“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 23: Maxwell Williams, No Ring Circus, and “You Don’t Know the Half of It”

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Even though we had folks come in to talk about two shows at Le Petit on this week’s “PopSmart NOLA” we had a lot to talk about.

Maxwell Williams, artistic director of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré, which debuted Horton Foote’s “Dividing the Estate” during last week’s Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, and which continues — with the exception of a break for next weekend’s French Quarter Festival — through April 15.

We also welcomed Daphne Rose Malfitano and Eli Rose — aka Fiddles & Bo — who present their show, “Fiddles and Oboe’s Clown Orchestra & No Ring Circus,” April 6-8 and April 13-15 at the The Fortress of Lushington performance space at 2215 Burgundy St. in Faubourg Marigny.

And finally, we welcomed Cecile Monteyne, creator of the amazing, seasonal improv show, “You Don’t Know the Half of It” along with improviser Lynae Leblanc, and Amanda Wuerstlin of the You Don’t Know the Band — all discussing next Sunday’s show at Le Petit.

SEGMENT ONE: Maxwell Williams
Maxwell Williams is in his second season as Artistic Director of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré. He’s directed the company’s productions of “The Glass Menagerie” and “Our Town,” and co-directed the world-premiere adaptation of “Sleeping Beauty (An American Panto).” Now Max is back again in the director’s chair for “Dividing the Estate,” the final Broadway hit for the late playwright and author, Horton Foote.

“Dividing the Estate” is the story of a family in Texas, hit hard by an oil bust in the late 1980s, and whose siblings are anticipating their inheritance from their aging matriarch — all with varying agendas. What starts as a wacky family comedy turns dark in the second act in this play featuring Brenda Currin, Carol Sutton, Harold X. Evans, and Silas Cooper. The New Orleans Advocate says of this show: “What makes ‘Estate’ so charming is the bumbling incompetence of its conspirators. The hilarity of the action increases as the urgency of the circumstances compound.”

Maxwell Williams, it should be noted, served as associate director for the Tony-nominated Broadway production of this play, and he joined us in the studio. 

SEGMENT TWO: No Ring Circus’ Daphne Rose Malfitano and Eli Rose
Our next two guests have been a part of New Orleans’ burgeoning variety scene over the past few years, collaborating with circus, sideshow and burlesque performers in various shows while doing their own touring across the U.S. Now the husband-and-wife team of Eli Rose and Daphne Rose Malfitano are back in New Orleans with a new and fascinating show. Performing as two very different clowns, they will bring us “Fiddles and Oboe’s Clown Orchestra & No Ring Circus” on April 6-8 and April 13-15 at The Fortress of Lushington performance space at 2215 Burgundy St. in Faubourg Marigny. I visited the couple at their own space in the Marigny, and here’s an excerpt from that interview. I’ll also have an extended version in the podcast in this post later in the weekend.

SEGMENT THREE: “You Don’t Know the Half of It”
Our final guests represent several components of the deceptively complicated show that is the 5-year-old “You Don’t Know the Half of It,” in which writers present original comedy sketches — and with actors given half of those lines, and with improvisers are challenged with filling in the other half.

Joining us in the studio:

Creator Cecile Monteyne, a Big Easy Award-winning actress and regular performer with “The NOLA Project.” With her are one of the improvisers, Lynae Leblanc, as well as one of the musicians from You Don’t Know the Band, Amanda Wuerstlin. I should first note the entire lineup for Sunday’s show:

The Writers: James Bartelle, Alicia Hawkes, Helen Jaksch, and Mark Routhier
The Actors: AJ Allegra, Joy Lynn Andersen, Robert DoQui and Mallory Messina
The Improvisers: Chris Kaminstein, David James Hamilton, Lynae Leblanc and Josh Toups
You Don’t Know the Band: Andre Bohren, Michael Girardot, Alexis Marceaux, Stephen MacDonald, Marc Paradis and Amanda Wuerstlin

SEGMENT THREE: Relevant Link
For our Relevant Link this week, I wanted to go back a few years as we note that the downtown Super Sunday will be held this weekend on Bayou St. John – a couple weeks after the Super Sunday on St. Joseph’s Day. Both days are known for amazing suits for all of the Mardi Gras Indians, with their intricate beading and feather work. As you may have noticed a couple weeks ago, it’s a smorgasbord for amateur and professional photographers alike.

On that note, it’s important for those capturing the images of this cultural with deep and historic roots that they are being created by culture bearers who, to put it politely, barely survive from check to check. Too often they don’t see a dime for their professional use of the imagery for which they’re responsible in creating. And it’s like the city is necessarily giving them back money by using their imagery in their marketing. (Are they?) That’s why it’s important to read a “green paper” created by the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame that lays out ways professionals can compensate these culture bearers for any profits gained from the selling of these images. You can check out this green paper, and its context, when the post for this show goes up later today on PopSmartNOLA.com.

