Tag Archives: Zydepunks


  This makes me happy. I was in the audience that day, so it’s a little nugget of my personal memory and a good day. I bought their new cd Finisterre that day and listened to it in the car all the way back from Baton Rouge.


Filed under music, New Orleans

Guest blog

My friend Nick is so low-tech, but really funny and brilliant, so I kinda forgive him for it. He sends out an email newsletter to his friends and family all about his travels and adventures, which I’ve quoted from before. Well, it’s really hard to show how funny his newsletters are just quoting a little passage, so I asked Nick if I could just post the entirety of the latest one and call it a guest blog. That way, you get to know him a bit better and he has an excuse to read my blog. Ha! I’ll include one of the pics he sent, as well. My Fess Up Friday post will go up later.

If you’re in New Orleans, check out Nick’s poetry slam this Sunday at 8 p.m., at Dragon’s Den. It’s the Dead Poets Slam this week, so everybody should bring the work of their favorite dead poet, instead of their own. Show up at 7:30 to sign up if you want to read.

Here is the newsletter, with no further ado:

Hello everyone.

I’m playing hooky today. Was going to work a double shift with the mules, but decided to skip the first part of the double and write to all y’all instead. This was the best plan I could think of.

Well here we are at the end of the high tourist season in New Orleans. Jazz Fest wrapped last week, and the tourists who came down for the two-week shindig have gone their way back to their homes. In the next couple weeks, many others will follow them out. Everyone from wealthy snowbirds on their way back to New York and Chicago, to street kids who will hop the freight trains to the Pacific Northwest. Everyone is going to leave before the heat drops down on this city like a wet blanket and makes breathing feel like swimming.

I’m going to be doing some traveling myself next month (more on that in a moment), but for the most part I’ll be sticking around. Growing up in Florida, the thing I loved about the summer was that everybody left and we had the place to ourselves. I like that feeling. I’m looking forward to a summer in my new home, enjoying the peace and tranquility, even if I have to take three cold showers a day to keep my blood from boiling.

SATAN: The heat is conducive to a greater amount of sin.

Satan, do you actually need heat to generate sin in this town?

SATAN: …I see your point.

DICK CHENEY: The amount of sin in this city creates a haven that makes America less safe. I suggest—

Dammit, Dick Cheney! What the hell are you doing here?

SATAN: He’s my nephew.


That explains…so much.

It’s a beautiful time in New Orleans right now. The light is soft in the evenings, the days aren’t too terribly hot yet, and everyone is in a kind of slow coma following Jazz Fest. Bartenders and musicians and everyone else who hasn’t stopped working for the last few weeks get a chance to breathe now. The city feels like it’s catching its wind. Even the River looks like it’s on its back as it continues downstream.

But I think I’m seeing a lot more beauty these days, and that has a lot to do with where I am right now internally. I finally started writing again. I wrote about five poems last month (first drafts, anyway), and am moving forward, very slowly, with the novel.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: I wrote five books last month.

I also started working out, which is also helping me find my center.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: I shot and field dressed a Cape Buffalo.

Ernie, this is not a competition.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: I’ll wrestle you.

Wrestle Dick Cheney.


DICK CHENEY: Ow! OW! Get your terrorist beard off of me!

I’ve been having a really good run of late. The writing is coming along and the work is still highly enjoyable. I’ve been playing the guitar for almost a year now and am having fun with it, and twice a month I run a poetry slam here. This Sunday will be Dead Poetry Night.


By which I mean, you can only read the work of dead poets.

JERRY GARCIA: Oh. I was thinking of something else.

The last month has been a blur. I’ll try to cover everything as best I can. But I’m in a good place, and the last stretch of time has been very good to me. Here are some highlights…


French Quarter Fest went down in mid-April and Jazz Fest took us into May. I actually prefer French Quarter Fest, because it’s in the middle of the Quarter, it’s less crowded, and it’s free. All local acts, too. There’s something to be said for being able to walk through a massive music festival on my way to work.

