Saturday, February 28, 2009
alicia insisted i buy "songs of leonard cohen." she'd insisted on "music from big pink" too & i was not an initial fan of that album. but she was giving me bj's & anal sex. what could i say? we were 13yo.
i was appalled when i first heard that album. i was a "british invasion" convert, raised on american pop like the association & the four seasons. cohen's droning voice was what really struck & stayed w/me. & the spare instrumentation, led by his "bumblebee" picking technique. there was an austerity of sound that no 13yo raised on the beach boys could possibly be attracted to. i probably insisted on another bj.
what was most striking about "songs of leonard cohen" when i returned to it several years later was the instrumentation. there was lots of it. banjos & fiddles, violins & drums. & that strumming style(nearly as unique as his fingerpicking). why hadn't i heard it before? & of course, the lyrics also stood out. words had become important to me as a 17yo. how could:
"who's walking down the streets of the city,
smiling at everybody she sees?
who's reaching out to capture a rainbow?
everyone knows it's wendy."
"there are heroes in the seaweed,
there are children in the morning,
they are leaning out for love
they will lean that way forever,
while suzanne holds the mirror." ?
in 1975 the vicissitudes of fate conspired, allowing me to see cohen perform not one but two shows in atlanta. he hadn't been south of the mason-dixon line in twenty years, he said & implied it would be another twenty before he returned. he was touring in support of "new skin for the old ceremony," one of my favorite of his albums. i've learned just how rarely he toured & that just reinforces the serendipity of my seeing him both nights.
i drove up to laurinburg n.c. to pick up holly. she was in college at st andrews. it was in november. holly & i were on the downhill side of our five year relationship but she was still giving bj's & anal sex w/more alacrity than alicia ever did. what can i say? we were 20yo. i can't really recall all the details about going & getting her. lust makes long detours seem incidental. i know we stayed in a motel & that we didn't have much money. in fact, when we bought tickets for the SECOND nights show, i'm not sure if we had any money left.
the shows he did were fantastic(see set list below). he was surrounded by an excellent group of musicians(lead by john lisseur)who were extremely tight & his song selection was impeccable. what made the experience especially memorable was the venue. it was some place called the "great southeast music hall." the maximum seating capacity was maybe 300 & it was general admission. holly & i rushed up front & got seats at both concerts that placed us maybe 5 yards from cohen.
there were two moments that have always stuck w/me about this experience. the first revolved around my first "brush w/greatness" & the second was just plain weird. on the second night, i'd noticed that the band exited into a hall & went into a small dressing room. i figured there was only one way in & out of that room & that if we stationed ourselves just so, we'd be there when the band came out. of course, in my head, i ran all kinds of scenarios. as cohen brushed by me, i'd whisper a line or two from rimbaud, in the original french, & he'd stop in his tracks & enthusiastically invite us to join him for a night of wine, women, & song.
of course, what really happened was when he emerged from the room & brushed past us, all i heard was a strangled girlish voice bleeting out "mr cohen mr cohen, we enjoyed your show so much." he did pause for just a second or two(initially, no doubt, to locate the source of the pathetic mewling) but not to invite us along w/him. no, he stopped just long enough to look at holly's mostly bare boobs. she was wearing a tiny white see-through halter(& yes, i said, it was winter). in a flash of near blind desperation, i almost blurted out, "you want her, she's yours" but something restrained me. it wasn't pride, that was long gone. as was cohen.
earlier in the evening, we sat next to a middle aged woman who was utterly smitten w/cohen. oddly, she reminded me of holly's mother, hulda. we had talked quite a bit before the concert began. i suppose at some point i'd mentioned that we had spent our last few pennies to get into this second show. once the show began she was mesmerized & didn't ever seem to take her eyes off the stage. nearing the end of the concert, i felt a crumpled piece of paper hit my chest. then another. i grabbed them & shoved them into my pockets. i thought the woman was sending me some kind of note or something. i was a little embarrassed & a little concerned but my main focus was on our fantasized night of camaraderie w/cohen. we had to get out into that hallway quickly. after the last encore, i thanked the woman & hustled holly out that side door, just behind the gigantic bald black percussionist who was fielding various offers from different women. "sorry, sorry," he kept saying, "we're flying out right after the show." ok, i thought, it won't be a whole night w/cohen but a few hours would do. we'd exchange addresses & telephone numbers. we'd agree to pal around in the greek islands. i was flexible.
after cohen resumed his rush out the front doors of the "great southeast music hall," holly & i glumly walked to the pinto. i fished in my pockets for the keys to the damn thing & found the crumpled pieces of paper the woman had launched onto my chest during the concert. it was two twenty dollar bills. i was astonished. what the hell?
that money got me home & holly back up to north carolina. within a year, it was holly who was in the greek islands & i was in college in sarasota. it was five years before cohen played in america again(berkeley for two concerts). this is the set list of a concert he did just prior to the atlanta shows. i remember at least one or two more new songs(several of which ended up on the phil spector debacle & two ended up years later on "recent songs"). he ended both atlanta concerts w/"bird on a wire" too.
November xx: Bryn Mawr, USA - The Main Point
1) Bird on the Wire
2) Je Veux Vivre Tout Seul (Bird on the Wire in French)
3) So Long, Marianne
4) There Is a War
5) One of Us Cannot Be Wrong
6) The Stranger Song
7) Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye
9) Diamonds in the Mine
10) Who By Fire
11) Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On
12) The Partisan
13) Story of Isaac
14) Famous Blue Raincoat
15) Came So Far for Beauty
16) Sisters of Mercy
17) I Guess it's Time (early The Smokey Life)
18) The Traitor Song
19) Lover Lover Lover
20) Is This What You Wanted
21) Lady Midnight
in 2009, the vicissitudes of fate have conspired once again to bring cohen into my life. i got two of the much coveted tickets for his oakland show in april. as of this writing, mike is still trying to land some. i'm hoping he does. like i wrote about longhair, there are no guarantees about how long we'll have the greats w/us. it's best to see them when you can.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I hadn't heard that Snooks had passed until I read your blog today. He
was certainly one of the greats. I watched the video and it looked like
he was just using his index finger - interesting technique. The
comparison that came to mind was Wes Montgomery - who only used his
thumb. He held it in a certain way so that he could use it for both up
and down strokes - simulating a flat pick. Of course it was that
technique which gave him his characteristic tone - and I don't know any
other guitarist that used the thumb in that manner. My favorite of his
disciples - Emily Remler - used a pick to approximate his tone.
