Justin Hill gets to sit down and talk with some of San Antonio's most fascinating and informed voices on a wide array of topics. The Alamo Hour is the destination podcast for those that want to take a in-depth look at different people, places, events and happenings in San Antonio, Texas. Hosted by local injury attorney, Justin Hill, this podcast is going to dive deep into the city we love so much.
Rick Hill, VP at The Valero Alamo Bowl and SA Famous
Rick Hill moved to San Antonio for college and has been here since. He has worked for a variety of local sports teams and events. He currently work as the VP of communications and marketing at the Valero Alamo Bowl. Additionally, he has a few cool hobbies and likes that we discuss. Rick is a big fan and advocate of our great city.
Justin Hill: Hello and Bienvenido, San Antonio. Welcome to The Alamo Hour discussing the people, places, and passion that make our city. My name is Justin Hill, a local attorney, a proud San Antonian, and keeper of chickens and bees. On The Alamo Hour, you'll get to hear from the people that make San Antonio great and unique and the best-kept secret in Texas. We're glad that you're here.
Rick Hill: Who is the worst guest you've ever had?
Justin: [chuckles] We'll talk about that in a second. I like how Rick just spoke over the intro, so in the intro, we'll have Rick in the background. Welcome to The Alamo Hour. Today's guest is Rick Hill, no relation to me, unfortunately. He is the VP of Marketing and Communication with the Valero Alamo Bowl, and I realize you have to say Valera with the Alamo Bowl now. Rick has also spent time with the Spurs, the Missions and something called the SA Riders, which I am told is a football game. I thought it was maybe something that happens on the strip late at night, but no, a football team here in San Antonio.
He has no championship rings, he likes to tell people on his internet profile. Since the Alamo Bowl is right around the corner and I'd bugged Rick for like a year, I figured it'd be a good time to bug him, and here he is. Rick, thanks for being here.
Rick: My pleasure, Justin. Thank you.
Justin: While we were starting, Rick said who's the worst guest I've had on here. Well, the worst guests are the ones that just no matter what you ask, they're going to answer whatever they want.
Rick: Good. I have nothing prepared, so I will be the opposite. I just like to set a low benchmark so people are happy.
Justin: Some people have and I feel like if I was calling out guests as the worst, I'd have a hard time finding other guests, so I better not do that. Let me just say, the least listened to episodes are some of my better friends, so I just better not tell them. You will have 10s of listeners at a minimum, I guarantee that. You could have many more than that.
Rick: I'm used to people not listening to me. This is perfect.
Justin: Well, it's funny. I had one guy on here who became an all-star of the fintech Twitter, the Fintwit I think they call them and his episode just went bonkers because of that. All that world wanted to hear whatever he had to say because he had the highest performing stock over the last 17 years, and even The Wall Street Journal was like, "It wasn't Tesla. It was this group out of San Antonio had the biggest stock in the last 20 years." It was interesting. All right, so let's start with a top 10. I'm going to ask you, it'll be 10-ish. Favorite Fiesta event?
Justin: We were just talking about that before and you seemed super excited about it, so I'm glad you brought that up. Something I'm probably going to talk more about, but you have some sort of weird BCycle thing. What's the number of miles you've put on a BCycle in a year, the most?
Rick: The most? Probably 3,000 in a year. They have the E-bike now, but it's more pedal-assisted. I think the E-bike takes too much credit. I love jumping on Saturday, jumping out the Witte, driving through downtown, Southtown, and then heading south to Mission Reach.
Justin: When you did it, it was not pedal-assist?
Rick: Some of it is, and I think they're switching to all pedal-assist in the next couple of months, which should be great. I've been to Madison's [unintelligible 00:03:26] the best setup. It's all pedal-assist. I got a huge leg, but it's really been fun to see how many people are on the trails especially COVID-wise.
Justin: I'm having...
Mario Bravo, San Antonio's District 1 Councilperson
Mario Bravo unseated an entrenched incumbent City Councilperson to become the new District 1 representative. He has a history that includes working fishing boats out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Now, he is dedicated to improving San Antonio for all.
Justin Hill: Hello and Bienvenidos, San Antonio. Welcome to The Alamo Hour, discussing the people, places, and passion that make our city. My name is Justin Hill, a local attorney, a proud San Antonian, and keeper of chickens and bees. On The Alamo Hour, you'll get to hear from the people that make San Antonio great and unique, and the best-kept secret in Texas. We're glad that you're here.
