Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ Category

Sorry if that headline is misleading — no Trombone Shorty/Carl Sandburg mashup is in the offing. (That I know of.)

But two quick noteworthy links:

1. Trombone Shorty was on Sound Opinions (great show) recently. The interview was fine (nothing revelatory to anyone who has been paying attention to New Orleans music  in the last, say, decade), but the performances are really excellent. Listen to the entire show here, or just check out the Trombone Shorty portion here.

2. Leading “SJI” blogger and writer Robert W. Harwood has a nice surprise over I Went Down to St. James Infirmary: The first of a batch of monologues recorded for an “SJI” radio documentary includes some great details about Sandburg and early variations on the song. And he even breaks out his guitar! eally cool… Give it a listen here. And if you want to hear more, tell Mr. Harwood so, he’s looking for feedback!



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Sorry for the melodramatic headline. But “coupla stray notes” didn’t seem adequate.

First: Shortly after returning from our trip to N.O. in connection with the very enjoyable Hypothetical Development Organization opening, I was pleased to receive in the mail the book Louisiana Rambles: Exploring America’s Cajun and Creole Heartland, by Ian McNulty. I managed to sped a bit of time with it this weekend, and enjoyed what I read quite a bit. There’s a piece about the holiday bonfires upriver (also subject of an essay in LfNO), and a nice travelogue about the Angola rodeo — something we attended and I always wish I had written about… but I never did. There are also several pieces about exploring the musical culture of regions around N.O. that I haven’t yet read but am really looking forward to, because those are adventures we never quite found time for during our time in the area.

Anyway I intend to make more use of Mr. McNulty’s observations and explorations on our next trip to Louisiana.

Second note: Another essay in LfNO, which I’ve referred back to often, concerned Claiborne Avenue and I-10. I’ve mentioned there’s talk of somehow reverting this area to some sort of pre-Interstate version of itself (presumably by destroying the freeway, that’s my excuse for the “destruction” headline), but I see from this T-P article that the current state of things is that a study is still being planned. There’s something very New Orleans about that…

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“Implausible Futures For Unpopular Places”
Gallery Du Mois, 4921 Freret St., New Orleans
April 7 – May 7, 2011
Opening reception April 9


The project seems to pose the question: If we can dream this big on paper, then what else could happen?

–Mimi Zeiger, Design Observer: Places

The Hypothetical Development Organization presents a new form of urban storytelling — what Bruce Sterling calls “architecture fiction.”

Borrowing the form of the traditional real-estate development sign, H.D.O and its contributing artists devise and depict engaging, provocative, amusing, and above all implausible future uses for neglected-looking properties. Ten of these unlikely notions — The Museum of the Self, The Loitering Centre, the SnoozerDome, The Radtke Reading Room, Karmalot, and more — have appeared on 3’X5′ signs around New Orleans.

See all of them at Du Mois — plus two new, never-before-seen Hypothetical Developments.

Works by John Becker, Candy Chang, Mark Clayton, Carey Clouse, Michael Doyle, Mauricio Espinosa, Christina Hilliard, Kirsten Hively, Nicole Lavelle, Sergio Humberto Padilla, Dave Pinter, Lauren Stewart, Meg Turner, and the SVA Masters in Branding Class of 2011

Project founders G.K. Darby, Ellen Susan, and Rob Walker will be on hand at the opening, along with several of our contributing artists. Facebook Event page here: http://on.fb.me/HypoDevReception

As seen in Boing Boing: “Hypothetical Development Organization’s real estate fictions.” Good: “Fake Realtors Imagine Artistic Uses for Neglected Buildings.” NOLA Defender: “City of Memes.” And more: from PSFK, Swiss Miss, Core 77, Design Observer, Good Magazine, Josh Spear, Aesthetics of Joy, Archetizer, Huffington Post, Coudal.com, HiLobrow, Unbeige, Bookslut, The Architects Newspaper Blog.

“This must be the closest thing to an architecture-fiction ‘pure play’ to have yet appeared.” — Bruce Sterling


Images of renderings and installations here and here.

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Downtown Soulville, DJ’ed by Mr. Fine Wine, rolls out its Mardi Gras Hangover show, an hour of N.O. soul 45s. Lotsa great stuff, listen here.

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This hardly makes up for the melancholy fact that once again it’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and only Tuesday where we live, but: I was pleased to hear, when listening to the latest episode of the excellent Sound Opinions, a snippet of “SJI.” Or rather, it was a snippet of Josh White’s variation on the tune, “Free and Equal Blues,” played during a long interview with the founder of Elektra.

