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Hey y'all! Some of you may remember the Louisiana Zydeco video a few friends and I made in 2008 to help put President Obama in the White House. You can link to it here if interested:

This video, made just a few weeks before the election, was a perfect example of the highly intense creative energy Obama was inspiring at that time. I told some friends about it on Thursday afternoon, October 16, 2008, but thought it was too late to pursue it.... and they said that I was wrong and we should just go for it. By Friday evening, the next day, the ENTIRE thing had finished shooting! We put together the band, wrote the song, got the audio engineer, got the film crew, got the crowd........ did everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, within 30 hours of deciding to do it. The shoot was wrapped Friday evening and we edited it over the weekend. It was up on YouTube on October 21, the following Tuesday, and Rachel Maddow featured it for the first time that night!

Rachel went on to use the video, and the music from it, for a full minute on election night, showing people around the world celebrating the results of the election. I happened to be performing in the DC area that night and partied jubilantly in front of the White House with a crowd of several thousand. Not everyone knows that there was a spontaneous march to the Capitol at the end of that party. This was at about 3 AM..... all the reporters were gone to file their stories. I don't think the media ever reported a bit of it.... and some of the most powerful memories I have of that night are images of young people standing in front of the Capitol at 4 AM with Obama signs in their hands and fists held proudly in the air.  

In truth, looking back at video from this era, both the one linked to above and others from the election night celebrations I just described, is bittersweet. The hope and elation of the moment were extraordinary. Perhaps it was impossible not to fall from that place as Obama actually took on the job of being president. But, perhaps it would have been possible for him to live up to his promise of hope and change more fully.

I suppose my support for him now is shaped by the compromises and moments of acceptance required of a long-term relationship, versus the spark and joy of constant discovery inherent in a new one. Still, it's a simple truth that many of the things that caused elation when he was elected are the things that he immediately downplayed once in office. He got elected by being a great compromiser -- by bringing together factions of people who rarely vote for the same candidate. But you can't lead from the top as if you're building up a coalition from the bottom. I want him to be more progressive. I hope that the experience of going through the 2012 election -- of seeing where the country really is and of being free from a need to consider reelection down the road -- will bring out the more progressive, and more combative, side of him in the future, if he wins. I want him to fight those whose only goal is to obstruct his policies and turn this country into a semi-feudal state.

In any case, it's interesting how this video has played out in my own life. I received quite a bit of negative reaction from many of the Cajun musicians in my part of Louisiana, and many of those rifts will never heal completely. The video never claims to represent Cajun people, of course, though there was an assumption that it did. Certainly, one would assume that Cajun people in general, who don't view African Americans as falling within the definition of their ethnicity, would instantly recognize that this is no attempt at speaking for them or any group of people, except those who wanted Obama to win the election. Still, the video inspired some very intense response, much of which was directed at me personally. An example follows:

One of the amazing things about this response video, to me, is that someone went through it and ethnically identified the people in the video, determining who and who wasn't "Cajun." Freeze-framing film and doing ethnic identifications of the people on screen sounds just a little bit scary, does it not? Of course, those who actually made this video stayed hidden behind the scenes. And the video we made had something like 100 times the views....... but it also had at least 100 times the production value, so maybe that has something to do with it!

Perhaps the best thing about the video is that Jeffrey Broussard, who plays accordion and sings, was brought to perform in Africa as a result. The video helped him achieve a life-long dream... and that in and of itself is reward enough for having made it!

For me, I look at it and think about the hope and mood of that era. I see my daughters 4 years younger on that screen. I think about the world they've grown up in since then. I remember watching Michelle Obama's speech with them just a few weeks ago. And my youngest, who is 8, saying, after watching Deval Patrick's speech, "Now I would vote for HIM for president." I told her one day she might get the chance.

The last video here is something I want to feel again soon. Will we feel election night the same way this time if President Obama wins? What will we do? I envision us having a president that we have been through the ringer with, one for whom the bright flash of new love has subsided but the depth of a long-term partnership remains intact and stronger than ever. I may not rage all night on the street. But maybe I will. Either way, I'm in....... all the way in.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    "The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not...." -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by waydownsouth on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 01:18:51 PM PDT

  •  seems there's something awry with the McCain... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waydownsouth, KenBee, vernonbc

    ...supporter's video. All I'm seeing is a red screen with text over it. I'm not seeing the faces of the 70% of all known Cajun musicians, those folks who are so enthusiastic about their views being known.

    Hat-tip on the tunes, allons-y, aaaii-yeee!


