New Orleans is a pretty spectacular city to call home.
I moved my bed into the front room this week – that’s
traditional here, in these cottages, folks had their
bedrooms in the first room. I don’t know why. And I love
the bed by the two windows, I’m sleeping much better
here than trying to make my bed and clothes fit in the
same room, as is traditional for a bedroom and clothes
So I’m dreaming of strange passages, obscene women
squatting down, and men passing by, when I am awakened
by the voices of men a few feet from my bed. They
aren’t passing by they are standing right by my window.
Finally I roused myself from my metaphysical porn and
see this bald guy facing my window standing next to a
Mini Cooper with some other guy inside and a girl in
the back. And I hit the window – gently – and say
– People are sleeping in here.
The guy in the car says ‘oh sorry’.
I lay back down and think
That bald fucker had his dick in his hand. He was pissing
on my flowerbed.
You know the thing about people who come to New Orleans
is they that they treat the town like its some kind of giant
whore house. Everything is degradable. Not bio degradable,
just degradable. They steal street signs, they urinate
in public, they yell as they walk by the homes of sleeping
And I contemplate this. It is a tourist town, it is famous
for inviting people to come and drink themselves to oblivion.
Or is it?
The party ain’t nothing but a party is a life style of
refusing to succumb to the circling depression and mendacity
of the world around US. It is a stand, holding the scepter
of Tennessee Williams quotes and alanon prayers live and let
live the powerful odor of mendacity – honey, don’t interfere- one day at a time…
and we fight off the rising tide of tourists who interpret these laissez faire demeanors
to their own ends and end up drunk on some part of town, lost, lost in many layers,
I see them sometimes, bewildered, too young to look that way.
How to invite folks to not degrade themselves and the city
while spending a lot of money – because we hardly have
enough money to pay the too few cops we have, and our
streets are crumbling beneath us, so I am not suggesting
bringing in the sheaths with the Mardi Gras hordes.
Yet, I don’t really feel like I live in the motel exit next
to the gate to Hell, either. This is a run-down town with
high hopes. This is a tradition of trouble, and that
tradition hinders its new world outlook. I see young
people here, not unlike they were when they gathered in
that other dock town back in 1967. I see them here wanting
to make a new world as much as make a new Me. Reinterpreting
the old, thats a good sign, as good as any. They call that
music Trad Jazz. But they are tattooed and pink haired
playing the shit out of their banjos and singing tight
harmonies, sometimes four parts. Staggering, and it
cannot be grown in the unwelcoming business of music, say
in Westwood or Silverlake. It grows here, in the teaming
biosphere of this jungle land. Yet, I want to put this to you.
Can you not ask of the tourists to respect our home?
I understand wanting to tear a little hair off of the Christ
– I mean you may not come back here soon – but you know
better than that. We want to welcome tourists, not hate them.
Is there a chance we could make neighborhood signs saying
– Please dont piss on my home. I like to play in the grass.
– If you steal the sign the next drunken asshole won’t know
where he is.
Or something like that? I just, it’s hard to see the town
disassembled every season so that the barkeeps can make
enough money to keep those shot girls working for no salary.
Rickie Lee Jones
The first installment in the New Orleans is Home
The Other Side