No Saint (there’s a faint pun there)


Last night, news of death had me so busy working out personal demons that I almost entirely ignored the GOP debate until Cerberus started barking at the TV;.

It goes without saying that Ted Cruz was talking.

Soon thereafter, Carly Fiorina made clear her definition of a socialist was someone who favors adopting the public policy positions of Teddy Roosevelt.

But that’s par for the course this year.


Apparently Ben Carson told graduates during a commencement address in the late ’90s that he believed the pyramids in Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain, and not, as most archeologists contend, as tombs for pharaohs. But then again, his whole campaign is a pyramid scheme.  Or, he might be ”barking” crazy.


False memories of the past? I can’t wait until Carson and Cruz get to NYC and starts talking about his childhood spent working in a sweatshop.


Actually, I think that not listening to the GOP candidates was productive for my mental health than trying to work out those personal demons.

Anyway, I’ve been debating for a while whether to return to blogging, but while I’m not promising to post regularly, I felt compelled to right by a recent event alluded to above.

Someone really, really important has died.


New Orleans’ greatest producer/songwriter ever (sorry Dave Bartholomew), Allen Toussaint  has passed away.


I’ll admit to being a bit obsessed by Toussaint; by my count, he made appearances six times on my political blog.


The second or third time I saw Toussaint live, someone shouted out for this song, and the band didn’t know it, so he just sang and played it solo—it brought tears to my eyes. His own recorded version was just OK, but the original he produced for Lee Dorsey was a killer. If I ever win office, I want it played at my induction.


When I think of my favorite Allen Toussaint productions, it is hard not to come back to this one, even if it is a thinly disguised remake of the prior year’s “Mother in Law” which Toussaint had written and produced for Ernie K-Doe. This time, Toussaint strips away the comedy leaving nothing but yearning; can there be a more concise picture of the singer’s regret than “Lipstick traces on a cigarette, Every memory lingers with me yet” ? The title is so evocative that Griel Marcus used for a cultural history of the 20th century.


In a Room 8 change of pace piece about some of my favorite LPs, I once wrote:


14) Frankie Miller: Highlife. What little of substance about music I’ve stuck into my blog has been about, a la Greil Marcus, miscegenation as the defining force in American culture. And what could be a better example than New Orleans (our least American City and therefore our most American) genius Alan Toussaint and a group of NOLA’s best musicians (can’t remember if it’s the Meters or Chocolate Milk) backing up a Scotsman who sounds a little like Dr. John or Joe Cocker on a buncha newly written NOLA classics. I once saw Toussaint build virtually an entire show around songs from this album. This record carries gumbo to a whole new level. What could be more American than that?” here’s a sample.


And great songwriter though he was, some of Toussaint’s best productions came from the pens of others.


Here, he engages in a lovely piece of autobiography.  While here, he shows he is no ten trick pony, as he anticipates the classic Stax Volt sound in 1963


Here’s another classic Toussaint production, for those who think this was written by Warren Zevon or the Yardbirds (is that Benny Spellman doing those deep-voiced “no”s?)


While this one used to be the outgoing message on my answering machine.


OK, time to own up.


As most of you probably know, a guy who did his best to make my life miserable just died. He did some grand things and he did some pure evil. We didn’t like each other, but had a very wary sort of distrustful mutual respect. Once, in a rare moment of weakness, he sort of sort of admitted it.


I saw Vito Lopez twice in the last year. The first time at the Zali Satmar Rebbe’s daughter’s wedding. Contrary to The New York Post, he did not mingle and he did not schmooze.

Continue reading on Room Gate. 



  • RockH

    Welcome back Kotter.

  • Larry Littlefield

    So who brought you out of retirement? Toussant or Lopez?

  • Steve Martin-ette

    The new Gatemouth post is here!!! The new Gatemouth post is here!!!