the gumbo pages

looka, <lʊ´-kə> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look"; in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans, it is usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  

2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, cocktails as cuisine, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 12:01pm PST, 1/31/2007

RSS Feed (such as it is):
RSS Feed

If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author. Your comments on each post are also welcome; however, right-wing trolls are about as welcome as a boil on my arse.
Search this site:

Buy my New Orleans music box set!

Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens

"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores (such as the Louisiana Music Factory, because you should be supporting local New Orleans retailers) or via Amazon if you insist.

The box set was the subject of a 15-minute profile on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" on Feb. 6, 2005, and a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" on Apr. 3, 2005. Here are some nice blurbs from the reviews (a tad immodest, I know; I'm not generally one to toot my own horn, but let's face it, I wanna sell some records here.)

*      *      *

"More successfully than any previous compilation, Doctors... captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music." -- Keith Spera, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"... if you DO know someone who's unfortunate enough to have never heard these cuts, press this monumentally adventurous box and its attendant booklet upon them. It's never too late to learn" -- Robert Fontenot, OffBeat magazine, New Orleans

"... the best collection yet of Louisiana music." -- Scott Jordan, The Independent, Lafayette, Louisiana.

"[T]he year's single most awesome package" -- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union-Tribune

"This four-CD box set doesn't miss a Crescent City beat ... For anyone who has enjoyed the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this is Jazz Fest in a box. ***1/2" -- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"... excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated ... New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don't know what it's like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press.

"... a perfect storm when it comes to reissues. This box set is musically exciting, a complete representation of its subject matter, and just plain fun to listen." -- Charlie B. Dahan,

"... one of the best impressions of a city's musical blueprint that you're likely to ever find." -- Zeth Lundy,

"... an unacademic, uncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit." -- Jon Pareles, The New York Times

A new book featuring the best of food weblogs.

Digital Dish is the first ever compilation volume of the best writing and recipes from food weblogs, and includes essays and recipes contributed by me. Find out more and place an order!

U.S. orders:
How to donate to this site:

Your donations help keep this site going. PayPal's the best way -- just click the button below, and thanks!

You can also donate via the Honor System, if you wish (but they deduct a larger fee from your donation and I keep less).

(Also, here's a shameless link to my Amazon Wish List.)

Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

January 2007

2006:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2005:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2004:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

My Photos on Flickr
My Darlin' New Orleans...

The Flag of The City of New Orleans

Shop New Orleans! Visit the stores linked here to do your virtual online shopping in New Orleans. The city needs your money!

Greater N.O. Community Data Center
New Orleans Wiki

Gambit Weekly & The Times-Picayune
Scat Magazine
WDSU-TV (Channel 6, NBC)
WGNO-TV (Channel 26, ABC)
WNOL-TV (Channel 38, WB)
WTUL-FM (91.5, Progressive radio)
WVUE-TV (Channel 8, FOX)
WWL-TV (Channel 4, CBS)
WWNO-FM (89.9, classical, jazz, NPR)
WWOZ-FM (90.7, Best Radio Station in the Universe)
WYES-TV (Channel 12, PBS)


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

2 Millionth Weblog
A Frolic of My Own
Ashley Morris
Dispatches from Tanganyika
Home of the Groove
Humid City
Library Chronicles
Mellytawn Dreams
Metroblogging N.O.
People Get Ready
Da Po'Blog
Suspect Device Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans
World Class New Orleans
The Yat Pundit
Your Right Hand Thief
Cocktail hour.

   The Internet's most comprehensive
   and indispensible database of
   authenticated cocktail recipes,
   ingredients, reseearch and more.
   By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

Museum of the American Cocktail
   Founded by Dale DeGroff and many
   other passionate spirits in Jan. 2005.
   Celebrating a true American cultural
   icon: the American Cocktail.
   (Their weblog.)

*     *     *

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non of cocktails,
   and the quintessential New Orleans
   cocktail. Learn to make it.)

The Footloose Cocktail
   (An original by Wes;
   "Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
   "Very elegant, supremely
   sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)

The Hoskins Cocktail
   (An original by Chuck;
   "It's nothing short of a
   masterpiece." - Gary Regan)

*     *     *

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple
   we don't, just for fun.)

*     *     *

Peychaud's Bitters
   (Indispensible for Sazeracs
   and many other cocktails.
   Order them here.)

Angostura Bitters
   (The gold standard of bitters,
   fortunately available everywhere
   worldwide. Insist on it.)

Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
   (Complex and spicy orange
   bitters for your Martinis,
   Old Fashioneds and many more.
   Order them here.)

Fee Brothers' Bitters
   (Classic orange bitters,
   peach bitters and a cinnamony
   "Old Fashion" aromatic bitters.
   Skip the mint variety, though.)

*     *     *

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

The Art of Drink:
   An exploration of Spirits & Mixology.
   (Darcy O'Neil)

Beachbum Berry:
   (Jeff Berry, world-class expert
   on tropical drinks)

The Cocktail Chronicles
   (Paul Clarke's weblog)

The Cocktailian Gazette
   (The monthly newsletter of
   The Museum of the
   American Cocktail.)

A Dash of Bitters
   (Michael Dietsch)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail
   (Robert Hess, et al.)

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Drink Trader
   (Online magazine for the
   drink trade)

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)

Imbibe Magazine
   (Celebrating the world in a glass)

Jimmy's Cocktail Hour
   (Jimmy Patrick)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)
   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

Martini Republic: Drinks
   (featuring posts by Dr. Cocktail!)

The Ministry of Rum
   (Everything you always wanted to know)

The Modern Mixologist
   (Tony Abou-Ganim)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)

Spirit Journal
   (F. Paul Pacult)

Spirits Review
   (Chris Carlsson)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

The Wormwood Society
   (Dedicated to promoting accurate,
   current information about absinthe)

Let's eat!