Oh, and, the downtown Super Sunday starts at noon on Bayou St. John, with a second line by the New Orleans Bayou Steppers, around 2 p.m. Good luck figuring out the route!

Those are our Relevant Links for this week!

CLOSING
I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. — yes, our new day and time! — right here on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m always blathering away on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Our theme music is “Summertime” by Robin Mitchell.

Up next: Chris Lane with “Eat, Pray, Fight!”

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

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“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 22: NOLA Disability Pride Festival, art magazine The Iron Lattice, and movies in Venice

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For Ep. 22 of “PopSmart NOLA” as we continue to settle into our new day and time (Friday from noon to 1 p.m.) on WHIV (102.3 FM), we welcomed an awesome array of guests:

Jane Rhea Vernier, founder and chairperson of the inaugural NOLA Disability Pride Festival, which debuted Saturday (March 25) at the Advocacy Center of Louisiana and featured lots of cool entertainment and information about disability issues.

Stephanie Pearl Travers, editor-in-chief of the recently launched Iron Lattice art magazine, which will celebrate the release of its third issue on Saturday at Barrister’s Gallery.

Laszlo Fulop, associate professor of Documentary and Video Writing at the University of New Orleans and curator of a film series that began Friday (March 24) with “The Wings of the Dove” as part of both Friday Nights at NOMA and as a companion to NOMA’s “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s.”

We also featured this week’s Relevant Link, and, a had quick check in on some “Best Bets” for tonight and the rest of the weekend.

SEGMENT ONE: Jane Rae Vernier, NOLA Disability Pride Festival
Jane Rhea Vernier, founder and chairperson of the NOLA Disability Pride Festival, as well as the Founder and Head Honcho of the Quirky Citizens Alliance. The QCA’s mission is to foster equality without sameness for people with Disability and Neurodiversity and cultivate a strong, cross-disability culture in the city of New Orleans. She is an autism self-advocate and affirmative activist with nearly ten years personal and professional experience working with adults and children with Disabilities. Jane Rhea is committed to Disability awareness and building a stronger culture. (Check out this feature on the festival by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.) NOTE: While we did not get a chance to cover it during our segment, Vernier pointed out the National Center on Disability and Journalism, a very helpful website for journalists covering disability issues. I hope to use this for future reference when covering the subject.

SEGMENT NO. 2: Stephanie Pearl Travers, The Iron Lattice
Stephanie Pearl Travers is editor-in-chief for the New Orleans-based art quarterly, The Iron Lattice. This relatively new publication enjoyed its Volume 3 Release Party on Saturday at Barrister’s Gallery on St. Claude Avenue. This issue features the works of Douglas Bourgeios, Frank Relle and Malik Rahim. When she’s not working on the latest issue, you can find Stephanie Pearl Travers teaching a yoga class at Wild Lotus Yoga or pouring a customer a glass of wine at the neighborhood wine shop. Before the Iron Lattice, she was a freelance writer and editor who helped create marketing strategies for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

I spoke with Stephanie at her home in the Musicians Village, and the tapping sound you might hear comes not from her typewriter, but her very friendly and vigilant dogs moving around as we chatted.

SEGMENT THREE: Relevant Links
For our Relevant Links this week, I’d like to point your attention to a story by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune this past week about a record-breaking year for New Orleans tourism in which the city welcomed a whopping 10.45 million visitors in 2016. Hey, that’s great.

“These achievements are the result of a strategy that attracts a combination of carefully targeted convention business and leisure travelers through tactics which leverage paid media, earned public relations exposure and special events to market New Orleans to the world,” said New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Stephen Perry.

It also is another indication of the prevalence of short-term rentals (STRs) that helped host these visitors, raising the ire of the many residents — as well as the rent — in those neighborhoods. It remains to be seen how the newly passed STR regulations by the City Council will affect residents and neighborhoods moving forward.

But then there’s another relevant link, in which the New Orleans Advocate noted that for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, more people are leaving New Orleans than coming into the city. Jeff Adelson writes:

For New Orleans, the main source of growth in recent years was what is known as “domestic migration”: people moving into the city from other areas of the United States. In 2011, for example, the city gained about 9,700 more people that way than it lost to other parishes and states, amounting to about three-quarters of the growth the city saw that year.

At that time, some former residents were still returning home and many new residents were being lured in by the city’s culture or to work on the recovery with nonprofits and other agencies.

But with affordable housing in scarce supply and nearly half of the city’s job growth coming in low-wage sectors such as hospitality and retail, the city may no longer have the allure it once did. About 760 more people left the parish for other areas of the country last year than moved in, according to the estimates.

While the tourism industry is a vital economic engine for the city, you have to wonder at one point how much is too much — a question that, frankly, should be asked about a lot of the culture of post-Katrina New Orleans. If the city is so flush with tourism (and tourism dollars, yet we’re seeing a first-time post-Katrina reversal of the net gain of residents — with them, a potentially dwindling tax base — what kind of city will we wind up having? Given the rise in housing costs and the decrease of well-paying jobs, we have good reason to wonder whose New Orleans this really is. Something to ponder moving forward.

