Posted by: Varg in Food
My wife’s Chili recipe up in here, up in HERE…
· 3-4 Spanish onions, peeled and finely chopped (about 3 cups)
· 1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped, stems included
· entire head of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
· 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, de-seeded and minced
· 1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped medium
· 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
· 2 lbs. pinto beans, rinsed, picked over, soaked overnight and drained
· Large can of whole tomatoes and their juice
· Small can tomato paste
· 2 lbs. ground chuck
· 2-3 bay leaves
· 1 TBSP dried oregano
· 3 TBSP chili powder
· 2 TBSP ground cumin
· 1 TBSP kosher salt
· 1 ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
· Pinch of ground cinnamon
· Pinch of ground cloves
· 1 oz. (about two 1” squares) dark chocolate
· 1 tsp. ground coffee
· ¼ cup corn meal
· Sour cream
· Grated cheddar cheese
· Tortilla chips
· chopped scallions
· chopped cilantro
· chopped tomatoes
· pico de gallo or hot sauce
Add the beans to a large, heavy bottomed pot with enough water to cover by 3”. Adde bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover, then turn flame down to medium and cook until tender. May be done ahead of time. Reserve cooking liquid.
Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add ground beef, breaking it apart with wooden spoon, cook until meat starts to brown.
Drain all but 2-3 TBSP of fat from pan and add onions. Cook until they soften. Add garlic, peppers, tomato paste, spices, coffee, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until tomato paste starts to brown a bit. Add whole tomatoes and their liquid, break apart with hands or spoon. Stir.
Add chocolate and stir until dissolved. Add beans and their cooking liquid. Give a big stir to combine, give a big stir and let simmer for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.
Add corn meal and stir well. If it’s too watery, let simmer for several minutes uncovered until thick and hearty. Remove from heat, check for seasoning. Add more salt, if needed and let stand, covered, for 20 minutes before serving. Better if cooled, refrigerated, reheated and served the next day. Serve with garnishes on the side and enjoy.
Posted by: Varg in Tide
UPDATE: Jason Berry has uploaded the Culture or Commodity video which greatly helps put this post in context. The phrase used was “find a way.” I wonder how many artists get lost while “finding a way?” Also, while everyone did a very good job on the panel I want to single out Deb Cotton and Brian Boyles for their insight. /UPDATE
Full disclosure: I help organize the Rising Tide Conference. I have more of a role in the presentation of the conference as a whole and a smaller voice in the nuances of programming.
In hopes of continuing the conversation in reference to the Community or Culture panel of the past weekend’s Rising Tide Conference, I seemed to be left wanting a lot more. More along the lines of contrasting New Orleans versus a pandemic of cities throughout America that are destroying their culture and providing paltry assistance to the arts. Here in New Orleans, we have one that is showing some interest in it as a viable and sustaining part of its future and that’s being poo-pooed by folks because they don’t want their sensibilities in regards to that culture tarnished.
I get it. Commodification of the culture is bad. All bad? How bad? Any good?
Where is the line? What’s the difference between investing in the arts and commodifying them? I don’t have the answer. The lines haven’t been drawn. But, like pornography, you know it when you see it.
While current second line issues and bar permits are certainly making the natural spontaneity of our culture quite viscous, I’m not entirely sure how that really reflects on the corporate commodification of the culture. The culture’s being fucked with, sure. But how it is being fucked with in regards to profiteering is not clear to me. Does it exist?
Now, Ho-Zone? Yes, that smelled like corporate commodification.
But the very real issue of having a robust community of viable artists who can pay their bills and are free to pursue their craft full time and are equitably rewarded for that is just left out there on the vine. And when given a chance to address it, a panelist on the Culture vs. Commodity panel said artists will make do like they always have done.
To be honest, making do, or getting by, or whatever the usage was during the panel, is quite suggestive of not having anything left after the bills are paid each month. And that’s not exactly good enough. We have to have an underfunded musician’s clinic here in New Orleans because getting by isn’t good enough. The “day job” exists because getting by isn’t good enough.
I understand that no one wants some corporate Disneyland representation of our culture depicted by insensitive companies throughout the city. But, letting the artists eat cake sucks too. Artists die, get on drugs, lose all their money and so on.
