Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Monday, August 29, 2005

Hiding out Upstream

Sitting in Hattiesburg, Mississippi waiting for the storm to hit.

Watching the news from home and on CNN.

An interesting (though rather GEEKY) side story is that CNN even has reporters filing their stories via FTP. There are also a number of blogs from the storm front. In particular, here and here.

The good news for New Orleans is that the eye moved ever so slightly east of downtown which probably saved the city from total disaster.

So far up here it's blowing like crazy, branches are flying around outside, and a pine tree across the street just cracked in half. We've still got several hours before Katrina really gets here, but at least we're sitting at higher ground.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

On the Road to Mississippi

100 miles in 10 hours... Basically, Katrina is moving faster than we're getting away.

this is an audio post - click to play

Gettin' the Hell outta Dodge

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday Morning in the Bull's Eye

Yesterday St. Charles Avenue near my house was backed up for blocks as people tried to get gas and money.

This morning it's looking more like a ghost town.

The weather guy on tv just referred to New Orleans as the bull's eye and the hurricane spent the night in the hot Gulf of Mexico waters fueling up and raising to a Cat 5.

Every few minutes the folks on TV say, "Get OUT." But, I just got here! And this is MY town. They estimate that there are 100,000 people who CAN'T get out and I really want to be here to help out after Katrina passes by. Of course, that's assuming I don't wind up being one of the people who NEEDS help!

Frankly, I don't have anywhere to go and no way to get out, so I'm here for the duration. Sooner or later I'm sure I won't be able to blog any more, but I'm going to try to keep up a report for as long as it's possible.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Make it a Hurricane Before I Go Insane

Three weeks and here we are. It's looking like New Orleans is finally going to get hit by a real hurricane.

People are pumping gas and hitting the banks and beating it the hell outta Dodge.

At the corner of Napolean and St. Charles (two blocks from my house) is already packed and they are discussing setting up evacuations of the city.

Here comes Katrina!

I just have one question... What would Jimmy Buffett do?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

On the Air!

Well... all of my partying and rambling was not in vain. After suffering through so many drinks and so much food the first reports from the first Battle of New Orleans are in and the first podcast is operational.

Check it out at Food Fetish, or if you prefer, you can click straight to the podcast here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Where is Flair?

Moving to this classic southern city has rather quickly made me aware of an element that has long been lacking in my life and which I have not only longed for, but which I believe that I missed even when I didn't know I was missing it. The southern woman I spent the last 17 years with missed it too, but her way of describing the quality she longed for was to express her wish that I could be "more southern."

This missing element is certainly not simply a Southern characteristic, nor, for that matter, is it particularly American. Some would even suggest that it is really the antithesis of most American deportment both in personal, as well as political affairs, but that's for the other blog. The quality itself is described rather wonderfully in a song from the Broadway show, "Starting Here Starting Now" by Richard Maltby and David Shire, and I have often asked myself the question that the singer poses... "Where is Flair?"

Flair is made up of many elements, it is composed, like a great cocktail (many of which I had this weekend) of equal parts sweetness, individuality and personal strength. It is manifest in dress, carriage, individual style and, perhaps most significantly, manners.

On Saturday afternoon, I went meandering about the French Quarter on the Cocktail Tour where I discovered many things about the old French Quarter establishments that I didn't know. I was treated to a lovely tour through the many dining rooms of Antoines Restaurant, saw dozens of historical photos of the many Mardi Gras krewes that have called Antoine's home on Fat Tuesday and met the absolutely delightful, Eddy the Waiter; truly a man with Flair. After dropping by Antoine's, we proceeded down Royal Street to The Court of Two Sisters where we were instructed that if we touched the antique gates upon entering they would impart upon us an extra measure of charm. Figuring that I could always use a bit more charm, I touched those gates both coming and going. I didn't feel any different right off, but it was only a short time later that the spell actually began to work.

About an hour later on Magazine Street, during the final event of the Southern Comfort Tales of the Cocktail, I had the great good fortune to discover a sort of magical Brigadoon of male style and substance. I was instantly transported by this shop into another era of social reality that I have wanted to be a part of; a way of being that I have always yearned for but never truly adopted. When one of the employees of this marvelous emporium began to describe to me the process they follow when giving a shave, I nearly swooned with the sense of having found a luscious bloom of classic civility in the desert of modern day neanderthal behavior. I felt better simply standing in the entryway of this wonderful museum of Flair and I determined that I would return this week to experience its true gifts first hand.

