Archive for the Ent Category

Beast of the Southern Wild review making the rounds in my social networks…

If this is the case against the film, I’m not sure it’s going to get past the grand jury.

That reviewer admits the cinematography, score, locations and imagery in the film are top notch. Now, those things are huge. I know narrative is most important and I’ll get to that but, let’s not toss out the ethereal aspects of the film simply because the reviewer has an issue with the story. Because they were pretty amazing. They weren’t just good. They excelled. They greatly enhanced the narrative, enriching the story so much that viewers were immediately captivated. This is something that many, many films fail at from the start. Reviewer asks us to “see past the craft.” Fucking why? So we can understand your point better without this huge aspect of the film’s greatness getting in the way?

So, the Narrative. Some things that should be addressed…
- Hushpuppy wants people in the future to remember her but the viewer knows they won’t. She thinks her writing on a cardboard box will be enough. But we, the audience, are supposed to know better. Most of us did and recognized the helplessness of the character. Probably because no one is going to remember us either. This is a universal plight. Mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation and so forth.

- The Titanic stuff, it’s an age old narrative that probably started before the Buddha but was most historically done by him wherein the privileged child casts aside the networks of their society to a simpler, stripped down existence. Buddha did it. Yuppies do it. Gutter Punks do it. People do it. We have fucking reptile brains deep in there. Smooth, unbundled, savage reptile corpus callosums and we like to sometimes get in touch with it.

Unoriginal? Monomyth!

The rest of the review is the critic making some statements about what he didn’t like about the film but he doesn’t really say why it’s bad. Unless he is suggesting that because he didn’t like it, we shouldn’t. With more critics in the Universe than ever, a simple snarky ripping of a flick isn’t good enough anymore. There are 6.5 billion opinions out there. I need to know why yours is valid. You need to show me why yours is valid. Simply stating “Phony. Phony. Phony” doesn’t quite do it.

But hey the accusation was that noodling was depicted as too easy right? What don’t you know in that scene? Had Wink already seen the Catfish before his dialouge? Was it a spot he knew they lurked? It’s not a 65-pounder they pull up. They are out there to catch fish. The man has supposedly done it his whole life. The film is being critiqued because it looked too easy? It was a small aspect of the flick anyway. And why is it supposed to look hard? How would that advance the narrative?

Then we really get to the real heart of why this critic dislikes Beasts and yes, it involves … standing. It’s his premise and ultimately the basis of his critique that:

Also, call me cynical, but watching po’ black characters deliberately misuse words and grammar in folksy phrases written by white people (“cavemens,” for example) feels hokey at best and offensive at worst. Keep in mind, I knew nothing about the filmmakers before I watched this film. It just reeked of theater kid fantasy, and I’ve seen enough Hurricane Katrina narratives written by liberal arts students in New York to recognize this as one. Art students be lovin’ Katrina narratives like fictional Cajuns love crawdads, you all.

So, there is no way these white art school kids could possibly have anything meaningful or non-stereotypical to say about these poor people who live in the Bathtub? Even if they could tell this story adeptly (which they do) they really can’t because of who they are. The art isn’t allowed to stand alone because it’s this critic’s prejudice against the artist that gets in the way. The story can be told, but not by them so that gives it its cheesy quality. I guess it is safe to assume real poor folks wouldn’t have glamorized their plight but I live in and among them and I see it glamorized all the time. The notion is they can do it, these art school kids can’t, and that’s a case of standing.

And if the film was such a manipulation of poor hurricane-struck folk in Louisiana, wouldn’t Dwight Henry’s starring role have at least added some credibility to that? A life-long New Orleans resident and 7th Ward baker?

And let’s not forget that the Bathtub is indeed a fucking FANTASY WORLD. Yes, the flick is a fantasy movie. So that’s how you approach it. That is dictated to us by the filmmakers pretty early. And that is the mindset in which the film is to be approached from then on. There is magical realism at work here and this critic never even addresses it. It’s based in reality but, once we are shown that huge boars are floating toward Hushpuppy in melting blocks of ice why quibble about noodling? Maybe in the fantasy world of the bathtub, noodling is easy.

