Thursday, December 11, 2008

Many thanks to Jim Tolbert

Occasionally, cyberspace hooks up with the "real world" (as if cyberspace is not real) to connect people living in one neighborhood with someone living in another from across town or across the world. Recently, through the "miracle" of the Internets and some extra added spice of old-fashioned face-to-face networking, such a connection recently happened to me.

A few weeks ago, Michael and I went to a party at the home of Lee and Bobby Byrd for the artist, Luis Villegas. Afterward, I posted the pictures I took to Flickr and wrote a blog entry. The next interesting thing that happened was that Bobby introduced me to Jim Tolbert. Jim writes a blog that covers events and people living in the Newman Park neighborhood. Jim's blog provides a lot of information--and, not just about his neighborhood. It also contains links to agencies and city departments that are useful for all El Pasoans. By reading Jim's blog, you are able to understand that the issues important to Newman Park residents are about the same as with all of us living here: more art, better schools, government, and representation. Jim gives credit where credit is due, and that is a good thing these days.

Recently, Jim posted pictures of Luis' party and gives insight into how others are striving to make El Paso a better place to live. For me, one of the ways to do this is to write a blog that focuses on your area of town, that covers the positive aspects of your neighborhood, your family, your schools, teachers, and businesses that positively impact your life. If you run into a problem with the city and found a way to solve it, or a particular person helped you, write about it. That is the beauty of the Internet: Communication and community at the personal level. When Jim and I write our entries, it is not just for us. We want to help get the word out that El Paso, with its wild beauty, has a fascinating history, and has wonderful people who live in it today. They work hard, and try to make this town a better place to live, which is not any different from what others try to do when they write blog entries from the perspective of where they live.

Thank you Jim. And, many thanks to Bobby and Lee, and especially Luis, who all work to make El Paso a more beautiful city, one blog, one book, one porch, one Garr fish at a time.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Neon study hall at Kinley's House Coffee & Teas

Neon studyhall
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
Although I took this image a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would post it to signal the start of finals week at UTEP. Kinley's Coffee Shop, a favorite with the medical, business, and student communities, and of course, coffee and tea drinkers, and hungry people everywhere, provides free Wi-Fi for its customers, along with a wide screen TV that seems to shows either Mexican and other Latin American team soccer matches, or CNN. Thank goodness not the usual alternative, which I must endure at my pharmacy or doctor’s office.

The evening I took this picture was a particularly slow quiet evening; the afternoon rush having long since departed, and I was catching up on my reading grids for Composition Studies and about ready to leave for my 6:00 P.M. Visual Rhetoric class.

Sometimes it takes writing a blog entry to discover that one of your favorite local businesses has a...(cue Wall-E's little voice)

TA DA!...A web site. Kinley's House Coffee & Teas

As far as their coffees, sandwiches, and frozen yogurt, Kinley's is the best. Usually, I must get an extra shot of espresso for Starbuck lattes, but at Kinley's they are just fine. My favorite "George's Turkey" sandwich is absolutely fresh and tasty, and their yogurt is actually tart and not overly sweet. It tastes like yogurt because it is!

While parking is tricky (the Newman Center next door will tow--how Chris....oh, well never mind,) you can always use the drive-through, which when I last looked, that merited at 20% discount. Then you can away your lunch and have a picnic at Kern Place's Madeline Park.

Monday, November 17, 2008

next : pinot noir and wine label for non-synesthetes

next : pinot noir
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
While this is not truly an image of an El Paso landmark or scenic view, it is something that tangentially says something interesting about El Paso and her people: Na zdrowie! L'Chaim! Salut! Prost! Cheerio! To Your Health! Cheers!

Yes, the season of light, of life, of new beginnings is almost upon us, and Black Friday (the good kind, of course) is hopefully around the corner. But first, back to two things about this wine label that set it apart from others I have enjoyed.

First, I am a graphics freak, especially labels--from Depression-era California fruit box labels to wine labels. I love the graphics and use of text, their typography, colors, embossing, printing--it all adds up to what the producer/sellers try to say or invent about their products--wrapped up especially for its wine-drinking audience (and typography freaks.)

