I don’t have anything against Cleveland. Or Portland, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City and all the rest. But I agree with Tennessee Williams that these cities hold a special character and mostly because of the mix of diverse cultures. I grew up outside of New York, I moved to San Francisco, so I well know the pleasures of these two places. But now, after these 10 days in New Orleans (and a 9-day trip last year), I’m beginning to get what makes NOLA the extraordinary place it is.
"Do You Know What It Means, to Miss New Orleans” asks the old jazz song, a song that now takes on a new meaning as I prepare to leave this city that hosted 10 of the most intense, exhilarating, challenging and soulful days of my life. "The birthplace of jazz" refers to so much more than mere musical notes! The city itself, with its turbulent weather, its below-sea-level dangers, its constant surprises, demands that you learn how to move through the changes like a jazz musician, be ready to switch directions when the piano offers an unexpected chord, know how to turn an unexpected note into something beautiful. Up until the last minute—like moving the Orff instruments in an open truck with a thunderstorm threatening to soak them (we made it in time)— it was throwing our one hurdle after another. But we cleared them all, with intelligence, teamwork and an improvisatory spirit. One final shout-out of unconditional love to the 45 extraordinary teachers who lived this time together. It has been a remarkable 10-day party interrupted by classes. Ha ha! Better put, when the class ended at the University each day, it continued out on the street and in the clubs.
I believe we all will indeed, miss New Orleans!