Wednesday, November 16, 2005

beta in tx pt.2

My granny just had all of her teeth yanked and replaced with new dentures not too long ago. Such a thought lodges deep inside my subconscious, as a few nights back, I dream that I am washing her silver teeth, the mercury polished like little pebbles in the stream of a faucet.

I fear that my teeth may be rotting out of my head, that unseen cavities are gathering force and slowly drilling deeper. When worrisome, my tongue worms for the holes. No dental plan aside from floss and toothpaste in my bag, and having paid for an emergency root canal two summers back, that Marathon Man pain still burns bright in my nerve memory. But when I pay my irregular visit to a Dallas dentist, I am told that there are no problems. Except the mantra of every dentist I have ever opened wide for: "Floss more."

Teeth and suit dry-cleaned, I pack everything to head down to what would be considered my hometown, San Antonio. I keep forgetting that I left the place nearly a decade ago, first for school and then for whatever it is I do now as an adult. Stuck in the labyrinth maze of Gotham, I admit to a small amount of mal du pays, of estrangement and endearment for the River City and its occult currents. My oldest friendships were all formed along its banks, and I return now for a wedding of someone I've known since he was a freshman in high school. Shoot, I still root for the Spurs, trying to block out that the city's dominance extends beyond the hardwood with such lovely entities as Clear Channel and the biggest business of them all, the US military.

While the city is one of the top ten in terms of US population (and a huge target during the Cold War), culturally it barely registers. Despite its swelling college campuses, there's barely a pulse to the city come nightfall, and the city struggles for a decent live music venue (my married friend is trying his own hand at such an endeavor, which should be interesting). But the majority of the city always seems to be tucked into the outskirts, due to the outlying Air Force bases and military hospitals, which make up a huge portion of its population.

Meaning that there many different realities of my home that I have distanced myself from. It's still hard to wrap my head around its loyalty to the meat-grinder of the military. As the rest of the country fails to meet its new recruitment goals, SA exceeds its quotas. Reading that Times article, I'm not sure why these statistics so surprise me, since my best friend from high school, unable to pull himself out of the gutter of drink, signed up for six fucking years, nearly getting himself stationed in Iraq. He's out now, but only after they found a tumor on his pineal gland and dug it out.

As much as I want to forget about the military complex that powers the city, I am reminded of it. Just trying to get to my grandmother's house, a police officer stops our car and we are made to idle under the hot November sun. Fanfare can be heard in the distance, and the next thing you know, there's a military parade marching past on a Saturday afternoon through downtown San Antonio. I get out to start documenting the surreal nature of this thing.

And while tears of laughter are veritably streaming down my face, I see that this one has everything: Women in blue wigs with star-spangled red dresses! An organ grinder gilded in gold perched atop a flatbed! Marching bands making an undisciplined clamor! Beauty pageant losers waving from a funny car with bows on its wheels! ROTC troops that march in place right in the middle of the intersection! Shriners in their fezzes riding around in humvees! And the cherry on top is the Navy Band Octet (pictured) jamming out some Blink-182 and the theme from Dawson's Creek for the derelict crowd that's supporting and hooting at the troops.


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