do you know what it means to miss new orleans? that's how the old line goes in a song sung by many. well, i know harry connick, jr. sang it but not sure if he originated or not. if he did, then way to go harry, i like that song. anyway, karen got us tickets to see harry at the cobb energy performing arts center (stunning name, i know) earlier this week. he has a new christmas album out which he was promoting. the holiday songs were fine (don't get me wrong, i like a good christmas tune like anyone else but as he mentioned during the concert, it does tend to get a little nauseating after a while, particularly some of the pop songs) but his jazz/blues/etc. pieces were great. i would say almost half of the concert was non-holiday music, including a little jambalaya ("crawfish pie, file gumbo") and a mardi gras piece at the end ("if you go to new orleans, you oughtta go see the mardi gras ..."). check out karen's blog for a more complete description. and yes, i agree that the concert at chastain a few years ago was one of the tops.
all that brings up the question, do you know what it means to miss new orleans? i actually do miss new orleans, having gone to college there. of course i don't want to romanticize the city too much. sure, there was a lot of crime (note these reflections are from the early '90's when i was there), lots of corruption and poverty. there was a particular stench that would roll in off the swamps a couple of times a week and give the city the smell of an outhouse. the humidity was at times unbearable. i remember the first time i ever visited. it was late august, a week before orientation (yes, i decided to go there without ever visiting! that's another story.), probably 8 pm or even later. i slid open the door to the dodge caravan and whoosh! a suffocating cloud of atmosphere invaded us and i thought i was going to pass out. kinda like houston from what i hear and it's not like it doesn't get humid in atlanta but new orleans is at another level. in addition, the city's kinda dirty and covered with potholes.
i guess those are some of the things that gives the city character. and in a weird way you kinda miss those things (okay, not the crime and poverty but you know what i mean!) ... although i probably miss the times as much as the actual things. i mean, i don't really miss getting sweaty walking a few hundred feet to class at 8 in the morning! but i do miss the people, the accents, all the great music--so much great music both big names and small, the streets lined with trees and spanish moss, the mississippi river (one of the first things i did when i got to tulane was to put my foot into the mississippi like ol' sam clemens might have done years ago), weekly crawfish boils, cheap po' boys and all the glorious food including $5 all-you-can-eat fried chicken and red beans and rice with sausage on mondays at dunbar's (!!!), mardi gras parades and mardi gras music (i love mardi gras music), streetcars, hanging out at the levee (but with my ford mustang, not a chevy) and yes, even the french quarter, beignets at the cafe du monde, and so many other things. i miss those beignets. we even got some once at a cafe du monde in a mall in nearby metairie but they weren't the same as the one in the quarter. i haven't been back since katrina and i heard things are still a bit depressing there although better. hopefully we'll be back sooner than later.