New Orleans reading list

World that Made New Orleans– Ned Subette    This one gets into the history of the ancestral roots of the people that make up NOLA. Explains Cajun, creole, quadroons and more terms unique to NOLA.

Nine Lives– Dan Baum    9 true stories pre and post Katrina lives.

A Confederacy of Dunces– John Kennedy Toole   The most unlikely story but the author killed himself as this book was rejected by all major book companies. His mom found a copy of the book and pestered a professor at Tulane to read it for over a year! Of course its one of the best and funniest books written during the 20th century and set in New Orleans. Won a Pulitzer for literature too.

Accidental City– Lawrence N Powell      So far the most comprehensive history of the area that is NOLA. It starts out literally a millennia ago as the Mississippi dumps huge amounts of sediments at the gulf end of the river, thus creating bayous to the ocean. It explains natives role in shaping the city, the sad slavery part is covered too.

Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children– John Churchill Chase   A wonderful read about street names in NOLA and how they got named. More than 1 plantation estate has been gambled away to become a neighbourhood.

Beautiful Crescent–  Joan B Garvey & MaryLou Widmer    The book is recommended to take the tour guide test. Basic overview of NOLA.

Empire of Sin– Gary Krist    If you’ve seen The Wire Season 3 this spot in NOLA was an inspiration for Hampsterdam. For 40 years in a section of NOLA everything was legal. Prostitution drugs booze you name it Storyville had it. Everyone had to have a permit to live in this part of town, though there was no reason given for said permit. It only verified that person was allowed to live in Storyville.

Inventing New Orleans: Writings of Lafcadio Hearn– former columnist of the Orleans Daily Item, Times-Democrat, Harper’s Weekly, and Scribner’s Magazine, he details New Orleans city life 1877-1887.

Bourbon Street: A History  Richard Campanella- The whole history of likely the most famous street in the US, Bourbon St. Loved and hated by locals and visitors, this book details the history of this street of sin beginning with the French, Spanish, 20’s gangsters, and post- Katrina days.

Bienville’s Dilemma  Richard Campenella- 65 articles about all aspects of New Orleans life and residents from its founding in 1718 to current geography and populations post Katrina.

 

 

 

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Handle it: Becoming a tour guide in New Orleans

About a year ago I made one of the best decisions of my life, I took a test to become a tour guide in New Orleans. I had just ended a seasonal bar-tending job and was listless. A lot of free time on my hands so it felt it best to pursue something. This process is not good and it is not explained at all on the website. My pain your gain. Here is how this process really works.

https://www.nola.gov/onestop/business/taxi/tour-guide-permit/

You’ll want to go to this website 1st as there is an app you must fill out. You also have to obtain a criminal background check! Yes no felon guides need apply. There is also a book they recommend you read. It is an ok read, there are others I’d recommend more than this one but it does the job.

1st trip to city hall you will have to fill out a form, bring ID. You’ll have to see 3 people each will do something different. One gets all your info, hands you info on where to go to get background check done. Then another will take $50, they do take cards but you know they dont tell you that its no cash until you arrive.

You are then given the news that there is a test only offered 2x per month. At least this was the case in Jan 2018. Sign up for the 1st available. The book is easy read and can be perused in a week. You should also study up on column names, like doric ionic and Corinthian. Know house types like creole cottage, camel backshotgun etc. None of this info is contained in the book. I feel it may have been on a paper she gave me. Nonetheless the links to the architectural styles will be most helpful on test day.

When you are at one of the 2 background check companies they work with, ask them to send the info to city hall. They have a system, maybe fax but I dont recall having to get a physical hard copy but get one anyway make them print it out. It costs 30$ I want to say. Not cheap vs time it takes them to obtain the info anyway.

Test day will come and you are back to city hall. Take the test and wait for a call. You must go back to city hall only after receiving confirmation that you passed. A lady will review your file make sure all info is correct and background checks out. They take your pic and print out your official license ! You have made it! Only takes 3 trips to city hall to get everything done. Hooray !

What its really like to work as an extra on TV and movies

Ive lived in New Orleans since Oct 2017 and one of the 1st jobs I worked was at a festival. I got to know several locals during the long work weekend. My main line of inquiry was what did they do for work after the festival. Several people said they regularly worked as a movie or TV extra on days off. No way!

Its true, I was told about this website where you fill out some info and submit pics, head and bodyshot.  Jobs would appear with descriptions of what was needed physically, basic info such as ‘need people to play high schoolers or business looking types,’ as well as  stand-ins for the main actors so they can set a scene up before they shoot it with the stars. Some calls required extras to bring their cars boats or other vehicle. Think about the many roles in movies and there are just as many roles hanging out in the back of the scene making it look real. New Orleans has a huge movie and TV industry. Everyday something is shooting somewhere in the city.

