Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CocoCoco Robicheaux; Reflections of a Single Facet

Coco & Danielle, at French Quarter Festival
Coco Robicheaux was my friend. Which is not to say I knew him more or less than anyone else, of course. Coco knew everybody. And they knew him.

He had an amazing knack, one of many, for remembering someone's name & face, some particular elements that were peculiar to them, always something interesting. He saw that thing that stood out in you. And he reminded you of it, in his own way, and often. Sometimes in the strangest, yet simplest ways.

For several years, Coco lived in the guest house behind Dr. Fred's, both while my friend, Howard, & I were painting it ("I'm livin in the Red House, now!" he would proclaim) and while I was building the Rookery Studio in the garage there. One day, hearing some of my material through the open door, he told me, "You're a Voice."
  We sat at the out door table, and I, thinking he was remarking on my singing, mumbled something or other about 'scratch vocals'.
"No, man, you ARE a voice. You got some things you wanna say. Every body is part of the Body of Humanity, but we all play different parts. You're a Voice."

I remember feeling strangely complimented and weighted down by this. It seemed like a gift and a responsibility, but then if everybody played a part....

"So, what does that really mean?" I asked.

"Well, it wouldn't hurt to find some people that are Ears," he said, and went back to his paper, doing his New York Times cross word puzzle. In ink.

I met Coco in perhaps 1996 or '97. Mimi could tell you. It was the year she opened Esoterica on Dumaine Street. Her associate, Gina, introduced me to Coco, simply because I asked, "Who's the cat in the purple suit?"

His name was Coco, he told me, and we discussed the grand opening of that occult & esoteric shop in the Quarter, one that was far more than a tourist trap.
"Useful things!" he said with sweeping motion of his arm, holding that twisted cane of his. "So many useful things!"

 That first night, speaking as just David & Coco, we traversed Aleister Crowley & Edgar Casey, Hitchcock & Hawking, Coco later offering his opinions on which of Valikovsky's books Einstein was reading when he died (Earth in Upheaval), how to hypnotize snakes, what color eagle feathers are on different parts of the wing, and the proper way for a gentleman to wear leopard skin pants.
  It was only later that I learned he was that Coco Robicheaux (He hadn't had a last name to me until then), and few weeks later until he discovered I, too, was a musician.

 Over the years, there were literally thousands of conversations like that. And by the early 21st century, a whole new venue was opening up.

I had partnered up with my friend, & cohort, the late Jimmy May, for several years, running Sin City, on St Philip St. All things run their course, and Jimmy wound up on Frenchman St, tending bar at the Apple Barrel, for Doug & Liz. There were shows at Snug Harbor & d.b.a., but the Spotted Cat was still a dream, and the upscale bars on lower Frenchman were just dark, foreboding derelict buildings. Jimmy insisted on bringing music to the Apple Barrel, something acoustic, local, special...

Re-enter Coco Robicheaux. His sets in that tiny room were, and are, in fact, the stuff of legend. Lives were changed, lovers met, hearts were elevated and the Truth of the Spirit was literally on the walls. And that was where it started... This grew into a scene, drawing musicians who craved this action, rather than the safe & steady gig, folding themselves into a new chapter of New Orleans music.

Coco, Mike Hood & Jimmy May on Jimmy & Mike's birthday
 It was there that I first saw Dave Easley play both electric & pedal steel guitar like nobody I had ever seen before him. Mike Skallar, Mike Hood, Sam Price, Smokey Greenwell, Tom Chute, they all came through that room. On several occasions, Coco would not only say my name as I waked in, but urge the crowd to make me play; whatever my condition. I once refused, due to the guitar they had, and Mike Hood, laughing, said "Well, I know you'll play mine," pulling his strat out from behind a piano. And so I did.

Mike Hood & Coco, French Quarter Fest 2011
Many people are familiar with the various incarnations of Coco's bands, from his solo acoustic shows, to the full blown gospel version, every year at French Quarter Fest, where he would stand, arms extended to each side, there by the river, and invoke the Spirit for all of us, and in all of us. His spiritual leanings are no secret either. He rarely, to my knowledge, separated the two. This was part of his power, as a healer, a musician, and a creative force. Those bands that came together around it saw that the  vortex that he & Jimmy created was demonstrated full force when Jimmy & Michelle were married at the Skull Club, with Coco presiding as resident Holy Man. They were all there, Hood & Skallar & Price, and Lani & Lynn Drury & the amazing Irene Sage, one of Coco's dearest friends. It was a session to end sessions, and they were there for the love; of Jimmy, for creating the space to do this, of Coco, for pulling it all together, and for the music, more important than the money or recognition such a group could have commanded in a public setting. They played for Jimmy & Michelle & Coco, and they did it for free.
Coco Robicheaux & Irene Sage

 Snakes don't like choppy rhythm. And the Dali Llama likes bacon & eggs for breakfast. And if you tune the top five like Keith Richards and double the bottom like John Lee Hooker, you don't really need a bass player sometimes. I know these things because Coco Robicheaux found them out, remembered them, remembered that I love this shit, kept an eye peeled for me, and made sure I knew about it.

  I walked up to the coffee shop, and saw him at a table, reading the paper, like a shark, pretending not to see the NY Times crossword, until he & his pen were ready to go in for the kill, leaving no hope to the poor boxes, doomed to be correctly filled.
Without really looking up, he announced me; "Lord David!" Then a peer around the paper & over his glasses, "Hey now..." he'd say.

Sometimes we'd talk right away, and briefly. Other times there would be comfortable silence for a bit, and then...

"You know, it was the Germans who introduced the tuba to Hawaii many years before the G.I.'s took spam there. That wasn't until the second world war.
Maybe that's why they figure so prominently in Hawaiian music."

"Who, the Germans or spam?"

"What's another word for 'one of many faces'? Oh, never mind... facet..."

And that was Coco Robicheaux. A man of many facets, in fact, so many of them that all of us caught but a glimpse, from a different angle, of the same man. A man who once crawled in to a cave, like Johnny Cash, waiting for the end, only to hear a voice of salvation, and spent "two weeks on a bus with Marianne Faithful one night." It was always a surprise, and it was always Coco.

Some might say that they didn't always like what he had to say. Many times, it was because of the truth of it. Some might say he never made much of career, but those people measure in money and that was not the coin of the realm.

Coco Robicheaux made music & art, it's true. And more broadly, he made friends with almost anybody who would join him in that, truly remembering, caring, making contact at a base level, where the heart lives. And there is something more...

 Coco created a character with and of himself, stripping away the confinements of economics, upbringing, education, career and every other misconception that we carry like monkeys on our backs. He got down to the real deal, evolved beings, carrying spirits in the flesh, with no reason not to say hello to someone, anyone, as no person held more or less sway, except for how they comported themselves, what they were willing to find inside to offer back. How clearly he could see that, sometimes.

Now there is this legacy of music, of magical whimsey, of love & acceptance, of healing and seeing beyond the game, to where we are elevated by each other, hands joined, voices raised, the whole world, that bar gig, with everybody invited.

Coco Robicheaux leaves us with a legend, a catalog of music & video, and stories, oh god the stories; they haven't even yet begun... But this is also the proof that it can be done. That one man, with the right kind of spirit, can live that life, right up until the very last minute, and never blink, never back track and say he regretted it, never give up on living his life they way he chose to live it, pure to himself, to the very end.
And create so much joy, so much love, so many stories, and songs, videos & photographs, art & poetry, bringing so much happiness to so many in the process.

