John Sayles' AMIGO and A Moment in the Sun out at last.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's a long way to El Paso

Nine and a half hours? That's what Google Maps told me all those weeks ago when I was figuring out the tour at the kitchen table. We have been dreading the drive, just a bit. We get up in the dark and slip out of the house. Our host Louis is asleep. Of course we went to bed late after talking with Louis, and waiting for Rachel to drop off my suitcase. (Dumb to have left it!)
We perk up with a doughnut (this has to stop!) and styrofoam coffee in Dripping Springs. A long drive like this is part of what a road trip is all about, and we're into it.
This is Texas.
And so is this. Handmade barbecues that take propane. I wish we had room in the car, but the road calls, and it changes to this classic Texas limestone.
We listen to James Naughton read "Double Indemnity" and the miles fly by. There aren't many places to stop for gas, and we can't linger for lunch since the reading in El Paso is early and we can't be late.
This was a lucky stop, in Hammond TX. Excellent and tidy burritos made a perfect pit stop.

Former Mexican action star turned director, Cesar Alejandro is our host here. We came to El Paso in 2007 with HONEYDRIPPER to his Bi-National Film Festival. When we were planning the book tour with Juliet Litman from McSweeny's we asked that El Paso be added to the list, because El Paso needs some love. We knew that Cesar would find the right place for a reading, though El Paso has no independent bookstore, and this beautiful new El Paso Main Library was the perfect place.
As we waited for the audience to gather we enjoyed this wonderful show of photographs from the Casasola Portrait studio, old El Paso captured in portraits. It's a beautiful and NEW library, the kind of thing that gives me hope. Several people came up to John and me to thank us for coming to El Paso. I need to remember when it feels like we are spitting in the wind that our movies have mattered to people. They tell us so.
We were pleased with the turnout of 50 people considering that today UTEP is graduating thousands of students. Cesar among them! This morning he received his Masters in Film and Theater-and managed to fit in the reading as well.
Let me introduce you, from the left, Cesar's son and cinematographer Oscar, Joe Frandina owner of Holiday Inn Express El Paso Downtown (and patron of Bi-National Film Festival), John, Cesar, and Cesar's terrific wife Laura. After a farewell dinner John and I head to Joe's hotel for an early night, and Cesar's family go back to his house to celebrate his Masters. Bravo, Cesar, y gracias.


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