February 27, 2008

February 26th Set List

Konono No. 1

One thing I got into was the connections in this Long Hidden CD from William Parker. A few tracks are with a group called Doson Ngoni, and a few with the Olmec Group. The former is the quieter, mrimba-centered sound, the latter a Latin-esque tribute to the original natives of the Dominican Republic. I crossed these with music from a "Dominican Music in New York City " compilation, and the well-regarded Konono No. 1 from Kinshasa, Congo. Point being that the avant-garde is making some very interesting work with internationalist influence.

Also, I've started a new editorial section of the show entitled, " The Jean Luc Ponty-of-view Minute."

Artist - Track - Album - Label
James Booker - United Our Thing Will Stand - Hamburg 1976
Electric Kulintang - Bangka - Dialects - Plastic
Joe Turner - A Time For Love - Live in Vegas - Monad
Kali Z. Fasteau/Kidd Jordan/Newman Taylor Baker - Reed Trance Plant
Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival: Finland - Flying Note
Billy Martin - Metamorphisis - Black Elk Speaks - Amulet
Billie Holiday - Until the Real Thing Comes Along - Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles - Columbia
Keefe Jackson's Project Project - The Grass is Greener - Just Like This - Delmark
Lee Morgan - Lover Man - The Cooker - Blue Note
Ya Llego La Virgen - Dona Chicha - Quis queya en el hudson: Dominican Music in New York City - Smithsonian Folkways
Doson Ngoni & William Parker - El Puente Seco - Long Hidden - Aum Fidelity
Konono No. 1 - Mamas Liza - Live ay Couleur Cafe - Crammed Disc
Jean Luc Ponty - Question With No Answer - On The Wings of Music - Warner Bros.
Randy Weston - African Village Bedford Stuyvesant - Blues To Africa - Arista
Saco Yasuma - Calm Water - Another Rain - Leaf Note
Anthony Braxton - Song 1/Album 1 - C4DM(R)-Z (For Four Orchestras) - Arista
Steve Dalachinsky & Matt Shipp - Subway Systems - Phenomena of Interference - Hopscotch
Jason Kao Hwang - From East Sixth Street - Stories Before Within - Nova

February 26, 2008

Futbol and the New Immigrant Mystery

There is a hidden community in this city, visible only when on ladders or rooftops, or milling around gas stations and Loews parking lots. It continues to grow, the conditions of its expansion both dangerous and unclear--how did they get here and from where? Texas? El Salvador? Bolivia? How did they hear about the work? How many have been murdered for their cash on Friday evenings? Will this influx last?

The Latin American community doesn't get much press, and talk of "Mexicans" is matter-of-factly snide or ambivalent. No one lauds their work as cogs in the wobbly machine of recovery, nor laments the dangers they endure to add this very weird wing to the American Dream. Of course, you also don't hear that much anti-immigrant talk in the media, and the last politician to attempt a scape-goating is now in jail. Like a lot of things in this ramble, we uneasily take a new population for granted until it fades into the landscape, unexplained and unaccounted for.

Maybe due to some time spent in South and Central America, I think about this a lot. Most recently, I saw two young Latino boys waiting for the bus on Lasalle Street in the middle of Central City. Wow, I thought, what kind of hassle and harrassment must those two go through everyday at school? One looked like the older brother, and I sorta hurt for them both, probably trying to look out for each other and make sense of this place. Then I saw a similar duo warily eyeing up a Mardi Gras parade and, again, I wondered what they thought.

On Sunday, Ron Hitley and I and a friend of his took in a soccer game at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. Our man, Gil, is the trainer for New Orleans' erstwhile, oil-sponsored semi-pro team, the Shell Shockers, and was one of the people who worked to put together a tournament this weekend. He hooked us up with tickets, which would've been $35 a man...and $10 a woman. That is marketing, amigos.
Tad Gormley Stadium feels like Latin America. Dilapidated, completely concrete, and coliseum-shaped, it's one open end looks into City Park, with the battered trees and fog lurking like non-paying spectators. A track surrounds the field, which has seen better days, and all the seating is bleachers.

