Surveillance Pelicana Chapter 21: ‘Jazz Fest’

A sea of people gathers beneath a clear blue sky in 1988/Michael P Smith, Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection




(The entire book appears at this link with chapters added after appearing online:

Chapters 1-10:

Chapters 11-20:

Chapters 21-30:


Mac leads Tyger and Armor’s on the official

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival party tour.

This chapter provides an insider’s look at the popular festival.

Consciousness expands with the generally jolly jaunt

around the festival culminating in a karmically uplifting

concert by saxophonist Kidd Jordan.










Somebody has died. Somebody has been born.

And somebody is very excited today.

That must be Big Mac. Today is the first Sunday of the

Louisiana Jazz and Heritage Festival, commonly known as Jazz Fest.

It is Mac’s — and a lot of other persons who don’t even

know him — favorite event of the year.

Laissez Bon Temp Roules. Let the good times roll, Big Mac,

and party comrades.

Mac arrives at Tyger·s lair about 11 a.m. on Sunday

April 23, 1988 according to filed reports. He wears a purple, red

and orange tie-dyed t-shirt. He has stashed his beatific bongos in the

maroon MacVan, records reveal. On with the big shoe…

“Come on. Let’s go. Got to get there. Time’s a’wasting,”

Jazz Fest Mac blows through the front door with all the furious

force of Hurricane Camille.

“Get ready. Come on,” etc. etc.; as Mac heads like a Patriot

anti-missile missile to intercept the bathroom.

Tyger sits in his usual chair by the wood table in the

center room observing the current explosion. “Guess it’s time to



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go–huh?” he asks as if he didn’t know.

Flush flush, fizz fizz, oh what a joy it is to be somewhat

young, bound for fun. “What you doing? No time to waste, Let’s

roll,” continues Mac’s words flooding over the sea wall.

“Oh. You don’t want me to roll a couple of reefers?” Tyger

asks. “That’s different,” Mac sorts through priorities. “Go

ahead. Two minutes,” adding as he scrounges through the freezer.

Finally, “Where are the archives?” Mac asks in apparent

reference to the collection of LSD Tyger has accumulated through

the years and saves for special occasions.

Is there a more special occasion to the actual real-life

every day inhabitants of the City that Care Forgot and it’s

immediate environs than Jazz Fest? Mac thinks not.

“I got them,” Tyger states. “Right here on the table.” Mac

kerplunks in the visitor’s chair. He snatches the specially

marked film canister, emptying said contents on the terrible table.

Three separate folded tin foil pieces sparkle. Each foil

strip contains within a full compliment of the decade’s most

potent psychedelics, or at least those representatives Tyger has

managed to acquire, squirreling away for purposes of

preservation. No longer.

Tyger rolls the party joints carefully placing them in the

metal tin Altoids box. Mac busies himself examining the various



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tasty treats, choosing a blue blot dot he remembers

from the notso distant past.

“Hey. Isn’t this part of the Donald Ducks we used at last

Jazz Fest?” asks Mac. Tyger looks up from his business and nods

in agreement. “Think so. Why don’t you try one?”

“O.K.” as Mac snips off a corner. “You take this,” he

annunciates, handing the sacred sliver to Tyger, “I’ll have

the rest. O.K.” preparations apparently complete,

the field commander recapitulates.

“Let’s go. Got sun block?” “Already did that.” “Got a hat?

Where’s your hat?” “Uhh, No. I’ll get the M’s cap.”

“A-O.K. Got everything? Altoids box?” “Yup.” “Hat, sun

block, acid. Anything else?” “I think you’ve covered it.”

“Great. We’re off. Got to pick up Armor’s and get to the Fair Grounds.”

Across Uptown in the MacVan, impresario Mac hizzoner, puts a

MacLand cassette in the dash player, up cranks the volume like

a runner working out on stadium stairs, higher higher higher pick

those legs up, listen to this: “Waaaaah … ”

“Like that one?” Mac asks. “This one is pretty good too.

Recorded it last night:

‘It’s all for art. It’s awful art. You think you’re smart.

Surpriiiiise. Frustration. Time zero–was it goood? Potted palms.

Was she right? Did it hurt?’

Wah wah wah. Wahwahwah … “



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The band plays on … endless tape loop

dedicated to the higher consciousness of great art.

“Yeah,” agrees Tyger as the song reaches its final conclusions.