All right, welcome to The Alamo Hour. Today's guest is Councilman Mario Bravo. Mario is District 1 Council Person for the city of San Antonio, recently elected. District 1 is basically everything you see on a map in the middle of San Antonio, from Southtown all the way up to about 410, a little bit on other sides, but between 281 and I-10. He ran on the issues of public safety, healthy community, and economic redevelopment. He unseated an entrenched incumbent, who, if he had won, would maybe have been the longest-serving council person in San Antonio history, is that right?
Mario Bravo: I'm not sure, but yes.
Justin: Something along those lines. It would have been a very long run.
Mario: I think that's probably right because we had just recently gone from four years to eight years for term limits.
Justin: Oh, okay. Yes, yes.
Mario: He would have been at about eight and a half years.
Justin: There are two four-year terms now for y'all, right?
Mario: Four two-year terms now.
Justin: Oh, yes, because four two-year terms would make a whole lot more sense. I remember thinking how strange it was the way we did it. Mario has been involved in activism in San Antonio for a long time. We'll talk to him about that. We asked him to come on to talk to us about his most recent election, challenges for the city, and now is a very challenging time, so this is very [unintelligible 00:01:42], I think, and a little bit about who he is. I got to know Mario, when he decided to run for this District 1 seat, I reached out to him and said, "I think it's time for a change. I'd like to get to know you."
Mario is very passionate about our city and his district. Before this, we were talking that when you're passionate about something, it doesn't feel like work and he's really enjoying it. Mario, I sort of start all these with a little bit of getting to know some strange questions. What are your favorite places to eat and drink right now in town? Let's do District 1, District 1 where's your favorite place to have a bite and have a drink right now?
Mario: Oh, there's quite a few, but Liberty Bar's one for sure. I'm a big fan of Curry Boys on North St. Mary's Strip. I like to get the much [unintelligible 00:02:31] tacos from Garcia's.
Justin: I just heard Curry Boys BBQ, right?
Mario: Right. It's barbecue, but it's like barbecue chicken and brisket, but with Curry, and it's amazing.
Justin: No, it was fantastic. It was all very spicy though. Just heed the warning. I haven't been to Liberty Bar in a little while, but I used to be known to go there on occasion. Favorite hidden gems in District 1 of San Antonio, maybe places people didn't know or haven't been within your District.
Mario: Hidden gems.
Justin: You have a lot of stuff in your district, so this should be an easy one.
Mario: Well, I'm just trying to think of what's hidden? I guess not everybody knows about Sanchos and how great their michelada and their Bloody Marys are.
Justin: I was going to go with the Japanese Tea Garden, but we'll stick to the drinking thing. I'm okay with that. Sanchos is good and it's very fairly priced, which I also appreciate, and District 1 has some places that are not fairly priced. What was the surprise hardest part of running a campaign? This wasn't your first, so you have some experience.
Judge Mary Lou Alvarez Discusses her Unique Journey to Law and Changes at the Courthouse
Judge Alvarez joins us to talk about her path from San Antonio, to Stanford and back to San Antonio. She was educated and worked as an engineer before going to law school. After law school she had a few jobs before running for District Judge in Bexar County. Join us to hear her talk about her unique path and the great things happening at the courthouse.
Justin Hill: Hello and Bienvenidos San Antonio. Welcome to The Alamo Hour, discussing the people, places, and passion that make our city. My name is Justin Hill, a local attorney, a proud San Antonio, and keeper of chickens and bees. On The Alamo Hour, you'll get to hear from the people that make San Antonio great and unique and the best-kept secret in Texas. We're glad that you're here.
All right. Welcome to The Alamo Hour. Today's guest is the Honorable Mary Lou Alvarez. She is a civil district judge at the 45th Civil District Court in Bexar County. She was educated as an engineer prior to being a lawyer. Born just south of here, raised in San Antonio, a graduate of Incarnate Word High School. Bean and cheese are her favorite breakfast tacos I learned. I didn't know that.
Mary Lou Alvarez: Yes.
Justin: If you're spicy, it sounds like bean and cheese and bacon.
Mary Lou: Bacon or brisket, a little meat to add something to the mix.