Here’s the link to the NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune article.

SEGMENT FOUR: Laszlo Fulop, UNO; curator, Venice film series at NOMA
Laszlo Fulop, Associate Professor of Documentary and Video Writing at the University of New Orleans, curated a series of three movies that prominently feature the Venice, starting with tonight’s screening of the adaptation of the Henry James novel, “The Wings of the Dove,” which was part of the Friday Nights at NOMA activities. It’s tied to NOMA’s “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s.” Here Fulop walks us through the creative process of curating this series, why Venice is so special, and what about these films together and separately resonated with him most.

CLOSING
I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. — yes, our new day and time! — right here on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away as always on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Our theme music is “Summertime” by Robin Mitchell.

Up next: Chris Lane with “Eat, Pray, Fight!” I’m preparing to do all of the three, just not here.

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 21: Winston Ho, Evan Spigelman and John Waters on a new day and time!

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This week’s show came to listeners on a new day and time: Friday at noon on WHIV (102.3 FM)! While I will miss hanging out on Saturday afternoon, I have to say I’m thrilled with the opportunity to precede one of WHIV’s coolest shows, Chris Lane’s “Eat, Pray, Fight!” and, hopefully, to follow a very cool new show we hope to announce some time in the future.

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Peter Holsapple on “PopSmart NOLA”: “It’s kind of on my own terms at this point”

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Peter Holsapple (Photo by John Gessner)

PETER HOLSAPPLE
WHAT:
Singer-songwriter and former db’s and Continental Drifters bandmate joins in on Alex McMurray’s weekly show
WHEN: Monday (March 13), 8 p.m.
WHERE: Chickie Wah Wah, 2828 Canal St.
MORE INFO: Visit the website link

While he’s been back to New Orleans off and on over the past since leaving for Durham, N.C., singer-songwriter Peter Holsapple hasn’t gone solo in the Crescent City for a while. And now, he figures, is the right time, given a renewed focus on his solo work in recent years — a focus he’ll sharpen for his guest spot at Alex McMurray’s Monday night session at Chickie Wah Wah on March 14.

At 61, he noted in a recent phone interview, he’s done just about everything he’s been able to do to achieve artistic and commercial success in that bands he’s either co-founded (the ’80s indie-rock band the db’s, New Orleans roots-rockers the Continental Drifters) or served as a sideman (R.E.M., Hootie & the Blowfish). He hasn’t shut all of this previous work down, having performing in some form of reunion work or another with everyone except perhaps R.E.M., and remains a go-to sideman when Hootie & the Blowfish call.

But now he’s ready to do his own thing, in a way he probably hasn’t done in decades. He’s liking what he’s hearing, and will bring a freshly pressed 7-inch vinyl 45 rpm record with him to the gig.

“I’m excited to play new songs for people,” said Holsapple, who has sharpened his work through his affiliation with the Radio Free Song Club, a podcast that features writers who work on a monthly song deadline to help connect their songs with their audience. Participating artists include such familiar names as Howe Gelb, Freedy Johnston and Victoria Williams, and guest stars have included Holsapple’s old db’s bandmate Chris Stamey, XTC’s Andy Partridge and Glen Hansard of “Once” fame.

“It’s important for me to get people to the show to prove to them that I haven’t just been, y’know, sleeping in hammock since I’ve been gone,” he said. “It’s kind of on my own terms at this point. There’s nothing left to lose. … At this point, I’m just glad I have the ability to play it, and to play it for people who’ll listen. That’s exciting for me.”

The 7-inch features the haunting “Don’t Mention the War.” Lightly inspired by the catch-phrase from the British sitcom “Fawlty Towers,” the song tells the story of a family member who’s an otherwise creative, compelling figure but suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from a horrific war experience. (The song is played out in an epic, six-minute video available on YouTube and featured here.)

“It was a ‘Song Club’ song,” he said. “I was working under a deadline. But it had swarmed pretty solidly in my head before I even ran tape on it. That was kind of a good sign. The songs that write themselves I think are implicitly worthy of trust. I think there’s something else happening there, y’know. The ones that you labor over? A lot of those are really good, too. The ones that are just borne … of whole cloth, I think that’s something remarkable. And I’m so lucky to still have that happen, y’know?”

I asked Holsapple what if anything unified all of his work — whether in the bands he’s formed or the one’s he’s contributed to as a sideman.

“If I was going to say one thing that made sense that went over all four of those groups … I would say the interplay between the melody that the singer is singing and what the bass player is doing,” he said. “I think that is really what unifies a great song, certainly, and I think all four groups … place a great emphasis on getting that part right.

“It’s the top and the bottom. It’s what the people here.”

