Reviewing: Kurt’s Year in Review

A couple of highlights from this past year:

Best Festival: Hogs for the Cause. Great food, better cause. I splurged on the 100 dollar ticket this year, and it was probably the best monetary decision I made. For all the food from the contestants that I could eat and all the Nola beer I could drink, my money was going to patients with pediatric brain cancer. Oh, and some of the best local music acts around

Best Meal in New Orleans : Herbsaint on our anniversary. Spaghetti with a fried egg, followed by the best roast chicken I’ve ever had, and cucumber sorbet for desert. That meal was the second best at my table.

Best Concert: While it was close race with Neil Young and Glen Campbell, seeing Bruce Springsteen at Jazz Fest was by far the most joyful show I have ever seen. Grown men crying at “My City of Ruin” at one moment then dancing “Mary Don’t You Weep No More” made for possibly the best show I’ve ever seen. Worth every moment of heat exhaustion.

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at Jazz Fest

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at Jazz Fest

Best Meal In a Foreign Country: Being history nerds, we don’t often plan out our meals when traveling. We normally just eat at tourist traps mainly because we are near the touristy things. Well, near the Coliseum this past summer, we were just plain hungry and didn’t care about getting a great meal. The menu was in every language, an obvious sign that locals don’t frequent this place. Yet, the food was amazing. Maybe we were just hungry, but the Cacio e Pepe and stewed lamb was simply amazing. And having the ruins of Rome in the background made for a memorable meal.

Best Walk: This could have easily been Rome, Dubrovnik, Barcelona or Venice. However, we walked the Rock N Roll half marathon this past year. We planned on running, but illnesses and other things got in the way. But we did walk it. The whole thing. We finished. And when it comes to a half marathon, finishing is a great accomplishment.

Geekiest Moment: Meeting most of Star Trek: The Next Generation Cast. Still have to meet Patrick Stewart and Wil Wheaton but more to come on that adventure.

Best Gelato: Beet and lime gelato at La Divina. Vegetables made into an art.

Best Movie Experience:  Seeing Color Me Obsessed: A Film about The Replacements at the Zeitgeist Multi- Disciplinary Arts Center.  A group of die-hard Replacement fans watching a movie that was as much about them as their favorite band.  This band’s music is the soundtrack for my life.

Best moment that should have been a horrible experience:  Camping in Fort Wilderness in Disney World in mid-July.  I thought it would be too hot.  However, the lows were in the low 70s every night. Best three nights of sleep I got this year.  Perfect three days except for the psychotic squirrel.  He was out to kill us all.

Last year, I must have been cranky. I wrote about a few bad experiences. Maybe the holiday spirit is getting to me but I can only think of positive experiences from the past year. I mean the second day in Venice was probably a horrible experience by our European Cruise standards, but it’s hard to complain about a second day in Venice.

Looking forward to 2013, I plan on doing more cooking (and blogging about it). We are planning on going on a study abroad so we definitely will be writing about that. To anyone and everyone that took the time to read our blog this year, thank you. As I told a friend the other night, if you find a way to stay creative you have found the way to stay young. This blog, and doing things to write about it, keeps us young. Hope you all have a great 2013!


Updated:  I did forget to update this post with some sad news.  I didn’t know the man nor did I frequent his bar, but it was really horrible to hear John Hogan of Parasol’s died.  I’ve been to Parasol’s three times in the past year and had a great time each time.  In fact, Cristina and I celebrated taking and passing the GRE by having a roast beef po-boy at the Constance Street Bar.  Parasol’s pulled pork sandwich was one of the best dishes at the Gambit’s Food Revue we went to in March.  May John rest in peace.



Concerting: Sadly Beautiful – Glen Campbell’s Farewell Tour

MTV used to play music. Shocking as that may sound it is true. When they were not playing music videos, they were often showing documentaries about music. One day, around the time R.E.M.’s Out of Time album came out, they played a documentary on the band from Athens. During the video, Peter Buck talked about how one night Michael Stipe did karaoke in some bar and chose some old Jimmy Webb songs. Then they cut to them singing Wichita Lineman and Galveston. Instantly, I knew these were great songs. My mom comes to my room and asks if R.E.M. is covering Glen Campbell. I respond that they are covering Jimmy Webb. She informs me those are Glen Campbell songs.

Of course, Jimmy Webb wrote the songs, but Campbell did indeed make those songs his.  I became a fan of both.

Campbell is an underrated interpreter of songs. Many pop artists today might sing (or auto tune) other people’s songs, but few interpret them. They just go for the sound. Campbell did so much more with other people songs. If you have not heard Galveston in a while, go take a listen. He took what could have been a political anti-war song and made it a song that just about a soldier that misses his girl. No matter what side you took when the song came out (the Vietnam era), Campbell’s soulful interpretation made the song just about love.

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Concerting: A Night of Music at the Cathedral

In another life, I was a New Orleans Public School teacher. I must have been crazy in this past life, because I loved it. It was a great job. I met some amazing students and teachers while I was there.

One of those people was Holley Bendsten. She was the reading strategist at my school. She still teaches in New Orleans. Yet, she still finds time to be one third of the Pfister Sisters.

Now, before I go on, I like my Christmas music as far away from Magic 101.9 as possible. I love Johnny, Nat, and Bing, but years of retail has all a humbug towards that type of music. Give me any of Sufjan Stevens’s music from his numerous Christmas EPs and I am in the spirit. In addition, I love listening to jazz renditions of holiday classics.

Getting back to the main narrative, I had told Cristina that St. Louis Cathedral used to hold Christmas Concerts. Cristina looked for information about the concerts. Sure enough, they were still having them and the only day we really had free was the night the Pfister Sisters were performing. Date night was set.

After a quick meal at New Orleans Seafood and Hamburger Company (one of the few chains we like), we headed to the cathedral. A large crowd had amassed for a Tuesday night. No one was going to walk away disappointed.

The Pfister Sisters, not blood related, are a jazz vocalist trio in the style of the Boswell sisters. There voice complement each other and bring out subtleties in the music. Since this is a church event, religious Christmas music was the main course for the night. The set, to these ears, was flawless. I got chills during Silent Night for three reasons: the voices were perfect, the setting was beautiful, and the fact that this was just a Tuesday night in most other places in the world, but not in New Orleans.

The Pfister Sisters at the Cathedral

The Pfister Sisters at the Cathedral

There still are a few more shows if you have the time to go. Moreover, that is all it will cost you (well that and maybe parking).