At the Spellcaster

I’ve heard of the 9th Ward hipster scene, but I never checked it out until this past Saturday night, when Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat re-opened the Spellcaster Lodge. I’d never been there before, but I’ve been a fan of Quintron ever since I heard his Satanic croaking organ cover of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” (mp3). On the bill for the Grand Re-opening: Black Lips, Quintron and Pussycat, Uncle Flim Flam and DJ Jubilee.

Tony and I stopped first at the Saturn Bar for a beer, then made our way across St. Claude. The Spellcaster is the lower floor of a house, and you could easily miss it because the entrance is in the rear. But eventually we found our way in. I don’t know what the place looked like before the flood, but they redecorated in high kitsch, complete with bubbling water-filled “porthole” lights and sparkly-shaggy wallpaper and little display cases with tableus of pinecone people. The place was filling with a mix of interesting folk of every description. I started to get a real David Lynch Blue Velvet vibe. I think the drugs were kicking in.

Though their website said “we now have air conditioning” and “ventillation,” as the grew it got hotter and hotter inside. I heard one person refer to it as the “Spellcaster Sweatlodge.” Another person said the heat was making him hallucinate. I swear it must have been up to a hundred degrees when I went to the bar.

And who should be working behind the bar but Antoinette K-Doe, widow of the late Emperor of the Universe himself. It was so hot I was worried for her health.

Fortunately it was very nice outside, but even the back yard was getting crowded. Soon Tony and I adjourned to the Saturn. I never even got to see any of the musical acts. But never fear, there was an interesting crowd at the Saturn now, overflow from the Spellcaster perhaps. Tony and I perched on the balcony to drink and talk and watch the crowd. I found it a fascinating spectacle, even though I felt a bit like an anthropologist. I saw plenty of people I recognized from living in New Orleans for the past seven years.

It reminded me of the microscene back in Bloomington, Indiana in the mid-90s (which continues to this day, as I confirmed during my evacuation). But there were a couple of key differences. Here there was more diversity of age and race. And back in Bloomington I knew most everybody’s name.

I think they must mix ’em strong at the Saturn, because I woke up Sunday with a killer hangover. Thankfully this motivated me to get some more work done on ROX #94. It’s almost finished.

Update: Slimbolala has pix and illustrations.

Stealing Yr Bike

Today’s musical accompaniment (mp3) provided by Admiral Stereo.

My psychic powers kicked in early this morning, as I was puttering around the house, getting ready to go to work. Some inner voice told me I should check on my bike. I went into the living room and peered out the window onto the front porch.


Looking through the window wasn’t quite enough to convince me. I rushed out onto the porch to behold the absence of bike without an intervening glass panel. It still wasn’t there.

I swore loudly and punched and kicked the air a few times.

No, it wasn’t locked up. Usually I lock the bike up, but not last night for some reason. I should have (obviously) but I didn’t. I suppose I was lulled into a false sense of security because our porch is ten feet off the ground. It seems fairly removed from the street.

This sucks because that bike is my primary means of transportation. (So I walked to work this morning, which is nice, but still.) Also, I realize now that bike was my single most expensive possession after my personal computer. It cost something like $450, which is a lot, but worth it since I ride every day.

As Tim pointed out when Xy’s bike was stolen back in February, crimes like this “makes us suspicious of strangers and sometimes even neighbors.” I’d like to imagine my bike was snatched by a random wanderer, but that seems unlikely. I hate the fact that I’ll be looking at all my neighbors and wondering, “Did he steal my bike?”


I’ll buy a new bike, and file a claim on my homeowner’s policy, and report this to the police. For now, I’m taking solace in the fact that even if my bike gets stolen every six months, it’s still cheaper than a car. It also makes me happy to know I have some latent psychic abilities. Too bad those didn’t extend to foreknowledge of the thievery. Then I would have taken proper steps to secure the bicycle, such as locking it up.

Oh, wait, that’s just common sense. Of which I have none.

Fourteen Years

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of the premiere of the very first episode of ROX.

In honor of this august yet shameful occasion, I’m posting a song by Scott Evans, fortuitously titled “Fourteen Years” (mp3, 1.5 MB) — although to be honest the title is a sheer coincidence. This was recorded live at the Neutral Ground here in New Orleans just a couple week ago by yours truly.

