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Friday March 3rd, 2006


"Lagniappe derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, "the gift," and ultimately from Quechua yapay, "to give more." The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean "an extra or unexpected gift or benefit."


Dear Folks,

I have spend the past couple of weeks in Austin, Texas, at the USA Folk Alliance Conference. That's why there's been a short break in the newsletter. I have a little report on it below, for anyone interested, plus one of the many recipes I've brought back for you: a Southern Crawfish Boil! (For Aussies, substitute yabbies, crabs or large shrimp.)

After Texas, I went to Fairport, Ohio, to visit my dad, and while eating tacos in a small Mexican take-away around the corner from his house, I found this item in the local paper, La Presna:

Sobering Iraqi Casualty Statistics

The Human Cost of Occupation through Feb 6th 2006
US Military Casualties in Iraq

Since war began Mar 19, 2003 2552 dead
Since 'Mission Accomplished' speech by Bush, May 1, 2003 2115 dead
Since capture of Saddam, Dec 13, 2003 1785 dead
Since US handover to Iraq, June 29, 2004 1386 dead
Since Iraqi election, Jan 31, 2005 816 dead
US wounded (official count) 16, 549
Iraqi death toll (est.) 30,000 - 100,000
Average cost of war per day $US 300 million
Rumsfeld '05 estimate of duration of war: 12 years

Twelve years! My arse! Channel Seven Australia flew me up to Sydney the day after I got back from Austin, to be a guest on their 'Where Are They Now?' program. Of course, they wanted 'Shaddap You Face' (what else?) - but I sang it 'live' and managed to create an anti-Bush, anti-Iraq War variation, complete with Jimi Hendrix-style mandolin with the teeth solo, and the closing three chorus dedications: 1. one more time to George W Bush, 2. one more time to my favourite Southpark character, John Howard, 3. and one more time to Russell Crowe: someone give that guy some singing lessons, damn.' Marks on Channel 7 for letting me get away with this. Tune in next week: Mar 12th at 6:30 pm. Channel 7. 'Where Are They Now?' (I guess they know where I am now!)


Favourite Reader Comments

Hi Joe...
I have written before and you answered me on similar subject so feel free to ignore me BUT... Is the recipe section a joke that I have missed or what? Obviously they are written in a jokey way...I suppose... I love the newsletters and dread the horrible recipe bit at the end. It's as welcome as a pork chop at a bar mitzvah. The Red Neck wildlife recipes appear to me completely out of step with the whole vibe of the rest of the content. Fat Yanks killing snakes... YUK! Cheers,
Andrew D'Arcy

(Note: Andrew, the recipe section is an integral part of the newsletter. You wouldn't want me to let my culinary readers down, now would you? I do try to mix the strange dishes with the everyday ones. If you peruse my Recipe Index you will see somewhat of a balance. By the way, do you cook? Probably not, or else you would understand this part better:

Yorkshire Terrier Pudding

1 med. Yorkshire Terrier
48 pk Jello vanilla instant - pudding
3 gallons Milk

Blend ingredients on high until lumps are gone.  Preheat oven (or exhaust manifold) to 451 F.  Place pudding contents into little bread-tin type things.  Cook until mix doesn't stick to a toothpick.

- Actually, your suggestion 'Pork Chop at a Bar Mitzvah' sounds like a good idea for a recipe, too. Or the title of a Kinky Friedman song. Or the name of a Hassidic Reggae band. I'm serious. Hassidic Reggae is the latest musical trend. Watch this short clip of Matisyahu. As Ali G would say: ' For real. Check it out. Big yourself up.'
(Matisyahu clip)


Ah , Joe,
Re: Whether the Newsletter is Too Long
'tis a mighty thing you do. Just do it! 
If you hear of Colin Brooks while in Austin, check him out. And pass on my regards, Cheers,
Andrew Clermont

Dear Joe,
Re: Recent Negative Feedback
I don't always have time to read them, but when I do your letters make me laugh, and open windows on the world, and I value getting them. If I don't have time I just delete them. The length is fine - I read the bits that interest me. The variety is good. So - Keep going. Stay voluble. Best wishes,
Linda Gamlin (UK)

(Note: Voluble - adjective. Etymology: Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin volubilis, from volvere to roll; akin to Old English wealwian to roll, Greek eilyein to roll, wrap. 1 : easily rolling or turning : ROTATING 2 : characterized by ready or rapid speech : GLIB, FLUENT. synonym: TALKATIVE. i.e. yada yada yada.)

