February 27, 2011

On the Shelf - Bad Boy

You can't pay a public figure these days to handicap the 2012 election. I was at an event on Friday where Evan Smith from the Texas Tribune offered Lindsey Graham a hundred-dollar donation to the organization of his choosing if he would pick apart the frontrunners... nothing going. Lots of horses lining up, no one wants to pull the trigger. Couple that with the contentious tone in politics today - hyperbole, over-statedness - and suddenly we've got a full field, daggers at the ready. Seems to me that someone who would've itched to get into this fight would have been one of Sen. Graham's fellow sons of South Carolina:

I've just finished Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater. Atwater, whom many credit with exacerbating the contentiousness we've all come to know as the-cost-of-doing-business, made such an indelible mark on his chosen profession (political consulting) that, appreciate it or not, you almost have to respect it.  He "fell in love with politics at an early age, and gravitated to the Republican Party; there is little evidence that this was motivated by ideology or anything else remotely resembling conviction, merely that the GOP seemed fertile ground. He became a protege of various South Carolina politicians, on whose behalf he developed a political style heavy on ad hominem attacks and what came to be known as "wedge issues," i.e., "simple, impressionistic issues that appealed to attitudes, created a reaction, not a thought." He moved to Washington... and found his way to the Reagan White House. He helped Reagan win re-election in 1984 and guided the singularly ignoble albeit successful 1988 campaign of George Bush, who rewarded him by making him head of the Republican Party. He died while in the party's service."

... at 40. Yeah, the kid did alright. Bad Boy takes you through to the bitter end, chronicling his torturous battle with the brain tumor that would kill him.

In many ways, Atwater represented one of the most uniquely defining characteristics of Washington: Power (perceived or otherwise) and one's ability to exploit his proximity to it. The town is teeming with folks who are rich in ambition yet completely bankrupt with the self-awareness to realize that it's not the man who's invited to the party, it's the title. And once your power depletes, well, best of luck pal. I think this sums it up best...

"Washington was a southern city in some ways: it was mannerly - you called the hostess the next day to thank her for a lovely party. But Washingtonians were much more self-absorbed than Southerners ever were. They might tell you if your hair was on fire, but only if you asked." (p. 87)

God I miss that place.

Certain parts excerpted from Jonathan Yardley's review, A Strategist's Final Campaign (Washington Post, 1/19/97).

February 25, 2011

Big Bull in Cowtown

That's a Big Bull...
...that takes big balls...
... that didn't end well.  
... Jamaal.
And Cowboy... in ascot.

Newman Photography, on assigment in Ft. Worth for a Superbowl pre-party. We went to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo last week... it was a scene but this takes the cake. Nothing stock about what's going on here. Five-thousand people on hand to see a band I've never heard of, though clearly that puts me in the minority.

2520 Rodeo Plaza
Ft. Worth, Texas 76164

Photo Credits: Newman Photography.

February 20, 2011

You Are What You Eat

Food-as-metaphor-for-life... as cocktail conversation topics go this one doesn't require much rigor in the way of mental gymnastics. Everyone's gotta eat, so most people have an opinion on it, right?  

It just seems to me that most folks are intuitively dialed-in to the notion that the food we eat is much more meaningful than solely providing fuel for the body. It goes deeper. What you shovel into your mouth says a little something about who you are as an individual, giving some insight into your lifestyle and what's important to you. I think it was Batali who quipped that there are only two things you put inside of someone... and the other one is food. So, yeah, what we eat has its consequences: personally, politically, ecologically, etc. 

But modest and easy cocktail conversation is about as far as I'd take it. Fortunately there are clever people out there to add their own bent on the issue, one of whom is Mark Menjivar, a San Antonio artist who's both willing and able to take a few more creative steps with the subject.  

His exhibit, You Are What You Eat, is a collection of portraits featuring the interiors of refrigerators "...photographed as is. Nothing added, nothing taken away."  It's an interesting take on an everyday thing that offers a very personal reflection of his subject(s). Clearly each is unique in myriad ways, but what binds them is the simple truth that at the end of the day, we all gotta eat. 

