Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Prince and the Color Purple

In the aftermath of the world draping itself in purple to honor Prince’s passing, I’m inspired to share some thoughts. A couple of weeks before the death of Prince, I had a realization about the color purple, and the symbolism behind its blending of the two primary colors blue and red.



Since ancient times, the sciences known today as  Tarot/Occultism/Hermeticism/Alchemy, have attached meaning to those colors thusly: Blue is like water. It can represent emotion, romantic love, receptivity, nurturing, and intuition. It is associated with the Moon and the ocean, from the deep, dark depths to the changing tides. 

Red is like flame. It can represent blazing sexual 
lust, drive and forward thrust, new ideas and 
creativity, and intelligence in the form of wit, discernment, and mental acumen. And despite the 
blue and pink hospital motif for babies, the Occult 
world matches blue with the feminine and red 
with the masculine. 


Prince made it abundantly clear that he was heavily influenced by the Occult, and that he 
understood ancient symbolism. Thus, he was 
aware of the symbolism behind colors, and was aware of the long history of the color purple in particular (purple was adopted by many royal families, for example). 


So, knowing what we know of the symbolism, 
we can begin to see Prince's thought process. Like so many Occultists before him, he wished to combine the best of masculinity and femininity. On the masculine side, as defined by Occultism, he had a ferocious drive, endless creativity, extreme intelligence, and explosive
sexuality. On the feminine side, he had an undefinable mystery. He had intuition, the capacity for empathy, and a deep love. He was emotional, and a master of controlling and expressing his emotions. 

All people possess both feminine and masculine 
energies, and all people are capable of manifesting them for either good or ill. Prince chose to manifest the best of both polarities for a positive purpose, which in the end is the goal of any spiritual master. However, unlike most, Prince actually manifested his attempt to balance and combine exceptional masculine and feminine qualities physically. Thus, he was both male and female outwardly. He actually manifested 
the masculine and feminine through decidedly male 
and female qualities. He was among the first to employ andogyny in American popular culture, and this is much more than just a gimmick or an expression of bisexuality. It's an expression of the balance in his spirituality.  

For me, it manifested in a shopping trip in which I sought out a purple tie, socks, and shirt. When I posted a pic of my new ensemble, many friends commented that purple is my best color. It was then and there that I decided I would adopt the color purple going forward as much as possible. Then, sadly, I heard the news. But, amazingly, there I was, ready to go, dressed in purple from head to toe. So now, the purple that I wear takes on a new layer of meaning, as it reminds me of another seeker; a kindred spirit whose footsteps are still fresh on the path before me.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Poem - dollarfly


“let me know if you need anything”,
said the clerk, from behind a thick
wooden station and black
horn-rimmed glasses. “thanks.”
the hat store smelled of wool
and leather, and i quickly found
found one that suited me. 

i needed a new hat because
my favorite porkpie had been forcibly
removed from my head by a
mighty gust of wind that almost
caused me to wreck my bike in the
middle of Halloween traffic down at
Decatur and Canal. It took my hat into
the street and tumbling down a block
in a perfect line, and finally under
the tire of a utility truck.

i walked out of the hat store,
bag in hand, into Jackson Square.
i put the hat on, and looked around
at the artists spread out under the oaks.

on this day, the sky was clear blue.
New Orleans was taking on her
“land of dreams” personality, the
one that inspired so many songs
back in the days of Storyville and
the other red light districts filled
with ragged bands and toothless
pianos along North Rampart St.
and Claiborne Ave.

that’s when i saw her. a little girl.
i’d never seen her before, and
she was seemingly unaccompanied,
sitting behind a tiny table in the
shade by the iron fence. she had
a handwritten sign that said
“dollarflies $1”.

i walked up the table, and the girl,
who i figured to be about nine,
looked up. “would you like a dollar fly?”
“yes”, i stammered, "sure", and fished
out a crumpled dollar from my shirt pocket.
i handed her the dollar, and she folded
it in Origami style, in the shape of a
dragonfly, then handed it back to me.

“wow”, i said. “but, what should
i do with it?” i asked. the girl said
“carry it with you until it flies away.”
i wasn’t quite sure what to say to
that , so I said “ok, thanks”, and
walked on. i looked at the dollarfly,
and gently put it in my shirt pocket.

that’s where it stayed, as i went
about my business, and went to get
my bicycle. i had a piano gig to get to
down on Iberville, so i was working
my way up Royal St.

nearing the corner of Royal and St. Louis,
i slowed down. a lone violin sang sweetly,
in the hands of a man in a weathered top hat.
and as i approached, i recognized the
melody to La Vie En Rose.

i was overcome by the loveliness of
the scene, and realized that i just
had to throw a dollar into the violin
case, although i didn’t really want to
stop. i was late as it was. still, i
reached into my front shirt pocket to
see if i still had any random dollars.

i felt the dollarfly then, and pulled it
out with my right hand, still slowly biking.
and just as soon as i did, a gust of
wind arose, and it took the dollar fly
from my hand. it flew to the right, and
in the blink of an eye, landed in the
violin case. the busker said a little
“thank you”, without stopping, and i
rolled through the intersection and
down the block. and as i rolled past
the silver and the antiques in the windows
at the opulent end of Royal, i thought
about how strange it was that the gust
of wind that carried that dollarfly
hadn’t affected my hat at all.