Secondly, by including this image here, I am not saying that an El Pasoness means that we here exclusively drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage (although many do). No. The image was taken at Sun Harvest Sunday afternoon; and, I had never seen this wine. And that makes the finding fun. It was something new, reminded me of things I am interested in (graphic, typography, and rhetoric) and finding trendy things on-the-fly. How many times can you say you had fun while shopping these days?

I saw this bottle because I was looking for a cheap (yes, cheap--not affordable nor amusing nor any other euphemistic word for a headache producing bottle of cheap) white wine for roasting a 40 clove of garlic chicken tomorrow night. And next: pino noir, apart from being a red wine, was so out of my budget for cooking 40 clove roast chicken. But not so much for drinking. Well, OK. Festive drinking. Perhaps I will get a bottle when I go back for Beaujolais Nouveau, aka the newborn of reds, when it comes out next week.

In any event, I love this label. It is deceptively and overtly simple. Here, an old typewritten style (Courier), all mono-spaced and clear, with another, a handwritten styled typeface litters words about the wine's name--scattered descriptives that impart your sensations and experiences should you drink this wine. The label just straight up propagandizes, attempts to sell, and display it all at the same time. Nicely subversive and different. It is as if it were a dramatization of how a synesthete might see (or not) the descriptive, if they tasted the wine for the first, second, or twenty-second time.

Speaking of which, and this is probably more for my memory than what you may want to know about, but I heard the best explanation and description of just that neuro-sensory condition (that people "'enjoy," according to the show's host) on the NPR Now show broadcast on the sat rad. While I had hoped to find a free podcast link, (you must purchase this show,) the link does provide a good overview of the show and what synesthesia is and what it means to those who experience it.

In any event, happy shopping and enjoy the season! That is all we truly have control over, right. Of course, right! L'Chaim! And Salud!

Arg! Apologies for adding sticking this at the end of a post, which is something I've never done, but want to do now. Here, finally, is a link to a friend's blog--City Representative Susie Byrd's Notes from District 2. And while I'd love to be a constituent of her district (we live in District 1,) her blog does merit a note of appreciation and link.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Luis Villegas

Luis Villegas
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
This afternoon, MJ and I went to a party given in honor of Luis. Working for Lee and Bobby Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press for many years, Luis has crafted art to embellish and burnish the Byrd's home until it lives up to its style: Arts and Crafts Bungalow. Sitting in the middle of what Susie Byrd terms west-central El Paso, the Byrd’s home is a hub of creative activity most days. However, today they out did themselves as they invited their friends in to see all the wonderful art Luis created for them. From a porch mural underfoot with a 45-pound gar (northern pike) sculpted fish hanging nearby, Luis worked magic in unassuming places. From the first step, through the home, baths, bedroom, and finally to the backyard, Luis never stops working. We are happy to have seen all our old and new friends today with Lee, Bobby, and the man of the hour, Luis.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lincoln Park Murals :: Comandanta Ramona

Sometimes you just have to get away, steal a moment of solitude with just your thoughts and your camera. I put off photography using excuses like I must 1) read, 2) summarize, 3) work, 4) read more, 5) summarize more, and finally 6) sleep. But today, I said enough was enough. Perhaps it was a post-election ebbing elation; maybe it was the idea that I could get rid of whatever this flu/allergy is that I had by getting outside for a few minutes. Whatever the reason to leave the confines of campus, I knew I must go to Lincoln Park. The park lies beneath I-10 east, and is quite close to Thomason Hospital (and future new children’s hospital), Evergreen, Concordia and B’nai Zion cemeteries, and Jefferson-Silva High Schools. )

Lincoln Park contains a beautiful collection of small murals, painted on the freeway concrete supporting uprights. Originally an art project for students from Bowie High School, they have stood for many years. While some murals have small tags identifying a gang’s territory, the murals generally stand unmarked, in their colourful glory. When I arrived around 4:00 pm, it was quiet and cool with a slight breeze, with a brilliant Morenci turquoise blue sky over my head.

