Stalker alert: This Saturday at 8 p.m., I'll be at Music Town (4714 Broadway St.) to watch and review a free in-store performance by poppy punkers Altus. Local noisemakers Feed (featuring vocalist Tyler Lutz, also frontman for hardcore act Lie & Wait, reviewed by me a little over a month ago here.)
Come see what I see, then critique my review when it runs next Wednesday. Or just use the information of my future whereabouts to kidnap me then attempt to hold me for ransom at the Current's expense. That should at least give my editor a good laugh.
And help our continued effort to expand our local music coverage by nominating future Live and Local candidates in the comments section below, or by emailing me.
He’s sort of a co-traveler on my morning commute. That’s as close as we get.
I’m heading into downtown on Broadway; he’s moving away. I’m combusting exhaust into the spray; he’s pushing pedals and working those pipes. It’s been a bad week for it — for both my soot-exhaling Kia and his gasping aureoles. San Antonio is just coming out of a week of risky ground-level ozone, more familiarly known as smog. Which would certainly explain the respiratory mask my fellow traveler wears.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s official smogman say: Keep your respirator handy through Friday. Come Saturday, all this nasty air that has been blowing down from the Middle West will reverse and that cleansing Gulf Breeze will reestablish dominance. But here’s the bad news, this solid five days of high ozone (pictured here) have knocked much of the state out of compliance with running three-year federal mandates.
Warm days combined with the dusty farmland air formed this lung-constructing ground-level ozone (Love ya, High Pressure Ridge). Generous boosts of soot, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxides from area coal plants took this already-dirty air and bumped the read by about 20 parts per billion — says smogman Bryan Lambeth — putting San Antonio at and over the EPA’s recently lowered threshold of 76 parts per billion at two locations, including (“God Save the Dream”) Camp Bullis.
So a question: Strip OUR highway dollars? Why should we suffer for bad Middle West air? Let Ohio be damned. Kansas rapped. Oklahoma dehorned. And when we ship out our smog-forming components with the turning wind direction? Well, we’ll just blame Mexico.
Reminds me of that old book-pimping crank Thomas Friedman being interviewed on Living on Earth last night. He explains global population as based on the newly coined unit of measurement (which also happens to be both a human-engineered radioactive element and a killer mixed drink) the “Americum.” Each Americum represents 300 people “living like Americans.” You know, with the cable TV, two cars, and whatnot. He explained how the world had only 3 Americums (Americi?) last century, but has bloomed to 9-A with the wealth/population explosions occurring in China, India, and elsewhere.
The crush of bad air, climate disruption, toxic milk is an obvious signal. “The Good Lord did not create the earth for that many Americans,” quips Friedman. Could it be time for our civic pride and patriotic fervor to transcend state and federal boundaries as our lifestyles long have? Watch the ripple of unhealthy air split the nation (and San Antonio) and ask yourself, what part you play?
EPA’s Dallas-based explainer say: They’ll sort out the punishments/compliance issues after their quality control folks (“atmospheric scientists” and “meteorologists”) can manipulate the numbers in early ’09. So don’t you write off those federal highway funds just yet. (Though that could help... )
Day 3 is always the do-or-die day for music festivals. It's either the big finish or the anti-climax that will determine whether or not the 400 dollars you spent on tickets, parking, beer, food, merch, beer, and vitamin water was all worth it.
For me, ACL tends to wear out its welcome after two full days. The third morning of ACL weekend I'm always a little slower to get out of bed, and a little more eager to call it quits early. (Hey, some of us have work in the morning!) That's when the Sunday lineup really makes the difference. As a whole, I wasn't blown away by Sunday's bill, with the exception of a few solid standouts (and an appearance by one of my current favorite bands). I didn't get around to as many stages as I did on the previous two days, opting to stay at a few more shows and relax a bit. I also dropped by the press alcove for a drink and a comfy chair, and Blues Traveler was back there. The funny thing was that I didn't recognize the slimmed-down John Popper, but I did recognize his distinctive hat.
And now: ACL 2008 Day Three, in words and pictures.
Stars are from Montreal, Canada, and judging by Amy Millan's tortured pose, they don't like the Texas heat too much. (For the record, Sunday was a little cooler than Saturday.) But the audience loved Stars' brand of romantic indie-rock, singing along with Millan and singer/keyboardist/trumpeter Torquil Campbell.
I'm not too familiar with Stars, other than when I saw them at ACL in 2006 and that Millan is a member of Broken Social Scene, who I saw in Lollapalooza. (Have to admit I was disappointed that neither Feist nor Emily Haines played Lolla — no disrespect to Millan.) Seeing Stars again I was struck by how dramatic they were, but never urgent or really energetic. Their music is a little too light and frothy to convey any real passion — it just sort of glides by without much impact. Not necessarily bad, but as someone who never really listened to them, this set didn't make me want to go buy my weight in Stars records.
Neko Case's set was mellow, pretty, and easy-going, sort of like Case herself. The AMD stage was a little too big for her mostly acoustic sound, but the size was necessary judging by the huge crowd that clamored for a glimpse of the ginger siren (I wonder if this had anything to do with it?). I am mostly familiar with Case's work in the indie-rock band New Pornographers, but I know someone who can lend me their Neko Case CDs in a week or two so I can catch up on what I'm missing.
OK, I know you're sick of me going on and on about Okkervil River. But here's the thing: These guys are one of my absolute favorite groups right now. I totally love this band, and it's the best, rarest kind of love — the kind that only gets deeper as you go into their back catalogue and to discover that even their old stuff is good. While Black Sheep Boy was more of a grower for me, The Stage Names asserted itself as one of my favorite records almost immediately (I knew after "Unless It's Kicks" that this was a hell of an album), and their follow-up The Stand Ins is almost as good.
Okkervil (say: "Aw-ker-ville") is great on disc, but seeing them live will totally blow you away if you're not prepared for it. I saw them at Lollapalooza this year and my jaw was left open. I suddenly understood the kids that crowded the stage as the band tore down after their set, cheering as the group members unplugged their gear and rolled amps away.
One of the keys to Okkervil's amazing stage show is the manic, energetic performance of frontman Will Sheff. As if possessed, Sheff belts out his vivid, literary lyrics with sincere conviction, and his band push him further as they plow through the set with joyful abandon. It is the same energy and certainty of purpose of a band like Arcade Fire, and something that Stars didn't have.
I was particularly proud of those last five shots: Having seen them in concert before, I knew that when guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo launched into the solo on "Singer Songwriter," Sheff would run up and play right in her face. He did, I was in the perfect spot to capture it, and those five shots make up about five seconds. Sheff's enthusiasm for live performance is infectious, and it's interesting to see this brainy, literate band rock out with such looseness and fun. But make no mistake, Sheff is intense — especially when barking at the crowd to clap their hands, yelling "I want to see all hands clapping! Everybody clap!" and encouraging the audience to sing along at the top of their lungs. Seeing an Okkervil show isn't really a passive event — it's something you have to feel to get anything out of it.
I saw Gnarls Barkley at ACL 2006, back when they were at the height of their fame. It was an early Friday set, but still really packed due to the craze started by "Crazy." in '06 they had what I remember was something like a 15-piece band, but this year seemed like a smaller show even though it was one of the closing sets of the festival.
Their new material, while perhaps technically superior, failed to excite the crowd as much as cuts from their debut album, St. Elsewhere. I wonder whether or not the whole Gnarls Barkley thing will keep going, or whether or not Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo move on to other projects (of which there is no shortage, I'm sure.)
They closed their set with a pair of covers: A really hip version of Radiohead's "Reckoner," and Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," which is now officially the best way to close any show, whether it's a concert, DJ set, or mafia cable show.
Regrettably, I wasn't allowed into the Foo Fighters pit even after I had been originally approved (they said it was too full), but after three days worth of heat, alcohol, dust and dirt, I was ready to call it quits anyway. With Foo Fighters being the only act performing at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, all the foot traffic of Zilker Park accumulated in front of the dusty AT&T stage, creating thick, hazy clouds of dust that was getting to be unbearable (I'm still coughing over 24 hours later).
Near the photo pit, another photog looked up at the stage and said, "What is that, a smoke machine?" "No," I replied, "that's just ... dust!" Photographic evidence below.
I trudged back to meet my group so we could leave Zilker Park behind us for another year, as Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters kicked off their set with "One By One." Walking to the car, a friend said, "You see? This is the way to leave ACL — with the Foo Fighters playing you out."
I couldn't have said it any better myself.
By Gilbert Garcia
I was part of KTSA's "Gang of Four" on Friday morning with host Jack Riccardi, and moments after the Gang wrapped, Riccardi interview District 23 Representative Ciro Rodriguez about the Wall Street bailout plan.
Rodriguez revealed that, based on what he'd heard about the plan, he had mixed feelings, and noted that his legislative rule of thumb is "When in doubt, vote against it." Obviously, some of the changes negotiated over the weekend (namely the taxpayer protection provision that came from Nancy Pelosi) will factor in Rodriguez's vote.
To give a sense of the political pressures involved in this election year, Rodriguez said he'd received 515 calls and emails opposed to the bailout and only 22 in favor of it.
By Gilbert Garcia
A popular narrative from the first McCain-Obama debate was that Obama spent the whole night agreeing with his opponent. MSNBC's Chris Matthews particularly obsessed on this point and his network illustrated the thought with a montage of Obama repeatedly saying "John is right about ..."
What's been lost in this analysis is how Obama used his me-too-ism as a debating tactic. True, at times his point was simply to concur with McCain (and probably present himself as gracious, bipartisan, and presidential). But on at least a few occasions, he agreed with McCain as a means of turning the GOP nominee's own words against him.
These are the two examples that jump out: After McCain dismissed Obama's foreign-policy ideas as naive and dangerous, Obama said "John is right that a president has to be prudent." Obama then followed by noting that publicly threatening the extinction of North Korea and singing songs about bombing Iran don't give McCain much credibility on the issue. Earlier in the debate, when McCain attacked Obama on earmarks, Obama agreed that earmarks were a concern but said they amounted to $18 billion a year (that figure itself is much debated) and suggested that if McCain was so concerned about losing that much revenue, he should be much more alarmed about losing $300 billion, the price-tag Obama put on McCain's tax-cut proposal.
Saturday morning I woke up with at least seven ounces of Zilker Park in my lungs and sinuses.
While I was prepared for the heat (Saturday was hotter then Friday; less cloudy and breezy), I was not prepared for what some have called the "ACL Mud Booger Plague." If the sun doesn't kill you, then the dust of Zilker Park will definitely make breathing difficult for about a week. I feel like a coal miner. Until yesterday, I never knew what someone meant when they told me to "eat dirt." You know what? It's not fun.
Saturday wasn't as exciting as Friday band-wise, but like Day One, there were a few surprises. Like CSS.
