OK. While I was in college, I became hooked on MTV's pseudo-reality show "The Real World." I craved the days when I could just sit on the sofa and watch "The Real World" marathons. It was a sick, sick, sick pastime, but better than watching "Days of Our Lives." At least that's how I rationalized my time as a "Real World" junkie.

Here's why I liked the show: empty mind-calories. It didn't matter that I disliked everyone who appeared on it. Those people who volunteered to live with total strangers for a few months in a beautiful house seemed like they had nothing better to do than complain that their lives were difficult. Someone wasn't sharing. Another person was emotionally distant. Personal spaces were being violated. Puck spat in the peanut butter or whatever. Blah, blah, blah. No one admitted that the only reason they wanted to be on the show was to become COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY FAMOUS!

Besides, they got to live in a giant house, didn't have to pay rent, were given the run of whichever city they were in, and didn't really work. These "Real World" cast members would try to have deep conversations with each other that usually ended up as a fight session, and those fight sessions were the sole reason to watch "The Real World."

How would you like to get famous? All you have to do is have some kind of confrontation with your roommates twice daily on cable television and then do something to shock your parents.

Which brings me to my column.

Last season's Real World was the closest I'll come to experiencing New Orleans.

I think watching that show, and eating New Orleans-style cuisine while wearing Mardi Gras beads, will be the only way to snag a taste of the city that is known for its huge, fabulous night of gluttony as well as its rich musical culture and wonderful food. And I just love gluttony, music and food.

This is why I'm glad that Royal Fingerbowl is playing tonight at Ya' Buts.

Royal Fingerbowl is a New Orleans trio that plays a different kind of New Orleans music.

Royal Fingerbowl takes blues, jazz and rock and fuses those elements to make a sound that is absolutely original.

The group's songs aren't particularly rock-out-ish and they don't go too far into jazz. They don't even go too bluesy.

Listening to Royal Fingerbowl's newest CD "Greyhound Afternoons" is a trip because the songs are so weird and off-the-beaten-path that you don't know whether to get out of your seat and dance or to sit, rub your temples and focus on what you're hearing.

This was my thought process while listening to the CD: "Oh yeah baby. . . uh, wait . . . uh, what in the world?! This is sick!" (Sick in a good way, like phat in a good way. If someone says you're sick and phat, take that as a compliment.)

This was before I figured out what the lyrics were.

Royal Fingerbowl's got lyrics that are memorable and clever and all those words that mean interesting. The wit of Fingerbowl's songwriter Alex McMurray is quicker than a woman finding and buying a pair of half-priced Via Spiga shoes at Nordstrom during the annual sale.

My personal favorite: "No man is an island . . . on the other hand, I'm an island."

It's just so unexpected. Just like Royal Fingerbowl.


E-MAIL: lu@desnews.com