Chances are, you're not familiar with the Texas primary-caucus
system. It's internecine and requires degrees in Euclidean geometry and
genetics to fully comprehend. A little ESP skill doesn't hurt, either,
since the process involves a seance with Democratic ghosts of elections
past (this year, For Whom the Chris Bell Tolls). Fortunately those
smarty-pants lefties up the road at the Texas Observer have
put together a handy guide to getting involved in
the Democratic caucus. Note: You must vote in the March 4 Democratic
primary to be eligible for the caucus, which means if you weren't one
of the record early voters in Bexar County, you must get yourself to the polls Tuesday.
Letters (Delivered to the
Penthouse Suite via the Ether, Pigeons, and
All Methods In between)
An On the Street long time reader with close ties to Brazilian street
grappling the medical field
(someone we will now obliquely refer to as Homes) sent this astounding
clip. As with many of the messages sent to the Penthouse
Suite, humor is mixed with sadness. The clip has the feel of
Old World vaudeville, or perhaps I am simply projecting that onto the
clip because it is from the far reaches of Europe, and of course, who
doesn't love the idea
point I thought it was a lost Roberto Benigni/Jim Jarmusch clip, which
ultimately only reinforces my point.
The host's reaction is so completely wrong and inappropriate it can
only be considered human. The last 15 seconds of
silence bring unexpected pathos.
Congressman Al sent these clips in at various times during the week.
Given that his dedication to On the Street does not waver by
being in another state, it is only fair if we now refer to
him as On the Street
Mountain Time Zone Correspondent Congressman Al.
Old time fans of the Nature Boy will be happy to see him inject himself
into the current presidential election. The Nature Boy,
combined with Chuck Norris, gives Mike Huckabee a Kinky Friedman-esque
assemblage of unlikely, lovable losers in his political corner.
Ric Flair held onto his
championship reign with the cliched iron fist.
Unfortunately, Mike Huckabee (and his campaign) are drifting
into defeat. I really appreciate having Mike Huckabee on the
campaign trail battling McCain. Though Huckabee is probably
waiting in vain for McCain to have his "macaca" moment of
self-implosion, the idea that McCain could screw up his chances are not
that out of the picture. Scandals begin to whirl around him.
Stories of his evil temper now begin to surface.
Some have even questioned if he should be eligible for
President because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone and not on the
50 states, however Arizona didn't become a state until shockingly
recently, and by recently I mean 1912.
McCain's situation does not bode well for the health of the country.
Ostracized by his base for past statements and views, he now
seems to be trying to appease his base through his stance on
and the empire. The People don't want 100 more
years of Iraq, yet these are the outlandish statements he has made to
smooth things over with the people of his party. I can't
imagine this going over well with the majority of people, but then what
do I know?
He might do better than most people first think,
however, I can't imagine most people wanting to have a beer with him,
which is always my most important criteria when choosing a President.
What kind of beer are we going to order? If he is
afraid to order international, is he then also afraid to
order micro-brew? Are we going to have just one
Do we order several pitchers? It looks bad either
Do we get drunk and discuss and the Spurs vs. the Suns
in the 2007 playoffs? And if we do, then is his temper able
to handle it when I bring up the Robert Horry hipcheck?
Yeah, probably not. And that is why I want Mike Huckabee to
somehow find a way to stay in the race. He's the Jimmy Carter
of the Right. His presence in the Presidential debate would
force a much more interesting and "nuanced" course of discussion.
The dude just wants to play his bass guitar...
And as easily as politics drifts into music, sports drifts into
politics. This also from the desk of On the Street Mountain Time Zone
Correspondent Congressman Al...
The joker tells the truth, and the serious commentator responds like a
Cracking the Pecan King
A few days ago an On the Street associate from the Austin film scene
came through town to do photographic research for the ACLU for
something connected to Emma Tenayuca - most likely for one of the many
Having left the Institute of Texan Cultures we met nearby at Rosario's.
Rosario's has a good racket going on with the tourists. The
food is good in a delicate, crafted sort of way but everything could be
several dollars cheaper. Nonetheless, it exists in its own
bubble and people have a good time there. It strikes me as the kind of
place where when you ask the waiter what he reccomends he'll make up
something, usually choosing the more expensive option, which is pretty
much what happened when I went there. Carrying a camera
probably gave me away for the Iowan tourist I've always wanted to be.
A beer was later had at Beethoven's. The old timers weren't
in yet. I was hoping to show my friend a glimpse of the
German scene but it wasn't meant to be. The auslanders were
right at home.
A Quiet Storm Band Called Bedroom E.T.A.
Based on the positive response from the audio clip from last week
("Ditchweed" aka "Don't Ask. Okay, Go Ahead and Ask") we
bring this follow up. Having tracked down the origins, it seems this a
clip from an upcoming Matador Records comedy album. Very
unusual. On the Street Insider Erin wonders about
their connection to Catpower. Again, very unusual...
Let's say -- totally hypothetically speaking, of course -- that you
wanted to select a presidential candidate in Tuesday's primary based on
something more than a vague desire for "change" or a preference for
"experience." Something like, ah, issues, say. Well, the EU's here
to help (And why not? The prime-minister model doesn't lend
itself as easily to the distracting politics of personality) with a
fun, 36-question quiz on gut-check topics ranging from gun control to
terrorism/security to health care. At the end of the survey, a chart
positions you on an economic and social axis (I thought perhaps I was
getting more economically conservative in my late 30s, but nope, there
I was in the lefty-left quadrant). According to my results, Barack
Obama should be my candidate if I'm voting on issues, and Huckabee is
policy anathema. You can also select individual issues in the results
phase, in case you care more about the uninsured than the border.
Thanks to the VU Amsterdam for creating this helpful gizmo -- via which
they're no doubt compiling data about the impulsive, erratic
American voting public (they want as many respondents from Texas as
possible) -- perhaps to make a case for kicking us out of the UN.
This past Saturday, a friend and I made the pilgrimage to see I Hate Hamlet over
at Ruben’s Café on Blanco road, off Basse in an
area where every shopping center we passed looked exactly the same.
It was my first dinner-theater experience and I was open to anything
that Damian Gillen and The Company Theatre threw at me. I went through
a gamut of emotions—and was rewarded with a cookie during
intermission for my hard work. (Well, actually the people at
Ruben’s offered dessert, so that explains it.)
In a nutshell, Andrew Rally, our anti-hero, is a TV actor that is
offered to play the role of Hamlet in a Shakespeare in the Park
performance. Deidre McDavey, his doting virginal girlfriend, goes crazy
with delight over the possibility of her boyfriend playing a
Shakespearean character actor … Rally not so much, that is
until the ghost of John Barrymore arrives and hilarity ensues.
I had a somewhat love-hate relationship for Daniel Sparks’
character of Andrew. His “Oh, Brother” facial
expressions were a bit stale and unrealistic. He did show range towards
the second act. His character fully developed and instead of being a
money-hungry faded TV- star man-boy he morphed into a once-faded
Deidre is played awkwardly by Becky Matthews; now let me explain
… to understand Deidre is to understand that she’s
a hopeless romantic, a girl who believes in fairytales, anxiously
waiting for her Prince Charming to whisk her off her feet. Instead,
she’s paired with Andrew, a mediocre mate she adores. Her
awe-shucks appeal may leave some audience members queasy. It could be a
result of overacting— whatever the case it didn’t
fare well with me, but the audience ate it up.
Gallien is flawless in his role as the ghost of Barrymore. His
accent, his presence, his libido are in the spotlight and are
definitely the reason why the show is so well received. I also loved
the immensely low budget props. The Company made the scant space work
with only one setting.
It was an interesting show to check out and it’s always nice
to see small dinner theaters bringing in large crowds (with a string of
sold-out performances, including a packed house the night we attended).
The Company’s Dinnerbox series (which I Hate Hamlet is
part of) has consistently delivered out-of-the-ordinary performances
showcasing Gallien’s superb acting and the group’s
range of comedic talents.
I Hate Hamlet
March 1 (last performance)
14357 Blanco Rd.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have spent considerable time in San
Antonio over the last two weeks, but a deeper South Texas connection to
this presidential race slipped past many people busily eyeing Tuesday's
On Thursday, Ralph Nader, making the latest in a string of insurgent
presidential bids, named Matt Gonzalez, former San Francisco supervisor
and mayoral candidate, to be his running mate. Gonzalez grew up in the
Valley and attended high school in McAllen (where his family continues
to live), before attending Columbia University. It'll be interesting to
see if he can help Nader make a dent in the Valley, a historical
Democratic Party stronghold.
