Sunday, September 03, 2006


What I did not do on my Labor Day vacation: manage to take in the festival whose name I relish above all other Louisiana festival names: Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. Let us hope that I can get my act together for the second place winner: Basile Swine Festival. Yes, it's fall, my friends. (Not officially, of course, but since they kicked out Pluto, who listens to astronomers anymore?) So, the mean reds of August are behind us, and the long season of Louisiana festivals is underway. Every town has one: "Cameron Fur and Wildlife Festival," "Crowley Rice Festival," "Ragley Heritage and Timber Festival," "New Iberia Sugercane Festival." You get the idea. Many of these places took a beating in Rita last year, but you can bet your last link at the Broussard Boudin Fest those Cajuns are gonna come back and have them some festivals this year!

Speaking of coming back, here's what I did do on my Labor Day weekend: checked in with the Grand Reopening Party at Quintron and Miss Pussycat's Spellcaster Lodge. One of the grave omissions in my Ninth Ward experience has been a visit to the Spellcaster, and the grand reopening seemed the perfect opportunity to redress this lack. Although the visit was brief, I did get a good gander at the place, enough at least to convince me to come again.

In some ways, the Spellcaster is an underwater-themed fantasy lounge, simultaneously whimsical and avant-garde. In other ways, it's the sweaty, overcrowded ground-floor basement of Quintron &Miss Pussycat's 9th Ward house. So much depends upon the frame of mind, you see. And, to be honest, there was ample ventilation in the main room--a post-K improvement, I understand.

I convinced a couple of my more daring friends to come along with me--the Spellcaster was old hat for them; so they came, not for the novelty (nor for my company, if I'm completely honest with myself), but for the chance to catch DJ Jubilee,1 one of the originators of Bounce music (another indigenous New Orleans art form). Seduced by the strains of "Back that Ass Up," they led me into a much hipper world than I'm really fit to inhabit. Neither DJ Jubilee nor Quintron was playing when we arrived, however. Instead, we were treated to the oddity that is Uncle Flim Flam's Electric Nightmare, a particularly ingenius variant on the one-man-band tradition. Uncle Flim Flam, who sports a fine Ron Jeremy mustache and has been known, I believe, to play Tuba for Egg Yolk Jubilee, performs on the lead tri-tom, that staple of the high school marching band, complete with metal harness. And while the tri-tom might not seem the ideal lead instrument, it makes perfect sense when backed by the "portable calliope bandwagon."2

Now, the portable calliope bandwagon looks a bit like an instrument designed by John Carpenter. Or, for another horror movie analogy, consider what might happen if, rather than a man and a fly climbing into that teleportation device, you put inside a player piano, a polka band, a small steam ship, and a marching band. And say that what emerged on the other side was electric powered and in the shape of a three-foot cube. That should give you some idea of this device. I was mesmerized by the tiny mallet striking the minature bass drum in time. While we were there, he performed some John Philip Souza, a couple of dance numbers, and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." During set break, we decided to grab some air and quickly realized that we weren't making it back in for the other sets. The yard had become as crowded as the bar area, and people continued to stream in somehow. Apparently we weren't the only ones in town who thought this seemed like a good idea. I still vow to see Quintron and Miss Pussycat perform there, but this wasn't the weekend for it.

So, about my ongoing project. Two things:
  1. Considering changing the name. Rather than "Where are we now," I think I'll call it "Where I got them shoes." (If you've been here, you'll understand.)
  2. Gonna be an interesting week. Rolled the dice, and here's what came up: Lakeshore/Lake Vista. I think this is a shot of the neighborhood during Katrina.
Off now to see Alex McMurray and Luke Allen at Mimi's (how convenient is that?).

1Sidenote: looking for a DJ Jubilee link, I came across this page for the album Take it to the Saint Thomas. The content-related ads popping up: Selected Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain. Ah, the all-knowing interweb; it does all cohere after all.

2This term is from the artist's description on the tip's foundation site: New act on the scene:A portable calliope bandwagon with hundreds of songs of all types,from original wurlitzer arrangements to Santana,to Jethro Tull and even Professor Longhair.Fascinating to watch and hear.38 calliope pipes,percussion,glockenspiel and automatic accordian.Electric-powered ,not steam.Operated and manipulated by Uncle Flim-Flam himself.Suitable for indoor or outdoor use.AKA: "Crescent City Calliope"


Post a Comment

<< Home