December 27, 2007
December 25, 2007
James Booker - Send Me Some Loving
Heavenly Gospel Singers - When Jesus Was Born
Ike Turner - You've Got To Lose
Bessie Smith - The Christmas Ball
Robert Jr. Lockwood & Johnny Hines - Lonesome Whistle
Johnny Adams - I'll Never Fall In Love Again
Ike & Tina Turner - A Fool In Love
Blind Boy Fuller - Erie Train Blues
Leadbelly - Rock Island Line
Ike Turner - Walking Down The Aisle
Ike & Tina Turner - Baby What You Want Me To Do
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - People Get Ready
Big Bill Broonzy - Ridin' On Down
Snooks Eaglin - Locomotive Train
Ike & Tina Turner - Early One Morning
Shirley & Lee - Why Did I?
Reverend Blind Gary Davis - I Am The Light Of The World
Ike Turner - You Keep On Worrying Me
Big Joe Williams - She Left Me A Mule To Ride
Roosevelt Sykes - Jubilee Time
Lowell Fulson - I Wanna Spend Christmas With You
Ike & Tina Turner - Born Free
Baby Washington - Silent Night
Snooks Eaglin - This Train
Sunny Land Slim - Lonesome Ride
Marvin & Johnny - It's Christmas
Ike Turner - Box Top
Brother Claude Ely - There Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down
Maxwell Street Jimmy - Two Trains Running
Little Brother Montgomery - Ain't Nobody Here But Me
Lightnin' Hopkins - Happy New Year
Charles Brown - Merry Christmas Baby
Fred McDowell - When The Lord Will Make A Way
The Orioles - (It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas
Sam Cooke - Jesus, I'll Never Forget
Ike Turner - (I know) You Don't Love Me
Ike & Tina Turner - Ooh Poo Pah Doo
December 23, 2007
December 21, 2007
-According to the TP, the NOPD had 150 officers report for the meeting. They faced around 100 protesters (numbers are always disputed in this type of thing) and a chamber of 250, about 50 of whom could be called protestors, maybe 20 of them only there to disrupt and shout.
So for every 1.25-1.6 possible trouble maker (200-350 if you want to include the calm and sane), there was 1 cop. Aside from my (admittedly sketchy) stats, that's a cop who's been trained for Mardi Gras, and moreover who's supposed to be charged with protecting citizens in the most violent city in America. If most police in New Orleans haven't had much experience in crowd control of protesters, shouldn't Riley have foreseen a need for at least some preparation for this kind of thing? We all seem to agree that this was a predictable furor, that outside organizers had a hand in it, and that this was done as an exhibition rather than a debate tactic. Why, then, weren't 150 cops ready to wait this out and not, under any but the most dire circumstances, pull out the tasers and pepper spray?
Protest organizers in other cities BEG for that kind of treatment, because it gets them on the news. And police know this, and do things like setting up barriers 10 feet from the entrance to a chamber, rather than, say, hold the gate together with a set of handcuffs. Police also make an effort to control the media's eye, and as I said yesterday, all they had to ask the cameramen to gather to the side for their footage, rather than stand in the aisle and let the fools rattle on.
None of this is to lay all the blame on the NOPD for what happened and the resultant bad new, nor to endorse vaguely unconstitutional tactics. My point is that this was a pretty half-assed protest effort on the part of amateurish organizers, who's only success was making their "residents" look worse, and what was the NOPD's response? Overreaction and ultimately the taser and pepper spray, which national media and simpletons in search of victims will latch onto and elevate.
Stupidity and lack of preparation all around, yet again. I don't think this was the last of this kind of protest. The police need to know how to plan and handle such crowds in politic, safe ways, before something very bad happens.
-One reason I can't get behind housing as THE issue in the recovery (in a way it's the simplest issue for a lot of people) is this: What were the residents going to do when they moved back in?
This isn't to say, "oh, it was just drugs and loitering in there anyway." No. What I'm asking is, how does the resident who used to have a job, who used to have some economic prospects, how does he/she survive in this atrophied economy? We get a lot of Blakely-speak about development and Nagin-bullshit about high hopes, but we never get a job program. Companies aren't moving here and no one talks about how this city will survive after the recovery.
I ask the same question about the imagined residents of the Trump Tower or the million other hypothetical luxury lofts: where do they work? If they're either jobless (the prospect for the returned public housing resident) or vacationing jet-setters (Trumps), what are we fighting for? What kind of city would that be?