Following a second request from the Texas Republican Party,
Representative Rick Noriega, Democratic
candidate for John Cornyn's U.S. Senate seat and a veteran of the war
in Afghanistan, today released military records to the public.
We've provided the link here in case his campaign's fear that the
Republicans are planning to swift boat him prove true -- you'll be able
to judge the raw material yourself.
One Officer Evaluation Report summary begins "The intent of this OER is
to reflect an officer at the very top, in terms of both performance and
potential," and goes on to praise Noriega's leadership and
relationship-building skills and unlimited potential. The move may
backfire in more than one respect, since the phone-in press conference
gave Noriega the opportunity to talk about Cornyn's spotty attention to
The five-time Houston State Rep faces Ray McMurrey, Rhett Smith, and
Gene Kelly in the March 4 primary. Still not sure where to vote or what
else is on the ballot? Check with the Bexar County Elections Department.
All you need is your address.
I used to have a friend who would ask me for the recipes for desserts
she'd tried at my house. "That coconut cake was fantastic," she'd say.
"Can you tell me how to make it?"
I'd give her the step-by-step instructions, a detailed ingredient list,
and helpful tips.
Without fail, she'd eventually tell me, "I tried making that cake, and
it turned out terrible."
So, I'd start the postmortem: "Did you use fresh eggs?" "Did you cream
the butter and sugar first?"
Eventually it'd come to light that she'd skipped some crucial step
because it just seemed like too much trouble.
"Why do I have to sift the flour before I measure it?" she'd ask, for
instance. "That just seems like an extra step." Or, "I didn't have any
pastry flour, so I just used all regular."
Finally I convinced her to make quick breads, which don't
require the same dedication to detail.
The point? If you're trying to replicate Grandma's famous pound cake,
and you're lucky enough to possess the recipe, just follow the damn
thing. To the letter.
I bring this up as a prelude to a dare: 210sa, I hereby
throw down the fashion gauntlet. I double-dog dare you to do the
Wardrobe Warrior right.
Since you started directly ripping off New York's Look Book in December (which
inspired my last rant on the subject),
you've settled into the form a little. You're having something
resembling a conversation with your subjects, which is an improvement.
But you're still picking ordinary-looking people. This isn't an insult
to your subjects. I'm ordinary-looking, as are the vast majority of
Americans who don't live in LA or New York (sorry, Austin). Outside of
the girl who said she was wearing all Baby Phat (which sticks in my
mind because I wondered, via linear thinking, if the line offers
underwear, too [yes]), I can't recall a single subject from your weekly
photo shoot. Last week's subject -- so Pat Benatar '80s -- is the
closest you've come to the ideal. The point of this particular sort of
feature -- if it exists for any reason other than to lure retail
advertisers -- is to photograph extraordinary looking individuals or
individuals who are a particularly salient visual example of their
Note: It's helpful if you look for them in places besides the mall.
You can't cheat by calling up people you know have a cool look, or by going to
clubs at night. You're looking for people who sport their glorious
inner strange when the rest of us are wearing our conformist work
faces. For example: One afternoon on Broadway, not three blocks from
your corporate HQ, I saw a tall black man wearing an electric-blue suit
and a zoot-suit-style hat, climbing into a vintage car. Who the hell is that guy? I'd
sure like to know. He might even inspire a corporate suit or two to
step out next time they're shopping lapels. This morning, outside my
apartment complex (and again, not a mile from your Hearst/Express-News
offices), a Golden Girls
dame in enormous Coco Chanel-esque shades and a floral skirt stared me
down at the corner. She looked interesting. Or how about the guy who
walked into Whole Foods on a recent Saturday with a full scalp and neck
tattoo -- like chain maille -- rocking his biker look.
Not your stereotypical SA Whole Foods customer.
But I don't have any faith in you Wardrobe Warrior -- you're more like
a Wardrobe Serf, slave to convention and the mild derivations that pass
for style for most of us. That same morning at WF, I waited for juice
behind a tweener sporting a Takashi Murakami Louis Vuitton bag (or a
good facsimile thereof). She was fashionable in a completely
uninteresting way, but at this point I have to assume that, given the
choice between these two WF customers, you'd go safe.
Come on, prove me wrong.
Of course, I like the new video version of NY's Look Book so
much that we might just start knocking it off ourselves.
Have you jumped on the political bandwagon yet? If so, and if
Obama’s your candidate, go check out Thursday’s
silk screening party down at Ruta Maya, info below:
COME to a fun and funky gathering of artists in support of Barack Obama
where you can:
CHANGE YOUR SHIRT!
Bring a T-shirt and the amazing Cruz Ortiz will silkscreen it with an
original Obama design for $5!
VOICE YOUR CHANGE!!
Bring your songs, your poems, other people's songs and poems that speak
to change, your rants against Bush, your odes to Obama, your whatever
you wanna say that takes five minutes or less to an open mic hosted by
poets Jenny Browne and Naomi Shihab Nye.
AND DONATE YOUR CHANGE FOR CHANGE!!!
Bring your spare change to put in our piggy bank for Obama and your big
and small bills to buy Ruta Maya goodies!
Ruta Maya will donate a portion of proceeds to the Obama campaign and
we're donating the whole piggy bank.
Bring your kids! Bring your voices! Bring your votes! Bring your hope!
Bring your friends! Bring anything you think deserves another
Here are a few images of Obama signs that local artists have been
The process begins ...
Red, white, and blue gets a new twist.
photos courtesy of justin parr
In other arts news, I spoke with Luminarias officials today and was
assured we will have more information regarding the Arts Night by
mid-week. Check out Curblog throughout the week for any further
developments. Also, be on the lookout for a sneak peak of the reopening
of the Greek and Roman galleries at the San Antonio Museum of Arts
(with pictures included!) and a brief review of I Hate Hamlet, we
promise it’ll be fair and balance.
I'd been meaning to stop in Florame,
the aromatherapy and skincare shop on Broadway, for months, but it's so
easy to zip by the turn-in for that little strip center just north of
Hildebrand. It's well-worth the turnaround, though.
During my lost years in Austin, I worked on and off at an aromatherapy
shop called Sabia, so I'm an intolerant snob when it comes to
lesser-quality essential oils, and artificially fragranced products
that label themselves aromatherapy flip my rant switch. True
aromatherapy uses distilled plant oils for therapeutic and purely
pleasurable purposes, from running off a cold to easing flu symptoms to
relieving work stress. Although it has been practiced since antiquity
in one form or another, the modern version was discovered/invented in
France by a perfumer who devoted his work to understanding the
molecular properties of EOs. Wikipedia has a reasonably
shop on Broadway is the first U.S. outpost of a reputable
French company, which produces EOs from organic wildcrafted and
cultivated plants. No, they're not as cheap as the perfectly decent
brands at Whole Foods, but you can smell the difference. They also
carry high-end and rare precious oils, such as true Rose and
Helichrysum, and carrier oils such as Grapeseed, for making your own
massage oils, etc. If you're not the DIY sort, you can explore the
company's extensive skincare line. Highly
recommended: Geranium floral water. The flu/cold bug that's
been making the rounds this winter hasn't been entirely vanquished,
either, so pick up a bottle of Ravintsara, which smells like a cross
between cinnamon and eucalyptus and fights the spread of viral
infections. I bought one of their small wooden diffusers and Grapefruit
oil -- relaxing and euphoric -- for my office.
Don't be shy if it's all new to you: Shopkeeper Alain, from Paris by
way of Mexico City, is friendly and informative.
Good day I am Nina
Douala. From Abidjan Cote d'ivoire, I wish to request for your urgent
assistance in my investment plans in your base, I am calling in respect
of the transfer of money ($6.500,000) Six Million Five houndred
thousand united states dollars only deposit in the bank by my late
Father Mr Joseph Douala who was a wealthy Cocoa Merchant here in Ivory
Coast. I wish to invest this money in manufacturing and real estate
management in your base,this is because I inheritated an important sum
from my late father who died in recent political crisis in Cote
Before the death of my
father he informed me near his hospital bed at chu- teaching hospital,
that he has saved the in one of the bank here in cote d Ivoire with my
name, and I have made every inquired to confirm the existence of the
deposit. This money was been
deposited for my social security and for fruitful international
investment.That is why I need you to keep this transaction highly
confidential and trustworthy person who will assist me to receive this
money overseas for investment establishment purposeindurities and
lucratives profitable ventures.
