“Welcome, welcome, welcome laydeees and gent-a-men, and chirrins of all ages to the forty-first New'Awlins Jazzzzzzz and Heritage Festival!!” And as you enter the gates this year, the recorded voice will tell you of all the items you should not bring inside (guns, drugs, food, umbrellas, small farm animals, drinks of any kind, and Vinny the Gimp 'cause he can't get along good with nobody an' don't like crowds neither).
Vinny came down last year to his first Jazz Fest and he was a pain in the ass from minute one and I can't fault him 'cause he hadn't been there before because it was his first time…but still. And yeah Vinny, I'm talkin' about you heah and so what?
Vinny is my sister's ex-boyfriend and we were close at one time so when he called me and said he had some days off and could he come stay by me I said sure. I live over by the track and when he came to visit I thought it would be perfect for him to go get a slice of life vest. I didn't know he was a gimp until he showed up at the door with a United Cab driver waiting for the fare from the Trailways bus station. I didn't realize that he would show up broke, but I shoulda known. I didn't know neither that he was gonna bring his dog (named “Whodat”) but I shoulda figured.
He came in on a Thursday and I had already made groceries, had some PBR on ice and some LPs we had in common (Traffic, AWB, Tower of Power, Isley Brothers, Earth Wind and Fire, etc.). He wanted to go to Bourbon Street in "see skin;" I told him that when you got a parking space during the Fest, in my neighborhood, you stayed parked and I wasn't gonna to walk in or take the bus but that he was welcome if he wanted. He asked if I had any porn; I told him that dinner was in twenty minutes. I was already hoping that I wouldn't have to kill him before the weekend was over.
Crockpots are wonderful things for cooking beans of any kind, but Camellia brand butter beans slow cooked with Cochon's andouille sausage are the best-est, and after cracking a couple of cold ones we sat down and I 'splained the layout of the fest; when I told him the price of the ticket he about spewed his beer across the table. He kind of recovered when I told him that I had scored a couple of free passes.
"First thing," I told him, "the weather: it's gonna be hot, cold, windy, sunny, and muddy from the rain, so dress accordingly; the beer's gonna to be expensive and if you want to see any of the world class acts you'll have to secure a spot early on and expect it to get crowded."
"Tell me why I want to subject myself and my dog to this abuse?" he countered, his mouth full of Gendusa's crusty French bread. "We hate whatever kind of weather that that is and we don't like being crowded."
"It's about the music and the food and Whodat can't come."
Now, Whodat is a little guy, not much to look at, and one thing I've learned not to do is to disrespect a man's best friend; I did not know that even insinuating that these two chums were not accepted, nay welcome anywhere on the planet, as a couple, so to speak, would have about the same effect as me telling the “The Water Walker” that he had to be separated from that Magdalene dame. I finally convinced him that the little tyke would get confused with all those people, some of which were capable of shouting “Whodat?!!” without reason or provocation. I got him sufficiently greased and to bed early, up early, caffeinated, “egg and gritted”, outfitted, and observed in patient silence the tearful separation of man and beast. I was sure that the cur would wreak havoc while we were gone, but what can you do?
Oh, Vinny didn't mind having a couple at Luizza's By the Track beforehand but that was the last I saw him anywhere near happy for the whole day. Over Bloody Marys he filled me in on the gimp the story of how he had been “talkin'” when he shoulda been listenin' woe is me and can you believe I didn't see that coming “blah blah blah”. I thought he looked good as a gimp; it reconciled his body with his personality. But, I ain't saying nothing about the vertically and ambulatory challenged in general, you know? Just that I came to realize that on Vinny…the gimp suited him.
I told him that if you can't have fun at the Jazz Festival, you can't have fun anywhere, got him in the gate and ditched him after letting him know where the spare key was.
I saw him a few times that day not having any fun and although I couldn't grok that, I let it slide. There's only one thing worse than someone who is trying to hard to have fun and that's someone who is not letting themselves have any fun at all. Period.
Me? I always have fun at the Fest. I'm in, I'm out, I'm movin' and groovin' and down like James Brown. It's ALL fun! From the food booths to the long lines and the people and the freedom to get up and go or stay as I choose, it is the antithesis of restriction or claustrophobia. I must be getting flashbacks of earlier times at music venues when I was young, dumb, and full of whatever. The air is thick with the harmonic conversion of music to matter in the highest order. And hey, they even give you Where Y'at free! Jazz, gospel, blues, R&B, zydeco, Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, crawfish, crab, oysters and alligator…the Fest has it all and more, more, more!
Vinny? He spent the rest of the weekend sitting on my porch watching the Festers come and go and drinking my beer while Whodat dug up my flowers and soiled my lawn. He did me a favor by not doin' me any favors, if you get my drift. Happy Jazz fest Y'all!!!