the oilpocalypse

no, it’s not a “spill” or a “leak” when we’re at 4 million gallons of oil spewed into the gulf and counting…

ever since the deepwater horizon oil rig blew up on april 20th, and then sank on the 22nd, i’ve been trying not to spend too much time thinking about all the ways in which louisiana, the gulf coast, and the life of every person and creature contained therein is now screwed. jazz fest was a good distraction, but now that it’s over and the crisis only gets worse and worse, it’s hard to put it to the back of my mind anymore. also, it smells bad in new orleans whenever we get southerly winds. when that happens, every time you walk out of your house (and sometimes even inside your house), you are reminded again about this clusterfuck of a disaster.

i won’t go into all the latest updates or any more of a rant, cuz there are many others who are far more eloquent and have much more of a grasp of the details and scope of this disaster. if you want news, you can check’s coverage which is pretty decent. there’s no shortage of coverage in the news online, on tv/radio or in print. details are ever-changing about the status of the effort to contain the oil and where the slick in the gulf has spread. i am not a news reporter, so i will not attempt to cover that kind of territory.

i am, however, an artist and intermittent t-shirt designer. so what i would like to pass along is some of the early response from my more successful peers, all of whom are donating proceeds of their oilpocalypse-inspired designs to organizations helping with the disaster response.

the first shirt i saw was from shultzilla, called “built to spill” and featuring a play on the “drill baby drill” stupidity of certain boneheads on the far-right end of the political spectrum. i think it’s clever but it doesn’t resonate graphically with me personally, though i appreciate the visual and word play involved. he says he’s donating proceeds to some local organization involved in the response, but he hasn’t figured out which one yet. (he’s taking suggestions.)

the second one i saw was fleurty girl’s “rescue me” sea turtle shirt (above). the graphic is cute while still making its point very effectively; she printed them using soy inks, so as not to utilize any petroleum products; and she’s donating 100% of the profits to the Audubon Institute’s Louisiana Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP). i follow her on twitter, where i read that she got 500 pre-orders for the shirt almost immediately after putting up the web link, and she’s already sold 1000 of them, adding up to a $10,000 donation (so far) to LMMSTRP, which is frigging amazing. all in just a few days this week. i have to be honest – i haven’t always been the biggest fan of fleurty girl’s designs, graphically, but as a business she won me over during the whole “who dat” controversy and i was genuinely glad for her that it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to her business. and now this. this is pretty amazing, to have raised so much money so fast for such a great cause. it’s a wonderful example of how one person – or one very small business – can make a huge difference. and, well, validates the power of design via the t-shirt. i tip my squeegee to you and your entire team, lauren thom. keep up the good work!

but then thursday, i saw blake haney of dirty coast tweeting their new design. that day, it looked like this:

i LOVED the appropriation of the familiar tobasco hot sauce label logo to read “fiasco” (which several bloggers and tweeps have been using as their icons in the past few days). and i loved that it was a take-off of dirty coast‘s own make wetlands not war design that was popular post-katrina. (i always wanted to get one of the prints of this design to frame for my walls.) but then friday, as i was starting to write this blog entry, when i went to pull up all the reference pages including theirs, this is what i found:

so i guess something made them change it between thursday and friday. i still like it, though, despite the loss of the “fiasco” cleverness. and since i never got one of the “make wetlands not war” shirts, i’m happy to pick up one of these. this oil disaster isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and i’ve long been a critic of the oil industry and our continued drilling off the coast of louisiana (and elsewhere), so it won’t go out of fashion. dirty coast is donating proceeds of this design to the united commercial fisherman’s association, too, which makes me feel even better about indulging in a t-shirt purchase. (update: as of sunday afternoon, none of the now three variations i’ve seen of this design are available on the dirty coast website. i have an email into blake to find out what’s going on over there, but haven’t heard back. will update again when i know what the status is.)

