, one flag, and going to space like in Star Trek. Somehow this is happening, and there is no language, there’s no barriers, or customs. It’s beautiful to see. It’s an entity of its own. Beyond frontiers, beyond languages. I think this is the most important thing that is happening now. It’s great to see this embryo, the need for the young kids and the human kids to communicate beyond what they’re allowed to. Who can have the power to allow anybody to do or not do something? We’re free, and that needs to be celebrated. Just like our show. The celebration of being young and rebellious is the most important character of the human race. Of course, there’s a lot of hurt and bad situations, because we are made of good and evil. But this is what we are. It would be hypocritical to say, “OK, from now on, nobody is going to eat meat anymore,” or whatever. We’re a huge kaleidoscope. Take Brazil, for example, and India. They’re so different. The values in Brazil and the values in India, and the values in Oxford… They’re totally different. Yet, we’re all the same. When people realize the importance of… How can I say it? It’s a hard one… The importance of the feeling, besides the importance of the rest of the economical and personal aspirations. We’re evolving and we’re so young still. We’re like crazy kids who were thrown into a planet and who make a bunch of mistakes and a bunch of good things at the same time. Kids are the most merciless people in the world. If a kid finds another kid who is fat, he points to him and says, “You’re fat, your ugly!” There’s no barriers, no censorship. We’re embryos in the universe.

Have you played in Texas before?
Yes! I played there many times, with Airto [Moreira] and Flora [Purim]. I love Texas.

You do??
Texas has that raw, beautiful thing. The whole idea of being a Lone Star, that’s a fantastic thing in America. The identity of Texas… I’ve been in Houston a lot, and visiting San Antonio will be a fantastic thing. To be closer to the real Texans and try to remember the Alamo… [laughs]

Please do!
My and my wife… We’re trying to support Obama, so I bought a huge American car… [laughs] A Lincoln town car, and after the tour we’ll go to the places we want to, with more time to spend and explore, just being with the people. That’s the best thing. We love you. That’s all we do. We’re so grateful to all these people that care about Mutantes. All we can say is that we love you and we’ll give you 150% or 210%, if we can.

Posted by Kamikaze108 on 10/12/2009 1:35:06 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Live and Local Preview: Lonely Horse

"Save the boobies!" is the battle cry tonight at the 1011 for the Rockin' for Racks Breast Cancer Benefit Show. I'll be out there around 9:30 to see local folk/indie act Lonely Horse. I haven't heard anything around town that sounds terribly comparable to what they're doing, which according to their myspace is "Native American story music." I don't really know what that means, but I'm excited all the same.

Posted by stevenxonward on 10/10/2009 8:00:03 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Chaléwood No. 22: Kuno Becker

Kuno Becker - From Mexico with Love

By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer

After four years of running up and down soccer fields for the Goal! trilogy, actor Kuno Becker, 31, exchanges his cleats for a pair of gloves in From Mexico with Love. In the film, Becker plays Hector Villa, a young Mexican immigrant who gets into the boxing ring to support his family and prove to everyone that he has what it takes to win.

Were you much of a boxing fan before taking on this role in From Mexico with Love?

Well, I like Mixed Martial Arts. I followed a little bit of boxing, but it wasn’t like I’ve been following it since I was a kid. I check out as much boxing as I can. But, you know, this isn’t a movie just for boxing fans. At the end of the day, a lot of people are going to be able to relate to it in different ways.

Compare the physicality of boxing to other sports you’ve played like soccer in the Goal! trilogy.

It’s a lot tougher to play soccer and make it look believable. But in boxing, it was easier for me. I got injured a lot more in the soccer world. In soccer, I pulled muscles. I thought boxing was going to be tougher. During the fighting sequences everyone would get a little bit hurt, but it wasn’t a big thing. It was a lot of fun.

What kind of training regiment did you have to go through for this movie?

I had to train for two and a half months. It was pretty tough. I had to gain weight and look a little bit more physical. I had to learn how to punch and make it believable.

Your director Jimmy Nickerson has a background in stunt work. Were you able to go a couple of rounds with him?

Yeah, 100 percent. He actually invented a device for the camera that you can actually hit. The way he shot the fighting sequences and with his background coordinating fights was really important for us.

What did you learn about boxing that you didn’t know before you started shooting?