New Orleans:
Culinary Concierge (N.O. food & wine magazine)
Mr. Lake's Non-Pompous New Orleans Food Forum
The New Orleans Menu
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie

Food-related weblogs:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Honest Cuisine
Il Forno
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu
Waiter Rant

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Chowhound (L.A.)
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
The Hungry Passport
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
Southern Food & Beverages Museum
Southern Foodways Alliance
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine
Wine Enthsiast
The Wine Spectator
Wine Today
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers

Wine/spirits shops in our 'hood:
Colorado Wine Co., Eagle Rock
Mission Liquors, Pasadena
Silverlake Wine, Silverlake
Chronicle Wine Cellar, Pasadena

Other wine/spirits shops we visit:
Beverage Warehouse, Mar Vista
Wally's Wine & Spirits, Westwood
The Wine House, West L.A.

Reading this month:

D*U*C*K, by Poppy Z. Brite.

To Marry Medusa, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Microcosmic God: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. 2, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
The Frames
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Professor Longhair
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Toasted Heretic
Uncle Tupelo

Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots

Miles of Music

New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

No Depression


Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA

Talking furniture:

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   Live MP3 audio stream

Bob Walker's New Orleans Radio Shrine
   (A rich history of N.O. radio)
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Raidió Idirlíon
   (Irish language & music)
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

In the cinema:
Babel (****)


Lookin' at da TV:

"The West Wing"
"Battlestar Galactica"
"The Sopranos"
"Six Feet Under"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
"Father Ted"
The Food Network


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project
(My pics therein: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)

My photographs at Flickr


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

Lulu Eightball,
by Emily Flake

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

by Walt Kelly

Suspect Device,
by Greg Peters

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak


Polly Ticks: (Progressive politics & news)
Daily Kos (My favorite political weblog)
Eschaton (The Mighty Atrios)
Hullaballoo (The Mighty Digby)
Media Matters for America (Debunking right-wing media lies)
Orcinus (David Neiwert)
PostSecret (Secrets sent in via postcards; astonishingly beautiful, funny and sad.)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TAPPED (The American Prospect Online)
Think Progress
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.)

Borowitz Report
(Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Fray (Your stories)
Landover Baptist (Better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (Opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (Scarily funny news/satire)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert. (Read this.) (Not the actual White House, but it should be)

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
Creek Running North
Ethel the Blog
Un Fils d'un État Rouge
Follow Me Here
Franklin Avenue
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
Martini Republic
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
Not Right About Anything
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?
Your Right Hand Thief

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
michael p.
tracy and david

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site


"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."

-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

-- George W. Bush,, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

LOOKA!Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

 "Eating, drinking and carrying on..."  -- Adelaide Brennan

  Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jeezus ...   where did January go?

No news yet.   His dad was 13 days late, so I guess it runs in the family. But that kid's gettin' born tomorrow whether he likes it or not.

Cocktail of the day.   Charles Edward Stuart, also known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie," died 219 years ago today. He was an exiled claimant to the thrones of Scotland and England, whom the Jacobite movement tried (and failed) to restore to the throne. My own particular interest in Charlie is that he supposedly created the liquer consisting of Scots whisky, honey and herbs that we now know as Drambuie, from the Scots Gaelic am dram buidheach, meaning "the drink that satisfies."

That it does, it's mighty good stuff. Although I love the flavor I tend to find straight liqueurs to be far too sweet for my taste, and what better to cut the sweetness and retain the flavor but a drink that combines Drambuie with its base, "the devil uisce beatha, guid Scots whisky?!

Rusty Nail

1-1/2 ounces blended Scotch whisky.
1/2 ounce Drambuie.
Lemon twist.

Combine with ice in a rocks glass and stir. Twist the lemon peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.

I like this with a good blended Scotch like The Famous Grouse, but given the near-infinite variations and tastes in Scotch you will, of course, use one to suit your own taste.

Lots of people seem to forget about this drink, but they shouldn't. It's wonderful.

Apparently today is also "National Brandy Alexander Day." (Where do they come up with this stuff?) Unless you wish to celebrate the myriad drag queens who have adopted this as their nom-de-drag, and if you do like sweet, creamy drinks (I don't, so much), then you might want one of these instead. Combine a jigger of brandy with one ounce each of cream and crème de cacao, shake and strain, then grate a little nutmeg on top. Sip and be faaabulous, dahling.

An alternate way to celebrate National Brandy Alexander Day might be with a batch of this ice cream for dessert instead. Have the Rusty Nail before dinner, and this after.

Brandy Alexander Ice Cream

5 egg yolks.
1 cup sugar.
2 level tablespoons flour.
1-1/2 cups whole milk.
1-1/2 cups heavy cream.
1/4 cup brandy.
1/4 cup Godiva chocolate liqueur.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and flour together until pale and thick. Place milk and cream in a double boiler and heat until very hot, stirring constantly. DO NOT BOIL. (Kinda hard to do in a double boiler, but still.) Temper the egg mixture by pouring a little of the hot milk into it while whisking constantly, then slowly add the milk and cream into egg mixture, still whisking constantly, and return the mixture to the double boiler. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour through a strainer to remove any bits of egg that might have scrambled. Stir in the booze.

Pour into a glass bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for at least three hours.

To make the ice cream, pour the chilled mixture into the frozen bowl of the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Makes about a quart.

Mmm. I think I'd much rather eat this than drink it.

*covet* ... *drool*   I want one of these so badly that I've ruined my carpet with the rivers of drool that have issued forth.


Watch the demos on the web site, but for the complete demo of how it works and looks watch Steve Jobs' MacWorld keynote address during which he introduces the device.


[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, January 26, 2007

Potato, onion and cheese omelette with French fries, pecan waffle and chocolate freeze, here I come!   The Times-Picayune tells us about Hicham Khodr, Tarek Tay and Gabriel Saliba, the new owners of the Camellia Grill, which is apparently reopening in March. Woohoo!

Ice cream, along with burgers, waffles and omelets, soon will be served again at Camellia Grill. Khodr bought the iconic diner last year and expects it to reopen by early March, promising that the beloved landmark will be just as patrons remembered it -- and better.