I loved him tremendously, and I can hear him chuckling at my saying so, as I do it, followed by "Well, I love you, too man." Because he did. He tried to love everybody.
 And in doing so, he became our friend, our mentor, all of us, together, each one of us special in some way. He made us the legends, to ourselves, while he was here.

I think it's time we return the favor, don't you?

Coco Robicheaux's official second line will be held Monday, December 12th, starting at 3:30 pm on Frenchman Street, and ending at the House of Blues. There will be a night of music dedicated to Coco from 6pm-till. 

Buono viaggio, mio fratello.
I'll catch up later.


Photo by Hubie Vigreux

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Passing of a Legend: Rest in Peace, Coco Robicheaux

There are now words, right now, other than to say I am heart broken by the loss of a very dear friend. On a grander scale, the world is lessened by the passing of a blues legend, a world class story teller and spiritual guide.

Go here, then, until such time as somebody can do him justice, and take a glimpse into the amazing life of Coco Robicheaux.

Buono viaggio, mio fratello.
I'll catch up later on.

mad love;
Lord David

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mad Process, Life in New Orleans & the H.F.B.

Every time I see Meschiya Lake on that Chip Forstall commercial, in close up, replete with the ink from her Traveling Kid days gracing her lovely face, my faith in the Mad Process that is Life In New Orleans is restored. A minstrel singing girl, from 'out there' somehow has the power to legitimize an Attorney At Law. 
H.F.B.  (How Fucking Brilliant)
Meschiya Lake on Facebook

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Open Mind

The Open Mind was awake. It was everywhere, and everything, all at once. It had either been there for ever & ever, or it had just started to be. It didn’t really matter which, since things like Time and Memory were all part of it, so any way you went about it, things all led back to the same place. I know that sounds a bit dicey, and there are very smart people who have formulas to prove one thing or another or a bunch of stuff in between, but they and their thoughts and mathematics and matter and measures and history were all part of it, too, so figuring it out was like herding cats. As pointless as it is impossible.
So, anyway, the Open Mind was awake. And it was everything and everywhere all at once.
 Contained in the fabric of Everywhere were some impenetrable areas like little round ball bubbles. Some were quiet and smooth. Some were almost ethereal, as though they would become part of the Open Mind at anytime, dissolving in to the Entire Fabric with a refreshing breath of release, satisfying some certain longing that only the Open Mind could understand and appreciate. Of course, since Everything is part of the Open Mind, there was certainly enough refreshment to go around. Some of the little ball bubbles were hot beds of irritation, red and scratchy to look at or feel, and seemed almost to boil inside, like some festering thing, ready to explode. These were all part of the Open Mind, but separate somehow. While everything was part of the Open Mind, not all of it was under control by the same thought processes. The areas inside these little ball bubbles were special. They contained something called Free Will. The Open Mind could go and look around inside these ball bubbles by looking out through the eyes of any one of billions and billions of facets of itself that lived inside of many of these ball bubbles. It had to be careful doing this, because if it looked out the eyes of any one of these for more then what seemed like an instant, the others seemed to know, and act differently towards the one it looked through. The facet whose eyes it used would most certainly start acting funny. This could prove to be difficult and defeat the entire purpose of Free Will altogether, so the Open Mind would sort just peek around at specifics a little bit, from time to time, and occupy it self with being Everything All The Time, which is pretty much a full time job.
Of course, any one of those billions and billions of facets could turn around and look out at the Open Mind, and watch Everything All The Time, too, but they hardly ever did. Go figure. Many of these ball bubbles grew like seeds, gestating at their own rate, developing according to their own basic guidelines, until they became one of those refreshing breaths of release, blending in to the Entire Fabric, further quenching the longing of the Open Mind, or they went the other way. They became so involved in their own inner festering, that they just burned away until they were but a hard and crispy little crust, which of course, couldn’t flow with the Entire Fabric, so they eventually just disintegrated back in to the Open Mind to be redeveloped at a later time. The Open Mind was used to this, as Every Part of Everything That Would Ever Happen was part of it, too. It came with the territory. So, anyway, during one of these occasional specific peeks inside one of the more troubled ball bubbles, the Open Mind saw that there had developed a New Facet, just within the last moment or so. They called themselves people, and they lived on a tiny speck in remote corner of this particular ball bubble, which they called The Universe. They thought that Everything In Existence was right there inside their particular ball bubble, and that the inside of this ball was actually the outside of everything else. As ridiculous as that may seem, they believed it, for the most part, and these people weren’t very accepting about new ideas. They even thought that the Open Mind lived entirely inside this tiny little ball bubble, The Universe, which was really so small that the Open Mind didn’t really give it much thought, except in an Open Mind Everything All The Time sort of way. They also had given the Open Mind a series of pet names, in a wide variety of languages, some of them even claiming that the Open Mind had a beard and robes. Being well groomed in Everything and wearing whatever it imagined All The Time, the Open Mind paid little attention to such vivid descriptions, knowing that these people were only seeing the Open Mind in terms they could understand; as themselves. The Open Mind loved all parts of itself equally, which is considered healthy, even those parts with Free Will that became irritated by themselves, sometimes. So it had a look inside this particular ball bubble to see what these momentary people were up too. Peering way down into that distant corner, deep inside the space within this tiny fragment of a ball bubble, the Open Mind could focus on the little sliver they called a Galaxy. There, just about where you’d expect, was their little solar system, and spinning around really fast, was their tiny blue ball of a world. Now, these people, as they’ve decided to call themselves, were mostly limited to just a few languages, some of them only one, which was disappointing, but even worse, they had decided not to trust too many of each other who looked and talked differently then whoever was doing the looking and listening. They had, in fact, divided up their tiny blue ball in to areas which were restricted to certain groups alone, and others had to ask permission to go there at all. Why anyone would want to visit such a place is too big a question to deal with here. Most unpleasant was the fighting they did with each other. It seemed to go on and on and on, destroying huge portions of their Blue Ball, and killing off vast numbers of these strange beings who had only moments ago been created and crawled out of holes in the rocks. What was really unbelievable was why they were doing it. Their use of the gift of Free Will was to claim that certain people had windows through which they could look and see the Open Mind. They said they ‘talked to it’ and that it ‘had a plan for them’. This was just plain silly, of course, as the Open Mind had created all of this to exercise Free Will in the first place, and these people used Free Will to take it away. Free Will, that is. So anyway, these momentary people would point at their own windows, calling them by various names and in a multitude of languages, and claim them to be the Only Window. This seemed to be what a great deal of the fighting was about. There was also a lot of trouble over stuff. Some people wanted more than they needed, and they hid it away to rot, while others got none. Not being a very nice way to get along, the Open Mind would have frowned on this, as it spread itself pretty equally Everywhere Forever, but that’s what Free Will is all about. At the moment, the Open Mind is waiting to see if this particular ball bubble with the littlest galaxy and the tiny blue ball will turn it’s momentary people around and begin to nourish their fellow creatures, habitat and future, eventually becoming a refreshing breath of release, and joining the rest of the Open Mind, or if it will just irritate itself into a crispy little crust and fade back into the Open Mind, for redevelopment at another time. The word on this is not yet in….

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What is it, really...