Again, we're faced with a lack of imagination and planning from the top, so that the most superficial and immediate problems take on outsized hopes and dreams, while no one protests the lack of jobs, no one stands up in the Council in front of camcorders and asks to be the people who build the next projects and gut the ruined houses, thus closing the circle and making money and a working class from the redevelopment. We could use a real WPA program; instead, the caracasses of the Great Society are fought over and well-intentioned pink houses are fawned over and no one asks, "What do they do when they get there?"
Because that is some heavy lifting. There isn't the sex appeal of confrontation, nor the easy solution of destroy/don't destroy. This would mean planning and leadership and persistent courting of business and entrepreneurship. This would mean going outside the box of American post-climax capitalism and taking a risk as a city that faces no comfort in the new economy.
There is no risk in going backwards, only in ignoring the biggest challenge in front of us--how to make this city last, and how to make it better than it was before.
December 20, 2007
"What are you doing here!"
"What about the people?! What about the people!?" demands the young guy from the argument outside. He goes into a loud rant as the spotlights hit him, and another young man does the same, as do several others, each of them the focus of one or more cameras.
As Fielkow tries to call for "security, security," the crowd gets louder. Cops amass in front of the audience in the middle section, and all of a sudden, pushing and screaming breaks out. People from the "residents" group in front of us on the left join the scrum, the spotlights spin and bob, and the video screen shows groups of hands on the backs of cops, that is until someone asks for the video to be cut. The four women in front of us get down on the ground like they're in a war zone, and the woman next to me and I laugh at their weird training. This goes on for at least 3 or 4 minutes, during which the entire council save for one disappears into the rear.
Because something died in there today, and something ugly came to pass.
December 17, 2007
James Booker - United Our Thing Will Stand
James Booker - Black Night is Falling
James Booker - True
James Booker - Let Them Talk
James Booker - People Get Ready
James Booker - Classified
Professor Longhair - (They Call Me) Dr. Professor Longhair
Fats Domino - Valley Of Tears
Harry Connick, Jr - Booker
John Mayall & Allen Toussaint - Hale To The Man Who Lives Alone
James Booker - Smacksie
Tuts Washington - Frankie and Johnny
Maria Muldaur - Brickyard Blues
James Booker - Rainy Day
Huey Piano Smith - High Blood Pressure
James Booker - Long Last Laugh
James Booker - One Hell Of A Nerve
James Booker - Medley/Blues Minuet/Until The Real Thing Comes Along/Baby Won't You Please Come Home
December 13, 2007
The Rebirth Brass Band leads the crowd through the space between two sets of bleachers, where ushers move everyone up to the seats. The band continues to play as the audience settles in, then marches down the makeshift aisle, in front of the crowd. The song ends, people howl, and then the band disappears into the night. A voice through loudspeakers introduces a man from the community and he gives his blessing to the production and remembers those that died.
But do we recognize it? Oh, yes - the name The Lower 9th Ward is large print and world famous at this point. Doomed to haunt history books in the chapter, “Late Evening of the American Experiment,” this neighborhood could not be more specific. Against the play’s spatial waiting—a limbo in which the characters don’t know their way and grasp for the distinguishing features—the weight of this site’s unique condition is unyielding.
the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labors abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard (mêlée, final vociferations)
And, at first it does, the high-falutin’, non-sequitors and sudden airiness in his speech, the erratic, unexpected steps in his dance. But it quickly gets dull and then hard to stand, then unbearably embarrassing. Why? Because it’s circular nonsense and the poor chap is clearly mad. Didi and Gogo and the audience recognize him as another case of there-but-by-the-grace-of-God…. His insanity, we might assume, is a consequence of the whip, of the strange orders—and most importantly, the representation of order—handed down by Pozzo. With his clock and numbers, his concerns about age and years, and his sham nobility, Pozzo represents the belief in a rigid, rational order, one in which one man rules another, owns land. A victim of the absurdity of order, Lucky marks the very failure of order we are living through today.