Joshua Rifkin once spent several hours with Professor Longhair
attempting to learn his technique. He finally gave up - he couldn't do
it. He was classically-trained and schooled in a variety of styles, but
he could not get Fess's (who knew so little about theory tht he didn't even
know the names of the chords he used) technique.
Thank God for video - at least musicians are able to see what these
masters were doing.
i had the great pleasure & honor of seeing mr byrd one month before his death, his penultimate performance at tipitina's. i took a handful of posters from there that night. i gave one to mike. he was smart enough to have his framed. the only one i kept was taped to my fridge in gulf breeze for years. the brilliant piano prodigy, james booker, had a regular monday night gig at the maple leaf bar in new orleans. i kept putting off going to see him(maple leaf wasn't on my usual new orleans bar routes). i never did get out there to see him. he died when he was 44yo.
it's best to see the greats when you can. there are no guarantees.
btw, see any familiar faces in the musicians backing up fess?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Nashville music great Buddy Miller recovering after heart surgery
Buddy Miller -- one of Nashville's most celebrated singers, songwriters, guitarists, recording artists and producers -- reportedly suffered a heart attack in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Feb. 20. He was on tour with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin; the tour is dubbed "3 Girls And Their Buddy."
Miller, 56, was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and he underwent a triple-bypass heart surgery. The surgery was successful, and Miller will likely be recovering in Baltimore for several weeks.
Named the "Artist of the Decade" by No Depression magazine, Miller has written songs that have been recorded by the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, Brooks & Dunn and others. He is a veteran of Harris' Spyboy band, and in the past year he has been touring as a featured instrumentalist in Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' band. He has produced albums for Solomon Burke, Allison Moorer, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and others. Miller has lately been producing a new album for Patty Griffin. He has been called "the best country singer" alive by Steve Earle.
Miller is married to Nashville singer-songwriter Julie Miller, and the pair have a duo album coming out on New West Records on March 3.
Empress of the Universe Antoinette K-Doe called home
Posted by: Alison Fensterstock in In Memoriam
In the early hours of Mardi Gras Day, Antoinette K-Doe, widow of the legendary Ernie and proprietor of the Mother-in-Law Lounge, passed away. Last Mardi Gras Day, Mrs. K-Doe had entered the hospital for heart failure, but recovered and was quickly back behind the bar.
Mrs. K-Doe was a local legend and as proprietor of the Lounge and steward of K-Doe’s memory, an international icon. Details to follow as they become available. At this time, it’s not clear if the lounge will be open to revelers and mourners today.
the zulu's marched for the 100th time a few hours ago. the indian tribes are out & about in the city throughout the day. it's fat tuesday in new orleans, a month long celebration peaks today & ends abruptly at midnight tonight. as many times as i've been to new orleans, i only spent one mardi gras there. sometime in the '90s, a large group of us rented a huge suite in what used to be the "burgundy house" in the french quarter. i used to joke that it was within "crawling distance" of all my favorite bars. the trip was eventful(jaynie scored a "zulu coconut" for example)but i don't remember a lot about it. i had been on the wagon for several months prior to it, fell off w/a flourish only mardi gras can provide, & was in re-hab six months later. i don't really remember much of the six intervening months either.
"The Mardi Gras Indians do not ride floats, have established routes, or follow this traditional Mardi Gras Krewe structure. They parade through their neighborhoods on foot. When they criss-cross one another's paths, it takes time to meet and greet each other. The Mardi Gras Indian "parade" can be an all-day affair...happening in different parts of the city."
the indian tribes are more "outlaw" than the zulus. they also have the music. during the course of a year, the tribes work on their costumes but also on their music too. when two tribes do finally "meet on the battlefield," the battle consists of a-cappella singing/chanting & much vigorous dancing. the zulu's actually were certified by city hall as early as 1916. their parade has floats. the indians are not indians at all but black folks dressed in outrageous indian garb. the zulu's dressed differently:
"The group wore raggedy pants, and had a Jubilee-singing quartet in front of and behind King Story. His costume of "lard can" crown and "banana stalk" scepter has been well documented."
there was blackface too. that's louis armstrong as zulu king in 1949. zulu utilized subtle mockery of racial stereotypes. for black men to mimic white notions of "blackness" was one of only a few methods available for protest by blacks back then:
"The menace of mimicry is its double vision which in disclosing the ambivalence of colonial discourse also disrupts its authority."
fat tuesday is the last great day of indulgence before the abstinence of lent. it's a day when authority is upended, even mocked. when folks who've never been to new orleans ask if they should go during mardi gras, i always say no. i tell them to go during a less chaotic time. i do qualify this: go to mardi gras AFTER you've been to new orleans a few times.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
snooks eaglin died last night. i heard from my new orleans connection, mr page. i'm not sure how much press he'll pick up outside of the big easy. i guess we're all just waiting 'round to die but some are doing more than others...snooks recorded on & off for nearly fifty years, his first session was w/sugar boy crawford, who i read about nearly 30years ago in the old version of gambit, the new orleans music paper that's gone main-stream. i've convinced myself i saw him at the world-shaking, money-making, absolutely innovatin' ROCK & BOWL there in the city way back when.
forget about anything but watching him play the guitar here. he's strumming & what should sound like full chords are beautiful single note lead runs. i remember ken playing rev gary davis for me & telling me that he was doing all that he does w/two fingers. snooks is doing the same thing, strum & pick w/one finger, maybe that second one. they're moving pretty fast. they were both blind. they were both genius guitar players. i just plod along wondering why my various handicaps haven't helped me.
ANYTIME new orleans loses one of their homegrown geniuses the world should stop & take note. there aren't that many of them left. what's heartening is that being homegrown & all, they keep coming in spite of everything.
thanks mark for keeping me up on things.
this is snooks w/the utterly dapper mr george porter, founding member of the funkiest music ever played by human beings, the great new orleans group, the meters. it's not a surprise he's deferring to snooks here.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
june carter's got nothing on this young lady. she's been singing w/her family("one way rider") since she was knee-high to a palmetto bug(just like june & the carters). crystal clear voice & a catchy song. her first album, "with blasphemy so heartfelt," is available everywhere & has five or six more songs that ring true & clear. i first heard this song as a cover by the avett brothers. i've got mixed feeling about them, the hick bohemian thing is problematic for me but their song, "if it's the beaches" is a lovely thing. they do ok by ms. mayfield but, as usual, the original is where you want to be.
this reminds me of something you'd find scrawled on a schoolhouse wall. this is a post-millenium angel singing us all away. if her face doesn't destroy you(that's what angel faces do, btw)the song itself should. if the guys don't get we're pretty much dispensable at this point, we'll be jacking-off into eternity. but ms. mayfield puts it so much prettier that that, doesn't she, guys?
if you can get past the nose piercing, your home free.
