Take Me Back to New Orleans

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I got a little choked up finally watching the pilot of Treme last night.

It wasn’t when the Mardi Gras Indian chief walks into his flood-destroyed house for the first time and his shoulders fall like my best friend collapsed in sobs on the sidewalk after she’d broken down the swollen wooden door to her apartment in late 2005. It wasn’t when the restaurant owner tries to take a shower in the morning but can’t get water pressure, just like I had to turn my faucet on half an hour before I could splash around in just a few inches of water in my cast iron tub, even in the spring of 2006. It was actually when the fiery professor played by John Goodman says he won’t eat lemon ice until Brocato’s opens. It’s apparently a very emotional subject for me, gelato. Angelo Brocato’s was right by where I lived, and if you ever had this gelato, you might almost cry too.

The reason I was catching up on Treme, besides its general awesomeness, is that I’m on my way to New Orleans on assignment today. I don’t know that there is an emoticon or number of exclamation points that would adequately express my excitement about posting from the Crescent City. I’ll be talking with exploited strippers, heroic and besieged public defenders, the guy who plays the bicycle-rickshaw driver in upcoming episodes of Treme. I’ll revisit the restoration situation of the key public university, my alma mater, the University of New Orleans (hint: it’s not good). Don’t be surprised by a drunken, guiltily post about what a pussy I feel like for frantically moving, in the summer of 2006, right before the first post-Katrina hurricane season started. All while possibly puking up gas fumes! How thrilling! Fingers crossed for a trip to an oyster reef covered in BP’s leaking crude. A friend of mine suggested some weekend kayaking, to which I responded that if he could locate some oil-befouled sensitive marsh or wetland area in Plaquemines Parish, that’d be perfect.

“We can’t just go to a [clean] swamp and have a nice time?” he asked.

Nope.

So I’ve packed for most of the rest of May. When I was getting things together, my friend the kayak enthusiast warned me that the sky was completely black, with super dense and dark cloud cover but not a drop of rain. “It’s like the end of the world here,” he said.

“It’s okay,” I said. It’s a completely empty, throwaway phrase, and I wasn’t speaking to the encompassing, capital It, but still he paused, standing there in a house on a street that’s still mostly deserted, surrounded again by a flurry of national and international headlines in a city where attention so often fails to lead to necessary action, then said, “Well. It’s not okay.”

Okay, it isn’t. Still. I can’t wait to touch down at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International tonight and get to work. I’ll try to keep the ice-cream weeping to a minimum. Maybe.

 

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