December 10, 2007
James Booker - Make A Better World
Champion Jack Dupree - Doomed
Keb' Mo' - Victims Of Comfort
Bessie Smith - Nobody's Blues But Mine
Otis Spann - Brand New House
Muddy Waters - Hurtin' Soul
Blind Willie McTell - I Got To Cross The River Of Jordan
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Bring It On Home To Me
Johnnie Lewis - You Gonna Miss Me
James "Stump"Johnson - The Snitcher's Blues
Big Maybelle - Blues Early Early
Big Joe Williams - President Roosevelt
Joseph Jones - Blues de la prison
Taj Mahal - Candy Man
Pinetop Perkins - Sunny Road Blues
Mean Gene Kelton - My Guitar
Blind Robert Ward - The Voyage Of Apollo 8
Fred McDowell - Frisco Lines
Bobo Jenkins - Democrat Blues
Guitar Slim and Jelly Belly - Snowing And Raining Blues
Big Bill Broonzy - WPA Rag
Memphis Slim - The Comeback
Louis Jordan - It's A Low Down Dirty Shame
John Fahey - America
Pops Staples - Jesus Is Going To Make Up (My Dying Bed)
Mahalia Jackson - Amazing Grace
Reverend Blind Gary Davis - Lord, I Wish I Could See
Jimmie Rodgers - The Land Of My Boyhood Dreams
Roosevelt Sykes - All Days Are Good Days
Ernie K-Doe - Lonelyology
December 9, 2007
December 3, 2007
Big Joe Turner - Money First
John Fahey - Hawaiin Two-Step
Toussaint McCall - Nothing Takes The Place Of You
Sunnyland Slim - Nervous Breakdown
Carolina Slim - Pour Me One More Drink
Skip James - Jesus Is A Mighty Good Leader
James Thunderbird Davis - Blues Monday Blues
Corey Harris & Henry Butler - What Man Have Done
The Woes - Why Don't You
John Lee Hooker - King Of The World
Furry Lewis - Judge Harsh Blues
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Going Down Slow
Tuts Washington - Tee Nah Nah
Champion Jack Dupre - Weed Head Woman
Leadbelly - Old Ship Of Zion/I Will Be So Glad When I Get Home
Josh White - Trouble
Little Walter - Old Mean World
Muddy Waters - Bottom Of The Sea
H.H. Oliver - Distress Holler Song/Getting Up Holler/How Dry I Am/Amazing Grace
George & Ethel McCoy - Early In The Morning
Ephram Carter, J.W. Jones, James Jones, Floyd Bussey, Waverly Hall - Old Hen Cackled, Laid A Double Egg
Son House - Country Farm Blues
Ali Farka Toure - Amandrai
Henry Brown - Webster's Blues
James Booker - Too Much Blues
Roosevelt Sykes - Too Smart Too Soon
Blind Willie McTell - Broke Down Engine Blues
Buster Benton - Money is the Name of the Game
Genghis Blues - Eshten Charlyyry Berge
November 27, 2007
With that, at least for now, the new Inspector General won my support.
Mr. Cerasoli had followed the mayor's intergovernmental office, represented by Kenya Smith, who included in his budget $2 million for a 311 system. The system will be run by a consultant and manned by 14 operators, and Fielkow and then Midura tried to pry more info re: the consultants take. Essentially, they were asking how much the operators would make and where the left over cash goes.
Smith asked Fielkow, "Do you think I'm hiding people?" and then bullied Midura (par for the greasy course), who fumbled with the math, trying to divide 2 mill by 14 and questioning if...operators...huh? Smith said it was all in the proposal. The cliff hanger and testimony ended.
So when Cerasoli took his seat, he mentioned that he wouldn't have any "$140,000 a year operators." People laughed, and he said it was a joke.
He meant his line, but there was something else there: the prior testimony and phantom consultant fees: those ARE a joke. A bad, old joke, where you try to figure out what's true, what's a punchline, and if you're the target.
Because time's up on the whole "just trust us" thing. If this IG sticks to his word, he'll report on where the money goes and which corner it sits in and how people like Smith dick around with it and bluff their way through wasting it. And maybe, just maybe, we'll stop with the joking.
Also in the house and next on the schedule after Cerasoli was Ed Blakely, who apparently got an earful after I left. It was weird seeing him stand on the side as Cerasoli and the Council exchanged compliments and coos (Cerasoli just about recited a poem for Cynthia Hedge-Morrell). The contrast was stark between Cerasoli's dry wit, his statement that he wanted to be here "as a citizen of this country," and his understated, Boston accountant tone, and the self-lionization from Blakely upon his arrival.
I was in the UNOP meeting in January when Blakey did his first big football coach talk, and have watched his misfires and half-starts with more than a little sadness because of that speech, because of the way it gave me hope. Now I hope that Blakely benefits from Cerasoli and that Cerasoli keeps the low profile and provides honest reporting.