It took a bit of applying, making this page a daily activity to respond to calls I qualified for. To date I’ve been on 5 sets. The big one was NCIS New Orleans, thats the one I heard had a lot of regulars as well as a lot of the extras I met had worked on the set too. You could be a regular background actor I discovered. Most were not pros, they just looked like a lawyer or judge maybe a bartender. There is a certain look to a college basketball coach.  Admit it sometimes people look like their jobs.  I get stopped in life and talked to often because I look like I know something. For sure if I am at Target someone will ask me a question even though I am not wearing red and khaki. I also have not worked for Target in over 20 years.

  1. The on set requirement is all day or night, literally.

When you sign up for background the 2 rates Ive seen are for 8 or 12 hours. Only once have we wrapped early for a 12 hr shoot which is good. You get paid in full even if the shoot doesnt last the full 8 or 12 hours. You get time and a half if a shoot goes over, which usually happens. You get more if you have to do anything extra like say dialogue or wear a costume. That is the next thing I hope to get do.

2. You won’t make much money unless you are union.

This was pretty startling how little we made per day only about 100$. There are ways to get bumps as they call them, wearing costumes, speaking roles or specialized background roles like a basketball player or referee so those people get a few dollars more per day. I have heard of unionized extras. On the website it has a box to check if you are in SAG. Not sure how one joins an extras union or if it is a part of the actors union. I dont feel like an actor but I guess I sorta am. Maybe theyll pull me out to say a line or walk in front of the camera, have a moment.

3. Meals, snacks are included but guarded.

I must say Ive eaten rather well on set. They usually have bevs out coffee teas or juice. Pasta rice salads and chicken, oh lots of chicken for meals. On my first set I learned there are 2 different food lines one for talent and crew another for extras. My 1st encounter with the dual lines had the crew line with breakfast trays still out. These were full of eggs bacon potatoes etc so I got a plate and filled it up. A lady came over and told me to not eat that food ‘its for talent.’ I pretty much ignored her and just said ok ok Im leaving while I scooped food onto my plate. I watched them throw the trays of food away moments after I had eaten! Why do people care? I dunno but there is always a salty food and bev guard who will insist that you cannot have anything from the tables of food to go over to a coffee maker and water jug.

The crew will also be happy to show you how much better their food options are as well. They all seem to have fancy water sports drinks or carbonated bottles while we get an orange cooler full of ice and water. One set had major chain delivered coffee while we used instant via a coffee maker. These new fangled coffee makers can use both grounds or pods which could have also been purchased at the same place as the premade coffees. I also dont know how the volume discount isnt considered. If crew can only eat 5 lbs of slaw but you get a discount if you order 10 lbs, then open it up to the extras. My latest encounter was the crew had grilled option. Usually fish I understood as I waited directly next to the grill. I overheard several people ask ‘What fish today?’ which I took to mean they had fish regularly. Enough to wonder what type of fish it was they were eating.

3. Not too many big stars around.

I suppose stardom these days is relative. Some TV shows can have more fans than a film. Biggest names I saw so far on set were Tom Arnold Gabriel Bryne Scott Bakula each on a different set. I did have an adrenaline surge moment when I saw them but it passed when I realized what do I say to them? Theyve heard it all by now I am sure plus they are working too. They want to wrap just as much as everyone else. I feel it is best to not talk to or take pics with stars though some do. Its fun playing who is that person with the other extras if you cannot recall an actor’s name or what other films or tv shows theyve been in.

4. You have hours and hours with nothing to do and nothing going on

The most frustrating thing is that you are told to arrive around 3 but they wont start shooting until 7 or so. Yeah it takes over an hour in line to get checked in then employment vouchers filled out finally all paperwork is then checked by another person. Pretty much there are 3-5 people working to get hundreds of extras onto the set. Typically I have to see make up hair and wardrode before I get on set. You always wish they had several more people around to speed things up. I now bring headphones and a book as part of my bag for shoots. Ive read 100+ pages in one go on set and at no point was I needed to do anything. Just hours of uninterrupted do nothing time. I just tell myself I am being paid to read and occasionally do something.

5. You dont have to participate, really.

For the most part 95% of people follow the orders and work a scene. Others sit in the seats or walk around the set. It is completely possible to not work but get paid. Typically you can leave set to step outside for a smoke perhaps hide in the restroom. If you stay seated in the same spot too long youll get called out eventually. Hey fill in this empty seat here. Go join the others please.  Of course there are people who are over enthusiastic while shooting. Theyll dramatically emote or pose whatever they can to get on-screen. I guess they get to add that scene to their resume and IMDB page. Things work both ways so put into this whatever effort you want it will be ok.

6. Few of the crew knows what is going on. Especially when we will break or wrap.

For real not even PAs or anyone with a radio knows what is going on. Theyve shot a scene 3x and done the same thing each time only to be told to do something else or why are you doing it that way? One person will say go there another will say stay both have previously given correct instructions before. Sometime a 3rd person comes in and overrides 2 others instructions. ‘Extras listen to me!’ If you ask someone where something is youll likely be told wrong or to go find someone else. One has to adopt a go where told mode. No question just walk in the direction they point you to.

7. Every direction gets repeated repeatedly.

Yes they do yell action, cut and all that. They also yell,

“Quiet! Shhhh! Mark! Sound!

