Monday, July 19, 2010

Day Two

If today represents a normal day, then I have died and gone to heaven.

I love the smell of New Orleans after a fresh rain. It seems that today the rains came down at the appropriate times—keeping things cool and comfortable in these hot summer days. It rained at least three times—the kind of rain where the heavens open up. Cece and I didn’t get caught in it, but we enjoyed the after-effects of the rain. Today was a beautiful day, and I am enjoying the “normality” of stepping right back into my New Orleans life.

I started my day at Satsuma, a local coffee-shop here in the Marigny. A very nice place, I probably will settle in there for the next many days. I enjoyed people watching there, but my work will keep me focused until I make it up to UNO later today. The coffee is pretty good too.

Cece and I started our day with Susan’s art ( Our first stop was Simon’s shop on Jackson and Magazine to see if his wife Maria would like to display two of Susan’s big pieces. We thought they would fit in with Simon’s motif, but Maria’s side of the shop just isn’t the right place for Susan’s colorful pieces. I fully understood this, so we packed up the pieces and headed down to the Quarter to drop off 10 large and small pieces at Pop-City. Just as I was parking, Simon calls me back and lets me know that someone was in his shop who had an interest in purchasing Susan’s two big pieces. Apparently, there is a new Home Decorating store going into the old Hollywood Video on Magazine, and the new buyer was intrigued with the idea of putting local art in the display. With this news, I head out of the Quarter back to Simon’s shop.

I amaze myself sometimes at how well I know how to get around in this city. I pretty much know where to and where not to drive. It doesn’t’ take me too long to get from the Quarter to Uptown—though at times street-closings throw me for a loop. It takes me about 10 minutes to get back to Simon’s shop, and the buyer for the Home Decorating store falls in love with Susan’s two large pieces. Her name is Andrea, and she will put Susan’s art in the new store, which opens on August 6, on display for sale. Susan now has another art connection in the city, and I know this is going to make her very happy. I have spent the better part of the last hour driving to and from different parts of the city, but in the end it is all worth it.

With that first task complete, Cece and I head back to the Quarter where we drop off about 10 small art pieces by Susan at Pop-City. Cece has her eye on some clothes there, and as she tries on what she likes, I head out into the Quarter for a walk. A lazy Sunday afternoon in the Quarter.

The city is being invaded by a Lutheran Youth convention this weekend. Many young people with florescent green shirts and backpacks are all over the Quarter. The backpacks say “I Believe” and if they weren’t florescent green, you would think they were all rooting for the Saints! The idea of what these kids and their parents are doing in New Orleans brings a smile to my face. Oh, the possibilities. I would love to do some research in Strip Clubs to see if there are any florescent green t-shirt clad “parents” in those places. Of course, I am sure none of the folks found their way to strip clubs or bars in our fair city….

Once back at Pop-City, Cece has settled on her new ensemble. A nice outfit, too. It has been far too long where I’ve spent money on my daughter. Though she wants to pay me back, I have now bought her an outfit and new shoes. We need to go out this week so she can show off all her new stuff. Not that I’m not eyeing some things to buy myself. I know I need Trombone Shorty’s new cd, and I’ve seen the Harley Davidson shirt I’ve been looking for at the Harley store in the Quarter.

We meet a young man named “Parker” who is hitch-hiking across the country interviewing people on their reactions to the BP oil spill. He and his friend Ryan are from Oregon, and he is hurt and concerned about this epic catastrophe. His web-site is He has found various reactions to the oil spill. In his native Oregon, people are disturbed. In Arizona and Texas (Houston in particular), people tend to have a laizze-faire attitude, at best. In the latter two areas, people are wed to their cars and really aren’t concerned with anything that will raise their gas prices or deny them the opportunity to drive. I can tell in his face he was disturbed by these interviews, and it only makes me feel more strongly that we are on our own, once again, in the Gulf. It also adds a second day where I question how our society will survive if we don’t get our heads out of the sand on major social, economic and political issues. It is truly sad how self-centered and individualist our society has become, and this will ultimately destroy this country. Parker seems like a great person to be doing these road interviews, and I will follow his work for the rest of the summer.