And 95% of the people looked to be Latinos. Mostly men, they teased each other constantly and erupted when the Honduran under-20 team scored 2 goals against the Shell Shockers (who struggled to keep up and couldn't put the ball in the net). Refs got an earful, and the beer and whiskey flowed freely. There might have been 500 people there.

I know that around 10,000 Hondurans lived in the city before the storm, but I wonder what the numbers are now, from every country in Latin America. And how did they hear about this game? How many are business owners? How many are day laborers? In this small town of a city we live in, it felt odd to be surrounded by such an opaque crowd, in which the normal divisions and markings of New Orleans life were absent.

But mostly the night was relaxed, languid even. I drank a big ol' beer and when the goals were scored, a guy ran up and down the stands waving a Honduran flag. The flood lights were strong but there was a basic, bare-bones quality to the event, with no PA announcer or scoreboard. Tad Gormley might've been in Caracas or Oruro.

I left the stadium still unsure of what exactly is going on with New Orleans's new immigrants, or if I'd even seen any; maybe everyone was a lifelong resident. But mostly the game was a nice pocket of mystery and sport, an easy win for the away team, whoever their fans might be.

February 21, 2008

Liquidation > Imagination: The Homeless Problem

In some ways, the new homeless population of New Orleans have become the litmus paper for city government's ineptitude and the consequences thereof. While many cities have homeless problems, ours is a particular case where the cause is known (the storm) and the response follows an ugly chain of denial-additional displacement-allowing someone else to handle it--and, now, counterproductive cover-up.

This is some idiotic BS of the highest, Nagin-specific level. It gets to the core of our greatest failures in the recovery--lack of imagination and leadership, and short-sighted, insensitive treatment of our weakest residents.


1. If UNITY of New Orleans has taken the lead on this problem, using an innovative approach with proven results in other cities (see the TP article), why cut off this course completely and return to a more traditional, dead end solution?

My refrain for the last 6 months or so: there's no imagination in leadership, and thus we get badly recycled band-aids or total inaction. Above all, imagination dies at the hands of soft minded defenders of "the bottom line." This isn't bottom line time! This humanity and long-term civilization time! Don't pretend you're fiscal geniuses while letting people suffer. You've proven you can't handle basic paperwork and now you add on cold-heartedness.

2. Speaking of would-be genius, why is Blakely in charge of this? I'm not one to bash him automatically (though at this point, I could care less how bad he gets it), and I understand that he's defacto mayor, but really: why is a social problem turned over to the money manager? Does he not have enough to (not) do? What does he know about solving a homeless issue?

No, what Blakely knows is image. So it was no surprise that the All-Star game brought quick promises of cleaning this problem up in a week? Why the haste now? Is it the national cameras? Are they the only agent of change?

If Blakely is such an innovative mind, why does he turn to the bad, old solution, if not for the tourist economy he said we couldn't survive on? What happened?

3. Who the f*ck is the head of the New Orleans Mission, and why is he in this business? Look at these quotes:

"We'll get all of them out from underneath that bridge one way or another."
"Once someone pays their rent, many people won't want to pay rent anymore," he said. "That's not a popular philosophy, but it's the truth."

His name is Ron Gonzales. I guess he means business. He can do it cheaper, he can turn away anyone with a substance abuse problem, and above all, HE CAN GET THEM OUT OF SIGHT.

Somedays you wake up in the morning, even in your warm home, and read the front page, and you look out the window, and you wonder--seriously wonder--if this is worth it.

When the heartlessly idiotic play with the fate of the downtrodden like they were numbers on a budget sheet (an item these fools can barely paste together), not for the good of the city, but for the comfort of the occasional tourist, you wonder if you can wait another two years for Nagin and Co. to leave. And you wonder if this will be the city you love when that time comes.

February 20, 2008

February 19th Set List

Lester Young

Did a short tribute to Prez in honor of the holiday, and I highly recommend Electric Kulintang, new project from Susie Ibarra & Roberto Rodriguez.

