April 2010

Quarter by Day, Treme at Night

I intended to get out to the French Quarter well before noon today but I couldn’t get myself up quite early enough for that. I finally got ready and called a cab around noon. I got a call back within five minutes which was pretty remarkable. It showed up right after mom and dad got home from church.

The driver dropped me off on Esplanade near the US Mint. The PorcheVide Playboys, a zydeco band, were playing. I stuck around for a few minutes before leaving to walk to the French Market where Linnzi Zaorski and Delta Royale were about to get started. I’ve only seen her a couple times in the past but it’s a pretty good act. She’s an indie jazz singer with this “1940’s” sound. A nice crowd was present including a good number of dancers.

I stayed for about an hour until the band took a break. I walked down Decatur Street towards Jackson Square. The acrobats that frequently perform were wrapping up a show in front of an enormous crowd. I took the opportunity to get some shots of Jackson Square, the cathedral and the crowd.

Following my stop on Decatur I walked down the riverfront to the pavilion stage where John Boutte had a set starting at 2:15. Paul Sanchez was supposed to perform with but apparently he was ill today. I’ve seen Boutte perform a few times in the past at Jazz Fest and he always puts on a lively show and today was no different, even though the drummer was absent. Sooner or later I am going to have to get down to Frenchman Street early enough to catch him at d.b.a. Incidentially, Boutte is the vocalist on the opening title theme for the new HBO series Treme. About half way throguh the set, John’s sister Lillian came on stage to sing a few numbers.

I left before the end of the set to catch the last act of the Fest at the stage in the Le Petit Theater. The US Army Brass Quintet was the closing act there. They played some traditional chamber music, some Gershwin and some oddball crowd pleasers. The band leader, Sgt. Major Dennis Edelbrock, addressed the audience sporatically about the work they do and various historic events they played at. The other trumpet player, Sgt. Major Woodrow English played “Taps” at Reagan’s funeral.

After the Army Quintet finished their set, I walked over to the “Esplnade in the Shade” stage at the US Mint where Astral Project would be playing. Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue was still playing when I arrived. I got something to eat and found a place to sit and enjoy the shrimp pasta and cake I bought.

I had plenty of time to scope out the stage before Astral Project started their set. Microphone stands are still the bane of my existance. The music was awesome as usual but I don’t think I got any great pictures. I saw Andrew and his friend not long after the set started.

I was able to stay until about 6:30 when I had to leave and catch a cab to work. I was able to snag one on the corner of Esplanade and Decatur. I worked from about 7-10 at Fox this evening, largely without incident as I recall. After I got home this evening I watched the first episode of the new HBO show Treme. It looks quite promsising. It’s certainly the most faithful depiction of New Orleans I have ever seen in film or television. They didn’t get everything right but they came much closer than anything else I have ever seen. With David Simon at the helm, I did have high expectations. I also watched the latest installment of The Pacific and culled the day’s Fest photos before bed.

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Otra at FQF

I went to the French Quarter again this afternoon for the festival. Dad had a doctor’s appointment on the west bank shortly afternoon and he agreed to give me a ride to the Algiers ferry. When I arrived on the east bank I wandered along the riverfront and made my way to the Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street where Tom McDermott was getting ready to start. It’s not a very large area and quite a crowd had gathered. I managed to snag a chair in the back but with all the people, tables, chair and umbrellas in front of me, I was in no position to take pictures. Tom put on a good set although the crowd and tight quarters were a bit of a distraction. As I was leaving a half hour or so later I took a couple snapshots at the front.

I walked down Royal Street after leaving there and stopped to watch a street performer, Bobby Maverick, who had drawn a sizable crowd to his escape act. Eventually I made my way to Dutch Alley where the Doc Houlind International Jazz Band was about to get started.

I listened to them for a few numbers and eventually made my way to the pavilion stage on the riverfront where Otra, one of my favorite local bands, was playing this afternoon at 3:30. I arrived before the set started and snagged a spot right up front. Taking decent pictures was a challenge because of my distance from the stage and the musicians being in the shade in front of a bright blue sky. The music was awesome, though. I stayed for the whole set.

Following Otra I stopped at a nearby ATM and headed to Jackson Square where Irvin Mayfield and the NOJO All Stars were playing. The music was good although the set did have the feel of a commercial for all the acts at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse of Bourbon Street. I couldn’t easily get close to the stage so I contented myself listening from a distance. Around 6:30 I left to go find a cab and get to work. I had to be at the station this evening from seven until ten… more or less.