Once back on the streets in the Quarter, we avoid the long lines of florescent green folks and head up to Chartres Street. It is ironic how tourists have only two streets they venture when in the Quarter—St. Peter’s/Decatur Street, and Bourbon Street. I rarely find myself on Bourbon Street, but I know today I will eventually make my way to the Red Fish Grille for my “traditional” plate of barbeque oysters (which at this moment I was hoping they would have) and one of the most perfect Sazeracs in the city. On this leg of our journey, we are headed to the Gallery of Fine Photography. Cece has a strong interest in photography, and I know she will be impressed by the work displayed here.

The Gallery is located on the corner of Chartres and Bienville. I’ve always enjoyed spending time in this Gallery—but the last time I was here was before the Storm. I would spend some of my lunch-times in the Quarter, and this is one place I would go to. I love the Herman Leonard pieces, but I am once again re-acquainted with the Ansel Adams pieces, among others. The current display is of Rock and Roll artists, and though it seems the presentation is a bit small, I still enjoy seeing the portraits and concert stills on display. Cece is a bit “disturbed” by the perverted shop-keeper who stalks her in the store (follows her upstairs and then proceeds to ask her some personal questions). I don’t find out about this until we are back on the streets heading to the Red Fish, but I continue to discover that people view Cece as an adult well beyond her 16-years. Unfortunately, this experience may well mark my view of the Gallery in the future.

As we head up Iberville to Bourbon Street, I notice that Acme AND Felix’s are open! The only thing that is unusual about the sight is that Acme does not have ANY line to get in. I have never seen an empty que at Acme. I don’t look inside to see if they have oysters—I imagine they do. But I speculate that visitors are perhaps not interested in eating oysters they believe might be tainted with oil. Still, it is good to see these two restaurants open. I will get down to Felix’s later today for a half-dozen.

Ah, the Red Fish Grille. I love their Barbeque Oysters. I first fell in love with this delicacy when Red Fish sold Barbeque Oyster po-boys at the Jazz Fest. I would venture down to the Quarter during my lunch-times just for these delights! And today would be no different. I ask for a table with Ike, and lucky for me he is working today.

Now, if you follow the series Treme, you will recognize Ike as one of the cab-drivers who has a difficult time getting a straight fare from Antoine Batiste. Ike is in the first episode, though not the first cabbie to face this dilemma with Batiste. As I remember it, Batiste stiffs the cabbie for $6, promising to pay him back. Ike seems to be Batiste’s favorite cabbie because he ends up in Ike’s cab three times in the series. In the final episode, Ike is on the street watching Damon’s second line. Ike asks someone “Who died?” of which there is just a shrug of the shoulders. When we have the chance, we honor and celebrate the passing of everyone in this city, even if we don’t know them. As the band disembarks, the camera pans to a scene with Ike and Antoine laughing together—but you can tell they are arguing about that $6! We don’t hear the discussion, but you can tell on their faces that is what they are talking about. Classic scene.

Ike is a waiter at Red Fish Grille. He is a great person, has a great New Orleans accent, and treats everyone as if they were his family. Susan and I first met him before the Treme series. When we saw him on the tv screen, we were floored. It is good to be at his table today, and I ask him about the Second Season. Just like the “bad cop” I met the day before, Ike has been signed on for the Second Season. I imagine he will continue to be Batiste’s favorite cabby, and I do believe he will be short changed many more times on the screen.

I order a half-dozen of the Barbeque Oysters, and just to add to this I also order the Barbeque Oyster po-boy. And, of course, I order a Sazerac! Cece tries one of the oysters, but she does not like it. Not surprising—she pretty much eats like a bird and I wonder how the hell she stays alive. But that means more for me, and I gladly enjoy all the oysters to myself. Cece has the shrimp-bacon wrap, which she actually enjoys and eats. Ike is at other tables now, and I am not the only person who recognizes him from Treme. One person asks for a picture with him. It’s all good!