The only thing people really should know about what to do when they are not shooting is to be quiet. Usually the actors and directors rehearse a scene to ensure the dialogue works which angle looks best blocking shadows lots of things to consider.  Few things are as loud as crew yelling “Shhhhh! Quiet! Settle down!” 10x. I took notes the last time I was on set and here is what they yell

Back to 1!  this means go to where you started.

Rehearsing!  this means do not talk the actors are running through the scene with action to see how it looks and feels on camera. If they can get this down quickly everyone can leave.

Sound! Just a sound check for levels usually for quiet dialogue in a loud crowd.

Set! get ready in your 1st position.

Roll Sound! exactly what it means, they are recording the area.

Action! movement. Usually a guy or gal will tell you the direction they want you to move. Beats are important and are used. Wait 5 beats then walk that way is a direction I have heard more than once.

8. Tiny things matter.

There are so many jobs and departments on set I cannot keep up. Makeup hair wardrobe lighting props but yet more. Each one has several people doing things but most of the time they have too many people. Most are standing around thinking of things to do. As a result minor things are noticed and questions posed. Any logos or labels are removed from clothes. No real brands are displayed so they make up fake schools or brands. Ive seen many times wardrobe putting tape on a shirt or cutting off a pant logo. Mind you we are so far away from the camera it is unlikely they could read anything much less a logo or label.

Hair and makeup always are walking around daubing more foundation fake blood or powder. If I have a nice shirt you better believe someone has asked to steam it. Its amazing what some people do for a living. You may think doing nothing is fun but man try just walking around for 12-16 hours 5 days a week. Of course you will figure out little things to do to occupy your mind. On set most everyone is trying to stave away boredom. This extends to and explains the food monitors. The extras who call out other extras for minor infractions or to shut up between takes. I just walk around the set pausing if I near a camera or TV. Sometimes Ive been able to watch them rehearse a scene and work things out. Lighting is by far the largest concern or they make it out to be as they always want to throw up a shade or add a color filter over a light.

9.  A lot of extras are strange. Some are clearly on the spectrum.

Maybe this confirms things for some but oh yeah extras are a strange bunch. Some are retired and doing this for fun. Others are college students and are doing this while reading or drawing. There is always 1 amazing drawer on set it seems and throughout the day they sketch draw and shade nearly complete comics.

And then there are the special ones. These often wander off or make loud comments to themselves. The last set I was one a guy just walked up to a group of us talking about old action figures I think it was. To no one he announces his dad builds Star Wars legos and they are cool. Oh ok sure hey that is cool.  Also out of context and the group he is trying to talk to is discussing other things. I overhear this sort of awkward exchange at least once per set. I think that is to be expected when these types of jobs, jobs with the only requirement is a pulse and to get to set by a certain time.

10. Overall it is a fun positive day especially if you enjoy movies

Ive always enjoyed going to the movies marking several big life events around certain movie releases. Its pretty great for me to see how they shoot basic stuff like double camera set ups lighting concerns and audio. Also the amount of people needed to make it all happen is staggering as well. Hundreds of people from costumers makeup security catering even medical are all working on what could only be a few minutes of time on a movie or show. Thousands of dollars per day for an eternal moment or the scene could be cut and not used.

Every set was pleasant and happy too. Lots of thank yous and please. Even from the directors though you know they have to be direct so they have a weight to their tone. The last set I was on the director was telling bad jokes on the mic. Hey they were moving stuff around so why not cut loose a bit? Its not for everyone but if you enjoy movies then check into working as an extra. Most major cities have some sort of casting company. I get out to set and work all day while it rains or is 108° so its a better deal than just hanging out inside all day.

Jazzfest musician recommendations

Having worked every day of the 2018 Jazzfest I was in a unique position of talking to many people and locals music recommendations. In most cases I didnt know any of these performers until day of. Links go to youtube videos

 

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real     Rocking country with long jams at times

Big Freedia Uniquely NOLA, very fast repetitive beat and vocals. Expect to twerk and dance.

Khalid  Modern soul, R+B part rap/sung vocals

Naughty Professor Funky horns, good beat instrumental groovy music.

Fiend NOLA rapper that the long time volunteers were most excited to hear. He’s from here, New Orleans baby, theyd say.

Anita Baker No one was talked about more than Anita Baker. Every worker and most people I spoke to wanted to see her. Nice R+B soul singer.

Anders Osborne  He had a great groove. Heavy guitar hypnotic rock.

Galatic Ive heard of this band and seen flyers for shows but first time to hear their music. Upbeat high energy rock.

David Bryne This man put on one of the best live shows Ive ever seen. If he is on tour do not miss it, great choreographed moves with good tunes.

 

 

 

Working @ 2018 Jazzfest Weekend 2

The 2nd weekend of Jazzfest is 4 days, starting on Thursday. Great weather for the fest to this point, we had some sun and light breeze. Near perfect in our booth but once you left the tarp covered area, it was pretty hot, 80s. I brought some sunscreen everyday and lent it out several times. One ladys skin was actually bubbling it was so burned. I dont feel right taking money from someone in so apparent need, you know? Still the general store sold earplugs, sunscreen for 20$. Outrageous.