Further directives and
details about the deposit and on how to move the money successfully
into your private bank account in your country will be given to you as
soon as I get your response, Thanks and anticipating to hear from you
immediately you recieve this mail. God bless.
Yours Faithfully. Nina Douala.
I realize Nina wanted to keep this matter between us but I felt it was
too important to keep a secret.
And if that letter wasn't enough, I then received this following letter
a record 17 times in 30 minutes, setting off a new wave of Welsh spammers
Exhibit B - Pioneer Days
From Andrew David Office David Consultant Intl 12, Vic, Ave, N.S.W, 2110 Sydney, Australia Tel: +61 (02) 800 #$%%## E-mail: ##%#@#@live.com
Final Notification of
Congratulation On behalf
of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Engr. James Jones, I
once again try to notify you as my earlier letter to you through the
Post Office was returned undelivered, therefore I now attempt to reach
you via your email address as it appears to be the next and the only
option left explored.
Engr. James Jones
(late), made you a beneficiary in his Will, he left properties worth of
Two Million United States Dollars (US$2.000.000.00) to you in the
codicil and last testament to his Will. My client, Engr. James Jones,
was a pioneer and member of STARBAG CONSTRUCTION CO.LTD, a dedicated
Christian and Philanthropist. He died on 2004 and his Will is now ready
Please If I reach you as
hopeful I will, endeavor to get back to me as soon as possible to
enable me conclude my job, you should forward along your current
telephone and Fax numbers, your current mailing address.
Once again, I
congratulate you for this is a significant honor indeed, as it behooves
you herefore to act at once in other to avoid risk of forfeiture to the
Andrew David (Sectional
Head) Co - Partner of the New
These first two letters are obviously serious business of commerce and
finance. Luckily, longtime reader Michael sent this mp3
document to lighten the mood. It dovetails nicely with his
previous contribution of last week.
To fully enjoy this following clip one need not know the previous work
of the Jerky Boys, nor have read Norman
Mailer's forgotten essay from 1957 called "The White Negro".
However, there's no reason one shouldn't.
As with the last clip from longtime reader Michael, this is NSFW,
again, unless of course you work out at sea, as baseball coach, or most
appropriately, a used car salesman...
Exhibit C : PT Cruising
The Problem with Knight
It seems a new Knight Rider television show is about to
premier. Of course this is great. Observe the new
However, there seems to be something missing. It's as if
Knight Rider 2000 the television movie is completely being avoided in
the discussion. Observe the trailer for this forgotten (but culturally
significant) tv movie.
I realize this a bit of a step, but walk with me. Watch the
first and last seconds of that trailer again. If you do, then
you'll realize that this movie was shot in San Antonio.
The smoking gun?
The last shot of the trailer shows a car chase/explosion happen right
in front of Tacoland. Let me restate that: the Hoff filmed a
Knight Rider car chase in front of Tacoland! This is too good
to be true.
Hoff can enjoy his recent foray into nostalgia with the Knight Rider
franchise but it should be remembered that it was the city of San
Antonio that opened up its doors to him when Knight Rider was not cool,
Baywatch had yet to be born, and he was basically a joke (which of
course, is much different than now. Completely different.)
In all this discussion, the ridiculous assumptions of the Knight Rider
2000 shouldn't be overlooked. It's the same argument from the
1970s that only criminals carry guns, cops can only carry toy water
pistols, society has completely fallen apart, and if only a hero could
restore order and save us from this chaos...
And Then There's This
Deep chaos. Now almost forgotten, Godspeed You Black
Emperor made music feel like cinema, and with this video I
upon, one of their most famous "songs" is now complemented with
I feel wrong in calling it a Ken Burns film of an
apocalypse yet to
be documented but that's what it feels like. Except that its
much more artistic and nuanced. And at the end, does it
almost seem like that it's an alternate version of KITT driving
through he wasteland?
But There's Hope?
On Saturday, instead of lunch at Garcia's I was told of some sort of
Obama rally happening downtown. I had heard but forgotten
that the campaign office is next to the Lake/Flato office around 3rd
I'm too cynical to get overly excited about Obama. I had
thought he might be too thin - not because of the smoking issue and
appetite suppressants but on
issues in general.
After 8 years in Siberia who wouldn't get excited for something new?
However, I'm glad that Hillary is giving him a strong fight.
I say that because I completely disagree with the widely held
notion that the two Democratic candidates need to work together and
find a consensus as soon as possible. The process needs to
play itself out until the convention if needed. If that isn't
what the convention is for then what's the point of these institutions
(the interior was packed
and humid. my glasses fogged over. i hung outside
Also, in 2004 Kerry got a free pass by the left on everything and was
pushed into the forefront way too quickly. He was able to
give lip service to the left on many issues and didn't fully serve his
base. I think the two candidates now need to put themselves
on record as much as possible on what they intend to do, which for
politicians probably just means more slogans and less reality, but to
me the real hope for change is that something meaningful will come out
The recent trade by the Spurs sending out Elson and more importantly
Brent Barry has had a deep impact for On the Street. Though
the team improved its defense and rebounding, my main issue is where
are we going to find a someone of his wit to match his surfing skills
as well as inside connections to the band Pearl Jam? This is
actually a serious question.
Barry may have been injured for
good, but if so I think we would have heard about it, especially
because we sent him to Spurs v2.0 in Seattle with Sam Presti and PJ
Carlesimo (the other PJ in Seattle) where he isn't expected to have
much of an impact with a young, struggling team that is only looking
towards next year when his contract expires.
I suppose if I had a press pass with the Spurs I would be able to get
to the bottom of this...alas for now I can only call upon years of
armchair psychology and an innate sense of things (whatever the German
word for that is.)
To conclude, more on the Barry trade next week when there is more
And so goes another week
on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...
The City of San Antonio says it plans to rewrite the portions of the
City Parade Ordinance Judge Xavier Rodriguez labeled unconstitutional yesterday
as early as the first part of March. Council passed the new ordinance
in late November, and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition immediately
filed a lawsuit objecting to several provisions, including the
seemingly arbitrary method for assessing permit fees and the lack of
options for groups who can't pay the estimated traffic-control and
cleanup costs. Judge Rodriguez's order prevents the City from enforcing
the ordinance as it is written.
Rodriguez issued the preliminary injunction based on three provisions he
found unconstitutional: the wide discretion accorded the police chief
in assessing costs, the conflation of traffic-control costs with
"security" costs, and the exemption of funeral processions and
government agencies operating within the scope of their functions.
"We're actually pleased with the decision, those are easy fixes," City
Attorney Michael Bernard told the Current.
"We'll have to take out the exemptions for funerals and government
entities, [and] we have to make clear that the costs will be solely for
traffic control, not safety -- which we thought we had done ... that
was the intent."
The City can ask the court to review the revamped ordinance and lift
the injunction if the judge's objections have been met. Free
Speech Coalition attorney Amy Kastely said that even if the City
successfully corrects those terms, they will proceed with the suit on
the grounds that the ordinance favors some First Amendment marches over
others, and doesn't provide adequate alternatives for indigent groups.
The plaintiffs have been gathering evidence for their October 14 trial
date, which, Kastely says, shows a pattern of favoritism and
inconsistent fee assessment.
Bernard says he's not worried.
"All that is under the old ordinance, when much more discretion was
granted," he said. "That was the point [of the new ordinance]."
Bernard is, it seems, a confident guy in general, telling the Current (who was
foolish enough to ask whether the City would be seeking guidance as it
works to make its Parade Ordinance constitutional -- after all, it's
not like after eight years of Bush we're all super-fresh on the full
potential of the word): "I can read the court order. I don't
particularly need advice."
need advice? I sure do sometimes.
Try Dear Uncle Mat: free input and
reflection on dating, sex, gender identity, pets, and art -- all from a
guy with actual experience in all of the above. Plus: anonymity
guaranteed. Email email@example.com.