Fortunately, as I left the park, I drove to the area where the last (and most political and social activist) murals were. There I saw this beautiful and bright mural of the late Comandanta Ramona of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee (CGRI) and the leadership body of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Beautiful and petite, she sadly died of cancer after battling it for many years.

Unfortunately, I do not know who painted her image, but it is an inspiring and uplifting addition to the murals at this central El Paso Park that lies beneath the spaghetti bowl and I-10.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day: Obama Sticker Hunt

Hardly ever are there any signs of student discourse beyond the conversations of those walking to and from class. Neither do we see written nor visual discourse not vetted first by the administration of this university. Yet today, I photographed a group of small Obama stickers installed in and around the Geology Building, Leech Grove and onward, to the Political Science building.

Of course, I do not expect them to stay long because the grounds of the campus never really speak for the silenced. In any event, it was a great thing to see today--a little bit of action, a little bit of change. Moreover, after eight years, these tiny images of smiling faces helped show that we are near the end of this sad, sordid ride.

Tomorrow is another day, and it does appear that We Have Overcome.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Starbucks graffiti: Jose

This little sign inside the Kirby Starbucks got me thinking about all the Red team's political speechifying and how it refers to people by only their first name and their day job title as presumed last name. What are we now? A legion of the "guy you call when your toilet backs up" and nothing else? I find it manipulative, condescending, and idiotic. I do not know about where you live, but here in El Paso we call each other the normal way, like Jose, Rosie, Chuy, Maria, Susan, Mark, and Rita.

People in their daily lives do not refer to one another as Jose the Barista, Rosie the nurse, Chuy the CPA, Maria the teacher, Susan the lawyer, Mark the restaurateur, and Rita the piano teacher. It would take forever to have a simple conversation. People! It is not normal. It is condescending. And while I know it's just political speak, those people need to understand that our identities are not exclusively tied to how we make money--It is only the portion that allows us to do what we really like--painting, writing, Freestyle and croquet playing, and even talking to our friends.

If the Republican Party can only see us as moneymaking robots, concerned with only coin, then they do not see us as individuals with souls, families, lovers, children, and interests outside the act of earning a buck. Instead, they see us as easily frightened rabbits—afraid of change, ready to follow orders, ready for them to make our decisions for us. Moreover, if we as a country elect someone who thinks of us in this manner, then I guess we will get what we deserve. To but monetize us, see nothing but dollar bills standing at the ready to pay for their past recklessness, hubris, and failed domestic and foreign policies, is perhaps the saddest thing that I will take from this election season. And it was done before. It was called U.S.S.R.

I am glad all the speeches begging and scaring us for votes ends tomorrow. Because I want and need change, which I hope we get soon. Like tomorrow night.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Doniphan graffiti

Strangely, a wonderful collection of local (and regional) graffiti artwork hides within a chain linked used car lot on Doniphan Drive near the Artcraft bridge. Years ago, I was able to take a few pictures of this collection when it was just an empty lot. Back then the street art was vivid and bright; I snapped pictures with my new toy--a leaky plastic Chinese-made Holga, a medium format film "toy" camera.

Friday, I had a few extra minutes to drive down to the lot, and ask the men minding the cars if I could take pictures of the graffiti. They looked at me like I was nuts and asked me in Spanish why I couldn't speak the language.

Funny. It's always smart-ass Mexican men who look at me and ask in an accusatory manner. Whatever.

I can only explain my heritage so many times. I told them no--who did they think they were talking to anyway? My dad is Anglo, speaks only English and my mother chose not to teach me Spanish. End of story.

However, that does not mean I cannot draw like a Mexican, look like a Mexican, and at times get angry like a...smarty pants American mutt.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Neon and lights at 02

Neon and lights at 02
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
A week ago Saturday, mj and i went to his class reunion dinner with the men who graduated with him from Cathedral High School, El Paso's Christian Brothers school. After a wonderful dinner at Bella Napoli, we adjourned to Club 02. Club 02, prosaically named, is in the 79902 zip code and located at the corner of Cincinnati and Mesa Street (way back in the day it was known originally as the Campus Queen.) This picture was taken in their patio on the Cincinnati side so the guys could have a group "smoker" with cigars provided by Adjy.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

RIP Coach Haskins

RIP Coach Haskins
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
Today, we received sad news. Don Haskins, NCAA Basketball championship coach of the 1966 TWC Miner team, died today. He was 78.

