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Overture to Gustav, Mauler


 

Three articles in which I tried to explain why New Orleans is important and, later, why its recovery is so precarious.

• From 2005, five months before Katrina, a column about the complex interaction of race and music in New Orleans.

• From later that year, a week after Katrina’s landfall, a column about the joy, not just the suffering, that is due to the city’s location.

• From the first anniversary of Katrina in 2006, a longer look at a movie debut, a banjo player, and the shaky state of the reconstruction.


 
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Overture to Gustav, Mauler

  1. Thanks for that. The musical heritage is valued around the world and will never die. But the city itself is probably coming to an end. A selected reading of articles and books by John McPhee offer every reason for pessimism. I don’t see any public appetite in the U.S. for the extraordinary effort it would take for New Orleans to survive.
    If not Gustav,then the next or the next. Or just the inexorable march of the managed flow of the Mississippi.
    A replica in the Arizona desert? Beside the London Bridge?

  2. I only read your first story Mr. Wells, will read the rest tomorrow. That was a great description of trying to figure out the begining of jazz (though Jelly Roll told me it was him), “Might as well try to put your finger on the place where the river meets the sea.” Maybe this is a silly question. You bring up Buddy Bolden, have you ever read Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter? Great book. Sisyphus, you bring up some valid points, lets hope they don’t come true though.

    cheers

    Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans

  3. I actually haven’t read Coming Through Slaughter. (In The Skin of a Lion is the only Ondaatje novel I’ve read.) I did love the movie Highway 61, which Don McKellar based (*extremely* loosely) on Coming Through Slaughter. “You’re not a musician. You’re a barber! A Canadian barber!”

  4. Just listening to “Goin’ Back To New Orleans” by Dr. John (& the Neville Bros.) now…

    One of the all-time great cosmopolitan cities.

    Thanks for the reposts, Mr. Wells.

  5. Here’s a classic – “Cabbage Head”:

    Last night, I come home, tired as a man can be;
    I saw a mule in my stable, where my mule is supposed to be.
    I said, “Wake up, Sally, explain this stuff to me.
    Whose mule is that in my stable, where my mule is supposed to be?”

    She said, “Now, hush your mouth, you’re talkin’ real silly.
    Open up your eyes and see!
    That ain’t nothin’ but a milk-cow that the farmer-man left to me.”

    Now I been all over the world, to the Gulf of Mexico,
    But that’s the first time I ever seen a milk-cow with a saddle on its back before.

    The next night when I come home, tired as a man can be,
    I saw a hat on my dresser-drawer, where my hat is supposed to be.
    I said, “Wake up, Sally, explain this stuff to me.
    Whose hat is that on my dresser, where my hat is supposed to be?”

    She said, “Now hush your mouth, you’re talking real silly.
    Open up your eyes and see!
    That ain’t nothin’ but an old cabbage, that the grocer-man left to me.”

    Now I been all over the world, to the Gulf of Mexico,
    I ain’t ever seen no cabbage with a hat on its head before.

    The next time when I come home, tired as a man could be,
    I seen some guy on my front porch, where I’m supposed to be.
    I said, “Wake up, Sally, explain this mess to me.
    Who’s this guy on my front porch, where I’m supposed to be?”

    She said, “Now hush your mouth, you’re actin’ real ignorant.
    Open up your eyes and see!
    That ain’t nothin’ but a shadow! You are always accusin’ me!”

    Now I been all over this world, down to the Gulf of Mexico,
    But I ain’t ever stumbled over a shadow in my whole life before.

  6. Ha! Highway 61, watched that one as young stoned teenager… I can’t remember much of the movie at all, surprisingly. But enough talk about them Canadian artists, we might get the PMO’s attention.

  7. This article is really awesome, it’s definitely a text to come back to.

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