Inkwell: Authors and Artists
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Wed 7 Mar 12 15:39
That's excellent!! i feel the same about the Rads, they're the only ones who do what they do. and while I know that they're out there doing new things (Reggie's New Orleans Suspects are *awesome*), i was just curious if there was anybody, young anybodys really, trying to fill that niche. Dave & Tommy will be up my way soon. And I'll been putting bugs in some local ears for the Suspects. (I was the one who used to put on the Philly 'Krewe' shows.) Their departure from my musical world has left an even bigger hole than when there was suddenly no more Grateful Dead.
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Wed 7 Mar 12 16:06
tho i'm very glad the end wasn't abrupt... doubt I'll see Zeke again unless its down there.
David Wilson (dlwilson) Thu 8 Mar 12 10:37
John, I'd like to know what you think about the government's role in the rebuilding of the city ( and running parallel with that your thread about how the musicians are rebuilding their loves and attempting to restore and maintain their culture). In David Simon's "Treme" there are story arcs about the public housing projects, building permits, "carpetbagger" contractors, illegal alien workers. What is your take on how the rebuilding/redevelopment process is going? And finally, are the helping, hurting, or having no impact on the musicians' efforts?
David Wilson (dlwilson) Thu 8 Mar 12 10:39
loves=lives (same thing really)
Ed Ward (captward) Sat 10 Mar 12 10:31
Time to remind non-Well folks that if they have questions for John they can e-mail them to email@example.com and we'll pass them along.
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 10 Mar 12 15:56
When I went to NOLA only few months after the storm, I was surprised to see Mexican eateries. Maybe I had just missed them on earlier trips to Jazz fest, but I thought there was a new influx of Mexican laborers and cuisine. Is that anything anybody else notices?
John Swenson (floating541) Sat 10 Mar 12 17:08
The government is rebuilding the city but the usual politics and corruption problems have interfered with the process. Louisiana is a Republican state and New Orleans was a solidly democratic city, so powerful interests aligned with governor Jundal and senator Vitter are happy to see the city's population scattered and beaten down. The poorest communities have pretty much been eradicated. Low income housing projects were shuttered in favor of small single family homes. The results look nice but far fewer people are able to live in them. The school system has been abandoned and "privatized" which means education for the poor has pretty much disappeared. Same with health care after the closure of Charity hospital. The most visible improvements have been made by the citizens themselves who've taken on a lot of the work rebuilding indidual houses, starting programs to teach kids about music etc. Doctors have donated their services through organizations like the Musicians Clinic and Art docs. Brad Pitt's Make It Right foundation has helped turn the lower ninth ward into a proving ground for green technology, as opposed to the disastrous Red Cross boondoggle in the inappropriately-termed "Musicians Village" in the upper ninth ward. Elsewhere the government has actually gotten in the way in many cases. Mitch Landrieu, the new mayor, seems to be moving things in the right direction but time will tell. If Obama wins a second term he might be able to help New Orleans. The problems remain staggering however, and the city faces a completely hostile political environment in Baton Rouge. There has been a large influx of Mexicans into the city since Katrina and there are several good Mexican restaurants and taco trucks. It's hard not to notice.
John Swenson (floating541) Sat 10 Mar 12 17:10
I'll be traveling to SXSW Monday and preparing to moderate a panel on the musicians' role in the city's recovery as depicted both in New Atlantis and Treme. The panel will take place March 17 at 12:30. Hopefully this discussion will have some bearing on it.
Ed Ward (captward) Sat 10 Mar 12 17:29
>>the disastrous Red Cross boondoggle in the inappropriately-termed "Musicians Village" in the upper ninth ward. I haven't heard about this: can you say a bit more?
