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So Is New Orleans Really Sinking? The Tragically Hip Think So. What About You?

Is New Orleans really sinking? Well, there are those that think so. At least that’s what some people would like you to think, because that notion sells. You know the drama of it all.

So Is New Orleans Sinking? The Tragically Hip Think So. What Say You?

Anyway, I found this Canadian band called The Tragically Hip performing this song a little while after Hurricane Katrina. During that tragic time when the federally built floodwalls failed (take note Sacramento and any other place in the country that’s got protective structures built by the Corps of Engineers) the news media just loved to paint the picture that New Orleans was sinking and all of it was below sea level.

Of course, like what most of the news media likes to put forth as “truth,” most of it was untrue. Yes, we do have some places in the city that have neighborhoods built on drained swamp land which are in effect a few feet below sea level. These were the places inundated by water that burst through poorly built and maintained federal floodwalls. The older parts of the city remained high and dry because these are at or above sea level. And they are not sinking.

Anyway, I’d never heard this song before and I like it. Although, I can’t really understand the words. So I’ve included the lyrics here. Being a songwriter myself I can really appreciate the lyrics, and these are great!

New Orleans Is Sinking
Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete
Under skies all smoky blue green
I can’t forsake a dixie dead shake
So we danced the sidewalk clean

My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

Colonel Tom, what’s wrong? What’s going on?
You can’t tie yourself up for a deal
He said, Hey, north, you’re south, shut your big mouth
You gotta do what you feel is real

Ain’t got no picture postcards, ain’t got no souvenirs
My baby she don’t know me when I’m thinking bout those years

Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire
Sucking up to someone just to stoke the fire
Picking out the highlights of the scenery
Saw a little cloud that looked a little like me

I had my hands in the river, my feet back up on the banks
Looked up to the lord above and said, Hey, man, thanks

Sometimes I feel so good I got to scream
She said, Gordie, baby, I know exactly what you mean
She said, she said, I swear to god she said

My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

So there ya go. Is New Orleans sinking, really? Don’t think so.

 

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Art, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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Whirling Dervishes of Rumi Coming to New Orleans All the Way From Turkey

All the way from Turkey the hundreds-year-old mystical religious tradition of whirling dervishes are coming to New Orleans for a one-of-a-kind performance.

Whirling Dervishes of Rumi Coming to New Orleans All the Way From Turkey

A dervish whirls to the sound of live traditional Turkish music.

A dervish in a state of ecstasy whirls to the sound of live traditional Turkish music.

This is not the first time the dervishes have been to the Crescent City. A year before Katrina these holy men graced the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for a performance.

Who are the dervishes and who is Rumi?

Back in the 13th century in Konya, Turkey Mevlânâ Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi was a Sufi mystic who became known for his beautiful, transcendent poetry. In fact Rumi is considered to be the most popular poet in American today. Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam which honors and embraces all religions. In fact to many fundamental Muslims Sufism is considered heresy and many Sufi mosques and and sacred sites have been destroyed in recent years.

Much of his poetry would be considered ecstatic because he transmitted much of it to his disciples when he entered states of ecstasy in his communion with the Divine. It was in these states that he began his whirling and his disciples soon followed in this practice. The poems are universal and inspiring and can be enjoyed by anyone of any religion and even by those who have none.

The whirling is really a religious practice of these Sufi Muslims, creating  state of communion and ecstasy with the divine. Those who have never seen this may think that the dervish is spinning wildly. But he is not. The turning is slow and contemplative, almost like a meditation in action.

The effect on the audience is profound. You hear this beautiful music and watch as the dervishes slowly turn moving across the stage eyes closed. I’ve seen them twice and strangely I found myself transfixed and entered an altered state sitting there in my comfortable chair in the theatre.

The dervishes are not paid and travel the world giving performances. In their everyday lives in Turkey they have normal jobs, are shopkeepers or are retired. They do this as contribution to people and as a way to let others share a little bit of their personal religious lives and an experience of the world of Rumi and Sufism.

The Atlas Interfaith website states:

If you’re looking to put a spiritual spin on your evening and enjoy cultural music, you might want to check out the Turkish troupe “The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi” when they dance into New Orleans.

Group members are adorned in long, traditional white robes and spin about the stage as they interpret the teachings of the 13th Century Turkish mystic and poet Rumi.

“The Whirling Dervishes” will take the stage at 7 p.m., February 4th at the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall, Loyola University New Orleans. “The Whirling Dervishes” have drawn acclaim for their unique forms of spiritual performance and accompanying reed flutes, drums and chants.

You can click this link to buy tickets and you can also pay at the door.

