Tag Archives: thoughts

New Orleans: That Which Cannot Be Named

IMG_1017In my head, New Orleans is wide streets under balconies full of Spanish moss, with 24-hour jazz funerals parading down the street.

This is slightly true. My friend Carly and I spent our ThanksgivingĀ  in the Marigny, four blocks up Frenchman street from piles of jazz bars and the cry of street-band trumpets. New Orleans also has economically disparate neighborhoods, no laws against open containers, and a transient-friendly climate. You can sense that something is not quite settled under the town’s skin. But you can also sense that it’s cultural quicksand–it could suck you in for good.

We met people who had only left New Orleans for one month in their 50 years, and transplants from Texas, Seattle, Chicago. Musicians, glass blowers, baristas, bartenders, and shopkeepers. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed in Baltimore as well. What makes a city addictive? It’s hard to pin it down but …

IMG_1069Rhythm.
It’s a Big Easy legend that every citizen grows up playing an instrument. Frenchman street featured a full jazz band that, if seen in Baltimore, people would make “The Wire” jokes about. Dancing in the road creates joy.

History.
New Orleans has 300 years of history so diverse that almost any American can feel a connection. The roots are deep, and the feeling of being a part of something seeps into the air.

IMG_9228Signs of life.
Coming from the north, the packs of purple, orange, and yellow houses look like they’re smiling at you. A jeweler told me 100 percent humidity means people chill. People seem to be whom they want to be, whatever they are.

Spirit.
Every skycap in the airport had on a Saints jersey. A woman who sold me a wooden wine stopper was wearing two-inch tall Saints player earrings. If you live here, you’re on the team. Baltimore gets this drift, too.

IMG_1072Because you have to.
Probably because of Katrina, New Orleans still feels like an underdog. There’s no facade hiding this, and an underdog with tradition and life is irresistible.

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Easter in Epinal

The weather has turned cold, rainy and cloudy again, which is only fair for early April in the north. It made my arbitrary attendance of Easter Sunday service in the 12th-century stone basilica a little chilly, though.

One of the first pictures I ever saw of Epinal was of the basilica, when I was doing internet research from Pennsyvlania. The basilica between the years of 1940 and 1944, when Epinal was maimed in skirmishes with our now-friendly German neighbors, and blown up by Americans in 1944.

Sorry, Epinal.

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Soundtrack for 2011

It’s a little strange when the iTunes playlist rolls from an Ella Fitzgerld and Louis Armstrong Broadway tune to Wham’s Last Christmas. Despite the awful transitions, anyone who knows me well can easily trace the ups and downs of my life and emotions over the last 12 months, and those who don’t would gain a little insight.

And for me personally, it’s like apparating back in time and reliving everything. I think it’s the best idea ever, and have one Meghan (with an H) to thank for it. I’d advise all of you to make a 2012 playlist by adding songs throughout the year as they occur: songs that keep popping up, songs that just seem to be everywhere and you love, songs that really strike a chord, and songs that have a special meaning.

If for some reason you feel like listening to Rebecca in 2011, I put the whole playlist on 8tracks. It’s a little schizo, but I guess that’s how the year rolled.

Happy New Year! And if you’re reading this when it posts in the United States, know that I’m wishing you the best possible ending to 2011 from … the FUTURE. Where I am drinking champagne lakeside in Les Vosges.