Here in this podcast segment recorded for Sunday’s (March 11) episode of “PopSmart NOLA,” Peter Holsapple discusses more about his solo work, his time with the db’s and the Continental Drifters, some of his New Orleans friends, and life in Durham, N.C.

(NOTE: “PopSmart NOLA” moves to new its new day and time, Fridays at noon, on March 17.)

“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 20: Peter Holsapple, Sideshow, and Sacred Music

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Saturday show covered a lot of cool things going on in New Orleans over the next few days, including one that started Friday night, two at Café Istanbul, and one that might make your Blue Monday a little less blue. That said, we welcomed:

Mistress Kali of Freaksheaux to Geaux and Tommy Breen of World of Wonders to discussed her third annual event, the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny, which kicked off last night at Café Istanbul and continues through Sunday.

We also welcomed Sean Johnson of Wild Lotus Yoga and co-founder of the 6th Annual New Orleans Sacred Music Festival, which takes over Café Istanbul and other parts of the New Orleans Healing Center on Saturday.

Also finally, legendary singer-songwriter Peter Holsapple discussed a career that includes incredible work in the db’s and New Orleans’ own Continental Drifters as well as collaborations with R.E.M. and Hootie & the Blowfish. Peter Holsapple plays his first solo show in New Orleans in over a decade when he performs Monday night (March 13) at Chickie Wah Wah.

SEGMENT ONE: Mistress Kali and Tommy Breen
Mistress Kali has spent several years in the nation’s sideshow scene, producing shows that feature fire-breathing, sword-swallowing, knife-throwing, human blockhead and other feats of human strength and general craziness. New Orleans has a history of sideshow performer, and the sub-culture has enjoyed an ebb-and-flow kind of existence over the decades but currently seems in ascendance.

Mistress Kali’s been at the forefront of this scene here in New Orleans, producing such regular events as Freaksheaux to Geaux and “Storyville Rising,” but especially her third annual Southern Sideshow Hootenanny, a three-day affair at Café Istanbul. Along with celebrating the great American art form of sideshow, the Hootenanny fosters growth in the community and among individual performers through workshops, panels, peer review, and one-on-one consultations with some of the top performers and producers. It also seeks to educate the general public about sideshow, its history, and traditions.

This year’s event will also serve as a tribute to legendary Ward Hall. Several of the performers will come from the popular “10 in 1” touring sideshow troupe World of Wonders, and so I met with Kali and World of Wonders partner and manager Tommy Breen down at Café Istanbul as they prepared for Friday’s opening.

SEGMENT NO. 2: 6th Annual Sacred Music Festival
So, I had this idea: to conduct a brief interview with Wild Lotus Yoga’s Sean Johnson about the 6th Annual New Orleans Sacred Music Festival, which runs today from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the New Orleans Healing Center. (Johnson co-founded the festival along with Sallie Ann Glassman.) And then Johnson would perform a tune from the Wild Lotus Band’s 2014 CD, “Unity.” But the full band wasn’t yet available, and so Johnson did the next best thing, and gathered a about 10 friends in a semi-circle to help lend their voices to a song that Johnson says is tailor-made for a call-and-response engagement with the audience on Saturday.

The New Orleans Sacred Music Festival spans the spectrum of the city’s spiritual communities, with nods towards Western Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Japanese drumming and much more. There also will be rituals, art and altars, crafts, food, prayers, and workshops, according to its Facebook event page. The producers noted that the festival is in its second year without charging an admission fee, thanks to underwriting support from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Call and Response Foundation and Wild Lotus Yoga.

Sean Johnson’s passion for music ranges from a deep appreciation for the transcendental power of rock, Irish folk music, Indian and Sufi devotional music. He’s been leading kirtan for the last seventeen years. His voice is equally influenced by his roots in New Orleans, vocal exploration of his ancestral Irish heritage, as well as study in Indian vocal music and love of the path of bhakti yoga– the yoga of the heart.

Meeting me to discuss the festival was, along with Sean Johnson, Brandon Curran, Marketing Manager and Events Coordinator for The New Orleans Healing Center Brandon oversees all events, services, classes and workshops at The New Orleans Healing Center. He strives to use the community to lead the direction of the various services, events and offerings of the Healing Center.

Here’s our discussion, and their performance, at Wild Lotus Yoga.

SEGMENT THREE: Relevant Link
Last week’s Relevant Link was to a story about a controversy brewing from the appearance of Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman after she recorded, and commented on, a Facebook Live video of herself and her husband, Paul, costuming and riding in the Krewe of Zulu parade on Mardi Gras. In accordance with Zulu costume, this included wearing a form of blackface makeup that’s distinct for Zulu tradition. However, a comment by Paul, and repeated by Ann, drew a fierce backlash on social media, which included an exchange with a recently transplanted bartender from Chicago that led to a Facebook Live exchange all its own in which the two discussed the controversy itself as well as issues surrounding race, privilege and consciousness.