Thanks Joe,
Was good to meet you in person and hear your great music/songs at the Bulli Folk Festival.   Enjoy your newsletter.  Always full of unexpected surprises and info. Good. Cheers,
Margaret Bradford

I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter. A friend just sent me your notes on the FA experience and I still want to subscribe .. Ciao (hey, whats the CIA doing in Ciao ??)

(Note: Good question, Frank. Probably the fine print in the Patriot Act. And, while we're on the topic, what's Allah doing in Bacallah? Oooh . . . that kid's just cruisin' for a fatwa!)



On a train...

Sitting together on a train, travelling through the Swiss Alps, were a Kiwi guy, an Australian bloke, a little old Greek lady, and a Young blonde Swiss girl with nice breasts.

The Train goes into a dark tunnel and a few seconds later there is the sound of a loud slap.

When the train emerges from the tunnel, the Kiwi has a bright red Hand print on his cheek. No one speaks.

The old lady thinks: The Kiwi guy must have groped the blonde in The dark, and she slapped his cheek.

The blonde Swiss girl thinks: That Kiwi guy must have tried to Grope me in the dark, but missed and fondled the old lady and she slapped his cheek.

The Kiwi thinks: The Australian bloke must have groped the blonde in the dark. She tried to slap him but missed and got me instead.

The Australian thinks: I can't wait for another tunnel, just so I can smack the Kiwi again.
(thanks to Joan Chenery)


Future American Lawyers To Be Proud Of


U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke before law students at Georgetown today, justifying illegal, unauthorized surveilance of US citizens, but during the course of his speech the students in class got up from their seats and turned their backs to him. To make matters worse for Gonzales, additional students came into the room, wearing black cowls and carrying a simple banner, written on a sheet. Fortunately for him, it was a brief speech... followed by a panel discussion. And, as one of the people on the panel said, "When you're a law student, they tell you if say that if you can't argue the law, argue the facts. They also tell you if you can't argue the facts, argue the law. If you can't argue either, apparently, the solution is to go on a public relations offensive and make it a political issue... to say over and over again "it's lawful", and to think that the American people will somehow come to believe this if we say it often enough. In light of this, I'm proud of the very civil civil disobedience that was shown here today."
David Cole, Georgetown University Law Professor (article)
(thanks to Maireid Sullivan)


USA Folk Alliance Conference - View from a Straight Jacket

I was advised before hand, by an music industry friend, that USA Folk Alliance Conference, held on several of the floors of the Hilton Austin, was performer-heavy and agents-and-festival-bookers-light. So not to expect to secure too much work from it.

But I have been part of the most competitive performer-heavy festival in the world, twice - the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in Scotland - 20 shows straight per season - no days off - an entire TOWN of thousands of fellow artists brutally papering over your posters five and six times daily, and compared to that, The Folk Alliance was an intimate experience, folks. Literally.

First it was hard to imagine it if you've never done it before. Several floors of Hilton three-star hotel rooms, all transformed (by the occupants) into personalized guerrilla performer showcases. So you walk down the hallway of your hotel floor and look into the first opened doorway and see someone with a beard jumping up and down thrashing out a song for an audience of ten people. Then you move down the hallway to the next room, as the sound from the previous one diminishes. You look in the next door. This room is darkened, with fairy lights twinkling, decorated with flags and banners. Perhaps a little band playing acoustically to five people. Then you move on to the next. This one is jammed with people watching a trained monkey playing an Irish tin whistle. (Just joking there - but you get the idea.) Basically, three floors, a hundred rooms, like one big Nervous Hospital of Folk Music. ( . . unhhh, some people call it a Sling blade . . . unhhh . . I call it a Folk Alliance Showcase . . ) Most of the rooms had the ironing boards removed from the closets and placed in the hallways covered with flyers, free CD samplers, plates of pretzels, and candy, and advertising. (Naturally, because of this, there were a lot of wrinkled shirts and skirts. But it only added to that casual living room kind of experience.)