And also not mentioned despite it being a huge testament to the film’s greatness is the fact that these were not even actors in these roles. Both Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis acted exceptionally and brilliantly. Astounding because THEY HAD NEVER ACTED BEFORE IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.

So the film excelled in score, setting, cinematography, imagery and acting. I don’t mind monomyth. I prefer monomyth over the overtold stories in flicks today. The original Star Wars was a monomyth. The latest Star Wars films were so overly-complex no one knew what was going on. I don’t mind a complex story but the framework needs to be simple and the complexities within it.

I don’t mind art students writing about Katrina. The more the better. So long as they get it right and these folks did.

Why eight? Because “eight good Gillys” just sounds good. All those vowels sounds syncopated with hard Gs.

As noted in yesterday’s post Gillian Welch and David Rawlings are coming to Tipitina’s tonight and I can’t promote the show because it’s sold out. Maybe they’ll do an Indian song or some slow Cajun ballad to thank us.

I’ve been an unabashed lover of these two for a decade or so mostly because they get right down into my favorite aesthetic of humanity. Despite a fascination and curiosity about science (particularly astronomy and geology), I cherish and hold tightly to the dirt of us – the dark, tragic, suffering, brief, lives we live out as jealous, flawed, incomplete, yet exuberant souls. Despite the tall buildings and the superfast computers and internets and global economies and what not, the human mind and its constructs still live out the mythos of our spiritual, fire-worshipping ancestors and even further into the essence of that DNA, the apes and animals we descended from. Sometimes we use our departure from them to illuminate our nobility and sometimes we use our intimacy with them to justify some savagery. We like to play fast and loose with our ascendance to the higher order when it behooves us.

To me, and to artists like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and Trilobite and The Handsome Family and former G Bitch professor Harry Crews, the soundtrack of life is in minor chords on stringed instruments rather than Dubstep electronica. It’s filmed in Super 8 not Blu-Ray. It’s a moldy Southern Gothic novel and not a glossy photoshopped magazine cover.

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Lyric: “Well, Miranda ran away – Took her cat and left LA – That’s the way that it goes – That’s the way – She was busted, broke and flat – Had to sell that pussy cat – That’s the way that it goes”
But, WHICH pussy cat?
The Way That It Goes

An uplifting song with near-perfect phrasing and lyrics.
Wayside (Back in Time)

This used to be a Radiohead song…
Black Star

A heartbreaking ode to sharecroppers…
Annabelle

I have a particular fondness for this song because I have loved many a barrom girl and ultimately married one too. Also, it’s a waltz.
Barroom Girls

A driving, fast-paced murder ballad that ends with the would-be rapist with his own whiskey bottle in his neck from deus ex machina.
Caleb Meyer

Among the most plaintive and deliberate of the pair’s songs, about the passage of time revealing truths …
Revelator

Love song to a drug …
My Morphine

Thursday August 11 Gillian Welch, my favorite artists ever, ever, ever will be playing at Tiptina’s. I can’t really get into the ritualistic and profound relationship I have with Gillian and Dave Rawlings but it borders on being spiritual. They their fans wait 8 long years between the release of their last album “Soul Journey” in 2004 and their latest “The Harrow and the Harvest” in July. Now they are tour in just a Cadillac and I’m so excited I’m pulling a micro-tour and seeing them at Tips on Thursday then driving up to Birmingham and seeing them again on Friday.

My only hope is that Romy and I don’t encounter a repeat of our last incident at Tips where I was forced to shoosh a loquacious early 20s Tulane college student during Yo La Tengo’s plaintive, melodic encore. She refused of course and kept going on in a volume that effected the encore for everyone within 15 feet circumference around her. With Yo La Tengo, like Sonic Youth, you really need to listen to some of the songs because the art is in the slight tonal changes within the feedback. In the slower, quieter ones this is more important.

She not only didn’t adhere, she didn’t even understand the request, more, she was flabbergasted by it, asking “Seriously?”
I stated I was indeed serious and she ignored me and kept on about some drama between her and another girl to a third girl.