I was looking forward to Toots and the Maytals and Lionel Richie who were headlining so they closed the day. We seemed a bit busier, steadier for sure than the weekend. Always someone in line at all times. 1s and 2s but no line. All is good as we rocked out to Stooges Brass Band and Naughty Professor. Most bands only got 30-45 minute sets, even the support bands. Closers played and hour and a half.

All day I waited until it was time to walk over to Congo Stage. Toots was in good spirits and wished us all well: ‘Time to check ya pressa! Reggae music yeah!’ They went straight into Pressure Drop! I was seated near some hippie parents whose daughter was dancing all over the place. They had to chase her down a few times, she was running free, making a break for it. Good vibes to good tunes! Toots played about 10 min past 7 which was the longest set of the fest. He stops playing when he is done not what time you tell him!

Ive loved Lionel Richie for years, especially his time with the Commodores. My dad had some of their cassettes so they were in the cars music rotation. Earth Wind and Fire Steely Dan Eagles Commodores all were played. The solo in Easy is top 5 all time for me. He played it and all his other greats, including We are the World in full! Every one was swaying and singing along. Great set!

 

Friday

As I rode in I hear very familiar beat and rhyming. It was LL Cool J sound checking. I paused to listen. He did most of the Ripper and Rock the Bells. I have his 12′ single for Going Back to Cali, one of my all time favorite records. The delivery of these lines is so smooth, just a great track:

I’m going back to Cali, rising, surprising
Advising, realizing, she’s sizing me up
Her bikini, small; heels, tall
She said, she liked, the ocean

Once at my booth I heard Becks band sound check. He didnt play full songs nor did he sing. He just played a riff or passage of a song for a bit, stopped to say 2 into the mic. For a full minute: 2 2 2 2 2 hey hey 2 2 2  hey 2 2. His Sea Change record is great, it was the soundtrack to my move to a small house in Denton when it came out. Midnite Vultures is funky as well. I would miss all the sets today, I had to work at a brewery taproom that night. The fest had 2 shifts 9-2 and 2-7. I just told Javon I was leaving at 2.

We had began to run out of bandannas so people were getting mean, bartering. Take that one down and sell it to me! Why not?! Hey man I just work here, I dont set prices or decide when to sell displays. Several people took pics of the displays so we knew people wanted to see what the fest made for the year. A lot of collectors do buy 1 of every color bandanna or poster, something. A lady said she makes a big quilt every year with all the bandannas.  No sale move along.

So many people want everything their way and they use money to make this happen. Just laying down bills in front of me and here I am, man I need that extra money. The fest isnt paying me that much so why dont I just give in and take the money? Because that is not a world I want to live in, where more money solves every obstacle. Sometimes you have to go without a possession.

Saturday Rain Day

Listening to the veteran Jazzfest workers, it always rained at least 1 day of the fest. Today was that day this year. The booth had a pretty cool poncho/blanket but that was all we had. No ponchos for 2$ or anything, just a fairly expensive item. It was ok, it rained for about an hour nothing substantial.  It was overcast until evening, nice and cool. It wasnt like 2-3 years ago when people could dive into water on fest grounds. Mind you there isnt any pool like structure on the fest grounds, it had rained so much it had created a pool.

Today was the big day, Aerosmith was the headliner. Lots of their old logo tee shirts in the crowd. Before they rocked the house we got to enjoy Dumpstaphunk, one of the Neville Bros band, and Cowboy Mouth who ran through their only hit (Jenny Says) 3x speed. They tore through it almost to the end of their set. Singing drummer band, you dont see those often.

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Aerosmith went on about a half hour early and the crowd roared to life singing along. The crush of people was so great I clocked a guy carrying a Welsh flag 2 songs to move about 50 ft. Just nowhere to sit stand or walk. I do not understand why people bring flags to rock shows. It seems like such a pain to carry all day. I heard that some people meet up via flags so I suppose they are useful in that way. All I know is many photo ops have been ruined thanks to an errant flag and pole in frame.

They played a broad set including 70s hits blues covers and their new love songs. Steven Tyler slinked across the stage, bandannas flapping in the breeze along his mic stand. They sounded great! Hard to believe they are all well into their 70s. The highlight was Dream On which featured the stage lighting up and smoke funnels shot out from every direction at the songs climax.

During their set a couple of ladies came over to talk to me. They wore low-cut shorts and shirts with plunging necklines. I was soon handed a rolled up blanket they said was now mine. They bought it just for this fest in a thrift store on the way. Sell it or give it away it is yours! They were heading to a bar and didnt want to carry it anymore. I stowed it in one of the pods overnight. Id figure out something to do with it in the morning.