This town is an embarrassment of riches for a music lover. On any given night, you can hear music that sets your head on fire. I can tell you about standing on the stairs at the Saturn Bar, with Debauche ripping through a set of Russian hooligan songs (see photo), the crowd in the small room stamping their feet in time, and the guitarist being so buried in his song he doesn’t even notice he cut his finger and is spraying blood all over his guitar. At the end of the song, he tapes his finger up and keeps playing until the Zydepunks come on and launch into a punk rock version of a Mexican wedding song and the whole room bounces like it’s on springs.

And I can tell you about going out on a Friday night and seeing three bands that blow my mind, one after the other, from the Jazz Vipers on Frenchman Street to Zazou City and their gypsy jazz/tango fusion at Mimi’s, to local blues legend Little Freddie King, swinging a whole crowd of sweat soaked dancers in a funky little bar called BJ’s Lounge, five doors down from my house.

And I can tell you that there’s no way to stop any of this. The Spotted Cat, my favorite live music venue in the city, closed its doors last week. It will reopen shortly as Jimbeaux’s, though no one knows exactly what to expect. The club closed with a big second line parade to send it off; a jazz funeral for The Cat, with the Treme Brass Band leading us around Frenchman Street while the crowd sang “I’ll Fly Away” at full volume and the grand marshal waved the umbrella and Uncle Lionel pounded the bass drum and danced with a woman in a red dress at the same time, and you just knew that when the place reopened, it was going to be okay. The music was always going to have somewhere to go.


There have been plenty of tourists here lately, and since I make my living on that, I’ve been more than happy with it. They come down, and maybe they don’t tip too much because the economy has them on their heels, but they do take the rides, and they do feed the mule carrots, and I get to spend my day at work outside, far from a computer screen or office lights.

I had a realization recently that all of my favorite jobs have had one thing in common: I was working outdoors. I’ll need to remember that.

I’ve had other visitors, too. People who give me an excuse to show off the city some more, and even to see things I haven’t seen since I moved here. My friends Joel and Beth came down from Chicago and treated me to a tour of the Honey Island Swamp.

There’s something about having people visit. They become these little time capsules. When I haven’t seen someone for a while, I immediately go back to where I was the last time I saw them and observe the distance between then and now. A few weeks ago, my old friend Suzy visited me from Austin. I’ve known her almost eight years. The last time I saw her was August of 2006. It’s staggering to look at what’s gone down between then and now, and yet, there we are, having dinner and still close, and it occurs to me that each friend I have is a bridge, something that holds another part of me together, that keeps me from shaking loose who I’ve been, and reminds me that, whatever I may not like about who I was at the time I met them, I was good enough to find a way to bring this person into my world.

I think these are the things that hold us all together. They do for me, anyway.


I want to share a moment from the last month with you. Press Street is the street that separates the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods. It has railroad tracks running along it, and when a train goes by, it can make me late for work, or make me wait to go home. That’s part of the deal. But for some reason, I find Press Street impossibly beautiful. It is more beautiful than it has any right to be. Train tracks. Vacant lots. Warehouses, empty and otherwise. But I love how it’s this big empty expanse in the middle of a city, this strange little no man’s land where you can stand in the middle of nothing and talk to someone you’ve run into while the train makes you wait to go home.

Here’s the moment. I’m coming home around sunset, and I get to Press Street and the ice cream van goes by. I buy an ice cream and sit and eat it under a tree by the railroad tracks in this big empty space, with the river and the Huey Long Bridge in the distance to my right, while the soft light plays with the church ahead of me on Dauphine Street.

I have moments here, almost every day, where I’m so happy I can hardly believe it. That’s one of many.


I’ll be hitting the road for about a month starting at the end of May. I’m headed down to Florida to pick up my grandparents’ car, which I will drive up to Ohio for them, stopping to visit some friends in North Carolina, then spend a few days in Dayton. From there, it’s up to Detroit, then out to Boston, around Maine and Vermont, and over to Cape Cod for a few days of relaxing at my friend Lili’s family home on the far edge of the country. From there, drop down into New York and New Jersey to see friends and family before flying to Chicago to catch up with everyone in my old home. Finally, I’ll take a train called The City of New Orleans back to my new home.