i started writing this post on friday. yesterday, i decided to head down to the rally in lafayette square put on by the sierra club in response to the oil disaster. i heard about it via facebook but worried that the word hadn’t really gotten out about it. also, it was scheduled for a saturday, which in this town is never good for a protest/demonstration/rally. we woke up late yesterday after a big night of movie-watching (iron man 2) on friday night, so i didn’t actually arrive until about an hour into the event, which was scheduled for 12pm – 2pm.

these gals were standing out on st. charles across from gallier hall, getting motorists to honk in support. a handful of various environmental non-profits were set up, getting folks to sign petitions and handing out literature to educate people about what their organizations were doing in response to the disaster. there was a stage set up on the st. charles side, but i missed most of the music and all of the speakers. eventually, mardi gras indian big chief monk boudreaux did come on stage for a set.

i’m not really sure how much of a crowd was there earlier in the proceedings, but by the time i got there, it was dwindling. i’d say a hundred at the most. aside from the non-profit tables, there was this huge banner laid out on the ground and folks were asked to sign it with their thoughts on the disaster. the banner read “this is your crude awakening.” i didn’t really catch what they were going to do with the banner, or which group was sponsoring it. but i liked the idea, nonetheless.

i stuck around for about 45 minutes, long enough to hear the opening number by the big chief and to get my free “clean it up” t-shirt from the sierra club, after signing their petition.

simple. to the point. and i like the color. now if i can just get my noggin to thinking so i can come up with my own t-shirt design about all this. i feel like i’d rather go in a more positive direction, like the “save the coast,” “defend the coast,” or “save the wetlands,” but all i keep thinking is something along the lines of “when are we ever going to learn?” i’m mad and sad – heartbroken, really – at the same time, so i’m not really sure how to capture that in a t-shirt. but i’ll keep thinking.

yes, i’m still alive…

just really, really busy. it’s been a crazy week so far.

the first weekend of jazz fest feels like it was a million years ago to me now. my last post was on saturday afternoon, so to recap the rest of my weekend:

i did hang out at porchfest 2010 on saturday night. we lucked into an easy parking spot and camped out for the afternoon/evening on the porch with the other non-festing and then later, festing, revelers. the weather was pretty great and the band was awesome and there was a sizeable crowd. we were pooped by 9:30 or so though, so it wasn’t a late night.

sunday, though i wasn’t feeling all that well, we ended up heading out to the fairgrounds for our one day at jazz fest. the weather couldn’t have been better, and we again lucked into a perfect parking spot at jen and mary ann’s with no hassle. i wasn’t very set on hearing any specific music – though we did catch a lovely few songs at the beginning of theresa andersson’s set at the fais do do stage – so our day was mostly spent wandering around eating. let’s see if i can remember what i ate: i had the fried eggplant with crawfish sauce as my first appetizer, and fae shared her boudain balls with me. next i had some jama jama (sauteed spinach) and fried plantains from benechin over in the congo area (i skipped the chicken on a stick this time). we shared a strawberry lemonade and later an iced tea. there was some glorious downtime in the gospel tent, enjoying the shade and the breeze and the electrifying crownseekers (their lead singer had the most amazing falsetto voice – wow did he hit some high notes!) with deuce and puma. we visited with karen and debra in karen’s booth in the louisiana folk life/marketplace area. at some point i had a snoball (strawberry) from plum street. oh, and fae ate a cochon de lait poboy that she generously shared with me. she also picked up some cracklins for later snackage. as i was finishing my snoball, i couldn’t resist the white chocolate bread pudding, while fae had some strawberry shortcake. and then she grabbed some crawfish monica to walk out with for mary ann (which she had requested), and i decided at the last minute to get some spicy crawfish rolls from ninja to walk out with, which i later enjoyed on the porch back on ponce de leon street.

