Legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint

Naomi Neville

Allen ToussaintSurely, I understood. For his November 1 piece, Casey Seiler, the editor of the local newspaper the Times Union, was looking to write about almost anything except the election. November 10 “marks five years since the death of Allen Toussaint, a true renaissance figure in American popular music.”

As an avid reader of liner notes, I know the musician more as a producer and songwriter of great renown than as a performer. He once said, “I always take forever to do an album, because when I do an album, I don’t plan to do another.”

Allen Toussaint worked with the legendary Meters. He produced, arranged, and/or played piano for artists such as Etta James, Albert King, Elvis Costello, and Joe Cocker. His horn arrangements for the Band, Paul Simon, and Little Feat greatly enhanced their work.

“A blessing”

Seiler interviewed Toussaint “in 2014, as a preview of his appearance at Mass MoCA… He talked about losing his home in Hurricane Katrina nine years earlier, a catastrophe that forced him to leave New Orleans and resettle for an extended period in New York City. He spoke of the collaborations and friendships he had made during his exile as ‘a blessing.’

“Near the end of our interview, I asked the 75-year-old Toussaint if new songs and compositions were still occurring to him as readily as when he was younger.

“‘Now more than ever before! I wake up in a hurry to get to the pen and page,’ he said. ‘Yes — I’m inspired because I move around more than I used to, and inspiration is every door I open, every corner I turn, every other way I turn my head to look. And I enjoy inspiration all the time; it makes life so wonderful… All the new things that happen around me — everything is a surprise.’

“I’ve interviewed a lot of people, including artists whose work has inspired me immeasurably. But I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an answer to a question that has stayed with me like Toussaint’s.”

The music

He wrote these songs, some under the name Naomi Neville (his mother’s given name)

Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On) – Madeleine Peyroux
Fortune Teller – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Freedom for the Stallion – the Oak Ridge Boy
From A Whisper To A Scream – Elvis Costello

Get Out of My Life Woman -Butterfield Blues Band
Java – Al Hirt
Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette) Benny Spellman
Mother-in-Law – Ernie K-Doe

Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues) – Three Dog Night
Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley – Robert Palmer
Southern Nights – Glen Campbell
What Do You Want the Girl to Do? – Lowell George,

What Is Success – Bonnie Raitt
Whipped Cream  – Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass
Working in a Coal Mine  – Devo
Yes We Can Can – The Pointer Sisters

And more

He produced or co-produced these and many, many more

Lady Marmalade – LaBelle
Ooh Poo Pah Doo  – Jessie Hill
Right Place, Wrong Time – Dr. John
Ya Ya – Lee Dorsey

In his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, his page notes, “A rare talent forged in the fires of New Orleans’ red hot music scene.

“Few people can produce, arrange, write songs or perform—Allen Toussaint did it all and then some with expertise and aplomb.”

The live album Songbook (2009) was the last one he released. He died in Madrid while touring. “A few weeks prior to his passing, Toussaint reunited with Joe Henry to cut material for a new record. Those recordings, combined with some solo 2013 sessions, were packaged as the posthumous American Tunes, released in June of 2016.”

American Tune  – Allen Toussaint

Siena Saints men’s basketball

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

SienaAs a perk of having a subscription to Albany’s remaining newspaper, I can enter a number of contests pretty much automatically. So I play. A couple months back, I scored a pair of tickets to a movie theater.

Then in November, I received a pair of season tickets to Siena College men’s basketball games. Siena is in suburban Loudonville. That’s pronounced LOUD-in-ville, not LEW-den-ville, or London-ville.

Siena plays in Division I. It’s in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, a league that generally gets only one team to play at the end of the season NCAA March Madness. Siena’s gotten to that tournament six times over the years and has won a total of four games.

But it’s one of OUR teams, along with my alma mater, UAlbany. I missed the first home game. I decided I should go to the second game on Tuesday, November 12 because there wouldn’t be another home game until December 21.

Not Charles

I decided to invite the only person I know who definitely knows something about basketball. Chuck Miller is a fellow blogger, but more importantly, an announcer for the Albany Patroons, defending champions that play in the oddly-named The Basketball League.

