My little sister would call us brag-a-docious, but whatever, we totally predicted the AtticRep’s kick-ass ’08/ ’09 season. Seer and Current contributor (and Trinity prof) Tom Jenkins can say what he wants about AR mulling over Edward Albee’s The Goat long before he ever pitched it in last year’s Fall Arts Guide feature “Produce This!”, but we know he’s just being classy (although we have some incriminating goat-pix that suggest otherwise).
And though my personal submission for consideration wasn’t chosen (Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love , with its central incest, would have been perfect for AR’s self-proclaimed “Season of Taboos”), it’s clear 1 Trinity Place’s theaters heart Mr. (sort of) Jessica Lange, too: Attic’s got True West going up in December, while the Trinity University Speech and Drama department will present Icarus’ Mother and Action in February.
Whether or not we’re really clairvoyant, AR, as usual, has exceptional, challenging, original, and new-to-SA fare planned out for us. See atticrep.org for more.
Here’s the full lowdown from their press release:
(Yes, Messrs. Rick Frederick and Andy Thornton are playing brothers again. Not that we’re complaining.)
True West by Sam Shepard
December 4-21, 2008
Sam Shepard's classic American contemporary drama. True West deconstructs the myth of the American Dream through a pair of quarrelling brothers, each laying claim to the "true" spirit-and promise-of the American West. By turns naturalistic and poetic, True West lays bare the myths not only of American families, but of an American nation. The play runs December 4 through December 21, 2008 and will star Rick Frederick (Lincolnesque, Fat Pig, One for the Road) and Andy Thornton (Lincolnesque) as the brothers. David Connelly directs.
Forum Theatre Project 2009
"Borders and Walls"
March 12-15, 2009
This play is an original work
exploring border relations in
The Goat or Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee
May 14-31, 2009
Critic Helen Thomson describes the
play as follows: "With
The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, Edward Albee has certainly
made good his promise
to stir up theatre-goers. The play crosses boundaries of all kinds and
issues that are so remote from our everyday experiences, we don't even
about them. If you thought there was nothing left to reveal about sex,
perhaps you haven't given bestiality enough
Tim Hedgepeth directs the
Blackbird by David Harrower
July 9-26, 2009
"Scottish playwright David Harrower
has bravely chosen
to address and dissect a taboo subject that even his characters dare
name. That he has done so with remarkable sensitivity and
prurience is much to his credit." -British Theatre
by Stacey Connelly, will feature David Connelly (Back of the Throat),
performed on Broadway with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
production is a
"Death is Mother Nature's way of telling you you're in the wrong gear..."
Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)
Been out of town a few days - have y'all seen this?
Freakin' ballgirl in minor-league game....Absolutely incredible.
And then, the follow up email...
After further reading, seems to be a Gatorade commercial....Too bad - pretty cool, still.....Yes, I'm gullable.
#2 A Brief Letter from OTS San Luis Obispo Domestic Correspondent Steve
seen this criminalz video?:
Yeah, the song is really annoying for long stretches and seems like a devil spawn from DJ Screw. There was a sense of legitimacy with the video until the guerilla in-line skater showed up. Still, riding a bike on the 405 speaks for itself.
A Summer Breeze
On the way over to the Very Vodka party I had heard rumors that a truck had collided with the SW Crafts Center.
Yes. Luckily, the damage was small and the party was held at the other campus across the street.
Current parties guarantee a line at the beginning. A buffet of food and liquor speaks a voice San Antonio understands.
Within minutes of opening the floodgates people diffused to various spots with drink in hand and plates of pasta, salad, cake and other things inbetween.
Knowing that things might run out I tried to get my fill early. I think everyone knows the score with these kind of events.
Low light, vodka, imperfect equipment, all lead to this fuzzy foto. In the nether regions of the party a small wind quintet (or something close) was found to be playing at low volume.
Another blur. For more precise fotography, check this out.
The Americans Are Coming
Last night the NBA draft came and went. For Spurs fans this moment often is a geography lesson as the four corners of the Earth and scoured and plumbed in search for the next project. The Spurs' pick was both expected and surprising: they did indeed choose an American player as almost everyone thought they should, yet they find someone from a school, basically, no one has heard much of.
The player: George Hill
The school: IUPUI (which stands for Indiana University-Purdue University, and the "I" I'm not sure about.)
There were other picks as well.
Player: Malik Hairston
The school: Oregon
Player: James Gist
The school: Maryland
By picking George Hill with their first pick, there was a fair amount of head scratching, especially when more known and successful college players such as Mario Chalmers from Kansas and Chris Douglas-Roberts from Memphis were still available. George Hill must have impressed people in the pre-draft scouting camps and private workouts. Still, there is a tendency for teams to discount the proven success of other players and get seduced by the appeal of an unknown. Whether that is the case is to be determined. As usual with the Spurs, there were rumors of CIA-like smokescreens, saving face moments to the media, mysterious last second emails, and other obfuscations that completely blur actions and results.
Fans are grumbling in general but people are waiting to see what George Hill can do.
This was a movie that had often eluded me. I didn't have cable television when it became a cable hit many years ago. By accident I saw it at the video store. It has Pele. It has Sly Stallone in his only "intriguing" period of work - the brief time after Rocky and before Rambo II when he actually had to go out and try to act in movies he didn't have complete control over, or at least for the most part.
How else to explain this...
Victory was one of John Huston's last films. Michael Caine is there as well as Max Van Sydow, real futbol players and other old schoolers. It doesn't quite hold up, in part because of Stallone's over acting. The film does feel very british though, for whatever it's worth.
With the chondromalacia still haunting, the ride-by journalism has been greatly reduced. It's lamentable. So what does this mean? Too often having to walk to get some sense of activity.
Perhaps not as bad as Dr. Detroit but the feeling is there. Rumors of an off-road bike trail in the Olmos Basin off Dick Frederick came back to me. (OTS historians will recall a mention of this trail from before. The extent of it, at the time, wasn't fully explored.) Now, I finally wandered around back there.
Finding online images of this spot is surprisingly difficult. Even the annual Basura Bash zone isn't exactly the same.
Anyways, it's back in there off Dick Frederick. It's probably the best urban forest in the city, for whatever that's worth. The maze of interconnecting paths suggest years of slow maintenance. Someone hand built a small bridge back there. There's also a hand built bench to rest on. Fotos possibly to follow later on. Walking is very british as well.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...
As we mention in this week's Queque, the proposed federal National Bio-
& Agro-Defense Facility germ lab for the latest in foot-and-mouth
fun has cleared another hurdle. And San Antonio is still in the
Que2 wrote (with haunting bullet-replacing-question-mark furry:
Speaking of reasonable routes, how about tracing possible pathways for foot-and-mouth disease to reach American beef cattle? From an island off Long Island: Eight Ball says tricky. From a South Texas research lab: less so. At least that’s what some livestock associations decided before taking up their cattle prods to protest the proposed move of Homeland Security’s (do they run everything now, or just the doomsday stuff?) proposed $450-million National Bio- & Agro-Defense germ lab off of the now-infamous Plum Island.
Last Friday, Der Homeland released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Queque is merrily marching through the 1,005-page tome, but found a few nuggets worth passing along.
? No preferred alternative is announced. All five locations (Georgia, Kansas, Misissippi, Missouri, and SA’s Texas Research Park) are still in play;
? Homeland could start building in 2010 and finish in four years;
? The facility would use 52-million gallons of water annually if it comes to Texas and would require 12.8 megawatts of power (roughly equal to 7,000 homes cooking, air-conditioning, and computing for a year);
? And if foot-and-mouth disease should slip out it could cost Texas $4.1-billion in lost business and dead livestock.
Speaking in support of a new N-BAF facility, though not advocating for a location, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Gary Voogt put the full outbreak figure at $10-$34 billion. That is good enough reason for the folks at National Grange, the nation’s oldest farming association, to oppose moving the lab to the mainland.
But, oh, that darned anticipated billions in economic-development potential (and word is the whole operation may be — say Republican three times fast — privatized). Feel better?We forgot to mention a few things, though.
Five thousand box fans and expensive advertisements reminding you to turn off the television, that’s the price for forgiveness.
Angry? Is somebody angry?
Consider the last six months of inputs: Repeated scoldings leveled from the public realm at every significant public meeting CPS Energy has held thanks to plans to expand its nuclear holdings; a City Council that voted down the City-owned utility’s rate hike request of five percent and further complained about lack of fiscal transparency in the department; repeated requests from city leaders to go ever greener and stave off nukes.
Now weigh that with the utility’s output. CPS Energy’s response has been to embark ever deeper on what could be called an “alternative course.” This has included not only joining the Excelon Energy’s astroturf (that is, an attempt at authentic grassroots appearances but unavoidably corporate origins and control) group, Nuclear Energy for Texans, but lobbying the Texas Public Utility Commission to go slow on progressive transmission line projects into West Texas that would encourage major wind and solar growth in the state.
In response, State Representative Mike Villareal helped organize a lobby of 14 fellow state leaders to request the PUC Commissioners plug their ears to CPS’s noisemaking on a vote that could happen next Thursday. (Item 16)
Villareal delivered the letter today along with a petition signed by 1,781 citizens gathered in two days that urges “maximizing the transmission lines that carry renewable energy from west Texas to our population centers.”