Showing at the Southwest School of Art through the end of February. 

Southwest School of Art
300 Augusta 
San Antonio, TX 78205

Carpenter/Photographer | San Antonio, TX | 3-Person Household | 12 Point Buck shot on family property.

Bar Tender | San Antonio, TX | 1-Person Household | Goes to sleep at 8AM and wakes up at 4PM daily.
Street Advertiser | San Antonio, TX | 1-Person Household | Lives on $432 fixed monthly income.

Food Artist | New York, New York | 1-Person Household | Runs a vegan bakery from her apartment.

Short Order Cook | Marathon, TX | 2-Person Household | She can bench press over 300 lbs.

Competitive Food Eaters | New York, New York | 3-Person Household | Holds records for eating most burritos, cannolis, buffet food, green beans, sushi, pancakes, ramen noodles, tamales, tiramisu and sweet corn.

School Crossing Guard/Nursing Home Assistant | Austin, TX | 6-Person Household | Parents and 3 adult children live in an efficiency apartment.
Photo Credits: Mark Menjivar.

February 14, 2011

Sweet Smellin' Chocolate Balls

She may not be able to tell you about the politics in North Africa at the moment, or what exactly she thinks about the budget deficit, but trust me, she has an opinion on flowers and chocolates. Best to avoid shredded coconut altogether. A little effort here goes a long way, boys.

February 10, 2011

Without You I'm Nothing

Finally,an exhibit that appreciates me, the patron. He who toddles about curiously amidst the likes of steel rabbits and Turkish women. Art is just more fun this way... when you can experience it, trigger its movements, laugh at the artist as he laughs back, touch, crawl, and simply interact with it. This, it seemed, was the point of Without You I'm Nothing: Art and Its Audience, which we caught at the MCA Chicago a couple weeks ago.  

"(The exhibit) explores the continually evolving relationship between artwork and audience. The viewer's experience has become a central concern for many artists as contemporary culture becomes more interactive and collaborative - and, as a result, more engaged."

220 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago 60611

February 8, 2011

Fry vs. Fry

Texas Oysters
Shrimp Po' boy
Wings, grilled.. then fried a little
 Crawfish Po' boy
Hey, wasn't there a... 
... wait there it is.

The coming and going of the Superbowl is always laced with mixed emotions for me. Sweet, from the playoffs and the two-week pomp-fest that culminates in a game for all the marbles; Bitter, from the realization that all I have to look forward to is March Madness. Then it's five months 'til football. I guess the best part about not actually caring who wins the game is that I can focus my attention on the more savory aspects of a Sunday afternoon gathering. It helps having commercial-grade equipment.

February 5, 2011

Roadside Eats - El Tacomiendo

The taco truck: San Antonio's answer to the mobile cup-cakery of... everywhere else. The first time I met one of these vehicles of deliciousness was a couple years back at a backyard party featuring Lucha Libre, a tequila bar, and mariachis. El Tacomiendo, one of our best & brightest, was catering.  I was the guest-of-a-guest, and if we weren't headed immediately to a playoff game the night could have gotten real ugly, real fast. 

Ever since then I've endeavored to meet the ladies behind the wheel/on the grill regularly. Our rendezvous typically occur at Artpace's Taco Truck Fridays, which runs year-round rain-or-shine (a testament to one of the beautiful things about winters in South Texas... you’ve got a coin flips chance of waking up on any given morning to blue skies and 68-degrees).  

Each week, as the clock strikes noon, El Tacomiendo sidles up next to the courtyard and takes orders for two hours, cranking out, among other things, tacos al pastor, tortas de carnitas, and shrimp tostadas; the cheese enchiladas are also hard to beat if you're looking to keep it simple. Wash it all down with Mexican Coke and Topo Chico, gaze at the hipsters enjoying themselves in the shadows of an artistically-driven creative laboratory, and thank the gods above that you're not suffering through a Chicago winter (we laugh now, they laugh in August). 

better call for hours and location…