On Thursday of this week, I turn 51. I have decided that one of the things this move to The Crescent City is about is the adoption of not only a new city but an entirely new way of looking at my life. I am ready to acquire some Flair of my own.


Of course... one needs to remember in all of this that there has always been another side to all of this marvelouos southern gentility.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Suffering for Jesus

I know a lot of my friends think that life in New Orleans is just one big party, but I have to tell you, SURVIVING that party is something to be proud of damnit!

My job yesterday was juggling two major events in town for stories and podcasts from both.

The first thing I had to do was catch several sessions of the opening day at the Cutting Edge Music Business Conference this included some interesting legal and business discussions as well as a terrific panel on presenting blues and roots music in a cultural and museum setting. I'll be compiling this material for a podcast report in the next few days (as soon as I have a moment to come up for air).

From this event I went to the Southern Comfort Tales of the Cocktail

Back to the Cutting Edge for a brief jaunt around a short cocktail party where I met singer/songwriter Ben Hunter and had a really interesting discussion of epilepsy and diet. He's playing a showcase on Saturday that I definitely intend not to miss.

Then, I was off again to Cafe Giovanni for their take on dinner with Southern Comfort. I made it home and collapsed into bed at just about midnight making it a fairly early evening, but 12 hours of running around covering the world of music and food and drinks and fun... well... it's a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent...

Mark Twain is supposed to have said,"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco," and frankly I'd really like it better if he had. Unfrortunately, according to these guys its one of those statements that he never actually made. That annoying little fact screws up the whole premise of my post, but if one has to be rigid about these things what's the point of blogging!? If someone is going to edit me (especially someone I don't even know) then I'd be publishing this stuff in the "real" world and getting paid for it.

SO... I'm not going to let a little fact like the claim that Mark Twain didn't make the statement interupt my train of thought (at least not much). The fact of the matter is that WHOEVER said it, whether it was ol' Sam or some lesser known person, they never had the benefit of air conditioning in August in the South, for the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer indoors in New Orleans! Yeah, it's screaming hot outside and as soon as you step out the door and into the air your body breaks out into a spontaneous sweat, but wherever you go and whatever you do, as soon as you step indoors your are blasted with 60 degree refrigerated air pumping from central vents and window air conditioners with ubiquitous ceiling fans pushing the cold air down toward the floor and setting up whirlwinds of polar blizzards that twist around your shoulders and whip around your ankles. These flurries equal any wind I have encountered rolling down the canyons of San Francisco's business district or blasting in off the coast at Ocean Beach... well, almost.

By the way... evidently, Mr. Clemons DID make a similar statement about Paris which puts him right in line with the Franco-haters of the modern era who renamed French Fries so they wouldn't have to stop eating them, and set their tongues to wagging about the "cheese eating surrender monkeys"(and you KNOW who you are!) when Chirac didn't just fall in line with Dubya's Imperial March to Baghdad.

It's Morning in New Orleans

Some of you may remember the old Reagan commmercial "It's Morning in America." Despite the fact that it was your basic political horse-hooey, the commercial was a not an insignificant factor in Reagan's reelection and Dubya certainly tried to wrestle the spirit of that approach into his 04 campaign, but he just couldn't quite pull it off. But then that particular story arc is best followed on my other blog.

What I really want to talk about is horoscopes. Particularly, Rob Brezny's horoscopes. While I don't really feel comfortable with idea that some complicated relationship withthe stars has been guiding my path for the last 50 years, I am also rather uncomfortable with simply dismissing the idea altogether, since I truly believe that marvelous suggestion from Shakespeare's infamous manic-depressive that, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

So, with that in mind, I weekly peruse Rob's thoughtful missives on the state of my psyche, always seriously, but always with a grain of salt.

My problem is that these musings are regularly so spot on, in such a synchronistic sort of way, that I regularly find it both disturbing and delightful (or perhaps just delightfully disturbing).

This week's message is exactly one of those.

Ten days ago, I was just ending my first weekend in my new home with an exhileration and excitement I had not felt in a long time. This was the culmination of a long process that was personally and professionally a huge struggle and which had its clear share of distress and frustration. But here I am, and just yesterday afternoon after a meeting at the Arts Council of New Orleans I made the comment that I was trying to figure out if the somewhat confusing darkness I am currently trying to find my way out of is the beginning of the night or the end.

Then along comes Rob to reassure me of what I already have begun to know. It's morning in New Orleans, the exploration, amazement, parties and confused exploration of the first week and a half are over and I am starting my new life for real.