When you punch somebody in the ring, you have to use your whole body. I learned that it’s more about technique than physical strength.

What was it about a character like Hector Villa that made you want to take it on?

I wanted to take it because I thought the script was a lot of fun. It has a lot of great moments. I thought it was funny and entertaining and emotional and inspiring. That’s what I loved about the project. Also, what I loved about the script was that it was a simple story about a simple guy that was fighting for honor and his love.

In the poster for the movie you’re pictured with one boxing glove with the American flag and one with the Mexican flag. Why is this important to show?

I think it’s important because there is a issue about immigration that is happening now. It’s part of society. The movie isn’t about that but it is used as a dramatic vehicle for the story. The cultural relationship between hard-working immigrants and society is important.

So, does fighting in this movie signify more than just boxing to you?

Yeah, he’s fighting for his people, his love, his father, for himself.

What have you fought for in your own life?

I’ve fought for getting better characters and working in this business, which is crazy. I’ve been fortunate to work in this business, but at the end of the day you’re always fighting for something.

How do you think you’d do as an amateur boxer now that you have some experience?

Oh, I’d get knocked out in a second. (Laughs) You never know. If acting doesn’t work out for me, I’m going to have to do something else.

Posted by kiko martinez on 10/9/2009 11:22:41 AM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Geniuses of the American Musical Theatre

       If you’ve spotted the posters about town, you might be curious about the five-part musical lecture series entitled Geniuses of the American Musical Theatre, now lighting up the Josephine Theater on select Mondays. Co-presented by Herb Keyser and Bett Butler, Geniuses complements Keyser’s recently published history of musical theater, and features biographies interspersed with musical selections from an individual artist’s career: from Harold Arlen and Cole Porter through Stephen Sondheim and Lloyd Webber.
        I was only able to catch the first part of Monday’s one-two punch of Berlin and Gershwin, but the lengthy first act—about 75 minutes, before an intermission—allows, I think, a fairly accurate assessment of the series’ strengths and weaknesses. First, the strengths: Keyser obviously adores musical theater—he’d give show queens anywhere a run for their money—and his folksy enthusiasm and astounding memory absolutely command respect. Largely recalling his lecture while seated on a stool, Keyser traces Berlin’s life story from in utero to in uniform, while hitting every one of Berlin’s various tragedies and triumphs. (It’s a lot like a Public Television special in that respect.) The evening is punctuated at crucial narrative intervals by Butler’s exquisite piano playing and singing: she’s the real thing, and I could have listened all evening to her stylings and her voice.
        The series, however, desperately requires the vision (and strong hand) of a stage director. Keyser’s text, while amusing, is also resolutely, even monotonously linear: Berlin’s story in particular needs a ruthless editor and a greater sense of shape. (There’s almost no sense of argument, here: Keyser is happy to allow incongruous details to jostle against each other uncomfortably. For instance, after a virtual hagiography of Berlin, we discover, to our surprise, that Berlin was also a  drug-addled, irascible paranoiac. How did this happen, we want to know? Few answers are forthcoming.) In fact, while Keyser’s lecture (and occasional, exuberant singing) could be profitably shortened, Butler’s interludes could be greatly expanded: it was frustrating to hear only bits and pieces of selected songs rather than full verses and choruses. Geniuses are geniuses, in part, because of their superb sense of form and architecture, and one can’t really appreciate the skill of a tunesmith without hearing the whole tune. In the case of Berlin, there’s also the composer’s astounding facility with countermelody, and I wish that this aspect of the composer’s work had received greater attention: “Play a Simple Melody” is, after all, a model of its type.
         Monday’s audience—composed largely of members of San Antonio’s more mature community—obviously enjoyed hearing songs and patter from early and mid-century, and there’s something to be said for the pleasures of nostalgia: I don’t deny it. But I think the series would be only improved by less talk, more song. Especially when you’ve a chanteuse the caliber of Bett Butler on stage, it’s criminal not to employ her as much as possible: her voice is like the sun in the morning, and the moon at night.

-- Thomas Jenkins, a Current theatre critic.