& mark, if this doesn't remind you of jaynie, you ain't gotta memory.
Monday, February 16, 2009
speaking of an untenable premise: a present day nyc detective gets hit by a car while pursuing a criminal & comes to in 1973. he remembers his future(like it was his past)& doesn't understand his present(which is his past). or something like that. unbelievably, for at least the first seven episodes, they made this work. i got drawn in not only by the incredible ensemble(harvey keitel, gretchen mol, michael imperioli)but by the story lines, even tho they were pretty much boilerplate procedurals. there were simple touches(the detective dancing w/a new friend at the end of one episode) throughout each of the first episodes that were mysterious enough or dramatic enough to keep me coming back for more. those touches elevated things to at least somewhere above, say, "the mentalist."
i've slowly taken to sam, the detective(given all of our memory issues, who wouldn't be drawn to his situation?). i appreciate the gretchen mol character(a smart woman in a hyper-testosterone environment)& like how they're developing her relationship w/sam. keitel is keitel. this isn't a stretch for him but, hey, it's him on network television. amazing in & of itself. the imperioli character was one-dimensional at first but they're adding/revealing layers. i like the grimy-looking sets & the washed out color scheme. i like the music. for a major network, this is ground-breaking stuff, it seems to me. that's not saying much but still...
i kept thinking that they couldn't sustain this over more than one season &, sure enough, this is a bbc re-do which was only one season long. the premise just can't stand up to more than a season long story arc. they went on an alarmingly long hiatus(nearly two months)& came back w/new episodes two weeks ago. these have taken an odd & problematic turn. that may reflect the difficulty the writers are having moving the plot along or other network behind-the-scenes issues. who knows? i'm hoping they stay true to their original intentions & don't tank this show in desperate attempts at pleasing the network or catching new viewers. i know this is heresy but one season will be just fine.
i've always accepted tom boswell's premise that time begins on opening day, except lately i couldn't wait for spring training or the college world series or the world baseball classic. time hasn't been on my side. the game has taken huge hits lately & it's deserved every one of them but once things start, i don't want them to end(which is one definition of a fan, i suppose). my memory stretches from indian league baseball(that bob palmer talked me into joining over dottie's objections)w/the hapless mike & the scary eddie through spring training games w/the white sox behind beck's bar in sarasota & w/george & the pirates in bradenton(the first & only time i actually saw george WORK). i loved jim palmer(he ate pancakes before every game he pitched!!!)& hated the yankees(as per bobo). i remember ed's reaction to bucky dent's homer & my own to the cubs failure in 1984(w/sutcliff). this list can go on & on because it's essentially endless...like time. it only seems like it ends w/the last put-out every world series but that act just initiates our most particular, most peculiar & most powerful human attribute: memory.
& that changes everything to right now.
getting to louie's on time was a real challenge for bobo. there were so many places he had to "check in" out there on the beach in 1963. the casino was still standing & that was tommy kennedy & ernie magaha's joint. bobo had to look up his old crony joe seeley, the caretaker of the fishing pier & aaron grimsley of the islander package store. at my age, i was allowed out onto the pier but not into any of the other places---i waited impatiently in the car. back then, there was none of the kiddy solicitude we see nowadays: my solitary car moments were never commented on---a muttered "sorry" or even a gesture like ice cream. nada. we did get to louie's close to the scheduled departure time. i suspect that was because bobo knew louie wouldn't wait.
louie had 3 jeeps & they were all filled w/nets, garbage cans, coolers filled w/beer & sodas & they were equipped w/the coolest overhead lighting, strapped up onto the tops of the jeeps. a little kid didn't really mind being shunted off to the side when he's confronted by all this. they gave all the kids silly little tasks---"make sure this doesn't come untied, ok?"---but that was just fine. it was a big expedition & we were little kids, we understood our places.
during these halcyon days, vehicles could be driven out onto the beaches, like daytona, so the jeeps took us right down to the water's edge. this was summer time & the gulf was as warm as spit but us kids still squealed when we first hit the water---the clarity of the water illuminated by the overhead lights still stunning in memory.
we'd been crabbing for maybe 45minutes, jeeps slowly moving along the shoreline, arc lights pointed out & into the water, giving us better vision than daylight could have. we waded along in small groups, nets in hand, randomly scooping down into the water, occasionally pulling up a crab, usually pulling up nothing. there was the quiet deeper voices of the adults, solemn but soothing. suddenly & w/no apparent rhyme or reason, the crabs began to swarm. i'm not talking about us pulling up a few more crabs then earlier. the crabs began to rush the shore in groups of 40-50, coming in relentless waves out of the depths & onto the shore. there was just our little group between them & their apparent destination.
"it's a jubilee!!!," someone yelled ecstatically. from that moment on, all i remember is the mass of crabs swarming, our nets heavy w/them & more pressing on. we just kept tossing them into the floating garbage cans. as we filled those, they were rushed off in the jeeps back to louie's & more were fetched. by now, we were filling 5-6 big cans every hour. the crabs just kept coming & we kept lifting them up out of the water & heaving them back down into the cans. we didn't have time for kid's play. this was serious fun, you could tell by the adults who were very serious but ecstatic. we felt like we were part of something that rarely, if ever, occurred & all the muttered "i'll be damneds" & "unbelievables" just legitimated that feeling.
all this exuberance & happiness was stopped in a heartbeat by a simple police radio broadcast. "be quiet!," was the shouted command & all activity ceased, we strained to hear scratchy transmission. there was initial confusion. "ok, i need a 10-9 on that last transmission," louie replied to what sounded like random numbers to me. again, it all came spewing out, "we got a possible 261 w/a possible 10-54, out near your 10-20." "wait a minute, slow down," was what i remember louie repeating into the mic. it seems like a nude bloody young("she ain't older than 17, louie" was what i heard)woman had appeared at the sheriff's substation back down near the pier. she'd been raped & her bf shot. she'd waved down a random car out on the beach road & they'd brought her to the station. her bf & his car was still out on the beach.
louie directed one jeep to head on up & find the abandoned bf & car.