John Swenson (floating541) Sun 11 Mar 12 10:14
The Red Cross boondoggle and Habitat For Humanity's Musicians Village are separate issues but are illustrative about everything that went wrong in New Orleans after Katrina. The Red Cross received millions in donations for relief but at least some of the money was misallocated. The Times-Picayune did a thorough job of covering this. Habitat for Humanity raised money for the so-called "Musicians Village" in the upper ninth ward. Much of that money went to administration and advertising costs that had nothing to do with New Orleans, a bait and switch that was uncovered by Anderson Cooper. Only a handful of the houses eventually went to musicians. Many musicians applied but were turned down because their finances weren't in order, but in the wake of Katrina musicians were out of work and had lost their homes so the financial requirements to get into the "Musicians Village" were a kind of Catch-22. Habitat did little outreach to musicians, but when the bad press started rolling in they had an army of lawyers on hand to threaten journalists and musicians who told the truth about what was going on. A smear campaign was waged against Katy Reckdahl, whose reporting on this issue in the Times-Picayune really told the story: http://www.soros.org/resources/multimedia/katrina/projects/Struggling/story_So urNote.php Davis Rogan, who wrote a satiric song about the recovery called "The New Ninth Ward" and will be on Saturday's New Atlantis panel at SXSW, was approached by one of these lawyers after a gig and told never to play the song again. In a related scandal, people who did get houses in the "Musicians Village" began coming down with illnesses related to toxic drywall used in the original construction. They were all forced to move out of the "Musicians Village" houses, which had to be rebuilt. And these are the good stories, where something positive actually did happen. Then there are the stories of the massive fraud and skimming of government relief funds perpetrated by Haliburton, the toxic trailers that poisoned so many people after the flood (and ended up being sent to Haiti after the earthquake left so many there homeless), the disaster of the "Road Home" program etc. It's no wonder that so many people concluded that the only way back was to do it themselves. These are bigger issues than I had the opportunity to write about in the scope of my book and are worth examining in greater detail.
David Wilson (dlwilson) Sun 11 Mar 12 11:20
John that sounds like a disaster heaped upon a disaster. Wherever I live in the US I always taken the temperature of the local political climate. Once I've gotten up to speed on the cast of characters and the key "policy" issues then it is easier to evaluate what you read in the newspapers every day. New Orleans and Louisiana are well-known as corrupt places with oligarchies that dominate life. You also are from Brooklyn and I'm sure you have opinions on how politics works in NYC. How would you compare the 2 places in terms of how they deal with disasters, how they make sure they get their cut, and how the population sees the government. The town in NJ where I live has a mayor who has held the office since 1967, he owns the real estate company, all his family and cronies are set up, and his public face is that he brings the money from the state and the feds to "get things done." Meanwhile the residents just roll their eyes and say "What are you going to do?"
Mark McDonough (mcdee) Mon 12 Mar 12 05:47
They seem to have a different system for dealing with that in Connecticut - they elect a new crook mayor every five years or so, and then at the end of his first or second term, prosecute him and send him to prison. There must be a whole wing in the state pen for former mayors of Naugatuck. I guess it keeps the cronies and relatives from becoming too entrenched.
Dave Waite (dwaite) Mon 12 Mar 12 08:14
For a moment there I thought you were talking about Governors from Illinois.
David Wilson (dlwilson) Mon 12 Mar 12 12:41
If it were a horse race I wonder who would win? NJ, NY, RI, LA, IL?
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Mon 12 Mar 12 13:31
john--i have a completely unrelated question. This came up a while back on the well and no one seemed to have a pointer. Do you know of any video footage of Huey P. Smith playing the piano? Like many, I would have loved to have seen him play live. I can't track down any sort of film or video of a performance and wondered if you knew of any.
John Swenson (floating541) Tue 13 Mar 12 09:51
No comparison. New Yorkers generally see the local politics as totally slanted toward Wall Street, real estate developers and the rich. All you need to do is study the ads in the New York Times to see who the paper believes its audience really is. How much do you think Bloomberg has enhanced his financial empire using the power of the mayor's office while he's been in there? Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is an out and out crook who has sold out the community to real estate developers. Brooklyn is getting to look more and more like Manhattan southeast every day. So many New Yorkers are dependent on Wall Street (or rich relatives) that they willingly participate in this massive boondoggle. The thievery going on in New Orleans is chump change compared to what's happening in New York. I'm in Texas right now and the front page of Monday's American-Statesman had a big story on how a contractor close to gov. Rick Perry swindled the state out of millions in federal disaster aid. How much of that money went into Perry's campaign coffers? How much kickback money is Louisiana gov. Bobby Jindal getting from the funds supposedly earmarked for Louisiana's recovery. The whole political system from the Supreme Court down is completely corrupt, fixing elections and allowing unlimited secret PAC money to drive our political discourse. Who's kidding who? We're all being robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight.