Casual. For instance, the last time I saw the eccentric Canadian songwriter, Bob Snider, was on the main stage at the Vancouver Folk Festival, eight years ago, from an audience of about over 7,000 people. In this Folk Alliance, however, I sat in a hotel room, with two other people, and listened to him sing a whole set of songs unaccompanied - just for us.

Veteran Austin songwriter, Tim Henderson, whom has had 50 of his songs recorded by other artists, and whom Townes Van Zandt has called 'the best songwriter I know,' performed to an audience of just one: me - in his hotel room. How special do you think that made me feel? We struck up an immediate friendship after the concert and are still corresponding.

So what does one do when you have a performer-heavy festival? Get to know the performers, fool! Play for them. Word-of-mouth is word-of-mouth and, also, what a better place to get inspiration then from watching your excellent peers work out! If God gives you a lemon . . . well . . . write a song about a lemon! (You can squeeze it on some hot crawfish, too. More about that later.)

Of course, there were some packed shows. Arlo Guthrie's 'City of New Orleans' set had a capacity crowd in the ballroom. Many others were full or almost full. Even my last showcase round-robin had two goddesses present, Jane Siberry and Rosalie Sorrels, sitting in the third row. Jane had just blown my heart the night before with her mystical-erotic music and I went backstage to tell her how much she affected me. Something must have gotten through from my lovestruck spluttering, as she gave me a CD and, now, there she was in MY showcase the very next night. And Rosalie Sorrels, who was such a special guest of the Alliance that she wasn't even advertised on the program, and who recorded my song, 'Hall of Fame,' when I was in my 20s and who taught me, through love osmosis, I guess, how to cook Mexican Turkey Mole, was sitting right there thirty years later, listening to me sing a specially personalized version of 'Hall of Fame' - just for her. Of course, at the very next 1:00 am showcase, I had a FA Nervous Hospital reality check - only had one person in my audience. But then I remembered how special I felt listening to Tim Henderson, the previous night, all by my lonesome, and so I just went over and sat on the bed next to my audience member and sang my most personal song for that one person. Perfect. Like love.

My advice to performers when they have a small audience: be grateful! The people that are there are the ones that are supposed to be there. (Dedicate the empty seats to the poor kids who have died in Iraq, for some perspective, if you like.) I like to remember the phrase: one person, one seed, one forest. Just one person can change your life utterly. Completely. (How about falling in love? One-on-one.) And just one little seed can create an entire human life - the whole world, as the Jews say - or . . . perhaps the beginning of a wonderful FOREST that can create shade and singing birds for others for a hundred years! And when you stop to think about it, for a singer-songwriter, performing in a solitary and intimate way is exactly the way we perform most of the time - for ourselves alone - when we are writing, rehearsing, or just relaxing. So thank heaven to be able to occasionally share that intimacy.

Speaking of small-is-beautiful, I was taken out on the town, after the conference was over, by Michael Wrycraft, Shawna Cooper and songwriter-performers, Lynn Miles and Courtney Wing, to see a rarity named Toni Price, at the tiny Continental Club. Toni is a unique backwoods-hillbilly-blues stylist who reminds me a little of a female version of Levon Helm, in her delivery and her choice of material. Her band is funky and falling-off-the porch laid back. Toni is a legend in Austin - yet she only plays the Continental Club on Tuesday nights - and has done so for eight years. That's it. She also refuses to allow anyone to record the performances. She calls it her one 'night out.' She doesn't believe in email and if anyone wants to contact her, you have to write her a letter! That's keeping it real cosy. Here's is a link to a great interview with her:
(audio article & interview w/ Toni Price)


Those t-shirts that say 'Keep Austin Weird' mean what they say. Austin is one of the few towns in Texas that voted for John Kerry. Another popular saying about Austin: 'An Island of Blue in a Sea of Red.' In George W Bush's home state. (There IS hope, Cindy.)


Two very funny things happened to me at the conference.