Take playing guitar as just one example of many. Playing just standard guitar in a band takes skill and practice. Maybe not a lot but, at least as much as, say typing or tailoring. More than bartending. But even the best guitarist, the ones who are naturally talented and then have added years of practice and skill and mentoring to their skills are still doing as they have always done and just getting by.
Of course, there is always the joy of it right? But what does that commodify? Happiness. If something you do sucks, you get paid more. If you enjoy it, you get paid less. Somewhere in there a truly sinister commodification exists. If you suffer for us, we will pay you for it. Minimum wage.
And how about I get a little personal?
My wife is an amazing jazz singer and songwriter. She is also a very good Standardized Patient Coordinator for Tulane Medical School. But while a number of people could be brought up to speed and trained in her job at the school, far fewer could provide her vocals and songwriting to the New Orleans music scene.
She is also a homeowner here in Algiers. Our house is in better shape now than when we moved in. She has the sensibilities to buy a nice old house and to care for it. She’s a very good cook who frequently forgoes Wal-Mart for Rouses and the Gretna family-owned supermarket Casey Jones and while at these places, buys all manner of local products like beer, canned goods, hot sauce and so on and so forth.
So she is a great New Orleanian. She’s not a native, but she’s contributing across the board to many of the best parts of our culture because she is an artist herself and can discern the organic stuff from the corporate shit. And that helps the rest of us, a lot.
However, rather than having the comfort level and security to use her voice to make her way here in New Orleans and contribute to its ongoing cultural legacy, she too, even with a day job and her night gigs, is “getting by,” “making do,” “finding a way.”
So, while the selling of our culture by corporate entities is indeed dirty and whorish. The main ingredient in the argument must always be the continued viability of those who contribute to it. And not just getting by like they always have but actually prospering, having health benefits, raising children, buying homes, getting resources, tools, supplies to better contribute and perhaps even inspire?
While locals do their best and certainly supplement a lot of incomes, corporate, tourist and civic dollars help tremendously. Musicians may bemoan corporate gigs, but they take them and sometimes, they even have a good time there. And most of the time the corporate gigs pay far more than the local establishments like, oh I don’t know, Balcony Music Club for example.
My wife was taught early by a local trumpet player that $50 makes “a gig.” You may show up and put a tip jar out and get a percentage of the bar but if you make under $50, it wasn’t “a gig.” Corporate gigs are always “a gig.” Now understand, we are talking about $50 fucking dollars for a night’s work by what we like to call the best musicians in the country.
Sometime’s my wife comes home and shakkes her head and says, “It wasn’t a gig.”
So is an artist supposed to forgoe health care and a mortgage and “get by” simply so someone’s sensitivities to what they think the culture should be won’t be offended?
The thinnest line in this battle was brought up after the panel on Saturday. Certainly a Mardi Gras Indian with a tip bucket in front of him in Jackson Square feels wrong. There was a notion that these Indians are rogues who got their hands on a suit of some sort. There was a notion that the Big Chief of these tribes would put a stop to this if he only knew. How the Big Chief is supposed to have missed someone in his feathers in the busiest square in town with picture after picture being taken of him for a few years now was left out.
But if this isn’t some rogue element, and it’s real Mardi Gras Indians out there, then that means that members of some tribes are also simply trying to get by as well.
Posted by: Varg in Storms
Even though the shameless national media and the garish exaggerations of Weather Channel reporters had many folks’ friends and families across the nation terrified and convinced Hurricane Isaac was indeed a “Katrina Redux,” for a great many of us, it wasn’t.
Though for some, it was, but across the region, not so much. Lives were lost. Homes flooded. Sorrow. Despair. But not with the vastness of Katrina. It was its own solitary tragedy.
There were though some comparissions to be be made. Not the comparisons a statistician, engineer or meterologist might make but, ones those people may make independent of their positions, ones just an average person may make. Comparisons made in the senses and psyches of those of us who have been victims before. Ethereal ghosts.
Like the smells.
The most pungent aroma is the rotting refrigerator. A few short days after power goes out, the quickly decaying proteins and carbs sealed tight in the festering, humid and dank environments inside the darkened Frigidaires and Whirlpools begin to putrefy. Sometimes still in their plastic wrappers but other times in loose cellophaned styrofoam. What was to be a comforting Sunday dinner took a turn in the multiverse and become a corroded chunk of cow corpse, the juices leaking out onto the linoleum.