    •  Yup, you gotta wonder what psychological (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, vernonbc

      state of mind is really behind this.... "We can think for ourselves!"  Who said they couldn't?  Maybe I should be flattered that someone thinks I was attempting to speak for them...... but, uh............ maybe not.

      "The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not...." -- Mahatma Gandhi

      by waydownsouth on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 02:35:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think anyone appreciated the depth (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, waydownsouth, KenBee, Sue B

    of the antagonism against their fellow man Republicans were trading on.
    One man, one vote is not appealing, when you've been led to count on somebody to keep all your enemies in line. And, really, for several decades, conservatives had been generating antagonism in the body politic by stripping rights and sustenance and then blaming the deprivation on some group (foreign or domestic) or other.
    What were the foreign adventures but an excuse to send young men and women to be killed just so the home folk would be constantly reminded that life could be worse if we don't behave ourselves?
    When a nation has been marinated in fear for three or four decades, it's hard to come out of it. Collapsing the economy was just pulling the last card out of the house of cards. It wouldn't have been possible, if everybody hadn't gotten hooked on money first and our free individual enterprise (farms and shops and pharmacies) hadn't been dismantled  in the interest of setting up monopolies.
    It's hard to accept that people who mouth agreement with your values are responsible for making a world collapse.  But then, that's what pedophiles do, isn't it?  Target the innocent and unaware because they are less likely to fight back.
    In this case, it was all done behind the shield of money be people whom we now grace with the title "financial engineer." But, that's sort of like calling a professional assassin a "mechanic." In any case, stealing people's real assets after having converted them into dollars was the trick which kept lots of people from realizing who had done them in.  Their financial demise had been contracted out to a host of middlemen, many of whom, like the "mechanic" had not personal interest or animosity--just a general disregard for their fellow man from behind a screen of numbers.
    I don't think it's going to be enough for Barack Obama to say "enough is enough." A whole lot of people are going to have to decide we're not going to take it anymore. And we're going to have to elect a Congress, where control of our money lies, that's going to stand with us. Don't let the Capitol Hill Gang slip in under the radar while R&R distract us with tracers in the sky.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 01:58:02 PM PDT

    •  I think, I hope, that this election is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      shedding some light on these things.  It feels like it is.  It feels like Romney is exposing just how anti-American 100% unfettered capitalist greed really is.  Let's hope so...

      "The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not...." -- Mahatma Gandhi

      by waydownsouth on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 02:36:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks! I needed that. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waydownsouth, KenBee, vernonbc
    •  Thanks, I needed your thanks! (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vmm918, bwren, Patate, KenBee, vernonbc

      Yeah, feels bittersweet to reflect on some of 2008.... but the bitter is fading and the sweet is coming on strong.  Or something like that!

      "The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not...." -- Mahatma Gandhi

      by waydownsouth on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 02:30:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Glad to hear this. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        but the bitter is fading and the sweet is coming on strong.  Or something like that!
        Your 2008 video had me singing out loud for days, but like you, I've found myself painfully disappointed more than once over the past ~4 years; so disappointed with the gap between all of the hope we embraced and the cold reality of ugly politics.

        Revisiting your video today brings back some of the hope. It's a bittersweet shadow of the hope I felt back then but I'll use it to keep me getting out to register voters and to go out knocking on doors again. I beginning to believe that Obama will get a second term. Now it's up to us to help him get a Senate and a House that will empower him to embrace that more progressive stances we dream of.  

        I've got to mention here the importance of state elections. The real ugliness is happening in elected state governments. It's there that the opposition has a real advantage right now, and it's time to turn that around, one state legislative district by the next. That's where much of my physical effort is going this year.

        Thanks again for the reminder. I'm humming your song as I write. I'm waay in too.

        I came for the politics and stayed for the science.

        by bwren on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 05:10:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love Zydeco music (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwren, KenBee, vernonbc, waydownsouth

    Your video music lifted my day.  And yes, our President deserves it--or so I think.

  •  Thanks, loved the post (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, waydownsouth, bwren, vernonbc

    Good to reminisce and I can actually understand so that is fabulous. Music is universal and does not belong to one group or another just because it originated there. I am truly sorry for the negative reactions you went trough and sorry for the broken friendships. Peace out.

    Deux poids, deux mesures.

    by Patate on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:38:16 PM PDT

    •  Thanks to you for this.... a few thoughts here... (0+ / 0-)

      You're absolutely right that music is universal. It rises above the limitations of our spoken language and conveys universal truths. It doesn't belong to any specific group. In the case of this video, I guess, even if you do believe that anything that has a Zydeco or Cajun sound to it "belongs" to a specific group, it sure as hell belongs to the Creole and Cajun people playing it in the video!

