Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day Eight

It is 12:30 as I start writing this blog. PM. Early afternoon…. Cece and I had ourselves a time last night, starting off at Lucy’s in the CBD and then closing the night down at the Blue Nile on Frenchman.

Bonnie came and went in a whimper—an insignificant version of what she could have been. The rain that began in the early evening was welcome on a warm summer day, but she would later douse Cece and I on Frenchman Street with the typical summer “opening of the heavens” downpour. I didn’t mind being wet from head to toe. It actually felt great.

Saturday was a nice, leisurely day. Cece was in search of interviews, and I had a few ideas. We started off the day with breakfast at Clover Grill. That is Cece’s favorite place in New Orleans—she has a weakness for their waffles. I love the “kay-rack-ters” that work there, but the staff has noticeably become more tame since the Storm. The food, though, is still top notch. Cece makes reference that we are sitting the very table that Brad Pitt sat in during the scene in Benjamin Button. I point out to her that the scene was completed in a set, not at the Clover Grill. It is a shame that they were not able to film at Clover Grill, but I am not sure why that is the case. I am sure Brad loves him some Clover Grill every once in a while. He lives just up the street.

Our first potential interview takes us back to “Road Kill,” a shop owned by my friend John in the French Quarter. John is not in, though, so we decide we will head out to the Musician’s Village to see if we can catch Bob French or George Ingmire. I take the LONG way to the Musician’s Village—north up Elysian Fields to Gentilly, then past Gentilly to Florida Avenue. I wanted to see how much remediation work had been done on this side of the canal since the storm. Not surprisingly we find that very little has been done. We stop to take some pictures of an abandoned NOFD truck and an NOPD cruiser at the apparently abandoned Central Maintenance Garage in the Industrial District of the Upper Ninth Ward. I can’t imagine these vehicles have been here since Katrina, but then again it wouldn’t surprise me. I will upload these pictures to my flickr site later today (www.flickr.com/banzaibill).

We make it to the Musician’s Village, which Cece has never seen. Bob French is not home, but Smokey Johnson is holding court on his front porch. I see one of the neighborhood kay-rack-ters who I know, David, and we begin to have a pleasant chat with him. David owns the “wild house” on Bartholomew Street—a two house lot with drum sets sitting on poles in the front yard, a big cowboy hat in the garage that looks like it came of a Harry Lee mardi gras float, and a crew of mannequins in the front yard, one of which emulates, he says, his current girlfriend. People are always looking at this collection of artifacts n his yard, and David is always happy to talk with them. He agrees to an interview, and Cece begins to ask the questions.

He stayed in his house during the storm, and after three days of living in a house under 10 feet of water he was evacuated to the Super Dome. Once there, he was put on a bus to Houston, where he remained for a long while until his son picked him up. Like many of us, he found his way back into the city in October 2005. He began repairing the damage to his house, and eventually was compensated by Road Home, FEMA an Insurance money. I would have to classify him as one of the lucky one’s when it came to compensation. He has used the money, though, to fully repair his house and the house next door. He fully admits, though, that the best thing to happen to his neighborhood is the Musician’s Village. It has been the catalyst for the rebuilding and repairing of so many other houses in the neighborhood. He is a wonderful and empathetic person with a smile that never leaves his face, and when it comes to answering the question about Nagin, he ponders a bit and says he never says anything bad about anyone. So he has to think a bit about his response, which finally is the only positive thing I can think of myself—Nagin stayed here throughout the storm.

We say goodbye to David, and head back to the Bywater where we walk throughout the neighborhood to take pictures. So many wonderfully unique homes here, and I realize that this is one neighborhood I could really enjoy living in. On the 900 block of Piety I discovered ANOTHER neighborhood bar—Bud Rip’s. This is a classic neighborhood bar, and it’s only four blocks from where we’re staying. I will be going back to visit this bar during the last week of our stay. Within walking distance of Rhonda’s house we have access to a neighborhood grocery, and great coffee shop, wonderful second-hand stores, a neighborhood bar, and a music shop. Piety Street studios is not far away as well. I would have to walk two miles to get to the closest “anything” in my “neighborhood” in Texas….

After resting up in the afternoon, Cece and I head out to hear Rotary Downs play at Lucy’s in the CBD. On the way there, I get a text message from my friend Sherry that she, her husband Jack, JC and Maggie are heading to a new club opening in the CBD. The club is called “12 Bars” and its named in reference to the 12-bar chords in a blues song. I’m able to walk between both events, and I get a chance to say hello to Maggie and JC at 12 Bars, but ultimately Cece and I find ourselves back at Lucy’s.

Lucy’s is not a place I frequent. I would never recommend it to friends. It has a feel of a Tulane fraternity party. In fact, my friends who DO like Lucy’s graduated from Tulane. They’re having their annual street “lu-owe” party, and other than the stage the street is blocked off with a slip-and-slide and a water slide. Beach balls are flying everywhere, and I somehow imagine I’m at a Jimmy Buffett concert. We meet Blake, Patrick and Jamie there. I discover that Jamie worked at McDonough 15 prior to her current teaching gig in the Upper Ninth Ward (Carver Elementary). She knows Gina and Kaya. New Orleans is such a small town.

Rotary Downs is playing a great set, but Cece and I need a break before we head down to Frenchman Street later in the night. We intend to catch up with Blake, Patrick and Jamie at the Blue Nile. Mike Dillon of Garage-A-Tois fame is playing there tonight, and this is sure to be a great show. After heading home and changing clothes, Cece and I meet the crew at Blue Nile. Between parking the car and getting to the club, Bonnie decides to drench us with the “opening of heavens” downpour…. So much for our changed clothes.

What a set!!! Mike Dillon is on vibes and percussion, and he’s tearing the house apart. He’s backed by a drummer and an electric bass player. Solid percussion, and it is incredible. Dillon is bending the music with a wah-wah, and his “last” piece before the first set break lasts nearly one hour!!! I would love to stay for more, but I see that it’s already past 1am and I am sure we need to get home. Cece and I say our goodbyes.

Needless to say, I got up late today.

We’re about to head out for another day of interviews. Simon is on the agenda. After that, there is no plan. Who plans for anything in New Orleans? Just take whatever she gives you. Yeah you right!

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