Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bourbon Street Parade

A year ago I rolled into this town in a 95 Ford Escort with less than $75 in my pocket, no job lined up and only Waffle’s floor to crash on. At least I was out of New Jersey. I never felt at home in Jersey, regardless of what town I lived in. The first morning that I woke up in New Orleans and strolled down Magazine Street in search of coffee and smokes it felt right. I can’t explain it other than it felt like I was home. There has been a lot of rough times in the past year, but never once did I ever consider returning to Jersey. A few times I did consider cashing in my chips off of the Crescent City Bridge.

New Orleans talked me out of it. The reputation of this city through out the world is one of indulgence and debauchery, a decadent drunken harlot catering to carnal pleasure. Babylon on the Mississippi. Like the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold she welcomes the creative, the outcast and those who feel at home nowhere else. That has been her turbulent history. The flags of Spain, England, France, America and the Confederacy have flown over her, yet she is still individual and defiant.

Cajun refugees from Canada made their way down the river to find a new home here. Slaves from Africa were forced to make New Orleans their new home and Pirates had their mail forwarded here. Vietnamese refugees have come here as boat people only to become some of the finest fisherman in the world. Where else could Pirates become heroes and descendants of slaves become celebrities. A city whose not known for making steel or autos, not seen as a center of financial power or commerce. Instead is associated world wide for music, food, writing, art and individualism. Perhaps this is why I immediately felt at home here.

Today, a year later I am working as a house painter and optimistic. I took a break from painting French doors in a former slave’s quarter on Esplanade turned into a condo. I walked up Bourbon Street to a strip club to collect money for artwork I did. There is a change in my life, walking out of a strip club with more money than I walked in with. On the way to the club I stopped and jotted down a phone number to an affordable apartment on Bourbon for rent.



Kicking back down Bourbon Street I glanced into a window of Skully’s record shop. Posted in the window was a poster for “Bourbon Street and Beyond, illustrated by Eric T Styles” On the counter sat several copies of the book I worked on for the past few months. With a stupid grin on my face walking back to Esplanade I spoke to myself “A year ago I rolled into this town in a 95 Ford Escort with less than $75 in my pocket, no job lined up and only Waffle’s floor to crash on…”

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