You have probably heard CSS before, believe it or not. Their song "Music is My Hot Hot Sex" was featured in an iPod Touch commercial. I missed the Brazilian group (CSS is short for Cansei de Ser Sexy — or "tired of being sexy") at Lollapalooza, so I was determined to catch them at ACL after seeing photos from their stage show in Chicago. They didn't disappoint, either — lead singer Lovefoxxx and her crew didn't mind the heat, and even tried turning it up a notch with their fun brand of electro-pop (and costumes!).
The crowd loved CSS, and CSS loved them right back. Lovefoxxx didn't neglect the dust-covered photogs in the pit, either, jumping off the stage and right into our faces! (That first shot was taken as she grinded her crotch into my lens. My zoom's not that powerful.) Great show to kick off the day.
Erykah Badu looked like she just woke up. Dressed in sweat pants and a plain T-shirt (covering a pregnant stomach) I didn't know what to expect when she came onstage a few minutes late. But once her incredibly tight backing band started playing, I was hooked. This was a true hip-hop band, digging a groove about a mile deep. And when Badu stepped up the mic and launched into her first number — complete with pregnant dance moves! — I was %100 sold.
Badu is a true artist, though, in every sense of the word. The so-called "analog girl in a digital world" didn't disappoint with her mix of old-school R&B and cutting-edge hip-hop, spinning out tracks from her newest album New Amerykah, Part One: 4th World War. She did kinda lose some people about three-quarters into her set when she started getting political, but in such a political year (I've seen almost as many Obama T-shirts as I have Ray-Ban Wayfarers) it's already on everybody's mind anyway. Regardless, she won them back with a creative use of tuning forks. A+.
I almost couldn't get into the photo pit for MGMT. Not because security was being jerky, but because there were so many people there! It seemed like the most crowded stage at ACL thus far. It was a total mess. Adding to my confusion was the fact that I'm not really a big MGMT fan. I'm not really into their psychedelic jam-rock, and am curious as to what it does for other people — because I had no idea they were this big. There's a good chance that the fault is mine, here — but are they on a movie soundtrack or something? Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist?
CONOR OBERST AND THE MYSTIC VALLEY BAND
Conor Oberst came onstage dressed like funeral director, which fit his downtrodden, gloomy sound. Or so I thought, until he and his Mystic Valley Band launched into some pretty convincing alt-country rock with lyrics like "there's nothing the road cannot heal."
While technically accomplished (Oberst sounds like he finally grew into his voice), I have to admit to being a little indifferent to the proceedings. Not being a huge Bright Eyes fan (although "First Day of My Life" is incredibly beautiful), Oberst provided little stage excitement, unless you found his mere presence exciting (like the front row of mostly teenage girls). If I sound too down on Oberst, it's only because this was the middle of a long, dusty stretch before Beck, who was one of the only performers I was really into seeing on Day 2. And did I mention the dust?
THE BLACK KEYS
The Black Keys, from Akron, Ohio, was up next — and for two guys they made a lot of noise (earplugs definitely helped on this one). I feel bad because whenever someone mentions The Black Keys, I can't help but compare them to The White Stripes (two-person guitar-drums lineup, blues and garage influences, similar names), but after Day 2 I sort of feel that, while the comparison is apt, The Black Keys are much less self-consciously arty and more focused on rocking your face off.
And then, the main event: Beck Hansen on the AT&T stage. The crowd was amped up for Beck, and he threw down the gauntlet from the first note with "Loser." As Beck and his band* ran through their set, I was amazed at the sheer number of really good songs in the Beck catalogue. Even the older stuff, like "Devil's Haircut," sounded just as fresh as "Modern Guilt." An inspired take on "Mixed Bizness" led into a drop-dead awesome, completely sampled electronic version of "Hell Yes" from 2005's Guero. Then he was able to convincingly switch gears to the acoustic "Golden Age" from Sea Change with incredible ease. Beck truly is a chameleon.
Check back tonight for full coverage of ACL 2008 Day 3 at sacurrent.com!
*Every guy I talked to post-Day 2 agreed with me that Beck's guitarist Jessica Dobson (yes, I Googled her. No, it's not weird, it's journalistic research) was distractingly beautiful and an immensely talented guitarist. Beck: She's a keeper.
Greetings from the beer-pong table that I've converted to a desk:
I am privileged to bring you part one of the San Antonio Current's 2008 Austin City Limits Festival coverage. This is my third ACL (unless my one-day 2007 pilgrimage to see Arcade Fire doesn't count), and, considering myself a festival pro (I was at this year's Lollapalooza, also), I thought I knew what to expect. I also wasn't completely floored by this year's lineup like previous years. However, what I originally thought was a lackluster schedule has proven so far to be surprisingly good, if not a little Friday-heavy. Another surprise: The weather was beautiful. Hot, but not humid — with plenty of breezes and occasional cloud cover. I still drank about 2 liters of water (and a few vodka-Red Bulls to keep my energy up) but like I said to the poor girl who threw up on her shoes waiting for Radiohead at Lollapalooza: In Texas, the heat will kill you. We don't mess with the sun.
And now, my report from the front:
Yeasayer was the first band I shot in the photo pit, and it almost didn't happen. I suspect that part of the fun of working security at a music festival is abusing the authority your royal blue T-shirt bestows upon you, and my suspicions were proven right on at least three separate occasions. Trying to access a photo pit is like guessing the outcome of a coin toss. (If you try to enter left, they tell you to go around to the right, if you go to the right, they tell you to enter from the left!) At Yeasayer, I tried to enter through the right only to be told that I needed to enter from behind the stage somewhere. OK, fair enough. But as ACL security kept guiding me I realized I was just going further and further away from the stage. Spying two other photogs on their way to shoot Yeasayer, I followed them right into the photo pit through the same entrance I was turned away from. This sort of thing happened again with David Byrne and The Mars Volta, incredibly. The adage is true: Absolute power makes people act like jerks for no reason.
Yeasayer is from Brooklyn, but they have little in common with the so-called "New York sound" that was getting so much buzz at the turn of the century. These guys sound much warmer, earthier, and ultimately, kinda jammy. I'm not really big on jam bands, and all of Yeasayer's lyrics about mothers, sisters, and brothers were all a little too "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" for me. But the crowd seemed into it, I'll have to check them out on record to make a better call.
Oh, Vampire Weekend. I've defended them from a few indie-snobs who say that your collegiate afro-pop is simply whitewashing a musical genre, stealing from Paul Simon (who was accused of the same thing), or being nothing more than an ironic wink. I don't think it's any of those things — at the end of the day, their self-titled debut album is still fun to listen to. Playing live, though, is another matter. While their straight-up rock songs, "A-Punk" and "Walcott," sounded great, the more afro-pop tunes were sluggish and lead-footed. "M79" in particular suffered from some major time issues, and it didn't help that the Tosca String Quartet was all but drowned out by the drums and bass. However, the did debut some new stuff that featured keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij (is that an anagram?) on guitar that sounded pretty good.
DEL THA FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN
I have to admit to not being too familiar with Del Tha Funky Homosapien outside of his work with Gorillaz (he's the rapper on "Clint Eastwood" and "Rock the House") but he and his crew put on an awesome show, launching into freestyle rapping and getting the mosty-white crowd pumped up.
M. Ward is the "Him" of She & Him, his musical partnership with actress Zooey Deschanel. But he's first and foremost an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right, and the WaMu stage was absolutely jam-packed with fans of all ages. His album, Post-War, is a superb mix of alt-country, folk, and rock.
He and his band were really tight, and among the backstage admirers was none other than Jenny Lewis, who'd be playing the WaMu stage following Ward's set. I resisted the urge to propose to her and instead offered a very professional greeting. She's as nice and down-to-earth as she seems, and very, very pretty in person. Unfortunately, I had to choose another set over hers: Hot Chip.
Hot Chip was amazing live. Just incredible. Their robot-rock sounded big and spacious, and was recreated with live instruments (complete with assorted percussion) as well as digital sampling. The played all the hits, like "Boy From School" and "Over and Over" from The Warning, and they killed with tracks like "Shake a Fist" and "Ready For the Floor" from their newest, Made in the Dark. Everybody was dancing and singing along, and Hot Chip themselves were having a blast. After the low-key affair that was M. Ward, Hot Chip hit Zilker like an atom bomb. Even David Byrne liked it.
Speaking of David Byrne (and continuing the dressing in all-white theme), his set at the AT&T stage was odd, majestic, and very impressive. I had the option to either shoot N*E*R*D or Byrne, and out of my love of Talking Heads I had to side with Byrne. He and his large ensemble didn't disappoint, either, although the possible appearance by Brian Eno didn't happen.
THE MARS VOLTA
Finally, the closer — The Mars Volta took the stage at 8:15, and it wasn't soon enough for the people who'd waited all day at the AMD stage to see them (funniest thing I heard from the crowd: "Hurry up! We had to see Patti Smith to get this spot!"). Mars Volta took the stage with a fury, acting like superheroes. Lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala flailed around, wailingly in an unnaturally high pitch (I'm blaming the skinny jeans) while Omar Rodriguez-Lopez shredded his axe. It was also the loudest show of the day: my clothes were vibrating from the soundwaves coming off the monitors. As for the music, Mars Volta hasn't really been my thing, but there is no doubting the virtuosity, energy and conviction that Mars Volta pours into each of their 28-minute songs.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's rundown of Saturday's events, right here at sacurrent.com!
I'll say this for John McCain: He was much livelier and more energetic in Debate 1 with Barack Obama than his listless stump speeches would have led us to expect.
Any questions about creeping senility were probably put to rest by his sharp attacks on earmarks and his name-dropping catalog of foreign excursions. Now if he could just work on that likability thing.
McCain's repeated use of the phrase "Senator Obama doesn't understand ..." was a key part of his strategy to depict Obama as wet behind the ears, naive, and merely book-smart (while McCain has interfaced with the real world). That kind of contemptuous air of superiority can help you control the debate agenda and possibly even score some points. But does it play with the national populace?
It was reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's merciless offensive against Gerald Ford in their second 1976 debate, when Carter underlined his lack of respect for the incumbent by calling him "Mr. Ford." That debate is remembered mainly for Ford's head-scratching gaffe about Eastern Europe not being controlled by the Soviet Union, but Carter's performance also rubbed many viewers the wrong way that night.
Obama showed discretion and discipline in refraining from ridiculing his opponent over McCain's grandstanding, drama-queen moves to "suspend" his campaign and play peek-a-boo with the debate schedule. Discretion and discipline can be frustrating (especially when McCain leaves so many potential openings), but it's probably a winning strategy, given McCain's short supply of both qualities, and the apparent popular fatigue with some of his antics.