“That does sound good. My fingernail’s are clicking. Who is on it?”

“I did the drum machine,” Mac says, “and bongo tracks.”

“I like it,” Tyger says.

“Mr. Milty’s on mystery sax,” Mac continues. Best song ever.”

Pure sounds guide the blithe spirits over Magazine Street in

the snap of a finger beat to the Coliseum Street resting place of

the Armor’s Tungsten experience. It is a typical New Orleans

shotgun house, flesh colored wood frame, sitting by heavenly

coincidence next to the Third Missionary Baptist Church of the New Age.

Armor’s Armor’s hallelujah, sings the blah blah blah of blah

blah church chorus. “Thank you Lord for Armor’s is thine

neighbor,” intones the tall black preacher man. “We are lucky

souls.” Not. “In Jeeeezus” Maybe.

Mac pulls up, ejecting Tyger on to the small crabgrass front

lawn. Then, the cherubic musical artist switches off the master

controls and follows suit.

“Armor’s always takes fucking forever,” Mac notes. “We have

to get him up and get him going as quickly as possible. Got to

have some Oyster Artichoke Millie right this split second.”

The screen door is unlatched for a change. Armor’s sits at



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the — shall we say — ready inside the middle room.

Mama cat scurries for cover as the boys enter Armor’sville,

a secret universe created sometime before the Big Bang.

And dedicated to God knows what.

“Hey hey hey,” Armor’s voice leads Tyger and Mac past the

100, or so, empty Kentwood natural spring bottled water

containers, past the drafting table, the Jack Kerouac poster and

into the receiving chamber. Although they walk through the

shadow of the valley of Armor’s Tungsten, the boys fear not

where they tread. Silly rabbits.

“Want some espresso?” Armor’s asks. “It will just take a few

minutes.” Yeah, just what Mac wants to hear, right.

“No no no man. We have to get going,” Mac implores. We are

late for fun. Come on. Come on. You’re ready. Let’s go.”

“Oh. Oh,” Armor’s is thrown off his game, therefore

mumbles. “Uhh. Just a second. Let me get something.”

“No no no,” Mac has seen this act a million eons before.

“Let’s go. He who hesitates is lost.”

“Ahh,” Armor’s stumbles from his director’s chair. “Let me

ahh, go,” and walks to the bathroom.

“O.K. Two minutes,” directs Mac. “That’s it and we are out of here.”

Tyger busies himself thumbing through a stack of computer

magazines on a nearby — coffee? — table .. Armor’s has lately



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gotten into personal home computing. As with his many other

interests, he has gone completely gung-ho bonkers

insanely wild about the subject.

Not to say Armor’s comprehensive discourses on the topic are

totally uninteresting or he doesn’t provide wonderful insight.

He is a brilliant fellow, true. However,

He tends to ramble on and on and on.

Sometimes, one just has to say enough is enough already, turn

off the faucet before the waterlogged mind springs a leak.

Tyger settles in for a long haul, but Mac is inspired by

thoughts of fun to come. He continues urging Armor’s — Christian

soldiers? — onward, forward; or at least in the general

direction of the UnFair Grounds.

“Come on. We’re late. We’re late. For a very important

date,” Mac pushes the recalcitrant party with whatever urging

might raise Armor’s out of the bathroom.

“Ahh, ahh. O.K. Coming. I hear you. Got to just do this.

Ahhh,” Armor’s, out of habit, is stalling in the john.

Same old Armor’s Tungsten.

Tyger looks around the room. He spots another of Armor’s

cats playing with a strand of Mardi Gras beads. See, they are

useful for something after all. But ever the detective, also

notices that a little something seems missing.

As Armor’s emerges wearing an old Houston Astros cap and



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enigmatic smile, Tyger innocently inquires.

“Where are the two kittens you got from MacLand.”

“Ahhh, ahh. They are around somewhere playing I imagine,”

Armor’s replies. The topic is dropped like a sad oyster sack.

Mac gathers momentum and jump-starts Armor’s engine as the

terribly terrific trio finally achieve escape velocity. Out, out, and

about brief candles; all systems go, A-O.K. for blast off.

Armor’s finally locks the front door.

Mac loads the kiddies into the MacVan headed for the festival.

The New Orleans Jazz Club started the Jazz and Heritage

Festival in the mid 1960’s as a small affair for jazz purists. It

was held in Congo Square where the slaves were allowed to play

their old world music on Sunday.

