Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I had lunch with Dr. John today. Great conversations. More about this later, but it was a great day (and a great xmas gift).
If you see me in town, let's have drinks :)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I'll be on the air at WWOZ on Friday, Dec. 22 from 6am to 9am, sitting in for Middleton O'Malley, and then again on Tuesday, Dec. 26 from 6am to 9am, sitting in for Mark Lamaire. Both shows will showcase my top jazz pics for 2006 (as well as the classics in jazz). Tune me in, and then let's meet for drinks and socializing.
Hey Blake--I want lots of those buttons. I'll talk with you when I get into town.
Counting the days....
Thursday, November 16, 2006
By the way--just got back from New Orleans with a group of students and really thought that things are looking much better than the last time we were in town (August). Thanks to Blake and Geoff for helping me out. Thanks to David and Jenn for providing housing again for my crazy group. Apologies to Ray for not touching base, but we will be back home for two weeks in December.
Anyway, here's my card....
You are The Fool
The Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. The bag on the staff indicates that he has all he need to do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning. But the card carries a little bark of warning as well. Stop daydreaming and fantasising and watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Try your luck and see what you are :)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Here's the plan itself, and a bit about the subdivision.
Susan and I figured if we were going to stay up here, we might as well buy a brand-new house. That way, we could get all the "stuff" we wanted in it and we could really call it our own.
Living up here is like living in hell (in more ways than one), but the job is great and Austin is close enough to give us some respite from this hell place we live in. The schools are good too, even though they test too much in Tex-Ass. Kids go to school too much these days--they should play more. Outside (not on the computer).
So, here we are. Reduced to "knowledgable" tourists in New Orleans... with lots of friends in the city....
Lots of friends....
And the job at least offers me the chance to always be back in New Orleans during school holidays (xmas, summer). We won't miss another Mardi Gras, and I'll be bringing my Red Cross Katrina big ass ice chest so I can fill up with supplies everytime I come home.
We are now suburbanites. I'm not sure the 'burbs are ready for us. More about this "adventure" as it develops....
Tell me it's all a bad dream, please? Wake me up so I can walk to the Rendon and get my egg, bacon, grits breakfast....
Monday, October 23, 2006
So, when Rose writes this piece, and I'm feeling in a funk already, it all comes together and strikes a chord in me. I felt compelled to write Chris Rose a letter. Here it is:
I really love your honesty. It takes courage to expose so much of what you are feeling over the past year. To a large extent, it makes me feel like I’m not alone in my feelings. The only difference is that you are really “lucky”—you are still in New Orleans, and I have had to remain away since the evacuation.
Honestly, a bad day in New Orleans is still better than a good day in (city of your choice—insert name here). Unfortunately, my family and I have not been able to return. We first evacuated to Tennessee where my in-laws lived, and then we relocated to Killeen, Texas, where I had been offered a tenure-track position at a small University in an area that serves primarily military and their dependents.
Oh, and did I say that I lost my job at UNO?
Things are very good for us here. I’ve got a full-time job (rather than the piecemeal adjunct positions I put together while a resident of New Orleans. Not a problem for me, though—I was only waiting for the opportunity to take a full-time job that I knew would someday open up. It finally came in August 2005 at UNO. One week into the semester, though, Katrina hit. The rest, as you know, is the Spike Lee film). My wife can now stay at home and take care of our three-year old son. The public schools up here are actually GOOD. And, when all else fails, we can head to Austin which is only one-hour away and see some New Orleans music when available (we saw Cyril Neville on Friday night at Threadgill’s—he’s still ANGRY about the Lower 9th Ward—I mean, A-N-G-R-Y!!!). As we say in New Orleans, “it’s all good.” But, in all honesty, it’s not New Orleans and I’ve had to beat off the depression with wine, madera, and living a fantasy at times that I’m still in New Orleans (www.live365.com/stations/banzaibill_wwoz).
I was talking with a fellow exile living in Austin recently. He is the co-founder of the Urban Conservancy in New Orleans. He feels the same way about Austin as I do about Killeen—overall, things have worked out for us pretty good. But as we both reflect on New Orleans, and how much it continues to attract us with dreams of returning home, we know that our relationship with New Orleans is like a dysfunctional relationship. We know all the bad about the city—the politics, the schools, the crime. But none of this outweighs the good of the city—the music, the culture, the “kicked back” quality of life, the friendliness, the neighborhoods, the architecture, and all the other things that makes New Orleans the kind of place that only some of us could (or should) enjoy.
I feel your pain, and, again, I am appreciative of your honesty. New Orleans is an extremely difficult place to be right now. At times, it must feel like you are swimming against a current of lethargy and apathy that only a non-responsive government could induce in the post-Katrina aftermath. I keep thinking about the great (and missed) opportunities New Orleans had to not only rebuild but to make it a much better city. It seems that New Orleans has fallen into not only it’s “old” culture of apathy—it has done so with a significantly reduced infrastructure that can only be rebuilt with an active city government and an active populace. People are rebuilding, but they are doing it on their own. As much as people applaud this “self-responsible” action, it will take decades, if not longer, for New Orleans to rebuild itself without significant outside help. Nagin… Well, I won’t go down that road. It’s just a pitiful situation, and I blame him specifically for not bringing leadership to the rebuilding effort.