so that was our day of feasting. i think we did a pretty good job, knowing it was probably going to be our only day out at the fest since we had free tickets. (of course, if anyone has any free tickets they are trying to get rid of for this weekend, please do let me know! there were a few things i wanted to eat that i did not make it around to!) we also worked our way around contemporary crafts to see all the wares for sale, as well as congo and the louisiana marketplace. but we really didn’t listen to all that much music. and by about 5:30-6pm, we were done. with our last food choices in hand, we sauntered back over to ponce where we plopped down on the porch and remained for the rest of the evening, chilling out.

sadly, due to the chaos of jazzfest, our treme viewing party was postponed til monday. and even more sadly, on monday, when we went over to deuce and puma’s house to watch it, we all collectively learned that hbo on demand does not show the current episode of treme until 24 hours AFTER the show is over, which means, 10pm. not 9pm, which is when we showed up. and by 10, we were too tired to stay to watch it, knowing that folks had to get up early the next morning for work. so i did not get to see the 3rd episode and now will not get to see the 4th episode until next tuesday (again due to jazz fest). sad. (but yes, i’ll live.)

speaking of work, on tuesday, fae and i then started our training with the u.s. government’s census bureau. it’s been long days of mostly having a training manual read to us aloud verbatim, which is pretty dull for the most part, but we really love our crew leader and he at least does his best to make the training entertaining. there are 15 people in our training class – we had 5 no-shows the first day. but so far, no one else had dropped out. today was the last day of the verbatim training, and tomorrow we will take our final test and then go out into the field for “live” training – which of course means, we start knocking on doors tomorrow. i will probably take saturday and sunday off so i can enjoy porch fest this weekend, but then monday i will begin full time door-knockin, hopefully in my own neighborhood. i can’t wait for that first paycheck.

so that’s what i’ve been up to. things will calm down a little after jazz fest i guess, but for the next two months i think it’s going to be all-census-all-the-time. i’m basically being forced to take a little break from the crafty life due to that, but don’t worry, i’ll get back to it when the census gig ends in late june. i think it will actually be good for me to take a little break from making and selling stuff, plus i still have my music column to write and there’s that pesky film festival that i need to finish programming and write up for michfest. so i got a lot going on for the next little while.

all of which is to say, i guess i might not be blogging all that much. but i’ll try to pop in every now and then.

earth day recap + jazz fest!

last thursday, the new orleans craft mafia had a fun day of teaching folks how to recycle their old t-shirts into reusable shopping tote bags. whole foods uptown was our host, and our workshop was part of their day-long earth day festivities. so mallory, rebekah and i set up our handmade and eco-friendly/recycled wares under a tent on their patio.

my stuff on the left, miss malaprop on the right

rebekah and her booth

we then we created a cutting and sewing assembly line for the demo. whole foods, rebekah and some others donated a bunch of t-shirts, and we had three tables in row: one for the shirts and a cutting station, and a sewing machine on each of the others. at first, we had slow business, with only a few folks coming through the line – though those that did were really excited and amazed at the simplicity of the project. but around 1pm, we had an entire classroom full of school kids who had walked over from the audubon park area show up, t-shirts in hand. so for the next hour or so, we took them 2-3 at a time, showing them how to cut off the sleeves and around the neck, and then trim the bottom of their shirts, turn them inside out, and then mallory and rebekah sewed up the bottom with their sewing machines. flip them back rightside out and voila – your shopping tote is done!

mallory showing the kids how to cut and sew their shirts into bags

the kids loved it, and even got really creative with all the t-shirt scraps. cut off sleeves became headbands and visors; the trimmed bottom edge became sashes and necklaces. they were hilarious. once one kid decided to do it, they all wanted to. but they loved their bags, too.

adults came through too!

the rest of the afternoon was not quite as hectic but that was ok with us, as 30-something kids in an hour was kind of a lot! but we had many happy recyclers throughout the day, and it felt good teaching people a usable skill for recycling something we all have too many of: t-shirts.

