SA Councilman Krier Decries Public Artworks

Art is arguable. That’s a statement with which we can all agree.

San Antonio City Councilman Joe Krier added proof last week when he announced plans to request the council reconsider city funding of public art. He will also request that any future funds used for public art only go to artists hailing from San Antonio or Texas. All this because he doesn’t like a few sculptures.

Krier especially dislikes the sculptures Liquid Crystal by Jason Bruges and Sotol Duet by Jon Isherwood located at the convention center and a city park, respectively.

What’s his beef with them?

“I just don’t get it,” Krier explained to his council colleagues, as reported by The Rivard Report

Well, there are likely a lot of things he doesn’t “get.” Many of us experience his bewilderment when confronting certain pieces of art. One of the most common questions posed of art is, “What does it mean?” As a teenager, I asked a writer to explain the point of his story to me. I thought he was going to punch me.

We shouldn’t just reject art we don’t “get.”

Donald Lipski, the artist behind F.I.S.H on the Museum Reach of the Riverwalk, has heard all the arguments around public art. He also knows the value of public art — even those artworks some dislike.

“[A]rt that is provocative has the chance of becoming landmarks and touchstones to their communities,” he said.

“When I was growing up in Chicago, Picasso’s fox-like sculpture Cassandra was installed. It was denounced, derided and scorned. Since it is a challenging image, many people thought it was for the elite rather than for the public. But fast forward a few decades: it is loved and admired. Out-of-towners are taken by to see it. In the summer, there are concerts and farmers’ markets around its base. It is celebrated.”

Lipski created 25 seven-foot-long fiberglass replicas of native long-eared sunfish for the residents of San Antonio. Lipski’s fish, which are lit from within at night, dangle over the Riverwalk from the I-35 underpass. While Krier might question the point of having art hanging beneath a bridge, I’m looking forward to going to view the work.

When asked to explain the work for the benefit of Krier and others, Lipski responded,

“My thoughts on F.I.S.H. started with the dark, forbidding space under I-35. The planners were afraid that people would walk that far and turn around. I wanted to create something unexpected, light-hearted and seductive. Floating this school of fish was an idea that came to me in a flash. I scuba dive, and the site reminded me of being underwater near a pier, the fish hanging around, maybe nibbling at the seaweed that grows there.”

He also involved the community in his creation.

“I had envisioned goldfish. Input from the public, which I always find interesting, suggested a local fish. The long-eared sunfish I ended up with live in the river — in fact, in rivers and streams all around the area. When kids learn to fish with a pole and a worm, it’s an odds-on bet that that’ll be their first catch. So, this change localized the artwork, personalized it. Helped to make it endearing.”

The result?

“I’ve seen crowds of people there in the evening. They watch as the bats fly out from their hidey-holes, then the fish light up, everyone applauds and heads to the cantina. This is what public art can do.”

There are fundamental problems with Krier’s proposed changes to city art funding. First, the majority (78 percent since 2007) of public art money already goes to local artists. That may explain why no local artist responded to my requests for responses to Krier’s plans.

More important, though, is that we’ll never “get” art by limiting it. Understanding is not achieved by reviewing appropriations and limiting the states and nations in which artists seeking funding may reside. While it’s important we support local artists, it’s equally important we don’t negate the culture of our city by making it unwelcoming. We are a multicultural city filled with many people who resided elsewhere at some point. Our art should reflect that.

In fact, maybe the artworks Krier questions have already achieved their goals. The best public art, Lipski said, should “inspire and intrigue, motivate and provoke. And delight.”

Councilman Krier, let’s go have a look at those F.I.S.H. I suspect we’ll be delighted (or provoked or motivated) and agree that more public art is what truly needs consideration.


New City, New Year

I’d written substantially more before closing out Word while one of my company’s engineers updated my computer’s SentinelOne endpoint protection. The engineer also disabled some company programs I never use to make it easier to save documents.

But there’s nothing wrong with starting a piece over. I almost wrote, “But there’s nothing wrong with starting over,” but added the last three words to be very clear. I’m ambivalent enough not to reflect more on it at this moment.

We’re finally in San Antonio. It took a few trips to New Orleans and back to get everything, but we have it. Now we just need the things in my parents’ storage unit.

