15 Books

Dear Dissertation: I promise I am getting back to it after this quick lunch break.

Facebook note!
What 15 books will stay with you forever?

Here are the rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. They don’t have to be the greatest books you’ve ever read, just the ones that stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Copy these instructions and tag 15 ( or more) friends, including me – because I’m interested in seeing what books are in your head.

1. The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison)
2. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
3. Birth as an American Rite of Passage (Robbie Davis-Floyd)
4. Native Son (Richard Wright)
5. Killing the Black Body (Dorothy Roberts)
6. Death Without Weeping (Nancy Scheper-Hughes)
7. Fast Food Nation (Eric Schlosser)
8. Betrayal of Trust (Laurie Garrett)
9. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
10. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
11. The Woman and the Body (Emily Martin)
12. The Lorax (Dr. Seuss)
13. D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths (Eric and Ingrid D’aulaire)
14. Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
15. Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling)



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My first ever night at Tip’s

Did that belly dancing class make us uppity?  First we’re umming, then we’re all blinging out, and before you know it, we’re having drinks and splitting burritos at young co-ed haunts on Saturday nights.

Oh, and then?  We’re going out for live music and dancing.

This is Katie Herzig.  If you’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy, you’ve heard her — she’s wonderfully talented, plucking out those mellow chords and lyrical phrases. Here’s the song you’re likely to have heard (a-la Grey’s):


She was a Lagniappe, the unexpected opening act.  I truly had no idea that the headlining act wouldn’t START until 11pm.

We chugged huge vats of iced coffee before the show, just in case.

I know I’ve gone on and on about the Photovoice project cameras.  And while I’m not saying that my recommendations are powerful enough to produce dramatic market changes, I do find it incredibly suspicious that these cameras (which we bought for the project at $109 a piece — on sale marked down from $139) are now $300 on Amazon.  (Office Depot is selling them in the $130s.)

At first, I played around with the ISO (this is the 800 setting) and then with the shutter priority mode.

All this trouble was completely justified.  It was for the Indigo Girls, after all.

I didn’t realize it, but Emily (the musician on the right) went to Tulane!  She gave a big heartfelt shout-out to Tip’s, mentioning her own first music experiences in the venue.   Both she and Amy took every opportunity to remind the crowd of the groups they were there to support.

The venue, Tipitina‘s, sits on the corner of an Uptown neighborhood street, near the railroad and docks.  Once upon a time it was a neighborhood bar and juke joint.  It’s been home to many (if not most) of New Orleans’ beloved musicians — but the club is dedicated to Henry Roeland Byrd, (a.k.a. Professor Longhair), one of the most revered rhythm and blues musicians in the legacy of New Orleans music.

Tipitina’s holds a wide range of community activities and runs a Foundation that brings instruments to local kids.  They sponsor events where musicians mentor students, including training in musician business skills and industry internships.  They hold events that raise money for organizations dedicated to preserving the unique heritage and traditions of our city.  The concert was part of an “activism night” for Tipitina’s and local organizations that the Indigo Girls support.

(Also?  The camera does video…!)

Untitled from Cold Spaghetti on Vimeo.

It was my first night inside Tip’s.  The two story space is like a big barn — U shaped second floor with open center and big dance floor below.  It has that special mix of history and intimacy one expects in New Orleans; you feel the energy of the evening on the back of the energy from the day before.  It feels familiar and exciting all at the same time.

Here is a recording of the full song in the clip above:

Indigo Girls – Land Of Canaan (Official Music Video)Click here for another funny movie.

The concert was fantastic.

I was thrilled they played Land of Canaan AND Watershed, neither of which I think I’ve heard them play live before.

They played quite a bit from their new album, which is fantastic — it goes back to the sounds of some of their older music.

Actually, they played nonstop for 2 hours… from 11 until 1am.

One of the fundraising activities for the night was the opportunity to sing “Closer to Fine” on stage with them… and get a recording of it… to the highest bidder.

It went for $9,000.

I know. WOW.

And of course someone in our group knew the winner.  I hear she’s an OB-GYN?  She actually bid with a group of friends, so all four were on the stage, but she sang the second verse all by herself.

They played a couple of encores… the last one was Galileo.  Bonerama was hanging around, so they joined the Girls on the stage.  I’m not sure if the members of Bonerama had ever really heard the song before?  But whatever.  Everyone was singing so loudly I’m not sure if mattered.  You decide:

Indigo Girls and Bonerama from Cold Spaghetti on Vimeo.

Either way, it was a way cool concert and an awesome New Orleans’ night!

Thanks, Chrissie, for getting the tickets and EVERYONE for making it great!


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Junk Food.

In a weak moment, one where I was simultaneously suffering from poor judgment, I picked up the first Twilight novel.