I watched the entire exchange on Facebook, after the fact, and I have to say, it’s a fascinating hour on so many levels. I’m not sure if there are any plans to post the video to an even more public site like YouTube, although anyone connected to the two participants on Facebook can download and upload it accordingly.

And then what caught my eye was a column in the news website, The Lens. The column, titled “Behind the Zulu blackface flap: liberal guilt, clueless outsiders,” contributing writer C.W. Cannon uses his participation in the Krewe du Vieux parade as a way to consider issues of cultural subversion, transgression and expropriation and argue that many people got what Tuennerman did, and said, wrong on many levels. That includes, I should point out, her husband Paul’s key comment, “Throw a little Black Face on you and you lose all your Media Skills” — which, when discussed out of context, is obviously a problematic comment. Cannon writes:

“To me, Paul Tuennerman’s comment is a critique of media, not a critique of blackness. It suggests his awareness that certain forms of expression are so explosive that they can’t be digested at all by national media, with its inability to process the ironies and inversions of carnival expression. It shows his well-founded fear that the frightened and dishonest world of America’s ‘conversation about race’ is likely to cry ‘racism’ whenever it sees an image that might be racist in some other, very different context.”

An objective observer might suggest that Cannon, who I believe is white, can offer this perspective from his own particular vantage point, while others might come to it from another place in which blacks historically have had their intellectual capabilities called into question as one of several forms of oppression and subjugation.

Regardless, Cannon’s column and Facebook Live video exchange between Ann Tuennerman and the bartender offer two fascinating and compelling elements of a dialogue about race, culture and history in New Orleans.

Read the article here.

Oh, and, apparently the Confederate monuments are coming down. What a week!

SEGMENT FOUR: Peter Holsapple flies solo Monday at Chickie Wah Wah
Our next guest could be called a legend you might not have heard of, but you’ve certain heard at least a little bit of his music. Singer-songwriter Peter Holsapple was a founding member of ‘80s indie-rock band the db’s, and later became a founding member of the roots rock band the Continental Drifters that, after setting up in New Orleans, featured Susan Cowsill as well as Vicki Peterson of the Bangles. Along the way, Holsapple served as a sideman with R.E.M., and more recently has performed with Hootie and the Blowfish, both as a keyboardist. The db’s and the Continental Drifters were critically praised bands who never seemed to get the commercial success they deserved, and now, at age 61, Holsapple — who left New Orleans for Durham, N.C., after Hurricane Katrina — is content to focus on his solo efforts. That leads us to his Monday night appearance at Chickie Wah Wah, in which he’ll offer a little overview of his work but also preview some of his most recent solo efforts, including the haunting single, “Don’t Mention the War.”

I spoke with Holsapple by phone while he was still at his home in Durham, where he juggles his projects with his life as a husband and father.

AND IN CLOSING …
Before closing Saturday’s show, I noted that, this is our 20th episode, which means we’ve been doing this for five months. Wow. So, in order to shake things up and maybe even snag a few more ears, we’re going to be moving to Friday afternoon at 12 p.m. That means our show will precede the freakishly popular “Eat, Pray, Fight” hosted by the illegally talented Chris Lane. I should also note our show will soon follow something else that’s pretty cool, so please stay tuned for more news on that front.

It’s been great doing the show on Saturdays, especially to help get folks excited about the show that follows, “La Chancla NOLA” with the very cool Mid-City Martha. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to pop back in and say hi from time to time over the weekend. So farewell, for now, from Saturday, and please tune in to “PopSmart NOLA” at its new time: Fridays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. starting this week!

So that was our show for this week. Stay tuned for info on next Friday’s episode; I’ll give details about later in the week.

I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Saturday from 3-4 p.m. on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away as always on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Our theme music is “Summertime” by Robin Mitchell.

We closed the show with Peter Holsapple’s single, “Don’t Mention the War.”

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

PODCAST: NOMA’s Vanessa Schmid explains “A City That Lives on Water,” one of the four components of “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s”

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“A LIFE IN SEDUCTION: VENICE IN THE 1700S”
WHAT: Exhibition of costume, glass, handbags, masks, a puppet theater, and exquisite paintings by Canaletto, Guardi, Longhi and others from one of the centers of Western art
WHEN: Feb. 16-May 21, 2017
WHERE: New Orleans Museum of Art
MORE INFO: Check out the event page

Before the press preview of the new exhibition by the New Orleans Museum of Art, “A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s,” I got a chance to sit down with the woman who put it all together. Vanessa Schmid, the Senior Research Curator for European Art, focused on one of the four components of the exhibition, “A City That Lives on Water,” which I thought was a nice connection to New Orleans (though you will find there are others in this amazing collection).

Schmid discusses some of the examples that fit into the water theme, although one image that particularly resonates with her — “The Redentore Procession,” oil on canvas, by Joseph Heintz, The Younger — is elsewhere in the exhibition. (It is an amazing piece; check it out in the gallery above.)

