Category Archives: Guest Posts

Stepping Out Of The Dark: A Seattleite’s Comedy Debut

The path to comedy stardom?

Here at Cajun Tomato world headquarters in east Harlem I welcome guest submissions. Today, I have the pleasure of sharing my friend Matt Wastradowski‘s recap of his stand-up comedy debut. Enjoy!

The bitter taste of a warm IPA lingers as I absentmindedly tap my foot under a small table in the darkened club. Tonight’s open-mic host steps to the stage, thanks the previous comic, and calls the final performer of the night: “Matt W.”

I take a deep breath, step onto the carpeted stage, and turn to the audience, ready to make my stand-up comedy debut. But whatever nerves I wrestled with in the previous two hours have been pushed aside for a startling realization: I can’t see the crowd.

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Broussard Comes Out As Openly Dumb Following Collins’ Gay Announcement

Jason Collins via si.com

Jason Collins’ cover story in the May 6 edition of Sports Illustrated not only announced him as the first openly gay male athlete in major American sport. It also offered a profile in courage and a master class in how to conduct one’s self with grace and dignity.

Collins’ NBA peers responded to news of the journeyman center’s decision to reveal his sexual orientation with praise and support. They should be applauded for this, especially considering only nine states in America have legalized same-sex marriage.

Not everyone welcomed the news though.

During an appearance on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines”, the network’s senior NBA reporter Chris Broussard likened being openly homosexual to “walking in open rebellion to God” – a belief many fundamental Christians share.

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Death Grips Preview Apocalyptic Soundtrack During Frenzied Portland Set

MC Ride via Prefix

Ed. Note: Cajun Tomato correspondent Scott Hesedahl recently attended Death Grips’ Portland show. Though the band’s abrasive sonics are certainly not for everyone he loved their show’s intensity.

As I waited Saturday night in a downpour for the Star Theatre’s doors to open, a stranger approached to inform me he planned on pissing through the fence the line had formed against.

I attempted telling him there were better spots to urinate in the belly of Chinatown.

“Fuck it,” he replied. “It’s the Death Grips, man.”

Yes, Death Grips, the Cali death-hop act that surprisingly signed to a major label only to be dropped by that major label (Epic) after leaking their album for free without notifying the label.

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Guest Blog: What I Learned Volunteering In Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath

Today my journalist friend Brett Schweinberg shares his experience volunteering in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath on Staten Island. It’s been a month since Sandy hit. Many people in the area Brett visited remain in need. Learn how you can help here.

I journeyed to Staten Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy feeling uneasy about my reasons for the trip. The plan called for two neighbors and I to drive from Chicago on Friday night after work, volunteer on Saturday and Sunday, and drive through the night Sunday to get home in time for work on Monday.

On the 13-hour car ride in, my travel companions and I wondered aloud whether the money we were spending on gas and lodging would be better spent through any of the dozens of organizations collecting for the relief effort. I feared a shameful sort of voyeurism drove my desire to volunteer as much as a true desire to help.
Between the thrill of participating in a relief mission, the fun associated with driving halfway across the country and the incessant praise I received from friends and family, I worried I might be gaining too much from what was supposedly a selfless act.

What I found once I arrived in Staten Island erased my doubts.

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ASAP Rocky’s Roseland Theater Set Hints At Bright Future

ASAP via New York Times

Cajun Tomato hip-hop correspondent Scott Hesedahl makes his debut with this dispatch about Harlem rapper ASAP Rocky’s Roseland Theater tour stop, which also included indie rap faves Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q.

PORTLAND, Ore. – I am now 0-for-2 in my quest to see Detroit MC Danny Brown perform – despite having tickets to both shows – though I assure you it had nothing to do with me “smoking blunt after blunt after blunt after blunt.”

There were, however, many blunts blazed during the sold-out ASAP Rocky/Schoolboy Q/Danny Brown show Monday night at Roseland Theater, during which I realized my assertion the kids these days are getting soft may not always hold water. More on that later.

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Alabama Shakes Wow Subterranean Crowd In Chicago

NOTE: The Cajun Tomato is invading the Midwest today, in the form of an Alabama Shakes concert review from correspondent Brett Schweinberg.

Twice during the Alabama Shakes’ show earlier this month at Chicago’s Subterranean I covered my ears. It had nothing to do with Brittany Howard’s wailing vocals or the sound emitting from the quartet’s instruments. Both times I shielded my ears the crowd of around 375 overwhelmed the P.A. system with their cheers.

The Athens, Alabama, southern rock revivalists were scheduled to play Lollapalooza before a thunderstorm wiped out their set. They will return to the Windy City to play the 2,500-seat Riviera in December.

The band’s Sept. 11 set at Subterranean required patience – people lined up as early as noon – and a willingness to skirt work responsibilities. But it was worth it.

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A Checkpoint For The Fringe NOLA Crowd

Laura McKnight's stomping grounds

NOTE: I incorrectly labeled Laura McKnight’s post on the Hubig’s Pies fire as her Cajun Tomato writing debut. It was not. I glanced through my archives and neglected this post that originally ran March 20, 2011. When I switched host servers earlier this year the link to this Checkpoint Charlie’s ode was broken, and the post disappeared from the site. Here it is again in all its glory.

By Laura McKnight
Cajun Tomato Correspondent

NEW ORLEANS – As I scribble the notes for this, my heart is working overtime trying to pump greasy beef through my veins. The Cajun Burger from my Laundromat is delicious, but loaded with grease. It’s the kind of grease that trickles out of the meat patty with each bite and dribbles onto jean shorts, staining them.