I am leaving breadcrumbs in the forest.
Follow them, if you like...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On a Lighter Note...10 Most Bizarre Roadside Attractions

 America has its problems, this we know. As the battle for equality & control steams ahead in cities across the nation, lets take a look at some of the crazy shit we do & enjoy seeing, shall we?

For this is the true value of our freedom, the right to self expression, no matter how crazy it may seem to others. Sometimes, they'll drive hundreds of miles out of their way to have look. Enjoy this link to the 10 Most Bizarre Roadside Attractions.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eris Parader, Willy Watkins; Halfway Home.

Its day 23 of a 45 day sentence in OPP for Willy Watkins, who was railroaded as a scapegoat in the arrests made during the 5th Districts brutal assault on the Eris paraders, most of whom had nothing to do with the vandalism that followed some distance behind them.

What follows is an excerpt from a letter from my contact within those ranks. I find the idea of helping whoever you can, however you can, wherever you are, to be as sublime an act as humans can commit. It seems that Willy, rather then spend 45 days lamenting his fate, as many would tend to do, has been otherwise occupied;

"In a related matter, I've just heard from Willy... he still has another few weeks, but he's been so buoyed by all the mail everyone has sent, as well as the commissary $$$. Among the folks Willy's met in prison is a young New Orleanian named Gert who composes poetry and freestyles. After a week of doing field labor alongside him, Willy was so impressed with Gert's lyrical talents that he used some commissary funds to buy Gert writing paper and a pen (both of which are expensive and hard to come by inside Orleans Parish Prison) and has begun helping him with writing down and preserving some of his poems and raps. Am I an old softie for getting verklempt over that? Basically, Willy is a sweetheart, and the generosity you-all have shown Willy has even had a small ripple effect within the environmental misery and desperation of OPP at large.  So, thanks... and please, keep writing!"

Details on reaching Willy can be found here.

 We are living in a time of profound awakening. The effect of the internet on social consciousness has been a fledgling imitation of collective awareness, perhaps a simulation of what it is to come, as humans continue to imitate God.

Rather than doing this by controlling others, reserving the judgement of Life & Death, as so often has been the case, it is happening in the coming awareness the We Are All Connected, and the responding compassion that goes along with such an understanding. It is in large groups, too big to deny, and in the smallest individual acts, that this is playing out.

I would like to offer my personal thanks to each and everyone of you who acted on this awareness, by reaching out, offering assistance, spreading the word, saying a prayer, or simply imagining yourself in the shoes of those less fortunate than yourselves.

It is actions such as these, from those like yourself, that will, in time, change the world to a better place.

My heart goes out to all of you.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Big Fix; The Coverup of the BP Gulf Oil Spill

 As millions, world wide, take to the streets to protest dishonest connections & activities between huge corporations, global bankers & governments across the planet, there is no greater crime, against humanity and The Earth, itself, then the disgraceful actions of BP, British Petroleum, as they first hid the oil spill in the Gulf, then hid the oil, and then finally, hid the truth.

It is still being hidden from you today.

The Big Fix is an independent movie, a Green Planet Production by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, that tears the blinders away, offering up the back room deals and the power players, the remaining horror of dispersants and some of the damage they are still doing today.

See this film.
Because you need to know.
Because it may be the last chance to tell America what really happened, and is happening to the Gulf Coast today.
Because you care.

Please share this invitation sent to me by Local Blogger,
American Zombie:

  "This Friday, the New Orleans Film Festival is hosting the American
premiere of the documentary film, The Big Fix, which details the
massive government cover-up which has taken place in the wake
of the BP oil spill.
 There will be a press conference at 2 pm at the Contemporary
Arts Center before the film is shown.
 I ask you to please help promote this event on your blogs,
websites, publications, as this may be the best chance the
Gulf Coast has to raise the country's awareness to the reality of
the condition of the Gulf."

In this time of action & cooperation, please, spread the word
about the Gulf Coast, and about the Big Fix.
You don't have to camp on the streets.
Just come to the CAC theater, and tell everyone you know to join you.
Its time we stood up for what's right.

Its time we stood up for the truth.

Lord David,
Skull Club
New Orleans
October 12, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Please Follow in Your Hymnal....

Its really very simple: The People of the World, via the internet, have found each other to be suffering under the same situation; a tiny portion of the population is hoarding wealth, and using it to influence major governments, so that they can hoard more. The population of serfs is rising up. This isn't going away. Ever.

Friday, September 30, 2011

What It Takes

More powerful than any government, violent, or financial control, is the ability to experience mercy & compassion, for it elevates all involved. Without mercy & compassion, we are as but wild dogs, fighting even our own, for scraps too small to sustain any of us.

- LD  Fall, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Eris Parade Video

Please take a couple of minutes and watch this video of the NOPD at the Eris Parade. Also, watch the squares that appear on the screen during pauses, and roll your mouse over them. Descriptions of what's happening, like "Macing Photographer" will appear in those squares.

Please also note that the photographer getting maced is well off the sidewalk, behind a car, and not a threat to anyone. The cop simply doesn't want him to film this violent exchange, although its well within his right to do so.
Then there is the young man the cops hold & mace, before releasing him. He has posed no threat nor is he being arrested. They just maced him.

If that's not enough, watch as several NOPD officers spray clouds of mace towards a group of young women, who are doing nothing wrong, whatsoever.

Finally, the bully of all bullies, an NOPD officer walks down the street threatening to mace any & all who look at him, a clear violation of the human & civil rights of every person there.


Why are the Eris 12 getting jail time, when there is evidence to prove their innocence, as these cops walk away from brutality charges, backed up by video?

Why is nothing being done about it?
Why aren't we bringing this to the attention of the press?

Spread the word.
Free the Eris 12.
Hold NOPD accountable.

Eris Parader Gets Prison Time; In spite of evidence to the contrary, Judge finds parader guilty on all counts.

In the State of Georgia, a black death row prisoner is executed, even though evidence against him is highly questionable, yet in 2008, the same state commuted the death sentence of a white death row inmate, even though he confessed to committing the crime.

On the streets of New York City, thousands have gathered to protest, not only the sheer  rampant greed of those who juggle our nations monies, but their attempts to have any criminal prosecution for this removed from the realm of possibility.

While these stories are, and should be, National News (except the main stream news is a complete sell out to Wall Street, keeping pathetically silent), there is a battle in the same Culture War raging on the streets of New Orleans.

In February of 2011, an unpermitted parade, which had attracted a vandalous element, was stopped and summarily attacked by the NOPD.
 While an investigation was promised, none was ever performed, short of ridiculous & meaningless 'investigation' of their commanding officer, Bernedine Kelly, as though she were to bear the responsibility of her entire district, by being it's commander.
Since she wasn't even there, she was cleared, and no other measures have since been taken, an obvious cover-up by the 5th District, if not the entire NOPD.

Furthermore, the 12 Eris arrestees were still held on fabricated charges, even after their mistreatment at the hands of these rogue cops.

William R Watkin, known as 'Willie' was visiting form Missouri, and took part in this parade, dressed as Peter Pan. He walked near the front, and was, as many were, unaware of the trouble following the parade. He was not an organizer or a trouble maker. He was arrested for looking at the cops when they commanded everyone to look away, a completely unconstitutional order.

Even after video evidence was presented, proving it impossible for him to have committed any of the acts he was charged with, he was found guilty and sentenced to 45 days in prison.
 While this is not a death sentence, imagine yourself going to prison for a month & a half, simply because you looked at a cop.