The first was during the Folk Quiz moderated by Michael Wrycraft and Richard Flohil. Two teams of four artists each, and the audience made up the third team. Musical questions were posed. Points were given for correct answers and creative antics, and points were deducted for . . . well, whatever struck the judges fancy. A sample question was: name as many bands as you can with a colour in their name. ( i.e. Pink Floyd, Blue House, Green Day, etc. You get the idea.) A most memorable moment was when our team had to do a 'cover version' of Jonathan Edwards' song, 'Sunshine.' (Jon was on the opposing team, with Marie Burns.) His team, in turn, had to perform my song, 'Shaddap You Face"' which I am happy to say they failed at miserably. I changed the lyrics to Jon's song on the spot to the following:

Sunshine go away today,
Don't' feel much like dancin'
Some man's gone and tried to f*ck my wife,
He don't know what it is he's asking.

How much does it cost? I'll buy it.
The time is all we've lost. I'll try it.
He can't even f*ck his own wife
I'll be damned if he'll f*ck mine. Sunshine.

Jeannine Burns, of The Burns Sisters, was trying to shut me up and cover my mouth with her hand, (and she was on MY team!) but everyone was laughing uncontrollably. We won that round and came in Second place. (The audience came in First.)

The second Austin-weird funny thing that happened was this.

I was performing a traditional Irish song, 'Rocks of Bawn,' with a unique Byrds-like arrangement, with my eyes closed tightly, at one of my last guerrilla showcases. Getting right into it when suddenly I heard this loud buzzing noise. I thought it was coming from my guitar so I automatically reached down and quickly unplugged my guitar jack and kept singing, eyes still closed, so as not to break the mood. But the humming noise was still there. Hmmmm . . . maybe it's the sound system? So I reached up and unplugged the microphone from the cable, planning to just finish the song acoustically and try not break the flow too much. But the humming kept going. Finally, frustrated, I opened my eyes and took a good look around and there in the corner, was a one-armed guy playing the didgeridoo! He had come in during the song and just joined in. Once I stopped choking, I went over and joined him and we played three songs together including an an improvised solo vocal version of 'Coretta Scott King', and my aboriginal language translation of 'Shaddap You Face,' with just didgeridoo, click sticks and voice. I felt like a little bit of Australia had just busted through into Texas there.

Food-wise, I ate (and, more importantly, children: learned the recipes to) Huevos Mulenos (Huevos Rancheros with Black Beans), at Las Manitas, and Boiled Crawfish, at the Jazzkitchen. (I wrote an on-the-spot 12 bar blues on the back of a coaster, during the meal, called 'Boilin' Crawfish Blues' and autographed it for the chef, who, impressed, came out of the kitchen and proceeded to explain the recipe to me in detail, and gave me a bag of his Cajun seafood seasoning to take back to Australia!) Hell, even in the bar in the Hilton, I was served a side of Fried Green Tomatoes with my single malt whisky! I found some nice Breaded Catfish at a little truck stop outside of town and bought a dozen hot Tamales, from a couple that looked like Frida Kahlo's grandparents, from out the back of a station wagon on the way to the airport. Austin is a great place for music and also a great place to eat.

Suggestions for how to improve the Folk Alliance next year? Make it even better for the performers. For everyone. Why not take a page from Edinburgh Festival strategy. Every performer should strive to do at least five or six showcases, or more, including the official ones, spread over the four nights of the conference. That's pretty much what happens anyway. But here's the new bit: on the first two nights of showcases, Friday and Saturday, there should be a dozen or so reviewers that go around and do mini-reviews of as many shows as possible. Publish these reviews in a hard copy and make them available to everyone - like the Rosetta Stone - first thing Saturday and Sunday mornings. The most interestingly reviewed showcases will get full houses for the final days. That's the way it works at the Edinburgh Festival. That also gives everybody a fair chance of getting some serious attention - not only the well-known acts. (The first week in Edinburgh, you are struggling to get an audience. But as soon as you get a little word of mouth and a choice review or two, then the remaining three weeks get pretty much sold out. No matter who you are.) No reason why a scaled down version of that strategy shouldn't work for the Alliance.

Biggest negative experience? I walked into the 'secure' instrument lock-up to pick up my guitar for a showcase. No one was at the desk. After waiting around for a few minutes, I just grabbed my guitar off the shelf and walked out of the room and no one said a word, checked my ticket stub or tried to stop me. I felt like I had stolen my own guitar. Not good. Not a warm feeling at all.