      One issue here is that the Creole people in this video seem to remain completely unseen by those who criticized it.  That's not surprising, in many ways. But there's real racism at the core.... some kind of assumption that white people in the video are aligned with other white people, despite completely opposite world views, instead of the black people they clearly chose to align themselves with in the video.  Maybe that's the most upsetting thing -- the assumption that unity is supposed to fall along racial lines instead of the lines of peers who share the same view of the world regardless of race.

      "The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not...." -- Mahatma Gandhi

      by waydownsouth on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 09:25:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  heh, Christine Balfa Powell and Balfa Tou Jours (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from just the  google search page..

    Led by Christine Balfa, daughter of the legendary Cajun fiddle ambassador
    Dewey Balfa, the group has taken generations of inspiration and created a
    vibrant ...
    ..that's legendary as in 'their family's roots going back to France' legendary.

    so some meathead wants to parse who's  authentic Cajun and who isn't? (not going to harsh my mellow and watch it, heh)

    Well, sure I can see some momentary jealousy or feelings of inadequacy that people from the Outside come to appreciate and adopt Cajun culture..and even Mike Doucet has spoken about it about : the co-option of Cajun culture is an ongoing issue for sure...but that there are important people in Cajun music from outside, such as Tracy Schwarz for just one example and many many Cajun bands all around featuring as close as they can play authentic Cajun music, in addition to the many small sub communities of Cajun and LA people around the country and around the world...

    What an ignorant fool..Balfa Tou Jours and members have done as much for promotion of sw LA and Cajun culture than any of those ignorant meatheads will ever do, like Beausouleil, like the Balfa Brothers before fact it makes me just that less in interested in going down there and spending even more money at Mark Savoy's store in Eunice LA that there are fools there who would whine about Mark has UPS now and  modern everything! :>..but then there are great people like you and yours that more than balance that out.

      I didn't look at the annoying video you linked to, I'm making some assumptions here, trying to stay happy I saw the 2008 video again....:>

     .... and thanks for putting it up here again, don't let the idjits get you down, all the best to you and yours!

      Yer doing it right!


    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:47:28 PM PDT

    •  a few thoughts and some info (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Patate, bwren, KenBee, vernonbc

      Hey there! Just to mention it, Joel Savoy did the audio for this video and Wilson Savoy did the hands-on editing. And their mother, Ann, was a big promoter of it. So, in reality, supporting Savoy's Music in Eunice actually amounts to supporting people who were directly involved in this video. If you need anything connected to Cajun or Zydeco music, that's definitely where I'd turn!

      That being said, I have honestly felt myself turned off a bit to the local Cajun music scene as a result of the reactions we received. No one in this video is attempting to speak for anyone. Christine Balfa is in it, of course, as are her (and my) daughters. Her dad Dewey was considered a voice for Cajun people in general, it's true. But that doesn't mean, in any way, that she was speaking for anyone but herself. The main gist of the arguments against it was that singing in French somehow implied this totality..... to which I say, if a language can only be used to express one viewpoint it is a severely limited language! But even that is a silly thing to say.... it's the same language as the African American people in the video speak. Is it really expected that there is one uniform view to be expressed by all people who speak Louisiana French?

      Interestingly, the first loud protest was "this music should be kept apolitical!" But that was immediately followed by the McCain Palin video, which copied the heading to a T so that searches would end up there. Uhhhhh..... so much for it not being about politics and not being about Obama specifically. I won't get into more details, and I don't blame you for not checking out the linked vid. It is a bummer, to be sure. Better to look forward and figure out how we can get Obama back in the White House and help move away from ignorance and disinformation.....

      Thanks for your reply and support.

      "The law of love will work, just as the law of gravitation will work, whether we accept it or not...." -- Mahatma Gandhi

      by waydownsouth on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 07:16:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I remember this video! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waydownsouth, vernonbc

    I "liked" it on YouTube way back then. =)

  •  Amazing to look back and remember the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    energy and the excitement about Obama being elected as President, all the songs, all the dancing, all the hope, all the jubilation.

    Just imagine if the Republicans hadn't fucked everything up so badly and left such a crisis for President Obama to deal with what could have happened with all that energy and positivity.  Sure there would have been bumps and problems but that was such an incredible time I can just imagine what could have been accomplished.

    Actually, considering the hurdles and the obstacles President Obama had to overcome, it's quite astounding he's achieved as much as he has.  Thanks for posting those vids.  It's good to be reminded of that truly historic time and how glorious it felt.

    "When life kicks you, let it kick you forward." Kay Yow

    by vernonbc on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 04:25:05 AM PDT

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