Here at the Current, we feel completely crazy from the heat. Our sunblasted senses ache for a three-day thunderstorm. Our deep-fried nerve endings crackle unless placated by a near-continuous dousing of ice-cold beer. Our extensive Current office gardens and koi ponds have become tumbleweed-infested dirt patches teeming with carp jerky, and we’ve petitioned Management to move our desks into the refrigerated produce room at Costco. We’re wetting the bed, recreationally. Our precancerous sun-damage spots, heretofore mere islands, have merged into ominous tectonic plates.
…We’re making cancer jokes.
And it’s not just the weather! We sob uncontrollably whenever we hear Michael Jackson — not his music, mind you, just his name. We daydream of Farrah Fawcett dancing with Billy Mays in a John Hughes high-school prom scene choreographed by Merce Cunningham. We insist that Walter Cronkite was the voice of TEX, the Telephone Enrollment Exchange for the University of Texas at Austin. We know he wasn’t, but we can’t accept it. This class was not added. Goodbye and good luck! We’ll mourn ya till we join ya, celeb-os muertos.
It’s been a cruel, cruel (cruel) summer, y’all. By November, we will all have lost our minds! … Also, frankly, aren’t you readers overdue for a light ’n’ frothy Summer Issue? Lord knows y’all read enough in these pages about COSA politics, CPS Energy, human rights, free speech, and contemporary art. Let’s take a li’l breaky-poo from such weighty matters and indulge in some silly-ass quasi-lifestyle magazinery with some extra funtime cooling-off tips and tricks to get us through the last (?) of these dog days. THERE’S A DOG THEME. GET IT? SEE WHAT WE DID THERE? Sigh.
— Sarah Fisch
No canine-American loves the water like the Labrador Retriever. Want your ball out of the lake? He can handle it. Want your kid out of the pool? We’re sure he can arrange something. Paddling, splashing, wading, or floating, the retriever’s your guy. Or gal. And like most of us at this time of year, (s)he’s happiest wet.
We know our COSA outdoor pools close this week (madness!), but there are year-round swimming holes where you can get your groove back (because you’re a retriever, get it? Ahem.). Swimming is the best possible exercise; while not exactly the most cardio-intensive (unless, like Michael “Bong Hit” Phelps, you plan to do it four hours a day), it’s great for your joints (hee!), your outlook, your muscles, your flexibility, and it keeps your core temperature down. It’s a perfect cool-down after a run, a bike ride, or a political argument.
Here’s an important note, though: You wanna keep your exposure to natural bodies of water to a minimum just now. We’re in a Stage Two drought, y’all, and with our local water so concentrated, the levels of staph, strep, and cryptosporidium pathogens in local rivers, lakes, and ponds go way up. Ew. Keep it safe, nadadores.
Now, the Chihuahua’s not for everybody. Feisty’s too weak a word for this tiny titan of the canine kingdom — they’re two-snaps fierce, is what they are. Smart as whips, particular about people (but oh-so-devoted to the ones they love), persistent, fearless, and barky as all git out, this is a pup you’ll want on your side … otherwise, they will never, ever, ever stop yapping at you.
Plus, we like their weird little bulbous heads. Chihuahuas are like otherworldly sentinels sent from outer space to warn us —continually — of interlopers, bad smells, wayward children, and anybody who gets too close to our handbags. Plus, what other kind of dog can get away with full-on drag? An Irish Wolfhound in an evening gown is just a big doleful hairy mess; a Chihuahua in a sequined frock works. That. Shit. Trust.
In addition to their natural flair, the Chihuahua’s a natural whistleblower (not literally, though that would make for an awesome Youtube video). You, too, can keep a close (if bulging) eye on the goings-on around you by attending City Hall meetings. Most of these are public, dammit, and who’s the public? You, pee-wee. Time is allowed for la gente to make remarks, and you’d be surprised how barky and worked-up you’ll get over such important COSA-discussed issues as the fate of our parks, CPS Energy’s nuclear-energy obsession, the funding of our cops y firefighters, the crazy parade ordinance, the criminally short operating season of our outdoor pools, y mucha más.
