Monday, November 25, 2013

Baez on the Bayou

Last night I had a dream-come-true experience attending the third show of Joan Baez's "last-minute Louisiana junket" at One Eyed Jack's.

Despite the $60 ticket price - getting kinda bourgeois there, Joanie! - I decided to go after my mom, who resembled a Jewish Joan Baez in her youth, told me I likely wouldn't have too many more chances to see Queen B. Kinda macabre, but that's what you get from the Jewish Joan Baez.

Queen B
When I walked in, I was relieved to find I wasn't the only person in the crowd born after 1970, an unusual circumstance considering the careers of all my favorite musicians peaked during the Cold War.

[I did have to endure nonconsensual conversation with a Baby Booming idiot who, in discussing the ecological advocacy performance piece Cry You One, tried to convince me of the need to apply “a cost-benefit analysis to deal with" the environmental issues of the region. How about we analyze the cost of everyone in your family dying of preventable cancers to the benefit of petrochemical companies, pal?  Good thing the producers are considering an extended performance schedule - sounded like he needs to see the show a few more times.]

I enjoy a somewhat misplaced nostalgia for Joan's music, having for years reveled in recordings of her performances, while in school I studied the history of the time period when she became popular. To my delight, in concert Joan affected the political consciousness and signature wide-eyed, raised eyebrow expression she's used during key changes for decades.

The girl on the half-shell

New Orleans audiences appreciate when visiting artists make their sets personal, and one of the best things about folk singers is the relative absence of onstage ego. Joanie bantered charmingly about the difficulties of tuning her own guitar, and her partying in Breaux Bridge the day before ("It's the only place in the country where you can have breakfast and dance at the same time").

After admitting to Googling the lyrics right before the show, Joan sang “Stagger Lee,” and performed a serviceable two-step in the middle of another accordion-backed song. She graciously invited three talented Lafayette-based musicians, including the lovely Johanna Divine, to trade solos and share the spotlight for a few numbers. [I think if I were ever asked to sing with Joan Baez, let alone tune her guitar, I would probably lose consciousness.]
Joan's inclusion of fellow artists was endearingly folksy:

Bob Dylan, “with whom I will forever be inextricably stuck,”was referenced through at least four songs, during one of which Joan imitated the original vagabond's growl.
When someone in the crowd loudly and insistently requested "One Tin Soldier," Joan explained that it wasn't her song, and that people often mistake her for Judy Collins. "I have to say, 'Wrong!' when that happens," she sassed.
The queen closed her set with humble sing-a-long versions of John Lennon's "Imagine" and Dylan's "Forever Young." She signed two record sleeves, and a fan yelled out poignantly, "We all would have brought ours if they hadn't been flooded!"

Today’s soundtrack: "You Ain’t Goin' Nowhere" - which she played!! omg I died

Friday, November 1, 2013

Liveblogging Halloween from my porch in New Orleans

Usually I go out and get silly on Halloween but I’ve got lots of worky things to do and I’m just not feeling it tonight. The holiday is huge in New Orleans: one of my clients, fearing the bank would be closed on Halloween, asked me if she was still going to receive her disability check this week. In years past, my block has been pretty quiet by way of trick-or-treaters. I’m hoping to get more than a few visitors.

I’m finally home from a fucking emotional long-ass day at work and realize I forgot to get candy. Never mind that I’ve been chowing down on my office’s seemingly endless supply of fun-size Twix bars all week and definitely could have scammed a handful for my neighbors.

I certainly did not want to repeat my mistake of three years ago when I went budget and got called out by discerning pre-teen trick-or-treaters:

Discerning pre-teen trick-or-treater #1: “Did you get this [candy] at Family Dollar?”

Embarrassed me: “Um, yes.”

[Silent pause]

Discerning pre-teen trick-or-treaters #1 and #2, in unison: “No thank you.”

I decided to check out the selection at Mike’s Corner Store, a veritable cornucopia of items for purchase: batteries, goat weed pills, and organic vegetarian pizza, anyone? The owner, Sami, gave me a paper sack full of candies and wouldn’t charge me a cent.

“You realize I’m not actually trick-or-treating right now?” I asked him. “Sure, baby,” he said, before complimenting my Halloween vest and reiterating his weekly invitation to join him for a drink at Mimi’s.

The Halloween vest: Can you believe it was only $1.25?

“Trick or treat!” I yell to my neighbors Casha and CJ through their door.

“Wow, you brought candy with you to trick-or-treat?” CJ asked. “I thought it was the other way around.”

“Do you like my Halloween vest?” I asked.


I’m on the phone with a coworker discussing a grant we’re writing together. At least three groups of trick-or-treaters pass by me, even though I’m on the porch with the light on. Maybe my toxic attitude is scaring them away.

[Note to new New Orleans residents: Don’t you dare leave your porch light on and not have candy like two of my neighbors did, only to be met with the disappointed whimpers of a trio of child-size ravers. Ravers!]

My only trick-or-treaters so far have been four neighborhood boys – all around 8-10 years old – who were skillfully navigating their candy acquisition options. Not wanting to waste time, they had developed a canvassing system wherein one boy scouted for other trick-or-treaters leaving houses, and another for Halloween decorations. They all beelined towards the telltale porch lights. When I confronted them on their seeming costumelessness, one of the boys told me he was a celebrity. “Which one?” I asked. “A future celebrity,” he informed me. “It takes time.”

I go for a run and get invited to “ruin [my] exercise” by eating candy on the porch with two men.

“No thanks!” I shout back to them. “I’ve already had too much candy!”

“No you haven’t,” they tell me.

Gotta love a body-positive cheerleader…

I came back from my run and am heading to the shower when a barrage of Minnie Mouses, Scream villains, and generally terrifying four-year-olds shows up demanding something good to eat. I think they might believe my sweaty short shorts are a costume element, so I’m going to roll with it.

A group of Disney princesses and werewolves tromps up my porch steps with adult chaperones in what I can only characterize as sexy Americana-themed costumes. I'm able to provide a replacement trick-or-treat bag for a busted one, and they’re on their merry way.

It’s starting to rain. I’m down to one Super Bubble and two of those nasty fruit Tootsie Rolls. Not that I’m above that. Happy Halloween, y’all!