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Getting Ready for Ike!
September 6th, 2008 under New Orleans, New Orleans Music. [ Comments: none ]

Long intro, but worth the wait. Wish they (Cowboy Mouth) were all still together.

Friday, May 2: Where You Can Find Me
January 25th, 2008 under music, New Orleans Music. [ Comments: none ]

john_prine.jpgJohn Prine is coming to Jazzfest! After last year’s crowd I was thinking I might pass on Jazzfest for a while. Or at least just hang out in the Gospel Tent. There’s a pretty good lineup this year so I might have to save a few bucks and go. He’s one of the best songwriters around, and not a bad theologian either.

Some humans ain’t human, some people ain’t kind….

See y’all there!

Merry Christmas from New Orleans!
December 16th, 2007 under Holidaze, New Orleans Music. [ Comments: none ]

Benny Grunch plays Michelli’s tonight!

Gilgamesh, Cowboy Mouth, and Christmas
December 28th, 2006 under Christianity, Friends, Holidaze, Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Saints, poor, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: none ]

GilHaven’t posted in a while. I’ve been thinking a lot lately and I’m trying to develop a new frame of mind. It all kind of started last week when I drove my mother-in-law, wife, and daughter through the lower ninth ward and lakeview. We jokingly refer to this as the misery tour.

Neither my wife nor my daughter had been to the lower ninth. They couldn’t believe it. They’ve been exposed to some pretty bad stuff in the city, but my daughter couldn’t handle it. She asked me never to take her back. My mother-in-law said that people just don’t know how bad it really is. We drove for miles and only saw empty slabs where people used to live.

I explained that most of my clients used to live in the lower nine or mid-city or in the empty housing projects prior to Katrina. My mother-in-law said, “That must be really hard. Where do they live now?”

“A lady called me today (two days before Christmas) who is living in her car. Many are living with relatives or friends. They don’t have money to pay rent or buy a home and I really don’t have resources to help them. It is really hard, but sometimes I can help them and that’s good.”

My job really does suck in that I hear so many horror stories and so many people who are in desperate need of help. I wish that there was more that I could do. It makes me really angry. But…I am helping a few. The other day I spent over an hour just listening to client talk about the struggles and joys in her life. I gave her simple advice. She left feeling much better. Sometimes folks are just so overwhelmed that they need someone to say “Do this first, then this, and then this.”

Back to the frame of mind…My son brought home a new translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. I hate to admit this, (my best friend’s son is named Gilgamesh) but I’ve never read it. Here’s my interpretation (Michael feel free to correct me) Gilgamesh is a guy who seems to have everything. But he’s not happy with that. He sets out to kill a monster just so he can brag about it. It causes him to lose his best friend so he sets out on a quest for immortality. The only human to achieve immortality seems to imply that immortality isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Gilgamesh acquires a “fountain of youth” plant, but loses it. He goes back home and sees his life from a new perspective.–kind of got me thinking.

Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth said in an interview today that life’s too short to stay pissed off and negative all the time. He said that New Orleanians need to stand up, brush themselves off and kick ass like they always have. After all we are the ones who taught the world to have fun!–Thanks Fred!

Then there was Christmas communion at my church Sunday night. I love seeing old folks, young folks, black folks, white folks, and other-colored folks line up to receive the body and blood of Christ. It reminds me that waiting in line for that is better than waiting in line for anything else. It reminds me of the love and grace of God. It also reminds me of how sometimes Jesus brings diverse folks together.–Thanks Jesus!

Well, with the help of my wonderful wife, I have as Gilgamesh did at the end of his story.. “Gone up onto the wall of Uruk and walked around.”

This past year been reunited with my wonderful family (after spending four months in Nashville). I have written and received two million dollars worth of grants. I have worked three jobs at a time to help support my family. I’ve acquired a scooter, built birdhouses, served as vice president of a professional organization and on a committee at United Way. I’ve seen the most historic game in Superdome history with my best friend. I’ve seen my kids do some amazing things, helped my parents move to Florida, seen my wife’s health improve with no new signs of cancer. And experienced New Orleans more deeply.

