True story – I couldn’t make up this scenario up in a million years because I just don’t think this way. I was out chatting with my 2 neighbors on a most magnificent afternoon. The neighbor who is the focus of this post, has New Orleans roots and moved to the Northshore many years ago. Following me so far? So here we are, just shooting the breeze and I’m telling them about my radio show and blablablayadayadayada. Then it happened… I asked the “J question.” Yes, you all know the “J question.” It is the one where you ask someone if they went to Jazzfest (this is when my jaw dropped to the ground). Before I spill the response, let me remind you that everything I experience and share with you (my dear reader) is through the eyes of a newbie, an eternal optimist, the self-proclaimed Princess of Positive, a kid in a 40 yo body, someone who sees progress and is not ignorant to the problems. Someone who is trying to help in the best way she knows how – by writing.

OK- dragged this on long enough. His answer (paraphrased because I have a horrible memory), “I would have loved to go to Jazzfest but I don’t think it is right to go. I don’t think we should be partying and having a festival when New Orleans East, Chalmette, St Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward are still suffering. There are places still like “Ghost Towns.” These were all the places that were homes to all the great musicians and chefs that fed the life to the French Quarter before the storm. Jazzfest doesn’t do anything but give people an excuse to drink and party. It does nothing for the promotion of the true problems that exist here today. I used to go all the time and I really wish I could go now.”

My other neighbor and I quickly chimed in with, “Dude, you need to change that train of thought. Jazzfest is a positive thing and shows the world that the city is alive. You have to have a heart of a city for the rest to be built. Nobody wants to come back to a city that is dead. Nobody new wants to come to a city in mourning.” We tried to change his mind – we really tried. Maybe it is survivors guilt? I don’t know – I can’t get in his head. I just think it is a crying shame that he thinks that way.

We have men and women in uniform risking their lives so we can be safe here. I do a little work for Soldiers’ Angels each and every day because I think it is my personal obligation as an American. But, I can’t imagine a soldier overseas telling me to stop having fun and living my life. That would do nobody any good and make this Country mentally morose! Life is too short, we are all supposed to drink up all it has to offer.

I never lost my house in Katrina, and as a matter of fact, I wasn’t even here. I can’t walk in someone else’s shoes nor can they walk in mine (I wear a 5 1/2). However, I think Jazzfest brings with it smiles, joy and a sense of pride for a great city. Jazzfest does show the world that we are open and ready for business. Some of these problems were here long before the storm, some are because of it and the triumphs are in spite of it! Until we find a giant “New Orleans fixing” magic wand – we certainly can’t make them all disappear. I for one am here because of the beating heart of the city, Jazzfest, the music, the food, the people, the culture, the beauty.

***this post can be read at my personal blog and Tune into AM 690 WIST every Saturday for the Kiss My Gumbo show from 3:00-4:00. This weeks guests will be Arthur Hardy “Mr. Mardi Gras Guide” and the Queen of Soul, Ms. Irma Thomas.

2 Replies to “He said “what” about Jazzfest?”

  1. I just read your blog and I can’t believe the response from your neighbor. I am a “survivor” of Katrina. I left my house on Sat afternoon b/c my water broke and delivered my first child by emergency c-section that afternoon. On mon everything but 6 pilings was left of our home. Along with the loss of our home, we lost all of our belongings(there was no water soaked things to go throught b/c the entire house was GONE) and my husband’s job. We stuck it out in LA and moved in with family and began putting our lives back together. When JazzFest came that first year it felt like the first normal thing in our lives in a long time. We spent 5 out of 6 days there with our 8 month old. It was one of the most uplifting times in that first year. It gave us the little lift and distraction, we needed to continue fighting with SBA, the road home, insurance companies, and each other:) JazzFest is more than just drinking and partying, to many of us still dealing with the effects of Katrina it is as much about celebrating life and the many things in it we still have. We are so lucky to have such phenomenal music here and so many wonderful festivals. After the drudgery of rebuilding there is nothing like a little good music and food to motivate you. Please tell your neighbor to quit suffering for those of us who still aren’t back home, because we gave that up a long time ago and are having a good time!

  2. You’re just not thinking this position of yours through far enough, PoP! He stays home ergo: one less car on the road ahead of you, one less person clogging up the Fairgrounds, one more space to sit on in the Blues Tent bleachers, one more crawfish bread serving and trout baquet for you, obviously more beer to drink…. need I continue? As I see it, this is a win-win situation. He stays home on his moral high ground and you and I make out like bandits (figuratively speaking, ‘course)

    LOL you ain’t never gonna make him see sense.

    It was a fine day there the last Sunday, Everyone was so happy….. I wish the rest of the US could experience this side of our little corner of the world. I think they’d “get it” why we stay.

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