According to an early AP report on the New York Times website, "Haskins was an old-time coach who believed in hard work and was known for his gruff demeanor. That attitude was portrayed in the 2006 movie ''Glory Road,'' the Disney film that chronicled Haskins' improbable rise to national fame in the 1966 championship game against Kentucky. The movie, which was preceded by a book of the same title, also sparked renewed interest in Haskins' career."

The photograph posted here was one I took while at UTEP when I happened to wander into the bookstore, looking for a composition notebook. It was there that I (and many other students) saw Coach Haskins being interviewed by long-time sports journalist Ray Salazar. The interview was taped for television and broadcast live for radio and occurred close to the premier of the film, "Glory Road," a fictionalized account Haskins and his early tenure as coach of the Texas Western College basketball team. According to the AP report, Haskins led the "Miners" to the "1966 NCAA championship game, then making the controversial decision to start five blacks against all-white, heavily favored Kentucky, coached by Adolph Rupp. The Miners won, and shortly after that many schools began recruiting black players."

I know I write for those from and living in El Paso by saying that he will be greatly missed. He loved TWC (UTEP), its athletes, El Paso and its citizens, and in turn, we loved him back.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Definition: Concentration

Can you tell it's summer yet? Usually Kinley's is full of college aged students working singly or in groups, and "grown-up" business types grabbing a quick (or longer) lunch. Or me, the "grown-up" student, off for the summer, grabbing a quick lunch while reading the RSS feeds, and surveying all from behind my MacBook.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fire :: Via Aventura arroyo

Fire :: Via Aventura arroyoAbout 8:35 p.m., a 911 call reporting fires in the arroyo behind our home. Many of us went out with hoses to help put out the fires until the fire trucks arrived. All was over in about 30 minutes, but there still is a lot of dry brush in the arroyo; this could happen again until the monsoon begins in earnest. Thanks to EPFD for its fast response.

Update: 07/07/2007. Believe it or not the monsoon season began the very next day. For a while, the season was a decent rival to the floods of 2005, but towards the end, it just petered to a small series of afternoon sprinkles. However, because it was a rather long lasting rainy season, the mountains and this arroyo were very green.

Brighter Planet\'s 350 Challenge

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Posted using ShareThis

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

Friday, July 04, 2008

A flag for the Fourth

Thank you, America :: Sunset Heights Backyard View with Flag
A lot my flag images were usually captured at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery on Memorial Day. However, there are a couple of flags I discovered while driving around or walking in the Sunset Heights neighborhood near UTEP. I first found this window covering over ten years ago when I used to volunteer for the El Paso County Historical Society. Walking around the multi-layered yard, I finally made it to the back rock wall and peered over to see this flag. On this day I had my Holga and quickly snapped the picture. I'm glad I did because the next time I looked over the fence, it was gone. Perhaps patriotic window coverings last as long as like a sun shower in this town. Or maybe the owner found a better crib.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chalk the Block

While I had fun taking the pictures (and also preparing a group of the images for Flickr), a lot of what I saw was truly worked "inside the box." Those artists who chose "color" outside their blocks were truly the most interesting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Belated Father's Day Picture

First, and this is way late for Fathers Day, is a picture my grandmother, Ruby Ione Jackson, took of my dad, Terrel Alison Jackson (Alison comes from his uncle Al.) I believe he was already working at today's subject when she took the picture using his camera. It's one of those few times where the photographer was photographed. And while this is late, and perhaps a rerun of a previously posted image (it was either explained here, on Vox, or on the Flickr page, I love it. Love ya dad. Love ya mom.

Today, the El Paso Times blog entry from their "morgue" is about the company where my parents worked and later retired. And while the archivist blogger invariably works a poor metaphor to death, she does cover many interesting and valuable historical topics that could be covered if the El Paso Historical (Hysteria) Society ever had a blog. And I don't see that coming anytime soon. But I digress.