Aside from that, it was a great and memorable experience! I made many new contacts and look forward to the many unfolding forests and friends in years to come.

Oh yeah, back home in Melbourne, last night, I spread out a couple of old copies of 'The Australian' newspaper across the dining room table and made Austin-Style Cajun Boiled Shrimp for the family with my new culinary wisdom and seasonings. (Screw the barbie, Dundee!)


Saint Patrick's Four

One of my new friends that I met in Austin, Tx, Marie Burns, of the wonderful Burns Sisters singing group (12 siblings!) was part of Arlo Guthrie's recent "City of New Orleans" train journey from Chicago to New Orleans. The first show of the tour was funded by Richard Pryor who passed away shortly after. The proceeds of the tour were to benefit Musicians in New Orleans who were affected by the disaster. Marie's brother, Dan Burns, is part of a group known as the Saint Patrick's Four, and is currently serving jail time for a non-violent protest against the Iraq war.
"On Monday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, four of us from the Ithaca Catholic Worker Community - Peter De Mott, who served in both the Marines and the Army including a year in Vietnam as a Marine, Clare and Teresa Grady and Daniel Burns - went to the Army-Marine Recruiting Center in an act of non-violent civil resistance to war making. We read the following statement and poured blood around the entrance to the center, including on the flag, to call attention to the horror of war. It may seem strange. You may wonder -- why did they have to pour blood, why on the flag?..." (St Patrick Four Website)

The Burns Sisters Website



Southpark 'Tom Cruise in the Closet' Scientology Episode

This funny and brazen episode of Southpark featuring Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Nicole Kidman was apparently yanked from UK television by Tom Cruise's legal department. But some brave soul has put it online so enjoy it while you can! It's a ripper. (Episode)


Spinifex Press
Birthday Celebrations - in Melbourne

" Spinifex Press is turning Fifteen! Happy Birthday to us!  To celebrate this very special occasion, we're throwing ourselves a birthday party, and you're invited.  

This weekend, March 3-5, we will be hosting Story Passions: A weekend of women's literary and arts festivities at the North Melbourne Town Hall Arts House. We have a very exciting program lined up, with sessions on Living Activism, Healthy Havens, Politics and Poetics, The Future of Feminism and Dramatic Divas.  

Women will be coming from far and wide to present, perform, play and participate, so you won't want miss out on this spectacular event. Full details, along with a list of the fantastic speakers and performers are available at http://www.spinifexpress.com.au  (News Section) and also at the end of this newsletter.

Tell your friends, tell your colleagues, tell your students but don't miss out, this is the event of the year, even if we do say so ourselves! "
Spinifexpress Website


It Didn't Work
William F. Buckley
The National Review

" One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed . . . Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols. . ." (more)



FEMALE SOFA----- A 500 lb. woman from Illinois was examined in a hospital. During the examination, an asthma inhaler fell from under her armpit, a dime was found under one of her breasts and a remote control was found lodged between the folds of her vulva.

PRICKLY PAIR-----OUCH! In Michigan, a man came into the ER with lacerations to his penis. He complained that his wife had "...a rat in her privates..." which bit him during sex. After an examination of his wife, it was revealed that she had a surgical needle left inside her after a recent hysterectomy.

PING PONG ANYONE? ----- A 20 year old man came into the ER with a stony mass in his rectum. He said that he and his boyfriend were fooling around with concrete mix, when his boyfriend had the idea of pouring the mix into his anus using a funnel. The concrete then hardened, causing constipation and pain. Under general anaesthesia, a perfect concrete cast of the man's rectum was removed along with a ping pong ball.

BLIND DRUNK----- A drunk staggered into a Pennsylvania ER complaining of severe pain while trying to remove his contact lenses. He said that they would come out halfway, but they always popped back in. A nurse tried to help using a suction pump, but without success. Finally, a doctor examined him and discovered the man did not have his contact lenses in at all. He had been trying to rip out the membrane of his cornea.

