chicago bound

Hello, Chicago! I will be coming to your fair city Thursday evening for an ever-so-brief stay. (Landing at Midway at 8:20 p.m., staying here and flying out the next afternoon after talking to these nice folks.)
Any crabwalk readers interested in a beer/dinner/whatever should drop me a line (jbenton at toast dot net). Circus clowns are particularly encouraged to apply.

me in the ind, the evolution of cajun food

I have achieved my blog ambition: to be named a “blog of interest” by The Independent back home in Louisiana. I’m flattered, even if their phrasing is suspiciously close to the “person of interest” wording law enforcement agencies use when they mean “the guy we’re pretty sure strangled that family of four, even if we don’t have the proof yet.”
Thanks to the folks I presume are responsible for this, Ind big dogs Scott Jordan and Reese Fuller (who needs to update his site).
The current Ind has a great piece by Friend of Crabwalk Mary Tutwiler (whose husband was my high school English teacher). It’s on the complex historical bond between Cajuns and crawfish. In particular, it gets at the ways in which what we consider “traditional” Cajun culture was actually forged relatively recently — post-World War II.
Fried crawfish and crawfish etouffee, for instance, didn’t arrive until the ’50s and didn’t hit the Cajun mainstream for a while after that. Go look at an old cookbook like the original Tony Chachere’s and you’ll notice a lot of “classic” Cajun dishes are missing; in their place you’ll actually find a lot of more “American” dishes like pork roasts.
There’s a dissertation in here somewhere, but I bet you could prove that Cajun cuisine circa 1930 or so was more similar to other rural Southern cuisines than it is today. The differentiation in food has increased at the same time that the broader-picture culture has become more homogenized. Discuss.

who dat drummer?

Today marks the first installment of what may become a regular feature on Who Dat Drummer?
It’s my attempt, the day after attending a fine indie-rock show, to describe the appearance of the performing bands’ drummers in terms of other historical or contemporary figures. Drummers are, of course, the quiet showboats of indie rock — free to cultivate a sartorial or facial-hair strangeness, but not burdened by the attempts at prettyness required of frontmen.
Today’s installment of Who Dat Drummer? features the two bands I saw last night at the Gypsy:
– The Oranges Band (drummer Dave Voyles): Perry Farrell in a Beatle Bob fright wig
– Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (drummer Chris Wilson): Two-thirds Rasputin, one-third unindicted co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth.
Thank you for playing Who Dat Drummer?
(Aside: Did you realize how frickin’ old Perry Farrell is? Dude is pushing 50.)
(Aside the second: Props to Ted Leo for breaking out a cover of Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio.” Truly a moment of Rock Greatness. The cover of Stiff Little Fingers’ “Suspect Device” was nice, too.)

troubled hubble, etc.

Those of you who, like me, miss the glory days of the Dismemberment Plan, may I recommend Troubled Hubble? Same mix of too-literate lyrics, too-tight rhythm section, too-clean DeSoto production, and optimism poking through that thin layer of indie jadedness. A hint more power-pop and a smidge less funk/hip-hop influence, but the D-Plannishness is pretty obvious. (Even before D-Plan guitarist Jason Caddell produced their new album, which was naturally recorded at former D-Plan studio Inner Ear.)
Some MP3s: Ear Nose & Throat, Dulcinea Duct Tape, Understanding Traffic, and Nancy.
They’re coming to Dallas on June 25. Speaking of good shows coming to town, it’s a hell of a month coming up: Ted Leo on June 6, Of Montreal on June 9, Bloc Party on June 9, the Roots on June 11, Neko Case on June 20, Architecture in Helsinki on June 21, Spoon on June 24, and Rogue Wave on June 25.
Individuals who choose not to attend the Ted Leo show, in particular, risk being judged capital-L Lame-o by the management of this web site.
One other idea for entertainment this weekend.
One final note: It’s not out for another month, but Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois is just amazing. Didn’t think he could outdo his Michigan record, but he has.

i love hank stuever too

A good interview with the brilliant Hank Stuever of the Post. Hank is the ideal of the Style section sharpened to a fine point and always an engaging, surprising read.
The hook for the interview is his Deep Throat piece, which seems impossibly wise for something probably written in an hour. Best part, of course: “It was possible, our ancestors inform us, to go to a bar and tell a girl that you were a reporter for The Washington Post and she might go home with you. That was part of the allure of the Deep Throat culture — the reporter as chick magnet. (Now she would tell you that she doesn’t really ever look at the paper. Or worse, she only looks at it online.)”

i love ben bradlee

I love Ben Bradlee, that tough old SOB.
“It’s very hard to stand up to the government which is saying that publication will threaten national security. People don’t seem to realize that reporters and editors know something about national security and care deeply about it. I spent almost four years on a destroyer in the Pacific ocean during World War II and it makes my blood boil when some guy who maybe ran an insurance company in the Midwest becomes an assistant secretary of this or that and tells me about national security.”