No matter what the neighbors say, the smell will never leave the fridge. Some days you won’t smell it at all, and others there will be that slight scent of spoilage. But the apparition will remain. You’ll remember this storm and with it your decision not to replace this refrigerator. You will have yourself and Mother Nature to blame.
I haven’t noticed the tombstones of refrigerators outside of houses this year as much as after Katrina but I have tried to stay hunkered down. I actually prefer hunkering down. I support hunkering down even if a storm isn’t passing overhead. Hunker down as much as possible. Never get out of the boat.
There is also, outside, a more generalized smell of dank, dead leaves and foliage. A billion leaves must have perished in Isaac. It’s an Earthy smell, something a worm would love. They are always down there you know. Waiting for us all. Waiting for our return. Ashes to ashes and dirt to dirt.
And of course there is the auditory sense. The generators are brave R2 units in the battle against power outages. With them comes the cacophony of models and wattages producing different sounds but all of them together sounding like we came from another past where the combustion gas engine became the preferred power source.
This hum was around after Katrina too. More sparse as not so many people were back. But some people were in such a hurry to get back and start their lives after being marooned in real America for weeks or months with no direction, they rushed home with or without power. Jack O’ Lanterned houses would buzz with generators.
The light is similar to Post-Katrina. The sun is in the same spot in the sky as it was back then with its late Summer slanting. The trees have lost a lot of foliage and certain degrees of sunlight slip through the weather beaten plumage just like in 2005 and 2008 after Gustav. Painters who work with color will say the light is everything. It changes how things essentially appear. Less shadow now. More light and more heat.
The computer models we constantly check and the National Weather Service’s 5-day forecast maps are pretty standard and haven’t changed much since Katrina. They are visual ghosts. My wife gets anxious when she sees the ugly green and blue forecast graphic on my computer screen. The “spaghetti” models with their slight disagreements appear sometimes abstract. An optimist and a pessimist can read the same models in different ways. One sees the storm trending away, another coming right for us.
And then finally there is the anxiety, that fear in people’s psyches as the same words and phrases are said: “Cat 3,” “storm surge,” “11 p.m. update,” “northeast quadrant” and more. These are the technical phrases those haunted by the ghosts of hurricanes understand.
So for most, but not all, Isaac wasn’t a Katrina redux. For the rest of the country, there was nothing to see here. But to us here on the Gulf Coast, living victims haunted in our heads by hurricanes like Betsy, Camille, Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. Their ghosts linger within us on our skin and in our souls just the same.
Posted by: Varg in Lit
They made it back to the square with a dozen barrels of sweet wine and corn whiskey. Some powerful fireworks. Some drugs and pharmacy items. The captain also donated some tools and textiles to the town, mostly linens and baskets, some mosquito repellent, freon, a few guns, motors, basic items they could keep or trade.
“Any trouble?” asked Mr. Rex.
“Just tardiness” replied Andre.
“Why did he say he was late?”
“Said he fought some picaroons at Old Delta.”
“He get any?”
“A few. He said they could tell something was up. Probably felt the pressure in their ears. He also said some fellas from Empire came up to the boat looking to trade some old nets and machine parts.”
“What did they look like?”
“Skin and bones.”
“And the town?”
“Said it was smaller. Some of the out buildings sunk a little more. Nobody living in them anymore. No women or kids. A few old men and less of them than last time.”
Rex thought for a second. Empire was his first camp in the free country. Back before he was appointed the title of Mr. Rex in Care Forgot. Even though he wasn’t born there. Nobody cared that he about that. What they cared most for was wits and soul and he was full f both. Most in the settlement now were dissidents rather than natives. Gave up on the other side and settled themselves instead of the land.
Rex was familiar with the drillers down there. They sustained themselves on fishing, farming, trapping and trade from their long levied islands. Since he went North the farms had gone from flooding every Summer and Spring to flooding all the time. And the stubborn people sdown there either scattered or suffered. So much animosity had built up between them and the real country that staying was the only option they felt they had.
“Ghosts,” Mr. Rex said. “…after all they have seen. After what they have gone through. It’s man against God down there now. Their levees are undermined and breaking apart. Their houseboats floating away. They are ghosts and perhaps soon we will be too.”