I will have more both on the exhibition (which opens Friday and runs through May 21), and will welcome Schmid as a guest on the next episode of “PopSmart NOLA” on Saturday (3 p.m.-4 p.m.) on WHIV (102.3 FM). You also can read an essay by Schmid about the exhibition in the the NOMA Arts Quarterly publication.

The exhibition is guest-curated by the former director of the Civic Museums of Venice, Giandomenico Romanelli. Check out the array of programming planned, including lectures, films and festivities, around the exhibition.

“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), Ep. 7: Boyfriend, Michael Tisserand, OperaCreole and Virginia’s Harem

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Over the past few weeks as we’ve gotten “PopSmart NOLA” off the ground, we’ve focused almost every show on a certain topic, whether it’s challenges facing the transgender community, life for artists and the Affordable Care Act, or how the creative community deals with sexual harassment and assault. But as the holidays approach, we took a little break and had a little fun. On Saturday’s show we welcomed:

  • Boyfriend, the rap-cabaret artist who needs to hustle over to St. Claude Avenue herself for her “Bounce Around the Block” appearance at the AllWays Lounge.
  • Writer Michael Tisserand, author of “Krazy: George Herrimen, A Life in Black and White”
  • Givonna Joseph and Aria Mason of OperaCreole, the amazing opera troupe — dedicated to researching and performing lost or rarely performed music, and sharing with the community the contributions of our people to this musical art form, in New Orleans, and around the world.
  • The all-female comedy troupe Virginia’s Harem, which performs Dec. 17 at The New Movement on St. Claude Avenue

SEGMENT NO. 1: MICHAEL TISSERAND

I was really excited to start off the show by welcoming Michael Tisserand, who’s been writing about New Orleans and Louisiana culture for some 25 years now, including a stint as the editor for Gambit Weekly (where I served under him as A&E Editor from 1998-2005). He literally wrote the book on one of America’s original music forms with “The Kingdom of Zydeco” and wrote the Katrina memoir, “Sugarcane Academy.” Now, after years in the woodshed, he’s come out with another definitive work, “Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White,” which captures the influence and complexities of the Krazy Kat cartoonist and New Orleans native.

We had Michael place Herriman’s life in perspective — especially as a New Orleans native who left the city as a young age, and his place in America’s pop-culture landscape in maybe the same way we think of such icons as Louis Armstrong.

Check out his reading from the book, as well. (I ran an excerpt from the book earlier this week.)

SEGMENT NO. 2: BOYFRIEND

We were really thrilled to welcome Boyfriend, whose rap cabaret features some fascinating influences — from her time behind the desk and on the stage at Rick’s Cabaret as well as burlesque performances with troupes such as Trixie Minx’s Fleur de Tease, but also rap music that eventually saw her open for New Orleans’ own Big Freedia.

One of the many cool things we discussed was the nature of art and identity and the ongoing debate about burlesque (and stripping) as empowerment.

And, how so much of her work is infused with wit.

SEGMENT NO. 3: OPERACREOLE

As noted in their biography, “Opera and classical music in New Orleans and around the world have always included the contributions of persons of color. Since the 19th Century, Creoles of New Orleans have made contributions to the music and culture of New Orleans. It is their participation in opera, as well as the music of Africa, Spain, and Haiti that contributed to the birth of jazz. OperaCreole is a non-profit company that’s dedicated to researching and performing lost or rarely performed music, and sharing with the community the contributions of our people to this musical art form, in New Orleans, and around the world.”

We were honored to welcome the dynamic mother-daughter duo of Givonna Joseph and Aria Mason to discuss how their work makes them something akin to culture detectives, given how much African-American culture has been lost over the years.

I also asked Givonna if there was a particular obscure work they found that they’re hoping to present soon, and loved her answer. (Hint: May!) 

SEGMENT NO. 4: VIRGINIA’S HAREM

Our final guests were from the all-female sketch group, Virginia’s Harem, which was formed in early 2015 and is comprised of Erica Goostrey, Alicia Hawkes, Kirsten Macaulay, Lianna Patch, Maggie Ritchie, and Emily Slazer. They met through taking classes at The New Movement-New Orleans, and that is their home base. Their shows are a blend of high-energy sketch comedy and short, low tech videos. Their aesthetic is accidentally 1090s-ish as it is shaped by their lack of technological expertise and an exuberant lack of concern about that lack of expertise. Their collective group personality is kind of like a weird, drunk aunt or Miss Havisham on one of her good days.

We asked the performers present — Erica Goostrey, Alicia Hawkes, Lianna Patch and Emily Slazer — to discuss their upcoming performance on Saturday, Dec. 17, at The New Movement for a “post-apocalyptic holiday romp.” Set in the very near future, “Season’s Greetings From the Bunker” is the holiday special no one asked for but everyone is living: manic, terrifying, and distinctly Trump-laced. Eggnog. Christmas carols. Nuclear fallout. Billy Joel. Santa Claus. Fascism. All of the holiday hits you know and love. Check out their Facebook event page for more info.

