I know I've been critical of Artpace in the past, but I want to spread the word about their upcoming deadline for their Texas Artist in Residence slots for 2011.
If you only have even a TEENSY bit of motivation or desire to have a residency, APPLY. As noted in my Artifacts column this week, past Texas Artpace residents include Chuck Ramirez, Anne Wallace, Jesse Amado, Cruz Ortiz, and Franco Mondini-Ruiz.
It's a really great residency which will afford you opprtunities to try entirely new things; witness the crazy, boundary-pushing scale of Richie Budd's outrageous Absorbing Liminal Homeostasis last fall.
Put yourself out there. Take advantage of the opportunities.
Woody Allen once said "90% of life is just showing up."
The other 10% water, I think.
At any rate, here's some info below, go to their website for more.
Texas Open Call Applications Due
Calling all Texas artists! Visit artpace to submit your Open Call application for the 2011 International Artist-in-Residence program. Every year Texas artists are invited to submit material to be considered for a place on the shortlist that will be reviewed by Artpace's guest curators. The year's three curators will examine the selected artists' materials and may also conduct studio visits. Each curator then identifies an innovative Texas artist to become an International Artist-in-Residence.
Tonight (Friday, August 28), we're hitting Rock Bottom to check out instrumental rockers Yes, Inferno, who, despite their names are not in fact a band that reinterprets Yes covers into disco jams. But we'll try not to hold that against them. Doors open at 9 p.m. and this show is free for everybody. Locals Bisön (read their L&L review here), Sight for Sore Eyes, and Extent (both of which need to get a Myspace page, or an easier to find one, pronto) are also on the bill. This is Extent's big debut, BTW, so don't be a dick, unless you write music reviews, in which case that's your first and only duty. See you there. Burn, baby, burn.
Paola Turbay - The Cleaner
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
Colombian actress Paola Turbay’s first role in an American television show did not end the way she would have liked. As the character Isabel Vega in the short-lived CBS series Cane, which starred Jimmy Smits as the head of a Latino family in the rum business, the show was one of the many that was cancelled after the Writer’s Guild Strike of 2007.
The rough start, however, didn’t discourage Turbay from continuing to build on her acting career. Since the strike, which ended in February 2008, Turbay has landed roles on a number of TV shows including Californiacation, The Closer, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
On Sept. 1, she will make her debut on the A&E drama The Cleaner with Benjamin Bratt. In the episode titled Standing Eight, Turbay plays Angie Carmichael, the wife of a drug-using boxer who is also an addict herself.
What kind of research did you have to do for this role? Did you have any conversations with real drug addicts?
Well, I majored in psychology before studying acting. When I did my internship in college, I worked with some addicts. I also know people that are addicts. And then, of course, I had my drinks (laughs). I know exactly how it feels and what it looks like after I have two glasses of wine. I was very conscious of my muscles and how they would relax. I think I tried to make the performance very organic. Of course, you have to observe and watch people. I brought it all together and I think it’s really good. I’m extremely proud of myself.
How did you get from psychology to acting?
Well, when I was young I would always perform. I would sing and dance and do anything related to the arts. I really wanted to move to New York because I wanted to be on Broadway. I was supposed to move there with an aunt of mine, but she was transferred to Puerto Rico. My father was very protective and he would have never let me go to New York on my own. So, I stayed in Colombia. I started studying psychology, which I always liked. I would still take acting classes. Then, I started working in television when I was in my second year [of college]. Even though I knew I wasn’t going to be a psychologist, I just finished because I really liked it and wanted to get my degree.
So, besides your role in The Cleaner, has your degree in psychology actually helped you in your acting career?
I always felt I had the ability to analyze people. I am very perceptive. I could always connect easily with people. I think when you go to college and study for a certain amount of years your skills get refined. As an actress, it’s very helpful because I’ve been exposed to a lot of cases and I know how the psychological structure works. I have a degree that helped me analyze different kinds of personalities and disorders.
Since your character is the wife of a boxer who is a drug addict, do you have any thoughts - as someone who knows a lot about psychology - on the professional athletes who get caught taking banned substances?
When you think about somebody that is involved in sports or exercises a certain amount of hours during the day, you don’t expect them to have addiction problems or be involved with drugs and alcohol. I mean, you get a high with exercise alone. Some of these athletes have a psychological condition. Usually when you’re an addict you suffer from some kind of depression. You have to be able to separate these two aspects of your life. I think people should be able to understand that. I think sometimes people judge to harshly. I think everybody has their ups and downs and their problems and everybody has a certain way of solving them. Some people, unfortunately, think that [drugs] are the only way they can sooth their pain.
Do you want to continue doing television? If so, what is it you want to find in this industry?
I’ve done television for a long time, here and in Colombia. Every actor wants to do features. Thank God we can cross over and do features and TV at the same time. I would always want to audition for both. Cane brought me to television here in the U.S. and that’s why I stayed on television.