As the Council members admitted, embarrasingly I thought, no one really knows how this whole Political System thing works. Or at least they don't want to shine too much light on it. It might turn out that their pockets are too full or they aren't even wearing any pants, much less slick suits with cool pocket kerchiefs.
Then who's joking?
November 26, 2007
James Booker - Life
The Spiders - 21 (3 X 7 = 21)
Joe Henderson - Snap Your Fingers
Johnny Otis - Misery
Earl King - The Things That I Used To Do
James The Sleeping Giant Winfield - Now You Know
The Staples Singers - Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas
Ray Charles - One Man's Mad
T-Bone Walker - Long Distance Blues
Skip James - Look Down The Road
L.C. Green - Going Down To The River
Furry Lewis - I Will Turn Your Money Green
Fred McDowell - Big Stars Falling
Tampa Red - Don't You Lie To Me
Fred McMullen - De Kalb Chain Gang
Bukka White - I Am The Heavenly Way
Napolean Strickland, Othar Turner, RL Boyd - My Babe
J. Monque 'D - Indian Princess
Tad Benoit - Rainy Day Blues
Anders Osborne - Home Coming
Big Joe Williams - Don't Your House Look Lonesome
Shirley & Lee - I Feel Good
Huey "Piano" Smith - You Made Me Cry
Wynonie Harris - Sittin' On It All The Time
Lazy Lester - Bloodstains
John Mayall - Gotta Be This Way
Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry - If You Lose Your Money
Memphis Minnie - Strut My Stuff
Albert King - Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'
Ike Turner - You've Got To Lose
Little Buster and The Soul Brothers - My Darling
Little Freddie King - Tough Frog To Swallow
Junior Kimbrough - Pull Your Clothes Off
Roosevelt Sykes - Don't Bat Your Eye
Cephas & Wiggins -I Won't Be Down
November 20, 2007
Monday night was the first Hornets game in the ridiculously cheap ticket package we purchased for the season--10 games (9 of 10 against the cream of the league) for $100 a seat. Combine that with the free parking you can find on the downtown side of Poydras and the (hypothetical!) ease of slipping into the lower bowl seats, and these games are one of the best deals in town.
We arrived a few minutes late and, as expected, learned that Chris Paul would be in streetclothes with a sprained ankle. And, although the Magic are one of the top teams in the East this year, fresh off a victory against the Celtics, the crowd was as light as I expected.
This didn't dampen the energy, though. In the 6 games I've attended over the last year, there's a strong sense that the fans that do show up have the potential to become something special, much like the team we support. On Monday night, both parties did the city proud.
The Hornets came out flat and the Magic jumped on them, feeding young Dwight Howard in the post and hitting open shots. The Rashard Lewis signing and the decision to let Jameer Nelson run the point looked good from where I was sitting. Where I was sitting, of course, improved markedly after the first quarter. And let me tell you, professional basketball at close range is as dramatic and vivid a spectacle as you'll find in sports. The form of shooters, the fight for a rebound, the way coaches either connect or alienate players, all of that is so much clearer up close. I recommend an innocent looking woman, a full cup of beer, wearing a jacket like you're just late, and a confident stride for this type of viewing.
When Tyson Chandler went down early, clutching his knee at midcourt, I flashed back to last season's injury plague and the pain of watching an undermanned team battle all year in the toughest division in the league, only to barely miss the playoffs. Chandler should be OK, but his removal seemed to spark the team. They cut the deficit to 10 at the half, then pulled ahead briefly in the 3rd. Peja shot well, the ill styles of Melvin Ely were oddly too much for Howard, and our defense tightened up.
And the crowd went nuts. Let's be clear: while the Hornets continue to improve their community outreach and keep the ticket prices low, the experience at the arena isn't much different than at any in the league. You get free t-shirts, cheerleaders, and an "urban" type of emcee. Being New Orleans, you unfortunately get hardly any assistance in the pro shop (Hey! I'm actually here to buy some of this crap! Stop messing around until I have to ask the slightly seedy manager for help! It's a store!) and a reallllly bored kid unable to make the debit machine work when you try to buy a $28 hat on the upper level.
There's definitely room for improvement. First, get that customer service up to par. In ordering my ticket package, the staff was great, extremely helpful, and did a lot of follow-up when I thought the tix were lost in the mail (which was in fact my fault, they were delivered to my office). The people at the arena should mirror that.
