From Jupiter to Stumptown
(And No Place Inbetween)
In the 80s for some reason I thought of Randy Beamer as a young David Letterman hambone type. Specifically, I'm thinking of a scene he did live at La Villita during NIOSA for Chanel 5. Those were the waning Dan Cook years when a younger Chris Marrou hammed it up as well during the 10:00 news' closing segment and held a lockdown over the city. I can't exactly remember what it was that they did every night to close out the broadcast but it had the feel of the last gasp of vaudeville. It must have been an antecedent to the wacky outtakes phenomenon made popular by Burt Reynolds, Jackie Chan, and Don Rickles. Those were the glory years of Chanel 5 news when supposedly half of all San Antonio televisions were tuned into their channel for the nightly news. This sort of media dominance (except by the Current, of course) seems unthinkable today.
The tumor grows. This hotel weakens not only the tradition of the skyline, but perhaps the livelihood of other, smaller (more interesting?) downtown hotels. I'd like to think that places like the Havana Hotel and the Tropicana won't be affected by the recent hotel building frenzy, but one has to wonder. Put another way, are these new hotels bringing more tourists to town, or simply reshuffling the deck?
The sun is the source and Jupiter is just merely a planet, bound to its orbit...moments earlier I had an interesting discussion with the owner of Jupiter coffee shop about a recent meteor shower he witnessed from the hill country. We also discussed astrology (the soft science) and I realized the general inspiration for the name of the coffee shop. Perhaps the purple paint on the walls is also explained by the stars.
Months back I recall a worker on a precarious ladder doing work on the top right window. At the time the building was bright white. Rumor has there are rock and roll photographs on the bottom floor for a show for Foto Septiembre by local photographer Al Rendon.
This a block from the intersection of Avenue B and I-35, a block west of Broadway. Is this a case of a land owner who had no interest in selling? The odd thing is that the large scale developments on either side of this bungalow also seem abandoned. Though spies have told me that something is in the works for these concrete structures, at the moment, both are caught in a death waltz.
I saw this old lithograph postcard underneath a glass counter at a local store. This (to me, at least) confirms my suspicion of what was once the grandeur of Cincinatti Avenue as it headed west from Fredericksburg Road towards Woodlawn Lake and the Tobin Arch.
Everytime I go by they seem to be closed. This is at Pereida and South St. Mary's, next to the defunct "wine bar." I had heard Ghetto Good was open and had a show or two for CAM but I never made it by to check it out. Robert Tatum told me he was working on this space while picking up a coffee at Jupiter. More on this place later down the road...
A beautiful sign, yet no longer true. This is around the corner from Ghetto Good on the Presa side, and was meant to advertise Holden's Wine Bar. The little Gremlins on the bottom are actually somewhat tasteful, I would say.
From a parking lot behind a church on Fredericksburg Road. A children's game, or some old fashioned- Old Testament-pull yourself up with your own bootstraps- lesson?
There are no shortouts in life, evidently. Is this four-square terminology, or hop scotch, or something else?
Soon to be formerly Kayla's Cafe behind the Havana Hotel. A double agent inside the place told me that the restaurant is going to be run by the people from the Cool Cafe and they are going to turn it into a French Mediterranean restaurant. On the right, workers are remodelling and expanding the seating space.
Presa Street Community Garden "Weekly" Update
Familiar but different. There were piles of dirt, hexagonal shaped things in the ground not seen since the pentagrams of Midget Mansion, and declarative signage in the back for identification.
The sign has made the most progress - a good thing? I joke...
Watch That Tootsie Roll!
Courtesy of custodian Antonio Barron I was able to get inside the former Uptown Theater. This image is at the junction of a flight of stairs. The dilipidated carpet on the right is one of the last things to remain from the old days. The former balcony is up and to the right. It now is closed off and houses several large air conditioning units. The projector's booth? Bricked close, like Al Capone's vault...
Barron showed me a photo he had of its former glory. Behold. From carbon dating/IMBD search, it seems this was from 1945. "Isle of the Dead" - apparently not an allusion to the true horrors of the Pacific Theater, so to speak, though I have to wonder if this film came out before August of 1945.
From Karloff to Keaton
As traffic was about to move tragic-comically towards him, this gentleman did his best to retrieve an air conditioning unit that fell out of his truck as he drove past the notorious Banana Billiards.
Cue Dream Sequence...(Name This Town, Part One)
Custom head badges for bikes are going to happen soon. It just is. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. "Pimp My Bike." Laugh now if you want to but do so foolishly. If I was into bikes and knew people who worked with metal, then I would try to be at the beginning of this economic horizon. Wait...
Probably around a two thousand dollar bike. There are plenty of carbon fiber racing jobs around that cost that much and more, but precious few that are made with lugged steel frames. The wood fenders makes this bike a thing of beauty, or is it too precious? The pad for the top tube is what takes it too far in my opinion.
The mecca for handmade bikes.
The V in the dropout...a thing of beauty.
A very popular trike.
A photographer from Chicago sits on the left while taking a break from a photshoot he had been doing. To the right - Sensei Sacha, the focus of the photos. San Antonio street informant/bike mechanic Carlos is having two bikes made by Sacha in the next month. Perhaps the first and second Vanilla bikes ever seen in San Antonio?
At the bottom of this sky tram is a hospital and medical school. Here, at the top of the hill, they ran out of space. The solution? Build another building down the hill, across the freeway, by the water front and connect the two buildings by sky tram. I didn't think this sort of brash 'can-do' attitude (or money) still existed.
A view from below the tram. Not exactly the shift-tilt lens miniaturized phenomenon, but as close as I'll come.
Underneath the bridge...a park. Very close to the largest urban forest in America.
Skateboarding is big here, and oddly not frowned upon. These pieces by skater/inventor Jake Gaynor were found in the office of a commissioner at City Hall.
A river and a lot of bridges. Not seen, an ass load of strip clubs - part of its industrial/nautical, working class legacy. Supposedly they have more strip clubs per capita than anywhere else in the country. One of them, the Acropolis (or the "A-crop", as locals call it) is owned by a cattle rancher. The kitchen sells cheap high quality steaks, supposedly. Also supposedly, Anthony Bourdain is known to eat there when in town.
From Jupiter to Stumptown, and no place in between.
More next week when I get into their mobile truck food scene. Not to be missed.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio (and somewhere else.) As always, to be continued...