On the Street

MLK in Low Resolution

The crappy weather intitially kept me from going down to the MLK Day celebration.  I wanted to ride my bike.  After I realized that wasn't going to happen in the rain I finally drove on down.  The march was over but I was able to make it to the celebration at least.  I walked up to the west side of the park. I couldn't help but notice the street food parked on Palmetto.

I saw an entrance to the celebration just behind me.  I was looking for the quickest way in but then realized this entrance was for the media, and then I realized that I was the media.  I showed my press pass (which I accidentally had with me) and was actually granted "backstage" access.  All this really meant was that I could get closer to the Mayor and the Mayor.

For horrible weather there was an incredible number of people out.  The city boasts hosting the nation's largest MLK Day celebration.  I can only imagine the turnout if the weather was better.

Someone later pointed out the irony that we host the largest MLK celebration yet have the smallest per capita African American population for a major city.  This paradox might touch upon how MLK as an idea has transcended the original historical, political moment.  National leaders all pay homage to MLK, but more as a concept rather than a specific political person.  San Antonio seems to get most of it down and leading the march with a garbage truck (a direct allusion to the Sanitation Worker's strike that drew MLK to Memphis) is a great example.

Later watching the Spurs on Tivo, at halftime, a local news station teased footage of the march by showing a bunch of Trinity students marching.  Could any image be less representative of the event I first thought? They somehow find the one image where there are no black people...at the MLK Parade?   But then I wondered if MLK day was more about everyone and not just one group of people.  That sounds nice but seems a disservice.  The MLK of the 60s should be celebrated as well, not just the ambiguous legacy that politicians of all parties try to contort into nothingness.

When MLK was killed he had become a critic of the Vietnam War (in part because wars drain resource$ that could go to rebuilding our own country.  Sound familiar?), and a critic of economic policies, hence his support of the Sanitation Worker's Strike.


I suppose that's why the local tv footage seemed so wrong.  My point has nothing to do with Trinity students who were celebrating the march but that the historical legacy of MLK is so open to interpretation.   To me it is the same but opposite phenomenon of when television media shows footage from a contemporary protest. Instead of showing images of the more typical average protestor, television instead presents the most outlandish crazy looking protestor they can find.   At the MLK celebration, they instead found the safest.  

There Will Be Head Scratching

With high expectations I finally went to see There Will Be Blood.  After being introduced to the Palladium a few days ago for the screening of Cloverfield, I somehow ended up back there.  The first review of the film I read came from Texas Monthly which pretty much trashed the film.  I assumed the reviewer just didn't like P.T. Anderson's films.  But why?  Boogie Nights was gold. Magnolia was overwrought, yes, and filled with actor highlight moments every 5 minutes, but there were great moments nonetheless...

....which makes the film great, at least in moments, because what was that film other than a long collection of moments?  The musical moment attempted to unite all the different characters together, and while the song was interesting, it didn't really amount to much.  P.T. was trying desperately to pay homage to Robert Altman in Magnolia, even so much as recasting Henry Gibson from Nashville.  A surprising lack of Youtube Henry Gibson/Nashville clips gives only this tangential moment, outstanding at it is.  

So, I figured the negative press of There Will Be Blood was actually negative press towards P.T. Anderson. After watching There Will Be Blood, I came to agreeing with some of the rare criticism I had read.  In interviews, P.T. mentions how he is working in classical storytelling with this latest film.  No more ensemble for this film.  This was supposed to be an old fashioned story.  That's not true, and in a good way for the most part, however the suggestion as such by the director led me to the wrong expectation. (Expectations for films should always be low it seems.  But no one wants low expectations for life.  There is another Taoist lesson in here, I'm sure.)  

The film starts amazingly well for the first half.  Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano, it seems, will be our two main characters.  The film suggests to be a character study of the greedy oilman versus the charlatan preacher. A battle of wills.  

But then the Paul Dano character disappears for about an hour, a mysterious long lost brother returns, and the film derails.  The direction is still wonderful but the script on a structural level falls apart.  Introducing new characters for no important reason is basically lazy or self-indulgent.  I wonder if P.T was running out of ideas.  I realize I'm in the minority on this point but the film became boring.  Daniel Day Lewis' character all of a sudden becomes evil.  He was actually likeable before but for whatever reason a switch was thrown and now he's homicidal.  The story became unrealistic.  Later we are supposed to  disregard early sincere moments by Daniel Day Lewis.  The film ends with Daniel Day Lewis turning on his son, punctuated by earlier unseen footage of Daniel Day acting poorly.  This has become an editing technique I can't stand.  In the third act someone tells a story and  we get a new visual perspective of how it actually happened.  It's supposed to be a reversal.  Its one thing for Daniel's character to grow bitter with age but to recast previous moments in the film in a darker light seem phony.  

The strive towards being epic actually distracts the film from its own purpose.  But what is the purpose of the film?  The film is about oil and religion - two extremely heavy topics for today.  However, P.T. pits these two forces oil (Daniel Day Lewis) and religion (Paul Dano) as adversaries.  When I think of oil and religion in today's world they seem to be on the same team. To think of religion as being an adversary to oil and capitalism is a real head scratcher.  I don't see it.  I suppose I'm getting to specific some might say but these muddy themes make the film less important in my opinion.

It's a film of great direction and style but throwing in oil and religion suggests significance.  I wonder if P.T. went into this trying to do a serious message film that reflected our times but realized that wasn't his forte. The film is about dysfunctional relationships even if people think its about something grander.  It's not.  It's still a very good movie but more for its direction and mood.  Fair enough.

Honky Tonky Parking Lot (or Swamp Boogie?)

(Seen underneath 281 at 10:36pm on Saturday: hand-held laser light show.)

Saturday I went by Sam's Burger Joint to see Jesse Dayton.  It was a great show.  It felt very much like we were transported to South, South Lamar in Austin to the Saxon Pub, which is not a place I actually ever went to while in Austin but I was assured that crooners and honky tonkers sang there frequently.  

The San Antonio music scene has often piggy backed off of the Austin scene.  There's no shame in that.  In fact, I wish Austin bands would come down more often.  

I've never actually heard "swamp boogie" as far as I know and I'm positive I didn't hear it Saturday night but I'm intrigued by the name.  I'm guessing it has something to do with New Orleans.  Wikipedia could only come up with this.   Creedence Clearwater Revival is associated with "swamp rock" but they weren't even from New Orleans but somewhere in California.  I'm ready for emo-swamp and ambient-swamp and everything in between.  Waiting...

(Seen outside Sam's Burger Joint at 12:17am.)

Welcome to San Antonio

Not far from the city one can still find wide open spaces such as this.  Even better, this is still inside the city. And inside 1604.

Between the loops, pockets of arrested de-civilization still exist.  This is the mysterious rapture that can be San Antonio.

In the far distance, industry looms.

In front of our eyes, forgotten worlds.

They Don't Shoot Horses, Do They?  

Dancing and bowling if you open the door.

Soon, all of this will make sense (and by soon I mean probably at least a month...)

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

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