I think Cane was a show that had a good chance of surviving if it wasn’t for the writer’s strike. Was the cancellation of that show heartbreaking especially since there rarely are shows that center around Latinos like that one did?
It was very heartbreaking. We felt for the first time that there was a show where Latinos were put in a place where they were important and powerful and well-educated – exactly where Latinos are today. A few years ago Latinos were just immigrants. Now, they are second and third generations that have power and influence. That was what we were doing on Cane. We were so proud of it. Unfortunately, the writer’s strike killed us like it did to all the shows that season. We had a good audience. It was a show that was growing and was very well-respected. It was like a Latino Godfather. Where it was going was so incredible. It was very sad to see it just vanish.
Sure, maybe Fitzgerald's masterpiece dissects our tendency to confuse wealth hording for personal growth and our constant obsession with a golden-hued past that probably never really existed, but can you stick your dick in it and have your significant other complete a maze around it? Not without a pen-knife and some serious drinking you can't, and that's a dangerous combination when old Uncle Wiggly's involved.
You might argue that anyone who'd consider completing a connect-the-dots picture of an elephant with your junk standing in for the trunk as acceptable foreplay (I'm assuming this is what you're using this for, right? I think that's the least horrifying possibility.) lacks the cognitive capacity to participate in truly consensual sex, but don't bug me with your logic while I'm making the snake dance.
I'd love to review this book, but my requests around the office for someone to, um, play stand in while I read it have been met with blank stares and sexual harrassment lawsuits. The easiest, least likely to get me arrested solution I can come up with would be for me to fill in the gap and have my wife write the review, but I'm afraid her scathing, bitter, and probably very hurtful critique would have little to do with the book.
Buy it for $11 at Amazon, where it's apparently commonly purchased with Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People
Need proof? Here's the new video for the J Dilla-produced "House of Flying Daggers" off Only Built for Cuban Linx II, due out (for real this time?) on September 9. There's nothing much unexpected here (hell, GZA's verse is just rewarmed from his "Clan in da Front" from 36 Chambers), but for a track from the sequel to an album that dropped in 1995, this sounds pretty damn crisp. The Five Deadly Venoms themed animated video (how did they not think of this before) is also pretty awesome, especially if you haven't matured in the 15 years since the Wu debuted. Fortunately I have not. Be advised the lyrics are not edited and neither is the bad ass cartoon kung-fu violence, which includes but is not limited to: a guy getting punched so hard his spine flies out his back, a human head getting vertically bisected, and a homeless dude biting into a cat. Four Wu birds out of five.
I'd still argue though, that it's a less messed-up animated music video than the Heath Ledger-directed video of Modest Mouse's "King Rat," but you guys decide.
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
Whatever you’ve heard about the remake of Wes Craven’s 1972 thriller The Last House on the Left, which hit theaters in March, actress Sara Paxton, 21, says not to underestimate just how controversial the new film is when compared to the original.
“I know a lot of people would say the new version is not as controversial, but I would have to highly disagree,” Paxton, who is of Mexican descent from her mother’s side, told me during a phone interview. “I snuck into a couple of theaters and sat in the back so I could see peoples’ reactions. People were shouting at the screen. Some were crying and freaking out. When my friends went to see it, some of them couldn’t look at me in the eyes for days.”
In the remake, Paxton plays Mari Collingwood, a young girl who is brutally raped and left for dead by a group of cold-blooded assailants. Unlike in the original, Mari survives the assault and is able to find her way back home where he parents have unknowingly allowed her attackers to stay the night after their car breaks down in front of their house.
The Last House on the Left was released on DVD and Blu-Ray Aug. 18.
We’re always seeing remakes come out of Hollywood, so what makes The Last House on the Left stand out from the rest?
There’s definitely a lot of remakes but I was really proud of Last House on the Left because I thought the whole crew involved really wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just another remake and that we respected the original and didn’t try to copy it word for word. We wanted to do something unique with the same story. I really think we did that.
What would you say to people who think that the reason we are seeing so many remakes is because Hollywood is running out of ideas?
It’s funny because I’m one of those people. When I see something that’s a remake I get all pissed off especially if it’s one of my favorite movies. But I think we tried so hard to keep other people in mind while we were filming this movie. We really wanted to make them happy.
So, 50 years from now, when someone remakes The Last House on the Left again, you’re going to be pretty angry?
(Laughs) I can’t be because then that would be hypocritical. Now that you say that, I totally understand how the original actors would feel. But Wes Craven was remaking his own movie and we all wanted to make it really good. If it was a crappy movie, I think that would be a bigger disrespect.
A lot of your scenes in this film are very graphic and might be difficult for some people to watch. Were you able to leave everything on the set or did you bring some of those feelings home with you every day?
When we were filming these emotional and physically-challenging scenes in the woods it helped that the actors had bonded so strongly. Everyone was so caring. Since I was working with friends it was very easy to leave it on the set.
I read the rape scene is actually an entire minute longer and that the MPAA was pushing for the director to cut back.
