Saturday, June 30, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards in Lexington

Here’s a tip for faithful readers: You know something matters to Lou when she hops in the ol’ (check engine light’s been on for months) jalopy and drives a significant distance to be there. Mama don’t like to drive.

But this morning, jalopy (still proudly emblazoned with the Kerry/Edwards ’04 bumper sticker) and I chugged our way down Highway 64 all the way to Lexington to see Elizabeth Edwards at a Small Change for Big Change fundraiser. I’d started to think that there wouldn’t be many people there. The Edwards campaign had been emailing me daily for weeks and had called me twice within the past few days. Lexington seemed an unlikely venue—a much redder city than Louisville in this red state.

Yeah, I was a little wrong about that one. I got to the Downtown Arts Center fifteen minutes early, secured a second-row seat in the black box theater, and looked sympathetically at the campaign workers, desperately trying to fill the seats behind the stage so that, on camera, it would look like there was a significant crowd.

And then people just kept coming and coming, and pretty soon all the seats were filled and people were sitting on stairs, standing in the corners, getting a little cranky as time ticked by, 5pm came and went, and still no Mrs. Edwards.

Then the head of the Young Democrats of Kentucky took the stage, apologized for the wait and explained that Mrs. Edwards was on CNN as he spoke, talking to Wolf Blitzer. The crowd let forth a harmonious, “Oooooohhhh!”

Jonathan Miller, Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party and State Treasurer, introduced Mrs. Edwards. Handsome and eloquent, Miller seemed genuinely behind the Edwards campaign and cited Mrs. Edwards’s recent spat with Ann “I sold my soul to the devil for pretty blonde hair” Coulter as evidence that with Mrs. Edwards we would be sure to have a First Lady of genuine grace and civility. This came up often during the evening, people congratulating Mrs. Edwards on her strength and courage.

She’s shorter than she looks on TV and in pictures. And older, too. She took the stage with confidence, spoke eloquently about every single issue that the audience threw at her, and genuinely knew her stuff.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been married once, and never at any point during my marriage—even the salad days, though there were admittedly few— would I have ever, ever trusted my husband to speak for me and represent my beliefs to anyone, anywhere. That’s probably a shit example because, clearly, we were not on the same page (any page, ever). Heck, I’ve dated some amazing men, men whom I felt deeply understood me and my beliefs, and still, I never in a million years would have been comfortable with them going out and yammering on about what I think to anyone, anywhere.

But Mrs. Edwards seemed “on message” 100% of the time. And her husband’s policies seem to be her own as well. This is an amazing thing. She didn’t just buy in; it was apparent that she had co-authored or co-imagined these ideas. And that’s what impressed me most. John and Elizabeth Edwards have a vision for America. And it’s a good one.

In her opening remarks (which were brief, she said, so she could get to questions), she mentioned that her 30th wedding anniversary was coming up next month, and as they were moving, she’d come across her wedding album with a copy of their wedding vows. In their wedding vows, John and Elizabeth pledged to not only love and protect, but also to work together to help those who were less fortunate. She said that back then it seemed like the optimistic vision of two naïve 20-somethings, but that in retrospect, “it’s been the map for our lives.”

Lord, if you can’t love that then…

I had the privilege of being able to ask a question. I told her that tomorrow—today, now—marks my one-year anniversary of living in Louisville after having moved here from New Orleans. I thanked her and her husband for the attention that they have paid to my home city. And I asked her what John would do, specifically, to help rebuild the levees in New Orleans. She didn’t really directly get to the heart of my question except to say that she knew that John wanted to assemble the “best minds” of engineering from all around the world to address that issue. But what impressed me most is that she said that as soon as he was in office, he would appoint “one person” who would be the liaison to the city that would report to him “daily.” Someone who—every day—he would ask, “What did you do for New Orleans yesterday?” Wholly accountable to him.

Not bad. It’s a start.

She answered questions about outsourcing (we pay taxes and companies who send business overseas are subsidized? That’s bullshit.), healthcare (100% universal, citizens paying no more than 4% of their wages), immigration (use unmanned drones to detect border crossers, penalize people who hire unlawful immigrants, give immigrants and their families a clear path—with penalty involved— to citizenship), cancer (if cancer were a nation, we’d wage war, better fund the NIH), the loss of her son (it’s like having your leg cut off, no one asks you if you’re over the loss of your leg, you just learn to walk on one leg), Veterans’ benefits (each Vet should be assigned one case worker who is also a Vet), and the war in Iraq (John is really, really sorry he voted for it), all with integrity and good humor.

When talking about immigration, she said that even though there’s no “ding” on the door, when you walk into Blockbuster, even if you can’t see a worker, some worker somewhere, says, “Welcome to Blockbuster!” If they have the technology to know that someone has entered Blockbuster, why can’t we use that same technology to detect when an immigrant has crossed the border? (And what IS that technology anyway?)

When talking about her battle with cancer, she said that when people say that they pray for her health, she tells them to, instead, pray for the health of Supreme Court Justice Stevens.