At issue is the creation of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, or CREZ’s, in West Texas and the Panhandle that will lay a healthy groundwork for renewable energy development in the state. CPS is advocating for the smallest expansion plan on the table.
“Our energy crisis requires a bold response, not half-measures,” Villareal said in a prepared release today. “Texas was a world leader in oil and gas in the 20th Century. The decisions we make now will determine if Texas is a leader in wind and solar energy in the 21st Century. The pay off of this investment will be cleaner air, new jobs, and lower long-term energy bills for hard-working families.”
Here’s the letter:
June 26, 2008
Commissioner Barry Smitherman
Commissioner Paul Hudson
Commissioner Julie Parsley
Public Utility Commission of Texas
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78711
We urge the Public Utility Commission to support renewable energy use to the fullest extent possible by selecting and expediting deployment of Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) Scenario #3. This bold option will put the transmission lines in place to bring a substantial amount of wind energy - and eventually solar energy - to our major cities. This is the future of energy in Texas, and it is far cheaper to build a transmission grid of adequate size once than to add additional capacity later. By building the necessary infrastructure now, we can expedite the process of improving air quality, reducing global warming, preparing for expected federal regulations, creating new jobs and industries, and putting money back into the pockets of Texas families through an overall reduction in long-term energy expenditures.
Aggressive development of transmission lines would provide an opportunity to substantially reduce emissions that undermine human health and contribute to global warming. According to the 2008 ERCOT Ancillary Services Study, an analysis by GE shows that installing 15,000 megawatts of wind on the ERCOT system this year would reduce NOx emissions by 12 percent and reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent. Extrapolating these results suggests that Scenario 3, with 24,859 megawatts, could result in a 20 percent reduction in NOx and 25 percent reduction in CO2. It will take years to develop the wind power to reach those levels, but we must invest in the necessary transmission lines in order to eventually seize this clean air opportunity.
Investing in adequate infrastructure now is also important for preparing for future constraints and demands on our state’s energy system. While Congress is debating the best approach to emission reductions, it is clear that the federal government will soon place a limit on carbon dioxide emissions. As the national leader in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, Texas will face an even greater challenge in transforming our economy and energy production to meet new federal requirements if we do not begin to develop the infrastructure now. Furthermore, as plug-in hybrids and other electric vehicles reach the market, there will be ever greater demand for renewable energy to power these vehicles. Given the dramatic increase in the cost of gasoline, and GM and Toyota’s recently announced plans to have plug-in hybrids for sale by late 2010, it will be critical to have adequate transmission to deliver west Texas wind energy to growing electric transportation markets.
Scenario 3 is also the best economic options for Texas families, without even factoring in the substantial environmental and societal benefits. ERCOT conservatively projects that an investment of $6 billion for a 50-year transmission grid would reduce power prices by more than $3 billion a year. This investment delivers a far better return than the vast majority of Texans are able to receive on their savings accounts. Additionally, the wind energy industry has already created thousands of new jobs, and many more will follow if the infrastructure is in place to support the industry.
We believe adoption of an aggressive CREZ plan is a great strategy for reducing costs, creating jobs and lowering pollution. We urge you to make the kind of bold policy decisions that your predecessors made to help turn Texas into an energy leader for many years.
Thank you for your attention to this critical issue.
[Rep. Villareal; Sen. Ellis; Rep. Swinford; Rep. Gallego; Rep. Leibowitz; Rep. Dukes; Rep. Hernandez; Rep. McClendon; Naishtat; Rep. Anchia; Rep. Burnah; Rep. Rodriguez; Rep. Castro; Rep. Menendez; Sen. Lucio]
Meanwhile the San Antonio Sierra Club chapter is also flexing its muscle by encouraging members and like-minded residents to protest CPS’s recent trajectory.
Here’s their release:
* Voice Opposition to CPS’s PUC Position *
We are asking you to call your Council person ASAP to complain about two recent actions of CPS Energy, which Council oversees. CPS recently joined a statewide nuclear coalition called Nuclear Energy for Texas to push for more nuclear power. This is unethical for a municipal utility that pretends to be open to other, less costly options that it also claims it has little money for. More recently, CPS was caught blocking a plan of the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) for greatly expanded transmission lines for wind energy in favor of a far less extensive system of lines. The head of the PUC was himself incredulous that CPS was lobbying for the lesser Plan 1b instead of the more ambitious Plan 3.
See this short video of the PUC meeting.
Please call your Council rep to say that CPS’s recent actions are not in the best interest of its ratepayers and ask that Council (1) urge CPS to remove itself from an organization whose goal is to promote nuclear power and (2) direct CPS to pursue Plan 3 for added transmission lines for wind. For more info contact Loretta Van Coppenolle at 492-4620 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
City Council email and phone information.
Sadly & Related: Excelon-funded Nuclear Energy for Texans released their first real press release last week on — what else? — the enthusiastic support South Texans have for new nuclear power plants.
Maybe hiring an outside agency would help with the possible public perceptions that polls run directly by the industry groups themselves may in some way be weighted in favor of certain responses. Of course, how could a poll do that?
So you wanna figure out this CREZ business? Start
Those box fans? The CPS giveaway hasn’t hit the press release page yet, but maybe there’s still time to snag one… if you’re suitably old, and quick.
Cafe, a decades-old eatery that offers an extensive
fare ranging from hamburgers and chili-topped Irish to steak and
salads, was transformed this past year into a part of
Behind this transformation is Randy Cunniff, the owner of Luther's since July 2007. Since that time, Cunniff has renovated the site, adding a full bar, expanding indoor seating, and making a bigger kitchen, in all more than doubling the size of the restaurant.
The other major change that Cunniff made was to expand the hours of operation. While it used to be open only for lunch hours, according to Cunniff, it is now open 16 hours everyday. This late-night business (Luther's is often open past 3:00 a.m.) caters to the area nightlife crowd.
Cunniff, most of his business comes from the
nightclub patrons in the immediate area of Luther's
“Our first chef that we had hired for business also knew lots of the chefs and the people and stuff downtown,” Cunniff said. These connections have helped to direct many downtown customers, whose choices for restaurant-quality food become more and more limited as the night wears on, to Luther's Cafe.
Cunniff also owns the nightclub, Heat, which is located across the street from Luther's. He is excited about the future of the area, saying, “We plan to make betterments in the whole neighborhood.” He also expressed his satisfaction with the support that the neighborhood has shown for the renovated restaurant.
Luther's Cafe is located at 1425 N. Main Ave. It is open from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 am or later.
Local 782 took over The Mix for 3 days this past weekend. This event has been 4 months in the making. Judging by the turnout, it was a big success. If you were there...thank you. If not, then let me fill you in on what is going on. Local 782 was established to bring awareness, support, and innovation to San Antonio's music community. Uniting musicians to create opportunity by organizing, educating and performing. It's not a union, but a coalition.
Local 782 has just released a compilation showcasing 11 amazing San Antonio artists. This 3 days party was the Digital Release Party. 9 of the 11 artists on the release played over a span of 3 days at The Mix.
The cd entitled You are Here, We Are Here offers up diverse selections of the San Antonio music scene which made each of the 3 night's show unique.
The cd is available on iTunes
Thursday night started off the festivities with probably the most varied lineup of all 3 nights. Bryan Hamilton has been making rap music for a while now, but this was his first actual live performance. Karma, a rock en espanol trio, had people actually banging their heads. The night was closed off by Pop Pistol, who I would says is an up and coming name to watch. I've been to the Mix on a Thursday night and this crowd was not just the regulars. People were there to see the music.
Friday night's lineup got The Mix to full capacity. Sons of Sancho kicked it into high gear right off the bat. Dance Like Robots name suits them well, as their instrumental music was making everyone move. Kick It! closed off the night with a tight circle of fans closed in around them the whole show. I had never seen so many people crammed into The Mix as I did on this particular night. I don't know if there is a point you can say the place was "sold out" but that night it should've been. Just getting to the bar was a feat in itself.
Saturday night, or as we were calling it, Round Three, was the final night. The 7 piece Audio Glo Experiment started things off. You don't see too many bands around here with a frontman that plays the fiddle. Heather Goes Psycho came next and stayed in 5th gear the whole time. Ledaswan, ended the night with a with the track "Where Birds Go" which they recently performed live on Great Day SA last week.
Photos by Daniel Monzon
Top Ten things you can do to support your music coalition
1. Add Local 782 to your Top Friends on MySpace
2. Add ALL the bands who are members of Local 782
3. Attend our fundraisers
4. Attend our Digital Compilation Release Showcase June 19-21 at the Mix 11:00pm!
5. Buy our Digital Compilation Release on ITunes, Rhapsody, and Amazon.com in June
6. Buy our T-Shirts, buttons, and stickers
7. Get the word out! Tell the local and national media about Local 782.
8. Go to live shows put on by Local 782 members
9. Watch and Repost our YouTube videos
10. Join us! Musicians of all styles are welcome
The Summer season is in full
swing. Last year was all about the monsoon and accidental
gardening. This year there hasn't been much of meteorological
interest except an occasional brisk wind. Yes, things are slow
right now. A self-diagnosis of chondromalacia didn't help
and put the ride-by journalism on a temporary break. With
that melodramatic introduction, here we go...
Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)
#1 Cat Found
With the simple title of 'cat found' came this appealing but horrific image...
#2 Texas Texas Texas
Similarly, came this message with the simple title of...that's right, 'Texas Texas Texas!!!'...
#3 The Turbulent Aeviternity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New sculpture installation by Jason Jay Stevens
at Joan Grona Gallery, in San Antonio,
June 26 through August 16, 2008
WHO: Jason Jay Stevens, San Antonio-based installation artist,
exhibit designer & live cinema performer
WHAT: Mixed media sculpture installation, titled:
"The Theoretical Fixed Point in the Turbulent Aeviternity
(Come You Lost Atoms to Your Center Draw)"
WHEN: June 26 through August 16, 2008
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 26, 6-9pm
WHERE: Joan Grona Gallery, 112 Blue Star
San Antonio, Texas 78204
San Antonio-based artist, Jason Jay Stevens, presents his latest sculpture installation at Joan Grona Gallery, at the Blue Star Arts Complex, during San Antonio Contemporary Art Month.
The show opens with a reception on Thursday, June 26th, from 6 until 9pm, and runs through August 16th.
Mr. Stevens' immersive installations envelope and transport viewers, mixing poetry and science to alter space and time. The work is often interactive, multimedia, and always multi-layered and complex.
For "The Theoretical Fixed Point in the Turbulent Aeviternity (Come You Lost Atoms to Your Center Draw)," Stevens has combined work in fabric, wood, electronics, light, musical objects, and strange lightning bolts made from black shag carpet. The result might be a scene from an alternate dimension.
At one end of the gallery, a giant light box occasionally flashes the question, "Did you feel that?" referring to a mysterious event that makes the viewer question their sensitivity. Throughout the room, flying bed sheets imitate a firmament of angels, and flecks of gold outline otherwise invisible magnetic fields.
A Hint of the Lavender
Last weekend, somehow, surprising to even me, I ended up in Blanco for a celebration of all things lavender. It was more of an event for spinster grandmothers and wolf packs on Harley Davidsons, but in truth there was a mix of people. I sat on the curb in the shade for a moment and had a brisket taco. Most of the Texas wine featured that day was especially sweet. Perhaps I should have tried the lavender limeade instead.
Outside the city were occasional lavender farms that opened their doors and fields to people roaming the countryside. Blanco is the lavender Capitol of Texas I learned. There were all things lavender being sold that day- crushed lavender, lavender soaps and oils, lavender margarita mix...
Bogart and Bergman together again. Inside the Blanco Courthouse was this surprisingly well put together poster. "OBCCPS" in red ink makes it seem almost communist. Basically, the heat was unbearable and people hid inside the courthouse for a brief break before investing in more lavender lifestyle purchases.
His hat, her flowers...together as always. It was more than just lavender. Ancillary organizations got in on the action in various ways. Booths were everywhere. This booth was for LBJ Park.
(After the brisket taco, I realized I could have tried Vietnamese spring rolls with a spicy but sweet peanut-lavender dipping sauce but realized I probably made the best choice. Usually things happen by accident (the discovery of penicillin, as one example) but in Blanco it was an active laboratory, pushing and pulling the limits of lavenderness.)
To go from walking in the fields of flowers with the LBJs, to this odd mini-jail promoting itself as a school, it's as if the horrors of 1968 have revisited...the Great Society dismantled...
A view out the car of the Blanco River. For about $5 people could get in and swim along the banks. The drive might be too long for the current gas prices, but it's an option.
Back at the festival. One of the more interesting booths was of a guy who made wind chimes out of wine bottles. Here, segments of the wine bottles made there way to this window. (The glass guy assumed I was taking fotos of his work because I wanted to take his ideas. I assured him that was not the case. I quickly moved on and went back to stealing lavender secrets.)
At the LBJ State Park one can find an ananchronistically working farm for visitors to observe. The occasionally brilliant George Saunders had a short story that dealt with a character who worked at a historical park, though at the time it was written I thought it was more near-future satire, and to be honest, it was of a pre-historic caveman exhibit and not a Texas German farm of the Late Edwardian Era.
Here is a blurb from the website...
The Sauer-Beckmann Farm - Rural Life, 1900-1918: When visitors can smell lunch being cooked on a wood-burning stove, they are close to the Sauer-Beckmann Living Farm! Here, costumed interpreters carry out the day-to-day activities of a turn-of-the-century Texas-German farm family. Some chores are seasonal, such as canning and butchering. Farm animals, however, must be cared for on a daily basis, including activities like feeding, milking, gathering eggs and slopping the hogs. Also, the house is cleaned, meals are cooked, butter is churned and cheese is made. Visitors may see the "family" scrubbing the floors with homemade lye soap, or plowing the garden with a team of horses.
The F Word
In what seems to have become a weekly feature of linking to articles that challenge and at times offend people, here is another.
The Mighty Wind
The AT&T Arena is now powered solely by West Texas wind power. A press conference revealed this a few days ago, and actually the arena has been on windtricity since June 1st. Meanwhile, the evil Lakers are probably powered by nukes and triple espressos...
Spider Man 3
With no early class this morning, sadly, I found myself flipping through the channels last night. I stumbled upon the last half of Spider Man 3. What a disaster. The surprising progress made by the last Spider Man movie was tossed to the wind. What struck me was the awkward choreography: darkside Peter Parking strutting down Broadway in an outfit stolen from the band Interpol, Parker doing an unlikely John Travolta impersonation, and then dry humping the air as women walked by. It was not a good moment for cinema. Then later at a jazz club, darkside Peter Parker does an elaborate dance routine with the help of a chair, all to humiliate the feeble Kirsten Dunst and perplex the audience. And I almost forgot the Chubby Checker "twist" scene when Dunst and the guy who hates Peter Parker made an omlette together while 'twisting. The spirit of Travolta dance numbers haunted this film. The forced charm was anachronistic (that word again) and perplexing.
When later I read the budget was almost $300 million dollars and the film such a disaster, I wondered if Hollywood might be returning to an identity crisis it "suffered" in the 70s when it didn't know what to do and let the filmmakers make the movies. After Spider Man 3, can the numbers people at the studios continue to roll the dice this way? Gas prices are through the roof, but will quality studio filmmaking also return? Too hard to say, and yes, this is a forced argument. That era of film was as much about youth culture explosion and the innocence before the dawn of Jaws. Still, with the national economy in trouble, can films of that budget and risk continue to be made? The Critical Darling raises a similar issue.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...
CPS makes a lot of hay about their wind energy consumption. The most
renewable wind energy this side of the deregulated market, we hear.
But when it comes to cranking up the pace of solar and wind energy development in Texas, CPS has to draw the line somewhere, it appears.
Last night the Alamo chapter of the state Sierra Club hosted a panel of sustainable energy experts (including CPS's lonliest department, the single-employee sustainability program staffer/director/manager/slave) at the Witte Museum. It appeared the conservation group dedicated to "knocking on windows," as current A-SC jefe Jerry Morrisey said, was trying to build bridges.
Expect some buckling in that construction project: It appears the City-owned utility has not only joined the pro-nuke lobbying group Nuclear Energy for Texans, but is now working against proposals to increase solar and wind development in Texas.
Environment Texas sent out a media cherry bomb this morning, including a video of two CPS attorneys encouraging the Texas Public Utility Commissioners (*to the bewilderment of the commissioners themselves*) not to move too quickly laying down new high-capacity transmission lines to that wild and wonderful waste of open range known as West Texas.
A new video released today by an environmental advocacy group documents that San Antonio utility CPS Energy is aligned with Exxon, coal companies and other big polluters to actively fight efforts to build an extensive network of transmission lines to link wind farms to Texas homes.
"You'd expect Exxon and the coal industry to block wind power, but CPS's role in blocking an ambitious plan to expand wind power in the state is truly disappointing," said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger.
At issue is an upcoming decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas which will play a critical role in determining how much renewable energy is built in Texas in coming years. Environmental, economic development and public interest advocates, wind energy companies, more than 100 west Texas communities, and the San Antonio Express News have called for the most ambitious plan which would create transmission capacity for almost an additional 18,000 megawatts of wind and solar power. By displacing some coal-fired electricity generation, such a plan would reduce smog pollution from power plants by 13% and global warming pollution by 16%. It would also save consumers money, as expensive natural gas would be somewhat displaced by cheaper wind power, lowering the overall wholesale cost of electricity.
"CPS likes to brag about its investments in wind, but most of its money comes from burning dirty coal," said Metzger. "Rather than support a forward-looking plan to reduce pollution and reduce the cost of energy, CPS is teaming up with other big polluters to stall Texas' leadership in wind power."
CPS Energy strongly supports wind power as part of our successful fuels diversification program that enables us to produce electricity using a variety of fuel sources. In fact, we rank no. 1 by a substantial margin in the amount of wind energy capacity among the nation’s municipally owned utilities. We do recognize the need for more transmission lines to bring wind energy from remote areas of the state to urban areas such as San Antonio. We favor a phased approach in expanding transmission that will permit the Public Utility Commission of Texas to resolve any reliability concerns about the effects of adding more wind energy to the ERCOT interconnected electric grid.