The rest of our interactions sort of went like this (and I realized our tet a tet probably spoiled the encore for everyone around us)…

Varg: You don’t fucking get it do you?
Her: I don’t fucking get it?
Varg: No. It would be like seeing into a higher dimension for you.
Her: We were here first!
Varg: …
Her: Also, it’s a BAR dude!
Varg: Fat Harrys is a bar. This is a club. A music club.

Not sure how that meant she could talk as loud as she wanted over the band because she spent more time on the balcony but this is early 20s logic here. After the band’s first set, the crowd sort of tapered out a bit and people who really wanted to see them could sort of got closer to the stage. Yo La Tengo was in their Spin the Wheel show and that may have seemed too weird for many of the Uptown college students in attendance so they jammed. Not our privileged little girl though.

So then she called both Romy and me fat (I’ll admit, I had a full bushy beard and some layers on that night, it was January) and asked us what we did for a living as some way of justifying her righteousness to do as she pleased.

By the time it was all over we had missed the encore. Her friend came up to us and apologized but insisted, “We WERE there first.” Like a little kid.

Downstairs, I was paying the tab and apparently her and Romy kinda got into a shoving match and the girl was thrown out by the banana man.

She continued to harass us from outside the club but I had to respond, “Whatever! You lost the high ground when you were thrown out by a BANANA!”

This becoming sort of a serial event at shows. I thought Tip’s may provide some relief and they did certainly react faster than HOB. It happened at a Sia Furler show there a while back too but my tolerence tank had some fuel left in it.

I have to add here that it’s not just young obnoxious girls who do this type of shit at shows. A few months before this incident I had a less caustic encounter with a middle-aged shirt-and-tie fella also at House of Blues Parish during a Jolie Holland show. She’s the quiet type of artist as well. You gotta listen. The tie guy was talking very loud at the end of the show and asserting a lot of wrong things about the artist and talking about how he was just across the street and only came over because he had comp tickets. Thanks for comping this douchebag HOB, he fucked up the show for the paying customers because, you know, he didn’t really care about the artist. Tank got a little more emptied with him.

To his credit though, he got the hint faster than the Uptown girl.

I anticipated the ensuing fight between my wife and this Tip’s girl outside but when we got out there she was gone. I’m pretty sure nothing would have happened. After all, we had Sister Annie Walker to protect us.

So now I am nervous because I know that Gillian Welch is the quiet type of artist that you really have to listen to. And I know that she doesn’t really roll into town that much. And I know that I really do have an attachment to this artist much more than the previous ones. My only saving grace is perhaps the college students are all out of town for Summer.

Listen to all the MFers in the country gushing about Nola music. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing went real crazy pretty soon…

Trombone Shorty’s Treme Sound
New Orleans native Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews talks about growing up in Treme, in a new generation of jazz.

A most awesome “Worn Again” photo set is here courtesy of Miss Malaprop. Please click through and check the whole set. Previews of my favs are below…

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Lord, I hate lists. I hate ranking. I know we live in a capitalist society and it is inevitable that things get placed in order from “best” to “not quite the best.” I understand the point of recognizing a group for their achievements but, once ranks enter the picture the whole thing because snarky. You’re asking for trouble. Number 18 is fine until someone looks at number 17 and says, “Oh Jesus, we placed behind them?”

A good way to avoid this is to make a list and write across the top, “In No Particular Order.” That way, all the listees are celebrated and united, not divided.

If you were British, you may ask yourself, “What’s he on about?” And I would then point you to this:

Gambit Weekly’s Top 50 Bars

And the reason I’m all upset is that my personal favorite bar in New Orleans (and perhaps the whole damn World) was noticeably absent from the top 5, then I saw it wasn’t among the first quarter of the bars listed, then I got on through the back half of the article and still did not see it. I had to go through 49/50ths of the list before I found it…

50. Molly’s at the Market
1107 Decatur St., 525-5169

At first glance, Molly’s looks like a prototypical Irish tavern, with its worn wooden tables, tall bar stools and requisite 30-plus years of memorabilia decorating the walls. But owner Jim Monagahan Jr. has turned this Decatur Street stalwart into a destination location for revelers of all types during Halloween, Mardi Gras and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, as well as a late-night rendezvous for hipsters and their ilk after catching a show downtown.

