Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I haven't blogged since I was driving west from Iowa, and now I'm back in Philadelphia, sitting in my favorite chair, reminiscing and recovering from a whirlwind month. Here are a few highlights.

The mesmerizing, breathtaking, awe-inspiring beauty of the American west. Utah, Wyoming, California, Arizona, New Mexico. I'd seen pictures, but I hadn't fathomed the greatness or the gorgeousness. What an absolute privilege.

The kindness of strangers. This guy, for instance, is a retired cop in Vancouver, BC. He spends his mornings pouring coffee for strangers, for free, in a place that serves $3 breakfast. They call him "The Cofficer".

The goodness (musical and personal) of the crowd I run with. WOW! I just can't believe my luck, most of the time. The west coast tour included nine shows with the Wood Brothers, and like always, I was floored by their talent, their kindness, their humor, and their sweet little hearts. A few of their crowd (Christian, John Medeski, and two of my dearest friends) are pictured above eating raw oysters, straight from the ocean, in Marshall, California, on the sunniest, warmest, gorgeousest February day in history.

New Orleans. I'm not sure how to describe my feelings about this place, but let me attempt. New Orleans is steeped in my favorite kind of magic: mournful, musical, dirty, hedonist magic. Billie Holiday magic, nightmare magic, voodoo and Carson McCullers and Jenkins Orphanage Band magic. It's a city on the edge of an abyss, ready at any moment to be dumped into the sea. Yet it's just vibrating with beauty, delicious food, heartbreakingly excellent music, and strange, sad, joyful people. The fictional quality of the city is so palpable, it's hard not to look for the man behind the curtain: oblivion hissing as the gate, and everybody dancing, singing, eating their way merrily towards it.

I want to live there, I want to die there, I want a small apartment there to write in on the off months. Who's in?


  1. I'm pretty sure that we could gather up about 10 of us, rent a little apartment in New Orleans, and each spend a month there. It would be an easy plan to implement, is what I'm sayin'.