Tag: Louisiana

Day 998: Crossing Abbey Road

Header

This Friday marks the 45th anniversary of what I believe to be the greatest album of all time.

Before you flick lint in my beer or pelt me with wads of Big League Chew for not designating this title to Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates of Dawn or Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Too-Rye-Ay, allow me to point out that there are many albums that are flawless – sometimes in spite of a number of actual flaws. Nary a wayward note blemishes Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, and Paul Simon’s Graceland is among the few utterly perfect slabs of 1980’s vinyl. For me, “the greatest” combines not only artistic and technical brilliance, but the subjective distinction of having served as the soundtrack to many of the most fantastic moments of my life. Your results may (and probably do) vary.

The story of Abbey Road is one of pure, primal mirth, flecked with auburn specks of encroaching melancholy. It is the last glorious and romantic trip to Maui for an otherwise doomed marriage. It marks the greatest rock band in history (an assertion I’ll stand by as wholly factual) producing one final brushstroke upon their legacy before heading their separate ways.

Frustrated-1

This is not a happy group.

In January of 1969, the Beatles were moving in four different directions, and had been for over a year. Their plan was to return to the studio, record a back-to-their-roots album, perform their first concert since the summer of 1966 (the Pyramids in Egypt were a proposed locale, as was a barge adrift in the Atlantic), and film it all for posterity. This attempt to reconnect resulted in a cavalcade of arguments, the grandiose concert reduced to a noon-hour gig on the roof, and the temporary quitting of George Harrison. Read more…

Day 877: One Last Gut-Cram Before I Go

Header

Sometimes sinking one’s brain-fins into the waters of a good hypothetical topic and paddling about with one’s friends can be a healthy exercise. “What ten albums would you want on a deserted island?” “Which three children’s books would you travel back in time to read to a young Calvin Coolidge?” “If you could repaint the Great Wall of China in any shade of turquoise…” But my favorite of all hypothetical dalliances is the notion of the final meal.

The problem here is that we don’t generally know when our final meal will take place. It has crossed my mind upon consuming the occasional flaccid offering of meat-like McFiller-Material that I might be condemning my taste buds to an anticlimactic splatter of blandness, should a tragedy befall me suddenly. In order to become lucidly aware that your next meal will truly be your last, you’ll have had to have made some pretty nefarious life choices. For those of us who will probably never be on death row, each time we order off the menu we’re rolling the dice that we’ll get another chance.

The last meal is the one romanticized element of capital punishment. In truth, the condemned prisoner is usually not allowed to order with the full breadth of his or her imagination. If they could, I’m sure the final meal would often consist of a key to their cell baked into a Twinkie, along with a fully-armed rocket launcher, maybe garnished with a side-salad. In the US, even alcohol is usually on the forbidden list.

Of course, the real reason prisoners are entitled to a glorious final meal has nothing to do with mercy or consideration for the doomed. It’s all about ghosts.

Ghosts-1

The last meal for the condemned is rooted in ancient superstition. Serving someone a free meal implies making a form of peace with the host, a truce if you will. The prisoner’s acceptance of the complimentary grub implies that he or she has forgiven the judge, the executioner and the witnesses. It was the state’s (or the crown’s) way of saying, “Here, enjoy this feast. Please don’t come back and haunt us. We’re cool, right?” The better the food and drink, the less likely the prisoner will return to spook those involved with his death. Read more…

Day 665: A Monster Lives On Royal Street

Header

As we meander into that designated portion of our calendar during which the broadcast networks expect us to tune in to the same retread gore-fests and creep-flicks they run every year, allow me to suggest a somewhat richer experience. There have been numerous true horror stories that have played out through history, spilling real blood on the folios of our legacy and tinting our very humanity with a darker, more esoteric hue.

My daughter has informed me that the gruesome character of Delphine LaLaurie has been woven into the most recent season of American Horror Story. And while I have no doubt the masterful Kathy Bates will construct a character more blood-squooshingly terrible than the real deal, there’s something to be said for the monstrous events that actually happened.

Like, they actually happened. While the grotesque details of Madame LaLaurie’s tortuous exploits have been exaggerated and overestimated throughout the years, these are the facts as history has marked them. Grab hold of your stomach, cause it’s about to turn.

MadameLaLaurie

Behold the grainy face of a thousand soot-stained nightmares. Delphine LaLaurie was a socialite by day and a monster by night, at least to those in her employ. Well, ‘employ’ is a sketchy, if not completely inaccurate word here. This was the early 1800’s in the American South. One didn’t simply employ workers around one’s stately palace, not with all the available dark-skinned labor on the market. Read more…

Day 582: The Other Football Leagues

Header

For those of us whose sports-blood surges through the vein of American football, whose clicker-thumbs are prepped for their pre-season workouts in anticipation of their September Sunday cardio, today is a special day. This is the day our beloved sport pokes its thumbs through the cocoon of the off-season and blinks savagely at the bright light of the months ahead.