"Many of the staff are returning," he said. "It will still be the Camellia Grill that people expect."

"It's getting a facelift," Tay said. "But after it reopens, it will appear as if very little is different. And I don't think people will complain about having a clean bathroom."

... In addition, staffing, which has been the bane of many restaurants over the past year, has not been an overwhelming problem. "More than 90 percent of our people have returned," Tay said.

I had my last potato, onion and cheese omelette at the Camellia 17 days before Katrina. I can't wait to see if it'll taste the same.

Wanna feel old?   Here's a pre-"No Depression" clip of Uncle Tupelo from 1989, from "Critical Mass," a show on St. Louis local cable TV.

Good lord, Jay and Jeff look so young ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates.   I'm in Houston at the moment. Why? Tell y'all later. :-)

I made red beans 'n rice for tonight's dinner, yummm. The ham hocks I bought turned out to be rotten and moldy, so fortunately we had a smoked turkey leg in the fridge at my sister's -- that went in with bones and skin, and boy, did it turn out great.

Jazzfest lineup is out!!   No cubes yet, but the website now has both weekends up. More odd mainstream acts (Steely Dan? Rod Stewart?!!) , plus non-New Orleans jazz acts ("Essence Music Festival" kinda stuff, Quint says), and some interesting surprises -- Calexico and Gillian Welch to name two. No Nevilles yet, and Harry Connick Jr. is filling their usual closing spot.

There's a lot that looks good, though. The ones that really excite me this time will be in boldface.

Weekend One: April 27-29, 2007

Dr. John, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Norah Jones, Brad Paisley, Jill Scott, Irma Thomas, Ludacris, Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pharoah Sanders, Lucinda Williams, Calexico, Soulive, Rebirth Brass Band, Richie Havens, Johnny Rivers, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Banda el Recodo, Bobby Jones & the Nashville Super Choir, Gillian Welch, T-Bone Burnett, Pete Fountain, Arturo Sandoval, The New Orleans Social Club, Percy Sledge, Mose Allison, Marcia Ball, Bishop Paul Morton & the Greater St. Stephens Mass Choir, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, James Carter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Sonny Landreth, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Tab Benoit, Amanda Shaw, Davell Crawford, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews & Orleans Avenue, the subdudes, Terence Blanchard, George Porter, Jr. & Runnin' Pardners, Marva Wright, Zachary Richard avec Francis Cabrel, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Bobby Charles, Ba Cissoko of Guinea, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Lucky Peterson, Bobby Lounge, Linda Hopkins, Bonerama, Eddie Bo, Shannon McNally, Rockin' Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Henry Butler, Alexa Ray Joel, Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove, Dirty Jerdy, Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie, Pine Leaf Boys, Lafayette Rhythm Devils, Astral Project, Bob French & the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, The Crescent City Allstars feat. James Andrews, Les Amazones of Guinea, Lady Tambourine, James Rivers Movement, Charmaine Neville Band, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Leviticus Gospel Singers, Charles Jackson & the Jackson Travelers, Mari Watanabe, Andrew Hall's Society Brass Band, Leroy Jones & New Orleans' Finest, Some Like It Hot, Heritage Hall Band with Jewel Brown, Second Line til' you Drop featuring the music of Paul Barbarin, Michael Ward, Phillip Manuel, Rob Wagner Trio, Groove Academy, Ray Abshire, Bonsoir Catin, Burnside Exploration, Mem Shannon & the Membership, Rockie Charles, John Rankin, Imagination Movers, Kenny Bill Stinson & the Ark-LA-Mystics, Patrice Fisher & Arpa with guests Marcelo Cotarelli & members of the Ilhabela Big Band of Brazil, New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, VisionQuest Chorale of Dillard University, Second Nazarine Gospel Choir, Crown Seekers, Higher Dimensions of Praise, Zulu Gospel Male Ensemble, Local International Allstars, New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, Gregg Stafford & the Young Tuxedo Brass Band, Dukes of Dixieland, George French, Jean Knight & Knights' of Rhythm, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Maggie Warwick & the Louisiana Hayride Band, Jesse McBride & the Next Generation, Xavier University Jazz Band, NewBirth Brass Band, Mahogany Brass Band, Theresa Andersson Group, Bluerunners, The Bingo! Show, Robert Lowery & Virgil Thrasher, Lil Ray Neal Blues Band, Guitar Slim, Jr., Bruce Flett & the Bluebirds, Bamboula 2000, Henry Turner, Jr., Fredy Omar con su Banda, Vivaz!, Topsy Chapman, The Johnson Extension, St. Joseph the Worker Gospel Choir, Rocks of Harmony, Val & Love Alive with the Dimensions of Faith, One A-Chord, Jo "Cool" Davis, Chris Clifton, Lars Edegran & the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, Hot Club of New Orleans, Kidd Jordan, Julliard Jazz Ensemble, Hot 8 Brass Band, Happy Talk Band, Grayson Capps & the Stumpknockers, Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band, Reggie Hall & the Twilighters feat. Lady Bee, Big Al Carson, Li'l Freddie King Blues Band, Swamp-Blues Summit with Lil' Buck Sinegal and Rudy Richard, Don Rich, Judy Spellman, Panorama Jazz Band, AsheSon, Beyond Measure, McDonogh #35, Wimberly Family, Shades of Praise Choir, Lyle Henderson, Single Ladies, Nine Time Men and New Look SAPCs, Olympia Aid - YMO, Big Nine, Bon Temps Roulez and Popular Ladies SAPCs, Furious Five, Untouchables and Dumaine Gang SAPCs, Tulane Jazz Ensemble, SUBR Jazz Ensemble, NOCCA Jazz Ensemble, New Orleans Modified Drum Circle, Monsieur No of France, David & Roselyn, Mount Pilgrim & Morning Star Youth Mass Choir, Javier Juarez, Johnette Downing, The RRAAMS Drum and Dance, Basin Street Sheiks, Palmetto Puppet Theater, Black Seminoles and Carrollton Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Big Chief Peppy & the Golden Arrows, Golden Star Hunters and the Red White & Blue Mardi Gras Indians, Yellow Jackets and Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians...

