WHAT'S IN YOUR GUMBO?
(You are what you cook and you are what you eat)
Preparing a real gumbo (or Italian Sunday Gravy for that matter. See Blog #29, "The Best Gift I Can Give") serves as a great metaphor.
If you've ever tasted a real gumbo made by a real native New Orleanian there isn't anything quite like that experience.
You can recognize what it looks like. What it smells like. How it feels in your mouth, and what it tastes like. It is a very rich and complex combination of blended flavors,textures, techniques and components.
You can also recognize that no two gumbos are alike. The dish can go through endless variations, depending on the actual tools and techniques employed, the ingredients used, how the roux is prepared and the family history of the person who cooks it. That narrative is in the pot just as much as any physical component.
But the most important things to notice are what the gumbo does to people as it is served and consumed: To the chef and the guests alike.
The chef provides a mind and body experience while providing sustenance. The guests not only experience the dish as a full body experience that stimulates all senses, but has also stimulated agroup of people simultaneously at their gut brain AND cognitive level.
It's food, made from the heart, and given freely. Food for the senses, food for the stomach, but also food for the heart and soul, A collective orgasmic yummy noise emotes communally as the experience is savored from the dining table.
The Gumbo elicits intellectual, emotional, and a full body response when prepared with authenticity of the history, the heart, and the true soul of the chef.
A non-verbal reciprocal feedback loop of elevation to a different place for all the participants is achievable. I've seen this happen time and time again at my father's table; He can make a linguine and white clam sauce that has reduced grown men to tears.
If you are wondering why I have included video family cooking tutorials to the Blog-O-Thon, wonder no more. Everything over the next three hundred and ten days is going to all connect at some point, if everybody focuses and pays close attention.
Creative arts and efforts should elicit similar response, no matter what the delivery system. Some conduits are skewed more toward the head than the heart. A painting can't make you dance, normally. Let me rephrase: A painting can make you dance if you are open enough to let it that have that type of effect on you, but music is a more direct delivery system, per example.
When trying to visualize the "end product", you have to visualize what that end product is going to actually do when humans interact with it. Those are the elements of design as much as how it sounds or what it looks like, and they can be very broad and far reaching, and they can be both cliche and totally obscure as well. They can be inclusive, or repugnently repulsive. Are there narrative elements? What's the ride going to feel like? Are you even providing a ride to take? Do you have a full pallette of techniques to build that ride?
What will be the emotional response? The physical one? The spiritual ones?
Are you even thinking along the lines?
What is in your gumbo? Find those answers first, and then pathways will illuminate themselves. The recipe and the techniques used reveal themselves if you can answer those questions.
When I got bitten by the bug of music, the first step was to absorb as much piano related material as possible, specifically anything that the piano had to do with twentieth century popular music; from ragtime, to trad jazz, the history of jazz piano and its primary exponents, raw blues, boogie woogie, r & b jump blues, the history of African American Pop forms, and modern rock and roll and its lineage.
An inordinate amount of time got spent on "the fundementals". Not only the mechanical ones like scales, theory, harmony, time, groove and the like, but the whole history of what transpired before you. Solid ground on which to build a house of your own design and architectural plans.
You spent every dime you had on records, and every availble minute listening, and then trying to decipher and deconstruct. I read every rock and roll book or magazine, every musician's memoir, and every liner note I could get my hands on.
Early on you realize that you are the sum total of the amount of input flowing into you.
At some point though, you realize that the choices you make as far as input was concerned, were going to start to define how you would be perceived. I went with what felt natural, and gravitated toward the rock and roll side of things. I started to narrow my listening diet, and narrow beam my focus. when I truly started digging deeply into the music of New Orleans, I became organically enflamed. Strange for a skinny assed white boy from Skaneateles NY, but that true authentic love put me in charge of a studio recording for a seminal Mardi Gras Indian Tribe Funk Band, The Wild Magnolias, on a major label (Code Blue/Blue Note Records). I was just as Joe Campbell would say, following my bliss.
Making those types of esoteric choices was really the first time that I was aware of trying to find a unique voice on the instrument.
All instrumentalists go through that process. Slowly over time, we try to sharpen definition. This just doesn't apply to instrumentalists. Singers, Songwriters, Artists, Poets, Painters, Novelists, Filmmakers, Business Folks, Academics and Professionals alike all realize that they intrinsiclly have to find a niche.
Any thing you do that requires skill and acumen, once we acquire a bit we realize that we have to specialize to some degree.
I only mention this process because that process is just but one facet of the microcosm.
When you finally get to a point of having the reigns in your own hands, and are solely responsible for a final "end product", hopefully you take those skills and expand, search for creative and unorthodox usage, and extrapolate them as you apply them to your ultimate gumbo.
What goes in, manifests itself in the end result. You are what you eat, and you own the choices that you make.
(Next Up, Part 3: "THE HARD-WIRING OF THE REALLY LITTLE GEORGIE")
If you would like a master index list of all The Daily Doses sent directly to you every Saturday morning, shoot me an email at:
The index is a lot easier to navigate; has brief descriptions of the content of each dose, and hyper-text links, possibly opens up a direct line of communication with me (which is cool for me), and its easy to forward via email if you want to get them addicted.
As always, you can opt out at anytime.
Also, see that friggin' share button in the upper right of The Blog-O-Thon? Press it, and be an active participant, rather than a passive energy black hole of a Suck -O-Vac.
"You may shoot for the stars and end up in a back alley behind Pluto, beaten and bloodied, but at least I dare to dream, and that’s better than being Earthbound, mired in the muck of mediocrity.
I judge my forward progress and success by the crushingly epic nature of my failures.
The more epic the crash, the more I’m convinced I must be doing something right"
AS ALWAYS: PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE, AND SHARE THIS BLOG ADDRESS VIA COPY AND PASTE IN AN EMAIL, THROUGH THE TWITTER OR FACEBOOK "SHARE" BUTTONS,WORD OF MOUTH, FILTHY WHISPERED GOSSIP, FALSE NARRATIVE, TIN CAN AND STRING CONFIGURATIONS, PONY EXPRESS, OR CARRIER PIGEON. WITHOUT FEEDBACK OR ACTIVE "SHARING", WHAT YOU JUST READ.... DOESN'T EXIST!
THANK YOU KINDLY,
COLONEL BEAUREGARD "IRON THIGHS" JEFFERSON, A.K.A. "THE MANAGEMENT"