Robbing the Rev
From the rancor exhibited by the churchy Lions of Zion and Councilthang McNeil, you would think that Reverend Seymour Perkins’ property at Nevada and Hackberry was the apex of all things street lethal. Yes, sex workers find solace there. And, yes again, drugs do pass through. Nevermind that these things also appear along the wide corridors and homes across this Eastside neighborhood.
But the violence of the one-week vacation order issued by the City of San Anthony (namesake of that benevolent Catholic good-fer-what-ails-you Roman stooge) stunned even this generally smiling and aloof folk artist.
As the cameras descended on his property Monday afternoon to soak up the post-travesty aura of desperation, a mental-health worker and friend of Perkins described the artist as in a psychotic state. He even tried to speak to the camera crews, explain Perkins’ condition. We’re sure our sisters and brothers in the visual media were sensitive to this sensitive man’s predicament.
Queque has grown quite fond of Perkins these past weeks. We even had hope that our broader community of artists would come to his aid. But the course now seems set.
Several women from the neighborhood have cried and told us of the help he offered them when they were at their lowest. There is no hesitation when they say he saved their lives. (Where were the Elder Zionists?) Some have even promised to lay down in front of COSA’s ’dozers, now due in 12 days and counting …
Queque also can’t help but find interest in another angle: Perkins’ property just happens to reside in the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, meaning a slice of the city’s property tax may be used by McNeil’s TIRZ #11 committee to pave over this nationally known folk-art site and, yes, put in a parking lot. We mean: capital improvement.
A born-and-bred Antonian, Queque accordingly lags behind the times (with any luck just enough to avoid getting a third-degree burn from the mortgage meltdown) – which tardiness explains Queque’s excitement over the new Flash Mob Rule passed two weeks ago by City Council (Flash Mobs. That’s so 2003. Not in SA, chingazo!). If the Q2’s legal counsel has it right (and we’re sure it does; who doesn’t trust 1-800-ambulance-chaser?), the best course of action under the new Parade Ordinance is anarchy. Whereas months of tedious committee meetings, an official route, and crowd estimates (not to mention bedecked-beasts-of-burden tallies) will cost you anything over the City’s $3,000 chip-in, purely spontaneous gatherings can take over the streets scott free — and the City will clean up the Big Gulps and ad-hoc heavy-metal T-shirt banners afterward. Go Spurs! Out of Iraq now! Up with people! Save the Reverend’s Installation!
By-the-book types who want to get a sense of the tab for a big, fat First Amendment demo should expect the omnibus approach native to Capitol Hill: the SAPD — in charge of approving all permits and estimating expenses; although after a round of phone-call hackeysack they referred us to City Legal Eagle Michael Bernard, who, according to “Deirdre” was “out of the office” — doesn’t like to say just how many coppers you have to rent, so’s the bad guys can’t get all Lee Harvey Oswald on you (lone gunman our lard-enhanced asses). “We never provide that info beforehand for security measures,” said the PIO. And usually not afterward, either.
But rest assured: Should the SAPD turn down your app for any reason, you can appeal to the City Manager or City Council, which can also shut you down, provided they then ask a judge if it was OK.
Hold your indignation, there, sharpshooter. Council included a Better to Seek Forgiveness Than Ask Permission provision for you, too: Premeditated parading without a permit is a comparable bargain at $500.
Not that Esperanza or its compatriots in the Free Speech Network are mollified. They’ll be asking U.S. District Court Judge Xavier Rodriguez for an injunction at 9:30 a.m. December 20 at the Federal Courthouse (in case you feel the urge to spontaneously assemble). Among their objections: The ordinance gives a free ride to certain parades with “broad appeal, historic tradition, cultural significance, and other public benefits,” causing Esperanza Director Graciela Sanchez to wonder where the favoritism stops. And does it make sense for the government (the number-one catalyzer of First Amendment parades nationwide) to decide who pays and who doesn’t? “Then the government owns the streets, the cars own the streets,” says Sanchez, “the citizens don’t own the streets.”
Oh, but you own a shining, green, $50-mil gem of a park, you do. As long as you’re footing the bill, you may as well stop in at Saturday’s feel-good love-in. “Field scientists who have spent the last several months unlocking the secret lives of plants and animals living on the 311-acre Voelcker Park property ... ” begins the press release (putting Queque in mind of an old college friend who found post-BA work smoking pot and counting mating salmon in the Great Northwest) “will share what they have learned with citizens,” etc. this Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon at the site, 12000 Northwest Military Highway. If your yard suffers from a dearth of squirrels, deer, and mudbugs, swing on in for a hands-on job. They call it Follow Up Sales Systems in the real world, where money means something.
It’s actually not too late to make that cash work for you and yours: Want swings that go really high? Sick of hearing about “interpretive centers” when no one can seem to erect a decent set of monkey bars anymore? Raise the roofbeams at tonight’s master-planning community meeting (6:30 p.m., Churchill High School Multipurpose Room, 12049 Blanco), where designers Stephen Stimson Associates and D.I.R.T. Studios will present their “preliminary findings” (our money’s on trees and “native grasses”) and take citizen input. Queque wants a merry-go-round, the kind you can spin your little brother on till he’s so dizzy he ... nevermind. •