Archive for February, 2011

I had been sleeping about an hour and a half and my wife and I woke up to hear these 12 – 14 shots. There was six and then a few moments went by and then there were several more. Loud. The dog was going crazy. Neighbors were out on their porches. One called a few times. Never heard any sirens. Went back to sleep fretting and troubled.

Algiers man shot outside sister’s home

Unrelated: Ptolemy thought the Earth was the center of the Universe.

Guys in New Orleans are unhealthy… but happy

From now on, that’s what I am going to say when folks from out of town ask me how I’m doing.

Algiers meeting tonight will focus on Crescent City Connection tolls and ferries

So some neighbors and I went to this meeting last night. The “sunset” of the tolls was discussed along with how everything like the CCC police, landscaping, maintenance and the ferries are going to be paid for after.

The nagging feeling I had was that most Algiers residents were going to show up because they love the ferry and don’t want to lose it. So, as a way of helping us Algerines out, and because of the public outcry over the lose of the ferries, La DOTD needs to get the tolls extended. So this meeting and the others like it are merely a way to get enough outcry going to get a vote.

The questions from the attendees was done very poorly. Cards were handed out and people wrote their questions on them. Put them in a basket and they were then sort-of read aloud to David Heitmeier, Jeff Arnold, Kristin Palmer and Sherri LeBas and company. Not sure if that’s the best way to handle a Town Hall. Let the people get up there and say it in their own words and in their own way so no one is misunderstood. That way, people won’t have to holler from their seats when the person reading the question rephrases it or the question isn’t really answered. That actually happened a few times.

What came up several times is the use of CCC tolls to fund the project on LA 1 in Leesville, slated to be the second-longest bridge in Louisiana after the Causeway. There was some shared use and they were all sorry about it.

I’m not exactly sure of how the ferries were lumped into the CCCD to begin with but it seems like someone’s clever decision to pay for them in the past has now started to catch up to them with the sunset of the tolls.

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say the tolls are going to be extended.

Being the undisputed second-best indie / college / progressive / alternative band ever, (The) Arcade Fire is coming to Jazzfest. I had written off Jazzfest after the ticket prices went up and the beers started costing five bucks (for a fucking Miller Lite). Plus, those are big days at the Square and if I’m not making money I’m losing it so there is an added cost there. But this year they pulled a fast one and wrangled The Decemberists and (The) Arcade Fire so they got me back one last time in a non-art selling capacity.

Here are ten great songs by (The) Arcade Fire…

“Wake Up” from Funeral
I guess all Arcade Fire lists, articles, discussions should include “Wake Up” their most crucial and defining song. Epic. Anthemic. Anguished. “Wake Up” is all these things. It is a relentless, driven portrait of a souls’ descent from youthful exuberance to a bitter and woeful maturity. It is about all the broken promises and all the scuttled dreams of all the youths in all of us. And yes, it ends in death.

And some of us may remember it was used as background music for this NFL commercial the year the Saints went to the Super Bowl…

“Haiti” from Funeral
A simple two-chord song written by Régine Chassagne for her former homeland. Some lyrics used to decorate the top of The Chicory in the years after the storm.

“Neighborhood #2 (Laika) from Funeral
Named after the cutest dog who was ever burned up in space by the Russians. The song uses the dog’s one-way mission to symbolize an older brother running away from home presumably, like Laika, never to return.

I used it for a video project a few years back…

“Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)” from Funeral
The conclusion of the four “neighborhood” songs from Funeral uses bowed strings and guitar to bring the series to its plaintive conclusion.

“Crown of Love” from Funeral
Starts slow, sparse, deliberate and pleading then builds to frenzied desperation with growing instruments and vocals.

“Intervention” from Neon Bible
Their second album had nothing but a name in common with John Kennedy Toole’s unfinished novel. Pipe organ intro and Chassagne backing vocals are intense on the lead track that adeptly increased the anticipation of the incoming album.

“Keep the Car Running” from Neon Bible
A fantastic driving song that bears striking resemblance to this song from Eddie and the Cruisers.

“My Body is a Cage” from Neon Bible
Perhaps the most despondent Arcade Fire and that’s saying a lot.

“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) from The Suburbs
I have a tendency to favor songs that feature Chassange on vocals but the spirit and theme of Sprawl II is one that many of us can rally behind. The suburbs are an expanse of conformity and assimilation, within them are the undiscovered artists and geniuses of our world who may or may not ever unfurl. “Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.”