Second, go overboard on the New Orleans part. Really, the people in this region will definitely drink beer and get up and dance when you play generic shit like "Shout!" Now, imagine if you played "Hey Pocky Way." Imagine if, at halftime, you gave only half the time to the Slidell jump rope team, and the rest to, I dunno, the Soul Rebels. People would go for that, because right now, even po'boy festivals draw a crowd intent on praising our culture. If the team really wants to spend the next 5 years with a big crowd, make the entire experience a New Orleans thing.
Because from what I can tell, we have a shot at a great, great NBA crowd. All through the 4th quarter, the half-full arena was rocking, with people going all out in dance contests and D-Fence chants. A lot of this was the tight game, but there was also a sense of celebration, of unembarassed foolishness, that was a familiar sensation.
Many critics cite the size of the NO metro area as the inherent proof that this team can't work here. I think that's uninformed. Strong franchises in places like Sacramento and San Antonio fill arenas despite the size of the cities. If this team keeps progressing, why not New Orleans? Why not a place that likes to cheer and dance and get together? Why not us?
On Monday night, victory was not to be. In the hands of back-up point guard Jannero Pargo (Kim's special favorite), the team played too erratically in the last 2 minutes, with neither Peja nor Mo Peterson getting the ball at a point when shooters are most valuable. All the same, with our two best players out, we stuck it to one of the best young teams in the East (in some ways a good parallel talent-wise with the healthy Hornets) and almost pulled it off. We looked well-prepared and deeper, and, yet again, we hustled our ass off against the odds. I've said this for a year now: this team comes to play, and people want to see that.
And the crowd was something to see, too.
November 19, 2007
Here it be. We were locked out of the vinyl stacks, and took the opportunity to stretch things out a bit, using some selections from the family collection...
James Booker - Junco Partner
Turner Parrish - Ain't Gonna Be Your Dog No More
Aretha Franklin - So Swell What You're Well
Fats Domino - Walk You Home
Corey Harris & Henry Butler - If You Let A Man Kick You Once
Charles Mingus - Freedom Part II AKA Clark In The Dark
Randy Newman - Every Man A King
Huey "Piano" Smith- High Blood Pressure
Bob Dylan And The Band - Lo And Behold!
Joe Tex - I Want To (Do Everything For You)
Ola Dura - Neighborhoods
Danny Barker And His Riverboat Ramblers - Chinatown, My Chinatown
Curtis Eller - Coney Island Blue
Minny Riperton - Come To My Garden
Earl King - Don't Cry My Friend
Teddy Moss - Sympathizin' Blues
Carl Dawkins and the Wailers - Cloud Nine (Take 3)
Preacher Boy - Waiting to Be Next
Furry Lewis - Judge Harsh Blues
Fife and Drum Band Music From the Deep South - Sitting On Top Of The World
Royal Trux - Junkie Nurse
Memphis Minnie - This Is My Strange Man
Johnnie Johnson - Key To The Highway
Tuts Washington - Arkansas Blues
Don Vappie And The Creole Jazz Serenaders - Salee Dames, Bon Jour
The Abyssinians - Declaration Of Rights
Eddie Bo - I'll Keep On Trying
Herve Duerson - Naptown Special
Lonnie Johnson - Death Valley Is Just Halfway To My Home
Little Brother Montgomery - Deep Fried
Every Sunday, 12-2pm, WTUL 91.5FM New Orleans
November 13, 2007
"Birch: The religion we call voodoun has a nature of embracing everything. It pulls it in and when it shoots it back, it’s disguised but it’s still Yoruba. I see New Orleans’ culture the same way. New Orleans culture is a culture that allows everything to come in but when it tweaks it and pushes it back out, you still hear those drum beats coming out of Congo Square. That is the root. This place is so powerful. It’s not like New York. It’s not like L.A. It’s not like Paris. It’s not like London. I’ve never been to Moscow although I’ve studied Pushkin–it’s not like Moscow. It’s not like Africa. It’s not like Nairobi. It’s not like Cairo. It’s like New Orleans. And its culture comes from the bottom. And the bottom begins, as far as Willie Birch is concerned, at Congo Square. And the nature of what came out of that was able to take all of the human condition and put it in its pot and when it shoots it back out it shoots out a whole different idea of what it means to live in this place in this time of our existence. So I don’t worry about the idea of what’s going to happen."