Posted by tjenkins on 10/8/2009 11:44:58 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

New season of 'Voces' begins tonight

KLRN's series Voces, a "showcase of documentaries celebrating the rich diversity of Latino life" begins tonight with Celia the Queen, a bio on legendary Cuban singer Celia Cruz (as seen in the video above) featuring interviews with varied musicians, from  David Byrne to Wyclef Jean to Pitbull, detailing Cruz's impact and influence, beginning at 9 p.m. Followed at 10 p.m. by Antonia Pantoja ¡Presente! a doc detailing the Puerto Rican activist's founding of NYC advocacy group Aspira. Voces will air Thursday nights through the end of October in celebration of Hispanic Heritage month.

Check out the rest of the schedule below.

Thursday, October 8th at 9PM

Celia the Queen by Joe Cardona

Celia the Queen is a loving look at the amazing life and legacy of a woman whose voice symbolized the soul of a nation and captured the hearts of fans worldwide. Erupting onto the Cuban music scene as the lead singer for La Sonora Matancera, Celia Cruz broke down barriers of racism and sexism. With the powerful weapon of her voice and the warm tolerance of her heart, Celia soon became all things to all people. The film shows the diversity of the people whose lives she touched, from stars like Quincy Jones, Andy Garcia, and Wyclef Jean to ordinary people all over the world who loved not only her music but her incredible spirit.  A co-presentation with National Black Programming Consortium.


Thursday, October 8th at 10PM

Antonia Pantoja: ¡Presente! by Lillian Jimenez

Antonia Pantoja: ¡Presente! tells the story of educator/organizer Antonia Pantoja, founder of the New York-based advocacy organization, Aspira.  A passionate, indomitable leader, Pantoja worked with Puerto Rican "immigrant-citizens" to fight against second-class citizenship and to secure a bilingual voice.  Through passionate personal testimony, never-before-seen home movies, archival footage, and the work of visual artist Juan Sanchez, the feisty Antonia Pantoja guides us through the Puerto Rican community's struggles and triumphs.


Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9PM

Bracero Stories by Patrick Mullins

Bracero Stories explores the personal experiences of five former “guest workers” in the controversial U.S.-Mexican bracero program, which granted temporary work contracts to several million Mexican laborers between 1942 and 1964. Their stories are interwoven and illustrated with archival materials, creating a composite narrative of the “bracero” experience.  Interviews with other participants in the program assess its effectiveness and lasting impact. These discussions mirror and inform current debates about immigration and the role of imported labor in our economic development. 


Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10PM

The Golden Age by Phil Tuckett

The Golden Age documents a season in the life of the Golden Age League, a soccer league in Corona Park, Queens, New York. Not just any soccer league, the highly competitive Golden Age League is made up of middle-aged former World Cup players from mostly Central and South America. With muscles creaking, hairlines receding, and waistlines expanding, these incredibly skilled players compete at a level never before documented. During the week, these men are window washers, traders, and electricians -- but the weekend is theirs, and the passion for the game remains.


Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 9PM

Special Circumstances by Marianne Teleki

At 16, Héctor Salgado was arrested and tortured by Pinochet's forces. By 20, Héctor was without a country, living in exile in the U.S. Special Circumstances follows Héctor as he returns to Chile almost 30 years later, camera in hand, to confront the perpetrators and his former captors, looking for answers and justice. In the process, the film takes an unflinching look at U.S. foreign policy in Latin America in the '70s and the legacy of Pinochet with which Chile still struggles today.


Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 10PM

Tito Puente: The King of Latin Music by George Rivera

Of all the musicians who have contributed to the popularity of Latin music, none is more recognized than the man known simply as “The King,” Tito Puente.  His family, friends and colleagues all pay homage here: Bill Cosby, Marc Anthony, Armand Assante, Geraldo Rivera, Jimmy Smits, Paquito D’Rivera and many more. The life of this influential bandleader, percussionist and composer – and one of the most charismatic performers of all time – is recalled through archival footage and interviews as well as excerpts from one of his last concerts.


Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 9PM

Soy Andina by Mitch Teplitsky

Soy Andina tells the story of two women raised in different worlds: an immigrant folk dancer from the Andes, and a modern dancer from Queens, NY, who return to Peru to reconnect with their culture.  After 15 years in New York, Nelida Silva returns to fulfill a lifelong dream and host the fiesta patronal — a celebration of dance, music, and rituals from Incan times. Meanwhile Cynthia Paniagua, a dancer raised in Queens, embarks on her own journey, determined to "quench a burning desire to know the real Peru, to unearth the mystery of the dances."  Soy Andina is an exuberant cross-cultural road trip, yet its theme is universal: a yearning for roots and connection in turbulent times.


Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 10PM

Dream Havana by Gary Marks

In August 1994, more than 30,000 Cubans attempted to leave the island by sea. Two writers, friends since adolescence, are faced with a choice: continue struggling with the hardships of the island or brave the open water on a homemade raft. Ernesto Santana chooses Cuba; Jorge Mota, chooses the sea. This is the story of their struggles, their successes and the friendship that binds them across the distance, from Chicago to Havana.

Posted by snuff_film on 10/8/2009 3:44:25 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Artifacts Online--SMART Fair edition

I'm thinking of changing the name of Artifacts to "Aartvark." What do y'all think?

More importantly, SMART Fair is this Saturday. Here's my column about it:


Hey, who cares if the pointy-headed four-eyes over at Dailybeast.com ranked the Alamo City 53rd out of 55 in its list of “America’s Smartest Cities?” The Beast don’t know us like that, y’all (the accompanying photo to San Antonio’s rather snarked-out entry features a cadre of Battle of the Alamo re-enactors, btw— hardly representative of our most innovative thinkers, verdad?) We’re a helluva lot more intellectually gifted than we look. San Antonio might not boast as many graduate degree-holders as Louisville, Kentucky (?!) or as many bookstores as Seattle, but hell, that’s not because we’re dumb. IT’S BECAUSE WE’RE POOR. Artifacts’d like to see those snooty types from Cambridge, MA assemble a Fiesta float out of detergent bottles, tissue paper and white-out, or  throw an entire kid’s birthday party for under fifty bucks. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: rasquache is an exalted form of genius. And speaking of kids and parties, prove the naysayers wrong by heading to the S.M.A.R.T Fair this Saturday, where all day long, there’ll be food, drinks, art on display, and amazing creative activities for the whole family. The proceeds from this brainy artsy-smartsy cranium-a-thon will go to support Supporting Multiple Arts Resources Together, which provides numerous art-educational outreach programs, mentorships by local working artists, mural projects, and exhibition possibilities for our young creative hopefuls all year long. An ART city is a SMART city, and San Antonio’s got incredible potential as a center of challenging thought and action. Let’s fund art development, folks; later we’ll work on the bookstores.


--sarah fisch



Saturday, October 10, 2009

1 PM - 9:00 PM

1906 S. Flores


Posted by sarah fisch on 10/7/2009 5:53:14 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share


Listen, hams and jamónitas: are the actorly among y'all aware of the innovative and high-quality work being done by the Attic Rep Theatre?

You should be!

They put on consistently outstanding, unflinchingly challenging theatrical productions-- American classic True West, Edward Albee's The Goat or Who is Sylvia, this summer's Blackbird, Pinter's One For the Road, Lincolnesque, y más.

Well, they're gearing up for their 2009-2010 season, and they're holding auditions. If you're an actor in San Antonio, interested in thought-provoking, contemporary works of dramatic literature, and aren't afraid to take a chance, I URGE you to peruse this press release and try out for something.

YOU could share the stage with San Anto acting luminaries like Andrew Thornton, Gloria Sanchez, Rick Frederick, and Tim Hedgepeth!

YOU could have a professional review of your performance! (See links to Current reviews, above).

YOU could participate in the ever-growing theatrical world of San Antonio! Seriously, there's better and better work, all the time.

Consider it. Press release follows.


AtticRep is looking to cast their next three shows for their 2009-2010 Season.
Auditions: October 25, 2009, 6-10pm
Callbacks: October 26 and 27, 7-10pm

Please email us at auditions@atticrep.org or call us at 210-999-8524 for an appointment time.
Please prepare one, one minute monologue.

Forum Theatre Project: One Love and Marriage
Show Dates: March 11-13, 2010

The Forum Project will gather actual stories and viewpoints centered around the subject of same sex marriage. Looking for a diverse ensemble of actors interested in exploring the topic through improvisation, experimentation and dialogue.

Auditions will include a brief interview and Callbacks will include group improvisation exercises.