Andre knew Rex meant the storm. All the instruments and the satellite feeds suggested a surge higher than the levees, pushing up the old dead river, over the levees and, into the fortification.
“It’s Independence day chief. Let’s have a drink” he said.
Posted by: Varg in Lit
A serialized short story mostly written in 2007 / 2008 and finally serialized here after a few years have past…
Andre stood atop the Poland levee, trying to find the barge. Mosquitos were eating him up and niether the torches nor Ms. Mary’s oils was keeping them off.
“Goddamn skeeters!” Giles screamed, slapping himself on the face and neck. “These mahfuckers gettin’ worse and worse!” Then he lit another bottle rocket.
Andre agreed about the bugs but knew anything he said about them would encourage more of Giles’ chatter. He had endured more than he could stand. The late barge made it longer. The mosquitos made it worse.
“This capn’s jerkin’ our chains man! They ain’t comin’! They aint riskin’ it for our trade. They aint got the heart neither.”
Up the river, the houses were lighting up with warm amber glows. Careworn villagers were coming out to their screened porches and visiting with neighbors, and Andre could see by their body language that they too were wondering when the barge would get there. There was a nervous energy among them, as they looked down river at the small group of makeshift stevedores that gathered to unload the barge.
Andre was concerned about the barge. Perhaps the inbred idiot Giles was right. The captain was afraid he wouldn’t make it here and back. It was more than a night’s travel up to the Control Structure and the celebration wouldn’t wait.
Giles lit a bouquet of Roman candles. He was ready. The fireworks were the beginning of his celebration. These moments were why he endured season after season. He had seen too much. His family had been here since the beginning of it all and he was the only one left. He believed in the spirit of the land and was well aware of it sinking beneath his feet. He told Andre once his family drove a totem so far into the alluvial silt they hit bedrock and that it was some sort of divine decree of his birthright here on this “new” land.
The top of the totem is still above water on their frontage plot upriver so he claimed.
Andre didn’t care much for his conversation but respected the blood, even if they started going crazy a hundred years back. His inane personality passed down from generation to generation and got worse copy after copy.
A horn blew twice, paused, and as Andre listened intently, blew a third time. The barge was coming into the crescent.
“Let’s go,” said Andre.
Posted by: Varg in Lit
There seems to be a recent connection to dystopia in the South Louisiana aether. It makes its way through the collective consciousness of our region with artistic endeavors like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moira Crone’s novel The Not Yet‘. Perhaps the humidity hastens the invisible conduits of thought from person to person?
That film and novel got me thinking a short story I wrote back when I first started blogging. It was meant to be a serial series here on The Chicory. It was called “The Independence Day Sermon of Jasper Theriot” and was about a ragged group of New Orleans die-hards who after the oil crash, a series of storms and the sea level rise, huddle on levee encampments, salvage scrap and drill for the last remnants of oil around the area to run their city. Their spiritual leader was a weird fella named Jasper Theriot.
I remember what I was thinking at the time it was written. I was thinking that no matter what, New Orleans was doomed. Like the wounded, vulnerable member of the pack, it wouldn’t last. It was too improbable. I connected the exuberance of the culture and its relentless, hypnotizing fascination with celebration, death and rebirth with an unconscious acceptance by each and every person who walked on this alluvial silt that New Orleans, like our singular lives, was temporary. So do what you can, while you can. Live, love, revel and rejoice because the darkness is almost upon us. Define the negative space with your joys and happiness.
I recall telling a neighbor about the story and he thought it would make a great film so I ditched the serial idea and began trying to piece together a larger, more sprawling story with him. He thought it would be intriguing to make it a third incarnation of the “Heart of Darkness” story wherein an outsider comes into the makeshift encampment to kill Jasper due to his inciting the country to revolt from the safe confines of the no-longer-sovereign city of New Orleans. The story grew from there and several more characters came into creation but then, like so many long-term art projects, it faded away for one reason or the next.
I held on to “The Independence Day Sermon of Jasper Theriot” film idea but my friendship with the neighbor also faded and, since he had some sort of creative ownership over the whole “Heart of Darkness” idea, the story kind of remained tied to that.