It didn’t take long to get a cab and to the WVUE. When I arrived I changed into more suitable attire. I left some clothes there yesterday afternoon so I wouldn’t be walking around the newsroom looking like a bum. After I arrived I learned we wouldn’t be going on the air at nine as usual. A NASCAR race, the Subway Fresh Fit 600, preempted our broadcast and we didn’t go on air with our half hour newscast until about 10:30. I was finally free to go home sometime after 11. Jennifer, who anchored the news was looking for a ride home and I was going in her direction so I volunteered to share a cab.

Later that evening, I sorted through and uploaded the pictures I took earlier today although I didn’t actually get them on the website.

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French Quarter Festival 2010

Today marked the start of the 27th Annual French Quarter Festival. I usually have Fridays off anyway so I went down to the quarter with Dad who was going to the office for the afternoon. Dad dropped me off on canal Street adjacent to the quarter.

My first stop of the afternoon was Jackson Square. Banu Gibson was playing but my primary concern was getting something to eat. For a Friday, the crowd was pretty thick and didn’t feel like wading through it very long to pick something to eat. I decided on the crawfish louisa from the Court of Two Sisters restaurant booth. It was a mix of crawfish and assorted vegetables. I enjoyed it, high praise from someone who doesn’t like squash.

When I finished eating I strolled over towards the french market and the international stage in Dutch Alley. The Maryland Jazz Band of Germany was playing when I arrived. Don Vappie, one of the most recognized banjo players in New Orleans, performed with them. I stuck around after them for the Young Jazz Cats of Germany. Mr. Vappie performed with them as well.

After a few numbers, I walked out to the French Market and the traditional jazz stage where Miss Sophie Lee was playing. It’s a rather small stage with a dance floor in front and quite a crowd was gathered around. I couldn’t get very close for pictures. I only remained there for a few minutes before wandering down Bourbon Street to the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

Steve Mazakowski of Astral Project performed alongside his daughter, Sasha at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. Sasha is a vocalist with a pretty decent voice. Steve accompanied her on seven string guitar. I remained there until about three when I started heading to Jackson Square.

At 3:30 this afternoon, Lionel Ferbos and the Palm Court Jazz Band performed. At 99 years old, Mr. Ferbos is the oldest working musician in New Orleans. He sings and plays trumpet. I’ve never been to the Palm Court Café but I do see Mr. Ferbos every chance I get. The man’s still got it.

I stuck around for most of the set and then walked over to Preservation Hall where the Treme Brass Band was to perform at 4:30. Unfortunately a rather lengthy line was formed outside waiting for a chance to begin. I got in line briefly and then decided it wasn’t worth risking not getting in, especially since I plan to see them at Jazz Fest in a couple weeks. Instead I walked back to Dutch Alley and saw the Liberty Hall Stompers of England.

By five o’clock I was a bit tired and ready to head home even though the fest continued until sundown. I also heard from Andrey earlier who wanted to go out tonight after 10 and I figured a couple hours at home first would suit me well. I called Dad who was still at the office. He told to catch a streetcar up Canal Street and meet him at the office for a ride home.

The crowds on Canal Street waiting for the Streetcar were substantial. I waited for a good while as one car was just a block away with dozens of people boarding. It took quite a while for it to finally reach us and then make the other stops along side the French Quarter. Once we were past Claiborne Avenue the pace normalized. I finally made it to Canal and Carrollton shortly after six. Dad was meeting with someone when I arrived and I waited around for about a half hour before we headed home.

Later this evening, I took a cab out to the Hi Ho Lounge on St. Claude Avenue. Elliot, a familiar face, was the driver. I’ve never been there before and I was mildly surprised at the… less than stellar neighborhood I sent myself too. There wasn’t much of a crowd when I got there but that changed soon enough. Debauche, a Russian band as I can best describe it, got started around 10:30. Andrey, Patrick and David showed up not long after that. The band has a loud folk music sort of sound and sing in Russian so I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Andrey, a native Russian speaker, remarked that there was ample profanity. In keeping with the theme, free vodka shots were offered.

After their set, we stepped outside with most of the other bar patrons for some air. Patrick bought a hot tamale from a woman selling them from the back of her bike. With no loud music we were able to have an actual conversation. About 20 minutes later we went back in after the next band, the Zydepunks. The name gives you a decent idea of what they’re about. They served as a nice follow up to the previous act. I think the last time I saw them was last year’s French Quarter Festival. I can’t remember if we stayed for their whole set but we did hang around for a while.

