On the Street

Carrot and Wine

(On Stieren Street)

The free wine and carrot sticks investigation continues. Get used to it.

I began at Unit B. The obvious question - "how was the food and drink?" I wasn't in the mood for carrots and cucumbers, and the gallery must have been on the same wavelength. For refreshments, I noticed a sink full of ice and Lonestar Lite. Understated. Well played.

Then, I noticed a couple of people with matching styrofoam cups with the letters "LT". I never got an answer on its origins. Before long I had one of those same mysterious cups filled with vodka and tonic, and possibly a mickey finn? Soon, I was all woozy and coarse. Or maybe I forgot to eat dinner. What follows is shaky underexposed camera work. As always, read at one's own risk.

In addition to the lonestar in the sink, there was artwork on the walls.

In the front room, fotos by Chuck Ramirez. Almost the same image as before.

In the kitchen, fotos by Adam Blumberg from Philadelphia.

One of the fotos shared my middle name but I'm not sure which one (the foto that is.)

This foto prompted a discussion of Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers, and to a larger degree, the ideological/territorial adoption kidnapping of San Antonio musicians by Austin. I'm thinking of San Antonio musicians such as Doug Sahm, and yes, the Butthole Surfers. (More would come to mind had the mickey not dulled my senses. However, it's the same colonial attitude towards Elgin and Lockhart bbq restaurants as Austin reimagines them as one of their own, or back to musicians, Roky Erickson and Townes Van Zandt being 'Austin' musicians.)

The conversation drifted to an erstwhile gentleman's club den of voluptuous horror on (ironically) Austin Highway called Dirty Sally's and whether or not the Butthole Surfers performed there in the 80s. I recall a conversation in 1988 that claimed they did. The answer...is blowing in the wind (I know, here we go...)

I stumbled down the street thinking that Monterrey's favorite son, percussionist Emilio Tamez, was going to be performing at Sala Diaz. That wasn't the case. I initially assumed this was another Ben Judson promotion (which is true) but with the mickey and the sala/salon confusion, I should have known better as to where it was being held. I instead ended up here. Nothing wrong with that.

The door was open but no one was home. In the mindset of my own private b-movie, I opened the creaky door and went in and took a few fotos.

These, I would assume, are for a Sala Diaz bowling benefit coming up soon, though word is that the benefit has been pushed back.

Given the delay in the benefit, I'm curious about how long these works will stay up.

Pixelated versus pixilated. In the best sense perhaps both terms are appropriate here.

The latter term I first heard in some 30s screwball comedy, most likely a Frank Capra film, possibly It Happened One Night.

Journeys and Distractions

(To the River's Edge)

Some days life in S.A. can feel like being hit by a blunt hammer. Friend and punching bag "Congressman Al" threw in the white towel and took off to Colorado. He mentioned something about a negative energy power drain. Perhaps a lost law of thermodynamics, or more likely, something about the energy one puts in is not returned. Though a solar panel on the county grid may act in the same way, in these instances, the effect is less friendly.

This sort of feeling, for some, can define life in the river city. Any honest person has to admit to as much. But how to deal with it? Colorado is not an option. In a desperate act of tragic-heroism (after listening to too much mid-70s Phil Spector inspired Bruce Springsteen), I tried to ground myself and head towards the river.

Along the way at Travis Park I came across a jazz fest. (I think it was Travis Park, the one downtown by St. Anthony's. All the downtown parks seem to be named after guys who died in the Alamo so it's easy to get them confused - Milam, Maverick, Crocket, Travis...)

When I arrived one band was finishing and another was getting set up. It is amazing how a typically empty park can come to life and then diffuse again.

On the street by St. Mark's Church was a row of street food. One would think I would be in elation over the options. Right? Right? Sadly, wrong.

Embracing street food at a festival is like a late nite booty call except in the vulgarity of the midday sun. This is the result of several things. Alcohol is involved, there is no heartfelt connection, and there are no other options to turn. It isn't sincere. Put another way, where are these people (and in a grander other sense, these food stands) on Saturday night at 10:45? Show yourself.