A woman, a cancer survivor, gave her a necklace that she has worn every day for the past ten years. Mrs. Edwards remarked on the sisterhood of cancer patients and apologized for not being able to put it on because chemo had caused neuropathy in her hands and she can no longer button the clothes of her children or grasp the clasp of jewelry. It made me cry. A terrible reminder that this is a woman who could be dying. It was the first question (comment) of the evening, and no matter how jazzed up you could be from that point on, it just felt so horrid and wrong that this voice was springing from a woman in deep, mortal pain.

One of the last comments of the evening came from a man who self-identified as a registered Republican, but whose son had died of cancer in March. He’d written a book about it and gave it to her, asking if she would read it and consider giving him a blurb. For those of you who don’t know (and bless the Edwardses for not putting this more center-stage), Wade Edwards, their 16 year old son, was killed in a car crash in 1996. Wade, by all accounts, was a remarkable kid. And as a response to his death, the Edwardses founded the Wade Edwards Foundation which funds an after-school program for students in North Carolina, and he is an inspiration for the Edwards campaign policy to make the first year of college free for every American.

When in the presence of Elizabeth Edwards, it’s so easy to imagine her at the helm of this country in one way or another. It’s a keen reminder of how disappointing the wife of the Current Occupant has been. Seems like Laura Bush’s only achievement has been convincing her husband to read “some Shakespeares” from time to time. And that’s a sight better than her mother-in-law, who seemed like a pretty nice lady, but who upon visiting Katrina evacuees in the Astrodome said that “so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Unlike these ladies-who-lunch, Mrs. Edwards calls to mind another strong and strong-headed First Lady. Dare I say it, but there’s a whiff of Hilary Rodham Clinton to her.

I came to the event 95% sure that Edwards was my man. I left and immediately affixed the bumper sticker to the jalopy. It’s official, folks, the Loueyville website heretofor endorses John Edwards for the Democratic Nominee in 2008, and without question endorses Edwards for president.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 Outlet: Risking traumatic brain injury for a cheap pair of shoes

Those of you who keep up with my book review site, Lou Reads, know that there is no love lost between me and shoes. Or rather, me and shoe shopping. I was cursed with fragile footsies; anything less soft than an angel's wing brings on a blight of blisters, a collection of calluses (thanks, Mom, for your bad genes).
In fact, I haven't been able to feel my right pinkie toe since Bonnaroo.
So, when one of my colleagues told me that, the largest shoe dealer on the web, had an outlet store in wee Shepherdsville, KY, I figured this might be the chance to score some of those high end, toostie-gentle, brand-name shoes I can never afford retail. Of course that was months ago, and I filed away the knowledge for a rainy day... little did I know.
Turns out that Zappos is headquartered in Nevada, but their primary warehouse is in Shepherdsville. If you go to their website, you can take a "tour." Apparently, they offer employees "free vending," so I'm thinking WIDE styles are probably popular with the employee discount.
Anyway, bored and looking for a field trip, I set out for Shepherdsville around 5pm today. It's around a 25 minute drive from the Highlands, just off exit 116 on I-65 South. Just as I turned off the exit, the skies opened up, the wind began to whip, and I put-putted at 15MPH from the exit to the driveway of the massive Zappos building. Storm-blinded, I parked in one of the conveniently placed customer parking spots right near the door and bolted from the car.
When I made it through the doors, I noticed that the employees were flooding out of the shop into the glass foyer. It wasn't until I was inside that I realized what they were looking at. The first "P" in the Zappos sign had been torn from the building and shattered on the ground in the parking spot next to mine. (See picture above)
Had I put-putted a little faster from the highway exit, it might have come crashing down on my noggin. I later found out that the P was made with foam, so traumatic brain injury may be an exaggeration, but it sure would have hurt like the dickens.
The storm lasted a good hour or so, and for me being stuck in a shoe store for an hour is pretty much hell ("Shoes everywhere! Nothing but shoes! 99% of which will tear up your tender toes! And even at outlet prices, there's still thousands of shoes that cost more than your weekly food budget!")
That being said, I did indeed find high-priced, feet-friendly, name-brand shoes at a bargain (a pair of Bjorn sandals that retail for $97 for just $50). They had plenty of Danskos, for example, in the $60-$80 range. Because of the delay, I nearly succumbed to impulsiveness and walked out with three pairs of shoes (Naturalizers for $37 and Croc flats-- I know, I know, ugly. But these looked comfy-- for $16), but better nature prevailed and I put back two.
The outlet store has a whole wall of deeply discounted shoes (many seemed slightly damaged) and frequent sales. From July 4-16, the outlet is having a summer sale where no shoe will be less than 30% off (I may go back and check out the Danskos again). Men seem to get short shrift there; not too many rows of men's shoes. And the pocketbooks? Ugh! Unless you're Paris Hilton, looking to carry all your earthly possessions with you in a huge, ugly, hobo bag just in case you end up in the clink again, AND are willing to pay $200 for the privledge, forget it.
Definitely worth the drive. Just stay away during windstorms. Still five letters left.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


As you may have guessed, at this point, I'm not really Louey, or even Lou. The real Louey was a stray cat who showed up at my house when we moved in. He-- or she, I never bothered to check under the hood-- was a stray cat that I reluctantly made friends with.

By late fall, I started buying cat food and feeding Louey whenever he came to the porch. By mid-winter, when the weather turned dangerously cold, I began putting nests of blankets and towels on the porch for him. Some nights, I would go to bed with him nestled in the cat-cave,and wake up in the morning to find him still there.