If you like what you’re hearing on this, the radio show version of “PopSmart NOLA” you can “like” us on Facebook. We’re also on Instagram at @popsmartnola, and I’m on Twitter as @dlsnola504.

Please join us next week for another edition of “PopSmart NOLA” — our special super-sized holiday edition, with special guest co-host and DJ Alex Rawls of My Spilt Milk and an appearance by the one and only Debbie Davis with “Oh Crap, it’s Christmas!” It’s all on WHIV (102.3 FM) — radio dedicated to human rights and social justice. END ALL WARS. You can also listen online at whivfm.org.

Thanks again for listening to “PopSmart NOLA,” and please remember to keep the intelligent conversation going.

HELPFUL LINKS

“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), Ep. 6: Brooklyn Shaffer, AJay Strong, Wesley Ware, Katy Reckdahl on transgender issues

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For Episode 6 of “PopSmart NOLA” we focused on transgender issues in New Orleans.

Our lineup included:

  • Wesley Ware,co-founder and and co-director of BreakOUT!, which builds the power of LGBTQ youth most impacted by the criminal justice system to affect concrete policy change to fight the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans.
  • Katy Reckdahl, New Orleans-based journalist who profiled BreakOUT! for the New Orleans Advocate.
  • New Orleans stage performer Brooklyn Shaffer, who recently transitioned from male to female and returned to the stage after a nearly two-year hiatus to co-star in “Steel Poinsettias” at Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts.
  • AJay Strong, co-producer of Bella Blue Entertainment, which presents an average of 20 burlesque shows a month around New Orleans, including “The Blue Book Cabaret” at Bourbon Pub and the “Dirty Dime Peepshow” at the AllWays Lounge.

I profiled Shaffer and Strong earlier in the week with my “Trans, Planted” feature.

I also want to remind you that if you like what you’re hearing on this, the radio show version of “PopSmart NOLA” you can “like” us on Facebook. We’re also on Instagram at @popsmartnola, and I’m on Twitter as @dlsnola504.

Please join us next week for another edition of “PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM) — radio dedicated to human rights and social justice, and the end of all wars. You can also listen online at whivfm.org.

HELPFUL LINKS
Trans, planted: Brooklyn Bhaffer and AJay Strong look back at a life in transition and toward an uncertain future (PopSmart NOLA)
New Orleans organization helps young LGBTQ people navigate legal system, life (New Orleans Advocate)
Galvanized by election, transgender activists rally in New Orleans on Day of Remembrance (New Orleans Advocate)
Hundreds gather to support trans and gender non-conforming youth of color at Congo Square (PopSmart NOLA)
BreakOUT! — Fighting the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans (Facebook page)
Louisiana Trans Advocates — advocacy, education and support
Trans Lifeline — support and crisis counseling to transgender people. Call (877) 565-8860 or visit the website
A history of transgender health care (Scientific American)
The psychology of transgender (American Psychological Association)

PLAYLIST
“Boys and Girls,” Blur
“Born a Girl,” Manic Street Preachers
“Walk on the Wild Side,” Lou Reed
“De Camino a la Vereda,” Ibrahim Ferrer

“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), Ep. 5: Extended interview with Alexandra Scott, helpful links on sexual assault and harassment

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(NOTE: Regretfully, it appears due to a technical glitch, Ep. 5 might not be saved for archival purposes. Until this is figured out, please enjoy this extended version of the Alexander Scott interview, which was incredibly revealing and offers some of the most sobering examples of what New Orleans performers go through on a regular basis in terms of sexual harassment. Also check out the helpful links and other resource info at the bottom of the page.)

Even before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States back on Nov. 8, women across the United States were horrified at the language about and attitude that Trump has expressed toward women — and those most horrified might well have been women who have experienced some form of sexual assault, abuse or harassment. As increasingly more women come forward to share their experiences, especially on social media, those numbers become more apparent.

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“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), Ep. 4: Susan Todd, Don Vappie, Lydia Treats, Alex Rawls, Trixie Minx and Katie East & Caitlin Brodnick on the Affordable Care Act

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For Episode 4 of “PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV (102.3 FM), which airs Saturday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., we addressed the Affordable Care Act and New Orleans. The nation experienced a seismic political shift a couple weeks ago with the election of businessman Donald Trump, who said, among many, many other things, that he would oversee the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Since his election, on “60 Minutes,” he offered a different take on his position, saying that some parts of the law — requiring insurers to cover people with preexisting medical conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 — might remain intact. But Trump could still eliminate key parts of the ACA, which gave health insurance to 20 million Americans. Supporters are faced with a battle regardless, and their biggest argument might well be that the rising cost of premiums is a fixable problem and not the disaster critics say it is.