end of part2
Sunday, February 15, 2009
there's water & there's earth here. the elemental laws demand that one settles beneath the other & that the other rises up. w/a simple intervention though, say, something like tides or winds, nothing dominates & everything changes.
from above, the island is just a sliver of shifting sand, basically a sandbar, that has forced its way above the waters of the gulf of mexico, corkscrewing its way along the mainland shoreline, an ephemeral place of astonishing natural beauty & ecologies but always---always & forever---transient, changing daily, even hourly.
that humans choose to build their dreams here is, i suppose, no surprise. we're always drawn to the extinguishing flame. the whole concept of 'barrier island' must appeal to the innate human death instinct. it's a natural buffer zone, nature's reflexive response to impending disaster, erroding demands, & insistent & inevitable change.
why not set up shop here?
santa rosa island is aprox 45miles long & no more than 1/2 mile or so wide at its widest(which are man-made extensions anyway). pensacola beach sits on the western side of the island at 30.51 n & 86.16 w. if you follow out our longitude line east, you travel through africa, the middle east, the indian state of bihar & the lower 1/3 of china(sichuan province being one province). "geologists believe santa rosa island was formed some 4000-5000 years ago by quartzite river sediment coming from the appalachian mountains via the choctahatchee river. that sediment accounts for the white sands of island."
louie davis always called bobo on friday nights. i suppose it was to gossip about county politics, who was doing what to whom. bobo always sat in his lz-boy chair, picking his nose enthusiastically & cackling through out the conversation. these conversations always seemed to be deeply satisfying to bobo, like sex.
after one of them, bobo announced that he & i would be going out to the island the next night for some crabbing w/louie & his family. bobo always included " his family" when he was informing dottie about his plans even tho it was irrelevant. mother wouldn't cross over to the island because of her fear of bridges---there were two bridges that connected the mainland w/p'beach & one of those was 3 miles long. she wasn't going anywhere near that island. bobo knew that.
louie was the head deputy sheriff out on p'beach. at the time, that position wasn't a launching pad into county politics. louie lived out there w/his family, so it was more a matter of convenience than anything else that had him out there. he was tangentially related to the actual sheriff of escambia county, bill davis, so having the job was just one of those plums certain people were handed in county politics, esp since no one else wanted it. louie wasn't viewed as a threat so he was given "siberia" to supervise because he lived there. the north end of the county was where cousin bill's opposition originated.
there would be two things about this sat night on p'beach that would remain w/me: the feeling of a kind of mindless process, a teeming & insistent multitude, driven by random impulse. the second, quite naturally, would be death. but not the cold fact of non-existence. what came out of this sat night crabbing on p'beach was a feeling of dread, the dread that accompanies any encounter w/death, the dread of being snuffed out randomly, right here & right now. that's quite a lesson plan for a night out crabbing, wouldn't you say? i don't think bobo or louie meant for me to get this lesson, at least not then, at the age of 8yo.
end of part1
Saturday, February 14, 2009
wow! is this thing a stinker!
the premise is neither interesting nor new(can anyone say "my own worst enemy"?). there is not a single compelling character & no room to develop the existing duds. the writing is flat, not funny, & w/o the ol' whedon panache. as a consequence, the pacing is leaden & the plot wildly preposterous. the underlying theme of female objectification & identity seems absurd when the screen is filled w/pouty, busty babes in low-cut blouses & skin-tight pants.
"what happened to joss?," ann asked this morning. well. who knows? i imagine several things:
1)unlike the good old days of buffy, i suspect whedon wasn't really on his own here. in other words, i think a lot gets delegated in joss' world these days.
2)however, he's lost most of those folks from the good old days to whom he delegated things. all the old hands who "got" whedon aren't there to "get" him anymore.
3)i think writers who live by the zeitgeist, die by the zeitgeist. in other words, a writer who draws so much of his inspiration from pop culture has to stay "plugged into" it. in fact, i think the time for being "plugged in" is probably terminal. whedon's connection definately seems terminated.
4)it could be(& i'm serious here)that comic book writing & its particular set of skills has thrown off is tv writing chops. he's been away from television for a while at this point. for there NOT to have been one spark of whedon magic in the 60minutes of the first episode of "dollhouse" was, for me, the most shocking aspect of my viewing experience. this thing could have been written by one of the "stable" writers over at the csi franchise.
or none of these things.
this thing is so bad i don't care. when david milch's, "john from cincinati" was on, i tried harder than i probably should have to make sense of what he was up to & why he was failing at it. each episode had moments of what i'd come to expect from the man responsible for "deadwood." those moments made my efforts seem worthwhile(at least to me).
the rumor mill had reported this thing was going to be d.o.a. for months now. the fact that the network dropped it into the friday night graveyard slot pretty much confirmed the rumors. unlike, say, david milch's flabbergasting mess, "dollhouse" didn't have one second of inspiration or promise. not one second. that's almost amazing, even for television.
for several very different points of view on the show, check this out.
"Then a man turned
And said to me: “Although I love the past, the dark of it,
The weight of it teaching us nothing, the loss of it, the all
Of it asking for nothing, I will love the twenty-first century more,
For in it I see someone in bathrobe and slippers, brown-eyed and poor,
Walking through snow without leaving so much as a footprint behind.”
michael's astonishing & audacious post over on his emphasis mine blog brought up lots of old wounds. he & i had quite an email exchange over his "lineup" of bullies past. what i found amazing is that 3 of his four had actually been kind to me in one way or another. i didn't recognize the fourth one at all. i don't know how many of them would remember me(or mike)but i do know that ricky bon(d)iford(michael & i have a disagreement about his name)came out to the outrigger several times & did remember me. he didn't ask about michael.
we knew these guys in different contexts. i think that's why mike has such awful memories of them. one guy played little league w/me, one guy raced slot cars w/me & the other guy was the son of one of dottie's friends. they were all older than me, two by several years.
michael's real boogy-man, eddie langley, actually intervened on my behalf & kept me from getting really trounced once. this was no "american graffiti" paul lemat b.s. i was in high school & george had dropped out. he'd started pushing & doing drugs for & with eddie. not just any drugs either. heroin. jonte pryor called me & begged me to "talk sense into" george. i'd given up EVER thinking i could talk sense into georgie(after his crystal meth binge a year before)but this was a parent weeping & begging. i had to do something.