Congo Square — later renamed Louis Armstrong Park — was

situated just off Rampart Street. It straddled a quadrilateral

design fronted by the Iberville Projects on one side and

clockwise by St. Louis Cemetery, the Vieux Carre and what used to

be Storyville — the scandalous Red Light District closed by

authorities in 1917 because it was too rough for the conscript

soldiers. Now commercial properties stretched up to and along Canal Street.

Initial festivals were frequented by jazz superstars of

the pre-rock era like cornetist Johnny Wiggs (real name: John

Wigginton Hyman, mechanical drawing instructor at Fortier High



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School) and Dr. Edmund Souchon–guitar playing obstetrician; as

well as the pre-Elvis pre-Beatles galaxy of old-line and now

obscure traditional jazz giants. Said festival evolved into New Orleans’

second major tourist attraction drawing the legions of losers from sites

worldwide to the New Orleans Fair Grounds and venues

all around the Crescent City.

Locals love the festival, too, despite the throngs of

ignoramuses from elsewhere in their face. It is tough to avoid

having fun given the amazing quantities of great food, music, and

— for the lame of heart — crafts, available throughout the two week affair.

Mac guides his portable world along South Jefferson Davis

Avenue, across Canal Street and finally to the Gentilly area

where beckons the traditional Mac gang parking site along Mystery

Street. No mystery to that spot. One must be careful about parking as the city,

true to its rip-off leadership, has amassed an armada of meter maids and tow trucks

ready to do everybody a favor by enforcing beyond imaginable strictness

their money making parking regulation scam.

Who do those corrupt grafting New Orleans politicians that

buy votes, get themselves fraudulently elected, take free trips

on developer ‘s money, believe they are fooling?



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For Jazz Fest anyway, they are fooling with tourists and

locals alike. Tow-trucks are floating like butterflies and

stinging like bees as they surreptitously sneak off with

unsuspecting jazz lovers vehicles, thereby ruining someone’s post

Jazz Fest once-uplifted demeanor.

Mac parks the van carefully measuring off the 20 feet from

the curb’s end in order to comply with the most arbitrarily

rendered, and commonly ticketed, rule.

“We are safe here,” Tyger concludes, “probably,” as Mac

continues pondering. “Although sometimes they give you a ticket

no matter how ‘legally’ you park. I got a ticket the other day

for parking in my driveway. ”

“What do you think?” Mac asks Armor’s for a third opinion.

“Dunno. you never know,” Armor’s sez. “Good enough for me,” Mac pez.

Armor’s has taken a small hit of LSD from the secret

compartment of his mechanical pencil. He slyly rolls the paper

blotter on his tongue before swallowing. “All set,” he says. Blast off.”

The terrible three join the crowd as it gathers streams of

steam along the beaten path in the general unspecific direction

of the Fair Grounds. Trucks tow to the right of them, groups of fellow travelers

gaggle to the left. The smell of sun block and tanning cream

blots out the natural Aroma of honeysuckle and willow root



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or whatever that is, along the way. Mystery Street reveals Esplanade Avenue

by the Whole Earth Food Store and Cafe Degas. Streaming personality

disorders become roaring ocean waves pummeling Fair Grounds shores.

Turning right, the trio follows the river past the high outer fence,

past the street of bus fumes ahem, ahem, and to the side

of the pedestrian gate. Cough, cough, gee whiz, oh what a thrill it is…

Mac applies additional sun screen due to depleting ozone layer

paranoia, probably not a bad idea as they glide, Clydes, not missing a beat.

Then, it is time to pay the piper in order to face the music.

The gang of three fork over the $8 toll, like the tide, rises every time; it takes in ’88

to join the select crowd of approximately many wading through metal turnstiles,

then plying along the wood plank walk-way. Shiver those timbers, m’lovelies.

About 50,000 comfy-bizarrely dressed fest junkies and fellow travelers

will traipse the same path that day. Come along and join them comrades,

as if you had a choice or wanted one. Colors sparkle in the mid-April sun.

After three days, the festival is heating up as is the Southeastern Louisiana weather.

Soaring like pelicanas above and beyond the throngs, the boys



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trek over the second longest stretch run in America’s dirt track

and onto the grassy infield. A perfect day for a perfect day to follow.