It was this huge battle from the beginning because our director Dennis Iliadis wanted all those scenes to be five minutes longer. Our editor would received the dailies and he was like, “I’m offended. I’m shocked. I have a 15-year-old daughter. I refuse to edit this material.”
What was producer Wes Craven like to work with on this project, since he is basically remaking his own movie?
He was more like the Wizard of Oz – the man behind the curtains. He was really involved in everything, but he was manning the controls backing in the states since we filmed the movie in Africa. His son, Jonathan Craven, was an executive producer on the movie and he was amazing to work with. I was a great set to be on. They really cared about us, especially me because I was the youngest out of the group.
By Bryan Rindfuss
Here’s a shocker: 28 films were made last week in San Antonio. Who knew we had so much local talent? For three years, SA has been participating in the world’s largest timed film competition, the 48-hour Film Project. Last Friday, teams of varying size drew from a hat to determine the genre of their films and were given specific elements to incorporate — in this year’s case, cookies, a character named Fred or Frida Flash, a walking encyclopedia, and the line, “I’ll go back and check,” were all musts.
Last night, all 28 teams showed their masterpieces on two screens at the Alamo Drafthouse. Although it was a little daunting to have to choose between groups A and B, I’m glad I picked B. The first four films I saw didn’t make the 48-hour deadline and won’t be considered for the judging, but were still eligible for audience votes. Having materials returned unopened due to tardiness is something I’m familiar with, so these guys should be thrilled that their work was even shown. Of the four slow-pokes, the drama Revelation was my favorite— pure SA, complete with two women bickering about the side effects of putting too much salt on tortilla chips. “Some people can afford to retain more water than others,” was a gem of dialogue.
Having drawn “horror” from the hat, team Animate or Die created Attack of the Vampire Ninja Bats, a charming low-tech short that could easily pass for something on Adult Swim.
Monkeybot Films did an amazing job of expanding on their required elements — special agent Frida Flash, walking encyclopedia, saves the day by mowing down hijackers at a church bake sale. I wasn’t aware that “film de femme” is a genre, but Bake Sale is my new favorite in that category.
And with a high-camp telenovela flavor, Ambrize Antonio’s Finding Home made me laugh, possibly inappropriately.
But if I had to bet which film will go on to compete with winners from 79 other participating cities, it has to be Happytown Productions mockumentary A Crumby Day. Imagine a world in which cookies have been criminalized, forcing addicts to buy baggies of them in dark corners from sketchy-looking characters (nice use of the Current’s neighborhood, by the way). The newscasts and updates about the cookie ban are so ridiculous and well done that I almost started believing them, and the dazed and drooling cookie addict muttering the words to ”C is for Cookie” stole the entire evening.
Kudos everyone. I’m looking forward to Saturday’s best-of screening and award ceremony at Urban-15 Studio ($5, 6:30pm, 2500 S. Presa, (210) 736-1500).
By Enrique Lopetegui
(Note: this post is partially based on a response I wrote to a high school friend who queried about writing for us. I hope he does.)
“I’ve got this idea I wanna write about for the Current.”
Because, truly, the Current is always looking for great freelance writers. Writers who know the city, its eateries and nightspots and peccadilloes and politicians and art venues and bands and history and culture. We’re always looking for leads and suggestions, too (write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have news tips!). There are only eight of us here, see, and while we’re not looking to hire any full-time writing staff at present*, we’re always looking for backup and fresh voices.
Wanna review art, music, restaurants, or bars? Want to contribute a cover feature on some local celebrity, or obtain a semi-regular column?
Here’s how to go about it.
1. We'd definitely wanna see a writing sample. Most writing, whether it’s bar reviews or celebrity interviews or political opinion essays, hinge absolutely on voice. The Current can forgive obscenity, absurdity, controversy, and heresy—hell, we enjoy it— but we need VOICE.
By this I mean the contrary to (most) daily-paper writing, which for obvious and justifiable reasons, is meant to be as bland, easy, and as digestible as possible. But we at the Current want to read stuff that sounds like somebody specific. Voice is the quality that differentiates David Sedaris from Mark Twain from Joan Didion; you can tell who the hell it is within a few sentences. Voice separates okay writing from memorable writing. "A Modest Proposal" could’ve been a schlocky, puerile, gross piece of blogger ranting… except that the dry, deeply absurd voice of Jonathan Swift, with its nifty rhythm and simmering, humane anger, makes it one of the most brilliant satirical essays ever.
2. And we'll want an actual pitch: i.e., a proposal letter/e-mail with the very specific idea you have in mind, an idea of word count, and, optimally, a contextualizing of your piece with things we've already published, and where you think yours fits in; i.e., a demonstrated knowledge of the kind of writing the Current publishes, the sections of the book, titles of the columns, etc. Specifics, specifics, specifics whenever and wherever possible. Also, if you have a clip list of published writing, that would be awesome, but not 100% necessary. Just don't make us figure out where your writing fits, we've got our own writing to do.
