Saturday, November 13, 2010

Walkin' Back to New Orleans

Actually, I flew back. A couple weeks ago. Sorry, Fats Domino. I'm really sorry, Fats Domino. Don't hate me for flying back to New Orleans. Just don't. And if you don't hate me, I will forgive you for not playing at JazzFest that one year and Lionel Richie came on in your place. Although maybe you were telling the truth that you had some medical condition that prevented you from playing. Actually, Fats Domino, it would be cooler in a way if you just blew it off. I would've admired that "I'm Fats Domino, and I don't give two fucks" attitude.

Since all my restaurant reviews are from the year Zero B.C. and also because we are in Vegan MoFo right now, I thought I'd share my opinions on where to eat in New Orleans if you're a vegan, 2010. The best part about these reviews, though, is they will show you how much I've grown since I left there a year ago. Fascinating.

Tandoori Chicken -- My first stop, in Metairie, where David Duke used to -- and for all I know still does -- iron his robe and hood. Ignore the name Tandoori Chicken, vegans, and get out your fork. Still my favorite restaurant in the New Orleans area. Owner Singh dude cooked me a custom order of saag without paneer. No cream in the dish either, just in my jeans, 'cause it was so goddamned good. What? If you can't cream in your jeans when someone cooks you some tasty Indian greens, then why don't we all just go fuck ourselves in the 1950s or something?

Parkway Bakery & Tavern -- Had two french fry po boys. Now that is some starch. Tell 'em to hold the gravy. And bring your own vegenaise. Which reminds me . . .

I will now take a break to congratulate myself on my unique contribution to veganness -- my commitment to vegan condiments. Because I like po boys so much, and because a po boy isn't shit without a mayonnaise-like substance, I bring my own jar of vegenaise wherever I go. I also bring salt (vegan!) and non-white sugar. I've faced a lot of ridicule, been spit on, etc., for being so vegenaise-centric, but there's nothing like feeling the heft and cool glass of the vegenaise jar in your coat pocket when you're headed to the po boy shop. My only dilemma is whether to put all these great condiments in a holster, a man-purse or a fanny-pack-like dispenser that creepy people used to wear to make change.

Bennachin -- From Gambia and Cameroon -- two of the best African countries; no, two of the best countries, period, motherfucker, I will beat your ass! -- come a combo dish you will want to have heterosexual sex with. I'm talking about jama jama ni makondo, which consists of some pretty dang fine down-homey Spinach, fried plantains, coconut rice and a white roll. I got a ginger drink, too. And it's in the French Quarter -- a block away from Bourbon Street, in fact. So you can digest while exploring one of the world's most sophisticated titty-watchin' scenes.

Surrey's -- And now for Part I of the brunch segment of our program. They have some genius in the kitchen cooking the potatoes. Good enough to make up for the hot water they pass off as coffee -- weak, man. On the other hand, the word "vegan" is still on the menu.

Satsuma -- A perfect place to bring a vegan-hatin' friend, like I did. I gave her the sugary, crackly top of my muffin, and she briefly shut up 'cause it was so dang good.

Fair Grinds -- More savory and sweet vegan snacks than a New Orleans coffee house in its right mind should have. Also the best coffee in town. And it's got such a groovy hippie vibe, I had a massive LSD flashback that I am still on right now -- the screen is melting, man, Microsoft Windows 7 and Facebook are growing genitals, and they just jumped in a pile with Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg . . . Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!

Pho Tau Bay -- While I'm on this LSD flashback, I'd just like to say that this is a very fine Vietnamese establishment. Indeed, I had a perfectly good order of vegetarian soft spring rolls and pan-fried noodles with vegetables and tofu and washed it down with a splendid sugary lime drink.

Kim Son -- So China and Vietnam were sitting around one day, drunk as usual, when China said, Hey, Vietnam, let's start a restaurant called Kim Son. Let's, said Vietnam. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see if you can still flush the urinals by stepping on a wooden board, but I did have me some nice lemongrass tofu and brown rice and grease-bomb (in a good way) fried egg rolls. If the beautiful magic that is Kim Son is any indication, China and Vietnam should join hands more often in restaurant land.

Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House -- After an exhausting day on Bourbon Street -- getting chafed from marathon lap dances, puking chunky blood and bribing a cop with a wallet full of crisp hundreds only to have him violate 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 by tasering my balls off -- all I wanted was a restorative bowl of soup. And boy did this place do me. They have a creamy cauliflower number that'll make you feel fresh as a field of daisies. With fabric softener.

Lebanon's -- If everyone in Beirut had been eating the vegetarian grape leaves at Lebanon's back in the '80s, they would've been too satiated to pull the pins on all those grenades. While we were there, personal injury lawyer extraordinaire Morris Bart rolled up. I screamed, "Hey, Buddy!" That's his nickname. He immediately scampered over to our table to pay tribute to me. "Dazee," he said, "you are one hell of an attorney at law." "Well, I do declare, Buddy," I said, "you are one hell of a human being."

Beaucoup Nola -- The snowball I had was so weak in flavor, I wanted to punch it in the nuts.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Vanilla, with 50 Gallons of Blood

Sir David Frost here. Dazee had to go to the restroom and sit on a stool, so he asked me to fill in for him this week.

People ask me, Sir David Frost, what is your most memorable interview? Nixon? John and Yoko? The Queen of fucking England? You interviewing yourself as a baby? Ga ga goo goo?

The answer is, I don’t know, and I don’t care. But remember this one, from the 20th century, with vegan painter A. Mitchell Long?

Frost: Are you vegan?

Long: Actually, when I go to the bathroom it’s vegan, but when I eat, it’s only meat. Don’t put that in the interview. My mom might see it.

F: How long have you been vegan?

L: I don’t know. Go talk to Einstein. I’d say 2 feet.

F: Did anyone hear it when you went vegan?

L: Those guys [unintelligible]. Sorry. You shouldn’t put that in. I’ll get beat up.

F: Are you mad that Obama was watching his daughters grow up when the big gusher got on that one oyster?

L: Daniel Day Lewis describes it perfectly about the oil in In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It’s one of best movies I’ve ever seen about killing someone with a noose on an oil rig. I’m like, capital punishment on an oil rig: This is great. Daniel Day Lewis

F: What’s your favorite flavor of vegan milkshake when you’re putting a bowling pin on someone’s head?

L: Vanilla with 50 gallons of blood spilled all over it. Is it vegan if you spill the blood of the guy you hit over the head with a bowling pin? Don’t tell my mom about this article because she’ll find out I smoke cigarettes.

I take the 5th on the next one and the next after that, so you gotta go to the next one after that

So are girlfriend problems vegan? That’s my question. I always thought it was the opposite of veganism, which is world peace. But don’t put that down – Kittee will kill me.

F: If you get a hair in your tooth, is that vegan?

L: The waiter says no and punches me in the mouth. Hey, Hemingway, the waiter punched me in the mouth for having a hair in my tooth! Now I’m going to my orthodontist for the hair in the tooth.

F: Is it vegan if it smells like fish?

L: That’s a gross question.

F: Is it vegan when all the ladies of the world mix all the Coke in the world with all the fish in the world?

L: Fish make Coke. Don’t quote me on that, and don’t tell Atlanta I said that or that city’s gonna kick my ass.

F: Is it vegan when all the ladies of the world mix all the vinegar and water in the world with all the fish in the world?

L: It is a new movement in California, and I’m opposed to it.

F: You lived right down the street from Alex Chilton, right?

L: Yeah.

F: Do you think Michael Stipe was really sad when Alex Chilton died?

L: I saw Michael Stipe at a Patti Smith concert. He sang a little bit. He sang “Happy Days Are Here Again.” He thinks he’s gonna be more famous because he’s not as good.

F: Do you think Michael Stipe should’ve paid for a new heart for Alex Chilton?

L: Yeah. I think Michael Stipe should rip out his heart and then bounce it.

F: Did you hear that Michael Stipe wrote a check to buy a new heart for Alex Chilton but it bounced?

L: That’s disgusting. Next question, please.

F: What’s your next album gonna be like?

