Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)
#1 On the Street Foreign Correspondents from Bolivia Rux and Bear Report In (From...Brazil!)
Hola Amigos y Familia -
We just finished a short audio-slideshow that will be published on The World's website next week to accompany Ru's radio story about the Doctor's Without Borders project in the Complexo do Alemao favela (in Rio de Janeiro) that we just visited for a couple days. If you have a 3 minutes to spare - we'd love for you to take a look & listen. For now - you can see it at this link: www.**&#$%##$##.com
In a private exchange I discovered, shockingly, they weren't able to debut their new piece online for all 3 or 4 of us here at On the Street but instead had to let the BBC get first dibs. Which is fine. We'll wait a week. We'll let the BBC have this one, this time. However, I was able to see and hear the piece for myself and I'm excited to show it when schedules permit.
#2 Tillamook Cheese Alerts Me to Their Subtle Movements
I hope you are doing well and had a nice holiday last weekend. After many months of anticipation, Tillamook Cheese has just introduced two new cheddars to its speciality cheese line, Hot Habanero Jack Cheddar and Horseradish White Cheddar. The Hot Habanero Jack Cheddar is my favorite, if you like a little spice in your cheddar.
(Will I publish just about anything that comes in the mail? At most times, the answer seems to be "yes". Has there ever been a more open inlet to the Great Halls of Big Media?)
The weekend was spent up in Austin doing Mid Century Modern Ranch House sitting, working on future projects, grinding through Chemistry exercises, and then for a quiet Saturday brunch, a trip to fliphappy, the heart-warming crepe food truck featured on the Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay in the same tour that brought Flay to SA for his challenge at Los Barrios, of which I was lucky to taste the last of his asian fusion puffy taco version, and wonder privately, and now publicy, maybe he should have won...
Austin has a disproportionate number of metal Air Stream campers. That an old school/old Austin RV park is next door only adds to the critical regionalism.
Ever present and slowly changing development always looms over one's shoulder in Austin. Clint Hale's excellent piece this week about Hemisfair Park suggests large questions. The potential fight to save Hemisfair from residential development...this was one is tough. On one hand you just know the city will screw it up. Having a downtown park is something to be saved, but is it really a downtown park? The jungle gym set at Lila Cockrell park doesn't seem greatly utilized. Greater density downtown seems like the logical choice to offset the slow white flight out the Old Spanish Trail towards NW San Antonio. Yet what would be built at Hemisfair? That the location once was actually residential housing gives validity to the idea. But with other Southtown lofts going up everywhere and others being put on hold, does this seem like the right time to build more? And hasn't that always been the city's response to any kind of itch - build something! On that issue, I'd say they're batting around .250, which is why I'm not greatly inspired by something being thrown up at Hemisfair.
But then on the microscopic level one can look down at their feet and ponder past narratives... suggested through a random cork. Champagne and crepes and other forms of francophilia...
Saturday night at Okay Mountain Gallery off Cesar Chavez in Austin, Barry Stone debuted some new fotos. The crowd was congenial and then the rain hit and people either went inside or to their cars. We already were on the way towards the latter.
Here's one of the fotos from the show.
The New Tropics
This week had a few people wondering if the recent storms were going to be a return to the deluge of last Summer, a time when any one could throw a few seeds at the ground, walk away, let the rain do its business, and call oneself a gardener.
The rain patterns, however, only seem 'tropical' within the narrow view that around 3 in the afternoon the humidity would crescendo and rain would develop and then balance would return. The ongoing drought suggests anything but tropical living.
Evidently, A&M climatologists predict SA weather will become more arid overall, with sudden moments of tropical outburts. So were going to become a physical desert in addition to being a cultural desert? Joking, of course. Just stay indoors and read lots of magazines and everything should be fine.
Roger Mason Jr. (The Architect?)
The Spurs were somewhat close to signing Corey Maggette from the LA Clippers. It would have helped their scoring drought, but he chose more money to move upstate to the Bay Area to play for the Golden State Warriors.