 

Sunday

Final day of the fest! Id had a blast and had seen many bands on my list. I worked with very cool people as well. Mostly high schoolers helped out, NOLA area kids get 2 days off for Jazzfest. The 2 girls I worked with had just graduated. They had devised a plan to get tips so they modeled skirts and tops to me asking which one I thought one looked best. Ladies you could wear dirty dish rags and youd still look good. I just told them they looked great and tried my best not to be a creeper.

Within the first 2 hours of the fest I had someone ask if we had blankets for sale. 2 ladies, a bit older than I, well one maybe just at my age. A mom daughter combo I presumed. I asked them if they needed a blanket. After they said yes I handed it over with the story that came with it: I was given this yesterday and they said to pass it on. So I pass it on to you enjoy it. I felt like keeping that sense of giving should be passed on. No money to taint this transaction. Pure sharing pure spirit.

I was very excited to see Smokey Robinson Jack White Rebirth Brass Band Calexico and Trombone Shorty throughout the day. Life had other plans though as I took a break to eat and see Rebirth. I saw crawfish strudel around the fest and had to try it. It is etouffee stuffed inside pastry flaky dough. Very good though tough to eat without it going all over your shirt. I ate as Rebirth rocked the crowd.

When I got back to my booth Javon told me he had bad news. Another booth needed help, someone to run a register and I was the only one with a register pin #. I followed our money lady to the far end of the fest, way away from a stage. I was going to be in the CD tent where they sold music of all the performers at the fest. Marked up 10$ however. I was pissed, I had to walk around and help people. It totally sucked as it was just busy work, I was not needed.

After awhile I was told to follow a guy with a box of CDs. Again we walked to the other  end of the fest to the Jazz tent. I was supposed to sell  band CDs while they played and then they would have a signing. I had a small wad of cash and was left at a table near the stage. Alas it was new jazz and I just do not get it. It doesnt sound like anything memorable to me but the crowd was all in. Guys had their eyes closed and were nodding their head to the beat. I paced back and forth behind the table and eventually did sell 1 CD. Man I missed Smokey for this shit!

I was done once the band finished and I saw them literally run to an awaiting SUV. No signing, no one buying CDs, I’m out of here. I packed up my stuff and walked back to the CD tent. I turned everything in and checked the schedule. Calexico was on soon so I figured Id hang around until then. My time spent hanging around was actually used up trying to track down the schedule keeper. I had to sign in at a booth daily which is matched up to your clock in time, which is done via ipad. If they dont match up, you dont get those hours of pay.

Calexico is just a great band. They play Mexican Spanish Caribbean Latin style rock, which I suppose really means they have unique rhythms and instrumentation. Each song feels like the desert with just enough glimmer of hope you enjoy it. For sure it will get your foot tappin and your body swaying. They put out a great record with Iron and Wine as well as having several songs on the Dylan movie Dont Look Back. 1st time to see them but I overheard they play NOLA often so I look forward to a full set.

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My fest ended like it started, in merch booth 4. I handed everyone plastic flowers I found while walking around the CD tent. With no direction as to what to do there I figured throwing trash away was a good idea. I saw these flowers on the stage so someone had forgotten them and it was our gain. There was enough to go around. I had one stuck behind my ear, I was finally pretty!

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Working @ 2018 Jazzfest Weekend 1

When I moved to NOLA in Oct, the 1st job I landed was working Voodoo Fest as a bar runner. Long, early hours but free admission to the fest and a lot of money fast. At the fest I found myself in the VIP seats for Kendrick Lamar’s entire set. I was paid to see someone who I would normally pay to watch. I was also able to finally see Foo Fighters and the Killers.  I had to land a job at the legendary Jazzfest.

And I did! All I had to do was go to the Jazzfest website and submit a resume. They have several jobs and I applied for them all. I figured the shotgun approach was best: fire away at everything and see what I hit. I wound up receiving a call back for concessions. After filling out way too much paperwork for a very low paying PT job, I found my position was to be a hat seller. Hats, man… hats!

I missed the mandatory orientation so when I rode up on day 1 I had no idea what would be in store. I saw a security line so I went through and was stopped by a girl who asked me for a ticket.

“I dont have a ticket I am working the fest.” I said.

“You still need a ticket. Where’s your ticket?” she asked.

“I dont know about a ticket, isnt there a worker list?'”

“You need a ticket to get in. If you dont have a ticket, you need to get out of line ,” was her reply.

“Where do I get a ticket?” I asked.

“My job is only to scan people’s tickets sir,” was all she said as she moved on to the next person. This is the definition of a festival worker: myopic. No one really tells us much, youre really left to figure things out. These jobs are about as low paying as you can find, its like a privilege to work there sort of deal.

I saw another line behind me next to a sign that read Concessions and figured at least someone would be able to help. I was right, this was the correct line! I got a ticket but still had to go back through security.

I rode through a sand road they created for the festival. The fest is held on a horse, dog racetrack so they build a small city every year. I was heading to an official merch booth near one of the main stages. I hear bass as I approached. It was Sting onstage sound checking! I heard bits of Police songs as well as solo Sting. He even stopped a song to ask ‘is that the right chord? B flat or G flat there?’