Although my parents went to El Paso High, they didn't know one another until they met at the Popular. I guess I owe the Schwartz's a debt of gratitude for enabling our city's myriad of classes and ethnicities to meet, shop, and work together beneath the umbrella of their wonderful emporium. ;)

ANYWAY, the Times' history blog should, in general, be required reading for anyone moving here--the land of "Sun, Salsa, and Soldiers"--as the city now proclaims itself. (bleah!) And on the topic of buzz phrases to sell this pile of sand, I guess the "Capital of the Border" campaign is now caput. Also, here is a good wrap up of this topic by Barry Popik.

Overall, adding his picture here also reminds of how much I enjoy using Flickr. Here I am, away from the source of my photos, but having an archive parked within this ever (usually) reliable web application. To me, this is what makes the Internets so special--accessibility and communication and storytelling opportunities.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

L and J Cafe

L & J Cafe
Ahh. A great place for a Mexican dinner is always the L & J Cafe near the Concordia Cemetery, located near the I-10/US54 interchange (aka the Spaghetti Bowl.)

Once you get past the noisy revelers at the bar, decorated with every beer neon sign known to man, the tiny landmark boasts one of the best Mexican cafes in the city. As usual, MJ had red enchiladas with onions while I tried the chiles rellenos for a change. Recently, the restaurant was transitioning their menus--photocopies of their previous menu with new slightly higher prices. But last night, new and beautiful menus were given to us which complemented the friendly and historic atmosphere, as well as their food--chile hot and delicious. And the bar…was just as noisy, crowded, with groups of friends and coworkers, glad to be together on a Friday after work.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

On Saturday, mj and I went to the Fort Bliss National cemetery in advance of Monday's ceremonies. While routinely go to visit and check on the condition of both the graves of my uncle and in-laws and the entire cemetery, we went Saturday in order to see if the various civic groups were able to plant the tens of thousands of American flags into the now hard and gravel crusted ground--Memorial Day patriotic salute to those buried at the cemetery. What we saw was an attempt at something that had obviously outlived its environment as a high percentage of the flags stuck in the ground early Saturday morning had fallen onto the dust by that afternoon. Maybe stands could be made for them next year.

Overall, the flags' wooden dowels are no longer suitable for the cemetery's new "xeriscaped" environment. Perhaps the Boy Scouts or other civil minded groups will fashion stands for the flags so they don't immediately fall onto the dust and rocks next year. Overall, however, those flags standing were interesting and pleasant sounding as they waved in the wind. Together we spent about 45 minutes attempting to stick/bury/stand fallen flags into the ground again, and saw how easily the flags had once been placed into what had once been a grassy ground cover. Dirt on the flag's masts showed how far into the ground they had once been placed, which was between 3-5 inches; whereas now, we were lucky to get them an inch into the ground.

Sadly, we also saw many more large spaces had been prepared for more graves. It does not seem to end.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Circus Patriotism

UPDATE: 10 DEC 2014
For some unknown reason, I saw today that the sphinxes are back to being an all-white or ecru surface. They may have been painted over, or perhaps they were faced due to their being next to the new baseball field. All I will say is that I couldn't be happier. See picture below for a glimpse of their original state.

For now, all we can ask is why.

Back in the day, my grandfather and uncle were Masons and members of this Scottish Rite Temple on Santa Fe Avenue, across from the new History Museum. In fact, I believe my grandfather probably helped paint the building at one time or another. He initially became a Mason after the Shriners aided the family and my father through a hip ailment that was diagnosed when he was 12. Dad was in the hospital for over 9 months, had to relearn how to walk, and missed a year of school. At the time, the hospital was where the police station is at Five Points (Piedras at Montana.) In the years that followed, my grandfather always supported all the Masonic and Shrine fund raising (circus tickets, etc.)

