This picture of the Obama family arriving in Cuba is iconic. The headline in Huffington Post read “Obama in Havana.” The picture resonates with many other images, so I keep thinking about it. The photographer got lucky, was in the right place at the right time, lined up a perfect shot, at least to my untutored eye. The picture makes me think of Afro-Cuban art, the image of umbrellas that runs through African American art, second line parades in New Orleans, and the way that blocky and flowing images dominate those genres. Even though the color is stark, it’s still lovely.Beyonce’s “Formation” shows how iconicRead More →

Back in 2010, Prince chided Beyonce for her lack of musical knowledge, but was impressed that she understood something about Mixolydian scales and Egyptian styles, WTF. Basically he thought she was quite talented and gifted, but her longevity and survival depended on learning a lot more. I’m not much of a Beyonce fan, and had no interest in Lemonade. The brouhaha over “Formation” is incredibly complex, but not enough to tempt me to listen or buy the album. Visually, the video is fascinating and brilliant, transgressive and offensive. The general invisibility of trans artist Big Freedia, the politics of colorism and authenticity in the deepRead More →

My sweetie made me bread pudding for my birthday. Is the dessert pan half full or half empty? Well, the GOOD news is that my belly is half full of Louisiana goodness, and you can’t go wrong with that. The other good news is that someone loves me enough to make me some of that Louisiana goodness. What a fine blessing. The other day he came home with cream and raisins. That was quite out of the ordinary, and it aroused my curiosity. I asked, “Honey, what’s that for?” He said he was going to make me something special for my birthday. I thought heRead More →

I never fully claimed Louisiana or Baton Rouge as my home, and I never participated in the full spectrum of Baton Rouge Mardi Gras events. These past two weeks I’ve been homesick, missing the festival spirit that consumes the entire state, even the most reclusive among my friends. You’d think the weeks and weeks of Mardi Gras spirit – preparations, build up, multiple parades in every town – would be tiring, but it’s just part of the culture, something everyone looks forward to every year. Mardi Gras in New Orleans, pshaw, that’s for the tourists. Mardi Gras everwhere else – that’s a wonderful phenomenon thatRead More →

Huey Long is the heart of Louisiana. I think of him when I think of Louisiana, and I understand the anathema of this state. Its collectivism, which derives from its non-Anglo traditions and its agrarian culture, gave easy rise to its populist politics. That populism was intensely complicated by a racism that Huey Long managed to navigate. Long dreamed of a “share the wealth” program encapsulated in his “A chicken in every pot, and every man a king” sound bite. He is an indirect grandparent to Occupy Wall Street.  Long despised big oil and big banks; he drove the expansion of Glass-Steagall in Congress andRead More →

Forgetting to post gratitudes makes me forget to be grateful. 1. The BRCC community for fortitude in the face of uncertainty. 2. The Boomerangs of Baton Rouge for planting the seeds of cosmopolitan life in this city. 3. The LGBT activists for persistence and vision. 4. Dialogue on Race Louisiana for forging ahead. 5. The LSU Performance Studies folks for unwavering spirit and creativity. 6. BRPN for progressing in spite of it all. 7. The Unitarian Church for providing an early haven, however brief. 8. The women I worked with at the LSU Women’s Center. You built something wonderful and sustainable, and I am honoredRead More →