He disappeared sometime in mid-January, and Roommate and I counted him as lost. He was so impossibly thin when he disappeared. It broke my heart. Made me feel like a really bad person. Although with cats, as with men, I knew it was impossible to make a lifelong stray a housecat.

But he reappeared some months later, and the feedings and loving began anew. We bought new cat food. We fed him leftovers and cold cuts. And he, still tragically skinny, returned our love with love.

The neighbors called him "Louey." It was probably, actually, Louie. The word on the street is that Louey had been here for years-- some say as many as five. Some say that he was the housecat of the neighbor behind me and that the neighbor, when he or she moved, just left Louey behind. How you could leave Louey behind is beyond me.

In the past weeks, Louey took a turn for the worst. Although he had a habit of bulemic binging and purging, it became worse and he was unable to keep anything down. And long, so sad, story short, while we were at Bonnaroo, our neighbor had Louey put to sleep. She said it was peaceful and painless and humane.

I suppose she meant for Louey, but the tears in her eyes and my own inability to take in Louey's food bowls are signs of the inhumanity of losing someone you love. I loved that fricking cat. And even now, days after I heard of Louey's fate, I cry as I write this.

I am not Lou or Louey. That damned cat was Louey. And the whole mythology of Loueyville arose from him (or her, I suppose I could have at least looked).
Thank you to the neighbor who did right by poor Louey. Louey was a good cat. And my friend.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Things I'd never heard of til I moved to Loueyville

  • Cake wheels: Roulette for cakes. Seriously. There’s a numbered grid and a big wheel with numbers; you put a dime or a nickel in a numbered square and if the wheel stops on your number, you win a cake. Seriously. Sometimes you can choose between a cake, a plate of cookies, or a houseplant. Apparently, it’s a big draw. You almost never see an ad for a church fair or a picnic without it mentioning “CAKE WHEEL!”
  • Cornhole: It sounds dirty, I know. It sounds even dirtier when my backyard neighbors at the Catholic center bellow a beer-slurred “CORNHOLIO!!” to resounding applause. Even on Sundays. The chicken-or-egg question remains, what came first, Beavis & Butthead or the game? Cornhole, as far as I can tell, is a social game, best played while drinking, involving a wedge-shaped wooden game board with a hole in the middle. Often the wedges are pimped; popular themes in this neck of the woods are U of L and UK colors and mascots. Players toss beanbags into the hole. I’m guessing that when you get the beanbag (Was it originally played with corn? Get the corn in the hole?) in the hole, you yell “CORNHOLIO!!” Or at least the Catholic guys do. Cornhole is a popular bar game. Imagine my surprise when I first opened the weekly newspaper here to see “Cornhole Night” advertised at several drinking establishments.
  • Hot Browns: A local favorite. Basically an open-faced turkey sandwich with tomatoes, bacon, and mornay sauce (a béchamel cheese sauce). Supposedly first created by the Brown Hotel in Louisville.
  • Frogger for Charity: Okay, I’m sort of making this one up, but I have never in my life seen a charity (in today’s case a “Nationals Bound” pee wee team of some sort) send children out into the middle of a three lane 45-mile-an-hour-speed-limit road with buckets to collect change. No joke: they’d set up cones along the dotted yellow lines, put the kids in orange crossing-guard vests, and sent them out, one per lane, across Bardstown road right where it meets up with I-264. Not an adult to be seen. This is the second time I’ve seen such noodleheadedness in the past two months! Methinks some of those young ‘uns might not make it to Nationals—with or without your change from the Sonic drive-thru.

Famous Loueyvillagers

  • Muhammad Ali (the Greatest)
  • Bob Edwards (Lordy, I love this man. The way that the previous generation loved Cronkite)
  • Hunter Thompson (needs no explanation)
  • Louis Brandeis (famous judge)
  • Diane Sawyer (there aren’t enough famous female Loueyvillagers)
  • Ned Beatty (of The Big Easy fame—ha!)
  • George Rogers Clark (military leader, not to be confused with his brother, who was half of the famous duo Louis and Clark)
  • Tom Cruise (half of the famous TomKat tragedy)
  • Thomas Edison (who let us see light)
  • Dian Fossey (immortalized by a special exhibit at the Louisville Zoo)
  • Sue Grafton (F is for Famous Mystery Author)
  • Will Oldham (who’s the best kept secret—even from Lou—in music)
  • Wilson Pickett (Soul God)
  • Pee Wee Reese (not to be confused with Pee Wee Herman)
  • Rick Pitino (who blew it with the Celtics)
  • “Papa” John Schattner (too young to be called Papa of anything, even pizza)
  • Zachary Taylor (the only president buried in the city)
  • Sean Young (hard to feel bad that she’s underrated when she starred in Blade Runner)
  • Johnny Unitas (football player I always confused with the guy who broke his leg so badly)
  • Gus Van Sant (I never understood what “My Own Private Idaho” meant)

thanks to

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lou's Center of the Universe

According to Google Maps, there are seven coffee shops within one mile of my house: Highland (at which 90% of Loueyville has been written), 2 Heinies, Starbucks, Days, Atomic Saucer, and White Linen Tea Company (Does that count?).