What follows is the complete email from another of the Eris Paraders falsely accused & charged, in it's unedited entirety. His name has been omitted by request, as his own court date looms.

Make no mistake; power, money & position have declared war on poverty, hard work & freedom of expression. Your rights are already being stripped, and at an alarming rate.Whether it's a permit raid on a home art gallery, an arrest for handing out fliers, or the stopping of bicycles to check for 'licenses' the City no longer issues or has the means to store, we are under attack.STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS.

And please, after reading this, consider writing to Willie.
45 days in hell is a long time, people.
Remember, people mysteriously die in OPP.

The Email:

Only a few of us heard, mostly by chance and at the last moment, that one of the 12 Eris arrestees had his trial last Friday. We showed up and watched his lawyer try the case in fine style. The charges against Willy were ludicrous, and fortunately there was clear video evidence showing Willy's arrest-- showing that at no time was he anywhere near the officer whom he's alleged to have shoved, which single fabricated shoving originated all 3 of his charges.

So the lawyer presented the case well, and then NOPD took the stand and contradicted themselves and each other and their own written reports, and the video showed it all unambiguously, and the lawyers summed everything up in their closing arguments.

But none of it mattered, because Willy got a really bad judge. The judge rolled her eyes and looked away in boredom-- closed her eyes, even, during the presentation of evidence. She sneered at Willy, berated his lawyers, and huffed in impatient adolescent exasperation at each motion or objection from the defense. As soon as protocol permitted, she declared Willy summarily guilty on all three counts.

The lawyers pleaded for clemency in sentencing, citing Willy's clean record, and she shouted at them some more and bared her teeth like a cornered possum and gave Willy 45 days in the House of Detention for his three bullshit misdemeanors. He was cuffed right where he sat, his lawyer was given the chance to take off Willy's bowtie and empty Willy's pockets, and then we were all kicked out the courtroom, just because, and Willy went in shackles down the back stairway to the prison bus with all the other poor orange-jumpsuited bastards who had the misfortune to be in Judge Robin Pittman's courtroom that day.

I know we all know the system is fucked, it's unfair, etc., but I really do need to specially mention that Robin Pittman is vile and literally, medically, provably insane. She is not just a "mean judge," she is a mean judge who is off her rocker. Her jaw-dropping displays of viciousness, paranoia and immaturity, her talking on her cell phone and reading her bible during trials, her ugly, unprovoked and unprofessional insults towards the defense (not just Willy's, everyone's) and above all her histrionic savagery towards the human wreckage dragged before her in chains daily make Pittman not merely a bad judge, but a sad, bad, mad judge, the most pathetic and repugnant specimen among the whole twisted pantheon...  the unhinged and monstrous Queen of Hearts holding forth in her bizarre, Kafka-like crawlspace courtroom, a "blind and aimless Fury" ruling the rafters of our criminal courthouse's nightmarish Wonderland.

So that's Pittman, and that's why Willy is in prison right now.  I can't speak for Willy, but I would rather do 45 days in prison than have to spend a single day inside Judge Pittman's head. Being her is a terrible punishment, and it's HD video crystal-clear how deeply unhappy she is. She is not the smug patrician haughtily handing out hell, she is the deranged sufferer, the clawing ravening sufferer who is frenziedly punishing the rest of the world with every drop of power she's permitted. I don't believe in karma, but I do believe we have the means to make ourselves miserable, and Pittman is a horrifying living example of that-- raving and grimacing, shrieking and glowering, embarrassing and delegitimizing not only herself but any system that would make her its representative.

There is a great deal to be said about this whole Eris debacle, and how it's been handled (or not handled). I personally feel there is enormous and genuine goodwill towards the arrestees from the community at large, goodwill that has gone frustratingly untapped. There have been so many missed opportunities, to get help, to tell the paraders' side of things, to form alliances with the street musicians and Mardi Gras Indians and others who've been fighting this same battle for far longer. People WANT to help, people WANT to know what's going on, but they haven't been given the means, which compounds everyone's alienation... the result is the disempowering sense of being stuck outside a tragedy, unable to be of use. But that is a different e-mail.

Let's help Willy. This sweet young man, a homeowner from Missouri who visited us for Carnival, who dressed as Peter Pan for Eris and doesn't have a mean bone in his body, has been absolutely screwed over by our system. He's certainly a lesser victim compared to the lives our justice system grinds up and throws away daily, but he's still a victim, and he's one I've gotten know and like. He wasn't one of the "bad elements" using soap to draw penises on cars; he was just in the wrong place in the wrong time, and, as shown in the video, did nothing worse than turn and face one of the police officers attacking the crowd. For that, he was tackled, stomped, tazed, and falsely charged. Yes, he was foolish to turn and look at the police when the fleeing crowd had been commanded to face the other direction ("I don't wanna see no faces, I wanna see backs!") but it was only ignorance; he didn't know how our NOPD is.

Anyone who witnessed the quiet dignity, earnest goodwill and courage with which Willy conducted himself in the face of Judge Pittman's violent imprecations and bullying would be moved.

Now Willy's in prison, and will be for some weeks. As a visitor, he doesn't have a lot of close friends here. The House of Detention can be a scary place, and everything scary is worse when you are, or feel, alone.

If you could write him a letter, donate money towards his fines, and/or put some cash in his commissary so he can have an occasional magazine to read or a meal that isn't baloney sandwiches, you would be doing something worthwhile for a guy who needs it.

45 days isn't a long sentence until you're the one serving it, in the round-the-clock deafening, round-the-clock floodlit uniformly hard-surfaced mouldering medieval cages of our parish prison, in windowless fluorescent-flickering metal crates where time and the cycles of day or night lose meaning, where there is only one harsh, cacophonously echoing endless eternal now, a blur of unhappy angry people in an untenable and inhuman situation. Boredom, discomfort, hunger, thirst, heat, cold, fear, uncertainty, exhaustion, and nothing ahead but more of the same. What if they DON'T let you out when they're supposed to? What if someone attacks you, and you defend yourself, and you get hit with additional time? What if you get sick? What if one of the times you get stored down in the peeling-paint transitional cells in the basements where no-one can hear you, they forget about you?

The house of detention is no vacation, least of all for someone who lacks local connections and support networks. Willy needs our support.


This would be lovely. Wouldn't you want a letter from the outside world, some personal note to let you know you're not as isolated as you feel? Something inane and friendly, cheerful and encouraging, something from a friend or from a stranger taking the time to let you know that you're missed and valued... think what that would mean to you.
You may send Willy mail at this address:

William R Watkin
Folder 2303771
3000 Perdido Street,
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70119

There is a big list of what you CANNOT send Willy here: Basically, nothing but letters, money orders, and photographs (!) . No books, magazines, or 'zines, no toiletries, food, or tobacco, no clothing, no envelopes, no stationary, stamps or writing utensils... any of those things Willy wants, he must purchase, if he can, at exorbitant profiteering prices from the prison Commissary.


Willy, an avid and ambitious leisure reader, can't be sent reading material besides personal letters. He will not have the means to write letters to his loving sweetheart back in Missouri or his frantically worrying parents, nor will he have access to remotely wholesome or even pleasurable, good-tasting food, unless money is put in his commissary account.