It's a winter afternoon in San Antonio (which is to say it's
82 degrees and blindlingly sunny). The light glints off the windowpanes
of the restored King William mansions across the river, and makes it
difficult to look square on at the EPA contractors in their white suits
and yellow booties. Eric Delgado, EPA on-scene coordinator for the Big
Tex Libby site, is mercifully dressed in a blue EPA Emergency Response
The word "emergency" reads ironic in this context: local residents have been waiting for more than three years
for some agency, any agency, to fully screen the site for the presence
of Libby asbestos, a pernicious form of tremolite asbestos whose tiny
fibers have sickened hundreds of residents of Libby, Montana, where
contaminated vermiculite was mined by W.R. Grace for decades and
shipped to more than 200 processing facilities throughout the country,
including Big Tex. Libby was added to the National Priorities List of
the Superfund program in 2002.
Between now and next Tuesday, Delgado's team will take soil samples
from approximately 300 locations on the 7.5-acre site, based on
preliminary testing completed in 2006 and old site maps. Those preliminary
tests found concentrations of as much as 4 percent near some structures
on the site. Delgado expects to
get the results from these samples in about 21 days. The EPA will use
the findings to determine where they need to conduct activity-based
sampling. Results from those tests, which will be used to determine the
extent and method of remediation, will be several more weeks in coming.
Still, it's encouraging to see progress. The property has sat vacant
for more than a year, since the last of the art-silo tenants were booted in the spring of 2006.
Owner James Lifshutz plans to build urban living and retail spaces
overlooking the restored Eagleland segment of the San Antonio River
Improvement Project, but the development has been on hold since
community activists began pushing for testing and cleanup in 2005.
You can follow the EPA's updates on the official Big Tex cleanup site, epaosc.net/bigtex.
Round one in the fight between Esperanza and the City over the new Parade Ordinance goes to
Esperanza and the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition. The groups claim
that the ordinance, passed in late November by council, is
unconstitutional because, among other offenses, it allows the chief of
police to discriminate against groups based on content by charging for
"security" at his discretion, and subsidizes the costs of some First
Amendment marches, but not others.
U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez issued a ruling this afternoon
that grants the plaintiffs' request for a temporary injunction, finding
that the ordinance as written is unconstitional on three counts:
• It grants the chief of police overly broad discretion in
• It doesn't clearly distinguish between traffic-control costs
and security costs
• It exempts funeral processions and government agencies
operating within the scope of their functions
"Basically, he did the right thing," said plaintiffs' attorney
Amy Kastely. The ruling addresses one of the coalition's main concerns,
that the police could price groups with less-popular or controversial
messages or memberships out of a permit by assessing high "security"
But Rodriguez sided with the City on some key issues that Kastely says
they will address more fully when they go to trial this fall. The Court
did not object to the City subsidizing specified events, such
as the annual MLK march, or the assessment of traffic-control and
cleanup costs. The ruling also found that the ordinance provides
sufficient alternatives for groups that cannot afford the permitting
process (read: sidewalks).
Kastely says the coalition has new evidence to present regarding
permit-fee waivers. "We just looked at the permit applications for the
first five years," she said. "The practice is much more extensive than
just the three in the ordinance." She also expressed dismay at the
judge's position on parade alternatives for poor or indigent groups.
"On that one we're just disappointed," Kastely said. "We will bring out
at the trial the lack of viability of sidewalk marches -- for the
elderly, for anybody who's got physical challenges at all."
Between now and the trial date -- currently set for October 14 -- the
City could choose to address the portions of the ordinance the judge
identified as unconstitutional, and ask the court to lift the temporary
injunction, but Kastely says the coalition will be back in front of the
bench either way. In the meantime, "What it means is that the
International Women's Day March will go on as a march in the streets."
has calls into the City
1) Come one, come all, to SAMA on Sunday,
March 2 at 1 and 3 p.m., for performances of The Complete
Fragments of Menander, an edu-tainment play written and
directed by the Current’s
very own theater critic, Willy Razavi. And if you think
that’s shameless self-promotion, get a load of this:
I’m also going to be in it. Playing a man. So really, it would be selfish of
me not to share this information with you, my beloved theater community
— how often does the chance come along to criticize the
performance of a critic? I can hear you sharpening your red pencils now
… be sure to
post your reviews on Chisme Libre!
spring fund drive is going down from tomorrow, February 22, through Friday,
February 29. I know you hate to have your jazz interrupted
by pitches, so donate all of your money tomorrow! I’ll be on
the air on Thursday, the 28th, starting at about 10 or 10:30 a.m. to
talk about my glorious experiences as a KRTU intern (it made me all
that I am today!) and to represent your favorite alt-weekly. Should you
stay tuned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., your eardrums will be caressed by
the music of SA Jazz Workshop (which, in the interest of full
disclosure, features the Current’s
design director Chuck Kerr on the drums). Remember San Antonio, without U,
it’s just KRT.
Oh, Erik Bosse. You and I have pretty much been communicating via
vanity googling for the past, I don’t know, nine months?
(Then there were a few bland electronic exchanges about photos for the
48-hour Film Fest.Talk about an
elephant in the room, er, email.) I figure you’ll find this
post by vanity googling, too. Anyway, at the risk of sounding too You’ve
I think we should meet. I’d love to hear more of your
thoughts on our coverage; I’m sure I’ve got loads
to learn from you. So I’ll be at Ruta Maya on Saturday, March
1, at noon. Drop by if you can. Just promise you won’t say
“girl reporter,” OK?
staff writer Greg Harman checks in from the border this
week, where he is working on a series about the proposed border wall
and the communities, individuals, and ecosystems it will
impact. Keep track of his blog posts here and at murodelodio.wordpress.com,
and watch for next week's cover story in the Current. And while
you're online, check out this week's story about new findings
(including work by OLLU researchers) that show an increasingly strong
link between mercury emissions from manufacturing and coal plants and autism.
press deadline yesterday, the Current
got its mits on actual numbers from a poll conducted, we're told, for
folks in the rental-car industry who were contemplating a media
campaign opposing the visitor-tax extension that will appear on this
May's ballot in the guise of four major projects:
• $110 million to remake the Municipal Auditorium into the
Bexar County Performing Arts Center, $6 million for the Alameda
Theater renovation, and $4 million for
the Briscoe Western Art Museum
• $100 million to update the Freeman Coliseum and stock-show
facilities, and upgrade the technology, infrastructure, and meeting
facilities at the AT&T Center when it turns 10 in 2012
• $125 million to complete the River Improvements Project,
including restoring the river's natural course in the Mission Reach,
restoring Wetlands at the Witte in the Park Segment, and connect the
downtown River Walk directly to the Mission Reach hike-and-bike trails
• $80 million to build amateur-sports facilities, including 46
soccer fields, 53 softball/baseball diamonds, and a new fencing facility
Voter approval would continue the 1.75% hotel-occupancy tax and the
short-term 5% motor-vehicle rental tax, first approved in 1999 to build
the AT&T Center, for another 20-30 years, for a total
investment of $415 million.
On Monday, the Express-News
reported that Enterprise Rent-a-Car, which had reportedly told County
Judge Nelson Wolff they were willing to spend up to $1 million to
defeat the proposal, had decided to sit out the local election and
concentrate its anti-visitor-tax efforts at the national level. The
daily speculated that Enterprise's internal polling must have given
them a case of the cold, hard pragmatics, but as Queque reported today,
we had seen different numbers. For your perusal, here's a core
sampling, taken from questions that are not, as Judge Wolff
characterized them, very pushy. (Incidentally, Mayor Phil Hardberger,
Judge Wolff, and the San Antonio Spurs are all pretty darn popular with
the folks who participated in this survey, with the Spurs taking the
crown, Hardberger playing runner up, and Wolff following in a strong
• 95.5% of respondents said tourism is "important," with 76.5%
responding "very important."
• 47.8% either strongly favor or somewhat favor extending term
limits. 44.5% somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the idea.
• 65% of respondents favor allocating $125 million to river
• 56.8% of respondents favor allocating $110 million to
renovate the Municipal Auditorium into a state-of-the-art performing
• Respondents were split on the proposal to allocate $80
million to amateur-sports facilities, with 46.2 percent favoring the
idea, and 47% opposing it
• Asked how they felt about allocating $75 million to
AT&T Center improvements, $15 million for rodeo buildings, and
$10 to the Freeman Coliseum, only 37% responded favorably, while 55.2%
either somewhat or strongly opposed the idea.
Keep in mind this poll was conducted before any official campaigning by
the A.C.T. political-action
committee established to lobby in favor of the measure.
Later questions in the poll these numbers are taken from characterize
the AT&T Center as privately owned -- which results in even
lower approval ratings for the AT&T improvements. As Wolff told
yesterday, tax-extension advocates "get better support when we remind
people that we own it."
