Simple/Sublime
10/29/08

O Best Beloveds, freshly back from Chicago and New Orleans, and in each there was lots of good visiting and listening and talking and eating. Too much to write about in a way that won't become just a list of fabulous, so I'm singling out two moments:

1) Hot Doug's Encased Meat Emporium. The sausage superstore not only imports their product from around the world, but Doug goes to considerable trouble to pair each up with condiments that are as much chosen for their wit as their novelty of flavor. Sometimes he gives them funny names. Hot Doug's has long been a goal of ours, so we made sure we brought along not just Gary, who was showing us the way, but Preacher Girl Nichole, and Donna and David, so we could try all that much more. I'm sure there is a good reason I didn't write down everything we ate--I think I was relying on the internet to fill in for me--but Steve has photos. However, we did have a duck sausage with black truffle butter and foie gras mousse--impressive slabs of the latter nearly covering the sausage itself, and a Jack Daniels sausage with chunks of Derbyshire cheese, and a lamb sausage snuggled in a thick coat of fluffy goat cheese. And about five others. It wasn't enough. You know how you look forward to something and it doesn't live up to the anticipation? Hot Doug's was everything we had hoped; superb food (and yet, what was it but hot dogs? Even haute dogs?), hilarious atmosphere (many a sausage or hot dog verbal or visual pun on the walls), Doug himself taking all the orders and visiting with pretty much every customer despite the long line. Where another entrepreneur would feel compelled to rush his clientle through the process, Doug allows his hot dog stand to be singled out as a distinct moment. I wish I could go once a week.

2) I'm breaking tradition here and reporting on an event I didn't actually witness, because I think it pairs nicely with the above. John Boutte is a New Orleans singer/songwriter, a tiny crooner of delicate yet punching voice. A black Creole and a fifth generation New Orleanian, his songs after the failure of the federal levees, particularly at Jazz Fest when he did a biting version of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" and a but-wrenching Annie Lennex's "Why" which had a crowd of thousands sobbing hysterically. I took Jessica and Caroline to see him at the tiny dba in New Orleans about 18 months ago, and they, too, were in tears. (Hear and see him for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cf6J8M6FEc) I had seen him at Fest just a few weeks previous and he was his usual incredible self, yet his performance was in no way diminished in power and emotion for the considerably smaller club.

So Diana and Nettie went to see him at dba on the Saturday after the election. That part is important. Remember what happened just a few days before. And this exquisite voice started with an a capella Star Spangled Banner, with the whole crowd on its feet. And then he did "Blackbird" still unaccompanied just him, that voice, oh, that voice, and that moment:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
all your life
you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life You were only waiting for this moment to arise,oh
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

There was more, but what else do you need?

PS: Oh, all right: juicy yet delicate pork belly dumplings at Chicago's Urban Belly, artful magazine photo ready sushi at Oysy, a lively and contentious Whitehead panel that had people shaking their heads and nearly their fists, and, oh, bother, I've got to go to chemo. More later.

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