Know that I appreciate your writing, and that my thoughts and spirit are with you. All things being equal, I’d rather be in New Orleans. Even if I were depressed beyond all hope, I know that I could walk down through the Quarter or Magazine Street, or be on the air at WWOZ and visit with my many friends who are there for me. We are here for you—and we will all weather this storm as we face our demons and work to rebuild the city we all love so much.
I’m doing my share from a distance—I’m keeping the music alive, and I’m buying all I can from New Orleans vendors on the internet. I’ll be back home in December, and I hope we can share a drink on your porch when I get into town.
Take care, and thanks again for all your honesty.
Banzai Bill White
In-Exile, Killeen, Texas
Thursday, August 24, 2006
There are many aspects of New Orleans culture. One significant part of that is the interactions between the many small shops that made up our neighborhood economies and the people who lived in these neighborhoods. As people leave the city (or choose not to return), these small businesses are nearly at the point of closing. Many appear to be hanging on by the thinnest of threads. Once these businesses close, New Orleans will lose another significant aspect of what makes New Orleans great.
There is no doubt that Susan and I have had to move away from New Orleans. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t or don’t continue to do business with people in New Orleans. Some of my favorite places are located to the right on my favorite places in this blog. I would add the the Louisiana Music Factory, Metro Three, and Winky’s to these.
The point is—even for those of us in Exile, we must continue to support OUR local businesses—even from a distance.
They are too important to lose. Listen, folks, in my last trip to New Orleans I dumped thousands (really, thousands) of dollars in the local economy. Monthly, I spend hundreds of dollars in New Orleans small businesses. We must do what we can to keep these businesses alive.
Please, folks, do what you can to support New Orleans local business. If we don’t, noone will. Honestly. We all know what these places mean.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Ever since Katrina, I’m openly angry and disgusted—I’ve got Katrina attitude….
The god-damn government, through it’s total ineptitude, both in the construction of the “levee system” in New Orleans, in the immediate “rescue” of those left behind in Katrina’s wake, and the follow-up “efforts” to “rebuild” New Orleans, has left me in a state of total disgust and anger.
Get off my ass, asshole, I’m a Katrina evacuee….
I’m really pissed off now. I watched Spike Lee’s first two acts of his four act documentary last night. I can’t believe, and still can’t believe, that this happened in “America.”
The Government has taken away from me the only place I really called home. Not only that, the Government has done very little to bring my city back. The work of hard citizens is laudible, but it becomes like the efforts of those in the Superdome trying to bring order to the chaos. One, it is a ripple response in a great tidal wave of disaster. Two, at least its getting done. Three, it begs the question—why ISN’T the GOVERNMENT THERE TO HELP—QUICKLY. And, unfortunately, it really points out at the will of people to get things done in crisis, and the total failure of this government to help aid its helpless citizens.
My foreign exchange son Remzi replied that even when Turkey had the incredibly horrible earthquakes in 1999, their government responded quicker than what he observed in the documentary.
Turkey responds to natural disasters in their country faster than the US did for Katrina….
What really pisses me off could be summed up at the end of the first two-hour set where I believe it’s either Terrance Blanchard or Michael Eric Dyson said they couldn’t believe anyone (ANYONE) could support Bush after witnessing the complete ineptitude of the Katrina response. I believe he went on to say that you can add Katrina to the whole shopping list of fiascos in this administration and wonder aloud the mental health of those who support Bush today.
To paraphrase a certain mayor who will remain nameless, “pardon my French, but I am pissed off.” Again.
David walked outside with me after the documentary and was in tears. I went outside to cry alone, but there he was with me. We hugged each other for minutes. He asked how could this happen to New Orleans? How indeed….
We’ve done as much as we can do in our own individual ways to help rebuild our great city. We can’t do it by ourselves. Take a GOOD LOOK at what is going on today in New Orleans and look yourself in the mirror. What are YOU going to do to help us out? Beyond your continued good support, we need MORE from you. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO HOLD THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS ATROCITY TOTALLY ACCOUNTABLE. It could happen in your neighborhood or city when the next disaster strikes.
I am pissed off. Thank you, Spike Lee, for bringing the events of this disaster (both mitigation and recovery) into focus.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Coming August 29—A complete “New Orleans” show dedicated in the memory of those who died, suffered, and continue to struggle in the post-Katrina diaspora
Listen in at http://www.live365.com/stations/banzaibill_wwoz
Artist, Song, Album
John Coltrane/Resolution/A Love Supreme
Wayne Shorter/Footprints/Adam's Apple
Joe Locke-Geoffery Keezer Group/Tulipa/Live In Seattle
Miguel Zenón/Seis Cinco/Jíbaro
Terence Blanchard/Wandering Wonder/Flow
Jeff Albert/Lunch Is The Question/One
Tito Puente/Oye Como Va/The Colors Of Latin Jazz : Soul Sauce!