Artist - Track - Album - Label
James Booker - Gonzo's Blue Dream -Spider on the Keys - Rounder
Nervous Cabaret - Grand Palace of Love - Nervous Cabaret - nervouscabaret.com
William Parker - Pok-A-Tok - Long Hidden - AUM Fidelity
Anthony Braxton - Cut 5 0 New York City, Fall 1974 - Arista
Warren Smith - Taurus at Pasture - natural/cultural - Engine
Lester Young-Here It Is Tomorrow Again -Lester Young Story Vol. 3-Columbia
Lester Young-When A Woman Loves A Man-Lester Young Story Vol 2-Columbia
Lester Young-Up and Atom-Jazz Immortal Series Volume 2-Savoy
Electric Kulintang - Anitos (Spirits) - Dialects -Plastic
Electric Kulingtang - Shade - Dialects - Plastic
Afromantra - Por Ti - Upliftingspirts - Afromantra
Charlie Haden Liberation Orchestra-Song for the United Front-Liberation Orchestra-Impulse
Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra -Track One -Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra - Thrill Jockey
Billy Martin/Grant Calvin Weston/DJ Logic-Ylang Ylang-For No One in Particular-Amulet
Peter Brotzmann Sextet - Nipples - Nipples - Unheard Music Series
Kahil El'Zabar's Infinity Orchestra - Transmigration -Transmigration -Delmark
Devin Phillips - Frenchman Street Strut - Wade in the Water - Devin Phillips Music
John Coltrane - Offering - The House That Trane Built - Impulse

February 14, 2008

Everybody's Talkin' At Me

"What're you gonna do?"

"Same ol! How about you?"

"Maybe raise some cash, ha!"

So this photo goes up on the TP, people have a big laugh, then retch a little under their desks, and then Nagin whines through Ms. Quiett. We should always expect apathy or cheap thrills from the TP, followed up by....silence and after-the-fact notification. And Nagin's sensitivity is in line with the grandiose/paranoid figure he cuts when, on occasion, he goes public. He seems to miss the point: you are a grown man, a public figure, and you are playing around with automatic weapons like a 6-year old with an super-soaker at a pool party.

And us? Can we laugh? Cry? Scold?

I guess just wait, hold our breath, try not to fall in with racialists in the comment sections of the worst newspaper in America.

UPDATE: Here's a good look at the forces behind Ray's mysterious fundraising. (via Your Right Hand Thief)

February 13, 2008

February 12th Set List

Charles Gayle

Artist - Track - Album - Label

James Booker - Papa Was A Rascal - Classified - Night Train
Sun Ra - Yucatan - Atlantis - Evidence
Susie Ibarra & Assif Tsahar - Happy Disillusion - Home Cookin' - Hopscotch
Charles Gayle Quartet - Our Sins - Daily Bread - Black Saint
Howard Wiley - No More My Lawd - Angola Project - HNIC
Billy Martin/Grant Calvin Weston/DJ Logic - Rice Glue -For no one in particular-Amulet
Rob Brown Trio - Totter - High Wire - Soul Note
Butch Morris - Conduction #26, E - Testament: A Conduction Collection - Counter Currents
Fats Waller - The Sheik of Arabi - Fats Waller - Columbia
Evan Parker - For Peter B & Peter K -The Topography of the Lungs -PSI
William Parker - Gilmore's Hat - Raining on the Moon - AUM Fidelity
Frank Wright - Europe Vs. America - Complete ESP Disks - ESP
Henry Butler - Ode to Fess - Homeland - Basin Street
Charles Mingus - Track B-Duet Solo Dancers - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady-Impulse
Myra Melford & Han Bennink - Three Ghosts - Eleven Ghosts - Hatology
Cecil Taylor - Jitney #2 - Silent Tongues - Arista
Ralph Ellison - The Invisible Man - Movement Soul Vol. 2 - ESP-Disk
Earl Turbinton - The Lord's Prayer - Suite II-Dominion and Sustenance-Progressive

February 6, 2008

Mardi Gras (B)Log Post-script: Ashy to Flashy

We awoke today surrounded by boas and sunglasses. An overcast sky dissolved slowly in the living room window after an evening of tropical showers and low rumbling thunder and sky-wide lightning. Beads hang from the front door and down the railing on the frontsteps. Picked up off the floor, the following images and recalls...

