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On the Street: The Tunnels of Gaza, A View From the Valley, A Completely Incomplete Year in Review, and Other Things

“And another one bites the dust.”

Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)

Before we get into last year, here are the last of the letters that somehow found their way home.

#1 Self-titled

Local and international photographer Bryan Rindfuss wishes us well.

Happy New Year!



#2 Ladies!

Hello All,

Hope you are having a great holiday season. Just a note that we are having an exhibition at the UTSA Satellite Space, opening this Thursday, Jan. 1, 6-9, and First Friday, Jan. 2, 6-9pm. Please join us for some great work by Anne Wallace, Joey Fauerso, Karen Mahaffy, Julia Barbosa-Landois, Guillermina Zabala, and myself.!!



#3 Circlebirds Need A Gig

Will, a recent transplant from College Station is trying to find a gig for his band on either January 11, 12, or the 14th. Perhaps one of the two or three readers here have some ideas?

Hey Mark! Thanks so much for all the help. Here's the myspace for the band, as well as a track from their demo. It's a 4 piece band.

Auld Lang Syne

Unlike last year where I observed the turning of the year from a peak atop Monte Vista, this time I was in the valley of Beacon Hill. This wasn't better or worse. A dizzying view was replaced by an amazing assortment of food — hummus, naan bread pizza, celery marinated in vinegar and sriracha (quite amazing), chocolate dipped strawberries, some ancient form of whiskey known as Apple Jack and other foodie specialties. Too many in fact to try at once, as the majority of them were first overlooked.

A good crowd.

A cherry on the bottom.

Matt the Morning DJ was without his moustache but this cherry in his Apple Jack whiskey was a good touch.

Adam Smith's Mark Jones' "Invisible Hands."

Misadventures in pet photography.

The Tunnels of Gaza

The current humanitarian disaster in Palestine is pretty much an embarrassment to the Western world for doing nothing to stop it, at best, and at worst, aiding in the destruction.

There is a tendency to speak in Old Testament values of an eye for an eye, but that assumes the situation is somehow equal. I can't say I know an incredible amount about the situation in Palestine but I did help my friend Nida edit a documentary about Palestine called Palestine Blues, and in my limited perspective of watching the footage that was shot in Palestine, it's hard not to sympathize with their cause.

Basically, they have no rights and are treated as third class citizens on their own land. “Palestine” is completely divided up into non-contiguous zones and travel between these areas is controlled by Israel. The footage I saw pertained to the creation of the illegal border wall built by Israel. The path of the wall was completely opportunistic for Israel as it didn't at all follow the more recent agreed upon boundary, but instead would work to advantageously put certain water rich areas of Palestine into Israel control. In any other scenario this is an act of war. But when Palestine resists, it's seen as “not allowing the right of Israel to exist.”

It's an amazing trick of blaming the victim in this situation but it's not like there haven't been precedents for this in our own history.

Gaza probably has it the worst of any of the regions on Palestine. I've read that it's the most densely populated area in the World. This is another way of saying it's a containment camp, if not a prison.

I can't imagine Israel is going to benefit long-term from blockading all supplies from going into Gaza, not to mention of course bombing the city into oblivion (schools and hospitals included) if not invading it by land. On the most basic fundamental level, even as simple as chemistry, one knows that it is difficult to create something out of it's opposite. To create peace you have to be peaceful. Destroying a population only guarantees more war. It's an unequal equation. Israel is inviting chaos by creating chaos for Palestine.

Somehow this isn't obvious by now.

Anyway, Gaza is so desperate since the blockade of last year (where they can hardly get any supplies at all) that they've resorted to digging tunnels into Eqypt to get access outside of Gaza.

This is what prisoners do.

The fact that the number one job in Gaza is digging tunnels should clearly indicate the prison they've been forced to live in. And like a prison, the main currency is weapons and cigarettes, but other more crucial supplies are brought across as well.

Here is a fascinating video (much better than the one embedded at the top) that explains the Tunnels of Gaza and gives a backdrop for what is going on now. it has it's perspective, as does everything including me, but it's at least more in depth then what one will find in the U.S. media. (Embedding was disabled by the producers.)

I'll get out here before getting into Obama's lame, short-changed response to the situation...

A Completely Incomplete Year in Review (Cliff Notes Version)


Wall-E - not as good as everyone thought it was. An indication of how bad the year in film actually was, with a foreshadow of the grim prospects ahead. I'm not saying it wasn't a "good" movie but it tickled the brain more than it fully delivered a substantial punch.

The Batman Movie - was a good movie, maybe even great. It suceeded in painting shades of grey, but the "two barge moral lesson" at the end seemed out of place with how Batman (our hero?) had drifted into his own abyss chasing monsters.

Man on Wire - My favorite movie of the year. Wonderfully French, yet filled with tense drama to keep it from getting too contemplative for a mass audience, which isn't to say it had great success as it only played a week at the Bijou.

Let the Right One In - I'm not even sure if this vampire movie is playing in San Antonio. Completely Scandanavian, at least as far I've convinced myself. Reminded me of the original version of the movie The Vanishing in the moral ambiguities it posed, which once was the foundation of drama. Moments of surreality burst through the moments of hyperreality. A film for lovers.

I'm completely blank on anything else I've seen this year that even stands out for good or bad. Passage of time as I got to make a smoothie and think it over...

...yeah, nothing. I'm sure I saw a bad sports movie at some point but it's escaping me, as is everything else.

The Spurs...

Ankles - Ginobili's ankle issues may not have completely gone away, not to mention young messiah Ian Mahinmi has two bad ankles which have kept him out for the year, making Tim Duncan's job all the more difficult.

Last Second Shots - Roger Mason Jr. has already hit two clutch shots to help win a game. The Spurs have been in a ton of close games already this year, and as we've won many of them, it is uncertain if the team is showing great resolve, or if they're just getting lucky.

Can We Win One More? - That was the question last year. It's the same this time around. We have 3 "youngish" players contributing who weren't last year, yet, it's difficult to say if the team is slowly fading, or if we're just flying under the radar once again. I expect that narrative to continue for the next 2 seasons, with the 2010 free agent class bringing clarity to our 3rd act, or is it denoument?

The Economy...

Fuel prices have quickly dropped in half but yet things don't feel any better. With a shortage of credit and with the relatively cheaper fuel, there seems to be little impetus for any grand voyage into a new direction. Even Slim T. Boone Pickens can't get his wind farm. Basically, everything is at a standstill. Randomly, I went to the mall today to return some items. As luck would have it, Dillards was having a one day 50% off sale on a majority of items. There was some pandemonium but moments like that may actually become more common as stores feel the need to kickstart sales.

I've been slowly looking for an efficiency to rent. Should I wait a few months to see if things get worse/better? But will a further downturn in the national economy only mean that more people move to San Antonio (and Texas for that matter) thinking things will be better here?

The next 3 months are a mystery...

And that concludes the year in review.

Final thought - I'll be undergoing some sort of juice fast for the next five days. I'll try to keep nightly updates on the state of things but no guarantees.

And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued...

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