There she was in some sort of statement-making rank at 50. One might say fiftieth best bar in New Orleans. One might say dead last among New Orleans’ best bars.

There once was a time when I wasn’t some crazy/free thinking, partially self-employed blogger and folk artist living in a local neighborhood that used to be called “Slaughterhouse Point.” Back in the early-to-mid ’90s, picture me as a bewildered visitor of New Orleans, her out-of-town boyfriend. I hailed from a place Rolling Stone once called “The most conservative city in America.” People from New Orleans call it beautiful, I called it Hell, most know it as Pensacola.

My friends and I would roll into New Orleans in Japanese two-door cars and head straight for Bourbon street where our fake IDs were useless because no one ever asked for them. We stayed four and five deep in a little motel off Tulane called the Rose Inn and it usually cost us around $30.

It didn’t take us long to discover that there was more fun happening at the end of Bourbon Street than at its front and then as a few years went by and we became more of age we ended up abandoning that part of the Quarter all-together. What drew us away from Bourbon street was refinement and Molly’s at the Market.

The bar introduced us to Lower Decatur which in turn was a corridor into the Marigny and Bywater and all the treasures within them. Many nights we would traipse back and forth between those neighborhoods, in and out of music clubs along the way.

I became so enraptured with New Orleans, we decided to move in together. I escaped Pensacola in ’97 and moved into a place Uptown. Though there were plenty of bars with people my age around my General Pershing St. apartment but I insisted on riding the streetcar to Canal St. and walking the dozen or so French Quarter blocks to Molly’s and Lower Decatur.

When I moved to California, it was my first stop when I visited. It was the first place I brought friends and my future wife.

Sure, when I moved back and lived on Bayou St. John I could be seen at Pals Lounge (#42 on Gambit’s list). Yes, I have since moved over to the Point and can sometimes be found having a Boddingtons at the Crown and Anchor (not on the list), but Molly’s will always be held in higher regard.

This is just my story though. It has nothing to do with the staff at Gambit who made the list. It shouldn’t matter to them what some guy over in the Fourth District has tucked away in his synapses as it relates to a bar. So, I do have some points to make about Molly’s and its low placement on the list.

- Does The Bulldog (#26) have the ashes of two (nee’ three) people behind the bar? Or a coffin?
- Does the Polo Club (#19) have CDs on their jukebox that have been there for (at least) a decade?
- Did Pravda (#17) stay open throughout the second battle of New Orleans?
- Does French 75 (#10) have a cat mascot who has his own MySpace page?
- Is Cooter Brown’s (#5) a testament to both the fine craftsmanship of local wood sign makers / failed French Quarter businesses?

The (mostly) sweet bartenders, the black bathrooms, the free shot of Pepto Bismol ;-) on the bathroom sink, the numerous law enforcement badges, the glorious fruit of eavesdropping, the heckling of Margaritavillians, the great spots to lock your bike, the poetic alliteration of its name, the-several-times-an-hour playing of “Lust For Life” on the jukebox – it’s all part of Molly’s own lust for life.

I could go on and on.

Molly’s if I had a list (and as I stated up front, I don’t) you’d be number 1.

And Gambit, Jim Monoghan isn’t nice to me either.

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That said, the Gambit’s list is still pretty darn good and many of my favorites included on it. Such as…

Mimi’s (#1) – The few visits of mine were filled with glee. GLEE!

Napoleon House (#2) – Drinking there, I do not feel as though I am among ghosts, I feel I AM a ghost.

D.B.A. (#6) – Don’t just drink one type of beer and make sure you catch a show, the sound in there is as soulful as the tongue-and-groove it reverberates from. For a good example of this, catch John Boutte on Saturdays.

Rivershack Tavern (#8) – Over the River and up the levee from my place but worth the trip.

Old Point Bar (#11)
- I’m a homer for this spot obviously. A superb music venue with a huge bar and it’s right up on the river. The fiancee and I like to go there on Sunday afternoons and sit serenely by the levee drinking cold ones. Late at night you can see the hook-ups happen before your very eyes.

Carousal Bar (#13)
– My mom’s favorite bar. I must admit, it is fun when you can get a bar seat. Otherwise, keep walking.