We met at the pizza place nearby. The owner ended up offering a free slice to a guy who asked almost everyone in the joint for money. The fellow claimed to be a homeless veteran; perhaps, perhaps not.

The last time I was in the Times Union Center was when I saw a football game of the now-defunct Albany Firebirds a couple of years back. Our seats at the basketball game, if it were a football stadium, would be in the end zone. In other words, we were almost behind one of the baskets. Yet we could still see pretty well.

The two teams, Siena and St. Bonaventure University, were playing for the Brother Ed Coughlin Franciscan Cup. Coughlin was Siena’s president before he died in July 2019. He had earned his bachelor’s degree at St. Bonaventure.

Siena started the game off really cold, even missing free throws. The Bonnies made a few threes and had a six-point lead after four minutes. But the Saints turned things around, as their opponents got sloppy. Siena, up three at the half, built an insurmountable lead in the latter stages, and won 78-65.

There was a young woman in front of us, a Siena alum, who knew far more about the team and their skill sets than we did.

What was that?

The school held a 50/50 raffle to help one of their baseball or softball teams. Chuck spent $10 on his tickets and wanted to know if I wanted to go in on it with him. I decided to buy my own $5 worth. With 15 minutes left, the scoreboard flashed the winning number. The announcement was that I should go to the VCfghfl jkgughjn. WHAT?

I wandered around the perimeter of the arena until I found a young woman and her daughter, who was under five. She verified my ticket and handed me $263. Ah, Christmas is saved!

I was reminded that, generally, live sport is more interesting than watching on television. The game, I later learned, was broadcast on ESPN+, one of those several tiers of the sports network.

Would you like to go?

These are the remaining home games on the schedule.

December
21 (SAT) 6 PM VS BUCKNELL
23 (MON) 6 PM VS CANISIUS
29 (SUN) 2 PM VS HOLY CROSS

January
3 (FRI) 7 PM VS MONMOUTH
9 (THU) 7 PM VS SAINT PETER’S
24 (FRI) 7 PM VS MARIST
26 (SUN) 2 PM VS QUINNIPIAC

February
7 (FRI) 7 PM VS FAIRFIELD
14 (FRI) 7 PM VS RIDER
16 (SUN) 2 PM VS MANHATTAN/DOUBLEHEADER WITH SIENA WOMEN (noon)
19 (WED) 7 PM VS IONA

March
4 (WED) 7 PM VS NIAGARA

It’s highly unlikely that I’ll go to all of them. Thursday is choir night, e.g. And I don’t really want to go alone. So if you’re local and want one or two tickets, IM me on Facebook.

Mayor Sheehan – would’ve posted your response

I also disagreed with the TU’s decision not to run your rebuttal.

Dear Mayor Kathy Sheehan:

We’ve met a few times, most notably at my church’s adult education class on March 4, 2018. That’s me on the right, my fellow choir member Tim on the left, and you (of course) in the middle. After I introduced you, unfortunately, Tim and I had to run off and make music.

You talked about the City of Albany Poverty Reduction Initiative (CAPRI) program which “aims to better align public and private resources with community-based interventions and build partnerships with community leaders, municipal and state government, direct service providers, the faith community, local employers, and, most importantly, the people impacted by poverty in order to develop sustainable strategies that address the unique needs of the community and reduce poverty in the City of Albany.”

Subsequently, as Chuck Miller noted: “There have been recent protests in Albany by the Poor People’s Campaign. These protests, which have disrupted traffic in the downtown Albany area, are designed as a non-violent alert to the systemic problems of racism and police brutality and pay inequality. Noble effort, to be sure.

“The City of Albany sent the organizers of the Poor People’s Campaign a bill for $1,451, a bill for police coverage and the mitigation of disruptive public services.” I thought that was not warranted in that the police action disrupting traffic was far greater than the protesters’ behavior warranted.

The Times Union, rightly in my view, excoriated you the selective imposition of the fine, in an editorial Albany’s free speech fees.