Slasher by Allison Moore
Show dates: May 12-30, 2010

SHEENA McKINNEY 21, girl-next-door kind of pretty. Not book-smart, but a survivor.
HILDY McKINNEY 15, Sheena‘s little sister. Smarter than Sheena, but less capable in a crisis.
FRANCES McKINNEY 40-50, their mother. Angry, thwarted feminist with a questionable disability. Gets around her house with the aid of a li‘l rascal scooter. Loud.
MARC HUNTER 35-40, a D-list director and recovering alcoholic and sex addict. Tells everyone he‘s younger than he is.
JODY JOSHI 23, an undergrad film school dude. Capable, knows his stuff, but kind of a kiss-ass.
CHRISTI GARCIA 23-30, Assistant Director of the Holy Shepherd Justice League. Very put together, as if she‘s always ready to make a statement on camera. Not to be underestimated. This actor will also play other smaller roles, including attractive young women who are killed in various ways, a car hop, and a radio announcer.

Callbacks will include cold readings from the script.

Posted by sarah fisch on 10/5/2009 8:12:32 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Live & Local preview: Straight Live Saturday Night

Breakfast Club Crew (in the video above) and local artists Pokell, Roc Solid, and several others.Sponsored by BREAD Magazine.  Doors open at 10 p.m., and admission is $5. Check out the flyer below for more information, and don't you forget about me.

Posted by snuff_film on 10/3/2009 5:11:44 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

LUMINARIA: Deadlines and Guidelines info

I know it seems early to start thinking about Luminaria, but start thinking about Luminaria, you artists. Only 29 days 'til deadline. Luminaria will now be a major CAM

event (CAM's moving to March, remember?), so the opportunities and potential audience

are bigger than ever.

Get crackin'!

See press release below, and good luck.


Luminaria: Arts Night in San Antonio 2010


            SAN ANTONIO—Calling all artists! The 3rd annual Luminaria: Arts Night in San Antonio is March 13, 2010, 6 p.m.-midnight, and participation applications for individual artists and groups will be available on the Luminaria website, www.luminariaSA.org, September 20, 2009. The deadline for submitting applications is 5 p.m. CST on October 31, 2009.

Luminaria: Arts Night in San Antonio spotlights San Antonio’s cultural assets for local citizens and visitors alike and is made possible through the generosity of artists, arts organizations, volunteers and public and private donations.  It is free of charge and showcases all art forms in an outdoor setting and inside various venues downtown. Because of the hundreds of artists working together, Luminaria expands opportunities for teamwork, for creative collaboration and for cross-disciplinary innovation.

The award-winning Luminaria: Arts Night in San Antonio will be in downtown San Antonio on Alamo St. between Market and Durango, including the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, HemisFair Park and La Villita. This celebration of San Antonio’s artists, musicians, performers and cultural organizations is the only one of its kind in the entire state of Texas and was inspired by similar celebrations in Chicago, Paris, Rome and Madrid.

            For more information call 210.207.6960 or visit www.luminariaSA.org.

Posted by sarah fisch on 10/2/2009 5:39:43 PM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

Glasstire a finalist for national arts-journalism award!

Texas's homegrown arts-crit site Glasstire is one of five finalists in a national competition for nothing less than the future of the medium (check it out; that's not much in the way of hyperbole). Here's the press release; more soon. The first, second, and third-place winners will be announced October 30.

LIVE TODAY: The National Summit on Arts Journalism
explores future of cultural reporting


Outstanding examples of entrepreneurial cultural journalism
competing for $15,000 in prize money

LOS ANGELES, October 2, 2009 – Today an ambitious, first-of-its-kind National Summit on Arts Journalism takes place 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (PDT) at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. The summit will be streamed live at www.najp.org/summit and simulcast at 17 satellite locations around the world (listed below).

Conceived as a primarily online event, the summit is designed to promote discussion and draw attention to issues facing journalists and arts administrators, who are reinventing the coverage of arts and culture. As traditional media declines in the wake of the digital media explosion and as business models are reassessed, the summit presents and examines some of the most innovative thinking about arts journalism and its future.

Five project finalists have been chosen from among 109 submissions across North America in response to an open call earlier this summer for the best examples of entrepreneurial cultural journalism. In addition to demonstrations of these experimental projects, the day’s agenda includes moderated discussions and video seminars on the future directions of arts administration and arts journalism.

The summit’s online audience will be able to interact with speakers at the summit through Twitter, live online chatting and blogging. Viewers are being asked to post video responses on the summit’s YouTube channel, and elements of the online discussion will be part of the conversation on stage at USC Annenberg.