Now who wants to start a campaign for a National ROX Day every July 11th? I’d do it myself, but I’m far too shy for such self-aggrandizement. Not to mention humble.

Happy International Flag-Burning Day

Now more than ever, it’s time to remember that the Fourth of July is International Flag-Burning Day. To celebrate, I’m posting this fantastic anthem (mp3) by New Orleans’ own Troublemakers. It is truly one of my favorite songs ever.

A lot of Americans get whipped up about the notion of anyone “desecrating” the American flag. But remember, this is International Flag-Burning Day, a time to burn all flags representing every nation. But the lyrics of the song speak for themselves.

I’m sad to say that the Troublemakers appear to be defunct post-Katrina. However, I have it on good authority that bandleader Dr. Paul Gailunas plans to return to the Crescent City in September with his wife, the talented filmmaker Helen Hill, and their son Francis Pop. That is also cause to celebrate.

Have a happy one, and don’t let the smoke get in your eyes!


It’s that time of year again.

I’ve been trying to muster up some enthusiasm for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I’ve been trying for years. But somehow I never seem to work myself up into the appropriate fervor. And if I am lacking in enthusiasm, Xy is downright negative.

When I admit that we are not members of the true faith, people look at us with a mixture of disbelief, disgust and horror. How can this be? How can we not be excited about Jazz Fest?

I do not hate Jazz Fest. I’m just not a big fan. But that is tantamount to heresy in these parts, and I have been scolded for it repeatedly. Indeed the opprobrium is so severe that I have looked deep into my heart, to try to fathom this mystery.
Continue reading “Heresy”

What Is Your FEMA Number?

Red Cross came through and gave me accounts
Now I’m at your town getting golds in my mouth

I got this New Orleans bounce track off a compilation CD which was given to Xy by one of her students. I can’t ID it, and of course that’s driving me crazy. Googling the lyrics gets me nothing but a bunch of MySpace kiddies quoting the refrain: “What Is Your FEMA Number?” Anybody know who dropped this?

9 3 1 0 5 with the dash
That’s my FEMA number so give me my cash
I’m headed to the mall to shop at all the stores
Don’t matter if I go broke, you better get yours

Update: I did a little more poking around on the web, and I’m pretty sure this is by 10th Ward Buck and Da Dream Team. Check out his website and buy his DVD about Katrina!


Even as I type this, I’m having a beer and checking out PJ Christie onstage as he kicks off Musical Family Tree Fest: a whole bunch of music at four venues in two cities over two nights. Right now we’re at Locals Only in Indianapolis. Later we’ll hit the Patio. Then tomorrow, it’s back to Bloomington for shows at the Double Cross and Second Story.

Good for the Soul

About a week before Katrina hit, I turned on WWOZ and heard some super heavy jazz organ. I thought it was pretty cool, and paid special attention to the DJ when he announced it was Robert Walter.

The Friday before Katrina hit, the entertainment section of the Times-Picayune revealed that Robert Walter had recently moved to New Orleans and would be playing at Tipitina’s the following Thursday. I made a mental note and thought I might go to check him out with my friend David Bryan.

Then Katrina hit. But — surprise — last night I saw Robert Walter play right here in Bloomington at a club called Uncle Fester’s.

I bluffed my way in: “I hear people from New Orleans get in free.” And I presented my drivers license to the bouncer. It worked! Xy and I both got in free.

What a great show.

We also went to Second Story and saw Brando. They rocked.


I know school’s back in session, cuz I can hear the Warren Easton High School Marching Band. Right now they’re directly in front of our house, playing “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.” It’s a good thing I like that song. I’ll be hearing it pretty much every day from now until Mardi Gras.

They are LOUD and surprisingly tight for this early in the school year.

An All-Nighter

It’s rare enough for me to pull an all-nighter anymore, but this one took me totally by surprise.

See, Xy’s cousin Rusty is in town this weekend with a bunch of buddies from Bloomington, including Dylan, who’s getting married soon — a roving bachelor party.

And then there’s this guy Avocado Tom. I’d never met him before last night, but he’d seen ROX and said he wanted to buy me a drink.

Oh, and it’s the second weekend of Jazz Fest.

Anyway, one thing led to another. I saw Bernie Worrell rock the Funky Butt.

