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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Louisiana Movies: J'ai E`te` au Bal

Cleoma Breaux and Joe Falcon, Cajun performers. Source: Old Weird America

There aren't many documentaries as entertaining as this one. You want to smile for an hour and a half, this is the movie for you.

It's "J'ai Ete au Bal" - I Went to the Dance, filmed by Les Blank, with important contributions by Ann Savoy, Michael Doucet, and Barry Ancelet.

The movie in its entirety here: 

The documentary runs through the history of the cajun/creole and zydeco music in southern Louisiana.

Armédé Ardoin, creole/cajun musician, Credit: Wikipedia

Filmed in 1989, the movie's got the good stories straight from the mouths of cajun, creole, and zydeco royalty. The classic songs all seem to be here. Lots of dancing, humor.

Although this video isn't from the documentary, it tells the same story of the much-loved The Back Door, written and originally performed by DL Menard:

I liked how the film showed the evolution of particular songs, as their arrangements evolved with the change of instruments and musical styles.

For example, here's the 1928 version of Allons a Lafayette (Let's go to Lafayette [to change your name]), by husband and wife Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux (which was based on an older traditional song):

The lyrics in English:

Let's go to Lafayette to change your name.
We will call you Mrs. Mischievous Comeaux.
Honey, you're too pretty to act like a tramp.
How do you think I am going to manage without you?
Look at what you done, pretty heart.
We are so far apart and that is pitiful.
Honey, you're too pretty to act like a tramp.
How do you think I am going to manage without you?
Look at what you done, pretty heart.
We are so far apart and that is pitiful.

Here's a zydeco version of the same song decades later, by Boozoo Chavis:

And here's Wayne Toups (after a bit of a loopy intro) doing the same song in the late 1980s in "zydecajun" style:

Maybe I'll watch this documentary again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cajun Pop Art: Tony Bernard

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

I like regional pop art, and southern Louisiana does it up good. The Swamp Pop art and concept is an excellent example of such art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the New Iberia's Cajun Hot Sauce Festival (not to be confused with the Louisiana Hot Sauce Festival), and encountered Tony Bernard's work, as presented by Cajun Frame Art.

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

I like the habitat and symbology that Mr. Bernard tucks into his work.

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 


Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana: Cajun Jam: Joie de Vivre

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

There is a cajun jam every Saturday mid-day-ish at the Joie de Vivre "coffee and culture" shop in Breaux Bridge.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Note the courir de Mardi Gras mask.

The colors in the shop are ripe and juicy, perfect for all of the visitors who come armed with our cameras.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

It is easy to close your eyes, tap your toes, and let the music wash over you.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

When I visited this past weekend, there were fiddles, guitars, accordions, a banjo, a double bass, some small bongos, a triangle, and a deep-voiced washtub bass.

Washtub bass. Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

I loved how the dancing couple moved in and out of the frame in this video:

There are many varieties of coffee drinks you can get at Joie de Vivre, but on Saturdays, if you want lunch, you'll get what they's got. On this Saturday, it was hearty red beans and rice, cornbread, and pickled okra. And, you know, the pickled okra was not terrible.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lake Martin, Louisiana: Thistle

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

I visited Lake Martin this past weekend.

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

Tall, prickly thistles are in aggressive display.

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

Big bumble bees and other insects flutter around.

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

The flower's serrated-edge arms repel, but the overall silhouette pleases. 

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