Armor’s has been walking very fast unsuccessfully attempting

to keep the masses from bumping him or otherwise blocking his

path. That is an impossible order, so he surrenders and waits for

Mac and Tyger by the first porta-lets — registered trademark? —

signaling a happy exit from work-a-day civilization.

“Hey you guys, Al Belleto is over at the Jazz Tent,” Tyger

reports, pouring over a program Mac has just purchased. “Al

Belleto?” Armor’s asks Tyger who has some knowledge of jazz

history garnered from working briefly at the local fake Jazz Archive.

“Yeah, man. He is Frank Sinatra’s favorite jazz saxophonist.” Tyger roars.

Mac laughs fairly unimpressed. “Yeah well. Let’s not miss

that. First we have to find some nourishment.

Then, we’ll check out Al Bell Etto.”

They fly past galaxies of spinning planets who cover the

universal infield over to Food Tent Two where Mac and Tyger grab

$2 “small” portions of Fried Potato Po-Boys, a weird sandwich of

french fries on french bread covered with thick brown gravy.

“Wow!” Mac shouts as he takes the first bite.

“That tastes great. You try.”



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He hands the messy sandwich to Armor’s who eyes it warily

then takes a mini-bite. “Hey, sort of OK. Maybe, I’ll get one later.”

Of course, he won’t. With so many food booths

with so many amazingly succulent dishes, each Jazz Fest

touring group can only sample a few items at any given appearance.

They are required by Jazz Fest law to buy small portions so

more items can be tried. That is the most efficient method to get

a full taste of the festival.

(Exceptions, however, are always permissible depending on

circumstances. For example, barbecued chicken from the Second

True Love Baptist Church ladies a few booths down at Food Tent

Two must be consumed in portions as large as possible due to

mind-blowing properties.)

Munching while they are crunching atop the trammeled earth,

Mac leads the official Jazz Fest appreciation society tour past

10,000 identically different fun junky planets across the

spaceways to the Al Belleto Experience, or whatever that is, at

the Uncle Ben’s Rice (corporate logo) Jazz Tent.

Well fest fans, Al Belleto’s easy brand of cool jazz is so laid back

he is not even close to breaking a sweat. A tenor

saxophone draped from his shoulder strap, Belleto breath snaps

his fingers just this side of narcosis as the group takes off,



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where? Why? And how? The Jazz Tent fills up as the noon-time sun

scorches the brown tan earth. Mac and Tyger gaze on, grandly unimpressed.

“This cat is beyond lame,” Tyger comments after sampling a near dead version of

“The World is Waiting for a Sunrise,” adding, “If he were any lamer, he could collect

legitimate insurance benefits.” Therefore, the gang must mosey on along, little doggies.

“We have to get over to Congo Square and check it out,”Mac announces

as Armor’s, off course, lingers. “You coming,” Mac adds.

“Yeah, just trying to figure out where that dude was coming from,”

Armor’s replies. “Guess from nowhere,” Mac says.

“What do you expect from Frank Sinatra’s favorite sax player,” Tyger notes.

“The boss probably too busy screwing Nancy Ray-Gun to notice

how lame this guy is. Good background music, maybe. Then, again…”

Congo Square is just past the porta-lets and omnipresent can kids.

(These are little black kids officially sanctioned to knock over anybody

or anything in their path as they retrieve discarded aluminum cans

for future recycling. It is sort of a scorched earth first environmental policy.)

The trendy African-American trading area and spiritually uplifting stage

used to be called Koindu Square when the festival was smaller

and closer to the real roots of jazz and Louisiana living.



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That was way back when none of the stages were afflicted with corporate logos.

Armor’s and Mac ignore the obvious while immersing

themselves in the higher karma of the Kambuka Collective. Tyger

must make a stand for what is right in this the place of ultimate truth.





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The Kambuka Collective finishes up with a shake, rattle, and

roll. Armor’s tosses a pebble at Roots who doesn’t pay attention.

“I know what you mean,” Armor’s notes. “He is stupid and ugly too. Never liked him.”

They walk by the rooted Badburns as Mac tries to be polite:

“Hey Roots. How’s it hanging?” Roots barely acknowledges the

greeting. What a rude motherfucker.

Mac tour paisley paces traces skipping merrily merrily

merrily onward soaring above the Fair Grounds rounds appreciating

one of the grand rewards of festival grazing. Or as Mac puts it:

“Check out those giant titties.. Yes!”