when i got to eddie's duplex somewhere on lakeview near 18th, i was shaking. philip wouldn't come w/me(he gave up on george when we caught him w/renee parrish---philip's gf). i was alone. it took me a while to get up the nerve to knock on the door. a greasy haired, ghostly pale face appeared, sunglasses obscuring most of his face. " what the fuck do YOU want?" was my greeting. it was one of eddie's minions, a little ferret-face kid. i don't recall his name. "is george pryor here?," i asked, my voice not sounding familiar to me. "fuck!" was his reply & his head darted back into the apartment like a turtles back into its shell. i heard a few words barked & then the door swung open. i stepped inside. it was my first view of hell. i've been through several levels since but this my introduction.
this place was exactly what you'd imagine a rented duplex would be like on the inside. all the curtains were drawn & there was maybe one lamp burning in a corner. you couldn't see the filth but you felt it & smelled it too. puke & rancid body odors, rotted food & musty old apartment: it was an ungodly combination. several people were on the couch, nodded off(i say that because their heads were tilted in various inhuman poses). several others were sprawled on the floor in different positions. it took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust but then i recognized george on the couch. "hey, c'mon, let's go george." he didn't answer. i don't think he could.
i heard some noise from down the darkened hallway leading to the bedrooms. "hey look guys, it's 'tiger'(my nickname from little league)," a voice from that darkness spoke & drew near. i could hear footsteps in the hallway, slow ones, deliberate ones. suddenly eddie was in the room, vicki bon(d)iford clinging to his side. he seemed really big or tall. it was the effect of everyone else in the room being either seated or sprawled. "why are you here tiger?" he hissed & this time the use of my nickname carried its full ironic impact. "for george. that's all. nothing else." i heard a few laughs around the room & eddie was grinning, "nothing else? what else would there be, tiger?" tho grinning, it was said menacingly. "just george," i repeated. by now a few more folks from the backrooms had emerged & were standing behind & around eddy(not that he needed them to get his point across). "fuck this punk eddie," someone spit out & there was audible agreement, "nah, let's fuck him UP," came another more waggish suggestion. george hadn't spoken. in fact, george hadn't moved. but eddy moved very quickly, grabbing & hoisting me up as he rushed me to the front door. i heard clapping & hoots of laughter. "stay back," he yelled to his buddies who had started to follow in anticipation of an asskicking. at the top of the steps, he pulled me close. i smelled his bad breath & his sickly sweat body odor. he held me close w/his face right in mine. "don't come back here, danny. don't ever come back, ok?," he whispered & then shoved me down the short flight of stairs. the fall didn't hurt much. when i looked up, there were five or six of his henchmen on the steps & eddy had vicki clinging to him again, "keep your fucking ass away from here, tiger," he mocked. a few of his guys started to come down the steps towards me but eddy screamed "back inside, everyone" & they all started back inside. "remember what i said," he yelled over his shoulder. the door closed behind him. i didn't go back. ever. not there anyway.
a few months later, george had gotten himself free from that place. "shit, all we did was sit around, nod off & puke," he said. heroin just wasn't his drug. george was bullet-proof back then. he really was. ah, youth, right?
neither michael nor i know what happened to eddie langley.
as always, the sea of endless transparence, of utmost
calm, a place of constant beginning that has within it
what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no hand
has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart.
To that place, to the keeper of that place, I commit myself."
poems intro & outro by mark strand
Friday, February 13, 2009
ok. i've got to be right up front here w/my bias: it's completely within the realm of possibility that a woman could squat over me & unleash a flow of piss while speaking flawless french & i'd love every second of it. in fact, when i was w/julie g, that's almost(tho not entirely)what went on. why i never had cara(who spoke french fluently) speak french while we had sex is beyond me tho i suspect it had to do w/the level of depravity already existing in the sexual relationship.
all this is to say that this woman could very well be singing the paris phone book but that's not important. it sounds really good. & those cute little beatnik fingersnaps add the perfect je nais se quoi, non? that she's moving onto the world music scene is a happy coincidence.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
this isn't usually a good time of year for cats, what w/the westminister dog show & all. who can blame them? all this attention...for dogs! the inscrutable cats become inconsolable during these dog days but lately things have taken a turn for the better. in fact, i suspect cats all over are pretty damned pleased. check out the pic. THAT'S best in show? an old washed up spaniel named "stump"? & last year was a beagle!! our cats have been leaping about & playing non-stop since this year's decision was announced. last year's beagle decision was met w/more restraint. they suspected it was a fluke. but "stump" has opened a new era of feline feelings of superiority. hey, who can argue w/them?
"yo spaniel, i got a stump for YOU right here," smirks merce during the post-event celebration.
at my age, it's hard not to hear other earlier bands when i hear new ones. i've quit letting that impact my judgment for the most part. it can actually happen several ways. there can be simply a direct rip-off of the earlier band's sound or groove. a good example of this is the band, the wondermints, who imitate the beach boys sound to near perfect replication. it's spooky. i wasn't surprised to find out that they're brian wilson's touring band. while i like some of this group's music sans brian, i think imitation tends to lead to parody(check out all the cat power imitators: i'm talking to you, feist!). a good parody exposes weaknesses in the original. the original starts to sound like an imitation. it's a vicious cycle.
one of the other ways i hear earlier bands in new music is less obvious, less distinct. i will not say it's a feeling. i think it's more that the new group has taken aspects of the old band & asked different musical questions or faced different musical problems w/them. as an example of this, for me, more laudable approach, i give you animal collective. i think this is where the beach boys would be if they appeared now. & they were able to keep the lsd away from brian this time.
animal collective's new album, merriweather post pavilion, is filled w/these sparkling pop gems.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
i read about the closure several days ago but i guess i was in denial. purists will point out that they'd already sold out to herseys. it's true but they were still putting out quality product. i'm expecting a lot more "boutique" gourmet food businesses to go down. the shittiest corporation i've ever worked for(i've worked for several), williams-sonoma, is struggling & i couldn't be happier. it's a shame that a business like scharffenberger's, which was all about quality & vision & artisan craftmanship has to take a hit while williams-sonoma(& this has nothing to do w/chuck williams, who founded the company based on the same kind of principals as scharffenberger's)continues to exist. i expect them to be downsizing even more over the next few months. they exist for the bottom line & the bottom keeps sinking.
unfortunately, for us bay area foodies, the restaurants will be next. hold onto your forks, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
i suppose myths draw us to them because they're stories. stories explaining things, things we don't really understand. & we humans, we do love a good story. in ms lovelace's 7th grade advance english class, we spent a whole 6weeks on the greek & roman myths. i made an a+ that term but that wasn't the point to me. i loved those stories: evil versus good, creation, death, desire & its sad results. those guys knew what they were writing about.