This has some connection to a man named Omar. More on this later, but probably not.

After the diversion at the park, I headed south and stopped at this familiar but forgettable spot. In a hilarious act of civil spirit, this little Hoover Dam looking place is also a park. It's actually the exit of the river tunnel but on the platform by the the big drum there are benches to relax and soak up the water, trains, concrete, lack of people, reminiscences of the film Logan's Run, and a general sense of alienation.

Token reflection shot.

A possible location for for the film Hostel III, if it isn't already too late. This seems very eastern European to me.

Along the Mission Trail as I turned left to descend to the river's edge I noticed this structure across the way. The building looks old yet the fence looks new.

In the bizarre universe of the Mission Trail, nefarious conquistadores on horseback drink sixpacks of lonestar and terrorize the population, but not in this park. Never again.

Several miles later I made it past Stinson municipal airport to Mission Espada.

I called this the edge of the trail. The last "frontier" of San Antonio. The water continues but concrete does not.

This would be about 11 miles south of downtown. Recall last week the invocation of the silly Turner thesis, which assumed that the dangers of the frontier defined the American character through a Peckinpah-esque regeneration through violence. I thought about this occasionally as the week wore on. It could just as easily be the opposite - American character was defined by someone else doing the heavy lifting so that "we" could move in and begin to chillax....

Behind me the ghost tracks and madness. Ahead of me - San Antonio. Already I longed for convenient stores. Isn't that in itself a rejection of the Turner thesis?

I was ready to return home to the safe life inside the bosom of the loop. Just ahead of me - the southern cleavage of Loop 410.

And also at the frontier's edge, horses. Horses? Perhaps it was headed towards that park.

And then this lonely structure all by itself.

Miles later I rolled past Hemisfair Park to find this amazing classic rock festival going on. A Led Zeppelin tribute band called Swansong was about to go on. By the excitement of the crowd I would have thought that Zeppelin themselves were about to perform. As Swansong moved in their gear, the PA blasted Tom Sawyer by Rush. Full disclosure: Moving Pictures may have been the first tape I bought in 1982. The song has been played so much over the years, at first I couldn't think of anything more stale. Yet somehow in the presence of this crowd, the song felt strange, exotic, appealing, mystical. The mathematical time changes weren't the villains of a musical crime, but a new horizon for something greater to come.

Was a new frontier met? From Turner at the 1893 Exposition in Chicago to Rush at Hemisfair Park in San Antonio something dramatically changed. But what?

Bonus Coverage

I'm not sure what to write about last night's Flaming Lips show. I foolishly (or cynically) assumed that Camel controlled the whole concert so that the free ticket I got previously would actually get me into the concert. When that looked like it wouldn't work, I tried my press pass. At two points in the four days preceding the show I did try to get on some sort of list but never heard back and assumed that it wouldn't work. When it looked like the camel tickets were worthless, I went to the press pass, and to my surprise it worked. And then it didn't. A yellowshirt let me in, but then someone in a redshirt kicked me out. Outside someone in a blackshirt thought he would allow me to go in, but then that was squashed also. Evidently, as 'media' I wasn't allowed in, especially with my camera. But as an average fan, I was eventually (barely) let in with my camel ticket, and with my camera. The conclusion: I'm not actually a journalist. While that momentarilly stung, soon it was a blessing that I embraced. In other words, if I offend someone don't blame me. I don't know what I'm doing. Blame Camel.

The corporate stranglehold of the event by Camel and Ticketmaster was in sharp contrast to the energy and freedom exhibited by the Flaming Lips. How these elements were able to rub uglies against each other is a mystery to me. Eggs may have been broken, but an omlette was made.

I got in, the show was incredible, in the end, as a fan, that's all that's important.

Confetti, perhaps from the millions of extra Camel tickets that were printed for the show.

A clarion call to end the war in Iraq.

Adult fairy tales set to Zeppelin rock beats. The Flaming Lips in all their joyous wonder. Behold.

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