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Heard that right. That is correct, comrades. Checking out

the girls’ titties as they wear the skimpiest of outfits, if

that, represents a continuation of Carnival tradition, but in a

more tasteful manner. All sizes, shapes, and colors transport Mac

and the gang to girl-and-titty watching paradise.

“My favorite part of Jazz Fest,” Mac notes in glassy eyed

wonder . “Well, along with the music and food, of course.

Don’t tell Sarah I said that.”

Food Tent Three stops the boys dead in their tracks. What an

awesome aroma enveloping the immediate environs.

Soft Shell Crab Po-Boys, Key Lime Pie and Strawberry

Shortcake, Alligator Stew, Chicken with Tasso and, look, over

there. Mac has spotted a fortuitous opening in food riot ambiance.

“Come on. Follow me,” he issues general orders. “Look.

No line at the Crawfish Monica booth.”

Sure enough. Colonel Mac has landed a big one. A temporary

lull in the battle in front of the usually massive Crawfish Monica line.

“Three smalls,” Mac requests and passes the war booty along

to Tyger and Armor’s. “No way.” “Way.”

They continue by the lame Gospel Tent filled with leisure

clad tourists and whoever else pretends to like that good time

religious noise-nonsense. Then, past the WWL-Ray Ban Festival



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Stage where the big acts play. James Brown and Little Feat

are scheduled later that day. Over to the AT&T Economy Hall Tent

where traditional jazz establishes its niche. Tastes great, less filling.

Then, the boys pass the Travel New Orleans Lagniappe

Tent where Washboard Sam is holding forth, and the Spirit of

Louisiana Stage where Johnny J. and the Hitmen are whacking

the insane public with straight ahead rockabilly madness.

They fly O.J. Simpson airport commercialism style past the

masses of enthusiastic fun-seekers everywhere dancing, clapping,

eating, and passing a good time. Whooo — look out below.

This party is happening every which way and loose in the now

intense heat. “This sure beats Mardi Gras,” Tyger grasps between gasps.

A group here is drinking beer in Romulak-like quantities.

Over there, over there; a fat lady already has bought the farm.

She lies huddled in a meaty heap.

Blankets spread across every unoccupied piece of earth.

Large banners fly. Persons dressed in any imaginable and

borderline legal costume possible party the day away. Or like

Tyger and Armor’s in plain white t-shirts, they forget about



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their troubles, grooving with the infinite moment.

Armor’s flips on his shades. “Cool, man,” he

says. “Is it not time for Kidd Jordan, Al Fielder and the

Improvisational Arts Ensemble at the Jazz Tent?”

As a matter of fact, dear boy, it is.

The terribly terrific trio cuts across the Fair Grounds

infield to the large, cool blue with white trim canopied tent.

This combination of sun and fun seekers has raised the local

temperature to the approximate level of the planet Mercury.

A large throng congregates inside. However, it seems

likely from the blank visage of many of their faces that they

have entered merely to beat the oppressive heat. Unfortunately,

whatever the explanation, there do not seem to be any seats currently available.

“Shit,” Tyger notes as he surveys the scene. “I don’t see

anywhere to sit. I really want to concentrate on the greatest

saxophone player in the universe, Sir Kidd Jordan.”

“Don’t worry,” Mac soothes. “Most of these organisms will

devolve once Kidd gets going.”

Armor’s, quick as a cat despite his large frame, beats a fat

cow lady, her thick thighs pumping loudly, in a game of musical

chairs. “Aw gee,” sympathizes Armor’s from a seated position.

“Were you going to sit here?”

But Armor’s knows his tungsten. That fat bitch like half the

crowd exits as soon as Jordan starts blowing. They are not in it



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They are not in itfor the music.

So it begins. Blah blooh, blooie, blablooie, wonderful

avant tones of the great man who was knighted in France and

slighted, virtually unknown in New Orleans, his native land.

Unrecognized that is by the hoi polloi. A chosen few like

Tyger, Mac, and Armor’s are well aware that true genius has

captured the stage and for 45 minutes will hold them in his

mystical spell. This is contemporary spirit music for the

initiated by virtue of their enthusiasm.

Thank you sir knight. Play on and ignite a fire in our poor

dark souls with your all-illuminating light.