For an added bonus you can see me reading some Sufi poetry on stage during this special event.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Life.

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How to Change a Christmas Wreath to a Mardi Gras Wreath – Video

So you got your Christmas wreath still up and Mardi Gras is coming. Heck, this is the perfect time to keep that Christmas wreath up on your door and make it a Mardi Gras wreath. It’s pretty easy peasy. With a few simple items and only a few minutes – boom – you got yourself a Mardi Gras wreath.

How to Change a Christmas Wreath to a Mardi Gras Wreath – Video

Watch this video to see how it’s done. It’s a pretty easy process once you got all the materials. The key is purple, green and gold. As long as you got those colors then you are good to go.

Your plan ole Christmas wreath awaiting transformation.

Your plan ole Christmas wreath awaiting transformation.

So above you have your typical Christmas wreath. With the holiday season over it seems tired and forlorn. So get yourself some Mardi Gras garland. I got mine at Walgreen’s. Then I went into a bag of Mardi Gras throws that every one in New Orleans hoards in their closets. They do come in handy sometimes.

Adding just a few simple things it now a Mardi Gras wreath.

Adding just a few simple things it now a Mardi Gras wreath.

Remove the red bow and then just kinda drape the garland around the wreath. I got these little ceramic carnival heads somewhere, I don’t remember. Then just take a green, gold and purple beads, the Mardi Gras colours, and drape it over the wreath. No need to be really meticulous. This is a carnival decoration after all. The effect is that it looks like the wreath has just exploded on the door.

There ya go. Easy peasy.

Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Posted in New Orleans Art, New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Videos.

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New Orleans Mardi Gras Comes Too Soon This Year

Funny thing there is about the holidays. Around Halloween when I think of having to go out and buy a tree and pull all the decorations out and pretty up the house it just seems so far off, like I couldn’t imagine doing all that, so far away from Christmas. Since it’s not Christmas it does not feel like Christmas.

 New Orleans Mardi Gras Comes Too Soon This Year

christmas tree

Our tree decorated with the finishing touch – the ribbons cascading down – really dresses it up.

Then Thanksgiving comes and still I just cannot imagine doing all that I have to do for the coming holidays, the buying and the hauling back home the tree, taking the many boxes of decorations down from the back steps where they are stored, pulling everything out, putting up the garland and spreading all the decorations around the house.

Then turkey day passes and the first thing I think about is now I have to go out and buy a tree. Fortunately this year I found a Unitarian church group close to home that was selling fresh cut trees. I made it there, found the perfect tree, the first one I looked at in fact, bought it, had it put on top of my car and I was back home within a half hour of leaving. I mean, it was the best tree buying experience ever.

So now that is my new place to buy the tree. Yippee, the first weekend after Thanksgiving I got my tree. I set it up in the backyard in a bucket of water and sprayed it down with water to freshen it up. I do this every year, then bring it into the house a day or two afterwards.

Once the tree is in the house, well, yes it feels like Christmas, then I am eager to get all the decorations down from storage and go to town putting up the garland and lights and candles and wreaths and all the accouterments fof the season.

The most onerous of all the jobs, besides finding and buying the perfect tree, which this year was really easy, is putting on the lights on the tree. This year instead of trying to do it all at once I just did it a little bit at a time over a period of a couple days. Once that’s done, heck, the rest is easy.

My mom, who just turned 101, took the ornaments out of the box, as she does every year, and unwrapped the tissue paper from each one and put them on a tray that I move right next to the tree. We had the tree done in an hour or so.

Then I put the finishing touches on it with ribbons that draped down from the top of the tree. It really makes a difference, really dresses up the tree and everyone comments how beautiful the tree is. It’s the ribbons that make all the difference.

So the tree will be up for about a month. About the last week it stops sucking up water and begins to dry out. The branches start to droop and although it still looks beautiful the tree has finally given up the ghost. We usually keep the tree up till right after my mom’s birthday which is the 9th of January.

It’s funny how after the New Year’s and around about the 6th, which is Twelfth Night when the Wise Men brought the gifts to the Baby Jesus, the decorations seem to change. You can feel it in the air, it’s just time to take them down.

Yes, the house still looks beautiful, but the air of the holidays has passed and it’s time to move on into the new year. The tree is saying, my time is up, time to move on to fulfill my new role as protector of the coast, rebuilder of the coastline.

Early Saturday morning I was able to take the tree down and out to the curb. I got it out there an hour before the recycling truck came by the pick the trees up to be used in our coastal rebuilding projects. It was the last day of the pickup and I got it out there just in time.

xmas tree curb copy

The inauspicious end to our beautiful tree, now empty, lonely and forlorn waiting to be picked up by the recycling truck to join other trees helping to rebuild our Louisiana coast.

