October 24th, 2007

i brung you purty flowers


It's Wednesday again, and that means the Skullbucket's THREE MONTHS OF JOY Giveaway continues! Hardly anyone wanted my help as a personal shopper, and no one took me up on my opportunity for a free ass-kicking, but today, maybe we'll see better results.

Today's giveaway is simple: e-mail me your address (to leonard dot pierce at g mail dot com) and I'll send you a postcard!

BONUS ROUND: send me your cell phone number, and I'll send you an inexplicable and possibly disturbing text message!

DOUBLE BONUS ROUND: PayPal me five dollars, and your postcard will contain a sketch of MC Boy or DJ Aak!

TRIPLE KITTY BONUS ROUND: PayPal me ten dollars, and your postcard will not contain a sketch of MC Boy or DJ Aak!

Uh yeah, I feel all right now.
on a steel horse I ride

Not that I'm complaining, mind you

Many of you have asked me: exactly how tasteful is San Antonio, anyway? Well, now, I can tell you with scientific accuracy. It seems that Travel and Leisure Magazine has conducted a survey (hat tip to ortho_bob) in which they compare the inherent desirability of the 25 largest cities in America, in a wide range of categories. The results? Pretty dismal. San Antonio isn’t the worst place to live – it ranked 14th overall, only somewhat below average – but as we’ll see, that ranking is highly influenced by a number of factors that don’t really make it much of a winner. So join me, won’t you, as we learn…HOW BAD SATX SUX!

FOOD/DINING: 9th of 25
Big-Name Restaurants: 18th
Ethnic Food: 5th
Cheap Eats: 4th
Farmers’ Markets: 9th
Coffee: 22nd
Pizza: 18th
Barbecue: 2nd

Analysis: This is the only category where Tasteful San Antonio cracks the top ten, but it’s really not as good as it seems. I could give a fuck about coffee, and this town actually does have some decent farmer’s markets, but note that in “Big-Name Restaurants” – in other words, five-star joints with top chefs – SATX lingers near the bottom. The #5 ranking in “Ethnic Food” is deceptive, because it means, in our case, “Mexican food” – there’s tons of that, and basically nothing of anything else. “Cheap Eats” is true, but that’s only because everything is cheap here. And yeah, good barbecue is everywhere, but only if you like Texas-style BBQ. If you like pit barbecue, NC style, or anything else, you’re shit outta luck. Don’t be fooled; SATX’s food selection is no great shakes.

People-Watching: 17th
Peace and Quiet: 10th
Weather: 11th
Safety: 11th
Ease of Getting Around/Public Transportation: 13th
Affordability: 1st
Gay-Friendliness: 22nd
Environmental Awareness: 14th

Analysis: Here again, the (relatively – we’ll never make the top ten again) high ranking is deceptive. “Affordability” – well, there you have it: we’re the cheapest big city in the nation, and you won’t catch me complaining about that. I’m making lots of money, and I’m not spending much of it, because everything here is dirt cheap. But that’s the only good thing about SATX – it’s definitely the only thing keeping me here. The only other place in this category where we crack the top ten is “Peace and Quiet”, which translates to “Boredom”. (Other high ranks – “Weather” and “Safety” – likewise basically reflect the fact that nothing much goes on around here.) And in the more important categories – interesting people, ecological awareness, tolerance, and ease of access – we take a real nosedive.

CULTURE: 12th of 25
Classical Music: 20th
Theater: 21st
Museums/Galleries: 14th
Underground Arts Scene: 19th
Historical Sites/Monuments: 5th
Architecture/Notable Buildings: 10th

Analysis: Another super-deceptive category. In the stuff that really counts – music, theatre, an alternative arts scene, literature – SATX is dismal. The overall ranking is brought up, essentially, by the Alamo – that and a bunch of other Texas-history sites are what account for the #5 in Historical Sites and the #10 in Notable Buildings. Likewise, a huge number of the museums here are about Texas and/or Wild West history, which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but the actual art museums and the like are terribly subpar.