Omara Portundo/Quizas, Quizas, Quizas/Viva Cuba Libre
Miles Davis/So What/Kind Of Blue
Thelonious Monk/Monk's Dream/Monk's Dream
Ben Allison/Tricky Dick/Cowboy Justice
Larry Vuckovich/Dexter's Mode/Street Scene
Donald Harrison/New Hope/Freestyle
Christian Scott/Lay In Vein/Rewind That
Horace Silver/Que Pasa/Song For My Father
Norman Hedman's Tropique/Ruddadar Dance/Garden of Forbidden Fruit
Charlie Parker/Bird Gets The Worm/The Complete Savoy And Dial Studio Recordings
The Quintet/Perdido/Jazz At Massey Hall (Live)
Charlie Parker/Night and Day/The Complete Verve Master Takes
Jimmy Smith/Messin' Around/Home Cookin'
Lee Morgan/Cornbread/Essence of Funk: Hip Bop Essence
Cyrus Chestnut/Soul Food/Soul Food
Dr. Lonnie Smith/Freedom Jazz Dance/Jungle Soul
Caribbean Jazz Project/Portraits Of Cuba/Mosaic
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint/Ascension Day/The River In Reverse
Dr. John And The Lower 911/Storm Warning/Sippiana Hericane
Anders Osborne/Summertime In New Orleans/Bury The Hatchet
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Featuring music by Louis Armstrong
In honor of his birthday on August 4
Listen in at http://www.live365.com/stations/banzaibill_wwoz
Artist, Song, Album
John Coltrane, Blue Train, Blue Train
Freddie Hubbard, You're My Everything, Hub-Tones
Miles Davis Quintet, 'Round Midnight, The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions
Brian Bromberg, Caravan, Wood II
Laszlo Gardony, Motherless Child, Natural Instinct
Louis Armstrong, West End Blues, Hot Fives And Sevens
Various Artists, Struttin' With Some Barbeque, Louisiana Armstrong: A New Orleans Tribute
Mark Elf, Chuy's Challenge, Liftoff
Ray Mantilla, Flying Home, Good Vibrations
Dexter Gordon, Cheese Cake, Go
Thelonious Monk And John Coltrane, Blues for Tomorrow, The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings
Eric Reed, Stablemates, Here
Vincent Herring, The Song Is Ended, Ends And Means
Nicholas Payton, Potato Head Blues, Dear Louis
Various Artists, Sweet Lorraine, Louisiana Armstrong: A New Orleans Tribute
Diego Urcola, Afroraffo, Viva
Ibrahim Ferrer, La Música Cubana, Buenos Hermanos
Charlie Parker, Bluebird, The Complete Savoy And Dial Studio Recordings
The Quintet, All The Things You Are/52nd Street Theme, Jazz At Massey Hall
Charlie Parker, La Paloma, The Complete Verve Master Takes
Ben Allison, Hey Man, Cowboy Justice
Jon Faddis, The Hunters & Gatherers, Teranga
Kermit Ruffins, Ain't Misbehavin', Swing This
Various Artists, When The Saints Go Marching In, Louisiana Armstrong: A New Orleans Tribute
Louis Armstrong, Basin Street Blues, The Great Satchmo
Louis Armstrong, A Kiss To Build A Dream On, Life Is So Peculiar
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Summertime, The Best of Ella and Louis
Louis Armstrong, Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?, Big Ol' Box of New Orleans
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Our Neighborhoods in New Orleans ARE Important. That is what separated us as a city from many other cities. If NEIGHBORHOOD IS important to you, then get involved in rebuilding them in New Orleans.
Click here to get involvedhttp://unifiedneworleansplan.org
Isn't this how many of us feel?
I just heard that a good friend of mine has closed his shop in New Orleans and has moved away to North Carolina. I haven't talked with him in a few months, but I thought that Harry Anderson and his club "Oswald's" would somehow make it through the post-K world. I also knew that his business really thrives on the tourists. Without tourists, his business would significantly struggle. He was a great personality in the city, and my children had taken him into their hearts. Now, another piece of New Orleans that we won't be able to appreciate again...
I miss New Orleans too. I always will. It will never be the same, and in some ways it shouldn't be the same. No doubt. But what I miss, and I think what Cece misses, are the close interactions we had with many people in the city. The interactions of neighborhood, of community, of commerce. Cece felt so at home in New Orleans. Carefree, without any need to worry about time, snowballs in the Quarter or on Magazine Street at Tee Eva's, going to see Rhonda at Funrockin', bumping into Blake at a street party or having him over the house for a salon (remember "Winn Dixie"?), going to the OZ studios to be on the air--she loved it all. And I did too.
I sit back here in my living room right now, listening to my new show on Live-365, looking at Simon's art on the walls, at all the Mardi Gras stuff that lines the house, the smells of pork chops and red beans still fragrent in the kitchen--I can almost believe that I am back in New Orleans. But it is an incomplete picture--it doesn't include Blake and Rhonda and Harry and Elizabeth and Angel and Brian and Bob and OZ and walks on Decatur Street and drinks at Harry's Corner and street musicians on Royal and panhandlers in Jackson Square and the smell of the Quarter on a Sunday morning or Miss Lee hollering hello to us or the incredible smell as you enter the Rendon Grocery or special tours through the Aquarium or riding our bikes to Tulane or having lunch on the sidewalk on Conti Street or the fireworks over the river or sneaking into the Blue Nile when Fredy Omar is playing or just walking up and down Frenchman Street on a Saturday night....