Inspired by what I saw in Beasts of the Southern Wild and by what I have head of “The Not Yet” (haven’t read it but am anxious to get to Octavia books and get a copy) I feel compelled to follow through on my original plan and post the story here in its serial form.
That said, I will also feel compelled to make a few edits along the way. There is no better editor than your future self you know!
I’ll begin posting it next week. The word count of the document is about 3600 words making it a decent length for a short story. Less than a novella, more than “flash fiction.” I’ll know after it is all said and done how much I edited it by comparing word counts before and after. It’s an exciting exercise for me actually, fascinated as I am with the continuing interaction between people’s past, present and future selves. How the past self helps and hurts the future self for example.
Anyway, if anyone feels like taking the time to see a sneak preview, I will post a short list of character traits I wrote out as I tried to establish who Jasper Theriot was. So I pictured him and his history in my head and wrote out this list to sort of provide a constitution for me to reference as I wrote about him. It’s actually a bit hysterical.
The Truths of Jasper Theriot
Jasper only wears Earth tones.
Japser is often seen chewing on stems of herbs.
Jasper listens to everyone’s story.
Jasper accepts everyone except those who reject him or his loved ones.
Jasper has many loved ones.
Jasper has self actualized.
Jasper is 6′ 4″.
Jaasper never issues an order.
Jasper never makes a decision.
Jasper was born in an unidentified Acadiana Parish.
Jasper’s hair is silver.
Japser is not afraid of death.
Jasper never mourns.
Jasper doesn’t hold government in contempt, only it’s failures.
Jasper likes young, creole women.
Jasper has been shot three times and stabbed once.
Jasper is known for elaborate costumes on appropriate occasions.
Jasper has a large tatoo that reads “Farewell to Flesh.”
Jasper’s closest confidant is Bruh Andre.
Jasper’s eyes are pale blue.
Jasper reads only text books.
Jasper does not do drugs (without a spiritual reason).
Jasper was chosen by his people, he did not choose them.
Jasper is a creature of the night and sleeps through the morning.
Jasper killed an oil executive in self defense.
Jasper is fascinated with geneology.
Jasper swims in the river for excercise.
Jasper can identify more than a hundred species of butterfly.
Jasper is suspect of social sciences, particularly historians.
Jasper’s home is equipped with many weather instruments.
All the women Jasper ever loved are dead.
Jasper will never trust someone who has been proved to be a liar.
Japser has no family.
Jasper was known to hitchhike on highways.
Jasper keeps up with friends on the other side.
Jasper calls his closest friends “cousin.”
Jasper has never driven a car.
As a child, Jasper was terrified of church.
Jasper does not believe in destiny.
Jasper sometimes feels effected by Universes vast and miniscule.
Jasper doesn’t wear sunglasses.
Jasper loves the pipe organ.
Jasper’s is a relentless journal keeper.
Jasper is a relentless letter writer.
Jasper has jumped from many bridges.
Jasper looks at you when he is talking to you.
Jasper loves farce.
When Jasper smiles, his eyes come close to shutting.
Jasper is left handed.
Posted by: Varg in Art, Jax2
I was stopped in my tracks early Sunday morning on Jackson Square by this splendid painting by a fellow artist, Conroy.
Perhaps the performance of Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild was still fresh in my head but never the less, the imagery in the painting was quite moving for me.
Painted from an evening photo taken around a streetcar line, the New Orleans girl defines her sassy, cool soul with a bold and brassy posture, bell bottomed pants and funky hair accessories. Though her face is shrouded by the back light there is no need for that form of expressions, the stance says it all. This is a pristine moment. But… night is falling on youthful exuberance, creeping in from the top of the piece in darker, bluer shades.
Don’t be fooled by all the fleur de lis and jazz men under lamposts that seem to stick out on Jackson Square, there is some very amazing and very affordable art out there every weekend.
Posted by: Varg in Art, Jax2
As a full-fledged, self-supporting, fedora-sporting member of the growing creative class, I present these 12 tips in the best ways to buy from and deal with street artists or market vendors…
Do not devalue the art.
One can try to bring the price of a piece down by pointing out what they perceive as flaws in it. What they actually do is demean their own taste. Why would they want to hang something sub-par on their wall (or worse, give as as a gift)?