Adventures in Hipster Heaven

Stu's Adventures in Hipster Heaven. Vol. 1

So in New Orleans, there are a few of these
post-Katrina hipster eateries, and a few times
I've tried their "tapas" and such, and usually I
leave unimpressed by the food or service, and
go on with my life. I just tried one that's been
on my list for a while. 

I went in, sat at the bar, placed my to-go order,
and waited. There was one other couple there,
also at the bar. They were standard hipsters: guy
had the short hair and beard, girl had a the 50's
librarian outfit. They were in their late twenties.

So the bartender asked the couple "where are y'all
from"? I pretended to read, but I was curious.


"Oh, yeah?" said the bartender. "I used to live there.
What part of town?"

The couple responded, and named one of the city's
richest areas. Unable to hide her surprise, and at
the risk of embarrassing the couple, the bartender
blurted "What in the world do y'all do for a living?"

Clearly taken aback, the two tourists glanced at
each other, then the bartender. Then the man


There were a few mumblings after that; something
about one of their parents. But my food came, so
it was time to go. Having been on a fanatical
diet since Ash Wednesday, I had ordered a
Veggie Burrito (what could go wrong?).

When I got home, I opened my burrito, and began
to chow down, only to realize that my burrito was
filled with steak. Big, fatty, globs of gristly red meat.
Allow me to emphasize one fact: the couple was
already eating when I got there. My Veggie Burrito
was the only order in the place.

It was then that I felt an old familiar sense of relief.
It's a relief of knowing that you haven't been missing
anything. It's also the relief of knowing that you
won't be tempted to spend your money at some
new shiny place in the future.

So overall, I enjoyed my trip to Hipster Heaven,
but tomorrow night it's back to home cookin'.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bill Bailey (Won't You Please Come Home)

There's a fine-tooth comb inside the piano
at Maison Bourbon. Legend has it that it's
been there since 1902, when it inspired
Hughie Cannon to write the early Jazz song

"Bill Bailey (Won't You Please Come Home)".

"Won't you come home, Bill Bailey,
won't you come home?",
she moaned the whole night long.
"I'll do the cookin', honey, I'll pay the rent.
I know I done you wrong".

"I remember that rainy evenin'
I threw you out, with nothin' but a fine-tooth comb.
I know I'm to blame, now... ain't it a shame?
Bill Bailey, won't you please come home?"…/Won't_You_Come_Home_Bill_Bailey

Monday, March 7, 2016

LIVE Solo Piano Vids

Here are a few new solo piano videos,
recorded at Mahogany Jazz Hall in the 
French Quarter. Enjoy! 

Blue Skies - LIVE  

C'est si Bon - LIVE  

Shynola Jazz Band

Lately I've been playing with a band 
called the Shynola Jazz Band, Sundays 
and Tuesdays at Maison Bourbon, 4-7. 
Here are a few vids, with me on lead 
vocals on the second one. 

The band features Jams Marotta on Drums, 
Doyle Cooper on Trumpet and Vocals, 
Christopher Johnson on Sax, 
and Devon Taylor on Sousaphone.  

Gospel Medley - Shynola Jazz Band  

New Orleans (Carmichael) - Shynola Jazz Band   

Do You Know What it Means - Shynola Jazz Band


Emily Estrella


One of the great experiences I've had while living 
and performing in New Orleans has been collaborating 
with singer/songwriter/dancer Emily Estrella. Although 
her latest chapter in New Orleans was far too short, 
and came to an end in early 2016, we did a great deal with 
our time together. She now resides in New York City.

I helped Emily record an EP while she was in town, 
playing piano, B3 Organ, and Rhodes. I also arranged 
the first track on the EP, titled "Old New France". 
The project was recorded at Word of Mouth Studios
in Algiers, LA. 

Emily's band, The Fauxbarrio Five, in which I played piano,
held a regular slot at 21st Amendment on Iberville St. 
in the French Quarter throughout 2015. Here are 
a few vids captured at one of our last shows there. 

Wishing Emily all the best in the Big Apple!  

Big Pine Blues - Emily Estrella & the Fauxbarrio Five

Lulu's Back in Town - Emily Estrella & the Fauxbarrio Five 

Sweet Georgia Brown - Emily Estrella & the Fauxbarrio Five