Later after we left I suggested we go to IHOP… just because. Patrick was driving and didn’t want to bother trying to find a parking spot near Canal Street so we drove all the way to the Metairie location. None of us had enough free vodka to really warrant a trip there but it was good for the sake of variety. I ordered a couple pancakes and everyone else got different stuff. After we ate Andrey felt fine to drive so rather than take him back to his place in Metairie we all rode back uptown so he could get his car. Before calling it a night we went to the LBC but the one available pool table was missing vital components so we just decided to leave and eventually call it a night around three AM. I took a cab home from the Boot.

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My car which has been out in the street was tagged to be towed this morning. Before leaving for work, Dad jumped it and we pulled it into the driveway. I offered Andrew some money to wash it. With all the pollen falling off the trees it has gotten quite dirty lately. I am planning on just donating the car to Bridge House in the near future rather than deal with the hassle of selling it.

I had a little bit of work to do today but I was able to finish all of it and clear my desk by 1:30. I walked to Mandina’s for lunch this afternoon. I had the fried shrimp and catfish. The meal kept me full throughout the day.

The five o’clock news passed quietly for me. There wasn’t any drama with the scripts. Everything was done reasonably early. I didn’t see any appealing rest of stories to write. The nine and ten o’clock broadcasts seem to go smoothly.

Immediately following the ten, we were all able to catch the final seconds of the NCAA championship game. Baylor was inches away from a Hollywood ending with a final half court shot that bounced off the rim. Duke won what must have been a great game 61-59. That action delayed the morning sports taping a bit but it didn’t matter to me since I had a couple hours left in my shift.

Late this evening, my long streak of “quiet” nights came to an end. A cab driver was murdered off Gen. De Gaulle Drive in Algiers. This was the first time in exactly four months I have had to dispatch a photographer to a crime scene.

After I got home I watch the two hours of 24 that aired earlier this evening. Consequently I got to bed pretty late.

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I am still a week behind on the log so I will be blowing past the last seven days. This week was Tulane’s spring break so I didn’t have my usual evening obligations on Thursday night. This week was the first of my new work schedule which has me at Fox 8 on Sunday through Wednesday with cut hours on weekends. I also worked at Fox Friday night because Monica was out of town this week. I was going to cover her Wednesday shift until I was assigned to work Wednesdays indefinitely.

Work almost entirely defined the last seven days. I haven’t done much else. I didn’t do anything special with my one free evening on Thursday. For the most part my shifts at the station passed without incident. A ‘rest of’ story I wrote for the nine o’clock show on Friday aired exactly as I wrote it.

Yesterday afternoon, Mom took Andrew and myself for a portrait session to have graduation pictures taken. I am graduating from Tulane in May and Andrew will be graduating from high school. Having us both take pictures at the same time economical and time saving. Our pictures were taken by an Algiers resident named Rusty Cowart who has a very small studio in his home. I was there back in 2003 to have my high school portrait taken. The session wasn’t too bad but the air conditioner in his house wasn’t working which made the place somewhat uncomfortable, especially while wearing a cap and gown.

Before work on Sunday, I went for a walk with Mom on the river levee. I took my camera and a lens case I bought recently to try out. I bought the case for the French Quarter Festival next weekend and this gave me a chance to find the most comfortable way to wear it. I bought a Lowepro model for the “slip lock” fastener that allows me to mount it on my belt. I tried a few different placements but didn’t find anything comfortable. I will probably end up wearing the case with a big camera strap.

A while after we got home from our walk, the family had a nice dinner. Jeff was in Baton Rouge over the weekend, however. We cooked a ham and had some side dishes usually seen only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Later this evening, Dad gave me a ride to Fox 8 for seven. Like yesterday, I wasn’t around long enough to do a great deal before it was time to handle the broadcast. The news went smoothly enough. There wasn’t a great deal going on today. We led with a follow up to an abandoned hotel fire in Mid City yesterday night. NOFD needed the power cut off and the large area disconnected included the Mahalia Jackson Theater where a play was going on. The Final Play was fine until the last block. The show was mostly packages which should have made timing the show pretty easy. Somehow we were short at the start of the last block and one of the VO pages didn’t have a MOS slug and could not be played… a bit of an issue since they were baseball highlights.

After the show it took a good while to get the morning sports taping ready. I was finally able to leave at about 10:30. After I got home I talked to Krystle for a while before turning in for the night.

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