City Council assistant Chris Callanen tells us, “We encourage the residents of San Antonio to attend all of `City Council’s` meetings.” Meeting agendas and backup information are available online — as are the schedules for City Council committees and the various citizen-staffed commissions (e.g. Zoning, Historic and Design Review, and Parks and Rec). “Citizens attend City Council meetings for a variety of reasons,” says Callanen. “To learn about the proposed budget by attending the Council Work Sessions (going on right now; schedule available at, yes, sanantonio.gov), to express their opinions on issues related to their neighborhoods, to express support or concern about a policy issue or program, or to bring their concerns to our Council’s attention for resolution.”
Plus, the Council chambers have awesome air conditioning, and these meetings are oft held in the hottest part of the day. We triple-dog dare you to wear something sequined.
Take a tip from our intrepid jowly-faced friend here (the one with the built-in Arabian thobe), and sniff out some true-life (maybe even true-crime) inspiration. Yes, research is fun. It can’t be all beer-drinkin’ and movies 100-percent of the time. If you’re at all like us, you’re a big nerd for San Antonio history. Now, you may not feel too investigative when it’s 108 degrees out, but humina wuh nee ummmanna uhhhhhh
… what? Wake up! We live in a crazy fascinating city, and y’all are some bewilderingly interesting people. Don’t y’all have ancestors and whatnot? Hasn’t our town been here for 300 dang years? Aren’t you at least mildly interested in what-all’s been going on all that time?
Here are several secretly amazing places where you can hole up and pore over mind-blowing materials guaranteed to inspire your artwork, generate historical novels you had no idea you had in you, and devastate your summer ennui. These places are chock-a-block with bizarre old documents, such as colorful guidebooks to the city’s 19th-century brothels, legal records of weird old murders, beautiful maps, and stunning photographs. You can also peruse your own ancestry (so your great-grandma was a Cherokee princess? Prove it). They even have staff trained to help you; librarians are cool. Ahhh, recreational research. So much better than, say, being outside.
Funny little beast, the dachshund, with its elegant snout, long cylindrical body, and li’l bitty furniture-like legs; the whimsical-yet-chic, Design Within Reach Noguchi coffee table of dogs. I’ve always thought it would be awesome to be pulled in some sort of sleigh by, like, 90 of the wee weenie dogs (during a very light snowfall, pues, lest they get lost). But, no … that would be a horrible idea. The dachshund’s no work animal (though Wikipedia tells me they were bred to hunt badgers, not a big activity down here), but instead a quirky character loved for its off-kilter elegance and outsized personality. As such, they’re totally art dogs. Did you know that Picasso had a dachshund? So did David Hockney. Warhol had two! Philanthropist nonpareil Brooke Astor adored her Girlsie and Boysie. And Gary Larson did a whole series of cartoons based on the dachshund’s influence on art.
As a short-legged arty type myself, I appreciate these bitches’ inspiration of and devotion to their favorite artists. San Anto artists and art institutions could sure use your devotion and inspiration. Increase the coolness quotient of our awesome art scene, you hot dogs, not by going to gallery openings and museum events and such — you already do that, no? We thought so — but by volunteering. Think you’d make a decent docent? Or maybe you’re better suited to guiding li’l hands as they paint, sculpt, and make photographs. We think you should pose nude for a life-drawing class (somebody has to do it, and you could even make a little lechuga while keeping your bathing-suit area aerated). Any weenie can make the scene First Friday; try making a difference en los artes.
Almost nobody looks his or her best in a blast furnace. Todo San Anto will wear tank tops y chanclas for the next eight to 10 weeks, whether they suit us or not. Yup, we’re all slightly grimy, filmed with sweat, squinting through our puddled eye makeup. However, we shouldn’t let ourselves go completely. We are a fine-ass-lookin’ town, and much of our visual charm is located in our hairdos. This is Texas! Take a little pride in your tresses.
