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August 31, 2009

Proper Titling Appreciated

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , — Alex Rawls @ 1:59 pm

 

It’s clear – no event can exist in New Orleans without an accompanying poster. I just received notice of the Project 30-90 poster, and really – can just call them merch and be done with it? Eliminate all pretensions to art or higher purpose and just acknowledge that this is something other than a T-shirt people can buy? As posters go, I’ve seen better and seen a lot worse, but the one thing greener than an environmentally friendly poster is no poster at all. No carbon footprint is better than a light one.

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August 28, 2009

Go See the Lumps

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , — Alex Rawls @ 8:06 am

 

The debate over the proposed sculptures for Armstrong Park interests me more than the art does. What I can figure out is how beautifying the park is supposed to bring life back to it. Who goes to a park to look at the sculptures, and how long can that take? Wouldn’t it be better to open the park so that people can use it? And bring Rampart back to life – and not as  Ye Olde New Orleans – so that the park is an integrated part of the city. Clearly, treating it as a stand-alone, culturally significant place that you’re supposed to want to go to hasn’t worked. When has, “Do this. It’s good for you” ever worked? 

… speaking of the art, I’m conceptually amused at the transformation of Indian feathers into stone, but it’s hard to get around how lumpish that piece looks.

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August 26, 2009

On the Eve of Katrina’s Anniversary

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , , — Alex Rawls @ 8:11 am

Harry Shearer’s keynote address at the Rising Tide bloggers conference Saturday was a sobering one. “We’ve lost the media war,” he said, speaking of New Orleans and the way Katrina’s story has been told. Rather than being a story of the federally neglected protection mechanisms – the floodwalls and the disappearing wetlands – and how their failure in the face of Katrina caused 80 percent of the city to flood, the media has told it as the story of poor people who suffered catastrophically after a freak natural disaster. That narrative has sapped much of the political and countrywide will to do what’s necessary to make sure that New Orleans isn’t similarly flooded again.

By now, most of us who hoped Barack Obama would be more of a leader in the recovery effort than his predecessor have become skeptical. Shearer told a story that further gives us reason to believe that now as then, we’re on our own.

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August 22, 2009

One Caveat

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , — Alex Rawls @ 12:07 pm

One concern after this mornings culture panel at the Rising Tide 4 bloggers conference: How many bloggers will treat what they heard as gospel, and how many will do additional research or confirm some of the assertions? Much of it was right in broad strokes but quite as it was reported from the stage.

Whether people caught it or not, keynote speaker Harry Shearer called for bloggers to be the journalists that the mainstream media cant or wont be. His call for bloggers to invest their time was a call not for slow writing or patience, but for dedicated, well-researched blogging.

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August 18, 2009

My Penance

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , — Alex Rawls @ 12:51 pm

 

Last week, I took a drubbing for considering what the obits for Willy DeVille might say about him and his art – not because I was necessarily wrong, but because what I wrote didn’t seem to be what his fans wanted to find. I gather they expected to find an appreciation of him, and anything else wouldn’t do. So it goes. One point I will clarify, though. I wrote that he never integrated himself into the New Orleans music community in public way. Some of the writers pointed out that he loved New Orleans music and recorded with Dr. John, George Porter, Jr., and so on – something I know and pointed out in the piece. What I meant, though, was that he wasn’t a fixture performing live in the clubs. someone who played regularly around town. If you didn’t know DeVille had moved to town, you didn’t discover it through a progressive ubiquity on the city’s stages.

My penance for not writing the piece readers wanted is Pitchfork’s Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s. As someone who resists lists, I found looking at it exhausting and depressing – so conceptually shaky (with 2009 just over half over), so forgetable (I can only hum/sing five or six of the songs I know I have from the 500-401 section), and so irrelevant. Still, people are semi-talking about it, not with passion but because Pitchfork.com has become too big to ignore. Most are as skeptical as I am, but that doesn’t stop them from speculating as to what number one is going to be.  I’ll pass.

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August 14, 2009

A Good Use of Social Media

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , , — Alex Rawls @ 12:48 pm

 

Usually, I run Seesmic in the background while working, so my Facebook and Twitter feeds come up in one window that I can see easily and pay attention to when I want to. Today, the flow of the work day has been occasionally interrupted by a “Who Dat” tweet, or a “Who’s going to the game?” note on Facebook. My Joe Horn jersey’s in a bag behind me and I’m going straight from work to the game, so I didn’t need a lot of prompting to get excited at the start of the day, and having Saints messages ripple through the day has only ramped things up.

