Check that balance, y’all!

16 December 2007

I know two is just a coincidence, but I’m just sayin’…

On Friday we did our annual drink-&-shop day on Magazine with our friend Stacy, and I told her all about our card theft problem.  Well, the next morning, she goes to get some cash, and her account is bone dry.  They’d gotten about $4k from her.  Many of the charges were in Houston, just like us, but some others in Indiana.

FWIW, we both have Capital One, and they both started on Dec 10.  I know it’s not enough to constitute a big ring of thefts, but I’m just putting it out there.  Seems pretty bizarre that our circumstances would be so similar, and she’s one of the few people I’d talked to, and it happened to her as well.  So I would predict there are a bunch more.  Keep an eye on it, folks.

Ike Turner

14 December 2007

Ike Turner

Originally uploaded by HammHawk

Well, Ike’s dead, and I read that Tina’s really broken up about it (not). Anyway, at JF 2005, I went to check him out (he rocked, by the way), but when I went up to get a photo, the security dude came up and yelled, “One shot, one shot!” even though you can usually snap away up there. I try to be very considerate of the audience. But this was my “one shot,” such as it is. Gee, he looks so sweet!

Are the kids alright?

13 December 2007

I don’t know if someone at the Onion got knocked up recently, but given B‘s new stage, I thought I’d pass along a few choice recent submissions and a couple classics:

Woman Overjoyed by Giant Uterine Parasite

Radically Less Cool Lifestyle Born to Area Couple

Miracle of Birth Occurs for 83 Billionth Time

Spoined, Doughy Brat Makes Local Parent Feel Spiritually Whole 

And, as an unofficial member of the V club, I enjoyed reading about Dan Gilbert‘s recent talk at the American Psychological Society (I based my dissertation on his work, but I had to miss the conference this year), which included this line:

Children are the best thing in a parent’s life, but only because they tend to get rid of every source of joy we had before they came along.

Nevertheless, a hearty cheers to B & Xy.

The most unique city in the United States

13 December 2007

Normally, I bristle a little when people use phrases like “most unique” and “ATM machine/PIN number” and “literally laughing my head off,” but Mr. Pitt gets a pass for making a difference and telling the world that we’re not under water, as 25% of the country (all voted for Bush, I’m sure) seem to believe.


12 December 2007

No, I’m not talking about trash contracts, the Chicago Bears, or Bill Jefferson.  I’m the victim of an identity theft!

“I never thought it would happen to me,” but this isn’t as serious as most people’s.  I got damn lucky (I hope).  Since it’s approaching the middle of the month, that’s about when we start running out of money, so logged onto our checking account to see how close we were, and I found $1100 of charges to Chevron, Dillard’s, and Target, all in…wait for it…Houston!  Lucky for me, they were all from the day before, and I was able to call the bank immediately and block the card.

I’m curious as hell to know how it happened.  They were all from my card (E and I share an account but have different card #s), which I haven’t lost.  But according to the woman on the phone, they were all paid in person, rather than online (which makes sense especially for the Chevron one).  So did they make a fake card with my number?

I’d love to hear any ideas about what happened.  Right now, my money’s on this being a computer glitch that billed my account instead of theirs, but maybe I’m being naive.  The bank said they’d start an investigation and shortly will credit my account, but I’ll have to file paperwork to keep the refund.  I’ll let all two of my readers know if I hear anything more interesting about it.

If it’s a theft, I want to hear whether they get busted.   After I was arm-robbed delivering pizza in college, for years I got updates on the perp, but I doubt my bank will be as forthcoming to satisfy my curiosity (not that I was curious about the robber, but this one intrigues me).

Striking writers, NOFF

4 December 2007

Considering how much TV I like to watch, I’m surprised that I don’t really give a damn about the strike.  Yeah, I guess I’m on the side of the writers, but it’s not exactly the Montgomery bus boycott.  I think they deserve a cut from the webcasts, but I haven’t lost a lot of sleep for them.

Mainly, I’m surprised that I don’t miss the shows, and maybe that’s why I’m less sympathetic.  They’re doing a less essential job than I would’ve thought.  Even the shows that I get on the DVR (Daily Show, Colbert, Office) are pretty much not leaving a void in my life.  I guess I should take this as a lesson about my indulgences, but I expect I’ll be back to catching them when they’re back on.  For now, I’ll see a few more movies.

Speaking of movies, I thought I’d posted this a while back, but I seem to have lost my post.  It was belated then, and now it’s really belated.  Anyway, especially now that Diving Bell is getting wider release, I salvaged and thought I’d post from 24 October 2007:

Last year for my b-day, E got me a membership in the New Orleans Film Society (or Film Fest, depending).  It’s been great, as we’ve gone to a couple at the CAC (Helvetica & Crazy Love–both awesome docs), and now I finally did the Film Fest last weekend with my friend Joe who lives in Austin now (but he’s still a great guy).

Joe is my favorite movie companion because he loves ‘em, but he doesn’t talk.  I can’t tolerate people thinking they’re cute trying to crack up the surrounding viewers or people who act like they’re home watching DVDs.  Why do so many adults not know how to whisper?

