Lo and Behold

... the diary of one Chicago guy pointing his car South and traveling to New Orleans to work, gut homes and not mess up the recovery efforts in New Orleans USA April 2006 ...

Name:
Location: shivering

Please check out mark-guarino.com or wordpreserve.com.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday afternoon

Just returned from the jazz festival. The largest crowd ever. I can't say it was fun. I kept thinking that most of these people are here in support of the New Orleans economy and that's good, but really, it's about that venerable American tradition of marathon drinking, acting rude and wearing stupid clothes. Lots of fat old craggy men wearing fanny packs, Hawaiian shirts and panama hats — not a good look. One T-shirt read something like (I'm paraphrasing) "I went to New Orleans and all I got was this stupid T-shirt, a plasma TV and a Cadillac." Another read "C'est Levee." Cute but regrettable that a terrible disaster -- out of sight and out of mind for most Americans -- is whittled down that way. As if people need to be dumber.

So I can't say the festival left me skipping.

This has been a life changing experience. I plan to return in some fashion, to gut more homes. Maybe not for Habitat but for a church here. Many are running programs just like Habitat but out of general public eye. It seems that to return to the monotony of daily life is a cop-out of some slight sort. Not that any additional work will make me feel I'm making a difference but it will serve as just this: to not forget.

I'll write more later, but first, here are some photos of the day.

The festival is located in a neighborhood called St. John's Bayou. It is quiet, peaceful with many beautiful little cottages peppering a bayou. I've spent a lot of time here just walking along the bayou. It's serene.
I saw a fish jump in and out of the water — guys like this one were throwing their lines.
The homes are intoxicating.
This reads "Keep the bayou beautiful."

Inside the fairgrounds, while waiting for Elvis Costello, the crowd went into an uproar. I looked around trying to figure out why. Then I saw it. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a plane with a banner that reads "Impeach Bush!'
This may have been the only banner advertising that received a standing ovation from the people in the seats. And in a red state, too.

For those of you reading in Chicago, I ran into this familar and friendly face:

It's Bill FitzGerald, owner of the live music club of the same name in Berwyn. Bill is driving back tonight. In July, his annual American Music Festival will celebrate its 25th year, a great Chicago tradition and definitely the best festival of the summer. A miniature New Orleans jazz festival -- many of the same artists but without as many people. Kudos to him for sporting the Robbie Fulks tee, too.

I also ran into this famous face, but it was on the Trinitron.
Elvis Costello with Allen Toussaint, the great New Orleans producer, arranger and songwriter. While it was fun to hear them perform together, the crowd was terrible. So I retreated with my sidekick, 14-year-old Kenneth, and we checked out the Meters and other stuff on the smaller stages. Which included DL Menard, the great Cajun musician, songwriter and singer, considered the Hank Williams of cajun music.
Cajun music is music that is both happy and sad at the same time. A waltz beat with a guy in backwoods French, wailing about lost love. Makes perfect sense to me.

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