Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One of My Peeps...

Wade Davis...a kindred spirit of mine...

Meeting In Real Life

During the weekend...Gardenia whose blog From A Lofty Perch I've been visiting...probably via Hattigrace and Four Dinners I guess and she has been coming to my blog ...well I had e-mailed and asked if she would consider meeting us in New Orleans. And bless her heart...she did...three hours each way driving but Gardenia showed up! And we were really glad she did...we had a wonderful evening...How do you explain that you can tell from someone's blog that they are a cool person...well you just can tell that's all!
See Gardenia was organized...she had her camera all ready to go and full of fresh batteries. Unlike some people in this room. Gardenia took this photo of Stagg, me, Deana and Marc in the courtyard of our N.O. hotel. Meeting in real life with Gardenia was much how I anticipated...she is a kind sweet person in real life as comes across online. I was surprised how statuesque she is....very tall and regal. Mostly was the mixed sensation of feeling like I knew her for a long time and also seeing how kind and giggly she is in person.
We went to The Bamboo Room for martinis. Stagg and Deana cracking jokes. Check out Stagg's blue drink. I'll have to ask him what it was called again..I think it was called Death's Ninja Stallion if I remember correctly...

Enjoyed this band so much. I felt like we were in a Marx Bros movie or some slapstick Keaton movie. Love this music!

Some hair shots of me and Gardenia! Sorry about the dark pic.

Me and Gardenia...both my camera and cam corder ran out of batteries this night...so I had to use my cell phone to get our pics.

Night Shift. We stopped inside for bite to eat after I dropped off Gardenia at her car...I went back into FQ to meet up with Stagg and Marc and Deana here.
Deana and Marc inside the Clover Grill waiting for their snacks.
More music...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Three Selections From International Accordion Festival



1)Southern Scratch is one of the bands that Mister Anchovy, Tuffy P, Stagg and I saw in San Antonio at the International Accordion Festival. Southern Scratch is aNative American band from the Tohono O' odham Nation in southern Arizona. They play a form of dance music called waila or "chicken scratch" and their repertoire largely consists of waltzes, two-steps, polkas and rancheras. Founded by Ron Joaquin and made up of musicans with strong roots in their southern Arizona heritage. Southern Scratch is essentially a family band and over the years have provided dance music in villages throughout the vast reservation and performed in festivals thoughout the U.S. Members include Ron Joaquin on bass, Chris Lopez on sax, Brandis Joaquin on accordion, Daniel Lopez on guitar, Cody Pablo on drums and Sarah and Amy Joaquin on percussion.

2)Yves Lambert and the Bebert Orchestra a definitive resource for Quebecois folk music: this segment is during a workshp...Yves Lambert on accordion/vocals, Olivier Rondeau on guitar/vocals, Nicolas Pelleria on violin/vocals, Simon Lepage on bass/vocals and Tommy Gauthier on violin/bouzouki.

3) Also a clip from a workshop...Yuri Yunakov Ensemble play Roma Dance music (Gypsy to Americans) celebrate and perform at weddings, baptisms and where lots of dancing is wanted. This workshop tidbit allows us to see each musician restrained and to focus on individual instrumentals...eventually when performing the band goes wild competing and challenging each other with riffs: or "questions and answers". Yuri Yunakov is on sax, Milen Slavov on accordion, Selaidin Mamudoski on clarinet, Rumen Sali Shopov on percussion and Ethan Umer on keyboards/vocals.

You can see what an incredible diverse program and performances we were exposed to in San Antonio...and some terrific food. The best gorditias I've ever had! I am still thinking about them...ahhhh

Yes, you're right, eagle-eyed visitors, there is a special sneak appearance of Tuffy P, Mister Anchovy and Stagg in the middle of this montage. Montage is a generous word I know...I'm am still trying to figure out how to edit on my computer. Actually, this selection happened by accident when I was editing...but I figured go with it for now. Unfortuantely the video loses resolution once it's moved into webstreaming mode but the sound integrity is fairly well preserved.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Make Levees Not War" Read a Popular T-Shirt In N.O.