“In Good Times and Bad”
Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite via the Current Front Desk)
In a rare week I received not one but two “hand written” letters. When I got paged to the front desk, I assumed the worst. Though I would have liked them to be glowing letters of endorsement I braced my stomach for schizophrenic rants and other harangues. What I received was actually neither.
#1 Lost in Translation
From a prior conversation, I can only assume this letter was from Rambling Jack Elder, though it’s possible it could have been from anyone. Also, it would have helped if I knew just a little bit more French. I will hold on to this letter and refer to it over the years as my French slowly improves. It should start making sense by the year 2034.
Love the Butterfly.
#2 Lost in the Cobwebs
When I opened this letter I immediately began to wonder about the date of the first letter. Why? This second letter looked to be about 16 or 17 months old and had probably gotten lost somewhere behind the front desk. With the paper moving offices, this letter, evidently, squirted out.
Here are some nuggets from this fast tracked time capsule. It’s a press release for a show at Salon Mijangos from May 2007 for Sarah Higgins.
The best part is the line “For Immediate Release”. This is all odd because I remember actually going to the show without having read the press release, so in that sense it all worked out.
My Big, Fat Hipster Wedding
A crazy week it was. With everything else going on I went out to the Hill Country last weekend to officiate a wedding. Getting ordained didn’t take long at all thanks to a fast internet connection. However, that was the easy part. The difficulty was writing a speech that could somehow appeal to the Vietnamese group, as well as the Christian group, and if possible, whatever scraps were left over, which in this case were all the 30 somethings. In other words, my friends.
foto: Duy Tran
Also, I had been spending a decent amount of time trying to get a wedding present made – a customized wooden nickel to commemorate the wedding weekend.
I was actually annoyed that the text wasn't centered but no one but me even made a comment about it.
Also of note – we were out on Lake LBJ near Marble Falls at a resort called Log Cabin Cove. The cabins, at least some of them, were small cathedrals. I didn’t think the logs could actually be real, but somehow or another they were.
Giving a speech to about 200 people is nerve-racking, without question. But once the speech is written it’s really a matter of reading from the page and trying to look up enough so that people think you’re not actually just reading from a piece of paper.
foto: Duy Tran
The wedding planning came down to the wire. Although all the friends had helped out all day Saturday putting up the tables and decorations and other pieces of set decoration, this left little time to actually rehearse the wedding. So there I was with the bride and groom in their room 45 minutes before the wedding is set to start and we’re going over the vows and all that for the first time. This was nerve-racking as well but made the moment all the more memorable.
The fact that people were jet skiing behind me on the lake did make the moment a little less regimented.
foto: Duy Tran
The next day it was Summer Camp is over all over again. Somehow I ended up being almost the last person to leave. The stress had overwhelmed and I was happy to lie on this long bed window and look out as the table and chair people came back to collect their goods.
Oh, and for the wedding music it was Brian Eno ambience and then when the bride walked down the aisle – a cover of a Daniel Johnston love song. It seems funny that Wingo the singer would feel bad that he flubbed a line from the song. Wouldn’t Daniel Johnston want it that way?
Calling All Luchadores
After the wedding I found myself going up to Austin for the post-wedding farewells as people slowly, finally left town and made their way back to the four corners of the country.
It was in this random moment that I found myself at a local art show with work by our very own Mantecatron (1972-2008). It seems Mantecatron has quit his job and is set to walk the Earth all Jules from Pulp Fiction style. I imagine Mantecatron to return from the desert in a month or two ready to be reborn.
I walked in and found two luchadores going mano a mano, so to speak. It was at this point that Mantecatron commented that it was a battle of modernism vs. postmodernism. I couldn't tell who was who but after a few armbars and suplexes, a truce was called in the end, as well as some gentle back massaging.
I think modernism was getting his ass kicked in this foto, as one can see.
Identity. A mystery.
This is the kind of particle board I can get behind.
Lost in a free fall.
And who hasn't found themselves in a similar predicament?
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio (and Marble Falls and East Austin.) As always, to be continued...
Maybe its because of local understanding of their downstream
situation. Maybe the paper’s business minds have some circulation goals
for surrounding counties. Whatever it is, I am one of many appreciating
the regular updates from Victoria on uranium mining in South Texas
While the Advocate was quoting uber-environmental attorney Jim Blackburn on the toxic legacy of in-situ uranium mining, Uranium Energy Corp. was using the PR Newswire to alert potential investors as to their recent endorsement by Texas Parks & Wildlife.
Uranium Energy Corp is also pleased to announce that it has received official acknowledgment from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) that the Company's proposed uranium recovery operation will not have an impact on natural resources.
Blackburn is citing TCEQ data. What exactly did Texas Parks ignoramusi consult?
Here’s where the Victoria story opens:
GOLIAD – The county needs to be concerned about the quality of its water after uranium mining is completed, a lawyer said Monday.
Texas historically allows uranium mining companies to amend the levels of minerals in restored groundwater once mining operations are complete said Jim Blackburn, Goliad County’s lawyer concerning uranium mining.
These levels are routinely greater than those established during the mining permit process, Blackburn told the commissioners court.
According to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality records, 51 requests for “amended restoration tables to make them higher” have been granted out of 80 uranium mining production areas. The data include uranium mining permits issued during the last “20 or 30 years,” Blackburn said.
“I think this study is quite important in terms of giving you information about what the past practices have been. I think this is a reason for concern about the mining process and the certainty about the administration of the mining process so far by the state,” Blackburn said.
Very different takes on what elevated uranium levels mean. With wildlife sold downriver, guess we'll have to wait and see what TCEQ rules on the human tolerance for death ore in Goliad's teetering drinking-water aquifer.
And now for a band that's really putting San Antonio on the map — the Cartographers. Anybody? Come on, don't tell me none of you paid attention in geography class. There goes my Amerigo Vespucci gag, too. See a cartographer is one who … screw it.
We're going to see indie left fielders the Cartographers (not to be confused with this LA-based group) play at Jacks Patio Bar and Grill Friday (2950 Thousand Oaks), September 26. Along with San Marcos rock orchestra Winter Dance Party (not to be confused with this Buddy Holly/Big Bopper tibute band) they'll be opening for local superstars Girl in a Coma (not to be confused with my wife last Thursday night). Tickets for this all-ages show are $10 at the door, or $8 if purchased in advance from frontgatetickets.com.
See you there, and be sure to e-mail me with nominations for future Live & Local subjects, or leave a comment below. Tattooing nominations on a rabid feral cat and tossing them through my bedroom in the dead of night just ain't gonna cut it anymore, people.
By Gilbert Garcia
I've never fully bought into the theory (generally perpetuated by his supporters) that John McCain is an impulsive, free-wheeling, outside-the-box maverick.
But I'll say this: His latest gambit, to suspend all campaigning and push for a postponement of Friday's debate with Barack Obama -- ostensibly so he can devote his energies to brokering a legislative solution to our investment-banking crisis -- feels like a drawn-in-the-sand audible. It goes against all political orthodoxy, which says that the underdog in a presidential race should try to debate as early and as often as possible.
It's a crafty move: a political stunt disguised as a country-first rejection of politics. It's reminiscent of presidents who've adopted a Rose Garden Strategy, to let voters know they're too honorable (and busy) to attend a campaign rally. It also put Obama in an awkward position. if he agreed, it would look like a weak, me-too response. If he disagreed, he'd risk looking like just another self-centered pol.
Obama took the latter stance, and it was probably the smartest option, because at least it conveys the impression that he has a mind of his own. I'm skeptical that McCain's dare will swing many votes his way, but it should be fascinating to watch.
Repeated viewings of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau’s new promotional video “Deep. In the Heart.” reveal their grammatically suspect slogan is less a reference to the classic Texas ballad and more an indication of where we’re going to stick our crudely fashioned stone knives when we sacrifice unsuspecting visitors to the river gods in some sort of bloody Aztec ceremony. Seriously, this thing gives me the creeps. In addition to the weird, soft-focus look and the narrator’s inhumanly deep voice, here are a few of the commercial’s strangest highlights with their approximate times for those of you becoming unsettled along at home:
0:00- 0:15 After an innocent enough opening — the vaginal allusions of that yellow rose floating on the river notwithstanding — we get a pretty immediate indication that something isn’t right here. That creepy background music tossed with the narrator’s schizophrenic word salad (note the “hats of history” non sequitur at 0:15), which later peaks at 1:20, lets potential vacationers know San Antonio is no ho-hum tourist trap. We’re out to swallow your fucking souls.
0:24 Cowboy hat man #1 perpetuates the stereotype in front of the Alamo. May I remind you, San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, that most of the people in America think we still dress like that here?
0:58 – 1:00 Bwaaaghhh! Holy shitting shit, man, did you see that? In what has to be the year’s best jump scare, this old man in a white suit materializes out of nowhere immediately after the narrator mentions our “welcoming (g)hosts.” Thank Jesus I’m not wearing white pants, if you take my meaning.* (* i.e., I totally pooped myself.)
1:04-1:06 Now, we’re on to something — namely, pitching San Antonio as a town of red-hot lady loving. Oh. Hell. Yes. And with the Alamo in the background, to boot. Who says Texans are homophobic?
1:10-1:13 This materialization is somewhat less startling because they’ve used this trick only seconds before, but, when you start to think about it, the scene is much more disturbing. That little girl is sitting unattended on some old steps when suddenly … Ok. I admit I have no idea what’s supposed to be going on. Are those apparating children dueling aspects of the original little girl’s personality made manifest, or are they the twins from The Shining? If so, wouldn’t “Come and play in San Antonio … for ever and ever and ever,” have been a way more badass slogan?
1:20 – 1:45 Most of the word image combinations are nonsensical here, but as Sarah Fisch astutely pointed out, the worst offender comes at 1:23. What’s more soulful than two white dudes playing golf at a fancy pants club? Practically anything else you can name, it turns out.
1:57 Homemade guacamole — an enticing, and completely normal, reason to visit SA. I have to assume it was included on accident.
2:06 Cowboy hat man #2. Couldn’t they find anybody wearing spurs and chaps? It’s amazing they never attempted send a camera crew to my house on Naked Rodeo Night.
2:33 Tasty-looking margaritas. By pretending for a moment to be a normal commercial, the film lulls you into a false sense of security like that canoe scene at the end of Friday the 13th.
2:40 – 2:45 Are these the “hats of history”? If so, should we really be letting the bear wear one? That seems kind of disrespectful.
2:54 Then bam. Just when you’ve gotten comfortable, we get a quick, terrifying flash of horse heads moving in perfect synchronicity. You don’t need an equestrian veteranarian to tell you that shit ain’t natural.
3:09 And we’re done. Conclusion: Come for the tasty Mexican food, cowboy hats, and chicks making out in public; stay because we’re most likely going to murder you.
