Posted by: gdevi | March 10, 2011

Conference day 1 / Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The conference hotel as usual is not where academic folks want to stay; so we are all staying in affordable places nearby. This La Quinta on Camp St is about 4 blocks from Ritz Carlton the conference hotel, but it is affordable and clean. I had an unbelievable trip from Detroit to New Orleans.  The state college-detroit part was fine. This conference had better be an useful one; I have paid in triplicate this morning to get here.  I sat with these two women–my original seat was the middle one–so they walk up to me–both of them in their late twenties early thirties–much younger than I am — and they walk up to me and the first thing they said was to exclaim aloud- — the one with the short black hair exclaimed — “you are here! I had asked them to put us together” — she did not mean me–she did not know me–she meant her friend. So I looked up–I was reading — and offered–“do you want me to move?” The woman said, “yes please!” That was odd, but I switched over to the window seat. Then they sat on the middle and aisle seats and started to talk. I normally do not eavesdrop on other people’s conversations; I read in a very focused way. But this was incredible. The one with the short hair shouted “woo hoo convention! ” right in my ear. She was in the middle seat. I wanted to tell her, please, I am not deaf. You don’t have to shout. Turns out she was not shouting for my benefit; there were two other people coming down our way looking for their seats and this deafening outburst was for their benefit. So they all got up and threw their hands up and shouted “convention woo hoo!” I thought I was in the  middle of a Saturday Night Live spoof involving Dana Carvey David Spade and Chris Farley. Apparently they were going to New Orleans for a convention. Then they sat down and started to talk. In Dayani’s school the teachers instruct the kids to use their “inside voice” when they talk inside. These women had no inside voice. Were they deaf? Couldn’t they hear each other? I gave up trying to read Natsuo Kirino’s Grotesque; something far more interesting was happening right next to me. It was an incredible conversation. At first they character assassinated another woman they both knew; “I was drunk,” the one with the short hair began (I can see Chris Farley playing her, RIP Chris Farley), and she (the one they were character assassinating) made this broccoli and cheese soup for me and I was at their house and she and her husband don’t mind the cat eating out of their plates but when that cat put its face into my plate I picked it up and threw it across the room. I mean I didn’t hurt it or anything, but she has been so mean to me ever since. That is so unfair to you, the friend said–David Spade would play her. That is like, I let my cat eat out of my dirty dishes, but there is a big difference between a dirty dish and the plate you are eating from. Oh yeah, Chris Farley said. I mean like you know how weird that is the relationship between your dishwasher and dirty plates. (I am not making any of this up.) She has been so mean to me you know, Chris Farley continued, she is so mean to my boyfriend, like when one of his friends died of a heroin overdose, she said that is what you get if you hang out with drug addicts. I mean that is so mean. Oh yeah, David Spade agreed. Totally mean. So what did you bring? Chris Farley asked David Spade. They shared the various liquors they had in their luggage. Tanqueray. Vodka. Bourbon. Chris Farley had a tickle in her throat and David Spade asked her “can you not do that?” and Chris Farley said as soon as she had some vodka it would go away. Then they talked about all the bars in Bourbon Street they intend to visit as part of this convention. Do you want to win the car or the ipad, Chris Farley asked David Spade. David Spade said, ipad, oh totally. I thought there must be some reason why I am being subjected to this, but as it so often happens, there wasn’t. It was an act of god.

I have to go find something to eat and then walk over to the conference hotel and get all my stuff. The weather is just beautiful here. Must be very nice to walk outside in just sandals.

P.M.

I went to listen to the Preservation Hall Jazz band this evening. It was like going to church. A holy place. A small room maybe 30x 50 in size, paint crumbling, wooden benches, and pretty crowded. I am sure that is part of the ambiance, part marketing and all that. But it is not just ambiance, it feels like the ethos of the place as well. Tonight the Survivors Brass Band was playing. Trumpet, saxophone, slide trombone, tuba, snare drums and drums. The show started at 8pm. The lines started outside around 7pm. I had to wait in line for about 25 minutes and then when I got inside it was standing room only. 12 dollars per person. One hour show. It was just toe-tapping hand-clapping happy happy show! They opened with My God my god has saved me. Then Going to New Orleans. Bye Bye Blackbird. When the Saints Go Marching In and Mama Don’t Want No Brass Playing ‘Round Here medley with improvised verse — “when the saints go marching in/ That’s when life really begins!” The band played beautifully just joyful music! Even though it was standing room only everyone clapped and sang along with them and everyone’s face had a big grin on it. It was an incredible show and I am very very happy that I got to see them. There is no food, no alcohol, no bathrooms, no smoking, no photography, no videos, no audio taping — nothing. Just go and listen to the music and then go home. A beautiful beautiful place.  When you are slightly older we should all come here so you can see them too, honey!

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