See, there's Greg Harman, hard at work on the QueQue.
3. Ideally, you'd write a sample piece on spec, too. This would give us an idea of the idea, and an example of your writing skills. What does “on spec” mean? It means “on speculation”, i.e., for free, with zero guarantee that we’d publish it. Neither would we steal the damn thing, we promise. I can hear y'all out there, groaning.
Dude, I know.
Establishing yourself as a freelancer is not easy.
You can find more tips and advice here, here, and here, in fact.
Sorry to sound all formal, but...
4. See, the issue with approaching me (or anyone who works here) in conversation or on Facebook (or whatever) about writing for us: You thereby create more work for already- overworked and criminally-underpaid peeps. Saying “I wanna write something about goats” or “How’sabout something about bagpipe players?” tends to stall out on our end, solely because we don’t have time to come up with actual, farm-out-able stories around these nebulous (and ridiculous, example-for-the-sake-of-this-blog-post) ideas.
We may think, with genuine enthusiasm, “Damn, I'd bet a story about goats would be kick-ASS” ... and then we get back to work. We’re under constant deadline, and if we have to think up ways to sell our editor on your idea, there's got a to be an actual PITCH there, rather than saying "a person who seems quite bright has this sort of, um, goat notion? But I've never read her writing..."
Does that make sense?
5. And it helps to know what we publish, what we cover and how and by whom, and what we HAVE covered, rather than, say, “shouldn't the Current cover Liberty Bar's move?” Because, as was planned way ahead of time, we DID do a feature on the Liberty Bar's move ... the feature came out the day before somebody wrote me asking about writing about it.
So, some tips, to sum up:
1. We'd want a pitch (find info on writing pitches here— it's about national magazines, but still applies), with a writing sample (preferably published, a clip list would be awesome, links to work online equally awesome). There is no way we'd commit to running something without ever having read your writing. While being previously-published helps, there’s a chance that even a brand-spankin’ new writer could join our pages. Seriously.
2. We'll next most likely want a spec piece, with a cover letter demonstrating knowledge of the Current and where you think the piece fits in. Once we use you once, then in order to use you regularly, you need to establish that you're good with deadlines and turn in clean copy (meaning minimal misspellings, grammatical errors, or factual mistakes); again, don’t make extra work for us.
So, wanna send a writing sample/clip list and write a spec piece, with the understanding that we may very well NOT pick it up, and that we pay VERY LITTLE?
Let me know.
I really hope you do. I would like to read it.
You can reach me at email@example.com.
In all seriousness,
*There have been a couple recent changes in this staff-of-8-writers, which I’d like to hep y’all to. We’ve bid a sad and fond adios to our own Gilbert Garcia, an award-winning political and music writer from Edinburg, Texas who even went to Harvard and shit, and who wrote for the Current for six years. Gilbert has decamped for the better-paying pastures of some local daily. Other sources maintain he’s now taking ice core samples in Antarctica. Bundle up, Gilbert!
Also, Mark Jones, our longtime “On the Street” blogger, feature and review writer, calendar editor since this Spring, and originator/writer of our popular “Travels with Frenchie” food series, has left us to become a Physician’s Assistant. Apparently that takes a hell of a lot of schooling. We think he’ll be an excellent PA, and we hope he continues freelancing for us, as he promised.
We’ll miss Gilbert and Mark an awful lot, y'all. We'll always be proud to call them our friends and colleagues.
However, we’ve gained, in the political/music arena, the phenomenally talented Enrique Lopetegui, past contributor to the LA Times and music editor of the late Rumbo, and whose first offerings as a Current full-timer you can read in this week’s issue. He started off by freelancing for us a while back, and impressed us with his intelligence and humor, his knowledge of music and politics, and general awesomeness. He hails from Uruguay, but his firstborn kid (with his wife artist/Say Sí staffer Guillermina Zabala, originally from Argentina, if I'm not mistaken) who's due this Fall, will be a native San Antonian!
We’re also ecstatic about the addition of San Anto's own Bryan Rindfuss, who Jones thinks so much of, he even trained Bryan to replace him. This review Bryan wrote of the Mine Shaft Saloon is hilarious, economical, and chock-full of that elusive quality, voice. That voice recently began animating the calendar and other bar reviews. He’s also a brilliant photographer, having made the image for our Pride Issue in June, below.
And this album-cover worthy uh, cover featuring the Cartographers:
Welcome, Enrique and Bryan.
And potentially-welcome, everybody.
Don't hate the people in the above photo. On Friday, August 14, you too will have the chance to pretend it's anywhere near time to get in the Christmas spirit while you're waiting in line at the Amtrak station on a South Texas August afternoon.
That's right: Disney's Christmas Carol train is coming to town. The press release quoted below should let you in on everything you need to know, save one crucial detail: The forecasted high for Friday is 101. As an added bonus, all those who show up bundled in authentic Dickensian period winter clothing will die a quick and horrible death. Tiny Tim can kiss my hot swampy ass.
