Harry Shearer On What's Funny About Nixon And What's Not In New Orleans

At Manhattan’s Slipper Room on Wednesday night, Harry Shearer spent two hours on a stage discussing the role he considers his defining one.

Not the megalomaniacal Mr. Burns, who he voices on “The Simpsons,” nor Spinal Tap’s affably insecure bassist, Derek Smalls. The character Shearer has lived with longest is Richard Nixon. His latest take on the 37th president, “Nixon’s the One,” can be seen in weekly episodes through Nov. 25 on YouTube.

With the Nixon historian Stanley Kutler, Shearer combed through thousands of hours of the tapes Nixon secretly recorded in the Oval Office, then staged re-enactments of key moments as if captured by hidden cameras, remaining “faithful to the words, the rhythms, and even the pauses,” he said. Even so, he said, “it’s not a history show, but a character comedy series.” My interview with Shearer about all that ran recently in The Wall Street Journal.

After that Slipper Room performance, Shearer, who lives in New Orleans, and I spent some time discussing an issue that just now seems defining for anyone who understands and adores New Orleans indigenous culture. And is distinctly unfunny. Continue reading “Harry Shearer On What's Funny About Nixon And What's Not In New Orleans”

Why I'll Tune In To New Orleans City Council Tomorrow (& You Should Too)

Cover “The Mascot,” November 15, 1890. Cartoon by F. Bildestein

If you’re the sort of person who is inclined to livestream the proceedings of a city council meeting—and I am—you might want to tune in tomorrow (Oct. 24) at 11am EST here.
That’s when the New Orleans city council will vote on a final draft of the city’s revised Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.
Here’s why I’ve become that sort of person:
• Here‘s my recent post with some background on the implications for the city’s indigenous jazz culture.
• And here‘s an Open Letter from David Freedman, General Manager of the city’s flagship radio station, WWOZ-FM, containing  “fourteen questions about the consequences of that Ordinance for live music in New Orleans.”
• Here‘s some relevant background from the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO).
• And here‘s one practical illustration of what’s at stake.
Now, if you also happen to the be sort of person who will be in Washington, DC for the Future of Music Coalition’s Future of Music Policy Summit 2014, please join me on Oct. 27, as I delve more deeply into these and related issues:

“The Fight for New Orleans Jazz Culture, and What It Means”
A frank and open conversation about the tensions between the city of New Orleans and its celebrated indigenous music culture, the current activism surrounding new cultural policy, and the implications for other American cities. Journalist and critic Larry Blumenfeld, who writes for The Wall Street Journal and has delved deeply into this subject, will interview David Freedman, general manager of WWOZ-FM and Ashlye Keaton, entertainment attorney and educator (both cofounders of the and Bernie Cook, Director of Film and Media Studies, Georgetown University.
Includes an open forum for questions and ideas.
Mon., Oct. 27: Salon C in the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center,
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm.