Giddy up ba-oom papa oom papa mow mow

Photo from

Friday morning. 6:45 a.m. Driving slowly through the dark up a snowy mountain road in Colorado. I’ve just dropped Cara off at the Park n Ride because she’s got to go to work down the mountain but we didn’t get her snow tires on ahead of this snow and it’s one thing to crawl to the Park n Ride but another to venture out onto the 285 Frozen Speedway, so she’s catching a ride down with a coworker.

And I’m thinking of my childhood in Louisiana. I think we had snow maybe four times growing up — and calling it snow is being overwhelmingly generous. Sleet. Wintry mix. Just enough to make a 12-inch snowman that was as much dirt and grass as it was snow.

But here I am thinking of being a young boy in Louisiana. A very young boy. And all my cousins on MawMaw’s side.

Because Willie’s Roadhouse on SiriusXM is playing “Elvira,” by The Oak Ridge Boys. If you’ve somehow lived your existence having never heard this song, give it a listen.

What I associate the most with this song is being at my Uncle Charles and Aunt Brenda’s house. Uncle Charles was my godfather, my parrain as godfather’s are called in Cajun French. And his and Aunt Brenda’s house was always wild and free-wheeling; it felt like almost anything was allowed.

The first of many instances where this memory gets shaky is I don’t remember which house of theirs this was. There were a few. 

I’m pretty sure it was the early 1980s. I seem to remember a record player shaped like a jukebox in one of the rooms off the left side of the hallway. But I can’t guarantee that the jukebox-shaped record player existed. 

But I remember the kids standing around it. I’m there. My brother Brian is there. And Uncle Charles’ children Jonathan (older than me) and Amanda (younger than me). Maybe Christine, my other first cousin, is there. I can’t remember if the younger cousins had been born yet. 

We were probably arguing over which songs to play. And none of them were exactly pop hits. At that age we liked what our parents and grandparents liked. We were suckers for oldies and gimmicky songs and gimmicky oldies. The Coasters doing Yakety Yak comes clearly through the years, with the kids shouting the “don’t talk back” part. “My Dingaling” by Chuck Berry. “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” by Loudon Wainwright. And the somewhat frightening “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” by Napoleon XIV.

But “Elvira,” man. That song was it. For two reasons. For me at any rate. The first was the the “giddy up ba-oom papa oom papa mow mow” part. Pure artistry. 

The second was, well, Elvira. Yes, that Elvira. Mistress of the Dark, Elvira. I don’t know where I would have seen her, what late-night TV weirdness MawMaw and PawPaw would have had on at their house. Or Uncle Charles at his. I doubt we would have seen her at our house. Aside from the early bedtime at home, we didn’t have cable. And this was pre-VCR (for us, at any rate). 

So I probably didn’t know anything at all about Elvira other than that she was hot. I might have been eight or nine and didn’t have much of a concept of such things, but I knew that Elvira did something to my brain and parts further south. Elvira and Olivia Newton John. Opposite ends of the spectrum. (Which might have something to do with my fascination many years later with Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara on “Modern Family.”)

At any rate, I thought the song was about Elvira. So a killer tune with a killer visual. Hard to resist.

Of course, it turns out the song was written about her. In fact, it wasn’t an Oak Ridge Boys original. It was written in 1966 by Dallas Frazier and he named it after a street in East Nashville. (The Oak Ridge Boys version, however, had the distinction of going platinum.)

Where am I going with this? Absolutely nowhere. It’s a memory and that’s where they go. You’re driving down a snowy road as an adult, 1,800 miles from where you grew up, and a song transports you back 40 years to a memory of you singing it with your cousins and your godfather’s house.

And, knowing what I know about memory, this one could be very far from reality. I guess I could call up my cousins and ask, but I’m not taking the risk of being confronted with a “Nah, Kenny, the record player was a little piece of crap on a folding table. And we were listening to ‘I Love a Rainy Night’ by Eddie Rabbit. That was our jam.” Or, worse:  “What? I’m pretty sure that never happened. What are you even talking about?”

So I’ll just enjoy my memory the way I see it. 

Giddy up ba-oom, yall. Giddy up ba-oom.

Gothamist: There Is a New Subset of Peoples Restaurant in New York

Hey yall, we’re a subset of peoples now!

According to Gothamist: “A new East Village eatery opening tonight wants to introduce the unique flavors of Acadian culture, a subset of Louisiana peoples with roots in French Canada.”

Awful lot of words to avoid saying, you know, Cajun. This is what happens when restaurant marketing people attack. I guess they have to change it up.


After all, pretty much every other attempt at Cajun in New York has failed — because they don’t do it right. And if you don’t call it Cajun, you might not get cranky-ass Cajuns showing up in your restaurant saying, “WTF IS THIS? RAW DEER MEAT? KEYAWWWWWW! MAWMAW NEVER MADE DAT, NO!”

Granted, this food is probably all going to be delicious. And you shouldn’t be a slave to the past if you’re trying to do something new.

So why not just serve it rather than market it? Oh, that’s right. It’s all about storytelling these days. And about faux authenticity. Even if the story is badly told. You know, like when you tell about the unique flavors of Acadian culture using Swiss Chard. But at least the restaurant has a picture of an oysterman!

And nice song selection Gothamist. Hard to tell if you don’t know the difference between Acadiana and Acadia, or are simply ignorant of the literally thousands of Cajun songs out there — some of them even Grammy winning.  Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s both.

Hell, you could have at least used “I’m a King Bee” by Slim Harpo. He might not belong to the “subset of peoples,” but he was born and raised among them. (Oh, and the song is the same name as the restaurant.)

The Soundtrack to My Novel-Writing? Funny You Should Ask

GuitarDudeRiffraf asked me to write a little something for their Writers and Music series, in which writers discuss the music included in their work or the music that influenced their work.

You’ve got a picture in your mind, I’m sure. The writer enters his special writing place and, before settling in front of the computer or typewriter, he fires up the iPod or turntable. Music fills the room—or his ears. A scratchy jazz record. Sweeping classical. Maybe some down-with-the-system rock or fuck-the-police rap. He sits down, closes his eyes for a minute, takes a couple of deep breaths. Then he starts writing.

Three songs later, he sends his manuscript to a publisher, is offered a six-figure contract, multiple subsidiary rights and a seven-figure movie option. He—or she (Hi, Jennifer Weiner!)—goes back to the writing corner, picks another album, rinse, lather, repeat. Life is good!

For me, this is largely a fantasy. And I’m not only talking about the huge book deals or the quaint little writing office.

Read more.

You Treat Me Like a Bantha and It Feels So Rough!

Just had to share this beyond Facebook. “The Star Wars That I Used to Know.”

Borderline genius, right there. I’m a big fan of the original song, but haven’t watched any of the covers, spoof videos and what have you supposedly making the rounds. I did, however, seek out Kimbra, the woman who accompanies Gotye (or as I often refer to him accidentally, Goatse, which isn’t nice, but it’s purely accidental, I promise).

Anyway, Kimbra seems cool. She’s got a weird vibe, but she’s still poppy enough to enjoy as music rather than homework, say, like Fiona Apple.

By the way, still raising money for TNT. Help a brother out! Fight cancer. Save lives.