Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dream on, y'all

Rattlesnake Confusion

There are dreams that sail away to sea
And some that stay at home
There are dreams in need of company
And some that stand alone

-- Stephen Geyer

UPDATE: After last month’s Rattlesnake (“The Ballad of Hurricane Jimmy”) was completed, a mutual friend put me in touch with Jimmy. Seems he cut his hair, is looking for work as a Certified Court Reporter, and never picks up the guitar.

And that got me thinking about our dreams. Dreams imagined, dreams realized, dreams forsaken and abandoned.

And that got me thinking about a photograph.

It was the first thing I looked at each morning when I got to work and the last thing I saw when I left. It was tacked to a crappy shelf above my crappy desk, in my crappy office stuck in the back of a crappy loan business in downtown Savannah, where I held a crappy job. It was a photo of Five Falls, a spot on the Chattooga River in north Georgia, where I had been backpacking and camping a few times my senior year. After graduating, the best job prospect using my major was a CNN internship I couldn’t afford to take, so I moved back into momma’s house and hoped something worthwhile would turn up. It didn’t.

I ended up with a job thumbing through a box of well-worn 3X5 cards and calling people who were behind in paying a loan that they couldn’t get anywhere else and really couldn’t afford in the first place. When I wasn’t hassling poor folks, I stared at that picture. And I dreamed. My dream was a dream of freedom, of being someplace other than where I was.

One Saturday afternoon, after visiting a woman at her housekeeping job at a downtown hotel to collect her monthly payment, I went back to that crappy office, took my dream down from the shelf, and walked out.

Otis Redding had dreams to remember, Gregg Allman had dreams I’ll never see and The Drive-By Truckers’ Mike Cooley somewhat cynically remarked that “dreams are given to you when you’re young enough to dream them, before they can do you any harm.”

The dreams we have when we’re young can’t all come true; otherwise, the world would be full of football players, rap stars, princesses, cowboys, pirates and astronauts. I mean, does anyone really dream of growing up to be a middle manager or a plumber?

But dreams are realized in other ways. We can embody the daring of pirates, the valor of astronauts and the wild, brave freedom of cowboys in our everyday lives. If you are a loving parent, a caregiver or a volunteer, you are living your dream. If you give blood, if you give a thousand dollars to charity or if you give a dollar to the homeless guy sitting outside the convenience store, you are living your dream.

Dream on.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

An Open Letter to Music Lovers - Jazzfest

I’m currently reading The Great Deluge, a frustratingly accurate portrayal of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and its devastating effects on the Gulf Coast. Historian Douglas Brinkley painstakingly shows us the pain and suffering of Katrina’s victims, and how the government, at all levels, failed to protect those who needed it most.

In that light, and since Mardi Gras is upon us, and after that, Jazzfest, I thought I would bring back an open letter to music lovers I wrote that was printed in the April 2006 issue of Playgrounds Magazine.

One last thought: Does anyone else find it unsurprising that President Bush didn’t even acknowledge the issue of Katrina in his State of the Union address? Out of sight, out of mind is his motto apparently.

This is just as relevant now as it was a year ago. Unfortunately.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

April 28-30 & May 5-7, 2006

An open letter to fellow music lovers:

Katrina was a bitch. She was a hurricane that finally, inevitably, brought her horrific force to bear down on the Gulf Coast, destroying lives by the thousands, and yet, even after her apocalyptic aftermath was fully realized, the first thing I heard was… “Well, I guess you won’t be going to Jazzfest this year, huh?”

Never mind that my enjoyment was the least of my worries, but I will admit that I’ve been considering taking a break from the New Orleans festival after going every year since 1990 or thereabouts. The early spring brings out music festivals as thick as the pollen on our cars, and many conflict with Jazzfest. I had been eyeing Merlefest ( in North Carolina, for example, but post-Katrina, I knew I had to go back this year. For the city, for the residents, for the merchants, for myself.

After landfall, I watched the levees break, and I kept watching as the news channels broadcast hours and hours and scene after scene of destruction and rescue and despair, and finally, as I watched the dissolution of an entire city, I watched myself sink into a kind of walking daze of depression where I shielded myself from the truth that this could happen in a city in the United States of America. Where were the people I knew? Were they okay? After many phone calls, emails and message board postings, one by one they got back in contact with each other. Some were in the Northeast; one couple was in a hotel somewhere in North Mississippi. One photographer stayed behind, but he was finally, thankfully, located. My friends escaped without harm to anything but their property, but I can’t say the same for the friends of my friends. I do know the first time I saw a “504” area code on my cell phone, I about ripped the cover off trying to answer it!

Things are not back to normal by any definition of the word, no matter how liberally that word is used in New Orleans. It will never be the same.

But one thing about New Orleans is that it will carry on, the spirit will prevail. Mardi Gras was by all counts a success. People came, people partied, and people spent money. And the locals needed that.

And now they need Jazzfest.

This year, the festival has been scaled back by one day, some of the stages have been rearranged, and corporate sponsors have jumped in to an unprecedented degree. The promoters aimed with a shotgun, scattering several large draws over the two weekends, including Dave Matthews (who brought in the largest ever single-day Jazzfest crowd), Jimmy Buffett, Bob Dylan, rapper Juvenile, Bruce Springsteen (in his first Jazzfest appearance), Keith Urban, Lionel Richie and Paul Simon. And although most of the treasured Louisiana artists are playing, the quintessential New Orleans band The Neville Brothers will not be closing out the final Sunday night.

Will things be different? Without a doubt.

But for those of us who have adopted New Orleans as a spiritual and musical home, how can you not go back and partake of the amazing sounds, the wondrous array of food, and reconnect with the people who feel the same way?

Come to Jazzfest. Spend money. Talk to people. Donate your time, money or energy to help out.

New Orleans needs us. And we need New Orleans.


Curtis Lynch

Music Lover

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Wait Till the Drugs Kick In

A little sumthin' I came up with the other night while walking at Britt David Park...not that that has anything to do with anything ;)

Wait Till the Drugs Kick In

The band is trippin, you know they ain’t rehearsed

The singer stumbled all through the second verse

Just when you’re thinking it can’t get any worse

That’s when the drugs kick in.


Wait till the drugs kick in

Wait till the drugs kick in

They wrap around you just like an old friend

(They whisper)

Wait till the drugs kick in.

You got two kids and they’re driving you mad

You’re thinking back on the old life that you had

But then again, this really ain’t that bad

That’s ‘cause the drugs kicked in.

You and your buddies are sprawled out on the floor

Cartoons are over, you can’t find any more

That’s when the police are knocking on your door

Damn, why’d those drugs kick in?

You’re standing at the bar, on your nineteenth beer

She’s smiling at you, your vision ain’t too clear

And now you’re thinking, as she gets real near

I hope those drugs kick in.