Sunday, December 10, 2006

Because Nobody Demanded It ...

... my band Smuteye has our first official bar gig this Saturday, the 16th, at the Bottletree in Birmingham, Alabama. Our massive winter tour has begun; next stop - world domination!

So if you have a taste for country-punk - and who doesn't? - we'll see you there. Country-punk? What's that? That's what happens when a massive flood drives away a silly country band's banjo player and rhythm acoustic guitarist, who sensibly removed to North Carolina, and the band is left with a bassist who learned to play during the heyday of '80s hair metal, not to mention Schlong's guitarist. The drummer's ocassional attempts to rein us in have, so far, been mostly for naught. Schlong, by the way, is reuniting for a couple of shows in San Francisco for New Year's.

In other music news (because I don't really feel like writing about Dollar Bill's re-election just yet), we recently caught El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, who does one fantastic Christmas show. If you haven't seen his illegal immigrant take on "Run, Run Rudolph," then your life is, as yet, incomplete. Clockwork Elvis opened, and yes, he dresses like Alex from Clockwork Orange and sings Elvis. Plus, he comes with his own burlesque dancers, which Gav and I immediately agreed is the certain je ne sais quoi that Smuteye has been missing and anyone interested in filling those positions should immediately contact us.

Finally, just last Wednesday I left work and spotted a flyer for an Asylum Street Spankers show that very night at Tip's to benefit their foundation helping local musicians recover from Katrina. Now, I don't know how the Spankers snuck in without me knowing it, but combine them with recovery efforts, and I dropped everything to make the show. Grading, what grading?

They played an almost all, um, "adult content" show, including "Shave 'em Dry," "Tight Like That" and "If You Love Me (You'll Sleep on the Wet Spot)" plus stuff like "Wake and Bake" and "Winning the War on Drugs." If you somehow aren't familiar with the Spankers, they play music that sounds like it was written in the '30s or '40s, but with turn of this century content. Plus, their Mohawked fiddler/mandolin player Sick used to be a New Orleans street musician. They also played a new song (at least to me), the hilarious satirical protest song "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your S.U.V." I wanted to tell everyone about it, but of course couldn't remember any of the lyrics. Thanks to the magic of web, though, everyone can enjoy the video here. Rabid neoconservatives with tendencies to accuse any and all free speech that doesn't agree with their views as treasonous and threaten dissenters with execution (hi, Ann Coulter!), need not click.

And that, folks, is what some New Orleanians do for fun when not trying to rebuild our houses in time for Christmas.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

1 Down, 99 To Go

Did anybody else notice hurricane season ended? As of midnight, November 30th.

I missed the celebration at Finn’s (though I’m typing this there), but I did mark the occasion with a humble flip of the calendar page. Actually, to tell you truth, I breathed a quiet, private sigh of relief as soon as September was over. See, everything bad happens in September, at least for me – relationships end, jobs fall apart, disasters strike. I know Katrina and the Flood happened at the end of August, but that’s close enough for me. While I’m sure my belief in the inherent horribleness of the month in between August and October is just coincidence, superstition, and self-fulfilling prophecy, it is true that no major hurricane has ever hit New Orleans after September.

So I wiped the sweat off my inner brow once October rolled into town, and I imagine a lot of other people did too, though nobody talked about it because, I suspect, we didn’t want to jinx it. Now that hurricane season is officially over, though, I think it’s time to mention what happened to the Big Easy this hurricane season, namely…

Nothing. Nada. Zip, zilch, zero. Not a hurricane landfall, not a tropical storm. Not a single evacuation when we had been told to expect six or seven. Not even a scare, those times when we start watching the weather with one eye as we go about our business, not evacuating but tracking a storm in the Gulf. Nothing happened.

I think it’s important to point this out because I’m tired of people (and you know the kind of people I mean) acting like we’re crazy or foolish or both for wanting to live in New Orleans because – as these people never tire of pointing out – “It will happen again!”

First off, not necessarily. The real damage to New Orleans – as I never tire of pointing out – was from the man-made flood, not the storm itself. If we take care of the wetlands and build better levees (both entirely possible), then if or when another Katrina comes, the Flood won’t happen again.

More importantly, as this last hurricane season did a little teeny bit to demonstrate, the odds of another Katrina and subsequent Flood coming any time soon are, well, nothing you would want to bet real money on.

My home is 80 years old and never flooded or suffered significant hurricane damage; I know because they have to tell you that kind of thing when you buy a house. Not only that, but Katrina is classified as a hundred-year storm. If we go another 80 or 100 years, not only will I not be living in my house anymore, I’ll be dead. We all will be. So I’m not sweating it.

Remember the movie version of “The World According to Garp,” when the plane crashed into a house and Garp bought it because what were the chances of that ever happening again? Just call me D. S. Garp. (That’d be Dale Steven, though the S. could stand for Smart or Sad or even Sexy if you want.) What looks crazy to everyone else seems imminently sensible to me.

Could I be wrong? Sure, it’s within the realm of possibility. But if anyone wants to put money on it, I’ll take the bet.