The ACA affects New Orleans in at least two distinct and often overlapping ways — the city and state have more than their fare share of residents living at or below the poverty level, as well as many, many culture bearers and creative artists who contribute so much to the community and get paid very little. Health care coverage is everything. Remember, the ACA had been in effect for only a couple years when Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, in January, reversed the Jindal administrations stance and agreed to accept the federal government’s offer to expand Medicaid coverage and thereby helping hundreds of thousands of residents.

So on the show we heard from several people, some in pre-recorded interviews, to offer a diversity of perspectives on how this new world might affect them:

Susan Todd, executive director of 504HealthNet, a collaboration of 22 non-profit and governmental organizations in the Greater New Orleans area that form the primary care and behavioral health safety net.
Don Vappie, a beloved figure in the New Orleans jazz community as a musician and educator.
Lydia Treats, a circus sideshow performer who also is the mother two children – a teenage girl and pre-teen boy — and who also produces “Covington Cabaret” which returns tonight to the Northshore.
Comedians Katie East and Caitlin Broadnick, whose comedy show “Victory for T&A!” tonight at The Theatre St. Claude takes a humorous and revealing look at their respect battles with cancer.

SUSAN TODD
To get a brief overview of what’s been happening with the Affordable Care Act, we turn to Susan Todd, executive director of 504HealthNet. She brings a unique blend of expertise in the area of primary care access and strengthening health systems in addition to a passion for community involvement. She has worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). While there, she worked on Medicaid, CHIP, and Marketplace enrollment. I asked Susan Todd to take us from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act back in 2014 and how it has evolved under the John Bel Edwards administration, and where she thinks it might be headed.

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Don Vappie

DON VAPPIE
Don Vappie is a world-renowned jazz musician and presenter from New Orleans. He leads the Creole Jazz Serenaders, a classic New Orleans jazz orchestra, as well as his various jazz and R&B combos. He has produced and recorded numerous CDs and film sound tracks and is star of the PBS documentary “American Creole: New Orleans Reunion.” Known for his virtuosic banjo skills, Don is a stellar bassist, guitarist and vocalist. Add to that his commitment to the cultural creole music of New Orleans he calls “creole jazz”. As an educator, he has participated, presented and/or performed for programs at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Tulane University, Historic New Orleans Collection, NPR, Smithsonian, Appalachian State University and many more. He currently serves as jazz guitar instructor at Loyola University and is a member of the Loyola Jazz Faculty Combo.CUE: Queen/David Bowie, “Under Pressure”

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Lydia Treats

LYDIA TREATS
I wanted to get an impression of what it’s like for local performing artists, and so I contacted circus sideshow producer and performer Lydia Treats, who literally ran away with the circus for several months this past year. Among her many talents, Lydia Treats is a sword swallower – perhaps the most popular in the city, and she’s gaining larger audiences with her “Covington Cabaret” show that returns tonight to the Green Room in Covington. I asked her to give me a sense of what it’s like to deal with health care coverage, especially while raising two children as a single mother, and here’s what she had to say.

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Katie East & Caitlin Brodnick

KATIE EAST AND CAITLIN BRODNICK
We also welcomed a decidedly defiant dynamic duo, New Orleans’ Katie East and New York City’s Caitlin Brodnick. They have decided not to take their respective battles with cancer sitting down. In fact, they have no problem name-checking the sources of their illness in their comedy show “Victory for T&A” tonight at The Theatre at St. Claude. Faced with a history in her family of breast cancer, Brodnick boldly decided to opt for a preventative double mastectomy in her 20s — and even had Glamour document the experience on a web series, “Screw You Cancer.” East has been beset by a range of illnesses and more hardship, including bad surgical experiences and the discovery of cancer in her buttocks — hence the “T&A” of the title. And so she has turned her experiences into what she’s calling a “Coney Island-style freak show.”

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Alex Rawls

BONUS CONTENT: ALEX RAWLS
I wanted a journalist’s perspective, and spoke with Alex Rawls. Alex Rawls has covered music, art, books and food in New Orleans since 1990. His work has appeared in NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, The New Orleans Advocate, Gambit and OffBeat, and multiple national outlets. He’s also the creator of the music and culture website My Spilt Milk, so I asked him for his take on the scene as it relates to health care.

BONUS CONTENT: TRIXIE MINX
I also interviewed New Orleans burlesque producer and performer Trixie Minx earlier in 2016 to discuss her work with the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. Here’s the podcast.

PLAYLIST:
Chris Rock, “Robitussin”
Deluxx Folk Implosion, “I’m Just a Bill”
Don Vappie, “Please Come Home for Christmas”
The Ramones, “I Wanna Be Sedated”
B-52s, “Follow Your Bliss”

Tune in for our next show, next Saturday, Nov. 26, 3-4 p.m. for another edition of “PopSmart NOLA.” We will be discussing, among other topics, sexual harassment and sexual assault issues for local performers.

Also want to remind everyone if you like what you’re hearing you can “like” PopSmart NOLA on Facebook and follow me on Instagram at @popsmartnola and on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Remember: Keep the intelligent discussion of New Orleans culture going.