“City With No Children” from The Suburbs
Another uplifting number from the band’s Grammy-winning album that many feel was their third-best effort. Though The Suburbs was truly an amazing disc with a clear and distinct theme throughout.

Someone over at CNN must have come down here and had one of them “amazing experiences” and “fell in love with the city” because they have been posting like crazy.

UPDATE: Now I understand.

Beyond Raw: How New Orleans serves up oysters

Making gumbo with John Besh and James Carville

Oysters stage a comeback after BP disaster

5@5 – Five Reasons to Eat in Louisiana

Lunchtime NOLA poll – whooooo, boy!

New Orleans: The food that got them through

or at least they should after this Alex Rawls post…

JAZZ FEST POSTER—THE NEW BIG MAC?

Now, to me, the posters never had much value anyway. The entire numbered print / poster approach to art is a huge racket generated by the artists and the dealers to get the most revenue out of a single image. Don’t ever buy one.

As for Jazzfest posters, look at the huge prices they are demanding on Craigslist…

Then there is Ebay… Lots of Buy It Now on there. Lots of 0 bids. Lots of people selling Jazzfest posters.

If you can’t smell or feel or gaze upon the acrylics or oils of your art, don’t buy it. If your piece is one out of 500, that means 500 other people have that exact same shit. If it’s signed by the artist or the subject, that means at some point that person was near your piece. That’s it.

But what’s great about Rawls’ post is that he isn’t even commenting on all that. He’s technically questioning the value of the original art. He makes some very valid critiques too. It’s not just his 1-in-6,500,000,000 opinion. I am thinking after reading Rawls’ post that perhaps Garland Robinette took a photo of a young Buffet and painted it and then put a French Quarter behind him? He may have been better off staging the scene in the Quarter and then just painting Buffet’s face on the model.

Rawls adeptly sums it all up here and I agree…

In the end, this year’s Jazz Fest poster is like so many Jazz Fest posters; it represents the depressing decision to aim low. Each year, it acknowledges people’s love of New Orleans and the festival, then sells them the equivalent of a Bourbon Street T-shirt.

Well, it was a stupid question…

E:: Who taught you to love food?

J.C.: That’s like saying who taught you to love sex!

New Orleans: Cooking with Carville

I had the pleasure waking up Monday morning and having to get dressed and out the door by 9:30 a.m. This after a day at the Square making mad $35 cash, then heading over to a Super Bowl party in Rosalie Alley and being subjected to a rapist-turned-Jesus freak quarterback and two Eminem commercials, then winning a Super Bowl “squares game” with one damn square at $5. I thought I was toast when I got a five and a one. I mean, really? A five? I kept hollering, “Okay, all I need is two safeties by Pittsburgh and I’m in this thing!” or “If Pittsburgh misses the extra point and then gets a safety, I got this!” or, as it turned out, “I need Pittsburgh to score a touchdown, get the two-point conversion and then I need Green Bay to kick a field, stop Pittsburgh and kneel!” You know that triumphant music they play during the trophy ceremony? That was actually the theme to me collecting my winnings. I also won three paintings from a fellow Jackson Square artist. I now have a bit of a Katie Leese collection going.

Wait, why did I need to be somewhere the next day after consuming oysters, beer and hog? Right, civic affairs! City business! Politicking!

Group: Jackson Square A Dangerous ‘Zoo’

The Jackson Square Task Force was presenting its recommendations to the City’s Governmental Affairs committee and since some of those recommendations involve my mostly unregulated workplace I showed up. A few other artists and I were there.

The chambers were full of Tarot readers, artists, buggy operators and street musicians. Songs were sung, the 1st amendment was said to be violated and the subject of Mule poo was dissected. My main concerns were policing the area between the Cathedral and the park where the benches are, the condition of flagstones around the Square and of course, the law preventing reproductions in the Square.

I told councilpersons Guidry and Palmer I had more to comment but couldn’t squeeze it all into two minutes so I would post it here on The Chicory. I do apologize to them for not having this up before now but I took my wife to The American Sector and ate a very delicious $7 hot dog after the meeting and busied myself with errands after that. All apologies for my tardiness.

