shakespeare’s crossdressing, guardian interview

It hit me while watching As You Like It in Samuell-Grand Park last night: did Shakespeare do any comedies that didn’t involve crossdressing? (And don’t get me started on the whole escape-into-the-forest-and-find-the-meaning-of-love-among-savages trope.) Seriously, if a contemporary film director leaned on the ol’ crossdressing crutch as much as Willie, he’d be playing primarily on Fire Island screens, if you know what I mean.
Got interviewed by The Guardian yesterday, so British readers, keep an eye out.

classic nick, dave coulier, salute your shorts

Found while following a link at kelegraph: Out of Control, the classic mid-’80s Nickelodeon kid show, starring (yes!) Dave Coulier. (Coulier would later cause much intestinal disorder as Uncle Joey on Full House, the show whose only redeeming quality was hottie Lori Laughlin and which launched a thousand pedophiles.)
There were evidently only 26 episodes of Out of Control — surprising, since it seemed to go on for about three decades. I watched a lot of Nickelodeon as a kid. (Isn’t that what, by definition, kids do?) Mr. Wizard rocked. Mysterious Cities of Gold! The Little Prince! Danger Mouse! Inspector Gadget! And of course, the Canadian classic You Can’t Do That on Television, forever anchored by comedic genius and master of disguise, Les Lye.
Alarming fact: Dave Coulier was apparently the guy Alanis Morrissette’s “You Oughta Know” was about. Truly alarming. (Dave’s official response: I’ve been asked that question a million times and I still have the same answer–“No. Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.” I apologize in advance, but I’d like to keep my personal life somewhat private. I will say this, Alanis and I have remained friends and she is one of the friendliest, funniest and most thoughtful people I have ever met.
Random fact: Did you know Candace Cameron, D.J. on Full House, married hockey star Valeri Bure?
Depressing fact: I was a secret fan of Salute Your Shorts. That Heidi Lucas was smokin’ hot. Add your name to the “Put Salute Your Shorts back on the air” petition. Perhaps they can create a “Salute Your Shorts: Special Edition” and digitally remove mullet-boy Danny Cooksey from the cast. Ruining Diff’rent Strokes was bad enough; that hair was far worse.

visor/office screwup

Remember my excitement at Palm sync finally being available for Office v.X? Well…
Microsoft Handheld Synchronization for Entourage X is temporarily unavailable as we investigate some technical issues that have been reported to us by customers. We are working hard to identify and correct these issues.
Yeah, I can tell Microsoft what those issues are: the fact the update completely hoses your Handspring Visor, screws up all your data, and makes you very thankful you have a recent backup and enough time to manually repair the damage. Damned Microsoft.

trip up north to boston, rochester, toronto, toledo

The Summer Tour 2002 is set to begin! From August 9 to 18, I’ll be touring our nation’s northern tier (and Ontario’s southern tier), meeting with friends and readers and probably drinking too much. (Call it a “listening tour.”) I’ll be stopping in Boston, Toronto, and Toledo. Parties interested in buying me a beer are asked to file the appropriate paperwork soon.

alan lomax, cajun/zydeco museum

Lots of folks have been mourning the loss of Alan Lomax, one of the great figures of American music. But in all the obits, I haven’t seen much mention of his role in popularizing Cajun and zydeco music.
His role was smaller in Cajun music than in zydeco, since Cajun music was already being recorded in the 1920s (first by Joe and Cleoma Falcon on Columbia Records in 1928). Some black Creole musicians were recorded in the 1930s, but Lomax and his father really birthed recorded zydeco in the late ’30s.
Among their accomplishments: the first recording of zydeco’s signature song, “Les Haricots Sont Pas Sales.” (The phrase means “the snap beans aren’t salty” — a statement of poverty, since it meant you couldn’t afford salted beef to put in your stew. You just had beans. The word “zydeco” is a bastardization of “les haricots,” pronounced lez-ah-ree-co.) More info for those interested in Michael Tisserand’s excellent The Kingdom of Zydeco.
There was a brief period in 2000 when I was considering quitting journalism for a couple of years, moving back to Rayne, and starting a Cajun/zydeco music museum. Rayne has as strong a claim as anyplace to being the birthplace of Cajun music; Joe and Cleoma Falcon were from Rayne, for instance, along with big names like Belton Richard, Amedee Breaux, Lionel Cormier, and Happy Fats LeBlanc. LeBlanc’s band, the Rayne-Bo Ramblers, was the first Cajun act to be broadcast on national network radio.
One problem: there already is a Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which I finally visited when I was in Louisiana earlier this month. But it’s deeply unimpressive. There’s clearly no one with museum experience involved; there’s no signage, no music (!), and the displays are little more than shelves of old accordians and 78s. The “hall of fame” is a series of poorly framed photos, with a sheet of white typing paper taped to the wall underneath each one.
It’s an admirable but limited all-volunteer effort — interesting to look at, but not particularly instructive. More a hobbyist’s attic than a museum, really. The volunteer the day I went (the widow of Austin Pitre) said they get four or five visitors a day.
And it’s in Eunice, which while a nice little prairie Cajun town, is in the middle of nowhere — an hour’s drive over bad roads from Lafayette, where all the tourists stay. (Rayne’s about 15 minutes from Lafayette, right on Interstate 10.)
Plus, the Eunice museum suffers from the age-old divide between Cajun [i.e., white] and zydeco [black] musicians. There’s no zydeco here, and only the slightest evidence that black people had any role in Cajun music. (There really isn’t a good zydeco museum anywhere, to my knowledge, even in Opelousas, the town that would make the most sense.)
So there’s plenty of room for a well-done Cajun/zydeco museum. Tourists would come. I already had my first two exhibits planned out in my mind. First would be a permanent exhibit comparing Cajun and zydeco music to its influences — Nova Scotian ballads, German polka, French chansons, West African rhythms, R&B, Native American songs. And the first temporary exhibit would be on the early duo of Amedee Ardoin and Dennis McGee — the first and most important pairing of black and white musicians in south Louisiana. The exhibit would conclude with Ardoin’s beating at the hands of a white mob and eventual death. (Okay, that might have been a little heavy for the first exhibit.)
In the end, I took another journalism job and put my plans on hold. But I’d still love to get it done, if I could find a couple donors willing to preserve south Louisiana culture and part with a little dough. (Wealthy readers take note! Wouldn’t you like your name on a nice big plaque in the lobby? It can be yours for only a few tens of thousands of dollars!)