Friday Night Lights

Through a work connection, I got us into a party on Friday night along St. Charles. The home belonged to a very wealthy man, whose gusto in decoration, if not his taste, is beyond question. We knew it would be an upper-crust affair, and took a few days to get the Chaplin/Tina Turner look completed, debating if it was enough and unsure of the audience. When we met up with our friends--a man dressed in a cheerleader's outfit and a woman done up as Amy Winehouse--we recieved no further clues.

Upon arrival, the honk-honks were blowing and the owner's dogs had the run of the place. I met a soul sister....

...and we did what we could to get along with some fairly wrecked rich folks. Balconies aren't necessarily the best place to catch beads, but there was enough weirdness to go around and a lot of free scotch. They'd wrapped kingcakes around the bannister and dressed the dogs in boas. As one honest woman drawled to me, "You can't make that sh*t up."


We check out Tucks on a warm afternoon, then ride down to Canal, where Tina Turner walks into the Athlete's Foot like it's a Rodeo Drive boutique and switches out her heels for a pair of Converse.

We spend a few hours at Handsome Willy’s, reflecting, refracting, and requesting songs from the DJ. An island in a sea of parking lots, the bar's isolation makes you feel as if the sky is bigger and brighter and the right ceiling to talk it all over again. This has been a year that I won't forget. Whatever the results, we've been trying and we keep on evolving; that's the only course there is, I guess. Still on the immature side somedays, I decline the jambalaya, which is not a smart move in a marathon.

Kimberly and I ride our bikes directly into the teeth of the parade, past the clutches of the National Guard, the NOPD, and assorted keepers of order. Endmion feels like it’s as long as the city, and as it reaches Canal, dusk sinks it.

Out in Mid-City, the crowds are too damn big. As in every parade, you see more wasted adults toting kids, if not ignoring or bitching at them, then you ever need to. The fever of intoxication and the dark streets around Endymion's route give the air a sinister vibe, and we're glad to get out of it.

We lock our bikes up on Scott St., and walk the rest of the way to Fairgrinds to hear ol’ James Winnfield and meet up with Flavius Josephus and his queen. When we return the next morning to retrieve the bikes, Canal St is a great dustbin of plastic bags and dead bottles and boxes. Things appear left behind, as if someone forgot to schedule a clean up (this is 10am the next morning). I hear they did get around to it after all.

Coming back from the bike pick-up, I drive down our block on Pauline and Kim says, "Is that art?"

"No, baby, that guy drives that car!"

Apparently this Miata exploded in flames at 9am Sunday morning. FJ and his lady listened from the living room to the car's swansong, a dying horn. These things happen, but a bullet casing was found on the sidewalk, and causality is tough to trace in a phenomenon like this. Whether or not their car was shot, our neighbors sent it on home with beads and a mask, and spray-painted the blackended driver's side with "Because it's Carnival Time!" in gold. People are resilient in the city, but it's a bit scary how close everyone lives to the flame of accident and gunfire.

One Way to Crack a Coconut

After taking a few people from a party to the Big Top, where I unexpectedly sit-in on drums to form a very wobbly punk trio (people walked out), we move on to the Circle Bar to see Little Freddie King. Between us, we get that place turned out and dancing til last call. The drummer gives Kim a Zulu coconut, the most prized throw to catch during Mardi Gras. I guess Zulu had a message for the mayor this year.

I wake up Tuesday at 8:45am and scream, "Oh, sh*t!" I have some warped notion that we needed to get up by 7am to catch the Indians, so I force FJ and Kim to get up quick. We ride to Claiborne and Esplanade, and all through Treme and some of the 7th ward. Crowds and plumes of smoke line Basin Street and run up and down Claiborne, but no Indians in sight. The delirium is catching up to me and we go back to the Bywater to catch St. Ann's parade.

