Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Sounds of New Orleans

We spent the day working at the new house, painting and getting ready for furniture and the final “move-in.” D-Day is Saturday, May 3.

Our new house is just a few blocks from The Fair Grounds, host of the annual Jazz Fest. We had the windows and doors open, but we heard nothing more than a few booms and thumps carried on the wind. Nothing you could identify as anything other than just remnants of music.

Fortunately we had the radio, and WWOZ was broadcasting select acts from the Blues Tent. That’s how I was able to hear Delbert McClinton late in the afternoon. Had I been able to get the Jazz Fest today, I would have been in the Blues Tent for that set.

At one point, my Darling Wife asked that we turn the radio off. “What will we listen to?” asked the Precious Daughter, who was a great help and did her best to keep her budding teen angst at bay. “The Sounds of Silence,” I said.

“We’ll listen to the birds, the cars, the people on the street,” she said earnestly. “We’ll listen to the world around us.”

That struck me and the Precious Daughter as a radical idea, but we gave it a try for a while.

Two interesting observations from this experiment: because of Jazz Fest, there were two small planes circling The Fair Grounds. They were trailing advertising banners and they buzzed over our house at regular intervals. I hadn’t noticed that when the radio was on.

The second thing I noticed was the frequent wail of sirens. We’re near Esplanade and right off Broad, two busy streets that carry a lot of traffic. We experienced the same thing a few years ago when we lived for a year on Esplanade near City Park.

Sirens. Day and night. Believe it or not, you get used to it.

After a long day, we cleaned up and headed back to the trailer. There was a hard rain again this afternoon and the many vacant lots in Vista Park were no doubt saturated. The sun had set and the street lights shined off the wet pavement.

As we walked from car to the FEMA Travel Trailer, my wife noted the echoing noise that filled the street. “Listen to those happy frogs,” she said.

A chorus of amphibian singers filled the night. There was a steady “Chirp, chirp, chirp” being carried by a countless collection of frogs, punctuated by the longer “Ree-bee, ree-bee” and the warbling bass section.

These are the sounds of New Orleans today: frogs, sirens, Jazz Fest.

And these sounds remind me again of the diversity of life in the Crescent City: a soundtrack with room for everybody and everything, a soundtrack worth listening to.


Anonymous said...

Fabulous. The simple things of life provide us with everything we need. What we create for our own entertainment or distraction is just so much icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

One of the things I will not forget when I moved back into my home (that I was able to do so is a luxury that is not lost one me) in the October following Katrina was the utter and rather disturbing silence. Gradually the sound of the winds and occasional bird (as well as the 5:00 National Guard patrol that passed by) was filled as life slowly returned.

One of the most notable voids, and one that seemed to be the longest to rebound was the sound of children.

Leigh C. said...

I lived on Queens Blvd in NYC for a couple of years. Talk about 24/7 sirens...the only break was when a blizzard occurred and the only vehicles on the road were the snowplows and the snowblowers.

George "Loki" Williams said...

You've been blogged on the WWOZ Jazz Fest Blog:

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