November 12, 2007
James Booker - Let Them Talk
Corey Harris & Henry Butler - L'espri De James
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry - Best of Friends
John Bentley & His Buddies - Trouble In Mind
The Delta Boys - Black Gal Swing
Johnny Young & Big Walter Horton - Stockyard Blues
Robert Jr. Lockwood &Johnny Shines - Blues On The Hour
Joe Turner - Cocktails For Two
The Schoolboys - Ding-a-Ling Coo Coo Mop
Cephas & Wiggins - Dirt Road
Mississippi Fred McDowell & Johnny Woods - Going Down To The River
The Holmes Brothers - Something Is Wrong With My Baby
Bobby Bland & Junior Parker - Love My Baby
Shelton Dunaway/Cookie and the Cupcakes - Betty and Dupree
Alvin Smith - On My Way
Sid Hemphill Band - The Sidewalks of New York
Roosevelt Sykes - All Days Are Good Days
Ike Turner - Matchbox
Big Mama Thorton & The Harlem Stars - All Right Baby
Ike & Tina Turner - Crazy About You Baby
Eddie Clean Head Vinson - Wait A Minute Baby
Magic Slim & The Teardrops - 1823 South Michigan Avenue
John Lee Hooker - My Best Friend
Nappy Brown - It's Really You
Prince La La - She Put The Hurt On Me
Gene & Al's Spacemen - Mercy
Arthur Weston & George Roberson - Uncle Sam Called Me
Lightnin' Hopkins - Bad Boogie
Shy Guy Douglas - She's My Kinda Girl
Ali Farka Toure - Erdi
Johnny Young - Train Fare Out Of Town
Justin Wilson - Signers Of The Declaration
Also, my James Booker project has begun. If you know anything, get at me.
November 8, 2007
October 25, 2007
Eddie Jordan: sign of the times, symbolic vestibule of all wrongs, befuddled participant in many sides of a sad, cruel cycle. A busy man with no time to check his messages, he dodders on, malfunction, bloodshed, acrimony, and short circuits fizzling in his wake.
"I don't know if you've been reading the papers lately, but I got some things going on," he said. "I got one or two things going on. I'm getting it from all sides."
October 23, 2007
The only other time I’d been to the school--I believe it was one evening in the first few weeks after my arrival in town-- we’d wandered by and noticed a public event taking place in the ground floor cafeteria. Chris Rose sat on a dais with an interviewer next to him and a nice crowd of 50 or 60 people. Newly returned, I knew only a little about him, though Kim filled me in as we listened. That night he was charming, self-deprecating, funny, all the things that make up his known persona. Yet, there was a palpable commonality between his mindset, the vulnerabilities he expressed, and the mindset of those listening. Survival-ism, the ridiculousness of loving New Orleans, doubt—these were in the air and in Rose’s jokes.
It’s weird now to read articles about publishing deals, Oprah, K-Ville, and Lord & Taylor. Just sayin’.
Anyway, the cafeteria. The hoarder walked up to the registration table and immediately began a conversation with an older black lady who may have had her teeth out. I believe she told him that her mother had passed, and he said he was sorry to hear that. Then he moved on to a white, TV anchor-looking gentleman who asked him for his name and ID. After the hoarder gave his name (an Italian sounding name, which he punctuated by saying, “Italian”), the anchor spelled it out again so that the man next to him could write it down.
Huh, I thought. The hoarder’s actually a pretty normal-sounding dude. The anchor, though, was less than normal, his manner cloudy, like perhaps he wasn’t all there, just smiling and slow. He waved the hoarder over to the booth closest to us, where an older black gentleman closed the curtain behind the hoarder, leaving only the dirty blue pants visible to the rest of us. It was then that I noticed that the lady hoarder had abstained from voting, and that she was about the same age as the man, and thus not his mother.
Kim and I went through the same steps as the hoarder, although when we first approached the registration table, the black ladies said, “Ooh, look at y’all, got your voter cards,” which we held in our hands, eager beaver lil' democrats that we are. We laughed.
The anchor found my name and started to spell it out, and I became sure that he was slow, only dressed up for the part and put at this table to give him something to do. He did fine at reading out my name and told me, and then Kim, to wait outside the booth in which the hoarder now voted.
“You ok in there, sir?” the black gentleman called through the curtain to the hoarder. “Three minute time limit.”
“Be right out,” the hoarder said. A few moments later, we heard the tinkle of electronic bells and out he came. I stepped into his place.
The ballot was laid out on a large square of what felt like vinyl. Each of the names on each of the lists had squares next to them, and when you touched a square, it lit up green. The point was to go through each list of candidates for the various offices, along with the 4 amendment referendums, then to hit a final button to cast your votes.
