Rodrigo Sanchez, one-half of Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela (who found fame, incidentally, as temporary immigrants in Ireland) explains why he and collaborator Gabriela Quintero are members of Sound Strike and the best way to counter laws like Arizona's SB 1070.
Rodrigo y Gabriela play Sept. 4 at the Majestic Theatre.
STE-001BA by cenlow
To make the start of your desk-bound work week a little more bearable, the Current will be sharing whatever decent internet tidbit makes it's way to the music and screens email inbox.
This week Arcade Fire sent us a link to The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive film made by Chris Milk. To me it sounds like an ad for Google with an Arcade Fire soundtrack. You can't even watch the film without Google Chrome web browser. But ... maybe it's worth it. Here's a bit from the email:
Taking its name from a lyric from the aforementioned song--"so when the lights cut out, I was lost, standing in the wilderness downtown"--"The Wilderness Downtown" exemplifies the Google "Chrome Experience" and HTML5 technology, cueing the opening of multiple browser windows, visually incorporating viewers' childhood addresses (if they are available via Google Street View) , allowing the viewers to write and share messages to their younger selves and more.
View for yourself here and report back.
Ron and Carol Asvestas built it, then screwed it up; next, daughter Nicole García sacked Mom and Dad; then, the new board, led by Jamie and Michelle Anthony-Cryer, sacked García. Such has been the very wild history of the Wild Animal Orphanage. If the cycle is to continue, who will sack the Cryers? That is, if there is a Wild Animal Orphanage left at all.
On August 23, a message was posted by Laurie Gage, big cat specialist for the USDA, on a Google animal-lovers’ group. “The Wild Animal Orphanage near San Antonio, Texas is having difficulty caring for their animals,” the message read. “They are now trying to find homes for 55 tigers, 14 lions, 3 cougars, 6 wolf hybrids, 2 old (17 years) leopards, and about 200 primates.”
Former WAO vice-president and treasurer (and recent volunteer) Kristina Brunner expects the worse. “It looks like the Cryers decided it was too much work to save the WAO, so they have thrown in the towel,” she wrote in an email. “My heart is completely broken over this.”
Not so fast, cat lady. According to Rob Mitchell, listed as “community relations” man for WAO, the orphanage is alive and, uh, well.
“Are we closing? Not that I know of,” Mitchell told the Current on Friday. The search for new homes is “a normal function,” he said. “That happens all the time. We’re not shutting down.”
It happens all the time? Really? The 280 animals in need of homes represent more than half of the “approximately 400 animals” WAO claims in its website. Not even at the lowest point during the Asvestas’s era did the orphanage attempt such a massive animal exodus.
“No, this is not common,” said Gage. “From what I understand, the WAO has had some financial difficulties.” (You don’t say.) “Our USDA inspector in Texas has been going there frequently to ensure the care of the animals there meets the Animal Welfare Standards. If the facility were to run out of funding, then the animals will need new homes. We are trying to prepare for the worst-case scenario, but hope for the best. Presently all of the animals are owned by the WAO and it [is] up to them as to where they may be placed.”
Besides a fine here and there and a state of near-perpetual investigations, authorities as late as May had not found any criminal wrongdoing at WAO.
“Our office has taken no legal action against this San Antonio facility nor do we anticipate any, at this point,” Tom Kelley, spokesperson for the Texas Office of Attorney General, told Animal People magazine in May. “We are monitoring their efforts daily, nothing more.”
Those who support the current administration suggest the lack of legal action proves the accusations against the orphanage are greatly exaggerated; hard-line animal lovers blame federal and state agencies and laws for “speciesism,” that is, allowing people to get away with things that, if done to humans, would have landed them in jail.
But ask any of WAO’s leaders about lack of funds or food for the animals and they’ll blame the previous administration. The new board accused García of trying to keep them in the dark about WAO’s finances (even though she insists she never had access to the bank accounts). García blames her parents for destroying the orphanage and claims that, in the six months she was in charge, things were slowly but steadily improving.
My take, after visiting and speaking to different characters in the Wild World of WAO: Nicole and Kristine (and, especially, Kristine), where let go because they were all over peoples’ asses when it came to animal care and management. Based on internal emails I was able to review, every fundraising effort by García to gradually introduce new board members and phase out older ones, were thwarted by the board.
“I think we need to hold off on bringing anyone else onto the board until we have sufficient time to determine what our course of action is going to be,” wrote former board member Sumner Matthes on April 8. “I hope by the middle of next week we will be able to determine what we are going to do about the board’s current or new membership.”
The rest is history. On April 30, García was terminated in what she calls an illegal (there was no quorum, she says) and retaliatory termination.
“[Some workers] kept complaining that Nicole never listened to their fundraising ideas,” Brunner said. “So I’d say, ‘Shoot. Tell me about it.’ And they would come up with these off-the-wall ideas, like having a meat barbecue on WAO’s property. I thought they were out of their minds.”
In a 2009 interview with the Current, Lynn Cuny, founder of the model Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation sanctuary near Kendalia, echoed the feelings of the average hardcore animal lover. “If you’re going to be eating one animal in order to raise money to feed another, then I don’t think you’re doing your job and I don’t think you’re holding that really true high standard of what an animal protection organization is and what they stand for.”
WAO’s President of the Board Michelle Anthony-Cryer didn’t return our phone call, and husband Jamie Cryer, listed as director and animal rescue team manager, could not be reached for comment. Even spokesperson Mitchell, who works part-time for WAO on weekends, told me he was at his other job and was “very busy right now.” The numbers he gave me (“there should be somebody at the office right now”) are the same ones listed on WAO’s website. One is not in service; the other one has no answering machine.