Justin: The beans have to be good you said, so we're going to ask some questions about that. Judge Alvarez, thank you for being on here. We asked you to come on today, talk about what's going on in the court. I want to talk about your path into elected politics because I don't know why anyone would do that to themselves but you've got a lot of thoughts on that. I've practice law in front of you. I've gotten to know you, really over the last five years, as you decided to run and it's really been very enjoyable for me to get to know you, see you on the court, see how passionate you are about it.
You're not just a judge, you're actually volunteering your time to improve some of the processes of the courthouse, which I think is really invaluable because people maybe don't realize but Bexar County has been revolutionary in the way we run our courts for so long. Old Judge Casseb brought in the presiding system, which I tell everybody to this day, we have the most efficient court system in the state of Texas. You should file all your cases here because you're going to get hearings, you're going to get justice, you're going to get answers and other places don't have that benefit.
I think it's good that we are still moving to improve what we have that is already a really good system. I start with everybody, top 10. It's never really 10 but I have a stick to it. Who has the best beans?
Mary Lou: Real beans or fast food beans?
Justin: For your bean and cheese taco, let's go there because that's where I've got this from.
Mary Lou: All right. Well, it depends on how much time I've got. If I can sit down and have a bean and cheese taco and wait, then it's going to be a hole-in-the-wall taqueria. My favorite right now is the one that's off McCullough and Dewey, Taqueria Jalisco I think, or El Chapala. I forget the sign because I think it changed once while I was off Locus, but it's off McCullough and Dewey.
Justin: Where's Dewey at?
Mary Lou: Dewey, it becomes St. Josephine closer to 35 I think.
Justin: Further down McCullough Monte Vista area?
Mary Lou: No, it's St. Josephine is what it becomes. It's by Hawthorne, Hawthorne Academy right across on the backside of the Pearl. Then coming up to McCullough, it's Dewey, and taking you into Sack it's Dewey.
Justin: I know exactly where you're talking about. A newish building?
Mary Lou: Yes.
Justin: Okay. The drive-thru menu it's like a cheesecake factory. It's huge.
Mary Lou: You got a lot of options.
Justin: Yes. I know exactly what you're talking about.
Mary Lou: Their beans are great. If I'm driving through, then I'll probably go to Bill Miller's even...
Tim Morrow, San Antonio Zoo CEO
The San Antonio Zoo has undergone an incredible transformation since Tim Morrow took over as the CEO in 2014. From their goals to the way they interact with our community, the Zoo is changing stereotypes. The mission of the San Antonio Zoo now includes much more emphasis on conservation, education and interaction. Tim could speak for days on these issues but I am glad we got one hour of his time.
Justin Hill: Hello, and bienvenido San Antonio. Welcome to The Alamo Hour, discussing the people, places, and passion that make our city. My name is Justin Hill, a local attorney, a proud San Antonian, and keeper of chickens and bees. On The Alamo Hour, you'll get to hear from the people that make San Antonio great, and unique, and the best-kept secret in Texas. We're glad that you're here. [applause]
All right. Welcome to The Alamo Hour. Today's guest is Tim Morrow. Tim is the CEO of the San Antonio Zoo. He has previously worked with, and correct me if I get it wrong, but I think Fiesta, Texas, the San Antonio Spurs, and SeaWorld, basically all big hospitality groups in the city. Since 2014, he's been the CEO of the zoo. In that time, you've seen a lot of the projects that have changed at the zoo. I mean, the Kiddie Park moved over, which a lot of people know about, the Will Smith Zoo School was launched. If you've been there lately, the rhinos Africa exhibit has become a whole new expanded habitat for animals to share space.
There's a Jaguar habitat going in, the list is on and on, but some of the more interesting things that I learned about recently is the work they've done to bring animals back from the brink of extinction or endangered status. There's a lot he's done here. I was recently lucky to be appointed to the San Antonio Zoological Society or the zoo board. I've gotten to meet Tim, I asked him to come on. Thanks for being here.
Tim Morrow: Thanks for having me.
Justin: Tim, I do this with everybody. I start with just some general questions. The idea behind my podcast was to get to talk to people of San Antonio, share their stories, so some background questions. You're running the zoo, do you have pets?
Tim: I do have pets. I have two dogs and a cat. Then I live at Leon Springs area, so we have random wild animals at all times, around the house, or sometimes in the house.
Justin: Nothing exotic?
Tim: Nothing exotic. No. I leave that to the zoo, to the professionals.