David Wilson (dlwilson) Wed 14 Mar 12 18:22
John do you think the musicians are going to be able to pull it off? I'm afraid that they will be shunted off, victims of gentrification, relegated to the role of quaint tourist attraction.
John Swenson (floating541) Thu 15 Mar 12 10:41
In a very real sense they already have pulled it off. The city's cultural institutions are thriving. The influx of young creative people from all over the globe, people who came to help the city and decided to make it their home,have brought another level to the discourse. Of course it remains an open question whether the communities that have been decimated will produce the cultural tradition bearers of the future. Only time will tell. If Bobby Jindal has his way and cuts off all education funding the future remains grim. But the musicians are out there pressing the case and I'm happy to say they show no signs of giving up the cause.
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Thu 15 Mar 12 13:56
i swoon everytime i'm listening to 'OZ online and hear the club listings for the weekend. i'd never be home if i lived down there. can't wait to visit again SOON. (The Suspects and the Malone Bros are at Tip's this weekend, for instance.)
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 15 Mar 12 14:58
For anybody who is not a listener, that's the lifeline that is http://www.wwoz.org/
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 15 Mar 12 15:01
This has been such an evocative conversation. Really appreciating everybody.
John Swenson (floating541) Thu 15 Mar 12 15:11
By the way, anyone in Austin for SXSW can find out a lot more about this subject Saturday afternoon at my New Atlantis panel. We've got Alison Fensterstock from the Times-Picayune, Davis Rogan from Treme and the award winning album The Real Davis, and three direct descendents of the man who invented R&B, Dave Bartholomew. Dave's son Don B and his two sons will be on the panel. They are all hip hop producers and artists working in New Orleans and will have a lot to say about the future of the city's music.
Ed Ward (captward) Thu 15 Mar 12 19:45
Not anyone; just people registered. However, it'll be streaming online in a week or two, if it follows the model of most SXSW panels. And there's no reason for you to run away before you reflect on how it went -- either here or in the SXSW Inkwell topic!
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Sun 18 Mar 12 09:49
After Katrina hit, i was a volunteer at the convention center here in Austin. As with many cities in Texas, the convention center became a temporary emergency shelter for folks from New Orleans. During this time, I met many people who had left New Orleans for the first time ever while fleeing Katrina. The ecology of the city and their specific neighborhoods was such that they had never ventured from them before. Although this made sense after I thought about it, i was also astounded by it. Does this sort of New Orleans exist in the post-Katrina era? Also, while I love the music and what I know of the culture of New Orleans, I am definitely not of that city. Yet, New Orleans has such an old, visible, and vibrant culture that I think it acts as a sort of beacon for a certain type of American rootlessness. People who are hungry for a connection to an older, rich culture are attracted to it--both in superficial and deeper ways. My impression is that New Orleans is both very friendly to visitors like me, but, conversely, that it's much harder to actually become part of the culture itself--that it would be a much longer experience for an outsider before they no longer felt like an outsider but they were truly of the city. As someone who moved their from elsewhere-- what was your experience? At this point do you identify yourself as someone who is of the city? Have there been cultural or social difficulties that you have had to undergo in adapting to the city?
Ed Ward (captward) Sun 18 Mar 12 10:19
I'd also be interested in your views on the panel yesterday. Since it dealt largely with a television program I have no (legal) access to, I left after a while, but I did find it interesting that there were two generations of Bartholemews involved and that they're still at the forefront of the contemporary music scene there.
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