“It was all a set-up,” said García, now a bartender in Leon Valley. “From what I remember back when my mom and dad were still on the board, Michelle [Anthony-Cryer] made a statement, three or four years ago, that she would be glad to take the orphanage over because she didn’t feel my parents had it in their hearts to take care of the animals. I was just used as a pawn to get my parents out. I think this was planned the entire time by [Anthony-Cryer]. That’s what I feel in my heart.”
She chokes back tears.
“I’m sorry, I’m very emotional about this, but nobody cares about the animals. They would rather keep me and Kristina [Brunner] out of there, and all the others who wanted to help out of there, than allow Kristina and I to implement the long list of plans we had for the orphanage.”
The plan included revamped volunteer programs (120 military students from Lackland had already committed to do repairs in early May), the Animal Talk e-newsletter, animal toy and donation drives, and a partnership with the Red Cross.
“[The Cryers] would rather see it fail and close than allow us to get back to that place and try to save it. There’s no need for all this. There’s no need for animals to be placed anywhere. It’s ridiculous. It’s just a personal thing from a married couple against everybody else. And for what? [Anthony-Cryer and the Matthes’] were supposed to be the quorum, but Elise [Matthes] wasn’t voted in as a member by a quorum of three. They tried to [terminate me] by default, and hoped no one would notice. By I know my [by-] laws. It was a retaliation termination, and I have the right to have my job back. I want to put the right people in there, and then walk away.”
Is she admitting that she was not qualified to run WAO in the first place?
“Look ... I would stay long enough to get the place back in order, two to three years, and get some non-profit professionals who know what they’re doing and keep the place alive. Then I’ll move on and pursue another life. This has taken so much from me.”
The kitchen at Grey Moss Inn does much of its best work at special dinners such as the annual Zin-Din held in January. A special vintner dinner has just been announced for Sept. 3 with Greg Graziano, owner/winemaker of Graziano Wines of Mendocino, CA. Many of Graziano’s wines currently grace GM’s award-winning wine list; this is a chance to taste several new ones and to hear about them from the man who made them. Menu highlights include the Monte Volpe Pinot Grigio and Primo Rosso with grilled scallops and wild boar nachos; the Saint Gregory Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir with chipotle-rubbed Caesar salad and grilled sockeye with French lentils; and the Graziano Zinfandel with prime-rib enchiladas in a five-chile sauce. The evening concludes with a grilled tri-tip steak and duck sausage mated to a risotto cake with crawfish and served with the Graziano 2006
The cost is $52 per person plus tax and tip, and reservations may be had by calling 210-695-8301.
Jay Hernandez - Takers
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
In the new heist movie Takers, actor Jay Hernandez plays Eddie Hatcher, an LAPD officer who goes after a team of bank robbers alongside his edgy partner Jack Welles (Matt Dillon). During the heist, Eddie is faced with a situation concerning his son that compromises his position as a cop.
During an interview with me, Hernandez, 32, whose film credits include Friday Night Lights, Nothing Like the Holidays, and the Hostel franchise, talked about why playing a cop isn’t quite as fun as playing a criminal and why heist movies are as popular as ever.
Was there something particular you saw in your character that made you want to be a part of the film?
There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to be in the film, but one of the main ones was because the character was interesting and layered. Also, there was a very eclectic cast that would hopefully build tension.
Are these layered roles the type of work you’re pursing at this point of your career?
I think most actors try to do stuff that is not one-dimensional. It ultimately comes down to what options actors have. If you don’t have a lot of options, sometimes you’re forced to do things you don’t necessarily want to do. With me, I always try to pick things that are interesting.
You’ve played a cop before. How do you prepare for a role like this to make it completely different from the previous one?
You just try to switch it up in anyway possible and not repeat what you’ve done before. I have actually played a cop a couple of times. Maybe you can throw in a little accent. Physically there are things you can do. But this character had a lot of different things going on than the cop in Lakeview Terrace.
You played characters on both sides of the law, so which roles are more fun?
Playing the criminal is more fun. You get shoot more people and steal. The criminal always gets the girl.
Do you think in real life you might be able to pull off a heist without getting caught?
(Laughs) You know, I watch enough Forensic Files and Discovery Channel that I should be able to get away with it, but probably not. Everyone makes dumb mistakes somewhere down the line. You might be able to get away with it in a film, but not so much in real life.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an actor?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve been doing it for a while now and I’ve accepted it as my world. If I was going to do anything else, I would imagine it would have to include a lot of traveling and experiencing different cultures. I don’t know what kind of job would take me all over the world like that.
What do you think it is about the heist movie that keeps it so popular as a genre?
It’s this idea that everybody has: If I could just get my hands on $1 million, what would I do with it? You can take that idea and put it in any setting around the world or in any situation. As a writer or director, the potential roads you could walk down are limitless. Everybody has that fantasy sometime in their lives – if I could just get my hands on some cash, legal or illegal. I think that’s why [the genre] keeps coming back and is always relevant especially now in terms of the economy.
Your co-star T.I. was recently quoted as saying that he wants to win an Oscar before he turns 40. You’ve been in the industry for 10 years. Is it realistic for actors to set those kinds of goals for themselves?
Well, the only way you’re ever going to reach a goal is if you set one. That doesn’t mean he’s going to do it, but I wouldn’t say it was impossible. I would love to do it someday, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Does he have the ability to do it? Maybe. But will the opportunity present itself? There are so many factors that go into somebody winning an Oscar that you never know. I hope to win one someday and if [T.I.] commits to it, I hope he does, too.