And yet I also disagreed with the TU’s decision not to run your rebuttal. You posted it on your own site, which was picked up by Medium.com, ironically giving you a far bigger platform.

And I STILL disagree with your argument, Mayor Sheehan. But here’s the thing: if you had but asked me, I would have posted your response on my seldom-used Times Union blog.

Ah well, maybe next time.

Sincerely,
Your constituent,
Roger Green

13 years – feeling lucky, blogger?

Roger Green, strolling the streets of Albany, talking about the weather.

After 13 years, I think blogging is easy. There are 365 days. My birthday. My two sisters’ birthdays. My parents’ birthdays, the anniversary of their marriage, and the anniversaries of their deaths. 12 posts about The Daughter, always on the 26th of the month. Music throwback – another 52.

Various holidays – a dozen more. ABC Wednesday – 52 posts. Birthday people who turn 70 – 3 score and 10. There were 21, but some became music throwbacks, so let’s say 12 additional. That’s roughly 170 posts right there. All I need is another 185. Easy-peasy.

Blogging is hard. I have no skill, and frankly little interest, in the backside of the blog, how it works. So when it doesn’t work, for reasons mysterious and frustrating, makes me wanna holler, to quote Marvin Gaye. Dustbury has been gracious and helpful and gracious in this regard.

Blogging is convenient. When I’m on Facebook and having a conversation about a movie I’ve seen or an issue I care about, it’s easier to reply with a link to a blog post I’ve already written rather than answering on the fly.

Blogging is a community. I’ve discovered a bunch of other bloggers over the years. My friend Fred Hembeck, when he was blogging, had a sidebar. That’s how I was introduced to comic book fans such as Lefty Brown, Greg Burgas, and Eddie Mitchell; maybe SamauraiFrog, as well. I was reintroduced to my old buddy, former Swamp Thing artist, Steve Bissette, who had done work for FantaCo, the comic book shop/publisher I worked for in the 1980s.

Somehow I connected with other people I didn’t know, from Jaquandor at the other end of the Erie Canal, to AmeriNZ, on the other side of the globe. Mrs. Nesbitt started ABC Wednesday, and I got involved in that early on.

Blogging begets blogging. The same month my blog started, our work blog began. Because I was blogging here, I was invited to blog on the Times Union site, something I do rarely these days, for all sorts of reasons. Alan David Doane, a young FantaCo customer in the day, had invited me to blog on a couple of his comics-related blogs.

And blogging generates connections. People from my elementary school, old friends of the late FantaCo artist Raoul Vezina, fans of donuts, and many others.

It’s even gotten me on the news: Here’s Roger Green, strolling the streets of Albany, talking about the weather. The station saw my blog post from 10 years earlier and decided to interview me.

So I guess, if I can do 13 years, I’ll keep at it for another 12 months.

“Banned” in a functional sense

The Times Union may not have INTENDED to suppress Heather’s piece.

There was this blogpost that community, unpaid blogger Heather Rusaw-Fazio wrote for the Times Union site in the spirit of #MeToo. It became not visible and the site inaccessible to the blogger because the post did not meet whatever community standards the Times Union thought were being violated.

Which standards, exactly?

Ultimately, Chuck Miller posted the piece on his blog, and I on mine. I referred to it as a “banned” post.

Rex wrote to a friend of mine:

We did not, in fact, silence a woman’s voice. A woman who is the senior editor in charge of engagement – and thus the supervisor of community blogs – took the step of protecting Heather and the Times Union from a potential libel claim. (As publisher of the blog, we are susceptible to libel claims.) We are quite eager to publish Heather’s post, but we have suggestions to make it less likely that we – and Heather – might be vulnerable legally. Since we have a lot of experience in legal matters, we could advise her on this, but at this point she has chosen to remain silent rather than accept any such suggestion. It is very regrettable, but there is certainly no intent on our part to shut down conversation.

What does Heather have to say about this to Rex? This is pretty much the opposite of what Heather was told by TU folks:

There has been very little to no consistency on blogger standards from blogger to blogger or post to post for some, and I hope you take the time to read all of this and truly understand.

Is it the use of f**k? Continue reading ““Banned” in a functional sense”