Mom and Dad drove to New Orleans last weekend to get the last load of stuff. Misty and I had gone down again the weekend before to clean and pick up what we could in our small Ford Fiesta. Mom and Dad got to our apartment in San Antonio early New Year’s Eve.

When it was time for fireworks, three of us (Dad fell asleep on the couch) walked a block and a half down our street to watch the fireworks burst around the Tower of the Americas (San Antonio’s Space Needle). We are in a lovely location. The houses on our block are as nice as those on St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans (a fact I add since so many people like to gush about the architecture there). In fact, San Antonio was officially founded the same year as New Orleans, and it hasn’t burned down or been flooded numerous times. I’d wager the architecture here is older and in a far more original state than that in NOLA. Either way, we’re happy to no longer be there.

It’s nice to walk or drive two blocks down the street, turn left and see the city skyline rising above the hospital a few blocks away and the freeway beyond. Getting into downtown takes all of passing that hospital, crossing beneath the freeway and . . . well, that’s it. You’re there.

Misty and Carl have been on long exploratory walks. They’ve walked from our apartment down to the Riverwalk (15-minute walk), up-and-down St. Mary’s, near the Tower and more. St. Mary’s is, apparently, the main bar/club drag in our neighborhood (Tobin Hill).

A few nights ago, we walked over to our neighborhood bar, The Looking Glass. It sits in what Misty heard was a former Church’s Chicken fast-food restaurant. That would explain its being a small building in the middle of a medium-sized parking lot off McCullough. Inside, it’s rather homey and warm. Reminiscent of the first Ruta Maya, to a slight degree. Indeed, I’ve found myself thinking of Austin streets many times while driving around the area since we arrived. I haven’t made the comparisons on purpose. I’ll just be driving down a street and suddenly it will come to me that it looks eerily familiar to one in Austin — North Loop, MoPac, N. Lamar and others. As I learned, the locals are worried the area will become Austin.

Last weekend, exploring the West Side downtown by car, there were stretches of empty buildings broken up with various small businesses. It reminded me of downtown Austin around 15 years ago. Part of it was the lack of people in that part of town on New Year’s Day, but another part was knowing that SA is growing (it’s already the seventh largest city in the U.S.) and remembering a younger, smaller (more affordable) Austin.

When a guy at the bar stepped outside to smoke three kinds of marijuana in a cigarette in small outside area out back, I went out and chatted with him. I told him we’d just moved to town and he proceeded to fill me in on the neighborhood, including that St. Mary’s was the place and descriptions of the bars there. He also said with disdain they’re (whoever “they” are) trying to turn it into another Sixth Street, the best-known bar-and-club-lined street in Austin. Like Austinites, he blamed Californians, and then asked if I was from California.

I told him where we’d lived last year — Austin, Harlem, New Orleans, San Antonio — and he said, “Cool. So you’re sorta like nomads?” I laughed. I certainly hope we’re not this year.

I don’t see St. Mary’s becoming Sixth Street. It may be a center of live music in SA, but it’s no sloppy-drunk college-student-filled Sixth Street. (As far as I’ve seen in my limited time here.)

We’re much happier here. I can wear a watch outside without worrying about drawing the attention of thieves. There aren’t five-plus people standing around on the street corners randomly yelling. We don’t have to deal with the nasty looks. While crime may not have an address, I fear far less that we’ll have two shootings in as many months here any time soon.

As we were leaving our apartment complex in New Orleans, a woman did the crack-addled hobble up to Misty to ask for a cigarette. Misty said, “No.” We don’t smoke cigarettes. So the woman asked if Misty would give her a ride downtown. Again, Misty said no. So the woman said, under her breath, “Fucking bitch,” and hobbled on by the car. It was a perfect example of what we were leaving.

It’s the small things.

Oh, and I just learned (moments ago): I’ve been appointed to the Veterans Communication Advisory Committee of the Texas Veterans Commission!

Staying in New Orleans?

Airbnb has refused to admit liability for multiple serious injuries suffered by a group of guests who fell two storeys when the balcony of their holiday rental in Brighton collapsed beneath them.