In lieu of a printed Live and Local, we'll go ahead and give our impressions online of the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, as covered by Chris Maddin (singer, Blowing Trees), Chuck Kerr (drummer, Gospel Choir of Pillows), Marcus Rubio (guitar, violin, vocals, Gospel Choir of Pillows), Matt Thomas (bass, Gospel Choir of Pillows), Chris Guerra (keys, Morris Orchids), Ryan Teter (trombone, Mission Complete!), Bobby Baiza (alto and baritone sax), and Julieanna Buentello (flute, Deer Vibes).
The mini-orchestra played Ziggy start to finish at Kerr and Maddin's Weds. night jam spot, the Broadway 5050. While this performance wasn't as tight as last month's cover of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the group made up for it by going totally fucking glam. Using borrowed costumes from Magik Theater, all eight musicians gamely sported sequins, metallics, make-up, and lycra that would have made Bowie himself faint with delight. In fact, I think it was the costumes, glitter and small stage that resulted in most of the musical flubs and not a lack of familiarity with the source material.
Maddin especially deserves props for going all method and shoving a blue contact lense into his eye (he doesn't wear correctives, normally) and walking onstage in a diva-licious silver moonboots and a full body, scoop-neck blue unitard, just one pair of bunched boxers away from being a star in an erotic Smurfs film. His androgynous and insouciant performance included glitter-throwing, faux-fellatio/guitar-teeth-playing and an uncanny channeling of Bowie's rich voice (when we could hear it, the vocals occassionally were overpowered by the other instruments).
Among the glitterati in attendence, and the Broadway 5050 packed them in that night, was our own new acting editor Greg Harman. When he wasn't rocking out to "Starman," he captured some video and photos. Always working, that one.
When Men's Health voted San Antonio the seventh-fattest city in the U.S. in May, claiming 28 percent of residents are clinically obese (the national average being 25.19 percent) and that 9 percent of us spend more time in front of the boob tube than, well, healthier cities, PETA decided to break out the hot dogs and do something about it.
Bikini-clad girls, wearing nothing but strategically placed lettuce leaves, handed out free veggie dogs (provided by the city’s own Green Vegetarian Cuisine) on the front steps of city hall Tuesday afternoon to promote the veggie lifestyle.
“San Antonio residents’ love affair with meat may be making them fat and could literally be killing them,” PETA campaigner Lauren Stroyeck said in a press release Monday. “The smartest thing that they can do for their health, their appearance, the planet, and animals is to go vegetarian.”
Last year, San Antonio was ranked the third fattest city, so someone's been using their gym membership. We're better off than our southerly neighbor Corpus Christi, which reigns supreme as America's fattest city.
Everyone: there is only so much room we can devote to Marcus Rubio, Chuck Kerr, Chris Maddin, et al in print. I make no excuses. They just happen to be out playing music ALL THE TIME. Seriously, I saw Kerr gig with We Leave at Midnight just last night.Rubio has like 12 shows this week. Now they and the Gospel Choir of Pillows, Deer Vibes, and Cartographers crew will present their cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars tonight at the Broadyway 50/50. I saw the same trio, plus pals, take on Wilco's opus Yankee Hotel Foxtrot last month, and as a person who played that album in her Jetta for two years straight, I frankly enjoyed the hell out of their flawless re-creation.
For many of us, tonight may be as close to a Bowie show as we'll ever get.
11pm, Aug. 25 (TONIGHT)
Summer suggests sauvignon blanc. Okay, it also implies some lusty reds for bounty from the barbie, but I happen to have tasted several sauvys recently, so let’s assume that it’s shrimp on the grill, not burgers or pepper-rubbed rib eyes. Let’s also assume that nobody wants to pay a bundle for summer sippers, and all of these fill that bill. In no particular order, here they are.
Viña los Vascos Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc,
In the next case, some French winemakers seem to be making more complex wines in
Moving on to New Zealand, the Kiwis have, on the basis of the next two wines, begun to muzzle the extreme grapefruit qualities that distinguished (or diminished) some of their sauvys in years past. Yes, the Vavasour 2009 Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc betrays its heritage with grapefruit on both the nose and palate, but it matures into some beautiful tropical fruit with time. On second tasting, passion fruit held the upper hand. Give passion time, in other words.
In contrast, the Goldwater 2008 Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc headed straight for the tropics right out of the gate. Melon was big, along with passion fruit again, and grapefruit sat firmly in the back seat. Pleasant, crisp and not too pushy, this could become a summer stalwart.
A textbook case in showing how different the sauvignon grape can be in a different climate and in different hands was presented by a
“I’m feeling really good about this. I’ve wanted to teach for a very long time, but I had to have a career first. This comes at a really good time for me.” So said Scott Cohen in response to a press release declaring his move from Executive Chef at Pavil Restaurant and Bar and the Watermark Grill to a teaching position at the Austin branch of France’s prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
This is the kind of release that could easily have been a polite kiss-off. Though he was still “advising”, Cohen hadn’t been cooking at Pavil for some time, in fact, and considering their closing for lunch, the tentative breakfast overtures…and the restaurant climate in general, it was easy to imagine a cost-cutting scenario. But, as Cohen has nothing but good words for Pat Kennedy, the owner of the Watermark Hotel Company that has both Pavil and the Watermark Grill, and is staying on as an Advisor ( caps theirs) and member of the company’s Board of Directors, we will take him at his word. Besides, he has moved his family to Round Rock. This is serious.