Then some of us made it Uptown to the Maple Leaf. I was astonished that they were charging a $20 cover at 3:30 am, but damn if it wasn’t worth it. Vinyl took the stage shortly after we arrived, and we caught the entire set, and it frankly blew my mind. I’ve never gotten into any jam bands before, but they played with courage and conviction and by god soul, a passionate and athletic performance. Eventually I started to notice a luminous square which had appeared behind the drummer. I soon realized this was a window; the sun had come up. We had rocked the night away and partied until the sun came up.

As we hung out on Maple street after the show, a completely naked man appeared, howling like a wild animal. He unfurled a cape with a lion’s head, in which he wrapped himself without, somehow, managing to cover himself at all.

But I haven’t been around so many white folks since Oktoberfest.

I never did go to sleep. I spent the morning with Tom, visiting the lakeshore and breakfasting at Robin’s on Canal, then cooking breakfast for Xy.

Later, while Tom and Xy slumbered, I went for a walk. Today was a beautiful day, and the cold front that brought yesterday morning’s thunderstorm also brought a lot of fresh, sweet-smelling cool air.

A couple blocks from our house I ran into Lawrence.

A few words about Lawrence are in necessary to contextualize this encounter. Lawrence is a 41-year-old man who’s been coming around and hitting us up for money lately. I helped him out a few times because he seemed so genuine — very charismatic. But I came to feel he was taking advantage of me, so yesterday I turned him away empty-handed. I just said, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you anymore.” He didn’t beef or act weird about it.

So, I run into him on the street just before noon, and I said “Hi, how are you doing?” He did not know who I was. He hit me up for money just the same as always. But he couldn’t understand why I was talking to him — what did I want?

“You looking for some reefer?”

“Oh no — ”

“Are you gay?”

“What?! No, I’m not trying to pick you up or anything, I’m just saying hi.”

I need some sleep.

Lit Rock

One Ring Zero

We went to see a musical duo called One Ring Zero at my favorite bookstore. It seemed like everyone we knew was there, including Ben Hearst — turns out his brother Michael is one of the guys in the band.

The music was awesome. They perform quirky pop ditties with lyrics written expressly for them by famous authors, using odd instruments like a theremin and a claviola. It was a combination performance and signing for their CD/book, As Smart As We Are.

I didn’t want to wait in line to have mine signed by the actual musicians, so I got mine signed by Michael Hearst’s brother and his second cousin, who was also in attendance.

Morrisey Has Forgiven Jesus

Have you heard Morrisey’s new single, or seen the video? It’s nothing spectacular, nor is the music. But I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed by the lyrics of a pop song. Scratch that — it’s not even the lyrics. The title alone says it all: “I Have Forgiven Jesus.” Wow. I’m astounded by the sheer, brilliant audacity of this conceit.


Tonight we went to Tyler’s again. Oysters have gone up to 25 cents because of Ivan.

The jukebox was playing Run-DMC and assorted hip-hop and R&B jams; Purple Rain was on the video; everybody was feeling good and having fun. Then a Billy Joel song came on. “Big Shot.”

I looked around the bar. There were maybe twenty people there. Xy and I were the only caucasians in the joint besides the bartender.

So I asked Xy: “Who the hell put that on?”

Xy thought people were staring at us.

“Don’t sing along,” she cautioned me, “or they’ll think it was us.”


Xy and I are celebrating our steel anniversary. Twelve [sic] years ago today, we got married.

In the mix this morning:

  • “Anniversary” by Tony! Toni! Toné! (Of course. And not the short version either. Nothing but the full nine and a half minute odyssey will do.)
  • “Good Eleven” (Multiplication Rock)
  • “Eleventh Earl of Mar” by Genesis
  • “Feeling Hot Hot Hot” by Trinidad Steel Drum Band
  • “Earth Crisis” by Steel Pulse (not to be confused with the band Earth Crisis)
  • “Fistful of Steel” by Rage Against the Machine
  • “Livin’ After Midnight” by Judas Priest (from the British Steel album)
  • “Metal Gods” (ditto)
  • “Sun and Steel” by Iron Maiden

Who are we trying to kid, anyway? We’re fucking stoner metalheads. Is that redundant?

We won’t be going out for a fancy dinner, though, since we blew our wad three weeks ago.

Hurricane Mix

I took a bike ride. The I-10 was just about empty. At Xavier they were putting some newspaper dispensers on the back of a truck.

Homan came by with some hurricane mix. We made a few drinks and, with Xy, took a walk to the Bayou St. John to see what we could see before the curfew was imposed. Jason joined us there with a couple friends. We did observe some national guard troops passing by in trucks, but other than that there was little to see.