OUCH AND DOUBLE OUCH! ----- A couple hobbled into a Washington State emergency room covered in bloody restaurant towels. The man had his hands around his abdomen and the woman had hers around her head. They eventually explained to doctors that they had gone out that evening for a romantic dinner. Overcome with passion, the woman crept under the
table to administer oral sex to the man. While in the act, she had an epileptic fit, which caused her to clamp down on the man's penis and wrench it from side to side. In agony and desperation, the man grabbed a fork and stabbed her in the head until she let go.
(Thanks to Missy)


Dark Side of the Rainbow

The Dark Side of the Rainbow is a perceived effect created by playing the 1973 Pink Floyd concept album Dark Side of the Moon simultaneously with the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Depending on the version of the film used (since different formats run at different speeds), parts of the film and the music appear to correspond with each other to a degree some have found surprising. The music video-like experience created by synchronising the two. The title comes from a combination of "Dark Side of the Moon" and the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" featured in the film. It is also sometimes referred to as "The Dark Side of Oz," or "The Wizard of Floyd." (article)
(thanks to Justine Stewart)


Sleep Survey

(Note: This is a special request from my mate, Big Russ. It sounds like fun so I thought I'd pass it on. I'm actually writing this at about 3:00 am so there is some irony in it. Somebody once told me that between 3 and 4 am is 'The Liver Hour'. I don't know exactly what that means but somehow it still makes sense! I also read somewhere that we need less sleep as we get older because our body somehow knows it's closer to death and therefore doesn't want to miss anything. However, that doesn't explain why I fall asleep while watching certain dvds.)

My nephew David Brothers, and not a bad nephew he is at that, lives in Brisbane and is doing some sort of higher degree in psychology and is writing a thesis. He requires people and in particular male people between the ages of 40 and 65 (Blue the Shearer is excused) to fill in a survey about sleep patterns. He's trying to discover why we don't sleep as well as we used to. (I think it's something to do with the increased chemicals in the alcohol).
As he seems to think I know a significant number of people in this age group I said I'd forward it on. If you are inclined to reveal all about what you do in bed (Hang on- I'll rephrase that) sleepwise that is then you might like to help Dave out by going to the web page below and filling it in (takes about 20 minutes). If you don't then just delete it.
Anyway do what you will- I filled it in and it turns out I'm a serial insomniac. Regards,



BOILED CRAWFISH -New Orleans Italian Variation

I had a mighty hot plate of boiled crawfish at the Jazzkitchen in Austin, Texas, last week. Mighty hot! And seriously good!!! In fact so hot and so good that I wrote this little blues song on the spot:

Crawfish Boilin' Blues
Kissin' you is like eating crawfish,
Lawd, you're just so tender, sweet and soft. (2x)
I just can't suck enough of your hot,
'Till it feels like my lips are comin' off.
You burn me up with your chili,
Then your lemon cools me down (2x)
My compliments to the chef, girl,
'Cause you got the best crawfish boil in town.
I wish I was a crawfish,
Just swimmin' round your pond. (2x)
I'd tell all the other crawfishes
About the good thing that I found.
Yes, I wish I was a crawfish,
I'd spread the word around:
"If you're ever in need of some boilin'
My baby's got the best copper-bottomed crawfish boiling pot in town!"
(Austin, Tx, February 14th, 2006, Valentine's Day)

The instructions given to me for this dish by the Jazzkitchen chef were fairly simple:

" Boil the crawfish in seasoned seafood stock with corn and new potatoes. Serve hot with seafood seasoning sprinkled liberally over the top, a small dish of melted butter, some fresh lemon wedges and a bottle of Tabasco sauce on the side. Spread out some newspapers to put the discarded crawfish shells. Plenty of napkins!"

Obviously there is a lot of leeway to improvise here with terms like 'seafood stock' and 'seafood seasoning.' You could simply make a nice flavoured seafood broth of your choice - making sure it was HOT by adding sufficent chili - this is what I did with some large shrimp and it tasted fabulous - and even improvise your own mix of things like cayenne pepper, black pepper, crushed dried rosemary, onion and garlic salts, paprika, etc, to sprinkle over the top. But if you want more authentic and detailed instructions, the following boiled crawfish recipe is from The Fontana Family, from the old Jazz and Heritage Festival Cookbook, now sadly out of print. The Fontanas were one of the largest, oldest, and best known Italian families to settle in New Orleans, originally coming from various parts of Italy and settling in Louisiana in the early 1850's. This recipe is the one served at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival boiled crawfish booth. The secret is to serve hot. Adjust the amounts to suit and substitute Australian yabbies, shrimp or even lobster.