So whom did the Spurs sign instead? The relatively unknown Roger Mason Jr. from the Washington Wizards. He went to UVA and has a hint of Thomas Jefferson about him. Renaissance Man is pushing it, but he was an architecture student, he designed his own house, he plays piano in some sort of band, he supposedly comes from a family of professionals, and as we see here, is really happy talking about his Aston Martin.
If Coach Pop puts him in the doghouse, will he build his own?
With seemingly nothing to see in the theaters I rolled the dice on Hancock. As others have said, the setup is intriguing: a bum superhero would wastes too much time drinking 40s and hanging out at his RV. That alone would have been enough to develop but the filmmakers raced through that storyline to get to another one. In the second part of the film, which feels like a different film altogether, we see glimpses of Hancock's past, going way back. Oddly, the more they try to explain, the more confusing and muddied the film becomes. I'm sure some producer with little insight felt the need to inject more melodramatic tension. The late search to find a villain in the film throws it off course. A missed opportunity is the best way to describe it. In that sense, all the rumors are true.
In and Out of Focus
Is 10 month old work still contemporary, especially when it's already been shown before in San Antonio? That is engaging in semantics, I agree, but I think it's a valid question. And the answer is probably a bit of yes and no. (Like most things.)
One would think that new work could be found or created. In that sense the show is a mixed bag. The highs are dizzying. The lows are head scratching. However, the strength of the better work is enough to still call the show a success. Hopefully others will go to Bluestar to see for themselves.
Here are random samplings of the show in no particular order...
The first shot was accidentally taken while still on a macro setting. That two to five inches from the lens are in perfect focus is lost on this group of paintings, though the soft focus has a certain appeal.
The description mentioned several musical references. I'm imagining bands from the magnetic wave spectrum, so to speak.
Trees from the forest.
From a group of 3 or 4 fotographs. The figures on the top of the horizon recall The Seventh Seal, plus a few more.
The devil's workshop?
A reference to the First Law of Thermodynamics. In the same sense, matter recycles. The water in our blood could be the same water that was once in a creek in Lower Slovenia, George Washington, or a cup of watered down whiskey I got at a bar last year.
(But then there I was in my Existential Chemistry class with the noble Dr. Davis (brother of Ossie Davis) when he mentioned that the Big Bang Theory is now under intense scrutiny. The explanation for its demise being that if the explosion of the Big Bang was that destructive, then how could have anything existed afterwards? That, and new thoughts on the pervading but mysterious Dark Energy, call everything into question.
Their installation is later in the fotos.
This juxtaposition worked for me on a surreal but direct level.
A macro view...
...and then another.
The back room was for the most dedicated to Rubio.
The 4 Horsemen. A subliminal reference to Mettalica's first album...?
This piece could have used a larger setting, but the size was perhaps appropriate to its nature and intention.
The video projection is not done justice throught his foto.
The foto on the left just now makes me think of a record spinning round.
Some ham-boning with Photoshop.
A roadtrip out West, now animated.
I have no idea what this over-exposure was of.
A new fotographic technique by the artist was used. And the formal aspect is impressive. I'm curious if people think 'nudes' are considered safe or dangerous.
And then where we began, hopefully with the show in somewhat better focus.
Some of the Hardest Working Security Guards in the Business
I showed up at Artpace at around 8:15. Little did I know that in the time it took to get a glass of wine, chat for a bit, it was already too late to go upstairs to see the work of the Texas resident and hardly had time at all to really see anything. But the security guards sure were earning their keep.
Someone stole a copy of this newspaper for me from Mark Bradford's piece, which was an homage and re-contextualization of the Travis Building right next to Artpace. I'm becoming concerned that Artpace residents are bored to tears looking out their residency dorm room. However, the work has almost always been intellectually engaging. Perhaps On the Street should offer tour guide services for Artpace residents...
(Scooters were lined up very proudly by the front door. In the last few months a whole new breed of scooter riders have hit the streets. It isn't slowing down.)
