Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

"Spasm" band of street kids playing whatever came to hand around 1900. Before "jass" had a name, there were established groups like Stalebread Lacombe's "Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band". When a rival advertised himself with a similar name, Lacombe and compeers showed up with razors and bricks to threaten harm to the establishment. The impasse was solved by the rivals changing their name to "Razzy Dazzy JAZZY Band" -- "jass" being Old French argot for "to fuck" as in jazzere, jism, and the request heard in sporting houses, "Play something a little jassy, Professor", meaning to fuck around with the music, to syncopate the stately rhythms of popular tunes into something quite unheard. At least that's the story I heard. See also Stephen Longstreets's wonderful "Sporting House: New Orleans and the Jazz Story".

As reporters flip back through their notebooks, It becomes more and more evident that people knw this was coming, and that the loss of life in New Orleans, was caused in part by the inaction of the federal government. Links here, and here, and here. The Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to raise the levees, and had its budget for the projects slashed in half by the Bush administration. The 17th Street levee, where the first big break came, was 4 feet lower than the rest. A blue ribbon commission got a program called SELA going years ago, and that had its funding sent to the war in Iraq and the Bush tax cuts. How much evidence do you need? Only a village idiot would say something like "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." Oh, wait...


One New Year's Eve in New Orleans, little Louis Armstrong wanted to shoot off fireworks too, so he got the gun from under his mama's bed and fired it into the air. Sadly, that got him sent to the Jones Colored Waif's Home, but blessedly, it was this band that gave him his first trumpet. I heard that Armstrong is buried in New York because New Orleans let him down one last time, making him a celebrity at Mardi Gras but refusing to let him perform in public with his friend Jack Teagarden, a white trombonist. Regarding his final home in Queens, New York, he said, “I’m here with the Black people, the Puerto Rican people, the Italian people and Hebrew cats and there’s food in the Frigidaire. What else could I want?”

2 comments:

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Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

Jesus Christ, I've been spammed-- at a time like this.