I probably should've titled this post "San Antonio-Nerd Haven," thus indicating that if you are, like me, nerdlike in your obsession with the history and culture of San Antonio, then this post (and the place it's fixin' to recommend) are for you. Whereas if you are a nerd whose major preoccupation is, say, hentai ... frankly I don't know where the hell you should go in SA, haven-wise.
I'm sure there are havens for you, sir or madam, but the San Antonio Conservation Society Library ain't one of them!
Maybe you've heard of the San Antonio Conservation Society. They put on NIOSA. That's about all I knew about them, too, until last week, when I started researching a story about the Onderdonk family, one of whom was the King of the Bluebonnet pianters, and three of whom have work up at the Witte currently. The Witte Museum had provided me with a pretty slick press kit including a CD of images and the Fall newsletter and whatnot. I even had a show catalog with some essays in it.
Some of y'all woulda just been satisfied with the press kit, gone to see the Onderdonk show, done your little write-up, and then gotten back to your hentai or fyour antasy football or dressing your Madame Alexander dolls as characters from the Golden Girls.
I needed to know more Onderdonk-ery. Who were these folks? Were they in the newspaper? Where did they live? Did they write letters? What does "Onderdonk" mean? What the hell did they get up to besides painting bluebonnets and Alamo scenes and wee-tiny portraits of fancy ladies?
On the recommendation of another San Antonio-nerd, I consulted the San Antonio Conservation Society library. And it turns out, that place rocks.
Their website is here: http://www.saconservation.org/about/index.htm
I called up and asked the friendly librarian, whose name is Beth Standifird, to reserve any materials pertaining to the Onderdonks--books, articles, and photos. She cheerfully said she would--( The SACS librarian and volunteers will do up to one hour of research for you, for free .Additional staff research is available at $30.00/hr.) Then I drove down there, almost not believing my luck.
I found the library on the third floor of the Anton Wulff House at 107 King William Street. It's a small floor-through facility that feels like a secret hideaway, chock full of microfiche and dusty bound multi-volumes of city directories (since 1877!) and rare books and periodicals (4800 on architectural history alone!). When I got there, Ms. Standifird was at lunch, but a friendly volunteer got my Onderdonk stash for me and left me to peruse it in the reading room, which is a quiet, unpretentious little room with a big-ol table and comfy chair where you can bury yourself in San Antoniana, and nobody hassles you. There are even not one but two clean, historical-style bathrooms in case your San Antonio-nerd excitement gets the better of you.
I sat there and read from books about early Texas painting, about the history of the Witte and its collections, and a book about the Onderdonks containing tons of artwork and some moving and surprisingly interesting letters they'd written to each other. Best of all was a hilarious 1955 profile of Eleanor Onderdonk by San Antonio Light "Society Editor" Claudia Poff. Eleanor was the Witte's art curator for thirty-one years. She tried to drag Depression-era San Anto into the world of modern art, fought for arts funding during WW II, wore awesome hats, never got married, nearly got attacked by a boa constrictor, and was the only female member of the "Men of Art Guild."
My favorite passage in this article is as follows, about the Witte's survival during the Depression:
As International Day of Peace, officially observed on September 21, passes for another year while struggles around the globe & the Iraq War continues, Colonial Hills Elementary students march on....
Their faces plastered with smiles, their cardboard doves flapping in the wind, the young anti-war protesters, ages 5 to 13, do their part to remind us that we should all give peace a chance.
Here’s to the little people....
Tonight, I'll be headed out to Blue Bubble Ballroom to watch local funk-punkers Pop Pistol perform at the $3 Holler Show. They're scheduled to take the stage at 11 p.m.) Give their MySpace a listen (if that makes sense), the band has a versatile style incorporating elements of dance ("Angela Awake"), prog metal ("Calm Little Center") and can get surprisingly heavy at times. Recently I saw them tear into a live adaptation of Daft Punk's "Around the World," with singer/guitarist Alex Schael Frampton-ing the living shit out of a talk box.
The show may or may not be a CD release party, depending on whether the group has finished their new album in time. Members of the Vola Movement will dispaly works in a mobile art gallery and even create new art live onsite.
Also on the bill, anglacized reggae group — i.e., more Clash than Jimmy Cliff (9 p.m.), local pop-rockers Montauk (10 p.m.), and the more or less indefinable Colleagues (midnight). DJ sets will open and close the night.
Doors open at 8 p.m. and, as the name might suggest, admission is $3 for anybody 21 or older. It's an all ages show, but you minors have to pay $5. You can holler all you want, but you still can't buy beer.
Sheesh! 'Member back when we were bitching about Mr. Pickens. That the only media taking cold assessment of what his current "Pickens' Plan" media campaign all wrapped up in that new-ist brand of patriotic isolationism - the energy one - was Popular Mechanics?
Well the corporate raider-slash-John Kerry swiftboater cashbox now being iconized by Texas Monthly covers in grocery-store checkout aisles everywhere such glossy items are pawed got a national poke today from USA Today.
Texas-based watchdogs-turned-lapdogs hang your heads in shame.
Today's guest edit:
While touting his plan to wean us off foreign oil, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens makes no bones about being heavily invested in the natural gas he wants us to use in our cars. Nor does he deny the wind generated on his 200,000-acre wind farm would inflate a fortune accumulated selling fossil fuel. But he says little of his intention to market fossil water.
That's what conservationists call finite supplies of water dating to prehistoric times. The Ogallala Aquifer is the largest such supply on our continent. It underlies the Plains all the way from Pickens' North Texas to South Dakota. Thanks to help he obtained from the Texas Legislature, he has stacked the board of a tiny water district. By the power of eminent domain, also granted him by the Legislature, he can force landowners to sell him rights to a 320-mile strip of land connecting him to Dallas. He will pipe the water down the same corridor he plans to use transmitting his wind power.
Water is life, and the rate we're squandering it outpaces even our flagrant waste of oil. This is nowhere so true as on the Great Plains, where withdrawals from the Ogallala threaten to close down most irrigation farming before the end of this century.
What a chuckle I got this morning, seeing a column in the Express-News written in opposition to the siting of Homeland Security's germ lab here.
I've been supremely critical of the paper's smalltown chamber of commerce functioning on this issue. Consider their coverage and you can't help but conclude, the editorial content has been spun - if not to sell the lab to SA - at least to keep a lid on the criticism.
I know our struggling environmental community is short on staff and/or volunteers on all perceptibly non-Edwards Aquifer issues, but finally mustering an opposition column one month before the expected federal announcement likely to name SA as germland territory? Well, suffice to say, it's a little late in the game. Benefit of the doubt: maybe this is the first that the paper has let slip in.
Where was everyone at the first public hearing (9/11, '07) when the only one speaking in opposition was a local high school student?
So is the editorial a post-victory friendship offering? For what danger does an anti- offering portend for the bio-boosters at this stage?
I truly hope that if SA is named, a late-stage movement can be mustered to get Congress to double the funding to bury that thing underground.
Lo, and behold, Klar's column is actually racking up the comments.
From the Ex-News today:
San Antonio residents need to take a serious look at our city's pursuit of a potentially hazardous Level-4 biodefense lab at the Texas Research Park near Sea World.
We are one of five cities still under consideration by the Department of Homeland Security as the location for this $450 million facility. Several communities in other states being considered have expressed opposition to the lab due to overwhelming evidence that potential health risks to the environment outweigh the economic benefit this Level-4 biodefense lab would bring to their communities.
The current biodefense lab is located on an isolated island several miles away from the mainland in New York State and for good reason. It has had a troubling record of leaks and security breaches since it opened in 1954.
Over the years, OSHA has cited this lab and EPA for over a hundred safety violations, yet it continues to operate under poor security and work conditions. These breaches included an outbreak of foot and mouth disease that resulted in the destruction of hundreds of farm animals at the facility to limit further spread of disease. Public records also show other similar secured infectious disease labs located throughout the nation and around the world have had major leaks and security breaches.
Homeland Security officials as well as experts in the field of infectious disease research contend that the facility will boost the local economy and that it will be “leak proof” and completely safe. Numerous San Antonio citizens and organizations are questioning the validity of these promises.
Potential adverse health risks outweigh the economic benefits of this Level-4 biodefense lab since it would be located near the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer and near large concentrations of livestock and humans. Also, in June, Homeland Security released a draft statement indicating our region could surpass $4 billion in economic losses if an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease occurred.
Read the full column.
Come one, come all (or something equally ridiculous). This is a call for submissions to a new section in The Current: flash fiction. The first story and a short introduction to the form will be printed in the October 1 issue.
I'm looking for fiction approximately 400 words long. The next deadline is October 6th and submissions can be sent, preferably in the body of the email, to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at the above address.
Thanks and I look forward to reading your stories.
“There’s no Can in Can’t”
Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)
After last week's cry for help the Gods intevened, the symbolically clouds parted (though meteorlogically they actually closed, which is cool because Summer had been bearing down like a ton of bricks) and in came this glowing letter…
#1 Hunted, Raised, or Grown
Illustration: Chuck Kerr
Hello Mark Jones,
I read a great article that you wrote in the "Current" about Farmer Markets. I was wondering if you have had any progress. I have been to a couple of cities across the state that when we go on vacation I just love the markets and just want to cook, cook, cook. I live down in King William and would like to offer my services if you need them to help out with this. I have a couple of ideas but I think that a Farmer's Market in King William would really rock and a lot of people would attend. I have some friends in the Farming business. I grew up in a small town and most of everything that was put on my plate was hunted, raised, or grown in our garden. I know there is a lot of legality that our Farmers would have to go through to be able to sale their products but I can already picture our local resturants buying fresh on from the Market and cooking great meals on Saturday and Sunday even through Monday. It would be great to hear back from you.
Thank you for your time!
Billie Jo Waddell
Billie Jo is referring to this article, aka Part III of the infamous Open Letter Series which tackled pressing issues such as Taco Truck corporate branding, Cannibalism and the Fall of the American Empire, and Viking Funeral Farmers Markets, the last of which Billie Jo is referring to in the letter. The response is rather delayed so either someone cut it out and framed it behind rich, luxuriant tropical wood, or more likely, an old copy was laying around, say, Jiffy Lube, quite possibly to be used for wiping the oil from a dipstick at various points in the day.
Regardless of the how, this letter does legitimately show that there is some interest floating out there to fix the Farmers Market lameness. If I recall, the Open Letter was an invitation for not only a full borne, centralized Farmers Market, but in addition, a stage for all aspects of San Antonio to raise their respective freak flags and come together one time a week as a unified city.
Or something like that. There would have to be some restrictions, such as no Made in China flea market junk, but other than that, it was ripe for an artisan’s alley type of deal. Something is blowing in the wind at Pearl Brewery, but it’s probably aiming to be highbrow, which would probably limit its success, and in that sense, only reshuffle the deck.