Four friends had to have hospital treatment, including one impaled on an iron railing, when what was advertised as a “balcony with sea view” sheared off, sending the guests tumbling into the basement footwell. They had rented the £217-a-night flat for a birthday celebration in July through the booming accommodation website, which is at the forefront of the fast-growing sharing economy.

How’s that sharing economy working for you now?

Since we’ve been rejected by two San Antonio apartment complexes (including a 22-story high-rise that we really wanted) — once because of incorrect information provided by CoreLogic, a credit/background history reporting company, and the second time because the leasing agent didn’t read my initial requirements email correctly, it’s beginning to look like we’ll be staying in New Orléans. Misty is far more excited by the prospect than I am. (Note the first apartment complex that rejected us is in the process of rerunning that application after we provided them with documentation on our dispute with CoreLogic, which is the subject an incredible number of complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Note that the CFPB will be under threat in Trump’s administration.)

We’re still going to move, though. We’re not going to stay in this shitty neighborhood in this expensive and shitty apartment. We’ll also get a car. Those two changes will make life here significantly better — we’ll feel more comfortable in our ‘hood and be able to do things. After I get off work at six, since we have to take the bus or a Lyft everywhere, there’s no time to do anything if we want to get home at a decent hour. Much easier to jump in the car, go wherever and then come home. The need to own a vehicle is a sad fact that applies to most American cities. We ain’t in NYC no mo’.

So, yes, things will get better just from that. Certain things about the city won’t change, however. The violence, the lack of good Mexican food, the dearth of decent massage therapists, the decidedly neglected streets and sidewalks and trash . . . that stuff and more won’t change.


We are finding much more affordable, larger and nicer apartments in other NOLA neighborhoods right now. I think Misty is correct when she posits that the city’s new Airbnb regulations may be driving those previously renting short-term to tourists via Airbnb to put their units on the long-term residential rental market. Maybe they decided they couldn’t afford to keep the place if they could only rent it out 90 days a year. Better to put it on the market and get a regular, higher payment. If so, this proves arguments that Airbnb can decimate the local rental market and crowd out affordable long-term rental options.

Regulating Airbnb is simple. There should be no confusion here. Which regulations apply? Well, it’s right there in their name: “bnb” — bed and breakfast. Done. In fact, look up their previous name. See what I mean?


Writers, the Wall Street Journal is lying to you. As I’ve said for years, everyone wants a writer; no one wants to pay a writer.

Forgot One

I forgot probably the best quote:

Hanif Kureishi, writing in his piece for Five Dials, “It Feels Like Crime: The Devil Inside,” says,

You’re in a dark forest with just a torch. If you know what you’re doing, it isn’t art.








Dr. Camenzuli Dental Review Redux

While shortening my dentist review of Dr. Camenzuli on Yelp last night, I happened to scroll down and read the few other negative remarks. I was surprised to find they almost mimicked my own, though they’re older reviews. A number of them mentioned, obliquely, the profit- rather than health-focused nature of the practice.

So, given the treatment I received appears to be something that happens to a certain subset of people who visit his practice, I’m going to repost my original review – and direct those on Google to visit the Yelp reviews.

In fact, I’m also going to add a little about how I felt like the poor care I received was based on my inability to afford an implant. Implants cost over $3,000 more than I spent for this cosmetic-only denture. (You’d think that, knowing I can’t afford an implant, he’d give me something more permanent than a temporary partial denture. But it ensures I have to return to the dentist. Unfortunately for him, it won’t be his office.)

When I thought that my review was the only negative one on the site, I felt sort of bad. Now, I think it’s necessary.

I’m trying to figure out the commonality among those of us he chose to treat so poorly.

Rethinking My Camenzuli Review

Okay. So, I’m a sap. I couldn’t be mean and leave that long negative review about Dr. Camenzuli on Google and Yelp. No matter how poorly I felt I was treated, it’s not fair to publicly flog a man and his business and make him, his family and employees suffer.

For whatever reason, I feel bad for having possibly made him feel bad (thanks, Mom!) — and that assumes he had anything other than a protect-my-income reaction to my review; that his heart sank, ears and neck burned; that he actually felt bad. And, yet, I have my doubts.

Nonetheless, I wanted my review to acknowledge the positive experiences so many others seem to have had (out of over 60 reviews on Google, mine is his only negative) to soften the blow a little. I also thought the detail in the original review provided me too many opportunities for shaming and, thus, I shortened the review to:

I’m truly happy others have had such great experiences. Sadly, I was very disappointed in mine.