But why nor stay and work with the local C.I.A.? Cohen is a graduate of the
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, two chefs Cohen trained at Las Canarias and Pesca are at the helm of the Kennedy restaurants—Jose Yañez at Pavil and Tyler Horstman at Watermark. “Man, they really don’t need me,” said Cohen of a recent inspection tour of both restaurants. But Isaac Cantu, another Cohen alum from Las Canarias, has left his top toque post at Watermark for the Westin La Cantera. No, we don’t know why, but Watermark’s loss is also potentially Westin’s gain, as Cantu had a good hand. We’ll watch them all.
Felipe Esparza - Last Comic Standing
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
After two months taking the stage in front of all of America, 40-year-old comedian Felipe Esparza was named the winner of the seventh season of the hit TV talent show “Last Comic Standing” on Aug. 9. The win included $250,000 and a deal for a sitcom on NBC. Originally from East Los Angeles, Esparza, who is the first Latino to win the title since the series started back in 2003, jumped on the phone with me last week to talk about his victory and how he went from a troubled teenager to a champion comedian.
You looked pretty dumbfounded when you heard your name announced as the winner of Last Comic Standing.
Man, white people haven’t seen that look since O.J. [Simpson] was released.
Have they cut you your check for $250,000 yet?
Not yet, man. They said in 90 days.
Then it’s straight to the bank, right?
Nah, I’m taking it to the check cashing place, dawg. They’re going to charge me $20,000 to cash it.
You’ve been doing stand-up comedy for 16 years now, but how else were you making a living?
I worked at Dodger Stadium cooking hotdogs. When the game was over I would run over to the Comedy Store to go up on stage at midnight.
How do you like your hotdog?
Oh, man, I like them boiled and then grilled. Then I like mine with mayonnaise, tomatoes and onions, and avocado.
Growing up in East L.A. you’ve stated that you used to run with the wrong crowd when you were a kid. Can you expand on that experience and how you were able to escape that lifestyle?
Yeah, I grew up in Boyle Heights, the capital of East L.A. I lived in the housing projects. It was eight blocks of housing projects. When I was a kid there were a lot of gangs. We couldn’t even go outside and play. There were always fights outside and we always heard gunshots. I ran with gangs when I was 13 years old all the way to 20. When I was 20 I was a drug addict. I went to live at a men’s home for a year and a half. When I got out I was sober. I got a job with UPS, but I quit. Then I got the job at Dodger Stadium and was there for a long time.
Your adolescence doesn’t sound like the optimal place for an aspiring comedian to find the humor in everyday life.
All I knew was my neighborhood and I always made everyone laugh. I turned everything into a joke. I said this joke on Last Comic Standing: "I grew up in a gated community. The windows were gated. The back door was gated. The front door was gated.” It was a fortress.
How does it feel to be the first Latino to win Last Comic Standing?
Oh, man, it was the best to win but after I won I thought, “Oh, man, I’m also Latino, too!” So, after I realized I was Latino, it made the winning even better. I beat them not just as a comedian, but a Latino comedian. I should get two awards.
Too bad you don’t get another $250,000 for being Latino.
If that were to happen they’d probably give it to me in payments or they would have given me an IOU.
How do you feel when people throw all Latino comedians in the same category?
People do throw us in the same category, but after I won, not anymore. Before, they would just say, “Oh, he’s a Latino comedian. He tells Latino jokes. His comedy is just ethnic humor.” Not this time baby. This time a real motherfucker won.
So, how do you feel about Latino comedians that base their jokes only on race?
I say good for them. It opened doors for us. Paul Rodriguez opened doors for George Lopez. George Lopez opened those doors for Carlos Mencia. Carlos Mencia closed the doors. Then I got here and reopened them!
Not too many comedians think too highly of Carlos, huh?
Nah, because they consider him a joke stealer, that’s why. And good for him. Carlos kicked everybody’s ass and he did it his way. That guy is a millionaire. Leave him alone.
What if he steals one of your jokes?
Oh, man, believe me, there would be a hit on him. A lot of inmates in Chino prison have cell phones and voted for me. If Carlos Mencia or any of his family members get locked up, they’re going after them.
You don’t want to hear this, but I’m going to tell you anyway: I got an impromptu invitation to a lunch at Dough the other day that yielded not just the usual great pizza and cheeses, but a host of new wines—at least mostly new to me. The prices were good, too…
No matter who invites you to lunch at Dough, you still have to wait 30 minutes for a table, but waiting time wasn’t wasted: we tucked into a bottle of 2009 Mendocino Vineyards Mendocino County Chardonnay, retail around $10. Made from organic grapes, the wine shows an annoying bit of oak at first, but that soon dissipates in favor of pear and a hint of smoky lees (the spent yeast at the bottom of fermentation barrels). Great for the price.
When you get a table, have the cheese tasting—any three from the mozzarella & burrata bar. Burrata caprese, mozzarella di bufala and smoked salmon rollatini were our choices. For the record, I preferred the first two. And I also appreciated the 2009 Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio—less complex than the chard but pretty and again around $10. But just because the cheese is pearly white…
In other words, you can leap right into red wines like the Ruffino Chianti Superiore composed of 75% sangiovese with the balance in merlot and cabernet. Again at around $10, it’s a training-wheels Chianti, but has all the expected black plum, cassis, dry tannins and more of the more expensive models. Such as the 2006 Ruffino Reserva Ducale Chianti Classico; it’s around $20-$24 and, as expected, is a bigger more refined wine with better integrated fruit. It’s worth the step-up in price, but try the Superiore first.