There are 28 bars within one mile of my house. Fifteen of which are within a half a mile. And frankly, I don’t think twice about walking to the Hideaway or Big Dave’s, and they’re more than a mile away, so truly that puts the number of bars within walking distance at 39.

I can walk to Baxter Theater and Valu-Mart (.4 miles) both Cherokee and Tyler Parks (both under .5 miles). And although locals give us funny looks when we tell them this, Roommate and I have been known to walk all the way to the Waterfront on occasion (a whopping 2.5 miles!).

All of this is just to say that in one week I will be celebrating One Year in Loueyville. I came to the city for a job interview, decided to take the job, and bought the second house I saw on my second visit to the city. Credit is due to Roommate who discovered the Original Highlands neighborhood and declared it “as close to New Orleans as you’ll find in Loueyville.” (We’ll not get into the relative New Orleans-i-ness of this city, but I will say that on the night we moved in we made our way down to Baxter Ave and found Abita Turbo Dog on the beer menu at both O’Sheas and the Outlook—not to mention the Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras posters on the walls of the latter—and just felt good.)

One Year in Loueyville has been good to me, due in no small part to the fact that I live, without a doubt, in the Center of Universe. Who could have known when I plunked down every last penny (you think I joke, but, alas…) for the down-payment for my humble abode (and got royally screwed by my mortgage broker—some wounds never heal) that I had made such a good choice? Score one for Lou.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Loueyville Special Edition: Bonnaroo 2007-- WE HEART HIPPIES

“We HEART Hippies.” I had a fantastic time at Bonnaroo 2007, but no moment during the entire festival gave me quite the giggles, the joy, and the pleasurable mild befuddlement than seeing those words scrawled in pink marker on the drive-in window at the Manchester, TN Starbucks on our way out of town. Welcome Bonnaroo Festival! We Heart Hippies!

I would never self-identify as a hippy. I hate jam bands; in fact, jam band music is just about the only type of music that I plain cannot listen to. Roommate dragged me to hear Widespread Panic at Bonnaroo and I was bored senseless. I don’t do drugs. At all. None. Unless you count coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and Advil. That put me (and Roommate) in the vast minority this past weekend.

But I missed the New Orleans JazzFest, an event I regard as my birthday, Christmas, and Mardi Gras rolled into one, for the first time in nearly a decade this year, and Bonnaroo seemed a fair alternative. In the past six years, the event has evolved past the typical jam band hippy fest to offer a more diverse spectrum of entertainment.

But right from the outset, I need to make it clear that Bonnaroo is not what I would call “my scene.” So take any criticism that I may offer with that nugget of salt. And also know up front that despite my non-hippy (although Roommate may argue with me), non-stoner, jam-band-hating status, I had a hell of a good time.

And I didn’t come away from the event HEART-ing hippies. I got pretty sick of stoned people. And at times I felt kind of nostalgic for the time when being a hippy actually meant something more politically and socially significant. But the organizers of Bonnaroo did a heckuva job, in general, and I’ll certainly be back.

Read on for a Loueyville Special Edition: Bonnaroo 2007.

Loueyville SE: Bonnaroo 2007-- Getting there & Camping

Roommate and I left Loueyville at 2am-ish on Thursday morning and started the five or so hour trip to Manchester. Stopped in Murfreesboro for some Steak and Shake around five and then in a rest stop for an hour snooze. And when we arrived in the Manchester area around 7am CST, there were already thousands of cars lined up at the exits. After an hour waiting at exit 112, we were diverted to exit 127. Around an hour later, we were parking at our campsite.

Lou’s Roo Camping Tip #1: Although there is conflicting information on the web, it seems as though it doesn’t make a hugo difference what time you arrive. Within a few hours of arriving I heard people complaining that they’d gotten there super-early and that latecomers were getting better sites—that the Roo folks appeared to be filling the campsites from back to front. Our walk from site to CenterRoo took around 20+ minutes; it was tolerable, but inconvenient, especially if, as Roommate said, you want to “get your drink on” in between acts.

Popped up the tent, and then took tent #2 and hiked to the open camping site. Open camping is much closer to CenterRoo, but it is first come, first served, and my midday on Thursday it looked like a refugee camp. The idea was that I would camp at Open Camping and Roommate would camp by the car, but it became pretty clear to me early on that I was not going to feel comfortable sleeping alone in such a crowded space. This served up some pretty hearty conflict between Roommate and I for the remainder of the festival, as I moved into his tent. I do feel bad about imposing upon him, but in my defense I stand by the fact that Open Camping is no place for a woman alone. I don’t mean to play the gender card, but he didn’t get it.

Lou’s Roo Camping Tip #2: If you don’t mind a postage stamp sized piece of real estate, Open Camping is a great alternative to staying with your car. Get there early. Be prepared to lug your gear close to a mile. The smart folks brought dollies or wagons to pull their gear. As soon as you get there, make sure you stake your claim on all of the space that you need. Anything not taken up by a tent is free space for another Roo-er. I recommend a tent and a separate shade canopy no matter where you camp. That way you have both a sleeping space and a hang-out space. Bring a good flashlight because at night the place is a maze of tent stakes and people.