In his response on Google, he said he’d love to chat about my case in private. Unfortunately, as I said before, I’m just not interested any longer. The tooth that lost the filling has started to hurt every once in awhile, but I’m not going back to him to have it repaired. (In fact, I probably won’t even have it replaced until after we move at this point, given we need to save money for the move and my dental benefits are exhausted.) It seems silly to talk about my case if we’re not going to do anything about it.

I guess I want to be the bigger person in this — but I don’t see how meeting with him would make anything better. If anything, I’d likely again be made to felt that everything is my fault. I asked myself, “What did I do to this guy for him to treat me this way?” many times between appointments (ask Misty).

I don’t regret the review, but, at the same time, I do feel apologetic and ashamed of it, to a slight degree. I may feel differently when/if that tooth starts aching on a constant basis, though. At least I got a crappy denture out of the deal.

This whole thing has already taken far too much time, money, thought, bandwidth and words.

Letter to Legislators on Credit Scores

A letter I sent to my U.S. senators and representatives on credit scores:

October 10, 2016

Dear Sir:

Every time there is a “hard hit” credit check (when attempting to get a loan or applying for a credit card) of one’s credit report, his or her credit score declines by two points. That “hard hit” and loss of points does not expire for two or more years.

Americans should be allowed to enter contracts with full knowledge of the consequences (monetary and otherwise). Why can’t credit card companies note the credit scores at which they approve and disapprove applicants in their small print? This would allow Americans to more fully control their credit scores.

I urge you to file legislation – or amend or otherwise codify language – that would require those companies issuing credit cards to inform potential applicants of the required credit scores before the credit check is performed. You and your colleagues must prevent our fellow Americans from ruining their credit for no reason. With clear information, they would not make decisions so contrary to their own self-interest.

It is a key principle of the free market that both parties to a contract should have as much information as possible to make the most informed decision in advancing their interests. This is not currently the case.

Please support the free market and the American people by pursuing a remedy to this issue as soon as possible.



William O. Pate II

A Little About Writing Here

It’s been nearly two decades since I started this journal. Two more years. Nineteen ninety-eight, at the latest. Thinking about it just now, I wonder – because I know it has – how much publicly publishing this journal for all these years has changed my life.

It took a while after thinking of “” as my URL to finally secure it with Dreamhost. At the time, while half-drunk and pissing in the urinal at Lovejoy’s, I’d envision a sticker with the URL and nothing else pasted to the wall in front of me. I thought of all the people who would visit the site because they’d seen it. Then I would remember that, in their drunken state, it was even more unlikely they’d forget it than usual.

I never did do that.

At some point after starting, likely in college, I started sharing it with girls in whom I was interested. I guess I thought my earlier writing expressed me better than I could in a contemporary conversation – or even many conversations.[1] I heard from more than one girl that they didn’t want to end up in my journal. They loved it, but wouldn’t date me at the risk of appearing in my writing. I’ve had more than one wife tell me that she wanted to be written about the way earlier girls were written about right until the moment they’re written about. Then they don’t want it.

I’ve been asked many times, “Why inadequate?” I think the answer is obvious. Apparently, it isn’t. Have you read my writing?

Mike Jasper came up with what I sort of think of as the subtitle: “an examination of free will.” I think that’s appropriate beyond it just including a nickname. If I’ve explored anything here – or, at least, displayed – it has to be my own choices. Those ahead of me, those being made and the consequences of those previously made.

Sorta like this journal. It was a decision to write and to publish it. The consequences of which I’ve yet to fully explore but, as I said at the beginning, have undoubtedly affected my life. It will likely to continue to affect my life.[2]

When I talk to old friends I haven’t spoken to in a long time, they invariably ask, “Are you still writing?” Someone – at least – once said they had just assumed I’d have a book out by now. Ha! Even my friends who are great writers – far greater than I am – don’t have books out yet. One person from way back in the “second-wave” of online journalers, Maria Diaz, posted on my Facebook wall long ago that she was surprised was still alive.