Unable to ignore the 28,000 Texans who complained about the 650-mile Trans-Texas Corridor, which is slated to cut through east Texas on its route from Mexico to Louisiana, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has agreed to improve existing highways, not build new ones, to construct the TTC.
This is a change from TxDOT's plan to use eminent domain, the state's legal ability to acquire land for public-works projects, regardless of whether or not the owner wants to sell. The citizens, farmers and small businesses who would have been uprooted by this plan expressed their opposition in meetings held this winter and spring along the proposed route.
The primary highway improved will be US-59, which will be brought up to interstate standard, according to TxDOT spokesperson Mark Cross.
In a March 19, 2008, letter that was released to the public, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison expressed her opposition to using eminent domain to construct the highway. She applauded TxDOT's recent decision, saying, “By using existing right-of-way, TxDOT will more efficiently utilize taxpayer dollars while also limiting the negative impact on farm land and businesses.”
With a change in the route comes new problems, however. Citizens have called for a new environmental survey and many are worried that tolls will accompany the new project.
"The rural areas don't have enough traffic to be toll viable," Terri Hall, founder and executive director of the non-profit group Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, said, which she speculates will lead to tolls on existing roads in more urban areas. Tolling roads that have already been paid for through taxes is a double tax, Hall said.
Hall predicted that TxDOT will use sleight of hand to do this by turning existing freeways into access roads, with traffic signals and slower speed limits, and tolling the new freeways built in their place.
Cross denied the allegations that existing roads would be tolled or relegated to access roads. "The only thing that could possibly be tolled would be additional new lanes that could be built" Cross said. "We would not take away the free, main-lane access."
Cross said that now that the route has been settled, TxDOT can narrow its environmental-study plan, simply refining the studies already completed. He predicts that this will be completed by spring 2009.
But Hall says
TxDOT is legally obligated to start its entire
environmental-study process over however, which would include public
and surveys. Hall says that she has spoken to three experts on the
Environmental Policy Act, all of whom said that TxDOT is legally
Bexar County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization met Monday to vote on proposed bylines changes, including what constituted a quorum, powers given to the mayor and county judge to appoint officials to elected positions, the powers granted to the head of the finance committee, what funds can be used for tolling, and the extension of the MPO’s boundaries to the Hill Country.
Giving into pressure from citizens, the MPO decided not to allow the mayor or county judge to make appointments for elected seats. TURF founder Terri Hall was pleased with the decision.
“We were delighted that this board today decided to strike the language that would give the mayor or the county judge power to break the rules,” Hall said.
The MPO also voted to adjust their policies away from spending on toll roads. The MOP will not use any its discretionary funds for toll roads, but use solely the TxDOT fund that is for that purpose, Scott Ericksen, senior public involvement coordinator for the MPO said.
The meeting moved the organization in a progressive direction Ericksen said.
“I think that the policy
board has looked at what changes
are beneficial to the long-term transportation-planning
said, adding that the committee needs to use foresight in planning its
citing the high rate of growth in
Asked if toll roads were still on the table, Ericksen said that it would be “financially irresponsible to not even consider that possibility.”
Although Hall has been a vocal critic of the MPO's support of toll roads, she expressed her satisfaction with the decision that discretionary funds would not be used to push forward the idea of toll roads.
Ericksen questions the long-term success of cutting sources of revenue, saying, “The policy board in not happy with the planning situation, but no one has any magic bullets to solve the problem.”
Bylaws were amended to give the head of the MPO finance committee. Sheila McNeil, more power to execute her duties.
The MPO also took steps to extend its boundaries of governance. They say that they are doing this only because the federal government is mandating that they do, and if the counties wish to maintain their autonomy, the MPO will agree to it.
Adam Rocha’s baby is all grown up.
From the bizarrely-named Golden Shower Video Festival to the campy San Antonio Underground Film Festival to the more professional San Antonio Film Festival of this year, the evolution of Rocha’s labor of love is evident.
When I judged the film festival back in 2002, I watched over 150 movies and helped pick those good enough to screen at that year’s event. Of the films I saw, I can only slightly recall the very first one I pulled from the pile and tossed into my DVD player. It was a three-minute film (I can’t remember the name), which began with someone in their backyard recording their dog barking. For an entire minute, the camera is pointed at this thing yapping away uncontrollably at the cameraperson.
Suddenly, the shot cuts to a title card with the word “Intermission” on screen. For another entire minute, the screen stayed on the graphic while elevator music (maybe “The Girl from Ipanema”) played in the background. Then, for the final minute – you guessed it – the mangy mutt was back to bark until the credits ended my agony.
short film like that one might have had a chance
to make the final cut a few years ago, Rocha and crew seem to have set
standard for filmmakers looking for a
After being very inconsistent with my attendance at the festival for the last six years (I believe I made it out one night for the decade celebration), I returned Opening Night of the 14th annual SAFF on Thursday and was ecstatic not to see any pissed-off puppies making their film debut.
Held for the
first time at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico
Somebody – anybody – from a film studio needs to step up and send Crawford out to the masses before November rolls around. By then, we’ll be on the verge of a new presidency and it’ll be more difficult to grab people’s attention with yesterday’s headlines. Give Modigliani a hand. This is an entertaining film that really is fair and balanced. Maybe Fox News can put Greg Gutfeld and the rest of the morons on Red Eye out of their misery and give Crawford their late-night time slot until next inauguration.
So that's how you win a "Golden Shovel" award, eh?
Announced by the lamentably un-singed press staff of Governor Rick Perry this morning, Texas received the gilded implement from Area Development magazine.
Can you feel that business-friendly climate breathing down your neck?
Can you see it? It looks an awful lot like bad building practices silting up our cherished rivers and streams.
Perry credit's the award to "our state's reasonable regulatory environment."
But we would be remiss not also to credit our long history of not bothering the builders.
Days before the Shovel announcement, the U.S. EPA announced it had settled a number of lawsuits against four of the country's most prominent builders, including Dallas-based Centex Homes, for alleged Clean Water Act violations.
Texas stayed out of it, despite being the third most impacted state in the country.
Of the 2,200 sites included in the lawsuit, 247 were in Texas. That includes 26 housing developments in San Antonio and 19 in Bexar County.
So, while Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, and Utah are divvying up their share of the $4.3 million settlement (granted, it's not much), Texans get to play with our shiny tool in silted-over riverbeds.
Post-settlement reforms are across the board, however, with the EPA anticipating they will keep 1.2 billion pounds of sediment out of national waterways each year from here out.
Watching the Celtics-Lakers series from a San Antonio-centric
perspective, one fact has stood out to me: While the Spurs were dogged
thru much of the post-season for being too old, no one has pointed out
that the Celtics have prospered with a trio of stars older than the
Spurs' Big Three.
Ray Allen will soon turn 33, Kevin Garnett is a 32-year-old veteran in his 13th NBA season, and Paul Pierce is 30. By comparison, Tim Duncan is 32, Manu Ginobili is 30, and Tony Parker is only 26. Certainly the Spurs' bench has logged more miles than that of the Celtics, but it's not as if Sam Cassell or James Posey just qualified for their driver's licenses.
The Lakers' triumph over the Spurs was seen as proof that a younger, more athletic team couldn't be stopped by the kind of methodical, graybeard group the Spurs put on the court. Hasn't anyone noticed that the Celtics are taking apart the Lakers with exactly the kind of grind-it-out offense, dogged defense, and veteran wiles that the Spurs built their dynasty upon? When Ray Allen blew by Sasha Vujacic in Game Four, it wasn't his quickness or athleticism that made the difference, it was intelligence and determination. The Spurs had a thin bench and a hobbling Ginobili in the Western Finals, and they were beaten by a hotter, better team. But can we finally get over the knee-jerk age angle?
Letters (to the Penthouse
#1 & #2 More Reasons Why
In a further reverberation from the Why We Ride article came this illustration from Nice Guy Jack.
Then came a related letter from OTS Friend Carlos with a mention to the award winning NYC fashion/foto blog called The Sartorialist...
for style....but this is the bike section.....
#3 California Correspondent Steve Reports In (Sort Of)...
Hi - forgive the group mass-mailing - I wanted people to know that Rep Dennis Kucunich has introduced Article of Impeachment against George Bush in the House and needs help (calls to your Rep and Rep John Conyers, Head of the Judiciary Committee).
If you are interested you can find more info and contact info for your Reps on my blog right here:
Which promtped this unfocused discussion with Correspondent Steve from San Luis Obisbo.
It's just a "B" session for crying out loud. Still they come crowding
in as San Anto Mayor Phil Hardberger lays the foundation for this
afternoon's presentation on "COSA Mission Verde" — the city's
amped up efficiency and renewable energy adventure.
First dribbled in his State of the City speech back in January, plans for a new City-wide energy policy have been incubating at City Hall even as a trench warfare has been waged these past months against the City's utility, CPS Energy, over plans for two new nuclear plants. The tussle has included back-room warnings from activists of a potential "Nuclear Phil" campaign if Alamo City leaders didn't get on the stick with serious energy conservation initiatives.