For a real wow!! however, consider Ruffino’s 2006 Tenuta Lodolo Nuova Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. You’ll have to put this on your wish list for next year’s vintage as there’s none left in town (though it’s available online for about $19-$28 plus shipping). My notes say silky yet powerful with cherry, plum, chocolate and tobacco—not exactly a sundae, but nice and layered regardless. Connoisseurs with deeper pockets will appreciate the 2003 Ruffino Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino, the flagship wine of the region. It showed a little graceful age to begin with, but the wrinkles went away in a minute or so, allowing its structure to emerge undiminished. It was amplified, by the way, with a pizza specially made for one of the participants: basil, prosciutto and truffle oil.
The rest of us shamelessly went with Pork Love—some made even more shameless with the addition of a fried egg. Dirty Pork Love I guess that makes it. A 2007 Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend series
All those greasy, grunting gladiators of the TAPOUT tribe leave you cold? Motocross fumes make you queasy? For my vicarious sports thrills, I’ve found Texas roller derby to offer the most entertaining, creative, and paradigm-flipping sports action going. Sunday’s “Back to School Texas Rivalry” put on at the Rollercade on Recoleta (w/ tunes courtesy of Pop Pistol) brought skilled players from across the state for a sterling performance as members from derby squads from SA, Dallas, Houston, and Austin were split into a Nerds-v-Jocks contest par excellence. After seeing our hometown mommas burn up the track, I thought it worth relaying the call for new blood that’s going out. Are you rough enough for Alamo City Rollergirls?
Love or hate the mythologized cultural import of the Alamo, go ahead and celebrate Davy Crockett's birthday. When else are you going to find a good excuse to get whiskey-drunk all day wearing a 'coon skin hat?
Also, when else can you watch related ridiculous clips of John Wayne, Billy Bob Thornton AND Fess Parker?
This classic has the Duke getting a lump in his throat for Republics and babies. I mainly chose it for the blank stare Laurence Harvey delivers after Wayne's line: "you don't get lard lessen you boil the hog."
Billy Bob Thornton as "The Screamer." Hehe.
Davy Crockett got totally confused on that Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.
Here's a sporty chisme guest post from our new Web Editor, Mark Ross...
Perhaps trying to stir up some intrigue in what has otherwise been a summer dominated by the shenanigans of Lebron, Eva Longoria Parker let it slip last night that Tony Parker would like to relocate to New York. Is this just the latest rehashing of a stale rumor, or is it really TP's last year as a Spur? Original article is here — I'd love to read your comments below.
Esteban Jordan, Carlos Santana, and Jerry Garcia
Jordan goes Mariachi
San Antonio, Conjunto music and accordion players lost one of the greats last night. After a long struggle with liver cancer, Esteban Jordan passed away at a friend's home. He was supposed to be playing a show in Illinois that night.
I saw Esteban Jordan play just once, and it was toward the end of his life. I was fairly new to San Antonio, and I remembered wondering who that thin old man with the eye-patch, beret and trench coat was walking on the curb outside Salute International Bar.
Then that frail gentleman entered the club, climbed the stage, assisted by his sons/bandmembers, and began to play. Very rarely does one witness the transformative power of music, but anyone who saw Jordan work that diatonic accordion in his later years saw the spirit conquer the body, even if the concert had to end early. His fingers still fluttered, his arms still pumped one of four custom-made accordions, he even flashed a smile at the audience as if he sensed their open-mouthed stares of amazement, or when they danced to his conjunto.
Perhaps itï¿½s not surprising that Jordan, battling cancer and cirhossis, chose to play rather than convalesce. As a partially-blinded youth, he couldn't work as a migrant laborer with his 14 siblings, but the camp environment introduced him to the accordion, which became his ticket off the farm and into the cannon of musical genius.
Jordan made more than 50 albums, which Janie Esparza of Janie's Record Store may help you track down if you're lucky. Jordan recorded mainly on very small labels before turning to self-production. "He was cautious about getting his music out,"said Esparza in her shop this afternoon, "he had a lot of trouble with the labels. He was so ahead of his time, he was more advanced, the Jimi Hendrix Mexicano" Esparza said.
Jordan's fondness for converting any song to the accordion, from "Georgia On My Mind," to Blood, Sweat and Tears' "Spinning Wheel" to Mariachi, and his multi-instrumentalist approach (he played 35 other instruments) to modifying his accordion and his rightful mistrust of record labels may not have helped him top the charts, but that didn't stop Jordan, a man known for going his own way in all aspects of life. He played through countless bouts of poverty and illness; he never learned to read or write so perhaps plying another trade was never an option.
Other hard-nosed preferences, like choosing tiny local joint Salute as his venue of choice since the 1980s, and refusing (sometime with aid of physical intimidation) interview requests helped make Esteban Jordan"the most famous and most unknown musician," as journalist Alex Avilla called him during a rare interview for radio program Latino USA last year.
Those in the know, like nuclear polka pioneers Brave Combo, fellow San Antonio accordion legend Flaco Jimenez, his adoring following in Japan, and of course, the gente of West Side San Antonio, marveled at Jordan's sheer innovation on the formerly-dumpy accordion, as he easily transitioned from jazz to rock to banda to whatever else piqued his interest. He was referred to as the best living accordion player, until last night. But it was the light I saw in his one shining eye that night at Salute that moved me most. As his fingers glided over the button keys, I caught a glimpse of a man who literally lived for his music.
Now I'm headed over to Salute, where people are already placing flowers of tribute to El Parche.