The County claims to have more favorable numbers. They belong to the
Spurs, we've been told, but the Current
has asked if we could pretty-please have a copy for comparison.
The Queque: Republican attactic dogs special edition
“It’s not whether you get knocked down,”
said the great patron coach of the football field.
“It’s whether you get back up.” The
Queque notes approvingly that U.S.
candidate and Texas State Rep Rick Noriega is
animated with Lombardi’s fighting spirit as he anticipates a Swift
Boat attack in the Grand Orifice Party tradition of Max
Cleland and John Kerry. Last week the Texas Republican Party sent a
hardball followup letter demanding Noriega release
his military records — copied, for good measure, to Noriega’s three opponents
in the March 4 primary (the winner of which will
take on John Cornyn in November. Please tell us you’re on top
“This is the first shot across the bow, in a dishonorable
way, to try to impugn my integrity or character,” said
Noriega on Monday. His campaign will release the records later this
week, says his office, after it’s all clear with the JAG.
“To the American public,” adds Noriega,
“not to some political operatives that have agendas and a
A longtime reader from Austin sent this cryptic video. There
was no description. The words in the video speaks for itself
but ultimately raise several questions.
The video is completely safe for work, as long as you work out at sea,
as a prison guard, or as a Division II baseball coach.
Otherwise, not so much.
Aside from the obvious culture clash occuring (and unintentional
comedy), a deep sadness permeates this whole thing. Who does
she want to bump with? What happened on the school yard to
provoke this? And where the hell was the assistant principal
when this all went down? I think this coverup is only going
to get worse.
The influence of street culture permeates isotropically.
Consider this scenario out west in Los
Angeles. Apparently, rival paparazzi agencies are now arming
Bloods and Crips with cameras to get premium shots of Britney Spears.
Terms such as 'drive by shooting' are being used in
new contexts. Of course this couldn't be another case of Los
Angeles fear, paranoia, and misrepresentation. Somewhere in
the background Mike Davis is taking notes.
The Twilight's Last
Longtime OTS reader and San Antonio champion Ben Lynn recently left
town for The
Land of Oz the Emerald City.
On Sunday at San Pedro Park a memorial kickball game occured.
Dogs, guitars, frisbees all intermingled. Bogged
down in books I showed up late but in time for dramatic photographic
To the west the sun finally fell and people drifted away. A 2
liter of Coke was left behind for the next group of explorers.
It was a fitting point of departure - the literal birth springs of San
Antonio. Cabeza de Vaca may have first stayed here in 1535.
473 years later we played kickball.
A scene from the road, heading west towards Marfa, Texas.
Here, Ben takes time from the road to reflect on the nature of San
Antonio. Much of what defines it is through what it lacks,
which then begins the question of how to make it whole. A
perpetual San Antonio cycle.
Just a week after state, local, and national
citizens groups started filing legal complaints with the agency, the
NRC did a grand and melifluous curtsy -- issuing a "Notice Withdrawing
the Hearing Notice Regarding the Application for a Combined Operating
License for South Texas Project Units 3 and 4."
What it means is that folks with gripes against San Antonio's nuke
buddies at NRG Energy have an open window to seek "intervener" status
with the agency. Prior to the legal fluffle, the NRC had set a firm
deadline of February 25 for concerned citizens to convince the Feds
they had good reason to scuttle (or at least consider scuttling) the
deal. All that performance pressure and the applicant hadn't even
supplied major portions of its application!
"The NRC agreed with our petition that the application really wasn't
complete," said state Sierra Club spokesman Cyrus Reed (not to
be mixed up with that other Cyrus sponging off his
performing Disney spawn). "The company itself said we can't
supply you with the information."
In that very precise legal language the NRC agreed to "indefinitely
suspend the deadline." A new date will be set when the South Texas Nuke
Contingent is ready to submit a REAL application.
So, is this a victory for the process?
Is this the end of those nasty goat-sucking rumors?
"This puts the nuclear industry and the NRC on notice that the process
they've set up doesn't work," Reed said.
And so what time's the overhaul? We'll keep you posted.
It brings much sadness to announce the death of San Antonio-born poet
and hero raúlsalinas.
Last night he
passed on and left his mark on not only the Chicano poetry movement but
the many causes he fought for.
As his site labeled him “the Cockroach poet,” he
paved the way for
poets set out on a mission. His contributions to such causes as human
rights and social justice reflect a life of constant struggle to better
We applaud his tireless efforts and our thoughts are with his
Check the Current for
more information and a tribute to him in an
UPDATED INFO Visitation
Friday Feb. 15, 2008
Wilke Clay Fish Funeral Home
2620 South Congress Ave.
Austin, Tex. 78704
Saturday Feb. 16, 2008
Wilke Clay Fish Funeral Home
2620 South Congress Ave.
3650 South I 35 (@ Woodward St.)
Austin, Tex. 78704
Please send flowers to Wilke Clay Fish Funeral Home.
And send cards to:
1801-A South First St.
Austin, Tex. 78704
If you need any more information,
please call 512-416-8885 &/or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frustrating those who question the wisdom of expanding the South
Texas Nuclear Project, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has
accepted the application to build and operated two new nukes at the
Matagorda site. That is, they accepted the application despite finding
major gaps in it that have frozen the review process.
While that may delay the potential permitting by a year or so, NRC
officials have not offered to leave the door open for the public to
comment on the new information as it comes in. Smitty
Smith, Public Citizen's resident bulldog in the state, harped
on the NRC reps repeatedly on this point at last week's Bay City
Others were concerned that the application fails to identify
alternatives to new nuclear power for San Antonio, Houston, and the
deregulated market in the Lone Star State.
Austin, a 16-percent partner in STNP nuke plants 1&2, said the
expansion it too
risky to join.
Austin Energy will recommend
to the City Council next week that Austin not participate, based on a
consultant's analysis of NRG's proposal. Six members of the council
said this week they will support the Austin Energy recommendation.
Nuclear power is a
political hot potato in Austin. But Mayor Will Wynn said this decision
was not about politics or the city's policy on using nuclear power.
Having only 90 days
to evaluate the option, Wynn said, "takes the politics out of it."
Instead, it was a
business decision stemming from the consultant's determination that
NRG's cost estimate and timeline were "overly optimistic." Austin would
be assuming too much financial risk based on too little information,
NRG estimates the
expansion will cost $6 billion and take seven to eight years to
Worley Parsons Resources & Energy of Houston, determined that
the expansion's cost could be at least $1 billion more than estimated
and take two years longer, according to a memo to the City Council. The
consultant was hired in December for $205,625.
days after the February 5 hearings, the Sustainable Energy and Economic
Development Coalition (SEED),
Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Beyond Nuclear,
and the Sierra Club
called on the NRC to stop the clock on the public's right to comment on
It's almost comical. NRG chose to go with an already-permitted, older
model of power plant because they thought it would grease their way
through the NRC. However, CPS officials told me months back that the
NRC had reordered its staff with expectations that the rush for new
nuke permits following the billions in incentives from Congress would
naturally zero in on the safer, more reliable New Generation plants.
Instead, the Feds had to scramble to reorder their seats again after
the unexpected older plant model chosen by NRG. And now it appears the
application was so rushed that it is deemed, if not technically
"incomplete," at least unworkable.
According to the February 8 petition filed by Public Citizen and crew:
correspondence -- placed on the NRC's Agency Document Access and
Management System ("ADAMS") within the last eight days –
shows that neither STPNOC nor the NRC Staff believes that the Staff has
any basis for continuing its review of most of the application until
STPNOC makes major changes to it … These changes may include
modifications to the certified standardized design for the advanced
boiling water reactor ("ABWR") on which STPNOC's application relies.
Id. The Staff does not intend to resume review of the greater part of
the application, or even establish a schedule for its review, until
STPNOC submits necessary revisions to the COL application.
So the question is, how can the public understand, much less challenge
or comment upon an incomplete application? Still the deadline of
February 25 looms for any would-be challenge or request for a public
hearing on the application.
San Antonio's Southwest
Worker's Union joined the legal resistance this week, urging
the NRC to halt its license review and extend public comment through
the summer, and maybe then some.
Their attorney Lanny Sinkin writes:
Overall, the course of
conduct followed by the [Nuclear Regulatory] Commission suggests a
concerted effort to thwart the efforts of citizens to become informed
participants in a decision making process that has very serious
potential impacts on their lives. As one of the first
proposed reactors in what may be a large number of such applications,
the process followed in this proceeding may portend a tactic to be used
nationally to suppress or inhibit interventions.
