Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wonderfully Crazy New Year

Wow. The fireworks.

It started about 7 p.m. Monday, five hours before the start of the new year. Not just bottle rockets and firecrackers and fountains. There were Roman candles, skyrockets, all kinds of stuff going up in the sky. For hours it sounded like a low grade firefight, with bombs bursting in air all around the neighborhood.

And these were not the big fireworks down on the river in New Orleans. These were all around the neighborhood, house after house, street after street and echoing out into the distance. You can buy some cool fireworks around here. WAY better than the stuff we could buy in Oregon. (In the Virgin Islands, of course, you can't buy fireworks at all. You just have to go out and shoot your guns in the air. Everyone does. It's scary. Here's a link to a Source story about it, and a link to an audio recording of the barrage.)

We took a walk around the neighborhood at about 10 p.m. and it was crazy – wonderfully crazy. A constant pop-pop-pop-POW-crackle-BOOM! Aerials bursting over the roofs and treetops everywhere you looked. People were sitting out in their front yards with bonfires in the middle of the lawn, setting off their arsenals. There was a pickup truck with a bed FULL of fireworks. In front of some houses were trash cans full of empty fireworks boxes – they'd set their supplies off early.

We passed some people who had set up their chairs on the corner to watch. They told us to wait until midnight. Then they gave us Jello shots, and when we said we'd just moved there they told us to come by if we needed anything. There really is such a thing as Southern hospitality. People are unbelievably friendly.

Anyway, at five minutes to midnight we went outside to bang on pots and pans, as is our custom. And at midnight the place just exploded. 360 degrees, fireworks flying up everywhere. It sounded like Baghdad a few years ago. I kept waiting for Edward R. Murrow's voice to intone – "This ... is London." In terms of square footage and total aerial explosions it was the biggest fireworks show I've ever seen. It was amazing.

Good Riddance – I'm delighted to have 2012 in my rearview mirror. It was the worst year I ever lived through. I'm ready for something great in 2013. That's all I have to say about that.

Streetlife – Life is a theater in New Orleans. Last week we had a visit from some St. Croix friends, the Lopez family, who had moved to Houston in the great Hovensa Diaspora. Richard had to work, but Mireya brought the kids – Rafa, Patty and Ricardo for a visit.

We were showing them around the French Quarter. It's like Disneyland, right? You live in SoCal, friends come to visit and they want to go to Disneyland. St. Croix, it's the beach. And New Orleans, it's the French Quarter.

It was crowded Saturday. I hadn't taken into account that the Sugar Bowl is this week, so along with the usual crowds there were thousands of fans from Florida and Louisville. I had to park way the hell out there and walk ten blocks.

It was also cold. Not northern New York cold, of course, or Canadian cold. But for Caribbean emigres it was damn cold, like 38 - go ahead, any Canadian readerss can convert that to centigrade.

Walking up Royal Street we came upon a couple of buskers sitting in the middle of the street. The guitar player was bundled up, the violinist was in a sleeping bag pulled up past her waist. And they were playing "Stairway to Heaven" and it was FANTASTIC! I've paid money to hear people who weren't this good.

I tried to catch it on my camera but did something wrong and didn't get it. I picked up their card and got their names – Tanya and Dorise – and found them on YouTube. Their Freebird is really good, and Stairway is amazing.
The kids had been kind of cranky because of the weather, but we were all mesmerized. Tori later said it was the best, the very best, street performance she'd ever heard. Can't argue. It was great. Turns out they're regulars, you'll usually find them out on Royal when they're not traveling the world. The crowd Saturday rewarded them with applause, and lots and lots of bills in their bucket.

Got one more holiday story before we move on, but I'll save it. This is too long now.