I met an older guy in the booth who was just a volunteer for the day. It was nearly 10 and they typically open the gates at 11. We had no hats or bandannas up and didn’t know what to do. This is the mindset for the entire festival, you only figure things out once its nearly over. I was soon greeted by Javon who looked a lot like the rapper Rick Ross, especially profile with his dark aviator shades on bald head dark bear. Turns out we had to count and log inventory before we started. Of course the inventory sheet wound up in my hands. The volunteer couldn’t do it he wasnt an employee.

This damn inventory sheet would haunt me the entire weekend thanks to another lady. At the time it wasnt so bad, I just had to learn hat names and colors. It was rough going but I soon picked up on the process. Boonies buckets seersuckers I learned all the new hat terms as I logged things on the sheet. I also learned about espresso (light brown) and emerald (green). I am still not sure what makes something brown khaki or tan though.

The process is broken down into individual tasks, so all I and the volunteer did was pick a hat and hand it to the cashier to ring it up. Easy man totally chill. Plus we could hear everyone playing nearby, I’d scored a great booth! Most of the day was just handing things over talking to people buying things and trying to provide directions. We had a program for sale with a map but people would just ask to see the map without buying it.

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Its strange working a fest, people tell you way too much info as they dig around for cash. Look youre buying a hat, thats it I dont need to know who its for or why you forgot your other hat or even if you wished they put the year on the items. Also I dont own this store so I dont get a bonus nor do I set the prices, which were high for basic stuff. I’d say in a fair world everything should be 5-10$ cheaper. 30$ for a ballcap, 15$ for a bandana but they are selling to captive audience plus most people want a souvenir from their trip to Jazzfest. People also want deals, cant they get a few dollars off for buying more than 1 of the same item? No just no. I dont think Jazzfest has an online store which would be fascinating to see how much things would actually cost.

I walked a long way over to the Gentilly stage to check out Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. He was Willies boy and had just backed up Neil Young so I knew he would be good. His set started with a long intro of just Lukas slow strumming his guitar before exploding into a full band jam. Id see Lukas again a few hours after his set as he walked in front of my booth. We both waved at each other but he was constantly approached for pics. He was dressed in black head to boot so he stood out from the crowd. Ill bet people approached him just cause he looks like he is somebody famous.

Sting had a nice turnout for his set which went on about at sunset. The Police songs sound better live as does his solo stuff which I always felt was too mellow too adult easy listening rock for me. Flags flopped in the wind people sang along and danced during his set. You could tell the couples who had a Sting song play their wedding as guys sang into their lades faces before kissing.

Pretty chaotic trying to count everything before we could leave so it took about an hour for us to figure out a process. Luckily a couple of ladies did most of the backstock counting in the 2 wooden storage pods behind our booth. Both were full of merch and they bundled most of it up in easy to count bags.

Saturday

When I checked in with concessions lady this morning, she had a badge for me with a bar code on it. A real pass that could get me in most places at the fest Id find out. I was just happy to not have to stand in 2 lines just to get to my job. Thats the rub with low paying gigs they waste a lot of your time with dumb rules and processes. Just mail me a pass or tell me where to pick them up at before day 1. I guess they were behind.

More counting using that damn sheet. The helpful ladies arent at our booth anymore instead we get an actual bitch. She literally would tell people not to do things ‘like that,’ do it like this. Dont count that, do it like this. Or my favorite, how many did you count of red bandannas, I counted XX.  She literally killed the good vibes we had going every time she showed up. She is a horrible person and I shant speak of her again.

I was able to get out of the booth to try creole bread basically a bread roll with crawfish etouffee or sausage stuffed inside. The old lady that sold it to me gave me confidence that this was homemade. I hoped. A lot of vendors are from the city or state and it is hard to get a booth. Youve got to have great food to be considered. In fact I learned the beer tent next to us was run by a rotary club. They donated the tips to pay for education costs of rotary members. So that made me feel better about not working one of the highest paying booths. Charity is a good thing.

The day wore on and soon Bonnie Raitte was singing the blues on the stage behind us. It sounded cool and mellow. Hardly anyone buys things when someone is on stage. The few that do are on the way out. They all tell me this in different roundabout ways. Its cool I like brief interactions with people. Hey how great is the weather? Where you from? Who are you here to see?  The basics.

As the sun set, Rod Stewart took the stage. From the screen he still looked great. A big blonde flop of hair and quite a swagger onstage. I mentioned to one of the ladies I was working with how life is so unfair not only does Rod get a full head of hair at 70+ he was also a great singer performer. Why isnt it he goes bald but still is Rod Stewart, while I keep my hair and remain anonymous. Oh well ooh la la.

I did sway and groove a bit as Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? was played. It does have that beat that you could listen to for ages. I was still a bit taken aback at just how many tunes I knew of Rod’s: Downtown Train Forever Young Maggie Mae Some Guys Have all the Luck Tonights the Night Rhythm of my Heart and he played ’em all real well!

A great day!