You can put money in his commissary by mailing Willy a signed money order with his name (William Watkins) and his folder number (2303771) on it, or more easily by visiting the Sherriff's office (that same "temporary" trailer behind the jail where you go to bail people out) and using one of their anti-ATM devices there on-site, or most easily of all by visiting and following the fairly straight-forward steps. "Watkins, William R." is of course in Louisiana >> Orleans Parish >> Orleans Parish Prison.  Note that in accordance with the standard predatory capitalism of our privatized prison system, the helpful folks at "Tiger Correctional Services" will charge you a 7.0 percent fee.

If your experience with Tiger Correctional Services really turns you on, you'll no doubt be gratified upon the conclusion of your transaction at the opportunity to follow them on twitter or "like" them on facebook. They just posted a picture album of their staff enjoying fresh-caught trout at a fishing tournament. I bet that trout was delicious! Delicious, and yet not half as delicious as the roaring blackout nihilism viewing the photo gallery engenders.


Judge Pittman assigned Willy a grand or so in fines and fees, but additionally, at the request of NOPD, she has sentenced him to pay reparations. Apparently Willy shoving the officer didn't merely send the officer to the hospital and require the officer to take several days off, but the same single shove destroyed the officer's new and (apparently very expensive!) eyeglasses and police radio. So, Willy has to pay for replacements, which are hundreds of dollars.

Willy ain't got that kind of cash. Please make a donation via paypal or credit card at, or if that link doesn't work for whatever reason, or you don't want to use plastic or paypal, e-mail me and we'll figure it out. In the blessed but unlikely event that the amount thusly donated exceeds Willy's fines, it will be applied to the thousands of dollars of lawyer fees the other equally nice Eris arrestees have paid & still owe.


After fruitless hours on the phone and web, I have been unable to nail down exactly how to visit Willy, because he's not in the state system yet the way he needs to be for me to get the ball rolling on visitations. This may be because he has not yet been assigned a DOC number, and may still be down in holding rather than up in the 96 tiers of the prison itself.

Rest assured, I will figure this fucking shit out (or the lawyers will, and will let me know). In the meantime, if you'd like to visit Willy, drop me an e-mail and I'll keep you in the loop on that. One proactive step you could take is writing to Willy and giving him your full name so that he knows to put you on his visitor's list. Willy gets along with just about everyone, so don't be shy! I am sure he would love to see you, whoever you are, just for the chance at being reassured in person that people here in New Orleans know and care about his situation.

That concludes this very long e-mail. Thanks for your time, and perhaps your money. Willy may be a stranger to most of us, but he is the first of the arrestees to get actual prison time. I hope he is the last. I hope the whole rotten prison cracks open like an egg, RIGHT NOW, and that all the unjustly imprisoned human beings inside can return to their families and loved ones. Willy doesn't deserve to be in there.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Roadside Attractions

I ran into an old friend today.
She seemed to think something was missing
but she wasn't sure what it was
or what to do about it.

We sat & talked & listened & looked
from many points of view.

She was cheered by this, she said,
and thanked me.

But it was I who was blessed
in being touched by such a beautiful soul.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You the People; but not us, over here....

So tonight's news brought the usual madness & an announcement that the 'Bandit Sign & Dumping Enforcement' was full on, so we'd better be prepared.

A curiously enthusiastic reporter stood at the corner of Chartres & Frenchmen, in front of a light pole covered with the close cropped & tattered remains of shredded fliers that had been stapled there. It looked worse than I've ever seen it. A tattered mess.

 "This pole was full of signs, just a week ago, but local merchants have TORN THEM DOWN!"

I'm sure they're very proud of their new tatterific display, too.
A huge victory party will no doubt ensue.

 Stacy Head rifled through a huge stack of coroplast bandit signs, mostly for cheap services, free cell phones, 1-800 Buy House & shit like that. Ugly shit. I won't miss them. "Its an epidemic!" she said. I guess, but so is stupidity in government.

Some dude (Steve Mardon?) in Mid-city displayed his LARP like Death Wand El Fantasitco ( a pvc pipe with a nail it in) Bandit Sign Ripper, with which he removes those coroplast 'cheap crap' signs,dispatching them, no doubt, at great mortal peril to himself & The Known Universe.

I wondered why only The Reporter went to Frenchman St, and singled out a corner where mostly music fliers are posted? Is she privy to some insidious plan to persecute Music & Art in the Marigny?
Of course she is.
Because there is one, and we all know it.
A few local fliers targeting a specific neighborhood are just a Public Proclamation. I think we should ask local businesses to allow bulletin board space at key points of our neighborhood. It would serve them well to be such a hub of knowledge....

But, oh, wait;

There's a punch line here that trumps all punch lines.
As each & every business who relies on this for legitimate advertising takes the hit, we close with this cheery tag line;

"Political signs will be exempt."

It must be so fucking nice to be in charge of the pie.
You can make everybody as miserable as you want,
and still take the biggest piece for yourself, every fucking time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Paper Trail of New Orleans' Culture War; The Battle of New Orleans continues

Sometimes, things float across my line of sight from both sides of the wire, an indication of Friction in Paradise. This happened just yesterday, and with enough passion involved for me to take note.

  I received an email from City Hall, announcing 'The Campaign Against Signs on Public Property'. Great, I thought. Maybe those kabillions of John Georges campaign signs that littered St Claude Avenue during the race for mayor are a thing of the past. Maybe the endless supply of coroplast signs, a non-biodegradable plastic material, in our landfills, would come to a timely end. Maybe those kids who Georges paid (by financing their sports teams) to stand in the street, waving his signs & shouting at cars, would find something better to do than block traffic in the name of Another Rich Guy Who Wants To Be Elected To Something.

Then the patter began to rise about band & gallery fliers.
The email from City Hall reads:

"We are mindful that cultural businesses may host musical groups, have gallery openings or other such events that require advertising.  However, the law requires that you keep signs off of public property and do not distribute fliers on public streets and sidewalks."

There's various opinions about this, of course, including the belief that this will seriously hurt New Orleans performing musicians. I don't personally subscribe to this one, as the only time I've attended a 'fliered' show, it was so packed I couldn't get inside. I think it more notable that music licenses are so often withheld in the City Where Jazz Was Born. I imagine no end to the attendances that might be seen, should the music be allowed to play in the first place.

 Then there's the opinion that these fliers are legitimate art, and deserve a place in our society. This same argument was used regarding tagging graffiti, and begs the question of who decides what 'street art' can be posted, by the local artists or the Klan, or Koch brothers.
Again, the struggle to see & be seen in the world of art & entertainment is the battle all artists, be it on paper or in music, must face. Somehow, covering telephone poles with bits of paper doesn't seem to be an egress into that world, either.

And then, while informative, is it really worth the trouble to place these things on light pole, rather than on a privately owned store front or window? Certainly that works around the law while still allowing the fliers to be seen. And the very term 'Public Streets' brings to mind that fact that much of the public may NOT want to see or use this methodology. And theoretically, the majority rules, right?

This is when I got schooled by the guy who knows more about this than anyone I know...
Enter Rex Dingler of NOLA Rising.

Post K, Mr. Dingler took it upon himself to replace city street signs that were long missing, and yet to be replaced by the city. This lead to the hanging of more artistic signage, offering messages of hope, desperately needed at that dark time. Long story short, he encountered the attention of Fred Radtke, the Grey Ghost, who was much more inclined to roll bland grey paint over every single thing he saw that he found 'offensive', including entire traffic signs, if they held so much as a word of graffiti. Eventually, Mr Radtke had Rex dragged into court on about 50 charges of vandalism or some such rot. From what I understand, the judge found both the charges & Fred Radtke (who has since been arrested for vandalism, himself) ridiculous, and gave Dingler a slap on the wrist.
So, I assume Rex Dingler knows a little something about this.

