I finally got religion. Here’s how it happened.
Here in New Orleans, Jazz Fest is a big deal. A really big deal. I mean, people talk about it like they might talk about sex or drugs. They compare it to Mardi Gras, and say that it’s better. People come from all over the country — and the world — to check it out.
And the season is upon us. The 35th Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival started this weekend and continues next weekend. It’s in our area of town, and so we see more tourists and locals than usual, passing through on their way to the Fairgrounds.
Hmph. Call me a Philistine, but I’ve never seen the appeal. The musical acts are mostly earthy, rootsy stuff. I prefer my music a little more twisted and alienated. This is awkward when I have to explain to people why I’m not gushing with enthusiasm about the prospect of getting crushed by huge sweaty crowds in the sweltering heat so I can glimpse a video screen of a distant performer I don’t give a shit about.
Of course the truth is that I’ve only gone once before.
This year, a co-worker gave me a pair of free tickets. So XY and I smoked up and rode our bikes to the Fairgrounds to check it out. To my pleasant surprise, we had a great time. In fact, I’ll go one further: It was pure bliss. The weather was just about perfect, or as close as one could expect in New Orleans at ths time of year: blistering sun alternating with cooler cloudy moments and occasional sprinkles of rain. No, we didn’t take in any of the musical acts, except for watching a bit of Native American drumming and chanting and dancing. Mostly we looked at the arts and crafts on display.
And we ate. Ahhh, yes, this was what it was all about. I had:
- Tunisian lamb stew
- BBQ oyster spinach salad
- pheasant gumbo
- bread pudding
And washed it all down with a couple cans of Foster’s Ale. Damn, but that’s some good eatin’.
I still don’t think you can compare Mardi Gras to Jazz Fest. It’s like comparing apples and coconuts. But I feel relieved to know that I can now commiserate with my fellow citizens on some of the joys of Jazz Fest.