Lundi Gras

by Ruby on March 4, 2011

I am really looking forward to the Slake Lundi Gras event this Monday! I helped out with their Down & Delirious launch party a few weeks ago, which turned out to be loads of fun, and I’ve hosted their Vroman’s in-store event before, too. Seriously, those Slake folks know how to throw a party. So, what better way to wrap up my weekend (or more accurately launch my week) than an evening full of music, food, readings, art, and fun?

Here’s what’s going to be happening:
• Readings from Slake contributors, including former New Orleans resident Hank Cherry, who will read from “Bayouland,” his examination of post-Katrina NOLA in Slake No. 2
• Art by Matjames, whose tale of leaving New Orleans for L.A. is captured in “Survivors Guild,” the graphic story he contributed to Slake No. 2; photos by Anne Fishbein and Michelle Pullman; and paintings by Ingrid Allen will be on display
• Short films by Helen Hill, an award-winning New Orleans filmmaker who died in a home robbery during the chaotic time after Katrina, and Robert Sobul, who is working on a documentary about Matjames will be shown
• Performances by the New Orleans Traditional Jazz & Funeral Band, Venice pop-rock duo honeyhoney, and musician Paul Gailiunas
Crazy Creole Cafe truck on the back patio

And, to whet your appetite, here’s a little preview of “Bayouland,” by Hank Cherry, which appears in Slake No. 2 and which he will be reading from at the event:

Visitors usually talk about the music’s greasy rhythms, the food’s richness, the hand-over-fist booze fests. But for a group of transient excon, poet, burlesque-dancing-wannabe jazzbos looking for a reprieve from the hardcore conservative blear of the eighties, New Orleans was the magic spot. It had cheap rents, bars that never closed, and a fast-developing DIY music and art scene. New York had Danceteria, the Mudd Club, and CBGB. New Orleans had the French Quarter and the Ninth Ward. I knew a handful of people who went by assumed names—out of pretension or to keep from going to jail, or both—names like Soup Chain, Strawberry, Myrna Loy, Stacy Rickshaw. And we melted together in a place somewhat foreign to the rest of the country. It was a Bayouland theme park all our own.

The city seduced me the way a muse might, and it seems fitting to me that all nine of those muses have streets here named in their honor. Our houses leaned to one side, the floorboards had holes big enough to peek at the foundations, but they sang a song that shot right past music, landing smack dab in the membrane of an emotional jackpot. The town is not for everyone. But for a decade, man, that place was mine.

***

After [Helen] Hill’s murder I became convinced that going back was folly. By all reports, the town had turned into a swamp of violent dysfunction, something it teetered on when I lived there. At the end of this past April, though, I turned forty just as BP’s oil rig exploded, sending the region into disaster mode once again. I knew I had to get back there before they sold the last of the oyster po’ boys. It was only half a joke.

When I told Matjames that I was heading back, his voice creaked with the kind of excitement particular to conversations we have about our former home.

“For good?” he asked.

Maybe, I thought.

If you’d like to attend, please rsvp on the event’s website. There is a $10 suggested donation, and the event will take place at the Bootleg Theater (2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90057)

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