Since that time, it's been meetings galore, and the direction of the conversation is looking dead-on. Specifically, the group that was hired to explore the city's energy use habits is one of the best in the nation, Chicago's Center for Neighborhood Technology.
Raging gas prices and Wall Street jitters on the subject on nuclear power have provided the perfect launching pad for a major green initiative in San Antonio. And each councilmember in turn went to pains to show they were on board, with District 5 Councilmember Lourdes Galvan describing her struggle to pull plugs to save at home and District 10-er John Clamp saying he will rush the message of conservation to his neighborhood association and beyond.
CPS President Milton Lee wobbles and taps, and speaks when invited, but no mistake — this multi-pronged endeavor is the city's baby. The vision is laid out by Hardberger as a sermonette.
There are light rails, and net metering, timed traffic lights, and massive home efficiency campaigns, "zip" cars, tidal power, solar…
There will be task forces formed on transportation and sustainable building.
Overheard: "I wonder where he got all these ideas?"
Hardy's been getting schooled these past months — and by the sound of his enthusiastic and informed oratory, he's been a good student. Still, there will be fights soon enough with the building lobby, who will surely resist any significant changes to city construction codes.
If any serious light rail pitches get made, you can bet a good number of the businesses and homeowners along those corridors will be up in arms as they were in Houston not too long ago.
And there will be claims to the Mayor's throne hinging, at least in part, on who is best qualified to continue leading Alamo City's just begun Green Revolution, our Mission Verde.
Speaking of which, Councilmember Diance Cibrian in her own oversized oratory called out solar deviant Bill Sinkin and gushed: "Isn't this just like a dream come true?" The 95-year-old half a chamber away is inaudible.
By the time Hardberger wrapped up his gospel of green prosperity in the Council's side chamber, and City Chief Information Officer and former state senator Richard Varn clicked through the more detailed Power Point, there was still time to pass the talking stick among Council (and take a cell call on speaker phone from Councilmember Justin Rodriquez, an adamant supporter of the new sustainability vision).
"It doesn't sound too good, but they call them 'green collar jobs.' Adults and young people are going to make their living finding ways to use as little energy as possible."
"They'll be others — even harnessing the power of the sea. Some of these will be 'out there' more than others."
"Before we go too far down that road (with traditional energy sources), let's see how far we can go with what the Good Lord gave us."
— Mayor Phill Hardberger
"I can't top that mayor."
— Sheryl Scully, City Manager
"It cannot be done by the City alone, or the utility alone, it must be done with substantial community input."
— City Chief Information Officer Richard Varn
"I really believe we should never build another coal plant in the City of San Antonio."
— District 8 Councilmember Diane Cibrian
CNT recommends addressing the risks associated with rising costs for energy and transportation in a way that is both cost-effective and maximizes the creation and capture of economic value. Specific proposals include:
Development of an energy efficiency and clean portfolio strategy for CPS
Implementation of new policies such as a building code
Better energy management at the City itself
Coordination between the City's IT department, SAWS and CPS of advanced metering for tracking and managing energy and transportation use and cost
Development of a modern transportation strategy and enhancement of current transportation choice and service opportunities
Linking energy efficiency and transportation efficiency opportunities with economic development strategy
Improved capital access and workforce development for emerging green industries
Information and neighborhood efforts to help households and businesses reduce exposure to rising prices and help stabilize or reduce the cost of living.
The City and its associated agencies in the region as well as the economy in general face pressures of significant scale in the provision of energy, water and transportation services. For the average household, these costs can easily equal or exceed the cost of housing. San Antonio overall can be characterized as a "hot" market for business location with a fast-growing population. But from an economic sustainability perspective, it can also be characterized as a "low wage, high waste" economy. This is not likely to be sustainable. San Antonio produces neither its energy nor its water, and so the increased demand for these resources constitutes a large and increasing drain on the economy.
The Renewable Energy Policy Project finds that the technical potential for renewable power technology manufacturing could replace a significant portion of the hundreds of manufacturing jobs lost in the past decade, but this will take concerted investment and a trained workforce. San Antonio's real estate form fits what's increasingly called the "Drive 'til You Qualify Market." The majority of employment is located in just 10 employment centers located largely on the region's beltways, and San Antonio's transportation demand, at 27 miles per capita daily, is one of the top five in the nation. This leaves working and fixed income households vulnerable to energy price shocks. Transportation costs usually start to equal or exceed shelter costs for households at a point about 10-12 miles from the city center.
The region is subject to mild winters, with an expected average of 2332 heating degree days but a relatively high demand for air conditioning at 2492 cooling degree days and growing. The region abuts a desert and the nature of the landscape strongly influences both energy and water demand. Decades of neglect of San Antonio's urban forest led to renewed calls in recent years for restoration, and scientific surveys show that a combination of local planting and more reflective roofs, sidewalks and streets, and can result in local reduction of outdoor temperatures in the range of 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
Energy demand and energy bills
Actual home efficiency is rated in energy units of BTUs per square foot per degree-day. Measured ratings can range from zero (super-efficient homes with on-sight renewable energy sources) to 10 or more on this scale. Assuming an average home size of 1500 square feet, as an example, the data published in the recent CPS study suggests San Antonio residence would receive a poor rating in the range of 7 or more on this scale. San Antonio has enjoyed low rates but has paid for high consumption.
Energy Supply from Reduced Demand
The most successful programs at getting to scale are those that:
Package necessary services in a one-stop delivery (e.g., energy audits, contractor selection, and financing);
Get around split incentives, such as those that exist between landlords and tenants through incentives and supportive policies, such as building codes;
Use measured results to set goals;
Build effective partnerships with competent private and public sector actors;
Reach hard-to-reach and small users at large scale by organizing at the community-wide or neighborhood scale;
Build demand for the services through specialized information channels; and
Work to achieve success through continuous improvement and recurring activities (e.g. setting and enforcement of building standards through both codes and voluntary agreements).
The need for upgraded transportation is a function of both absolute growth in travel and in the number of vehicles traveling, and in the forces that influence that level of travel. A principle influence is land use and the distance that people and goods must travel; a second is the availability of time to travel and the need to use time productively; a third is the availability of travel mode choice; and a fourth is tolerance for the external impacts of transportation, whether these are environmental, economic, aesthetic or health and safety-related in nature.
Household Transportation Expenditures
Nationally, 18 percent of trips taken by metropolitan households are for the journey to work or work-related purposes, and 82 percent are for shopping, school, recreational or social purposes.
San Antonio travel 27 miles per capita per day
At 27 miles per capita per day, a household of 2.5 persons will be driving 24,637 miles per year. Our cost model, which is conservatively based on the model provided by the Federal Highway Administration, is that each vehicle carries a fixed cost of $5,068 per year, and a variable cost in 2000 of 7.5 cents per mile for gasoline and 1.5 cents for other expenses. Fixed costs have been flat since then (people holding on to cars longer, buying smaller ones when they can, cars lasting longer) but the variable price of gasoline at $4.000 per gallon is now 20 cents per mile, plus 1.5 cents for miscellaneous expense.
So a 2-car household in San Antonio driving 24,637 miles per year total would spend $5068+$5068 +$0.21(24637) or $5174 for variable costs, mostly gasoline, and $10,136 for automobile ownership, or $15, 310 per year total.
In 2008, estimated median metropolitan household income is $45,000, and so transportation expenditures are amounting to $15,310/$45,000 or 34 percent of income. Median annual housing costs for owners with a mortgage are likely $18,000 or 40 percent of income.
San Antonio fits the profile of a "Drive Until You Qualify" market—the transportation costs are largely determined by the location of the house, too many "affordable" homes are located at a distance such that the need to drive is high, effectively doubling the price of the home for working families and households, those earning under $50,000 per year.
Specific opportunities that can be tried in San Antonio—In the short and medium term, there are several things that can help mitigate the high costs of gasoline and of travel in general, that should be considered as priorities
Better information and counseling to make use of available options
Better marketing of employer provided or supported transit services, including use of deductibility for employer-assisted "transit check" programs and federal parking cash-out incentives
Expanded levels of scheduled service from VIA
Serious and aggressive pursuit of both car-sharing services and car-pooling
Improved regulation of and support for pedestrian and bicycling amenities
Include screening of major development proposals and public siting decisions for locations that minimize unnecessary travel demand
Explore opportunities to better match residential locations with non-residential activities, both employment and otherwise
Aggressive planning and lobbying should be supported for the following options:
Rail relocation to support the proposed Austin-San Antonio ASA Rail service
Investment in modern streetcar service on high-density routes
Long range development of either Bus Rapid Transit or some form of commuter rail
Development of community telecommuting options
Develop specialized districts that can expedite mixed use development in conjunction with better transportation choices
Develop a regional strategy that can deliver consensus around these goals, put into place an effective inter-agency coordinating mechanism and better support a financial strategy sufficient to get the job done.