Anyway, we both have the stamina to sit for hours on end (one of my few talents), so we went to 5 on Sat and 2 on Sun before he had to leave.  Here’s what we saw, in my order of preference:

  1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly–What a fascinating movie.  Based on the true story of the editor of French Elle, who had a massive stroke and could only move one eye.  Didn’t keep him from writing a book.  As if I didn’t feel badly enough about my own progress.  Gorgeous, claustrophobic, thought-provoking, funny, everything.
  2. Left Behind:  The Story of New Orleans Public Schools–Really well done.  Starts a little before Katrina and follows the hijinks of our screwy school system and a bunch of people who don’t give a shit about the kids.  The personal stories of some local students make the story especially poignant and moving.  In the end, not quite as depressing as you might think.  Let’s hope Vallas can get the job done.
  3. Killer of Sheep–Stunningly good b&w release from the ’70s about life in Watts.  Amazingly realistic performances.  Depressing at times, inspiring and joyful in others.  Gotta see it.
  4. Dans Paris–Your basic French story of life in a family in Paris.  Troubled relationships, joie de vivre, and depression.
  5. Grace is Gone–Somewhat disappointing John Cusack movie about a man whose wife dies in Iraq, and he can’t bear to tell their two daughters, so he takes them on vacation.  Sorta precious and self-conscious.
  6. Suffering Man’s Charity–Quite disappointing Alan Cumming movie about a musician who’s obsessed with a hustler.  Devolves into a slapstick thing.  I disliked it for the same reason I disliked Death at a Funeral.  Silliness posing as dark humor.  Still, Cumming was his charming self in attendance.  Said he thought NOLA was a great city to show a morbid movie and that Scotland has similar sensibilities.  Told a great story to illustrate:  U2 was in Scotland to give a concert, and Bono told everyone to be quiet.  At 1-sec intervals, he clapped in rhythm.  Clap.  Clap.  Clap.  Then he said that everytime he clapped, a child in Africa died of AIDS.  Lad in the front row shouts, “Why don’t you quit fucking clapping then!”  Choice.
  7. Flakes–I really really wanted to like this.  But alas.  I remember flipping out when we walked by Cafe Brazil and saw that it’d been turned into a cereal bar.  Felt silly when told that it was for a movie, but even pre-K we take our institutions seriously.  Fun to see Brazil, Marigny Bookshop, R Bar, Checkpoint Charlie….  Problem was the plot, with “manufactured conflict” as Joe called it (maybe that’s a common term, but I didn’t know it and it’s perfect).  Evil businessman wants to franchise Christopher Lloyd’s one-of-a-kind joint, and the good guys strike back.  Eh.

I was really disappointed to miss the Allen Toussaint Touch, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Faubourg Treme, the Untold Story of Black New Orleans, King of Kong, Tootie’s Last Suit, etc.

I’ll try to make time to see more next year, but they do a hell of a job.  Attendance at most of the shows was really good, and there were several that I couldn’t get to because they sold out.  I’ve noted to friends that everywhere else I’ve lived I’ve been disappointed when something’s sold out.  Here, I’m thrilled because it’s a sign of thriving.  Weird.

The science of cutting & running

3 December 2007

My friend GD sent this letter to Keith Spera, Jason Berry, and Lolis Eric Elie.  So far, only Elie has written him back, expressing intrigue at the findings.

In the aftermath of the federal flood I was particularly disturbed by negative public comparisons of New Orleans and Austin by Cyril Neville and Marcia Ball.  Cyril, as you may recall, informed the world that musicians were never able to sustain a decent standard of living in New Orleans while Austin offered them regular work at high wages.   Marcia went a step lower and simply declared New Orleans “a dead end”.


I was curious about the data behind their opinions, so in August I visited the websites of a number of groups that I thought had relocated, at least briefly and/or partially, to Texas cities to assess how well they fared in their new haunts.   I reviewed the websites of five bands that I am pretty sure relocated in part to Texas; Rebirth, Soul Rebels, Hot 8, Big Sam, and the Iguanas.  I also included a few other artists like Eddie Bo, John Mooney, John Gros, Anders Osborne, Teresa Anderson, as well as Galactic, in my search.   I found that the combined number of New Orleans dates listed by all these groups on their websites was 68.  The combined number of dates anywhere in the state of Texas was 12.   The five bands that had actually relocated for a time to Texas accounted for 48 gigs in New Orleans and 9 in Texas.


These results supported reports from a friend who was forced to relocate to Houston this year because of her employment.  A devoted fan of live New Orleans music, she has been unable to find musicians for her hometown playing anywhere in the great Texas megatropolis.   Maybe I’ve become a bit obsessed with Texas since August 2005, but least we forget that Texas has given the city of New Orleans crooked contractors, overpriced services offered by all forms of companies, and maybe most importantly, George Bush.   Let’s face it, the personal and economic chaos wrought by the events of the last two years has been nothing less than a bonanza to Texas.  In the wake of Katrina, overt attempts were made to steal the culture as Texans lusted after Mardi Gras, the Indians, our football team, our best musicians and artists.


Maybe summer was not the best time for a survey of gigs with so many musicians on the road but I would submit to you that Texas has not provided the cultural and economic nirvana predicted by Cyril and Marcia.   By the way, I was unable to find a single listing for Cyril in his new hometown on his website.


None of my comments are meant to imply that the current economic and living conditions of our musicians are acceptable.  I’m sure that you agree that we need to continue to nurture this fragile element of New Orleans and be responsive to their needs and opinions.


3 December 2007

On a weekend that saw the Saints give one away, I’m keeping my focus on the good fortune we experienced at the end of another hurricane season.  I think it was Michael Homan who suggested that instead of having a festival on Aug 29 each year, we make Nov 30 a party.  I say we celebrate Thanksgiving on that day each year.  Since we’re not part of the US anyway, we don’t really have to honor that Plymouth Rock Mayflower crap anyway do they?  And this is one place that’s actual appreciated its native habitants, at least to some degree and belatedly.

It really has been a remarkable run.  Back in the day, evacuations were pretty rare, but during my 2nd stint here starting in 2000, we canceled classes each year through the awful ’05 season.  Now we’ve had 2 years without an evacuation or major threat, and we should always remember to be grateful for that.  I’m sure I’m not alone in reflecting every day that those of us in the region has paid our dues, and I hope that those of you who had so much more to deal with than I did will never have to go through it again.