Yep. Uruk’s a pretty amazing place. I’m really looking forward to my next adventure.

The Saints Are Coming!
October 28th, 2006 under Friends, Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music. [ Comments: none ]

Super The Saints are coming video can be viewed here. I was lucky enough to see the live performance at the Superdome with my friend Michael. The whole set can be seen here.

We had a great time! I actually got chills when I watched the video. It has some rough scenes from Hurricane Katrina.

You can buy the CD here.

Thanks again Michael for a beautiful day!

If you want to support C & L, you can purchase the CD through this link.

It Really Was a Beautiful Day
September 26th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Xavier. [ Comments: 2 ]

IMG_3600My friend Michael invited me to the Saints-Falcons game months ago. I was really excited about going, but I really had no clue how special it was going to be. The day didn’t start off too well. Due to misinformation I wasn’t able to get my motorcycle license yesterday. I so looked forward to riding Michael around on it.

While I was at the DMV, my friend Jerry called and said that I would be teaching two classes at XU next semester and would be brought back full-time in the Fall of 07! Good deal! This great news was followed up by a great set by Cowboy Mouth. My voice was gone before I got into the Superdome! Mike and I listened to the Goo Goo Dolls as we waited to enter the dome. Of course, the U2/Greenday/Brass Band opening was really cool.

Then…the game. It was unbelievable! Thanks Michael! Thanks Jerry!

Why I Love New Orleans
September 11th, 2006 under Food, Friends, New Orleans, New Orleans Music. [ Comments: none ]

Great Meal!My friend Michael invited me on a fishing trip yesterday. We caught our limit! It was great.

Then I grilled the redfish. This is one of the reasons I love living in New Orleans. Great food, great friends, great music, great culture!

BTW my Voice of the Wetlands CD and Tad Benoit’s Fever for the Bayou arrived yesterday. Man! They are both fantastic. Please by VOW and help save our wetlands. If you’ve got a serious case of the blues, by Benoit’s CD!

Katrina Anniversary Photos
August 30th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Photos, poor. [ Comments: 2 ]

DSC05427 Here is one of my photos of the Katrina Anniversary Events. The set can be found here. I haven’t labelled them all yet. I’ll get to that tomorrow.

Americans United to Save Our Wetlands
August 29th, 2006 under Environment, Friends, Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Politics. [ Comments: none ]

VOWYesterday, I bought Voice of the Wetlands.

Celebrate the bayou while helping to save it! Acclaimed blues guitarist Tab Benoit is joined by Louisiana All-Stars including Dr. John, Cyril Neville, The Meters rhythm section and others on this hot and spicy New Orleans blues party!

A portion of proceeds from the sale of this CD go to “Voice Of The Wetlands,” a non-profit organization battling cultural and coastal erosion.

I bought it because I want to help preserve our wetlands and hear great music. Sunday, Shirley and I went to Congo Square to listen to Tab Benoit and Cyril Neville. They were fantastic. DSC05357 Tab Benoit is a legendary blues guitarist and the “voice of the wetlands.” He is unbelievable!

Just before I went to the concert, I read an oped in the Washington Post by a friend of mine entitled “On Becoming a Real American” that really stirred me. John Thatamanil is a scholar at Vanderbilt that I had the pleasure of spending time with while I was there last fall. He’s so smart and a very gracious guy. Here’s the text:

On Becoming A ‘Real American’

By John J. Thatamanil
Sunday, August 27, 2006; B07

From adolescence on, I heard a constant refrain from my Indian father: “Don’t ever believe that you’re really American.” I found his advice peculiar, especially as I had been living in America since age 8 and had largely forgotten my time in India. To him, it didn’t matter that the only language in which I could think a complex thought was English. It didn’t matter that the only music I listened to was Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees and Billy Joel.

