The Last Dance

This article made me cry tonight. It was originally sent to me by my brother-in-law, a New Orleanian at heart (although he's never lived here) and a Jefferson City Buzzard, four days after Katrina. What does that mean that it still makes me cry, almost a year later?

Angels in the cities of the dead. The elbow of death. Love those phrases. Such macabre imagery, and yet so true.

I met the Chicken Man, once. (It'll make more sense after you read the article.) It was in 1997, shortly before Kenny convinced me to move from Bay St. Louis to New Orleans. The Chicken Man was a famous palm-reader in the French Quarter. A dapper old African-American gentleman--if you ran into him in the Quarter, it was pretty much accepted that it was poor form not to let him read your palm. And then tip him generously for the honor, of course. It was my 28th birthday--Kenny and I had dinner at Mr. B's and then were strolling through the Quarter, drinks in hand. And, then, there he was--the infamous Chicken Man. I had never seen him before, but I'd heard the stories from Kenny. The Chicken Man was right up there with Mr. Bingle and Ruthie the Duck Lady--a New Orleans legend. Kenny was very excited--I had to have my palm read, he said, especially since it was my birthday. The Chicken Man was quite impressive--he was wearing a bright red suit, a bright yellow shirt and a matching red fedora with a couple of bright blue feathers in the brim. It was like the greatest hits of the primary colors. I don't remember much about what he actually told me in my palm reading, other than he said that I would experience both great pain and great joy. Standard palm reading fare, but it was true--is true, for all of us.


New Orleans

I know most of my family doesn't get it. Why I want to live here. When they came to visit, pre-Katrina, they saw the trash everywhere. The poverty of the residents. The poverty of the city. The potholes. The crime. The schools. Now, post-K, they see all that, plus the extra-added bonus of a city that's been marinated. The debris. The demolition. The fatigue. The fugue. The fear.

How do I explain to them why I want to live here? How do I explain to myself why I want to live here?