Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Well, that's a relief. There were a few points there where it actually looked like McCrankypants and Alaska's answer to Eva Perron were going to be moving into the Whitehouse. Instead it looks like Smart is back in style in American politics.

Despite the ongoing Katrina diaspora New Orleans remains a majority-black (and majority democrat) city. Even white voters in Orleans Parish voted in a clear majority for Obama, which makes me feel a whole lot better about living here. Outside of our little blue bubble here though, white folks in Louisiana went McCain/Palin by a margin of about nine to one.

For African-Americans in New Orleans it would be hard to overstate the joy and enthusiasm that greeted the Obama victory. I have a couple of Obama t-shirts that I wear occasionally, and my reception in places like, say, the Tulane Health Clinic (where virtually the entire nursing staff is black) has been pretty warm lately. Not that black folks in New Orleans are ever anything less than friendly and welcoming (to me, anyway) but we're talking hugs and kisses from total strangers here. When Darlene and I ducked into the Brooks Brothers store in Canal Place the other day, the saleslady just about squeezed the life out of me.

For some reason I wound up doing a spate of convention gigs right around election time, many with African-American musicians, and while the mood was upbeat and joyous, there was also an aspect of letting ourselves truly feel, for the first time in eight years, how angry we are with the Bush administration and what they've done to this country. The general consensus seems to be that Some Motherfuckers need to be in jail. None of this "move on and let the nation heal" crap like after Watergate. Republicans like to talk about "accountability" and "rule of law." It'd be nice to see some of that applied to them.

As usual in America, race is the Elephant in the Room that nobody wants to talk about (well, nobody white anyway). But in todays Times-Picayune, there's a very interesting and germain article by Alex Mikulich, who's Research Fellow on Race and Poverty at Loyola and author of "Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence."

White people reap disproportionate benefits while people of color bear disproportionate burdens in every sphere of life, including wealth, health, education, criminal justice and employment.

In her study of hiring in several cities, the sociologist Devah Pager reveals that white applicants with a criminal record were just as likely to receive a callback as a black applicant without any criminal history. Despite the fact that white applicants revealed evidence of a felony drug conviction, employers seemed to view this applicant as no more risky than a young black man with no criminal record. The stereotype of black people as criminals persists in the conciousness of white Americans, irrespective of white citizens' self-stated lack of prejudice.

It's the old "I'm not racist, but..." routine.

On the political level this plays out in the numerous instances of IOKIYAR syndrome (It's OK If You're A Republican). Barack Obama's marginal associations with William Ayers and Rev. Wright are big news, but John Mccain's much closer association with domestic terrorist and convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy, and Sarah Palin's husband's membership in the radical-seperatist Alaska Independence Party appear to be viewed quite differently by white republicans. Ms. Palin's gaudy family history is another example. If the Obama's had had a pregnant-out-of-wedlock teenaged daughter about to get married to a mouthy thug in warmup duds and chin whiskers, don't you think we'd be hearing an awful lot about 'dysfunctional black families' right about now?

The next four years are going to be a bumpy ride, one that will make the Clinton era look like high tea at Claridges. There is a substantial constituency of white people in this country who are absolutely infuriated by the thought of a black man in the Whitehouse.

But, on the bright side, I'm no longer embarrassed to be an American. And the music at the Inaugural Ball is going to be killin'.