i suppose myths operate as defense mechanisms too. they're stories we tell ourselves when we know we've fucked up, missed the boat, hurt others for no good reason. & when we're on the wrong side of history too. that's a big deal, esp for southerners. we have tried so hard for so long to rationalize what's really a sad but undeniable fact: we were on the wrong side of history. now, don't get me wrong here, the whole country was. the onus that was put upon the south has always been bogus but damned if we didn't try to respond & once we did, that was that. we were stuck w/"the southern thing."
i came back to lynard skynard through the drive-by truckers. patterson hood & mike cooley's majestic "southern rock opera" was an astonishing work of revisionist history... w/a thundering beat. they work hard to rehabilitate a number of aspects of southern culture, particularly from a specific era. this is modern myth-making at its finest. wallace, guns, racism, drinking, killing, bear bryant & the football mentality. it's all here. & so is lynard skynard "in all their misunderstood glory."
i remember over 30 years ago sitting in the northrup's basement, playing "sweet home alabama" w/rex. my tongue was kind of in my cheek. not rex's. what did i know? 30 years later, rex & i were talking very very seriously about what a marvel those boys were, 20 years old & making music like that. their sense of a musical "hook" was extraordinary, ronnie van zandt wrote precise story-telling lyrics, & those 3 guitars wailed during the whole thing.
forget the songs everyone used to mock, at least at first. "free bird" & "sweet home alabama" are nowhere near their best songs(tho they did place in the charts). "gimme 3 steps," "what's your name?," "you got that right," are great songs, written around "snap-shot" stories & built on great guitar hooks(those "statements" the guitarist makes that sticks in your head & upon which the melody is based). "that smell" is all of that while also speaking directly to "deeper" issues(drugs & failure) & life in the band(drugs). primarily, there is a profound sense of place that comes through in these songs & a deep longing in the vocals(richard linklater used "tuesday's gone" to perfect affect in "dazed & confused" when he ended the party scene w/it). for the most part, music, at least radio music, hadn't really sounded like this, grounded as this music is in a specific history & place. radio music worked hard to sanitize music's unsavory roots & connections. lynard skynard was as southern as hell & based on all the black rhythm & blues & corn pone country(try out "four walls of raiford" if you don't believe me) we'd denied ourselves or been so long denied by others.
what i hear now in lynard skynard really is the "southern thing." what's funny is that "the southern thing" has become recognition of roots & connections, balance of tensions, reconciliation of difference. it's right there in the music. i wish we'd heard it sooner.
micea eliade says that myth eats history. i believe him. this is the last picture of the band. 6 of these folks died several hours later when the plane went down in mississippi. that was in 1977. they were inducted into the rock & roll hall of fame the same year as miles davis, 2005.
i've been rocking out the last couple of days listening to lynard skynard(the next group i'll be writing about)& i came across michael's entry chastising us for not having listened to jazz back in high school. the idea seems to be if we were THAT hip, we'd have been listening to really hip music. the stooges, according to michael, don't qualify as hip. charlie parker does.
i've got lots of problems w/this point of view. first, i think we were insufferable enough way back when. the image of us in philip's cave deeply digging coltrane's grooves is just horrifying to me, esp since only a few of us had rudimentary knowledge of music. we wouldn't have known what the FUCK we were digging. period. unlike rock & roll, jazz is a music of innovation, technical virtuosity, & musical depth. it makes real demands on the listener. this is not to say that r&r doesn't have some of these qualities. i am saying the a full appreciation of jazz demands musical knowledge; otherwise, it's dilettantism. in other words, there were gaps in our knowledge. which is kind of what i'm trying to get at w/my list.
second, the stooges may not be hip. rock & roll might not be hip to someone caught up in an alternative music phase. that's ok. history contradicts both those positions. for the most part, if something endures the test of time, it's pretty damned significant. but the historical argument isn't the only one that can be adduced here: just listen to "the stooges" or "fun house." they sound immediate, powerful, contemporaneous. which is kind of what i'm trying to get at w/my list.
third, there's a mixing of genres here that i just don't think applies. no one would argue that genres don't bleed over into each other(tho i really can't find schoenberg's serialism anywhere in rock & roll). rock & roll was our primary music of choice. did we listen to other kinds of music? sure we did. i haven't said anything here about classical music but philip & i listened to quite a bit(i wrote about elliot carter earlier on this blog)& i remember being home this last summer & playing a merle haggard song for ken & him saying, "it's funny we didn't listen to this stuff when we were younger because we like it so much now" & me not saying "well, i did listen to hank williams", through bobo(who actually saw williams live at the old pensacola auditorium at the end of palafox st in p'cola & had his "13 greatest hits" album)& we were exposed to classic country through ronstadt & emmylou albums. i was playing haggard & jj walker & buck owens at the quaint lounge before i left for college. in other words, if knocking us for lack of jazz appreciation is legit than we're damned too about classical & bluegrass(did ANY of us listen to bill monroe back then?). & that's not the point of the list.
michael is coming late to his jazz phase. ken went through his a long time ago. i suppose i went through mine. i remember my first 3some down at new college w/di & nancy mac, i put on monk's solo piano work("ruby, my dear" will always be remembered fondly by me anyway). & it was miles davis' "in a silent way" that i pushed back in high school(purchased because of a review in rolling stone, written in 1969 by none other than my bete noire, lester bangs), tho i tried to like "bitches brew." still, this was music to study by, fuck to, or have on low during animated conversations w/philip about religion or politics. did i understand parker's rhythmic innovations or monk's chord colorations or davis' tonal shifts? i don't think so. i mean, i'd read the liner notes & knew these aspects of the music were important but understanding what's happening in the stop-time of louis armstrong's "potato head blues"? no way. not then.
the music phase of mine i remember best was the "new orleans" music phase. of course, i was no doubt superciliously pompous, tracing all music back to new orleans "roots" & dismissing anything else. i probably thought back on our lack of sophistication in high school, esp w/this music being so clearly the gospel truth. luckily, what got me out of this was the outrigger shit-asses, hervey, donnie, & jay. they insisted on playing the music they liked & i reluctantly listened. this was the rem, husker du, replacements, nirvana era & i was compelled by the music to take note of it. i'm very glad i did because it lead to listening to much of the music i listen to today &, more, an appreciation for music i hadn't listened to back in high school. like lynard skynard. i'd like to think that was my last phase. which is kind of what i'm trying to get at w/the list.