My father’s dictum infuriated me, in part because I took his comment to be racist. Did he mean that only white people count as real Americans? What about African Americans, let alone Indian Americans? I have insisted ever since that in America, what makes someone an American is citizenship, not race or ethnicity.

This month — after hearing Sen. George Allen call an Indian American, born in this country, “macaca” — I better appreciated my father’s sober wisdom. What he meant to say is now apparent: “You will never be accepted as truly American.” Education, meaningful work and financial success can get immigrant minorities only so far. For some, whiteness will always be a prerequisite for being American. Conveying that message might not have been Allen’s intent, but it certainly was the effect.

What’s the lesson to be learned from this episode? Must South Asians and other immigrants resign themselves to second-class status — at least in the eyes of some? Of course “class” is the wrong word here. Indian Americans are, statistically speaking, the wealthiest immigrant group in the nation. We do experience discrimination and, on rare occasions, violence, as some Sikhs did right after Sept. 11, 2001. But discrimination has not had marked economic consequences. It is more often experienced by South Asians as a subtle matter of failed recognition: We are either rendered hyper-visible, marked out as different as S.R. Sidarth was made to feel by George Allen or, in other circles, rendered invisible because we are accorded the status of “honorary whites.” Membership in that exclusive fraternity is granted so long as difference is suppressed.

The Allen incident offers evidence that America is not now or likely to ever be a color-blind country. How are South Asians to live with this truth? Resignation is not the answer. Vigorous political participation is. My youthful intuition that what makes me as American as any Mayflower descendant is citizenship — not race or ethnicity — was only partly on the mark. The piece of paper that validates our identities as American citizens can do only so much if we do little to struggle for recognition.

There is also a second lesson to be learned from this incident. South Asian political engagement cannot be driven solely by the private interests of a single racial or ethnic group. America’s obsession with color has a long history that South Asians forget at their peril. Indian Americans and other affluent immigrant groups would do well to remember the civil rights struggles of African Americans and others without whom a racially inclusive American nation would have been impossible. The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which opened the door to people from the Eastern Hemisphere, must be recognized as the fruit of a larger struggle to expand the meaning of the term “American,” a struggle fought on our behalf before our arrival.

The aspiration to honorary whiteness — motivated by the hope that success alone will entitle Asians to equality within American life — betrays the memory of that long conflict. Only by making common cause with African Americans, only by joining with other immigrant groups that have not been as fortunate, can South Asian immigrants resist America’s troubled racial history and embrace its best aspirations for a truly democratic and inclusive future. That is a legacy I hope to transmit to my 8-year-old daughter, who is herself a lovely perpetual tan, a combination of my brownness with the lighter tone of her Ohio-born mother, who is herself part German, part English and part Native American.

In the near term, what this means is that Americans of color should work together to ensure that politicians who can see the many shades and hues of American life only as exotic, foreign or even un-American have no role in shaping our common future.

The writer is assistant professor of theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. He is the author of “The Immanent Divine: God, Creation, and the Human Predicament. An East-West Conversation.”
© 2006 The Washington Post Company


The great thing about living in New Orleans is that we do get along better than most down here. In fact, as I watched Tad and Cyril, three men in front of me illustrated why I love this town. The dancing, joyous friends consisted of a black guy (who went bought the beer), a white guy, and an indian guy. When the black guy returned with the beer, they toasted each other and continued to dance to the great music. John Thatamanil is right, many would have only seen one (or two) Americans in that group. But in New Orleans, they were just three guys listening to a band and having a great time.

That’s why I love New Orleans.

My Daughter The Star
July 30th, 2006 under New Orleans, New Orleans Music. [ Comments: 2 ]

My daughter (the one on the far left) is in Anthony Bean’s production “Annie Mae’s Cafe.” She’s great! And so are the rest of the kids!

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