Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day Five

You can cut the humidity with a knife right now in New Orleans. It is humid 24 hours a day. The air is heavy and hot. And I love it!

I am one of those strange folks who adjusted to Southern humidity pretty easily. I never minded it. New Orleans offers enough opportunities to get out of the humidity—the businesses and restaurants compete with each other it seems to see which is “colder” in the summer. But whether I’m on an early morning walk to Satsuma or a late night stroll down Frenchman, I can count on the heavy humidity. It truly is a sign that I am home.

After five days with my daughter, I fully realize how similar we are. She has a dry, emotionless expression when she talks in sarcastic tones. She hides her sarcasm well. She also has a difficult time expressing herself emotionally. It seems like a “task” to show her emotions, even small ones, to me. Yet, when it comes to interacting with people, she’s a charmer. She speaks well, she has a vibrant smile, and she pays relative attention to conversations. She enjoys walks—alone. She appreciates the arts, and participates in them as much as she can. She likes being around people, but she also equally likes being by herself. I expect to learn more about her over the next week, but I pretty much already know her—she is me. And I am her.

My day at UNO was once again rewarding. They are going through so many cuts right now, and I heard that the University may lay-off even more faculty and staff before September 1. There is a cloud of depression in the Sociology Department. These are dark days for higher education in New Orleans and in Louisiana. But the fact that I can hire my former students as adjuncts does make an opportunity for some happiness within the Department. I always enjoyed the sense of family within the Department. They provided for me a great job while I was in New Orleans. I will always be grateful to them for this.

I have hired two of my former students to be adjuncts for me. I cannot tell you how rewarding this is for me. They are excellent students and scholars, and I am so very proud of them. Elise was my graduate student—she helped me through Statistics at UNO. In this very small world we live in here in New Orleans, her sister Henna was my next door neighbor as well. I never knew this until I saw her across the street from our house in Broadmoor visiting her sister. We both were very surprised. She is going to help me with the Environmental Sociology course. With the oil catastrophe so current and close, I can anticipate her using many contemporary sources as examples in the course.

The other student I hired was Ashley. She took one of my classes during her first year at UNO. I believe it was 2004. She must have been impressed with all of us in UNO Sociology because she just graduated with her Master’s in Sociology. She was one of my best students. She not only got all her work done, but she wrote with a strong critical voice. I enjoyed reading her writings. I am very happy that she not only received her Master’s but also that she will be teaching for me. I am also very proud of her. She has achieved so much over the past few years.

Once I complete my work at UNO, I get a call from Cece to pick her up. It seems that Zack has taken all the photo equipment with him, and the interviews they all plan to start must wait one more day. As I travel back through the CBD, I see Anderson Cooper strolling down Camp Street at a brisk pace. Cece doesn’t believe that I’ve seen Anderson, so I turn around and we both see him as he saunters past Poydras Street. He must be here covering the oil catastrophe. I haven’t been watching the news at all since leaving Killeen on Saturday, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was here for work and not pleasure. He is a great advocate of the Gulf Coast—he must be anguishing as much as all of us about this oil spill.

Today, I get to treat Cece to a Hansen’s Snowball. Over all the years, she has never had one. I’m not sure where she’s had her snowballs before, but I am SURE she will never experience one like this ever again. I love Hansen’s—they are originals. And once you’ve had one of their Snowballs, you won’t look at “snow-cones” the same again. I recommend the Hot Rod. Cece orders hers with a chocolate scoop and with cherry syrup. I order my usual Hot Rod with vanilla and covered in Nectar. Nothing better to cut the heat and humidity of New Orleans. The line is long, the air is hot, but we will all gladly wait for our Hansen’s—the reward is great in the end. Cece loves her Hot Rod, and I know we’ll be back there at least one more time before the end of our trip.

Our next venture is to Dirty Coast t-shirts on Magazine. I’ve got way too many t-shirts, as my wife Susan can attest to. In fact, I’m in the process of sending many to Goodwill. But I know there are at least “two” that I need from Dirty Coast. I’m also looking for some shirts for Devin as he starts 1st Grade in a few weeks. He’s gotta represent! It’s nice to see Patrick at the store, and we all agree on meeting up at Lucy’s in the CBD this Saturday night to see Rotary Downs. I find the t-shirts I’m looking for—a new WWOZ t-shirt, and the anti-BP t-shirt. Cece chooses these as well, but also picks up the great “Beauty of Entropy” shirt. This is one of Caitlin and Susan’s favorites too. With these new purchases, we go exploring on this end of Magazine street for the rest of the afternoon. Cece loves the boutiques, and I love the St. Joseph Bar, but St. Joe’s isn’t open, so I find myself going into the toy store in search of Legos!

This is perhaps our most casual afternoon of this trip. We have settled into a routine during the day. Work, and then leisurely walks. We usually have “plans” for the evening, but they aren’t written in stone. Today would be no different—our initial plans call for a night at the Candlelight Lounge in the Treme, but I am still hesitant to take Cece out into the late night (the show doesn’t start until 10), so when I get a call from my friend Cindy that she’s playing at a blues club in Metairie, I convince Cece that we should go. But this ultimately turns into a bust, and we head back to Frenchman Street. Still early, we are able to catch a latin-jazz band at Maison, and we stay for the funk band that follows it. I get an email from Lynn Drury about her show at the Bayou Blues Bar on Jefferson Davis, and Cece and I again wander to see music outside of the Quarter and Frenchman.

Lynn Drury is one of the most talented singer-songwriters in the country. She is also the most underappreciated. Perhaps it’s because she performs a “folk-country” type of music in a city known for Jazz, Funk and R&B. I’ve always thought she would be better musically suited in a city like Austin, Nashville, or Memphis. But I have a hunch that New Orleans has as strong of an influence on her identity as it does for many of us, and the thought of leaving is just out of the question. Still, she confides that she may return to Italy to tour with her friends there, and I cannot honestly see why she doesn’t go ahead and do that. I still hope someone will “discover” her and turn her into the recording star she deserves to be. It is so sad to know that her talent is being missed by so many people.

It’s a work night, so we get home at a reasonable hour. I am enjoying these days with Cece and New Orleans. I am happy to be home.

Our agenda for today includes sneaking in at Tales of the Cocktail, and perhaps a late-night burlesque show at the Big Top. We shall see. Oh, and I’ll be on the air at WWOZ from 4-7 with Jazz from the French Market! It’s all good!

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