Justin: In your life have you ever had exotic animals?
Tim: I have had snakes and fish, and those kinds of things, but nothing crazy that you would expect maybe some of the workers at a zoo to have at their house.
Justin: Yes. I think that's fair. When I'm at the zoo, I feel like a kid, do you have a favorite animal?
Tim: It really changes. It's really whatever habitat we're working on becomes my favorite animal, because you really dive so deep into learning about that animal because what we really try to do now with habitats is create natural spaces for them that are enriching, and so you need to learn as much about them as possible. Right now, we're working on jaguar, a big overhead catwalk system so jaguar has become just an animal that I'm fascinated with. I mean they're a big predator, they're strong, they're stealth, and just what they do is incredible. If you watch them hunt and grab crocodiles out of the water and pull them up in trees, it's just an amazing cat.
The fact they used to be right here in south Texas, and that they're still jaguars three hours south of the border into Mexico, it's not unrealistic that someday Jaguars could make their way back in Texas.
Justin: I didn't realize that, they came all the way up to South Texas?
Tim: Yes, they were here. They were in Arizona, really across the whole Southwest, and actually, they're starting to spot one in Arizona that's been going back and forth across the border-
Justin: No joke.
Tim: -that they've been spotting in Arizona. Not beyond the realm of...
Marcus Baskerville, Owner and Brewer of Weathered Souls Brewing Co.
Marcus began brewing with a cheap home brewing kit. It spawned a passion for brewing that found him in San Antonio opening Weathered Souls Brewing Co. As if that wasn't enough, he started the Black is Beautiful initiative that was joined by over 1200 breweries around the world. It raised money and awareness for social justice causes.
Justin Hill: Hello and Bienvenidos San Antonio, welcome to the Alamo Hour, discussing the people, places and passions that make our city. My name is Justin Hill, a local attorney, proud San Antonian and keeper of chickens and bees. On the Alamo Hour, you'll get to hear from the people that make San Antonio great and unique, and the best kept secret in Texas. We're glad that you're here.
Welcome to the Alamo Hour. Today's guest is Marcus Baskerville. Marcus is the brewer and co-founder of Weathered Souls Brewing right here in San Antonio. As if the story about all the inventive beers is not impressive enough, you spearheaded and created what turned into a international movement called the Black Is Beautiful Movement, which ended up including 1200 breweries across 22 countries and for us Texans, 122 participating breweries just here in Texas. I'm really excited to meet you and chat with you and thank you for doing this Marcus.
Marcus Baskerville: Yes, no problem. Thank you for having me.
Justin: You are in your yeast lab is what I think I heard you say a second ago.
Marcus: No, office used to be my use lab. Now I'm in my crate office.
Justin: [laughs] When you grow a business, you grow where you can grow.
Marcus: Exactly. [crosstalk].
Justin: We do all these similar. I want to ask you a few questions, get to know you a little bit, talk to you about San Antonio. I know some of the answers because I did some research beforehand, but when and what brought you to San Antonio?
Marcus: I moved to San Antonio almost eight years ago, I think June will be eight years. What brought me to San Antonio was actually a promotion. I used to be in fraud prevention dealing with banking. I came out here to train some new employees as they moved to corporate office from Sacramento to San Antonio. In the process of that, ended up getting a little promotion and decided to stay.
Justin: Born and raised in Sacramento, right?
Justin: You moved here eight years ago. How have you liked it so far?
Marcus: I've enjoyed it. I'm still here, right?
Justin: I mean, the weather is very different than Sacramento.
Marcus: Weather is this huge difference. That's what keeps my family from coming too often. They're like, "Oh, your guys' weather is so sporadic." Outside of that and the occasional bad drivers, I've really enjoyed San Antonio.
Justin: You haven't been here all that long. Eight years is a while, but what are some of your favorite hidden places in San Antonio, hidden gems, places that when you moved here, nobody really told you about and then when you found them, you thought, "Wow, how did I not know about this?" For me the Botanical and the Japanese Tea Gardens are two of those things that when I finally went there, I thought, "Why didn't anyone tell me about this?" Do you have any places like that here?
Marcus: That would definitely be one of them. I actually just went to that recently with my children a couple of months ago. That was the first time I had been. I was like, "Wow, this is a beautiful place. I wish I'd known about this years ago.|
Justin: You wouldn't even know when you're hear.