It's time to go to work

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Who's Afraid of Thunder?

When I was a kid growing up in South Florida I had a drum. It didn't last a really long time because in some weird fit of neurotic frenzied need to please the jerk off neighbor kids, I bashed it in. That one incident is but a small window into my adult psyche, but THAT is for another blog (and perhaps another life). Frankly, I've spent enough money and spent enough time in therapist's offices to buy the damn factory that made that drum; it's time to let it go, or if not let it go, at least make a comedy career out of it.

However... and this is really the point of this post... the thing that I remember most about that drum is that I always played it with a song I had on record. A song about thunder, one of a series of science records that came out in the late 50s or early 60s and which, as a South Florida kid and the son of a scientist, I was pretty much set up for by birthright. I played that song when it thundered and it thundered a lot, so my poor mother probably heard the song (and my creative accompaniment) more loudly and more often than anything I played until I was a disaffected high school know it all with an obsession for dark John Lennon songs. THAT is when I really drove my mother crazy! As I listen to some of those songs now, I really have to admire the astonishing patience of my maternal parent for not just blasting into my room like some suburban Kali and taking me out of her misery with one swift swipe of her bloody sword and then dancing on my broken body in triumphant celebration.

But I digress.

I loved that drum. I loved the song I played it with and I loved the reason for the song.


In 28 years of living in Northern California I can count on my fingers (with room to spare) how many times we had a real thunder storm and it wouldn't take more than one foot to add the times I heard real thunder blasting and crackling through the sky. In the 10 days I've been in New Orleans I've heard more thunder - big, loud, wonderful thunder - than in all that time in California.

No matter where I am or what I'm doing, every single time I hear the thunder crack and boom I'm instantly transported back to my room in Lake Worth Florida where I'm banging on my little Tin Drum, ready to take on the universe... and playing that stupid song.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

It's Too Early in the Morning for Music This Good!

One of the first things that Pat Jolly asked me to do for her in exchange for letting me have the run of her house for a month, was to take her mom on Sunday to the Zydecajun Brunch at Ye Olde College Inn. She gave me an out by following up the request with a, "I'm sure I can get someone else to take her if you don't want to go," but I'm pretty much game for anything at least once (and usually twice) and I volunteered most enthusiastically.

So after wistfully wending my way through several versions of "Is you is or is you ain't my baby" (in the interest of an equality of perspectives, here's a woman's take on it from Mrs. Declan McManus) I broke away from my little corner of the blogosphere, got dressed and tripped downstairs to check in with Honey - who was nearly ready and thoroughly raring to go - and head out to brunch.

What a gas! Music for three hours (from 10:00 - 1:00) was provided by SunPie Barnes and the Sunspots and we had the perfect corner table. My date was even greeted from the bandstand by the star with a cheerful, "Mornin' Ms. Jolly." Honey got a kick out of that and I got a kick out of the nearly three full hours of music that followed, a rockin' Cajun pastiche of standards and originals that were played skillfully and delightfully and, what is most amazing, at a ridiculously early hour on Sunday morning.

As for the food... Terrific! I had Grillades & Grits and though I had no idea what I was actually getting myself into (like I said, I'll try just about anything once) I was delightfully satisfied with a huge plate of steak, grits and an incredible abundance of savory gravy.

Great Music... Great Food... Great Coffee, even a killer Bloody Mary... all before noon on Sunday?

Yeah U Right.

Music for Sasquatch

Last Monday when I was in Molly's listening to the jukebox someone asked the bartender what her favorite love song was. She didn't miss a beat when she came up with "Is you is or is you ain't my baby!"

Then, this morning, with my last thoughts of last night still on my mind, I got up, made myself some Coffee with Chicory and put on a 10 year old album by a great New Orleans singer/guitarist named John Fohl. What pops up unexpectedly is a song that seems completely appropriate to my morning and my thoughts of last night. The song is that bartender's favorite, "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby."

There are many versions of this song, but this is one of my favorites.

It's also a very good question.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night

I spent the afternoon roaming around town (mostly on foot), something I do fairly often when I am in a new city. It gives me a better sense of where things are and how much trouble it's likely to be to get to one place or another.

It is also a very tiring pastime.

