April 19


Giselle the 'kosher burrito'

I attended the 19th Annual Tejano Music Awards at the Alamodome in March 1999 when Mario Lopez of "Saved by the Bell" fame co-hosted with Giselle Fernandez, former anchor of NBC's "Today Show." My worn, dusty program states that Carlos Mencia was also on the bill, but I don't remember seeing him. I do, however, remember when a technical glitch – about five minutes into the show - forced the duo to start the ceremony from the beginning. It was only awkward for a moment, before Fernandez explained with a laugh that the cameras, once again, needed the audience's initial enthusiasm.  "Pretend like it's the very first time,” she said coyly. “We Latinas are good at that."

The applause that followed was deafening.

This memory flashes through my mind as I watch the alluring Fernandez, 12 years later, pose by the media wall at the 83rd Annual San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Gala at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort last weekend.


The opera's troubles could mean more work for the Symphony

A month ago, the financially ailing San Antonio Opera went to see County Judge Nelson Wolff. It was a natural call to make. Wolff has been a public cheerleader for the opera in years past. And he backed up his words with $100 million for the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which voters approved in 2008 thanks to the support of Wolff and then-Mayor Phil Hardberger. The center, under construction now with a debut date in 2014, is meant to be a permanent state-of-the-art home for the city's major troupes – symphony ballet, and opera – if we can hustle them in the stage door before they expire.

If a visit to Wolff was expected, his response may have been a shock. After taking a look at the opera's books, he suggested the company consider filing for bankruptcy.

"Unless you guys have got some rabbit to pull out of a hat," he told them, "I think you've dug yourself a hole you can't get out of."


Editing the river

A stretch along the Mission Reach under a major highwayWhen the city of San Jose, California, was redeveloping its downtown in the early 1980s, initial master plans completely ignored the Guadalupe River, which runs along the edge of the central business district. Helen Meyer Harrison and Newton Harrison, a pair of social and ecological artists working at the State University of San Jose at the time, responded with The Guadalupe Meander, A Refugio for San Jose, which began by asking the mayor and city council: “Can it be that you have forgotten your river?”

In a later interview, the artists recall that “[from] a proposal for a refuge, the work turned into an act of criticism when the river started to become encased in aestheticized concrete. Thus, three years after we made our original proposal, we proposed a second question for the mayor and the city council, ‘Can it be that you have forgotten what a river is?’”

A similar battle has played out in San Antonio, though over a much longer period of time.


Plazarazzi: Jan. 29, 2012

According to Hot Tin Roof karaoke host Mike Simons, "80s hair bands shouted - 90s bands mumbled."

If you're in search of a new icebreaker, flipping through a karaoke songbook is indeed a wonderland of trivial observations just like that.

This week, during my random search for the best karaoke evening in town (so far, it's Hot Tin Roof, which puts on an electrifying Thursday amateur night with a live rock band), I ran into actor Justin Keown at Club Essence, a known hangout for theater types who love to sing the (often esoteric) hits they adore. While I searched for my favorite Pat Benatar anthem, he told me he'd been cast in the Classic Theatre of San Antonio's production of Six Degrees of Separation, which opens February 10.


The opera's empty stage

When you're in the middle of a shitstorm, particularly one of your own making, it might be wise to keep your head down. But not so low that it puts folks in mind of a guillotine. Where's the San Antonio Opera? After PdA first reported January 3 that the company was contemplating bankruptcy following a financially perilous summer and fall that left it six figures in debt, SAO leaders did a mini PR tour, characterizing the cancellation of its February program as a hiatus in interviews with local media. Since then, the phone has gone silent, and its website offers only a vague press release and a place to sign up for email updates. This week an irate patron complained in the daily that efforts to obtain a $189 refund for two tickets to the ill-fated Don Giovanni had been unsuccessful. "It'll be a wet day in hell before I ever buy even a single ticket for any future local opera performance," she wrote.

There may be no money for refunds. The San Pedro Playhouse has offered to honor Don Giovanni tickets for its productions (Oklahoma! and Superior Donuts are on the bill), but we don't know if that offer has been accepted. We're told Director Terence Frazor and other staff are not being paid, although we haven't received confirmation from Frazor. Attempts to reach Frazor and members of the board's executive committee have been unsuccessful.


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