It doesn't even compare....
We miss the people, and the interaction with people, and the interaction with people like us who didn't care about time, about the absurdities of normal life, and cared more about saying hello to each other and spending some time talking or sharing stories and music.
That's what I miss. That's what makes Cece cry. That's what still makes me cry.
Artist, Title, Album
John Coltrane, 26-2, Coltrane's Sound
John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman, Lush Life, John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman
Eddie Harris, Freedom Jazz Dance, The Essence of Funk: Hip Bop Essence
Christian McBride, Technicolor Nightmare, Live At Tonic
Miguel Zenón, Fajardeno, Jíbaro
Andrew Baham, Fuller Love, Introducing Andrew Baham
Jonathan Batiste, Red Beans, Times In New Orleans
Carlos Puebla, Hasta Siempre, Viva Cuba Libre
Francisco Aguabella, Felukin, Cubacan
Luis Mario Ochoa & Cimarrón, Mestizos, Cimarrón
Charles Mingus, Moanin', Blues & Roots
Cannonball Adderley, Sack O' Woe, At The Lighthouse
Diego Urcola, Tango Azul, Viva
Vincent Herring, Tom Tom, Ends And Means
Astral Project, Cowboy Bill, The Legend of Cowboy Bill
Christian Scott, Say It, Rewind That
Jon Faddis, Teranga, Teranga
McCoy Tyner, We Are Our Father's Sons, McCoy Tyner & the Latin All-Stars
Charlie Parker, Chasin' The Bird, The 'Bird' Returns
Charlie Parker, Klaunstance, The Complete Savoy And Dial Studio Recordings
Charlie Parker, Begin the Beguine, The Complete Verve Master Takes
Miles Davis Quintet, Stablemates, The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions
Joe Locke/ Geoffery Keezer Group, Fractured, Live In Seattle
Hendrik Meurkens, Angel Eyes, The Colors Of Latin Jazz : Soul Sauce!
Los Hombres Calientes, Rojo's Revenge, Vol. 5: Carnival
Kermit Ruffins, Here to Stay, Throwback
John Boutte, At The Foot Of Canal Street, Jambalaya
Anders Osborne, Summertime In New Orleans, Bury The Hatchet
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Here’s the Playlist:
Artist, Title, Album
John Coltrane, Countdown, Giant Steps
Ray Charles & Milt Jackson, Soul Brothers, Soul Brothers
Sonny Rollins, St. Thomas, Saxophone Colossus
Chick Corea, North Africa, The Ultimate Adventure
Manuel Valera, Hidden, Melancolía
Nicholas Payton, Nick@Night, Nick@Night
Herlin Riley Quintet, New York Walk, Watch What You'Re Doing
Francis Mbappe, International Man, FM Tribe Vol1
Ray Barretto, El Nuevo Barretto, Acid
Freddie Hubbard, Red Clay, Red Clay
Hank Mobley, Dig Dis, Soul Station
Taylor Eigsti, Freedom Jazz Dance, Lucky to Be Me
Voodoo Funk Project, This Is Where?, Deep In The Cut
Jeff Albert, Neon Monkey, One
Derek Douget, G.O.A., Perpetual Motion
Rick Davies and Jazzismo, Minor Byrd, Salsa Strut
Diego Urcola, Viva, Viva
Charlie Parker, Another Hair Do, The Complete Savoy And Dial Studio Recordings
Charlie Parker, Estrellita, The Complete Verve Master Take
Horace Silver, Bonita, The Cape Verdean Blues
Joe Locke/Geoffery Keezer Group, Van Gogh By Numbers, Live In Seattle
Chris Potter, The Wheel, Underground
Jazz On The Latin Side All Stars, Ironman James, The Last Bullfighter
Ray Mantilla, Hop Scotch, Man-Ti-Ya
Kermit Ruffins, Can't Take My Baby Nowhere, Swing This!
Jon Cleary, Just Kissed My Baby, Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen
Anders Osborn, Summertime In New Orleans, Bury The Hatchet
Let me know what you think. I’ll be adding a New Orleans set later this week. Check out my Schedule.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
WASHINGTON, USA (AFP): US President George W. Bush on Monday approved an additional 80 million dollars to help foster Cuban democracy and pressure President Fidel Castro, whose government called the effort "embarrassing."
In a statement, Bush said he had approved a "compact" with the people of Cuba "as they transition from the repressive control of the Castro regime to freedom and a genuine democracy."
Bush also accepted the recommendations of the US Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, a panel led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, which included the 80-million dollar expenditure over two years.
"The report demonstrates that we are actively working for change in Cuba, not simply waiting for change," Bush said.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I really love the section on "Politics." I'm curious which politician will win the "Most Deserving of a Brickbat" this year. Hmmm.... So many to choose from. Dollar Bill? Willie Nagin? Rene Gil-Pratt? Of course, we could consider folks pre-Katrina like.... Jackie. Jay. Anyone else come to mind?
Enjoy the poll--it will take you a while to fill it out, but it's worth it.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Let me know what you think of the show. It is the first thing I’ve done in a long time that is keeping my mind off of New Orleans, so to speak, even if I’m playing many of the cuts I would be doing on WWOZ. It was an important part of my identity in New Orleans, so I guess that helps me out quite a bit to be spinning music people appreciate.
