Yesterday, my after-school 'Music Writing' students rocked their big Xmas presentation in the large, reverberating performance auditorium of Behrman Elementary on the West Bank. Compared to Orleans Parish schools, Behrman is great; the kids almost all meet their grade level expectations. I was recently moved to Behrman after mold shut down my former school, Craig Elementary in the Treme. Though I loved the Craig kids, too many of them, regardless of age, read and wrote at a kindergarten or pre-K level. Which is definitely parents' fault. Kids should be semi-literate before entering kindergarten.
Anyway, with only one week to prepare, my Behrman Music Writing students programmed the beats, wrote the lyrics and worked-out melodies for a wholly original Xmas song which we hadnt even time to title. Per usual, after Id helped the kids pen the chorus, they were so excited to have something of their own to sing all together, that the remaining elements fell quickly into place. Sarajena, age 11, suggested a slowish Jamaican dancehall beat for said chorus:
Sometimes it snows for Xmas / down here in New Orleans/
But even though / it doesnt always snow / we still know /
what Xmas means.
Its about laughing and singing / and jingle-bells ringing
And presents unwrapped in our dreams /
Its about giving and getting / and never forgetting
What Xmas means!
The aforementioned Sarajeni is sort of a genius, which she sort of knows Im very smart / and Im into art, she rapped my first day at Behrman. Though she shares few words, barely meets my eye when we do speak, and rarely smiles (giving her a false aura of defiance that sometimes psyches me out) Sarajeni always participates in class. When I hopped over to her table to pump her up about performing for 50 or 60 parents (mostly moms), Sarajeni claimed no nervousness -- logical, since today she would blend-in with the background singers, having not written her own solo rap. I am not a rapper, Sarajeni had already told me, eyes down.
Today's downpours had a silver lining for me. I was playing chicken with the rain bands and trying to bicycle myself over to the post office near my house to mail out what will be a very late Christmas package. I was nearly there, the grocery bag-wrapped package balanced on the handlebars, when the clouds began spittling again and it looked like worse was imminent.
Fortunately, I happened to be close enough to Parkway Tavern and Bakery to smell the roast beef aroma. The bike was parked and I was in line at the kitchen window before the real rain could do much damage. To my surprise, I here discovered that Parkway is now serving gumbo, and not just any gumbo.
Theirs is made with roasted turkey and alligator sausage. It has a very dark, rich, country-style roux, but it also includes copious amounts of okra and chopped tomato. An unorthodox combination, but it all proved to be an extraordinary gumbo and it just happened to make a perfect snack on a rainy day. Best of all, the rain cleared almost as soon as I found a seat to eat. So tempting fate on a rainy day turned out a little wet but a lot delicious.
- Ian McNulty
I don't care how many times I see it, the trick the waiters at Galatoire's do with flaming liquor, orange peels and coffee when making café Brulot always proves captivating.
This is no ordinary after-dinner drink or, as is probably more often the case these days at Galatoire's, an after-lunch drink. It comes with specialized equipment, it comes flaming in portions large enough for at least several servings and it comes with a choreographed tableside preparation sure to temporarily supercede conversation not only at your table but usually at all those within earshot.
In French, brûlot can mean either highly seasoned or incendiary, both of which prove apt for this singular post-prandial. Most preparations call for an orange peel cut precisely as one long, intact spiral; a lemon peel cut into strips; sugar, cloves and cinnamon; cognac or brandy and hot, strong black coffee. Most importantly, the drink requires fire.
An adept waiter will set the concoction alight and usually play with it for a bit, tracing little flaming trails over the tablecloth that burn out quickly and conveniently cause no evident damage. It's a parlor trick, I know, but when the end result is boozy coffee every step along the way seems a little more interesting.
- Ian McNulty
There's bad news for John Madden and Turducken fans everywhere. The Brits have not only caught up with our bird-within-bird techniques, but they're way ahead of us.
British chefs have pushed the envelop and managed to get 10 different fowl varieties inside a turkey. Besides chicken and duck, they've found room for squab, pheasant, quail, partridge and others.
It's starting to look like clowns going into a Volkswagen. One chef managed to get 48 birds from 12 different species into a single turkey. Massive bird roasts are reaching 55 lbs., feed 125 people and cost more than 650 British pounds.
They say that freedom isn't free. They also say that it's priceless. But Sotheby's came up with a workable figure this week. $21.3 million.A copy of the Magna Carta sold at auction for that price (complete with seal of King Edward I who stamped it in 1297 - though King John originally agreed to the basic declaration of human rights in 1215). Apparently the auction house expected to fetch $30 million, but either freedom isn't in demand these days, or collectors decided to wait on one of the 16 other copies. Perhaps the oddest note is that this copy belonged not to a museum or even a Brit, but to Texas billionaire Ross Perot. He had parked it at the National Archives in Washington, where it was on display next to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.There's no telling what those signed originals would go for on eBay or if the Bush Administration might want to find out while they still have value.The Magna Carta copy was purchased by the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm that counted former President George H.W. Bush as a shareholder and advisor until at least 2003 and 2004 respectively. There's no word on how much they expect the item to appreciate in value, or where it will be kept.
This past Wednesday, December 12, President Bush vetoed Congresses latest version of the SCHIP (State Childrens Health Insurance Program). Bush vetoed a previous version of SCHIP in October and in a letter , explained that the bill would move children with private health insurance to government coverage. The move is commonly referred to as crowd out. The vetoed bill, H.R. 976, did contain a crowd-out provision that said any state that covered children with a family income exceeding 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) would have to address the issue and implement a strategy to avoid crowd out. Additionally, Bush implied that H.R. 976 allowed for more adults in the SCHIP program and raises taxes on working Americans.
H.R. 976 called for $61.4 billion over five years, an increase of $36.2 billion over the current SCHIP law, and would have provided 4 million more people with health insurance over the 6 million the program currently insures. The increase in coverage would have been paid for by an increased tax on tobacco.
by Sam Winston
There have been 211 homicides in New Orleans according to John Gagliano of the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office on Monday. Do the numbers and it's clear that New Orleans is the murder capital of the U.S.A for the second year in a row at.
Despite having the National Guard, and intensive federal law enforcement assistance to the NOPD from the FBI, ATF, and DEA for most of the year, there is no difference in the murder rate from 2006 when New Orleans outpaced the nation's next closest violent city by 31 percent or more.
This won't be announced officially until sometime next year when all the FBI data is in and the year is so far gone that the announcement has much less of an impact. Until then, "plausible denials" are possible but not convincing.
Ratty Scurvics is the most talented and original artist/musician in New Orleans. For true. In his one-man-band, Singularity, Ratty pounds two keyboards perched atop a bass drum positioned beside a snare on the floor both drums equipped with foot pedals, allowing Ratty to simultaneously play drum-kit and keyboards while singing. Regardless of this spectacle of dexterity, however, Rattys songs hold the main focus. Comparisons to more famous one-man-band Quintron are inevitable, but while Qs musical point is mostly Party! Party! Party! Rattys music stirs up dance frenzies while remaining pathos-driven and deeply personal. Dont worry though, New Orleans, youd hardly notice unless you paid close attention, which you wont, cause you just wanna drink and dance and party, party, party. Doesnt that get old for you? Nevermind, I wont criticize
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