Letters to the On the
Street Penthouse Suite
First came this letter in regard to the cover story last week called Why We Ride...
Great article! Tammy Busby's story is especially motivating and I'm glad people like her are featured. Loved the first 3 paragraphs: great characterization of the scene.
Do you know anything about the Critical Mass bike ride? A friend of mine and are are starting to go out and ride - but it's just a critical duo at this point, although we've heard of others possibly on the scene.
#1-A: Stuff White People Like
OTS Friend Carlos sent in this letter...
i forget who sent this to me.....but i know he's white.......and a cyclist.......hey, just like the site says!
#1-B: A Foto from Why We Ride (That We Weren't Able to Use)
Here's Dave Zunker Jr. on the fixed gear bike mentioned in the article. This was posed outside Bun 'N Barrel. The curbside service we found out is no longer active, which perhaps takes the wind out of the sails from an art direction point of view, but it's a fine foto nonetheless.
For more bike commentary, see below for Downtown Highlife and the Beer Hall Putsch...
#2 Comfort Art
In came this letter announcing a new show for First Friday at 3 Walls. Little was revealed yet comfort was suggested. Interesting...
please join us...
June 6-27, 2008
opening Friday, June 6, 6-9pm
Open by appointment, 210-219-1562
Three Walls is located in studio 106D Blue Star, Building B, San Antonio, TX
If it was my show it would be an empty room with a lazy boy chair in the middle. The AC would be cranked and someone's mother would come in and feed the patron chicken soup with saltines while an obscure Michael J Fox movie played on the tv in the background. There would be a line out the door. Dramatic low key lighting would be crucial to pull this off.
#3 Just A Little Something to Take the Sting Off
(Oddly, this foto was taken a few blocks down from the Ambassador Hotel in LA, see below for more...)
With heavy hearts following the Spurs loss (as well as our first round draft pick saviour from Brazil, Tiago Splitter, most likely ditching us to play for a team in Spain named after a ceramic tile company, Tau Ceramica, and thereby reintroducing, symbolically, on the team, the historic Great Divide between Argentina and Brazil first evidenced with the Papal Bull of 1493) came this goofy joke...
Kobe Bryant, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was
showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded Los
Angeles Laker's flag in the window. 'This house is yours for eternity,
Kobe,' said God. 'This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here.'
Kobe felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house. On his way up the
porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a 3-story
mansion with a brilliant Black, Silver & White sidewalk, a 50 ft. tall
flagpole flying an enormous San Antonio Spurs flag, and in every window a
Kobe looked at God and said 'God, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but I
have a question: I won 3 NBA Championships, more awards than I can remember
and am one of the greatest players of all time.'
God said 'So what do you want to know, Kobe?'
'Well, why does Tim Duncan get a better house than me?'
God chuckled and said 'Kobe, that's not Tim's house, ..it's MINE.'
Low Rent Franchises of the 80s
With a break between semesters and a full plate studying for the registry, I've found myself up at night watching a bit too much of AMC, the American Movie Channel. The programming seemed diverse at first. For every John Ford chuck wagon movie, there was a 3 Days of the Condor or other intriguing gem from the 70s. Now the programming has become dominated with what I would call the Low Rent Franchises of the 80s.
The 80s concretized the heroic vigilante theme from the 70s, first developed in 1971 with Dirty Harry. The trend continued to the 80s, evolved, and reached a point of no return with Arnold's Commando and Stallone's Tango & Cash.
But within all that was the Low Rent Franchise. Here, Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson became the low budget versions with Missing in Action and Death Wish being the respective vehicles. Grounded in a tradition of exploitation and drive-in cinema, these series of films tried to follow in the success of other action institutions, yet by taking the low road with horrible cinematography, leaden leads, and poor audio recording. The idea of using the celebrity of a minor actor to propel a franchise seems so foreign in today's film world where franchises begin at $100 million. Perhaps it was all about the forgotten genius of Golan-Globus?