I thought moving would free my mind or somehow else bring the years I wrote about at inadequate back into focus so that I might write something longer about the Ruta Maya years, if you will, given so many of the events chronicled there occurred there. Instead, I’ve only bitched more. (I’m reminded of Zaelit telling me in the Air Force that I was the oldest 18-year old 30-year old he’d ever met.)

I’ve never been a good storyteller, as I’ve written before. Even when I was relating events years ago, I never thought the “stories” were accurate enough or communicated, and communicated well, enough. John says all writers are liars. He’s right. I can’t get it all in – can’t.

Who would want it all in? Fuck Bret Easton Ellis. Fuck Jonathan Franzen. Shit. Fuck Thoreau even.change-the-world-coffee-gloria-whelan

And fuck all the (for now) white guys who’ve written – and continue to write – long-ass, supposedly groundbreaking novels that play with the text with blank pages and footnotes[3] along the right side of the page. You tried getting it all in, and you failed. Too enamored with your own supposed brilliant prose abilities, you didn’t get a quarter of it. Being self-referential can be fun, but it isn’t new. Also, you profess to be writers: let designers do their jobs.

Where is this going? Hell if I know. Where does half my writing go?

I’ve no idea how many employers have turned me down because of what’s written here. I’ve always protested the use of the web and social media by employers to spy on potential and current employees. Nonetheless, it happens. I’ve certainly been asked stupid questions about what little is public on my Facebook page (by a stupid, fat millennial at an interview with the Texas Retired Teachers Association, wherein I was asked for strategies to monetize materials sent to their members).

A college professor used inadequate as an example for class long ago. You know, back when you had to tell kids what a blog was/is.

What decisions have I changed because I wrote about them here? Either due to feedback or just working it out in writing or by some other means.

Have others made different decisions? Thought of themselves differently after an entry posted here? Felt something?

Which is more important: my writing affecting me or affecting a reader?

There is no answer to the question
We are in mutual possession
This is the circle that we live in
These are the people that we’ve been

When I think back to the Ruta Maya years and Brian(na), John, all the various Ruta Maya staff as they came and went, Mike, Sarah, Sara, Matthew, Trey (the bum) and his dog Arielle (that’s AIRY ELLE, as he’d always emphasize) and so many others, many of whom I can’t remember their names, this quote comes to mind. I liked it so much that I made what is popularly called a “meme” for it (see picture).

There’s still time, right?

[1] Undoubtedly, some of it was avarice – the same reason I started the journal and the thought of stickers for it.

[2] I’m still waiting for my old words to be used against me. “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

[3] Guilty, for including footnotes here.

Let’s Call Them Complimentary Issues

Two days ago, when I wrote this post, I thought I might add something substantive to it. Apparently not. So here it is as is.

24 SEP 2016
~1045 hrs

My interest in economics is surprising to me (numbers? math? huh?) and likely laughable and unbelievable to my friends. Misty’s Maybe it’s an extension of my interest in public policy and, thus, politics. I doubt I’ll ever claim (about anything) that I fully know what I’m talking about when it comes to the subjects of monetary and fiscal policy, but at least I can tell the difference between the two. [insert happy winking emoji]

Last night I stumbled upon a feature of calibre, an ebook converter/library management tool, that gives one access to a ton of periodicals in English and many other languages. Japan Times? Check. China Daily News? Check. Russian? Italian? Yes, and yes. The Economist? Yup. Check it out if you haven’t already. It’s free.[1]

Seems to be a great way to get free news from lots of great publications delivered straight to your device each morning.

If you’re into free books, especially academic literature, lemme know. I’ve got a line on a great site[2] I can share. I can also give you details on getting rid of the copyright protection (DRM) on most ebooks so you can get them on and off your Kindle for sharing. I won’t publish the information here. I don’t want everyone to know my free literature sources!

[1] Once you’ve downloaded and launched it, the big red button next to the big red heart on the top toolbar gets you there. Something so obvious is clearly the reason I haven’t noticed it in the years I’ve used this program. I started using the program merely for its ability to convert books from different formats (.epub, .pdf and others) into those readable on Kindles (.mobil, .azw).

[2] Thank you to Cassandra, formerly of Halcyon and recently a designer for my company, for the tip.

