Wednesday, January 10, 2007

When I die, you better be second line

I LOVE New Orleans...
as frustrating as it is on a constant basis. They are just so darn polite..."I'm sorry we didn't call you back after the 10 messages you left us, we've been really short staffed. I appreciate your patience sir...." All said with total conviction.

But, really God's genius can be seen on a consistent basis in the presence of Kermit Ruffins. I'm not into drugs, but marijuana can't be that bad if combining it and the trumpet player results in so many, many, many smiles and joy.

Tonight I took a young white liberal woman from my area to the 'hood to see Kermit, despite being a native Louisianan (but growing up in the suburbs-like marriage, "the death of hope") Although she proclaimed to be really disturbed about the 9 murders in 8 days here in NOLA, when I mentioned the area off of St. Bernard Street she started asking the usual "is it safe there? Can you be intimidating to people? Isn't that where all the murders are?", and when she saw the neighborhood as we drove there she became more fearful.

All we have to fear is fear....

Once we arrived at Bullets Sports Bar, the good times began. The BBQ was smokin' right outside, the smell so good I told the chef I was getting fat just sniffin' it. The crowd was 90 percent black, and I realized that in New Orleans EVERYONE is a character. Three young guys pulled up on Superbikes for their share of the fixin's and to check the scene. I started a conversation by noting that one of the 3 was clearly a better rider, a fact I'd ascertained by looking at his tires, they were impressed and said yes indeed the youngest of them was a motorcycle dragracing savant and they regaled me with stories of highway wheelies, and dragracing stories of milliseconds and thundering wobbles. We got into a debate over roadracing v. dragracing, which quickly devolved into the glories of Nitrous and the latest computer shifting schemes, racing on the streets, before one guy humorously explained 'we're young and black, you think we can get a track?" After exchanging info and agreeing to go for a ride later, they headed off and I headed in.

Inside, James Brown was shouting that Papa's got a brand new Bag, and patron's were tappin, smiling and dancing, and this is before the act came on! Once Kermit started, the smiles expanded, the aisles got crowded, and the washboard player literally had sparks flying from his spoons.

Rounds of beers were shared, I learned the wisdom of 71 year old Ray who is a retired plasterer who still smokes and drinks, but lost everything in Katrina and moved to Baton Rouge, but he still comes down to his local when he can. I told him I think there are good people everywhere and he corrected me to say "there are good and bad people everywhere." He also told me, in the only sobering thought of the night that "this is my neighborhood, and I don't know what has happened to it, even I can be afraid walking these streets."

There were birthday salutes, funky hats, and Kermit playing one of my favorites, "when I die, better be second line, Oh when I die, you better be second line" I was wishing my wife was with me so we could dance to the second line, soon, soon...

Before the evening ended, I was licking my fingers with some BBQ and met lifelong Raiders fan John, who used to live in Dorchester. He escorted me to my truck, got my phone number and we agreed to hang out more in the future.

There was more, so much more, as always with the Crescent City, that will never die...

RIP Jimmy Kelly

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Minutes of the City Council, Council Executive Session Minutes become public record afterward according to the Massachusetts Public Records Division

City Council Docket 1454 Executive Session December 6, 2006 Minutes can be requested from the City Clerk by all interested in learning more about the City Council proceedings.