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Trying something new

Many of you have asked why I have not put out a new record.
One of the reasons is that I want to work out the choreography.

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Help Boots, the Coup, Mr. Lif.

Boots Riley of the Coup, Mr. Lif and members of both bands have escaped a terrible accident. After a show in San Diego their tour bus went over a 30 foot drop, flipped over and caught on fire.

The band crawled from the wreckage and are healing gracefully. Still, they have lost all their instruments, computers, clothes and income for the next few months while they regroup and repair. It might be a good time to dust off your checkbooks and let em know how glad you are for the wonderful music they’ve given us.

Here is a link to their myspace page where they explain everything.
The Coup and the paypal button is at the bottom of the essay on the main page.

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I first met Boots Riley many years ago when I was helping to organize the “Tell us the Truth” tour with musicians like Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Jill Sobule, Tom Morello, Mike Mills, Lester Chambers and others. The tour was organized to raise awareness about media consolidation at a time when many news outlets were refusing to cover the issue. The idea was to start at the National Conference on Media reform in Madison Wisconsin and then snake down to Miami for the big union fight against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

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Insane amount of cops in Miami for FTAA protest

On the way the artists would collaborate, perform, host press conferences, meet media groups and do a lot of press to raise the alarm.

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Boots with Al Franken at the National Conference

Boots contacted me because he supported the issue so strongly. I was worried there wasn’t room on the bus for him. He said he would sleep on the bench; he would sleep on the floor. I told him to meet us in Madison. From the first second that he began to rap over the incongruous but wonderful acoustic guitar backdrop of Tom Morello’s Night watchman persona, the audience went crazy.

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They ran from their staid seats where they had patiently listened to Bill Moyers and other brilliant (but not rocking) speakers and they danced. This was tremendously powerful and we knew we couldn’t possibly continue the tour without Boots.
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Boots raps with Lester Chambers on “Time Has Come Today”

Boots has the incredibly unique ability to be funky, funny and powerfully political all at the same time.

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His most recent record “Pick a Bigger Weapon” was my favorite album from the past year.
Soulsides writes quite eloquently about The Coup here.

But Boots is not just talented, he’s tremendously generous! This man has played as many benefits as he has paying gigs.

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Just last month Boots joined me and a handful of other musicians in New Orleans. We went there to meet musicians who had lost everything in Rita and Katrina, to get a sense for ourselves of what was going on in that city we loved. We met Craig Klein of the Aribe Wrecking Crew (musicians who dig out other musicians homes); we met the folks at the Musicians Clinic, Music Cares, and The Mother in Law Lounge. We organized a show at Tips and we made personal commitments to raise money to help some of the fine people we met there get back into their homes. I’ve been meaning to write a post about that life-changing experience but life always seems to get in the way of posting.

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Hand it to Boots to kick my ass (AGAIN) because, as you can see…I’m posting for the first time in six months.

Boots needs our help.
I’m writing him a check today.
Here’s the link to his paypal again.
The Coup and the paypal button is at the bottom of the essay on the main page.
if you love The Coup, like I do…you’ll do what you need to do.

xjtoomey


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New Orleans

Brian had never seen New Orleans.
I’d been desperate to get there after Katrina to see the city for myself… but it never seemed the right time.
Finally I decided to surprise Brian for his birthday. We crammed it all into a short day and a half weekend. Nowhere near enough time.

I picked him up from the airport from his two-hour late flight and we went to the Rock-n-Bowl to see the Blue Runners. http://www.bluerunners.com/home.html

We got our bowling pin shaped beers and settled in to the slidy plastic circular booth next to a family who had more fun lobbing the ball to the middle of the lane and shaking the foundation than they did knocking down pins. It was certainly entertaining to watch…The bowling balls already (and seemingly always have) had huge chunks gouged out of them, which has always added an increased element of randomness and inaccuracy to the game.

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I took this photo as we were driving away. Those of you who have been to Rock-N-Bowl will remember that the lanes are up a steep staircase on the second floor. Everything else in this strip was flooded out…including the awesome thrift store that was next door. The entire lot was surrounded by a high chain fence.

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The hallway still had it’s odd photos and knick knacks…like for example…

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these now holy shoes still watch over us.

The city feels empty…driving back to the hotel in the French Quarter it seemed no one was on the road.