David Zayas - The Expendables
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
Puerto Rican actor David Zayas joins a list of iconic action-stars including Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the new action film The Expendables. In the film, Zayas plays General Garza, a South American dictator who is the target of a team of U.S. mercenaries.
Zayas, 40, who is best known for his role as Sgt. Ángel Batista on the TV show Dexter has also starred in films such as The Interpreter, 16 Blocks, and Michael Clayton. During an interview with me, Zayas talked about how he shaped his character by studying real-life dictators and what it was like to shoot on location in Brazil.
Before playing General Garza, did you specifically look at someone like Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez?
Yeah, I did but I took a look at everybody – Chávez, Fidel Castro, [former Ugandan president and dictator] Idi Amin. The common denominator about a lot of those guys is that they are charismatic, extremely intelligent and articulate. They have a way of making people believe what they are saying. I wanted to give my own take on that and capture some of the confidence and ego they have. Regardless of what judgments anyone has of those guys, they are all bigger-than-life characters and there is something interesting about them.
What was your experience like working with Stallone in his role as a director?
I loved working with him. He was open and collaborative. I think he knows exactly what he wants. He has a great way of expressing and articulating what he needed. He was specific and invested in all of the characters.
There were a lot of changes during the casting process of this film. How soon did you come onto the film and did you always know that so many major action stars were going to be part of the project?
I knew some of them were, but not all of them. I sent a tape to Stallone and got cast that way. At that time, I wasn’t sure who was going to be in it. I knew it was Jason Statham, Jet Li and Mickey Rourke, but I didn’t know who else.
So, as all these names start rolling in – Schwarzenegger, Willis – what’s going on in your head as you realize how big the film was actually becoming?
(Laughs) I was thinking it was going to be pretty cool having all these amazing artists and actors in the same movie. I was glad I was going to be a part of it.
You were a teenager in the 80s when the original Rambo, Commando and Die Hard action movies came out. Were you interested in these types of movies?
Yeah, I remember Rocky, First Blood, the Die Hard series, Commando and The Terminator. I remember all those great movies that shaped this kind of genre. It’s great getting a lot of these guys together.
Was there anything challenging about shooting on location in Brazil?
Sometimes the weather was pretty intense – the rain, the wind. Those elements don’t help when you’re filming even though it might be a great look on film. I remember the rain came extremely heavy a couple of times.
The Expendables is being marketed as a real “man’s man movie.” What’s a good pitch a boyfriend or husband can use to get their girlfriend or wife to go see this film?
I think the boyfriends will love it and the girlfriends will love watching the boyfriends loving it.
The way Season 4 of Dexter ends was pretty shocking to everybody with Rita’s death. What was it like finding out in the script that this was the way the season would end?
Watching it was pretty shocking, but shocking good. But the rewards are high when you take risks. They did a really good job with it.
Do you ever worry that your character could be killed off one day since you’re on a show that takes these kinds of risks?
You never know what’s going to happen. I don’t worry about it too much. I think that whatever serves the story of Dexter is best. When I shot Oz on HBO, it was the same thing. Anything can happen to anybody at anytime. But I hope to say on it until Season 15, maybe.
If you believe that 75% of the oil in the Gulf has somehow miraculously disappeared, you are also likely to be sanguine about the state of the economy, the prospects for the war in
On the marketing front, one of the latest phenomena is the Groupon. You sign up, you get a daily blast offering a huge discount for a local restaurant (or other business), for which you must apply that day. (Validity of the coupon is several months, however.) You may need to wait a day until you can actually print out the coupon. Remember to take it with you. In fact, given the statistics on the numbers of people that never redeem gift certificates, the idea that you might not remember to use it at all may play nicely into the whole promotion. But to take the positive point of view, such distinguished venues as Biga on the Banks have participated. I recently bought a coupon for another well-known downtown restaurant--$30 worth of food for $15, not valid for booze--and will let you know how that turns out when I remember to redeem it. I put it in a particularly prominent place that I am perfectly capable of walking by daily without ever noticing again…
On the menu side of the equation, folks such as Silo are constantly coming up with new ideas. One of the latest is their 6-9-12 lunch menu on which all plates fall into one of the three, dollar-amount categories. $6, for example, will get you the crispy duck spring rolls, the spicy beef lettuce wraps…The selection at $9 is a little better with the likes of the Black Angus burger, the portabella melt and the signature chicken fried oysters. And for $12, the choices widen to include shrimp and grits, chipotle pork tenderloin, ricotta gnocchi with braised duck ragout….all more money than a couple of tacos to be sure, but beginning to look pretty good for fine dining.
If your budget and your appetite are even larger, Silo also has a prix fixe lunch menu to tantalize you and/or your guests. It’s a three-course format that includes a choice of three salads and four desserts, with the total price pegged to the entrée selection. For $19, wood-grilled Atlantic salmon, the chipotle pork and the shrimp and grits can be yours. At the $23 level, you can step on up to chicken fried oysters with angel hair pasta, the chef’s daily fish selection, seared sea scallops with couscous or oak-grilled beef tenderloin with “loaded” whipped potatoes.
Support your favorite local restaurants, please, or we’ll all be out of a job, and that I will notice.
If you’re not doing anything Saturday August 14—or even if you are but don’t feel fully committed—let me recommend a pleasant drive in the country (you can even contrive to skirt Willie’s favorite haunt on the way there or back) followed by a tasting of refreshing rosé wines in a unique and charming setting. How can you say no to that?