Even now, no rain, little wind. Looks like Mobile will be getting it bad, though.

Here’s what’s in my hurricane mix in iTunes:

Butterflies and Hurricanes	Muse
Calm Before The Storm	Fall Out Boy
Electrical Storm (William Orbit Mix)	U2
Hurricane	Bob Dylan
Hurricane	Roots, Common, Dice Raw, Mos Def
Hurricane (weather patterns)	something corporate
Hurricane Party	Cowboy Mouth
Hurricane Storm Warning #1	Leopolds
Hurricane Storm Warning #2	Leopolds
Riders on the Storm	The Doors
Storm (Feat. Jay-Z)	Lenny Kravitz
Stormy Blues	Billie Holiday & BB King
Stormy Weather	Billie Holliday
Stormy Weather	Nat King Cole & Ella Fitzgerald

I would have included “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” but I can’t really stand to listen to the Scorpions or REO.

Thursday Night, Friday Morning

Thursday night means pub trivia at the Crown & Anchor. That can sometimes lead to Vaughn’s to see Kermit Ruffins, if I’m lucky.

Tonite I got lucky.

Kermit rocks. And I say this despite the fact that he never ventures into the rock idiom. He’s all about the jazz. Cool, sweet jazz — in the heat of the summer, that’s just fine. Hearing Kermit tonite made me feel good inside and out.


Here’s some things that happened over the last few days:

Got drenched to the skin on the way to work Friday morning. It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time. They cancelled Jazz Fest for the first time in thirteen years! I brought a change of clothes with me but I was still somewhat uncomfortable, so I left work a little early and ate a lot of sushi.

Friday nite Xy and I went to see Ghost Mice (Chris and Heather from Bloomington) at the End of Banks warehouse. They were awesome. I can’t adequately describe how good they were. You must see them. I talked to Chris before the show and gave him a VHS copy of “Fat,” which uses “Paper Dolls” by his previous band, Operation: Cliff Clavin.

I finished reading Islands In The Net by Bruce Sterling. The first three-quarters of the book was pretty slow going, but I slogged through and was rewarded by an interesting conclusion. I think that’s odd, because most books work the other way round.

Xy and I went to see Mean Girls. It sucked. OK, maybe I shouldn’t say it sucked; maybe I should just say it was mediocre. I understand it was the number one box office smash this weekend. This is probably because there was no competition.

I videotaped PJ & Gina’s band, Rabbit Hatch, at Gina’s art opening at the Marguerite Oestreicher gallery. It’s a tiny, ancient two-story building on Julia Street that I last remember as an abandoned ruin. Nice to see it fixed up. Unfortunately I was hungry and the weather was ugly and consequently I was just in a bad mood and unable to fully enjoy the event.

Punk Rawk

I think I remember M. Leonard questioning my wisdom at drinking an Irish Car Bomb on an empty stomach. But my stomach wasn’t entirely empty. In addition to Irish Car Bomb, I’d had a double shot of tequila, a Guinness, and two shots of Jamison’s. Oh, yes, and a tin of kippered herring.

Then we stopped by Coop’s Place and I had a bottle of Turbodog and a smoked duck quesadilla.

The Subhumans show was awesome. It was also fun to watch PJ getting smashed to a pulp in the mosh pit. Being an all-ages show it was done early and I was in bed before midnite. I had a bowl of cereal before going to bed and I felt fine.

But I woke up around 4:30 this AM with a headache. I drank a lot of water but the headache wouldn’t go away and I could not get back to sleep. Unfortunately it was about 50º in our house, so getting up wasn’t a pleasant option. But I got up around 5:15, put on a bunch of layers, ate half a bowl of oatmeal, and drank a little tea.

Then I took a crap. But I still felt like crap. Around 6:00 I puked, which is the first time I can remember vomiting, for any reason, in, like, years. Then I felt better, more or less, and I slept in ’til around 10 AM. Now I’m at work, feeling good, but I feel like I have learned a valuable lesson:

Don’t drink an Irish Car Bomb on an empty stomach, especially if your stomach isn’t empty but is indeed full of other liquors, beer, and kippered herring.

The really amazing thing is that PJ matched me drink for drink, but he didn’t get sick (I don’t think).

Maybe the moshing helped.