We’ll see what happens…
#2 The Back Road to Austin
Occasional OTS Insider/All Around San Antonio Hero, Jack the Elder writes in with a hint of a new but old bicycle route to take to Austin.
hermano, I seem to recall that a while back you entertained the thought of riding to Austin. Last week, at just about this time, I was pulling into my brother's driveway on my bike. After a good meal and a deep sleep I headed back on Thursday morning. At any rate, I (of course) have some stories as well as suggestions on which roads to take should your musings ever verge on becoming reality. Jack
For the last month or so I’ve been “rolling up the sleeves” and working with some members of Lake l Flato for an upcoming benefit for the San Antonio Food Bank called “Canstruction”.
It’s a design competition wherein local architects building sculptures from canned food. The location is at various spots around North Star Mall. It’s quite an undertaking with hundreds and hundreds of cans of food being used in the sculpture.
This year’s theme was…well, actually I don’t recall if there was an overall theme to the competition. Various teams go with all sorts of themes and topics for their sculpture. Last year there were robots and Kermit the Frog, among others. I feel like Canjunto in fact was the theme because our team chose to build an “accordion” out of canned foods.
Other ideas were bandied about, with some sort of Rube Goldberg contraption being one of the choices. I was pushing for that sort of interactivity, with a design that somehow resembled Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum, wherein cans would be dropped at the top and would then roll down a winding ramp, at which point, at the bottom the donated can would then roll off somewhere…well, I’m not sure where, and this would probably cause a canned food traffic jam, but it would be interactive and possibly, subconsciously, pulled at the judges architectural leanings. Then again, Kermit won last year so who knows.
After trying to raise a few thousand dollars for the cans, and after several days practicing building this accordion once the money was raised, slight revisions were made to the design so that, basically, it doesn’t fall over.
We arrived at the Jims on Blanco and 410 at 7am Saturday morning for breakfast before heading over to North Star Mall for the load in and build.
It was a friendly competition and as our project slowly went up, I occasionally walked around the Mall to see how the other teams were doing. Somehow, two different panda bears were being built, or should I say, Canda Bears were being built.
Our accordion finally went up around 12 or 1pm, which was much better than the 5pm we all feared. The next day I finished my volunteer duties at the VA Hospital and rushed over to North Star as fast as one can drive a scooter on the access road on 410.
I got there too late. The judging had already finished. And yet, somehow, even though we were up against not one but two canda bears, a big orange shaped sculpture, an airplane with wings, we somehow came in first place.
In other words, we won.
This sculpture will now be rebuilt at the San Antonio Food Bank, and then later, possibly, at the AT&T Center for one of the early Spurs games.
Burn After Viewing
Though I wanted to first see Man on Wire because I just knew it would only be around for a week (which was later confirmed by Mark the Bijou manager) Iistead, on Saturday night, I saw the new Coen Brothers movie, Burn After Reading.
(Foto from here)
There are a lot of different things that can be said about the movie, but for most part, what I would say about it has less to do with the movie itself and more about the Coen Bros. and how this place fits into their body of work.
But to cut to it – the movie pretty much stinks.
As filmmakers they are meticulous. The characters are precisely crafted (even if they seem to get forced into tightly pre-arranged boxes.) The cinematography is excellent. The quality of the actors, also, is superlative. So, it should be a good film. No one questions their writing talent. If anything, that is supposed to be their strong point.
However, their smug attitude was excessive this time around. Unlike their post-Big Lebowski/ pre-In the Country of Old Men era in which they made fairly crappy films that were clearly beneath them, and more, where the joke was on them, in this film, the joke seems to be on us. The characters are so stupid and loathsome that it is difficult to find interest in the movie, yet the Coens move through one slow, plodding scene after another with straight faced glee. It's really a depressing film masquerading as a comedy. I did laugh obnoxiously as best I could, however it felt cheap, like at a night at the Silo Bar.
Also, the film overall seems quite lazy. With No Country I thought they might be entering a Clint Eastwood like period of unexpected lucidity where they begin making existential dramas that were sort of odd yet had a directness to them that their previous work severely lacked. Instead they’ve retreated back to their worst instincts of bad haircuts and ransoms, which is a shame because in the end that is what they will be known for. And this isn't to say they aren't incredible filmmakers but it's more of a regret that they so rarely rise to the challenge of the moment. Even though No Country won them their awards, it wasn’t from original material, which makes me wonder, like a lot of auteurs, perhaps they don’t always need to be writing their own material.
I don’t want to spoil any of the plot but I knew the film was in trouble when Brad Pitt’s character gets taken out of the story. When I found myself wanting more Brad Pitt in a Coen Brothers film I knew something was off. Or, Brad Pitt is much better than we’ve given him credit for previously.
Flickr user: World of Hats
(And no this image is not from the film, but Brad Pitt's weird haircut in the film might be hiding beneath his hat.)
Man on Wire
It’s debatable who first lamented that Man on Wire was not going to initially play in San Antonio – me, the #2 blogger in San Antonio, or my frenemies at Emvergeoning, the #1 blog in San Antonio. In what can only be described as unprecedented moment I went to see Man on Wire with 1/3 of the Emvergeoning Crew. Though some may like to compare this to the Munich Conference of 1938, that would be wrong.
I couldn’t have had higher expectations for the film. However, I knew it was a documentary so some expectations had to be lowered, mainly because of budgetary issues.
The film delivered and must be at the top of the list of what I’ve seen this year, which is lamentable again because today is the last time to see it. By the time this blog goes up there might only be a few screening left in the day. Though that sounds melodramatic, I do feel it is a shame more people couldn’t get to see it.
The details of the film have been covered previously – a French tight rope walker sneaks up to the World Trade Center and walks across the two buildings for 45 minutes early one morning in 1974.
The filmmakers would have had to gone out of their way to screw up this documentary. Having said that, they made several choices which took documentary filmmaking a little bit away from the dominant paradigm of the Ken Burns school, which is a good thing. Other documentary filmmakers have used recreation footage before. In fact, its often a sign of the worst documentaries because it is typically quite poorly done. There have been exceptions recently, though one has to acknowledge Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line for first transcending these limitations in a way that has yet to be repeated.
I gave credit to the Man on Wire filmmakers not so much for pure innovation but for embracing this film as a cinematic endeavor. The initial act in 1974 is so bold it would have been a letdown to rely solely on talking head interviews. Man on Wire also uses an abundance of archival footage that is so good, at first I thought it must have been more of their recreation footage.
The film is a slow but enthralling build up to the final act. Another aspect that needs to be addressed is the overwhelming ‘Frenchness’ to the film. The French consistently make great interviews for what too often seems like a distinct happy/sad, existential viewpoint that is both amusing and deeply humanizing. That’s mangling the situation, I realize, but the people in this film seem like they fell out of a Godard or Truffaut film that we never saw before.
Anyway, it will be on DVD soon enough for those who couldn’t make the trip. Now that Summer is over, we’re about to begin the real film season in the slow build up to Oscar season. There is that new Oliver Stone movie called W that’s coming out soon, and in perfect time for the election. Is this the October Surprise we’ve all been expecting…
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued…
So I'm just driving along, loving on my Jesus, my devil, my Obama doll I keep folded up in my back pocket for ethical emergencies, and the ethereal rods and pixies animating the rolling pictures before me, and studying on my malaise.
Then I spot Christ Jesus' telephone number.
I had been wondering what the hell was going on with my snuffled sinus, compounding lethargy, squeaky eye issues, and low (even lower than usual) libido. It all seemed to coincide with my recent move deeper into the urban interface of SA.
Was it a change of wickedness? I didn't think so. Too much kale? Unlikely. Cheap corn tortillas? Must compare intake with Kelly cancer sufferers.
With news reports today, it’s finally starting to clarify and take shape, like butter and cookies clarify and take shape, respectively. It’s the spiraling craploads of dumped hospital antibiotic residue, antiflatulence medicines, cancer-therapy drugs, skin lotions, narcotics, mood elevators (narcotics, said that), and blood-fat regulators.
From AP investigative report:
The politically charged case of the Cuban Five, aka Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, or the Five Heroes, as they are known throughout Cuba, is gaining momentum not only in their communist homeland, but right here in San Anto.
While some believed The Five were convicted fairly in December 2001 by a U.S. Federal Court for espionage conspiracy and being unregistered foreign agents, The Five argued that they were only here to infiltrate counterrevolutionaries who devised and executed countless acts to topple the Communist government in Cuba, or at least its bearded leader.
On September 12, political organizations and grassroots citizens held a demonstration in front of the Federal Building to raise awareness of the imprisoned Cuban Five.
What to learn more?
Why are people who fight terrorism imprisoned in the U.S. while known terrorists are allowed to walk the streets of Miami freely? That is the question in the critically acclaimed film Mission Against Terror, by Bernie Dwyer and Roberto Ruiz Rebo. It follows the case of the five Cubans currently serving sentences in U.S. jails for trying to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba. It also depicts the long history of violence against innocent Cubans by right-wing groups based in Miami that are supported by the U.S. (Cuba/Ireland, 48min. 2005)
Mission Against Terror
710 New Laredo Hwy
I, Jeremy Martin — the painfully exquisite face of the Current's Music section — will be personally attending Druggist's show at the Warhol (1011 Avenue B) tonight. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 and all ages will be admitted.
Come to meet me, stay for some local rock and/or roll from this duo, currently backed by a band including local multi-instrumentalist Marcus Rubio. Opening acts include locals the Cartographers, Blue Means Go and the recently raved about Lubbock band the Diamond Center.
To suggest a band for future Live & Local reviews, leave a comment below, or shoot me an email.
Particle-Wave Dialectics and other Cyclical Dead Ends”
Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)
Again, it bears repeating, pretty much anything will be printed in this section. It could be the most direct conduit for the public-media complex, and yet, too often, it’s a cyber ghost town with few letters to even be left out. This is a power void we’re talking about here. It’s one big electron cloud filled with empty space and loads of negativity. Luckily, OTS soldiers on through Curblog’s awkward pubescence as new structures take shape and find awkward maturity. In this tragic-comic set up, finally…
…to the letters! (All two of them!)
No title was given because no title was needed. This was a letter from The Mechanic so I could only assume it was either related to Seinfeld insider jokes, anecdotes about new developments in fortified wines, political ramblings of British sports car journalists, or in this case, something related to two wheeled forms of transportation.
From: Gentleman's Gadgets
It looks fabulous all around. The price is of course ridiculous. I think this site is for trust funded drifters who like to feel like James Bond.
Evidently, there’s more ostentatious displays of head scratching.
From: Gentleman's Gadgets
A $14,000 bike designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Unlike tight pants, designing a bicycle takes experience and knowledge of engineering. Who would spend this much money on a bike of dubious craftsmanship? To quote Peter Sellers in The Party, “I suppose it’s all part of life’s rich pageantry.”