Having dried out the tree was light enough now that I could pull it out of its deep water well in the stand, turn it around to put the trunk end to the door and hall it out all by myself. I pulled out the tree through the doors, it’s dry branches crunching against the doorway and laying a trail of dry needles down the steps and along the sidewalk, and lay it out by the curb.

There it lay on its side, empty, forlorn, dry and barren, such an ignominious end to what had once been such a beautiful being which made some folks gasp in delight on their first viewing of it as they walked through the front door.

The truck came by and I watched as the men unceremoniously grabbed it, threw it in the back of the truck, flipped the switch to allow that big claw to grab it and crunched it up with all the other empty, forlorn and once beautiful and beloved trees. Now they moved on to the next part of their life cycle on the coast of Louisiana.

Now we get ready for Mardi Gras which comes much earlier than we are ready for this season. God, Carnival already? That’s what most New Orleanian’s are thinking. January 6th we started eating our first king cakes as we do every year.

But all the balls and festivities that usually get spread out over a couple months now have to be done in a couple weeks. Just can’t imagine now going out to see parades and doing the whole carnival thing. I mean, the holidays just ended. What the heck is all that about?

Easter is early and so Mardi Gras is too. That’s just the way it is. But when the first parades roll the season will be upon us and, guess what, it will feel like Mardi Gras and everyone of us will be all in.

The spirit of the carnival season just gets infectious. Funny how holidays seem to go like that. And we’ll be out there standing in the streets catching stuff from the floats, others will be on the floats throwing stuff to us. Totally and completely caught up in the season. And I’ll think “what’s all that about Mardi Gras being too early?”

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Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans Life.

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Christmastime in New Orleans – A Bouncy, Updated Version of the Louis Armstrong Classic by James Andrews

Well, Louis Armstrong did what I think is the quintessential version of this New Orleans Chritsmas song. But heck, here we got James Andrews do a really laid back, kinda mellow version of the song.

Christmastime in New Orleans – A Bouncy, Updated Version of the Louis Armstrong Classic by James Andrews

This is a great video with a whole slew of fantastic New Orleans Christmas scenes all over the city. The shot of the black Santa… pretty cool.

I’m performing my annual Christmas concert at the Neutral Ground Coffee House this Saturday and I usually do this song Satchmo style. But, heck, Im going to do it this new way. I think I like it better.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Landmarks, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Videos.

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The Inside Take on Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge, One of the Favorite New Orleans Dive Bars – Video

I live in uptown, in the Maple Street area to be exact, and this is one of New Orleans dive bars just a few minute walk from my house. Snake and Jake’s is without a doubt the very definition of a dive bar. It’s in a garage right there in the heart of a residential street. It’s in a class all by itself.

The Inside Take on Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge in New Orleans – Video

When I first saw it before I knew what it was, I wondered why the place had not been torn down. But on closer inspection I realized it was actually a bar that was still in business. If you take a close look at the roof it’s a faded, dusty blue tarp.

I think when you look up dive bar in the dictionary there is a picture of this place. Yet, this is very popular with locals and students and touts a very relaxing atmosphere. And a drink called the possum… you’ll have to watch the video to find out why… has to do with a live possum.

To be honest I’ve never been in here because every time I walk by it’s closed. Of course, I walk by too early.  And if you are visiting the city it’s worth it to catch a cab or ride the streetcar to Oak Street and walk about 4 blocks to check the place out.

This New Orleans dive bar is definitely on my bucket list. And I don’t have to walk too far to get to it.

If you’ve been there, leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Videos.

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Haunted New Orleans – What You Don’t Know About the LaLaurie Mansion in the French Quarter – Video

One of the most horrific incidents ever in the city of New Orleans happened in the 1830s when the LaLaurie Mansion caught on fire. After dowsing the flames the fireman something in the attic, something that horrified even them, something almost unspeakable.

Newspapers carried the story but were reluctant to give the full details since what occurred was so brutal and inhuman.

Haunted New Orleans – What You Don’t Know About the LaLaurie Mansion in the French Quarter – Video

Now it’s said that the ghosts of those involved haunt the mansion even today. Many who have lived in the home claim they’ve experienced sightings and horrific visitations. This was a home that Nicholas Cage owned for a time before he started having money problems.

This is perhaps the most famous of haunted places in New Orleans today.

 

 

Posted in New Orleans History, New Orleans Landmarks, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Videos.




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