and now it’s jazz fest. i lucked out and scored a free pair of tickets (thanks again, rachelle!) which i think fae and i are going to use tomorrow (sunday). yesterday, we went about our days as usual, fae trying to finish up as much of her end-of-semester stuff and me piddling around the house. but at around 6pm, we headed over to jen and mary ann’s house for the first night of porchfest 2010, which is how we affectionately refer to our annual porch hangout tradition.

jen and mary ann live a few blocks from the fairgrounds, and on one of the heavier trafficked corners for folks exiting the fest, so we’ve made it a tradition, hanging out on their porch as fest lets out, watching all the people go by. (this is the same location as the jazz fest art show i mentioned in previous posts, which, by the way, is still up through the end of the second weekend of jazz fest.) it’s not quite as much fun as being out at fest and hearing all the music and eating all the food, but it’s pretty entertaining, and a good substitute for those of us who can’t afford or just don’t like to deal with jazz fest every day. and with all the folks jen and mary ann know, along with all their neighbors, it can get to be a pretty big gathering. in fact, tonight there will even be a band playing next door, the all-girl blues band 30×90 (which features my friend sticky t, formerly of blues sister).

my stuff at jen's jazz fest art show

so yeah. it was pretty mellow last night, being the first night of fest. but it was still nice to get out of the house and see folks. we’ll be heading over there in just a little while for tonight’s festivities. and then tomorrow, assuming fae gets all her work done and i’m feeling up to it (not been feeling so great today), we’ll use those free tickets to partake in a bit of jazz fest ourselves. of course, porchfest will still be in effect afterwards, until it’s time to go watch treme of course. tomorrow will be a marathon!

but that’s jazz fest. i can’t believe i used to go every single day, all day, from 11am – 7pm and then do porchfest and even sometimes go out afterwards! wow, i used to have a lot of energy! but no more. now i have to pace myself and take it easy, or i pay for it. but i still love jazz fest time in the city. everyone is happy, there’s music everywhere you turn, locals are all having parties at their houses, and almost everyone has houseguests from elsewhere. (somehow we ended up with none this year.)

not sure if we’ll get to do some of the fest next weekend or not, but i hope so. we’ll see how the week goes. but for now, happy jazz fest!

big weekend ahead…

i’ve been making clock faces and signs like crazy this past week, in anticipation of my big weekend ahead. tis the busy spring season!

last friday, i dropped off a fresh batch of clocks to my friend erica at tulane’s in exchange shop. if you’re on tulane’s campus, you should check that shop out. not only do they have an astonishing inventory of defend new orleans t-shirts (apparently they are part of the tulane undergraduate uniform), but erica stocks lots of local artists and crafters work as well as fair trade items from makers around the world. she’s got lots of cool stuff there. even if you don’t have a reason to be on tulane’s campus, checking out all her unique inventory is a good excuse to stop in. it’s located in the student center on the quad side – there’s a map on her website. (and keep an eye out for in exchange out at the congo square crafts area at jazz fest!)

yesterday, i dropped off a bunch of my stuff to my friend jen, who for the past several years has hosted a fun, funky little art show in her living room during the two weeks of jazz fest. she lives over near the fairgrounds, close enough to catch a lot of the entering/exiting traffic to/from the fest, and knows a gazillion people, many of whom make a point of dropping in to sit a spell on her multicolored porch during and after the festivities. it was a brilliant idea when she conceived it, and i’m so grateful she continues to host the show every year in her home.

this year, the artist count is up to 17, the most yet. some folks might only have one piece in it (larger stuff), but many have lots of smaller pieces, all of which take up every available inch of space on her living room walls. this year, i have a few clocks, a nice array of signs and some skull and 70119 t-shirts for sale there. the opening for the show is this friday evening from 6-9pm, and then the show will remain up through both weekends of jazz fest. (but it’s good to go to the opening, as all the best pieces always get sold that first night!) leave me a comment if you want an invite to the opening on friday or need to know her address. (since it’s in her home, i don’t want to broadcast her address over the internet, but am happy to let interested parties know on an individual basis.)

