Postcard from Lisboa, Portugal: Feira Livro

This is the 84th edition of the Lisboa Book Fair, so it has had ample time to grow and mature. We watched as the rows of containers were lined up along both sides of sloping King Edward VII Park. They looked sterile, but what a change when we went back and the containers had been customized. Every single one looked different, depending on the bookstore or publisher occupying it.

Not sure how jam-packed the Book Fair is on weekends, but we strolled through on a Monday. There are 250 book vendors represented at the event running more than two weeks. Tented areas along the way provide space for small readings and autograph sessions.

Thirty food and beverage booths are interspersed among the book vendors, again all different. In between rows of booths are seating areas, each distinctively designed – some tables and chairs for adults; some pint-size reading or play “rooms” for children; and some laid out like comfortable lounges with living room furniture resembling a Copenhagen showroom.

How pleasant it looked to pause to peruse purchases over an espresso or glass of wine. Of course, we didn’t buy anything; naturally, most books are in Portuguese.

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San Antonio, headed to its third edition of its Book Festival, has plenty of time and room to grow. The San Antonio Public Library Foundation already squeezes an incredible amount into one day, and, frankly, it’s so accessible because of the manageable size and close proximity of the venues.

One day, we’ll look back at these early San Antonio Book Festivals nostalgically, the same way old-timers reflect on the neighborhood intimacy of the first years of the King William Fair. Even now, the agenda is so crowded, decisions about which author sessions to attend are wrenching.

But, best of all, most of the featured books and readings at the San Antonio Book Festival are in a language I understand. Looking forward to the 2015 edition.

Interpreting Texas via “my square mile”

One Square Mile: Texas (OSMTX) is a documentary television series that portrays Texas culture from the perspective of distinct square miles across the Lone Star state.  As a whole, the series is a microcosm of Texas life and a collective portrait of the state.

The series represents the many faces and facets of Texas from the perspective of the individual while spanning the emotional, demographic and physical landscapes. This is a series about shared challenges and aspirations.  The square miles include urban, suburban and rural communities and neighborhoods from every corner of the state.

Each episode has a theme by which the series examines the square miles and provides a cohesive thread that allows us to explore, compare and shed light on universal issues. Looking beyond the preconceived notions or stereotypes that typically define the state, OSMTX’s objective viewpoint provides a platform and outlet for discussion of the collective and varied identity of the state and the regions and towns that comprise it….

Our culture must be documented as it is happening, lest it be lost or re-interpreted. This series provides a tangible link between where we have been and where we are going.  A template and online platform for the cross-pollination of ideas will bring students and individuals together from the diverse regions across Texas. Students are encouraged to document their own square miles with video, photography, art and written word that is to be shared with the OSMTX community.

One Square Mile – Texas

A series focusing on selected square miles of Texas as microcosms capturing the character of the state as a whole will air this fall on PBS stations. One of the square miles is “mine,” which engages my interest in the progress of this project because I am so smitten by the ‘hood in which I live. If I were visiting San Antonio on vacation, this is precisely where I would want to stay.

A major bonus is that only today my daughter and son-in-law moved into the downtown square mile of Austin included in the series. The Austin teaser is not up on the website yet, but stay tuned.

And, while posting video about the neighborhood, Erik Bosse‘s short showcasing portions of the parade during the King William Fair makes it appear more polished than in real life:

Update on May 24, 2013: The teaser for the Austin Square Mile in which my daughter and son-in-law live has just been added to the website…

One Square Mile: Texas – Austin Teaser from Brazos Film & Video on Vimeo.

What would Eeyore think?

“I’m just telling everybody. We can look for the North Pole, or we can play ‘Here we go gathering Nuts in May’ with the end part of an ants’ nest. It’s all the same to me.”

Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

Eeyore was not much of a party boy, but that has not deterred celebrants in Austin for the past 48 years. Most years, Eeyore’s Birthday Party conflicts with King William Fair, so, despite hearing about it forever, we had never been. This year, however, five Saturdays in April comfortably separated the two on the calendar.

With Austin friends as our guides, we found our way to Pease Park and began wandering around. An “Eeyore of Liberty” with a bubble-blowing honor guard greets attendees. What we found in the way of organized activities was a costume contest, an egg toss and a tiny children’s area containing one appropriately gloomy in the Eeyore tradition burro representing the birthday boy. Freestyle hula-hooping, drumming and pot-smoking comprised the rest of the entertainment, which means the focus is on the people.

The people-watching was great, with costumes resembling the Haight Ashbury look of 1968. But, like us, the vast majority of the party-goers were party-poopers – no costumes and fully clothed – falling into the voyeur category.

Not sure what the Austin undress-code is as defined by law, but it appears looser than San Antonio’s, or more loosely enforced. The topless and near-nude emerged from Hippy Hollow to invade the park. But hey, Eeyore only wore a hat for his birthday.

Austin police must have the same attitude as that adopted by New Orleans police on the episode of Treme last night: “Let Bourbon Street be Bourbon Street.” Regard revelers as only “momentarily underdressed.” Think Austin police also are instructed to ignore any whiff of “eau de maryjane.”

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 What would Eeyore think?

“Everybody crowds round so in this Forest. There’s no Space. I never saw a more Spreading lot of animals in my life, and in all the wrong places.”

Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

I say, “Keep Austin Weird” and “Keep San Antonio Lame.” Happy to have celebrated Eeyore’s Birthday this year, but will be more than content to be locked in the middle of the King William Fair next year. It’s one of this city’s “quills” I love.

Update on August 21, 2014: Bed time story actually read by A.A. Milne courtesy of Brain Pickings