NOLA = CRAZY PURNATVA + ARTISTS’ RENAISSANCE = HOME
“I am kin of the birds. I was raised up in the woods with them and I lived with them until I was twenty years old. They were my first music teachers and they never sang a note that I could not translate into human language.”
-Eliza Jane Nicholson
Nola is a banana republic, rife with crime and poverty, one of the poorest states in the country (along side New Mexico), yet the pride of the people and the abundance of thriving activity is undeniable. From the strange pockets of boho artists in the Bywater to the 9th ward and the uptown elite, people speak with pride and belonging. The first night in New Orleans I ate beignets at one in the morning and drank Mr. Brown’s chocolate milk out of miniature straws from an ice filled cup with a lovely new friend. On the way home barbecue brisket was being sold out of the back of the black Lexus trunk. I tried grilled broccoli doused in a special barbecue sauce.Even at this hour, everyone said hello.
The humble abode where I resided is a warehouse in the Bywater that is part music rehearsal space, expansive garden, glassblowers hideaway, and typesetter/bookmakers refuge. The term Bywater not only references this area of Nola but it is also used in J.R. Tolkens fiction accounts of a shire in middle earth. That fits. Inspiring, chaotic and gorgeous. In this neighborhood everyone is an artist in some way shape or form. An expansive garden fills the space outside the warehouse where I stayed. Strawberries, figs, lemons, mint and beets grow cattywampus over the concrete planter edges. Things are growing here. People are snapping up run-down spots and transforming them into galleries and studio spaces. Everyone has a missing link to your next project. Everyone is a proud owner and frequent user of a beat up bicycle. I have a map of all the best bars written in red ink on a slash of old cardboard.
One wonderful yoga teacher/typesetter that I spent some time with described the Yoga scene in Nola as lethargic which easily matches the oppressive summer heat. My brief experiences in four different studios revealed a committed and playful group of practitioners, ready to do the joy. From Acro at Swan River, mysore at Yoga Bywater and Shakti charged pulsations at Wild Lotus, the instructors I found were wonderful gems in the rough streets of the city shining out exuberently upon their communities.
Taking another midnight walk up past the traint racks into the naval yard levy through ankle high grasses. Walking down the lush bank to the end of the world. Hipsters sprawled on a huge trampoline, the pervasive odor of open beer wafting with the waters perfume. Bicycles thrown to the perimeter of the elevated circle. A little green rickety lookout tower with the rusted ladder. The fisherman drinking by himself on the edge of land searching for something larger than 28lbs. Telling us about his uTube channel dedicated to trash fishing. Watching the reflections of our bodies dance off the wooden pylons of the parallel pier.
Bike riding into the ship yard and the empty warehouse alone. Imaging dancers filling the space with articulate choreography akin to Forsythe’s Table piece, One Flat Thing. Chased off the property by a honking white security truck. Whirlpools of detritus gathered around the front base of the ships bows. Swirling colors of plastic, foam and wood.
Fig trees, parrots and spanish moss. City park, sculpture garden. French garden design, fountains and bayou.
An abundance of green and big old houses both dilapidated and restored down Esplanade Blvd.
This is indeed a perfect place for my new home!