Once I perused the different lists, I scolded myself for not knowing more about the offices and candidates. Further harsh thoughts shot forth at the realization that no write-in was possible, dashing my hope to vote for Kim for governor. I voted for women, for men with funny nicknames, against known incumbents, and ‘yes’ to the referendums, with the exception of the last one, something about consigned jewelry being tax exempt. Fuck that, I thought.
And I voted for Boasso for governor. I thought maybe he could get to a run-off, though there was no way he could win. Here I am, I thought, ambivalent like so many Louisianans in this time of great challenge and a leadership drought, shrugging my shoulders at the ballot. My choices: a big ol’ Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat who seemed like a nice guy who no one in the nation would take seriously but who hailed from the devastated St. Bernard Parish; and an extremist Catholic with a dazzling education, an odd and unique position on race, and barely a word in his programs about the recovery of New Orleans, a grotesque suburb of which he represents with strong conservatism in the US House.
I ended up taking the big ol’ guy just to stretch things out, in the hope that Jindal would have to say something in a run-off. Yes, 2007 in Louisiana: the previous sentence was my mindset at the ballot box.
After I hit the final button and exited the booth, Kim entered and I walked back past the registration table. One of the ladies was directing someone, saying, “To the right, to the right.” I smiled and said, “To the left, to the left,” and then everyone laughed and another woman mentioned the Cupid Shuffle. A conversation on the Cupid Shuffle continued as I sat in an office chair near the door and waited for Kim to exit the polls.
October 17, 2007
For those of you in New Orleans, please come by the LEH on Friday evening to view 2 documentaries from our vault, "Uncle Earl," and "Louisiana Boys." Saturday is the primary, so this trip down memory lane oughta gear us all up to pull the lever. Directors of both films will be on hand, we have more than enough wine, and this is the first event I've put on in our new space. I hope to see you there.
October 14, 2007
Fourteen tubas grunt together under the Saturday morning sun, surrounded by a crowd and a cannon, bouncing the light off one bell to the next.
This was a tribute to Tuba Fats and a call to keep the thump-thump, the wave of brass elephant heads, the center of the beat, the street's pulse.
Big up to Kirk Joseph for putting it together, and to all those tuba players for showing up and carrying their horns up the ramp and back down and through the French Market. It was simple and airy, and much easier than the norm-of-late, a small sign that summer is finally done with us.
Early the following morning, an NOPD officer was shot in his New Orleans East home. At 3am, two men confronted him in his driveway, then forced him back inside his home, where they demanded money. The cop pulled a gun, shots were fired, and he and his wife were both hit. Their assailants escaped.
New Orleans East is living the nightmare right now, with 12 people killed since the beginning of August. Thought it is the largest patrol area, the 7th district has the 2nd lowest staff level.
Which is tragic.
What's odd: that two men would attack a cop at 3am. After all, if you have a cop in the neighborhood, you usually know.
So perhaps these guys weren't from that neighborhood.
Which is weird since, though they escaped and are currently on the run, their names were known almost immediately, released by the NOPD as "persons of interest." How did the cops know the names of these apparently random invaders?
Sorta makes you wonder about the police officer. Guess we'll stay tuned.
Memories of Sheriff Harry Lee
One new feature for trials expected to involve classified evidence is a Plexiglas window separating the small news media and spectator gallery from the floor of the courtroom. At the touch of a button, the military judge will be able to cut off the sound in the spectator section.
This cost $12 million dollars. Apparently, the government can set up it's fantasy justice camp (complete with horny bull logo) any ol' place it will, and jurisdiction will emanate from the peaks of its tents. Apparently the repeated legal blows to the Guantanamo gulag will not stop this instant system.
"With the legal landscape clear at the moment for the prosections to begin,
the military officials said the new courthouse would ease a potential logjam
of trials. Now, there is only one cramped courtroom, in an old airport building
at the top of the sloping hillside that overlooks the new tent city."
Couldn't we get one of these? I mean, doesn't this sound a lot better than the conditions in the Hat's office since the storm? $12 million dollars, that's like an hour in Iraq-occupation time. Give us one of these "M*A*S*H-like set for the age of terror." Won't ya hep me?
Some friends of ours are leaving town. It's hard watching them go, though certainly they need to do it. They put their time in. I keep thinking lately of those original estimates of the 10 years of recovery, or 20, or whatever an expert may have puffed on cable, and how we're 2 years in. Hard does not begin to describe the time these people have lived through, with what to show for it? Now we're left to work through the next 2 years, and the 2 years after that, running on the faith that we can run that far.