L: I’ve been working with Alex Chilton lately in my apartment, and he smells bad, but don’t write that down. Alex Chilton fans are gonna kick my ass for making fun of him.

F: Do you think Alex Chilton was proud that he lived in Treme?

L: I don’t know, let’s ask him. He was always a man of few words, so you’ll probably get the same answer as you would have 2-3 months ago.

F: Do you think Dave Cash is a good vegan?

L: I like what he did in Folsom Prison. Of course, he eats huge slabs of cow.

F: Do you think your mother would find what you’re saying to be funny right now?

L: Don’t repeat what I just said. Don’t let my mom hear about this article. I better go change my underwear.

F: Do you think your mother would think it’s funny if I asked her to ask you to ask her how many times she changed your twin brother’s diaper? Did you know your twin brother got his diaper changed by your mom?

L: I put on a new fresh set of underwear. Now it’s time to put on a third underwear.

F: Mind if I put you on speaker phone?

L: Yeah, all right. By the way I’m in my studio.

F: What are you doing?

L: Finishing up a frame. I have a show coming up next week.

F: Where?

L: Houma, Louisiana.

F: Do you think there will be a Houma in Houma next week?

L: [Wind breaking up sound] because my mom will be really mad at me.

F: What are you doing for your show?

L: It’s just like landscapes. It’s all landscapes. Most are neutral ground looking out Esplanade Avenue, kind of a panorama, like trees and architecture, stuff like that. That’s pretty much it. It’s really windy here.

F: Did the wind get in your paintings?

L: No, but there have been problems with leakage. [Screaming noises] I’m very proud of my underpants on a stool in my underwear.

F: Have you ever done that joke when you pull the stool out from someone’s underpants?

L: That’s why i really like being a vegan. I think kittee has a nice recipe for that.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Very exciting: I was browsing The New Yorker online and came across the headline "Scratch and Crow." I got a chill: That's the name of one of my old friend Helen Hill's films. And as the story revealed, it's now in the Library of Congress' National Film Archive.

Two other things you should know about Helen:

1. She was so sweet; when you were around her, she just kind of bathed you in calm -- as a person who's coo-coo in the brain, I particularly appreciated this, but who wouldn't?

2. She was murdered in New Orleans 3 years ago this week. It's not clear exactly what happened, but the story that most people seem to have settled on is that early in the morning, Helen opened her back door to let her pet pig Rosie out, and just then, someone escaping from another crime burst in and shot her.

At the time, we all talked about why this had happened to Helen and what it meant. Maybe she just got caught in the crossfire, like a baby catching a bullet in a drive-by. Or maybe it was because people are more likely to be murdered in New Orleans than in any other city in the U.S. Living in New Orleans certainly didn't help her chances, that's for sure.

Helen's murder got national attention. And then people started to say that if she wasn't white, a talented filmmaker with a degree from Harvard, her killing would've been stuck on page 3 of the Metro section. Almost certainly true.

Right after Helen was killed, I had held out hope that some big change would take place. After all, thousands of people marched up to City Hall and demanded action. Yet nothing has really happened. Young black men continued to be gunned down. In 2008, 179 people murdered. No. 1 in the country. In 2009, at least 171. Again, probably No. 1.

As the fresh pain of Helen's death receded, I would sometimes walk around New Orleans and think about what it meant to live in a place that put such a small value on people's lives. You would think that on the list of a city's priorities, this would be at the top. But New Orleans has decided the highest murder rate is an acceptable enough attribute for a city.

For a while in New Orleans, it was popular to put up a sign in your window that said "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Then those were replaced with the slogan "Enough!" The last I saw, even those signs were fading away, as if people had just sort of sighed and given up.

I know I did. I did my best, but finally I couldn't take it anymore. For these and other reasons, I moved away.

New Orleans has another chance in 2010. It will have a new mayor. Maybe it will have a Super Bowl champion. I wish I could say there was hope that at the end of the year, a hundred and seventy or so fresh corpses won't be settling in in the pretty above-ground tombs that New Orleans takes such pride in and which tourists the world over visit. I think we all know better.