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as I am trying in Bill’s words to wrap my mind around the fact that the cafe is closing down. It’s not that I’m sentimental about the closing of one more club at this location. When Lyle, Bo, and Robert Earl played here as The Front Porch Gang, the club had another owner and another name. I recollect, at the time, the club was called Grins. It’d be nice to work up a shining vision about the reincarnated spirit of this club, under new management and with a new name, preserving in its rugged manner the ghosts of the music which belong here. Tonight’s star guitarist, for instance, plays in a quartet called White Bread. Maybe in a few years, when he’s famous, we can have a White Bread Cafe. Or when Willie breaks out, we can sip our beer at Willie’s Place and think of the days we’ve survived. Will this building be allowed to come back as a club, or will it be the next to be destroyed? “Front Porch Cafe to Close Because of Noise.” The police, along with neighbors unnamed, have reportedly expressed concern. The grave trouble here is that a building that is too noisy for the police is a building which cannot be reincarnated as a club. It is a music hall soon to be silenced, perhaps torn down. What used to be called Grins, Dr. G’s, Morgensterns, or the Front Porch Cafe, will become what? A music hall no more? HE WARMUP BAND’S singer and guitarist walk as far away from the stage as their electrical attachments allow them, the better to hear the music the way the dancers will hear it later tonight. The guitarist for White Bread, still sitting near the sound man, tilts his head back, leaning against the wall. Sure is loud. Yeah, but the hall is still empty. Later there will be dancers to soak up the sound. By the time White Bread comes on, all the tables are full and the bar is busy place. The music, safely in the hands of indigenous favorites, spills out the door as I leave. The old front porch having been struck to the ground, and the Front Porch Cafe soon to be silenced, with no historical district in sight nor fine arts department possible, and with the tingling invitation of tonight’s weather to relax and enjoy, the loud beat sounds beautifully defiant. Keep on rolling, you stubborn rockers. Go on. Amid thoughts of cotton-town ghosts, this land, its lovable crazies, and its irrepressible musicians, I say goodnight to Amber, and I drift out the winding way toward the Brazos River on the long road toward where that old river ever flows. Movies Continued from page 21 early films, including such eye-openers as The Great Train said to be the first time a celluloid villain tied a heroine to railroad tracks and notable for its unprecedented use of double exposure. Film historian William K. Everson testifies to Melbridge’s distinction as the first to have told a coherent story on film, and NYU Professor George Stoney notes Melbridge’s many contributions to movie techniques and hardware, including a portable camera that encased the cinematographer. In case we forget the human drama of artistic innovation, the filmmaker’s daughter Elana describes the triumphs and disappointments in her father’s career. By the second decade of the century, Melbridge was apparently desperate enough for cash and popularity that he starred in the giddy Kid Coal comedy series, including The Great Coal Rush clip of which McIntyre and Moynihan have managed to retrieve. They also provide footage of Melbridge’s original experiments in animation and of a Hungarian work that he made in color by hand-tinting every frame. The most spectacular section of Theodore Melbridge: The Silent Genius features a scene from the master’s most ambitious project: The Story of Art, a work that never became anything more than a dazzling fragment after its director squandered his entire budget on its brilliant opening sequence, the deluge of Atlantis. Theodore Melbridge: The Silent Genius is currently making its way through the festival circuit with hopes for theatrical and TV distribution. When I saw it in San Antonio, at a session with scholars at the annual Popular Culture Association convention, McIntyre marveled at how long it took that solemn audience of specialists to admit their ignorance, to accept the fact that Melbridge is a brazen hoax. With Woody Allen’s Zelig, Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap, and Luis Buriuel’s Las Hurdes, Theodore Melbridge: The Silent Genius belongs in the category of fictional documentary and in every college class that presumes to have the final word on silent films. LJ Mexico Continued from page 18 environmental protection through sustainable development. The word will race throughout Latin America that some North American environmentalists act like latter-day colonialists; they offer a new justification for keeping the Latins down.” In lengthy position papers, Kamp and others have advocated a 18, there was dancing in the streets in Azcapotzalco. The Group of 100 published a newspaper announcement thanking the president for his decision. A presidential spokeswoman said this was the beginning of a new era in environmental policy: “This proves that no one can get away with pollution.” The next day Salinas appeared with Chirinos and Camacho again to announce a new 11-step plan for Mexico City. SEDUE would now publish hourly pollution levels. Giant flashing screens set up throughout the city would record current levels. Taxi drivers would get a break financing new cars. All along Reye Lujan has said that his problems were due to a lack of budget and staff, but with increased numbers of environmental monitors, SEDUE would at long last be able to implement its environmental legislation. In recent weeks, SEDUE has bombarded the press with announcements of factory closings for non-compliance, a spurt of activity similar to that carried out by the federal attorney general’s anti-narcotics office, in the early months of the Salinas Administration, under then top anti-drug chief Javier Coello Trejo. Instead of stacks of cellophane bags with white powder, now it’s factory closings. Of course “closing” is a term of art, which in some cases means only “the polluting” section of a plant, even an individual machine, is shutdown. And I have yet to meet a taxi driver who has been able to get a straight answer as to what he must do to get his new, non-polluting car. Whether this is really a new environmental policy of a variation on spin control and image-making with an eye on the June 1 deadline for U.S. congressional reauthorization of fast-track procedures, remains to be seen, as does the extent of the damage caused by the 18 de marzo refinery to residents of a northern Mexico City neighborhood. Less than a month after the shutdown announcement, workers dismantling the refinery discovered a pool olf sulphuric acid and a bed of lead mud. Experts say the water table in the area is close enough to the surface to have been seriously contaminated by the leaks. BARBARA BELEJACK Frequent Observer contributor Barbara Belejack is a journalist who lives in Mexico City. long-term phase-in for Mexican smalland medium-sized industry in complying with U.S. standards, which theoretically, in many cases, are now the standards mandated by their own government. It is U.S. industry, he said, that must immediately be held to the same regula tions it would face north of the border, a request that hardly merits the description “latter-day colonialists.” AFTER PRESIDENT SALINAS’ announcement last March THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23 4* 4 ‘ 1 A _=111_i .11711’