If you are in any of these places I’m going, I’d love to see you.

For now, I’ve got a couple more weeks of working, writing, and enjoying my city. And it does feel like my city now. I recently figured out that I’ve moved somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty-five times in my life, but this is the first time I’ve lived anywhere and not thought at all about where else I’d like to be. This is Home. I expect to be here for quite some time.

I think that’s a good note to close on. I’ll send all of you some dispatches from the road. Maybe traveling will light a fire under me to make these updates a little more frequent.

Until then, I hope you are all doing as well as I am, and I look forward to crossing paths soon. Thank you for being part of what holds me all together.

All the good songs,




Filed under Uncategorized

Emilie’s 2008 Best List

What a crazy year this has been. It’s the year that my big appetite for music became voracious and I sought out friends and resources to feed it. It’s the year that I “discovered” audio books as a natural result of driving for work – a lot. It’s the year I didn’t go to the theater as much as I used to, but everything came to DVD so much quicker. It’s the year I hoped to finish my book. It’s the year I started this blog.

This is a very personal best list, so the things that I’m highlighting as my favorites of 2008 may not have been released in 2008, just discovered by me in this year that’s soon to be past.

Books – 2008 is the year I read more nonfiction, romance and thriller than ever before, not to mention almost all of Jennifer Weiner and Jennifer Crusie, Spiderwick and Neverland and a lot of David Sedaris. Out of the almost 150 books I’ve read this year, my 15 favorites in roughly the order I read them:
1. His Dark Materials (3) Philip Pullman
2. Gregor and the Code of Claw, Suzanne Collins
3. When a Man Loves a Weapon (this will be released in 2009), Toni McGee Causey
4. Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped Me, Ed. Ben Karlin
5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (about halfway through the year now), Junot Diaz
6. The Rescue Artist, Edward Dolnick
7. The Ruby Key, Holly Lisle
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (finally read this!), Harper Lee
9. Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician, Daniel Wallace
10. Calumet City, Charlie Newton
11. Finn, Jon Clinch
12. A Very Long Engagement, Sebastien Japrisot
13. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
14. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
15. The Wolfman, Nicholas Pekearo

Notables: Continued reading some of my favorite series – the “Alice” books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson books, and Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty. Also was blown away by a trio of historical romance writers – Gaelen Foley, Sherry Thomas and Suzanne Enoch, who gloriously re-invent the genre and write freaking well. Agnes and the Hitman and Faking It made me laugh myself hoarse. And I’ve been crazy about the Twilight series, of course, really impressed with how things wrapped up in Breaking Dawn.

Movies – I used to go to a movie by myself every Sunday, but that habit sadly went away. However, as a three year + member of Netflix, I still saw over 100 movies this year (and I did get to the theater some, of course). I’m going to try to approximate the order I saw them in.
1. Stardust
2. Once
3. Juno
4. Shoot ‘Em Up
5. Across the Universe
6. Wanted
7. Live Free or Die Hard
8. Dear Frankie
9. I’m Not There
10. Persepolis
11. Dark Knight
12. My Blueberry Nights
13. The Brave One
14. Penelope
15. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
16. Mamma Mia!
17. Wall*E – in some ways, my favorite of the year
18. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
19. Twilight
20. I Could Never Be Your Woman
21. Rachel Getting Married
22. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Notables: Much, much better than I’d heard/you’d think – Speed Racer, Good Luck Chuck and The Cutting Edge 3. 21 and Atonement almost made my list, so I guess that makes me a big James McAvoy fan.

TV – This was the year my t.v. became largely decorative. When I forgot how to hook the cables and wires back up after Gustav and relied almost entirely on watching t.v. on my computer. But the shows I love, I love all the more for it. No particular order here.
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. Bones (NOT happy it’s moving to Thursdays)
3. So You Think You Can Dance (Cat Deely’s the bomb, Joshua wasn’t my fav and we need DVD)
4. Survivor (yes, I still love this show)
5. In Plain Sight
6. Top Chef
7. Moonlight (NOT happy this got canceled)
8. Pushing Daisies (NOT happy this got canceled)

Notables: Big Bang Theory surprises me, whenever I manage to catch it, with how funny it is.