Ckicking on this picture will help you see the water mark on this building. It was surreal to drive past several street blocks with this water mark and realize how deep the water had been...and this line is not the initial depth because the water sank after a couple of days to reside at this level.
I haven't found a code for the markings made on the house, but Spike Lee's movie featured definitions in When The Levees Broke


"New Orleans Is Sinking"

Bourbon blues on the street loose and complete
Under skies all smoky blue-green
I can Forksake the dixie dead shake
So we dance the sidewalk clean
My memory is muddy what's this river I'm in
New Orleans is sinking and I don't want to swim

Colonel Tom What's wrong? What's Going On
You can't tie yourself up for a deal
He said" Hey North you're south shut you big mouth
You gotta do what you feel is real."
Ain't got no picture postcards ain't go no souvenirs
My baby she don't know me when I'm thinking about those years

Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire
Sucking up to someone just stoke the fire
Picking out the highlights of the scenery
Saw a little cloud looked a little like me

I had my hands in the river
My feet back up on the banks
Looked up to the Lord above and said hey man thanks
Sometimes I fell so good I gotta scream
She says Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean
She said, she said I swear to God she said

My memory is muddy what's this river I'm in
New Orleans is sinking and I don't want to swim

Lyrics by The Tragically Hip 1998
Several areas transformed into trailer parks.
"Onshore damage
The onshore infrastructure associated with offshore oil or gas causes significant harm to the coastal zone. The shoreline processing infrastructure for offshore drilling often requires industrialization within the coastal zone of affected states, using installations similar to onshore storage and processing facilities including miles of pipeline and roads and other industrial apparatus like ports, helipads, and dorms.

For example, OCS pipelines crossing coastal wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico are estimated to have destroyed more coastal salt marsh than can be found in the stretch of coastal land running from New Jersey through Maine. Years of wear and tear by the oil and gas industry had torn apart the coastal wetlands of the Louisiana Bayou. Thanks in part to drilling operations, Louisiana is losing 25 square miles of coastal wetlands each year, eating away at natural storm barriers." Sierra Club, January 2007


The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, the agency chartered by the legislature to coordinate coastal restoration, is calling for wetlands restoration. More than 1.2 million acres of coastal Louisiana have gradually disappeared since the 1930s, the agency reports. Katrina and Rita alone removed 200 square miles of marsh.

River dams can choke off wetlands by halting the delivery of sediments and nutrients. In Louisiana, a study group formed by the Army Corps also blames canal dredging, oil development, erosion, rising seas, and geologic forces. From Here...

You may not be able to live in your neighbourhood but don't forget to vote.
Some people had "good" insurance coverage and looks like life goes back to normal...next door to still damaged houses...
People still living in trailers outside their homes.
Katrina dealt a stiff blow to the U.S. petrochemical industry, which is concentrated in the Gulf region; to the New Orleans maritime industry, which handles about 15% of U.S. cargo tonnage; to Gulf Coast travel and tourism; and to Louisiana commercial fisheries and the state's sugarcane, rice, and cotton crops.

Suspended swing no porch left.


Even 300 years ago, New Orleans was not a comfortable place to build houses...being coastal wetlands. But the original foliage would have also protected itself by it's natural adaptation to the weather. This precarious setting was further supported by a geopolitical and cultural mélange that expanded into the organic soils between delta levees. Higher and more expansive flood protection levees were developed, which compensated—albeit intermittently—for the loss of the protective fringe of coastal wetlands.
BBQ is always a good sign...
Out of business.

It is possible that had natural plant life, trees and swamp areas been allowed to co-exist with city life hurricanes may be slowed down by such plant life. "lower the risk of flooding and mudslides that typically follow deforestation. Sustainable agricultural practices tend to help sequester carbon in the soil, while increasing drought resistance. Wetlands and mangrove protection also offers win-win benefits. Hurricane Katrina would have been less damaging had it not been preceded by decades of wetlands destruction." (from here of all places an insurance website)

As water levels continue to rise, coastal forests will be subjected to more prolonged and
deeper flood events. Even though many of the forest species growing in these areas are
adapted to prolonged inundation (Kozlowski, 1984), extended flooding during the growing
season can cause mortality of these tree species. Already, many of the trees in these areas
are showing evidence of severe stress (Conner et al., 1981). Even baldcypress and water
tupelo, two of the dominant species in Louisiana's coastal forests, slowly die when exposed
to prolonged, deep flooding (Harms et al., 1980; Brown, 1981). From here...
Another storage unit outside peoples house.
Written on the house:"Long live LV Gone to Tennesee Be back later heart Cody and Brittany"

Now that I have seen what is going on and not going on in these neighbourhoods...I see that helping these people is very easy and straightforward. Simply walk up to the distressed house and set the owners up with a renovation plan: with the money the government and donations have pledged. Here I thought people might be missing or away...but no, for many it is because their insurance policies said "wind only" or "rain only"...so forget about that...just go in and restore people's homes. No mystery. In neighbourhoods where people were renting with no insurance...build completely new homes and offer them to people who have been relocated. Simple...if they want to stay in their new locations...fine, but allow them the choice of return transportation and a house to return at the very least. Someone else will rent or buy if we make a new set of houses in areas like the 9th ward.