Don’t say, “I’ll be back” as a way of saying “I’m not interested.”
Many people don’t want to hurt the feelings of an artist by showing interest in the work but not buying. So they say, “I’ll be back” even though they have no intention of doing so. Just say, “Thanks, it’s beautiful.” The problem is the artist sometimes expects the person to be back and may even wait on them. It can be especially uncomfortable when someone forgets they told the artist they would be back and then by chance happens on by again and the artist sees them and says, “You’re back!” and the person embarrassingly has to sort of slip away. Awkward.
Especially don’t say,”I am coming back to buy this one, can you hold it for me?”
I never hold a piece unless there is some money down but some artists do. A better plan would be to just pay for it all and then have the artist put a “sold” sign on it. “Sold” signs up the value of the art. Otherwise, inevitably the piece that is being held with no money down is wanted by someone with money in hand and the artist has a dilemma. Worst case scenario, they pass on the person who wanted to buy it and the first party doesn’t return. Second worst, they go ahead and sell it and the first person returns and questions their ethics.
Never say, “I could do that.”
Pardon me for slipping into first person here. I mean them, not you reader.
First off, you couldn’t. Not without the artist having presented the composition for you to copy. It’s not your original idea and original ideas are where much of the value in the art is.
Second, You may think you could do it but, it won’t look as good. There are many details in most art. Much of that detail is discovered little by little by little as the artist develops their craft. Whatever bullshit attempt at the piece you are making will lack several of those details because you haven’t put in the time and not look as good.
Third off, I am assuming you know how to cook a steak too. So does that mean you have never bought one? You’re paying someone else to present a finished product to you. It’s not a competition between your skills and theirs. The artist could probably be a desk clerk or whatever the hell it is you do also.
Fourth, I make my stuff in a messy shop with tools I have bought one by one. You will need this shop and these tools to make the piece. It’s not cost effective to buy all this to make one piece. If you happen to have a chop saw, scroll saw, jig saw, clear coat, several bottles of spray paint, sandpaper, brad nails, floral wire, a staple gun with staples, and wood salvaged right here in New Orleans which might be hundreds of years old, go ahead.
… I aint planning on living forever but I do plan on promoting myself and my art until the day I die and with luck that will make this stuff go up in value while your bullshit knockoff never will.
“I’ve got $50 CASH.”
At some point in the past, having folding money may have been preferable to a check that may not clear or a knuckle-busted credit card that would have to be phoned in and then not be approved. But these days, credit card transactions are instant through smart phones and go right into an artist’s bank account for a 2.7% fee. So if what the buyer if offering as an incentive is a greater amount than that percentage point, the CASH isn’t an incentive at all. It seems more like a way of saying, “Look you fool I am trying to give you MONEY here!” But honestly, there are all sorts of people who are offering money who aren’t trying use pejoratives to do so. Perhaps it’s like a wink, wink, nod, nod that I may not have to claim the cash on my tax return but it would look pretty funny if a street artist reported nothing but credit card sales wouldn’t it? Like there is no one using cash in this mostly cash business.
Never just leave it up to the Universe to make the decision. It is the will of the Universe if civilization gets destroyed by Planet X. It is not the will of the Universe that is deciding this art purchase. Horace said “SEIZE the day.” He didn’t say “Seize the day if it is there when you get back from Cafe Du Monde.” See more here.
How much is this? $100? How about 25?
As a rule, I will never go below a two-thirds of my asking price and only then under extenuating circumstances such as the piece being particularly heavy and difficult to schlep, or particularly delicate and in danger of being ruined, or having been in inventory a particularly long time. But I don’t go below that for anyone except a client who has been generous in the past, or a friend, or someone buying multiple items from me at one time. To just expect some vast discount of 50% or more, again, shows the attempt at a pejorative and is always shot down, often in a reverse pejorative that belittles the person and makes them look cheap. “I do take food stamps” and “Awww, $100 IS a lot of money for you isn’t it?” are favorites.
The art is priced at what it is because it has been proven to sell at that price.