Economic Challenges: Creating and Capturing Value Locally
A sustainable economy needs to provide services efficiently and affordably with a minimum of environmental disruption, and it also needs to provide sufficient jobs that pay a competitive wage. We find that methods of intercepting the economic value of the efficiency and ecological improvements that result from policies and actions are an essential part of an economic development strategy for sustainability. Cities and states are developing ways to attract investment, training a workforce to meet the needs of emerging industries related to their sustainability goals, helping households better understand how to take advantage of initiatives that can lower the cost of living and improve their own environmental performance, and organizing collectively for more efficient and successful community economic benefits. San Antonio has a strong network of governmental and private financial counseling and financial literacy services that could be mobilized to help households take advantage of transportation alternatives and energy assistance.
A few interesting points about assembling this week's story on civil
rights attorney James Myart.
Firstly, not only was the recently-suspended attorney himself indisposed, but a good chunk of the legal community that have handled cases against SAPD were simply not up to returning phone calls. It creates a challenge, but I'm sure they all have the city's best interests as heart as we at the Current do. Right, fellas?
In any event, the number of closed doors (including the spiritual leader of Mt. Zion First Baptist Church putting the call-block on me) led me into unexpected corners.
Digging around in the city's files ultimately resulted in an interesting interview with a former SA-based defense attorney. The conversation ended up not fitting the overall narrative of "Myart's remains," which hit the racks today. However, he raised some points regarding the challenges that face any attorney operating in SA that I think are worth passing along. Chiefly, first-hand perspective related to the uphill contest that fighting police in court represents and how one firm has sought to overcome that challenge.
Attorneys going up against law enforcement are well-acquainted with jury's predisposition to believe the men and women behind the shield, said Phil Stauffer, a former attorney working for "DWI Dude" Jamie Balagia's office in San Antonio.
After all, a badge goes a long way in the public psyche. You might as well be putting a doctor in a lab coat with a stethoscope necktie on the chair, he said.
"If it ever comes down to your word against this cop's word on the witness stand, the cop's gonna win," said Stauffer.
While Stauffer now practices law in Fort Worth, when he was with Balagia the two understood that their clients needed a more aggressive form of defense. So they started their own investigations into the workings of SAPD, using state Open Records law to get their hands on as much public information about the department as possible.
"They were always going to do background investigations on our people, so we decided we'd just start doing it on theirs," Stauffer said. "We just wanted to look and see if there's ever been anything that we could've used at trial and bam! We just came up with a gold mine."
Today, Balagia has a file room dedicated to police disciplinary reports that is the envy of more than a few others. (Balagia, in keeping with what appears to be a new legal trend, failed to return calls for comment.)
Cases of cover-ups and report falsification proved common, Stauffer said.
"It's scary. It's just downright scary - you can quote me on that - the amount of stuff that's out there that SAPD doesn't seem to be doing anything about."
This post isn't intended as an endorsement of Balagia, per se, but any attorney - and we're sure there are a few - that is utilizing state law on the public's right to know, is doing something right.
You know the press, the more Sunshine the better. Why should "civil society" hold all the cards?
The nation’s oldest primate sanctuary, Primarily Primates of Northwest Bexar County, is welcoming back three gibbons after settling a case with two other sanctuaries.
The three gibbons were part of a group of 12 that was adopted by the International Primate Protection League after a 2006 Texas lawsuit found that more than 700 animals were living in unacceptable conditions.
The conditions at Primarily Primates, which according to a petition filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott included pools of untreated sewage, substandard veterinary care, inadequate food and water, and overcrowded cages, led to the transfer of a number of animals in late March 2007. Those transferred included the 12 gibbons, which were taken to the International Primate Protection League sanctuary, in Summerville, South Carolina, and the two chimpanzees, which were housed in Bend, Oregon, at Chimps, Inc.
In the wake of this lawsuit, Friends of Animals, an international non-profit group, took over Primarily Primates, and the group’s president, Priscilla Feral, assumed the position of Chairman of the Board at Primarily Primates. Friends of Animals had been the major donor to the facility for over 20 years at the time of the take over according to Nancy Scott Jones, a public relations spokesperson for Primarily Primates.
The state of Texas decided to drop its case against Primarily Primates in May 2007, stating that conditions had improved under this new supervision.
The adopting centers paid for the transfer of the animals, built special habitats to house them and provided them with veterinary care that included rehabilitation and recovery from the abuses that allegedly occurred at Primarily Primates.
Primarily Primates asked for the return of the animals claiming that – under its new management – the sanctuary had been improved and was now able to house the animals.
The adopting facilities still had their doubts, however, so in June 2007, Chimps, Inc. and the IPPL filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon – near Chimps, Inc. – to keep the animals at their new homes. In the suit they claimed that the animals had been living "in filth" and that the Primarily Primates site was "no better than a warehouse to hold these animals until they die."
"The facility still doesn't have cages suitable for gibbons," Shirley McGreal, founder of the IPPL, told a South Carolina paper last year. "For instance, gibbons live high up in trees. The cages in Texas were about 7 feet tall. The cages near Summerville have spaces that are 20 feet tall."
Jones said the old habitats for the gibbons had been renovated, and that they were now living in a two-section living space so that the animals would be able to separate themselves from the group if they desired.
Feral said that Primarily Primates’ staff had doubled the space available for the gibbons, added a series of tunnels to their habitat and extending the overhead space for the animals. She added that more renovations were planned for the gibbon’s habitat. She also commented that while IPPL’s trees were taller, the new gibbons’ habitat at Primarily Primates is twice as long as IPPL’s.
The 2008 settlement keeps the two chimpanzees, Emma and Jackson, at Chimps, Inc., to avoid displacing of them during adolescence.
"We want Emma and Jackson to have a happy life," Feral said. "We will always miss them; but we're confident they will enjoy a place of permanent safety."
Management at Chimps, Inc. was also was also satisfied by this result.
“I’m thrilled with the settlement. That means that Emma and Jackson can stay with us forever,” Paula Muellner, executive director at Chimps, Inc., told the Houston Chronicle.
The nine gibbons that did not return to Primarily Primates remained at IPPL. Stephen Tello, the director of Primarily Primates, returned the other three gibbons to the sanctuary June 3, after a two-day trip.
Feral stressed the importance of reuniting the three gibbons with the one who had remained behind, saying, “That to me was more important than anything else.”
Feral lamented that the single gibbon would sing, a form of communication between gibbons, but without any other gibbons around to answer it, the solo had a lonely quality.
Feral said that while she believed that Primarily Primates would have won the suit, it was more important to settle to ensure the well-being of the animals as quickly as possible. It was also important to her that the community of organizations remain intact, saying, “We also believe that reaching a settlement agreement allows us to move ahead and foster harmony in the sanctuary community,” in a post on the group’s website.
Jones said that “the gibbons are doing well,” and that they had been checked by the vet and were in good health. Feral added that “they're eating well” and that “they're exercising.”
Primarily Primates is currently engaged in another lawsuit over the return of animals, with the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Shreveport, Louisiana. Feral said that Primarily Primates had won the initial hearing and that she expected them to win in the appeal’s process as well, having the animals back by late summer.
Animals were also taken to the Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation center in Kendalia, Texas, after the 2006 lawsuit. According to Lynn Cuny, executive director at WRR, the sanctuary met with Feral after the lawsuit and a verbal agreement was made that the animals would remain at WWR.
According to Feral, Primarily Primates is an organization that is not government funded and relies heavily on the donations of individuals and other organizations. The recent lawsuits have dampened fund raising efforts.
“The reputation of the organization was severely damaged, and donations dropped off,” Feral said in a recent interview. “Certainly the contributions are not what they were several years ago.”
Friends of Animals is now the parent company of Primarily Primates. In the past year the organization has spent $1.5 million at Primary Primates. Friends of Animals also paid the legal costs that Primarily Primates accrued in the 2006 lawsuit.
Primarily Primates currently houses 327 primates and about 700 400 [corrected, 6/19] animals in all on its premises.
If you are concerned about the state of media, lack of media, or just plain old bad, commercial-sponsored mediummy in San Antonio (not mentioning any names here), this is a forum you can not afford to miss.
(And if you're not worried, you may want to start your awakening with Common Cause or just read the numbers below.)
An unprecedented economy in the 1990s led to a booming housing market that helped many people to achieve their home-ownership dreams.
A darker side has emerged from this story however, as unwise lending and borrowing has led to foreclosures in record-setting numbers. More than a million homeowners in the U.S. are in foreclosure [edit, 6/11], and people struggle everyday to make mortgage payments and avoid the same fate.
Acorn Housing, a branch of the activist organization Acorn, is helping to combat this crisis in a number of ways. The group employs loan counselors that will aid people in avoiding foreclosure and offers education classes for people that are looking to buy a new home.
“Acorn Housing has a working relationship with over
40 mortgage lenders and
services across the country,” said Michelle McClenan,
Acorn Housing uses these connections to help adjust people's mortgages so that they are more manageable. McClenan said that while individuals who tried to deal with lenders by themselves would not make much progress in adjusting their mortgage, those who came to Acorn and had the benefit of its connections and knowledge typically were able to find relief from their mortgage problems.