wednesday, i’ll be helping out my craft mafiosas, stuffing our fashionable new tote bags (pictured above) with all kinds of free swag from indie businesses around the city and country, which will be given out to the first 100 paid attendees of the alternative media expo this saturday. the new orleans craft mafia is a co-sponsor of the event, and this year’s swag bags are gonna be the best yet (and in high demand)! we’ve got all manner of stickers, buttons, product samples (jewelry, tiny art, books, etc.) and other cool promotional items to fill them with. so definitely get there early so you can get a swag bag. you’re gonna be bummed if you miss it.

sadly, i will not be vending at the alternative media expo this year. i love that event and usually do participate, but this year it’s occurring on the same day as tulane’s crawfest event, which was very lucrative (and fun!) for me last year. i had to make a tough business decision and decided to do crawfest. so though i will miss being with everyone at the alternative media expo, i’m hoping for great weather and huge crowds at crawfest. they’ve got an AMAZING musical line-up (dirty dozen brass band, jon cleary, the radiators, trombone shorty, and more!) and 16,000 pounds of crawfish! the event itself is free and the crawfish is free with a tulane student i.d. ($10 for all you can eat for everyone else). last year was a beautiful day on the quad so i’m looking forward to another one just like it. friends rachelle (of greenkangaroo) and christeen (avantegarb) will both be out there too, so stop by and say hello if you make it over there.

if i manage to get out of crawfest before it’s over (it goes til 9pm, but last year we packed up as it was getting dark), i’m gonna try to make it to the big easy rollergirls‘ bout that night, too. they are taking on the hard knox rollergirls of knoxville, tn – a formidable opponent. advance tickets available through their website, or you can pay at the door for a few more bucks, too. it’s always a good time out there. i just hope i have the energy to make it there after my long day!

by sunday, i’m going to just want to pass out! but i better rest up, cuz the following two weekends are jazz fest! oh goodness. well, it’s all in the pacing, my friends. happy spring everyone!

theresa andersson is awesome

i know this isn’t usually a music blog, but i did vow to shake up the content of my blog when i switched over to wordpress… so every now and then when i’m excited by something, i’ll be sharing it here.

this music video showed up in my inbox this morning via theresa andersson‘s publicist, and i thought you might like it too. it’s from her forthcoming live dvd theresa andersson: live at le petit, shot here in new orleans at le petit theatre in the french quarter.

i fell in love with theresa andersson when i first saw her one-woman-band kitchen video for “na na na” from her latest album humingbird, go! (basin street records) which became an overnight viral hit. i’d seen her at jazz fest before and enjoyed her performances, but her most recent album really cemented it for me and has become one of my favorites. and now that i’ve seen this clip from the forthcoming dvd, i might just need to get me a copy. word has it the legendary allen toussaint guest stars on it. (oh, and check her performance schedule – she’ll be out at jazz fest again this year and playing around town a bit later this month. she’s great live.)

now back to writing my july music column. (i finally settled on featuring sia, k.d. lang, and lucy woodward, for those of you who just can’t wait until july to get the scoop.)

almost april!

well, last weekend was a busy one, between the friday night show at one eyed jack’s (toshi rocked the house, of course, with a surprise appearance by ani difranco!), the elysian fleas market on saturday (slow sales but a gorgeous day), and the road food fest on sunday. yes, fae and i decided to be tourists in our own town and ride the streetcar down to the quarter to partake in the road food fest, walk around a little, visit with our friend s’aint n.o. lady at her cute jewelry boutique filthy rich, and enjoy yet another picture-perfect spring day in new orleans.