I figured, 8 billion teenagers couldn’t be wrong? Right?

Then, because I didn’t think it could get any worse, I picked up the second novel during the long layover in Chicago. Because I hate myself, I finished it last night.

And then I got smart.

My friends on the internets helped me find detailed plot summaries for the next two books so that I could regain both my life and my dignity. (And yet still be able to hold a conversation with a preteen.)

As for the books? Addictive, sure. But eww.

EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW. As in, “Flowers in the Attic” has nothing on you, Twilight! EWWWW.



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Bertha and her pies.

A few weeks ago, I wrote on facebook about walking out my door one morning to find a robe-and-slippers-clad gentleman on the porch a few doors down, typing away on a manual typewriter, coffee at his side.  The day after writing the update, I saw him again.  This time, however, I was not in a hurry.  This time I went back inside, made him some Cool Brew, and walked over.

Michael and I fell into quick conversation for over an hour.  He’s from Chicago, where he works in a bakery that doubles as a skills building and work training program.  He is also a performance artist whose alter, Bertha Mason, makes pies.

We talked about many things, but pies were a central theme.  At one point, he HAD to get the pies he’d made the day before.  Because what is better than pie for breakfast?

I insisted his hosts get first dibs, but later that afternoon, our neighbors brought over a plate stacked high with pie slices.  The kids loved the brownie pie (Will especially).  I loved Michael, his enthusiasm for New Orleans and love of people.  It’s very clear within moments of meeting him that his love of baking came out of his love of connecting to people — he was endearing and friendly and fun.

Meeting him, with his typewriter and pajamas, made for a perfect New Orleans morning.

Bertha is online and if you are in the Chicago area, you could go out and say hello — and eat some pie.  While the Jesus, Music, and Cookies Sunday event is tempting, I would totally go for the Black and Blue Berry Buckle Party at the International Leather Community.


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Okay. NOW that Fest.

Paul and I have limited Jazz Fest experience, all of which has so far been tremendously excellent.

So why would we want to bring the kids and ruin a perfectly good record?

At least, this is what we thought.

But last Saturday, the first weekend of this year’s Fest, we couldn’t help but want to have the kids there.  The Imagination Movers were the first act up on the Acura Stage and a huge masse of their friends (read: our friends) were going to be there, too. 

We sucked it up and shelled out the extra $5 to bring them.

Thank goodness. It was awesome.

The awesomeness was not in small part to our incredible friends. No really, these people can do all sorts of mind-boggling things like have crew passes so that they can sneak in boxes of juice drinks and get in birthday cakes with their booth exhibition materials and simply just be so cool that they know all the local celebrities and yet aren’t embarrassed by us when we show up with our flies down. Because we are just that kind of classy.

We hung out before the gates opened with friends who live right outside the race tracks.  (Yet another example of cool.) Fate took over and somehow we all met at the stage perfectly, a huge hodge-podge of families and friends taking over with strollers. We wore the kids on our shoulders and danced around as if none of us had ever experienced back problems. (Probably because we managed to send someone out for frozen cafe au lait and rosemint tea before the music started).

We love Imagination Movers.

Message to parents who are suffering from a household full of The Wiggles or Ralph (or, heavens to Betsy, Barney!)… CHECK OUT THE IMAGINATION MOVERS.  You will thank me.

We hung out with an Imagination Mover spouse.  (A friend of our friend Kathryn, whose husband was the original “Warehouse Mouse” in early videos and who now does crew stuff for the band… the Movers gave a shout out birthday wish to her son during the performance… see what I mean about the coolness?) Years ago, Kathryn introduced me to her at a music performance at Tulane (a girls’ night from long, long ago).  Can you guess which Mover she’s married to?

I love people who understand the importance of accessories.

But I’m not giving anything away.

Nina, one of the cast members on their Playhouse Disney TV show, came by to say “hi.”

(I know.  I didn’t realize we were that cool, either.)

The kids loved it.  Despite the strong morning sun, Kate played a rattle and dutifully performed all moves as instructed.  Us parents had a few head scratching moments when they busted into “She Sells Sanctuary.” (Um… did they just play “The Cult?”)  And we all sang along to “In a Big Country,” their finale.

But Jazz Fest is about so much more than music.  The food.  Oh… the food.

Kate clearly understands that one should not delve into snowballs until so much mango freeze has been ingested that the skin starts to turn orange.

Her Jazz Fest food of choice was cochon du lait po’boy.  With the spicy coleslaw.  As if there would be any other.  (I promise I will get food pictures next time.)

We visited our friend Mark’s booth.

Mark made the tiles in our bathroom.  Each are handmade and exquiste in detail.