Weekend Two: May 4-7, 2007

Harry Connick Jr., Steely Dan, ZZ Top, John Legend, Allen Toussaint, Counting Crows, New Edition, George Benson, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Allman Brothers Band, Better Than Ezra, Joss Stone, Stephen Marley featuring Jr. Gong, Taj Mahal, Cowboy Mouth, Branford Marsalis, Dottie Peoples, Tony Joe White, Roy Hargrove, Galactic, The Holmes Brothers, The Radiators, Chuck Leavell, Irma Thomas' Tribute to Mahalia Jackson, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Elder Baab & the Madison Bumble Bees of Winnsboro, The Dixie Cups, Anders Osborne, Nicholas Payton, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Darrell McFadden, Snooks Eaglin, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Judith Owen, John Boutté, Franz Jackson, Lil' Band o' Gold, Luther Kent & Trickbag, Bob Wilber & the Soprano Summit tribute to Kenny Davern, Martha Redbone, Papa Grows Funk, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Eric Lindell, World Saxophone Group, Danilo Perez, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Deacon John, Ivan Neville, Ellis Marsalis, Donald Harrison, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Elysian Fieldz, The Iguanas, Buckwheat Zydeco, Terrance Simien, Danza feat. Evan Christopher & Tom McDermott, Jeremy Davenport, The Jazz Jam, The Woodshed feat. Roland Guerin and James Singleton, Poncho Chavis & Boozoo's Dog Hill Stompers, D. L. Menard, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Sherman Washington & the Zion Harmonizers, Clive Wilson & the Original Camelia Jazz Band feat. Butch Thompson, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots with guest Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Germaine Bazzle, Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band feat. Thaïs Clark, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, Benjy Davis Project, Twangorama, Morning 40 Federation, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, Kevin Gordon, Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, The Revealers, Banu Gibson & New Orleans Hot Jazz, Higher Heights, Paulette Wright, Rumba Buena, Julio y Cesar Band, Wanda Rouzan & a Taste of New Orleans, John Lee & the Heralds of Christ, Coolie Family, Unstoppable Gospel Singers, Dynamic Smooth Family, Mount Hermon BC Choir, Gospel Inspirations of Boutte, June Gardner, Lionel Ferbos & the Palm Court Jazz Band, Mark Braud, Last Straws, Batiste Brothers Band, Herman Jackson, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Sharon Martin, Groovemasters, Smitty Dee's Brass Band, Creole Zydeco Farmers, Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers, Goldman Thibodeaux & the Lawtell Playboys, Willis Prudhomme & Zydeco Express, Rotary Downs, Ernie Vincent, Jumpin' Johnny Sansone, Ingrid Lucia, Henry Gray & the Cats, Beth Patterson & Kalafka, Johnny Angel & the Swingin' Demons, Leah Chase, the Plowboys, Percussion Inc., Michael Skinkus & Moyuba, Franklin Avenue BC Mass Choir, Melody Clouds, Providence BC Choir, Voices of Distinction, Treme Brass Band, New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Gov't Majik, Storyville Stompers Brass Band, Pinstripe Brass Band, J. Monque'D Blues Band, Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, Benny Grunch & the Bunch, Lil Nathan & Zydeco Big Timers, Betsy McGovern & the Poor Clares, Nouveau String Band, 007, Rick Trolsen & Gringo do Choro, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries, Greater Antioch Full Gospel Choir, Tim Laughlin, New Orleans Spiritualettes, The Golden Wings, Chris Burke, Louis Ford with guest Barbara Shorts, Maurice Brown, Tornado Brass Band, Paulin Brothers Brass Band, Lady Sequence, New Generation and Lady Rollers SAPCs, Original CTC, Lady Buckjumpers and Undefeated Divas SAPCs, Big Seven, Westbank Steppers and Prince of Wales SAPCs, The UNO Louis Armstrong Jazz Quintet, Loyola University Jazz Ensemble, Heritage School of Music, Racines, Louis "Gearshift" Youngblood, Po' Henry & Tookie, Coco Robicheaux & Spiritland, Rufus "Rip" Wimberly & the Dreamers, Fi Yi Yi Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Rhythm Section, Chops Funky 7, Wild Apaches Mardi Gras Indians, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, Curtis Pierre Samba Man, Guyland Leday, Stax Music Academy Revue with Stephen Foster, Kayla Woodson, KidsmArt Performers, Jonno & the Cajun Experience, Guinoleros UAS of Culiacan Mexico, N'Kafu African Dance Ensemble...

The usual dilemma ... too much great music, too little ability to be in three places at once.

The bitter truth continues ...   The San Francisco Chronicle looks over the growing number of available cocktail bitters, and takes a look at various Bay Area bars own housemade bitters concoctions.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, January 19, 2007

"Goodbye, my friends."   Art Buchwald goes out in style, with dignity, grace and humor. Here's his final column.

Also, don't miss the video obituary he recorded with The New York Times six months ago, to be played after his passing. "Hi! I'm Art Buchwald, and I just died!"

As Steve put it this morning, may we all face it so well ... many, many years from now.

(Pete) Fountain of Youth.   Great news! (Thanks for the tip and the headline, Steve!) By the way, in New Orleans dat's pronounced "Foun'tn o' Yoot."

Jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain says he will be back on the parade route on Mardi Gras this year after missing last year due to illness. "I can't wait, I missed the heck out of it all year long," Fountain said. "After 45 years you don't just give something up." Fountain will be making his 46th trek from Commander's Palace to the French Quarter with the 165 members of his "Half-Fast Marching Club."

Fountain, 76, had an operation Monday aimed at ending the pain he suffered from a lingering bout with shingles. He underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery in March. "It looks like it's working," Fountain said Thursday. "I was taking three pain pills a day and now I'm taking maybe one a day."