Sunday

One of the most chill days was Sunday. Everyone went hard Saturday so a bit less crowded than previous days. It was all good to me we weren’t terribly busy. Sometimes we’d have a small line but we cleared them up quickly. We mostly just grooved to whatever was on the stage behind us. Car company stage. I wont say the name because they arent paying me to say it like they do the fest. Ads everywhere.

I pre-warned Jovan that I was out at 450 to catch David Byrne on the Gentilly Stage clear on the far side of the fest. A long walk for sure but I’d been a fan of his work for years. He was singer for Talking Heads. I had just found his book on cycling big cities of the world, including New Orleans. It was pretty good but not really too much about bikes or good bike views. Its mainly his thoughts on culture food music politics of the cities with occasional mentions of routes or bike highways. If you are into his work or music it is a nice find to read on a trip or plane.

He did not disappoint. Truly one of the best shows Ive ever seen. His whole band is mobile even drummers. They wore strap on drums and cymbals the compromise is you have to have 2 drummers to cover cymbals and drums. The horns and guitars were wireless, no amps visible onstage. Everyone wore gray suites and were barefoot. There were 2-4 dancers depending on the song. Every move choreographed with the music. David would pretend he was pushing the band back and forwards miming a rope.

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He played a tune called I Should Watch More TV that floored me. It was heavy and spikey guitars great beat. It was on a record he made with St Vincent a Dallas lady. I listed to  David’s solo records the rest of the week. There are several and they cover many genres. Good party background music Id say.

I was jammed packed in the middle of a sea of people. The Moseses were the beer cart guys who somehow were able to push huge tubs of beer through the herds. I had to move away from hippy granny not because she is any of those things. No it was her wild dancing and tambourine. Just way off beat that didnt help the music. It was also here I realized in life there are 2 places men would like to have a few more inches: at live events when you stand and in the bedroom. I am cursed with always being 2-4 inches shorter than the guy in front of me. I say anyone 6′ or taller has to stand in back also ladies up front too. Thats a good way to do it.

I returned to my booth to the mellow sounds of the Jimmy Buffett Band. It was not my thing. Just so mellow so generic he was literally putting people to sleep. Quite the contrast from the dancing sea I was just in. He was wearing a yellow fest hat and of course we had a run on any yellow hat during his set. Dude bought 5 for all his friends who follow the Buffett on tour. I dont get it but hey if it turns your screw, enjoy. I just wanted to keep dancing a bit and you cant dance to Cheeseburger in Paradise. I heard from a coworker Buffett had live around town for years and he always plays Jazzfest. He is doing it right just sailing back and forth to Florida from NOLA. Beats driving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream trip Day 140 DC to New Orleans by train, last stop

I’d woke up to hard rain again, but for the final time on this trip. No chance to get out and explore DC further.

Adding to my day’s frustrations was it had been my final paid night in the hostel. Jeff was out-of-town for the weekend.

I had a vague idea of just heading south, staying in a major city each night. Like Atlanta, Birmingham, whatever was on the way.

Reality slapped me, I was no longer in Europe. 3 hours did not get me into a new country. Hell most of the time, 3 hours was the halfway point from city to city in the US.

No place to stay within a 2 hour radius, well not hostels anyway. I was out of options that didn’t include an expensive hotel.

I did find a 26 hour train to New Orleans.

I had the notion of buying a hop on hop off train pass. You know, train it to a city, get out, stay a night, hop on a train the next day or evening.

That was a staggering price for a ticket, as was snagging a bed on the train, a roomette. $400+ for both options vs a ticket just over 100$.

I had a moment, sucked it up and got a train ticket. It was well less than half the cost of airfare. Plus this trip was to see the countries as they really are after all and I was going to see quite a bit of America.

I fortified myself with coffee and beer before walking to the depot. It was an early evening departure, 5.

Once at the train station I figured I should check off Shake Shack on my best burger list. I do enjoy a tasty burger and these guys were highly ranked and not an option in Texas.

Good juicy burger, should hold me through the night. I wasn’t anticipating much sleep.

I walked and lapped the depot several times. I’ll always remember this LA candy store, where they were selling sugar, candies but for models. Why?

I suppose around the 2nd lap the thought occurred to me to buy some fruit and maybe a pastry roll for the trip. Wrapped them up in some napkins, I had a snack and small meal.

You just never know about train food options. The pickings were pretty bad on the St Louis to KC line, all pre-packaged options.

I still don’t get why they make those plain, disgusting plastic container sandwiches which pervade gas stations, trains and bus stop in the US.

Not that I didn’t see similar packaged sandwich options in Europe, I just don’t get how hard it is to have a few handmade options at a place. Have someone make them in the morning and again mid afternoon.

At last the call was made and we passed through the 1st ticket check. Before you got into the car, another conductor took you to your seat after checking your ticket.

I was lucky that my seat was on the 2 seat row of the train. I had a neighbor already.

He was a nice enough guy, heavy accent.  Sounded like a rural Carolina drawl. It was during the 1st 2 hours of my train ride I learned this guy’s story.

