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18 Love Letters and Hate Haikus to San Antonio 

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Conventional thinking says that Valentine’s Day reminds us of what we love most. But for some, it can have the opposite impact. For every (greeting) card-carrying Cupid enthusiast, there’s someone else who’d rather skip the hearts and chocolates and embrace their inner misanthrope. So, for our “Love and Hate” issue, we thought we’d give both camps their due. We asked people from across San Antonio — writers, politicians, musicians, bartenders and academics, to name a few — to write about what they love and hate about our fair city.

Here’s what they wrote:

Love

Melissa Jones
Sexologist and Executive Director, Sexology Institute and Boutique

Having recently transplanted myself from the rural suburbs into the heart of Downtown, I must say that I absolutely LOVE that central San Antonio is on its way to becoming uber hip! Downtown is now where I work, live and play! I’ve enjoyed touring the new Henry B. González Convention Center, the Hemisfair park redevelopment, Yanaguana Gardens and the Rivercenter Mall expansion. Everywhere new condos are popping up, and it seems like new restaurants are opening up faster than I can experience. Southtown is becoming a major foodie destination and is still growing. And even while all this is happening, the cultural traditions that make San Antonio unique still remain. I can definitely testify that this is the decade of Downtown!

Ron Nirenberg
City Councilman, District 8

My city weeps
For neighbors around the world
We are compassion.

Dino Foxx
Burlesque Dancer and Producer

<3 San Anto
You are the embrace of an old lover,
familiar and firm, being held in ways that
feel like home.

Returning after four years, to all the things
that make you feel connected to the place
where you were born.

Familiar scent of Texas Mountain Laurel,
and smoke billowing into the air from
barbecue pits at Brackenridge Park.

You are warm flour tortillas, releasing steam
from the little red plastic container on
a table at Taqueria Chapala Jalisco.

You are old school freestyle bumping from the
open windows of an old Honda Civic
cruising down Military Drive on a Sunday night.

You are neck tattoos and the taste of
cilantro and cebolla on the lips of a cute
boy at the taco truck outside of Hardbodies.

You are the old pecan tree outside of
grandma’s house, branches yearning to grow
stretching as far as the eyes can see.

Doc Watkins
Pianist and Bandleader, Doc Watkins and His Orchestra

Dear San Antonio,

You know I love you, baby. But I’m a married man, so let’s do this in the third person.

San Antonio drew me in over a decade ago, during a weekend getaway from Austin (don’t hold it against me). I’d love to say it was the brisket taco from Garcia’s that sold me. Or the soulful musicians. Or the Spurs. Or the Majestic Theatre. Or the panang curry at Thai Dee. But the reality is, I wouldn’t encounter any of those things until several years later when my family and I moved to San Antonio. So it must have been something else. To this day I can’t place it.

It has been said that we admire things with reasons, but love them without reasons.

Jennifer Herrera
Community and Media Engagement Coordinator, KLRN

My birthplace and area of salvation — my precious South Side. You’ve wrapped me in your warm, sun-filled embrace as I ride bikes side-by-side with my father down the Mission Reach. You’ve fed my soul with mother-daughter outings at SoFlo Market, where we bond over handmade wares and run into relatives and neighbors. You’ve kept me safe while walking alone to my car after many First Friday art strolls. And, you provided the scene as I fell in love at the Friendly Spot.   

You’re genuine. You’re imperfect and your scent is that of freshly made tortillas mixed with hints of jalapeño. And, as I leave you after a day-long escapade, I’m always reminded of my roots as I’m greeted by an elderly woman, who interchanges the sweet terms of endearment of mijita and sweetheart as she bids me farewell and prays for my safe return. My heart swells, and I know that I’m home.

Shea Serrano
Writer, Hip-Hop Historian and San Antonio Native

Dear San Antonio,

I love you. I suppose I always have, I’ve only just now realized it. I love playing basketball at Miller’s Pond and getting into fights while playing basketball at Miller’s Pond. I love eating breakfast tacos at Mendez Café off south Military. I love that every time I see a city bus I think of my dad because he’s driven for VIA for nearly three decades. I love driving by my family’s old house in Valley Hi and also Southwest High School and also Ingram Park Mall and also those ladies who sell candy apples for $1 at stoplights and also everything else that reminds me of being a non-adult. I miss Stoney D’s. I miss the Alamodome. I miss Vinny Del Negro and Avery Johnson and Willie Anderson. You’re beautiful. You’re a beautiful place and I hope you never ever change any of your parts.

Jacob Burris Bar Manager, Stay Golden

Five-time champions
“Go Spurs Go!” and “Race for Seis!”
Please beat Golden State

Heywood Sanders
Author and Public Policy Profesor, University of Texas at San Antonio

It’s not San Antonio I love. It’s San Antonians. There is a sense of community and neighborhood here, one unlike most other large cities. It’s the warmth of the audience at a Noche Azul concert at the Esperanza, or the turnout for a session there on water policy. It’s the spirit of the MLK Day march, and the joy of the crowd at "A Night In Old San Antonio." It’s the independent spirit of a host of individuals who have gone their own way and seen things to change, from Adina De Zavala and Emma Tenayuca to Maury Maverick, Roddy Stinson and Carlos Guerra. It’s the spirit of Bill Sinkin, who fought for public housing in San Antonio and later founded Solar San Antonio, and Fay Sinkin, who led the effort to improve local public health in the 1950s and then pressed for protection of the Edward Aquifer and the recharge zone in the 1970s and 1980s. Those people have made San Antonio.