Petitioner is fully
aware of the tremendous burden being placed on the NRC staff. The
agency is dealing with (1) an aging group of operating reactors more
prone to breakdowns, equipment failures, and accidents and, therefore,
requiring heightened oversight; (2) a flood of new applications for
construction and operating licenses requiring review of extensive
materials submitted by license applicants; (3) large numbers of
experienced staff retiring; (4) hiring large numbers of new staff; (4)
training large numbers of new staff; (5) assigning major
responsibilities to inexperienced staff; and (6) updating key studies
and documents that are seriously out of date.
circumstances, there is a natural tendency on the part of the agency to
try to reduce its workload. Keeping out intervenors and their potential
contentions would help achieve that purpose. Such a plan, however,
would violate the rights of those excluded and the policies and rules
the Commission claims to follow. In an endeavor where close observation
of the rules is critical, the Commission should set the example of
appropriate relief is to rescind the improvident acceptance of the
application for docketing and restore the application to tendered
status, until such time as the application is complete and the
applicant and NRC staff are prepared to initiate a comprehensive review.
If you haven't endured enough nuke legalese yet, check out the
(such as it is) online with the NRC. Scroll down until you see South
Texas Project toward the bottom of the first column.
In other energy news, two-fisted NRG, trying to whallop us with a left-handed nuke deal, is
also pursuing a kinder, gentler, renewable
Texas with a West Texas wind investment along with British
NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:
NRG) through its wholly owned subsidiary, Padoma Wind Power LLC, has
entered into a 50-50 joint venture with BP Alternative Energy North
America Inc. to build the first phase of the Sherbino Wind Farm in west
The Sherbino I Wind
Farm will be a 150-megawatt (MW) wind project, consisting of 50 Vestas
3 MW wind turbine generators, located approximately 40 miles east of
Fort Stockton in Pecos County, Texas, according to a release.
Of course, they also can't keep their hands out of the coal (gasification)
SOMERSET — With
a man-sized penguin outside in the cold trying to draw people in,
members of an environmental coalition tried to rally opposition to
plans by NRG Energy to turn its coal-fired power plant into a facility
that uses superheated gas to turn coal and biofuels into synthetic
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has given the
proposal a green light, environmentalists are appealing the decision,
contending that NRG should be required to comply with its original
promise to either shut the plant down or covert to clean natural gas by
Remember, NRG is Hillary's campaign cash
bundler of at least $100,000. And Obama is knee-deep with
pollutor Excellon, now pursuing a plant
outside Corpus Christi.
During the day, I have a limited amount of time to scan the internet
for frivolous news items such as a story of Woody Allen's favorite
typeface or search through the Library of Congress' flickr
Of course, I lie… to an extent.
I believe my editor has glanced over
at my computer to find me in a trance while reading the latest news on
PerezHilton.com. (Blast! My ultimate guilty pleasure is revealed.)
However, I'm doing research and as unbelievable as that may sound
Last week, my research led me to an interesting finding. Sarah
Jessica Parker, of Square Pegs
fame, is about to pull a Tyra,
Heidi, Paula, Donald, and any other celebrity jumping on the
reality-show bandwagon. Now, I don't hate Mrs. Parker one bit. I may
be condemned for life for not being an avid Sex and the City
having (gasp) never seen a show in its entirety. But since the first
time I saw Girls Just
Want to Have Fun I've enjoyed her work … well, some of
According to the Huffington
Post, the show's description is as follows:
"Potential skein would pit a dozen aspiring artists against one
another, following the group as they attempt to produce various kinds
of artwork — from painting and photography to sculpting and
design. Pieces would be rated by a panel of judges, as well as by the
online add that prizes may include the chance to win
a gallery show, cash
prize, and a tour around the U.S.
I say the show should one-up every reality show with a one-of-a-kind
panel of judges. How's about the ghosts of artists? What better way
to critique artists by the
real artists — nothing against SJP, I mean
that bond she formed with Nicolas Cage in Honeymoon in Vegas
really something. But I'd love to see Picasso, Warhol, O'Keefe, van
Gogh, and Kahlo judging artists. Would Warhol side with any Pop Art
lover? Or would his 15 minutes of fame mantra make him the Simon
Cowell of the show?
The world will have no other choice but to wait and see what develops.
Spiral Jetty update:
Spiral Jetty news has now seeped its way onto national news
sources, such as the
New York Times.
Plus, here's an
interesting take on the underlying meaning of the Spiral
…and your moment of what will they think of next?
modern ballet inspired by the fall of Britney Spears. C'mon
Hi there, Curblog readers! Ash here. I'm out in Los Angeles for the
NEA/USC theater-writing fellowship. The LA weather is perfect (I wish
I could send you pictures and a jar of the unusually smog-free air!),
the classes and lectures informative, and the hotel bed I'm writing
from is essentially a queen-sized cloud. Things are going well.
Best of all, the fellowship has allowed me to witness professional
theater every night (we have to have something to write about, after
all). On Thursday we trekked it over to Redcat Theater for the
Wooster Group's Hamlet,
and wow. Wooster's been going at it since the
'60s under Elizabeth LeCompte, doing wild multimedia shit, but this is
their first classical theater production. (But trust me, there was
nothing classical about it.)
Here are my thoughts from my first real assignment:
Well, fuck me, Hamlet. If you've ever wondered what the billionth
production of Shakespeare's greatest tragedy could possibly bring to
the table — why do it again? — then the Wooster
is for you. If you haven't, it's still for you, but I suggest a little
pre-show homework. Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
In the case that you've never witnessed a traditional portrayal of Hamlet,
pick up a copy of Franco Zeffirelli's 1990 film version and
treat yourself. Ninety-nine times. Got that out of the way? Good. It's
been done like that on stage again and again, and quite frankly I'm of
the opinion that if we can't do something mind-blowing with "the
canon," then the time-and-again performances should be kept in a
museum, where they belong, not in the theater.
Imagine a Hamlet
with elements of an indie-rock concert and Rocky Horror,
where your eyes never want for another place to look, and
where your brain cannot stop for sifting through layers and layers of
meaning. The Wooster Group's deeply cognitive production of Hamlet
exploits its play-within-a-play signature feature by adding a third
dimension, the screen. In doing so, their Hamlet becomes a
the art of remaking. What new thing can be brought to a very old
story? How can it be made relevant?
So many contemporary interpretations of Shakespeare's plays have
addressed these quandaries by merely resetting them in the present, or
if not that, then turn-of-the-century Europe, as if those stylish
tactics do anything but confuse us most times. By presenting a
mechanical, dance-like rendering of Hamlet —
one which needs the stage
—before Richard Burton's 1964 production (and momentarily,
few recent film versions), the Wooster Group acknowledges all of the Hamlets
which came before, all of the ghosts that haunt, all of the
baggage the theater lover, the actor — or even fervent movie
must drag with him or herself to a performance. So, yes, there is a
certain audience in mind here, but that does not mean, with a little
research, anyone can't enjoy Wooster's Hamlet. That is,
doesn't mind putting forth a little effort to be entertained. It is
well worth it.
So the Wooster Group giveth, but what have they taken away? Emotion,
surely. The bodies of the players mimic not only their onscreen
counterparts as closely as possible — they are actors playing
reenacting a filmed play — but they jerk musically when the
(the rhythmic nature of their movement segues beautifully into songs
by Fischerspooner), consistently canceling our opportunities to
The illusion of false reality has been stripped away to great effect:
Everything is exposed — lights, wires, mic transmitters. As a
we are able to understand anew words we've heard ad nauseam. Hamlet's
line about theater-makers holding a mirror up to nature is made deeply
ironic. Wooster's Hamlet
is exactly what Claudius accuses Laertes of
being: but a painting of sorrow, a face without much of a heart.
That heartlessness would be the real tragedy of Wooster's Hamlet, if
not for its big, juicy brain — a vital organ theater should
us to utilize now and then.
Hey Mark, one thing I
like more than art in many forms is history (especially Asian history).
When I was studying for my Associates Degree, my history classes would
only catch my full attention when we would discuss Southeast Asia. What
is interesting is that the further back I go with Asian history, the
closer I get to Africa.