The theme of this year's march will be pirates, Fountain said.

(Do New Orleanian pirates say, "Yarrrrr!" or "Yawwwww!"? Me, I dunno ...)

"I'll do my shows on Friday and Saturday and then head over to New Orleans," said Fountain, who appears at the Hollywood Casino on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The New Orleans native lost his $1.5 million house in Bay St. Louis, as well as his gold records, memorabilia and 10 musical instruments, when Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is currently building a new one, he said.

His New Orleans home also was damaged but has been repaired.

Fountain and his wife, Beverly, just celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

Awww, ain't dat nice, dawlin'? :-) Hey, my Uncle Joe's in Pete's Half-Fast Marching Club, he'll be jazzed to hear this.

Pierre Dewey La Fontaine, Jr., I wish you health, long life, and lots of half-fast marching.

Here come the Meter men!   In the spirit of pre-Mardi Gras musical revelry, a blogger by the name of "Aquarium Drunkard" has been posting MP3s of New Orleans music, and thanks to a tip from Steve M. I refer you to the Drunkard's site and a a complete Meters show from 1977, live from the Showboat Lounge as broadcast on local radio. The Meters were at the peak of their nasty funkiness at this point, so y'all're definitely gonna wanna hear dis one.

Oh, and while we're at it, here's some footage of James Booker doing "Papa Was A Rascal" with a full band, in 1978 in France.

Yeah you rite ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Go, Hot Doug!   As if I needed another reason to think that Hot Doug's is one of the best, don't-miss places to eat in Chicago, it's this:

When the letter came from City Hall threatening punishment if he continued to serve foie gras at his Chicago restaurant, Doug Sohn framed the warning and set it beside his cash register.

And he kept serving the fattened duck liver without a care.

"We displayed it proudly," said Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's, a gourmet sausage eatery where the daily special can include smoked pheasant topped with foie gras chunks. "My customers and myself enjoy foie gras."

Doug Sohn, you rock. Let's see that fabulous dog again, shall we?

Cognac-infused Smoked Pheasant Sausage with Black Truffle Sauce Moutarde and Foie Gras

That'd be the Cognac-infused Smoked Pheasant Sausage with Black Truffle Sauce Moutarde and Foie Gras "Butter." (Oh my God ...)

More on those who believe in the freedom to eat:

Almost four months after an ordinance went into effect that forbids serving the rich delicacy, many chefs and restaurateurs are shrugging, if not thumbing their noses, at a law that has led to charges of an overly invasive City Council.

Several restaurants are so brazen, they list foie gras on their online menus.

While the city considers other ordinances to force restaurants to eliminate trans fats and disclose the nutritional information about items on its menus, it has barely pursued foie gras scofflaws.

The city has sent warning letters to nine restaurants believed to have served foie gras but issued no citations, Chicago Department of Public Health spokesman Tim Hadac said. Letters are sent after a citizen complaint and are followed by a visit after a second complaint. Visits that turn up evidence of the banished dish can result in fines from $250 to $500.

But Mayor Richard Daley is no fan of the ban. Just this week, he called it "the silliest law" the City Council has ever passed.

Civil disobedience at its finest!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Very interesting.   Barack Obama's gettin' serious about throwing his hat in.

I kinda wish he'd have a complete Senate term under his belt by the time he does this, and I'm not 100% eye-to-eye with him (well, he's taller than I am, for one), but he could be the only presidential candidate I could actually get excited about and one who could actually give us some hope, more so than any in my lifetime. (Hillary, for fuck's sake do NOT run!)

The newest New Orleanians.   Maddox, Zahara, Shiloh 'n dey're Momma 'n 'em ...

Angelina Jolie tells Us Weekly that she and Brad Pitt have moved their three children, Maddox,5, Zahara, 2, and 7-month-old Shiloh, to New Orleans.

"We love it there," Jolie told Us at the Golden Globe Awards after confirming the move. "The kids are going to go to school there. We're really looking forward to it."

On January 12, just a day after moving to [New Orleans], Jolie was already mixing with the locals at restaurant Angeli on Decatur.

Jolie, 31, plans on being a low-key mom in the $3.5 million, six-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath mansion the pair recently purchased (their fourth house) in the French Quarter.

"She's interested in befriending normal moms so she can do things with the kids," says a Jolie source.

The couple also hope to raise awareness for the region, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Says the source, "They think it is important to be there right now."

I say bravo Brangelina. They've both done some great humanitarian aid work in the city in the last year, and now their move to the city (while I'm guessing it won't necessarily be full-time) will be some wonderful, much-needed PR for a city that hasn't had much going for it lately.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, January 12, 2007

Enough.   Three thousand people marched on New Orleans City Hall and reviled the Mayor and other city officials in what Schroeder described as "the largest and most diverse demonstration of community solidarity in New Orleans history."

Will it do any good? Only time will tell.

There's lots more from Oyster; just go there and start reading.

The Madness of King George.   This president is going to go down, and apparently he plans to drag the entire country and God knows how much of the world along with him. The true terror here now seems not to be any kind of supposed al Qaeda threat, but how bad this president is going to fuck up the country and the world. Iran?! Syria?! As AmericaBlog said, "The man is categorically insane."

As always but now more than ever, you must read and watch Keith Olbermann's special commentary on the president's "disastrous" address of Wednesday night: "Only this President, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even Messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran."

Meanwhile, "Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran."

Covert war. That worked really well for Nixon. This time it'd be far worse.

You ... what?   George Bush's new Secretary of Defense, testifying Wednesday before the House Armed Services committe, said (and I quote), "I would confess I'm no expert on Iraq."

"Funny," said John at AmericaBlog, "that's not what the White House claimed just two months ago."

We're so far past outrage overload it's just ... speechlessness.

Quote of the day.   Yep, this pretty much sums it up. Might even be an understatement.

"I have to say, Madame Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out. I will resist it."

-- Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 1/11/2007.

Then he called her a liar.