If there are multiple pieces hanging that are similar in size and detail, it is usually because this item is not some lone artistic effort but rather a proven seller. It has a specific look, takes a specific amount of time and effort to create, requires a specific amount of effort to present and has a specific price. If one customer doesn’t buy it, another one will. So asking for money off of these pieces is akin to just asking the artist for $20 and then walking away. Some artists entire inventory is composed of art that all looks somewhat similar with slight differences. These artists are more calculated in their inventory and are less likely to just give money away. I often start certain types of pieces low and based on the comments I hear and how quickly they begin to sell, move them up to a price that seems to be reasonable for the clients and me.
Never treat money as “bait.”
Never, EVER, ever, ever, ever, ever, wave money around in front of the artist in an attempt to hypnotize them with its allure. It’s just not that enticing and especially isn’t in the hands of the individual who would do so. The artist has chosen to utilize their beautiful mind to beautify the world, if they were so seduced by money they would have run a 900 number or been a preacher something.
A “starving” artist looks like one.
Most good artists aren’t “starving.” Romantic notion but not so common. They either have another job on the side or, if they don’t, can pay all their monthly bills with what they make from art which, by definition, includes groceries. A starving, or just broke-ass, artist will show their desperation early and won’t be asking much for their work in the first place.
If you are looking for some special deal…
…approach after the artist has just set up or on the verge of breaking down. Sometime they like to “break the ice” quickly. Sometimes they want to finish up with a sale and lighten the load.
More affordable prices can not be found anywhere.
If one encounters an artist on the street or at a market, they are getting direct-from-artist prices. Galleries often feature art marked-up by 40% to 60%. That’s acceptable, sure. Galleries (well, some galleries) promote the artist, provide a more stationary point of sale and so on. But if the opportunity presents itself at a market or on the street to buy the piece direct from the person who created it. Do so. There will be no middle man. You get to meet the artist and ask them questions and find out more about your piece than one normally would at a gallery or shop. And more money goes to the artist. I price my pieces the same in the gallery or out so, I do pay out to the gallery 40%. It’s worth it to me because they do some of the work. But the best place to get the art is drirect from the artist.
Posted by: Varg in Humanism
A principle ethic of humanism is dignities, the natural-born right for any person to live a dignified and worthy life of their choosing and unmolested by those stronger, more powerful or with a greater willingness toward cruelty. The prevailing philosophy is, if each person always considered essential human dignity in their worldly actions, human rights ills like slavery, genocides and all forms of oppression would cease. Lofty.
Some say that we humans have an inherent selflessness hardwired into the collective species that should prevent us from the continued harm of others, a biological altruism. This is shown by individuals putting themselves in harm’s way when a child runs in front of a car or a person saving someone from committing suicide. See how this man describes his actions at the end of this video.
But of course, recent and distant history shows this isn’t precisely so. But it isn’t so because somewhere in the philosophies of the oppressors, this focus on human dignity is reasoned with and dispatched, leaving the perpetrator with what they often claim is, “no choice,” or that the ones who suffer at their hands are somehow less than human.
And while this drought of dignity seems as if it occurs only on dark continents and in third worlds, it doesn’t. In fact, it often happens within a few dozen miles of our homes. It isn’t a genocide or an ethnic cleansing. Not even close. But is an indignity that exists in the here and now and the spiritual reasoning that enables those indignities is implicit in our culture…
On Point with Tom Ashbrook Podcast: Exploited Labor In The USA
The story out of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana sounded Third World. Guest workers in a seafood processing plant allegedly forced to work 24-hour shifts. 80-hour weeks. Barricaded in so they couldn’t escape. Threatened with beatings to work faster. Bullied. Underpaid. Families threatened. Forced labor.
Last month, Wal-Mart suspended the supplier of crawfish, and the horror stories ricocheted around the country. But in a bad economy, with the pressure on, exploited labor doesn’t just happen on the bayou.
This hour, On Point: On the bottom rung. Exploited labor in America.
NY Times: Wal-Mart Suspends Supplier of Seafood
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Posted by: Varg in Witness
“The Good Thing About Showers At A Second Line Is, Everyone Already Has Their Parasols.”
The rain began at 4:30 p.m. in the metro area and continued unabated for an hour and a half. A group of Jackson Square artists and I met up at Matassa’s to get “warmed up” and then crossed over Rampart to the shooting side and made our way through Treme to Tuba Fats Square.
