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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge Blues Fest 2014: Old Louisiana State Capitol

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Holy moly, the Old Louisiana State Capitol is a show stopper!

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I've been in three or ten state capitols - all with the requisite rotunda topper - and the Old Louisiana State Capitol is like a big ol' wedding cake.

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For the Baton Rouge Blues Fest, the building is home to documentary movies and live interviews with the festival performers. It also offers an intimate space for small ensembles, such as the Fugitive Poets, they of the cool, Mesilla-esque t-shirts. Alas, the acoustics weren't terribly good.  Go listen to them here.

Fugitive Poets, Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge Blues Fest 2014

So what does the current state capitol look like?

Current Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Credit: wikipedia.

To be honest, I wanted to smirk at the looks of the new capitol over the old, but ... I kind of like it. It makes me think of the World War I Museum in Kansas City.

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge Blues Fest 2014: Jimmy Dotson

Jimmy Dotson. Credit: Gulf Coast Entertainment.

One of the coolest things about southern Louisiana is how accessible the musicians are. Well, not just musicians - all of the artists. (No, I'm not gonna say "creatives.")

Jimmy Dotson plays an impromptu song below:

So at the Baton Rouge Blues Fest last weekend, was it richly cool to wander into a large room at what used to be the state capitol and be able to sit in on an interview with Jimmy Dotson, one of the august performers?

It sure was.

In fact, the Blues Fest impresses me with its multi-dimensional presentation. You can listen to big sound on large stages, big sound on smaller stages, watch documentaries about southern Louisiana's blues artists, enjoy quieter sound in small spaces, and be an audience at interviews with the performers.

Mr. Dotson has cut a new album - doesn't seem to be ready for release yet. 'til then, here's an old song.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rootlessness and Death Review

Today I received a reminder from the Social Security Administration to take a look at my future as it pertains to prospective Social Security benefits. I did take a look and I got some good info there about what to expect in my financial future.

Coincidentally, I noted that today some readers had looked at a post I did on Rootlessness and Death in January 2013.

It's still timely, so I'll re-post it here:

Cemetery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A recent article in the New York Times reminded me I need to take care of some business.

Getting your shit together 

The article is A Shocking Death, A Financial Lesson, and Help for Others, which introduced readers to the article subject's website: Get Your Shit Together. As in, start getting your affairs in order now so you or your loved ones don't have a mess to deal with later.  The information that the author, Chanel Reynolds, shares is very basic, but it is a good starting point.    

Cemetery, Istanbul

That includes your online life ... and death

Back here, I mentioned some vendors that keep all of your passwords (and access to online "assets" in general) in one place and pairs that with instructions from you to share the passwords with designated beneficiaries upon your death or incapacitation.  That is a service I want, but have I followed up on this? No, I have not.

Cemetery, Mtatsminda, Tbilisi, Georgia

The Digital Beyond is "... a blog about your digital existence and what happens to it after your death. We’re the go-to source for archival, cultural, legal and technical insights to help you predict and plan for the future of your online content." This site lists and compares "digital death and afterlife online services" here.

What I do have in place ... 

Advance directive - appropriately signed and notarized, with originals distributed to appropriate people. (The link goes to a place where you can download your state's advance directive forms.) Done.

All of my financial accounts have designated beneficiaries. When I say designated, that doesn't mean I wrote a list of my accounts and entered a name beside each entry on a piece of paper and that was the end of it. No, it means the financial institutions have this information and will automatically transfer ownership of said funds to the designated beneficiary upon proof of my death. You don't need a will to make this happen and, in fact, if you do have a will, the designated beneficiaries on your financial accounts will supersede any conflicting direction you may have in your will. (You know that nightmare situation where a guy made his 2nd wife the beneficiary of everything in his will, but he didn't take his 1st wife's name off of the financial accounts as beneficiary? You got it - the 1st wife wins the jackpot.) Done.

Cemetery, Missouri

 What I don't have ... because I don't need it

Life insurance. I have no mate, minor children, business partnerships, or debt. I have enough money to pay the expenses related to the disposition of my remains.  I don't feel the need to create a legacy via life insurance. So I don't need life insurance.

Cemetery, Armenia

The will

Alllaw has a nice list of DIY resources on wills. For my simple situation, I felt comfortable copying and adapting the Basic Will Form at the bottom of the Alllaw's page. Here's another guide to get someone started on doing up a will - with or without help.

I don't have this in the Done section yet because I'm just now completing it.