The Hall of Fame Game. The day when two teams suit up in their Sunday best and put on a pre-season display of the highest caliber. Well, maybe not the highest caliber. We’ll get a few sets of downs with the 2013 starters, then watch as the second, third and fraying fourth string players finish the match. But for those of us who have ached for our beloved game to return ever since watching Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown make confetti-angels on the turf in New Orleans back in February, this is bliss.

But there are other football options outside the NFL – there always have been. Today I thought I’d pay tribute to some of the leagues that didn’t quite have what it takes to make it.

USFL

As a kid I rooted for the United States Football League to succeed. It was football in the spring and summer, when NFL players were getting drafted and executing drills and doing other mundane training tasks that make for horrible television. New Orleans resident (and partial motivator for the construction of the Louisiana Superdome) David Dixon came up with the USFL’s blueprint in 1965. It took until 1983 for cleats to hit the turf, but a dozen teams in major television markets were ready to take on an 18-game schedule. Read more…

Day 394: Who Do Hoodoo?

Header

You’ve surely heard of voodoo, but what about hoodoo? They both originate from the same part of the globe, but they’re stems growing from different roots. Voodoo is religion, be it Haitian, Louisianan or West African. Hoodoo is a long distance call to the spirit world. Voodoo is the zesty tonic inside an exotic glass; hoodoo is the spicy salt under the rim that could save you or kill you, depending on the whim of the bartender who served it. Hoodoo isn’t religion – it’s folk magic.

To its devotees, when God looked up the recipe for concocting an Earth in a half-dozen sleeps, He checked under ‘H’ for Hoodoo. God is the original Hoodoo doctor, neither a capital-H ‘He’ nor a capital-S ‘She’. Ever since some time in the 19th century, when Christianity bled its tales of crimson magic into the skulls of rapt hoodoo-lovers everywhere, the Bible took on a new interpretation: one of magic, conjuring, and hoodoo. Moses’ reputation among the Jews gets a whole lot funkier when he is depicted as a hoodoo master.

Even more so when depicted as a Jedi master.

Even more so when depicted as a Jedi master.

In hoodoo, the bible becomes a talisman, its psalms and passages acting as vessels of spells and magic. Secrets of the Psalms, a book that occupies real estate on every hoodoo adherent’s shelf, claims that one little corner of the bible holds a particularly chewy slab of magic. Worried about your flight doing a spiral dive into Lake Superior? Have a headache so big you could write Excedrin on it thirty-one times and it still wouldn’t do you any good? Are you getting frustrated that the frequency of your marital relations is more spaced apart than the frequency of lunar eclipses? The Book of Psalms holds the hoodoo key. Read more…

Day 386: Cookin’ Up A Mess O’ Yum

Header

If my beloved reading audience will allow, I would like to shill for a minute. While we here at 1000 Words Labs earn enough from our side income as puppeteer-superheroes to make sponsorship unnecessary, we nevertheless believe in paying tribute to those wondrous businesses who fuel our survival throughout these 1000 days. They aren’t ‘sponsors’ per se; we’d rather not sneeze ads all over our articles and risk offending our readers’ sensibilities. But while these companies in no way officially endorse the intermingling of consonants and vowels on this site, they are worthy of a mention, simply for their commitment to being awesome.

Naturally the first unofficial sponsor was a brewery, because only a moderate state of drunkenness can make an endeavor such as writing a million words for no money seem logical. Rogue Ales fit the bill, since they are the only company brave enough to brew a beer using bacon. But eventually my heart steered me a little closer to home, to the finest legal intoxicant to call Alberta home, the sweet, sweet nectar of Big Rock beer. My stomach has become somewhat jealous of the attention my liver receives on this site (and my taste buds are always happy to be whores for my art), so I feel a food tribute is in order. Since I spend almost all my restaurant money at Da-De-O’s New Orleans-style diner here in town, and since the hands of Wiki-fate were gracious enough to serve me a mess o’ Cajun Cuisine, today my stomach gets top billing.

This is where I get the stomach-strength to give up a life for this project.

This is where I get the stomach-strength to give up a life for this project.

I should point out that I spent one of my formative years toiling in the kitchen of another, now defunct local Cajun place. I suppose it’s in my blood, despite the fact I’ve never set foot in the state of Louisiana. I’ve always been a New Orleans Saints fan and wanted my own airboat too. Go figure. Read more…