At this point, I can hear you thinking "Fliers? Are you kidding me?"

But this is where we encounter the ugly term Rex pointed out to me, "Selective Enforcement", a standby of the Serpas Police Squads, and a handy tool for eliminating or gentrifying the culture of our city.

During the 2011 Mardi Gras season, a local hat & costume sale was busted & shut down like a wannabe meth lab, a book store & non-profit bike repair shop were closed, not by Quality of Life officers, but by the notorious 5th District NOPD. And most notably, the Eris parade was set upon by the same NOPD District, and hammered with chemical pepper spray & tasers, for parading without a permit and the vandalism of a few.
While 12 of the Eris paraders face charges over this, some of them felonious and with possible jail time, the NOPD officers who were under investigation for brutality have yet to be dealt with, except for their captain at the time, Bernedine Kelly, getting a quick wash, as she wasn't there, as if holding her responsible for the acts of rogue thug cops held water at all. As yet, the only evidence against the Eris 12 is the testimony of these same cops who were never properly investigated.
  During this same past Carnival, Mardi Gras Indians were, again, hassled by police. Even though this tradition predates the permit structure of New Orleans by generations, here they are, getting messed with like teenagers drinking dad's beer in the school parking lot. Again.

  While all this was going on, the Party on St Charles Avenue was in full swing. After Mayor Mitch announced that there would be absolutely no 'Parade Camps" on the St Charles neutral ground, there they were, back to back & side to side, stretching for over a mile, like some damp Burning Man village, with watchmen who stayed all night, and impromptu fences, so that one might have to walk a block down & back to simply cross their own street.

 The worst these thousands of offenders could expect was a $100 ticket, hardly a high price to pay for a private street side parade camp. Not a single arrest for this was noted. Nobody got a beating or chemical mace sprayed on them in front of their kids. Nobody got dragged to jail, to kneel in a hallway for 3 hours, bleeding, while a cop sprayed Lysol on their wounds, calling them 'motherfucker' and promising off duty retaliation.

If the City of New Orleans wants to clean up it's act, let it begin with a fair enforcement process, and equal justice, rather than applying these myriad 'Quality of Life' laws to the very culture that makes it interesting, driving it further beneath the radar, and in some cases, out of town completely.

While I have my doubts that the Saturn Bar is going to get raided over a few band fliers, those doubts are fading these days. It should be interesting to note how many political signs appear this fall, and beyond, as we swing into 2012, an election year for both our governor & president.

While opinions are still out on the value of The Flier as a viable advertising method in the days of Smart Phones & Face Book, et al, let there be no difference whatsoever in the treatment afforded John Georges vs Wildman John of the Wild Tchoupatoulas or the White Bitch performance schedule.

There is a Culture War going on in New Orleans, folks. While some of this legislation is much needed and worth consideration, it still has to pass public scrutiny, so I suggest paying attention. Of course, being out voted is an American right of passage, I know. But the selective enforcement of any law, good or bad, to control & persecute a selective group of individuals, in this case, the creative classes, less monied & connected than others, is a sure sign of Fascism, plain & simple.

Without these creative efforts, New Orleans would quickly become The Mall.
Without the liberty for creativity, the prognosis is worse: A society unable to create.
And this is a sure sign of the oncoming Death of The City Where Jazz Was Born.

If we are to be ruled by such confining ordinances, let them be applied across the board. The very first time you see a political sign on a neutral ground, take a picture of it, and demand prosecution. In the meantime, get out & see some music & art.
It's everywhere.

We just aren't allowed to leave you a note anymore.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Step Up; life requires heroes.

As I approach, again, the anniversary of my birth, I always
look for something new learned, some ground covered,
or some measure of progress, no matter how small, that
I have contributed, other than my own wants & pleasures,
by living another year.

It is with that thought that I share these words, spoken
long ago, but still ringing loudly where there are those
willing to listen. 

It does not matter how large an impact that we make, 
but that we reach out to make it, in some small way,
often & without end. 

I give you the words of Robert F. Kennedy;
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief
that human  history is shaped. Each time a man stands up
for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes
out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,
and crossing each other from a million different centers
of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which
can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and

~ Robert F. Kennedy, June 6, 1966, "Day Of Affirmation" Speech

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Buring Man Mural for NOOMOON UNVIERSE

Acrylic paint & stuff on 6x9 foot canvas drop cloth, provided by NOOMOON, for this mural. To be displayed on their Burning Man installation, NOOMOON UNIVERSE, this August. 
In case you were wondering, drop cloth canvas drinks paint like the desert drinks water, even primed. Thanks to Dan The Man for the chance to let my imagination run free. Still, I painted what's in my living room...

Cafe Istanbul; The Hours or the Business?

It occurs to me, after reading endorsements the Healing Center gives itself in their advertising & website, that such a brilliant model of future urbanism should probably be able to draw a crowd whenever it wants.

This should make it easy to do two shows a day, at 8 & 10pm,
and close by midnight.

Snug Harbor's 'performance hall' sells out about 100 seats at
$25 & up, almost every show. Cocktail servers bring drink orders
through out all shows.

Cafe Istanbul should concentrate on the quality of service &
entertainment, as Snug Harbor does, rather than go for the easy
money of another late night drinking hole, in an area that has
enough already, and doesn't really want one there.

I think THAT would more aptly constitute the "American right to
do business" that Sallie Glassman spoke so passionately about.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Vision of Life; Dream of Healing for Marigny Residents

Just for a minute, let's pretend.

Forget all the politics, the connections &
What Chuck Wants & How Much Smarter  Pres
Kabacoff is....

Imagine that next door, is a Healing Center.
It has affordable child care services
(what happened to that?), adult education,
a food co-op, yoga classes, Reiki & Reiki
training, dance groups, meetings, Live
Jazz performances, plays, readings, poetry
slams, street university, art  galleries,
alternative food places, and herbal shops,
maybe even costume  parties....

You see how very BEAUTIFUL this is?

When the sun goes down, you'd see some low
lighting, and watch people meander in & out,
until 10 or so, and then have a couple of
hours of peace, if you can stay awake, and
then begin again the next day.

I supported this.
I still do.
But somehow, I am faced with a very different dream....

It's 2am.
I have to get up at 6am to try to make the
weekly bills, and come out ahead,  maybe
going out both Friday & Saturday, if I play my cards right.

But there's car doors slamming outside my window.
Even the muffled laughter and  normal excited conversation
is loud, because it's right outside my window. If I  close
the windows, it will get really hot, and I don't want to run
the AC. It's  a waste of both money & resources.

Besides, the breeze is already blocked by heavy curtains so
those 25 foot tall prison spotlights don't light up my room
like Christmas.

The door slamming will go on for another two hours.

It starts when the show ends at 2am (if they don't run late)
and then there's an  hour period to 'cool down'. Of course,
I'm guessing when those people find out they only have an
hour left to drink, they'll start slamming them, like people
everywhere do at last call.
As a bartender, we used to yell "Last Call!" just to get business up.
It's  amazing.

So, anyway, at 3am, when they're done 'cooling down', anywhere from
20 to 200 hundred people are going to "gradually and in small groups"
be allowed to leave. Maybe this will take less than an hour. Maybe not.

