san-antonian / small business owner / dog lover
For so many of these pieces, I met my subjects over food. As I'm sure you know, a warm meal is essential to negotiate the most out of your subjects. They are satiated and slightly distracted so their normal guard of self-projection is strewn aside in the name of filling their bellies.  Charlie flipped the tables on me, proudly showing me his bakery, Bakery Lorraine,  as well as the men and women working to keep it flourishing. Macaroons and freshly made bread had me considering if I could just live in the storeroom for the rest of my life.
On his mom
"If I were to give an award to someone, it would have to be my mom. She did everything for me. She was a single mom. My dad and her had a great relationship, he would take me on weekends and stuff, but he was a drug addict. She was incredible. Her willingness to let resentment toward him go so I could have a positive relationship with my dad was superhuman. Despite his shortcomings, she wanted me to have interactions with him.

There were some things that happened healthwise to her as a result of his problems. And she dealt with and overcame that while raising me. She gave me a totally normal, and honestly truly exceptional childhood. I have to give it to her. She put up with all my bullshit. And when I was an angry teenager, which is insane to look back at now because I would not let any children of mine act that way, she was there for me too. I look back and think, "man how could someone deal with all that disappointment, heartbreak and this unruly kid?" She made it seem so effortless. 

She passed away in my twenties and it's kinda tough to look back. It's a humbling experience to look at those mistakes and know that you can't necessarily right them with that person. You know what I mean? I know that I can take action to try to continuously make amends through my actions. But, it'll never be as cathartic as speaking to her again would be."
"When cool is too easily accessible it's no longer cool. When you have to scratch the surface a little bit to find it, cool becomes it's a lot more appealing and less ephemeral." 
On San Antonio
"San Antonio is really special because it's not particularly sexy and I find that really appealing. When I'm traveling overseas and tell people I'm from the states, we end up talking about the three cities on the coasts or something. And if not those then, we're usually talking about Austin or maybe Denver. 

And even in the states, when I start talking about San Antonio, a lot of people scratch their head and ask, "why do you want to live there?" And not to put down any other cities because places like New York and Los Angeles are amazing.  But to a certain extent, I've watched this trend over the last 20 years of cities losing their grit.

I feel like all the sharp corners have been rounded you know? They've lost their grit to a certain extent. And of course, that's not true merely from crime statistics right. I don't like living in a crime-ridden city or anything like that. (San Antonio certainly is not.) But look at median housing prices in some of those cities and ask yourself who can afford to live there. The answer is nobody can. Looking at cities now, they are more fantasy playgrounds than real places. 

I don't feel that way about San Antonio. It speaks to and can accommodate the lives of the vast majority of humanity.  You know I always feel like kind of we're kind of like an underdog to a certain extent. And I identify with that grit and mentality."

​​​On trends
"As recently as 10 years ago I don't think something like Bakery Lorraine would have been sustainable here. As more epicurean and artisanal trends swept across the nation, San Antonio has been affected for the better. The urban renewal trends have led to tons and tons of capital are being poured into the urban core. Which has its' pros and cons.  A lot of people get to move down to the city, a lot of investment gets made. That leads to infrastructure like cool fine dining stuff, food and beverage experiences, and apartments get built. But then there's also people who get displaced. So it's tough. Overall I think the city has had a net positive impact.

This infrastructure growth is a part of why companies are starting to consider coming here. There are more jobs are available to people who have some sort of vocation or education. And so we're not getting overlooked as much anymore."
On immigration 
"If you look at the rest of the world, people still want to come here. That's good. The thing I don't understand are the people that want to keep others out. Man, the day that people stop wanting to come here is the day that we need to like look around and get worried.  Why are we so upset that people want to come to our country? We should be welcoming them in. And I get it, the influx of people definitely has made everything more competitive and saturated and less opportunity may exist, but we have always been a country that grows when diverse thinkers come and contribute." 

On barriers to entry in business
"I think a great thing in this country is the ability to act on ideas. If you have a good idea, you have the freedom to make it happen a lot easier than other places. I was actually listening to a Planet Money episode on NPR the other day and it was about how in Peru how long it takes to try and start a business. The first issue is that Peru has an overwhelming number of people that are operating their businesses without licenses. And it's all operating on cash. They don't have bank accounts and it perpetuates the cycle of poverty. The primary reason, for all of this, according to this guy's thesis or whatever is the hegemony there. The government doesn't want any kind of disruptive competition so they make the licensing process incredibly difficult and overbearing. It could take 13 or 14 months not to mention the high capital you need to raise. So you basically have to come up with the cash then it's tied up for a year. Those barriers to entry are nuts."
"I think the great thing about this country is the ability to act on ideas. If you have a good idea, you have the freedom to make it happen a lot easier than other places."
On the American Dream
"Having gone through a few deaths, I mean having lost both my parents pretty young, I look at both of their respective lives and try to learn from them. I think a lot of the happiness my mom had even as she endured and despite all of the challenges my dad had, he had happiness also. I think that's the biggest takeaway. It's not just about acquiring things right? There's no external thing that's ever going to satisfy this internal feeling of wanting or needing. And it's never going to produce satisfaction. 

Our culture has taken a perverted twist on that. At one point, capitalism was really beneficial. And I'm not sure that we're in a phase of capitalism that's no longer beneficial but I think there's a perversion that's being exploited right now. Basically, it's people working to reach some level of attainment or just in this race to see how much shit you can acquire before you die. And let me tell you, you never really reach that plateau. 

But at the same time, this system has made me a small business owner. It's been really cool to watch this company evolve and grow. Being able to retain some of the employees that started here six years ago means so much to me. This little thing that we started, is you know contributing to, hopefully, the success of other people and their development or their path through life.

As an epilogue to my last statement, I have to discount everything because look man I'm a white dude who grew up in a very secure household. I had a single mom and had a lot of dysfunction and trauma in my life. But, I never wanted for shit. You know what I mean? So here I am being a proponent of some sense of the American dream, when I don't know what it's necessarily like to pull myself up out of the gutter."
From San Antonio, TX
Lives in San Antonio, TX

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