#2 Hello, Again (MM Writes In)
A local artist writes in. I’m thinking this is in relation to the Artist Foundation art grant coming up in a few days. It’s just so happens even I applied. Luckily, a good majority of the artists are in painting so my odds of winning in Film/Video go from non-existent to very unlikely. When the results come out in a few months, I’ll make sure to let you know if I win and if I don’t, then consider this the last we hear about it.
I have a brand-spankin-new website, hope y'all will take a gander.
best to everyone!
The Dragnet versus The Bicycle Thief
It’s getting worse, and I'm not referring to some weirdo anarchist clown bike thief at Burning Man. Last week, Carlos the Carpenter got his bike snaked from a guy pretending to be a nice guy and not a thief. It was last seen at the Alamo. I even talked to the guy beforehand. The tragic-comedy of this is the last famous Bicycle Thief inspired movie in America was probably Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure, wherein Pee Wee travels all the way TO the Alamo to try and find his bike in the basement of the Alamo. Maybe, that's where the weasel is hiding...
This week at First Friday, the infamous Bikini Gary (although to me he was always Speedo Gary) got his $3000 titanium mountain bike stolen from Bluestar. On First Friday, cyclists park their bikes downstairs by the Lazarus coffee shop and then drink upstairs at Joe Blues. Somehow, while they were upstairs, someone made off with his bike. It’s like they stole his bike and the clothes off his back, that’s how bad it seemed.
Gary doesn’t know the serial number of the bike to report it to the police, nor does he have a foto of the bike for us to post here.
The whole situation is lamentable. The rise in popularity of cycles was eventually going to signal a rise in crime. And worse, the location of each of these thefts is iconic – the Alamo, Bluestar, what’s next? I would avoid the Tower of Americas and Bar America for now, or get a good lock.
Update: The Carpenter’s bike was recently seen at a Labor Force type place on Fred road by Cool Crest (“The Coolest Spot in San Antonio”) but nothing was there when I went by the next day.
If there are any updates, feel free to leave note in the comments section.
First Friday of Fotoseptiembre (And the Beginning of the Rest of Our Lives…)
Perhaps it’s the lingering CAM malaise that suggests continued confusion for the art community, but Fotoseptiembre seems a little less shiny (aka glossy) this year as well. It could be a developing crisis for photography itself. With almost all the artists using home computer prints instead of actual film prints from a darkroom, I wonder if a slight but perceptible ‘bridge too far’ has been crossed. Like video filmmaking, the tools are everywhere, and I’m not just talking about the artists. The access to the equipment continues its democratization, though in American fashion the democratization is of course hand in hand with the prosumerization of the materials.
These arguments are nothing new, and are probably better argued by Sarah Fisch in this weeks paper edition. Photography is at a decade long turning point, and as it evolves further into a digital medium, its place in museums further goes into debate. The internet best showcases the immediacy of digital fotography, though this aspect distorts the social aspect, and an online shouting match is a far cry from a Q&A with an artist in person. Also, the internet very often represents the status quo of quotidian life, whereas going to a museum is a place to exchange ideas, oxygen for carbon dioxide, fresh brain cells for brain cells steeped in Lone Star, and other more interesting endeavors.
I doubt any of that made any sense, but here is a slideshow of the evidence.
The night began at the continually under-publicized Main Plaza where Los #3 Dinners played an early evening set. The central fountains were fenced off, in what I thought was the result of some petty litigation but a sign indicated it was in relation to the trees, or something arboreal.
Bluestar at first didn’t seem crowded when I came into the parking lot, but then I realized everyone was inside the various galleries. As night presented itself, more and more people filled the line for beer, and a hippy trippy band from Austin played marimbas on the patio. I once roomed with a marimbaist from Chicago who verified that the marimba scene at the zocalo in Veracruz is the real deal, even if the crafts for sale are pretty much crap, including the handmade pipes sold by that sweaty German guy I saw. Anyway…
Patrick Zeller’s motorcycled fotos from Iran took centerstage in the backroom, with a couple of touring bikes on centerstand on display in the center of the room for good measure.
The vast number of images was impressive, which made me think frame building might not be such a bad business at times like this. Picks and shovels – I’m just saying.
I had seen Patrick around several times handing out postcards for his show so it was exciting to see him finally present them on a big stage.
In the “hutch” (the little nook/cranny between the backroom and the main room) Leslie Raymond presented walls of video monitors of moving landscapes. It was moments like this where the evolution of Fotoseptiembre seemed most evident to me.
In the main room were a variety of large scale prints. Oddly, nothing stuck with me compared to what was there at Bluestar a few months back for CAM. I still recall these hallucinatory nude widescreen fotographs, though I’m not sure if they were original to CAM or were from the previous year, perhaps even the past Fotoseptiembre. Nonetheless, a few iconic images do sneak back to me, such as the large soft focus image of the guy screaming in the foreground of what I thought was a museum. Was it the existential despair of the photographer that we’ve discussed? Or did I get it totally wrong, again? Who knows. On a side note, I took another image from the NW corner of the main room and had yet another flashback to that hanging rope that was on display last year for at least 3-4 months.
Joan Grona was closed by the time I made it down that way. 3 Walls seemed to be down for the month and the two neighboring galleries did not leap out at me. I went upstairs and was more intrigued by this weird cable that stretched from beneath the floor upwards through the ceiling. There were fotos all over the place upstairs, but nothing that compelled me to go back for a few months.
The night ended up at the Compound to see new work at Sala Diaz by Jesse Amado and drink a bit too heavily from a bottle of vodka. Well, the night was just getting started...
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...
Let’s get one thing straight: I HATE to run with other people. I’m the last person you should pick to be your gym buddy, your workout partner, your running mate — I’ll probably ditch you simply because I like to fly solo. Something about having to rely on somebody else when I want to get my workout done just annoys the hell out of me. So you can imagine my crappy attitude when I agreed to take part in Run A Tab, a self-professed fun run that was “created to promote camaraderie and to improve your social skills while exercising.” Ugh.
But there is a catch. The five-mile route loops through downtown San Antonio every First Friday and incorporates frequent stops at local bars and restaurants to “improve the mood” of runners. What?! I like drinking, I like running, but I’ve never put the two together — it sounds like it’d culminate with me spewing a bellyful of alcohol all over art enthusiasts as they crowd the Southtown sidewalks. Regardless, I decided to lace ’em up last Friday for the September run to see what kind of following this running group has attained over the last few months. And I’ll say this: I didn’t throw up. I didn’t pass out on the side of the road. And I didn’t hate it. I did catch a buzz and have some fun, though, and I think I just might be back for next month’s First Friday run on October 3rd. I’m writing up an experiential piece on my night that will preview next month’s run — look for it in the Cuco Peeps section of our October 1st issue. And if I’ve piqued your interest, check out the group at werunsanantonio.com/running-a-tab-3 and meet us at 6:30pm at Ringside Sports Bar (the starting location) on October 3rd.
Reminded of what a friend and fellow critic of Homeland's Plum Island bioterror lab relocation project told me a year ago: "If it is built, it needs to be built underground."
He - and I - support the need for this research (that of it we are allowed to know about) but worry about the explosion of biological agents in labs and campuses across the country. I have deep reservations about the lack of debate or intellectual curiosity shown by Texas' political leaders in our quest to land this germ lab as if it were an assembly line employer with a golden-egg-shaped pucker.
If and when Plum is converted to the N-BAF, a likely $600-million above-ground bunker handling some of the most dangerous diseases known — including a handful with no known cure that freely pass between both human and non-human animals (yes, you're one too!) — it needs to be buried.
A reminder of just why this work needs be subterranean comes from the Hartford Courant's editors this week.
Current theater critic Tom Jenkins Curblogs again, this time re: The Color Purple, the novel/miniseries we said couldn't be musicalized:
The Color Purple -- a musicalization of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel — has some huge strengths: much of the cast remains intact from the musical’s Broadway run, and the physical design — by John Lee Beatty — is a beautiful, postcard-perfect evocation of the rural South. But even at over 165 minutes (!), there’s simply too much plot for a fully satisfying musical: the first hour’s catalog of personal tragedies races by at breakneck speed — if it’s been eight minutes, it’s time for another sexual assault! — until you feel like you’re watching a list, not a plot. When the musical takes the time to luxuriate in a specific scene — such as a tension-filled evening at a local bar — the musical finally feels like a musical: staging, song, and plot all mesh. Otherwise, The Color Purple feels reverential, like a commentary on the novel rather than a free-standing work.
The music — by a trio of popular writers — is serviceable enough, but the demands of the plot usually mean a snippet here, a snippet there: few songs are allowed to really catch fire. The lesbian subtext, meanwhile, was met with a noticeably subdued response by Majestic patrons, which likely bodes ill for a pastiche musicalization of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
The evening’s far from a dud. The woman next to me actually started weeping, in contradistinction to my frosty, marble gaze. (Hell, I won’t even cry for Argentina, so perhaps I’m not the target audience for this type of show.) Obviously, it’s connecting with audiences, and it has a strong social conscience, and I’d much rather see this than the 20th tour of Cats. Lastly, the chances of The Color Purple receiving a local remounting are pretty slim, so if you’re interested in what Oprah hath wrought, this handsome, talent-filled, yet ultimately flawed musical runs through Sunday downtown.
-- Thomas Jenkins
San Antonio — if our population keeps growing as expected — may one day replace Houston as Energy City, USA. Of course, that will also require each of us to do our part: Eat more.
Today, news broke that the city on that befouled San Antonio River is finding economic and energy value in another waste stream: Your crap.
A few years ago a meditation buddy of mine in Houston was deep in research regarding human waste and energy potentials. He was forever promising to give me the, uh, scoop. It never dropped.
So, with a first-in-the-nation claim here that I’m just betting will be rapidly absorbed into the Repub and Dem energy platforms, we have an opportunity to do something so useful with something so necessary. Poop for power.
Why on earth this was buried in the Ex-News’ business section, I’ll never know. If anything screams for Front Page All-Caps Coverage, this is it.
‘Alamo City’s human poop first to power.’ (No Cisneros reference implicit or implied.)