This all became clear (sort of) yesterday morning when the Chuck Norris film Ocatagon came on AMC. I was dozing in and out. From what I could tell there was a kung fu/ninja white slavery ring, a lot of annoying whispering suggesting something darkly magical, a lame love interest that was probably killed off at the end of the second act if I was awake to verify it. I later watched this trailer which confirmed some of my thoughts.
I thought these films were just on AMC for a few days but they've trenched in now and don't seem to be going away. Cleaning up the streets and bringing the prisoners back home are the themes. Is this some sort of message being delivered by the programmer?
The angry white ninja? The new silent majority?
Is that a young John McCain?
Beerhall Putsch (For Real)
On the last Friday the Downtown Highlife bicycle gang resurfaced and roamed around the downtown San Antonio streets. The first destination was San Pedro Springs Park. There was a possibility of going to Patty's Ice House instead but time was of the essence, and given that, a diversion to see that weird mossy stone structure at the park was omitted as well. A compromise stop at the Valero happened and then it was toward the hills.
The route took us over to Mahncke Park with a climb up Funston and a quick stop at the VFW Hall by the Wooden Nickel Museum.
And why all the rush? Word leaked that this was going to be Gordon's last night at Beethoven's. When I came back to town in 2006 Beethoven's was an open bar with a nice mixture of old timers and young people. Evidently, those days may be over.
Gordon was the guy often behind the bar. He booked many local bands to play there...
...such as this moment from Fiesta...and seemed to make the place succesful and friendly to all. Now, Beethoven's future is a bit in question. Will it still be open to the community?
A letter came in which suggesting it wouldn't be. In the days leading up to Friday, I watched the last two Spurs games there, and a rumor went out that a secret meeting was going down at half-time to address Gordon's future running Beethoven. Yes, it was the classic beerhall putsch.
This First Friday might be the last time Beethoven's is as it was even though it might be volunteers only running the place.
On a local bike message board I found this post which contextualizes the moment...
Gordon put in well over 80 hours each week at that place, week in and week out, the only vacation he got was the week they closed at Christmas. He single-handedly built that place up from an occasional weekend crowd non-factor to the major weekly Southtown draw that it is. Revenues are unmatched and some Mannerchor members worry if the gravy train has now left (granted, a Mannerchor member recently passed away and left some money to the organization, it is absolutely foolish to rely on that).
I just recently found out this movie The Strangers opened. The writer/director Bryan Bertino perhaps could have the most storybook entry into Hollywood life that I can remember. He was working as a grip/gaffer on low budget films in LA. This was his third script and sold for a few hundred thousand and then later he was asked to direct the film without having ever directed a film before. It's an amazing story.
All the more unusual for me because I remember going to film school with him. I remember he helped out on one of my projects when we all went out to West Texas for a long weekend. We stayed at a youth hostel in Fort Stockton. Very odd memories. I think he was captured in the background of a scene washing a car.
I still have his number, though I'm not sure if it's changed. Perhaps I'll give him a call for an interview. He might even answer.
3AM - The Call Was Never Answered
It seems the obvious finally became obvious and Hillary is out of the race. Obama gave an acceptance speech. McCain shot back with awkward puppetry.
In a way it's as if the 2000 election is reversed with the GOP offering up a stiff line reader and the Democrats now providing an engaging candidate one can "hang out with."
Still, here it is a few days later and Hillary still hasn't officially gotten out of the race. When will this end? Is this the kind of decision making she promised with the phone call at 3am? Would she even be able to pick up the phone?
Ambassador Hotel (RFK)
Lost in the discussion of the RFK death is the actual building itself, the Ambassador Hotel, and it's demise. As of 2003 the Ambassador was boarded up, and looked to have been for a long, long time. In 2006 it was demolished to make way for a new school.
The hotel became a home to feral cats and the occasional Hollywood film (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071517/locations), with Barton Fink being perhaps the most signature. Someone in LA told me that the kitchen where RFK was shot was going to somehow be moved and preserved to another location, but I've yet to find any follow-up to that rumor.
For what it's worth...
Upcoming Next Week: Fotos of First Friday and maybe if the stars are aligned, the McNay Opening Weekend. For all the buildings being razed, it's good to see something new (of quality! finally!) go up.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...