Kishone Mingo of Salon by M.C. says “It’s best to get some type of style that’s swept up or `in` curls pinned `up`, to keep it off your neck or face. If you sweat in hot weather, you’re still able to have a nice style and stay cool.” She recommends up-dos such as French twists or buns.
Surprisingly, wearing somebody else’s hair might work out, too. “It relieves the stress of you blow-drying and shampooing your hair on a daily basis,” says Mingo. “You would give your hair a natural rest if you get a weave.”
Consider it done!
Or, not so fast.
“I think one of the advantages of having natural hair is it’s usually shorter,” says Briana Flowers, organizer of the San Antonio Natural Hair Meetup. “Usually when African-American women start the natural-hair process, the only way to get rid of those chemicals is to cut your hair off … at the same time, it’s similar to the dreadlocking process. We have a lot of members with dreads.”
Dreadlocks — good for summer? “Depending on how `long` they are,” Flowers says. “After a while, they can grow really, really long. There are people with dreads all the way down to their calves. Dreads can be very heavy; there are a many ways of style to pick the hair up, but after a while dreads don’t become the best style to have if you live in a hot place like Texas.”
You’ve got options, people! We think very long dreads in an up-do are awesome. Don’t have long dreads? Look into a dread weave. Presto!
Purebred, schmurebred. We all know that el perro más familiar de SATX is puro mutt, the lazy dog, the sniffer and cuddler whose ancestors span the mighty shepherds, the silky spaniels, the noble bulldogs, y everybody else on quatro piernas. We’re a city of mestizaje, claro, reflected in our music, our food, our art, our social life, our language, our fashion, y bueno, our best friends.
We at the Current like a fuzzy friend of even temperment and no gran misión to while away the sun-drenched hours with us, enjoying a cold one, maybe a good book, and a nice long siesta. Hybrid vigor being what it is, it’s the mixed-breeds that age best, too. You can adopt a canine companion at the local SPCA, by the way; maybe your perfect hot-weather lazing-around partner for this and many summers to come awaits you even now. Also, many local ice houses (the best and most venerable places to drink freezing-cold beer, really) generally allow well-behaved dogs to hang out with you outside.
Ahhh, the wisdom of a lazy dog. Maybe it’s because they know that there’s no fighting the heat, after all; the best thing to do in these final malingering dog days is to calm down, rest up, and enjoy the slower pleasures of our near-endless verano, and … zzzzzzzzzz.
Maybe you think you don’t have the proper training and disposition to help the visually impaired navigate this dangerous world and lead more productive and fulfilling lives. Wrong-o. Observe the noble seeing-eye dog: All it takes is a little corazon and some time to make a difference. Are you a dog lover? Well, get this: You can foster and train puppies, who eventually go on to act as companions and assistants for the visually impaired. Cool, no?
And no, this doesn’t involve walking around outside — not necessarily, anyway. “During the summer, activities here slow down, and dogs don’t work real well on 150-degree concrete; they actually start dancing,” says Ernie Landy, volunteer coordinator for Guide Dogs of Texas.
Would that stop Lassie, people? You can still watch and care for puppies in the Guide Dogs of Texas’s PAWSitive Approach Program, which hooks up sweet dogs with troubled prisoners, by picking up and dropping off puppies at the Dominguez State Jail. You can represent Guide Dogs of Texas as an ambassador by speaking about this stellar org at community events. You can puppy-sit in your own air-conditioned home.
Also, the San Antonio chapter of Lighthouse for the Blind operates many diverse programs for the visually impaired in our community, from art projects to scholarships to special programs for vets and seniors to job placement. Currently SALB is seeking volunteers for its upcoming Johnny Bush fundraiser concert (August 26), which happens, yes, indoors at the Josephine Theatre.
COOL YOUR JETS
FIND AN ERSATZ OASIS ON THE GO
We’re in the dog days for the long haul, people — either hurricane season blows a tropical squall our way (without, we hope, wiping out any of our Gulf Coast brethren), or we just stay in a parched and baking holding pattern till Día de los Muertos. Either way, you’re gonna need something in front of your heat-seared eyes to tide you over. Got more suggestions? Why not friend us on Facebook and post them on our page? (Ahhh, Facebook … another useful hot-weather activity).