The event in question is Rambling Rosé, a yearly roundup of rosés (and occasionally a few other summer-friendly wines) at Becker Vineyards near
The experts on this occasion are Dr. Richard Becker of the eponymous winery (I love it when I can use that word; redux is equally good); Steven Krueger, Resort Sommelier of the Westin La Cantera; Dr. Russell Kane, Vintage Texas wine blog; and Bonnie Walker and John Griffin of Savor SA. The experts pontificate, as is their wont, but the rest of you are encouraged to pitch in your two bits worth as well. And compatible bites will be served by the chefs of Las Canarias—who are the only ones who know ahead of time what the wines are in able to best put together pairings. Come early, relax, stay late…Becker’s large tasting room will be open as well, so there’s no need to confine yourself to a single genre. Go crazy—try a
The cost of the tasting session is $25, and advance reservations are encouraged. To make them, call Culinaria (formerly the New World Wine & Food Festival) at 822-9555, or check them out online at www.nwwff.org.
Willie, Waylon and the boys’ one-time favorite haunt? Luckenbach, of course.
Regis Shephard working on his 2005 Artpace "Chalk it Up" public art piece, photo by and courtesy of Lloyd Walsh
Grief is a process, y'all.
To that end, I'm here to post some really lovely tributes that were e-mailed or Facebook-ed to me right after his death. Keep on making comments here or on his Facebook page, too. I know it means a lot to his family.
And yet another plea for your help: willing volunteers for an upcoming Regis memorial/scholarship fundraiser please email me at email@example.com with REGIS SHEPHARD MEMORIAL in the subject line.
Oh! First, here's a Regis story: Regis was well-known for being the greatest hugger of all time. It's been said time and again, and is true. I'm not always an automatic-hug person, but anytime I laid eyes on Regis, I'd fairly leap into his arms. Regis never did that tepid crouch-and-pat-you-on-the back maneuver, nor squeeze the life out of you, and never felt awkward, or creepy. He had hug magic. I'm almost throwing up at the saccharine writing I'm doing here, but I am for serious.
Anyway, are y'all familiar with that "Christian Side Hug" viral video?
Well, here it is.
I posted this on my Facebook page months ago and snarked all on it, as did many others. Regis's comment though was the most awesome. It was "forget the Christian Side Hug. I want full frontal with arched backs."
Now, some beautiful things people in the neighborhood have said.
Regis gave me my first teaching job after grad school, and stood by me as I fumbled my way through my first semesters as a teacher, making sure I had consistent work for 4 years afterward. He was always supportive, poking his head into clas...s to check on me, talking me through problems and discussing the design of new projects - I could count on his door always being open. When I started applying for full time positions, Regis helped me out, giving me feedback on my portfolio, and writing me a recommendation letter every time I asked him for one, in spite of the demands of his job as chair. Even when I got the position and moved far away, I still got the occasional email, asking after me and how I was doing. Regis was kind, patient, generous and gracious, never asking for anything in return. His sensibilities as an artist and professor definitely helped to frame my own expectations for myself. For all of this I am still thankful, even though I'm not sure I ever got to tell him properly. His death yesterday was shocking to me and to everyone who knew him, but I take consolation in the impression he made while he was here, and hope that one day I can measure up.
He was unchangeable in his ways. A humble sincere professor and
unique artist who made me laugh with his two-step dance at the office when
things got tough. St. Philip's College has lost a great professor, Chairman,
and Colleague and I have lost my friend.
Last year, I took an evening painting class, with a different instructor, Regis would make his visits often with the students and our instructor to check how we were progressing in our art work. He would go around the class and see everyone’s works and was impressed with their work. Regis care about his students and St. Philip's College. How often do you see a Department Chairperson visit classes and speak with the instructor and students. He will be missed dearly here at St. Philip's College.
Nancy N. Anguiano
MY MOTHER WORKED FOR REGIS AT ST PHILLIPS COLLEGE AS HIS SECRETARY. WHEN HIS MOTHER CALLED HER TONITE SHE WAS IN TEARS. SHE ALWAYS HAD GREAT THINGS TO SAY ABOUT REGIS AND HE ATTENDED MANY OF OUR FAMILY FUNCTIONS. HE WAS THE REAL DEAL AND WILL BE DEARLY MISSED.. IM SURE HE TOUCHED MANY PEOPLE'S LIVES AT ST. PHILLIPS AND IN THE MUSIC AND ART SOCIETY HERE IN S.A. OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH HIS FAMILY.
DEBBIE J. FONSECA
We went to grad school together and he stood in my graduating class as one of the greats. Before any of us were teaching, Regis was, and before most of us were even working full-time, Regis was chair of St. Phillip's art department and full-time faculty. He took his work and his job seriously and tirelessly shaped a department that suffered budget cuts and lack of full-time teachers until very recently. Regis believed in making the art program at St. Phillip's part digital and he was intelligent enough to become fluent in the latest technology, in addition to understanding that his students needed practical as well as creative skills. He encouraged me to try new things, such as getting certified to teach online, which he believed would be in demand long before it was at ACCD. I wasn't the least interested in doing this until Regis suggested it. I was always impressed with his community involvements, such as creating artwork each year for "Chalk it Up", jurying student exhibitions, and serving on the board at Blue Star Art Space. He created opportunities for students and teachers and often showed up in the audience local music gigs (mine included).
Regis was a calm in the storm. He was a very balanced mix of humble and self assured; unflappable it seemed. In the half a decade that I spent with him, I can't recall him ever acting angry... even when I'm pretty sure he was angry. Truthfully, nothing seemed to get him down. I'm still not certain whether he channeled all of his negativity into his art, or whether he was simply so well balanced an individual that he could observe the negativity in the world with an objective eye and comment on it with his art. Either way, he was an incredible man. I only regret that I didn't realize just how important he is to me until this week.