Those in the wanna-know lean ever so slightly forward like

small plants thirsting for a shining gro-lamp or sun. Every

nanosecond of Kidd and his compatriots — don’t forget the

fabulous Al Fielder on skins — grows a million shoots, flowers

the most potent buds, and drives consciousness towards fruition,

if that is ever fully possible.

Wawawawa, blooey blah, blah…Kidd is talking at you and me,

babe. He has attracted an all-star crowd in back of the tent

where the musicians congregate.

There stands the African Cowboy, Earl Turbinton, halting his

hobnobbing momentarily to catch an intricate solo. Over there

the good guys from Astral Project: Steve Masakowski, Johnny

Vidacovich, Jim Singleton, Hector Gallardo, and of course long



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lean Tony Dagradi, fellow sax traveler.

They groove along to the outer stars expanding,

smiling in subtle appreciation before politely applauding.

So do all others who are in secret configuration.

Kidd is at the top of his game. He knows

when it is time to rise and shine. He brings

that battery acid on high octane,

driving through the unknown universe

seeking the most significant calling possible,

and it replies beautifully.

Thank you Kidd, God is listening.

Thank you Kidd, center of the Milky Way.

Partaking you sweet, then sultry,

then slick and tough and far-out truth,

usually hidden, suddenly so fucking sublime.

Waa-waa-waa-ditty, bloop. Bla-bloop. Bla-waaaah…

Kidd raises his soprano saxophone to salute the crowd.

They respond in kind, rising as one massive wave

of rolling thunder acknowledging the master’s greatness.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” they are longing for that moment

connecting with the most primal and advanced of humanly impossible sounds.

“Thank you!” “Wahwahwah!” “Thank You Kidd Jordan!”

“You are the greatest babe!” “Yoweee!”

(That is Mac raising his Jazz Tent top.)

Just another mind-blowing, mood enhancing,

consciousness altering forever moment

granted us by the true king of New Orleans,



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a monarch greater than any odd Rex or even Comus.

Highest order of France bestowed him, and now, in this humble

space of time, a rich and finally honored prophet joyously

affirming man’s infinite possibilities.

Take it not as lightly as the fatass Ray-Gun shrubbery who

gave us the generation of greed, and despair. They are propelled

away from the universal magical moment by entropy

rendering them irrelevant.

They feel the cattle-like prod and need to sink to the

lowest level of feces-in-life probable. They dial counter-programming

at the WNOE/Tostitos Stage where some lame pseudo-cajun faux

zydeco band is playing shit they can sort of comprehend.

One redneck mother in a “Just Say to No to Drugs” t- shirt

exits unimpressed, saying “I don’t know what all the fuss

is about. I play better than that. He wasn’t even playing a song.”

Perhaps we came from the primordial shit. Perhaps we are



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going nowhere fast. Perhaps. Perhaps.

But for a magnificent molecular moment stopped in time,

through a wondrous black hole in which all indecision and fear

completely vanish; pure beauty, joy, and hope for all of future

generations remain in its wake.

Yes. Yes we can. Just say yes, baby. Kidd points his crafty

fingers at other members of the group kicking off an awesome

interpretation of a sacred incantation translated for modern ears

to enthrall. Thank you sir. We are your servants in truth forever.

Snap the picture, comrades in art. Kidd and his group

finish their set to a half-filled Jazz Tent, applause, applause

acknowledging a new age with the force of many new suns exploding.

“Wow,” finally Mac can speak. “That was a Jazz Fest moment.”

“Whoo, baby,” Tyger affirms. “What an incredible experience.”

Over to the side of the tent Armor’s has discovered a new

world, in this case a Mr. Milty he presumes, who slipped in

during the performance, likewise standing stuck by awe in place

cascading from the spaceways. They are jawboning.

Over to the other side, a few seekers of ultimate truth aside

a few dotards who are only there to appear to be cool.

“Oh yeah,” Tyger points out one despicable cur of the latter variety.

“There lies Heave Broward. I guess he is looking for a way

to steal our fun again.”



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Heave salivates over one cute blonde following her like a

labrador retrieving. “I wonder what he’s saying,” Tyger asks

rhetorically. Then sarcastically imitating, “You … are … the …

prettiest … girl … here.”

Yep, just another fantastic Jazz Fest moment. Mac and Tyger

return to Congo Square swimming like trout upriver to spawn on

the continuing river of sounds and sights spectacular.