Now its almost 4am, and I'm hoping they'll remember to turn off those
ridiculous lights, but what the hell....
I have to get up in 2 hours anyway.

I'll never make it through 6 o'clock tomorrow night, though,
and that's happened already this  week. Less work means less money,
but I'm exhausted. So obviously I won't be going out at all.
In fact, I really don't feel very well at all, as I haven't slept
through the  night yet this week.

Now, tell me about the Healing Center, unifying & healing the
Or is it Pres & Sallie, knowing full well that the River Front
Development is  coming (I'm surprised they haven't taken credit for it),
and they now have the  first full blown Night Club on St Claude, and
have managed to change the zoning  for any other great ideas they have,
including selling of parking spaces at all  hours, every day.

Maybe even taking their "Its only 153 sq ft" (lie) BAR to 24 hours.
If we couldn't stop them now, what makes you think we can
stop them then?
In fact, I expect one of them to run for office any time now.

Thanks for pretending with me.
It's time to go back to your own peaceful life.
While you still can.

Lord David
Spain & Rampart 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stolen Cup


Gonna re-write history
wanna make it all about me
My god is perfect, yours is wrong
your salvation takes too long
 On your knees or on your back
I'll absolve you for a Cadillac
 I can solve all life's mysteries
save your cash and give it all to me

From the first time we were taught
the winner only has to throw the biggest rock 
the lesson learned is dog eat dog 
to kill your brother in the name of god
it's a bitter taste that takes its toll
like a stolen cup full of broken souls... 

No cloven hooves or booze allowed
at the drive through window of the Sacred Cow
Those Golden Towers stand so fine
but you only get a cracker and a sip of wine
Some go hungry, some go bad
some take them with you when they go mad
The poor get poorer and children die
say a blessing on the corporate pie

From the first time we were taught
 the winner only has to throw the biggest rock
 the lesson learned is dog eat dog
 to kill your brother in the name of god
 it's a bitter taste that takes its toll
 like a stolen cup full of broken souls...  

Pick your winner, take a stand
 Teacher, Prophet, Son of Man You
put a lot of faith in what they say
 but what if they were here,
today Ain't got no job, ain't got no home
 he got no camera on a telephone
 If he told you to throw it all away 
would you listen to another word he say?

From the first time we were taught
 the winner only has to throw the biggest rock
 the lesson learned is dog eat dog
  to kill your brother in the name of god
 it's a bitter taste that takes its toll
 like a stolen cup full of broken souls...

LD 2011

All I want....

Both Humbled & Honored

I gotta call today from my friend, Sam. She told me I'd been nominated for the Ashley Morris Award.

I am both humbled & honored at this, of course. Ashley was/is a hero to many of us, and I can't think of a more touching compliment than to even have my name mentioned in association with this. It is truly an honor, just as trying to live up to the caliber of commitment & honesty he demonstrated is humbling at best. In the spirit of that honesty, I have to be truthful here: I had no idea people actually read this shit. In fact, I never think about it, including now. Like messages in bottles tossed off a bridge or beach, I try to find & speak the truth, push 'send' and it just goes out there, somewhere, if only to balance out the great many untruths that are tossed asunder every minute of every day. Whether that generates an award or a bullet, I just do it. Somebody has to fucking do it. Or we're all screwed. So I just do it. Join me, won't you? The great thing about honesty is never having to waste a second remembering lies, or worrying about being found out. So come on. You know you want to. Just try it. And yes, I already know that those pants don't make my ass look fat. My ass does. And thanks, Cousin Pat, wherever you are. LD

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Surrender to the Divinity within yourself and you will know Peace. Surrender to the Peace within yourself and you will know Love. LD - 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Everything Else

While the pursuit of catching lightning in a bottle may seem a frivolity, it can, I'm sure, be done. Having done it, even once, it is then everything else that is the frivolity.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Say Cheese! Behind The Scenes; Part 1

At the F.M.I.A. (Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association) meeting last Monday night, (6/20) I asked Chuck Perkins about the hours intended for the new Cafe Istanbul. He responded by shouting at me, into his microphone, from the stage, in front of the 100 or so in attendance, that I am a criminal. He refused to answer my question. "You run an illegal club & I've been there late at night, sipping beer!" he cried. "You've lived outside the law for THREE YEARS!" I won't qualify this hysteria here, but perhaps will address it in a later post. In reviewing my taxes, state & federal, for the last three years, I must admit, if I'm a criminal, I'm doing a pretty shitty job of it, as I'm barely making a living, and still paying Uncle Sam & Pinocchio Jindal a small ransom every year. Whatever.... I tried to accept Mr Perkins rather juvenile tirade as a case of nerves, poor public speaking skills and a fear of answering questions he doesn't really know the answers to. While that may be unfortunate, its a little bit understandable, considering the scope of the project involved. Of course, it's also text book slander & defamation of character, but then, much worse has been said about me... ( I meant to call you, darlin. Really, I did.) The next couple of days brought things in to a New Light. Sources have brought to my attention the news that Pres Kabacoff has circulated pictures of me, behind my own bar, having fun, taken in my own living room, without my knowledge or consent, to at least one magazine publisher, in hopes of 'outing' me as some sort of ongoing criminal enterprise. To my knowledge, having a bar in your house is not a crime. Neither, I am told, is the open gallery event held every Second Saturday by the St Claude Art District, of which I am still a member. Let me say here that I have abated these shows at Skull Club, to meet absolute compliance with city permitting. Any other events here were & will be private parties, and are nobody's business unless they have been specifically invited by me. To my knowledge, Chuck Perkins has never been one of those people. It's also true that drinks were served. Both money & alcohol were shared in both directions across the bar, much like a group of friends tossing money in a hat to keep a party going. Were drinks given away next to a donation tip jar illegal, every gallery on Royal Street would be raided during every Dirty Linen Night, every year. In the end, I gave away more drinks & money than I ever received. Foolish, but true. As this, too, came into a questionable light, the Skull Club was closed as anything but my living room. It has remained such since around the first of the year, when shows were not scheduled, and after the Eris Parade Debacle, never reopened. At present, I'm rather enjoying the life of a hermit artist & musician. A series of screen printed poetry, a book, & a record of original music are all coming along splendidly. There's lots of time for my obsessions with cooking & horror movies. If you know me personally, ring me up, and join me. It's fun. Anyway, I'm really disappointed that Pres Kabacoff would smile his Crypt Keeper Smile at a town meeting, all the while attempting to force me into silence, or worse, by privately circulating these photographs, an obvious invasion of privacy and act of the lowest smear campaign. I'm especially concerned about how my hair looked. In closing, I offer this picture of me at the bar in my living room, which used to be the Skull Club, a Bastion of Free Art & Expression, where creative people came together, outside of the tethers of rigid society, to speak their minds and let their souls fly free. Post this picture on your wall, Mister Kabacoff. Let it be a reminder that Art & Creativity cannot be forced into compliance with your regime or any other. It is my sincerest wish that you will come to terms with this, and my honest hope that you will embrace the surrounding community, rather than continuing in your efforts to enforce your will upon it, especially with such underhanded methods. LD "I beg you to accept that there are no people on earth who would not prefer their own 'bad' government to the 'good' government of an invading alien power." - Gandhi

Friday, June 17, 2011

St. Claude Neighbors Wary of Healing Center Plans; by Richard Webster, City Business

St. Claude Neighbors Wary of Healing Center Plans
Some fear developer Pres Kabacoff is running an
end-around to open a  neighborhood bar.