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August 12, 2009

Sad and Curious

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , , , — Alex Rawls @ 7:56 am

 

Long-time New Orleans resident Willy DeVille died last week of pancreatic cancer. He led a fairly low-key life here, and never integrated himself in a public way into the New Orleans music community. He achieved some measure of notoriety when Johnny Thunders moved to New Orleans and promptly OD’ed in the the St. Peter Guest House - a number of rumors circulated about what happened, many of which involved Willy.

The obits for DeVille suggested that few in the media really knew him, and that he was famous for being a part of a cool band – Mink DeVille – at a cool time and place – New York in the mid-1970s. Andy Schwartz from New York Rocker begins his obit:

I didn’t know Willy DeVille, who died of pancreatic cancer on 8/6/09 in Manhattan. I interviewed him on one occasion in the Mink DeVille days, probably for New York Rocker, and remember him as guarded, suspicious of the press, and quite intimidating — with his hard shell and heroin hauteur — to this relatively clean-living, upper-middle-class kid from Westchester County. (I wouldn’t have guessed that we were the same age or that he’d grown up in Stamford, Connecticut.) 

At the New York Times, William Grimes’ obit maintained a studious, fact-oriented distance:

Mr. DeVille, a regular at CBGB in the mid-1970s, lent his bluesy voice and eclectic musical tastes to Mink DeVille, one of the club’s main draws. A disciplined songwriter with a deep admiration for the Atlantic Records sound of the Drifters and Ben E. King, he drew from many sources, including Latin music, French ballads, New Orleans funk and Cajun accordion music. He was, the critic Robert Palmer wrote in The New York Times in 1980, “idiomatic, in the broadest sense, and utterly original.” 

They all dance around the same facts, many including references to his Academy Award nomination for the song he wrote for The Princess Bride, and that he cut an album here with Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and Eddie Bo, but DeVille seems missing from his own obit; there’s no meat on the bones of his discography.

At the Telegraph, Neil McCormick acknowledges this:

DeVille’s career never reached any great heights. The only other track the general public probably know of his is ‘Storybook Love’, from the soundtrack of ‘The Princess Bride’, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. His passing was not the kind of music news that rocked the world. It was certainly not, like another recent pop death, greeted with scenes of public grief and incredulity. There were no experts lining up on television to endlessly repeat banal platitudes about the impact, private life and cultural significance of this talented singer.

He levels this assessment in the process of arguing that DeVille cut one classic album, Le Chat Bleu, which he cut in 1979. And as cold as it is, a round-up of obits suggests he’s right, and really, considering DeVille only had one, perhaps two albums with strong cult followings, it’s sort of impressive that he got this many.

… and what does that mean? Is this a teachable moment? A comment on obits, celebrity, privacy or style? The limits of how well we know someone, or how making a right decision or two keeps you in the public ledger for a longer time than anyone would suppose? Or is it a pop thing? Even if you never have a number one – or top 40 song, even – make a pop mark on the world and it has to deal with you forever?

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August 5, 2009

Too Friendly, to be Kind

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , , — Alex Rawls @ 8:37 am

 

Today I found this story at NOLA.com:

W French Quarter hosts a post Dirty Linen Night patrons Saturday from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. The event will feature music, food, drinks and new original artwork from New Orleans emerging artist Chris Kaiser.

Kaiser will showcase a new series of large-scale paintings called Hotter than July: Notes for a Greener New Orleans. These paintings were inspired by an unusual combination of Sesame Street, local music and greening New Orleans to spread the message that sustainability is a shared effect.

The 8th Annual Dirty Linen Night celebration runs from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. in the 200 – 1000 blocks of Royal Street and features more than sixty galleries and shops for an exclusive shopping experience.

The W French Quarter is located at 316 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. A suggested $5 entry fee donation will benefit Tipitina’s Foundation.

This information was made available by Terri Kaupp, and Peter Mayer Advertising Tuesday, August 4, 2009.

It bears a remarkable resemblance to this press release. In fact, whole paragraphs remain the same, and the only changes that have been made were made by subtraction:

New Orleans, LA – (August 4, 2009) – W French Quarter invites Dirty Linen Night patrons to stop by the courtyard for the Dirty Linen Night After-Party on Saturday, August 8 from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. The event will feature music, hors d’oeuvres from Bacco, Eco-Friendly Cocktails courtesy of VeeV Açaí Spirit and new original artwork from New Orleans emerging artist Chris Kaiser. A suggested $5 entry fee donation will benefit Tipitina’s Foundation.