We spent the majority of the day in the kids’ area, meeting up with other families and taking turns watching kids to go on food runs and bathroom trips.  There is a children’s music tent and a variety of activity and craft tents — staffed by the nicest, warmest people.  The kids decorated fabric squares…

…and added them to the children’s Jazz Fest quilt.

We chilled in the kids’ tent for a few hours during the heat of the day (even spread out a blanket to lay down for a bit), and saw a variety of performances (puppets, drum band from Malawi, kids’ high school dance group).  Then, a washboard performer came up and got the kids involved.  Will not only got a washboard, but was deemed “Earl of Crawfish” (or something) for the story.

He was so into the washboard that he almost missed the second line going around the tent.

After the big dance around the room, the story kept going.  Kate is up posing with Will.  She played the tin can and then traded for a parasol for the parade.

Both kids passed out on the way to James Taylor.

Our friend Georgia graciously invited us to crash in their lawn space to listen to JT.  I was too antsy to sit (back was tired and sore) — even to one of my favorite vocalists.  So we took in a few songs and moved on.

In moving on, we caught part of Erykah Badu (sans Elmo) and Wilco.  We headed out about a half-hour before the official end of Jazz Fest and had no problems with traffic or crowds… successfully spending the entire day at Jazz Fest with the kids.  Wow.

But next time, we’re totally going solo.

Family Life in NOLA

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Panorama Jazz Band at FQF

Panorama Jazz Band performing on Royal Street, French Quarter Fest.

Art & Photography
Family Life in NOLA

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What would Top Chef do?

Top Chef was at the Farmer’s Market today.  It’s spring break for the kids, so they were there, too… which is why Paul and I weren’t able to stick around for the show and tasting.

I met Paul and the kids there (I came late from French class), where Paul filled me in that there was to be strictly no video recording and that Radhika had been in a scooter accident yesterday and given herself terrible black eyes.  She told the crowd “always wear a helmet,” which, as a ‘learn from me example’ means she must have been really lucky.

In addition to the chefs, there were games.

But, at least while we were there, it was all about the food.  I loved the big mirror reflecting the cooking area.

Richard was talking about halibut.  That’s all I remember.

These blender bikes were pretty cool, too.

We brought home broccoli…

Carrots… (notice his face? I couldn’t get him to smile, until I asked him to talk about toilets…)

…and now he’s smiling.

And Cauliflower.

Here’s the question: what would you make??  All veggies together?  Roasted Cauliflower?  Broccoli cheese soup?  A casserole?

Ideas and suggestions welcome!!

Family Life in NOLA
Mi Familia

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I think this is the beginning of a beautiful weekend

If Rick Blaine had lived in New Orleans and not Casablanca, he would have had the opportunity to say this a lot.

Last night we enjoyed the Pfister Sisters at “The Big Top,” an art gallery/funky space/music hall/non-profit arts education center. They have “Friday Night Music Camp” from 5-7 with live music and art projects for kids. Our Music Together class met there last night. Will made a hip little glue-paper-cutout design on origami paper and everyone got their groove on to the swing-back songs. (Note: that little boy is not Will, but he was pretty darn cute staring up at the stage!)

Early this morning, we followed up the previous night with another art project: foam stickers. Will *loved* them.

Then we had our last summer session of Music Together. Paul joined us early on, which is great because it allows us each to take a kid. About halfway through the class (once Will got really crazy) Paul left to finish a project for Abeona House in the next room. After class we hung around to speak to Renee (the music instructor, an Abeona teacher and our friend), nurse Kate, change a poop, and catch-up with some Abeona events.

An example of how living is New Orleans is not all beads and cake: Paul’s project was to add rails to a changing table to “bring it up to code.” The table was a donation from another, very well established and respected preschool, the Newman School. It had been used there for many years. But because that School has been around for awhile (and has a history of serving the “society” generations), they are somewhat extempt from all the bullshit Abeona has had to deal with. To show the ridiculous level of the “code” — this particular changing table is actually deeper than the other with-bar changing tables in the House, yet the inspector refused to let us open without adding bars to the table or removing it. Rather than throw it out, Paul volunteered to put his woodworking skills to it, using scrap wood we had in the back. Hopefully, Paul will blog soon about some of the other hoops Abeona has had to jump through; he can tell the stories better than me. Seriously: New Orleans is an AWESOME place to live. If it weren’t a completely unique, amazing experience, no one would put up with the crap we have to deal with to live here.

I digress. After class, as is our tradition, we headed down a few blocks to Oak Street Cafe. Friendly staff who know us, eat up our kids, and serve great food. Plus the NOLA charm of live piano, blue plate specials, local coffee, and neighborhood style — we love it.

Paul is juggling in the park with the NOLA juggling club and the kids are napping as I write this. I’m not sure what this afternoon holds, but we’re off to a great start!

Life in New Orleans

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