Again, thanks for your support. I’ll keep you posted on new things here on the blog.
Monday, July 03, 2006
I’m missing being in New Orleans like you can’t believe, but I’ve added new shows at Live-365. If you want to hear my latest on-line shows, you can hear me at:
Let me know what you think. E-mail me at email@example.com. Someday, I’ll have these shows on WWOZ again (even if it’s on DJ random late at night).
Take care, and hope to hear from you all soon.
Monday, May 08, 2006
I made an “excuse” to get back to New Orleans this last weekend. Honestly, I had some “final” cleaning out to do on the house before we actually sell it. Pretty cool, really—we’re selling our house to our neighbor Donald Harrison and it would be nice to visit the house again when he comes out for Mardi Gras morning.
Anyway, it was the final weekend of Jazzfest and I had to make it out there for one day at least—not to mention all the good music happening in the “new” entertainment district along Frenchman Street. So, I worked my butt off on Friday cleaning out closets in the house. I can’t believe how much work that was—a good ten “industrial size” bags of stuff. I couldn’t look at some of the stuff I threw out—it’s just too hard sometimes. But out it went, and I worked muscles I haven’t worked since October. I was one sore puppy at the end of the day.
This was actually a wonderful trip back home. The most important part of New Orleans for many of us are the social networks we’ve established over the years. I have a friend who is a wonderful artist in New Orleans. His name is Simon and when I called him he came by the house with his standard mode of travel (bicycle) and his six-pack of Heinecken. We sat on the porch of my house drinking Heinecken’s just like it was a “typical” May evening. As if anything is typical anymore in New Orleans. But it all felt good. The street lights are all on, and it provides a “façade” of normality to the neighborhood, even if there aren’t many people in the neighborhood. We ended up heading out to a crawfish boil Uptown on Saturday, which was one of the highlights of my trip back home.
So, I worked my ass off on Friday. Saturday morning, I wake up with “another” case of Katrina cough (goddam the mold in the house), but I head out to see Simon for early morning café (he lives a few blocks down from me in the Broadmoor neighborhood) and then back to the house to finish some final packing of boxes. There is more to do, no doubt, but that will have to wait until the end of May. After packing, I head back to my friend Jon’s place in the Quarter where I am staying, shower, and then head on my bike (which I had just cleaned up from all the Katrina crap on it—man, it runs really well now) to the Fairgrounds.
First stop is Liuzza’s. Two rum and cokes, to go. Isn’t it nice to say “to go” for drinks? Where else in the world can you say “rum and coke to go”? Why can’t other places be like New Orleans. So, I finish my drinks of choice and head to the Fairgrounds. Not much on the agenda today—just let the day go. And, so I head to the WWOZ Hospitality Tent. The rest of the afternoon, I spend time saying hello to friends and former listeners to my show—catching up with politics, music, housing, mold, and the other issues of rebuilding New Orleans. DJ’s I haven’t seen since August. Listeners who say they appreciated having my children on the air with me on Sunday and Monday mornings. People catching up with 8 months of lost time. I could have stayed there all day. More on this later, but I caught up with two particular friends of mine there—Johnny Jackson (former city council member) and Jacques Morial (yes, Morial) and got their insights on the upcoming election. You all can say what you want about Jacques, but I have really come to respect his insights on politics over the past few years. He really has an incredible heart for the oppressed in New Orleans—more than many I know. His heart is in the right place—I trust him very much.
At some point in time, I “MUST” leave the WWOZ Hospitality tent to actually hear some music. I head over to hear the Little Rascals with Corey Henry and the gang. His daughter is dancing on stage, and the sound is incredible (if the sound-person would just turn up their mikes). They rip into a rendition of and Indian Chant, and I pretty much lose it at that point. Crying again in New Orleans. What is it about this city and the music that moves me to such emotion? Luckily, I have my sunglasses on and noone can see. But I’m dancing in the front row, moved by the spirit of the second-line, imagining I am on the streets in the Treme, and all along knowing that I am not here right now, that I’m 600 miles away in some edge of the Central Texas hill country making up New Orleans as best I can in my little corner of heaven.
There is so much more to write about, but I don’t think I have time right now. More tomorrow, I promise....
Thursday, April 20, 2006
As many of us “adjust” to life away from New Orleans, I wanted to point out my own observations.
First, I find that I miss New Orleans “more” during certain events. For example, for weeks on end at the beginning of the year (when we first relocated to Killeen), I found myself “religiously” listening to OZ (www.wwoz.org). Part of this was the fact that I was missing OZ in general. But I realize that part of this was the fact that I was missing being in New Orleans for the pre-Mardi Gras festivities. Those of us who know the “season,” there is so much going on in the build-up to Mardi Gras. The music, for me, is an essential part of this. Tom Morgan had some incredible shows showcasing the music and history of the Mardi Gras Indians. George Ingmire had some great interviews with Monk Boudreax on his thoughts post-Katrina in not only making a new suit but organizing a new group to carry on the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, all the while also trying to repair his house. These were very important and insightful programs—something many of us have come to expect from OZ.