The tall men walk nearby along a concrete path. Boy, are

they tall, walking on stilts surrounded by smaller interplanetary parties.

Mac and Tyger drink their weight in sweet tea and beer.

Mac grabs an Omar’s pie on the way over as Tyger jokes with Omar,

the pie guy himself, in the flesh.

“I hope these profits don’t have to go to the IRS.” Tyger

says as Omar, tres cool, nods his head and laughs. “Not to

mention IRS Inc.,” Tyger adds in a secret joke beyond Omar’s ken.

(Internal Revenue Service agents had bogusly seized Omar’s

pie stock claiming he owed back taxes. Then, the genius Ray-Gun

government agents sold his $1.50 pies on Camp Street outside the

U.S. Courthouse for 20 cents each.)

Congo Square is the usual happening galaxy as Hector

Gallardo and his Songo All Stars sway the crowd with Latin



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percussion brilliance. All sorts of hippy-like chicks in tried-and-

true-tie-dyed outfits dance mechanically maniacally on the

grass while Mac and Tyger stand nearby smoking the same as

removed from the Altoids box. A great time is had by all.

Then, over to Food Tent One where the dangerous duo

partakes of Seafood Au Gratin, Spinach-Artichoke Casserole, and

yum yum sweet potato pone. “Aay-iie!” Mac screams after

finishing a small portion blackened fish. “Aay-iie!” Tyger

concurs after completely downing the greatest Key Lime pie

confection ever concocted.

Food business taken care of tastefully, they wander past

the WWL-Rayban Festival Stage because Mac wants to sample Little

Feat for a few minutes. Not because he is a fan, or anything even

close, but because they are supposed to be one of the top acts of

the day. Part of Mac’s annual Jazz Fest’s manifest destiny

is to walk by the so-called name acts, so he can tell people later how bad

as in bad; horrible, shitty, the worst, they are.

Simply standard part of Jazz Fest procedure.

The area overflows with thousands of Little Feat enthusiasts

attempting to approximate an experience already perfected by such

as Kidd Jordan. Very lame crowd indeed as Little Feat

stink. Next time, maybe, they won’t take off their shoes.

Back to home base, the Jazz Tent. Henry Butler Trio

serenades the audience with a tasteful blend of traditional



Chapter Twenty-One




and avant garde jazz mixed with interesting New Orleans R&B

choruses. Butler on the ivories. The blind pianist likewise glistens.

The boys find a nice pair of plastic chairs in the middle of

the tent, settling in for bassist Charlie Hayden’s Quartet West

which follows, playing the same type of music with a harder bebop

edge sans New Orleans allusions. Simply fantastic.

The crowd of true jazz lovers goes Willie Wonka bonkers

when they finish playing. Armor’s finds his way back to the center of the universe.

He joins the group for the last Jazz Tent act of the day, clarinetist

Alvin Batiste leading a final affirmation of jazz brilliance.

Again, a great musical act in which he pays homage to old

New Orleans jazz tradition with a blow-you-away and in-your-face

version of “High Society,” followed by “Ole Miss.” Both versions

have been Batistely updated for contemporary sensibilities to appreciate.

Getting on about 7 p.m. when the Batiste group ends its

performance. Sun setting on a vast plane of music, food,

crafts lovers and their fellow just plain fun seeking friends.

Everyone is in a jovial mood for the festival, as always,

has been a roaring success. It’s as as close to heaven as we shall ever



Chapter Twenty-One




come in this life, thereby sufficing tremendously.

As all things must, so too does this wonderful celebration of fun

like a lovely dream pass into historical record. The boys

float away as n a dream from the Fair Grounds,

back on the time-worn path to Mystery Street,

Mac’s awaiting minivan preparing to return them to reality.

Shine and set, then, friends.

That night, fueled by the inspiring karma of the festival’s magical moments,

Mac and his buddies pound out the finest beats imaginable.

They rock the dead souls at the mortuary next door,

rolling in the greatest vibes available until dawn.

A wonderful day has passed in a wonderful way,

yet remains as a beacon of light in the window of recollection

returning as misty-eyed memories again and again.

That is the path to freedom shining brightly brightly

through the space-time night.

It is up to you, comrades of the sacred monumental

moment, never to forget.

The boys of Jazz Fest certainly won’t.

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