FILM AND VIDEO
Dr. Zhivago Especially the opening scene, the Christmas Eve protest, the Siberian train sequence, the abandoned snowy villa … actually, pretty much all of it.
The Empire Strikes Back Just the first part, with the tundra and the poor Tauntaun evisceration and all that. Press “stop” before you get to that Dagobah swamp planet with Yoda on it.
Smilla’s Sense of Snow READ THE TITLE. It has to be good (stars Julia Ormond and Gabriel Byrne, btw). Let me know, I haven’t seen it. Also, Snow Falling on Cedars. Surely at least one of these has a boatload of frozen precipitation in it. They’re based on books, too, possibly with brrr-inducing weather descriptions.
Fargo So chilling, both in setting and in story, that even now people with Minnesota accents both amuse me and freak me out. You betcha.
Cool Runnings Like us, the protagonists in this film are hot-weather folk longing for brisk breezes and triumph. Watch it for inspiration.
John Carpenter’s The Thing It has an Antarctic research team infiltrated by an Alaskan Malamute who turns out to be an alien who can imitate anything. Kurt Russell is in it, as is Wilford Brimley. Freezing cold, dogs, and paranoia. That oughta cool you off some.
Nanook of the North This controversial masterwork of silent cinema, about the survival struggles of a native Inuk and his family in the Canadian Arctic, is only arguably a documentary; director Robert J. Flaherty staged several sequences. Still fascinating, though. Think of it more as a mockumentary; This Is Inuit Tap.
Alive! After watching this (or reading the book it’s based on), you’ll be so glad you’re not trapped on an Andean peak after an airplane crash eating parts of your friends that you’ll relish our 100-plus temperatures. Maybe.
To be avoided at all costs (till our dog days are over): Lawrence of Arabia, Apocalypse Now, Night of the Iguana, Fire Walk With Me, Backdraft
Björk Entire catalog. She’s from Iceland. Which may or may not be another planet. Try Icelandic band Sigur Rós, too.
Stereolab Somehow, all those dots and loops and calm, harmonized vocals make us feel less overheated.
José Gonzalez He’s the singer-songwriter son of Argentinian parents, and grew up in Sweden (sings in English, though). He’s passionate, yet somehow reserved, with his intimate, Nick Drake-like arrangements. Nick Drake’d be good, too.
Miles Davis You know why.
Avoid: Burl Ives’s “Frosty the Snowman” (tempting, but too soon!), Michael Jackson (too sad!), “It’s Raining Men” (too taunting on too many levels!), Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot,” and, claro, Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot.”
Jack London Almost any of Mr. London’s frostbit canon will do, but his masterful short story “To Build A Fire” (which also has a dog in it) is particularly awesome.
Anything Irish From Angela’s Ashes (RIP, Mr. McCourt), wherein the author spends the bulk of his childhood shivering and rained-on, to Joyce’s Dubliners, which contains possibly the best snow-capped short story written in English, “The Dead.” Everybody’s always wearing sweaters over there. Dig in.
At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft “A very cold book,” is how Music & Screens Editor Jeremy Martin describes this horror novella, which foretells the soul-chilling trouble that awaits every wanna-be X-Filer at the Southern pole. We’ll just leave it at: Blind, 6-foot-tall penguins. According to Wikipedia, Guillermo “Pan’s Labyrinth” del Toro has adapted.
Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer This harrowing account of a deadly expedition by a motley gang of (largely inexperienced) climbers to Mount Everest is at once a snowy tragedy and a meditation on hubris and disrespect. You will gain all-new admiration for Sherpas, too.
“Snowbound” by John Greenleaf Whittier This ol’ chestnut of a poem, the full text of which you can find at , was widely taught in the beginning part of this century (it was written in 1865) but has now largely fallen by the wayside. It’s mawkish, sentimental, and very, very cold. Read it and get your retro-nippy on.
Avoid:“August Heat” by William Fryer Harvey, Lord of the Flies, Under the Volcano, Faulkner
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