I'm not entirely convinced one is necessary for me, but it's easy to make a will (for someone, like me, with an uncomplicated asset-and-beneficiary life), plus having one will remove even the slightest hesitation about who's in charge of taking care of my stuff when I'm gone. I mean, I don't have much stuff (like that printer I just bought), but I do have some. And somebody's going to have to deal with it.

Cemetery, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Louisiana: Zydeco Accoutrement

Zydeco Joe. Credit: Cascade Zydeco.

At the Hot Sauce Festival in New Iberia this past weekend, I observed these zydeco accoutrement:


  • Accordion fans, used by men and women
  • Change of clothes for when the dancers sweat through the first set
  • Terry towel for wiping the dance sweat from one's brow, usually worn in the back pocket of the dancer's jeans

Zydeco is hot work. New Iberia Hot Sauce Festival, April 2014.

  • Men often wore a cowboy hat, as did some women
  • A common shirt is of the torn-off sleeves variety or a Western shirt, long sleeves intact
  • Jeans, naturally
  • Nice belt buckle

And I know you're wondering: "Is zydeco attire sexy?"

The answer is, "Yes. Yes, it is."

Said sexiness is ageless, too, as evidenced in this video from a past Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Louisiana: Angola and ...

Angola prisoners. Credit: Angola Museum

Angola is the Louisiana State Prison.

Like a few other American prisons - such as Alcatraz, Folsom, Attica, Rikers - its infamy also elicits a perverse ... awe? reverence? pride? I don't know, but whatever it is, it says something uncomfortable about humans. 

Dave Robicheaux on Angola

(See references to fictional homicide detective, Dave Robicheaux here, here, here, here, and here.)

From Jolie's Bounce (2002): 
It is difficult to describe in a convincing way the kind of place Angola was in the Louisiana of my youth, primarily because no society wishes to believe itself capable of the kinds of abuse that occur when we allow our worst members, usually psychopaths themselves, to have sway over the powerless.

For the inmates on the Red Hat gang, which was assigned to the levee along the river, it was double time and hit-it-and-git-it from sunrise to sunset, or what the guards called "cain't-see to cain't-see." The guards on the Red Hat gang arbitrarily shot and killed and buried troublesome convicts without missing a beat in the work schedule. The bones of those inmates still rest, unmarked, under the buttercups and the long green roll of the Mississippi levee.

The sweatboxes were iron cauldrons of human pain set in concrete on Camp A, where Leadbelly, Robert Pete Williams, Hogman Matthew Maxey, and Guitar Welch did their time. Convicts who passed out on work details were stretched on anthills. Trusty guards, mounted on horseback and armed with chopped-down double-barreled shotguns, had to serve the time of any inmate they let escape. There was a high attrition rate among convicts who tried to run.
(links added)

'course, when I thnk of Angola, I think of the old state prison in New Mexico, site of the massacre at the 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary Revolt.

And of the growing unsettledness about solitary confinement of our prisoners.

Which brings me to this March 2014 article in The Guardian:  Why Do We Let 80,00 Americans Suffer a 'Slow-Motion Torture of Burying Alive'? The article compares the experience of Sarah Shroud, who spent 13 months in solitary confinement in Iran, with that of American prisoners who face similar conditions for the indefinite future.

You can read more about solitary confinement here

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Louisiana: "Holy Week Crawfish Supply Should Satisfy Demand"

Crawfish Etouffee, Crawfish Etouffee Cook-Off, Eunice, Louisiana

Here's a newspaper headline you don't see in most parts: Holy Week Crawfish Supply Should Satisfy Demand
Excerpted from The Daily Advertiser: LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Louisiana crawfishermen and the merchants who sell the crustacean to retail customers say the supply should be enough to satisfy appetites during Holy Week and Easter weekend.

It's a welcome turn to a season marred by a harsh winter that stunted crawfish growth, limited the catch and made profit forecasts bleak.

In the days leading into Holy Week, prices for a pound of live crawfish ran from $2 at Db Seafood in Morgan City to $2.49 at Tony's Seafood Market and Deli in Baton Rouge.

The price was somewhere in between at D&T Seafood in Abbeville, where live, small-sized crawfish sold for $1.50 a pound and the mediums went for $2.25.

"We're going to have a decent supply" for Easter week, said D&T owner Don Benoit. ..... 

This reminds me of some other Lenten food stories. 


Georgia: Snails (Part 1)
Georgia: Snails (Part 2)

Snail, Gori, Caucasus Georgia


On my first trip to Alamogordo, while on a road trip with my mother, we learned about capybara and Lent.

Capybara, Alamogordo Zoo, New Mexico