Tonight, I had all kinds of ideas about where I might go and what I might do. There was Dirty Linen Night on Royal Street, the downtown equivalent of last Saturday's uptown fling, White Linen Night. The Wild Magnolias were playing just down the street from my house at Tips. Of course I can, even right now, check the webcast from Tips and see that even at nearly 12:30 in the morning, the headlining band, Big Sam's Funky Nation still hasn't hit the stage. If you want to see a show in New Orleans, best you take a nap in the afternoon.

So I decided to stay in and work... yeah, actual real work (well mostly) on a Saturday night. Frankly, it was kind of a relief.

At the same time I listened to Harry Shearer's latest episode of Le Show. I followed that with the new Digital Flotsam episode. Finally,of course, I turned on WWOZ and listened to Peggy Lou's Lunar Blues. She just ended the show with a toast that, "Love never gets as complicated as your phone bill." I like that.

There's just one problem, my phone bill is indeed pretty complicated, but, as far as I can see, not nearly as complicated as love is at even its most elemental. For that matter, in my case (at least right now) love seems to be rather integrally tied up together with my phone bill. NOT a great situation.

I'm very big on anniversaries and this week is a fairly significant 10th year anniversary in my life, but in the midst of everything I seem to have misplaced the person at the heart of the matter. Or perhaps she has misplaced me.

I found a picture of her tonight, a picture from long ago, right on the edge of a perhaps prescient semi-catastrophic event. It sort of looks like a sighting of Sasquatch. And it feels about as confusing.

I find myself standing in the middle of the trail with snow and wind whirling around me in free space, scratching my head and saying, "What... was... that?"

Shopping List

5 lbs. fresh peaches
1/2 gallon Fat Free Organic milk
1 pint homemade creole cream cheese
1 lb. medium shrimp ($3.00 for what would cost about $13.00 in Califronia)
1 jalapeno and cheese tamale (lunch)
1 small jar of brandied cherries (oh yeah!) from Louisiana Sweetheart


It's just a small market tucked into a tiny parking lot on Magazine Street close to the CBD. It doesn't come close to the kind of markets I'm used to finding in California, especially the big Saturday market at the Embarcadero. It's pretty slim pickins on the fresh veggies (unless you want a WHOLE LOT of okra!), but fresh - really fresh - shrimp at $3.00/lb. goes a long way making up for that. And there are some nice home made pestos of various varieties, and a raspberry iced tea to die for.

And then of course... there are those cherries.

Man About Town

As I was leaving the desk, my subconscious pool of newspaper memories was jabbed by a needle pin rememberance of the guy who virtually invented the "three dot" journalistic form...

I think Herb would have enjoyed the blog form. I remember reading his daily comments on the night before every morning over a cup of coffee and an apple fritter 28 years ago when I first moved to SF (when I was still young enuogh to start my day with a cup of coffee and an apple fritter without fear of dying).

Some years ago, when Herb died, I joined thousands of San Franciscans at Grace Cathedral (including Robin Williams who proved quite an interesting and hilarious eulogist, even in that big somber place). Afterward the memorial, large numbers of us crowded into Moose's in North Beach, one of Herb's old hangouts, to drink vodka martinis and think wistfully of a light-hearted, deeply talented, city loving man.

If you don't know Herb, you can read some of his old columns here. If you already know Herb, you might want to read them anyway and remember the true father of blogging.

Early to Bed... Early to Rise

I actually went to bed early last night. Really early for around here, about my old normal bedtime in California. I hit the futon at 10:30 and slept through to almost 8:00. More sleep than I've gotten all week! And frankly, I really needed the rest.

My friend Mary and I went down to Les Bon Temps Roule to see Joe Krown and to eat FREE oysters. The oysters were there, but Joe was not.

So this morning I'm off to the Crescent City Farmer's Market again. I know I'm going to pick up some milk because the milk I picked up last week, a Fat Free milk at that, tasted so full and creamy I thought I had died and gone to cow heaven. What else I buy this morning I'll have to wait and see, but I've got a small jar of brandied cherries hanging around in the back of my mind.

By the way... If you want some more reading material, check out P.W.Fenton's new blog. You can hear his semi-regular musings on the Digital Flotsam podcast too. In my opinion, P Dub is doing what all of us radio/podcast fanatics WISH we could do. If you haven't already listened, do so. I think you'll like it too.

Well... to market to market...

Friday, August 12, 2005

One Week On

It was a week ago right about now that I hit town. That night at the Satchmo Club Strut I got my first chance to hear Maurice Brown and boy was I blown away. I posted an entry that night when I got home mostly so I could have a place to express the wmazement I felt at this newly discovered (for me) talent.