My great aunts told me that they all worried my dad would not be able to walk after his operation--essentially the hip was fused to the leg. But now, dad still walks, albeit with a limp, and tells me about all the places they lived during the Depression as my grandfather, T. A. Jackson was a painting contractor, who later owned a motel on Alameda--The Glenwood Motel. Years later, my grandfather worked with my uncle and the company became T. A. Jackson and Son. They painted a lot of beautiful buildings and homes in downtown El Paso, Rim Road and Kern, Coronado Country Club, Mission Hills, and the Upper Valley. I don't think they would have especially liked this new paint job, although Clinton would have probably laughed at the sight of them now.

After my grandfather died it was just Clint Jackson, Painting Contractor. Clinton continued with the business until he retired in the 1990s. He died last summer after a long battle with emphysema and a painful and debilitating cigarette addiction to unfiltered Camels. His funeral, as was my grandfather's, was officiated by both their military branch and this Lodge. Clinton and T. A. (and my cousin Janet, Clinton's daughter) are buried at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery. Thomas Allen served in WWI; drafted in its second wave. But he contracted malaria (most likely during training in Louisiana), and never left the country. As for Clinton, he joined the navy when he was 16; served for a short while in the South China Sea as a cook, and came back to tell a lot of stories to his buddies at his favorite Doniphan Street BBQ joint. I never heard them; all I remember were his steely blue eyes, his way of drawing Chinese-styled letters, and that he was very tall (6'4").

In the end, I wished the Lodge had left these two gentle sphinxes alone. For as far as I know they had never been tagged or damaged--now they are red, blue, gold, and beige and look like they are ready to lead a circus train into town--perhaps in front of what now is police headquarters. At least I have several images I took with my Holga, Agfa, and digital cameras. They show them uncoloured and calm.

That is what I will remember, not this fraud of circus patriotism painted by a smirking charlatan on Mothers Day 2008.

Isola :: Texas Sphynx
This was a new camera for me when I captured this Masonic Sphynx.
The little german camera has no light leaks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Serenity resides inside a fuzzy mauvy box with door

This week the Writing Center Assistant Director provided me with a carrel near the center entrance. There are three carrels in a row: my director’s, mine in the middle, and another to the right that I think is empty. When I arrived the next day, I immediately noticed her assistant had made a nice label with my name and the title Webmaster for the door. Very sweet—I must take a picture of that side of the door too.

Besides being next to the UWC, we are also inside what was the old tutoring and learning center, inside the 3rd floor, inside the larger library building space, inside the UTEP campus, inside the city limits of El Paso.... Basically, i am at the center of a very large matryoshka or Russian nesting doll.

Speaking to another PhD student who is now a candidate (he also has a carrel), I said I was not going to put anything on the walls. But since then, I have reconsidered because there are four walls. I could put things on the sides and nothing on the wall I face. If so, I think I will resurrect my old cube posters from my corporate worker bee days. All meant and specifically selected to mock a fledgling corporate culture stillborn.

There is a Rage Against the Machine circa 1999-2000 poster based on an old Marxist worker design, an Emigre Not Caslon poster (the company's "official" font was Caslon), and a few more things that could brighten the place. I also need my halogen lamp; the fluorescent buzzing above my head give me a headache and the light is very dim.

Yesterday, as I emerged from that womblike space, I decompressed. I believe everyone initially comes out looking like a mole, squinting and stretching, reacting and acclimating to the larger outside space within a space. Overall, I experienced a trancelike feeling as if I were working inside a cave; but a square cave with mauvy-tan fuzzy walls, a door with a little window, a bit of headroom, and a little bit more light than one would presumably receive inside a "regular" rock cave.

It is a serene place, when I'm inside my cave with my screen glowing and pink Skullcandy headphones that help silence the voices outside these walls.

However, there might be an added benefit. I might just relearn pre-calculus and algebra because there is a whiteboard on the opposite side of the wall I face. Everyday young men gather to deconstruct various equations and theorems. They pound on the board with their dry-erase markers, laughing. They discuss their numbers and signs and symbols, while sitting at a large table. They speak an intense combination of English and Spanish. Overall, they sound as if they are having a good time learning math. Now who’d thought that was possible!

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...