NOTE: This post should have lots of links but doesn’t.
After a year of planning the Conference was set to pop. I picked my wife Romy up from Tulane with a Toyota full of extra chairs and tables and electrical wiring none of which we would eventually need but were there as a back-up. My wife told me she had been smooshed on an amusement park ride earlier in the day by two large 225+ pound men who were on inside of a centrifuge.
We arrived at the Springhill Suites around 3:30 p.m. with some Ginger Ale and a bottle of Myers Golden Rum.
Check-in went something like this…
Varg: Yeah. HI THERE! My name… is, uh, Varg Vargas. I’m on the list, that’s for sure. Free lunch, final wisdom, total coverage. I have my attorneyyyyyyy, with me, and I realize that his name is not on that list, but we must have that suite! Must have that suite. What’s the score here? What’s next?
Desk Clerk: Your suite isn’t ready yet. But someone was looking for you…
Varg: [seeing her morph into an eel] Why? We haven’t done anything yet!
We managed to check in and I met Tim and Rob across the street as they were finalizing internet and chairs. We were later joined by Loki who refused drinks but smoked and drank Red Bull.
After four representatives from Cox managed to get us wired (yay Cox), we returned to the hotel and got ready. The boosterism on the hotel’s channel was curating New Orleans to death.
Food at the Howlin Wolf that night was tasty. Minglers began drifting in but the bartenders seemed to constantly be struggling with the taps. When the beer poured at all it came out with a head at least an inch high. This must be some sort of Howlin Wolf standard.
I know I met and chatted with lots of folks this night and the day of the conference but time and age must be catching up to me because the whole thing became a blur as I ran up and $80 bar tab and endured its hangover the next day.
At night’s end, I protested the lack of itemization of the tab but the bartenders excuse that they “just write it all on a cocktail napkin” was irrefutable. In a more sober state the next day I realized they were probably correct and the total had not been tampered with. No night is worth its expenses unless there is at least one regret. That was an epic tab.
Back at the hotel that night, I walked into this scene in Dangerblond’s room…
Dangerblond: Music, man. Put that tape on.
Sophmom: What tape?
Dangerblond: Jefferson Airplane, “White Rabbit”. I need a rising sound.
Sophmom: You’re doomed. I’m leaving here in two hours and then they’re going to come up here and beat the mortal shit out of you with big saps. Right there in that fucking tub.
Dangerblond: [Splashes and screams]
Sophmom: Alright, I’ll do it. But do me one last favor, will you. Can you give me two hours? That’s all I ask man, just two hours to sleep before tomorrow. I suspect it’s going to be a very difficult day.
Alli declared we all needed to be there by 7 a.m. in the morning and if the world was 30 minutes slower I would have made it. The hangover was strong. In my later years it seems to have moved from a general malaise to fortifications in my head and stomach. Jeffrey offered me some Aleve which I accepted but didn’t take. I don’t like to mask my physical pain the way I do the emotional kind. Better to suffer through it so you know exactly where you stand. Always strive for a deep intimacy with your own suffering. There are less illusions that way. We also had a conversation comparing hangovers to Lent. It was brilliant in a commiserating sort of way.
Hillary from Laurel Street Bakery arrived with coffee from PJs and pastries which she awesomely delivered for us this year. The pastries were delicious as always.
Sophmom, Leigh and Valerie McGinley (you rule) were rockin’ the check-in and things were sure-as-shit starting on time. Wh-what?
Chief Serpas came in and when shaking his hand I noticed that this dude is large. His hand engulfed mine. He’s also a bit of a card, cracking jokes and such before the panel and during. Alli mentioned her speeding ticket from the other day and the progress being made on police actions in that area of Religious Street. She called the previous incident there “shenanigans.” I was actually there Monday and saw the Popo with their lights on stopping traffic and pulled a u-ee before I could get caught up in any shenanigans of the ass-beating or fine-paying kind.
The public safety panel went off without a hitch, the crowd wasn’t quite rowdy and animated yet but WTF, it was still morning. I liked Peter Scharf the moderator. Serpas was pushing “you lie, you die” and there is some commentary about that below.
My hangover was going strong and I encountered Erster who advised me to take a hit out of the little brown bottle in his shaving kit, saying “you won’t need much, just a tiny taste.”
“What is this shit?!” I asked.
He replied, “Adrenochrome! That stuff makes pure mescalin seem like ginger beer, man.”
Up next was Mac McClelland and she was holding a hangover cure in her hand. I particularly enjoyed her “Bloody Mary as prop” style of speaking. I think several people were already drinking by this point including domestic lager aficionado Pants. I think Alli was two Bloody Marys ahead of Mac.
Mac’s speech had a very conversational tone to it with a bit of ire and frustration showing through. More reading on what she said and audio can be found below. I would also like to take this moment to say Pants was a victim of context in that post further down there and he was simply waiting to ask a question. The glow around Mac and the position of her onstage makes it seem like some sort of genuflection is happening but that wasn’t what occurred.
[just sayin] Although…he was very giddily showing off her lengthy dedication to him in her book. [/just sayin]
I missed much of the environmental panel as I finally relented and tried some hair of the dog as a hangover cure and sort of lingered around outside the main room and caught up with folks.
Lunch was great and the line moved very fast. Mad props to Howlin’ Wolf for knocking that out.
I would like to apologize right now to my fellow committee members who my darling wife said may have been trying to nicely chastise me for getting lunch before many of the attendees. Sorry guys. In hindsight, I should have waited. My hangover compelled me and the delicious brisket was sufficient in quelling it for good.
After lunch we were starting to reach a good density of myth dispellers. Probably the largest concentration of myth dispellers in any one place that weekend.
Politics panel got underway without a conservative and I was outraged! Not really, he showed up shortly thereafter “way overdressed” as described by Pants on Twitter. I think this was the portion of the Conference when I was like Tweet…, Twitt…, … I was on Twitter.
It should be noted that every panel has used cuss words this far. The best usage being “Bobby Jindal is a douchebag” by the keynote.
It seemed like after the politics panel things were beginning to get spirited. We were right in the middle of a fucking reptile zoo, and somebody was giving booze to the goddamn things. Wouldn’t be long before they tore us to shreds.
There was a bit of a scare when a chemically, burning smell began spreading that Cousin Pat and I weren’t convinced was burning duck tape but could not find any other source of. Right in the middle of that several attendees were having connectivity problems and I was sure this was where things were going to take a turn. But the smell went away and we solved the Internet problems by using Howlin Wolf’s pipe. I was actually under the impressions before that they didn’t have one but they must because a lady I was helping was using it. There was certainly something fruity going on with Apple computers and the internet that day.
By the time of Tim’s presentation, the spirited attendees were gathering in the bar area. I thought we may see some fireworks when Sandy Rosenburg got up to ask a question but it was all very tame.
Much love to Clifton Harris of Cliff’s Crib, this year’s Ashmo Award winner.
Treme panel came on and though some folks thought it was tame, I thought it was perfect. No complaints here. What kind of action do you want at a panel on a TV show? Maybe if it was a panel on “The Wire” though. Omar comin!
Even though the after party was decided on a few days before no one thought to check if maybe, I don’t know, the bar in question, right on St. Charles, may, perhaps, be closed for a private party that night? This fiasco was worse than the Fahey’s /Avenue Pub split we had last year. It only got worse before everyone finally ended up at the Half Moon where tired but jovial remnants of the conference drank beer, did shots, listened to the likes of Fugazi, Rancid and “Purple Rain” before slowly trickling out into the night.
In the end, it was a classic affirmation of everything right and true in the national character. A gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country. But only for those with true grit. And we are chock full of that, man.