Saturday, November 19, 2011

November New Orleans

Only hours after I moved into this apartment on the edge of Tremé, a 'Second Line' marching band went past my door, taking flowers to the cemetery for All Saints' Day.

I feel a bit like Colette in her Palais Royal apartment--she called the place "the tunnel" because of its shotgun layout. I spread books and various cooking ingredients around the kitchen & work there, because the kitchen door gives onto a sunny courtyard.

The tattoo parlor down the street has its air conditioner running. Four entirely black feral kittens peer out from under the fence, tropical flowers are blooming, and the palm trees rattle in the wind.

I woke up to the roving fruit vendor who drives past every morning around 9am. Her megaphone makes her sound like a muezzin, except her call to prayer is "I have pine-apples, I have cante-lope, I have sat-sumas..."

Last week, the mayor finally reopened Louis Armstrong Park, with the Tremé Brass Band playing, Congo drumming, dancing, sacred smudging and Mardi Gras Indians in blindingly-bright embroidery & feathers.

Now, to cycle across town, avoiding the worst of the earthquake-fissures that linger six years after Katrina. Collecting details, trying to understand a little bit about this city so thoroughly inhabited and worn by its past but also determined to be present. I'm more awake here than in so many other cities where life is definitely easier (what a misnomer, 'the Big Easy') but less alive.