Here’s the Reuters version of events:
While doing our monthly First Friday art stroll we momentarily forgot about FOTOSEPTIEMBRE when we passed by Blue Star Brewery. We were too consumed with the sounds of Rattletree Marimba, a high-energy dance/trance quintet hailing from Austin. If you didn't catch their performance, check out what you missed:
While you all were lining up to see Gregg Barrios's Rancho Pancho at the Jump-Start (sold-out Saturday night, and a Current
critic's pick to boot), theater critic Tom Jenkins went to see the
closing weekend of another SA original at the Magik. Here's his report:
Your intrepid critic-in-the-trenches managed to catch the final 'adult' performance of Alice, A Rock Opera at Magik Theater this weekend, a joint creation of Richard Rosen and Wink Kelso. The verdict? There's a lot of enthusiasm -- and a lot of noise -- but ultimately the production needs stronger direction and absolutely more variety in its story-telling. The first half hour starts off promisingly, with an unexpectedly long exploration of Charles Dodgson's -- a.k.a. Lewis Carroll's -- infatuation with a 12-year-old girl, Alice Liddell. Though it never quite morphs into Pedophilia: The Musical!, it comes close (close enough that the family sitting in front of me walked out. Who knew that the Magik could be more offensive than e.g. the Jump-Start? A wonderland, indeed.). The creators have intuited that the conflict between Dodgson's ardor and society's disapproval is inherently theatrical; sure, it's also creepy and uncomfortable (did I really just watch a production number called "Child Friends"?), but that's theater for you.
So it's disheartening that the next hour-and-a-half's descent into Wonderland is less compelling. The whole show's been configured as a sung-through concert (a la Jesus Christ Superstar), complete with psychedelic lighting and an onstage band. Visually, however, nearly every song's the same: a mostly blank set with a wailing soloist and a bevy of gyrating choristers, only occasionally syncing to actual choreography. The show is fun for a while -- the energy level is high -- but at least a quarter of the lyrics are swallowed up by the dreadful audio mix (are they singing about Jabberwocky or Abercrombie?), and the plot is un-involving: too many peripheral characters, not enough Alice. Kelso tries to liven things up by penning the occasional pastiche song -- the Mock Turtle's soul-inflected turn is smashing -- but it's not enough: Every scene blurs into the next. By the time Alice croons "Where Do We Go From Here," the answer is more than obvious: It's time to go home.
It's not that rock operas are a dead genre. Zach Scott's production of Daniel Johnston's Speeding Motorcycle last year demonstrated how much zip is left in the form. But Speeding Motorcycle was intimate and focused, with an emphasis on story-telling, and full of compassion for the toll of depression and neurosis. Overblown and overloud, Alice, A Rock Opera seems to lose its way early, content to dazzle with lights and guitars, but never quite surviving its trip down the rabbit hole.
-- Thomas Jenkins
The Current (as in me, Jeremy Martin) will be headed to Limelight Saturday, to catch a performance by local hip-hop duo Mojoe (the brandy sippin' dudes in that bad-ass photo to my left). Supporting them will be several talented Chicago artists, including the recently critically (as in me, but I know what I'm talking about) acclaimed Pugs Atomz.
Fliers claim this show is sure to sellout, and one listen to the smooth potential hit single "My Favorite Cut" will tell you that it oughta be. Tickets are $7, and the doors open at 9 p.m. Go to Limelight's MySpace page for more information, and seriously, E&J, get these guys in a magazine ad, stat.
To nominate a band for next week's Live & Local coverage, leave a comment below, or e-mail me.
March Against the Border Wall
August 27 – 30, 2008
Last week a group of citizens marched from Ft. Hancock to El Paso to protest construction of the Border Wall along the Rio Grande by the U.S. government. The march commenced Wednesday evening with a cultural event at Fort Hancock and formal blessing from Bishop Armando Ochoa and concluded Sunday afternoon with a bi-national rally and ceremony at Sunland Park in El Paso at the present international barrier.
I was fortunate join the marchers on Friday evening in Fabens and arrived at the church as the Father was blessing the circle members and Diana Joe was smudging each individual with sacred smoke. We were lovingly cared for by the parishioners at the church community center where we bedded down on the floor for the night. At 6 a.m. these parish women arrived with delicious menudo and burritos to send us on our way. It was a good thing that we were well fortified, for we marched a little over 10 miles before our next stop at the Mission of San Elizario.
At this point in the journey we numbered 20 – 30 marchers. We chanted, sang, and held signs and flags, inviting people to unify in solidarity against the wall. Our group spanned ages between old and young, with a few very spirited elders showing us the way. We were Mexican-born, American-born, brown and white. Divisions melt and people’s hearts beat together on such journeys.
Each morning we met in a circle to ask a blessing from the four directions and to smoke the sacred pipe and drink the water of life. This, in a Catholic Church! Sometimes the Catholic fathers joined us in our circles. I was amazed and humbled to see regular folk holding the sacred pipe and passing the smoke over their bodies. Every time we arrived at a new church on this trail of missions we were greeted by Aztec dancers in stunning costumes, blowing on conch shells, dancing around an altar consisting of the drummer and burning incense. In the company of the ancients and with accumulated blessings, our walk took on a very spiritual tone. It was easy to travel the distances and experience sun and thirst, hunger and rain, undaunted.
We walked past miles and miles of cotton fields in full bloom. Fields undoubtedly planted and tended by the very people that the U.S. government wants to fence out.
Arriving in San Elizario, we found ourselves on a canal along the river — better known as the International Boundary. There we witnessed a strange spectacle. A huge metal basket 25 feet off the ground, held up by a steel arm. Star Wars? Discarded farm machinery? The U.S. Border Patrol vehicle parked at the base of the contraption helped me grasp that we were looking at a piece of surveillance equipment, and indeed, we were being surveilled. We halted our march and staged an impromptu rally. A couple of people spoke while Diana smudged and chanted along the concrete ditch. And, amazingly, people started drifting out of their houses and listening to the speakers, edging closer to us. A group of 6 horsemen passed along the dirt road lining the ditch. Two stopped to listen. Pretty soon the others returned. When we recommenced our walk, we had swelled in numbers and the horsemen (“jinetes” in Spanish) even carried our signs on their high-stepping mounts, all the way to the center of town and the church plaza! It was a happy moment.
The last 5 miles of the walk were noteworthy in that our numbers kept growing — we must have been about 40. We were on a heavily used road with almost no shoulder, and it POURED RAIN. It rained so hard that we were ankle-deep in water. Fortified as we were by prayer and ritual, and with the encouragement of many drivers honking and waving in solidarity, we just kept walking. Wonderfully, no one was hurt, there were no traffic accidents, and every single car that passed was careful not to spray us with a rooster’s tail of water.
We arrived at the Mission of Socorro (Succor: to sustain, help, assist), dripping like rats, where Saturday evening mass was just finishing. Father Joe Nelson invited us right into the sanctuary and the entire congregation clapped their hands in welcome.
Sunday, after our morning prayer circle we said good-bye to the fathers of the Socorro Mission and walked an easy couple of miles to the next mission, located in the Reservation of Ysleta del Sur. At the church we formed a circle around yet another Aztec priestess and Father Arturo Bañuelas. We now numbered about 60. The prayer and message of Father Bañuelas were for peace, in our hearts and in our world. We prayed for the thousands who have lost their lives while crossing the border.
Then, further infused with prayer and conviction, we got into cars and drove to the site of the wall construction. Here we climbed up onto the levee which parallels yet another ditch and the river itself. Currently there are two border walls already in place but this is where the new wall construction is happening. The 18-foot posts are set on this long stretch which borders Interstate 10. We unfurled our flags, and seven of us carried poster boards that together read NO WALL on one side and MURO NO on the other. It was great exposure, and the passing cars and trucks let us hear their appreciation.
I was unprepared for the impact that walking along this imminent wall would have on me. Folks, it is going to make a very high dark line against the horizon. All the arguments for and against the wall aside, its visceral effect was significant. I don’t see how we can live with such a thing.
We piled back into vehicles and drove to the final staging area of the march: Anapra, Mexico, or Sunland Park, N.M. I experienced shock when I saw the reality of the International Boundary with Mexico. A 10-foot chain link fence with a ragged top brought to mind a refugee camp in war-torn Africa, but not my own country’s border with its neighbor! The Mexicans were ready for us with signs matching our own decrying the wall. It was a congenial scene. Rather like visitor’s day at a federal penitentiary. People chatting and touching hands through the links. Mexican kids climbing part way up to catch the apples and oranges we tossed. At one point a soccer ball emerged and a spirited round of volleyball ensued. I could not get over the harshness of the surroundings, or the sameness of the people on both sides of the fence.
We marched. Our counterparts quickly picked up our chants. Father Bañuelas led us — numbering now over 100 — uphill to where the new wall begins. It climbs a steep mesa, its massive form cutting a dark line to the top. We sank to our knees and once again prayed for those who have perished making the dangerous journey north. We prayed for peace, and an end to aggression. Then the Father asked for each to make contact with one person on the other side of the fence. Through my tears, I made contact with several.
The march was over. Then the process of saying farewells, collecting possessions, and shuttling cars. Shifting gears and compressing emotions and the long drive back to Alpine.
Yes, we need to better secure our borders. We can do it through just immigration reform, drug-law reform, and cooperation with Mexico to develop programs that help people find work at home. Real answers will come from investing in human solutions, not military projects.
[Top two images by Pilar Pedersen. Last image courtesy of Nat Stone.]
"Motivational speakers make the worst lovers"
Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)
#1 $10 Million Down the Toilet?
Somehow I forgot to post this amazing letter last week. The letter is in regards to the article two weeks ago about unusual museums.
flickr user: lindseymorrison
I'm not sure what happened to the fotos I took of the musuem. Luckily, I found several interesting ones by flickr'er lindseymorrison.
Pam Morsi writes:
Hi Mark - - I read your article in the SA Current about the DHS $10 million to protect Barney Smith’s place from the terrorists. (The writing btw was excellent, as always. Simultaneously entertaining and enlightening.)
I live a few blocks from Barney and as a writer myself, I keep my eye on the street here in AH (mostly to avoid actual writing) and to date have not noticed our police or fire department exactly living large. So I got curious about this money and who got it.
I went to Alamo Heights City Council last night and read a portion of your article into the minutes with the question Where is the money? Nobody at the city appeared to be aware of this DHS funding increase.
Naturally, I agree with the premise that the money should have gone to NYC. But if it didn’t where did it go? To the state of Texas? The city of San Antonio? I don’t really think that there will be an attack on Barney’s place. But if one were to assume, as apparently DHS did, that an attack were to occur it would be our AH police and firemen who have to show up, so certainly some of that money should have come to us.
I have asked the Chief of Police and the Fire Chief to check into this. And I gave them your name. If I hear anything, I will pass it on.
Thanks for the work that you do. P
#2 Ghost From the Past
Former Current Editor Keli Dailey writes in from San Diego with this message:
Barack has accepted the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
I just made a contribution to the Obama campaign. Please join me in celebrating this historic moment. Join this movement and make a donation right now:
#3 Five Rejected Austin BBQ Names
OTS Domestic Correspondent (from San Luis Obispo) Steve writes in...
August 19th, 2008
The Saltiest Joint
Suck the Bone
Unexpectedly Covered in Sauce
Texas Pete’s Rootin’, Tootin’ Pulled Pork ‘n’ Fellatio Funfactory
#4 Obama/McCain Animated Madness
The brief letters can often share the most goodness, such as this one from Tiana.