the demise of the actual paper magazine was a real drag & was a kind of heads-up for the economic downturn that fell on all of us a year later. i'd grown used to my monthly fix of news about the music i've been listening to lately. they were a good source for release dates, reviews(the reviews of live concerts were especially excellent), & features on folks i'd never heard before(malcolm holcombe, blaze foley)or wanted to know more about(son volt, wilco).
i'm glad to report that their online version of the magazine is working just fine. check it out. i'm getting it every week for free.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
there have been times where i really tortured myself to get into shape. right out of rehab, down at uf, up at uva. hell, on & off at the nyingma institute here in cali. the one thing i learned during it all is that you have to do it yourself. there are no miracles as hard as we might pray for them.
i've tried lately two different times to get back on track. two months of clean living & an hour a day(at least)on aerobics & some weight training. 5 years ago, this was the ticket. no more. two months & no weight loss at all. two months & nothing to show for it. why the fuck try?
this thing isn't going to help ann at all. at this point tho, why bother saying that to her?
There was a time sitting in a room
I wanted to see everyone I ever knew
and of course I don’t remember the bad ones
except a few. What a shock
to get over the embarrassment of using language.
That’s why I write to you every day
I no longer have that tedious care.
TO THE HARBORMASTER
I wanted to be sure to reach you;
though my ship was on the way it got caught
in some moorings. I am always tying up
and then deciding to depart. In storms and
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide
around my fathomless arms, I am unable
to understand the forms of my vanity
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder
in my hand and the sun sinking. To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will. The terrible channels where
the wind drives me against the brown lips
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
i was staying w/mark applegate down in key west. walker was w/me. we stayed for several weeks on the downstairs couches in a large old key west house. there were seven or so other folks staying too. i remember it was winter. one of the guys wore his wetsuit to bed at night. this probably had something to do w/the fact that there were only a few extant windows in the whole house. when you're way down in the sub-tropics, who needs windows, right?
this was a real introduction to the key west experience for me. the guys in the house took us to several bars that were off the beaten path(green parrot, boat bar, the bar w/no name over on shell island). this was when the shrimpers still ran the town. there were no tourists. i remember seeing a college kid in the boat bar beaten savagely & thrown out onto duval street because he insisted to one of the shrimpers that he hadn't hit the 8 ball. he wouldn't drop it, even when a voice from the darkness in the bar bluntly stated, "that's how we play it here, kid." the kid didn't even finish his next sentence. things happened to him quickly & very violently & then it was over & he was gone. there was a kind of general shrug in the bar. no police were ever involved. this happened before we were run out of the house because walker used & ruined spider's delicate leather work tools to open a coconut he'd proudly obtained by climbing up a coconut tree. when we were told it would be best for us to leave NOW, we did. no questions asked. we understood. but before that i'd noticed that everyone in key west seemed to be harboring the same life plan, or shall we say, the same dream. "i'm gonna build a boat & get offa this rock," came out most often unsolicited but it came out nevertheless. it came out of the mouths of bums, strippers, waiters & cooks. it came out of the mouths of people at the pier house & down in the marina. everyone said it. it was kind of like the pod-people in "body snatchers." deeply creepy. it began to stike me(before we were unceremoniously hussled out of town)that these folks might actually be dangerous. men w/dreams, no matter how outlandish, are dangerous because they had something to aspire to.
i've been thinking about new orleans lately. i got an email from my buddy mark talking about mardi gras(which actually lasts for a month there in the city)& some of the lesser, tho no less exuberant, krewes. he was planning on attending a happening over in the marigny on frenchman. we've been going to that neighborhood for years(i remember slow dancing w/nat there at cafe brasil to the iguanas)& it's become my home base area when i'm there now. my new college buddy, nancy, also called & since she & i had just spent an eventful week there last summer, her call served to also stir up all the memories & desires that city conjures.
nan got pierced there last summer & broke my long standing(so to speak)record of falling down drunk. i'm giving her the benefit of the doubt here because several of her falls were in the privacy of the hotel room while, i believe, most of mine were done right out in public. the outrigger kids loved to tell the story of leaving a bar & joking that 'we'll probably find jones in some gutter' & me rising up from said gutter to greet them & begin round 3 or 4 of the evening. fun times were had by all &, of course, we all have stories of new orleans.
right before i got accepted to new college, i'd been debating on which city i wanted to flee p'cola to, new orleans or key west. philip & i had just had a great trip to new orleans. we'd spent time w/philip's gay friend, marty. philip introduced me to several older men, prefacing each intro w/"i'm not really sure that he's gay," whereupon a door would swing open & the most flamboyantly gay man would come mincing out, exclaiming & gesturing about this or that in diva-like dramatics. it never bothered me &, in this case, i liked marty a lot. educated & cultured & well-traveled. w/him as our guide, we went to quite a few off the beaten track places too. these weren't as life threatening as the key west dives that walker & i had been to w/mark & spider.
actually, what struck me back then was how life affirming the places & people of new orleans were. no one i met was planning on building a boat. did i meet people who were planning to leave? you bet. i met people who'd just arrived too. the comings & goings had nothing to do w/dreams or life plans, at least as they were articulated. when you left you didn't sail away on a boat; you had stories. when you arrived, you heard stories from & about others. i was run out of here too. i was asked to leave new orleans by no less of an eminence than jim monahan(rip), owner of the molly's empire. as menacing as the request was, i knew it would work itself out & it did. but i did leave, taking cirota & jayne w/me(the toxic combo that landed me in rehab...along w/my own bad habits). this was a fundamental difference between key west & new orleans as far as i was concerned. things would & could be forgiven. they'd be forgiven because you were needed to add to the life & times of new orleans. at least, i think that's why i was renting another room from mr monahan 6 months later(w/o cirota & janie this time). i didn't think about key west much after that.
of course, key west didn't have the music or the food either. new orleans stands as the only major city w/its own indigenous music & food cultures. that's frosting on the cake to me. new orleans was & is a city in which living & loving is primary to the project of being in the world. & then, you tell the stories.