Flagstones
Everyone agrees the flagstones are in pitiful shape. Dubious though is the cause. It is maintained that vehicles are causing the damage but there are many areas of the Square where no vehicle could reach where the flagstones are falling apart as well. These being on Decatur street by the front gates and at the corner of St. Peter and Decatur. It should also be noted that on Washington Artillery park and by Cafe du Monde, the same flagstones have been laid and many of those are falling apart with no vehicular traffic. Which to me eliminates vehicles as the sole cause of the broken flagstones.

The recommendations of the Task Force to disallow vehicles in the Square is impractical for events and basic facilitation of the Square’s businesses and interests. The recommendation of increased loading zones around the Square is wonderful but there are great concerns about enforcement. Will vehicles be disallowed and then the zones established or will the zones be established and enforcement instituted first?

Perhaps a simpler resolution would be to better enforce the rules of vehicles on the Square between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. There is a sign on the Square stating vehicles are permitted on the Square between these hours with police permission. Artists could apply for a permit to drive on the Square during these hours from the 8th district and display the permit when on the Square.

Either way, it has never seemed to me to be artist vehicle that are causing the destruction of the flagstones. But natural usage and subsidence. Particularly in the large problem area near the corner of St. Ann and Chartres street. Even if it was vehicles, the large delivery and special event trucks are the more likely culprit.

Interesting to note also is the line from the recommendation at the end of the first full paragraph on page 6 that reads, “Note: The Cathedral has frequent and legitimate needs to allow vehicles to drive on the malls such as funerals and weddings and should be exempt from regulation.” There should be clarification on what constitutes “legitimate” and perhaps even a review process to see if a disabled artists could also be considered having a legitimate need to drive their vehicle onto the Square.

The posted permitted hours on the Square are reasonable and should be maintained over absolute banning of vehicles on the Square (except for the Cathedral). Though blanket permits instead of police escort sounds like a more fitting solution.

Security
I don’t think anyone disagrees about this one. There needs to be better policing of the Square. Particularly, “the benches.” As an artists, one of the best places to set up is directly in front of the Cathedral. It’s beautiful there. I began setting up there and particularly enjoyed the bright setting, the large open space and the large crowds passing by my work. Less enjoyable were the groups gathered on the benches. I have witnessed knife fights, numerous passed out drunks in the middle of the day, loud, vocal curse-word filled arguments, harassments of tourists and their families and shoe shine scams. I have called the police many times and they do respond but going through the dispatch process usually slows things down (the dispatcher always seeming to have better things to do) and by the time the police arrive, the guilty parties have vanished. Often times, the officers working the Square are the first to arrive and they show up because a person literally ran over to them and told them what was happening. I’ve seen some perpetrators apprehended and I’ve seen some get away.

The benches are a very unique area to observe the musicians and essentially people-watch. I don’t set up back there anymore because the environment drives the business away. It could be a nice place for a visitor to take their family away from Bourbon Street.

Buggies
I often set up on Decatur and am a neutral observer to the daily goings on of the mule drivers. From that vantage point I can see a lot and have for two years and many hours.

I’ve never witnessed much obnoxious behavior from the drivers. They essentially stand in front of their carriages and announce their prices and services over and over again. I am set up there for eight to ten hours a day and it’s not a nuisance to me. So I can’t see how it could bother a tourist to hear it for a few seconds. Tourists who don’t want to take the tour just say “no thanks” and keep walking. Some tourists walk up and down the line listening and eventually pick a carriage. Some tourists have questions about the tour and the drivers oblige them. I can say without hesitation that I have never seen an incident out there between a driver and a tourist as a result of “barking.” I do see an awful lot of happy visitors to the city after their tour.

They also should be free to choose their carriage and their driver. There are different styles of tours and drivers and carriages. Some drivers have more personality than others. Styles vary. Basically, the driver does their tour in a certain fashion and the people on the tour can then either not recommend the driver to their friends and try another one next time or come back the next year with their friends and take the same driver. But the better experience for the visitor to New Orleans is to allow them a choice. It also encourages the drivers to present unique tours.

However, there does need to be a better effort to control the manure. Since the article in the Times-Picayune a few weeks ago, I have seen more attention paid to the issue. Pretending it’s not a problem isn’t any sort of solution. Carriage business owners should be given an opportunity to address the poop within their own companies and if it still persists, move from there. Only problem there is they are denying it’s an issue at all.