At this Laundromat, which also happens to be a bar, I could probably just take my shorts off, throw them in the nearest washing machine and chill in my panties with few stares, much less objections. One of my college professors told me he spent part of a rainy Mardi Gras here, buck naked, waiting for clothes to dry.

Stains aside, that burger did nothing good for my physical constitution. Likewise, spending regular laundry sessions at this place, known as Checkpoint Charlie’s, is likely not advisable for healthy living. But it’s fun and my clothes need washing, so I come here anyway. That’s how we roll here in South Louisiana.

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Grieving Pies I Never Ate: Reflections On The Fiery Loss Of Hubig’s Pies

Smoke yo sorrows away!

NOTE: It’s an exciting day on this site. The Olympics have started … I mean, my friend Laura McKnight penned her first piece for this site, and it’s a good one. Laura wrote about New Orleans institution Hubig’s Pies burning down in the early morning hours on Friday near her house. She also provided photos. Talented lady, that Laura McKnight.

I’m a pretty big fan of most South Louisiana specialties – crawfish, Abita beer, Zapp’s potato chips, king cake, Bourgeois beef jerky, etc., etc. – but there are a few things that make me feel like a traitor to my roots: I rather my coffee without chicory, I’m ambivalent about oysters, and I’m pretty sure I have never in my life eaten a sugar-glazed Hubig’s Pie.

That’s right. I have never eaten a Hubig’s Pie, not even with the factory sitting on the next block from my house. I walk past that factory almost every day, often multiple times a day, sometimes catching a whiff of fried sweetness in the air, and I have not tasted one. They just never tempted me, not even with the happy little baker man smiling at me from the front of the bags.

So I don’t even know if I like Hubig’s Pies. But I like the idea of Hubig’s Pies. I dig the happy retro logo, I dig the fried-ness, and I really like living on a block nestled between a cheerful pie factory and the Lost Love Lounge. There’s a metaphor for my life somewhere in that.

A little background for the unfamiliar, and some would say unfortunate: Hubig’s is one of those uniquely New Orleans/South Louisiana icons like K&B, Mr. Bingle, the Special Man on the Frankie and Johnny’s commercials. Hubig’s history in New Orleans goes back to 1921, the factory on Dauphine Street to 1924. Flappers were eating these pies while doing the Charleston.

And like anything uniquely New Orleans, especially anything retro that can be screen-printed onto a T-shirt or made into a group Mardi Gras costume, Hubig’s has a fiercely loyal following. I mean diehard fierce, as in this fire at the pie factory is nothing short of a catastrophe.

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Goodbye, Girls: A Jersey Boy Picks Their Best Songs

Christopher Owens and his dirty hair

Today’s both a momentous and sad day. My friend Lloyd is making his blog debut, an event I never thought I would see. And, of course, there’s the news about Girls. Take it away, Lloyd!

Leave it to Girls to break your heart on a Monday morning.

Girls frontman and chief songwriter Christopher Owens announced today on Twitter that he’s leaving the band.

Dear all, This may come as a surprise to many & has been an issue of much thought for me. My decision was not easy to make. I am leaving Girls. My reasons at this time are personal. I need to do this in order to progress. I will continue to write & record music. More will be announced soon. I thank you all for everything. Sincerely–Christopher

Girls leaves behind two stellar albums, 2011’s Father, Son and Holy Ghost and 2009’s Album as well as 2010’s Broken Dreams Club EP.

And as one should do at the end of every great relationship, it’s time to look back at the Top 5 – how it started, where it got great, when it got weird, and how we said goodbye.

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LSU Loss Brings Odd Sense of Closure, Relief: A Fan’s Take

NOTE: My good friend and former lafootballguys.com co-conspirator Jordy Pujol wrote this piece about life as an LSU football fan during the Jordan Jefferson/Jarrett Lee error. The future, thanfully, looks brighter. You will enjoy this piece. I know I did.

The dust has settled.

A malevolent whirlwind of images and media spin and emotions has mercifully come to a stop. We, as battle-tested Tiger fans, survey the damage. Crimson confetti adorns the once hallowed ground of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Bama fans, in their callow, unsophisticated glory, taunt us with cries of “ROLL TIDE!!!,” but we hear and feel nothing. There is only sadness, only regret, only a modicum of pride still wheezing and panting and insecurely hissing, “congrats on the season split!”

We are a beaten people.

Our Glorious Leader, Les Miles, harbinger of chagrin, waxes philosophical from the mountaintop. Jarrett Lee could not sustain the pass rush, he says. We disagree and accuse him of high treachery, but in the end we forgive him like always. He is the innocent fool, blessed and cursed to win in unprecedented numbers while simultaneously being denounced by most of his followers.

His gameplans confuse and infuriate us, yet we accept them because of the legendary Luck of the Hatter. We remember Arizona State ’05, Notre Dame ’07, Florida ’07, Arkansas ’09, Tennessee ’10, Florida ’10, Alabama ’10, and Alabama ’11 (Part 1). This diminishes the sting of Georgia ’05, Kentucky ’07, Ole Miss ’09, and Alabama ’11 (Part 2).

With the images of the BCS National Championship burned into the backs of our eyelids in 1080p High Definition, we surprisingly breathe a collective sigh of relief. Bama fans won’t get it. Florida fans couldn’t understand it. Ole Miss fans wish they had a similar problem. We are relieved to be rid of a unique situation that has divided and conquered a fanbase.

Here’s where it gets weird.

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