The first night, we cooked out steaks and veggie skewers. Everyone who walked by our tent ogled our meal. Amazing what two pieces of meat and sticks of mushrooms, peppers, and onions will inspire in people; we were the envy of our ‘hood. The third night we drunkenly cooked up some hot dogs. That was the extent of our camp-cooking experience.

Lou’s Roo Camping Tip #3: As your site location is a bit of a crap-shoot, don’t plan on many meals at home-base. I brought the makings for iced coffee but the milk spoiled by day 2. Powdered milk would have been a better option. Breakfast eaters might be better served by home cooking but neither I nor Roommate are big on breakfast. We brought fruit for light snacks in the morning. Lots of beer and wine and alcohol. A 24-pack of water served us for the entire trip, but next time I’ll probably bring two. It wasn’t unusual for me to drink three bottles before even setting out for CenterRoo in the morning.

Lou’s Roo Camping Tip #4: Bonnaroo is a joy for low-maintenance people. It’s probably hell for high-maintenance people. I sweat buckets and buckets. Suffered a bit of heat exhaustion one day. I was dirty ALWAYS. I have blisters you could bounce quarters off of. I spent too much money. I felt overwhelmed by options much of the time. But as I said, I had a blast. That being said, I am relatively low-maintenance. I am also brushing up against the age when I will no longer be quite so low-maintenance. In the not-so-distant future, I may only consider Bonnaroo if I can (A) pay for VIP tickets or (B) rent a camper.

Lou’s Roo Camping Tip #5: Things I brought and forgot:
Things I brought:
A box of antibacterial hand-wipes that served as our “shower” all four days. It’s amazing the difference that three or four of those will make to your dirty, dusty body. I felt dirty all the time, but at least I went to bed feeling relatively fresh. Gatorade, while yucky, does a better job of hydrating you in the morning than plain water. I froze three bottles before leaving and they helped keep the cooler cold and helped me feel better in the morning.
Things I forgot: A big jug for water—I could have filled it at water stations and actually washed off properly. A camp shower would have been ideal. A bathing suit for aforementioned camp shower. Grilling tools—simple whoopsie on my part. A shade tent—definitely a must for hanging out outside and even for providing additional shade for the tent which turned into a broiler by 8am.

We left Roo around 11am on Monday, long after the traffic had died down, but it still took us an hour to get on the highway. I don’t know the answer to that; I doubt that there is one.

Loueyville SE: Bonnaroo 2007-- An Alternate Universe

On Saturday morning, Roommate and I sat at the New Moon coffee shop tent in CenterRoo and met some of the people who worked there. One of the guys said that it was his second Bonnaroo and that he explained the event to his friends as being “like an Amsterdam in the US for four days.” That’s the best description of the Bonnaroo environment that I’ve heard. Note that he said this as he lit up a bowl and commented that he could still taste last night’s opium in it.

Drug use is overt and ubiquitous at Bonnaroo. Back in the day when I was in college, I had a couple of friends who dealt pot, but most were casual users and normally so broke that the most they could hope to score was a dime-bag from time to time.

While waiting in line for the Flight of the Conchords/Demitri Martin show, I watched as the girls behind us lit up a joint as thick as my thumb and smoked the whole thing down to the nubbins in fifteen minutes. No single “drug” moment struck me more than that. Had my college friends gotten their hands on a joint that fat, they would have taken two hits, stubbed it out, and pocketed it for another day—or at least a couple hours later. When we arrived at Bonnaroo, we saw cars pulled over and bags of pot the size of small pillowcases confiscated. Clearly it was mostly for show (and an instance of profiling in the extreme—our car was barely examined).

Only 46 arrests were recorded at Bonnaroo (and we saw one of them, an unruly man pinned down by no fewer than three security folks on the second day), so anything goes and anything for the most part goes unpunished at Bonnaroo.

People are definitely friendlier at Bonnaroo. The official Bonnaroo website encourages attendees to reach out to people, to make new friends, to ask questions. And that’s a fantastic thing. We didn’t make any lasting friends this year—partly because I’m such an introvert—but we did have some wonderful conversations.

Varying degrees of nudity is popular at Bonnaroo. And frankly, back when I was a wee 98 lbs, not so many years ago, I might have taken part. (And this depresses me a little; I like to think I’m of the “be-proud-of-your-body-type” feminist camp, but all the cute, wee young women in sarongs and duct-taped or body-painted nipples intimidated).

My one teeny concession to this atmosphere was that I let the girls fly free for a few days. It may not seem like such a big deal, but once upon a time there was probably a young Lou much like me who prayed very hard to Our Lady of Perpetual Endowment in hopes of being granted giant bazooms. Unfortunately, Our Lady must have been a bit distracted because I was granted said bazooms instead of that girl. Bazooms that have continued to expand even into my early thirties such that I can no longer buy OTC bras. (More likely these bazooms were a gift from my grandmother, who, after seeing me in a bathing suit when I was 12, said, “I’m so sorry. You inherited got my boobs. You’ll have grooves in your shoulders where your bra straps rub by the time you’re thirty.” She was off by 5 years.) Women are generally ingrained with the knowledge that big floppy breasts are not a sight to behold, but gravity (who is a “harsh mistress” *The Tick) has been relatively kind to me, and it felt like a million bucks to be fancy free for a couple of days.

Yeah, yeah. Lou’s a hippy.