No one in my group would be recognized by Uncle Lionel Baptist except possibly in passing but we were all affected by his his graceful Tao. Conversations were often had between us over the years about where he had been seen, what he was doing and perhaps most importantly, what he was wearing. So his presence was always noted in our lives in the Square and the blocks surrounding it where we live out our working lives on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. He was like some sort of astronomical or meteorological phenomenon.
“I saw a shooting star last night”
“There was a rainbow this afternoon”
“I saw Uncle Lionel outside Three Muses yesterday. He was wearing a gorgeous caramel colored coat.”
At Tuba Fats Square, we waited for 45 minutes for the second line to start and in that time the rain poured more and more and the umbrellas stopped doing much good as the rain either blew under them or concentrated waterfalls of it from the eaves of houses overwhelmed them. So many just accepted that they would be soaked and stood in the rain.
“Whoever thought to dress all these women in white during a heavy rain was a genius.”
“It was probably some divine intervention from Uncle Lionel.”
A man came by with sandwich bags for people’s cell phones. Another with a rolling cooler full of beers. The cooler bar even had a price structure. Domestics were $2 and imports were $3. A woman in a laundry mat was selling photos of Unc.
An old time artist told me a man had been shot at Tuba Fats’ funeral for selling water from a cooler in front of another man’s business. He died and the business owner went to jail. I guess it’s a kinder New Orleans after the “blank slate.”
The crowd looked full of New Orlenians. We would later see a crowd that did not look like New Orleanians standing on the side of the street as we passed by. But here at the Square we didn’t see so many.
The rain drenched scene became beatific when the downpour became a drizzle and the sun began to show through. It occurred to me recently that that heavenly scene that happens after an afternoon shower comes from the slanted sunlight reflecting off of the still damp environment and the puddles on the ground. All this reflected, refracted light couples with long shadows of negative space and creates a blessing aesthetic. This happened just as the brass bands began to play. As the environment, emotion and spirits all seemed to converge, we were underway.
Two teen-agers who seemed at a glance in unison but were each executing utterly different moves to the same rythym danced in front of the doors of a raised double shotgun. A weathered woman we dubbed “Mello Yello” with shorts mostly up her ass and a little halter top blew the lid off. A man in a motorized wheelchair kept pace. My fellow artist Justin was cutting loose and drenched in perspiration and precipitation. My flip-flops and the density of the crowd limited my down-getting but I was doing my best. We were nestled just behind the drummers so it was quite easy to be seduced by the music and sort of, just let go.
A few times our group was able to juke our way up to the brass and it is there where one can authentically bask in the sound of a second line. Brass is very loud, but it’s a full and especially fine sound. Not like a feedback amplifier with electric guitar, this is not a technological creation. This is not an electronic sound. It’s a true sound. An ancient sound. A triumphant sound with a brilliant visual aesthetic of curves and shiny iridescence to accompany it.
By the time we made it to Rampart, the slant of Sun was quite glorified and the golden coloring of the whole experience became almost absurd, like Thomas Kincade absurd. Perhaps it was my orange-tinted sunglasses. Some even reported a rainbow.
The line was quite long and spirited and the numbers were hard to estimate from the inside. French Quarter tourists who came upon the scene unawares bore astonished looks, stopped in their tracks.
We continued down Rampart to St. Claude where the line became a two headed snake and halted traffic in both directions. Some on the stopped city bus enjoyed the scene from inside, others, not so much.
“In New Orleans, crowd dispersal techniques only require brass bands moving in opposite directions.”
After a final I’ll Fly Away was sung on the streets by anyone who knew the words, a sousaphone heavy contingent splintered and made its way toward Frenchmen and our group obediently followed. It broke up along the way and spilled loosely organized alluvial groups into the Marigny to finish off their evenings.
Ours was pretty much finished already. We reveled all the way home.
Though the catharsis of the event was exhilarating. It still exists as only a placeholder on a shelf inside the mansion of our hearts. When the loss of the iconic Uncle Lionel Baptiste is thought of in the future, the events of this Friday the 13th and any future events to honor him will be duly noted. They serve as apt punctuation, true, but the loss remains. Hopefully, as sons become fathers, more of us can stay true to our bliss and follow it to the level of respect and love reached by this man, this great Uncle.
(Some images used in this post were taken by Derek Bridges. See the gallery here.)