You know how it is when something of importance happens and you take it in as much as you can, but in a minor way, as what has happened has happened to someone else, somewhere else. Yes, you empathize, but you can go on with your life. Then years later, well for me years later, you recall this thing and the importance of it is so overwhelming, set off by something, say, like a piece of music you've listened to a hundred times before, but one day, you hear it for the first time.
What got me started on this was I was looking through boxes of old pictures last week and I came across this one:
New Orleans, 1982
This was taken during the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, when I was down there with my brother and his friends, whom I had met on various Southern excursions— which might have been the reason I was getting my crawfish on.
In 2006, the first year after Hurricane Katrina, Tom and I went down to N.O. to the same festival; on that occasion, we hired a guide to take us around to see the areas affected. As soon as we crossed the bridge into the Ninth Ward, we were hit with destruction as we'd never seen it—a war, a terrible war had flattened everything, and both Tom and I burst into tears. We walked around and took pictures, but mostly, we just felt numb. A year after Katrina, not one house had been rebuilt, not one tree had grown; everything was just as it had been after the flood.
My son is down there now celebrating Mardi Gras, or I should say, still celebrating Mardi Gras, which took place last Tuesday (March 8th). When I heard this piece of music by Charlie Miller from "Our New Orleans: Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast," while driving around L.A. last week, I was struck on a level deeper than my usual "observer;" then Japan happened. I was suddenly back in New Orleans: the waters rushing in and the world stopping and all that had been, gone and forgotten.
So here's a little bit of remembrance of that time in the Ninth Ward, using a modified version of Miller's tune, "A Prayer for New Orleans."