Loueyville SE: Bonnaroo 2007-- Thursday Line-Up

New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars: Had to hometown represent. Always fun.

David Cross, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Kroll (Comedy tent): Nick Kroll, soon to be of the Geico Cavemen TV sitcom, opened the show as his Fabrice Fabrice character who would have been patently offensive if he hadn’t picked out a hipster, instamatic camera wielding hipster named Crunchy out of the audience and dicked around with her considerably. (I have a low tolerance for gay stereotype comedy.). At the very least, he’s talented on-the-spot. Aziz Ansari, of the MTV show Human Giant, was much funnier. Both joined David Cross onstage for a Blue Collar Comedy parody called “You Might be a Deadneck.” “You might be a Deadneck if… you hackysack, but only with white people… you wear your Widespread Panic shirt to a tractor pull…” Cross’s best moments were improvised, lambasting the stereotypes of Bonnaroo people as rich white girls in dreadlocks singing “Buffalo Soldier,” mocking the weird comedy stage, and complaining (rightly so) that if you listened very closely, it sounded like there was a heavy metal band playing right next door. Cross didn’t disappoint. The others, eh.

Yard Dogs Road Show: One of the best venues of the entire event was the new Bonna Rouge stage. Headlined by the Yard Dogs Road Show out of San Francisco, the Bonna Rouge stage offered cabaret-style entertainment. Yard Dogs featured fantastic vaudeville jazz and burlesque. Stunning stuff.

Loueyville SE: Bonnaroo 2007-- Friday Line-Up

The Little Ones: I missed their big performance the day before, but caught them at a smaller stage on Friday. One of the true pleasures of Bonnaroo was catching snippets of bands I’d never heard of before and falling in love. The Little Ones was the first of these. Joyful, fantastic music.

Uncle Earl: A four-woman bluegrass group who recently recorded an album produced by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. Great stuff. I’d never heard it before. When JPJ took the stage to play the mandolin as a surprise guest, it was a genuine thrill. Later, he played with Gillian Welsh, and he apparently bopped around the bluegrass shows all weekend long.

Paulo Nutini:
Started off a bit dull, but as soon as Roomate left to check out another show, he kicked it up. Played a great cover of Moby’s “Natural Blues.”

Gillian Welch: Sounded just like I hoped she would, like an angel. Won me at the first song, “Orphan Girl.” John Paul Jones guested. The only rain during the entire event occurred during her show.

Kings of Leon: Boring and repetitive. My opinion, though, was clearly in the minority.

Lily Allen: See Best Of

Firecracker Jazz Band: See Best Of

Angel and the Love Mongers: In the tiny Troo Music Tent, this Knoxville band was so good that for the first three or four songs, I was sure they were playing covers. Lead singer is a former model and actor, and his on-stage strutting and preening and pouting seemed a parody of rockstar-dom. But, alas, he was dead serious. Still and all, his voice made up for the silliness, and the whole set led Roommate to comment “there weren’t bands like this when I lived in Knoxville” on several occasions.

Loueyville SE: Bonnaroo 2007-- Saturday Line-Up

Old Crow Medicine Show: Saw them in 2006 at JazzFest, and that small stage was such a better venue for their old-timey sound. Still a great show.

Alexa Ray Joel: Girl’s got pipes! So nice to see celebrity spawn who has something to offer beyond her lineage. She’s cute as a button, and if you bumped into Alexa Ray at a party, you’d immediately snark to your best friend, “She’s adorable, but she looks like Billy Joel with braids.” Good original tunes, but it was a bit unnerving that she’d introduce each song saying, “This is my Ray Charles-y song” or “This is my Dolly Parton number” and it would be.

Gogol Bordello: Sounds like the party band for Johnny Rotten’s bar mitzvah. I listened to the first two and the last two songs. The last two were better than the first. Wish I had actually seen the band. Fountains of Wayne commented that they had a “naked” lead singer and dancing girls. Damn being short.

Fountains of Wayne: See Best Of

Damien Rice: See Best Of

Flight of the Conchords/ Demitri Martin: The women in line behind us commented that Demitri Martin was the boy they wanted to take home to their mothers. He’s not my type, but I get it. Old school, one-liner kind of comedy. Most of it was hilarious, but some jokes were met with a chorus of “huh?” Finished out the set with a hilarious song of a litany of insults called “You vs. Me.” Surprising lack of audience response to the final insult: “You: George Bush/ Me: Your place in history.” And what is one to make of New Zealand’s Flight of the Conchords, this folk band comedy act picks up where Spinal Tap left off 20 years ago… sort of. I’m waiting to see their HBO show to render my final verdict. Had some good belly laughs at songs like “Part-Time Model” and was surprised at how many audience members knew their stuff well enough to call out song requests. Also surprised at how many people left after a song or two. Not for everyone, clearly.

Police: Saw Sting at JazzFest a few years back, and no offense at all to the rock gods that complete the Police, but you could replace Axel Rose with Sting in Guns N Roses, have them play “Roxanne,” and I probably wouldn’t know the difference. Still and all, good stuff.

Loueyville SE: Bonnaroo 2007- Sunday Line-Up

Don Byron featuring Chris Thomas King: See Best Of

Roommate loved it. I thought it was just… loud.

