life in the "Land of Dreamy Dreams” and some reasons why New
Orleans is not just a place.
three years ago, after nearly drowning in the fast approaching Gulf of
Mexico it is just common sense to expect that New Orleans is not going
to become some Hi Tech, Medical or Educational mecca. The oil companies
have been leaving town for years. Long term investments are considered
speculative at best...
the condition of our levees is somewhat speculative as well... what are
we to expect. The Army Corpse (sic) of Engineers has admitted fault in
their design and construction. The climate of "corruption" has made it
hard to do business, and the climate in general these days is not
conducive to life as we know it... (unless your a cockroach)... This
place has always tested ones "Faith."...
After the storm, the bars opened before there was electricity.
While much of the city Languished in Mold
and it's resident refugees were spread as far as Alaska and Hawaii,
The French Quarter was populated by hard drinking FEMA employees, First
Responders, Military of all stripes and those "special" people of the
that never leave... The Mardi Gras went on while the city's
only emergency room was a mash tent.
asset we still do have is our culture. It is hard to explain, but
suffice to say it ain't the same in Topeka... or anywhere else for that
matter. While geographically in the so called Deep South, New Orleans
is hardly an American city of any typical description. Most people
outside of New Orleans, think of the city as only being the eight
Whorseshit drunkenness that is Bourbon Street. Many natives rarely set
foot on that part of Bourbon Street
the folks from Oklahoma sit down to a Tits, burgers and beers at the
Hustler Club, the rest of the French Quarter has many bars and
restaurants that tourists can't find, The cool courtyard patios of the
Quarter that can only be seen through filigreed wrought iron gates and
dark carrigeways. Hear the laughter and stories of Ghosts
us... It is in these places you will find the characters and lifestyles
that have inspired writers for centuries.
the 19th century, Other than New York City, New Orleans was the largest
port destination for European immigrants to the United States, Our
city's ancestors includes groups of of all nationalities and
ethnicity's. These people and the freed sons and daughters of slaves
settled in neighborhoods with names like the; Irish Channel, The Black
Pearl, Gerttown, Hollygrove, Fauberg Marigny, Bywater, Treme and many
others. While neighborhoods having their distinctive personalities, the
city was mostly integrated in both racial and socio- economic terms as
well. an effect of the early settlers finding "Higher Ground"... When I
was a child, for the most part these neighborhoods were welcome to all.
three years after the Storm, The still visible
"high water" line now crosses all these imaginary boundries, just as I
did when I was younger. Riding the streetcar past the grand mansions on
St. Charles Avenue...Transferring to the "Feret jet, " a bus that
passed by the "poor peoples" homes. I never noticed the difference...
neither did Katrina...
of the things that makes life special here, is the Musicality of the
city... the sound of Street Cars, boats on the river, rain on tin
roofs, English spoken 33 ways... Everything, celebrated in song... My
earliest memories are set to the sounds of syncopated rhythms, moaning
horn melodies and free spirited dance.
Vegetable Man drove by daily singing his wares in predictable song.
da Mirleetons, Creeeole Toms, greens and cabs... come n gitcha
to all but his customers and friends... He was one of the Islanos or
Creoles whos ancestors were originally from the Canary Islands.
grew up not far from cemeteries where the African descendants burial
tradition dictated a solemn march to the grave... following the
internment, a raucous second line parade, A brass band and sometimes
hundreds of people dancing in the street. After the tears of sadness
for ones loss, Men and Women " Poppin the Gator," celebrating that the
"Deceased" had gone to a better place.
a Lone Drum of somber mourning in the distance, we would pony up our
"Sting Rays" and head down to "Latuso's Grocery" for a cold root beer
and wait for the "second line"...
African American "Jazz Funeral" was part of my childhood. It never
occurred to me that everyone in America did not have the same funereal
experience... and that it wasn't normally attended by white kids on
bicycles. Spirituality in New Orleans is something one must witness to
believe... Even our football team, The "Saints" play in the now
Superdome, reputedly built over the original grave of Voo Doo Queen,
Marie Laveau. The traditions and ritual of primarily Catholicism and
African belief combined in a passionate celebration of life as well as
a Child in my neighborhood of "Carrollton," There was only one church,
"Mater Dolor Rosa." Everyone went. I didn't know the "races" were
supposed to be different... I went to a "Jewish" school. Maybe the
Naivete' that is youth
shielded me from the larger world, In those idyllic days, We lived
together, everyone was different,
everyone was an individual; Worthy of his character and not so much his
history. The lines here are blurred. I still wonder...Man still dreams
our diet reflects our musical culture. Crawfish boils, Coshon de Lait,
Muffelletta Sandwiches, Gumbo, Po-Boys, Jambalaya. A myriad of spices
combined with love and creativity... Shared with friends and family, It
makes you feel good, Red Beans and Rice, a day long ritual of cooking,
resulting in a few days feast. All of this and a liberal attitude when
it comes to drink.
a spirited jam of horn players trying to cut each other on the
bandstand. Our food culture takes the best of wildly divergent
ingredients and methods and melds them into new and exciting melodies
of flavor and sensation.
spread on a typical New Orlenians table takes many clues from the
classic French Provincial, while borrowing influence from around the
globe. The freshest ingredients available, combined in classical form,
always representing the season.
grew up in a home filled the scent of onions and peppers being
sautéed as a base for the Main Dish. Butter and Pork Fat
were used liberally... My Mom had no problem with Oyster Dressing or
Stuffed Goose and Duck on Thanksgiving. Now we have expanded those
dishes horizons with a combination of local style and international
resulting in some of the best eating on earth..
Our Sunday familiy
dinner was usually Fried Chicken, rice and gravy or maybe boiled
Crawfish, Crabs and Shrimp... the "Seafood Boil"
is a Louisiana family ritual... usually with the family patriarch and
helpers presiding over a 50 gallon boiling pot of seasonings and
somewhat, like a group of "Barbeque" masters in America...
Our Architecture also reflects the unique variety of ethnicity, culture
and class that make up the "Gumbo" that is New Orleans...
A "French Quarter" with mostly buildings of "Spanish Colonial" design.
who's style is termed Camelback or Shotgun... Creole Cottages, West
Indian Verandas, The Grand Mansions of the "Garden District" with their
Slave Quarters...ironically, now being converted to chic condos for
upwadly mobile professionals..
The front porch steps or "stoop"...a place for meeting
and chatting with neighbors and passer buys... Some still
the sidewalks, "banquettes", and medians,
In New Orleans, One must travel to the
suburbs to see the Faux
"English Tudor" and "Italiante" homes that dominate the patina free
expanse of American prosperity...our cemetaries are more architecturally
I love this place, and I love sharing it. Wherever life's travels take
me, New Orleans and all of it's quirks
will be the home for my heart... If you ever get the chance to come to
"Big Easy" dont miss it. Before the age of Plane Train and Truck; our
great city, founded in a crescent bend
near the mouth of the "Father of Waters" connected a diverse culture
commerce to the world. Now, Our levee tamed Mississippi River is no
allowed to nourish the land with the alluvium of spring floods. Our
surrounding Barrier islands and Marshes
are subsequently deteriorating.
This entire area is quickly being reclaimed by the sea from
which it rose.
This "rising tide" and the aftermath of recent storms threaten our
culture, livleyhoods and very existence...
A reminder to be greatful for, and to savor, these wonderful moments
that are the
circle of life
in the land of Dreamy Dreams...
P. Colon May, 2006 Edited 08, all rights reserved...
please feel free to share this,
I only ask
that you let me know beforhand and credit me as author, otherwise I
will have a
voodoo hex put on your a**... Thank you.