As Mardi Gras passed, my “need” to listen to OZ every hour of the day also waned. I now listen to the afternoon shows (11-2) nearly everyday, but I’m finding that keeps me “up to date” on music and happenings in the city. As I write this, I also realize that there is no radio station like OZ in the universe and that I should be listening more….
With French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest just around the corner, I know that I will be plugging into OZ on a daily and hourly basis to help me “imagine” that I am back home. This feeling is becoming a bit more tolerable these days as Susan and I continue or work around the house to recreate the “feel” of New Orleans in the home.
Which brings me to my second point….
Two things that are essential, beyond the music, to “recreating” the life of New Orleans.
We can’t find New Orleans food anywhere.
Now, I don’t mean we can’t make the food ourselves. For the most part, I’ve been pretty good at making everything from Gumbo to Jambalaya, from Muffellata’s to White Chocolate Bread Pudding. Margarita’s, Mint Julips, and Mojito’s also fit here, but that’s a different topic…. So, I can cook the food—that’s ok. I was talking with a fellow evacuee here in Killeen the other day and we both lamented on the situation where we can’t find the food so we’ve had to begin cooking more. But what we miss are the incredible restaurant experiences in New Orleans. From picking up a po-boy at the Rendon Grocery, to dinner at Jaq-imo’s, to a “to-die-for” burger at the Quarter Master, or Austin Leslie’s (RIP) fried chicken. We miss the food—we miss the food experience. I was reading on Jazzreview.com that Chris Isaak will be posting messages there on his Jazzfest experience. One of the first things he recommends for tourists is “bring your fork.” He means that no matter where you go in New Orleans, even if it is to hear the music, you will be carrying food with you on the run. And it’s all good. And I couldn’t agree with him more. But it’s more than the food—it’s the shared experience among friends and others that is important in New Orleans culture. We like to share our food experiences with others. Which brings me to the second point….
New Orleanians like to do things with others.
Human beings are a social animal, but New Orleanians move this to a higher level. We love to interact with each other. We love to talk, and sometimes loudly. We love to discuss and argue politics (and no better time for it that right now in the Mayoral election—listen to WWL late at night and see what I mean). We love to “complain” about all sorts of things (Sandra Hester, by the way, is part of a lecture series at Dowling College in Long Island http://www.dowling.edu/news/news.php?eventid=42. Now THAT should be something to see for those who have never experienced her in a public forum). Ever experience a “conversation” with J Monque ‘D? Or Bob French for that matter.
New Orleans love to talk, and we love to talk with each other. Each of our experiences—the music, the food, the daily life, includes talking to each other. It is important.
As we all settle into our “diasporic” experiences, I am thoroughly convinced that we must seek each other out and make these connections again. It will be important for our own mental health. At the same time, it is an opportunity for us to share our culture with others who are not New Orleanians. It is a way for us to “share the gumbo” of our lives.
I’m heading out to see the Iguana’s on Friday night at the Continental Club. I am sure I will see other New Orleanians there. And we will enjoy the music, and we will talk with each other, and we will complain, we will laugh, and we may even cry. It is part of what life is now in the “outside” world. But at least we will be sharing with each other.
That’s what New Orleans is about—and what many in the “other” world could learn from.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Second, if you haven’t heard already, my last trip to New Orleans really threw me for a loop. Bad dreams every night during the first week back about flooded out houses, people wandering the streets aimless and lost, with me caught up in the middle of it. The dreams have stopped, but I get “beyond” melancholy these days whenever I think about New Orleans. I can’t shake the images I have of the city when I first got back in October. It dominates my mind when I think of New Orleans. Not good. Not good at all.
Finally, Susan, Devin and I won’t be heading back to NOLA for French Quarter (or Jazz-) Fest. We “overindulged” during our last trip, but, hey, we did our part to support the local economy. We aren’t happy we can’t go, but we know we’ll be back in New Orleans a few times before the year is out.
More to come later. Click on the Stickam and let me know if you like the music.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I can only visit my “centrality of place” these days. Many of you are probably in the same situation. It was an incredible trip back home, and though the Times-Picayune did interview me after I gave my paper presentation on how exiles are recreating New Orleans culture in their current places of residence, I did not see the interview mentioned at all the rest of the weekend. It was good to be back home, and we will be back for French Quarter Fest later next month.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
As you may not know, Cuba had to engage in some concession on what to do with the "money" earned/awarded in the tournament. The US Treasury Department at first denied their visas to participate, but they conceded when Cuba assured the US that any financial awards, other than food money for the players, would be given to New Orleans to help with our hurricane recovery efforts.
Tonight's game vs. the Netherlands is at 6pm NOLA time on ESPN. Viva Cuba--and go all the way.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I've made my pledge (of course on Bob French's show). How about you?
Thursday, February 23, 2006
February 22, 2006 Op-Ed Contributor From Hell to High Water By ROBERTA BRANDES GRATZ PREDICTING that a good number of evacuated residents will never return, a New Orleans mayoral commission recently declared that the city should abandon flood-ravaged neighborhoods, invest only in stable areas on high ground and shift residents to new developments. If a neighborhood isn't "sustainable," the city should raze it.