POSTED: 10:13 AM Friday, June 17, 2011
BY: Richard A. Webster, Staff Writer @ City Business

NEW ORLEANS -- When developer Pres Kabacoff announced plans
in 2008 to create  the Healing Center at 2372 St. Claude Ave.,
the community cautiously hailed it as an important step in
the revitalization of the long depressed corridor.

 Lord David, a local artist and musician, was one of the
first on board, writing  blogs in support of the project
that combines businesses, nonprofits and social services.
 Now, as it moves closer towards completion, David said he
was duped, that the Healing Center was "predicated on a lie."

 Its true mission is not healing the neighborhood;
it's opening a 4,200-square-foot nightclub called Café Istanbul,
David said.
 Standing on a porch off his second story apartment,
overlooking the Healing Center, David points down to a
55-car parking lot.
"Have you ever gone to see Kermit (Ruffins) at Vaughan's
on a Thursday? Imagine that but 20 times bigger, 60 cars
worth of drunk tourists pouring out of this parking lot
into a residential neighborhood at four in the morning,
every Friday  and Saturday night, forever. The only thing
they're healing is their own pocket books."

 David and others in the community aren't necessarily
opposed to someone opening a live music club in the area.
What bothers them is the feeling that Kabacoff and his
partners concealed the true nature of Café Istanbul to
sail through the  city permitting process.

It was initially billed as an intimate theater for musicals
and plays, that wouldn't stay open past 10 p.m., David said.
But a post on the Healing Center website described it as a
club where musicians would jam into the "late night hours."
An additional post, later removed, described roll-up doors
that would  allow expansion into the parking lot.

 The final straw for some came in January when a flier was
posted in the window of the Healing Center announcing that
the owners applied for a liquor license, something that
wasn't included in the project's original plans, said Paul May,
director of the city's Department of Safety and Permits.

 Café Istanbul will be owned by Chuck Perkins, a local poet,
and Suleyman Aydin,  who used to own Café Istanbul on
Frenchmen Street, now the Blue Nile, and Mona Lisa
restaurant in the French Quarter.
 Peter Horjus, who lives 100 feet from the center, said Perkins
and Aydin told him they intend to sell alcohol during
non-performance hours.

 Café Istanbul is in the process of changing zoning for the
property from a theater of performing arts to an amusement
place, which identifies it as a venue for adult entertainment.
Under both designations, the sale of alcohol is only allowed
as a concession during performances, said Nicole Webre,
legislative director for District C Councilwoman Kristin
Gisleson Palmer.
 Selling alcohol at any other time would qualify it as a cocktail
 Horjus fully supports the Healing Center and is not opposed
to a nightclub concept, or even a bar. But he said he wishes
the developers had been up front about their intentions.

  "A lot of what they've done makes them look fishy and if
they want to have the support it seems like they should be
bending over backwards to solve these  problems,"
Horjus said.
"It makes me worry when people say they're opening a
theater when in fact what it's going to be is a full time
music venue slash bar."

 Perkins recoils at the accusation that he is opening a
bar or a nightclub. A prospective third partner wanted to do
just that and was turned down, Perkins said. His goal is to
open a space that will accommodate all of the performing
arts including theater, dance, poetry and music. It will also
be used to show documentary films, hold fashion shows
and present guest lecturers.

 The second floor, which consists of a wrap around balcony,
will be reserved as  a gallery for the visual arts.

 Kabacoff insists that plans for the Healing Center, including
Café Istanbul, were presented to and approved by all affected
neighborhood associations. But as of three weeks ago, the
presidents of Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association
and the Faubourg St. Roch Improvement Association said
they had never heard of Café Istanbul.

 Perkins, who admits they could have done a better job
explaining their project and intentions, later made a full
presentation to the FMIA board and reached out to FSRIA
President Reggie Lawson, who said he will support the
project as long as it obtains the proper approval.

 Jason Patterson, owner of Snug Harbor and a member
of the FMIA board, called the board's response to Perkins'
presentation positive overall.

 "There are rowdy clubs that stay open late in the Marigny,
so it's no surprise  some neighbors may be concerned. But
I have complete faith in Chuck Perkins,"  Patterson said.
"If they do what they say they are going to do, it shouldn't
be any problem. It should be a great benefit to that area."

 John Hartsock, owner of the Hi Ho Lounge directly across
the street from the  Healing Center, said the new club will
cement St. Claude Avenue's growing reputation as a place
to see live music. In addition to the Hi Ho, the area already
includes the AllWays Lounge and Siberia.

But if Kabacoff sails through the permitting process and
secures a liquor license, despite being within a few hundred
feet of Colton School and a church, it will raise troubling
questions, Hartsock said.

 "It will make me wonder how much the buddy-buddy thing
has gone away from city business and politics," he said.    

City law prevents a bar opening within 300 feet of a church,
school or playground unless, after public hearings, the City
Planning Commission, City Council and mayor award a
conditional use permit.

 Kabacoff describes Café Istanbul as one of the most
important pieces of the Healing Center because it is the
only one likely to turn a profit.  

"None of those other things make money. What makes
money is the entertainment part of it, and in order to
operate it you need that music piece, what we're
known culturally around the world for," Kabacoff said.
"The intention is not to run a neighborhood bar.
The intention is to have cultural performances in all
aspects of the arts.
But let me just say, if you can make a dollar, you don't
want the place sitting  empty."


Please Note: When the 'Healing Center' project was
first declared, I was told there was opposition to it,
because it was alleged that Kabacoff & Glassman,
who run the place, would turn away from their proclaimed
mission of 'healing' & uniting the neighborhood in terms
of leasing retail space and doing "whatever it takes to
make money." Yet, today, they are doing exactly that.

Foolishly, I took Ms Glassman at her word that these
things would never happen, and that every measure
would be taken to include the immediate neighborhood
in changes to this program.
This, to date, has never happened either.

In fact, many others, living within sight of this building,
have never been contacted, have been told false and/or
misleading information, and all of us have been told that
we "should pay attention to the Healing Center Website
if we want to know what's going on in our neighborhood."

I am not alone, by any means, in finding it offensive
& ridiculous that these people would place themselves
in such a position of authority, while in truth, they are
unelected, uninvited and have little or no interest or clue
as to what the needs, wants & opinions of those around
them may be.
Further more, in my very first meeting with Pres Kabacoff,
after trying to intimidate me by walking up and stopping no
more than 4 or 6 inches from my face, he began to demand
to know who my landlord was, how long I'd lived there,
and how much rent I paid.
I openly asked him if he intended to run me off.
His reply was; "I certainly do have the might."

No clearer threat could have been made.

I am, however, totally opposed to liars, threats, big business
disguised as 'healing', and those with large amount of both
money and contacts, side-stepping the laws that the rest
of us must obey.

While the Blue Nile Bust and other attacks on the art
community cost many local artists their Mardi Gras
income under our current administration, and, in fact,
many local artists still struggle with the permit maze of City Hall,
ask yourself this;
Is it truly an end to corruption in our local government when
Pres Kabacoff, developer under the Nagin Administration,
can side step the entire process that has held these others
back, simply because of his connections & cash flow?

I, for one, call foul.
My answer would be a simple, 'Not on your life'.

Lord David
Skull Club in Exile
New Orleans