Once finished with this late lunch, Cece and I head back into the Quarter to the car to get my cds. I will be subbing today for the 4-6 show on WWOZ, and I am honestly looking forward to this. Many of us have multiple levels of identities within us—different roles we play that come to the surface in different situations. Sociologically, we call these “nested identities” and they range for me from Professor, to Father, to Husband, to Harley dude, to WWOZ personality! When I’m in New Orleans, I am never far from the WWOZ self. And, honestly, it is one of those identities I miss assuming the most.

With cds in hand, we head to WWOZ, where Cousin Dimitri greets us hurriedly at the station door. Traditional Blues cuts average about 2 minutes in length, and that’s about as much time Dimitri has to drop what he’s doing and travel two flights of stairs down to let me in the station. I’m “early”, as I always am—I’ve got 30 minutes to put my show together.

Once on the air it is like riding a bicycle—you never forget what to do. From the first sign-on, I feel like I have never left the station. Calls start coming in. People who used to listen to my shows, asking me how I’m doing, if I’ve moved back, and where are we living now. Friends begin to text me, Susan texts me to say hello to Devin on the air. I enjoy spinning great classic cuts, and I love putting Cece on the air with me so we can go back and forth like we used to. She informs me that it’s been 5 years since she’s really been on one of my shows. July 2005—my last Monday show before the storm. Right after the show, I took her and David back to their mother’s in Houston. They were supposed to be back with me the next weekend, but Katrina got in the way…. During the last show, Cece was 11 years old. She is so much more a woman today than a little girl, and I am going to enjoy chatting with her this Thursday on my next show. I hear from Susan that Devin enjoyed hearing me on the air. I also hear that my dog Stella was a bit confused hearing my voice come out of the stereo!

I cannot thank Dwayne and WWOZ enough for finding me some slots to sub on while I’m in town. This really means so much to me to be back on the air. It doesn’t take long before this Sunday show is over (as opposed to Blues cuts, Classic Jazz cuts average about 7 minutes and I end up playing less than 15 cuts for the whole two hours). I get a text from my friend JC about a party at Jared’s house. After the show, Cece and I are on our way to Mid-City.

Jared produces the Bayou Boogaloo, among other things. He is young and energetic, and he is, in my opinion, only one year away from producing a “profitable” Boogaloo. The party is already in full force when we get there, but it’s a family-friendly party. Jared has a wonderful family, and Cece gets along immediately with Jared’s daughter Lauren who is 10. Lauren actually reminds me a bit of Devin—bright, happy, and very clingy to daddy. Jared invites everyone to see his new house he’s building near the Fairgrounds in Mid-City. And what a house it is. From it’s bright green exterior to it’s height, it is a grand structure build to Green Standards. I am sure Jared and Jen will be there for many years. I’m looking forward to seeing it when its finally complete in September.

On the way over my friend JC exclaims “You know what? The Saints won the Super Bowl for the 20th time this week!!! Amazing, isn’t it!!!” Now, this seems like an inside joke, but JC has done exactly what I’ve done for the past many months—he has watched the Super Bowl game over and over again. In fact, I just watched it again last weekend, and I knew exactly what JC was talking about because I’ve probably watched it myself 20 times!!! We both discussed how, even with knowing the outcome, the 4th Quarter still is suspenseful. You don’t want Payton Manning with the ball down one touchdown in the 4th Quarter. The pick by Tracy Porter is classic and timely. And it still sends chills up and down my arms!!!

The Saints WIN!!! Again!!!

After the party, Cece and I head to Rouses to make groceries. What a normal way to end the day. We’ve got lunches and dinners set for the rest of the week, and though I may not be cooking like I usually do here at Rhonda’s house, I feel like I’ll get a chance to cook somewhere before we leave in two weeks.

On the agenda for Monday is Cece’s first day at the internship, and me going to UNO to interview folks who will be teaching online for me next semester. I’ll be on campus in the mornings for the next three days. I’m looking forward to that as well.

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