Wealth’s Control: Rebekah Mercer


So, you think I’m exaggerating or knee-deep in a conspiracy theory when I say the rich and wealthy control and steer our country (and most of the world) in such a way as to ensure they remain wealthy no matter the consequences for the rest of us? You don’t believe their interests run counter to those making six figures and below?[1] Our well-being is sacrificed to their profit.

Case in point: Rebekah Mercer.

Today’s Washington Post profiles her growing role in the alt-right, conservative movement and, most recently, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Note that she’s not giving away her own money. When it comes to earnings, she’s spending her daddy’s and hubby’s money.

Since 2010, Robert Mercer has climbed the ranks of the country’s biggest political donors, giving at least $36.5 million to federal GOP candidates and super PACs. Rebekah has contributed an additional $814,500, campaign finance records show.

At the same time, the Mercers have steadily upped their nonprofit investments. Run by Rebekah, the family foundation went from doling out $1.7 million in 2009 to $18.3 million in 2014, according to tax records.

In all, the foundation gave nearly $35 million to conservative think tanks and policy groups in those five years, according to records compiled by The Washington Post and GuideStar USA.

She quickly dropped out of the workforce to have babies and buy a bakery with her sisters. So, when she says she’s afraid of the government growing, she means she doesn’t want you to have affordable childcare. That may cost her a little of the money she’s donating to conservative causes.[2] Your and your children’s wellbeing is of no matter to her.

An even bigger driver is her deep-seated opposition to Clinton, who she believes would further expand the size and influence of the federal government.

You get to suffer without healthcare because she’s worried the government might grow.

There is one thing she worked on that I’d support, if it is as it is described here:

One of the efforts Rebekah is most proud of, according to friends, is a watchdog group called Reclaim New York that she started in 2013 with Bannon, the longtime executive chairman of Breitbart News, which counts Robert Mercer among its investors. Reclaim New York is using the state’s freedom-of-information law to try to disclose every local public expenditure and is working to train citizens to function as watchdogs in their own communities.

I can support calling public officials out for wasting taxpayer money. I don’t think the government should spend money willy-nilly. Public officials should be held to a strict standard. Texas state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has never been able to meet the low bar of Texas Ethics Commission standards.

Nonetheless, she’s found her own way to turn her political activism into a profit-making endeavor:

After the 2012 elections, Robert Mercer invested in Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics firm, driven in part by an assessment that the right was lacking sophisticated technology capabilities, associates said. Rebekah Mercer has urged the organizations that her family funds to hire the company, according to people familiar with her advocacy.

What a tangled web the far-right movement weaves:

Cambridge was a major vendor to Cruz’s presidential campaign, which paid it $5.8 million before he dropped out in May, campaign finance records show. Trump, who has expressed skepticism about the value of data analytics, brought Cambridge aboard in July, paying it $100,000.

Cambridge shares a Beverly Hills, Calif., address with other Mercer investments. The company’s Wilshire Avenue office suite is also the home of Breitbart News and a movie production company called Glittering Steel, which helped finance the films “Torchbearer,” starring “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, and “Clinton Cash,” a documentary based on the book by Peter Schweizer.

Rebekah also sits on the board of the Heritage Foundation.

There are plenty of others – on both sides of the aisle. The Koch brothers, Soros, the Clintons, the Trumps, the Murdoch family, the Bush clan, Thiel and many, many others.

The really telling part is her reticence. Why hide?

“If she could be anonymous, I bet she’d prefer that,” said friend Alexandra Preate, a public relations executive.

Reminds me of James Leininger, the voucher sugar-daddy. His donations drastically decreased once we identified him publicly.

I think most people have a subconscious knowledge that the system is rigged against them; that there are people in charge of things ensuring they profit and the rest of us, well, screw the rest of us. It sounds silly when you articulate it.

I’m just confirming for you: You’re right. This does exist. It can be different, though. We just have to figure out how we want it to be – and make it so. Getting there likely won’t be pleasant.

[1] Honestly, I don’t consider people making six figures to be “wealthy.” They’re definitely doing better than most in the U.S. but they still don’t have enough money to greatly influence American politics.

[2] Of course, it would never be stated that way, and she may very well support affordable childcare services for others, but her activism on behalf of the far-right would negate such a belief.

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.

%d bloggers like this: