neworleans: September 2009 Archives

I missed the spectacle of Tom DeLay, former Texas Republican Congressman, now rhinestone cowboy, shaking his ass, sliding on his knees, and playing air guitar to "Wild Thing," on Dancing with the Stars, as investigators mulled money-laundering charges against him.

But I was struck by the how well DeLay--who, while representing a state that is more than one-third Hispanic, supported a 1999 bill to declare English the official language of the U.S.--highlighted the Afro Latin roots of American music. He danced to the Troggs' 1966 hit in a cha-cha competition.

How enlightened, Tom.

So pronounced is the clave of that song, that one would need to strain not to hear it. Yet the centrality of Afro Latin roots to early rock and roll is a well-kept secret in this country. The best exposition of this truth can be found in Ned Sublette's terrific first book, "Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo" (he uses "Louie, Louie" as the essential case). And I'll tip my hat to Ned, who tonight celebrates the release of his fine new third book, his second on the Crescent City, "The Year Before the Flood: A New Orleans Story." Wish I could be at the Mother-in-Law Lounge, to hear the always animated Sublette read, across the room from an inanimate likeness of Ernie K-Doe (who is among the book's characters), at what promises to be the mother-in-law of book parties.

I'm rereading Ned's book now, as I work on an essay about it for The Nation.


September 24, 2009 10:22 AM |
I've said it before. I'm saying it again now. I'm going to take up blogging again in earnest and with respect for what the enterprise offers. Not every day, perhaps. But for real. And I'll get back to posting some of those good pictures from New Orleans. 

So let me start with the contents of an email I got this morning. For those in New Orleans, it's something you should attend this evening. For those outside the city, it's a good example of how indigenous culture IS social activism in New Orleans and how, in the slow, troubled and unequal process of recovery, those who make music and dance to it and those who are fighting against violent crime, corrupt politics, and other ills have formalized what they were always doing--working in tandem.

This year, the Young Men Olympian, Jr. Mutual Aid and Benevolent Society celebrates 125 years of community engagement and service, as well as cultural celebration. On Sunday, September 27, the club will hold their second parade of the season, starting at their home base on Josephine Street. And this Thursday evening, September 24, the Young Men Olympian will precede their annual parade by joining SilenceIsViolence and the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force in a City Walk/Peace Walk through the Central City neighborhood.

For over a century, the Young Men Olympian have quietly done community service and public safety work, without seeking recognition or reward. The club membership participates in cemetery clean-ups, Night Out Against Crime sponsorships, peace rallies (including a memorial for police officer Nicola Cotton), and much more. We are honored that the group has chosen to partner with SilenceIsViolence and the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force for Thursday's Peace Walk. Please join us at the Young Men Olympian, Jr. Hall, 2101 Josephine Street, at 6pm this Thursday. We will follow a circular route, spreading a message of peace, ending back at the Hall around 7pm. A brass band will perform after the walk.

September 23, 2009 10:45 AM |




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