(The entire book appears at this link with chapters added after appearing online:
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
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
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 … “
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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.”
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
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,
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.
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!”
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.”
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
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
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
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.