April 23


The Briscoe's new director moves in

It's 10 a.m. on a rainy Wednesday morning at the Hotel Contessa, and Steven Karr, the new executive director of the Briscoe Western Art Museum, is dressed like a native of '09, the zip code where many of SA's old-money families still reside: khakis, blue blazer, striped button-down sans tie. "All he's missing are the boots," quips PR handler Trish DeBerry, who's accompanied Karr for our first meeting. Karr, who moved to San Antonio a month ago from Los Angeles to take the reins at the still under-construction museum, laughs and says this is his usual uniform. But he seems made for SA in other ways as well. He and his wife, a tax and estate attorney, are settling into a house in historic Monte Vista – one with a plaque on the front, built in 1921. "Where we come from, in Pasadena, that's a badge of honor," he says.


Roberto's masterpiece

Half-soaked and out of breath, I can finally stop running when I enter Starbucks at the Quarry. After a quick look around, I spot a chipper Roberto Prestigiacomo waving from a table in the center of the room. Through the sea of dripping umbrellas, he stands out from the bustling gaggle of holiday shoppers avoiding the rain. He's seemingly the only person who's not wet.

Prestigiacomo, a native of Rome, Italy, is the producing artistic director of AtticRep, the theater company in residence at Trinity University known for mounting daring, thought-provoking plays since 2005. As he describes his current production of Fifty Words by Michael Weller, I'm reminded of the ease Europeans often exude, which can make Americans appear curiously uptight by comparison. He wears a light, gray pullover and a maroon scarf that wraps so perfectly around his neck it seems the work of a fussy stylist. His thick, melodic accent is a major element in his reputable charm.


2012 bond: Community Initiatives lives up to its name

Early on, co-Chair Eddie Aldrete summed up the task facing the members of the Facilities and Community Initiatives committee this way: $500 million in requests, $61 million in 2012 bond money to go around. Someone has to go home empty-handed. However, the frustration expressed by fellow members tended to focus not on the size of the pot – predetermined by City staff – but on the amount that was tagged for deferred maintenance at branch libraries. The total came to almost $6 million for 18 libraries in eight Council districts. When they suggested at the second committee meeting that maybe bonds should be for big capital improvements and that upkeep should be included in the City's annual operating budget, Assistant City Manager Peter Zanoni said that would require a tradeoff: fewer books and librarians.

But sometime before the December 8 meeting, when the committee finalized the recommendations it will forward to Council next month, a deal was inked. The City promised to address maintenance in the regular budget over five years and leave the bond dollars for major projects.


2012 bond recommendations for facilities and community initiatives

Proposed bond project plans for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts CenterLast night, the 2012 bond committee for Facilities and Community Initiatives met and finalized the recommendations it will forward to City Council. Unlike the Parks committee – the other site of the most passionate bond wrangling – the Facilities crew made sweeping changes, moving millions of dollars staff had originally earmarked for renovations and deferred maintenance at branch libraries to new library projects and two arts organizations – $1 million for the San Antonio Museum of Art's physical plant upgrade, and more than $1.8 million for expansion and improvements at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. More soon on the details and implications. In the meantime, view the list here. The Parks and Streets/Bridges/Sidewalks committee recommendations are already posted on the City's website. You can also watch NOWCastSA's video coverage of the meetings.



Von Trier's final refrain

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.  – REM

A crescendo of superlatives: Lars von Trier’s Melancholia opens with the most incredible cinematic prelude since Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The eight-minute scene encapsulates the film succinctly and symbolically: Birds’ fall from the sky, electric sparks fly from a woman’s hands. Horses melt into the landscape, and a planet once hidden behind the sun heads stealthily toward Earth as Wagner’s majestic Tristan und Isolde soars on the film’s soundtrack. Cinema’s bad boy has returned. Two years ago, his controversial Antichrist, with its graphic scenes of sex and mutilation, created a scandal at the Cannes Film Festival. How could he not be invited back?


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