And protect the wetland and aboriginal plants that should be growing near the ocean and marshes. That kind of foliage would ward off many extreme weather conditions borne from industrialization. Duh.

Addendum: I believe that the oil companies that use the area for roads, drilling, employee residents along the gulf of Mexico should donate new housing developments as well. I believe with the evidence drawn from insurance companies, from the Sierra Club that a legal lien would also be possible to replace housing...the oil companies might be well served to clear up their karma and finance rebuilding. We all might want to check where our rice and cotton comes from when we shop...maybe rice grown on the Gulf of Mexico isn't a very good idea. Lets grow food in the cities on rooftops and gardens?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It Takes A Half Gallon Of Oil To Grow A Bushel Of Corn....What Are You Having For Dinner This Week? Try Organic Corn...Please?

September photo...The two regional giants, India and China, have remained friendly with the military regime, lured by the nation's oil and natural gas reserves. As recently as Sept. 23, India, the world's most populous democracy, dispatched its petroleum and natural gas minister, Murli Deora, to Myanmar on a state visit in search of deals.From an October 1st story here...

Seven American soldiers, primarily Sargents serving in Iraq, wrote the following for The New York Times in August...

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.


SOME LOCAL FOOD RELATED LINKS...and HOW NOT TO EAT PETROLEUM OIL:

What's Eating America article in smithsonian magazine by Michale Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma


Unfortunately eating organic isn't always easy ...sometimes it is more expensive, and sometimes we may not be able to trust the rating system of what defines organic.. Trust me though, eating organic is a lot cheaper today than it was when I began eating organically as a teenager. More and more people are seeking oot locally grown organic food, cutting down the use of petroleum products used in fertilizer and air transport...and forcing the prices down to competitive markets.

Local Food

"The most political act we do on a daily basis is to eat, as our actions affect farms, landscapes and food businesses," said co-author Professor Jules Pretty, from the University of Essex, UK.

"Food miles are more significant than we previously thought, and much now needs to be done to encourage local production and consumption of food."
From BBC Science News

Eat Local Challenge

Food Routes

Local Harvest In America

Local Harvest in Canada

The Green Pages Canada

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Page Count Unpublished


In the 41 years since Invisible Man won the National Book Award, the author had made it clear to all that he was working on something that would be grander, more ambitious even, than his acknowledged masterpiece. In 1967, 14 years into his struggle, Ellison lost pieces of the manuscript in a New England house fire. Scholars have since largely dismissed the significance of the loss, about 200 pages, mostly revisions, most of which Ellison was able to retrieve. But he allowed the fire to take on psychological weight through the years and would talk of the loss as if it had caused an ever-deepening wound upon his artistic focus. More years passed, then decades. Ellison wrote essays, gave speeches and got invited to the White House. Medals were draped around his neck. He was praised in multiple languages. Biographies and dissertations were written. Seminars organized, conferences held.

But no second novel emerged

Invisible Man was relatively simple structurally, having a single narrator, a single perspective from which the entire book sprang forth. Even so, at a time when Ellison was barely scraping by as a freelance writer and living primarily on Fanny's secretary's salary, he still went about writing that novel with either admirable or damnable irreverence for time. He described that period as "an obscurity in which I had worked for five years undisturbed by thoughts of future sales or reviewers notices, and in which the possibility of winning prizes was utterly undreamed. My sole preoccupation had been with transforming a body of seemingly intractable material into a work of art."


A fantastic article in full

20 Comments Revisited....

Some of you might remember that a bunch of us about a year ago...tried "20 Comments" on every Wednesday. I still have the widget on my sidebar. The idea was to go around on Wednesdays and visit at least 20 blogs, read them and leave a comment...then post with the links to the blogs you visited.

It didn't exactly always work out positive...once a blogger I went to visit came to my blog and thought I was a phony for going to her blog for such an activity...but for the most part, it was kind of fun and I found a lot of cool blogs and also made sure to visit my regular hang outs.

I've been awol from blogging for a couple of weeks so I'm dashing around really enjoying catching up with blog pals and while I was away....Four Dinners has been writing up a storm...check this out:

February 6th 2004 at precisely 14 minutes past 10pm an armed robber put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. It jammed.

