May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you and the pure light within you, guide your way on "~Incredible String Band

Monday, May 30, 2005

Back in Business...

Well,...we are back up and rolling again folks !! It took a bit of time, not to mention 860 dollars for a new laptop (groan..) but we did it. We are now back on line.

Moss and I have been working real hard making money, and have also had some time to work on the bus as well.

Before I get into all that though, let me back up just a little to our cross country trip. I have to say a few words about our stop in New Orleans.

What a beautiful, charming, magical city she is !

Now, I am by no means a city girl, in fact I prefer to avoid them at all costs. However, I have to say that I truly love that city, in a way I have never loved a city before. I had no idea it was even possible to feel this way about a city!

I lived there off and on at various times in the past fifteen years. In my hitch hiking days I stayed there quite a bit, living out of my back pack, selling my jewelry and listening to some of the most talented unknown musicians play on the streets.

It is an old town, established in 1718, with much of the original architecture still intact. It is also a magical place, rife with voodoo and voted the most haunted city in the U.S. Anyone who stays there long enough quickly learns that there is something undeniably strange and alive about it.

Some say that it is Marie Lauvue, a famous voodoo priestess who ruled the town for years in the 1800's. They say she put a curse on the city that brings people back time after time,... often to make their graves.

Speaking of graves, another odd thing about the town is that all the dead are buried above ground in mausoleums, and there are some truly gorgeous old graveyards. The town is below sea level, if you dig down even a few feet you hit water. Any dead burried here will float to the surface during heavy rain.

At any rate, there was just no way I could ever drive past it without stopping in for at least a night.

So that's what we did.

It was around six o clock on a Friday night when we pulled into the French quarter. We quickly found a place to park, no easy task on the narrow streets of the quarter, then hit the town.

It was just as beautiful as ever. I visited some of my old haunts on Decatur street, had a few beers, checked out Jackson Square and just soaked in the vibes.

We strolled down Decatur towards one of my favorite hangouts, Kaldis coffee shop. This was the place where one could always find good coffee and good people, usually hanging out front on the sidewalk, talking, playing music.

When we neared what should have been the entrance to Kaldis, I looked, then did a double take, something was not right. This didn't look like Kaldis.

A voice came out of nowhere, " Yeah, it used to be Kaldis, they closed down last year."

I glanced down to see a somewhat disheveled looking fellow, with a banjo in his lap and rolling what could have been a cigarette. In front of him sat an open banjo case, a few crumpled dollar bills tossed in for looks.

" Bummer, I really loved that place "

"Yeah, everyone did" came his reply.

Moss and I took a seat on the steps next to him, he passed me the "cigarette" and introduced himself.

"Mad Mikes the name," he said extending his hand to Moss, then to me.

We introduced ourselves and Mad Mike began to play. He was very good, his music a mix of traditional bluegrass with a contemporary edge.

It wasn't long before a crowd began to gather. Someone turned the newspaper box on its side for a makeshift couch and some folks sat on the curb.

I never quite understood it but there is a strange phenomena in this city. It is one that causes perfectly sane, well dressed people to just sit down on the sidewalk, and kick back as though they were in the privacy of their own living rooms.

I am not just talking about travelers," bohemian " types and homeless . I mean, people who are well off , with houses, nice cars and important jobs.

Maybe its the booze, maybe its the good music, or maybe its the carefree, other wolrdly charm of the French quarter. Come to think of it, its probably a mix of all three.

Whatever the case, Madd Mike played on into the wee hours of the morning as crowd after crowd of drunk people filed by, occasionally stopping to throw in a few bucks or engage us in conversation.

It is in the early morning hours that I most love that city, it is then that we see her quieter, deeper side. You would think there would be a lot of violence and general chaos at this time, but oddly there is not. I have always felt a strange sense of safety and well being there.

After hours of partying people start to mellow out a bit, they stumble out of the bars and down the streets, pensive, alone with their thoughts and searching for meaning in life. You see all kinds, from the lonely drunken hobo to the lonely drunken millionaire. Often they stop to listen to the many talented street musicians who play freely around the quarter.

At one point in the evening a very obviously wealthy, and well groomed looking couple came and sat down. It was a bit amusing to see this man, in his expensive designer suit sit down on the street next to Mad Mike and proceed to tell him what a miserable life he had.

He lived in L.A, he explained, working in the " movie industry " and he and his wife were here on vacation, the first one in a long time he noted. He talked about his job and his dreams, and wondered out loud if he had made the right choices in life.

At one point the fellow asked Mad Mike if he had his choice would he rather be here doing what he was doing or in L.A. living the good life.

Unfortunately, I didn't here Mikes answer, but I was struck by something.

What does one really need to be happy ? Does money make one happy ? What defines success ? Is the individual with lots of money, a shiny SUV, two car garage and a great paying job more succsessfull than a hobo who spends his days riding the trains, sleeping in farmers fields and fishing in lakes and streams ?

What is "happy" anyway and is it even realistic to think that one can acheive it continually ?

To me life is about simple living, living simply, and following my bliss... that small voice inside me that always knows exactly what it is I need to be doing.To those with a wanders heart, you know what I mean, it cannot be ignored....

Maybe I am naive, or maybe it's my age (people have been telling me that since I was eighteen ). It could be that as I grow older I will change my view on these matters. However, right now, going on 33, this is how I see things.

I contemplated all this and more as we said goodbye to Mad Mike and the other friends we had made.

Moss and I walked down the now nearly empty streets, quiet and thinking to ourselves. The bars never close in this town, and as we passed bar after bar the wonderful sound of talented blues musicians drifted out from the open doors, beckoning us to come and sit for a while....

We stopped in one particular bar to dance for a bit, a handful of tired looking locals sat scattered at darkened tables throughout the room, while before them the most amazing blues band played in perfect time and rhythm.

We danced for a bit, tipped the band, then walked back to the bus for the night.

The next morning we arose early, and enjoyed a plate of beneights at the famous Cafe dumonde, then headed for the bus and interstate 10.

We drove away reluctantly, promising to come back soon.

It took many weeks to shake the cities strange vibe, it lingred for a time, like a hazy dream........

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