Well, as if to commemorate the event, I got my first Maurice Brown e-newsletter this afternoon complete with links to his site and live cuts from his Tuesday night performances at Snug Harbor.
Hip to Bop is the title cut from his album and this live segment will give you a good idea about why I think this guy's so great.

You can find more music on his website.

Street Karma

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, August 11, 2005

There's Nothing Sad About Today

A few minutes later I actually enter The Gold Mine Saloon for Poetry Thursday and I am instantly gifted with the beautiful words of Kalamu ya Salaam. In this audio post, you can't really hear a very good recording of the New Orleans poem he was reading as I entered, but perhaps you can grasp a sense of the feeling that was there.

this is an audio post - click to play

I am always captured by the power of words when spoken by people who are passionate about the form. Poetry, which can be incomprehensible to some and enlightenment incarnate to others, is a form that, by it's nature, calls us out. I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday the first time I heard a poet speak the words he had written. I don't remember the poet (unfortunately) and I don't remember the poem, but I remember where I was standing and what I felt 32 years ago in Tucson.

Tonight was not disimilar. In fact, it was very much the same. I was given the gift of words and spirit and soul and I am thankful for the opportunity to partake of such a wonderful Eucharist of Words.

P.S. The title for this post comes from a line in one of Kalamu's poems.

On the Street Where You Live

This audio post has really terrible audio quality, but the brass band, regardless of what it sounds like here, was truly beautiful in its creative playfulness.

Every moment like this is a synchronicity that provides itself as a gift of the streets, of the people and of the place. This is life in New Orleans.

this is an audio post - click to play

Beer... Coffee... and WiFi

Sitting in the CC's (Community Coffee) shop at the corner of Magazine and Jefferson. I came to this specific spot because the WiFi here (like the WiFi at Molly's) allows me to more easily send out email than my connection at Pat's house.

And this brings me to a major point that I want to advocate... FREE WiFi for the masses!

Sure there are plenty of places, Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, etc. that offer "WiFi Hotspots" for people who have contracted with other services. Frankly those places aren't Hot Spots at all in my opinion. They are perhaps more appropriately called "Warm Spots." Sure there's connectivity, but only if you have put it together for yourself. A true "Hot Spot" would have connectivity available to all.

In San Francisco, Anchor Free has created a number of spots in the city where you can pick up WiFi for free. In those neighborhoods you can sit in any cafe, a park bench, yor house, or even your car and connect. Union Square has WiFi, and several pubs and coffee shops (not to mention hotel lobbies) offer the service. One of my favorite spots is Marin Brewing Company. Located halfway between The City and where I used to live in Petaluma, I could always stop and grab a beer, a cup of clam chowder and some free connectivity at lunch time. MBC got a lot of extra business from me just because they had that line. Now, from a strictly business standpoint, multiply that times all the people who want/need connectivity and who also need to eat (or drink) and you've got quite an economic engine.

In New Orleans, I've already written about Molly's. In addition, several (though not all) CC's coffeehouses have Free WiFi which gives me yet another reason NOT to go to Starbucks in the morning. I have also found connectivity at a couple of restaurants. In fact, two years ago I found WiFi in a restaurant in the Warehouse District (I'll have to check and see if it's still there) long before I found it in most places in the Bay Area. For a town that is not exactly "wired," The Big Easy has definitely got a handle on internet egalitarianism.

So there's my teechno-nerd diatribe for the day.

Free the laptop! WiFi for All!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Meanwhile... Back at The Ranch

While all of this stuff goes on in my life and it seems so funny, poignant, personal, interesting and not, a real drama is unfolding in Texas.

You'll find all the relevant information at

Not much else to say on that one, except that moments like this are how we define who we are day after day after day and it would probably be a good idea to support this gutsy woman in any way you can.

You'll find another good link right here.

That's Just God When He's Drunk

Tom Waits is on the jukebox at Molly's At The Market, but that's because I picked the song.

Heart Attack & Vine (there's even a blog by that name) has one of my all time favorite lines in any song ever and ol' Tom repeats it three times, "Doncha know there ain't no devil that's just God when he's drunk." By this point my mother, who is reading these posts, is having her own "Heart Attack and Vine," but by this time I think she's figured out that there's nothing to do about my basic heretical nature except pray for me, and frankly, I'll take all the prayer I can get.