The Great Waldo Pepper
In doing galacial speed research for a story idea that began in December I finally tracked down a video copy of the forgotten George Roy Hill 70s film The Great Waldo Pepper. It was at the Semmes Branch Library.
(A quick thought on the library - it has to be one of the most impressive libraries in town, architecturally. It's combination of limestone, glass and steel loudly suggested the hand of Lake Flato. Upon research, the answer is...No. However, this was discovered -
Project Architect: Rehler Vaughn & Koone, Inc.
Design Enhancement: George Schroeder
Also, the library fuses smoothly with the adjoining Comanche Lookout Park. I'm not sure if its enough to pull one to the Judson area, but I can see how kids would like to be there.)
Without getting into why the film was being watched, other than parts were shot in San Antonio, I will say that this film struck me as a lost jewel from the 70s. Redford stars as barnstorming pilot in the 1920s. It's another one of the 70s commentaries on the loss of simple life and the rise of corporatism. In that line of thought, it's as if modernism was at its last stop before the exuberance of 80s postmodernism distracted everyone with treats from the great ahisortorical cookie jar, so to speak.
The film is a throwback and its points and angles are nicely subdued. Surprisingly, it has some of the most daring non-CGI effects one can expect to see. That almost all of the stunt pilots later died only confirms the ethos of the film. It's ending might not make sense without the context of the rest of the film, but the end is an odd embrace of death, and therefore life.
A comment lifted from the responses to the now "infamous" Open Letter Series, which focused it's inexact lens this time on the latest "cause celebre", the Farmers Market.
Thanks for your thought provoking piece. Having experienced several successful green markets in other cities, I admit to feeling envy at the thought of not being able to readily browse through tables of natural dyed wool and herb crusted goat cheese here in San Antonio. However, I feel that yearning for this model goes against the unique culture and character of the city and that there are issues beyond the surface that will continue to make this type of model difficult to establish with the local populace.
The fact stands that for years, San Antonio ran a distinctly “San Antonio” urban green market down at what is now the tourist destination and endless source for city controversy known as Market Square/Famer’s Market. Hence the name. This is often not considered by today’s yuppie green market crusaders. Several days of the week, a bunch of guys would park their beat-up trucks on the first level of the parking garage and vend produce out the back. After a person was done shopping, he could head over to Mi Tierra and pick up fresh pan dulce. It was really a cool kind of set up. When Farmer’s Market was finished out for retail space, these folks were displaced. Since the concept of produce that could undercut the price of HEB had been a dominant force motivating the market, it made sense that most of those who were displaced set up shop at the flea markets south of town, where you can still find them today.
Recently, I heard from a reliable source that there had been complaints to the City about too many ugly old trucks parked around Hardberger’s arid patch at the new Friday green market on Main Plaza. While it would be great to have a thriving market in the King William area, I strongly believe that until the populace can deal with old trucks, sand-crusted watermelons and live chickens rather than gluten-free bread and scapes, it will be pretty difficult to establish a successful local green market scene. Until then, I’ll reserve a table for my homemade soaps down at the Moursund Rd. flea market.
Good points are made but driving to the far South side doesn't seem practical for a lot of people either. Also, I'm not sure saving money is necesarily a fundamental part of farmers markets, though it should be.
Not a robust scene but some great deals to be had. A small bundle of cucumbers of $2 and a healthy young basil plant for $3 for what I noticed first. But to drive over here for a few cucumbers, is that saving money?
While studying about enzymes and spirit blue agar and other 'fascinating' bits from the hidden world, I noticed this random etching. After thousands of years, it's reassuring to know that we're still crudely carving wood.
I found this walking on the streets. I had hoped it was going to something nostalgic, or something intimate and embarassing, or something idiotic but brilliant. Instead, it was a bizarre sugar candy country album that Itunes couldn't even recognize. It's in the trashcan and awaiting a future life and death in the city rubbish heap at some point soon enough.
And so goes another week On the Streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...