“This is a real experiment for us,” says Douglas McLennan, who co-directs the event with USC Annenberg journalism professor Sasha Anawalt. “We figured if we were going to be talking about new ways of covering the arts, we ought to be trying new ways of conducting this conversation. There’s a lot of energy going in to reinventing arts journalism right now and we wanted to find ways of showcasing some of that creativity.”

“This summit is a new dynamic way to bring together remarkable and important creators, journalists and ideas,” Anawalt says. “This includes everybody – those who submitted a journalism project for consideration, the presenters and speakers on stage, and anyone else who enters the summit’s virtual space curious to survey national arts journalism territory.”

The summit is produced by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) with significant support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Competition heralds innovative arts journalism projects

Of the 109 submissions to the open call for projects demonstrating entrepreneurial cultural journalism, ten examples will be highlighted with video presentations on the day of the summit. Five of these ten are finalists in a competition to find the best use of new technology in the exploration of arts journalism. Each of the finalists have already earned $2,000, and the first-, second- and third-prize winners will split $15,000 in prize money courtesy of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Online voting for the winning project will take place October 2–23 by members of the NAJP and alumni of the four NEA Arts Journalism Institutes fellowship programs –American University (visual arts), Columbia University (classical music and opera), the American Dance Festival at Duke University (dance) and USC Annenberg School for Communication (theater and musical theater). The winners will be announced October 30.

The five finalists are:

1) Departures
Presented at the summit by Juan Devis, artist and producer
KCET, Los Angeles
Link: www.kcet.org/local/departures/la_river

Departures is an experiment in nonlinear community storytelling in the form of a multimedia Web site. The video is shot by KCET producers and students from partner schools in the neighborhoods, and users experience projects through multiple entry points and navigation pathways on the site. Departures suggests a different way of telling the stories of cultures that haven’t found a voice in traditional journalism. Artist Juan Devis has developed an interactive form of journalism that captures the diversity of life in neighborhoods.

2) Flavorpill
Presented at the summit by Mark Mangan, CEO
New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Chicago
Link: www.flavorpill.com

Flavorpill is a 21st-century version of the city guide, sorting through hundreds of events each week to make a case for the 25 events in each city its writers believe are worthy of attention. Flavorpill started as an e-mail publisher and has grown to thousands of subscribers and millions of dollars in annual revenues. Revenue comes from advertising, but Flavorpill has also developed an unusual business model allowing venues to set up their own pages on the Web site and write about their own events alongside the site’s own editorial staff.

3) FLYPMedia
Presented at the summit by Jim Gaines, editor-in-chief
New York
Link: www.flypmedia.com

FLYP is an independent media startup trying to reinvent the magazine online, not just by posting print/image/sound/video content to a Web site, but by rethinking what digital storytelling and the next-generation magazine might become. FLYP’s origins are anchored in the physicality of the traditional magazine. Text is important, but image, sound, and video also take turns in the lead.  FLYP demonstrates that a general-culture publication can be a compelling window on culture. Its editor, Jim Gaines, was formerly chief editor of People, Life and Time magazines.

4) Glasstire
Presented at the summit by Rainey Knudson, founder
Link: www.glasstire.com

Glasstire is a Web site about visual art in Texas. The site is not a comprehensive report on the visual arts, but as critics have always done, Glasstire argues for a way of seeing art in a region that is different from art made elsewhere. Glasstire is almost nine years old, operates as a nonprofit, and has developed a core of 35-40 writers around the state, all of whom are paid for their work. Knudson says the site is stable and self-sustaining, with traffic continuing to increase. This is a model for arts journalism that should be replicated in other states.

5) San Francisco Classical Voice
Presented at the summit by Patty Gessner, executive producer
San Francisco
Link: www.sfcv.org

San Francisco Classical Voice was created in 1998 when prominent classical music journalist Robert Commanday feared that cutbacks in newspaper coverage would hurt the local classical music scene. His Web site offering comprehensive local coverage has become the go-to resource for finding out about artists, organizations and events. The site’s professional writers include a mix of expert academics, journalists and artists. The site is a nonprofit, self-sustained by local donations from foundations, corporations and individuals, and by selling ads and memberships.

Posted by Elaine Wolff on 10/2/2009 10:59:15 AM Permalink | Comments Bookmark and Share

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