The next morning Brian and walked for beignets at Cafe DuMond.

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Brian ate his before I could photograph them.

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The heat and the stink outside the cafe were unbelievable, but not uncommon. This is nothing new. For decades the pigeons have landed on these tables to march their sticky mangled talons in the plates of powdered sugar. I didn’t photograph them for some reason.

I actually didn’t photograph much.
It felt parasitic to capture or memorialize the devastation of another city that was not my city, even though it was a city I loved.
IS a city I love.

I made two exceptions.

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Mandinas, where I’d had so many lovely, friendly, delicious meals. The last one before Calexico as an extension of my band played at the Tape Op festival. We had the trout almandine, which tasted like fishy candy. Now there is just this dirty brown line from where the floodwater stood.

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They Shall Return.
A friend told me the owners had opened a restaurant in Baton Rouge that had taken off; so many local New Orlineans had shifted over to that town.

If you look down that backside street to the left of the restaurant every house for blocks were flooded. No one seems to be repairing anything here.

There is a very strong and constant urge when driving around to have been there in the chaos, to see what it looked like when the waters rose. I found myself closing my eyes and trying to imagine it all weekend long.

One thing that helped was a little book called One Dead in the Attic. It’s a compilation of the Times Picayune columns of Chris Rose a Pulitzer prize winning journalist who sat out the flood. The book is furious, and human, very sad, and tremendously funny. I’d recommend it to anyone. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0977771504/sr=8-1/qid=1153413873/ref=pd_bbs_1/102-0869085-6129700?ie=UTF8

The proceeds from the book go to the New Orleans Musicians Clinic so it’s a good cause.

You can also read a lot of the columns here on the web for free.
http://www.nola.com/rose/

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Finally, this breaks my heart.
Angelo Brocato was the best ice cream parlor I’ve ever visited.
When my family would go to Jazz Fest each year we would regularly stop in more than once a day for the frigid air-conditioning, the cool marble tables and the best ice cream in the world. They had three different kinds of pistachio and their spimoni sent you to a childhood coma.

Now I can barely tell which storefront is theirs

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Good news from the website is that it’s coming back.
http://www.angelobrocatoicecream.com/store.shtm

We had a great sit down meal with Steve and Grasshopper at Brennan’s.
I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture; they were dressed to the nines. The Bananas Foster was delicious.

And then…
We left.

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Brian had his first ever muffaletta on the plane ride home.

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Once we were in the clouds we could see the FEMA trailers on every lawn for miles. I’m coming back as soon as I can and in the mean time I’m going to listen to Harry Shearer on Le Show.
http://www.harryshearer.com/leshow/
He knows what’s going on.


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What I like about San Francisco

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This could be your ride to work.

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This could be your favorite meal.

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(10 scoops of ice cream for about 6 bucks including cantalope, chocolate, hazelnut, pistacio, coconut, guava and others I will now only remember in my dreams.)

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This could be your generous friend who showed you around.

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Afterwards you can visit the entire Punk Planet Fanzine Archive at the Prelinger Archive.

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(This place smells exactly like my favorite library.)

If you can’t go there in person (which I recommend you try to do) you can watch some of their films on line.
http://www.archive.org/details/prelinger

Later you can soak for hours in Japanese baths…but you can’t take pictures of all the naked ladies so…

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instead you take pictures of the photo booth in the same mall as the baths.

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Funny.

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Best of all…you can walk into a coffee shop looking like this and feel right at home.

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Power to the People of SF.


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SF

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Hitched

For the sake of the dogs…Brian and I are getting hitched.

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The dogs are very, very pleased.
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As you can see.

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Rome, Italy

This is my exhausted but thoughtful look.
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Eggy Pizza

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My mother once ordered a pizza in Italy by nodding her head at everything the Italian waiter suggested. My mother does not speak Italian. Her pizza arrived with everything plus a fried egg. When I was in Italy last month I had the opportunity to taste the mythic egg-pizza. It was quite good. We probably shouldn’t have been making fun of her for the past 25 years.

Maria, my webmistress suggested I learn to add links so here is a receipie for an eggy pizza > yum


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Jumbo Pope

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At St Peter’s in Rome the pope is so far away in his little window that they have big pope-o-vision screens to see what his holiness is doing. It seemed like a religious sporting event.

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