Kaiser will showcase a new series of large-scale paintings called “Hotter than July: Notes for a Greener New Orleans.” These paintings were inspired by an unusual combination of Sesame Street, local music and greening New Orleans to spread the message that sustainability is a shared effect.

Before “green” became chic, Kaiser roamed Royal Street picking up wooden crates left behind by local businesses and galleries to ship antiques and artwork. These pieces have been revitalized by Kaiser into new works of art. “Hotter than July: Notes for a Greener New Orleans.” is his largest-scale public display of work in New Orleans with each piece painted on recycled or found wood ranging in size from
4 x 4 feet to 4 x 7 feet. In addition, a selection of smaller works will be on display in the Studio space adjacent to the courtyard.

“I believe it’s important to utilize our passions to create positive change in the world,” Kaiser said. “New Orleans music is the reason I’m part of this community. I want that music to continue and hope this show communicates the importance of working together to sustain the culture of New Orleans.” Kaiser supports Tipitina’s Foundation mission to support Louisiana and New Orleans’ irreplaceable music community and is donating a portion of art sales to the organization.

W French Quarter is committed to supporting local artists through events and community outreach by hosting W Happening throughout the year.

“W French Quarter is particularly excited about this opportunity to expose others to Kaiser’s green-friendly approach to art,” said General Manager Angela Thompson. “We’re thrilled to support Kaiser’s work and love his unique approach to being an eco-friendly artist.”

The 8th Annual Dirty Linen Night celebration runs from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. in the 200 – 1000 blocks of Royal Street. Dirty Linen Night will feature more than sixty galleries and shops for an exclusive shopping experience. W French Quarter is just a block away from the Dirty Linen Night festivities and is the perfect location to gather with friends, enjoy the scene and sip cocktails in the courtyard under the stars.

Saying that information was made available by Terri Kaupp and Peter Mayer Advertising is a pretty thin fig leaf. The piece was written by them, and the story really should be identified as such, or it should be rewritten.

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August 4, 2009

How’d Orly Taitz Miss This Story?

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , — Alex Rawls @ 1:52 pm

 

Today I received this press release:

The City of New Orleans has sought an injunction against the Louisiana Technology Council for one simple reason — it has no assurance that LTC returned a complete copy of the City’s confidential data and destroyed all other copies of data created by LTC or its subcontractors. It also cannot confirm whether this confidential data was shared with any third parties.

LTC signed a nondisclosure agreement that prohibited it from disclosing any information about its work. Mr. Lewis and his subcontractor, Mr. Reade, violated that agreement when they chose to discuss the preliminary findings of their forensic audit — an audit they now admit was flawed. The City has tried to resolve this dispute amicably, and I personally met with officials from LTC and its subcontractors last week. However, LTC and its subcontractors refuse to make a promise in writing, or before the Court. It seems they are more interested in garnering headlines than in fulfilling their obligations to the City of New Orleans.

The City of New Orleans must turn to the legal system to resolve this issue and protect the public’s information. We look forward to the preliminary injunction hearing at 10 a.m. on August 11.

In addition to LTC, the suit also names Mark S. Lewis, Carrollton Technology Partners, L.L.C., Christopher Reade, Communications And Technologies Industries, Inc., Wayne Latour, Digital Forensics Solutions, LLC, and Daryl Pfeif.

Penya Moses-Fields
City Attorney

 Besides this being a horrible message to anyone who might do business with the city, how can this be proved? And why would the city assume the data hasn’t been returned, or that it has been copied or shared? The paranoia is really depressing for anyone who at one time or another thought Nagin was a reasonable choice for mayor.

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August 2, 2009

Focus Counts

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , , , — Alex Rawls @ 8:47 am

Project 30-90 is just over a month away, and so far, it looks like the producers need to remember that the moment of the event is what matters most. So far, they’ve hosted two promo events with the clever premise of a 30 minute set announced via social media 90 minutes before the show. I understand the buzz value in spreading the word via Twitter, but the reports I’ve got from both shows were underwhelming – the music half-over or more by the time people got there, and the free drinks were gone or, when they offered margaritas, down to shooters because they’d run out of mix.

The festival itself has similarly cool associated concepts – a green festival – but as much as people like the concept of being more environmentally friendly, they want to see a good show more. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s hard to see Ghostland Observatory, Grace Potter and Jason Isbell as a lineup that’ll get people to go to an outdoor, daytime show on the Labor Day weekend.

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