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all.

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Pic by Steve Witchbeam/WFMU blog; click it for more.

E told me several weeks ago she’d read that the Mother In Law Lounge (a setting explored in LfNO) was closing. There’s a nice batch of pictures of the exterior on the WFMU blog, here.  Steve Witchbeam writes:

Under the impression it was still a happening venue I headed over there with Crow Hill Gnostic Temple’s Sister Jillian to check it out Saturday afternoon. It was weird, even though the outside is covered with vibrant, beautiful and exquisite murals it seemed like the life was gone. We took some pics (below!), hung out and moved on. Sunday afternoon we happened to bump into a person featured on one of the murals, the world class puppet mistress Miss Pussycat, and she informed us we missed the last show there by just a week.

Mr. Witchbeam also points to this (brief) interview with Daniel Fuselier, the artist who painted the Lounge’s murals.

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Here’s a Kickstarter project that looks worthwhile (details, including video with some nice clips, here):

“We Won’t Bow Down” is a feature length documentary on the past, present and future of the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans.

What we are doing:
We are raising money to finish production of the feature length documentary “We Won’t Bow Down” which is six years in the making. This is an exceptionally long schedule for a film, but it has been necessary to properly explore the depth of the extremely secretive Mardi Gras Indian culture.

Why we are doing this:
“We Won’t Bow Down” has been a labor of love and we believe the film is a vehicle to carry the Mardi Gras Indian message of resistance through art, community, hope and healing to the world – while also faithfully documenting an amazing culture.

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An interesting article in the T-P the other day updates the thinking and possible future of the stretch of Claiborne that is now overshadowed by I-10. That area and its history was of the course the subject of an essay in LfNO. Apparently the city has recently landed “a $2 million federal grant to study ways to revitalize the Claiborne corridor, including possible demolition of the 2.2-mile stretch of elevated roadway between Elysian Fields Avenue and the Pontchartrain Expressway.”

Katy Reckdahl’s story about a brass band contest under the freeway included interesting comments on this. Ellis Joseph of the Free Agents Brass Band cheered the idea: “”It would bring it back like it was in the old days, when my grandparents and parents used to gather out here and chill.”

But Derrick Moss, bass drummer for the Soul Rebels, said the damage has already been done.

“They spent all this money to build it and moved all these people out of their homes,” said Moss, recounting the painful history of how North Claiborne and the thriving African-American-owned businesses that once lined it withered after the elevated roadway split the neighborhood. “Why spend all sorts of money to tear it down?” he asked. “Just use it for something positive, like today.”

Playwright Asali Devan-Ecclesiastes said she found the whole demolition idea “kind of sad,” a common sentiment on Saturday.

After the expressway divided the community 50 years ago, she said, neighbors incorporated the structure into their music and art. “Now they want to take it down. How much do they want people to adjust?”

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I hope so, because I’m one of the organizers of said project, which we’re calling The Hypothetical Development Organization. My co-conspirators on this venture are Ellen Susan and G.K. Darby.* We’ve got a bunch of  great fellow-volunteers involved, and what we’re doing is creating signage “advertising” imaginary future uses for neglected buildings around New Orleans.

The last step is raising the money to print the physical signs and I need your help.

Along with our various collaborators, we’ve put in a ton of free work on this, just because we think it would be an awesome thing to do. We even have a gallery partner who will display duplicates of the signs in April — if we raise the money to cover the production costs.

Please check out more details of the project on our Kickstarter fundraising page or our site, and consider chipping in to help us make this real.

We have cool premiums on offer to those who support the project.

Thanks for your help!

(*Those of you who read Letters From New Orleans may be interested to know that G.K. Darby’s Garrett County Press published that book — and also that Ellen Susan is, in fact, “E.”)

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A Superdome reunion?

L.A. Times had an interesting story about a guy, Paul Harris, who rode out Katrina in the Superdome.

Harris, a former San Diego County probation officer on vacation in the Big Easy when the storm hit on Aug. 29, 2005, has wondered what happened to the people with whom he spent the most intense days of his life. He’s been in e-mail contact with several and has flown to New Orleans a few times to watch the progress of the Superdome’s $320-million renovation.

On Sunday, Katrina’s fifth anniversary, Harris organized a reunion of Superdome survivors. He printed up flyers, advertised it on the local paper’s events calendar, flagged it on his own website. He arrived shortly before noon, waiting expectantly and a little nervously.

No one came.

Continued here.

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