#5 Michael Finley Cialis Conundrum
Chuck (also from North California) writes this intriguing message but with no link to substantiate...
is that Michael Finley in the current Cialis ad campaign? Just wondering... didn't see that in the off-season Injury report.
Downtown Highlife had its 2 year anniversary ride. I was semi-prepared for extemporaneous stump speaking, but luckily that never was allowed to happen. Various head counts gave a variety of numbers as to how many actually showed up. The low estimate was around 55 with the high number being closer to 75/80.
Several new people showed up such as a fotojournalist from NYC Brian McGloin who took several fotos of the ride. For his images look here: www.brianmcgloin.com
Pro flickr users often protect their images so that jackalopes like me don't go in and try to use them. Brian gave permission, but they seem to be blocked or I don't know what I'm doing. The answer could be a yes to both, or a yes to just the latter, but either way - no images.
Perhaps its best there is no visible proof for me to present. The statute of limitations on certain issues may still be in play, especially with a loophole about bands playing on the river, though a discussion was raised about the tips not going to the band but laundering it through a juggler. I can't explain if I tried, or should I. I've said to much.
(passage of time)
It now looks like I've found a way to post a slideshow of the ride. Here it is...(fingers crossed, this new blog format is a total shot in the dark, and a shot in the head)
The ride began at normal time but was later found to be derailed when someone rode off on Carlos the Carpenter's bike and never came back. This brought an impassioned speech by CTC when we met up with him later on the ride at the metal drum circle in the middle of Brackenridge Park. More on that in a bit.
The ride left the Alamo and went through some empty streets of the Eastside and make a brief stop outside one of the cemeteries. We headed north to Government Hill and then east towards the non-legendary Rock n Roll Bar, which never seems to be open, yet its hand painted sign outside has captured my imagination on more than one occasion.
From there we went down Grayson by the Quadrangle and Bettie's Battalion Lounge, which oddly didn't serve liquor. At Broadway we made our way north to Brackenridge Park. And to take a step back, the race down Grayson Hill didn't cause any pileups of fixies, thankfully. Not having brakes still hasn't captured my imagination.
After CTC alerted us to the would be bicycle thief, we went up the Feral Cat Hill behind the Sunken Gardens Theater. Amazingly, there was no complaining about all the hills this night. It was at this moment that I thankfully didn't give some sort of speech out of a bad war film, something along the lines of some of us might not make it back. I hardly had finished yelling out to slow down at the bottom of the hill for the gate and already 40 people had already left. It's a good think I didn't make any effort towards an impomptu awards ceremony, though it was a hilarious thought.
The ride ended down on the river, as the slide show may or may not be revealing.
In all, it was a glorious moment with more than one person exclaiming it to be one of the top 5 best times they've ever had in San Antonio. It's not confirmed but to make that distinction we may have beat out legendary San Antonio activities such as doing laundry, a trip to the dollar theater, and late night bowling. If that's the case, then I'll take that as progress.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...
By Gilbert Garcia
If we cast aside the content of Sarah Palin's platform (and remember, this is someone who's anti-choice even in cases of rape or incest; who opposes all forms of sex education, aside from abstinence; and who tried to get books banned from her hometown library), she gave a great political performance at last night's RNC.
Without a doubt, she had a camera-conscious crowd prepared to adore her, but her timing, energy, and confidence erased any questions about whether her Alaskan appeal could translate to a national audience. Some of her cracks were unfair (and it's a little tiresome to hear Republicans mock Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer, given that Obama could have easily taken a six-figure Wall Street job coming out of law school, but elected to work with low-income people on the South Side of Chicago), but she has that rare ability (often associated with FDR, JFK, and Ronald Reagan) to serve up vinegar and make it taste like honey.
Her speech got me thinking about past Republican conventions, and I realized that she was the first truly dynamic young GOP leader to connect with a national audience in my lifetime. The Republican Party tends to hand over its leadership reins to older figures who've paid their dues and have finally earned their time (Nixon in '68, Reagan in '80, Daddy Bush in '88, Bob Dole in '96, and John McCain in '08), or, in at least one recent case, a family legacy. Palin is unique in that she's an out-of-the blue, true rising star, much like Bill Clinton in 1992 or Obama this year.
In fact, Palin is so dynamic that she's liable to make McCain look bad by comparison. When he clumsily took the stage last night and seemingly couldn't think of anything to say (other than affirming he'd made the right VP choice), it reinforced the sense that he's the doddering old grandpa carrying his picnic basket on Golden Pond. He never looks older than when he's standing next to Sarah Palin.
Tommy Lee Jones found his way back off the Water Hogs list during a break stumping for natural gas drillers up in DFW, but somebody really needs to tell these remaining million-gallon-club members that flaunting green lawns during Alarm Stage drought is no way to make friends in South Texas.
Million-gallon membership is not nearly as prestigious as the celebrated mile-high club, anyway, grown oh-so-much riskier with all those additional security restrictions.
Totals below are gallons used for January through August of '08. Data courtesy of SAWS.
By Gilbert Garcia
Fred Thompson's red-meat throwdown at Tuesday night's RNC was certainly more potent than anything the retired lawyer-turned-actor-turned-senator delivered on the presidential campaign trail last year. But CurBlog simply can't let him get away with his claim that Barack Obama is "the most inexperienced nominee to ever run for president."
"Ever" is an awfully long time, but it must not extend back to 1940, when GOP presidential nominee Wendell Wilkie went up against Franklin Roosevelt. Wilkie had served as a lawyer and the head of utility company, but never held elective office before securing the Republican nomination that year. For that matter, Woodrow Wilson had less than two years experience in government when he was elected president in 1912. Prior to that, he'd been the president of Princeton University, an impressive credential, but not the most obvious path to the White House.
We won't even get into Zachary Taylor or Ulysses Grant, but let's just say that Thompson could use a history lesson.
By Gilbert Garcia
A big revelation for me at the Democratic National Convention was Linda Ketner, the Democratic nominee for the House of Representatives from South Carolina's 1st Congressional District -- who just happens to be an out-of-the-closet lesbian.
Only three open members of the LGBT community have ever made it to Capitol Hill and Ketner's campaign seems particularly remarkable given South Carolina's long-standing social conservatism.
"We don't have a Southern Strategy," Ketner jokingly told the LGBT Caucus last week. "I am the Southern Strategy!"
Ketner is an appealing mix of 21st-century progressive activism (forming a cooperative venture to help low-income families with their substandard housing) and Old-South charm. In discussing her tough race against Republican incumbent Henry Brown, she told the crowd, "Hang on to your bloomers. In the latest poll, we're four points ahead."
As an heir to the Food Lion chain, Ketner has financial advantages that many politically active gays and lesbians don't have, but the fact that she's making a strong bid for a congressional seat in South Carolina is a strong indication that this region no longer fits the old stereotypes.
Oh, there are all sorts of reasons Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain's Twilight Zone vice-presidential pick, could finish off the professional POW's malingering presidential hopes, but her unwed daughter's pregnancy probably isn't one of them. Or rather, voters who list that as one of their top reasons for rejecting her probably were sour on the ticket before that news was dropped at the Republican National Convention -- denied that easy out, they would have relied on some other gender-based objection to having a female "one heartbeat away" -- or more likely, one stroke away -- from one of the most powerful offices in the world.
While I'm not sympathetic to Mrs. Palin personally -- if her tenure as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, is any indication, she's tailor made for a party that fires governmental employees for their personal political beliefs; live by the litmus test, die by the litmus test -- I'm sorry for every young woman who must stare through a glass ceiling darkly at the double standards unscathed by three-plus decades of modern feminism. Just one example: Joe Biden, Obama's veep selection, is lauded for raising his young sons alone when his first wife died shortly after he was elected to the Senate while critics question whether a married mother has time to serve as vice president, much less president. (From the photos I've seen, Mr. Palin certainly looks capable of cooking, cleaning, and driving the carpool. He's a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, for god's sake, the world's "longest snowmachine race." Take that, Mr. Thatcher.)
So while the varying responses to news that the Palin household has its very own unplanned teen pregnancy was greeted with overt glee in some liberal corners, I'm just sad. Sad for Bristol, sad for the baby, sad for all the inanity now burbling forth from the chattering classes like so much formula upchuck. I missed being an unwed teen mother by a month. Thirty-seven days after I turned 20, I gave birth to my daughter. Today she's a resiliant, independent young adult, and some of that's probably due to things it's fun to joke about now, but were wildly stressful at the time: Adding up the grocery bill down to the pennies while we shopped, putting 50 cents of gas in the car, washing the kids' underwear in the sink and drying them in the gas oven.
I say kids, because I did it twice, adding an adorable baby boy to the mix four years later, much to my middle-class Catholic parents' mortification. (Just like Bristol"s parents, there's probably not much blame to lay at their feet, although my folks, like many a religious conservative, were fans of the wildly optimistic abstinence-only sex ed.) But here's the thing: As much as it occasionally sucked to be a single parent -- socially, financially, romantically -- I was able to make the choice to have my kids, so while every blue moon or so I regret educational, job, or adventure paths not taken while they were young, I've never resented my kiddos. Neither has ever asked me, but if they did, I could look them in their eyes and say, yes, you were unplanned, but you weren't unwanted. (Now go pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the laundry; I'm not your personal maid.)
That's the essence of reproductive choice, and it's probably not available to Bristol Palin -- we'll never know for sure if she really decided on her own to keep the baby and get hitched to the father. Nor, if John McCain/Sarah Palin are elected on November 4, would the foundation of a generation of women's achievements necessarily be available to our daughters and granddaughters. When the McCain camp tapped Palin on the heels of Hillary and Bill Clinton's persuasive Denver bow-out, like many people my initial reaction was that McCain and his handlers think political T&A is interchangeable (and they probably did figure that a woman might net them a few disenchanted Hillary supporters, but those are folks who couldn't tell you the difference between Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas). But it's clear now that Palin's real value is to energize the religious-conservative base that carried Bush into the White House -- the same people who brought you the Justice Department firing scandal and Gitmo, who cooked a governmental report on Global Warming, who made WMDs a running joke, who've sent thousands of young men and women to die in an unjustified war, who would like nothing more than to add to the Scalia-Roberts-Thomas wing of the Supreme Court -- and who are apparently unrepentant about the last eight years of anti-American policies at home and abroad. And for that reason alone -- not Bristol Palin+1, whose lives seems destined to be scripted like a latter-day Steve Martin family comedy for the foreseeable future -- we need to send Palin back to the land of the midnight sun.
By: Jennifer Herrera
I ventured to the Houston Street Fair & Market for the first time this past Saturday. I thought I arrived early enough to avoid the crowds, but when I made my way to the front of the Alamo I saw where everyone was hiding at. Check out the video to see a glimpse of the sweet rides you may have missed this weekend.