Charlie Louvin: See Best Of

Elvis Perkins in Dearland: The Bonnaroo guide made it sound like Perkins’ music would make you want to jump off a tall cliff, but I found the set joyful and fun. The band looks like a bunch of B-grade 70’s porn stars, except for the drummer who, mid-set, strapped on a bass drum and pranced around the stage like Puck. I’ll definitely look to pick up a CD soon.

Miss Lolly Pop’s Burlesque Coterie and Sideshow Bennie Experience: I’ve never seen women strip to pasties and be so wholly unsexy. Not even on in a cheap Bourbon Street club where the low lights barely hide the women’s stretch marks and C-section scars. The one exception was Miss Monica Honeybush, who’d clearly done her homework for her old-fashioned formal-wear gloves to skivvies strip tease. She got her tassels twirling like ceiling fans on high. Sideshow Bennie was a bit more entertaining, shoving screwdrivers up his nose and swinging four (!!!!) irons from his nipple rings.

Wilco: See Best Of

White Stripes: Couldn’t see them for the crowd. The audience would have been much better served had the White Stripes appeared on the big stage with the video screens (aren’t they a visual act, too, in the end?). Great music, but I pouted for hours because they didn’t play the “Doorbell” song. Damn them.

Loueyville SE: Bonnaroo 2007-- Best Of

Fountains of Wayne: John Roderick of the band The Long Winters called Fountains of Wayne an “Absolutely Perfect Rock Band” in his blog report from Bonnaroo. (yeah, I know, “if he could do it why couldn’t Lou?) Amen and then some. One of the few sets I listened to from beginning to end, FOW proved themselves to be pretty damned perfect. Playing a good 50% of their stellar Welcome Interstate Managers album, the band began with a canned feed from a New Jersey radio station announcing the weather and traffic information for any given morning in the tri-state area. You just got to love a band that says, “Because we’re playing in Tennessee, it’s in our contract that we play a country song. We’re going to play one by Kenny Chesney. We were going to ask Kenny to guest for us, but we don’t know him. And regardless, he’s busy sucking somewhere else.” Easily making my “best of” list, FOW made me laugh, made me dance like a crazy person, and made me want to kick the asses of the lethargic, moribund jerks who took up space inside the tent waiting for the upcoming Ween show. I like Ween just fine, but their fans made me want to skip the show, which I did. If you can’t rock to Fountains of Wayne, there’s something wrong with you.

Lily Allen: The day after Bonnaroo, we made it to Murfreesboro, TN before konking out. I was suffering from some sort of cold/allergy brought on by the excessive dust, so we stopped in at a Target to buy some medicine. The Lily Allen cd was on sale for $9.99, so I bought it and on Tuesday we listened to it three times over on the way home. I’d heard Allen on NPR and several of her songs rang sonically familiar to me. She positively sparkled onstage; jubilant and giggly, she electrified the audience with her big band and diverse musical repertoire (ska, nola jazz, reggae, hip-hop, rock, you name it). The audience (most of it) fell in love, and so did I. But some were turned off by her brash, brat persona. She announced very early on that she was “So drunk” and preceded many of her songs with autobiographical stories about men who fucked her over and friends who turned out to be bitches. And after listening to her album several times over, I’m conflicted. She’s got a pixie beautiful voice and absolutely rocking music behind her, but her lyrics are quintessentially brat-punk. Because I loved her show so much, I want to shuttle her into the same category as Liz Phair, another brilliant, no-shit, foul-mouthed songwriter. But some of her songs are genuine turn-offs. But I can’t deny the fact that her version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” might have been the musical highlight of Bonnaroo, and no on made me want to dance like she did.

Wilco: There ain’t nothing wrong with Wilco. Ever. Always tip-tops when it comes to performing live. They can stray down strange avenues and always make them seem like a walk through a shining neighborhood. And there’s nothing like watching Jeff Tweedy looking happy and healthy. I’ve never seen him smile so much.

Charlie Louvin: In a few weeks, Charlie Louvin will be 80 years old. I missed his big stage show, but was one of fewer than 30 people who caught him at his show at the Sonic Stage. Louvin, the surviving member of the Louvin Brothers band, is a Country Music Hall of Fame member, and funny and sweet and… randy! Obviously thrilled by the median age of his fans, Louvin commented several times that he thought that if he prayed hard enough, someone would take off her shirt. While I was in line to have him sign his new CD (duets with the likes of Elvis Costello, Jeff Tweedy, and Will Oldham), a Newbury Comics employee mentioned that Louvin said he’d “sign anything… even boobs!” We listened to the CD on the way home. Excellent purchase. His song, “Ira,” about his dead brother/bandmate made me tear up. Heartbreaking. Hard to reconcile the album’s Christian undertones with this breastloving man!

Firecracker Jazz Band: Just about the best New Orleans style jazz band that I’ve heard, in or out of New Orleans. Just one more reason that Asheville, NC is one of the most popular places for New Orleans ex-pats. Seriously worth a trip just to see them. According to their website, they don’t play out of town much.

