Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Eleven

New Orleans has a way of forgiving people who turn in at 3:00 in the morning. It’s relative neglect for time follows one to the next day where “being late” is acceptable at least once a week. Sometimes, we find that “not coming to work” is acceptable every once in a while as well. I love New Orleans for this. Last night was one of those nights where I would like to use my “being late” cards today.

Tuesdays in New Orleans are slow, and yesterday was no exception. The city is full of locals—the tourists are few and the neon-green t-shirt clad Lutherans are long gone. A bit of excitement takes place in the neighborhood early in the morning—police cars race through the neighborhood at 8am and I know that this means trouble. Sure enough—reading the morning news online, I discover that there has been a murder in our neighborhood just five blocks down the street. It is a drug related murder. I am surprised at how “ho-hum” I actually take the news when I find out. This is New Orleans, I rationalize.

Cece and I start the day at work, and by noon we find ourselves reconnecting to conduct interviews and to catch up with Allen and Jacob. We decide to direct Allen and Jacob to lunch at Domilise’s—one of the best po-boy shops in the city. Parkway Tavern and Domilise’s are my favorite places, but Parkway is closed on Tuesdays (for some unknown reason). I am the only person who does not order a shrimp poboy—I choose the incredible roast beef poboy, smothered in may-o-naze and debris. I save a good part of it for lunch later in the week.

Next, we head to Hansen’s for Allen and Jacob’s first bona-fide New Orleans snowball. We are there at 1pm (opening) and the line is already out the door. This is my second visit to Hansen’s, and I am sure it is not my last on this trip. Today, Ashley is there with her sincere “sweet as sugar pie” smile. If there is a nicer person in the whole world, I would like to know. Her wonderful energy is contagious. Cece secures an interview with Ashley for Wednesday, and we order our round of Hansen’s Hot Rod’s.

Allen and Jacob find themselves in heaven, and I am happy that I have led new people to an insider’s paradise. There aren’t many tourists on this side of town—Hansen’s, though, is an institution and will attract the tourists through word-of-mouth. Allen and Jacob thank me for this bit of insider New Orleans, and they head out of town with Hot Rod’s in hand back to Texas.

Cece and I continue with the afternoon running some errands. The evening will be filled with an interview with my friend Kaya, and then Zephyr baseball with Jason. I get a call from Lynn Drury that she wants us to see her new apartment in the Bywater. Her tone informs me that she really wants us to see her new apartment, and I promise to call her when we get back from baseball.

Kaya works at McDonough 15. She is one of their music teachers. She shows us her room, which is set up as a small stage with seating and lighting in a cabaret style. She is very proud of the work she has done with her room, and I get an idea that my students in Texas could be part of this school with their service work next summer. Cece completes the interview, and then after our goodbyes we are on our way to Metairie to pick up Jason for the baseball game.

Cece informs me of how much the Zephyrs game reminds her of times we had together in New Orleans prior to the storm. Of all the things that she says that spark her pre-Katrina memories of us, this one touches my heart the most. I am glad I was successful in turning something I love so much—baseball—into a wonderful memory for her. Over the years, I have had lots of fun with all the kids taking them to baseball games. I am glad it is a time full of memories for all of them.

Jason and I talk baseball during the whole game. He has become more than a good player—he has become a true fan of the game. He knows the history and the strategy. He knows the passion as well. He admires players who play with all their hearts, and has a disdain for those who don’t take the game seriously. Jason plans to walk-on this year at UNO, and I truly believe he can make the team. I hope to see him play next year for UNO—I will travel to his road games if he does make the team.

The game is a pitcher’s duel, and the Z’s win 1-to-nothing in a game that takes just two hours to play. I don’t believe I’ve ever witnessed such a short game. But it turns out to be a great time with Jason. I am very happy I got the chance to see him today.

On the way to the house, I call Lynn to let her know we would like to come by and see her. It’s not late, due to the short game, and we finally connect at 10:30 to go see her new apartment.

She lives in the “new” Artist’s Lofts in the Bywater. I am not sure who put this site together, but it is one of the best conceptual living and art spaces I have ever seen. It can be a significant housing anchor for the area, and it provides real affordable housing for the kind of people New Orleans needs to attract and retain as it recovers after Katrina. Lynn has every right to be proud of her new space. The artists all feed off of each other—the passion for their work motivates others to be creative. It is a safe and secure sight, with lots of space for collaboration and the use of shared resources. There needs to be more housing like this in New Orleans. I need to find out more about this space.

Cece eventually falls asleep in the living room, and as Lynn and I talk about her upcoming recording and tour, she begins to make cookies for us. It is nearly 3am, and once the cookies are finished I realize that Cece and I must get back home.

This is our longest night out, but one that is worth every moment. I am happy that Lynn finds herself in such a creative venue, and I hope that she can use the energy of this site to further her career.

In New Orleans, a night that lasts to 3am is not too unusual, even for the early week. I am glad I didn’t drink during the night—I know that all I will be suffering from on Wednesday will be a bit of fatigue.

We have another day full of interviews today. Hopefully, I’ll find the time for a nap too!

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