A major problem that loan counselors see is people who get behind in their mortgage payments because of an emergency, such as necessary medical expenses. To make homeowners current, where they are no longer behind in their payments, Acorn will use its connections to convince a lender to let the homeowner shift the debt to the final payments. While homeowners will pay for a slightly longer period of time, returning to the “current” status helps them to avoid foreclosure.
Lowering monthly payments is also a big part of what acorn does. According to McClelen, Acorn works under the assumption that lenders would much rather adjust rates and be able to collect monthly payments consistently than go through the process of foreclosure.
Loan Consoler Vivian Torres said Acorn's pre-loan education tries to ensure that no one ever needs to use these methods of foreclosure avoidance by teaching responsible borrowing. They also stress that it is important not to accrue large amounts of debts related to the house outside of the mortgage, such as buying new furniture and appliances.
“Don't go buy more things, stay in the same budget you were in before you bought the house,” Torres said.
Participants who complete this education course are also privilege to special offers from Bank of America, Chase Bank and Citi Bank. Borrowers that use these institutions are guaranteed that their loans will never be sold to another bank, that they will receive a fixed rate (where the amount that is paid every month will be the same throughout the time of the loan), and other special incentives.
Acorn offers these services free of charge, asking only that people call before coming so that they can be sure to bring the necessary paperwork and records.
Acorn can be reached at 210-226-2584 or by going to their Stop Foreclosure website.
Letters to the On the
Street Penthouse Suite
First came this letter in regard to the cover story last week called Why We Ride...
Great article! Tammy Busby's story is especially motivating and I'm glad people like her are featured. Loved the first 3 paragraphs: great characterization of the scene.
Do you know anything about the Critical Mass bike ride? A friend of mine and are are starting to go out and ride - but it's just a critical duo at this point, although we've heard of others possibly on the scene.
#1-A: Stuff White People Like
OTS Friend Carlos sent in this letter...
i forget who sent this to me.....but i know he's white.......and a cyclist.......hey, just like the site says!
#1-B: A Foto from Why We Ride (That We Weren't Able to Use)
Here's Dave Zunker Jr. on the fixed gear bike mentioned in the article. This was posed outside Bun 'N Barrel. The curbside service we found out is no longer active, which perhaps takes the wind out of the sails from an art direction point of view, but it's a fine foto nonetheless.
For more bike commentary, see below for Downtown Highlife and the Beer Hall Putsch...
#2 Comfort Art
In came this letter announcing a new show for First Friday at 3 Walls. Little was revealed yet comfort was suggested. Interesting...
please join us...
June 6-27, 2008
opening Friday, June 6, 6-9pm
Open by appointment, 210-219-1562
Three Walls is located in studio 106D Blue Star, Building B, San Antonio, TX
If it was my show it would be an empty room with a lazy boy chair in the middle. The AC would be cranked and someone's mother would come in and feed the patron chicken soup with saltines while an obscure Michael J Fox movie played on the tv in the background. There would be a line out the door. Dramatic low key lighting would be crucial to pull this off.
#3 Just A Little Something to Take the Sting Off
(Oddly, this foto was taken a few blocks down from the Ambassador Hotel in LA, see below for more...)
With heavy hearts following the Spurs loss (as well as our first round draft pick saviour from Brazil, Tiago Splitter, most likely ditching us to play for a team in Spain named after a ceramic tile company, Tau Ceramica, and thereby reintroducing, symbolically, on the team, the historic Great Divide between Argentina and Brazil first evidenced with the Papal Bull of 1493) came this goofy joke...
Kobe Bryant, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was
showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded Los
Angeles Laker's flag in the window. 'This house is yours for eternity,
Kobe,' said God. 'This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here.'
Kobe felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house. On his way up the
porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a 3-story
mansion with a brilliant Black, Silver & White sidewalk, a 50 ft. tall
flagpole flying an enormous San Antonio Spurs flag, and in every window a
Kobe looked at God and said 'God, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but I
have a question: I won 3 NBA Championships, more awards than I can remember
and am one of the greatest players of all time.'
God said 'So what do you want to know, Kobe?'
'Well, why does Tim Duncan get a better house than me?'
God chuckled and said 'Kobe, that's not Tim's house, ..it's MINE.'
Low Rent Franchises of the 80s
With a break between semesters and a full plate studying for the registry, I've found myself up at night watching a bit too much of AMC, the American Movie Channel. The programming seemed diverse at first. For every John Ford chuck wagon movie, there was a 3 Days of the Condor or other intriguing gem from the 70s. Now the programming has become dominated with what I would call the Low Rent Franchises of the 80s.
The 80s concretized the heroic vigilante theme from the 70s, first developed in 1971 with Dirty Harry. The trend continued to the 80s, evolved, and reached a point of no return with Arnold's Commando and Stallone's Tango & Cash.
But within all that was the Low Rent Franchise. Here, Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson became the low budget versions with Missing in Action and Death Wish being the respective vehicles. Grounded in a tradition of exploitation and drive-in cinema, these series of films tried to follow in the success of other action institutions, yet by taking the low road with horrible cinematography, leaden leads, and poor audio recording. The idea of using the celebrity of a minor actor to propel a franchise seems so foreign in today's film world where franchises begin at $100 million. Perhaps it was all about the forgotten genius of Golan-Globus?
This all became clear (sort of) yesterday morning when the Chuck Norris film Ocatagon came on AMC. I was dozing in and out. From what I could tell there was a kung fu/ninja white slavery ring, a lot of annoying whispering suggesting something darkly magical, a lame love interest that was probably killed off at the end of the second act if I was awake to verify it. I later watched this trailer which confirmed some of my thoughts.
I thought these films were just on AMC for a few days but they've trenched in now and don't seem to be going away. Cleaning up the streets and bringing the prisoners back home are the themes. Is this some sort of message being delivered by the programmer?
The angry white ninja? The new silent majority?
Is that a young John McCain?
Beerhall Putsch (For Real)
On the last Friday the Downtown Highlife bicycle gang resurfaced and roamed around the downtown San Antonio streets. The first destination was San Pedro Springs Park. There was a possibility of going to Patty's Ice House instead but time was of the essence, and given that, a diversion to see that weird mossy stone structure at the park was omitted as well. A compromise stop at the Valero happened and then it was toward the hills.
The route took us over to Mahncke Park with a climb up Funston and a quick stop at the VFW Hall by the Wooden Nickel Museum.
And why all the rush? Word leaked that this was going to be Gordon's last night at Beethoven's. When I came back to town in 2006 Beethoven's was an open bar with a nice mixture of old timers and young people. Evidently, those days may be over.
Gordon was the guy often behind the bar. He booked many local bands to play there...
...such as this moment from Fiesta...and seemed to make the place succesful and friendly to all. Now, Beethoven's future is a bit in question. Will it still be open to the community?
A letter came in which suggesting it wouldn't be. In the days leading up to Friday, I watched the last two Spurs games there, and a rumor went out that a secret meeting was going down at half-time to address Gordon's future running Beethoven. Yes, it was the classic beerhall putsch.
This First Friday might be the last time Beethoven's is as it was even though it might be volunteers only running the place.
On a local bike message board I found this post which contextualizes the moment...
Gordon put in well over 80 hours each week at that place, week in and week out, the only vacation he got was the week they closed at Christmas. He single-handedly built that place up from an occasional weekend crowd non-factor to the major weekly Southtown draw that it is. Revenues are unmatched and some Mannerchor members worry if the gravy train has now left (granted, a Mannerchor member recently passed away and left some money to the organization, it is absolutely foolish to rely on that).
I just recently found out this movie The Strangers opened. The writer/director Bryan Bertino perhaps could have the most storybook entry into Hollywood life that I can remember. He was working as a grip/gaffer on low budget films in LA. This was his third script and sold for a few hundred thousand and then later he was asked to direct the film without having ever directed a film before. It's an amazing story.
All the more unusual for me because I remember going to film school with him. I remember he helped out on one of my projects when we all went out to West Texas for a long weekend. We stayed at a youth hostel in Fort Stockton. Very odd memories. I think he was captured in the background of a scene washing a car.
I still have his number, though I'm not sure if it's changed. Perhaps I'll give him a call for an interview. He might even answer.
3AM - The Call Was Never Answered
It seems the obvious finally became obvious and Hillary is out of the race. Obama gave an acceptance speech. McCain shot back with awkward puppetry.
In a way it's as if the 2000 election is reversed with the GOP offering up a stiff line reader and the Democrats now providing an engaging candidate one can "hang out with."
Still, here it is a few days later and Hillary still hasn't officially gotten out of the race. When will this end? Is this the kind of decision making she promised with the phone call at 3am? Would she even be able to pick up the phone?
Ambassador Hotel (RFK)
Lost in the discussion of the RFK death is the actual building itself, the Ambassador Hotel, and it's demise. As of 2003 the Ambassador was boarded up, and looked to have been for a long, long time. In 2006 it was demolished to make way for a new school.
The hotel became a home to feral cats and the occasional Hollywood film (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071517/locations), with Barton Fink being perhaps the most signature. Someone in LA told me that the kitchen where RFK was shot was going to somehow be moved and preserved to another location, but I've yet to find any follow-up to that rumor.
For what it's worth...
Upcoming Next Week: Fotos of First Friday and maybe if the stars are aligned, the McNay Opening Weekend. For all the buildings being razed, it's good to see something new (of quality! finally!) go up.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...