In my haste, I forgot the camera, and have no images from the spectacle of that parade, though I don't know if photos/videos could do it justice. The most beautiful group of people in the brightest costumes mosey up from Burgundy and Clouet, cross into the Marigny and then swallow up block after block of the quarter, picking up followers and freaking out tourists. The climax this year for us, not just for the parade, but for the entire Carnival, was a wedding along the river.

After the priest (or whatever his title was) asks us to focus on the power of the Mississippi, a friend of the couple reads the Hopi Elder's Prophecy, which finishes with these lines, and thus captures the soul of the crowd...

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time inhistory, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we've been waiting for.

It is something else to hear this and to believe, even for a fleeting tear, that it is true, of you, and everyone around you, whether you know them or not. And to look at yourself and see that you are improbably dressed as a warrior of sorts, not of violence or pride, but of defiance and play, have come through again to the reach the river, with your woman and your great friend, and that nature has given a day bright and clear to shine on silk and face paint and skin, to takeover the streets and to strut down them and represent--that's Mardi Gras Day for me.

I am thankful to have survived and enjoyed another Mardi Gras. I'll miss it until next year, but will do my best to live in the good gifts it brings and hold off on the iller visions and pitfalls it bears. Like it's home, Mardi Gras is full of the best and the worst.
That Miata is still sitting out there, the lights in the mask flashing weakly.

February 4, 2008

Mardi Gras (B)Log 2/4: Champion Gear

“He’s wasted!”

Yep, Hulk Hogan is wasted, alright. He sits down on his throne and crosses his legs.

And a dynasty ends an hour later, and the brother from the Wonder Years is on the bow of the rolling ship, and a burned up Miata sits outside our house to start the entire thing off (we'll get to that another time). On the whole, the weather is very, very fine.


“Hulkamania is running wild!” I howl, as the saint of that epidemic coast by, his head framed by a canopy of branches and powerlines. Every third guy in the crowd notes how big he still is, and every 4th guy notes how drunk he looks.

Really, Hulk Hogan is f’d the f up.

His old theme song plays from one tent on the neutral ground. "I am a real American/fight for the right of every man." I'm amped, I haven't heard that song in forever. A guy inside the tent calls out over a microphone some good wishes to the champ, noting that the Hulkster looks a bit infirm. Luckily that throne's there so he can lean back and try not to hurl on all the little Hulkamaniacs, who've been saying their prayers, eating their vitamins. Hulk could use some prayer and vitamin right now. He needs assistance to climb down off the perch and make his way to the float's port-a-john, and we get a close look at the Ultimate Warrior's nemesis. This worries the crowd a bit. There’s a vacancy to his smile that speaks of stupor and I keep saying, “You know, he’s got a long way to go.” Because right now, we’re at Washington Avenue, not even halfway into this route. So this year’s Bacchus, the multi-champion, has not paced himself at all.

“Wayne” from the Wonder Years is in great shape, though. Almost too good.

We walk to our friend’s place on St. Mary’s and watch the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, one of the greatest endings I’ve ever seen. We could rhapsodize on the drama and tension, but let’s say this.

PLAXICO BURRESS is a prophet. Of all the many soothsayers, Plax alone stepped to the toes of the Goliath and spit on the ground. Then he made that sloppy mouthed Eli a champion. Sports fans exulted in the caw of this veloci-raptor, who ended the torture inflicted on so many of us this season.

Why torture?

Because there’s something very “off,” for lack of a better word, about the Patriots. The overly sinister, almost sociopathic quality of Belichik, and the uber-perfection of Tom Brady, and the confirmed knowledge that they might’ve could’ve sorta did cheat, combined with a fanbase composed of the newest, loudest guests at the NFL dinner table—this makes people dislike a team. People more fluent than me are going to compare this dynasty to Barry Bonds. You might not agree, but that team and its fans get to live with it. I have friends among them, and I don’t envy them. YOU JUST GO AND LAY YOUR HANDS ON A PITTSBURGH STEELERS FAN.

Up and down St. Charles, TV’s glow with the game as the parade rolls by, the screams of the crowds and the focus of the football fans and the darkness so fittingly intense.