Train Tour rolls into San Antonio August 14th, offering visitors an exclusive sneak peek from the movie as well as a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of the movie—with artifacts and character designs housed in real train cars. The fun family event is totally free. City representatives, local media and other San Antonio VIPs will welcome the train to town and kick off the tour’s San Antonio stop.
Sponsored by Hewlett Packard and AmTrak, the Train Tour will travel more than 16,000 miles and pass through 36 states. Amidst a winter wonderland of snow with holiday décor and Christmas carolers, visitors will also see footage from “Disney’s A Christmas Carol”. Visitors can also check out the cutting-edge technology behind the film, as well as artifacts from the Charles Dickens Museum and interactive games. Radio Disney will invite kids to enter for a chance to become a Movie Surfer representing their hometown. Each Hometown Movie Surfer will get a chance to appear on Disney Channel by filming their very own Movie Surfer’s segment! The whole experience is free.
I'm going to go ahead and guess none of the people responsible for "Swing Shift" has actually had this claim evaluated by the folks at Guinness (the records keepers or the brewery), but this three-part film is pretty short at about 18 minutes give or take. And the description doesn't say anything about it, but I'm gonna go ahead and say this is in tribute to the late, great John Hughes. While I'm just decreeing shit, I'm also going to declare that Planes, Trains, & Automobiles was his best film and Vacation was his best screenplay. No arguing.
Here are the other two parts of this epic trilogy, which stars basically every stand up comic in town. First commentor to name them all wins his or her pick of any of the random CDs people send me in the mail. Here's a headstart: Cleto Show's Tommy Muñoz plays the guy who rubs his nuts on the sandwich and (spoiler alert) Bobby Smith plays the dude who eats it. Oh, the '80s — you were basically just a decade-long nutsweat sandwich.
We're a few weeks late with this one, but here's Blowing Trees video for their song "Goblins." I have to say, fellas, you passed up a pretty obvious opportunity for one bitchin' video. No goblins to be seen. They do have a pretty sweet motion-trail thing going on, and everything's all shiny and pretty like a Collective Soul video or something, definitely worth checking out, though I must emphasize once again the disturbing lack of goblins here. To compensate here's a clip from Ernest Scared Stupid. Not Boogerlips! Ewwwwwwwww.
By Thomas Jenkins
San Antonio Current theater critic
A freak of nature--now known in these parts as 'rain'--prevented an opening weekend review of the San Pedro Playhouse's THE TROJAN WOMEN, but I did manage to catch last evening's final performance. I'm still not sold on the San Pedro Springs as an inviting locale for outdoor theater--it's an awkward, sprawling space with, essentially, a huge chasm in the middle--but in its current desiccated state, it actually functions as an apt mise-en-scene for the razed and blighted city of Troy and the sorrows of its captive women. As for direction, Gypsy Pantoja's vision couldn't be more straightforward: simple ancient props, simple ancient costumes, and unpretentious acting. The biggest interpretative problem with the play, of course, is tone: Aristotle (famously) lambasts plays that have no real beginning, middle, and end -- but, of course, that was Euripides' point: that war itself has no beginning, middle, or end, and that the plight of Trojan women will be replaced, ineluctably, by the plight of Athenian women; and German women; and Vietnamese women; and Iranian women.
The evening falters badly on its (uncredited) choice of translation, which may well have been Gilbert Murray's archaizing version, full of "thees" and "thous" and "thines" and tortured syntax. To the extent that Trojan Women de-mythologizes Troy into the realm of the natural and colloquial, this translation couldn't have been less appropriate, creating an artificial barrier between the lived experience of Trojans and San Antonians. (With so many good, modern, and clear translations of Euripides published in the last 20 years, why go with something so obfuscating? A modern audience, after all, needs all the help it can get.) The acting is all over the place, but special kudos to Joan Fox as Hecuba, as formidable--and, in the end, as tragic--as Troy itself.
It's refreshing to see the Playhouse branch out from Shakespeare into different authors and styles, though certainly one change is in order: why have outdoor theater in Texas in the summer? Is there some sort of animus against October? Pushing things back two months might necessitate the construction of a lighting plot, but at least we'd be avoiding triple-digit weather. For the love of god, at least allow the Trojan women an occasional cool breeze -- it's the least we could do.
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
In its fourth season on A&E, Flip This House features a diverse cast of characters on renovation teams from New Haven, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Antonio. Leading the San Antonio team is Armando Montelongo , who works alongside his wife Veronica, general contractor Randy, and project manager Brent.
It’s a rags-to-riches story that has led Montelongo, who joined the real-estate market in 2001, to major success with his family-owned business, Montelongo Home Buyers. With his company, Montelongo has made millions of dollars and renovate hundreds of houses. He’s also helped others find their own niche in the real-estate market so they never have to stress about finances again.