Rey Saldana
City Councilman, District 4

I love the smell of Barbecue that wafts through the air on Saturday afternoons on Spurs game nights.

Hate

Melissa Jones
Sexologist and Executive Director, Sexology Institute and Boutique

Hate may be too strong a word, but there are a few things that for a city of this size, depth and breadth, San Antonio is lacking. One of the motivating factors for me moving Downtown was to hasten the daily commute and avoid a public transportation system that is severely deficient. Even though I previously lived in a well-established suburb, there was no bus stop within two miles, and then it took over two hours to get Downtown or to the Medical Center. (Thank goodness for Uber!) Now that I live in the heart of the city with the world-famous River Walk out my doorstep, I and the other pedestrians and bicyclists are still brushed aside by the car traffic that routinely snarls Downtown streets on the weekends. San Antonio needs to become a city for and of people and not one for and of automobiles.

Ron Nirenberg
City Councilman, District 8

San Anto, city on the rise.
It is true, best I can surmise.
But quiet on the boat?
Heck no, go rock the vote!
See, what good are you otherwise?

Dino Foxx
Burlesque Dancer and Producer

#NoNewFriends
Love affairs in San Anto run deep, all the
way back to childhood, honoring history
and loyalty and change can be hard.

You can tell who you are talking to and
just how long they have lived here in very
simple ways, those born and raised here
are the ones I want to chill with.

Veteranas Mexicanas who remember how to take
the 82 bus through the West Side, a baby on one hip,
a clear beeper tucked into her belt on the other.

Those who know that this isn’t the first
time Wonderland Mall was actually
called that.

Those who grew up having birthday parties
at Kiddie Park, spent summers chasing
the raspa man and ate Fritos and bean dip
at the night parade.

Those who remember getting buzzed from
stacking cups at NIOSA long before $12
craft cocktails became cool.

Those who remember when going outside of Loop 410
was a crazy trip and who trip out driving outside
of Loop 1604 surrounded by Land Rovers and
soccer mom vans.

Doc Watkins
Pianist and Bandleader, Doc Watkins and His Orchestra

A great city is like a great woman. She ain’t necessarily perfect, but don’t let me be the one to say so.

Jennifer Herrera
Community and Media Engagement Coordinator, KLRN

Loop 1604, you slay me. Day in and day out, I find myself scheduling my life around you. Your endless construction, delays and almost daily accident-ridden roads have tested my patience. Yet, I crawl back to you and travel your loop like a record’s needle skipping and sliding around. I, too, find myself sliding around in hopes of avoiding you and exiting before I get myself caught up with your evil ways once more. But I don’t. I think you’ll change, and I tell others the same. “It’ll get better.” “Give it more time.” Your time has come, yet you remain the same.

Shea Serrano
Writer, Hip-Hop Historian and San Antonio Native

Dear San Antonio,

I hate you. I suppose I always have, I’ve only just now realized it. I hate the hurt you’ve made me feel. Some of it was small and silly hurt, hurt that I recognized immediately, like when Derek Fisher hit the 0.4 shot or when Manu fouled Dirk in Game 7. Some of it was philosophical hurt, hurt I felt but wasn’t able to accurately describe at the time I was feeling it, like how small you began to feel as I grew into maturity (or, more accurately, how small you made me feel). And some of it was big hurt, hurt I understood when I became a father, like how you swallowed up so many of my friends and their dreams or how you laid road to ruin for some of my family members. You can be a hard place, San Antonio. I just wanted to say that to you.

Jacob Burris Bar Manager, Stay Golden

Woke up hungover
Where is the late night diner?
And please don’t say “Jim’s”

Heywood Sanders
Author and Public Policy Profesor, University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio is a special place, with its own character. But some folks keep trying to make it just like anyplace. They keep using language like “world class” and “major league.” And they keep arguing all we have to do is build something big — or bigger — or get something that some other city has in order to be a real city. John Carrington of the Chamber of Commerce could write in early 1911, “In order for San Antonio to realize her opportunity as a convention city … it is absolutely essential that a coliseum or convention hall shall be erected.” So we built the Municipal Auditorium. And now, a century later, we’ve just spent $325 million in a continuing quest for a bigger convention hall.

Then there was the talk in the 1930s that a new stadium — Alamo Stadium — would bring “big time” football here; just like the implicit argument in the 1980s for building the Alamodome. And there are still some in town that think what we most need is an NFL team, like the Oakland Raiders, to be a real place. We already are.

Rey Saldana
City Councilman, District 4

I hate that the Mission Drive In on the South Side closed. Although, I can understand how the business model buckled under the pressure of hidden children in the back seat avoiding payment and boxes of outside food that kept us from paying high prices for concession.

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