I'm sitting at a table at Molly's (if you click on this you can see the table where I'm sitting when the picture opens). Apropriately it is the table right next to the sign pointing to Central Baptist Church) where they have good beer, some pretty good Mexican food and a free WiFi connection. On top of all that, they have (and this was really the point of the post) one of the best jukeboxes in the world (you can see that in the picture too, it's right by the front door)!

In addition there's a brass plaque on the wall from Larry Flynt to "The Chaplain of Bourbon Street" - Bob Harrington, whom I met in Tucson over 30 years ago in a Jesus Revival at 22nd Street Baptist Church.

I have become instantly attached to this place. It was originally recommended to me by my friend Merle Ellis who has spent a lot of time in New Orleans and who I have come to really appreciate as a mentor and friend. He's the one who told me about this place and boy was he spot on.

I mean come on! An Irish bar (or more specifically a "free house") on the edge of the French Quarter, across from Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville with a mexican food menu and good beer, but where the journalists and locals (as opposed to the tourists) in town have always hung out (along with a regular complement of garden variety drunks and standard issue reprobates), from where one of the most notable St. Patty's Day parades begins!?!? If there's a place on earth more suited for me, I don't know where it is (though Vesuvio in San Francisco and Nepenthe in Big Sur come pretty close).

We just finished Randy Newman's song "Louisiana 1927," another one of my all time favorite "desert island disc" songs, which Marcia Ball has covered with a startling and definitive version. By the way, be sure to click on the ball bearings link on Marcia's page for a great blog about this past year's Jazz Fest, as well as a shout out to the crowds at my old stompinng grounds, The Mystic Theater in Petaluma.

Now, Tom Waits is back on with "The Heart of Saturday Night." I can actually play that wonderful song on the guitar, but one of the best versions I ever heard was performed one summer near Atlanta at the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (yes, there really is such an organization) Summer "Peace Camp," by a wonderful singer, songwriter and friend, D.E. Adams.

My battery is about to go out, so it's time for me to leave.

More later, from the Heart of Saturday Night.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Pig in Slop!

This is going to be a quick post this morning because I have much to do today and already the day seems like it's running ahead of me. That's kind of an interesting experience in and of itself in a town that moves about as slowly as it is possible to move. The fact is, it's simply too damned hot to move too fast!

After actually attempting to get my email system running better (something that it seemed truly ridiculous to wasted time on on a beautiful Sunday with music playing nearby) I finally got out to the last day of SatchmoFest for the afternoon.

I started with Irvin Mayfield's incredible lecture on Louis and the way he played the music. As a trumpet player myself, I have always had an "appreciation" for Louis Armstrong, but I really can't say that I paid the kind of attention to him that I now - after Irvin's lecture/demo and listening experience - know I should have given to him and which I absolutely know that I will be giving in the immediate near future.

This was followed by a reprise of Friday night's experince of hearing and seeing Maurice Brown who just flat out knocks my socks off. You can count on the fact that there will be more on him coming out of this weblog, and soon.

Finally, Kermit Ruffins, who I have loved since the first time I heard him, came out on the main stage with his band the Barbecue Swingers. They set up a rip roarin' closing session that ended with a trumpet blow out from a whole collection of trumpeters including kids from New Orleans schools,Yoshio Tayama - a trumpeter from Japan with a spot on Satchmo impersonation - and, the by now ubiquitous, Maurice Brown.

When the kids came up to the mics to solo and blew their lips off with all the heart you can imagine and when the whole band - literally and figuratively - took the roof off the stage, I found myself standing their with tears running down my cheeks and an uncontrollable smile on my face in delight and astonishment that this is now MY HOME!

I guess I'm going to have to pick up my trumpet again.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Queen of Somewhere Hot

It seems like it's time for me to introduce my host here in New Orleans,Pat Jolly.

Pat is a photographer, artist, art teacher, and general woman about town. She has more friends than anyone I have ever met in my life, and this was demonstrated to me on Friday night at the Sathmo Club Strut and again yesterday morning at the Crescent City Farmer's Market. In both venues, "Jolly Pat" couldn't take three steps without running into someone who greeted her with a big smile and a new story. The phenomenon was repeated over and over with people, quite literally, of all ages, from little kids to older women and men.

I met Pat through one of my other new Crescent City friends, Tom Morgan, who pointed me to her email list and insisted that it was the place to be if you wnated to get the scoop on all that's happening in New Orleans. He hasn't been wrong so far, and from everything I can see around me (oh man... I can't even begin to describe this house) he isn't going to be proven wrong any time soon.

I am grateful to Pat for her help so far and in the spirit she provides, I hope I can effectively and worthily pass it on.

More on "intelligent?" design...

I got up this morning and sat down to coffee and The Huffington Post, where not only were there some interesting, and even thoroughly amusing, news links, but also a terrific blog from Sam Harris on Bush's new idiotic proposal for education.

Frankly, I am not inclined to take Harris' fully anti-religious perspective, but I like it a lot better than the perspective of the idiotic fundamentalist minions of various world religions that are playing havoc with everything from the U.S. Constituion to the lives of virtually every human being on the planet, and - as a reprobate Southern Baptist and a somewhat dubious descendent of George Washington - I absolutely believe that the complete separation of church and state (including the abolition of all forms of religion as taught, advocated, counseled and condoned in public schools and government forums) is probably mandatory for our society.

Okay... more on that to come. Check out Sam's piece, as well as his book.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Friday Night in the Tropics

Yeah U Right!

It's HOT! In every sense of the word.

I spent last evening on Frenchman's Street at the Satchmo Club Strut where music wafted throughout the neighborhood from 6:00 pm on.

The weather was New Orleans in August - Hot and Humid - but frankly, I noticed there was a real sense of relief every time I stepped into a club where there was air conditiong to cool the air and there were ceiling fans to push that lovely artifical breeze down into the crowd. Despite the fact that the doors and windows were open to the outside, the air conditioning cooled the place down to a level that felt just like a Northern California night (until you stepped back outside).

What a night!

I'll bring you a list of the sites and sounds later, but right now I have to head out into the warmth for some more music as SatchmoFest continues. Later I plan on making it down to White Linen Night. Work will just have to wait until Monday.

One highlight from last night though... Maurice Brown at The Blue Nile... Unbelievable!

Friday, August 05, 2005


this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

Windy Phone Call

I tried to post from the bus stop as I waited for the airporter at 3:40 am, but you really can't hear anything except the wind blow over my microphone.
this is an audio post - click to play

Too Much Stuff

It's been a long day.

In just over three hours I leave for the airport and then another three hour wait for my flight.

In the meantime, I spent the day finishing projects and getting rid of large piles of crap.

What a joke. Since I am leaving my car at a friend's house, I got a bit of a reprieve from the juggernaut of detritus. I actually came to a point where I was unable to throw away any more stuff. Partially, that's because I don't have any more places to dump it on such short notice. Partially it's because I am actually experiencing some sort of disconnection fatigue. When you start dumping everything that you have acquired over 50 years of life (and I have acquired a rather limited amount of stuff compared to some people I know) it literally becomes too much of a task to complete, at least in one fell swoop, at least for me.

So, I now have a 1989 Camry that is serving as the repository for all the stuff (I was going to call it "junk" but that only describes some of it) I really couldn't bring myself to get rid of, and I have decided that whatever else happens, I will have to return to Petaluma sometime in the relatively near future to dispose of the remaining material possesions of my less than fully realized emancipation.

But then maybe that's the point. Perhaps our stuff keeps us anchored to the places we might actually get away from if we were able to relieve ourselves of the burden of so much stuff.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Last Time

Up early this morning. Trying to get a quick start on the day while at the same time hoping to reorient my body a little bit toward being on Central Time. Tomorrow morning I have to be up an hour earlier so starting this last day in Petaluma at a very early hour seems like a good idea.

Despite the fact that I have "miles to go before I sleep" I find that I feel better stopping for a minute, pouring some Irish Breakfast Tea, and thinking on the way my life has gone over the last twenty eight years.

What comes most rapidly to mind is an old gospel song that was done a few years ago by the Blind Boys of Alabama, "Last Time.". Twenty four hours from now I will be on an Aiporter Shuttle bus on the way to Oakland airport. From there I will fly to New Orleans and thus begin a new life. I have plans to come back here, to talk and work with people who I know here, to see my daughter and friends, but the fact is none of us has any idea wht the next moment holds. Frankly, in the light of daily events it seems rather presumptuous of me to simply assume that I will be on board that Airporter I just mentioned, let alone that I have some guarantee of returning once I leave.

So, today is a day of parting. It will be done in haste, as there is so much to get done, but it will be done in my heart for sure.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Big Dump

Rob Brezny's horoscopes have always been very very significant to me. Something about the synchronicity in his work has always seemed to be keyed awfully close to my actions, feelings and insights... But frankly, it's gotten ridiculous!