During an interview with me, Montelongo talked about the moment he knew he had change his life and do something to support his family and why his Flip This House portions of the show are the most interesting of the four.
Flip This House airs on A&E Saturday nights at 10 p.m. CT.
How did you try to make money before getting into the real estate game?
I’m one of those guys who tried everything. I tried selling cars. I sucked at it. I was too honest. I remember a guy came up to me and asked, “Armando, can I get this car cheaper somewhere else?” And I said, “Probably.” My sales manager saw me and fired me. I kept trying other things, but at the time I couldn’t even get hired by a pizza delivery service.
When did you realize you had to change your life?
Well, we were foreclosed on. We had to move into my in-laws’ garage in California. We were living on food stamps. I remember looking at my son, who was only two and a half at the time, and thinking, “One day, this kid is going to know whether daddy is a winner or a loser. I have to do something.” So, I moved my family back to San Antonio in August 2001. We literally rolled into town on our last tank of gas. My wife sold her furniture for food.
Is that when you decided to get into the real estate game?
Well, in 2001 there was this mold scare in San Antonio and real estate depreciated by 40 percent over night. I went in and bought some of the mold properties for pennies on the dollar, fixed them up, remediated them, and sold them under market value and started making millions of dollars doing it. From there I was hooked on real estate. Some people say, “I don’t know if I want to be hooked on real estate.” I tell them, “After you get that first check you will definitely be very hooked.”
How did you buy your first property if you were struggling financially?
The No. 1 thing about real estate is that you have to have a mentor – someone to teach you how to do it. So, I went out there and got a really good deal on a mold property for $36,000, which was worth $125,000 in good condition. I needed about $25,000 to fix it up and I didn’t have any money to do it. So, I went out there and convinced an attorney in town that I didn’t know that this was a good deal. So, this attorney lent me the money. I split the profits with him and I was up and running. I found what we call a private money investor. Some people call it OPM – Other People’s Money. From there, I started building an empire with him.
You talk about “good debit” and “bad debt.” Do you think San Antonians understand the difference between the two?
I love San Antonio, but San Antonio seems to be very uneducated as far as the difference between good debt and bad debt over spending. The nice thing is San Antonians don’t overspend as much as people in other parts of the country. They actually keep their lifestyles relatively modest compared to other people.
Can you teach anyone about how to make money in real estate or is there a secret genetic makeup one needs to be successful?
(Laughs) That’s the question everybody asks. Do I have the magic inside me to do it? The answer is yes. I can teach anybody how to do this if they know basic sixth grade math. If you don’t know basic sixth grade math, then I can’t help you. I have a woman by the name of Abigail I’ve been working with. She has eight kids. She is 32 year old. She is a full-time nurse. She is a busy person. I went out and showed her how to do some real estate deals. She went out and made $110,000 in eight months and then $140,000 in the next eight months. She made a quarter of a million dollars in 16 months.
Do you ever think the entertainment side of real estate is getting a little diluted because of all the shows that revolve around things like home repair and flipping houses?
I don’t know about the rest of Flip this House, but I know that my show definitely has its place. I think the other characters are relatively uninteresting on Flip this House. I think they are really nice people, but for entertainment value Flip this House in San Antonio, bar none, cannot be competed with. When it comes to things like HGTV, you have a lot of people on there trying to make putting wallpaper up interesting. Putting wallpaper up and watching paint dry is not interesting. Putting another nail in the wall is uninteresting. What’s interesting is if you’re going to make money on a deal or not. If I lay it all on the line, what’s going to happen? There will be many who try to copy it, but I don’t think anyone can duplicate it.
Are you comfortable with the term “reality show” to describe Flip This House or would you rather be referred to as more of a real-estate-type show?
Honestly, I don’t really care. A&E calls it a docudrama. I really don’t know what that means either. Look, were not in Jacuzzis trying to get 15 girls to make out with us. We’re there to show our business. If they call that reality, that’s great. If they want to call it wealth making, that’s great. I originally did this show so I could show my grandkids one day and say, “Hey, look, you’re crazy-ass grandfather was on television at one time.” Now I do it because it’s a lot of fun. I don’t think putting a label on it affects my own day-to-day reality whatsoever.
We're probably gonna be talking with a British accent and holding in fish-taco farts at the Cove all day Saturday in an attempt to look classy enough for the 6th Annual Art & Music Festival. A metric butt-ton of local bands will be playing, including Blue Means Go, Heather Go Psycho, and our current victims, the Off Beats, while local artists hawk their paintings or macaroni necklaces or whatever.
It's been a while since we caught up with post-punk garage rockers the Off Beats, so we honestly have no idea what to expect, especially since this will be an acoustic show. They might've shaved their heads and become a Hare Krishna praise band for all we know, but the Cove promises beer, wine, and a children's play area (aka a free babysitter). The Off Beats are scheduled to take the stage around 6:45 p.m., and the cover is $5, in case you can't read the giant text at the top of the page. You people sometimes. Geez. Now leave Daddy alone and go play on the slide.