Music -This was the year of music. I’ve never been such an avid music listener and collector.
Singles –
1. Wagon Wheel, Old Crow Medicine Show (most listened to song in my iTunes)
2. Forever in Blue Jeans, Jason Castro (he wasn’t my favorite, but this stuck in my head)
3. Toxic, Yael Naim (cover of Britney, haunting and freaky)
4. Fake Is the New Real, Alice Smith
5. Johnny and June, Heidi Newfield
6. Be My Husband, Lisa Hannigan and Damien Rice
7. So What, Pink
8. Another Way to Die, Alicia Keyes and Jack White
9. American Boy, Estelle and Kanye
10. Just Like a Woman, Charlotte Gainsbourg
11. Holding Out for a Hero, Frou Frou
12. Are You Strong Enough to Be My Man, Sheryl Crow
13. You Got Growing Up to Do, Patty Griffin and Joshua Radin
14. Echo, Cyndi Lauper
15. Comes Love, Billie Holiday
16. Whatever Lola Wants, Ella Fitzgerald
17. Love Song, Sara Bareilles
18. See You Again, Miley Cyrus (say what you want, but this song is catchy and cool)
20. Missed Me, Dresden Dolls
19. Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap
20. Arms of a Woman, Amos Lee
21. Lilac Wine, Katie Melua
22. Do I Move You, Nina Simone
23. Hurt, Johnny Cash

CDs –
1. Across the Universe soundtrack (oh glorious TV Carpio, put out a cd already! Dana Fuchs!)
2. Juno soundtrack
3. Once soundtrack
4. Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis
5. Volume 1, She & Him
6. Black Snake Moan soundtrack

Performers, period –
1. Patty Griffin – I’m delirious over Patty Griffin
2. Jenny Lewis
3. Lucinda Williams
4. Emmylou Harris
5. Allison Moorer
6. The White Stripes, Jack White notably
7. The Dresden Dolls
8. Roisin Murphy
9. Katie Herzig
10. Sugarland
11. Krista Detor

Notables: My love for Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, The Magnetic Fields, Cake and The Beatles, always vibrant, has been renewed. I grew to really appreciate Kanye West (though my first love for him came after his infamous quote after Katrina). And I learned that, as amusing as I find it when my neighbor M. sings the lyrics to “Ding, Ding, Dong,” I am NOT a fan of Gunther.

Websites – These are the websites I checked every day in 2008, once I knew about them!
1. Post Secret
2. I Am Fuel, You Are Friends
3. Living With Music – writers blog about music!
4. GalleyCat – how could I leave this one off?
5. Wikipedia
6. imdb
7. cdbaby
8. Amazon
9. Craigslist
10. YouTube

My Favorite Things – What I’ve been loving this year
1. Favorite Home Away from Home – Cheers, my coffeeshop
2. Friends – you know who you are and likely, you’ve introduce me to a lot of great music and food this year. I love you for it, this year and all years.
3. Family – for the pictures, the drama and the support.
4. Local Music – The Zydepunks, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Loose Marbles and Gal Holiday
5. Food – the roast beef po’boy at Parkway just may be my favorite thing I’ve eaten this year
6. Lessons – dancing, parallel parking, how to be a better writer (friends again, thank you)
7. Libraries – Nola and BR, so very excited about having multiple library cards
8. Writing – NaNoWriMo, PerNoWriMo, Write or Die, Jamey
9. Epiphany – being excited and finding others who’re also excited about the same things.
10. City – New Orleans. Of course and always.

That’s it, Emilie’s Top List for 2008. Enjoy. Argue. Applaud. Whatever. 🙂

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Filed under family, Friends, movies, music, New Orleans, pop culture, t.v., weirdness