No milk, please.   Well, I'll be.

Plenty of studies have suggested that tea is a boon for cardiovascular health, but new research has found that adding milk to your favorite brew negates those benefits.

The culprits in milk is a group of proteins called caseins that interact with tea, decreasing the concentration of catechin -- the flavonoids in tea that are responsible for its protective effects against heart disease, according to the study authors.

We had our tea this morning with sugar only (mine with Splenda), and it was mighty good. Even more of a kick in the pants, really -- we drink Irish tea most of the time, which is only one or two steps below crystal meth.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Enough.   If you live in New Orleans, there will be a march on City Hall beginning tomorrow at 11:30, from the foot of Canal Street near the Aquarium. As many people as possible need to turn up for this and demonstrate to the city's elected officials that they need to do their jobs.

Phở sure!   Vietnamese phở, or beef noodle soup, is becoming one of my favorite dishes, and I wish I had it more often. I sometimes whimsically refer to phở (very roughly pronounced "fuh") as "Vietnamese gumbo;" similarly, calling phở "beef noodle soup" is not unlike calling gumbo "chicken and sausage soup." It doesn't quite cut it as a description.

Phở consists of a deeply flavored beef broth, brightly seasoned with star anise, cinnamon, clove, roasted ginger and onion, sometimes cardamom and other spices; rice stick noodles; slices of rare beef, other cuts of beef, beef meatballs or even chicken; and garnishes like holy basil, mint leaves, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, sawleaf, fresh chiles and lime. Hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce are provided as accompaniments. There's sort of a procedure and ritual to eating it properly, which makes it even more fun. The first time I tried phở I learned this by watching and doing; I was the only non-Vietnamese face in the whole joint. I did fairly well, all things considered.

It's a symphonic flavor feast, it's pretty good for you, it generally comes in a huge portion, a bowl big enough to wash your hair in for five bucks, which I can never finish. (I even have trouble finished the small, 3 or 4 buck size.)

Try your hand at making the basic version yourself; you can make a huge batch of broth ahead of time and freeze it in 2-cup freezer bags for later use. I'm going to give this a try soon, and end up being able to throw a quick ở dinner together very quickly.

The aroma is intoxicating, which is why it's been said that "when Vietnamese think of phở they think of sex. 'We say that whereas rice is a spouse, phở is a lover,'" and that "Phở is life."

Cocktail of the day.   Last night we revisited a classic that we hadn't had in a while, a favorite that was part of our very pleasurable path to embrace the wonders of gin, and one that I use to help convert people who think they're gin-haters (and I believe true gin-haters are few and far between; a lot of drinkers now just fear gin as we once did, and have no idea how good it can be in the right cocktail to get them started).

This drink, which originated in the late 19th Century at the Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma, an outpost of the fading British Empire, is lovely, with a citrusy-spicy flavor that may well convert a would-be gin-hater with no trouble. The classic recipe uses only a teaspoon of lime, but a tablespoon may be used if you like a tarter cocktail. You should also have a relatively easy time talking a bartender through it (as it's unlikely that most bartenders these days will even have heard of it, although I think that's beginning to change). Good luck finding orange bitters in most bars, though.

The Pegu Club Cocktail

2 ounces London dry gin (Plymouth is our favorite, but any good one will do).
1 ounce orange Curação (substitute Cointreau or a good triple sec).
1 teaspoon to 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste.
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters, to taste. 1-2 dashes orange bitters, to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice, and shake vigorously for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This drink is prominent enough such that one of the best bars in the country was named for it.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, January 8, 2007

Plus you get to play with a blowtorch!   Chef Chris DeBarr of The Delachaise in New Orleans demystifies crème brûléee, gives you a basic recipe and a launching platform for endless variations, using different flavorings, infusions, spices, etc. Get torchin'!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, January 5, 2007

This scares me deeply.   And I don't even live in the city now. The more I read about the murder of Helen Hill in the Marigny yesterday morning, the more it makes me shake. This is just four blocks from where good friends of mine live, and where we were walking on the streets late at night just last week. This, the other murders in the last day and the shooting of the Hot 8 Brass Band's Dinerral Shavers by a 15-year-old a few days after Christmas makes me wonder with a feeling verging on despair what makes human life seem so worthless to some people in my home city.

Bart eulogizes his friend Helen, and Loki, a French Creole whose family traces back to the beginnings of New Orleans nearly 300 years ago and loves the city dearly, now wonders if he has a future there, saying It is more than a civilized human can bear."

I suggest a citywide campaign for the firing and immediate replacement of Warren Riley as police chief, and for the recall of "C. Ray? Not Lately." Nagin.

Dollar bill violates House ethics rules, days after re-election.   Boy, he's quick, ain't he? Via Oyster comes a report that Bill Jefferson, in a move that "shocked" House Democrats, abused his Congressional franking privilege to fundraise for the retirement of his campaign debt. Predictably, he's having his staff take the fall for it, having them claim they used the "wrong stationery," meaning to use campaign stationery instead of House stationery. Gee, did they accidentally drop all the envelopes into the Congressional franked envelopes too? Such horseshit.

In answer to the last question in the article, he needs to reimburse the House Franking Commission, stand before the ethics committee and have his butt thrown out of Congress. Let's hope a speedy indictment will help accomplish that.

"No spreck-a de Irish, no."   On the heels of my post a while back about the wonderful little Irish film "Yu Ming is Ainm Dom" ("My Name is Yu Ming"), here's a terrific article from The Guardian via MetaFilter: "When the EU added Irish to its list of 'working languages', most press reports cited the 2002 census in which a third of the population claimed 'an ability' to speak the first official language. Manchán Magan, a broadcaster for Irish-language [television station] TG4, decided to put those claims to the test, by travelling across the island speaking nothing but its ancestral tongue -- to shop assistants, tourist information staff, and even phone sex operators."

The article starts of in a very depressing manner, but as with the film, perks up and ends happily, and with hope. Maith na bpáistí!