One of the most fascinating things I've read about are the facts on the
Olmecs. Although they lived on what is now America, they greatly
predate the Native Americans. According to archaeologist and scientist,
the Olmecs mixing with the Chinese produced both Mexicans and Native
Americans. Anyway, below are a couple interesting reads that I sent to
my Filipino friends on myspace. I thought you might find it interesting
While on Youtube I looked to see if they had any clips of Kidlat
Tahimik's monumentally important film Perfumed
Nightmare. They didn't. However, I
noticed Les Blanks is distributing the film, which is
encouraging. Perfumed Nightmare is a no-budget Super8
documentary/narrative film about a Filipino's (mock?) obsession with
American culture. The film is an intersection of many things
- the independent film, the personal documentary, Third World cinema -
all into one brilliant combination. I imagine if an OTS
reader liked Sherman's
March, then they should equally enjoy Perfumed
Nightmare, though for vastly different reasons, and for vastly
different obsessions with American Culture. But other than
that the similarities are endless.
On Thursday I was notified on an event going on that night at Artpace.
I wasn't sure what to expect but certain keywords were thrown
at me - video, feminism, performance...
The artist - Kate Gilmore. The show - Girl Fight. I
arrived like many thinking there was going to be some sort of
performance involving...things getting smashed? The image at
the top is of a previous video wherein Gilmore tries to break out of a
bucket of cement with a hammer (or something close enough.)
There wasn't a live performance that night but there was a
talk with the
artist and a debut of a new video made for Artpace entitled Endurance Makes Gold.
Her work is usually mentioned in regards to feminism. This is
obviously true because Gilmore mentioned those connections, but if I
was to see the work without being put in that mindset I wonder if I
would immediately be drawn to that same conclusion. I'm not so sure.
The videos share a consistent struggle for escape. The acts
have an existential quality but more than anything I see in them a
youthful curiosity, partly because the predicaments, as seen literally,
are a navigation of a confusing adult world. How else to
understand their simplicity? Who gets their foot stuck in a
bucket? If that is true, then these scenarios are potentially much more
than only one interpretation. (However, the videos could also
the opposite in that they aren't enough of one thing to be anything,
but that's a path I'm not informed enough to travel.)
In analyzing the situations one can see an absurdist quality (as
one's foot out of a bucket, trying to climb out of a shaft...) and for
some reason to me they seem more in line with Buster Keaton's
stone-faced slapstick scenarios. Like Keaton, the appeal to
these videos would be in the lack of specifics. However, the more
and the more she gave away in the discussion, the less I saw her
connections. Though the videos are basically silent, her
added details gave me more than I needed, which is unusual because the
talks with the artists are almost always the best part of Artpace
Perhaps the videos spoke for themselves and didn't need any
introduction. Yet, if she said nothing it would have felt
like a let down. Such a demanding balance to be met...
Many of the shows that night shared an architectural focus. I
don't think this was the intention here but I began to see castles and
other ancient invisible cities.
I can't claim to have absorbed all the nuances but with the help of
macro-lens photography, the details do seem magnificent.
Next door at 3 Walls the personal architectural journey continued with
Josh Welker's Can You
Pay the Gas Bill?, which may or may not have been a
Structural forms took on new contexts. In randomness lies
In an email, I received this statement...
According to the artist:
"Through sculpture, I interrogate the
integrity and constitution of forms that have served manifold purposes
throughout art and human history. Currently, my interrogation is aimed
at two specific forms, common in both use and the discourse of
contemporary art: the pedestal and the architectural support. I do this
in order to enact a process of reproduction, performed under
self-enforced rules and restraints. Working procedurally and somewhat
serially, each new sculpture—each new incarnation of a
the formal reconsideration of a previous incarnation."
I wasn't completely wrong with the architectural connection, however
the degree that the forms are 'formally reconsidered' is the question,
as well as the crux of the show. And for that I have no answer.
Meanwhile, Back at the
There was a group show at the UTSA sattelite space. It was a
lesson in dichotomoy, however the two artists didn't negate each other
so much as go in two completely disconnected directions.
Maybe this was a good thing.
One on hand - hidden messages...
...and primary colors. I believe there is historical
precedent to this approach.
And then on the other part of the room there were several paintings in
this intricate style. The details were specific.
From afar they seemed like ancient tapestries.
Up close, the details told stories within stories.
The Big House
At the Bluestar main gallery many people had their eyes on a poor young
soul who had vomited on the floor. I tried to stay away not
to embarrass her further but later wondered if anyone had tried to give
her medical attention. A security guard stood over her while
the wail of sirens grew louder, but I'm not sure if anyone actually
made an effort to see how she was doing. Psychologists call
this diffusion of responsibility (or something like that) and I was
guilty as well.
On the other side of the room I noticed this foto which conjured
thoughts of something between Marfa and Mexico City.
Architectural 'things' were everywhere in the main gallery.
One Last Thing
At Joan Grona Gallery were these paintings by J. Derrick Durham.
There was a competing sense of movement with stagnation,
simplicity with grandeur.
Random trivia question #323. If anyone can name this person I'll give
you a nickel.
In the back nook of the gallery, a nook I actually never knew existed,
I came across works by Tim Olson. I wonder if other
intriguing work has been hiding in the back for months. Quite
There were several impressive pieces made on a small scale.
Textures, illustrations, big words - all intermingling.
Both parties in dissarray. Exactly what the people needed?
Another discussion with the people's politician, "Congressman
Al". (As a side product of these award winning fireside
chats, I've noticed an insane amount of breathing into the telephone on
Parts two and three of the TigerTV homelessness documentary
that caused the City a YouTube panic attack will air on
February 22 and March 14 at 3pm. Non Trinity University
students can catch the show on cable channel 98, educational access
(available with Basic Reception Service).
Another update: TigerTV station manager Kaatie Cooper posted a comment
to the original blog today saying that Trinity has added the original Newswave program containing the
first segment of the homelessness in SA series to its web archives.
Given that Wehrman, according to Nowitz (and seconded by the Department
of Community Initiatives account), wasn't told that the program might
appear on the internet, period, it makes us wonder what the Trinity
TigerTV policy actually is:
1. Only air broadcasts on media outlets to which the subjects have
2. Air broadcasts on any media outlet so long as they're not YouTube,
because YouTube freaks out some people.
3. Air the broadcasts on any media outlet so long as no subjects object.
4. Whatever you do, don't piss off City officials.
5. Any and all of the above, as needed.
Streams and rivers move past us to the Gulf, mixing into the countless
brackish bays and reed-chocked estuaries where millions upon millions
of crusted and scaly aquatic infants spill into the greater
coastal system each year.
We follow the watershed's coastward slump from San Antonio for nearly 200 miles. Against us is the Gulf's returning wind, three flags ripple a northern
line over the Bay City Convention Center as about 200 gather to talk
Not far from here a massive pool holds decades of used-up uranium
fuel rods and wastewater. This waste with nowhere to go is
thoughtlessly engaged in a stabilization process, known as decay, that
will take tens of thousands of years. Until that point, the ionizing
radiation this material gives off will remain deadly.
That doesn't bother the mayor here. Or their state Rep. Or the sheriff.
Don't even mention the economic boosters who would just as soon chew
up those rods and crap 'em into their personal swimming pools than lose
the prospect of another multi-year blizzard of construction.
Although the two units operating at the South Texas Nuclear Project
outside of town, in which San Antonio holds a 40 percent stake, almost
bankrupt the partner city of Austin by coming in over budget and years
behind schedule, local business and governmental leaders took turns
behind the microphone insisting two more plants would turn this quiet
coastal town's economy around.
mining activity heating up in South Texas and up-and-coming
repository (with aspirations of national dump status) in the
Panhandle, the face of Texas is already changing to reflect the Bush
Administration's continued championing of a resurgence for the nuclear
industry. There is no indication that any of the surviving presidential
candidates would set out to change that. Not voluntarily.
It's been almost 30 years since the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted a new construction
license. STNP, rather primary owners NRG Energy and CPS Energy, want to
change that. On Tuesday, teams of NRC representatives are busily
padding all about the oversized, sparklingly clean center gripping
hands and directing human traffic between the tables of agency
Rep. Mike O'Day said he was proud to have his "pleasure home"
within sight of STNP, that he had never felt "in danger," and even had
friends who worked there.
Matagorda County Sheriff James Mitchell boasted his deputies got their
SWAT training at the plant.
"I not only welcome units three and four, I look forward to them."