Poke-A-Dot by The Offbeats
First, a moment of silence for Mr. John Hughes. RIP sir.
What a summer.
Still reeling from, among other things, Contemporary Motherfucking Art Month. You know, I sort of half-expected it to be pretty lame, seeing as how it's gonna happen again in March. Figured the artists and curators would be girding their loins for the big show 6 months from now, and that the July shows would seem maybe sparse, or half-assed.
WRONG AGAIN, FISCH.
I saw a tremendous amount of challenging, fun, and fulfilling work. I didn't see everything. I didn't see near as much as this man. And not everything I saw was great. But a lot was.
In particular, Hills Snyder-curated Lonely Are the Brave knocked my chanclas off (you can read Elaine's preview-review of it here ). Back when I wrote about LACMA's traveling Phantom Sightings show at the Alameda, I bitched and moaned a bit about San Anto's inferiority complex, particularly as it relates to a seeming reluctance to experiment with scale (though, to be sure, the scale issue has a lot to do with our economic factors, too...scale is usually expensive, and it's all a bruja's brew we got goin' on down here: our poverty interacting in weird and unpredictable ways with our confidence or lack thereof — on the one hand, we're brilliant masters of rasquache, on the other hand, we, uh, have trouble affording anything non-rascuache, and this makes us, sometimes, sad).
Lonely Are the Brave totally took on scale, with grand (and in the case of Justin Boyd's audio-performance, grand-mal) gestures. Each artist worked BIG--big scale, big ideas, big impact. Yet Lonely Are the Brave emerged, near-miraculously, as more than the sum of its parts, pushed by Snyder's curation and framing, which seemed at once powerful, passionate, erudite, and playful as all hell. Snyder's a hometown Absurdist, a down-home Surrealist, though for as cerebral as the man can be, this show struck me as winningly open-hearted, vulnerable, and emotionally risky, un-armored in jargon, un-distanced, meant to be leapt into and then meditated on. His contribution to the show as an artist helped to frame the other artists, too, thematically: The little nook of a constructed living room he built, wherein you could sit in a comfy armchair and watch the film Lonely Are the Brave on a TV surrounded by some funny-peculiar objects mesmerized me for about ten solid minutes; homey, perplexing, and constantly-changing. A familiar terrain rendered anew, like the whole damn show.
Justin Boyd's Sisyphean video loop of a cowboy on horseback perpetually not-quite-making it up a ridge out of a creekbed had me reflecting on Manifest Destiny and the perils of masculinity, about our post-lapsarian and uncertain time, our nation's massive debts and regrets, political and financial and historical. And while I'm not sure I fully understand the implications of his sound performance... the playing the fence wires, the frequencies and what have you, there's a poetic meaning there that I appreciate. Truly. I felt the same way about Physics, as a college student. Like: "If I knew enough math, I bet this shit would be REALLY beautiful." I like the risks Boyd takes with ideas, the rigor with which he tests himself and his audience. He makes me wanna know more, and that's a profound effect to have.
If Boyd's work made me reflect on the meta-Culture and the Nation and Physics, Kelly O'Connor and Chris Sauter's installations coaxed my gaze back at personal culture, the mythic realm of childhood. Man. Now that some of the signal figures of my generation's childhood have up and died all of a sudden, I find myself wanting to go back into Chris Sauter's stunning life size re-creation of his boyhood bedroom, a world at once enclosed and universal, and not come back out.
When I walked in there, that "Under the Milky Way Tonight" song was playing, mysterious and dreamy and full of longing. I'd forgotten about that song! And so much of this installation had to do with instant, visceral recall of so many relatable details long forgotten, adolescent songs and objects and feelings and hopes and fears...the Time/Life Mysteries of the Unexplained book series, the signs and map and the well-worn comforts of a lonely twin bed, obsessively-collected and enshrined trophies we hope will gird our baby loins for what might be (MUST be) a bigger world, a bigger life outside. And the gloss of astronomy is beautiful, the cut circles of drywall creating holes which allow in lyrical, cosmologically-suggestive circular beams of light into the space, then those circles of drywall (I think I've got this right) painstakingly assembled into a telescope, emblem of outward-curiosity, yearning. "Life-size", indeed. Look Homeward, Angel, and see what you've lost.
I had a similar emotional reaction to watching John Hughes movie clips (see first sentence of this post for links) online today, the day of his death...all those tiny details that were both seminal, and discarded. John Hughes movies form a kind of shorthand in my brain; watching the montages brings back memories of my own tortured teenagerhood. Hughes made mainstream entertainment, and a lot of missteps (long Duck Dong, anyone?) but watching the bits again after a long while reminded me of these archetypes that were built by him into my cranium at a young age. I was younger than the characters in 16 Candles or The Breakfast Club, I was at that voracious, pained 'tween age wherein the oncoming freight train of adolescence was already whistling ominously, and watching those movies, I felt then and still do now, armed me for the onslaught in crucial ways; the flouting of convention and authority by The Breakfast Club detainees likely helped fuel my own (continual, often ridiculous, but cumulatively worthwhile) questioning of rigid social structure and desire to subvert anyone in power, and maybe yours too, no? The frustration with the flawed family unit and the deep desire for love (and yes, sex! and respect, too!) evinced in Pretty in Pink and 16 Candles helped me navigate my forays into the tricky world of teen love and lust. The insistence on authentic selfhood in opposition to perpetual tasks of parent- and teacher-pleasing in Ferris Bueller...eh, you get the idea. The narrative landscape of American kidhood.