I felt good in the Quarter after that tuba concert. I felt the lines of the rooftops were more vivid and the sidewalk calmer, and that it was a familiar feeling, and that the indescribable sensation was nearly enough to keep me going. I know that borders on naive, and builds nothing material. But the feeling was there, will come again, and I will be here for it.
That's about all I know. That, and that ol' Harry Lee is dead and gone.
October 9, 2007
October 3, 2007
September 23, 2007
A cluster of frat-types curls around my back, shouts at the flat screen, says there's no way they're leaving here for the $40 entrees next door until this one is over. Georgia's heavy-browed kicker just missed the game-winner wide left, and fuck yeah.
Me, I'm trying to keep patient, keep perspective, keep from thinking too much about things that don't matter, benign change and all that.
Then "Like A Rolling Stone" comes on the Maple Leaf's jukebox and the boys start singing in unison, and I'm like, really, how does it feel?
Willie Tee's was a classic New Orleans musical career, complete with teenage success, work in the jazz avant garde, production and songwriting of the highest quality, and family bonds. Whatever you want to call that genius of breadth that marks the city's great artists, Willie Tee had it.
The pain of his recent passing was doubled by the timing: his brother, saxophonist Earl Tubington, died just last month. Willie was diagnosed with cancer shortly after his brother's death, and went on home in a matter of weeks. We've lost way too many giants in the last year, and we can only hope that their replacements are growing up among us still.
On a long Saturday morning bike ride with Kim, I passed the church on St. Roch where Willie was laid out. A few dudes with horns stood around, and some older cats in suits smoked reefer on one corner. We didn't feel like waiting for the second line, and decided to ride around the neighborhood awhile.
The area is in bad shape. Some people are back, some aren't, but we said good morning to someone on just about every block. Living where we do (for only a little longer), you don't realize what a depressed situation many people are in, with hardly any neighbors, isolated, with few corner stores or signs of city life. It's in areas like the St. Roch neighborhood where you wonder how long people can stand this mess, and how the hell anyone can move back and remain strong in living conditions like these. Downtown, people are holding on.
Uptown at the Maple Leaf Saturday night, I sit at the bar and laugh as the 'Bama boys take a loss and slink off to their duck and okra. I'm early to the Willie Tee benefit, feeling a little pensive in the old haunt, thinking about ol' John Ringo and what Kim must've looked like working behind that bar, and how I'm not going to be Mr. Nostalgia here.
What's changed? Probably nothing. Probably just me. I'm by myself, Kim's chilling at home, I'm not meeting up with anyone, I'm not drunk, I'm 30. Things feel cleaner, but then, too, I'm cleaner. I get the sense that we have some first-time shoppers, but, again, whadda I know?
For the Hot 8 opening set, I stand on the side bench to get a bird's eye view. I'm not so young anymore, but I guess I'm wiser, learned a trick or something here a decade ago. People do that honky dance and the Hot 8 is a really good brass band, with a more evolved vocal thing than others, and the right mix of horns.
So what is different? I ask myself. Well, in the previous lifetime, the Rebirth Brass Band would be selling dope to my friends, claiming it came from exotic locations. In the current lifetime, the Hot 8 Brass Band's original leader was shot dead in his car at the beginning of the year. Point being, I don't know the difference, but there is a bittersweetness in the ritual, at least there is to me. Is this all borrowed time, or is it my one foot in a time warp that shadows the listening? Either way, I'm able to loosen up enough to really dig the Hot 8 by the time they're done. Me and the middle-aged tourist and the college girls.
When they end, I move to the rear bar and get into a conversation about R&B with a very know-ity chick who wants to tell me this and that, but does give me a new James Andrews CD for the show. It's an OK talk, but the whole "Oh-I'm-from-here-gonna-let-you-know-not-really-listening" schtick is the wrong one to wow me with tonight. You want to be a territorialist in a wasteland, best of luck to you.
"Gonna be a great show," we do agree, though.
Afterwards I sit in the side alley and watch cliques pass glass pipes. I'm not in a conversation mood, and not really in the eavesdropping on stoned bluttos mood, either. I'm kinda awkward, really.
Just then I see some people I know, a woman I worked with in New York and her husband, a radio documentarian, both of them Louisiana born and raised. They're in town for a wedding, didn't hear the first set. It's great to talk to them, and they're glad I've moved back.