* 30 pounds live crawfish (yabbies, or large shrimp)
* 15 ounces cayenne pepper, plus 5 ounces additional Lagniappe
* 2 ounces Tabasco sauce
* 20 cloves garlic, cut cloves in half, do not peel or crush
* 3 dozen lemons, sliced in half
* 1 cup olive oil
* 20 bay leaves
* 4 ounces Louisiana hot sauce
* 52 ounces salt (approximately 2 pounds)
* 10 bags of Zatarain's crab boil, or seafood boil seasoning.

"Place all ingredients but the crawfish in the biggest pot that you can get your hands on and bring to a good boil for about 15 minutes. As all comes to a boil, put you face over the steam and take 10 deep breaths, as the boiling cayenne, garlic and lemon mist is good for your soul - being careful to breathe only through your nose.

"In the meantime, the crawfish should have been soaking in cold fresh water, with a couple of boxes of salt emptied into it as to allow "mud bugs" to be spitting out the mud.

"Put crawfish in boiling water. After water comes to boil again, add 10 ears freshly peeled corn of the cob and 20 small potatoes. Allow 8-10 minutes cooking time. Remove and add a bag or two of ice to cool the crawfish water, and allow the crawfish to soak in the pot for another 10 minutes after turning off the boiling water. Strain and serve the crawfish hot with the garlic cloves, potatoes and corn. Sprinkle liberal amounts of dry seasoning over the works: a mix of cayenne pepper, black pepper, crushed dried rosemary, onion and garlic salts, paprika, etc. A dish of melted butter and cut lemons for garnish. Your favourite hot sauces to accelerate the taste experience! Paper towels. Don't be afraid to make a mess!"


'Zatarain's' Crawfish, Shrimp and Yabbie Boil Seasoning

'Zatarain's' is a popular brand of Crab Boil seasoning available in the US but probably not in Australia. It's just a packet of spices that you just throw into the water in which you boil your seafood, and makes it spicy-yummy-wonderful.

Here's the way to make your own:

* 4 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
* 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
* 2 tablespoons whole allspice
* 2 tablespoons dill seeds
* 1 teaspoon whole cloves
* 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
* 8 bay leaves
* Salt and cayenne pepper (or liquid hot sauce) to taste

Combine all dry ingredients thoroughly. Place in a square of muslin or cheesecloth and tie securely with string, like a large sachet d'épices. Add salt and cayenne or hot sauce to the water to taste, then bring to a boil.

When water for seafood is boiling, add the bag and boil for several minutes, until the boiling liquid is tinted and seasoned, then add vegetables and/or shellfish and cook until done, depending on what you're using.

Yield: Enough boil seasoning for 5 pounds of seafood.


My Sweet, Crushed Angel
You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to hold hands with the Beautiful One.
You have waltzed with great style,
My sweet, crushed angel,
To have ever neared God's Heart at all.
Our Partner is notoriously difficult to follow,
And even His best musicians are not always easy
To hear.
So what if the music has stopped for a while.
So what
If the price of admission to the Divine
Is out of reach tonight.
So what, my dear,
If you do not have the ante to gamble for Real Love.
The mind and body are famous
For holding the heart ransom,
But Hafiz knows the Beloved's eternal habits.
Have patience,
For He will not be able to resist your longing
For long.
You have not danced so badly, my dear,
Trying to kiss the Beautiful One.
You have actually waltzed with tremendous style,
O my sweet,
Oh my sweet, crushed angel.
~ Hafiz ~


The Last Laugh

I walked into a public toilet where I found two cubicles, of which one was already occupied. So I entered the other one, closed the door, dropped my trousers and sat down. A voice came from the cubicle next to me.
"Hello mate, how are you doing?"
I thought it a bit strange but not wanting to be rude I replied.
"Yeah, not too bad thanks."
After a short pause, I heard the voice again.
"So, what are you up to mate?"
Again I answered, (somewhat reluctantly it must be said.)
"Umm, just having a quick ****. How about yourself?"
I then heard the voice for the third time .....
"Sorry mate, I'll have to call you back. I've got some dick head in the loo next to me answering everything I say."
(thanks to Dai Woosnam)