The robbers gained entry through the British Airports Authority Security Gate 10 near the cargo village at Heathrow Airport. The BAA failed to check in the back of the truck. If they had they'd have found men armed with hand guns, a machine gun and CS gas.


So far...it's a three part entry and very very funny as well as twisted and scary...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant Duet for Raising Sand



Hey..I'd like to make a big shout out to Browntown who has recently started a blog. Browntown and I have been aquainted for a number of years through an online bookclub and e-mails...and whopee he has a blog with lots of videos( I believe they are his own?) and poems...hope you can drop by and say hi to him...

The Secret To Freedom Is Found Through Hunters and Gatherers

A church across the street from The Backsteet Cultural Museum, sorry I forgot the name, I'll add it later...
This is Sylvester who is a beautiful storyteller and a powerhouse of knowledge. The Backstreet Cultural Museum is his work and I am so appreciative of him allowing me to take photos of his beautiful museum. I can not begin to type here the lessons he shared or the value of his stories. One simply must try to go to the Backstreet Cultural Museum. Thank you Sylvester.
New Orleans settlers tried to make Native Americans their slaves, but the Indians always preferred freedom and would run off to live in the surrounding bayou to fish and live as they had lived for thousands of years before others came to seek resources and "settle" the land. Sometime after the settlers realized they could not control Indians the settlers decided they needed hundreds of slaves so Africans were brought to New Orleans. Eventually, the African slaves noticed that the Indians wouldn't let the settlers and slave owners run their lives so the Africans learned from the Indians and started to learn each others language. These warrior suits come from celebrating the fact that if the Africans hid as Indians and learned how to hunt and live off the land as they did from the Indians...they could return to freedom. The white man had given up on making slaves of Indians because Indians wouldn't have any part of adopting the ways of the settlers or accepting such totalitarian dictatorship. HA!


When we walked in to the main room, we all gasped, Stagg the loudest of all...this was a mecca for him and he was so pleased to spend time talking to Sylvester. I really need him to come on here and explain the intense protocol that occurs when various "krewes" run into each other during the parades. Basically, the various krewes compete by making the most elaborate and beautiful tribal wear...these take all year to build beginning with small patches with thousands of beads, eventually in the fall a few men will work by combinning their patches and improvise these suits over months before Mardi Gras. They often weigh over 75 pounds. In fact, the heavier the better because the heavier the weight of the suit aides victory and respect between krewes.
I've included this membership application here in the hopes that a couple of visitors will print it out and send Sylvester some donation or fees to help him preserve these amazing stories represented in these warrior suits.





The figure on the left represents a "baby doll". You can see some of these costumes in action at this site which has some awesome photographs...

I believe making art and experiencing or exposing oneself to art...is to return to our beginnings. To always be in the process of contesting who we are and where our freedom and survival lies. Great art and art making has the opportunity to remind us of how we live and how we want to live and feel and to perhaps...remind us that we all have stories and lessons on how to reject oppression and art sometimes can record the transformative power of the human spirit.

Geeked Out!



Our swamp guy, Bryan Champagne designed and built his own boat for the tours. He did this because he needed a boat that could have both power and handle going over waterlogged, tough wood and shallow waters and not tip over...an idea I fully supported...
We had several activities planned out during our trip to San antonio, through Texas and then to Cajun Country and New Orleans. Among these activities were a couple I was super geeked out to do...one go to Mission Control in Houston, see as many bands in New Orleans, visit the devastation and to go on a swamp tour. We had a lovely guide for our two hour swamp trip and if you get a chance look up Bryan Champagne and take one of his tours...


The trees are wider at the base because they have absorbed the water, they are cypress trees and along with redwood/sequoia trees, are the only tree species native to America.



Okay, this sort of looks like one of those Loch Ness pics...but you might be able to see how subtle and cleverly disguised these aligators are on the water. The ones we saw were "babies" but I still wouldn't go anywhere near them...but kind of cute...I like how their eyes and nose peek out...

Tuffy P and I down on the bayou ( a marshy outlet of a river or lake) The word bayou is likely from: The Choctaw Indian Nation is a Muskogean tribe also known as Chakchiuma, or Chatot. They call themselves Chahta in the Choctaw language, which was the name of a legendary Choctaw leader, and also means "the people."

Today, the Choctaw are split into three separate federally recognized tribes, each with their own government, as well as several state recognized choctaw tribes.

The two largest tribes are the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Choctaw Tribe) and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (Choctaw Nation). The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians live on a reservation, which is land that belongs to the tribe and is under their control. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma lives on trust land.

Stagg and Mister Anchovy swamping it...