UPDATE: In the comments of the MeFi post is a link to a series of Irish language lessons from BBC Northern Ireland which are wonderful. Steel yourself though, the Ulster accents are as thick as molasses (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course; I find it delightfully lilting and pleasant to listen to), and might be a bit difficult if you're not used to them. Besides, apparently Ulster Irish (as spoken in Donegal and other parts of the north) is the "trendy" dialect these days, supplanting Connemara Irish as supposedly there are more native speakers in Donegal.

Death in the Afternoon.   No, not a post about Baghdad, oddly enough, but one about drinking.

Master food scientist and writer Harold McGee writes in the New York Times about trying to clear absinthe's reputation (which is happening, I believe, despite the U.S. ban on the liquor and a flood of awful stuff from the Czech Republic) and reminds us of one of its many cocktailian applications:

Readers of Ernest Hemingway know Death in the Afternoon as a book about bullfighting. But to drinkers with a taste for obscure booze, it is also a cocktail that Hemingway contributed to a 1935 collection of celebrity recipes. His directions: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly."

When I heard about this concoction last week and wondered how Champagne bubbles would fare in the milkiness, I couldnt just go to my local liquor store and buy absinthe. I had to substitute one of the anise-flavored alcohols that took absinthes place when it was banned in France and in the United States about a century ago.

Apparently it didn't work too well for Harold with regards to the drink regaining its effervescence, but sparked an interesting discussion about how Champagne bubbles work (I'll bet you didn't know why it bubbles as it does). I wonder if something about it being Pernod and not true absinthe (although Ted Breaux and company are now making PF 1901, a "tribute" and very close reproduction of turn-of-the-20th-Century Pernod absinthe), but hey ... we've got some of Ted's Nouvelle-Orléans and a half-bottle of Veuve Cliquot in the fridge ... perhaps we'll give it a try this weekend.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, January 4, 2007

Thank God.   Finally, after twelve years, we have a Democratic Congress. And can you believe that almost immediately those whining little bastards in the Republican party start mewling about how they won't be able to get any of their legislation introduced behind the "Democratic agenda" (which actually pretty good, and pretty damn solid), and blah blah blah ... what the hell do you think you've been doing to the rest of us for the last 12, and especially 6 years? Good Christ.

And how cool is this ... a woman is now Speaker of the House of Representatives for the first time in American history, and third in line for the Presidency.

A bad way to end 2006.   The gun violence in New Orleans is getting worse and worse every day. So far it hasn't been too bad in any of the "tourist" areas (the shots fired outside a Marigny bar several weeks ago being a major exception), but awful things are happening in the neighborhoods, especially Central City, where it seems like there's a murder a day, including one this morning at 5:30am, four blocks from the home of good friends in the Marigny.

Dinneral 'Dick' Shavers, 1980-2005

The year came to a very bad close, however, with the shooting death of Dinerral Shavers, snare drummer for the Hot 8 Brass Band and a rising musical star in the city. He was part of the musical future of New Orleans, and also taught music at a local high school and started their first marching band. Turns out the killer was a 15-year-old boy who was "feuding" with Shavers' 15-year-old stepson, shot at him as the car went by (incidentally, eight blocks from the Mid-City home of other good friends of mine) and hit Shavers by mistake. Critically injured, he drove four more blocks before collapson, and his family was uninjured (physically, at least). From the article, "At the center of the feud may have been resentment for 'Uptowners,' such as Shavers' stepson, moving into territory of the 'Govs,' short for Gov. Nicholls Street, a name adapted by teens from that neighborhood." Jesus Christ.

It's bad enough having the bodies pile up because of turf wars between returning rival drug dealers in Central City, but I really don't know what's going to happen to this city if people (and kids, just fucking kids) don't stop killing each other. That it was over bullshit like this just makes it even more soul-crushingly tragic.

More on the murder rate,   what's not being done about it and how we tend to come by a lot of ineffectual politicians in New Orleans.

Oyster reports on the wonderful results of 'strategic voting:'

Our Mayor sez: "Our people also deserve to feel safe on the streets and in their homes ... the city is getting its house in order, so that our citizens can come home to a safer, smarter, stronger city."

The Times-Picayune reports: "Days after the police chief said he believed his department was bringing murders under control in New Orleans, the city logged at least five killings in 14 hours."

Nagin seems committed to retaining his Police Chief, who resists acknowledging stark reality so well I suspect the Bush Administration will soon begin recruiting him for higher office.

Back in May, "Law and Order" Couhig Conservatives decided that re-electing Nagin was the best strategy for New Orleans, rather than electing a dreaded Landrieu who promised to hold a nationwide search for a new police chief. No, you see, Mitch had funny hair, and wore makeup and was related to his father. So Couhig Conservatives decided to retain leaders who think that the current crime rate is not only acceptable, but improving.

I viewed last summer's mayoral election as instructive and analyzed it repeatedly. Yet, many told me to "get over it" and "move on". Then, six months later, many conservatives banded with other voters to "strategically" re-elect Bill "Cold Cash" Jefferson, who will soon be indicted and may not resign from Congress until he is formally convicted!!

It's amazing how, in recent elections, the allegedly pro-business Couhig Conservatives have bent over backwards looking for rationales to support "leaders" who are widely regarded as either 1) corrupt or 2) ineffective against rising crime.

And what's worse for business than Corruption and Crime? Tell me, please. What was it about Mitch Landrieu and Karen Carter that was worse for business than the re-election of Ineffective Nagin and Corrupt Jefferson? Again, I need to know.

How many Conservatives still believe that re-electing Nagin was the right choice? How's that electoral "strategery" working for ya now?

More here.

As for the push that re-elected Jefferson, add to that the comments of that blowhard jerk Harry Lee... sigh. I myself am counting the days until that bribe-taking hypocrite Jefferson is indicted.

The greatest candy bar ever?   Well, perhaps not, but it's really really feckin' good, and thanks to Steve "CandyFreak" Almond and the Mardi Gras Zone I am now a huge, gignatic, humongous, Gargantuan fan of VALOMILK.