He’d been in jail for a while, was returning from visiting his ill mom in NY and was well into a bottle of Jack.

This was not his 1st long train ride, he had small bottles of cola he had pre-mixed.

I’m not sure why I say bottle, they were plastic. Is there another name for a plastic vessel other than bottle? I just feel bottle means glass is all.

He went through 2 loaded colas on our journey and they looked tea colored, heavy on whiskey.

Every time a conductor passed he asked the same question, ‘smoke break boss?’ then cackle like it was the funniest thing he’d ever said.

The train stopped a lot in small towns, those weren’t smoke stops. Big cities we stopped 20 minutes so he had enough time to smoke.

We also stopped a few times in the middle of nowhere to let a freight train fly by too. That is truly infuriating.

In the US freight is given priority over commuter trains on rails.  Humans, who can sense the passage of time, have to wait for stuff, for things to pass.

What I am saying is whatever you are shipping is not more valuable than another person’s time. You can wait for that cheap razor of the month.

Thankfully he was getting off in S Carolina, his bitch had best come to pick him up soon too per his flip phone conversation I overheard.

I waved at him as he left the car, it was about 9pm. I had just enough room to lay down on the 2 seats, provided I didn’t have legs.

All the ladies around me reclined their seats as far back as they could go, they all had neighbors.

You know planes, train, options society pays to travel, could be and used to be a lot better.

I sure wish any transportation executive and family has to take the cheapest option on a long journey at least once a year. If nothing, they’d experience it.

Take a look at any pics of plane or train travel from the 60’s or 70’s. Everyone has leg room, smiling, smoking, etc. The food looked edible even!

Instead seat and room are minimized and prices go up! Thing is we think competition levels the playing field but really if every option does the same thing, is that competition?

I took advantage of wi-fi, so at least that worked, that was a good thing.  I watched several movies, eventually falling asleep around 3am but since I’m next to a window, as soon as the sun is up so is everyone else.

Pro tip, keep in your bag earplugs and eye shade. You never know the situations you may find yourself, someone snoring in your room. Maybe you find yourself at a rock show or perhaps you have to sleep in a room with no window shades.

I am pretty much a night person, which isn’t helping, so everyone around me is clearly morning people, all excited about breakfast, coffee and life.

It added an extra punch to the long train ride. Just knock the chipperness down a couple of notches, ya know?

One lady’s godson had just died, another was convinced his boss was after him, and another lady just kept on saying ‘uh huh or uh nuh,’  whichever was the most appropriate aside based on the conversation.

What can I say, it was a busy morning on the train. I can say I did feel a certain kinship with everyone. We were all, some literally grinning and bearing, on our hours long journey.

Without question, the people in coach smile a whole lot more than those in 1st class.

I took an occasion to procure a cup of coffee, incredibly cheap coffee beans as well as incredibly hot coffee to go with the pastries I’d picked up in DC.

The landscape wasn’t as green as I’d seen previously. The smaller towns here weren’t nearly as quaint and beautiful as some I’d seen.

In Europe the towns were pretty similar to the bigger cities just smaller. In the US, the towns just look poor, run down, like everyone moved away.

The scenery and car population changed even more once we passed Atlanta. It was like out of a dystopian film.

I started looking for Mad Max style cars or at least some Deliverance style bow hunters to reveal themselves between the trees.

Somewhere in Alabama sleep overtook me, I completely passed out for over an hour.

A much-needed nap. I had been watching videos most of the time. DRAM and Lil Yachty mostly. DRAM is so great.

Soon we were in the bleakest place I’d encountered thus far, Mississippi.

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Dotting the countryside in Miss were shacks, not houses. Some constructed using a group of trees as a frame, with pallets and other pieces of wood or metal as a roof or wall.

The US is rich but you wouldn’t know that looking at the rural places. Europe looked like paradise by comparison.

No occupied shacks that I saw overseas. Sure there were many abandoned structures but they didn’t look lived in like the dilapidated shacks in the US.

Where’s the money going? Some politician or their friends’ pocket most likely. Or building a new plane.

All countries are corrupt its just the level of corruption was the difference. It was like ok, we get it, you will steal, just drive a Mercedes vs McLaren.

Don’t be blatant with your graft, you dig?

I wrote 5 of these posts on the Atlanta to Mississippi leg of my journey, in my seats, alternating based on the position of the sun.

Pro tip, buy prescription sunglasses. Big difference walking around on a sunny day and being able to see writing on signs.

Before too long we were in Slidell, next stop New Orleans.

I confess, a tear dropped from my eye as we crossed Lake Pontchartrain. The sun was setting and I couldn’t believe I was here.

“Welcome to New Orleans, whoot whoot!” came the call from the conductor. Everyone out, final stop.

I called a car and I was swooped to my friend’s house. You forget just how pretty the houses are until you return to the city.

My friend and I sat on his back porch, beers in our hand. I took a long pull and gazed at the stars above.

Beer  NOLA Blonde

Song    the Meters    Talkin’ ‘Bout New Orleans