New Yorkers with long memories can't help but feel they have heard all this before. These proposals aren't much different from the ones for the "planned shrinkage" of New York in the 1970's, when abandoned buildings seemed more plentiful than occupied ones. The experts said that investing in neighborhoods where few people remained was throwing good money after bad; those areas were unlivable. Restoring old, deteriorating buildings was a waste of limited resources; the city was getting smaller. We should focus instead on populated neighborhoods and healthy commercial districts.
The experts, of course, were wrong. And the thousands of New Orleanians fighting experts' recommendations to shrink the city should take heart from New York's experience.
In the 1970's, New York was losing 36,000 residential units a year citywide to neglect and arson, after decades when cities were out of fashion and investing in them was discouraged. New York was on the verge of bankruptcy, and the assumption was that everyone wanted to escape urban life.
But the New Yorkers who stayed were undaunted. Residents in the communities that urban experts had given up on took back the streets, scraped together grants from foundations and meagerly financed city programs, occupied and renovated abandoned buildings, and turned rubble-strewn lots into neighborhood gardens. One building, one block, one neighborhood at a time, citizens chose to improve rather than move.
The South Bronx, one of the most devastated areas, saw an endless variety of innovative efforts starting in the late 1970's. By 2000, the South Bronx had 57,361 new units in rehabilitated apartment buildings and 10,000 units in new two- and three-family town houses.
A community group called Banana Kelly rebuilt three vacant four-story apartment houses scheduled for demolition by the city and went on to renew a 10-block area of the South Bronx, with regeneration spreading beyond. Another organization, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, resisted plans to force out residents and businesses in the Melrose neighborhood by razing old buildings and replacing them with a low-density, middle-income project. Today, mixed-income, high-density town houses and low-rise apartments reflect a repopulated and vibrant community.
Artists converted part of the monumental American Bank Note complex in Hunts Point into the Point, a cultural center anchoring a solid mixed-use district. Several groups came together to clean up the Bronx River. An old concrete plant is being turned into a city park, and a multifaceted greenway along the river is emerging.
In these neighborhoods, residents were the catalyst for renewal. City officials eventually recognized the momentum and responded with support. Citizen efforts made areas attractive to developers who, with generous incentives, then built housing and took credit for the renewal visible today.
Just as in New York, New Orleans residents can defy official prescriptions. As I saw on a recent visit, New Orleanians feel abandoned by everyone and cheated by insurance companies. But instead of quietly accepting the government's declarations that their houses are unsalvageable, they're cleaning out flooded homes and learning how to rebuild. Their outcry against the mayoral commission's recommendation that the city impose a moratorium on reconstruction in flooded areas effectively killed that idea.
It is those kinds of efforts that will bring New Orleans back. Organic urban neighborhoods are self-generated, not developer-built. The family enclaves, extensive social networks, well-attended churches, historic attachment to property and fierce dedication to local culture and place make New Orleans unique. If that authentic energy is stifled by misguided strategies, neighborhoods will die.
"Lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration," Jane Jacobs wrote 45 years ago in "Death and Life of Great American Cities." This can be true of New Orleans today if its leaders allow those seeds to be sown.
Roberta Brandes Gratz is the author of "Cities Back From the Edge: New Life for Downtown."
Monday, February 20, 2006
Four Classical Jazz Pieces:
1. John Coltrane, My Favorite Things, My Favorite Things
2. Horace Silver, Song For My Father, Song For My Father
3. Thelonious Monk, Well You Needn’t, Monk’s Mood
4. Cannonball Adderley, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Live at the Club
The Charlie Parker Set:
Taken this week from Disk 6 in the Complete Savoy and Dial Studio Recordings
1. Bird Feathers
3. Scrapple From the Apple
4. My Old Flame
1. Jae Sinnett, The Sinnett Hearings
Yes, indeed. One of my top picks for this year. Exactly what I look for in a jazz cd. Great drummer, great band.
2. Ray Marchica, In the Ring
Another percussionist—hitting the mark dead on. Great CD. Another one on my top list for this year.
3. Shahida Nurullah, The Ruby and the Pearl
Nice, very nice. Great vocalist, with artists backing her up that don’t take away from her sound.
4. Edsel Gomez, Cubist Music
I continue to be impressed with Zoho Music and their artists.
5. Chris Stewart, Phoenix: A Tribute to Cannonball Adderly
A nice sound, a good tribute to Cannonball.
6. Laura Caviana, Going There
A Very nice sound. A very good cd.
New Orleans Artists
1. Various, Our New Orleans
2. Marlon and Stephanie Jordan, You Don’t Know What Love Is
3. Donald Harrison, New York Cool
4. Wynton Marsalis, Amongst The People
5. Various, Higher Ground
6. Christian Scott, Rewind This
1. Brian Lynch Latin Jazz Sextet, Conclave
I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure I would love it. Add to the playlist.
2. Jerry Gonzalez and the Ft. Apache Band, Rumba Buhaina
Again, I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure I would love it. Add to playlist.
3. Trio da Paz, Somewhere
A nice sound, soft and subtle, but with a wonderful Brazilian flair.
4. LUIS OCHOA, Cimarron
A nice cd, very “Cuban.” If you don’t get up and dance to this cd, you’re dead.
