True story – I couldnâ€™t make up this scenario up in a million years because I just donâ€™t think this way. I was out chatting with my 2 neighbors on a most magnificent afternoon. The neighbor who is the focus of this post, has New Orleans roots and moved to the Northshore many years ago. Following me so far? So here we are, just shooting the breeze and Iâ€™m telling them about my radio show and blablablayadayadayada. Then it happened… I asked the â€œJ question.â€ Yes, you all know the â€œJ question.â€ It is the one where you ask someone if they went to Jazzfest (this is when my jaw dropped to the ground). Before I spill the response, let me remind you that everything I experience and share with you (my dear reader) is through the eyes of a newbie, an eternal optimist, the self-proclaimed Princess of Positive, a kid in a 40 yo body, someone who sees progress and is not ignorant to the problems. Someone who is trying to help in the best way she knows how – by writing.
OK- dragged this on long enough. His answer (paraphrased because I have a horrible memory), â€œI would have loved to go to Jazzfest but I donâ€™t think it is right to go. I donâ€™t think we should be partying and having a festival when New Orleans East, Chalmette, St Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward are still suffering. There are places still like “Ghost Towns.” These were all the places that were homes to all the great musicians and chefs that fed the life to the French Quarter before the storm. Jazzfest doesnâ€™t do anything but give people an excuse to drink and party. It does nothing for the promotion of the true problems that exist here today. I used to go all the time and I really wish I could go now.â€
My other neighbor and I quickly chimed in with, â€œDude, you need to change that train of thought. Jazzfest is a positive thing and shows the world that the city is alive. You have to have a heart of a city for the rest to be built. Nobody wants to come back to a city that is dead. Nobody new wants to come to a city in mourning.â€ We tried to change his mind – we really tried. Maybe it is survivors guilt? I donâ€™t know – I canâ€™t get in his head. I just think it is a crying shame that he thinks that way.
We have men and women in uniform risking their lives so we can be safe here. I do a little work for Soldiersâ€™ Angels each and every day because I think it is my personal obligation as an American. But, I canâ€™t imagine a soldier overseas telling me to stop having fun and living my life. That would do nobody any good and make this Country mentally morose! Life is too short, we are all supposed to drink up all it has to offer.
I never lost my house in Katrina, and as a matter of fact, I wasnâ€™t even here. I canâ€™t walk in someone elseâ€™s shoes nor can they walk in mine (I wear a 5 1/2). However, I think Jazzfest brings with it smiles, joy and a sense of pride for a great city. Jazzfest does show the world that we are open and ready for business. Some of these problems were here long before the storm, some are because of it and the triumphs are in spite of it! Until we find a giant â€œNew Orleans fixingâ€ magic wand – we certainly canâ€™t make them all disappear. I for one am here because of the beating heart of the city, Jazzfest, the music, the food, the people, the culture, the beauty.
***this post can be read at my personal blog and NOLA.com. Tune into AM 690 WIST every Saturday for the Kiss My Gumbo show from 3:00-4:00. This weeks guests will be Arthur Hardy â€œMr. Mardi Gras Guideâ€ and the Queen of Soul, Ms. Irma Thomas.