I had never heard of these when I read about them in Steve's terrific book CandyFreak, and boy, did they sound good. They're very regional to Kansas City, though, and difficult to ship because of their fragility, so I filed the name away and wondered if I'd ever taste one.

Then, enter the Mardi Gras Zone ... I was walking in the Marigny with friends after Christmas, and they told me about some of the changes to the neighborhood. The MGZ started out life as a discount/wholesale Carnival throws warehouse, but as with many businesses after Katrina and the flood found it necessary to change their business plan. They morphed into a grocery warehouse open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with one of the most bizarrely eclectic selection of interesting and exotic items anywhere in the city. Everyday groceries, but all kinds of other stuff from dried guajillo chiles to Vietnamese coffee (and they still carry beads and throws too).

And what did I see at the far right side of their refrigerated section but a whole pile of VALOMILKs?!

I bought one and tore right into it. First off, I was surprised by the extremely high quality of the chocolate ... semisweet, silky and very chocolatey, tons better than what you find in mainstream factory candy like Hershey's. This is because, as the VALOMILK folks explain on their website, they use only the finest cocoa beans they can find, from the Ivory Coast; they grind them superfinely; they conch the chocolate for 48 hours (unheard of by the likes of Hershey) and hand-temper it besides. Then there's the filling ... semi-liquid marshmallow flavored with real Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar, which immediately begins flowing all over everywhere. The experience is best described by one of their slogans: "When it runs down your chin, you know its a VALOMILK." And when it gets all over your fingers and drips down on your new sweater (Wesly will never eat one of these while reclining again).

I love this candy bar. It's deceptively simple -- just chocolate and marshmallow -- but the quality of those two parts is so high, and the combination of flavors so wonderful and the whole textural experience of trying not to get it all over you as you try to eat it slowly to savor the flavor but engage in a fierce race with the filling that won't really wait for you to enjoy it before it starts trying to ooze onto your shirt front or pants leg.

VALOMILKs in all their oozy goodness
Photo from Flickr by
NYCnosh; permission to repost via Creative Commons license

Topping it all off is the story of the candy's origin:

We were making penny marshmallow in the 20s and 30s. Now in those days, real vanilla had a large alcohol content and candy makers were known to take a few snorts now and then. One day, a candy maker named Tommy got a little carried away with the vanilla while making marshmallow and ruined a batch. Instead of setting up after cooling, the marshmallow remained runny!

My grandfather, Harry Sifers, was always looking for new ideas for candy so they dipped scoops of the runny marshmallow into chocolate cups. It was messy but so delicious a simple taste of heaven! We began making the new candy, calling it VALOMILK DIPS and selling them for 5 cents in 1931. So the Original Sifers VALOMILK Candy Cup was invented quite by accident.

We have VALOMILKs now because of a candy maker who was drunk. I love it.

That night before I went home I stopped back into the Mardi Gras Zone and bought another dozen VALOMILKs to take home. Fortunately for y'all, you can mail-order them from a number of sources linked from their website. Me, I'm gonna run down the street and see if they have 'em at

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!   Bonne année! Athbhlian faoi mhaise dhoaibh! And all that stuff.

My Christmas visit home was lovely, the folks are doing fine, my sister is enormously pregnant, and I gained five pounds. (Big surprise on that last one.) And I'm back on WeightWatchas as of today. (Remaining daliy points post-lunch: 7.5 ... but that's because I had half a Hubig's Pie for breakfast with my tea, 'cause I brought some back and really can't let them to go waste ...)

Some food porn perhaps forthcoming.

Just when you thought we were done with Christmas ...   Ha! There are 12 days of Christmas, and this is only Number Nine (On da nint' day of Christmas, we drove down Delery ... in da Lowuh Nint' Wawd ... sigh). Will Layman of Pop Matters posits the following:

The Contention: Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas, I now posit, is the most successful recording in the history of jazz.

What? More successful than A Love Supreme? More successful than Kind of Blue or Louis Armstrong singing "Mack the Knife"?


It depends on how you define success, of course. I don't claim that A Charlie Brown Christmas is the pinnacle of jazz artistry. But there is no jazz album that is more universally known and loved in the United States.

He's right about one thing ... everyone I know loves this music, especially "Linus and Lucy". I know I do, and I have since I was a kid and saw the special for the first time when I was about four.

Why you should never ever use "non-dairy creamer" in your coffee or tea.   Because it's crap, of course, but if you're not convinced by my assertion, try to pay a little attention to what's in it.

C'mon, a splash of 2% won't kill you, and you can even get away with a tablespoon of half-and-half (i.e., half-milk, half-cream), which is only half a WeightWatchers point (20 calories, 1.75g fat, 1.1g of which is saturated). That other shit comes from a chemical company; shouldn't this part of your diet at least come from a cow? (And not from a soybean either, for me ... if you're lactose-intolerant or something that's one thing, at least it's more or less a natural product, but man, that stuff's nasty. Ah well, to each his own.)

December Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

[ Link to today's entries ]

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog, providing links, comments and sometimes lots more. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Mary Herczog, Steve Hochman, Dave Schmerler, Nettie DeAugustine, Diana Schwam, Andy Senasac, Michael Yasui, Steve Gardner, Michael Pemberton, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Eric Labow, Tom Krueger, Greg Beron, Sean Burke, Shari Minton and Barry Enderwick.
chuq's links | the gumbo pages
creole and cajun recipe page | search this site

chuck taggart | email chef (at) gumbopages (dot) com
This site ©1994-2007 by Chuck Taggart.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
This means that you may not copy my writing onto other web pages or anywhere else without my specific written permission. (Quotes of short passages, properly attributed, may be considered fair use.) If you do copy my work and pass it off as your own, it's called "stealing" and "plagiarism".

People who steal my stuff will be étoufféed and served to Dr. Lecter, with a nice Chianti. (I'm serious. Just don't do it. Thanks.)