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On the Street: Canstructivists Unite, The 2nd Munich Agreement, Phoning It In, and Other Important Discussions of Our Time

“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


Canstruction

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.


(Courtesy)

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…

Posted by jones on 9/18/2008 2:23:35 PM
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