Friday, February 6, 2009
this is the first entry of my baker's dozen greatest ignored, ridiculed, rejected list of albums from way back when.
there are several things that strike me about the group prior to even listening to the album:
skip spence was the original drummer for jefferson airplane.
he was the guitarist for moby grape.
they really only lasted for two albums.
you'd think they'd be somewhere in the beau brummels realm of music history, right?
listening to the first album:
i'm struck by the diversity of genres they explore. several songs are nearly straight-up country. they sound eerily like "american beauty" era grateful dead here. & the byrds("ain't no use" "hey grandma").
then they soar off into typical 60s psychedelia sounding like early airplane, spirit, quicksilver but w/lots of differing tempos. acoustic songs break into electric jams. lyrics range from straightforward to hippy-dippy.
one thing that you can really hear is the 60s production penchant for mixing down the bass & mixing up trebly vocals & instruments. i remember reading a long time ago that led zeppelin sounds heavy NOW(as opposed to many "heavy" bands of the same era) because they knew to mix UP the jones/bonham bass/drum combo.
all in all, i can put their first album on & enjoy it from start to finish. remember when they used to make whole albums? it certainly doesn't rank w/the greatest whole albums of all time(astral weeks, blond on blond, music from big pink)but there aren't any real weak songs. the fact that they utilized several genres before others who became better known for using those genres & did them as well adds depth.
additional interesting aspects:
skip spence went on to make the cult album "oar." it received it's own tribute album which featured tom waits among others.
cat power covered "naked, if i want to."
i'm not sure about anyone else but i'm glad they finally got around to booting this nimrod off the show(top chef). it has nothing to do w/seeing her pugnacious arrogance reduced one more time to bovine petulance, her pouting lower lip jutting out like an overstimulated clit. we've come to expect this from know-nothing semi-talented cooks caught red-handed in their own delusions. seeing this woman drone on robotically about "her cuisine," parroting alice waters' creed was simply embarrassing. watching her massacre beautiful fresh ingredients(o those poor sardines!)was appalling.
my desire to see her gone really has more to do w/how badly the bay area has been represented on the show. how about that guy who had no idea what veal piccata was? or the two who played the system & got on together despite being lovers( & weren't they a load of fun w/all their whining & eventual elimination that brought more petulance & baleful glares)? how about mr. neck tattoo who seemed stymied when faced w/the simplest kitchen task? btw, every one of these folks had good jobs in decent to good restaurants here in the bay area.
watching this "executive chef" evince ennui while tasting eric ripert's dishes was so jawdropping that i had to check out what "her" restaurant does. surely they must be cutting edge, right? yeah, right. standard french bistro fare. gee, i wonder how cutting edge she feels turning out 50 orders of french onion soup a night.
my whole point here is this: there are great restaurants here in the bay area that really do walk the talk about fresh seasonal ingredients thoughtfully prepared w/simple presentations. i imagine that people committed to this aesthetic are more interested in working for their mentors & learning all they can. i checked & chez panisse & quince were both doing sardines this week. i wonder how long "chef jamie" would last in michael tusk's or david tanis' kitchens. for someone who thinks they know it all & actually knows very little, not very long i'd bet.
the sad part is that "chef jamie" will go back to her position as executive chef w/o fully realizing that she's what anyone(other than her friends)w/half a brain saw on the tv screen: someone stuck so deep in a rut that they think they're plowing new fields.
i want to be real clear about this sack of shit, ok? bonds is NOT on trial for using steroids(it's very clear he did)& he's NOT on trial for lying in general(these guys do that all the time & so do YOU). he's on trial for lying to a grand jury while UNDER OATH.
if any of the dazzled sycophants are ever in the position of giving testimony to a grand jury, i wonder if they'd lie. lie outright. w/o hesitation.
& then i wonder if they'd expect ANYONE to come to their defense.
bonds is a criminal liar. he's also by happenstance a cheat.
so is clemons. so is mcgwire. clemons lied to congress. so did big mac.
they deserve nothing from anyone but scorn.
you can't fudge the argument & point to earlier accomplishments. it does not matter. period.
addendum 2/7: ditto a-rod. this prima donna & choker supremo has always been a loser. the ny fans sensed it right out of the gate. scorn is what he got & lots of it.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
this was the day, back in 1959, when the music died. it didn't really. three young music stars did. don mclean wrote a catchy tune all about it in 1972, a song i hated when it first came out but i now recognize its catchiness. the song's conceit is that buddy holly's death allowed the british invasion, the one that pretty much stole american rock & roll from the americans. that's worse than when the brits burned the white house during the war of 1812.
what happened in the next five decades has been quite a roller coaster ride. it's been exciting almost always & tragic sometimes but rock music is now being played by kids all around the world. it started here w/ike turner & "rocket 88" & it's gone everywhere it could go & done most everything it could do. this isn't the day the music died. music took off in the 60s, all kinds of music. the black music that buddy holly had been cribbing became available. eventually, the tejano & conjunto music valens was drawing from broke out too. it pushed out from its american origins & drew everybody in. the music is simply too alive to die & it belongs to everyone now. not just white teenaged boys. like don mclean. like me & philip & ken & mike.
Monday, February 2, 2009
FROM TOM FITZMORRIS' NEW ORLEANS FOOD BLOG:
"The Sale Of The Restaurant Is Mostly Rumor So Far
The New Hurly-Burly About Galatoire's
It's certainly true that news of Galatoire's being sold outside the Galatoire family is front-page news. The place is one of the two or three most essential restaurants in town, one of the ones that defines the New Orleans restaurant experience.
And that the news, a day later, that some members of the family don't like the idea and are trying to block it, is just what we expected to read.
Here's what we don't know:
1. Who all is trying to buy the place. Two of the would-be new owners are David Gooch, a Galatoire who has managed the place for decades, and Melvin Rodrigue, who took over the top operational job about ten years ago after a fault shift in the family brought about the biggest changes in the restaurant's history. But the others are the stuff of rumor, and won't confirm. The names I've heard have something in common: they're local people and regular patrons of the restaurant. That's a good thing. It means that they're not in this to make a quick buck, but to preserve the institution. Wherever that has happened (Arnaud's and Gautreau's come to mind), the results have been excellent.
2. What the price will be. The rumors there quote a number that seems lower than the annual volume of Galatoire's. That would be a sweetheart deal for whomever gets it. No wonder some of the present owners are upset. I get the idea (I'm only guessing at this, because even the people trying to make this happen won't give out exact details) that the sale will be only of the business, not the real estate. Although it's funny to think of Galatoire's without the building it's in.
What I hope doesn't happen is what has caused so much trouble in American business in recent decades: new buyers leveraging their way into a solid business, then diverting the profits from improving the output to servicing debt."