Don Byron Featuring Chris Thomas King: We came out of this Sunday concert—the first of the day—wanting to duck back into the tent to see the band’s second show. I went because I’ve always adored the mercurial Chris Thomas King, but the whole band—every single member—was extraordinary. Don Byron plays the sax and the clarinet and was the bandleader for the event. When we left, I joked to Roommate, “This band belonged on a Cosby Show episode,” and he immediately knew what I meant. Each musician was stunningly talented, charismatic, and more than easy on the eyes. If there were any media in the poorly attended first show, surely they would have cast this as the best most-missed show at Bonnaroo. The music didn’t hold true to the schedule description (cartoon jazz?); they played well-loved funk and r&b classics like “Shotgun” and James Brown’s “There it is.” CTK was in full voice and guitarist David Gilmore could have headlined a show on his own. I’ll definitely be buying this album from Blue Note Records.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

stay tuned

No blogging from Bonnaroo. 90+ degrees and a 3/4 mile walk from camp to concert. Not dragging the laptop. But having a great time.

Too hot to even stay in this tent!

Note to future Roo-ers: You can never have too many Handiwipes!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Coming Soon: Lou at 'Roo

At posting time, there is 1 day, 22 hours, and 50 minutes left until Bonnaroo 2007. And this Lou will be there.

In a perfect world, I'll find the time to blog during the four-day festival. They'll have free wifi, and in theory, a place to plug in. If the stars do not align, then expect to see a Special Bonnaroo Edition of Out-of-the-Ville soon after I get back.

Stay tuned!

Waterfront Wednesdays

From April to September WFPK (91.9), one of the three public radio stations in Louisville, sponsors a free live concert on the last Wednesday of the month at Waterfront Park. The concert is listed as being from “5:00pm til dark,” but April’s concert, headlined by Los Straitjackets and May’s concert, headlined by Johnatha Brooks, both bumped up against the 11pm hour.

Waterfront Wednesdays typically features three bands with a good chunk of time to socialize between them. Vendors sell somewhat pricey, but better than your standard Bud/Miller fare, beer and cocktails as well as moderately priced yummy food. It’s cheap fun, but not cheap eats or drinks.

As a New Orleans Jazz Fest devotee, the April Waterfront Wednesday came just in time (the day before Jazz Fest 2007 opened) to slake a bit of my thirst for music al fresco. The turnout—so I discovered in May—was a bit smaller than usual, but it seemed that a large percentage of my neighborhood acquaintances were in attendance. It made it easy for me, in May, to decide to go alone when my roommate was out of town. I was sure to bump into people I knew.

I’d heard some of Los Straitjackets music before, but was tickled pink and purple to find out that they were touring with Big Sandy of the fantastic Los Angeles rockabilly band Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, one of those bands you feel like no one but you has heard of and you’re kind of happy to have that secret. I was introduced to them, personally, by a friend in LA back in the very early 90’s. And every time I visited my friend, we’d hunt down a Big Sandy show. Since then, I don’t think I’ve missed Big Sandy if he’s come to town. I’ve seen him in Tampa, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and now Louisville.

Anyway, I’m gushing. It’s easy to do that about Big Sandy. Early in the evening, at Waterfront Wednesday, I walked past him and he smiled and waved. Later, when a friend forced me to go over and tell Sandy what a big fan I was, Sandy said, “I waved at you because you look so familiar. I know I’ve seen you before.” And my heart thumped. Dreamy. And what a nice guy.

The Sandy/Los Straitjackets show was like going to a wedding with the coolest band ever. Supporting their Rock en Espanol, Volume One album, the band played sing-a-long-recognizable tunes from the 50’s and 60’s, except that you couldn’t sing along because the words were in Spanish. I can’t do justice. From the hilariously choreographed moves of the band to their trademark Mexican Wrestling masks to Big Sandy’s on-stage theatrics, it was just what this Jazz Fest homesick girl needed.

May’s Waterfront Wednesday was on an equally beautiful day and far better attended, but the music was relatively generic and not at all the feel-good joyfest that April’s was. In this Lou’s opinion, the organizers of the event should focus on booking FUN bands. I’m thinking folks like They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies. Or—sigh—Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys?

Regardless, I’ll keep going. It’s free and fun and there’s something special about being outside and listening to music with the Ohio River as a backdrop.

Coming June 27, 2007 to Waterfront Wednesdays: Mark Olson and His Band, Willy Porter, and Ultratone. Check it out at

Monday, June 11, 2007

Churchill Downs Happy Hour

Friday afternoon after a long week at work, what better way to blow off steam than to yell "GO! GO! DAMMIT, RUN! RUN!" at horses that cannot hear you and may not understand English? I can't think of one. Better than going home and yelling at your kids. Better than going home and yelling at your TV. Better than hitting a happy hour at a bar and getting hit on by someone twice your age and whom you'd normally never give the time of day, but five Jaegerbombs into the evening he looks pretty good and. . . but I digress.

During race season, Churchill sponsors Friday Happy Hours, usually from 4pm-7pm. Live music. Cheap beer. Cheap hot dogs. By 5pm, it's crowded and quite the scene. Depending on when the races started, you'll get there with time to bet on at least the last five races.

$1.50 Coors (blech) or Killians (better). $1.50 hot dogs and not the weenie (pun intended) skinny ones, but the big thick ones that are anatomically disturbing. It's only $2 to get in for general admission-- and why would you want to be anywhere else?

Check the schedule at :