ALEX MCMURRAY

Diary

07.06.2007

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The usual apologies for not posting one of these for so long, etc. What can I say? Its been a big spring and now that its officially summer i can see the days stretching out ahead of me like a wild highway out in Utah. They're tearing up the street in front of the house and there's dust everywhere and that beeping sound whenever the heavy trucks go in reverse. They repaved St. Claude Avenue less than five years ago and we're all wondering why they're doing it again so soon, especially as it was one of the better preserved thoroughfares. Maybe it's part of a maintenance schedule but graft is the more logical explanation, especially when you know Burgundy Street just two blocks away has been a nightmare for years. You don't even want to ride your bike down Burgundy. But even Burgundy pales in comparison to the condition of just about every street north of St. Claude (the virtual demarcation line of the Corps' floodwater). There you seem to be transported to some forgotten little town abandoned by Okies or the Army years ago. Its an eerie feeling until you remember that that's exactly what it is, and you wish you had a humvee to get up to Claiborne Ave. so you can cross the bridge over the train on your way to Mid-City to buy groceries.

But this isn't going to be that kind of piece. The Culture of Complaint went out of style years ago. But what is that godawful smell? Its like someone bottled the air in Elizabeth New Jersey and pressurized it to use as paint remover. They're blowing out the sewer lines down at Schatzy's. Whoa.

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OK. Chazfest, anyone? Kourtney and I want to say "thanks" here to everyone who came out to the second annual Chazfest and an even bigger thanks to all the people who helped put the thing on. It was a gargantuan undertaking and came off with hardly a hitch. It was like that theory of cosmology where a deity designs and constructs the universe and then essentially flips the "on" switch, leaving the rest of eternity to observe or catch up on paperwork. Just substitute the Chazfest staff for God, a party for the universe and a Thursday in May for Eternity and the result is pretty much the same. I'm going to try to do a big shout out here and try not to leave anybody out. Number One in the hit parade is our wonderful friend Dannal Perry who was Above and Beyond in every way, going so far as to go down to that Den of Snakes City Hall with me on the morning in question and encouraging us to fly in the face of Wisdom. We don't need no stinking badges. Next up in our pantheon of heroes are Jay Holland and his "Sound Ninja" Reid Billingsley who ran the main stage with the discipline and prescision of nazi stormtroopers, but without all the bad vibes. Rob Davis brought six thousand pounds of P.A. equipment in and out of the place and worked his ass off (I found your hand-truck, rob--give me a call) while Trevor Brooks brought a whole mess of backline. The second stage was masterminded by the one and only Jeff Treffinger, ladies and gentlemen...Mike Biagas brought the main stage....All the gang at Sweet Olive LLC--thanks for letting us invite thousands of people over to your place. To all the good people at Pot O' Gold--you are in our thoughts. Tom Beeman did the shirts. Do you have yours yet? Special thanks to all the residents of the Truck Farm for putting up with major disturbances and especially for helping out. All the bands at both stages got on and off in a timely manner and for that we thank you. All the vendors--the food was dee-lish top to bottom. All the volunteers deserve special praise for keeping the beer moving and extracting the donations. Bob our intrepid web guy who secured www.chazfestival.com for us--you're the man! Contact Chuck Morton for all of your insurance needs. Rhonda at Funrockin! for foiling the shirts--they are a big hit. Eric and Bailey at the Saturn Bar were kind enough to bring us some ice in the mid-afternoon. I know I'm forgetting somebody. Last but certainly not least thanks to Chaz and Jessica for loaning us the name Chaz and that pretty visage for our iconography.

 

 

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Somewhere in there we put out the shanty cd. I think it was the week between French Quarter Fest and Chazfest, so naturally it was a breeze. Eric and Family over at the Saturn Bar were generous enough to let us bring out-front hooliganism into their bar, and so we thank them for that. Most commonly heard comment on the Valparaiso Men's Chorus "Guano and Nitrates" cd release party: "I never felt so much like I was on a boat". It's true--I think it was during "So Early In The Morning" that I looked up from the lyric sheet that I was using to see the drunken multitude swaying all the way up the stairs. The room was packed and everyone was swaying like condemned buildings and singing at the top of their lungs. Beer and snot running down people's faces. There was the smell of burning rope and grown men were crying like babies and heaving over the side. Out of sheer necessity, we went ahead and did the set a second time and it was even more over the top. By then people knew the score and learned that they didn't need to know the words. Any and all concern for decency and dignity was by then jettisoned. I truly believe there was a moment when we could have decimated an equal or greater number of Scottish football fans.

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(But even this didn't even come close to the scene earlier that day. The night before the shanty deal went down we were hipped to what was going on right under our noses right here in New Orleans. Over at the Holiday Inn by the Superdome they were having a thing called Pyratecon '07, which is the annual North American pirate convention. I am telling you this and it is no lie--there is a strange network of pirate fetishists out there, maybe even in your community, maybe even in your own family, for whom "talk like a pirate day" never ends. That there was a pirate convention here in town the day we're celebrating seaborne song was just too weird to ignore so we went over there with some flyers and some cds to press some flesh. It was a regular warm spring day on Loyola Street but milling around the entrance of the Holiday Inn were a bunch of people in pirate costumes smoking cigarettes and drinking out of what appeared to be flagons. They told me to just go up to the eighth floor and there they all were, sitting behind folding tables selling scabbards and scrimshaw and wench gear. I was looked at a bit funny at first because of my strange non-pirate wear, but overall they were nice folks who regretfully would be unable to attend our soiree, as they had their big ball that evening. Downstairs there was a bunch of pirates hanging around the bar. I even knew one of them, or one guy seemed to know me. They're considering having us play at pyratecon '08. You can go to myspace.com/pyratecon and let them know how you feel about that.)

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Otherwise they shaved some moles off my head last week. I've got some stitches holding my scalp together, but I think I'm gonna live. Currently I'm looking around for for something I don't need, if only to have the opportunity to say "I need that like I need a hole in my head", and have it really mean something for once. I am pleased to report that as I survey the porch here on the Farm I am surrounded mainly by useful things, so it will have to wait.

Have a great summer everybody.