It's said that "the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton." They didn't have movies back then, they had Horace and Milton and shit like that...but maybe our li'l personal, generational wars will have been won in the Santikos Northwest 10 cineplex in 1986 by onscreen- Molly Ringwald.
Which brings me to Kelly O'Connor's LAtB installation. That thing is luminous, seductive and complex. It demonstrates in a graphic way how the icons and imagery of entertainment, beamed into our brains as American kids, go on to form a messy, troubling, loaded landscape that we never, ever stop traversing. We all have Disney characters in our heads, like it or not. O'Connor seems to like it, without ever forgetting the ramifications (Uncle Remus from Song of the South makes a disquieting appearance), and her selective use of color -- threads emanating from the black-on-white painted wall mural to the floor in circular, cinema-evoking rays -- represent, to me, the magic and the insidious, unescapable, narcotic pull of the Disney landscape. We fight off the Uncle Tom-ishness of Uncle Remus, the cartoon gender norms of the princesses and heroes, but we can never escape them, quite. We can fuck with them, though, and that's good, if not exactly a relief. Her work is a potent reflection on all received mythology, and how hard it is to dislodge. Somebody anonymous-commented on this site a while back that O'Connor makes "facile chick art," something like that. That person is a dipshit.
Jesse Amado's wall installation, likewise a landscape, employs gold paint and massive vistas of fringe and had me thinking about the sexual aspect of Westward expansion and colonialism, the fancy dresses of bordello ladies, the dressing up of what is cruel. It also served a neat purpose of swaying your eyes laterally back and forth, back and forth in sweeping gazes, like a tennis match, so that when you walk into the show, it beckons your eyes towards itself, and towards everything else. Very cool.
Well, I'm tuckered out. Yet, miles to go before I sleep.
Apple.com has posted an exclusive trailer for director Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's bestselling novel. Judging by these few clips, the plot seems to have been tightened up to put more emphasis on bringing the killer to justice than on the family coping with loss, but maybe that's just trailer trickery designed to sell the film as a thriller. Anyway, it's pretty freaking amazing looking, at least visually. Read the book first though, or your eighth grade English teacher will be extremeley disappointed.
The 5th Annual CineMujer International Film Festival (that banner up there is from last year), hosted by the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, is seeking your submissions until August 7. Read the press release below for requirements. No dudes allowed:
From Friday, September 4, 2009 to Sunday, September 6, 2009 the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center will present the 5th annual installment of the CineMujer International Film Festival. Last year’s festival featured over 20 films from such diverse countries as Australia, Iraq, Mexico, China, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Palestine, Israel, Argentina, Spain, Denmark, Afghanistan, Algeria, France, and the United States. For this year’s festival, the Esperanza Center has extended the date to receive film submissions to August 7, 2009. Films received after this date will be considered for the Esperanza’s ongoing Out, Other, & Beyond Film Series.
CALL FOR ENTRIES
CineMujer offers opportunities for unheard women’s voices to break the silence using films and videos – providing a platform for alternate perspectives with those films that depict issues of social, economic, and environmental justice.
CineMujer exists to promote critical thinking and questioning of our society in terms of women’s issues, to replace ignorance about women with education, and to give San Antonio and South Texas greater access to the beautiful and diverse genre of independent film.
The Esperanza Center requests all local San Antonio, Texas, and international submissions of films about and/or produced or directed by women, for its 5th Annual CineMujer Film Festival.
Media artists, film distributors, and producing organizations are invited to apply. Work must have been completed within the last two years. Entries must concern women. Submissions will be accepted in all languages. If English or Spanish subtitles are available, please include in submissions. Entries will be pre-screened by a festival committee. Not all entries will be programmed.
Films or videos may be any genre (documentary, fiction, experimental, animation) or length. Exhibition formats are 35mm, DVD, and ½” VHS (NTSC).
Selected artists/distributors/producing organizations will be notified by email. All DVD copies will be kept for Esperanza Center archiving purposes unless otherwise arranged. One application per title. If submitting multiple works on one tape, please duplicate and complete a separate entry form for each title.
Deadline for Entries: Received by August 7, 2009.
All entries must be on DVD or ½” VHS (NTSC) for preview.
Send Preview DVD or Tapes & Completed Entry Form to:
Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
922 San Pedro
San Antonio, Texas 78212