Last night late, the weekly email list from Rob came through and I opened up to view my horoscope. At this point in time, less than 48 hours before I am on a plane, the big purge he talks about is in full swing, and what I am finding is that - sort of like exercise - what was difficult a couple of weeks ago is becoming incredibly easy over time.

At this point I am ready to walk away from all of my worldly possessions (well, almost all of them) and start a new routine.

My friend and business consultant, Marc Lesser, suggested the image of a snake shedding it's skin. It doesn't know HOW to do it, it may not even WANT to do it, but the fact is it's GOING to do it.

That's the way I am feeling right now, and with each step it feels more and more and more freeing. I never would have done this voluntarily, but I'm certainly glad for the snake instinct and the surprising, refreshing release.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Go Cup

So now I am finished with my post…. and I still have beer (really good beer) in my glass. What I need is a GO CUP, a "'traveler," and three days from now that's exactly what I'll be able to have.

Unfortunately… the beer will not be nearly as good.

Big Bang Theory

Sitting at Thirsty Bear on Howard Street in San Francisco.

Jen has just left to go back to her law office job and I am sitting alone at the little table where we just finished eating.

I had Shrimp and garlic and she had a wild mushroom torte with a slightly sweet corn meal crust and a balsamic something (also slightly sweet) sauce. A small green salad completed her meal. We split a tapas plate of artisinal (what a completely ridiculous word!) cheeses on toast (they call it crostini, but it's still toast).

Jen had to go back to work quickly so I promised to pick her up after work and drive her home. I will leave her some of the things I am not taking with me to New Orleans (at least on this first trip), but the real reason I'm doing that is because I want one more chance to see her before I leave town.

My daughter is the light of my life. She has been that light for every moment of her life from the first instant I saw her - not minute old - to just a moment ago, a young woman on her way back to work at an office in downtown San Francisco, older than her mother was when she took the same sort of job. Her basic existence makes me smile, and – quite unjustifiably, since I had very little to do with it – makes me proud.

Smarter… wiser… better than her mother, or her father, was at that time. Well, at least better than I was; I will refrain from speaking for Jean.

Evolution unfolding right before my eyes.

George Bush can advocate the idiotic concept of "intelligent design" as a way of educating the children of America, but it only takes a small amount of attention to see that the concept of evolution is in operation today just as it has been in operation for so many millions of years.

Despite horrible odds and a ridiculous lack of support from the previous generation (in Jennifer's case, that would be me), every generation improves upon the last. This is evolution happening right before our eyes.

This is "intelligent design."

As my dad the astronomer always used to say… "God said let there be light and there was a BIG BANG."

My daughter, my heart… is a pretty big bang.

Wrestling at Peniel

Sunday night's audio post from the steps of Grace Cathedral is a pretty perfect example of why this kind of thing never has made it (and probably never will make it) in the "mainstream" media. It's boring!

Standing on the steps of the Cathedral with the cable cars passing below, churning along the tracks and clanging their musical bells was a magical moment and something that I felt the need to "share" on this page. But the magic of the moment was mostly in my head and not on my cell phone. Hell, you couldn't even hear the cable car sounds that were the primary reason for my choosing to put the call up there.

The thing is, it's not just a matter of sound quality. The strength of the moment came from the Old Testament reading in the church, the story of Jacob wrestling the angel and being given, as a result of his tenacity, a new name. Even as I write this now, the brilliance of the emotion and the strength of that feeling are waning, but I can pull them back if I sink down into those feelings. However, I don't really know how valuable that experience is for anyone outside the confines of my own head.

I once heard T-Bone Burnett disucss producing one of Roy Orbison's last albums. I think it was on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He declared thta his goal in production was to make the music sound on the album (with all the new bells and whistles modern recording provided) the way he remembered old Roy Orbison recordings sounded in his head.
That always struck me as brilliantly inshightful.

Isn't that really what we all want to do? Isn't that what any art form (and I believe that on some level blogging is becoming an art form) is actually about? Every single one of us is, at some level, trying to communicate what is really there inside our heads! It really doesn't matter what "the facts" are, even when the facts really do matter (which I believe is less often than we generally want to pretend). What matters most is our individual perception of that outside reality. If we can find a way to communicate that to someone else, and if that someone else will pay attention and communicate back, that is the begining of relationship. If we just put it out there and can't find a way to communicate the underlying experience then it really is just "Sound and Fury signifying... Nothing."

Ultimately, we are all wrestling at Peniel, just like Jacob and the Angel. If we can grab on, take the ride and hold out until morning, maybe we'll learn our true names.