5. CARLOS BARBOSA-LIMA, Carioca
Recently released, I would give it a listen.
6. Ibrahim Ferrer, Buenos Hermanos.
Banzai Bill’s 2006 Top List To Date:
1. Jae Sinnett, The Sinnett Hearings
2. Ray Marchica, In the Ring
3. Shahida Nurullah, The Ruby and the Pearl
4. Edsel Gomez, Cubist Music
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Hello Dr. White:
I'm e-mailing you in response to the message left on the class's discussion board. As I mentioned previously, being here in houston has definitely not presented what i thought that the 4th largest city in america would have presented. In all honestly I believe i would rather roughing in out in n'awlins than be here, but when you are responsible for others, their welfare becomes primary and everything else comes second, if at all. Just this morning when calling for a job lead, the recruiting lady said after asking if i had 2 forms of i.d. and i said i had my ss.card and a LA driver's lic. that "we're not in the business of giving jobs away to you new orleans people" and that "you're going to have test like everyone else and if you evacuated with no transportation, don't bother cause we need to know that you will show up on time to the site with no excuses." so it's back to the drawing board as far as trying to find a job.
I even tried to participate in this federally funded program that was recruiting specifically to the hurricane evacuees. It's called, "Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston" and people come dwon from the Library of Congress and teach selected evacuees for forty-fifty hrs. in 5 or 6 days at the Univ. of Houston how to effectively interview and work a video camera, tape recorder, etc. Then after the week of instruction evacuees then must find ten people to interview and transcribe each interview and then after the directors okayed the final product, you got paid 2250.00 Well after i passed the first phase a graduate student from Tulane interviewed me and asked me about my experiences so far. after i gave her three or four examples of what i had experienced b/c we only had like 5-6 mins. to talk to her, she said that she was sorry for my experiences, but the project was looking for interviews not only of people who had evacuated to houston, but to highlight houston churches who did alot for the evacuees and businesses that pitched in or whatever, the new communities that formed and what contributions are the survivors making. To me, it seemed like there was a slant to what was supposed to come out of this whole project. I know that my personal truth is that i can't hardly do any thing without feeling like i'm being watched or scrutinized. I thought that as time passed, we would be more accepted, however on this past saturday, i went to purchase my two brothers each a pr. of shoes, well when the lady took my debit card and asked for my i.d. i asked was the store giving a discount to La. residents, the woman behind me huffed and puffed and said, "well if you have money to be buying those name brand shoes, you obviously don't need a damn discount. this is my city and if i have to pay full price, then you should have too as well. you in texas now baby, so act like it. oh and by the way "[a ticket] for failure to produce a texas driver's license will cost you at least 150.00" i was so pissed that the lady at the counter didn't say anything, i just left the shoes there, but the other clerk next to her said she would give me the employee discount for the actions of the other customer. i mean everyday it's literally something, it makes my head hurt. sorry for going on and on dr. white, i don't have any friends or family or anybody in texas and it's just mind blowing the effort that alot people seem to be placing on harrassing hurricane evacuees. e-mail me back when you can....
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Friday, February 03, 2006
What will New Orleans become? I think that is the question that many people in the city either understand or are trying to avoid answering for fear of what the answer might be. It is interesting to see those who are rebuilding, in areas that can be rebuilt, who feel confident that things will return to "normal" (whatever that means these days). People who are not back yet to rebuild, for whatever reason, are less confident. I feel that the farther away you are from the city, the less confident you are that it will come back.
Those of us who are "academically" grounded in the urban environment, I think we understand the relationship between land and "value." As the residents and community businesses are scattered to the four winds, speculators will take advantage of a "good" situation and purchase land as cheap as they can and either sit on their investment or develop the land as new housing or new commercial space. The closer the area is to the "core" downtown, the more aggressive the land-grab will be.
Honestly, I don't know why people would at this time develop in the Lower 9th Ward, but it's access to the French Quarter and the CBD is well situated to cheap but potentially profitable speculation, both in housing and commercial development. On the other hand, the area near Tulane University along Claiborne, Carrolton, and Washington could turn into some incredible housing and greenspace development. Both options must "wait" a little longer for the residents to figure out if they are coming back. Both areas also were rich in some of the makers of New Orleans culture, such as the Mardi Gras Indians, and if they are not able to come back home, then those traditions and cultural entrepreneurs will not be in New Orleans to continue "mixing the Gumbo."
I do not feel that many of these people are going to come back. Finances and the reality of moving on with their lives will be too much to overcome. Like the patron who left Tip's with his head down saying he was heading back to Georgia, many of us who find ourselves far from home will become nothing more than occasional tourists to the city we once knew. And as the culture of the "New" New Orleans takes shape, it may not be the place we would want to visit or live in anymore because it will have lost it's soul.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Watch out, world.
For those who know me, I will indeed be posting various "playlists" that I "would have been" playing if I was still on the air at WWOZ. Ambitious, yes, but maybe I'll even add some good links to music on-line.
And, as the name connotates, I will be "Speaking My Mind," especially as it relates to the post-Katrina recovery efforts as I watch in exile here in Killeen, Texas.
Hope you all enjoy. And, as Bob French says "If you like what you see, go tell your friends. If you don't like what you see, don't tell nobody...."