LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER – cajun culture

April 14, 2010 from DEATH VALLEY GIRL

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these days i am all about swamps. they fascinate me – not necessarly their common appeal as natural preserves, rather the history of swampliving.
in early 19th century french canadian settlers were forced to leave their home, the atlantic colonies, due to a war. they left on huge ships to the vast uninhabited swamplands of louisiana, where they found nothing but mangroves, mosquitos and a whole lot of gators. oddly enough they decided to make this unwelcoming place their home – building little shacks and boats (pirogues) to get around.

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with them they brought their rich culture, known as cajun:
an old westfrench accent and cuisine and their marvellous music: forward driven, beatbased with the accordion and the fiddle in the center of it, accompanied by heavy stomping.

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though their culture was heavily suppressed by the american government, they managed to keep it alive and even today they are more than proud of their heritage, which spread out and is richer than ever.

this is what cajunliving looked like in 1981:

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and this is how it looks now:

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UNEARTHLY – St.Louis Cemetery

April 08, 2010 from DEATH VALLEY GIRL

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because of the high waterlevel new orleans corpes cannot be buried underground. the first cemetery was built underground, but the coffins would end up bursting through the ground and floating away in times of heavy rains, so they figured that they are better off building huge tombs above ground. now, all nola cemeteries are big overground labyrinths. it is a weird feeling to walk trough the st. louis cemetery in the notorious neighboorhood of treme. maybe its was beause i was warned not to go by myself  or it was the knowledge that just beneath me, on eyelevel, dead bodies were residing.

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while walking through it, i stumbled over a tomb which was extraordinarly decorated.

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as the keeper of the cemetery told me it was the tomb of marie laveau, probably the most famous name connected to new orleans and voodoo history. she is famous for her spells and she the spread of voodoo throughout louisiana. she was the first commercial voodoo queen, specialized in romance and finance (who would have thought of that!). even today people pilger to her grave to ask the dead lady for favors: in some traditions, you should knock three times on her crypt before asking her help. that tradition has been replaced byt three crosses. when your wish came through you would come back and place a gift at her tomb. a weird conglomerate of presents gathered at her crypt over the years, reaching from real coins to fake ones, to lipsticks, to candy, to empty (!) booze bottles to buisnesscards.

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but marie laveau  is not the only famous resident at st.louis. non-dead nicolas cage build himself a massive tombpyramide. very foresighted.

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SHAKE DAT FANG – New Orleans Bounce Music

April 03, 2010 from DEATH VALLEY GIRL

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fuck jazz, fuck french quarter, fuck crabfish. hail new orleans bounce music.
“nob”  is a local subgenre of rap, heavily orientated towards dancing or rather shaking…

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dj rusty lazer: http://www.myspace.com/rustylazer

documentation : http://www.yaheardmefilm.com/

KATRINA

April 02, 2010 from DEATH VALLEY GIRL

hurricane katrina KATRINA

earthquakes, tornados, hurricane destruction; there is something about the pictures released by the press of those catastophies which leaves me cold.the manner in which the show content out of context. coming to new orleans and just walking around in the suburbs gave me a grip of the disasterous impact this storm had.
half of the inhabitants would never move back to NOLA which leaves the city with a broad vacantness. literally every other house was abandoned. an upsetting morbid beauty.

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JACKIE

March 31, 2010 from DEATH VALLEY GIRL

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on the ride from austin to new orleans i met jackie. jackie dropped out of highschool and left home when she was 17 and chose to live a life of a hobo, jumping trains which brought her wherever she wanted to go.
one day she found herself in minneapolis, where she teamed up with a bunch of hobos, artists, musicians- all working on the project “miss rockaway armada“. they were building rafts out of trash and on them they travelled down the mississippiriver, creating a “big huge stinking spectacle” full of music, art and performance. on board famous artist swoon and mike brodie one of my favourite photographers of all times.

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they travelled all the way down to missouri when jackies raft broke. they had to stop at a deserted little beach in the outskirts of st.louis to fix it. they ended up staying there for three months living in empty cargocontainers and off dumpster dinners. eventually they moved on to new orleans.
i find it highly impressive how those kids radiate freedom: when i aksed jackie about what she was living off, she said” ah, u know something will pop up” and when i told her about my concerns to find a ride  to the swamps, she said “ah, u know, you can do everything” and you can tell she was sincere. her way of living is so basic and she seemed so content, it makes me wanna through my phone and creditcard away and jump on the next train, which passes through town.

FUNTASTIC PLASTIC – Port Aransas, Texas

March 31, 2010 from DEATH VALLEY GIRL

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Port Aransas is a tiny beachtown on the coast of Texas with nothing to offer  then overpriced seafoodrestaurants and a beach which is a highway at the same time. One thing distinguishes it from the rest of those lookalike coastal refuges: the really take shopdecoration to the next level.

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SXSMess – South by Southwest Festival ’10

March 27, 2010 from DEATH VALLEY GIRL

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So, for everybody who hasn’t been to SXSW ( South by Southwest) before, here is a brief introduction:

SXSW is a music-festival which takes place in the “livemusiccapitol” of the world, Austin/Texas, since 23 years. Once a year, independent musicians from all around the globe gather to celebrate five days of musical ingenuity. It is not to be seen as a classical festival with a couple of stages, its rather that the whole innercity is engolfed by it. All inner streets are blocked and every bar, restaurant, yard and living room in town has bands playing in it.

If i had to estimate the number of bands which played daily, i would say 500. A friend just told me that there were actually 2000 different bands playing at “south by” alltogether. So, one thing that got pretty clear to me after 5 days of SXSW : i am just not made for festivals. 
How to not freak out when about 100 of your favourite bands are planning at the same time? From the huge schedule of free gigs, i made for myself “bands to see” list, 2 hours each morning.

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i think i managed to actually see 1/8 th of them. Blame it on the delays or just on the margaritas.
Whatever it was, i here is top five ranking of the bands i saw :

1. The Wave Pictures
2. The Very Best
3. Neon Indian
4. Hunx and his Punx
5. Oh no Ono

and missed:

1. Pocahaunted
2. Washed out
3. Truman Peyote
4. Jookabox
5. Goons of Doom

Here some visual impressions:

all pictures > shot with Nokia X6

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