It’s a warm, sunny, breezy day here in New Orleans.¬†And I’m enjoying it immensely. I had a tasty, huge meal of crawfish (four different ways), crab (stuffed), and barbecue shrimp pasta last night at Deanie’s Seafood.

Last night’s stroll down Bourbon Street was¬†wild and crazy.¬†I first heard the term “Storyville” when, as a much younger fellow, I first heard Robbie Robertson’s album of that title. I’ll have to revisit that record now. While that nickname apparently has a colorful history, and relates only to a section of the city, it strikes me as a good nickname for the town… insofar as its blend of styles, cultures, old, and new are a storyteller’s dream. Every block is so full of personality — dazzling style, exquisite disintegration, boisterous new growth. The sublime and the sinful. I could write a book of short stories here, because every block is lined with buildings of such disparate style and character. And it’s alive and bustling.

My colleagues Jennifer and Reece walked with me all over the downtown area, and what we saw made our heads spin.¬†A brass band blasted the biggest most joyful noise I think I’ve ever heard, and they did it for free right on the street, for a dazzled crowd. So much spirit… and stamina too. They were still playing two hours later when we walked back after dinner. That stroll felt like reading the Divine Comedy in one sitting. Glory and porn, white tablecloths behind polished windows and a guy in a sandwich board that said “Big Ass Beers to Go!” A kind local guy who gave us recommendations, and a beautiful woman who suddenly bent over and puked in the street.¬†

I had a few minutes to walk along the waterfront and check out some of the beautiful old-fashioned riverboats. Wish I’d had time to learn more about the history of what I saw there, but it was inspiring, nonetheless. I’ve been surprised at just how many friendly folks I’ve encountered along the way here, people who really want to be here and are passionate about this place. They’ve been generous in their storytelling, and quite welcoming. I want to come back and spend a good long time exploring, sometime when I don’t need to sit in air-conditioned conference rooms all day.

But the conference has been inspiring so far. This morning I had the privilege of hearing famed sportswriter and NPR commentator Frank Deford speak about his career, and about the soaring glories and the disgusting lows of the sports world. And I attended a motivating seminar on finding great story material on your college campus.

I just got back from a reception where I never did find my coworkers, but oh well. I’m ready to head back out, find a quiet place to sip something, taste something, and work on Cyndere’s Midnight. So, I hope your evening is as promising as mine.

 

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