CITYSCAPE: 14th of 25
Notable Neighborhoods: 20th
Skyline/Views: 23rd
Public Parks/Spaces: 16th
Cleanliness: 14th
Access to Outdoors: 13th
Pedestrian Friendliness: 13th

Analysis: Now we start hitting bottom, as we completely fall below average and never quite get up again. The skyline here is a boring copy of Seattle, and the architecture is nothing but strip malls and housing tracts. I’d rank public parks a bit higher, but pedestrian-friendliness a lot lower. The downtown area is pretty much a mess, and I live in the nicest neighborhood in town, which should tell you how little that means. Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

SHOPPING: 17th of 25
Luxury Boutiques: 22nd
Home Design: 20th
Jewelry: 18th
Shoes: 23rd
Antiques: 13th
Vintage Clothing and Jewelry: 18th
Flea Markets: 4th

Analysis: You’d think SATX would rank higher in shopping, since that’s pretty much all there is to do here in the absence of culture, nature, interesting people, or an arts scene of any kind. And yeah, there’s lots of shopping opportunities – as long as you like shopping at the exact same chain stores as the ones you can visit anywhere in the country. The only place where we stand out is in “Flea Markets” – in other words, in old people reselling burned-out junk that nobody wanted in the first place, at a discount. Forget about fashionable clothes (see below); I buy pretty much everything online these days, or drive to Austin, because it ain’t happening down here.

PEOPLE: 17th of 25
Attractive: 22nd
Friendly: 8th
Stylish: 25th
Intelligent: 18th
Worldly: 21st
Athletic/Active: 22nd
Fun: 13th
Diverse: 9th

Analysis: We’re pretty much hitting rock bottom at this point. Near the bottom in attractive people (shit, this town makes me feel good-looking, and I basically look like an overweight cancer cell); near the bottom in smart people (well, you know, Texas); near the bottom in well-rounded people (reading and travel are for them big-city East Coasters, don’t you know, and we only travel when we ship out with the Marines); near the bottom in sporty, physically fit people (all that BBQ). And, as you surely don’t gotta tell me, dead fucking last in fashionable people – you get stared at like you beamed down from Mars if your shirt matches your shoes. The only high ranks are “Diverse” (lots of Mexicans) and “Friendly”, which is a real mixed blessing – who wants to be friends with a bunch of ugly, dumb, uncultured morons?

AFTER DARK: 19th of 25
Cocktail Hour: 15th
Clubbing: 16th
Live Music: 18th
Singles Scene: 22nd

Analysis: Well, you know about this already, because I complain endlessly about it: the bars are late-‘70s recession flashbacks (and there aren’t many of them, thanks to the city’s highly religious character); the clubs are all for dimwitted frat boys; no bands worth speaking of come here; and the singles scene is a disaster even if you lower your standards to accommodate the 17th-of-25-level people who live in San Antonio. There’s a line in The Office where Jim says he’d enjoy living in New York so he can see what it’s like in a city where things stay open past 8PM; I, who hardly go anywhere anyway due to encroaching age, crankiness and a petrified social life, can totally relate.

And that, my friends, SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN, is…Tasteful San Antonio.
stella stella can't you hear me yella


It’s been a long time coming, and it’s been a hell of a difficult haul – the whole editorial staff has been a-bubble with turmoil – but I’m very happy to announce that Issue #9 of the High Hat is finally up. (For you new people, or for you people who ignore me when I do whorin, the High Hat is an online magazine of arts & culture for which I am an editor.)

The theme this time out is “Places” – how physical space helps define art and culture – and we’ve got some really interesting stuff behind that idea: Erika Jahneke’s essay on how post-9/11 New York has been portrayed in fiction; steve_hicken on Charles Ives and James Agee’s America; scottvond on how the Maine of Stephen King comes across on film; some experimental short writing by eme_kah and Waki Gamez; and an outstanding piece by ninafarina on Rome and Tokyo in cinema.

Our music section features LJ’s own andrew_hickey on Brian Wilson, Greg Hough on Nick Lowe, and Phil Freeman on the wicked ways of black metal legends Marduk.

The “Marginalia” section sports book reviews by Phil Nugent of the Reagan diaries and steve_hicken again on Alex Ross’ new book, The Rest is Noise. (There’s also a good interview with Ross elsewhere in the magazine.)

For our film section, we bring you Kevin Fullam on how mental illness is portrayed in pop culures; Gary Mairs on the death of so many great directors in 2007; thehighhat on films featuring man at the mercy of nature; and more.

There’s plenty of other stuff, including a couple of pieces by me, hipsterdetritus on the other Red Sox Curse, Phil Nugent on forgotten cult TV shows, and others -- enough to distract you at work for days and days. Enjoy the Hat, tell your friends, and thanks as always for reading.