Circle Bar (#22) – What’s it like to be hip but also unpretentious? Go to the Circle Bar and find out (at least the times I went). My kind of folks here.

Saturn Bar (#23) – I haven’t been since it was cleaned up but my friends say it’s still good. But oh man, back in the day there was really nothing like it. I have pals to this day that talk about it in very sensorial tones.

Markey’s (#28) – Great spot with strong drinks, cold, cold beer and (last time I was there) free pool.

Pal’s Lounge (#42) – See remarks above but also it’s a great place to snap photos of your friends. The art and wallpaper make it look like a true New Orleans haunt. Nice folks a great little bar game and good company. I’ll always love my Pals.

Carollton Station (#47) – Home of Romy Kaye some Saturdays! Beware of the Frat House across the street though. Meatheads and Girls Gone Wild everywhere! They’ll eat your brain!

Mayfair (#48)
- Cozy atmosphere and chilled ambiance. I must say though, I have only been once but I still remember a man in there with a pink Polo shirt on with white, pleated shorts. It was as if he was playing a preppy for Halloween. Except it wasn’t close to any sort of holiday. If someone can let me know if this man and his crowd often frequent this place that would be awesome.

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Below are bars on the list that would be great but are suffering from severe cases of Collera. That is an infestation that leaves the place crawling with loud, vapid, obnoxious, barely dressed girls and the drunk boys trying to screw them. They must be smart because they are seeking higher education but no form of the intelligence shows through. See the quarantine list below…

- The Columns (#15)
- St. Joes (#21)
- The Saint (#39)

It is said that in the summer months the infestation is less severe.

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Noticeably absent from the list…

The Spotted Cat
The Crown and Anchor
Tony Seville’s Pirates’ Alley Cafe
Sugar Park Tavern
Avenue Pub

The fiancee and I caught Clint Maedgen and Strings at the Ogden last night. It was a great show with an interview in the middle by Allison Fensterstock* between tiny sets. We love string instruments. I realize that Nola is a brass city and, lord do I love trumpets and sousas, but there is something about bowed strings that reaches deep down into the ethereal soul of a human.

A huge highlight of the evening for me was a rendition of the Jane’s Addiction song “Summertime Rolls.” This tune was overplayed in the cassette deck of my Honda Prelude many consecutive nights in the early ’90s. It later came to reach a “don’t even look at it” status due to the chords and melodies becoming too intertwined with the glorious moments and youthful zeitgeist I endured with it as the soundtrack. So I had to shelve it so later listening would not interfere with the synapses in that cavern of my mind connecting THAT song with THOSE events.

My fiancee thinks I am crazy for this but there are many CDs that I will only listen to every few years in a nostalgic mood because if I listen once to often, the connection in my head might switch to the later event and I will lose that rush of emotion that connects the song to previous experience. I understand this is sort of a kooky concept but I swear by it and I know I have read some science that backs it up.

Anyway, back on track, Clint sang it with just him and vibraphonist Mike Dillon and it was damn sublime, the original, stripped down, melodic bass line was replaced with soothing vibraphone and serene vocals bouncing off the stark and open foyer of the Ogden, man, it was a joy. The ecstasy of the original was matched and, since it wasn’t a cassette deck but a live performance, even surpassed.

Video is below. Enjoy.

* Who I noticed also has an article on Al Green in a recent issue of Paste. Try to get past the Scarlett Johansson feature where she opines about how Barack Obama, Bob Dylan and others are her surrogate fathers and just read about Rev Al and the other great stories in that issue.

The fiancee and I stepped out Saturday night for an evening in the Quarter. She was getting her hair done and I just sort of moved from bar to bar, running into friends and doing the Gambit crossword (Shortz Monday or Tuesday I think). Mostly eavesdropping on others conversations.

After a while, her hair was done and we headed over to Fiorella’s for a lil din din.

What we found was a steep decline in quality from our recent visits. Here are the facts:

1. The menu is down to a crumpled, stained piece of copy paper. Much smaller than it used to be.
2. The beer selection was down to Miller Lite and (luckily for me), Pabst Blue Ribbon. Nothing more.
3. The wine selection this night was White Zinfindal. Nothing more.
4. On a Saturday night there were perhaps six tables occupied. Nothing going on in the back. Or is that room the front? Hmmm…nothing going on on the Market side.

Now for an opinion, not ours but the couple next to us. They used to live here but are now visiting from Baton Rouge and hated, hated HATED, their dinner. They lamented the taste of everything, complained that the chicken had lost its flavor and that the mac and cheese looked like it was out of a box. Then they showed me the bottom of their cup and it did seem to have that Kraft konsistancy.

Our dinner was good. I had the Cajun burgur and she had an oyster po boy. Both were fine. But they did serve them with chips instead of fries and I don’t seem to remember that before. Could be wrong.

Also, plastic cups instead of glass which also seems new. A fine ale like Pabst is quite palpable in a bottle or glass but likens itself to stale high school keg party flavoring when served in thin plastic. It was like I was 16 years-old again.

The couple next to us finally got fed up and asked about ownership and the lil waiter fella said that the owner was turning it “more into a chicken restaurant.”

What’s a chicken restaurant again?

I mean the obvious answer is a place that primarily serves chicken but, “chicken restaurant” isn’t like “sushi bar” or “diner” or “steakhouse” or “deli” or “pizza joint,” where there is a reasonable expectation going in. “Chicken restaurant” sounds like “potato place” or “bacon spot,” no precedent ya heard?

Anyway.

The night was saved via good drinks and good shows on Lower Decatur and Frenchmen.

Just wondering out loud what’s going down at Fiorella’s other than the quality.

My fiancee is a big fan of “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” I can sometimes find her cackling in front of the TV laughing at the improve comedy taking place on the screen.

I’ve actually never been much of a fan. I honestly hated it. There was something terribly annoying about it. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe it was the smarmy facials expressions on the actors. Maybe it was because everyone on stage and in the theater were laughing their asses off and I was left cold.

Whatever the case, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing some genuine improve comedy right here in New Orleans a few weeks ago when the fiancee got me to go see our friend Jenny Finkel (of the Indiana Finkels) perform in Comedy Sports at La Nuit Theater Uptown.

A peculiar thing happened. I really enjoyed the hell out of it. I thought it was awesome. I figured out what bothered me about “Whose Line” too. It wasn’t live. It was filmed live but any sense of danger was removed. Not so with the stuff at La Nuit. Anything could happen. It was hysterical.

That said, I encourage everyone to head over to the theater this week because they have something special going on. I could tell you all about it but instead I’ll just copy and paste the e-mail I received from the theater:

The New Orleans Improv Festival begins next Thursday, Nov 8th! We have an
incredible batch of performers coming to New Orleans from cities all over the
country, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and many others.

Just a sampling of our esteemed guests:

Bill Chott – Saturday Night Live, The Ringer, The Dana Carvey Show

James Adomian – Phenom YouTube George Bush Impersonator, Mind of Mencia

Jill Bernard – MTV’s Made, Funny Women Fest

If you haven’t been to La Nuit in a while, this is a perfect chance for you and
your friends to see some world-class improv right at home on Freret St! Come
celebrate one-year anniversary with us and bear witness to the new improvements
to the theater and the whole neighborhood!

Tickets can be purchased at NewOrleansImprovFestival.com – we have tickets
for individual performances as well as All-Night Passes for those looking for a
bargain.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sincerely,

Staff of La Nuit Comedy Theater

They also have a few Web sites y’all can visit:

NewOrleansImprovFestival.com
La Nuit Theater
ComedySportzNOLA

romy kaye

I know tonight is one of the most robust music nights of the year but, if anyone happens to find themselves in the 300 block of Decatur tonight around 9 o’clock, duck into Club 300 and be dazzled by a group of Tulane medical students performing as Dr. Funk and featuring Romy Kaye, the fiance of yours truly, performing several songs.

Varg will be there with his tab open so mention you saw this post and I’ll, uh, buy you an Abita.

While we are on the subject of Romy, she just finished a little video for the city with her accompanist Craig Cortello of the Metairie Cortellos. It’s a classic jazz vocalist number and can be seen here.

here’s some other info on her and her various ventures…

www.romykaye.com
www.myspace.com/romykayemusic
http://www.myspace.com/ldventerprises