Georgia Rice Harris, who served on the city council when Units
1&2 were first approved, gave notice that a fault line does run
through Matagorda, but surmised: "I think we can handle it…
I don't know any industry that is absolutely safe. How many people have
been killed in refineries blowing up? I mean, something happens
somewhere all the time."
What's the difference between an explosion in Texas City or Bay City?
Things get rebuilt. Employees return. (That's not considering the
potential incineration of Bay City under a 'worst case' scenario or the
contamination of a good portion of Texas via that strong Gulf breeze.
These are things the NRC doesn't talk about any more.)
A woman who during the first plant's construction told me that folks on
site back then were working 16 hours a day trying to get things
running. She didn't consider the risks involved in their work, but she
didn't appreciate it when a manager threw a telephone across the room
at her and soon quit.
But some in Bay
City today would like to see that stockpiled waste moved
somewhere before new cooling towers are planted at the site. Others
suggested that the nuclear era had already passed and it was time to
focus on solar and wind projects on the Coast.
"I don't think our time spent here is much better than free therapy,"
A local nurse said she had been living peacefully with the current nuke
plant. "But my problem is, I do have concern about building more
nuclear power plants as opposed to looking for alternative choices,"
she said. "I have concern that our monies are being directed into
something that is seducing our citizenry."
She worried over water.
"If we are going to be taking water from the Colorado River and giving
3,935 gallons-per-minute to cool new nuclear reactors we're also going
to be compromising our need for water for San Antonio.
"Everybody's coming to Matagorda because they love our fishing, but
we're not going to have fish, we're not going to have shrimp, we're not
going to have anything if we're not protecting our water."
Water forecasts in fast-growing are anything but rosy, and
municipalities across the state have water hit squads beating the
barrens for reliable (unclaimed) groundwater reserves. Then we have
this cursed bugabear of Global Warming to contend with.
Texas A&M's recent projections for the coming century are not
optimistic on that front.
"In the short run, this result implies greater risk of flooding and
increases in rainfall intensity will exacerbate any increased runoff
due to paving of bare-soils as watersheds undergo urbanization,"
Venkatesh Uddameri and Gomathishankar Parvathinathan write in the
chapter dedicated to climate change's impact on water resources in The Changing Climate of South
Texas, 1900 – 2100.
"Increased runoff would also indicate reduced infiltration which in the
long run will lead to reduced groundwater recharge and lesser
availability of water."
Despite concerns about magma
activity below and water streams within Yucca Mountain,
the U.S. Department of Energy is exerting another strong push to get
the potential waste site back on track for a high-level radioactive
Thankfully, the four NRC men seated at front (only one of which
sporadically dozes behind a sheltering hand) tell us they are not the
"We are not here to promote nuclear power," the deputy director
overseeing the environmental review of NRG/CPS's application says.
However, the agency's mission is not only to ensure "adequate
protection of the public health and safety" from nuclear materials, but
also to "promote the common defense and security," as well.
In this era of increasing fear, panicked Americans have chosen abandon
much of their political rights in exchange for an open-ended War on
Evil. Tragically, the terrorists that have failed to dramatically
reappear on U.S. soil have been replaced by fellow American immigrants
from the South. Meanwhile, either three-dollar gallon of gasoline or
the approaching 4,000 dead in Iraq have sparked a call for energy
independence that has likewise turned against us by a renegging on
supposed clean coal demo project
FutureGen and funneling government dollars (more than $8
billion of them) over to the most expensive and least stable form of
domestic energy generation: nuclear.
If you still haven't read one of many sustainable alternative
proposals, please check out: A
Solar Grand Plan.
A Trinity University television program documenting the state of
homelessness in San Antonio was pulled from YouTube at midnight
February 6. The segment's producer, Trinity student Josh Nowitz,
voluntarily removed the program, part one in a three-part series, after
a City employee who appeared in the documentary said she had consented
to appear only in the television broadcast, which aired on Trinity's
TigerTV Friday, February 1. Janice Wehrman, social-services
manager for the City's Department of Community Initiatives,
appears briefly in the segment discussing the size of the San Antonio
"I'm curious why you're calling to find out," Wehrman retorted, when
the Current asked
why she requested the clip be removed from YouTube. "I'm not refusing
to talk to you,"she added, "it's just my directive" to send press
inquiries to the PR department.
Happily, not PR but Assistant Director for Community Initiatives Melody
Woosley called back to say that "There's not an issue with the
content," but merely a concern that YouTube videos can be "downloaded,
edited, and put back up." Wehrman thought the program would only be
airing on TrinityTV, said Woosley.
But according to Nowitz, Wehrman didn't inquire about the program until
she was already sitting for the interview. Nowitz says he "may have
neglected" to tell Wehrman that the program
would also be posted to YouTube when she asked what the interview was
for. Although Nowitz says the consensus of Trinity Department of
Communication staff was that Wehrman had no legal grounds to demand the
clip be pulled from the video-sharing site, he agreed to
"My understanding is that the reporter didn't get permission to
distribute it on the internet," said TigerTV advisor and Trinity staff
James Bynum. "It's our policy to totally tell them the distribution
methods," he added. "We normally put all of our shows on the internet,
so that's what he should have told her." Bynum says the department
doesn't recognize a difference between public officials and private
individuals, or between news and non-news in this regard.
Navarra Williams, president and CEO of SAMM
Ministries, which coordinated the local volunteers for last
Thursday's annual Point in Time homeless head count -- featured
in the segment -- said he did not know why the City wanted the clip
removed from YouTube. Although an anonymous source says Williams was
copied on Wehrman's original email, Williams says he has not spoken
with the City about their objection. At the very end of the segment,
during the Point in Time head count, the volunteers Nowitz is
accompanying come upon a vacant building that has been forcibly opened
by people who were using it as a temporary shelter. After a few minutes
of looking around, they realize that it's one of the buildings slated
for the Haven for Hope social-services campus under construction on the
near West Side.
Wehrman also appears in the second and third episodes of the series,
says Nowitz, but his understanding is that she does not object to those
segments airing on TigerTV. Check the CurBlog for the schedule for
TigerTV programs are archived as space allows on the station's website,
and Nowitz says, "it's up for discussion right now" whether the
homelessness programs featuring Wehrman will appear on the site. Bynum
thinks they might: "She just asked it be removed from YouTube is my
understanding." Unfortunately, the site is still looking for solutions
that will allow it to support more archived programming.
It felt like Ex-Mayors Day at the San
Antonio City Council's January 31 meeting, with Nelson Wolff detailing
the planned consolidation of city and county health systems (a measure
unanimously passed by the council) and Lila Cockrell updating
councilmembers on renovations to the historic Japanese Tea Garden.
Cockrell quickly ceded the floor to
another face familiar in the chambers, former councilwoman Bonnie
Connor. During her slide-show presentation, Connor noted that phase one
of the restoration is nearly complete, with a re-opening celebration
expected within a month. Along the way, she also talked about Alpine
Drive, an SA landmark which Connor described as the place where young
men used to take their "sweethearts" to get a panoramic view of the
city, among other things.
When Connor asked councilmembers if
they'd heard of the spot, District 5 councilwoman Lourdes Galvan
responded by raising her hand. Moments later, Mayor Phil Hardberger
could not resist asking Galvan, "It does raise the question: Were you
ever on Alpine Drive?" "Yes, sir," she replied sheepishly. "Junior
prom. Sorry, mom."
If you've never heard of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty by
the end of this blog you'll
you'll need to —
and probably send a letter of protest to save its existence.
Created in 1970 in Utah, Smithson's earthwork creation is 1,500-feet
long and 15-feet wide — it's a masterpiece that has gained
However, this unique addition to Utah is being threatened of being
ArtJournal.com is keeping track of all Spiral Jetty
happenings, from the first
post from Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson's widow
stating the problem at hand —
plans for drilling oil on the Salt Lake near the Spiral Jetty
— to the
recent post a statement from the National Trust for Historic
Luckily, the deadline has been extended to February 13 (that is next
Wednesday, people). According to the January 31 post, the state of Utah
has already received 1,000 comments.
To do your part, check out the following:
If you want to send a letter of protest to save the beautiful, natural
Utah environment around the Spiral Jetty from oil drilling, the emails
or calls of protest go to Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023
email@example.com . Please refer to Application # 8853. Every letter
makes a big difference; they do take a lot of notice and know that
publicity may follow. Since the Spiral Jetty has global significance,
emails from foreign countries would be of special value.