Stars Over Cowtown
I have no business being invited to elaborate private parties. I am by nature socially awkward, and I drink hard – a bad combo (especially for you, if you are within earshot or, after a certain point, haymaker-distance of me).
But last weekend, I attended two private parties, both thrown by the Lone Star International Film Festival, Fort Worth’s inaugural foray into the wild wide world of film festivals. What, pray tell, you ask, is a film festival? I am not entirely sure, but if it is anything like a music festival – of which I’ve been to a couple – it involves industry seminars moderated by distinguished panelists, some videos, PowerPoint presentations, and live music performances, and rampant partying. Not sure how LSIFF fared in regard to the seminars and screenings. (Weekly contributor Cole Williams does. Read his column on pg. 24.) But based on the parties, LSIFF was a success. (For the record: The Weekly was the main media co-sponsor. No, I have not accepted any major bribes to speak glowingly of the event. Minor graft? I don’t know. You tell me.)
The event went from Wednesday through Sunday, and there were parties every night except Sunday. Each party had a sort of theme. The opening-night affair was at Bass Performance Hall’s McDavid Studio and featured a red carpet. Fort Worth native Bill “Chet” Paxton (Titanic, Apollo 13, Weird Science, Big Love) and a couple of other film stars with Texas roots and/or connections walked across it. I wasn’t there. On Thursday night, the party followed screenings of work by local filmmaker James Johnston and other indie auteurs and was aimed at hipsters. I didn’t go to that, either. But on Friday night, I was out, at the Longhorn Saloon in the Stockyards for the Jackass party. I have never watched the show and could not tell you whether or not any Jackasses were there, but the rather large club was full. Gold labels peeked out from behind just about everybody’s knuckles – apparently, nothing says, “I am in Fort Worth – dear God” like a bottle of Shiner. The staff was overwhelmed. I was forced to order several beers at a time. An indie-rock band from Austin played. I did not notice any dangerous stunts.
The Saturday-night party was huge, probably the hugest of its kind ever in Fort Worth, I cannot tell a lie. The location was Embargo, a Cuban-themed nightclub in SoDo (or “South of Downtown”). My wife and I got there early and sat at the bar opposite the stage, about a mile away. I did not learn until later that we were in the double-V.I.P. section, which might explain why none of the familiar faces I spied on the other side of the bar came to say hi (though it probably doesn’t). There were nine-zillion people there. I met one filmmaker, a hairy, bespectacled fortysomething from Los Angeles, and I conversated with Dallas crooner Ricki Derek, who is opening a jazz club, The Scat Lounge, somewhere downtown. Nice guy.
Around 10:30 p.m., a fellow Weekly scribe sent me a text message from outside. The line to get in was stretching down the block and around the corner, he wrote. A possible reason: stargazing. There were – or were supposed to be – a few celebrities in the house, like Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas), character actor Donal Logue, Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar, and Oscar- and Grammy-winner Keith Carradine (Deadwood), among others. Another, more plausible explanation may have been the concert by The Rumblers, a band that features writer-director Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City); saxophonist Johnny Reno, a former member of Fort Worth’s legendary Juke Jumpers and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble; and Fort Worth native T Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou?).
From where I was sitting, all I could see were the tops of their gray heads. The music sounded good, I think, but I was too, too distracted by the perpetual commotion to pay serious attention. I neither spoke with nor met any famous people, unless you count Marcus Lawyer from Top Secret … Shhh, Jerome 57 from Spoonfed Tribe, or Burning Hotels frontman Chance Morgan, who buzzed behind the bar all night with another bartender, my man Brett, and quite possibly the two most attractive female bartenders in town. Tickets for the concert were $50 a pop. Now, maybe I’m old or maybe I have become jaded by all the free stuff people send me, but I would not pay $50 to watch Jesus wrestle Buddha on my lawn, let alone stuff myself into a club to try to listen to some sort of band. But (I hope) I am an aberration. Granted, a majority of the Embargo crowd was probably from out of town. But I saw enough familiar and semi-familiar Fort Worthians there to believe that our city is behind the Lone Star International Film Festival full-heartedly. – Anthony Mariani
OK, I was sort of kidding last week when I wrote that we should all get together and drink outside somewhere, someplace in the heart of the city but off the beaten path enough to qualify as “hidden,” like we all (well, most of us) did when we were underage. The purpose? Simple: Since drinking for most of us has lost its luster and become a necessity rather than a pleasure, maybe sneaking a few six-cans of beer into a parking lot or graveyard after dark and listening to a cassette tape of Houses of the Holy or Who’s Next on a boombox will bring back some mystique to our favorite pastime. But seeing as my sarcasm was lost on many readers, who signed up to join the Fresh-Air Booze Cabal, let’s freaking do it.
If you don’t have my home e-mail address or cell number but I know you, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll hook you up. Friends of friends of friends (of friends) and professional acquaintances are also invited. Strangers or undercover TABC agents, you all are welcome to start your own au naturel booze communes. Then we can have turf wars and shit. As the song goes: “Let’s get together before we get much older.” – A.M.
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