Last week, John and I traveled down to New Orleans for the academic conferences we normally attend, except this year, all three of them happened at once: AMS/SMT/SEM, aka
We had a pretty good time and saw a lot of interesting papers. I think my absolute favorite was an SEM panel on women who play guitar in various pop/rock music settings, and the gender implications. It turns out, if you are a black woman playing guitar, people feel free to come up to you and say racist/sexist things while you're playing, or otherwise insult you, or put money into your jean pockets as though you are a stripper. The panel included three smart women talking about their field work, one of whom is from Toronto. After speaking with her, I decided we have to try to get her to come to UWO to speak.
My second favorite (though in some ways better than my favorite, it's hard to say) was another SEM panel on music in prisons. Unfortunately, one of the presenters was unable to attend, but the two who were there did an excellent job. The first spoke on music as a way for women in a Louisiana prison to create private spaces and maintain relationships with other prisoners while incarcerated. The author was simultaneously working on a documentary about the same topic, so he played some clips of the women who he spoke with, and it made his paper very moving. The second presenter spoke on his own experience as an inmate in a prison in NY state. Once he started talking, I immediately wanted to ask him a million personal questions, but shied away. Somehow this guy ended up serving a 6 month sentence after earning a PhD at NYU, so there must be an interesting story there. His paper focused on the way men used the special music room available at the prison, and it was also a very personal, moving story. I almost didn't make it to this panel because of the CSW 7 AM breakfast, after which I'm almost always exhausted. But I'm so glad I stayed up and went to it.
I also went to the Committee for the Status of Women breakfast and lunch meetings, and had productive discussions at both. I have high hopes for a good session at the 2013 meeting in Charlotte. I think I've mentioned before that SMT has a pretty awful gender discrepancy, and the CSW always has a thoughtful discussion about it at our lunch meeting every year. For next year, I'm hoping for us to extend that discussion to the actual paper session that we get on the program, so that the relatively private lunch isn't the only place where that conversation happens.
Saturday night of the conference usually involves a bunch of parties hosted by different universities. Before we started party hopping, though, we went with our friend Anna (who also delivered a pretty great paper!) to a reception/sing-along hosted by the North American British Music Studies Association Reception and Musicale, where they had free finger food (alligator sausage), beer, wine, and a booklet of part songs. This was one of the most fun and memorable parts of the weekend, especially getting to see so many academics trying to sight read after 2-3 glasses of wine.
Especially these academics:
Of course, we spent a lot of time wandering around New Orleans, especially on the first night we got there: Halloween.
We traveled with our new friend Ian, a masters student at Western. He and John eventually settled on drinking "hand grenades" while we were walking around Bourbon street. I think it was at this point that another colleague, who shall remain nameless, shouted, "What makes a conference better? Street drinking!!!"
We ate a bunch of different good restaurants. For lunch: Remoulade's, not far from the hotel. Dinner: Bourbon House, actually attached to our hotel. Ian tried a sampler flight, and after dinner we both had "bourbon milk punch," basically a bourbon milk shake. John also had raw oysters basically every chance he got.
(Milk punch, above, John with oysters, below)
We also made our way to Cafe du Monde twice for beignets, coffee, and hot chocolate.
(Here's a half-eaten beignet, below...I think I will try to recreate this at home at some point)
Also dinner, somehow not pictured: El Gato Negro, for Mexican food. They made guacamole at our table and served us tasty margaritas in to-go cups. I also had a pretty sweet veggie taco there with squash and tomatoes.
John and I stopped in to Cafe Beignet so that he could get espresso at one point. Even though the pastries looked amazing, it was the near the end of our trip and I was starting to feel kind of gross from so many days of really heavy food.
On Sunday morning, we were able to eat at the Green Goddess, a great place for vegetarians and omnivores alike. I had some amazing grits and sweet potatoes biscuits (yes, carbs only for me, thanks). It started pouring while we were there, so they moved us inside to a very small courtyard. I took a picture, looking up:
Sunday afternoon, John and I went to the Audubon Aquarium for a mental break from music.
They have a big, scaley fountain in the lobby.
We spent some time in the Amazon rainforest section, which also had some big catfish.
They also had a lot of beautiful sea horses. We watched them swim and wrap their tails around these stems, then lick the algae off of them (I guess? Who knows what they eat?).
They also have a big "Carribbean" tank with a lot of rays, giant fish, and a bunch of sharks.
Oh yeah, and this awesome sea turtle.
Sunday night, we walked along the street a final time and saw the gallery belonging to this artist, whose dog painting is all over town:
I think my only real regret is not seeing inside St. Louis cathedral. Another time, I guess. Here's part of the back at night. My other regret would also be not completing a conference Bingo, but that's my next post...