road food festival

we ate and drank ourselves silly: hand-cut seasoned fries from que crawl (aka the purple truck), a meat pie, the most delicately-battered fried catfish and crawfish rice from dunbar’s, and a pulled pork w/purple cabbage po-boy from que crawl again. oh and a delightful turtle to top it all off. fae got a yummy daiquiri and i enjoyed a few tasty local beers. it was a good day.

pulled pork po-boy

this week, for me, has been all about listening to cds for my upcoming music column. i think i have it narrowed down to a handful, including new ones by sia, pieta brown, a greatest-hits collection from k.d. lang, and a few others. i’ve still got a ways to go, though, on the stack of discs on my desk. fae’s been on spring break, which is nice for her. usually we travel to louisville to see friends and family on her breaks from school, but we just didn’t have it in us this time; that 12-hour drive is intense and with fae having been so sick over the first part of the semester, we just decided it would be best for us to stay home, to allow her to rest, relax and get caught up on school. so far, i’d say it was a good choice. the weather has been perfect, we’ve done some spring cleaning, she’s done some gardening, and i’m hopefully going to turn my music column in relatively on time. yay!

and now it’s almost april, which will be a crazy-busy month. i’ve got tons of markets/festivals scheduled, and of course jazz fest is almost here – my favorite time of year. here’s a brief overview of my schedule, for future reference:

this coming saturday, the 3rd, i will be vending at the freret market, my regular monthly appearance. it’s my favorite regularly-occuring local market, with a good mix of flea, art, craft, and food vendors plus community organizations, free live music, kids activities, good beer (abita!) and just a great general vibe. lots of the new orleans craft mafia gals will be there, so come by and say hello if you are out and about.

the following weekend is french quarter fest and i’m thinking about picking up a day vending at elysian fleas again, as it is well-situated close to the quarter.

the third weekend in april is both the alternative media expo and crawfest at tulane; sadly, i had to make a choice about which one to vend at this year since they are both on the same day, but there was no way i could turn down the opportunity to be at crawfest. i had such a successful day there last year and it was a blast, so that’s where i will be. the craft mafia will, however, be well-represented at the alternative media expo: we are co-sponsors again this year and will be giving out the free swag bags loaded with goodies to the first 100 paid attendees (so get there early!), and several of our members will be there vending. if i could figure out a way to be in both places at the same time, i would.

that friday night, the 16th, is also the opening party for my friend jen biniek’s annual jazz fest art show. this is the fifth year she’s opened up her living room to all her artist friends’ “funky lil art,” as she calls it – small-sized, affordable, eclectic folk art, photography, jewelry, crafts and all other kinds of stuff. i’ll post more details about the opening in a separate blog entry, but pencil it in on your calendar now or at least make a point of stopping by during the two weeks of jazz fest, because it’s quite a sight to behold.

then on the 22nd, which happens to be earth day, the new orleans craft mafia is cooking up a fun event at whole foods on magazine street. we’re still ironing out the details, but it will be both a vending situation as well as a recycling demo, teaching folks how to turn old t-shirts into new funky reusable grocery bags. again, more details coming once everything is worked out.

and then it’s jazz fest and hopefully i get to relax for a bit. i won’t be doing any markets during the two weekends of jazz fest (though my stuff will be up at jen’s) and freret market’s may market has been pushed back to the 8th, the weekend after jazz fest, so as not to conflict. so hopefully i will have made enough $ at all the april markets to be able to partake a bit in jazz fest revelry, if not inside the fairgrounds at least on jen and mary ann’s porch.

i have, however, applied for a job with the census. i go to take the entrance test tomorrow and then find out more details. not sure if it will be a good fit for me or not, particularly since i have so much going on april on the weekends, but i guess i’ll see how it goes and if i can work it out schedule-wise. because goodness knows i could use the money.(i’m all ears for other job tips and offers if you know of anything.)

so that’s what’s going on for me. i’m sure there will be intermittent updates throughout the month, but if you don’t hear quite as much from me, you’ll know why. i’m just busy, hustlin.