His personality suited him well for his position in academia. He didn't bring a lot of ego to the table, even though he'd probably earned it. He just listened, tried to understand, and did the best he could with the resources and information available. We didn't always agree, but he was always receptive to my thoughts. He took the time to stay informed, and steer the direction of his department, while still allowing individuals the flexibility to excel. His support and understanding have helped me tremendously over the years. I only hope he knows how much he is loved and appreciated.
I am saddened and shocked at the loss of this great artist and friend. He was interested and supportive of what others were doing, be it music, art, or academia. Regis showed up at many of the art and music events I've had over the years - always the smiling, supportive face in the crowd.
Regis and I went to grad school together and graduated the same year - '96. That graduating class of artists included some now prolific folks - Regis, Nate Cassie, Chris Sauter, Karen Mahaffy, Veronica Fernandez, and Joan Fabian. He later became a supporter of mine in the teaching field - always offering career advice and encouragement. I interviewed for a teaching position at St. Phillip's twice in the past 7 years and applied three times, partly because I knew he was overloaded there and needed help but also because I have a great deal of respect and admiration for him. He truly had a vision for St. Phillip's art department and I was so psyched at the possibility of working for Regis. When it fell apart due to budget cuts, he was very encouraging and told me to keep trying and helped me to stay on my path. Because of his career advice, I went through training at my college and became certified to teach online. He knew this would be a good move and wanted me to succeed. Anytime there was a full-time art position opening at his college or another he thought of me and emailed or called. Anytime there was a class he needed to fill, he contacted me in case I could teach it. He always thought of others and tirelessly worked hard to shape the St. Phillip's art department. It was finally coming together with a recent full-time hire and he would have more help, but help came too late, it seems.
I'll never forget that he made time to be a guest artist for my drawing class my first semester teaching at SAC over a decade ago. By that time, he was already teaching full-time at St. Phillip's and was exhibiting like mad. Regis blew their minds with his sketches and finished works. He was a natural communicator and just being able to say we went to school together filled me with pride.
Regis was the anomaly in a city that is under-represented by black artists in galleries, museums, and academia. He will continue to give inspiration to young artists that wonder what they can do with an art degree. He stood out as a true mentor and down-to-earth talent in a field often saturated with egos and pretention.
Jessica Barnett DeCuir
I am a former student of Regis Shephard. I'm an aspiring artist just on my way out to Chicago to complete my degree, I can honestly say that without the guidance, wisdom, and push of Mr. Shephard I would not be 2 weeks away from leaving the city I am from, to chase my dreams in Chicago! Just a few months ago Mr.Shephard allowed me the opportunity to try a new class/course he had come up with, it was basically the two of us meeting every Friday morning to turn me into a "legit" artist, we created my portfolio, my artist statement, narrowed down a selection of schools and just got to talk about art, he always listened to my dreams and aspirations and ALWAYS encouraged me to follow them, he made me believe this whole "art thing" could actually work. I first met Mr. Shephard about 6 years ago, I was only around 16 years old and was taking a Saturday morning painting class at St.Phillip's, the last few years went by faster than I could ever explain, I felt like Regis was literally a part of my school life since I was 16, I am now 22 years old and feel like I have lost a mentor and a friend. I just got accepted to SAIC and emailed Regis to brag a couple weeks ago, I wish my email was a little longer, but I'm glad he got to hear the news. I think he always knew I would end up going to Chicago, I think he really thought I had what it takes to make it as an artist. I’m so amazed at what has happen but I feel proud to say that Regis Shephard was my Professor, friend and so much more, I don't think he ever knew how much it meant to have someone as talented as him, tell ME that I had what it takes. I would leave our meeting every Friday feeling like the dopest artist around.
It is heartwarming to witness all the love that the San Antonio community had for him. The thing that strikes me as so significant is that everyone seems to have felt the same things about him. He was kind, unassuming, and hard working. Everyone felt his sincerity. He really was an incredible artist, I am sorry he did not live long enough to see the national recognition he deserved. He was definitely on his way.
To lay the rumors to rest (waiter underground gossip can go viral very quickly): no, Il Sogno is not turning into a pizzeria, and, also no, Exec. Chef Luca Della Casa is not leaving “for the foreseeable future.” According to Andrew Weissman, who should know, there will be some menu changes, however.
“Things have gotten a little unruly,” says Weissman. “There are currently 40 items on the menu, and we had 19 antipasti last night. We want to go back to having more dishes come out of the oven, but we’re only adding one pizza.” The idea is to be more focused, to be able to make everything “the best in show.”
“It’s an evolutionary process—just as it was at Le Rêve. We’ve been extremely successful, but we just need to tighten the screws,” he confided. The tightening includes going from 40 to about 25 menu items and instituting the same menu lunch and dinner. (This is useful in the kitchen, of course, in that prep work for both services is the same—but it likely also means a higher average lunch tab. Get used to it or stick to pizza and salad at midday.) The changes should be in place by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
Things will continue to evolve at Il Sogno says Weissman. And in news of other evolution, a name has been picked for his gourmet trailer park. The new place, scheduled to open sometime in November at Ave. B. & Jones Ave. on the river, will be called “The Luxury”, with a tag that reads something like “Haute Trailer Cuisine.” If his research on the potential utilization of used shipping containers pans out, however, that tag may have to change to Haute Container Cuisine. Or not, as that begins to sound a little too much like takeout, however upscale it may be.