Marcus: Yes, exactly. Then outside of that, one of the things originally when I first moved here was the Pearl. I really enjoyed Pearl area just to be outside and that type of thing. Nobody really put me onto the Pearl back in the day and outside of that really, some of the like different trails and hiking, different things like that. I like to try to get outdoors, I'm always inside all the time. When I do have the opportunity to get outside, I like to [unintelligible 00:03:44].
Anya Grokhovski, CEO and Artistic Director Musical Bridges Around the World
Anya Grokhovski is the CEO and Artistic Director of Musical Bridges Around the World a 501(c)(3) dedicated to sharing music through education and performances in and around San Antonio. She is a classically trained and educated musician herself. She is funny, charming and well worth your time.
Justin: Hello and Bienvenidos, San Antonio. Welcome to the Alamo Hour, discussing the people, places, and passion that make our city. My name is Justin Hill, a local attorney, a proud San Antonion, and keeper of chicken and bees. On the Alamo Hour, you'll get to hear from the people that make San Antonio great and unique and the best-kept secret in Texas. We're glad that you're here.
Welcome to the Alamo Hour, today's guest is Anya Grokhovski. She's the artistic director and CEO of Musical Bridges Around The World. She herself is a very accomplished pianist. I think you have a PhD in music or piano?
Anya Grokhovski: DMA, Doctor of Musical Arts.
Justin: Similar, I've got a doctorate in jurisprudence, but nobody calls me doctor. Anya started Musical Bridges Around The World, which really sounds like just your passion project and your attempt to share your love of music, and bring a really different style and quality of music to our city.
Anya: Yes. That is all.
Justin: Thank you for being here. I want to talk about Musical Bridges. I want to talk about your history as a musician and also in bringing this to our city and all of the events that you've put on. It's beautiful, what you're doing from children all the way through to older people. You've got a program for everybody and we're going to talk about that. I start this little getting to know you so we're going to go through our top 10 questions that I ask a bunch of people. They change a little bit but a lot of them are the same. You mentioned it already, what kind of pets do you have?
Anya: I have two large dogs.
Justin: How large? Great Dane large?
Anya: No, not quite as large but pretty large [chuckles]. I've got German Shepherd and I got a mutt, when we got him from the [unintelligible 00:01:58], we hoped that he will be a golden retriever, but he turned out to be made out of parts of different dogs and he's the sweetest thing you can imagine.
Justin: What are their names?
Anya: The mutt is Duke and the german shepherd is Lexi.
Justin: I grew up and I had a golden retriever named Duchess.
Anya: They're related [laughs].
Justin: Duchess had puppies with a dog named Duke at one point in life so it comes full circle. Now, with COVID, it's a little bit different but what are some of your favorite spots to eat at, and now it's almost what are your favorite spots to get takeout out at?
Anya: I'm really big fan of ethnic food. Every time I can get excuse to go to Indian restaurant, I will. I just recently ate again in Indian Palace. I love them. There is Afghani restaurants and there are all kinds of restaurants. There's no Russian restaurant, unfortunately, in San Antonio and it's crossed my mind maybe in my next life I would open one [laughs].
Justin: I don't want to be insensitive but are Russians known for their cuisine?
Anya: Yes, it's a very good cuisine. In general, Russian culture was very influenced by French culture. The Russian ethnic food is based on vegetables and famous borscht, I even made video of me making borscht because people been asking me for years, "Anya, how do you make that famous borscht," so I made a video of that.
Justin: I love borscht and I love beef.
Anya: I'll share it with you. I'll share the video.
Justin: Then, I think, caviar too for whatever reason when I think of the Russian cuisine.
Anya: Caviar is a good stuff too.
Justin: Indian Palace is your favorite Indian spot in town?
Anya: It is, yes and I am not getting paid for this promotion [laughs].
Justin: Neither of us are.
Justin: You've lived in San Antonio a while, how long?
Anya: Oh, I came here in '91.
If you live in the San Antonio area, this podcast is a great way to get to know your community. The conversations are always insightful and engaging. Highly recommend!
Top San Antonio podcast!!!
Amazing guests and topics! San Antonio has so many interesting people with stories that need to be shared. This podcast is just scratching the surface...and the host has a voice that could make a dry cake moist!
Great guests and topics. If you’re a fan of San Antonio, you’ll love it.