Yesterday, San Antonio's City-owned CPS Energy, local automotive mongrel Red McCombs, and Illinois polluter Excelon Energy established "Nuclear Energy for Texans," a private-public partnership built to lobby taxpayers, voters, and lawmakers for a nuclear-powered future.
The collection of business interests (and former Guv Lite Bill Ratliffe) along with San Antonio's recently spanked utility, fresh from a requested rate hike denial and green energy lectures from our very own city council, are pledging to fight hard to nuke this state.
It's as if the utility has gone to TxDOT finishing school. One has to wonder just what percent of each utility bill goes to CPS' advertising and lobbying budget.
Here's what they say about themselves:
Committed to raising awareness of nuclear energy in Texas, NET's steering committee is composed of elected officials at the state and local level, representatives from business and industry, health organizations and the scientific and engineering community. Their involvement ensures a high level of leadership and support in NET's efforts to educate Texans about the benefits of nuclear energy.
Although their backgrounds vary, one common denominator of NET's steering committee is the knowledge and belief that nuclear energy needs to be part of our state's energy mix.
Initial funding for NET comes from Exelon Nuclear, the largest nuclear operator in the United States, with other NET members contributing financial support as well.
Meanwhile, up in Washington, the debate has begun on a climate bill opposed by the Bush Administration for its negative economic impact on Old Industry (coal), while a raft of planetary-systems advocates push for the creation of a new greenhouse-gas-free economy.
However, the bill, an example of the deafening power of underreporting still promises billions (over 500 of 'em) in nuclear earmarks and incentives.
Writes watchdog Karl Grossman:
With Wall Street unwilling to finance new nuclear plants, U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Warner of Virginia have cooked up a scheme to provide $544 billion – yes, with a "b" in subsidies for new nuclear power plant development…
A Lieberman aide describes the plan as "the most historic incentive for nuclear in the history of the United States."
The Lieberman-Warner scheme is cloaked in a climate change bill the claim being that nuclear power plants don't emit greenhouse gases and thus don't contribute to global warming. However, the overall "nuclear cycle" – which includes mining, milling, fuel enrichment and fabrication, and reprocessing has significant greenhouse gas emissions that do contribute to global warming.
Moreover, nuclear power is enormously dangerous. Accidents like the Chernobyl explosion of 1986 stand to kill and leave many people with cancer. Nuclear plants routinely emit life-threatening radioactivity. Safeguarding nuclear waste for millions of years is an insoluble problem.
Nevertheless, there have long been powerful forces in government and the nuclear industry promoting atomic energy.
Wall Street is uneasy rightfully regarding nuclear power as terribly risky. Six of the nation's largest investment banks including CitiGroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley last year told the U.S. Department of Energy that the risks "make lenders unwilling…to extend long-term credit."
Enter Senators Lieberman and Warner.
Safe energy advocates are outraged by their scheme. Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, says: "It's time to focus on real global warming solutions like solar, wind and energy efficiency, not to further fatten the moribund nuclear calf."
Oblivious on the subsidy angle, the SustainableBusiness.com crowd reports:
Climate change debate began yesterday in the U.S. Senate and in Bonn, Germany, where a new round of negotiations began among 162 nations seeking to create a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.
On Capitol Hill, Senators voted 74-14 to bring debate on the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill to the Senate floor. The bill calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by roughly 66% below current levels by 2050.
The bill is not likely to pass the Senate this year. Opponents say the bill would severely damage the U.S. economy, while proponents say it will create new markets and jobs and only slightly decrease the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Reuters reported that as many as 20 Senators are uncommitted on the bill.
President Bush criticized the bill before the Senate vote, saying it would cost the U.S. economy $6 trillion dollars. He vowed to veto it, should it pass through Congress in its current form.
In a statement that is laughable in context of U.S. war debt accrued under the current administration, Bush said, "I urge the Congress to be very careful about running up enormous costs for future generations of Americans."
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, responded to the president's statement.
"Just when we finally have a chance to get off of Big Oil and foreign oil, you can count on the Bush Administration to fight us every step of the way," Boxer said.
A climate change bill is not likely to pass until a new administration enters the White House.
So the honor of forging a sane energy plan in a world wrought by climate change will fall to the next administration, most likely. Here's a newsflash for them: uranium is not a renewable resource.
A lot of attention has been fixed on how carbon credit notions and cap-and-trades will work. But before this goliath moves forward, we need a better working definition of sustainable energy. And the American people deserve a clear picture of this subsidy issue.
In the growing chorus for "energy independence," we would be wise to remember the U.S. only has a fraction of the estimated 3 million tons of uranium on this planet.
Back to Grossman:
Among the subsidies nuclear power already gets is $20 billion approved by Congress and President Bush only last year. And there's a law Congress passed, called the Price-Anderson Act, that limits liability to $10 billion for a catastrophic accident although, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, this is a small fraction of what a nuclear plant disaster could cause in property damage, not to mention birth defects, cancers and deaths.
While you are brewing over all this inanity, surely you can find time to send a note of thanks to the steering committee members of the Nuke Texas campaign:
|The Honorable Clyde Alexander
Member, State Parks Advisory Committee
Wagner & Brown, Ltd.
CEO, DeTar Hospital
|Consumer Energy Alliance|
Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas
Victoria Economic Development Corporation
El Paso Electric, Co.
|The Honorable Glenn Hegar, Jr.
Texas State Senator
|Becky Armendariz Klein
President, RA Klein & Co.
|Sheldon Landsberger, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Nuclear and Radiation Engineering Program
The University of Texas at Austin
CEO, McCombs Enterprises
|The Honorable Geanie Morrison
Texas State Representative
|Lee Peddicord, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor of Nuclear Engineering
Texas A&M University
|Wilbur (Skip) Porter, Ph.D.
HoustonAdvanced Research Center
|John W. Poston, Sr., Ph.D.
Past-President, Health Physics Society
|The Honorable Donald Pozzi
Victoria County Judge
|The Honorable Bill Ratliff
Former Lt. Governor of Texas
Board Member, Public Service Board of El Paso
|Texas State Association of Electrical Workers (IBEW)|
|The Honorable Bruce Todd
Former Mayor of Austin
|The Honorable Jim Wyatt
African AmericanChamber of Commerce of Victoria
I know what you're thinking: "What is that video playing in the nether
regions of the Screens
page?" (Oh, you don't go there? That's cool. Whatever. I'm not deeply hurt.) Well,
this week it's a super-swell trailer from SA's Machina Cinema. Film's
and I just received word it'll be playing the San Antonio Film Festival
(former title: San Antonio Underground Film Festival) on June 22.
Congrats to producers Perla Rivera and Joe F. Gallegos and director
So, yeah, we're doing this nifty thing now. We'd love to spotlight the talent of some nifty film artists! Drop me a line if you're working on something you'd like to share.
With the rise of technological advances (sorry, Amazon Kindle we're just not into you), the old-fashioned book circles are something of a dying breed, right? Well … last week San Antonio had its first National Book Critics Circle — Good Reads event held at Gemini Ink. Participants included: Sandra Cisneros, Steven G. Kellman (Current contributing writer), Rod Davis, Norma Alarcon, and Gregg Barrios (another Current contributing writer). Each panelist spoke about their current favorite tomes (which included a few NBCC winners and NBCC Good Reads list selections) and also discussed their lives as figures in the literary world.
Alacron was the voice of reason for the independent bookstores and publishers. Founder of the now defunct Third Woman Press, Alarcon expressed her concern of the closing of independent bookstores — this was a reoccurring topic throughout the event. Cisneros, who Alarcon said she's been friends with for more than 20 years, eloquently spoke of her love of fine literature, comparing it to gourmet food: Once she ditched the drive-thru and picked up some filet mignon she never went back. In other words, once she read a work of fine literature she abandoned Chick Lit (not Chicano/a Literature, folks) and has since devoted herself to books that "nourish" her. She read a passage from Brother I'm Dying and noted "it was such food … such nourishment" for her to read.
Kellman, a professor of comparative literature at UTSA, used his academic expertise to educate the crowd about the trends in American culture made evident by looking at the best-seller lists. He cited that more and more readers are turning to non-literary titles these days; although we've become inundated with new works people still flock to the romance novels and scandalous tell-alls. He also mentioned a recent Publisher's Weekly article about how in 2007 more than 400,000 new books (new and revised editions) were put out by both traditional and on-demand titles.
As for book selections, Davis devoted a few of his picks to New Orleans-set novels, even his guilty pleasure read The Tin Roof Blowdown: A Dave Robicheaux Novel (Dave Robicheaux Mysteries). While Barrios, who acted as moderator of the event, opted for two vastly different selections that dealt with nostalgia.
The event brought out a hefty crowd to the small quarters of Gemini Ink: The group was comprised of a nice mix of young and old avid readers, all enthusiastic about the panel discussion, and willing to spend some extra time afterward to talk to the panelists. Barrios hopes that more Book Critics Circle events will follow in the months ahead. We second that notion.
Rod Davis's picks:
Steven Kellman's picks:
Norma Alarcon's picks:
Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance